Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war. – Goodreads

If you’re expecting the book to be like the movie, let me spoil it for you: it’s nothing like the movie.

I was pretty excited to read this because I enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s work and was curious as to how a comic book series would translate into a narrative.

I’ll be honest, this book took me forever to finish. Yes, I’m in a slump; but also…this book was incredibly boring. How can you have a superpowered beautiful (because we were constantly reminded while reading) Amazon princess who kicks ass and takes names but be boring? I’m not sure. Much of the book was a drag, with a few exciting parts thrown in.

The plot was also insanely easy to predict. The twist could be seen from the beginning of the story.

On the pros side, I liked having two strong female leads and a strong female supporting character who was also a lesbian. The book was not focused on romance, but instead at the mission at hand: take the Warbringer to the magical spring.

Overall, I enjoyed the new spin on an old classic. I still liked the book more than I liked the movie, however, I won’t be rushing to recommend either to anyone. I rated the book a 2/5 on Goodreads.

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Real Talk: Reading Slump

I don’t know what my deal has been, but I have been in the biggest reading slump of my life. And honestly? It’s kind of sad.

I grew up in a household where we made twice weekly trips to the Library. The rule was this: if you can carry it, you can check it out. I became very strong and excellent at balancing books, sometimes stacked all the way to my chin.

Over the last year, my motivation and passion for reading has waned. It’s not that I don’t have time; I have plenty of time to binge watch television, after all. I haven’t found a book that makes it difficult to not put down. I miss that feeling of being sucked into a world and being frustrated at the drudgery of adult responsibilities, spending every free moment soaking up words and disappearing into a story, only to be devastated when it’s done.

Three years ago, my goal was to read 150 books in a year, which I nearly hit. This year, my goal was to read 52, which I’m 24 books behind on. I know it’s just a number, but it’s still frustrating.

So: here’s to finding some books I can’t put down and purposely dedicated daily time to reading. ❤

The Sea King by CL Wilson

He wasn’t supposed to choose her…

Seafaring prince Dilys Merimydion has been invited to court the three magical princesses of Summerlea. To eradicate the pirates threatening Calberna and to secure the power of the Sea Throne, Dilys vows to return home with a fierce warrior-queen as his bride. But politics has nothing to do with unexpected temptation.

She didn’t dare wed him…

A weathermage like her sisters, Gabriella Coruscate’s gentleness exemplifies the qualities of her season name, Summer. Yet her quiet poise conceals dangerous powers she cannot begin to wield. Better to live without excitement, she reasons, than risk her heart and lose control— until an irresistible Sealord jolts her awake with a thunderclap of raw desire.

Until evil threatens everything they hold dear…

When pirates kidnap Summer and her sisters, Dilys is in a desperate quest to save the woman he loves. Only by combining his command of the seas with the unleashed fury of Summer’s formidable gifts can they defeat their brutal enemies and claim the most priceless victory of all: true love. – Goodreads

This is one of those embarrassing reads that you don’t admit to reading when people ask you what you’re reading. It also makes me thankful that you can’t see the cover on my Kindle, as it’s reminiscent of the romance novels I remember seeing at my Oma’s house.

I reviewed The Winter King by CL Wilson two years ago and was obsessed. Like, 5/5 stars-and-on-my-favorites-shelf obsessed.

Less obsessed with this one, but I still seriously enjoyed it.

Though set in the same world with some of the same characters as The Winter King, you could read this as a standalone and be fine. I was nervous because, again, it had been two years since I’d read The Winter King and couldn’t remember half of the characters.

This one is focused on the other sisters of Summerlea. Dilys is the Sea King of Calberna and was promised a bride during the war that happened in The Winter King (aka the one I don’t remember). So, Dilys rolls up to Summerlea and starts courting them. He initially writes off Summer, because she’s super kind and doesn’t really give off the whole “warrior bride” vibe. However, she’s just been keeping her dangerous powers on the downlow.

Cue the romance, the magic, the kidnapping, the treachery.

The book was fairly fast paced, and I found myself really enjoying Summer’s character and her development over the course of the book. Dilys was also pretty cool, though for taking a bride as a “prize”, the extreme feminism of his culture was a little bit confusing to me. Not a turnoff, just odd.

There was action, sex, and romance; pretty much what’s depicted on the cover. I wasn’t disappointed, and I look forward to more books from CL Wilson.

Blood Oath by Raye Wagner & Kelly St. Clare

More than anything, I crave adventure. But in the disease ridden land of Verald, life is mapped out much like the well-established rings of our kingdom.

At the very heart reigns our vicious king and Lord Irrik, an invincible dragon shifter, at his side. Their power poisons the land and the people, leading to a steadily mounting number of enemies.

But change is coming.

When the rebellion surges, the king strikes back. Captured by Lord Irrik, I’m suddenly embroiled in a deadly game. One where I’m desperate to understand the rules.

Because I’m not only fighting for my life… but also a love that could be the very key to my freedom. – Goodreads

I’m 50/50 on this one.

It was quick, easy read that kept me entertained and engaged, but much of it fell short in the plot and character building department. It was also quite predictable.

Let’s hit the pros first: the plot moved quickly, which made it difficult to put the book down. There was never a good lull to power down my Kindle and go to bed. I appreciated the lack of instalove, and instead, a slow burning romance that kept my interest.

However, the main character, Ryn, was young and impulsive. If I didn’t know her age in the book, I’d have guessed she was 14 or 15. At times, she was so impulsive and stupid; literally, if any other character in the book had pulled the stunts she did, they’d have been killed. She also faced a lot of tragedy and hardship, but didn’t seem to grow from it.

Overall, the book was enjoyable and addicting to read. If you enjoy young adult fantasy, definitely give it a shot. I rated the book 3/5 on Goodreads.

Live Lagom by Anna Brones

An inviting exploration of “the new hygge“: the Swedish concept of lagom–finding balance in moderation–featuring inspiration and practical advice on how to find a happy medium in life, home, work, and health.

Following the cultural phenomena of fika and hygge, the allure of Scandinavian culture and tradition continues in the Swedish concept of lagom. From home design and work-life balance, to personal well-being and environmental sustainability, author Anna Brones presents valuable Swedish-inspired tips and actionable ways to create a more intentional, healthy lifestyle. Instead of thinking about how we can work less, lagom teaches us to think about how we can work better. Lagom at home is about finding balance between aesthetics and function, focusing on simplicity, light, and open spaces. Health and wellness in lagom is a holistic approach for the body and mind–including connecting more in person, caring for self, managing stress, keeping active, and embacing enjoyment in daily routine. Live Lagom inspires us to slow down and find happiness in everyday balance. – Goodreads

The concept of hygge is huge right now; it’s pronounced hoo-gah, and it’s Danish. Why am I talking about hygge if this book is about lagom? Wtf is the difference? Why are so many fika, hygge and lagom books scattered throughout bookshelves of bookstores? And don’t get me started on Pinterest. It’s essentially (and this is boiling it down super simple) Nordic zen. It’s finding joy in the simple things; a cup of coffee while wrapped in a blanket, a simple cake, minimal decorations, connecting with friends and family.

This book follows the same concept. Lagom is balance in moderation. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (thanks, Blogging for Books!)

I’ve done some research on hygge via the internet. Unfortunately, this book doesn’t really present any new material; in fact, much of the material in this book could have been condensed into a much smaller, easier to read volume.

The book covers all aspects of life — fashion, health, home, work, the environment — but my favorite part of the entire book was the last chapter, The Lessons of Lagom. This chapter succinctly (in two pages) boils down the concept of lagom and sustainability, and how it connects to our daily lives. Essentially, slow down and find balance.

Throughout the book are recipes and tips on how to find balance and simplicity in everyday life. I found the book difficult to sift through. I appreciated the simple and modern page design (it obviously fit well with the theme of the book), but again, repetitive information that could have been condensed down.

Overall, a good read on the concept of lagom. However, I wouldn’t recommend shelling out $16 for it. I rated it a 3/5 on Goodreads.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever. – Goodreads

Apparently, I read the first book back in May 2015. I don’t remember reading it. I ordered a sample on Amazon and seriously, did not remember a damn thing. So I purchased the book, read it, and still didn’t remember anything. Usually when I’ve read a book already and reread it, I at least have a spark or a vague idea. Nope.

Anyway, I enjoyed it much more the second time around, if my current review vs. my old one is anything to go by. I enjoyed the character building, and really didn’t mind Feyre. The book is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, with a few darker elements woven in.

Now, this is a review of the series. I also read Court of Mist and Fury (#2) and Court of Wings and Ruin (#3). Rather than write standalone reviews for them, I’m going to review the entire series here.

I devoured the first book. I sped through the second book. But the third book? I’m a little sick of it, and I’m drudging through it. The primary element that kept me reading was the romance. Maas is fantastic at it and the tension in book one and two kept me interested. Once the tension petered out, I lost interest in book three. According to Goodreads, there are three more books slated to be published — I’ll be honest, I probably won’t read them.

They were easy reads. I enjoyed them. I was hooked and had a hard time putting them down, most of the time. If you enjoyed the Throne of Glass series, give these a shot. Maas is a great writer and does a fantastic job at weaving a story, constructing a magical world and building her characters. However, I’m ready for a new Maas series — I’m burnt out on this one.

Top Ten Tuesday: 12/19

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

  1. Harry Potter Juniper Boxed Set | Seriously, it’s gorgeous. I don’t have an actual physical set of Harry Potter books (THE HORROR!) but when I do, I’m investing in a beautiful set.
  2. Food52 Genius Recipes | If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with Food52. I just haven’t shelled out the cash to get this puppy on my kitchen counter.
  3. Jurassic Park/The Lost World Collector’s Edition | Jurassic Park is my favorite book. I had this edition at one point, but made the MASSIVE mistake of lending it to someone…and now I don’t know where it is.
  4. The Love Poems of Rumi | I love Rumi, and I simply haven’t had the chance to pick this one up.
  5. Whiskey, Words & A Shovel by R.H. Sin | Cold days, clouds and fuzzy blankets make me want to read poetry.
  6. Astrophysics for People In A Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson | I read the sample and enjoyed it but haven’t purchased the full version.
  7. A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book | I loved these books when they first came out. I remember thumbing through them, smiling or crying, and realizing that A) I wasn’t alone in many aspects and B) people have some pretty interesting secrets.
  8. The Shredded Chef | I’ve had this book on my ‘to buy’ list for ages.
  9. Humans of New York: Stories | I follow the Facebook page and imagine the book is good, too.
  10. Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo | The cover, the story, the author…yes.