Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all. 

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process. – Goodreads

I probably would have enjoyed this more if an invisible voice wasn’t whispering “Stockholm Syndrome!” in my head the whole time. Okay, so the invisible voice was me…but still.

Let me address what I liked, first. For one, I actually liked Laura Thalassa’s writing style and flow. Though the plot itself was slow (see below), her writing style was funny and interesting. I also liked the originality of the plot using the four horsemen in an apocalyptic end-of-the-world scenario during modern times.

Sara was also a strong female lead; she’s a firefighter, and she sacrifices herself to attempt to assassinate Pestilence in the most gruesome way (fire) possible to save Earth. Too bad Pestilence can’t be killed…instead he kidnaps her and tortures her by tying her hands and making her run — RUN — behind his steed as he gallops across the world, leaving death and sickness in his wake. You know, because he’s Pestilence.

That’s when it lost me — at the romance. See, Sara sees something in Pestilence and begins to fall in love with her captor. Yes, the the same dude who tortured the crap out of her. Wait, what? SEE? I told you. STOCKHOLM SYNDROME, HARCORE. Sara, girl, COME ON.

The plot is literally them riding from house to house around the country, again, leaving death and destruction in their wake (and sometimes bustin’ into someone’s OCCUPIED house to make sure Sara gets food and stuff and then those people die).

So, though the writing style was fun and the concept cool, the whole romance part was awkward and unbelievable for me. I finished it, but I didn’t LOVE it. It was an interested trial of the new adult genre (which, by the way, has more sex scenes than young adult fiction), but this one was not for me. I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

 

 

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Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls

The dark unknown beckons.
Rune Jenkins has a long-standing infatuation for anything from the supernatural world, and she’s trying to hide it. If she doesn’t, her reckless twin brother Ryker storms in fits of rage, and she starts feeling like her own sanity is slipping. But the closer she gets to Grey Malteer – an old friend who waves his fascination with fantasy like a flag – the harder it becomes to stifle her own interest. When supernatural creatures from another world suddenly come hunting for the three college students, they are forced to see the hidden truth as fantasy twists with reality. With help from a mysterious savior, Rune and Grey escape, but Ryker does not. They must follow Ryker’s abductors into an alternate dimension, Eon, where they discover their true identities. They are Venators, descendants of genetically enhanced humans designed long ago to protect the inhabitants of Eon from themselves, and to keep them far away from Earth. After generations of separation, the ruling Council of Eon has decided to bring about the return of the Venators for their own benefit. In this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Rune’s brother is missing, and she and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game. Rune, Ryker and Grey must now find their way through and out of Eon, before it consumes them.
 – Goodreads

First of all, thank you Devri Walls for yanking me out of my reading slump. I was initially cautious to read this, simply because I know Devri’s husband “in real life”. I’d met Devri once before, but I’ve always been worried about reading the work of friends or acquaintances because a) what if I hated it and b) what if I read the narrative IN THEIR VOICE?

I did notice that it occasionally took me a few minutes to “get into” the story and stop overthinking the fact that the author was indeed a “real person” and not some mysterious author behind the novel. So dumb, but true.

Once I got over it, though, I sincerely enjoyed the story and premise of the storyline. The worldbuilding was good and I enjoyed the overall writing style of the book. I like the main characters (more on them in a moment) and the supporting characters. I appreciated the mix of magical creatures and the introduction of new ideas and concepts (a Venator, for example).

Rune is a strong female lead. For some reason, the only thing that bugged me about Rune was her name — if her parents are such stand-up, normal people…why the hell are they naming their kid Rune? Ryker makes sense, Rune does not. Rune is the type of name your hippie Wiccan mother names you…not Sally Soccermom who wants you to make the Dean’s List. Stereotypical of me, yes…but something I was hung up on nontheless.

Grey is a strong male lead, though it took me quite a few chapters to stop picturing him wearing his (in my mind, creepy af) trenchcoat. The trenchcoat thing is explained later on, so don’t let that turn you away or think Grey is creepy…he’s not.

Overall, if you’re looking for a breathe of fresh air in the new adult fantasy genre, check this one out. It won’t disappoint!

 

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.

Morning Glory by Diana Peterfreund

Desperately in need of a job, yet still full of boundless optimism, Becky vows to land on her feet and stumbles into an opportunity at Daybreak, a floundering network morning news program in New York City. Abysmal ratings are only the tip of the iceberg: Executive producers seldom survive beyond the next commercial break, and the outdated cameras belong in the Smithsonian.

Promising the head of the network that she can reverse the downward spiral, Becky makes legendary newscaster Mike Pomeroy an offer he can’t contractually refuse. She successfully adds Pomeroy to the team, but he refuses to participate in any Daybreak fluff pieces and morning show staples like celebrity gossip, weather, fashion, and crafts. What’s more, he takes an instant dislike to his equally difficult co-anchor, Colleen Peck, a former beauty queen.The only bright spot in Becky’s career is Adam Bennett, a gorgeous fellow producer, but Daybreak’s dysfunction spells trouble for their blossoming relationship. As Mike and Colleen’s on-air chemistry proves more explosive every day, Becky must scramble to save her love life, her reputation, her job, and, ultimately, Daybreak itself. – Goodreads

I saw this on sale and thought, why not? I’d recently watching the movie version and was in a rare mood for some fluffy chick lit.

Some background — this was a novelization of the movie. The movie came out in 2010 and starred Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton.

I liked the premise of the story — I wanted to be a journalist in college and am familiar with the news industry. However, Becky fell flat as a main character for me. Becky is tenacious and dedicated to her job — as a result, she’s obsessed with news and her BlackBerry. Becky mentions how her dating life is a flop because she’s so addicted to her BlackBerry. Look, I’m a millenial. I understand being addicted to my phone. Hell, I forgot my phone at home during a short afternoon of errands this week and felt as if I’d lost a limb. HOWEVER, constantly checking your phone on a first date and then getting upset because said date is fed up? Nah, girl.

The other characters also fell flat for me. Adam, the love interest, had potential. Mike was my favorite character — perhaps I was picturing Harrison Ford’s character from the movie, but I thought he was the most dimensional and least annoying. Which is confusing, because his character was supposed to be annoying.

In all, it wasn’t a terrible read. It was light, it was fluffy, it was predictable. Personally, I’d stick to the movie and skip the book. I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.

Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home…

Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch… – Goodreads

Every once in a while, I get in the mood for a fluffy chick lit novel. This one came across my bargain page, so I picked up up for a couple of bucks on Kindle.

This book fit the bill — it was quite fluffy and full of food descriptions. In fact, the food got to the point of skimming over it. I had the same issue with The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, so perhaps I should avoid food books!

Sophie is alright. She’s hurt after her ex-fiance broke her heart and hijacked their business. She spent an ungodly amount on her wedding and is in serious debt, so she moves in with her grandma, Bubbles…who I picture as Betty White.

Sophie develops her own Ask Alice type of site for wedding consultation. She makes bank. She whines about making bank. She pays off her debt. She whines more about answering questions. Look, I get it — if you’re not pursuing your passion, it’s not worth it. But have some gratitude, Sophie.

It was hella obvious who she would end up with at the end.

I don’t know. It was a light, fluffy read. But I’ve read plenty of light, fluffy books and walked away feeling impressed and happy. This was not the case — I found myself annoyed. Sophie fell flat as an MC, the love interest was boring, and the grandma was more interesting than anyone else. I simply wasn’t into Sophie’s spiral of self-loathing and angst.

The Other series by Anne Bishop

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow. – Goodreads

This…it’s seriously a contender for my top favorite series of 2017. Sure, it’s only June, but still…I loved this series. I read books 1-4, so this review is for the entire series. It’s a little difficult to cover an entire series, so bear with me.

The books are written in third-person, which allows the reader to get a glimpse into everyone’s emotions and views. This was especially handy because each, er, species of individual views humans (or Others) differently.

My favorite part of the entire series were the characters — everyone, no matter how small, was developed well. Though Meg was extremely annoying with her naive nature and almost juvenile ways, it made sense with her upbringing. Throughout the series you can see Meg grow and become stronger. Simon also changed dramatically throughout the entire series.

The underlying romance plot is light and is almost an afterthought. Without giving too much away, I found myself subconsciously BEGGING the author to make some sparks fly or something. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE.

Anne Bishop is a great writer — I was completely enveloped in the world she had crafted. If you enjoy fantasy fiction, seriously, do yourself a favor and pick this up.

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

Sous chef Aimee Tierney has the perfect recipe for the perfect life: marry her childhood sweetheart, raise a family, and buy out her parents’ restaurant. But when her fiancé, James Donato, vanishes in a boating accident, her well-baked future is swept out to sea. Instead of walking down the aisle on their wedding day, Aimee is at James’s funeral—a funeral that leaves her more unsettled than at peace.

As Aimee struggles to reconstruct her life, she delves deeper into James’s disappearance. What she uncovers is an ocean of secrets that make her question everything about the life they built together. And just below the surface is a truth that may set Aimee free…or shatter her forever. – Goodreads

I’m not quite sure how to feel about this one. Yes, I read it in a short amount of time because I was curious about what would happen next.

I thought the entire story was very…predictable. Though I have to give Lonsdale props for the unique storyline, many of the twists felt extremely convenient and I often found myself rolling my eyes. I obviously can’t provide any examples here, though, because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.

The timeline of the book is also confusing. Sometimes months would go by from chapter to chapter, with the entire story spanning about 16-18 months. I don’t mind the span of time, but I think it could have been more clear how much time had passed and less jumpy.

Lastly, before I say some good things — I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. Aimee fell flat for me, as she was either the grieving widow or magically healed and in love. The only time her personality came through was when she talked about her cafe. Her friends were obviously only in the story as a way to connect her to Ian and push her to go to Mexico. I still don’t know who the F Lana is. Ian is a stage-five clinger. James was way too damn perfect. I just…couldn’t identify with anyone, and thus cared about no one.

The book was paced well, though, and despite it’s flaws, held my interest. This is a good beach read if you’re looking for something light.

I rated it a 2/5 on Goodreads.