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!

 

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.

 

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.