Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Berserker (Berserker #1) 

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Pub. Date: October 10th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

Formats: eGalley/Netgalley & physical arc won from a Goodreads Giveaway

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.

Berserker wasn’t at all what I was expecting & for a minute there I wondered aloud what exactly I was reading? the answer took me by surprise & intrigued the hell out of me enough for this frightful bookworm to read through the bloody scenes. I can only describe Berserker as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men & guess what bookworms?!?! IT WORKS!!! part of the reason I think that it did is because Laybourne has created her own lore in this world instead of using everything we know about Norse Mythology. The opening scene really sets the tone for this short read, bloody and raw. Our MC Hanne & her siblings (with the exception of the youngest) all have been gifted/cursed with special abilities from the Viking Gods. It is believed that the Viking God Odin gifted three of his favorite Kings with special abilities known as The Nytte. This gift/curse doesn’t come without its consequences, there is a big price to pay as a result of using their ability. The odds of inheriting The Nytte are greater if both parents are descended from these kings & such is the case for our MC & her siblings. They don’t know the names of each ability or even if they quite believe in the origin of these abilities but they’ve learned to use them to make a living. Hanne is a Berserker which is the only gift that is focused on taking life whenever someone she loves in danger. While in Norway, her father has her using her “gift” to slaughter pigs for local farmers (detailed in the book) because her technique leads to better quality meat. A incident on the farm triggers Hanne’s Berserker abilities ending in tragedy & the need to go on the run. While on the run they manage to catch the interest of a man who has made it his mission to find Nyttes daughters & sons with a keen interest in their abilities. Although this mans intentions are not readily made known, Hanne doesn’t trust him & will keep her siblings running to put as much distance as possible between the law & this stranger.

*In order not to spoil anything, i won’t be including each characters Norse gift/curse…besides it’s more fun finding out for yourself along the way ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hanne- The MC aka the Berserker & sort of the matriarch of the family. She loves her family fiercely & her abilities have sharpened her senses to the point where if any danger is even headed their way she is ON IT! Hanne doesn’t see The Nytte as a gift but rather a curse she can’t control & when it strikes it leaves her mortified at the end results. When I picture Hanne there is only one Goddess that comes to mind…Lagertha!

Stieg- not sure if he’s the oldest or second oldest to Hanne but either way he is more of the patriarch of this family. Stieg is a intellectual with a passion for knowledge & conversation. He knows more than one language & will never pass up the opportunity to teach. Stieg also has a ability that he uses sparingly whenever in dire straights. What I liked about Stieg is that he wasn’t made out to be the stereotypical bookworm, he’s just as much down to have fun as he is to hit the books. Also, his ability is pretty bad a** ๐Ÿ˜‰

Knut- Knut reminded me most of Lennie from Of Mice and Men which meant that I was already on Over protective mode upon meeting him. Tender hearted standing at 6’2, Knut also carries The Nytte & it is tied to his physical strength. There’s no way you won’t love him when you meet him ๐Ÿ™‚

Sissel- my least favorite of the siblings, she is the youngest and most spoiled. Sissel is all about comfort and finding a good match for marriage, in other words being taken care of. Sissel is described as frail in physical appearance & very likely to have had The Nytte skipped her. This being book 1 in the series, I can’t help but wonder if Laybourne has special plans with this sibling…

Owen- The cowboy the siblings pay to safely guide them to a uncle who could possibly help Hanne control her Berserker abilities. He is actually one of my favorite characters in this book, its just him and his dog Daisy until he meets the siblings. Owen loves Daisy to pieces & has trained her to help herd cattle with dreams of one day training pups on a farm to do the same. He minds his business & lives a simple life until chaos is introduced and he has a decision to make…

I managed to fly through my reading of Berseker because of my general interest in Norse Mythology & the ease with which Laybourne used the well known mythos as a jumping board. This is a VERY bloody read & had some cringe worthy passages that surprisingly engrossed me. Why the 3.75 rating? well for starters, this is still a good rating in my book & translates into a 4 star rating on Goodreads. The siblings were for the most part traveling in this book trying to reach their uncle to help Hanne & I enjoyed that adventure very much. However, my only complaint is how neatly the ending was presented compared to how bloody, chaotic, and raw Berserker was for the most part. Berserker could also easily be viewed as a stand-alone which really left me thinking where the series would take Hanne and her siblings. I’m still curious & have every intention on continuing on to read the next book. It may very well be that in the sequel the siblings find a way to reverse or at least stop the consequences of their abilities…So, I do have questions bookworms which means I’ll be returning to this world when the next book is released ๐Ÿ˜‰

HUGE thanks to Feiwell & Friends, Netgalley, Goodreads, and Emmy Laybourne for the ARC copy of Berserker.

Hello Bookworms! Happy FriYAY! have any of you read Berserker? has it made its way onto your radar? If you’re a fan of Norse Mythology, Berserker will probably intrigue you & Laybourne will surprise you with her twist on Viking lore. It’s a bloody gripping read! ๐Ÿ˜‰


FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS ONโ€ฆ

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBook

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

*All covers will take you to the Goodreads link


I am currently at the 50% mark in Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) which is INSANE seeing as I only started this book yesterday *gasps & clutches pearls* smh. I’ve inhaled the first half of this book & that’s thanks to the dark & gritty worldย Schwab has created in Verity. This is the type of book that once you start, real life falls away and you find yourself immersed in what the author has constructed. Verity is worse now than what we last saw in This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1)ย & our characters mirror that decline. I have no idea how this will end but I am so invested in this story that I’m pretty sure I’ll know by the end of today *fingers crossed*

I recently read & reviewed Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1)ย a true high Seas adventure. If you’re a lover of Pirates of the Caribbean ย but want a water adventure with a female protagonist who is a POC then look no further. This book has it all & then some. I really enjoyed this story but more than anything, the final chapters really solidified my interest in continuing with this duology. Highly recommend for excellent world building & diverse characters.


I also just recently finished Bad Romance by Heather Demetriosย & will be posting my review by Friday. This is a true conversation starter, one that we need to be having with young adults. I mentioned on Goodreads in what I’ve begun calling my “first impressions” (subject to change if written half asleep at 2am) the following:

Stay tuned for my review…

My next reads will be The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee & Every Last Lie by Mary Kubicaย both galleysย I’m really looking forward to reading.ย I was planning on providing Synopsis for these both when I noticed the following:

  • The Gentelman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has to have THE longest Goodreads synopsis & I don’t know about you but I’m hesitant to even read those. So I’ve provided the GR links above but for those who don’t want to read the GR synopsis, I’ve got a snippet for you:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

*also, it’s LGBTQIA+ and I needn’t know more ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Every Last Lie is a thriller I requested after hearing so many good things about Mary Kubica’s books both around the blogosphere & on booktube. When it comes to thrillers, I definitely never read the entire synopsis because 80% of the time something is spoiled. Instead I’ll leave you with this snippet:

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.”ย 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accidentโ€ฆuntil the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

 

What are you wonderful bookworms currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if youโ€™re reading any of the ones I mentioned, let me know down in the comments what your 1st impressions were <3โ€™s!

 

Review: Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolcser

Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolcser

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books

Publication Date: June 6th, 2017

Genre:ย YAย Fantasy

Pages: 373 pages

Format:ย eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Bloomsbury, Netgalley & Sarah Tolscer for the eGalley copy of Song of the Current. All opinions are my own.

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasnโ€™t spoken her name yetโ€”and if he hasnโ€™t by now, thereโ€™s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargoโ€”an arrogant courier with a secretโ€”and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

Song Of The Current is THE book you must read if you’ve been seeking adventure in the high seas! the main protagonist Caro has a passion & true calling for sailing and adventure, she is an Orestia after all! Caro is waiting for the day that the River God calls her name to meet her fate however, it hasn’t happened & this makes her question if she’s even cut out for the waterways. Nevertheless she continues to work alongside her father taking contracts to smuggle all sorts of goods (some shadier than others). It is when her father is imprisoned for refusing to help smuggle a highly classified item that Caro is forced to take the helm. She plans to get her dad out of prison with or without the help of the river god by fulfilling the contract her father declined. This job will take her far away from the river she knows so well, into the vast ocean & troubled waters where only a true captain & thrill seeker would dare go. Caro has no idea what lies inside the crate she’s been tasked with transporting in exchange for her father’s freedom, only that it’s highly secretive. We follow Caro on an adventure that may seem like fate after all. This book has it all! Privateers VS. Pirates, people of color, politics, its own mythos, frogmen, Gods, feminism, & a bit of romance.

Diversity rules the pages of Song of the Current & I just LIVED for every single character introduction! Starting with Caro our main female protagonist who is described as being darker skinned with ย dark reddish colored coiled hair. Although when we meet Caro she is content with life up and down the river alongside her father, we get a sense that hers is a destiny much larger. With Caro, there is nothing traditional & she’s just not having it, this includes any ideologies on being a housewife. Our MC knows what she wants & isn’t afraid to go after it. I loved seeing the strong bond she had with her dad, Father-daughter relationships are my Kryptonite. On their modest ship it’s only three of them: Caro, her dad, and Fee a Frogmen (half human/half frog). They have each others backs and basically just aim to survive until it all changes. Along the way we meet Caro’s mother but I won’t go to much into her role for fear of spoilers. I will say that Caro’s mother is also a POC & that I LOVED her flawed & all! the love interest is another I can’t go into too much detail but I will say that he is the complete opposite of Caro & that the age old saying “opposites attract” would apply here ๐Ÿ˜‰

Song of the Current is THE ULTIMATE! Pirate book so if you’re a hardcore fan of pirates, this is the book you’re going to want to read. Down to the lingo used in the dialogue, you’re getting pirate talk which made for a more authentic reading experience. Earlier in the year I read & LOVEDย Daughter of the Pirate Kingย (MUST READ! Lol) but I also came across reviewers who felt they didn’t get the full on Pirate experience. Song of the Current will satisfy those looking for a Pirates of the Caribbean experience. The pacing however, if i’m being completely honest, was a bit on the slower side to start. However, I was never bored and the the story itself hooked me in (see what I did there? ehhh) from the very start. The love interest wasn’t my favorite but I’m beginning to see more & more of that in YA Fantasy with strong female heroines. My thoughts on the romance are that it isn’t made to take center stage to Caro’s story & in that sense I was OK with it, her feelings are explained in the book. The world building was A+ from the lingo, clothing, way of life, and mythos behind the Gods. This is book 1 in what I think is a duology? (correct me if I’m wrong)ย & the ending (one of my faves) was perfect! just enough to make me want to come back for more. After-all, Caros fate awaits her…

Have any of you bookworms picked this one up yet? If you have, how did this adventure fare with you? excited for the sequel? let me know in the comments ๐Ÿ˜‰

Waiting On Wednesday

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Publisher:ย Little Brown Books

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre:ย YAย Sci-Fi/Time Travel

Pages:ย 464 pages

*click on cover for Goodreads

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted byย Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that weโ€™re eagerly anticipating.

 

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.ย 
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

I legit hadn’t heard of Invictus up until a few nights before I attended Bookcon this past weekend. Turns out that there was an ARC drop & I missed it which was sucky but September is right around the corner & before you know it *grabby hands* haha! I also haven’t done a Waiting on Wednesday for quite some time because I’ve been very blessed to already have copies of my most highly anticipated books of the year & for that I am very thankful. Until Invictus came along, caught my eye, made me trip over my own feet with outstretched hands LMAO! Time Travel is myย drug of choiceย folks, I can’t resist a good one & this one has EPIC stamped all over its cover. I already have questions just off the blurb…like how in the world is it even possible for Far to exist with parents who each exist in different time periods?!?!? I’m SUPER intrigued by the parents origins. Next, there’s mention of the Titanic & a heist….So, Far seems like the most innnneresting fictional character I haven’t met yet.ย Being that this book is close to 500 pages, I’m also hoping for a kick a** crew of misfits that I’ll inevitably grow attached to. Yup, it’s definitely a haul worthy book for me in September ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sci-Fi (yes!). Time Travel (Yes!). Heists (Yes!). Titanic (Yes!)…*heart eyes*

Is Invictus on your radar for September? Already snag a copy? don’t tell me! *side eye* Haha! ๐Ÿ˜‰