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 πŸ˜‰

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** πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ˜‰

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! πŸ˜‰


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Friday Reads 8/11/2017

Happy Friday Readers!!! This has been one long and trying week, so happy to see it come to an end *whoop whoop* I’m actually surprised to have finished any books but I managed 3! LOL!

Earlier in the month I decided to join #arcAugust to help me make a dent in my physical & digital stack (see here). I opted not to have a set TBR because I am a mood reader and because I love to genre hop to keep things interesting and avoid slumps. I’ve read two eGalleys for #arcAugust & listened to 1 audio book from my back list…

  

I cannot even begin to tell you all how The Serpent King BROKE MEEEE!!! left me walking the New York City platforms hopping from 1 train to the next all the while trying to keep my tears under control. This story about friendship between 3 very different characters has managed to find a forever home in my ❀ for so many reasons (trigger warning: child abuse, racism, and homophobia) I will discuss in my review. I will be picking up a physical copy this month for my shelves & writing a Audio-book review over the weekend, just trying to decide between spoilery vs. non-spoilery haha! I have too many feels that need to be discussed! smh.

Soon after or around the same time really, I finished & reviewed The Epic Crush of Genie Lo which was my 1st chosen arc for the readathon. This was such a fun & diverse read with elements similar to those found in Rick Riordans books. Except we follow Chinese folklore centered around The Monkey King & I am so ready for more books with Asian representation. In my review I also linked two Own Voices reviews that I really enjoyed reading myself from two amazing bloggers.

Lastly, last night I finished reading Spellbook of the Lost and Found & will be writing my review tonight. I have not yet come up with a rating but I can say it’s between 3.5-4 stars. This book had that dark vibe that kept reminding me of the cult classic The Craft & could easily see it play out on the screen. Still gathering my thoughts but more to come…and will most likely watch The Craft cuz Fall please, I’m ready for my favorite season <3’s

 


I started When I am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn….I legit JUST realized as I’m writing this post that this is going to be a series! GAHHH! freaking out at my desk cuz YASSSS! I started reading it this morning on the train ride to work & jeez it’s 50 shades of effed up! but oh sOoOo good! I’m already wondering if I’m in the mind of a psychotic killer. Just as soon as I publish this post I will be back to reading. This is also my 3rd read for #arcAugust & I’m content with that since it’s more than I’d have read by this date any month haha!


Also on the night stand for this weekend, is The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace which I am pretty excited about! my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads LOVES this collection so much & I honestly don’t know what has taken me this long but better late than never πŸ˜‰

Happy FriYay Readers! hope you’re all having a wonderful end of the week! what are YOU reading? watching? planning this Weekend?


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Friday Reads

Happy Friday Readers!!! I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m trying to get in the habit of scheduling posts for days or weeks that i’m not feeling my best. Also, I’d like to know what you’re currently reading and enjoying or maybe not enjoying. My weekends usually see me putting my books away to spend time with my 2 tiny humans but I’m also working on ME time when they’re napping. For those that have responsibilities (doesn’t necessarily have to be kids)Β which is probably most of us, then you know that time is always evading us. I think this week alone has taught me the importance of self-care & stepping away when necessary for mental health. Starting next wknd I’ll be carving out ME time since this weekend is my 1 year Wedding Anniversary & there’s no escaping that LMAO!

Kicking off my Friday with the highly anticipated season 5 return of Orange Is The New Black!!! I’ll admit, last season wasn’t their best but that ending has me clamoring back for more so without shame I will binge the hell out of OITNB tonight into the wee hours of the morning. Sure I’ll pay for it come Saturday morning when the insanely cruel tiny humans sound the alarms at 7am…then again they may just meet me channeling my fave character “Red” in the kitchen πŸ˜‰

I’m actually back to reading 2 books at a time, I had taken a long break from that but the mood called to me & I answered. So I have 1 audiobook & 1 eGalley that I’m currently working my way through. I’m about 38% into Let’s pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny LawsonΒ & once again Jenny has me making awkward gasping sounds in public while I try not to die of laughter. I loved Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (review here) which came after this one but I am SERIOUSLY LOVING Let’s Pretend! but this time I’m savoring it & only listening to it when my anxiety is high or I’m feeling a bit down. It is legit the best medicine for any down day. I find myself enjoying this one more simply because she’s including stories about her dad and husband Victor pre-marriage that have me shaking my head in disbelief. The Taxidermy stories are still awkward but very funny & Jenny is unapologetically Jenny. Hearing how she thinks is kind of liberating, we all have a little quirk in us…she has a ton & I love her for it!

This morning I started Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah TolcserΒ a YA Fantasy with its own mythos centered around a River God. The main protagonist Caro is strong willed & waiting for the day that the River God calls her name as has been the case for generations in her family. I’m only a chapter in & already hooked wondering where this adventure will take me. After reading & loving Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia LevensellerΒ earlier in the year, I am looking forward to another waterways adventure &&& PIRATES! I can always go for Pirates πŸ˜‰

What are you reading/watching this Friday? any plans for the weekend? πŸ™‚

Friday Reads & a Lil’ Chat…

Happy Friday Readers!!! It’s been a hot minute since I posted a #Fridayreads & I thought today would be a good day to bring that back here on the blog. I’m typically reading (devouring) books & reviewing but lately I have been feeling a bit slumpish. I’m still reading & keeping up with reviews cuz ya girl doesn’t cope well with letting people down lol, I’m just not doing as much as I was before my move. This got me thinking…what is hindering me from enjoying these amazing arcs? it’s not a shortage of books, ya’ll know your girl has a book buying problem…then what is it? Whelp before I get into that, this is a Friday Reads post so lets start with what i’m currently reading…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is my 1st Adult Fantasy book in YEARS! I’m a newb to Mark Lawrence, this being my 1st book of his but LOOK ^^^ uhh, he re-tweeted me getting ready to sit on the top staircase at work & read his book…what I didn’t expect were the Seagulls that landed on the roof & proceeded to give me a full on orchestra of cries. I do not lie…ask Gretchen @Chicnerdreads who has a voice note of said evil Gulls making a liar out of my tweet cuz no reading got done once they got startedπŸ˜‚anyways, Red Sister is EPIC bad assery @ its finest. It’s a pretty big book but I don’t mind cuz not one bit drags & I keep finding things to love. Think Arya Stark/X-23 aka Wolverine’s protΓ©gΓ© on her 1st day at Hogwarts…less magic…more fight training yet similar concepts. If like me, you are looking for more books with female friendships then this will check that box off for ya πŸ˜‰ I am reading a ton slower than usual but its not for lack of enjoyment. I’m actually wondering what I’m going to do with myself once I finish reading Red Sister…maybe buy all of Mark’s (yea 1st name basis after you re-tweet me lol) previous books? most likely smh *covers face* 

I recently sat down to update my arc spreadsheet, something I found has helped me immensely with staying on top of publication dates. Now as much as it has helped with my anxiety…it has also contributed to it if that makes any sense? πŸ˜‚ I’d like to think i’m a pretty nice person…responsible @ least & so its been my thing to post reviews 1-2 weeks prior to pub date with all of my arcs. With the exception of two that I posted a few days after, I’ve been successful on this front…but what happens when life gets in the way? few know me well but those that do, know I’m not one to delve too deep into my personal life. I’m a listener & not much of a talker but I thought it time to share a little bit about myself with you, my faithful book blogging buddies/readers…

Most of you know I’m a “young” mom of 2 tiny humans & that I married my very 1st bookworm buddy over a shared love for Harry Potter smh LOL! (8 years strong). I also have a full time J-O-B in what can sometimes seem like a stuffy office (accounting for ya *sobs*). About a year ago I decided to start this blog as a way to connect with other readers (non-husbands) over one of my biggest passions…BOOKS! I also felt the need to create something of my own, my own little corner of the internet where I could retreat to after hours.  See, about 2 years ago I was diagnosed as Diabetic. Something I knew was a real possibility after 2 complicated pregnancies & a family history with diabetes. I was NOT however, prepared to accept that diagnosis. I was under the care of a nutritionist & had lost 18lbs. all on my own but in the end my genetics won that battle. I thought after losing my father to the disease, that I knew enough…I was wrong. I decided to educate myself, get under medical treatment, joined the gym, and changed my diet. When I say change diet I mean I followed docs orders & started eating more smaller meals to wake up a dead metabolism. Plenty think that all diabetics have an over eating problem…whelp here’s one diabetic that can’t seem to work up an appetite to eat more than 2 meals (if that) per day & is still not thin by any means. Diabetes is frustrating in that it contradicts itself at every turn. Eat too much = elevated sugar/eat too little = elevated sugar. Finding the perfect balance is something I still work hard for every hour of the day. Exhaustion comes at any hour of the day as an indicator that my sugar may be too low or too high. Often times, you will feel as if you are experiencing a bad hangover if not controlled. I work super hard to stay on top of my #’s but I am human & will sometimes falter. I power walk whenever possible & as much as possible, having a 3 train commute to & from work helps keep me active. Also, my new place has a gym in the lobby that is currently being set up with all of the amenities you’d find at a sportsclub! *eeeK* …However, there are days where it’s completely out of my control & I wake up with a high base just because overnight my hormones interfered with my glucose levels. It sometimes feels like a losing battle & that’s when depression kicks in, one of the well known symptoms of this disease. I have a ton to be happy for especially with finally getting a place I can call safe to live in. Yet there are days where the dark clouds take over & a book is the last thing on my mind…

I’m sharing this with you all because this has become my home away from home on some of my darkest days. I don’t like being moody with my loved ones when I’m feeling unwell & so take to distracting myself by reading all of your posts. I may not post as frequently but you will always see me hanging around your blogs, twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads. Some of the friendships I’ve made through blogging have really been a source of joy for me. Reading your comments & interacting with some of you on a more personal level has kept me company on days where I felt I made poor company for those physically around me. I have a loving husband & 2 tiny humans that I dote over even when I’m at work (yea I stalk the teacher lol), I love them to the moon & back…sometimes I do need ME time & that’s when I come to you, my second family. This blog has helped keep my anxiety low & my depression at bay on more days than I can count & for that I am thankful to be in this amazing community. Thank you to those that reach out with kind words, comments, GIFS, likes, loves, anything really lol, it means so much to me.

I’m really hoping to get out of this funk soon so that I can get back to reading ALL the books on my spreadsheet & hopefully from my own shelves lol. I mentioned to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads that I was also experiencing a bit of a YA Fantasy burn-out due to my arc binge of the genre. I have no one to blame but myself for this LOL! I’m definitely done requesting for some months, I miss reading from my shelves a bit. The one great thing that has come from this reading slump is that discussion/chat I promised ya’ll in December as part of my New Years Goals! it’s coming πŸ˜‰

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Bahaaaa! this is totally me with my 2 tiny humans everyday, one is def more livelier than the other LOL!

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