Charlie Godwyne-Equinox

I get ARCs from all over the place, PR companies, authors, Booksprout, and various teams I’m on. I get almost all my MM ARCs from LesCourt Author Services. I love working with LesCourt because I get a chance at a huuuuuge selection of ARCs. Also, the team is just awesome. So, why the big shout out to LesCourt in this post? Well, because without the ARC opportunities I get from them, I would likely not have found Equinox by Charlie Godwyne. And that would’ve been a total loss, because this book blew me the fuck away.

So, here’s our story. It takes place in Augarten, which is a huge park in the second district of Vienna. It’s a real place, with an amazing history, including morning concerts by Mozart and Strauss, and you should definitely go read more about it. I did. And Charlie is from Vienna and wanders around Augarten on the regular, and it’s incredibly obvious that Augarten is a place they love so much.

There is a man who wakes up in the garten, right at the base of a tree. He thinks that trees are talking to him. He can see the magic of the garten, the trees, the sky, and everything, and starts to see all kinds of things. He passes out again and wakes up to a priest praying over him. He was praying to High Archangel Gabriel to protect our first man.

When the first guy starts to talk to the priest, he realizes that he has no clue who he is. He has no memory, doesn’t know his name, nothing. So, the priest decides to call him Gabriel. Turns out that the priest’s name is Solomon, and the head of his order had a dream and sent him out to find Gabriel. Apparently, Gabriel lit up all kinds of magical and spiritual warning systems when he showed up in the garten.

Solomon takes him to the woman who runs part of Augarten, who ends up letting Gabriel stay there, as long as he’s willing to work. Solomon tells him that he’s going to help Gabriel do everything he can to help him get his memory back. Meanwhile, Gabriel does everything he can do to help out at Augarten and starts to make friends. Solomon teaches him to meditate, sings Latin prayers over him, takes him to appointments, and shows up regularly. Then there’s Florian.

Gabriel runs into Florian one night at the garten, when Florian is praying. He worships Welsh gods, and prays in Augarten. Gabriel hears him, and the language sounds familiar to him. This ends up with them being friends.

We also have Ian, who is really important to Gabriel and Solomon. We learn a lot of things from Ian. Of course, he knows so much he doesn’t share. The asshole.

Charlie is a debut author. This is their first book. And it’s not often that a debut author writes something that is so incredibly mindblowing. The book is very cohesive, and the world is incredibly detailed. There is a very tricky mix of time periods, to the point where you aren’t exactly sure what the time period is, which is fabulous. There is also a big mix of spirituality, religiousity, magicalness, and realism. Charlie managed to put it together seamlessly. It all fits in together easily, like that’s the way that the world really works and the way that the world really should. All of our main characters have that mix inside of them, in their own particular mix, and they each have their own way to express that and express that mix. That spirituality is a huge part of the book, but it’s not shoved in your face or anything. It’s just part of the ebb and flow of the book and the book would be lesser to take that part out of it.

This is a slow burn, a pretty slow burn. I love how the romance builds up the way that it does. If the romance had been just jumped into, I don’t think it would’ve worked as well, because Gabriel needed a better understanding of himself. The slow burn was necessary, and it works perfectly for this one.

I really, truly, deeply hope that Charlie Godwyne has an Augarten #2 in the works, because I’m dying to find out more.

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Ian’s angelic ass is sitting on so many secrets. I really want to know what all he knows. I have suspicions about him that I’m not telling.

OK, that’s all for this one. I can’t recommend it enough, I really can’t. Go check it out. Happy reading!

Laura Thalassa-Pestilence

I love a good post-apocalyptic story, and you can’t get much more apocalyptic than Laura Thalassa’s Four Horsemen series, which starts with Pestilence. And yes, it’s the four horsemen as in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. See, can’t get much more apocalyptic than that.

So, here’s how this world works. Five years ago, the Horsemen rode out on Earth. Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death each picked a direction and rode. And in their wake, everything that made up the modern world stopped working. Then, they suddenly disappeared. Now, some things are starting to come back, well, sort of. There is some television, there is some electricity, but not much. And they aren’t very trustworthy. But there is enough television to let people know that Pestilence has now come back, and where he rides, the Messianic Fever follows. The modern day plague has a 100% death rate. And it’s not a pretty death. It involves swellings, and sores, and pustules, and just yucky in general. Luckily, Pestilence the Conqueror is following a predictable path, so they are able to issue evacuation warnings so that the towns can empty. The further you can get from Pestilence, the better.

Sara is one of the few firefighters in her town who stayed to help everyone evacuate. Now it’s down to just these few, and they are drawing straws to see who is going to stay and kill Pestilence when he rides through their town. Guess who the lucky one is? She knows that it’s a suicide mission, but if she can kill Pestilence, then she can save the world, so her life is a good tradeoff. So, she sees off her friends, and goes to find the perfect place to hide so she can kill Pestilence with her grandfather’s rifle. Only, it turns out, Pestilence is harder to kill than you might think, and now Sara is stuck with him. He’s not going to kill her. He’s going to make her suffer.

This story just emotionally wiped me out. I had to spend a couple of days processing it until I could talk about how it made me feel. It’s a slow book. Not just a slow burn, but a slow book. There is a lot of riding, and a lot of analyzing of feelings, and a lot of suffering. There are quick bursts of action in places, but most of the time, it’s a fairly slow book. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s kind of like the Lord of the Rings books. There’s a lot of walking and riding to get to where they are going, but it’s during that walking and riding that you get to know the characters and get to see what makes them tick. Then you get the quick bursts of action which give you a nice jolt and make the characters realize things.

There are times I hate Pestilence, but the thing is, as I think about it now, it’s kind of hard to hate him. It’s like hating a hurricane or a force of nature. Pestilence just IS. How can you hate something that just is? I could easier hate a tree. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I like him a lot of the time. He is who he is, and he is implacable. He is doing his God-given duty, and Pestilence isn’t just his name, it is who he is.

Sara isn’t always likable either. I truly dislike her a couple of times, but in general, I tend to like her. She’s dealing with a hell of a lot of stuff and not just physical pain or anything. There’s a lot there, and I don’t think that I could’ve handled everything that Sara had to deal with. I would’ve probably totally shattered, never to be able to be put back together again.

I can’t wait for War to come out. It’s supposed to come out soon.

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Rob and Ruth just broke my heart and then put it back together again. It was a beautiful section of the book.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. Go check it out and make sure to tell me what you think of it. Happy reading!