Review: Elsker by ST Bende *Giveaway*

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our Review:
I'm doing a little something different for this review. I'm posting my review before the cover and synopsis. Why you ask? Because I need you to know a few things about this AMAZING book before you decide to click away. Elsker by ST Bende, is one of my favorite books of the year. And yes I can honestly say that with 5 months left in 2013. This book is so far outside of my usual genre, I can't even explain to you why I read it. Okay, so maybe I can. Long story short...Team Kellan backed Team Ull in the NA Alley New Adult Crush Tourney, we befriended the incredible ST Bende on Twitter, then she was kind enough to send us a review copy of Elsker. All I can say is God bless the tweeter, because I LURVED this book. It's definitely not my usual style. But there is an exception to every rule, right? Elsker is my exception!

Elsker is a new adult paranormal romance based around Norse mythology. WAIT! I know what you are thinking. 

New Author +  tough genre to do justice - Norse mythology (really?) = I'll wait for books 2 and 3 to see how it goes. 

Well I am here to tell you, READ IT NOW! ST Bende is an amazing up and coming author. Think: Jamie McGuire's Providence, Shelly Crane's Significance, or Colleen Hoover's Slammed (although sweet Will Cooper is not paranormal). They were all undeniably remarkable books by first time authors, and Elsker is no different. 

Social outcast and book nerd Kristia Tostenson leaves her small town behind to find a life where she isn't the town freak show. She heads off to Cardiff University in Wales to finish her last year of college where she hopes to lead a normal life. Little does she know she will land the hottest graduate student on campus within days of starting classes.
"You must be talking about Ull Myhr. Tall, blonde, super fit. Unbelievably gorgeous"
Ull Myhr is also searching for a different life. He left his home to escape his destiny. Ull isn't your average graduate student, and unlike Kristia he isn't running from a small town in Oregon. He actually isn't of this world at all. In his home realm of Asgard, Ull is better known as fierce warrior and the God of Winter. This is a far cry from the sensitive, thoughtful, sweater wearing, church waffle making, uber traditional, sex on legs Ull that Kristia falls for.
"I couldn't get over the shock I felt at each touch or the way my pulse spiked when I looked at him. His endless supply of fitted sweaters didn't help either. If this kept up I was going to suffer a stroke at a tragically young age."
I love Kristia and Ull's relationship. It has a rocky beginning, but in typical NA fashion goes from 0-60 in approximately 4 pages. Kristia is not the normal wishy-washy heroine though. She is strong, decisive, and devoted. When she finds out about Ull's background, you don't have to read 100 pages of her running away and freaking out. No, not Kristia. I guess finding out your boyfriend is a Norse god isn't all that crazy when you have secret supernatural powers of your own.  Kristia and Ull must figure a way to overcome impending doom to keep their relationship and each other alive.
"You must have questions." Ull still looked so tense. 
I squeezed his hands back. "Do you want to talk about it? Your Excellency?"
"Kristia--" Ull's brow furrowed and his mouth turned down.
"I'm kidding. Geez. Okay, yes, I have questions. About a million of them."
This book is fantastic, in case you missed that somewhere in this review. ST Bende has developed intriguing, witty, and strong characters that you can't help but love. Even if you are like me and don't care for mythology, you will love the complex yet easily understood world that ST paints. While this book is NOT a cliffhanger, it is book one in The Elsker Saga. Endre (Elsker #2) is expected to be released on September 9th, so go buy Elsker and get to reading NOW!

Read below for a pretty hilarious interview with Elsker's author ST Bende! ST was such a good sport and even gave us insider information on Ull's underwear selection. 1-Click Elsker then scroll below for interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

By ST Bende
Rating: A Whole Bottle of Wine

You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. 
Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr.  Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting.  He’s an honest to goodness Norse God - an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth.  Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.  Her orderly life just got very messy.

Author Interview:

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

What's up ST?! Thanks so much for joining us today. 
Hei hei, Aly. Thanks so much for having me!

We need to get the most important question out of the way first...

Are you a wine drinker? If so, what is your favorite type? If not, name your poison? Coffee, Soda, Chocolate? All of the above?
I’ve been in the editing cave all week, so my current vice is caffeine. Iced soy lattes, black tea, maybe a daily cone of coffee flavored ice cream… or three…

Phew! Okay now we can move on...
Can you please give us the correct pronunciation of Ull? 

It’s ooo-hl. Like drool, without the “dr”. ;)

I can honestly say I have never read a book based around Norse mythology before. How did you come up with the idea for Elsker?

Oh, gosh. Believe it or not, I owe Elsker to a cup of coffee. I was on a road trip along the Oregon coast when I pulled into one of those drive through huts on the side of the road. A really pretty, wholesome looking girl popped out to welcome me to Nehalem, and I checked out the city while she made my drink. There were trees to my left, a lone stoplight straight ahead, and a sign that boasted the town’s population at 250. It was totally charming. I wondered what the girl’s life there was like, and then I wondered how she’d react to something bigger than all of us dropping in on her world. Since I’m a huge Norse mythology fan, and an all around geek, I naturally chose “Norse god” as the something bigger to drop in on her. And since I used to be a competitive skier, I picked the God of Winter -- Ull.

When I got home I started jotting Kristia and Ull’s story in my journal. I never intended for it to be a book -- it was always just a fun little journal story I was writing for me. But by the time I finished it was ridiculously long, and I was totally in love with my imaginary friends. I decided to see if anyone else might like them too, and the journal story became Elsker and Endre, the first two Elsker Saga books.

I guess the moral of the story is to always follow your beverage cravings. *raises bottle* More wine, Aly? ;)

You know me so well, of course I want more wine! 

How many books will there be in this series? And will they all be based around Ull and Kristia's relationship (rather than spinoffs with different lead characters)? 

I mapped Kristia and Ull’s story over three books. Elsker, Endre, and Tro. But I fell so in love with Ull’s goddess friend Inga, I gave her a novella of her own. It’s called Tur, and it takes place before Elsker. You can download it for free on Smashwords! (

Who was your inspiration for the amazingly sexy Ull Myhr.

Why, the enormously smexy Alexander Skarsgard, of course! When you think “Norse god,” doesn’t your brain just scream SKARSY? No? That’s just my brain? Hmm.

Please let me in on your stalking secrets, as I may need to stalk Alexander Skarsgard in the very near future :)
Girl, I am all over this plan. We can hold each other upright while we swoon. ;)
A few months back I had the ginormous thrill of meeting my inspiration for Ull. A really kind (and super well connected) friend worked some magic, and I owe him big time. *blows kisses to awesome friend* I spent at least two hours doing my hair, another hour obsessing over which shoes to wear (I went with four inch nude heels, because a girl can never go wrong with four inch nude heels) and I tried really hard not to drool until after I’d walked away from His Hotness. And holy cow. Ull is even better looking in person than he is in my imagination. I mean, there is just nothing even remotely unattractive about Alexander Skarsgard. Nothing.
Oh, I'm gonna need some Gunnar eye candy who would you cast for Ull's bestie? 
You know, I have no idea. I have a clear picture of Gunnar in my head, but I’ve never found a real life match. What do y’all think? Who could play a brown-haired, green-eyed, immortal assassin, who loves archery, fishing, and making his girl laugh? Pretty please tell me in the comments because I just have no clue!

Kristia is one of the strongest NA female leads I have read in a long time, would you say you share that trait with her?

Oh gosh, what a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much! I wish I had more of Kristia’s grace. She’s very level headed and doesn’t let much phase her. What I love about her is her lack of drama -- she assesses the situation, asks herself what Emily Post would do, and just soldiers through it. Kristia definitely got some of my quirks -- the obsessive note taking, the Much Ado love, the way she drinks her tea (one milk, two sugars). But that strength is all hers.

It's Ragnarok and you are hiding out waiting to see if Ull and Kristia make it. You are only allowed to have one book, one TV show (on endless loop), one movie, and one CD (Odin outlawed Ipods for some reason. Don't ask me why...I don't question Odin!)

Ooh, tough question! (And mean Odin!) Hmm. For my book, I’d choose The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, because it’s got something for every possible mood, and I’d imagine I’ll have a lot of emotions to work through while I wait out Ragnarok.

My TV show would have to be either True Blood or Big Bang Theory. On the one hand, there’s that Scandinavian dreamboat, Skarsy. But on the other hand, there’s Sheldon. And who among us does not love Sheldon Cooper? Please don’t make me choose!

My movie would be Anchorman. Ron Burgundy absolutely rocks my world.

And Imagine Dragons’ Night Visions got me through editing both Elsker and Endre. I heart that band massive, and I’d definitely want to listen to their music while I waited out the Norse apocalypse. (Demons is Ull’s unofficial theme song, dontcha know?)

Do you think you could find out for us if Ull prefers boxers or briefs? Ya know, just in case I need to do some Christmas or Birthday shopping for him. And if you say commando, this interview is OVER!!! My dirty mind wouldn't be able to handle that knowledge. 
HAHAHA! I love this!
No, Ull definitely doesn’t go commando for everyday wear. He’s far too much of a rule follower. I can’t say what he does when he kicks back on weekends, but when he’s out with Kristia or off fighting dark elves, he’s in a snug pair of boxer-briefs. You know, like the kind David Beckham wore on the H&M billboards that nearly caused all those car accidents? Yeah…

Besides Ull of course, who is your current book boyfriend?
Why, Vampire Eric from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books, of course. Though I’m also nursing a bit of a Rush Crush at the moment. I blitzed through all three of Abbi Glines’ Too Far books in about four days. And some #SexyKK girls I know told me I really need to meet Kellan soon…

I know Endre is expected to be released in September ***EEEKK!!!*** How long are you going to keep us hanging for book 3? Yes, I am already planning ahead!

You are so sweet! September 9th is the drop date for Endre, but I don’t have a definite timeline on Tro (book 3) yet. I know where Kristia and Ull’s story is going to go, and I’m excited to write it. But there’s this other Norse god who’s been talking in my head for a while, and I’m kind of itching to get his story down first. His saga is another Norse-inspired one (I swear, I have a one-track mind.) But it’s a whole different world from the Elsker world -- new gods, new side characters, a whole slew of new problems. But always drool-worthy Skarsgard-inspired Norse deities. Always.

Thanks so much for letting me visit with y’all! And please, if anyone can suggest a smokin’ hot actor to play Ull’s best bud Gunnar, tell me in the comments. Then we can all go stalk him together…

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  1. Excellent interview, guys! I don't think I can best Aly's suggestion for Gunnar! That hunk of male hottest is the perfect Gunnar.

  2. Well done, ladies. And I'd have guessed that Ull does not go commmando ;)