Book Review: Godsgrave


Rating: 5 out of 5.

  • Author: Jay Kristoff
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Page Count: 419
  • Date Started: August 13
  • Date Finished: August 23

A Brief Description

Keep in mind that since this is the second book in a series, there may be spoilers for the first book in the following description.

Mia Corvere has found her place as a Blade in the Red Church, but many disagree with her right to be there. She is no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. After a confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church.

It is then announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave Mia defies the Church and sells her to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end the ones who took everything from her. In the arena, Mia finds allies, rivals and more questions for her affinity for the shadows. Conspiracies continue to unfold and as the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge. She will uncover a secret that could change the face of her world as she knows it.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


That’s Fear talking. Never listen to him. Fear is a coward.

Jay Kristoff
pg 95

Initial Thoughts

Since this is the second book in a series, I’m going to say that this is going to a spoiler-filled for anything that happened in book one and that you should tread with caution. While my initial thoughts won’t be spoiler-y the rest of my review will be. Okay, I’m excited to read this. I was delightfully surprised by Nevernight. Having read another of Jay Kristoff’s works and not enjoying it, I was worried I wouldn’t like it. I couldn’t put the book down. Going into Godsgrave was no different. This second book in the series had the same high-octane pace that the first one had and there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns. I read this book very quickly and thought about it very frequently. When I wasn’t reading it, I wanted to be. Overall, I enjoyed this book even more than Nevernight. I’m going to go more in depth into my thoughts below.


The heavens grant us only one life, but through books, we live a thousand.

Jay Kristoff
pg 65

The very first book (or the first 12 chapters) of Godsgrave had flashbacks between the past and the present. In the past, Mia, finally a Blade in the Red Church, being told that she is unable to kill Scaeva and Duomo, her whole reason for joining the Red Church to begin with. To add to this, Mia comes face to face with an old enemy, Ash, where she learns that the Red Church is not all that it seems. In the present it tells the story of how Mia lets herself caught by slavers to sell herself to a gladiatorial collegium for the opportunity to compete in the grandest games in all of Godsgrave to end Scaeva and Duomo once and for all. I don’t mind the flashbacks, as I believed that this added some backstory and explained a few questions I had, but at the same time, I felt that it took me out of the story a little bit as well. I found myself having to go back to the end of the previous snippet to remember what had happened last in that time period.

The second and third book both took place after Mia had been purchased by Leona, widow of Remus, the justicus that Mia murdered in the previous book and the successor of her father. She is brought to Crow’s Nest, the home that she vacationed in as a child. Here, surrounded by a new cast of characters that I came to love, Mia fights for her right to fight in the magni. The winner of the magni would be crowned by Scaeva, and blessed by Cardinal Duomo, and declared a free man/woman. This would have been her chance to kill them both in one strike. Of course, things don’t go as planned.

For starters, I want to talk about some of the characters we were introduced to: I loved them all. Some of them took some warming up to, Sidonious (Sid) for example, but once I was in love, that was it. All of these characters are so morally gray and have such a complex history that you can’t help it. Mia, though she is ruthless and dark and twisty, you cannot say that she doesn’t care for those she loves.

The last 50 or so pages of this book had me hooked and gasping constantly. With the treachery that wasn’t really treachery, the death that wasn’t really a death, the reveal of Mia’s true parentage and the return of two previously thought dead characters, I was breathless by the end. I think it’s safe to say that this book may have blown me away. I can’t wait to have Darkdawn in my hands come September 3rd.


Better to run than die on your knees.

Jay Kristoff
pg 357

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Tropes


***Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018, where Jana posts topics in advance for other bloggers to make posts about. ***


Heists

Heists, thieves and sneaking around? Come on, what’s not to love? Six of Crows and The Lies of Locke Lamora have to be two of my faves fantasies out there, so it comes as no surprise that this is on my list.


Hard Exterior/Gooey Interior

I love a character who exhibits the rough around the edges, “tough boy/girl” exterior while inside they truly do care about others strongly and deeply. I always love a character who tries to project that they don’t care, but fails due to how they empathize /sympathize with those around them.


Strong Female Character

Do I really need to elaborate on why I need this trope in my life?


Non Linear Timeline

Alright alright, hear me out: I love non linear timelines. I love to see the juxtaposition between past and present, present and future etc. I love to see the how things were and how they are now. I love to theorize how they got that way, or why. My favorite example of this is The Handmaid’s Tale . It leaves a lot of room for theories and twists.


Hidden Royalty

I love a “you’re actually a queen/princess/prince/king story” I love to see how the person changes after they find out they’re a royal. To be honest, I love stories that include royalty in general.


Found Family

I love found family. As someone who doesn’t have a “traditional family” I feel found family in a very profound way. There’s nothing more heartwarming than finding unconditionally supportive friends who are closer than family, especially in books.


SPACE

If you couldn’t tell by my theme, and my blog’s name, I love anything space. I find the topic of space so fascinating and so brilliant that I am always drawn to science fiction and books set in other galaxies, planets, worlds etc.


Quests

I love a well built world, I love the mystery and intrigue of trying to figure out how to solve a world shattering problem. Quests allow me to explore a world, while also having some major problem solving take place.


Intrigue/Politics

I love a world that has intrigue, politics, backstabbing, oh the drama! I love a character who feels like a fish out of water navigating the courts of some far off kingdom as they try to hide their identity and fit in. I love it all. It’s just very entertaining to read, and I love to read about the politcal strife that kingdoms/countries undergo and how our characters react to it.


Hard Magic Systems

I love a magic system that has rules. I love a magic system that limits our character to a certain extent so they have to use their problem solving skills to come up with a solution to defeat whatever villain they are up against.


What about you? What some of your #TopTenTuesday tropes? Do you share any of mine? Do you dislike any of mine? Let’s discuss below! I hope you have a wonderful day, and remember to keep reading. 🙂

~Cam

Book Review: Mooncakes (ARC)


Rating: 5 out of 5.


A Brief Description

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.


A Spoiler Free Review

I wanted to thank Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this wonderfully heartwarming story.

For starters, this book had wonderful representation for hard of hearing and LGBTQ rep. Nova is hard of hearing and wears a hearing aid. Tam is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns. They are referred to as such for the duration of the story as well. Nova had two grandmothers who were in a relationship and this wasn’t questioned and there was no homophobia in this respect, or any other.

The friendship between Tam and Nova is pure and wonderful. Their relationships is even more so. I fell in love with their characters and found myself rooting for them and crying with them as well.

The art in this story is GORGEOUS. The drawings are cute and it’s very colorful and pleasing to the eye. I found it very engaging and it kept me wanting more. Most of the ARC I received had color but the last few chapters were not, but either way, the art style still kept me engaged.

The plot felt high stakes and engaging as well. It felt believable and I loved the characters and how they stood up for each other.

I highly recommend this story to anyone and everyone who wants a heartwarming coming of age story about queer witches set in New England in the months of autumn. This book comes out October 15th, 2019 and can be found below:

Goodreads || Amazon (US)

My Experiences with Censorship

I have always loved to read. Growing up, I would read any opportunity that I could. I would devour books and visit the library at least 2 or 3 times a month, lugging home around 10-15 books each time. Things changed after my parents joined a religious cult.

This cult, in essence banned the reading of anything that was not published by their publishing branch. While they didn’t EXPLICITLY say that you couldn’t read something, you were seen as “less dedicated” which was the worst way to be seen in an organization like this. Anything that was explicitly against them was forbidden. They allowed for no criticism and anything that disagreed with their teachings was off limits. Some examples are evolution, LGBT rights, the Big Bang, the practice of blood transfusions, associating with those outside the organization and many more. It mattered greatly what you thought on the issues. You were supposed to unquestioningly accept what you were given by “the organization.” You could not question beliefs or ask questions that made it seem like you had doubt.

Once I was out and did some research I came across a model developed by Steven Hassan, a researcher who studies the effects of coercive control, called the BITE Model. Each letter stands for a different aspect of control, B for Behavior, I for Information, T for Thought, and E for Emotional control. All of these work in tandem with one another, but I’m going to focus on the I, or information control. If you would like to read up on the other methods of control please visit Steven Hassan’s site here.

Cults don’t want their members to have access to outside sources, whether this be literature, movies, TV shows, and magazines etc because they don’t want their members to be able to find out the truth about the lies they are telling them. This unsurprising-ly works to keep members inline and unquestioning.

I was 7 or 8 years old when my parents had joined the cult, so I followed the rules. I limited reading about the things I loved: magic, fantasy, LGBTQ+ rep, and scientific topics. From then on, I lost my love of reading. I wasn’t reading as much and I was incredibly unhappy. I would feel immense guilt if I read a book that had any of these topics covered. It wasn’t until at least a decade later that I stumbled across this book:

This book was instrumental in changing my life. Carl Sagan was a scientists in the 1960s and 1970s who changed the way that the public viewed science. He was the Neil Degrasse Tyson of the 60s-90s. He had a love of science and was passionate about teaching others. This particular book, as titled, was about breaking the debunked fallacies of the past, witchcraft, UFOs, faith healing, demons, and many more. It stepped you through all of these different fallacies and critically analyzed them and why exactly they were debunked.

This made me question everything. This made me critically analyze every single thing I had been told and taught. I found many things to be lacking. After that, I found my love for reading again. I began reading voraciously again. I would question and critically analyze everything, and to this day I still do. I try to read widely… mostly science fiction and fantasy, but I also love to read books about science and the world around us. For so long I was raised to believe half-truths and outright lies. It was not all for naught because it has made me a skeptic who analyzes things in a scientific manner. I couldn’t live any other day.

Have a wonderful day and remember to keep reading!

~Cam

Future Friday: 5 Future Releases I need -now-


Darkdawn-Jay Kristoff

Release Date: September 3rd, 2019

I’ve been reading the other books in this series and am already so excited for this release. This is going to be the continuation of Mia’s story from Nevernight (read my review for Nevernight here). She’s a female assassin who gets the opportunity to study at the Red Church which is a school for assassins. Since this is the third book in the series I’m not going to go into more detail than that. This comes out on September 3rd and I am already itching to have this in my hands.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


The Fountains of Silence- Ruta Sepetys

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

This is a historical fiction novel that takes place in Madrid in the year 1957, under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Those who visit Spain in this time are unaware of this. Daniel Matheson, the son of a Texas oil tycoon visits to connect with the country of his mothers birth through the lens of a camera. He is introduced to Ana whose family helps reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War. His photographs leave him with questions, and they reveal a dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


Ninth House- Leigh Bardugo

Release Date: October 8th, 2019

Leigh Bardugo has become an auto-buy author for me at this point. This is a book about a young woman named Galaxy “Alex” Stern, who was accepted into the freshman class of Yale. She led a tumultuous early life, shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs etc. By the age of 20, she was the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. When she is offered a full ride to one of the world’s most elite university, she takes it. Having doubts as to why she was given this opportunity, she arrives in New Haven with a task from her mysterious benefactors: monitor the activities of Yale’s secret societies. I’m curious to see what Leigh Bardugo can do outside of her Grishaverse universe. This comes out October 8th and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


The Starless Sea- Erin Morgenstern

Release Date: November 5th, 2019

Zachary Ezra Rawlins discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, he is entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors and nameless acolytes when he comes across a story from his own childhood. As he attempts to make sense of this he comes across clues -a bee, a key, and a sword- that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library that is hidden far below the Earth’s surface. He finds a curious place, a buried home for books that is so much more than meets the eye. This place is a place of lost cities and seas etc. With Maribel, a protector of the place and Dorian, a man with shifting alliances, Zachary the tunnels to discover his purpose- both in the book and in his own life.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


Crescent City- Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: March 3rd, 2020

Bryce Quinlan, a half-fae, half human loves her life in Lunathion-or Crescent City- until it comes crumbling down when a ruthless murder shakes the foundations of the city and her life. Some time passes, her job is dead end and she seeks only oblivion in notorious night clubs. Except until the murderer strikes again, and Bryce finds herself dragged into the investigation. She is paired with a Fallen angel whose past haunts him. Okay, so I know Sarah J. Maas is very controversial in the book community. You either love her or you hate her. I was a little disappointed with her last few previous works, but I’m curious about what Maas is going to do with a book labeled “Adult” I might wait a little on this one to see some reviews first.

Goodreads || Amazon (US)


What are some books that are you really excited for? I hope you have a wonderful rest of you day, and have a great weekend, and as always remember to keep reading!

~Cam

The Death of the Independent Bookstore and Print Media

The Bookstore

I live in a metropolitan area, but when I do a Google search for independent bookstores in my area, the closest one is 45 minutes away. The next closest one after that is an hour away. I wondered why that was for the longest time. I as an avid reader and someone who loves to support locally owned businesses I’m disappointed. I love to peruse bookstores. I love to walk through the shelves and get lost in a sea of pages, running my fingers down the neatly placed spines of the books, stopping every once in a while to read the synopsis on back covers. I even love the way that a bookstore SMELLS. I know that anyone who loves books can relate to that sentiment. Now, I can just go to the large Barnes and Nobles that is 5 minutes from my house or order books from Amazon. I mean, that’s more convenient and it’s cheaper, but it’s not the same. That is so formulaic and doesn’t compare to the small hole in the wall store that is crammed with books. Books crammed in the shelves and a friendly neighborhood bookseller who knows you by your name, a feeling of home. When I travel, I make it a point to visit all the bookstores in that area and purchase at least one thing. It can be something small, a trinket or a bookmark, or a paperback that will be nestled into my luggage with the utmost care and taken back home to find it’s home on my shelf. My favorite part of travel is visiting all of the independent bookstores in that city.

Inside the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A.: Joe Leavenworth

Another thing that I love about independent bookstores is the feeling of being surrounded by the power of so many words and differing opinions. Yes, you can find that same feeling when you go to a Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million, or Waterstones, but the feeling is so much different when it’s a locally owned place.

That’s something I love about bookstores in general. I love the power that words have. They have a power like no other and can convey so many different ideas and viewpoints. But with an indie bookstore, you can feel the difference of supporting your community. I particularly have a love of used bookstores. You can find a well-loved book there, a book that has been read and loved by others and that has a certain kind of magic. I wonder what adventures the used books I have in my collection have taken. Did they make a voyage across an ocean? Did they get read on the beach? Where did the previous owner take them and what were they going through when they read it? Did they find the solace that I find when reading? Did they find the answers that they were looking for? Did this book change their life, did it make the difference?

Print Media is NOT Dead

There is so much talk about how bookstores are failing since, in addition to online shopping making it easier than ever to get your hands on books, print media is dead. People tend to prefer the functionality and portability of e-books and audiobooks, and that’s if they even bother to read at all. Did you know that the average person reads 12 books a year? But that number is inflated by avid readers, and the number that was reported most is 4. I’m not here to judge those who don’t choose to spend their time curled up with a book, as I understand that not everyone has an interest in it, but that number was still a shock to me. Furthermore, the ease that devices like Kindle, Apple Books, and others allow readers to read makes print books less popular. It is more convenient to carry around a device the size of a small notebook that holds thousands and thousands of titles.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love e-books and audiobooks as much as the next reader, but there is quite a magic to holding a print book in your hands. I realize that this is not a reality for everyone. Reading is reading, no matter how you consume the material. Print, electronically or by listening, you are still reading and it is a valid method to consuming literature no matter what people say.

Ben McNally Bookstore in Toronto
I’ve actually visited this bookstore and it was beautiful

But to me, for me, there is something about turning the pages. Something about how it feels to hold a book in my hands and feel the weight of it. I love to sit and get lost in a whole other world, a whole other universe. I read to escape. I read to escape the struggles of daily life and immerse myself in a world of intrigue, heroism, space battles, planets that are different than our own, etc. I read to escape the worries and stresses of life and to throw myself into parallel worlds I could never dream of visiting. I don’t think print is dead, in fact, I think it’s making a resurgence. With the internet making print books easier to purchase and the ability to find new titles in the blink of an eye, people are being connected with their new favorite titles in moments. I’ll support local every opportunity I get, and so should you! Support print material when possible and don’t forget to keep reading.

~Cam

Throwback Thursday: Top 5 Favorite Fantasy Novels

Hi there! Happy Thursday my fellow book lovers! I’m so happy that it’s almost Friday and have plans to spend the weekend curled up with a good book. I have a root canal scheduled for Friday (big ow) but once that’s over, I have time to spend curled up reading, with a nice cup of coffee and a pair of cats to keep me company! I also plan on playing some No Man’s Sky! NMS is a video game that allows you to explore a whole procedurally generated universe, so if you love space and you want to explore a universe with a very intriguing story, I’d highly recommend it. What are you doing this weekend?

Now, on to the post! This is something I want to do on a weekly basis where I talk about some of the past books that I’ve read and enjoyed in the past. For starters, I wanted to start sweet and simple and talk about some of my favorite fantasy novels. I’m talking the “I would take these on a trip to a deserted island” type books. These are in no particular order, but they’re some of my favorites. I’m going to try and include all of the information for where to get these and the Goodreads links. Please tell me what your favorite fantasy novels are and if any of yours match up with mine. If you don’t like the ones I mentioned, tell me why. I love to hear differing opinions and like to discuss the why and how of things. Anyway, onward:


Nevernight

Okay, okay, I know that I literally just read this, but it is one of my favorites nonetheless. While the writing style is definitely not for everyone, and I definitely struggled with it at the beginning, I quickly fell in love. I truly cared about the characters and the world was VERY fleshed out. There are details about the world that are elaborated upon in footnotes. This includes things like terms the reader would not be familiar with otherwise, customs and traditions that are important to members of the world and different facets of the religion. While others found that these foot notes distracted them from the flow of the story, I thought that they added insight that was very important to the story and helped me get a better understanding for the world. The characters, while un-likable at many points in the story, I found myself rooting for them and sobbing at certain points when they were in danger. I am currently reading the second book (at the time of this posting) and cannot wait to find out what happens. I recommend this book to anyone who loves grim, dark, fantasy stories, and doesn’t mind a lot of detailed gore.

Amazon(US) || Goodreads


Strange the Dreamer (Duology)

Okay, so I can’t really separate these two because they belong together. The writing is lyrical and poetic. This has some beautiful phrases and is very character driven. You’ll find yourself lost in the city of Weep and falling in love with all the characters, Lazlo, Sarai, Sparrow, Feral and Ruby, even Minya. I found myself lost in this world and feeling a connection to the characters that I had not felt in a very long time. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves character driven, lyrical stories. The ending of the first book broke me, and the second one healed me and then broke me again. Just read it already. Also, I have major cover love for the UK hardbacks and US paperback editions.

Amazon(US) || Goodreads


Six of Crows (Duology)

Okay, this is another duology in which I can’t separate the two books. This is another character driven book.(Do you see a pattern here?) This is a heist novel that follows 6 characters, Kaz, Jesper, Wylan, Matthais, NINA FREAKING ZENIK, and Inej. All of these characters are all very fleshed out and have compelling back stories that give you some background and why they make the choices they do. I love all of the characters, all for different reasons. There is some disabled rep(own voices as well, since the author Leigh Bardugo uses a cane like Kaz Brekker). There is also some LGBT rep. This story melted my heart and I felt connected with the characters. As previous stated, this is character driven, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fully packed with plot and drama. I highly recommend this series to those who love character driven stories chock full of action and drama.

Amazon(US) || Goodreads


Mistborn

I’ll tell you what, Sanderson has a WAY with words. He truly knows how to craft a universe, and what’s more is he knows how to craft a magic system. This isn’t a soft magic system either. It’s a hard magic system that has rules that cannot be broken, which I love. Brandon Sanderson also knows how to craft characters and make you feel something.The characters are all their own people with their own personality. This is a story where the bad guys won and the aftermath of this. The story tells of the rebellion that ensues afterward. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve read this, so the details are a little blurry, but I plan on re-reading this soon.

Amazon(US) || Goodreads


The Lies of Locke Lamora

The tale that Scott Lynch has woven in The Gentleman Bastards series (at least what I’ve read) is amazing. This is such a self contained world and you really get to know the city of Camorr. This book probably has one of the best friendships of all time. The characters are compelling and morally gray. I truly loved reading this and read the entire book on the edge of my seat. Again, this story is very character driven and you focus on the relationships and friendships that are formed. I highly recommend that you pick this one up.

Amazon(US) || Goodreads


There’s my list! What’s yours? Comment below and tell me some of your favorites! I’d love to hear from you.

~Keep reading,
Cam 🙂