Friday, July 21, 2017

Review: Trust by Kylie Scott


Trust by Kylie Scott
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Being young is all about the experiences: the first time you skip school, the first time you fall in love…the first time someone holds a gun to your head.

After being held hostage during a robbery at the local convenience store, seventeen-year-old Edie finds her attitude about life shattered. Unwilling to put up with the snobbery and bullying at her private school, she enrolls at the local public high school, crossing paths with John. The boy who risked his life to save hers.

While Edie’s beginning to run wild, however, John’s just starting to settle down. After years of partying and dealing drugs with his older brother, he’s going straight—getting to class on time, and thinking about the future.

An unlikely bond grows between the two as John keeps Edie out of trouble and helps her broaden her horizons. But when he helps her out with another first—losing her virginity—their friendship gets complicated.

Meanwhile, Edie and John are pulled back into the dangerous world they narrowly escaped. They were lucky to survive the first time, but this time they have more to lose—each other.

What I liked:

This is the first Kylie Scott book I've read, despite wanting to read one of her books for a long time. She has a lot of interesting-looking adult romance books published, and several are on my TBR. This book, Trust, is a Young Adult contemporary romance novel. Usually I don't go after YA contemporary, but this one came recommended by Nick @ Nick & Nereyda's Infinite Booklist. I really enjoyed the book!

The story starts with the terrifying scene of Edie being held hostage at gunpoint in a convenience store by a man who was on drugs and definitely off his rocker. She is saved by a young man named John, who was also at the store. As it would turn out, John is a senior at the high school to which Edie has transferred. Edie and John form a strange but strong bond, trusting each other with their experiences and feelings, becoming friends over the terrible event. John is not someone Edie would take home to her home - he used to sell weed, he used to sleep through his classes, he still has a bad-boy reputation. But John becomes an important part of Edie's life, and she needs him as her friend. But things get complicated when Edie decides she wants to punch in her V card, and John offers to help her with this first. This story is about two teens going through a life-changing event, coming back from the trauma, and discovering life after it. 

This book had a Katie McGarry vibe to it and I love that. If you've not read any of McGarry's books (Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, etc., I highly recommend you do so). Or Kami Garcia's The Lovely Reckless. This book is right up there with those amazing YA contemporary romance novels. 

Edie is one of the most interesting and unique YA heroines I've coming across. She is full of spunk and confidence, though she has her insecurities and vulnerabilities. She is somewhat fat and she is just fine with her size, but she gets bullied a lot for her weight. People say things to her, pick on her, judge her, and it hurts her. But she is such a strong and confident girl and she stands up for herself. Edie has a toughness and a likable nature that made it hard not to adore her.

John has the cool, calm, and collected thing going on. He is a quiet brooder, a guy of few words, a smart student who just needs a chance. He used to deal marijuana, and he has a player's reputation among the ladies, and the teachers in school don't give him a chance. But he cleans up his act after the robbery incident, and he starts to do better. John has a bad-boy vibe that I loved, but he is also so much more. I like that he is has that tall, dark, and handsome persona, but he also has insecurities and weaknesses. He isn't a perfect guy and that makes him more likable. I love how protective he is, how he would do anything to help and protect Edie and make her happy. He is a closet sweetie!

I'm going to be honest - I love the good-girl/bad-boy romance trope. I am sucker for the trope - it's probably second only to hate-to-love romances. Edie used to go to a private all-girls school and she got excellent grades. Now she goes to the public school. John has that bad-boy vibe, and he really is a little "bad" (dealing marijuana when you're underage is illegal, no matter which state you're in). It's opposites attracting, and in this case, a good, sweet girl and a bad, brooding boy.

The romance is sweet and subtle and swoony! Edie develops a crush on John fairly quickly after meeting him in the high school (after the robbery incident), but she wants to be friends with him because she needs the friendship (it is good for her). When they have sex (for Edie to lose her virginity - John offered because he wanted her first time to be with someone she liked and trusted, not with a random guy from school), things change. The romance was fun and sweet and tender, and the chemistry (especially once lose-my-virginity thing comes up) gets pretty hot. These two are a great couple, in terms of chemistry and emotional bond. They have a strong friendship but they also have a good physical connection.

This story is so much more than a romance, though the romance is very important. I love that it deals with certain tough issues, like Edie dealing with the bullies, body positivity, second chances, drugs, family, trust, good friendships. Edie has several great girl friends, and John has a really great guy friend, and all of these friendships are strong and healthy.

I didn't expect to pick up this book because I'd barely even heard of it, but I'm glad I decided to take a chance on it. The story was so wonderful and uplifting, even in the slightly dark moments. I love how there was so little drama in the romance (and the story in general), and how communication was done well (i.e. there was no miscommunication drama). This was a wonderful YA contemporary romance story, one I may come back to in the future!

What I Did Not Like:

I can't think of anything specific! I liked this book a lot and I'm going back and forth between 4 stars and 5 stars.

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes YA contemporary romance, or tough-issue YA contemporary. I don't typically enjoy YA contemporary but when there is a strong, swoony romance, I'm in. This book was very well-written, very engrossing, and so worth the read. It was funny, it was sad, it was heart-warming, it was swoony. 

Also, like I said, this is Young Adult! Not New Adult or Adult. The sex scenes aren't super explicit (but they exist). So readers of many ages can try this one, no need to worry about well-detailed sex scenes or anything like that. (I love adult romance, so I'm not knocking well-detailed sex scenes!)

Rating:

4.5 stars. I'm rounding down to 4 stars as per my usual policy but I may change my rating and round up in the future - perhaps if/after I reread the book. I will definitely be rereading it! This is a YA contemporary romance novel that you do not want to miss, especially if you're a fan of Katie McGarry or Kami Garcia, or even Huntley Fitzpatrick.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Swoon Thursday (#234): Buried Heart by Kate Elliott


- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting


This week, my swoon is from Buried Heart by Kate Elliott!


(Y'all, I'm sharing a slightly swoonier-than-usual swoon this week. I hope no one minds! Besides the swoony nature of the scene, I liked the mood of it - and the last two lines.)

He sweeps me up int this arms and carries me through the open doors into the bedchamber. The bed stands in the center, the only object left in the room. He pushes aside the draped netting. His manner is as solemn and desperate as my own, none of the laughter and wrestling and endearing awkwardness of our other times. Because the lamp has been left on the balcony, we are left in the shadow of each other, communicating by sighs, by the tough of lips and the pressure of hands.

The heart has its own speech. That is the only language and light that we need.

- Hardcover, page 157




I loved this series and I'm very happy with the conclusion. It's a great series to binge-read!

Promo and Giveaway: The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert


Welcome to the pre-order blast for The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert! This is the companion sequel to The Devil's Daughter, which published earlier this year in January. I loved The Devil's Daughter and highly recommend it. Check out The Hunting Grounds!


About the Book:


The Hunting Grounds by Katee Robert
Book Two of the Hidden Sins series
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 25, 2017

Official Summary:

For two FBI agents with a past, love becomes a matter of life and death in the new Hidden Sins novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Katee Robert.

Maggie Gaines used to be an FBI agent—top of her class and one of the bright, up-and-coming stars—until she spectacularly fell apart during her first high-profile case. That was eight years ago. Now she’s a ranger at Glacier National Park, and she’s found some measure of peace. But when the body of a murdered woman is discovered, she must finally put the past behind her and work with the one man she thought she’d never see again.

For months, Vic Sutherland has been hunting a killer who’s been targeting unsuspecting hikers in national parks—and now the predator has come to Glacier. Vic knows the case will bring him face-to-face with his former partner, yet nothing can prepare him for seeing Maggie again after all these years, or for the memories of passion it stirs in both of them.

As the investigation brings them closer together—and closer to the killer—Maggie and Vic fear they have only each other to trust. But even that might not be enough to make it out of Glacier alive.



Praise for The Hidden Sins Series:

“…a captivating read, made all the more rewarding when good triumphs.” Washington Post 

“Robert shows off her impressive versatility in this fast-paced and inventive new Hidden Sins series. The small-town setting is a masterful blend of quaint and oppressive, which ratchets the menace and thrill factor. The protagonists carry the full weight of their pasts with them, making their growing relationship as compelling as the mystery element in The Devil’s Daughter. With plenty of twists and betrayals, this is a book that is sure to earn Robert a wealth of new fans.” RT Book Reviews


About the Author:


New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Katee Robert learned to tell her stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her 2015 title, The Marriage Contract, was a RITA finalist, and RT Book Reviews named it 'a compulsively readable book with just the right amount of suspense and tension." When not writing sexy contemporary and romantic suspense, she spends her time playing imaginary games with her children, driving her husband batty with what-if questions, and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse.



The Excerpt:

Vic thought he was prepared. He wasn’t the type of man to spend too much effort worrying about what could possibly happen—it made more sense to deal with what did happen. He knew seeing Maggie again after all this time would be a shock, but they’d been partners for twelve months at best. There was no reason to think he couldn’t roll with this development the same way he rolled with every other. 

Then he arrived at Goat Haunt ranger station. He followed Wyatt out of the chopper, using a hand to shield his face from the wind the blades created. The ranger station was set against Upper Waterton Lake, and with the mountains in the background, it could have been a scene out of a painting. 

All of that paled in comparison to Maggie. 

She looked good. Better than good. During her time as his partner, she’d been too thin, running on too little sleep and too much coffee, and her health had suffered as a result. Obviously being a park ranger agreed with her. The unfortunate uniform did nothing to hide how her curves had filled out, her body honed from the many hours of hauling around a pack similar to the one he now carried. Her hair was longer, too, the dark locks pulled back into a braid that hit just past her shoulders. 

But she was still Maggie. 

Even in the bright sunlight, he could see the way her dark eyes flashed as her shock wore off. And her nose, the only feature of hers that could never be termed pretty, was the same—long and slightly crooked from where it’d been broken in the FBI academy. 

Maggie shook off her paralysis faster than he did. She frowned. “What are you doing here, Vic?” 

“Agent Sutherland’s here for the murder.” Wyatt stepped forward, breaking what remained of the spell cast between them. 

Rationally, Vic knew it had lasted seconds at most, but it felt like a small eternity. He struggled to put the past in the appropriate box to deal with when they weren’t on a case. When we aren’t on a case, I’ll leave . . . He shut the thought down. He had a duty to the victims, and letting himself get distracted by Maggie wasn’t going to find the unsub. 

Even if Maggie was a bright, shining star in the midst of darkness. 

He moved closer and slid off his pack. “Where’s the best place to talk?” 

For a second, it looked like Maggie would pepper him with more questions, but she finally nodded. “This way.”

Copyright © 2017 Katee Robert


The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Readathon and Giveaway: Wandering Star by Romina Russell


Happy Wednesday, friends! Two Wednesdays ago, I shared the Zodiac readathon that was happening. We've moved from rereading Zodiac to rereading Wandering Star. For my part of the tour, I've created a Wandering Star mood, inspired by Capricorn. Much of the book takes place on House Capricorn so it made sense to share some visuals based on this zodiac sign. Check it out!


About Wandering Star:


Wandering Star by Romina Russell
Book Two of the Zodiac series
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: December 8, 2015

Summary (from Goodreads):

Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn. 

But news has spread that the Marad--an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy--could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight. 

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there's much more to her Galaxy--and to herself--than she could have ever imagined.



The Series:

  
  

(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)


My Reviews:



My Capricorn-Inspired Mood Board:



Follow the Author:




The Giveaway:

Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Romina Russell’s Zodiac Series in paperback, including Zodiac, Wandering Star, and Black Moon (32.97) or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive a copy of Zodiac by Romina Russell (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on July 17th, 2017 and 12:00 AM on August 8, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about August 16, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.



Follow the Tour:

Week One:
July 17 – Bookiemoji – Book Photography
July 18 – The Book Talk – Book Photography
July 19 – The Eater of Books! – Wandering Star Mood Board
July 20 – Picture Books to YA – Review & Cookie Decorating
July 21 – The Book Nut – Galaxy Playlist

Week Two:
July 24 – In Wonderland
July 25 – The Hardcover Lover
July 27 – The Swoony Boy's Podcast
July 28 – Rachel's Book Reviews – Live Tweet Reading of Wandering Star

Week Three:
July 31 – The Wednesday Blog
July 31 – Feed Your Fiction Addiction
August 1 – YA and Wine – Review & Mood Board
August 2 – The Hermit Librarian – Wandering Star Playlist
August 2 – MundieMoms – Spotlight
August 3 – Pen and Parchment – YA Characters & Their Zodiac Sign
August 3 – The Biblio Life – Spotlight
August 4 – Four Violet


Be sure to participate in the Twitter chat on August 6th at 8PM EST, hosted by Summer @ ButterMyBooks!

Waiting on Wednesday (#238): Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.


This week, I'm featuring:


Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

An action-packed tale full of romance, royalty, and adventure, inspired by the story of Anastasia. Perfect for fans of Six of Crows, Cinder, and the cult classic television show Firefly.

Seventeen-year-old Ana is a scoundrel by nurture and an outlaw by nature. Found as a child drifting through space with a sentient android called D09, Ana was saved by a fearsome space captain and the grizzled crew she now calls family. But D09—one of the last remaining illegal Metals—has been glitching, and Ana will stop at nothing to find a way to fix him.

Ana’s desperate effort to save D09 leads her on a quest to steal the coordinates to a lost ship that could offer all the answers. But at the last moment, a spoiled Ironblood boy beats Ana to her prize. He has his own reasons for taking the coordinates, and he doesn’t care what he’ll sacrifice to keep them.

When everything goes wrong, she and the Ironblood end up as fugitives on the run. Now their entire kingdom is after them—and the coordinates—and not everyone wants them captured alive.

What they find in a lost corner of the universe will change all their lives—and unearth dangerous secrets. But when a darkness from Ana’s past returns, she must face an impossible choice: does she protect a kingdom that wants her dead or save the Metal boy she loves?



This sounds awesome! I love science fiction and I like the hinted romance in the synopsis. It doesn't hurt that the cover is so gorgeous! 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blog Tour Review and Giveaway: Buried Heart by Kate Elliott


Welcome to the blog tour for Buried Heart by Kate Elliott! I've had the privilege of reading this conclusion novel early, and I'm so excited to share my review with you. Don't miss this thrilling and unique YA fantasy series!



My Buried Heart Review:


Buried Heart by Kate Elliott
Book Three of the Court of Fives series
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 25, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

What I Liked:

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW***

When Court of Fives appeared on the YA scene in 2015, there were mixed reactions and mixed reviews. I wasn't sure I wanted to read the book, but I decided to go for it when I received a copy for review. I was pleased when I found that I enjoyed the book, and the next year, I really liked Poisoned Blade. Kate Elliott's storytelling has been solid and consistent throughout this trilogy - as one would expect from such a talented and successful author. I'm glad I took a chance on each book.

This conclusion novel begins with Jessamy, Kal, and others seeking safety from Nikonos, who has declared himself King. A revolution has been set in motion, and sides must be chosen. Kal finds himself in a position he never wanted - claiming the throne as king - and Jes finds herself looking for ways to unite Commoners and Patrons, Saroese and Efeans. Old prejudices and hatred die hard, and danger for both Jes and Kal is everywhere. Forced apart, can they unite under the same goals? Or will the war tear them apart as they fight on opposing sides? Everything comes to a halt in this conclusion novel, with a finale you won't see coming.

I'm going to try to be as vague as possible so I won't spoil anything for fellow fans of the series! In short, this book was action-packed, a little angst-ridden and heartbreaking, and in the end, very uplifting. Elliott took me through a full range of emotions, whether I liked it or not.

I'll start with the romance since it's fresh in my mind and it is a big part of the story. I was worried, because the synopsis makes it seem like there won't be a good ending for Kal and Jes. It makes it seem like they will grow apart. I will say that Kal and Jes do get separated in this book, in the physical sense. Emotionally, however, they are always close and love each other. It hurt to see them doubt each other and doubt the strength of their relationship, but politics and safety are what drive them apart (physically). This is the root of the angst that I mentioned.

Still, I liked the romance, as weird as that will sound from me. Kal and Jes needed that time apart to realize that they don't want to be apart. Kal had to make difficult choices, and Jes had to consider her options. In the end, both make the right choices and there is a positive ending for each of them (and both of them). A touch bittersweet, but extremely positive (I promise!). In terms of their relationship, they get closer physically, and emotionally too. I liked that they took things to another level and even with the distance between them, they never grew out of love.

Jes is as sturdy and strong as an anchor, in this book. She is a kickbutt heroine with a lot of punch that she is packing, and she is not afraid to charge forward without asking permission. She is fearless and selfless, a dangerous combination but one that makes her strong. She frustrated me a few times, but I understood her.

I adored Kal, even when he also frustrated me. Kal hated being put in the position of claiming the throne, and part of him blamed Jes. Kal grows into the role, but it's always clear that he doesn't want it. Kal had so many tough decisions to make, and none of them involved a happy ending for him, but I liked how the author made it work for him. Kal does get a happy ending, after all of the suffering he has gone through in this series, and that makes me happy. He is a good guy with a good heart and a strong set of morals.

This last piece of the story is incredibly action-packed and does not lack high stakes, tension, and uncertainty. A lot of time passes in this book - months at a time, weeks at a time, etc. Jes's sister Maraya is pregnant in the beginning of the story, and she has her baby towards the end of the story, so that gives you an idea of how much time passes. It's a long book with a lot of time passing but it doesn't feel like a long book. I flew through this one!

There are a lot of complexities to this story, like the topic of race, the politics surrounding race, family bonds, and even some magic. Family is a big part of the story - Jes's family is a little dysfunctional, but she loves her parents and her siblings. The magic in this series has always been a little mysterious, but it has its purposes and I'm glad for its existence. 

If there is one thing about this series that makes it stand out in YA lit, it is the world-building. I've not read any YA series quite like this one. Yes, many YA fantasy series tend to sound the same after a while. This series impressed me from the start, with the world-building. This world is one full of sexism and the regression of women's rights, as well as racism and its obvious impact on politics and the law. There is some Ancient Greece influence in this setting. Even though Jes won the Fives in book one, the Fives races come up in the subsequent books. This series' world is incredibly unique and thought-provoking and very well-constructed. 

I'm trying to be vague, but in terms of the ending - it's a good ending. It's better than I expected, because I was expecting something really heartbreaking. The ending is uplifting and sweet, with a tough of bittersweet. I'm glad Elliott chose this ending and not another less liked type of ending. Otherwise, you'd probably see a 1- or 2-star rating from me. No matter how good the majority of the book is, if the ending is poor (for a conclusion novel especially), my rating of the book plummets.

Overall, I was pleased with this finale. The plot worked for me, the pacing as great, the romance was a little angst-ridden but very realistic and swoony at times. I thoroughly enjoyed the series!

What I Did Not Like:

I would have loved for the romance to be completely angst- and drama-free. There isn't much drama, but a tiny bit is there, and there is a lot of angst (with Kal and Jes being separated by a great distance, and for quite a bit of time). No love triangle, though there is an annoying boy who is infatuated with Jes (don't worry, no love triangle). I would have loved more swoons and kisses and whatnot between Kal and Jes, but I also see why the author had them separated in this book. It made sense. But still.

Would I Recommend It:

I liked this conclusion novel a lot and definitely recommend it if you have read the previous books. This is a series worth finishing (something I struggle to do at times). I've not read any of Elliott's adult fiction books but I'm sure fans of her adult work would enjoy this YA series. This trilogy is one of the more unique series in YA that I've read - you've got to experience the world-building for yourself, to know what I mean. It's a great series to binge-read!

Rating:

4 stars. If the romance had been a little more swoony and less angst-ridden, I would have given this book 5 stars. It was a thrilling conclusion, with plenty of action, lives lost, and sacrifices made. Not to mention some swoon between Kal and Jes. Kate Elliott gave this series an excellent ending and I'm glad I finished this series.


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


Check out the series:

  
(Click on the covers for more information!)


About the Author:


Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. As a child in rural Oregon, she made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, and YA, including recent works Black Wolves, Court of Fives, and Cold Magic.

It should come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight. When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures amid dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling. With the three children out of the house, they now spoil the schnauzer.



The Giveaway:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of BURIED HEART, US Only.



Follow the Tour:

Week One:
7/17/2017- YA Books Central- Interview
7/18/2017- The Eater of Books!- Review
7/19/2017- Novel Novice- Guest Post
7/20/2017- Just Commonly- Review
7/21/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:
7/24/2017- My Thoughts Literally- Review
7/25/2017- Sarcasm & Lemons- Review
7/26/2017- Stephanie Plotkin- Review
7/27/2017- PaperTrailYA- Excerpt
7/28/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland- Review

Monday, July 17, 2017

Review: Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff


Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Book Two of the Nevernight Chronicles
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A ruthless young assassin continues her journey for revenge in this new epic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Jay Kristoff.

Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it’s 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 herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

Set in the world of Nevernight, which Publishers Weekly called “absorbing in its complexity and bold in its bloodiness,” Godsgrave will continue to thrill and satisfy fantasy fans everywhere.

What I Liked:

***SPOILER-FREE REVIEW*** (I promise!)

Believe it or not, I wasn't planning on reading this book, and for a couple of reasons. I read Nevernight last year (a little over a year ago) and enjoyed the book, but a year later, I couldn't remember much from the book (except a key death in the ending). I couldn't remember who Mercurio or Ashlinn or Scaeva were. Heck, I almost forgot who Mister Kindly was! So as Godsgrave began to pick up speed in publicity and marketing, I felt less inclined to read the book - partly because I couldn't remember much from Nevernight. The other reason was because I thought to perhaps binge-read the series, once the third book was published. I'm glad I decided to read Godsgrave now, even though the ending was quite the cliffhanger, and there is a good chance I will forget everything while waiting for the publication of book three. Kristoff has put together an excellent follow-up to Nevernight, and it will not disappoint.

In this novel, Mia Corvere has taken on a new task in her journey to get her revenge. She is now a Blade of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but the Red Church doesn't like her pursuit of revenge. She defies the Church, and has herself sold to a gladiatorial collegium in order to get closer to Scaeva and Duomo, who will make appearances during the grand games in which the gladiators fight. In the arena, Mia sheds more blood than she ever has, but she also makes unexpected allies. Her need for revenge competes with her loyalty and her conscience. And she will discover truths that she never thought possible, truths that will change her world.

At first I was a little daunted by the size of this book - most likely, it's no bigger than its predecessor, but still. It's a fairly long book. No matter though, because it was action-packed and twisted from start to finish. At no point was I lacking interest. Kristoff has upped the ante in this book, drawn the stakes higher, and given Mia more close calls. 

Mia is as clever and as fearless as always, but she also shows some vulnerability, to herself and to a select few people. She isn't cold and unbreakable as steel like her fellow gladiators think, but she is unshakable in her goals. Mia is a fierce girl who becomes not only driven by revenge (though it is always present on her mind). What happens when she starts to care about others, and her loyalty interferes with her quest for revenge? You'll find out in this book.

There are a lot of old and new secondary characters that make significant appearances. I won't mention too many names because things will become spoiler-y really quickly. There are a few people that you would never expect to see working with Mia, a few that you wouldn't expect Kristoff to take and dig deeper and redeem. My favorite secondary characters are some new ones that you'll meet - Sidonius, Bryn, Belle, and some others. Kristoff's characters are so likable, even the messed-up villainous antagonists. And of course, there were many Mister Kindly appearances, and Eclipse too. I love Mister Kindly and Eclipse's back-and-forth banter.

I was a little wary of the idea of the "grand games", because it is a concept that isn't new to fantasy series, especially in a sequel novel. These games were extremely bloody and merciless, and even though I knew Mia would walk away from each fight (this isn't a spoiler -- I doubt Kristoff would kill off his protagonist in book two of three), I felt a little uneasy. Kristoff doesn't hold back when it comes to the blood, gore, and #stabstabstab.

On that note, this is not a Young Adult novel. I think most people should know this by now, having read Nevernight. But in case anyone needs a reminder, this is not a YA book. Definitely adult. Lots of bloody murders in explicit detail. Oh, and there is sex in explicit detail. A fair amount, and right from the start.

I didn't think I would totally enjoy this book, given the ending of Nevernight, in which one of my favorite characters dies. But I liked this sequel. Kristoff did the series justice (so far). There is a massive cliffhanger at the end of this book, which is to be expected but is still annoying, but it ensures that I'll be reading book three!

What I Did Not Like:

There are only two things that I didn't enjoy about this book, and both are preferences of mine. I don't like love triangles, and this series definitely has one going on. There is a new love interest introduced in this book, and things go very far in that romantic direction. I don't really have a problem with this ship - I just don't like love triangles and at this point, there are two love interests.

The other thing? I'm not a fan of a certain sexual act that occurs in this book. Which is funny because I read a looooooot of adult romance novels - but this thing isn't usually in those romance novels, so I was a little taken aback. You can ask me about it privately, if you wish to know ahead of time!

Also, don't get me wrong - these are not negatives in terms of Kristoff's writing or anything like that. These are things that I typically don't like - but another reader might love.

Would I Recommend It:

If you read and enjoyed Nevernight, there is no way I wouldn't recommend reading this book. It's a good sequel - dare I say an even better novel - and worth the read. But like I said above, this isn't a YA novel (I know Kristoff has a lot of YA readers), and there is a lot of explicit content (killing/mutilation and sexual acts), so I don't recommend this book/series to younger readers. But I think most people know their limits so I probably don't need to state that.

Rating:

4 stars. I'm excited for the rest of the world to read this book because I have a feeling that the Nevernight fandom will explode after going through this one! Things get more and more intense in just about every area of Mia's life, and it's all leading to a showstopping conclusion in book three. I'll be waiting for it!


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