Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicles #2) by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Harper Voyager
Release Date: 7th September 2017
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Mia Corvere, destroyer of empires, has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry do not believe she has earned it.

Her position is precarious, and she’s still no closer to exacting revenge for the brutal death of her family. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.

When it is announced that Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself into slavery for a chance to fulfill the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

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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, secrets are revealed and the body count rises within the collegium walls, Mia will be forced to choose between her loyalties and her revenge.

WELL SHIT HAS CERTAINLY HIT THE FAN HASN’T IT LADS?

Falling in love with Nevernight was such a surprise for me. I hadn’t heard of it, was given an ARC, and fell head over heels with the language, concept, the setting, and just everything about it. I still can’t decide whether to call it YA or not, and whether it would be insulting to assume that this is not for adults just because of the violence, swearing and sexual scenes (like come on, young adults watch Game of Thrones, it’s not like they’re new to it), but at the same time, I can never find these books in the YA sections of bookstores, so the marketing is different, who knows.

But I’ve always shied away from adult fantasy because of some of the content; primarily male writers who can’t or won’t write female characters, with plots that are all just Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones regurgitated en masse. And while Nevernight and it’s sequel, Godsgrave, don’t have the most unique plot you’ve ever heard of, I am still enthralled by the twists and turns that this series has, and what it will do to keep you on your toes.

It’s getting better and better too, I cannot wait to stick this on lists of fantasy reads you SHOULD be reading this year and talking about it lots all over my social medias. If you love foul mouthed, bloody thirsty anti-heroines who possess the magic of shadows and will stop at nothing for revenge against the death of her family, including competing in one of the deadliest fighting matches in the country, then look no further than Mia Corvere.

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Hollie’s Fave Books 2016

Hello, and welcome to the end of 2016!

Thank fuck.

This year, while it hasn’t been pleasant for any of us (be real), it has been pretty excellent for reading. Whether they’re published in 2016 or earlier, all these books, including many others, will hold a special place in my heart.

 

 

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson


I adore Jandy Nelson’s writing, and after reading I’ll Give You The Sun back in ’15, I don’t know why I didn’t pick up her debut novel earlier. I grabbed it right before I flew to Spain for a week climbing/walking, and I read the majority of it on the side of a mountain against a rock that blocked me from the southern Spanish sun.

I read a lot of contemporaries to try and find what Jandy Nelson does, but I’m often left with lack luster plots and carbon copy characters. I just crave more of what I’ve read because these two books are the only ones she’s ever released, and it saddens me. But hey, quantity over quality, right?

The Sky Is Everywhere tells the story of Lennie Walker, a teen who recently lost her sister and is going through the grieving process along with her grandmother and her sister’s boyfriend. It is heart-wrenching, hilarious, and very real. I love how Jandy Nelson can write sibling relationships so beautifully, and it’s a real hooker of a premise. My review is here.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman


I have literally not shut up about this book since I read it back in April. It seems March – June were the months for good contemporaries. This is Alice Oseman’s second novel, and her debut novel, Solitaire, is excellent, but I related to it too much and it creeped me out, so I only gave it four stars (is that bad?).

Radio Silence is about Frances Janvier, a study machine, who wants nothing more to succeed in her education. But, the British school system likes to squash personality, and Frances is feeling it, until she meets Aled, a boy in the year above, who is a little similar to Frances than she first thought.

I wrote a huge review of Radio Silence because I could do nothing but gush. I’m 23, and I’ve never read a book about the ridiculousness of the British school system specifically. It affected me so much (obviously), but I never realised how screwy it can get until my brother, a kid who wasn’t so sure what he wanted to do, went through his GCSE’s. Radio Silence, though more about A-Levels and university, really spoke like a person who truly understood what it felt like to be tormented by school and make you think like it’s the most important thing in your life.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


Is this really bad timing? Probably, but I cannot change the past.

Nevernight was the first ARC I ever had accepted from Netgalley and I was very excited to read it. Despite hearing absolutely nothing about it, I’d seen the cover, saw who wrote it, and knew immediately that I was reading a future bestseller. Plus, it had a pretty cover.

I spent the majority of a 12 hour journey from my house to Bavaria (we went by car I KNOW) reading Nevernight on an e-reader, which was a bit of a struggle. I couldn’t decipher the footnotes and ended up skipping them, despite having inside them rich back stories and histories. I ended up loving everything about it; the plot, the characters, and found myself reading on the balcony of the AirBnB while the rain let loose on the Bavarian mountains. It’s undoubtedly adult, despite being YA, and I talked about that more in my review here.

However, in recent weeks, there has been controversy over the problematic content of Nevernight. I will not blindly defend the book nor Jay Kristoff, but I will say that you can still enjoy a book while acknowledging it’s problems and be a part of the community that asks for better in the future. I made a whole post about it all, which you can view here.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


So I read TSOA right at the beginning of the year, maybe even the first book I read this year? It was a library book and me desperate to read something with LGBT representation. I rarely read historical fiction, so I was apprehensive about what was going to happen.

But what actually happened was me finding one of my best reads of 2016.

TSOA is the story of Patroclus, an often forgotten voice in The Iliad, who meets Achilles, a demi-god destined to save Ancient Greece, as a child and depicts their relationship right up until adulthood and the tragic Trojan war. It was honestly a history lesson for me, which is such a stupid thing because I’m so ignorant about history. It’s so true that you have a larger appreciation for history when you’re older, well, in my case anyway. And, while this story was so, so sad, it has stuck with me even now 12 months later. My review is here.

Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab


 This would come to no surprise if you read my blog regularly.

I read Vicious a while ago and gave it four stars, but nothing left an imprint of V.E Schwab’s work more than A Darker Shade of Magic, which I read in January of this year, and it’s sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, which was released in February. Oh, didn’t I time that correctly.

Shades of Magic is the story of Kell, a rare kind of magician that can travel between universes, all connected by the city of London. After smuggling something he was not supposed to, Kell bumps into Lila Bard, a theif who longs for the adventure that Kell’s world can offer. But now, dangerous magic has been unleashed, and it threatens every single universe as they know it.

V.E Schwab is now one of my favourite writers. Not only have I met her numerous times and she’s just an all round lovely person, her writing is beautiful, thrilling, and encapsulating. You can very easily not put these books down if you so wished and just read until the very end. I love all the characters, but especially Rhy Maresh, the prince of Red London and Kell’s brother. But really, I love a story when it’s easy to identify who your favourite character is, and the Shades of Magic series mixes that in with killer plot and an envious magic system. My reviews for ADSOM and AGOS.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater


Do I understand the plot of The Raven Cycle? Hmm, not really. But I am in love with it?

You bet your ass I am.

The Raven Cycle centers around Blue Sargent, an ungifted teen with a family of clairvoyants, who falls into place with a group of private school boys on a quest to find a dead Welsh king who will grant them all the wishes in the world.

The Raven King is the final book in the quartet, and is literally the definition of beauty. The whole series does have the story of finding this Welsh king running through it, but really, I like to just focus on the characters and their stories, their histories, and how the true meaning of friendship runs through the whole narrative. the hunt is the thing that brings them together, but it is not the thing that makes the story incredible. Each character is fleshed out and so diverse that you don’t end up doing that thing where you don’t know who’s talking; you know, and you fall in love with all of them. My review for The Raven King is here, but I wouldn’t read it unless you’ve read the previous books!

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo


And while this list is in no particular order, I feel like I may have saved the best until last.

Crooked Kingdom is the last book in the The Dregs trilogy, and tells the story of Kaz Breker and his gang of theives, spies and sharpshooters, who pull a heist when offered a deal they cannot refuse. And it’s glorious. I’ve been calling it a fantasy Ocean’s Eleven, but it is so much more than that. Each main character has their own POV, and it’s a fantastic insight into the story among different perspective.

I urge you to read any Leigh Bardugo anyway, but it seems Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom comes out on top.

What are some of your favourite books from this year? Link me your blog posts in the comments and maybe I’ll find some of my favourite reads of 2017!

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Your Fave Is Problematic, What Happens Now?

This is not a new topic.

This is not something that has started happening suddenly. You just didn’t hear it, either because there wasn’t a platform that could let people be heard so quickly or so easily, or because those voices are the voices of people who are ignored and oppressed.

That’s right, a book you love, a book that may even be your absolute fave, has been called out as problematic.

So no book is perfect. I know, I know. But the sooner that is said, the better. The whole reason this discourse exists is because of that sentence; it is physically impossible to find a book that no matter who reads it, everyone will love it. Because it doesn’t exist.

With that in mind, let’s give this blog post a bit of context:

The online book community is a big one, especially on Twitter, where we are constantly in discussion about everything and anything, which is fantastic. But one thing that continually has the community divided is the calling out of problematic content, either already published or about to be published. Like I said, this is not something new; problematic books have been called out for years, but it’s a little more recent that it’s been done using Twitter threads by bloggers and other authors.

An example of universally accepted calling outs are Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey (and I’m lumping them together because a) one is a product of the other, and b) they both fall victim to the same criticism). These two series are well criticized for being misogynistic, perpetuating rape culture, glorifying abusive relationships, and romanticizing abusers. People got defensive, and instead of actually listening, they shouted.

This reaction is natural, but also does nothing to help the matter.

More recently, and on a smaller scale (to a certain extent), minority voices in the online book community have started calling out problematic books on Twitter. Examples include Sarah J Maas’ books, soon-to-be-released The Continent, and in the last few weeks, Nevernight. I wanted to write this blog post because before, I felt I could not speak about this subject from a personal point of view; but now that one of my favourite books of 2016, Nevernight, has been called out, I feel like I can talk about this in a way that will hopefully speak to others who have been in a similar situation and even perhaps dealt with it in the wrong way.

Because ooh boy, does it get dealt with in the wrong way.

So I read Nevernight around mid-July as an ARC. I loved it, and bought a shiny new hardback version when it came out. I raved about it in almost every bookish chat I joined on Twitter, and gave it a glowing review on Goodreads. Cut to a few months later, after seeing multiple call outs about other books that I neither care about or haven’t read, I see Nevernight be add to the pile people like to call ‘do not touch with a barge pole’.

Shit, I thought, and began reading every single thread and consistently monitoring Jay Kristoff’s Tweets like a hawk. Why? Why is this happening to a book I love?

In all seriousness, this is probably going to happen to a book you love.

So, while I’m bisexual and female, I still have a lot of privilege; I’m white, cis, able-bodied, and middle class. But let’s focus on white. As a white person, I have not been subject to racism. I have seen racism, most definitely, but I have never experienced it personally. And so it’s harder for me to notice implicit racism in the books I read because white people can very easily ignore racism, and they do, because that’s what society has taught us to do; everybody is a little bit racist, to quote Avenue Q.

So when I read Nevernight, I did not see racist depictions of any kind. But just because I did not see them, does not mean they’re not there, and this is why the online book community is causing so much drama.

Anjulie, a fellow book blogger, has a very insightful and educational blog post on her experiences with Nevernight and how, as a WOC, she read the book and saw these depictions, and better explains it all than me.

Now, this has happened, and people are calling my favourite book ‘trash’ and tweeting ‘yeah, this is coming right off my TBR pile’, what the Hell is going on? And what can I do?

The reality? Nothing.

Me reading Nevernight is in the past. Me falling in love with Nevernight has already happened. On the one hand, I could stand up and say ‘Yeah this book sucks’, but there are tweets and reviews and instagrams of me saying I love it, and so me saying I think this book sucks would be a fat lie. To me, it does not suck, but at the same time, I cannot ignore what people are saying about it. I can’t disregard how hurtful these depictions are to people just because I like the book. What, if you’re in this position, you should be asking yourself is not what should you do, but what shouldn’t you do.

First off, please, do not defend the book. This is not the same as disagreeing with a review where someone has said the book is shit, this is you, a person not affected by the problematic content, denying a person who is affected by the problematic content a voice. At this point, in a world where minorities are still oppressed through even craftier ways such as casual racism, we need these voices to call us out! And if you are a person who cares more about the book than the fight for equality within literature, then we’ve got a real problem on our hands. You also do not need to defend the author; a lot of people rushed to Jay Kristoff’s aid to harass the teenagers who were hurt by the depictions in his book. Jay Kristoff is a grown ass man and handled the situation fairly well, and you tweeting ‘They’re just cry-babies’ just makes you look like a cry baby.

You also need to not ignore these criticisms, just like you wouldn’t if you were considering reading the book. Nevernight has been slated for having the ‘savage’ depiction which, when based off of actual indigenous or native cultures, can be really damaging and racist. I am not about to ignore these criticisms; I want to know why I didn’t pick up on it before, and also I want to listen to the people who are speaking about it, because it is them who understand better than I do, and it is them who have to deal with this shit day in day out.

This doesn’t mean I have to toss my copy of Nevernight in the trash. But this also doesn’t mean I have to persuade people to ‘read the book then form an opinion’.

The best thing, at this point, is for me to understand that Nevernight is problematic, and to support the voices that are saying so by hoping that Jay Kristoff can do better. Because that’s all you can hope for; I don’t want Jay Kristoff to stop writing books, nobody wants to say to an author ‘You need to stop writing’, and so when problematic content crops up, all you can say is do better, please, because this should not be happening in 2016, in a community that prides itself on being diverse and inclusive.

Maybe an example with a much wider scope is Sarah J Maas…yeah, all of her books. SJM has a massive following, but almost all of her characters are white (with the POC characters appearing in one book at a time and dying at the end), as well as having skewed portrayals of healthy relationships and weird carbon copies of male characters that have ‘animalistic’ traits that force them to be dickheads. Despite mass uproar about this, people still try and defend their fave by calling POC jealous of SJM’s success, as well as voting for a SJM in every goddamn category in the Goodreads Awards. But you know what? You can still enjoy SJM while still calling for better, you can still hope that SJM sees the criticisms of her book and how they affect her readers (‘I want a boyfriend like so-so’), while reading every single one of her books, and the only way to do that is to make sure that the criticisms are heard loud and clear, instead of seeing the people who are genuinely affected by SJM’s lack of racial diversity as the enemy.

So what happens now?

The book you love is problematic, but that does not mean you are not allowed to like it anymore. Sure, the way you feel about it might automatically change, but this is pretty healthy. There are many people who still read/watch content that know how problematic it can be and have an awareness of the things it needs to improve on, but can still say they enjoyed the content as a whole. Coming up soon, I have a post where Nevernight is listed as one of my favourite books of 2016, because it is, but instead of pretending the criticisms never happened, I will explain them and hope people will take them into account before reading. Will this mean less people will pick it up? Probably. Are some people going to see the criticisms and call Nevernight a ‘dumpster fire’, hell yeah they are! This is the internet. But you can still listen to the people who are deeply affected by this on going racial stereotype that just does not seem to stop. It is far worse to flat out ignore what has been said than to acknowledge that sometimes even your faves don’t get it right.

But hey, there will always be better books. As long as you find them and read them and love them. There will always be books that get it right, that deserve to have the exposure.

Only you can decide if you like a book or not, the rest is just influence. I wrote posts on why liking things isn’t a bad thing and why disliking things isn’t a bad thing either. But completely disregarding problematic content is blind faith, and is part of the problem of why there is a lack of diversity within books.

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: 6th August 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Goodreads

Plot: Destined to destroy empires, Mia Covere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day that she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and demons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no Hogwarts, but Mia is no ordinary student.

The shadows love her. And they drink her fear.

I received an eARC by Harper Voyager in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve never read a Jay Kristoff book before. nevernight2

Yeah, I’ll probably get my head chopped off for saying that. But when I saw Nevernight on Netgalley I just went for it.

And oh my GOD IS IT FANTASTIC.

I hadn’t really known what to expect, I glanced at the plot, didn’t read any other reviews, and went ahead and stuck it on my kindle and had around 12 hours of travelling time to just read the shit out of it.

You’re immediately swept in, this very Italian inspired world full of dark magic and intrigue. It’s absolutely beautiful, from the descriptions of cities to the colourful language of the characters (which I’ll go on to in a minute), to the hilarious footnotes written by our comedic narrator.

Mia Corvere, despite only being a teenager, swears, a lot. I find it rather peculiar sometimes when a teenage character doesn’t swear at all, because it can’t be further from the truth. Despite being in a fantasy setting, Mia’s dialogue is funny and real and truthful. She’s furious, and why shouldn’t she be? Her family, her life, has been taken away from her. What better way than to just soak and boil in revenge and vengeance and be ready to slit the throat of anyone who crosses you? She’s so well rounded, so developed, and strong, in so many ways other than throwing daggers about.

This book was just a cacophony of awesomeness with so many elements drawn in to just make it a fabulous new release. It has action, violence, female friendship, and a whole lot of sex. I’ve always found sex in YA to be a bit timid and awkward, and that’s because it is when you’re a teenager. And while I agree that you can’t give a thumbs up to graphic violence in YA but turn your nose up at graphic sex, I think it’s best to just mention that while the scenes are definitely rather adult and sexy, you still might be a bit surprised that you’re reading a YA fantasy novel and not something from the passion section during these points.

Still, oh so imaginative and now I want to read everything Jay Kristoff has done. GET IT. READ IT. LOVE IT.


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