Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Godsgrave

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #2

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

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.


Godsgrave is the much anticipated sequel to Jay Kristoff’s 2016 hit, Nevernight. Kristoff’s work has previously been geared towards the young adult crowd, however, the Nevernight books ARE NOT YA FANTASY. Get this outta your heads, folks. This book isn’t for the faint of heart and contains copious amounts of violence, blood, and/or gore. Usually all three at once.

Mia Corvere has gone from apprentice assassin, to Blade of the Red Church, to a voluntarily enslaved gladiator. It is only fitting that a book so clearly inspired by Rome would have at least some gladiatorial combat featured, but an entire book where such is the game was nothing short of this reader’s delight. One of the very first scenes in Godsgrave is where Mia sets herself up to encounter a particular slaver in the Wastes, eventually making an arrangement with the slaver that she would be sold as a gladiatorii. This seems odd, right? Fortunately, this absurd act will get her closer to her heart’s desire than ever before if all the cards fall into place. Of course, there are struggles, subplots, and the ever present flashback segments that reveal ever so much about dark of eye, dark of hair, Mia Corvere. (And yes folks, in my head that little bit rhymed).

Mia is one of those characters that are just really fun to read about. You basically never know if she’s about to knife someone and there’s an instance in Godsgrave where you think she’s just gone full on backstabbing beastie, but she’s really not! It was great. I was 100% fooled. I wish Eclipse had gotten more development – she remains flat compared to Mister Kindly and his overabundance of sarcasm and questionable advice. The come and go nature of the shadowy companions in this installment lessened the overall amount of page time they both had, though the absences were relevant to the play of the story. The characters introduced in Godsgrave were fantastic, particularly Sidonius who started out being another crude muscle head, but was really just loyal to the wrong people.

I gotta say, Kristoff has succeeded in impressing me yet again. At this rate I’m actually going to have to read his other books just to see if they’re anywhere near this good. She comes across as this crazy tough, fearless girl but her inner thoughts are nothing but fear and fury. Her past haunts her more than anything, but it also drives her forward. Without that I think she would be mostly empty. It leaves me wondering how things will wrap up in the final book! I would highly recommend this series, particularly if you want to see an epic battle between mere mortals and an epicly sized sand beasty reminiscent of the worms from Dune.

Kangaroo Too by Curtis C. Chen – Review

Cover- Kangaroo Too

Published: June 20, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Kangaroo #2

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Set in the same world as Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen’s Kangaroo Too is bursting with adrenaline and intrigue in this unique outer space adventure.

On the way home from his latest mission, secret agent Kangaroo’s spacecraft is wrecked by a rogue mining robot. The agency tracks the bot back to the Moon, where a retired asteroid miner―code named “Clementine” ―might have information about who’s behind the sabotage.

Clementine will only deal with Jessica Chu, Kangaroo’s personal physician and a former military doctor once deployed in the asteroid belt. Kangaroo accompanies Jessica as a courier, smuggling Clementine’s payment of solid gold in the pocket universe that only he can use.

What should be a simple infiltration is hindered by the nearly one million tourists celebrating the anniversary of the first Moon landing. And before Kangaroo and Jessica can make contact, Lunar authorities arrest Jessica for the murder of a local worker.

Jessica won’t explain why she met the victim in secret or erased security footage that could exonerate her. To make things worse, a sudden terror attack puts the whole Moon under lockdown. Now Kangaroo alone has to get Clementine to talk, clear Jessica’s name, and stop a crooked scheme which threatens to ruin approximately one million vacations.

But old secrets are buried on the Moon, and digging up the past will make Kangaroo’s future very complicated…


Still full of crazy spy missions, wormhole pockets, and bizarre descriptions of the time, Kangaroo Too was a tremendously fun second installment. I’m surprised at how little buzz I’ve seen for Chen’s sci-fi spy series and hope that my reviews of both Waypoint Kangaroo and Kangaroo Too will persuade you to try it out. These would make fun vacation reading material!

This time around Kangaroo and Dr. Jessica Chu (Surgical) have been assigned to go rendezvous with a contact on the moon in an attempt to track down Sakraida, former D.Int and turncoat. Everything is going according to plan until Jessica Chu gets accused of murder. They’re super-secret government agents so no big deal, right? WRONG! Dr. Chu is in custody and Kangaroo offers himself up as her defense attorney, which couldn’t possibly go wrong. Things only get more interesting from this point on – moon terrorism, secret government projects, moon bases, robot hordes, and clones. Every page was something new and/or exciting and kept me turning pages in anticipation of the next wild action scene. The combination of the characters and plot keep the pace moving along smoothly with nary a moment of boredom.

Kangaroo Too was definitely a fun read on par with the first book, Waypoint Kangaroo, and I was left with a certain sense of eagerness for the next installment. Curtis C. Chen has done a great job of incorporating humor into a serious plot arc. I was left with a goofy smile plastered on my face, pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the antics of Kangaroo despite typically being put off by “funny” books. This book would work well enough as a standalone for anyone thinking of jumping in now, but as with all series, you’ll miss some key points/event from the first book.

A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden – Review

Cover- A Gathering of Ravens

Published: June 20, 2017

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Standalone

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: 

To the Danes, he is skraelingr; to the English, he is orcneas; to the Irish, he is fomoraig. He is Corpse-maker and Life-quencher, the Bringer of Night, the Son of the Wolf and Brother of the Serpent. He is Grimnir, and he is the last of his kind–the last in a long line of monsters who have plagued humanity since the Elder Days.

Drawn from his lair by a thirst for vengeance against the Dane who slew his brother, Grimnir emerges into a world that’s changed. A new faith has arisen. The Old Ways are dying, and their followers retreating into the shadows; even still, Grimnir’s vengeance cannot be denied.

Taking a young Christian hostage to be his guide, Grimnir embarks on a journey that takes him from the hinterlands of Denmark, where the wisdom of the ancient dwarves has given way to madness, to the war-torn heart of southern England, where the spirits of the land make violence on one another. And thence to the green shores of Ireland and the Viking stronghold of Dubhlinn, where his enemy awaits.

But, unless Grimnir can set aside his hatreds, his dream of retribution will come to nothing. For Dubhlinn is set to be the site of a reckoning–the Old Ways versus the New–and Grimnir, the last of his kind left to plague mankind, must choose: stand with the Christian King of Ireland and see his vengeance done or stand against him and see it slip away?

Scott Oden’s A Gathering of Ravens is an epic novel of vengeance, faith, and the power of myth


Amongst the readers of the grimdark subgenre, A Gathering of Ravens has been highly anticipated and for good reason. To me it read like Beowulf meets the History Channel’s Vikings and held all the gravitas of an epic of old.

The story itself feels quite dense and isn’t something I could read all in one go. I read small chunks of story over the course of several days and still wish I could have spread it out a little more so it could be properly digested. Nonetheless, it was well written and I enjoyed the meandering journey taken by our characters Grimnir and Etain. Grimnir is known by many names, but for our purposes let’s simplify things and say that he is an orc from legend. Grimnir is on a journey of revenge and Etain is his unwilling guide to England and beyond to Ireland. Eventually she willingly accompanies Grimnir further than she truly needs to because someone’s got to retell this epic story of revenge, right?

A Gathering of Ravens is much more plot driven than character driven, making it more difficult to really bond with the characters as you read. I found that I didn’t particular care about their fates because I felt removed from the plights, successes, and failures they faced. I did warm to them by degrees as the story progressed but it took to around the 50% mark for this to happen. Grimnir’s revenge (a cool alternate title) is the primary plot arc, but the interactions between Etain and Grimnir’s respective beliefs is a close second. Prior to her capture, Etain was disguised as a monk and headed to the monastery of Roskilde to pursue her passion and bring the Danes to Christ. Grimnir is a believer in Odin, the great end time of Ragnarok and all the other Norse mythos that goes along with that. The two butt heads frequently, especially at first, but once Etain and Grimnir traverse the roots of Yggdrasil she cannot deny that the world has depths of which she was unaware. Grimnir also cannot deny that Etain’s belief in Christ is powerful and potent against his kind.

Overall, A Gathering of Ravens was very good and I would go so far as to call it a classic in the making, if only because of the subject matter and the skill in which Oden wove this story. This is essentially a story of revenge, but if you look a bit deeper, it is also a story of what happens when two worlds collide. Christianity is pushing out the Norse mythos, causing strife between those that believe and those that do not adding an additional layer of depth to an already detailed story. I look forward to checking out more of Scott Oden’s books in the future and hope to find some more awesome historical fantasy.

Stacking the Shelves: 3/9/17

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!


It seems a little early to be posting this, but in actuality it’s a bit late. I intended to post this on Saturday, but my weekend was super busy!

Received for Review:

0304171910

A Gathering of Ravens by Scott Oden

Ever since seeing Scott’s posts about his upcoming book on Facebook I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. Thanks to Thomas Dunne Books, I did!!

Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer

This was surprise book mail from the folks at Tor. I hope to check this one out in the next few months (busy schedule). I think the covers for Palmer’s books are beautiful and she writes hardcore, dense science fiction.

Cover- Brother's Ruin

Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman

I honestly know very little about this book and can only say that the synopsis intrigued me enough to request it on NetGalley.

 

Purchases:

0307172003.jpg

I picked up a great trio of books from Amazon, including With Blood Upon the Sand, The Valiant, and Kings of the Wyld. I’ve seen fantastic reviews for each of these and can’t wait to check them out!!

When Audible has a sale what do you do? Well, stock up of course! I picked up Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, and The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman for $4.95 each last week. I’ve already finished Ink and Bone and it exceeded my expectations. Such a cool book!

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Review

cover-certain-dark-things

Received from Goodreads giveaway in exchange for honest review.

Published: October 25, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy – Urban

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, has been selected as a finalist for the British Fantasy, Locus, Aurora and Solaris awards, and was named on seven year’s best lists in 2015: B&N’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, RT, BookRiot, Buzzfeed, io9, Vice, and Tor.com. She has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows.


Certain Dark Things is one of those vampire books that totally breaks the mold and sweeps you away. I was totally into vampire books as a teenager (Twilight and all that other crap) and I will admit that it’s king of a guilty pleasure to this day. Certain Dark Things is not like these other YA, paranormal romance things- it’s so legit.

Similar to Holly Black’s book The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, vampires are openly known to exist and governments across the world have begun persecuting them and forcing them from their countries. Many vampires have gone to Mexico and some of the other South American nations that are less hostile. Our story is based in Mexico City, which happens to be a vampire-free zone thanks to the human gangs uniting and forcing them from the territory, but Atl, a native vampire of the Tlahuihpochtli subspecies, is on the run and hiding in Mexico City. Her family was a major power in the northern drug trade, but was brutally murdered by the Godoy family who are Necros vampires. Nick Godoy is now hunting her and life has gotten significantly more difficult. She is alone but for her dog Cualli and her new human friend Domingo.

The story’s focus is primarily on Atl and Domingo and how they both deal with the threat of the Godoy goons. It’s a brilliant introduction to vampiric subspecies, culture, and the social impact of vampires in this new world. I do hope this will continue on as a series because there is SO MUCH POTENTIAL HERE! This could be a goldmine and really revamp (no pun intended) the vampire fiction subgenre, which suffered a case of paranormal romance for a number of years. While there is a slight note of romanticism in this book, it’s not actually what the book is about- the whole plot doesn’t center on Atl and Domingo’s relationship, though that’s certainly a big part of it.

I really enjoyed reading through Certain Dark Things and found it to be a breath of fresh air! I think fans of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown or Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson will really dig this. I can’t wait to see what else the author has in store for readers. I hope we’ll get to see more of the other vampire species that were mentioned in the information section at the end of the book because they all sound super interesting. Some mentioned had mind reading powers, bioluminescence, and even shape-changing abilities! Not you’re run of the mill vampires, huh?

 

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff – Review

Cover- Nevernight

Published: August 9, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 448 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?


Prior to reading Nevernight, I had heard much praise for the talents of Jay Kristoff but hadn’t ever had the chance to read any of his books. Now that I’ve remedied that particular problem I can officially say that I want to read all his other books too, just to see if they’re on the same level of awesome as Nevernight! It was SO GOOD. I would describe it as a little bit of Throne of Glass mixed with a little bit of The Lies of Locke Lamora mixed with just a *dash* of revenge. What makes it even better is that it’s not a YA fantasy, so it’s downright brutal!

In a world where three suns burn in the sky and true dark only comes every 2 ½ years, Mia Corvere is out for revenge and the only way she can get it is by joining the Red Church, the most deadly assassins in the world. There she will hone her skills, confront her nightmares, and learn more secrets than she knew existed. The year she spends with the Red Church is fraught with peril.  Each class Mia takes brings such interesting dangers ranging from the possibility of dismemberment to the potential to be captured by the Luminati. Through all of this Mia has to remember her mantra of “Never forgive. Never forget” and that the only friend she has is Mister Kindly, her shadowy not-cat companion.

The overall plot of Nevernight is classic- revenge against those who have committed wrongs/atrocities etc., but that’s really what makes this book so great. There are very few things better than a classic revenge story, especially when it’s so well written. Yeah, we know what the character’s goal is, but it’s not about the goal. It’s about the journey the character takes to get there and in this case we aren’t guaranteed that Mia will achieve her end. She could always fail spectacularly and have a gruesome end, but I don’t think that will be the case. The real jewels in this story are the subplots, all those little plot lines that are both interesting and essential to the main arc of the story. As we progress through this first installment so many questions arise, from who’s murdering acolytes to what a darkin really is. I’m definitely going to leave you hanging about the darkin thing, but trust me it’s SO AWESOME.

This book is so full of lovely little details, tidbits of information, and curiosities. The city of Godsgrave, where we begin, is named after the gargantuan spine and ribs that citizens have carved luxury apartments into. Kristoff gives us his world’s history, theology, and culture. I highly recommend picking this up once it’s released on August 9!!! The book itself is gorgeous and has THREE maps, which is like practically unheard of… okay, okay, so there are other books with an abundance of maps, but you know what I mean. Just read it because otherwise you’ll be missing out on the start of a fantastic new series!

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C.Chen – Review

Cover- Waypoint Kangaroo

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Published: June 21, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

 

 

Synopsis

A high octane science-fiction spy thriller that puts a new spin on the outer space adventure, WAYPOINT KANGAROO kicks off a blockbuster series full of adrenaline and intrigue.
Kangaroo isn’t your typical spy. Sure, he has extensive agency training, access to bleeding-edge technology, and a ready supply of clever (to him) quips and retorts. But what sets him apart is “the pocket.” It’s a portal that opens into an empty, seemingly infinite, parallel universe, and Kangaroo is the only person in the world who can use it. But he’s pretty sure the agency only keeps him around to exploit his superpower.

After he bungles yet another mission, Kangaroo gets sent away on a mandatory “vacation:” an interplanetary cruise to Mars. While he tries to make the most of his exile, two passengers are found dead, and Kangaroo has to risk blowing his cover. It turns out he isn’t the only spy on the ship–and he’s just starting to unravel a massive conspiracy which threatens the entire Solar System.

Now, Kangaroo has to stop a disaster which would shatter the delicate peace that’s existed between Earth and Mars ever since the brutal Martian Independence War. A new interplanetary conflict would be devastating for both sides. Millions of lives are at stake.

Weren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

This outer space thriller marks Chen’s debut. Chen has an extensive network of connections to prominent science fiction authors, and has studied under John Scalzi, James Patrick Kelly, and Ursula K. LeGuin.


I was very excited to receive an ARC of Waypoint Kangaroo from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press because I requested it on a crazy whim. I really had no idea what it was about and hadn’t heard any coverage from other bloggers, but I knew it was a sci-fi spy story and that sounded pretty good. It’s hard to beat a good spy story and this one didn’t disappoint in the least.

Kangaroo is an agent with an unusual ability- he can open a portal to another dimension. This sounds very exciting but in reality it’s mostly just a limitless storage device that other people can’t see or access. He’s average in appearance and tells really terrible jokes at inappropriate times, but he’s an indispensible asset to his super secret spy team and by asset I mean that he’s basically an experiment and he’s constantly monitored by his handlers. Now that I think about it, he’s a slightly more sci-fi version of Chuck Bartowski from the tv series Chuck. Man I loved that show…

Our special agent gets sent on a mandatory vacation to Mars to keep him from being interrogated by the dreaded auditors and being revealed as the weakest link. Of course the vacation doesn’t go smoothly and Kangaroo (aka Evan Rogers) finds himself in the middle of an interplanetary crisis. It starts out with the murder of several passengers and escalates quickly from that point. In between unmanned space walks and murder investigations, Kangaroo finds time for some romantic escapades that involve the purchase of an obscenely expensive bottle of wine. The actual spy part of the story kept me on my toes the whole time! I genuinely had no idea who to suspect or what the motive for the crime could possibly be until it was stated rather clearly near the end of the book. It was unpredictable, with lots of twists and turns and people being framed for crimes they didn’t commit. I have genuine appreciation for plots that I can’t predict and respect their authors even more.

Overall, Waypoint Kangaroo was a very entertaining read- perfect for summer vacations or light reading. There will be at least one sequel to Waypoint Kangaroo and I look forward to seeing how the characters change and what types of trouble Kangaroo will manage to get himself into.

Upcoming Releases: June 2016

Cover- The Wheel of Osheim

The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence

Release Date: June 7, 2016

Publisher: Ace

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Release Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Solaris Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Stiletto

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

Release Date: June 14, 2016

Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Waypoint Kangaroo

Waypoint Kangaroo by Curtis C. Chen

Release Date: June 21, 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- The Weaver's Lament

The Weaver’s Lament by Elizabeth Haydon

Release Date: June 21, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Age of Myth

Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Publisher: Del Rey

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Dark Side

The Dark Side by Anthony O’Neill

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

And I Darken

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE

 

 

Cover- Wolf's Empire Gladiator

Wolf’s Empire: Gladiator by Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Publisher: Tor Books

Genre: Fantasy

Synopsis: HERE