RUTHLESS GODS by Emily A Duncan

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become. 

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer. 


Title : Ruthless Gods
Author : Emily A Duncan
Series : Something Dark and Holy (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 544
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : April 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3 star review

I feel like I’m in exactly the same place with RUTHLESS GODS as I was with WICKED SAINTS. This series, the content in these books, the twisty story of betrayal and blood and more betrayal, is both worthy of love and full of frustration for me. The worldbuilding, the pantheon of gods, of monsters, of heretics and holy people, it’s all very complex and fascinating, but equally confusing and repetitive.

I feel this one did hold together better than book one, where we know so little and even less is made clear (which is apparently how the author wanted it), whereas things took a turn here that revealed both more and, in some ways, well.. not less but definitely not everything.

Another aspect that I both loved and didn’t was the romantic element(s). One couple I was hugely there for (yes, please, more), and the other? I felt smitten by it at times and over it for others. It’s a very push, pull, and then throw the other off a cliff kind of dynamic and it makes it fascinating and fun and also agonizing (not in a good way) as you struggle to keep up and, also, parse it all. Also like in book one, I’m pretty sure I would die for Serefin, and, I mean, I would at least call 911 for the others. If they asked me to.

So, yes, hardly a glowing review, but I think book three has the potential to knock this out of the park. We’re on stronger footing at the end of this installment — it definitely didn’t feel like book two syndrome — and if this trend continues it’ll be bigger and bloodier and probably even more betrayalier (it’s a word). I’ll read on. I’m two books in, after all; can’t stop me now.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEVER TELL by Lisa Gardner

A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun. 

D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and recognizes the woman–Evie Carter–from a case many years back. Evie’s father was killed in a shooting that was ruled an accident. But for D.D., two coincidental murders is too many. 

Flora Dane sees the murder of Conrad Carter on the TV news and immediately knows his face. She remembers a night when she was still a victim–a hostage–and her captor knew this man. Overcome with guilt that she never tracked him down, Flora is now determined to learn the truth of Conrad’s murder. 

But D.D. and Flora are about to discover that in this case the truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As layer by layer they peel away the half-truths and outright lies, they wonder: How many secrets can one family have?


Title : Never Tell
Author : Lisa Gardner
Series : Detective D.D. Warren (book ten)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 414
Genre : mystery/thriller
Publisher : Dutton
Release Date : February 19, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’ll be the first to admit that while it was Gardner, and her three cross-over series, that kicked off my renewed fascination with the thriller/mystery/detective genre back in 2016, the last few installments of this main series (correction, sorry, it’s been one book and one novella) just haven’t wowed me. For various reasons. But NEVER TELL? Hi hello, we’re back again.

This story slots in under the main Detective D.D. Warren series but, like most of Gardner’s books, there’s crossover. Recently, since book eight, the survivor of that story has become a supporting character as she transitioned into a vigilante slash confidential informant, aka CI, for DD. And she’s not the only familiar face.

I really couldn’t recommend this book to people who hadn’t read at least the last three, starting from FIND HER, but honestly this whole series is worth investing in. Are they all great? No. But there’s been such an evolution, including the books in the companion/spin-offs, and those are even relevant for a certain guest-star in this book, both in character and how some of the stories weave together, that even the stories that don’t rate as high still feel worth the effort (also, for some perspective, I’ve only rated one book below three stars and while that was the first book.. let’s just say the opening books were a different vibe). Basically what I’m saying is block out some reading time over the holidays, put the whole backlist on hold at your local library, and get ready to rock and roll. And by rock and roll I mean experience some dark twisty additive af procedurals.

This review has become less about the book and more about the series as a whole but honestly there’s not much you can put in a review for a thriller that the summary doesn’t already.. summarize. There are twists, death, and surprises. Rinse and repeat. This mystery definitely had a tighter pacing than the last, unfurled in a great way, and also had me tearing up. So I guess we can throw ’emotions’ into that list, too.

I can’t wait for the next one.

NINTH HOUSE by Leigh Bardugo

The mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.


Title : Ninth House
Author : Leigh Bardugo
Series : Ninth House Series/Alex Stern (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 480
Genre : adult fantasy
Publisher : Flatiron Books
Release Date : October 8, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Like so many people, NINTH HOUSE was one of my top top anticipated titles of 2019 (in fact, I had added it to my GR tbr back in 2016.. yikes, fangirl, calm down). Opening the envelope that contained a copy of this ARC was just.. my brain was instant-white noise. And then I sat on it for, like, three weeks because I was terrified of jumping in. What if it didn’t live up? What it is was too dark? What if I only liked Bardugo as a YA writer?

Look, you seem like a nice girl–
No, I don’t.

Well, I don’t know what to tell you or how to reassure you. Because my experience with this one was strange.

Darlington liked to say that dealing with ghosts was like riding the subway : do not make eye contact. Do not smile. Do not engage. Otherwise, you never know what might follow you home.

I (admittedly, stupidly) started reading this book mid-week when I knew I didn’t have time. I chipped away at sixty pages a day here, twenty the next day, and then found no real drive to push through or pick it up during my week-day exhaustion. The size of the book, the complexity of these secret society houses, the hop-skipping timeline, it was all setting me up to fail. But then the weekend came and I c r u s h e d 80% of this book in one sitting. So if nothing else.. there’s that.

I thought salt kept [ghosts] out.
Did you see that on television?
Would it make you happier if I say I learned it from an ancient book?
Actually, yes.”
Too bad.

Did I love this book? As a whole, I couldn’t say. Am I desperate for book two? Yes. Where I am, and how I feel, about Alex Stern and this world at the end vs the beginning is/are vastly different. Maybe I went in expecting one thing, maybe the set-up even has us set up to have certain expectations, but the way things unravel..? Not remotely what or where I would’ve thought. I also can’t say if there’s a pacing issue at the beginning or if it was because I was stuck there for a few days due to life. So I’m not quite willing to punish the experience, or the book, by rounding down.

That was what magic did. It revealed the heart of who you’d been before life took away your belief in the possible.

This is dark, it’s occasionally violent, there are moments where Bardugo pushes the envelope.. but maybe that’s coming at things from the “I loved The Grisha Trilogy!” side of things. Had this been a debut, from an unknown author, there’d be no comparison to make, no preconceived notions to have. Nonetheless this is complex and rich and bizarre and fascinating and I didn’t predict anything. Or at least not correctly.

You couldn’t keep sidling up to death and dipping your toe in. Eventually it grabbed your ankle and tried to pull you under.

NINTH HOUSE is a tough book to review because I want to reveal, well, nothing. I want you to have an open mind. I do want you to be mindful, as I’m sure you are, that there is subject matter you may want to research trigger warnings for if you have any triggers you’re worried might go off.

We all have spaces we keep blank.

I think what makes this tough to pin down, too, is it might be a book that requires multiple readings. Not only because of how this read started for me but because of how this story is told. The complexities, the bits that went over my head or were too much to process in the early unfoldings of the chapters.. it might flow differently a second time around. Or maybe not. But I’ll be able to tell you before book two comes out because you know I’m going to break out a reread for that honour! Also I’m writing this review in July, this book isn’t out until October, so, y’know. It’s going to be a while..

I’m pretty sure when my mother was talking about the devil, she had you in mind.”
I’m a delight.”

Would I recommend? Cautiously. I think if you’re interested to begin with, you should go for it. For the rest who are put off by the occult and the explicitly-warned-of darker themes, wait for more reviews to roll out. Find your trusted buddies and pick their brains. Then grab an excerpt and dive in to test the waters. The book opens with a bang and it’s only (hah) getting started. And I think book two will be even bigger, badder, and better (stronger).

I class profanity with declarations of love. Best used sparingly and only when wholeheartedly meant.

Also, just want to say, having not really read much of the blurb — or if I did, it was a long long time ago — I might actually suggest not refreshing your memory before going in (or making sure to do so, depending on your reading preference). The summary gives a structure to the plot that you sorta have to earn the further you read (infact, I found myself kind of comforted by reading it after finishing the book because it’s like.. oh, it was all right there, at my fingertips, if I was only that sort of reader). But if you find yourself liable to DNF because of plot and timelines that jump around, it might ground you. So. Something to consider.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

BID MY SOUL FAREWELL by Beth Revis

The stunning finale of the epic fantasy duology from New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis. 

Alchemy student turned necromancer Nedra Brysstain has made a life-changing decision to embrace the darkness–but can the boy who loves her bring her back to the light before she pays the ultimate price?

Lunar Island is trying to heal. The necromantic plague that ravaged the land has been eradicated, and Emperor Auguste, the young and charming leader of the Allyrian Empire, has a plan: rid the island of necromancy once and for all. Though Greggori “Grey” Astor wants what’s best for his people, he knows that allying himself with Auguste threatens the one person he loves most: necromancer Nedra Brysstain. Feeling like he already failed to save Nedra once, Grey becomes determined to help the Emperor rebuild Lunar Island while still keeping Nedra safe from harm.

Back at the quarantine hospital, Nedra’s army of revenants are growing increasingly inhuman by the day. Wracked with guilt for imprisoning their souls, Nedra vows to discover a way to free the dead while still keeping her sister by her side.

But, still reeling from the trauma of the plague, the people of Lunar Island are looking for someone to blame, and Grey can only protect Nedra for so long. And when Nedra and Grey are thrust into a battle with an even more terrifying adversary, Nedra will be pushed to the darkest depths of her necromantic powers. But can Grey let her go that far? 


Title : Bid My Soul Farewell
Author : Beth Revis
Series : Give The Dark My Love (book two)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : September 24, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

Once again, I’m left feeling like I wish I loved this more than I did.

After the events of book one, Nedra has become a necromancer, has crossed the line into darkness and treason, because of the devastation wrought by the plague and the necromancer who set it in motion, who had conspired to rule over all. She might have ended the plague but she still lost everything; which means she’ll do anything she can to hold on to what little remains.. or do whatever it takes to bring it back.

What does it take for a girl to choose to be a monster?
I don’t think it’s a choice.”
Of course it is.”

What I liked most about this finale was that Revis did a very good job of showing how, just because the danger has passed, it doesn’t mean everything goes back to normal. The politics took centre stage in this instalment, the unhappiness of the people, the manipulations of the Emperor, the murmurings of rebellion. We see this mostly through Grey’s eyes as he tries to navigate his strange new favour with the Emperor as he’s sent around the island to try and negotiate a trade deal to better the island’s economy, to help right the wrongs done to the northerners, so long ignored by the colony’s seat of power. Nedra goes with him, hoping to find more books, more information, on necromancy and how she might truly save a soul.

But Grey is just a puppet. What’s less obvious, though, is so is Nedra.

To be honest, I’m not sure what the point of this travel really was. Ultimately throughout the whole time, we get only two moments where things really feel relevant to the bigger picture. And instead it’s mostly a way to reconnect these two characters, try and reinforce the romance, as they navigate whether they can be in love while still having extremely opposing beliefs that dictate their choices. Despite the fact that this romance never worked for me, not even in this book, I appreciated these kinds of conversations as well as the acknowledgement of how love isn’t blind.

Was that all it took to make a monster? A label and the accusations of others?

That said, I’ll admit I had my suspicions about how things would come to a head.. and I wasn’t wrong. Infact I figured out the twist to the climax in book one, too. And even with my theory proven right, I enjoyed the last 20% probably the most. Not quite sure how I felt about the epilogue, though I know it’s deserved, but I did like the final showdown. There was definitely less of an emotional kick to this one and I don’t know if that was because Grey had more or a role or what, but, unfortunately he was the weak link that was made weaker because of how little his impact actually was. He was just kinda there or in the way.

Revis’ writing is smooth, her narrative tackling many things that echo in our own world, regarding politics and belief, religion and grief. I do wonder if things got a little too big, too busy, and that’s where some of this didn’t land for me. At least beyond the failure of the romance. But there was a lot of good here.

I was already a fan of the author because of her Across the Universe series and while I didn’t rate these very high, and won’t reread them, I’ll definitely continue to pick up whatever the author puts out.

** I received a ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

GIVE THE DARK MY LOVE by Beth Revis

When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her. 

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague. 

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness. 


Title : Give The Dark My Love
Author : Beth Revis
Series : Give The Dark My Love (book one)
Format : physical book
Page Count : 368
Genre : YA fantasy
Publisher : Razorbill
Release Date : September 25, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’ve had this book literally sitting on my nightstand for almost a year. I guess it’s better late than never but wow. I feel pretty accomplished and satisfied right now — calm down, Hollis, you tackled one book on your backlist. One.

Anyway.

This book was so good. I didn’t know what to expect beyond necromancy and a girl crossing over into darkness. I didn’t know why or how or what. What are those details, you ask? Plague. The desire of one small-town girl wanting to help. And then heartbreak and desperation pushing her to the brink.

“.. your path has always been longer than this little road. You were meant for the city streets, for ships across the sea, for places where there are no roads. I don’t want you to take my book cart. [..] I’d never fold you up into books sold to strangers. You’re going to live your own story.

This isn’t quite the anti-heroine story I thought it would be but that might very well change in book two; particularly considering how this ended.

Everything I’d done since arriving in Northface Harbour had been just a little off. I longed to fit seamlessly into a world with no openings.

The only thing that really knocked this down for me, which will explain my rating considering all the above buzz, is the romance. I saw book two pitched in a way that it was about the boy who loved the MC trying to bring her back from the darkness. I guess I expected a strong romance in here to be that backbone for what was to come. And I didn’t really get it. Sure, he’s a nice, kind, soft boy.. but he is really only those words. There wasn’t really any meat or substance to him. There was some connection, a good reason for them to have drawn to each other, pushed together, but I wish instead it had just been a case of strong, beautiful, friendship. I think we need more of those in YA. And it would’ve made this book pretty damn close to perfect for me if it had been present in this one.

I wondered if it were possible to remove myself from politics, or if my silence had been its own choice.

Alas, I still enjoyed it. This book is.. not depressing, but hard, maybe? For the characters. There is a bleak kind of desperation in this world’s conflict. There is a tirelessness to fighting something that can’t be stopped. And then the tragedy of losing one’s whole world. Before the rage that steps in to take its place, to do what shouldn’t be done, to fight back.

I guess sometimes it’s just easier to keep things they way that they are.”
I think that depends on what your now looks like.”

I loved the last minute twists, the turns, and I’m so keen to read on and see where Nedra goes next — and boy am I glad that I have an ARC of book two, I don’t need to wait to find out.

** I received a finished copy from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DARKDAWN by Jay Kristoff – double review!

A ruthless young assassin’s journey for revenge comes to a stunning end in the conclusion of this acclaimed epic fantasy trilogy.

The Republic of Itreya is in chaos. Mia Corvere has assassinated Cardinal Duomo and rumors of Consul Scaeva’s death ripple through the street of Godsgrave like wildfire. But buried beneath those same streets, deep in the ancient city’s bones, lies a secret that will change the Republic forever.

Mia and her brother Jonnen must journey through the depths of the ancient metropolis. Their quest will take them through the Godsgrave underdark, across the Sea of Swords, back to the library of the Quiet Mountain and the poisoned blades of Mia’s old mentors, and at last the fabled Crown of the Moon. There, Mia will at last discover the origins of the darkin, and learn the destiny that lies in store for her and her world. But with the three suns now in descent, and Truedark on the horizon, will she survive?


Title : Darkdawn
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle (book three)
Format : eARC/audiobook
Page Count : 512/22 hours
Genre : YA fantasy/Not YA
Publisher : St Martin’s Press/Hodderscape
Release Date : September 3, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Writing a review for book three, or any concluding novel, in a series feels like an impossible task. Not quite up there with writing said concluding novel, or the ones that came before, but.. y’know. Close. Ish.

‘Byss and blood, how did you find us?
I poked my nose into the first whorehouse I saw. After that, I just followed the trail of vomit.”

I lived and breathed this series for close to three weeks or so. I was late to the game but determined to figure out what it was all about as it came to an end. What was this character, who was to murder as a maestro was to music, all about; how dark was it really; and gosh darnit, what was all the fuss about the footnotes?

Do you remember that time we were acolytes and you talked me out of doing something I desperately wanted by appealing to my sensible side?
No.”
Me neither.”

Now I know. Now I understand. Now I can’t wait for you to read this book.

How do you all know each other?
We studied together.”
O aye? Public institution, or Iron Collegium, or..”
.. it was a school for fledging assassins run by a murder cult..
Ah. Private tutors, then.

For those of you who made it as far as GODSGRAVE, and survived that ending, I think you’ll be very very happy with what Kristoff has done, and how he’s done it, in the end. The build, the evolution, the smut, the heartbreak, the hilarity, the vastness of this world.. it’s just something else. I had finished NEVERNIGHT somewhat ambivalent, a little wanting, but I haven’t wanted for much since. The following two instalments have been so much good, with much gore, and even more graceful weavings of such a complex story.

..’deserve’ has nothing to do with this life. Blessings and curses fall on the wicked and the just alike. Fair is a fairytale. Nothing’s claimed by those who don’t want it, and nothing’s kept by those who won’t fight for it. So let’s fight. Fuck the gods. Fuck it all. Let’s take the world by the throat and make it give us what we want.”

And yet I am satisfied. Maybe a little sad. Maybe a little stunned. But satisfied.

If I don’t come back.. remember me, neh? Not just the good parts. The ugly parts and the selfish parts and the real parts. Remember all of it. Remember me.

This is a series I can see myself returning to, maybe even loving enough to award full marks to if I ever do revisit, and that says a lot, I think. More than anything else I could say. Because this is hard to describe. It features young adults, but it’s an adult story. It’s sweet, but brutal. It’s devastating, but heartwarming. It’s heartbreaking, but hilarious. It’s bloody, but adorable. It’s smutty and delightful and complex and yet, ultimately, very simple. It’s also such a visual tale. The city, the mythology, the monstrosities, the sky. Kristoff’s writing is long and descriptive af but damn does it do the job.

Death is the promise we all must keep, sooner or later.

I loved this journey. And I’m excited to read on in this author’s other solo works. But more than that, I can’t wait to experience the reactions of those readers who have waited, and waited, for this ending. I hope it was worth it! Because, though I do think book two miiiight be my favourite, I definitely thought this a worthy conclusion.

Would recommend!

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

DARKDAWN felt like a really long book, longer than the others even when I know it’s not, but I feel like so much more happened. The different phases of the story were so different and vast. There was a slightly annoying amount on time spent on the love triangle in this book and considering I’ve never liked Ashlinn, I think we can all guess who I was rooting for in this. The outcome of that was slightly dissatisfying but bearable. After all, it wasn’t the most important part of the book to me.

The dead boy has a fan in me and I thought he deserved so much better but in some ways he was a little one-dimensional in his devotion and zombie-like status. I think this was intentional in terms of who he’d become but I missed the old T. On the one hand I judge Mia for her decisions and on the the other, who am I judge?

The Scava and Jonan storylines were like candy to me, I ate those parts up and adored the journey of the relationship between Mia and Jonan. The stories of Eclipse and Mr Kindly were tough and warm, hard and endearing. Mercurio was Mercurio but with shiny bits. The ocean journeys were long, and the story that became the culmination was less my cup of tea. The final demise of Mia (we don’t have to pretend we don’t know this, it’s the first page of the first book) was a bit of an anti-climax to me. I almost tuned out a bit after this as it kept going, thus my 4 star rating despite much enjoyment earlier.

Holter Graham’s narration continued to bring this story to life in the best way and I’m so glad I took an audio route on this series. I have to disagree with Hollis on the genre, it isn’t YA fantasy in my opinion or Mr Kristoff’s I believe, grim dark fits best. I think this series overall is pretty fantastic and memorable and I’m just going to spend a bit of time getting the phrase ‘Byss and Blood’ out of my head!

GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff – double review!

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.


Title : Godsgrave
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/audio
Page Count : 448
Genre : NA fantasy
Publisher : St Martin’s Press
Release Date : September 5, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Hahahahaha.. hahahha.. hahaha.. haha.. hah.. a..

The problem with being a librarian is there’s some lessons you just can’t learn from a book. And the problem with being an assassin is there’s some mysteries you just can’t solve by stabbing fuck out of them.”

If you, too, have read GODSGRAVE, I have no doubt this is one of probably only two reactions you had to that ending. Because hahahahah.. etc.

You’re not helping.”
“.. I am offering moral support..
You’re being an annoying little shit.”
“.. that too..”

But the sound of my mania aside, this was heads and bloody tails above book one. I had seen potential in NEVERNIGHT but there was just something missing, some depth, or some.. thing. I don’t even know. But GODSGRAVE? It had all the blood, violence, and sex of book one but somehow didn’t feel like a YA book trying not to be a YA book. This one seemed to find its own niche, revel in its unique existence, and just thrive in its adultness; instead of trying to find the balance between the YA and the dark.

He was a hero.”
We all think that of our parents. They give us life, after all. It’s easy to mistake them for gods.

The whole setting for book two is so different, and I loved it, even if the drive is still the same. The goal, the end game, nothing has changed. Mia is out for revenge and she has to get very creative in how she goes about that. And oh are the twists glorious. O glory!

How do you endure the unendurable?
We have a saying in Vaan : in every breath, hope abides. Just keeping breathing, little Crow.

And then there’s that ending. Big reveals, big surprises, big climax. If I didn’t have an ARC of book three at my fingertips I would be s h r i e k i n g right now. Or just laugh myself silly. As above. 

You don’t find any irony in earning your place in a cult of assassins by saving half a dozen lives?
I killed almost a hundred men in the process.”

If you gave NEVERNIGHT a chance and just didn’t love it, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend pushing on. This was a rewarding, riveting, raucous experience, even if it took me forever to read, and I don’t regret a single moment spent with this thicc monster.


Micky’s 3.5-4 star review

3.5 – 4 stars

GODSGRAVE didn’t blow me away in the same way that NEVERNIGHT did. I missed T, I don’t like Ashlin so that was a struggle throughout and most of all I missed the Red Church. In NEVERNIGHT, the book really took off for me when Mia got to the Red Church, so that was a hole in my story heart.

The first third of the book had me confused, there seemed to be three different timelines and situations at play and I just couldn’t put them together, even though each was engaging on its own. I think some of this was to do with the disconnect audio sometimes brings where you can’t go back over a passage easily, or flick through previous pages. When those storylines finally wove together, I felt more involved in the story.

Mia remains one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read, getting into her head (it’s damn sketchy in there) is like running the gauntlet but still I continue. Mia and Ash, I mean some of that was a little hot blushy, but I overall don’t buy into their relationship. And again, I miss T.

Jay Kristoff knows how to leave you with boom, boom and boom at the end. The reveals just came like a run of bullets and I sat there with my jaw open. He has guarenteed my continuing investment in this series and I look forward to DARKDAWN even while I shield my heart a little.

Holter Graham’s narration remained spectacular.

NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff – double review!

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?


Title : Nevernight
Author : Jay Kristoff
Series : The Nevernight Chronicle
Format : eBook/Audiobook
Page Count : 448
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books/Hodderscape
Release Date : August 9, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★.5 


Hollis’ 3 star review

There was a lot of build-up, hype, expectation — pick a word any word — for me before starting NEVERNIGHT. I knew that it was dark and violent with a wicked assassin and a cat that wasn’t a cat but I didn’t know much more than that. And it did live up to the pitch.

Nothing is where you start. Own nothing, Know nothing. Be nothing.”
Why would I want to do that?
Because then you can do anything.”

This is a revenge story, a coming of age in a time of blood story, a violent one, a twisty one, and a funny one. Yes, it was actually quite funny. What I didn’t expect, I guess, was it to read so.. I hesitate to say YA, because it’s not, but it was smart and clever and brutal and I don’t want to say YA books aren’t all those things. Because we know they are. But I guess I thought this was going to be more adult-sounding or adult-feeling than it was, than it’s supposed to be? It’s really hard to describe my disconnect over this. But that didn’t really take away any enjoyment.

Are you honestly telling me you’ve come to train among the most feared assassins in the Republic and you’re afraid of the bloody dark?

Did I love it? No. But I did like it. And there were characters that I did love (Mercurio! Mr Kindly!). I enjoyed the time with the school of assassins because I liked the competition and training aspect of it. I enjoyed the flashbacks and learning what drove Mia to this particular path. I enjoyed the banter, though felt a bit lukewarm about the relationship, and the hilarity in the back and forth riffing Mia does with Mr Kindly. I am definitely here for more twists and more reveals for book two because we’re definitely owed at least one big one and I can’t wait.

You’ll be a rumour. A whisper. The thought that wakes the bastards of this world sweating in the never night. The last thing you will ever be in this world, girl, is someone’s hero. But you will be a girl heroes fear.”

So, if you are one of the last people to get around to reading this book, like me, would I recommend? I think I would. By now you should know what you’re getting into. Yes, it’s long af. But it’s also easily and compulsively readable. NEVERNIGHT is a mix of blood, sweat, sex, violence, and magic. All I want from the sequel is more of the same. 


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars of crazy town

This was a reading experience I’m not sure I’ve had before. It’s a book where you are lulled into a familiarity with death, hideous creatures, beings and situations and you get to like them. Who am I and what did Jay Kristoff do to me? Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a sensitive reader when it comes to scary stuff, I stay away from it, I recoil from it, but I didn’t with Nevernight.

Mia Corvere takes the whole book to work out and then on the end pages it says something like, ‘don’t think you know the pale daughter, because you don’t’. I really liked Mia, I came to appreciate why she was the way she was and that she repeatedly showed humanity where other acolytes didn’t.

The twists in this book were always unexpected as I didn’t see a lot of foreshadowing…shadowing, see what I did there (if you’ve read it). I did have a gut feeling about one of the main characters that came to fruition but not in the way I expected. I still don’t know how I feel about some of the happenings, they were right for the story, but I was sad about it all the same. The school of the Red Church was everything fascinating and once Mia was there, this was my favourite portion of the book. I loved everything about it, the good, the bad, the freaking ugly.

The writing was superb. I am a footnote appreciater and I can say this this worked supremely well on the ebook. However, whilst I did swap between formats, this was mostly an audiobook listen for me. The narrator, Holter Graham carried this cast of characters with an epic collection of accents. Mia was initally a little unexpectedly peppy but I adjusted and reminded myself how old she actually was. I loved the audio so much, that I intend to listen to books 2&3 rather than read.

I cannot wait to get stuck into the rest. All hail the twisted mind of the Kristoff.

PAN’S LABYRINTH : THE LABYRINTH OF THE FAUN by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Oscar winning writer-director Guillermo del Toro and New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke come together to transform del Toro’s hit movie Pan’s Labyrinth into an epic and dark fantasy novel for readers of all ages, complete with gorgeous and haunting illustrations.

This book is not for the faint of heart or weak in spirit. It’s not for skeptics who don’t believe in fairy tales and the powerful forces of good. It’s only for brave and intrepid souls like you, who will stare down evil in all its forms.

Inspired by the critically acclaimed film written and directed by Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro and reimagined by New York Times bestselling author Cornelia Funke, this haunting tale takes readers to a darkly magical and war-torn world filled with richly drawn characters like trickster fauns, murderous men, child-eating monsters, courageous rebels, and a long-lost princess hoping to be reunited with her family.

Perfect for fans of the movie and readers who are new to del Toro’s visionary work, this atmospheric and absorbing novel is a portal to another universe where there is no wall between the real and the imagined. A daring, unforgettable collaboration between two brilliant storytellers.


Title : Pan’s Labyrinth : The Labyrinth of the Faun
Author : Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke
Format : ARC
Page Count : 262
Genre : YA fantasy horror / retelling
Publisher : Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, I totally thought this was an MG story and hahahaha no.

I don’t know about the rest of you but when I think Pan’s Labyrinth I think [insert creepy dude with eyes in the palms of his hands here]. I only saw the movie once, a million years ago, and I thought this was an extension of the story or just inspired by it. But from what I understand (because I sure don’t remember enough to say for certain) is that this is an expanded, additionally layered, version of the movie itself.

Which should tell you who should or should not be reading this.

This is classified as YA I think but it is quite dark, if not considered outright horror, but it’s not just the fantastical elements that are dark. It’s the human elements, too. The brutalities done not only by bad men during times of war but bad men, period, who need no excuse.

There is melancholy and bitterness and grief and loneliness and yet the enduring belief in magic, in fairytales, in hope, too. The story is both bleak and yet also whimsical, captivatingly creative and cringey creepy, and the illustrations were just gorgeous.

This book consumed me and I loved every moment.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **