October 27, 2020

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Since It Is All Your Fault, I Expect This To Be My Most Read Review Ever- The Epic, Long Awaited Review- Nevernight by Mr. Jay Kristoff

Nevernight, Book One of the Nevernight Chronicles, by Jay Kristoff- the Epic (and I don't mean egotistically but MY GOD in length) EPIC review!

Where Do I Even Start This

I know I cinnamon roll. Since it is 11:12 AM (now 3:08 PM) in Colorado and mead is probably out of the question. A cinnamon roll.


Context

For the very few who don’t know the saga:

Sometime. I’m not even sure of exactly when, but I believe it was sometime between St. Louis and Colorado (yes it was definitely just around my move in October) I found out something important. Unintentionally, I committed a mortal sin. I had never read a book by Jay Kristoff. It started as a joke. Being a music fan, my first thought was, “Hey! He looks like Dave Grohl!” The internet came for me with a level of vile I had never experienced. Apparently, I was not the first person to make this joke, not even the 1,000th.  How would I know?

Jay Krstoff is Dave Grohl

I mean give a girl a break here…

 

Then, it became a hashtag: #JayKristoffHauntsMyTBR. All that harassment? It led to his catalog dominating the entirety of my TBR list. At one point I joked about sending him a tweet asking for him to send me all his books. Not signed or special editions or anything of the sort. Just one regular ho-hum copy of each book. It seemed only fair. It was at that point that I thought about doing a whole rant thread. Why? Because 

Wait let me back that up a second. See, here’s the thing. Having never read any of his book I didn’t understand something that was crucial to the Kristoff army. While I was caught up in the ending of Arc of a Scythe and Folk of the Air (plus the release of Ninth House and Guinevere Deception), the Nevernight Chronicles were coming to an end. Ok… sooooo…

My feed was FULL OF ALL THINGS JAY KRISTOFF EVERY DAMN DAY. In hindsight it makes sense, but at the time? I didn’t know. So, I’m thinking people are just torturing me. SO. I was going to do this whole rant thread whereby for one week, I worked out the percentage of times Kristoff showed up in my feed. Luckily for everyone? My math is NOT that good.

Instead you got posts like Authors I Need To Read AKA Kristoff Haunts My TBR. And so, it went on, and on, and on.


Spite: The Struggle Is Real

Look here’s the thing. It isn’t that I didn’t like any of it. Aurora Rising, Illuminae and Nevernight held great appeal to me. Then I put together my Spring/Summer fling 2020, And this time I included backlist books and quietly stuck Nevernight in there. And of course, the screams were damn audible. I didn’t promise a when because of all the arcs but I promised it would. But then a funny thing happened.

Because as a wise man said… Life is what happens when you are making other plans (bonus points to the person who knows who said that- no one from the UK gets the points).

Aurora Burning

And so, Aurora Rising (co-written with Amie Kaufman) suddenly got moved to the top of the list. Now that I have read both. I will say, in honesty, that while I liked Aurora Rising and look forward to reading Aurora Burning (since updated with review link), I do believe I fall on the older end of Kristoff’s writing.

Anyhow, when I coyly mentioned on twitter that I had started Nevernight on twitter, the response was holy hell strong and excited! YAY!

I have to say both thank you, I’m floored and honored, as well as I’m sorry to Jay Kristoff for both responding to, and putting up with my antics on twitter.

ALSO, HUGE RESPECT FOR MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE- MY LORD! IF I’d known that I’d dropped the world and read everything a long time ago. Spite only goes so far.

MCR does Harry Potter

Because we waited and waited and damn it they don’t use their words… and then… pandemic

Take comfort though. It is a compliment. There are many authors that are patient with me (Madam Bardugo being one of many- Kaz is literally on my license plate).

That should also explain why, during chapter 29 (and then it just got worse over the next the 30ish pages that followed) I had an instinct to send Kaz into Godsgrave, crows head cane swinging to take vengeance… and then realized I sounded like a complete knob. Although, if there is ever one of those… what character would you stick in another book lists again? OH, HELL YES! Put Mia in Ketterdam and Kaz in Godsgrave! For fucks sake I would pay for that. Well if I had the money. But I digress.

800 words and I haven’t even said anything about Nevernight… but I imagine people can see where this is going.


Narrator…Footnotes…Wait? What?

Hopefully you are all still with me here. Well this escalates quickly. I mean that is one way to lose your virginity. Then after pausing to tear through Aurora Rising, right back at it and I knew things were getting serious when I’d starting tweeting at Kristoff (and then promptly almost broke my neck, tripping, when he responded) and realized I’d done this… and I was, what? Half-way through the book?

Nevernight

 

Now I will admit that I needed a little guidance from Sam @thewriterlyway in the beginning. I wasn’t quite sure how to navigate the footnotes and narration. However, without spoiling it she explained to sit-tight. It was narrator as character and go with it. Cool, cool. Creative. I’m good. Not sure how everyone grasped that when it first released? I mean I’m no slouch. I was a Reading specialist and Curriculum Coordinator. Either way I loved the footnotes and probably just would’ve ran with it because it is hilarious. Speaking of hilarious… and I’m sorry if this is jumping around but a) I really just don’t know how to do this coherently and b) backlist reviews, remember, are still very new to me because… everyone has already said this all, I imagine?

PS. HOW DID NO ONE WARN ME OF THE VIOLENT DEATH OF CAPTAIN PUDDLES?!!!??!!?!?!??! TO YOU…. Forget resting bitch face… you get Liam’s demonic face…

Liam The Lush


You Had Me At… Well, Really Pages 15-16

Honestly? If I’m being bluntly honest? I think I reread those two pages so often I was afraid I wouldn’t read the rest of the book because it wouldn’t live up to the brilliance of those two pages. I could not get past those two pages, no matter how much I tried. In fact. Stop reading my review right now. Just go back and reread pages 15 and 16. Just do it. Now. I’ll wait. Go ahead. I’ll put a video on that fits the book…

Cool? Cool.

Now. To be specific… I’m too much of a wimp to get a tattoo and if I did, unlike everyone else in Ketterdam… it wouldn’t be NMNF or the crow and cup/cane…. it would be Brick by Brick. And if I survived that first tattoo? Something from the below might just end up with it.

“But not one person noticed. Not one person cared.”*

*Something noticed. Something cared.

“Never Flinch.” A cold whisper in her ear. ” Never fear. And never, ever forget.” 

Because what the ever-loving fuck of sorcery did Kristoff write on those pages and in those words? Yeah. I was and am not ok. The fear factor for me starting GodsGrave? IT IS HIGH.

As you can tell from the picture of tabs just in the first half of Nevernight, I cannot go through every scene and quote but please, indulge me on a few, won’t you?

  1. The whole tithe thing had me pissing my pants… “TA-DA” and then just the continuing saga … “Oh goodness, not again.” I mean this brought me back to some of the roundabout humor in Fate of the Fallen. I know not everyone loved Fate of the Fallen as much as I did. And that’s fine, because I’m not even saying it is near as good, overall. They are very different books. It is just that some situations (especially in the beginning) that Mia, and then Mia, and Tric, find themselves in? They are very similar to those that Aslo does. Plus, Bastard and Dolt have very similar personalities, and regard for their companions. And I, happened to love EVERY DAMN SECOND OF IT.  Mia’s chemistry with Tric, much like Aslo’s with all those he picked up along the way, was spot on in chemistry, dialogue, and tone.
  2. Pages 106-110 –

 Can't Stop Reading

“When all is blood, blood is all.”

“Forget the girl who had everything. She died when her father did.

“But I-

“Nothing is where you start. Own nothing. Know nothing. Be nothing.”

“Why would I want to do that?” 

…”Because then you can do anything.”

  1. Ah. Chapter 21- It is like Kristoff’s dedication to the reader in all of us, neh?

“You’ve got the look of a girl who’s got who’s no stranger to the page. I can tell. You’ve got words in your soul.”

… “Listen, girl,” Aelius sniffed. “The books we love, they love us back. And just as we mark our places in the pages, those pages leave their marks on us. I can see it in you, sure as I see it in me. You’re a daughter of words. A girl with a story to tell.”

  1. I had tweeted out at one point that I never expected Mia, even for a nano second to become Rick Allen. I guess, I stupidly assumed most people knew who Rick Allen was. For those who don’t, he is the drummer for Def Leppard, and has one arm. Somewhere between Pyromania and Hysteria he lost it in a car accident. He created a drum kit, whereby he could play with both feet.

Image result for rick allen

So, no. I never saw page 130 coming.

“once

twice

three times

and hacked the girls arm off at the elbow.”

I was so completely unsure of what I had read and in shock, and disbelief, that I just sat there and reread it over, and over again. Until it sunk in.

I’m doing it again, though. I meant to separate out plot points from quotes. I mixed them up, I guess. It may be impossible for me not to. It might be the best way for me to not repeat everyone else. If I just tell my experience in detail and then quickly summarize the rest? Then let me stop mixing them up and move on. There are forty pages that I just have to get off my chest.


Chapter 29 Severance 30 Favors 31 Becoming  FORTY PAGES OF MY BLOOD POURING FORTH LIKE LIQUID FROM A STREAM

I can’t promise there aren’t spoilers because this whole section is spoilers. However, this book is so popular and has been out so long that I feel like it is Endgame at this point. If you don’t know Ironman is dead, it isn’t on me. So, I’m giving you a heads-up. What you do and what you read? It is on you.

Oh. One other thing. Don’t even go there. Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are still my beating heart. I wasn’t writing a blog nor tweeting about books when I read them, and everyone should damn well thank all Inej’s Suli Saints for that because WHAT THE MESS THAT WOULD’VE BEEN LIKE? I don’t even know.

Maybe the fact that I was having a hard time sleeping the night I read these forty pages had something to do with my twitter meltdown. Or it could be that it is just that damn good. It was just that fucking devastating.

I mean take my fucking heart out, I don’t fucking need it Kristoff. Actually, just take my heart and one life off of each of my three cats and feed them to Mr. Kindly while you are at it.

I have never felt the need to not only throw a book across the room, but then lay down on the couch, and pull the blanket over my head. Point in fact. I threw the book multiple times. At one point I actually threw it so hard I damaged the corner of Godsgrave, which was sitting innocently on the coffee table.

 

I, then, felt the need to document my despair and take a selfie for twitter. If there was ever a time for me to put a youtube up? That would have been it. And if my complete shame upon seeing my meltdown on twitter, the next morning, was any indication? Then, I can only imagine what my reaction would have been to a youtube video. And this is just book one. By DarkDawn? If this whole, you know…

Avengers Infinity War

…keeps up? Who knows what might become possible? SHUT UP. NO.

But for those who missed the selfie… I’ll post it I mean you can’t see hella much. As for the twitter meltdown… you want to see it that bad? Go find it. This was the point I threatened to send Kaz into Godsgrave, though.

Susan Novellives

Severance really sets you up to because

 “Sometimes weakness is a weapon. If you are smart enough to use it.”

Diamo – oh what fools we be. Us the reader for thinking Mia was dimwitted enough to leave her notebook just sitting around and Diamo for doing the same. Well, you and Jessamine can choke on that you sons of a bitch.

And what the blood and byss Mia took that boy right out and if you said you saw that shit coming you are lying…. lying like that traitorous bitch….no no not Jess… the other one. But I’m getting ahead of myself. But then towards the end of Severance, in one shot Kristoff gave me exactly what my dark heart wanted and did it in a way that killed me all the same. Anyone who reads my site enough knows romance is a trigger for me. I don’t read romance as a genre and avoid anything heavy romance in plot. If there is subplot romance and I can skim it without losing anything essential, I skim it. So, if you think I wanted Tric and Mia together… you aren’t paying attention.

That bout between Mia and Tric. What brilliance! True to character. The narration of the bout, the dialogue and intent of it. Everything was stunningly played out and brilliantly portrayed. The brutality of it emotionally, physically and the consequences of the fallout (not that I knew it at the time) … breathing was not so easy by the start of Favors.

The fact that Favors is truly the calm between the storms…. that tells you all you really need to know. I mean there was Hush’s whole backstory, but that’s all – no big deal there, right? Not to mention just, oh by the way, dropping Carlotta’s notebook in her lap. So, there’s that.

Now. Death by author. BECAUSE ALL THE WHAT THE FUCKERY ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME MAN. Becoming makes Severance and Favors look like a binge watch of the Golden Girls.

 

If you think this is going to end well… you haven’t been paying attention.


Infomercial On How To Kill A Reader

 

  • Reveal of completely unseen betrayal- Check
  • Sudden, completely didn’t see coming death of major character- Check
  • Sudden, about face of main character’s purpose of the entire book that makes you want to stand up and cheer because YES YES AND YES although you didn’t see it coming it really makes sense for the character arc? Check
    • BUT WAIT- for $19.95 you can revive your readers just at this one moment of joy so that their hearts can break for said character because JUST wait till they find out about 1, 2 and OMG ALL THE FALL OUT THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SAVE WITH SOMEONE WHO PRETTY MUCH HATES THEM- YES! That’s right- for just an additional 19.95 you get to kill your readers TWICE!

And mind you, that is packed in just the 12 pages that make up the chapter that is, Becoming. And all together? That is the 40 pages that make up Severance, Favors and Becoming.

BUT WAIT! There’s more! Another sixty pages left in the book. Including a cliffhanger that had I, had to wait a year to read? I’d strangled all the world over. It would have been like waiting for Crooked Kingdom. NO NO NO. 


As For The Parts Everyone Else Has Talked About

This is gonna be super short. Because 1) Obviously there isn’t anything I didn’t like. 2) I’ve already broken a word count record. So, if you’ve stuck around this long. Well I’d say good on you except THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT (well the majority of you).

But let’s hit some highlights:

I was expecting the dark, the violent, and all the mess. And I got it in spades. And I loved it. I may not have expected it to escalate quite so quickly into a literal fuck, marry or kill (In which Mia chooses one and 3), but I did expect it.

I was not expecting the humor and I LOVED IT. Dead pan, sarcastic, and brilliant. Never too much. Never too silly. And always distinct to the character/characters (when in dialogue). Whether it was Mr. Kindly <snort… how I love that damn not-cat>, Lotti (I am so pissed she’s dead), the narrator- whoever that is, dear friends.

And certainly, I was not expecting such heart. Each and every back story. Not just Mia’s, although that certainly might have been enough to carry Nevernight. Tric’s, Lotti’s (and the theme of slavery that came with hers, Hush and the story of Godsgrave itself), Naev’s, and Jessamine’s and so forth. Each not only brought heart and depth to the story but how, over the course of the story, how their stories intertwined, was masterful and intense. Never unrealistic just for the sake of the big reveal, but purposeful, and still like a spike through the gut.

No one was just kind or unjust or evil for the sake of that character trait. Each had a true belief, a deep seeded, unwavering devotion for their words and actions. Whether you vehemently agreed, opposed, and/or were back-slapped so hard you had whiplash by their actions? You had to respect them for it.

Whether it has been said a lot or not, if there is one overall thing, I absolutely have to say about Kristoff it is his superb ability to shift in writing craft. From narratives that read as beautiful prose to that which is very violent and bloody and then the smart-ass, snarky dialogue (not to mention the dead-panned dry narration of unknown -to me at this point- origin), to the heartbreaking and triumphant. Kristoff never misses a beat or an opportunity to explode great pain, triumph and cinematic action off the page.

All the other story elements are brilliantly done and if I haven’t mentioned it, it is because this is now, literally a dissertation and it just needs to stop.

However, feel free to ask anything specific I haven’t mentioned or to discuss anything, as long as it doesn’t go past Nevernight because I have to start Godsgrave soon. That is, anyone who has really made it this far.

So, there you have it. Nevernight. Onward to Godsgrave. Whatever I tweet. Whatever happens next? It is all your fault.

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