Current Reads, Netgalley & Morally Ambiguous Characters


There seems to be a common theme running through the books I’m reading this month: characters who are impossible to classify as either good or evil. This unintentional trend began with Vicious, in which V.E. Schwab punched me in the face with “who’s really the villain here?”

This month I jumped on the Netgalley train. Out of three ARCs I’ve read so far this month, my favorite was The Graces by Laure Eve. Talk about morally ambiguous characters! You never quite know what everyone’s about until the end. The Graces is a contemporary paranormal YA story about young witches, which takes place in a vaguely British seaside town (though the author never identifies the town by name–which is the only thing that irked me.) If you’re interested, here’s my Goodreads review. Check out this fantastic cover.


I’m halfway through Nimona, which is a crazy adorable comic/graphic novel (I never quite know the difference). And again with morally ambiguous characters–I am so rooting for Nimona and her “boss” despite (because of?) the fact that nothing makes Nimona happier than hatching villainous plans.


Have any of you read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein? I’m about six chapters into it and having a hard time loving it. The writing is high level, and juicy plot twists are sure to come, but I’m feeling pretty textbookish about it, partly because Code Name Verity is reminding me, like a bucket of ice water over my head, why I do not like war era fiction, or technical stuff, like all the airplane model and engine part references. I want to like this book, so if you’ve read it and liked it, I’d love to hear why.


–Eve Messenger

15 thoughts on “Current Reads, Netgalley & Morally Ambiguous Characters

  1. The Graces cover is terrific and I would definitely pick this off the the shelf to read further. That’s an interesting point you make about being irked about the lack of name to the seaside town – something that helps me as I was in a quandary regarding my ms. The last book sounds interesting but are you saying it it over-technical and putting too much information into the book stalling the narrative? Not good for any fiction book I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unless it’s necessary to the essence of the story, for example, the story takes place in a magical realist “everyplace” or the characters don’t know where they are, as a reader I want the setting I’m reading about to have a name. I’m not sure if it’s just that Code Name Verity contains too much technical jargon or if I just don’t hold in interest in the topic of warplanes and aviation. There’s a lot more to the story than that, but I don’t know, I’m just not that engrossed in the story. We’ll see what happens. I suspect I’ll ending up getting a lot more into the story as it goes on. (fingers crossed)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, I have a morally-ambiguous classic to recommend, one of my favorites! Tigana, by Guy Gavriel Kay, is a fantasy with some deeply “gray” characters. Every time I reread it, I find myself rooting less for the heroes (who undertake some severely questionable things in the name of their quest) and more for the incredibly sympathetic villian.

    Plus Kay writes killer alternate-history-style settings, and this one is Fantasy Italy, which was charming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m still a total newbie when it comes to Netgalley but, so far, what I’ve discovered is that you should include stats in your profile that will get publishers wanting to approve you for ARCs, info like how many blog followers you have and how many unique visitors and comments you get on your blog each month. Also, your chance of being approved for ARCs is better if you start with the smaller publishers. After you establish yourself as someone who actually reads and reviews the ARCs you receive, then supposedly bigger publishers are more likely to approve you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve got THE GRACES on my TBR list/shelf – sounds awesome!

    I struggled with VERITY, too, and I’m still not sure why. I wanted so much to like it because the idea sounded great.

    Just finished THE FIRST TIME I DROWNED – whoa. Dark stuff done so well.

    Thanks for your comment/response re Netgalley. I’ve been thinking about checking it out….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy heartbreak, that novel, The First Time She Drowned.

      Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m slogging through Code Name Verity. Finally made it to page 100 and am still awaiting the payoff.


  4. I’ve seen Nimona around and have considered picking it up for a while now. I haven’t tried any comics/graphic novels yet. But I do know the difference between them! Graphic novels tend to be what they sound like. So a book that has the complete story or they sometimes can be a series where separate installments or volumes are released. Comics are more episodic and tend to be published as monthly periodicals. These graphic art magazines can be a compilations of work by several different authors with different stories as well. But I’m actually more of a manga reader myself. 😛 And oh, Vicious! After ADSoM and AGoS I’ve been wanting to read that! 🙂


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