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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  6,315 ratings  ·  996 reviews
Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promise ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 31st 2020 by Catapult
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vasuki I think the white light is a euphemism that only the naive girls actually "believe." The rest of them are aware of the truth and therefore want the ac…moreI think the white light is a euphemism that only the naive girls actually "believe." The rest of them are aware of the truth and therefore want the accompanying credit. Plus, even if we take the euphemism at face value - Lyle still asserts that his act is in service to God, passing on his "light" into her, so it still holds.(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  6,315 ratings  ·  996 reviews

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Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
parts of godshot are aggressively overwritten. however, underneath those initial layers is a powerful story about mothers and daughters, loneliness, and coming of age as a woman under strict religious and patriarchal ideals.
Emily May
Mar 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, contemporary, arc
“It hurts.”
“Get used to it,” she said. “Women have a long history of suffering.”

How to describe this book... well, it's a book about women and girls. About mothers and daughters, and the often difficult relationships between them-- about what it is to love so deeply a mother who has failed you. About religion and the way it can be used to control women's bodies. It feels dystopian due to the claustrophobic, stifling feel of the novel, but it's not really.

The White Oleander comparison is a g
Meredith (WIFI  is working! Slowly catching up!)
4.25 stars

"Be filled with gratitude, ladies. You've been Godshot."

On the surface, Godshot appears to be about a cult. While the cult is a huge part of the storyline, this is really a book about mothers and daughters, loneliness, friendship, and love.

14-year-old Lacey May Herd is a true believer in GOTS, a religious cult located in Peaches, California. Peaches, once a thriving agricultural town known as “the Raisin Capital of the World,” is now barren, the land is dry, the crops are dead, the wat
Elyse  Walters
Going hiking ... will gather my thoughts ... and return to review soon.
But yikes.... I lost HOURS of sleep / will need to nap later!

I’m back!!! Incredible thought provoking moving affecting read!

Penetrating—Razor sharp—Disturbing—Edgy—Repressive—Terrifying—Scintillating.....transformative.....and painful depths of sadness that scratches continuously at your emotions.....*Debut*.

From the first page- to the last- ( crazy-addicting towards the end)....I couldn’t put this book down. I lost hours o
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good first novel!
There is a drought going on in Peaches, California.
There is also a religious cult in that town, led by Pastor Vern.
14 yr old Lacey and her alcoholic mother, well..actually her whole family are members of this cult.
Her mother abandons her, she’s stuck in this cult.
Pastor Vern comes up with a secret “assignment” given to the teenagers in this cult that once it is completed, is supposed to make the rains fall in the town again.
This is a horrific assignment!
I loved Lacey
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brenda ~Traveling Sister Book Reviews
I decided to request this one after seeing a few reviews from my friends and dived into it right away, looking for a deep connection to a story and the characters. I started to get a little worried about the way it started and wondered what I got myself into. I hung in there and was rewarded with an unquie look at the bond between our main character 14-year-old Lacey and her mother.

The story is set in drought-stricken cult ran town by Pastor Vern, who preys on the vulnerabilities of the members

Take a deep breath before you begin reading this dark, dazzling and deliciously entrancing novel, for it won’t be long before you’ll holding your breath in anticipation of what lies waiting in Peaches, California for you.

’To have an assignment, Pastor Vern said, you had to be a woman of blood. You had to be a man of deep voice and Adam’s apple. And you should never reveal your assignment to another soul, for assignments were a holy bargaining between you and your pastor and God Himself. To spea
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m absolutely one of those people who judges a book by its cover, for better or for worse. This is going to be one of those covers that either draws people in or repels them away. Something about the unapologetic use of glimmering, gold glitter and the evocation of God on the title is going to be too captivating for some to ignore. It almost feels gratuitous, but in a way you just have to be a part of.

While I’m sure Chelsea Bieker also loves glitter (according to her Instagram, she most defini
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ew
3.5 stars

This is not the first time recently that I came around to liking a book by the time I finished it. Godshot takes place in Peaches, California. There is a terrible drought in Peaches, and many of its residents are in the grip of a cult led by Vern, who promises that the drought will end if the members of the cult do his bidding. His idea of what the members should do is pretty outlandish and brutal. Lacey May is 14 years old, and it seems that nothing good has ever happened to her. Her m
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
What an interesting and disturbing novel “Godshot” is. Author Chelsea Bieker explores cult religion, poverty, desperation, ignorance, and sexuality in a sort of feminist and coming-of-age story. There are many ideas considered in this, at times, deeply disturbing novel.

Lacey May is the fourteen-year-old narrator who is one resilient girl. She begins informing the reader that Pastor Vern has proclaimed that to have an assignment, a girl has to be a woman of blood. Yikes. And you cannot reveal you
May 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf, dystopia
I can't do this right now. It's not the right time for something this deep, moving, and full of pain. Yes, the writing is amazing. I could see this being a HUGE book because of how it grips you. But, the hell-in-a-handbasket ride is taking all of my focus right now and the last thing I need is for Debbie Downer to jump in my handbasket with me.

Maybe I will pick this back up when happy-happy-fun-times return. Or, you know, normal life.

Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

““You smell like hell rolled in going nowhere fast.”

To put it real bluntly, if it’s about a cult then I’m gonna read it. I actually didn’t request Godshot until I found out it was culty. The cover had me thinking it was going to be trash like Glitter - remember that????


And if I would have read the blurb I probably would have avoided it because White Oleander was not my cup of tea and there’s zero chance this
T Madden
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect novel. From my blurb on the cover, which I mean with my full heart: "Chelsea Bieker's Godshot is an absolute masterpiece. A truly epic journey through girlhood, divinity, and the blood that binds and divides us, it is a feminist magnum opus of this, or any, time. Bieker is a pitch-perfect ventriloquist of extraordinary talent and ferocity. Imagine if Annie Proulx wrote something like White Oleander crossed with Geek Love or Cruddy, and then add cults, God, motherhood, girlhood, ...more
Cortney LaScola - The Bookworm Myrtle Beach
What a fantastic, enthralling, and utterly heartbreaking story. I started this before bed (mistake) and then immediately picked it back up when I woke and didn't put it down again until I finished it.

Chelsea Bieker's writing gave me goosebumps at times... "I had no bruises on my body to show my motherloss, and so to anyone else, did it exist?" I could feel the oppression of the heat and the despair of Lacey May through her words. The way she painted all the characters was just done so, so well.

Paris (parisperusing)
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of cult stories with a hard bite of feminism
Shelves: 2020, arc, debuts
"Whatever's happened to you can either make you beautiful, or it will ruin you forever. You decide. … I mean, beautiful. I mean, deep and changed. Affected. Wise. When you see a woman like that, you know. She's beautiful because of her undoing. Beautiful because she rebirthed herself from ashes."

Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot is a dynamite of a debut novel about the true grit of girlhood under the long arm of religion and patriarchy. The story dawns in the drought-stricken town of Peaches, California,
Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

"Life was pain and this was mine. Was it more or less than anyone else's?" - Godshot.

SYNOPSIS: Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret “a
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Lacey May and her mother live in Peaches, California which was once a prosperous town known as the “raisin capital of the world”. The future is now very uncertain after a prolonged drought and those who remain rely upon the guidance of Pastor Vern. The townspeople believe that the rain will return if they obey his rules and complete his assignments.

Lacey’s alcoholic mother is thrown out of town for not obeying Pastor Vern’s rules. Lacey is left to live with her grandmother and the location of he
Lacey ♡☆ Ailene
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am so thankful to Netgalley for this early book. Well written and couldn’t stop to put it down. Reminded me a little of the Book of Essie, but better. The details were perfect and I felt like I was there with each character through their ups and downs. I would recommend to people that like the Handmaids Tale as well. What an ending and to finish in a day with three kids is rare for this mamma. Thank you again for such an amazingly spiral of a book!
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For fans of Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and Emma Cline’s The Girls, Godshot is a dazzling literary debut by Rona Jaffe Award winner Chelsea Bieker about one teenage girl’s feminist awakening and her search for her missing mother. Forthcoming April 7, 2020!
Geonn Cannon
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is well written, and I liked the flawed and well-rounded characters, but I'm to the point where I cringe when I see a book described as "feminist" simply because of how often that translates to "terrible things happen to women, and they might have a few victories and eventually get to show their strength, but mostly it's just a series of bad things happening to them over and over." I'm clearly in the minority here based on the other reviews, but it's like the Lifetime Movie paradox. Li ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Updated, actual review 1/18/20:

I received an ARC from the publisher, opinions are my own.

This book is so surprising on so many levels. It's about a teenage girl named Lacey May who lives in a drought-ravaged town called Peaches in California's central valley. A good chunk of the town is under the spell of a glitter-loving pastor named Vern, who uses the permeating scarcity of resources and desperation of people whose agricultural identity has withered to gain power for himself through the church
Amy (Bossy Bookworm)
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
The premise hooked me: a California cult, with followers desperate for even the most misguided hope and leadership during a drought, a broken mother-daughter relationship, and elements of misogyny, battle for control of the self, and the strong female fighting spirit.

But each detail was more over the top than the last. Because of that I found this book difficult to read because so much of it felt implausible, yet the tone was not farcical or campy. Gold glitter rains down on the congregation du
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
What I was reading repulsed me but I could not put down Chelsea Bieker's debut novel Godshot. Lacey's narrative voice drew me in, her conflicted nativity and faith struggling to survive as her family and community fails to protect her. The novel reaches into the deepest questions of life and illustrates the limitations of love and faith.

The tragic series of events and abuse endured will be hard for some to follow; this is a dark story. But just when it seems that Lacey has lost everything, inclu
May 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
I struggled to finish this book because I didn't like it from the start. But the high rating on Goodreads and my difficulty in finding good e-books right now made me decide to push through. I can usually stomach some pretty tough subject material and I was actually interested in the cult storyline. But the writing and the characters were so distasteful i couldn't stand it. The only redeeming part of this book was the last few chapters, when the misery could finally end. Thanks to the author for ...more
Godshot is a ripped from the headlines glimpse into a religious cult. I was pulled in from the first page of this story of Lacey May, a young girl trapped in the grip of a cult. Chelsea Bieker’s debut is dark, gritty and hard to put down. I look forward to her next novel!
Like a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and Gold Fame Citrus, this is a wholly believable speculative novel about repressive religion and transactional sex. However, a combination of the gritty subject matter and a CV-related lack of focus and loss of Kindle reading time led me to put it down. (I read the first 30% and skimmed to 52%.) I don’t honestly care what happens in the rest.

A quick summary: Peaches, California, once the raisin capital of the USA, is suffering a severe water shortage. Pa
Marilyn C.
3.5 Stars
This title and cover are absolute fire, but between this, and The Project by Courtney Summers, I can unabashedly say that cult stories should be reserved for nonfiction. The fictional accounts lack authenticity. Rarely is there enough about the leader or how vulnerability is exploited. I need more emotion, not just stage direction-like storytelling. The real life versions are always more fucked up, but sadly, more entertaining.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not even sure what to say about this heart-wrenching debut! It's taken me days to collect my thoughts. When Lacey May's alcoholic mother leaves her for a stranger who promises to make her a star, fourteen-year-old Lacey goes to live with her eccentric grandmother Cherry who is obsessed with dressing her collection of rodents. Peaches, California is experiencing a drought, but fortunately Pastor Vern has guaranteed his congregation that he can produce rain as long as they follow his orders. A ...more
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Chelsea Bieker is the author of the novel GODSHOT which was a finalist for both the Oregon and California Book Award, longlisted for The Center For Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and named a Barnes and Noble Pick of the Month. Her story collection, HEARTBROKE, will be published in April 2022. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, The Cut, McSweeney’s, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, an ...more

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“But that was the way with boys. Always getting things that made them better -- pants with pockets, tools for building -- while girls received adornments, things to make us appear better to others.” 5 likes
“I decided then to tell Artichoke to be ugly. To make herself as ugly as possible and not worry too much about beauty or what anyone thought of her. To be unpainted, to live in the breeze and stand under waterfalls and not be worried over the height of mountains, of quiet trails deep in the woods. To not be scared of roads slick with rain, of valleys dry in drought. I'd tell her 'no fear' and she'd know it was the deepest truth and she would be everything I was not. She would be wild and free. And I wouldn't worry because I knew the secret. That through all of her ugliness, all her hiking and running and jumping and falling and getting back up and saying no and saying what she wanted, her scraped hands, her freckled skin, her smart brain, she would of course be beautiful.” 4 likes
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