BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore Book Review
Series: Graceling Realm, #3
Publication Date: May 1st 2012 by Dial
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle–disguised and alone–to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.
Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore Book Review Overview:
- Kristin Cashore will not disappoint fans of the Graceling Realm
- This can be read as a standalone but it’s really a lot better if you read the other two books first
- The romance is not as epic as the Fire or Graceling but it’s still pretty sweet
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore is technically the third book in the Graceling Realm series, but the publisher insists that you can read this as a standalone. True, you probably can; it’s been a while since I’ve actually read Graceling and Fire so my memory is fuzzy on what had happened in those books. So prior knowledge really is not required to read Bitterblue. But at the same time, you probably won’t appreciate it as much. The beauty in BITTERBLUE is partially based on all three stories finally coming together cohesively. You’ll read about all your favorite characters from previous books and see them in a new light from Bitterblue’s perspective.
Like any subsequent book by any author, I was a bit worried when I started to read BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore. A big fan of the first two, I was worried that this one would not live up to the epic fantasy world. I had nothing to be worried about; Cashore continues to weave beautifully written stories set in a magical realm. She knows how to write fantasy.
There’s just a touch of romance in BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore, and I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t as epic as the romances in Graceling and Fire. Okay, let’s face it: Bitterblue has a lot of problems that she has to deal with first, so romance can’t be her top priority. Still, I enjoyed the chemistry even if I wanted a little more.
BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore will delight fans of the Graceling Realm series. And readers who discover BITTERBLUE first will definitely be convinced to pick up the other two books.
About the Author
Kristin Cashore wrote the New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire, both of which have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Graceling is the winner of the 2009 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature and Fire is the winner of Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. The books are world travelers, currently scheduled to be published in thirty languages.
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DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor Book Review
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2
Publication Date: November 6th 2012 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Rating: – Exceeds Expectations |
Book Summary: In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Karou must come to terms with who and what she is, and how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, mysteries and secrets, new characters and old favorites, Days of Blood and Starlight brings the richness, color and intensity of the first book to a brand new canvas.
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor Book Review Overview:
- Immense character growth for Karou
- Fleshed out secondary characters that you can’t help but love
- Wished for more romance but the amount of lovey dovey was appropriate in terms of the plot
Like with any other sequel, I had doubts coming into DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. The first novel of the series, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, had been a stunner. A wonderful blend of fantasy and romance, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE had easily been one of my favorite reads of last year. Was the sequel going to be able to live up to my high standards? It seems that I had nothing to worry about. DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor is everything that readers have been anticipating. It will not disappoint.
Karou grows so much in the span of DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. She is such a different character from DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, hardened by her recent experiences. She struggles between following through her obligations and following her heart. It is so easy to empathize for Karou because you grew to love her in the first book. You understand why she has difficulty in deciding what to do.
I think that the secondary characters are such a delight in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor. Taylor takes this time to flesh out the characters, and we see a side of them that we did not get to see in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Furthermore, I loved the interpersonal relationships between all the different characters. Karou’s friendship with Zusana is one of my favorite elements of the book. The relationships in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT continue to be true and genuine.
I yearned for a little more romance, but that’s mostly just me fangirly-ing over Karou and Akiva. They are a match-made in heaven (no pun intended) and it hurts me as a reader to see them apart. The amount of romance is adequate in terms of what is going on in the story. There’s not a lot of girly squealing in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor, but I know it will just make things a lot sweeter in the later books. No matter what happens, you just know that Akiva and Karou are meant to be together.
Laini Taylor is such a talented author. The world-building continues to be richly detailed and beautifully written. She artfully weaves themes of war, loss, and betrayal in DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone will not be disappointed with this enchanting sequel.
About the Author
Laini Taylor is a writer of fantasy books for young people, but her books can be enjoyed by adults as well. Her ‘Dreamdark’ books, Blackbringer (2007) and Silksinger (2009) are about faeries — not dainty little flowery things, but warrior-faeries who battle devils. Her first young adult book, Lips Touch, is a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award! It’s creepy, sensual supernatural romance. . . about kissing. Taylor is also an artist with a licensed gift product line called “Laini’s Ladies.”
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CREWEL by Gennifer Albin Book Review
Series: Crewel World, #1
Publication Date: October 16th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: – Acceptable |
Book Summary: Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.
Crewel by Gennifer Albin Book Review Overview:
- Unlikeable protagonist
- The world-building was enough to win me over
- Of course there’s a romance, but it’s not heart-melting.
The main problem that I had with CREWEL by Gennifer Albin is the fact that the protagonist, Adelice, is not very likeable. She has a tendency of not knowing when to stop talking, and after a while, it gets really tiresome. How many times must secondary characters tell her to watch her mouth? Her tendency to speak out only gets her in trouble when everyone else is mercilessly trying to keep her safe and alive. She’s not afraid to voice out her opinion, but her rebellious attitude does not get her anywhere.
Usually, an unlikeable protagonist is such a deal-breaker for me, but the world that Albin creates is so intriguing that I let it slide this time. The world of Arras is fascinating: Spinsters have the ability to weave time and matter, which lets them control just about everything from the weather to people’s lives. I love Albin’s description of the weave and the threads of life that keep Arras together. This fantasy element is what sets CREWEL by Gennifer Albinapart from other young adult dystopians.
But of course, a young adult dystopian is in need of some romance. CREWEL by Gennifer Albin is not lacking in this department. There is the inevitable forbidden romance for Adelice. It really didn’t give me any tingly feelings as a reader, but I wouldn’t say that the romance was unnecessary. It was just nothing special. There is a hint of a love triangle brewing, but I guess readers will have to wait until the sequel to see if Adelice will take interest in more than one suitor.
Albin does save a huge shocking secret that she reveals at the end of CREWEL but lets readers squirm in anticipation for the next book by failing to spill the juicy details about the secret. Of course, I figured it out way in advance, but instead of feeling disappointed by the author’s inability to surprise me, I just feel impressed that I was able to figure it out in advance.
I haven’t decided if I want to read the rest of the Crewel World series. My unlove for Adelice might be problematic later on. As much as I love the world that Albin has created, it might not be enough to win me over as a devoted fan of the series. CREWELby Gennifer Albin has a little more than the standard dystopians out in the market, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced that I will be following up on this one.
About the Author
Gennifer Albin holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri. During her student years she served as an editor for Pleaides and The Missouri Review, and since then she’s founded the tremendously popular blog theconnectedmom.com. She lives in Kansas with her ridiculously supportive husband, two small children, and a Tuesday cat.
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