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You are here: Home » Publisher: Dial

Bitterblue by Kristin CashoreBITTERBLUE 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.

Find the Author

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Comments 0 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Four Stars - , , , , , , , | Words 901 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Dial

THE SHADOWS by Jacqueline West
Series: Books of Elsewhere, #1
Publication Date: June 15th 2010 by Dial Books for Young Readers
Rating: |

Summary: Old Ms. McMartin is definitely dead. Now her crumbling Victorian mansion lies vacant. When eleven-year-old Olive and her dippy mathematician parents move in, she knows there’s something odd about the place—not least the walls covered in strange antique paintings. But when Olive finds a pair of old spectacles in a dusty drawer, she discovers the most peculiar thing yet: She can travel inside these paintings to a world that’s strangely quiet . . . and eerily like her own Yet Elsewhere harbors dark secrets—and Morton, an undersized boy with an outsize temper.

As she and Morton form an uneasy alliance, Olive finds herself ensnared in a plan darker and more dangerous than she could have imagined, confronting a power that wants to be rid of her by any means necessary. It’s up to Olive to save the house from the dark shadows, before the lights go out for good.

Review Overview:

  • Full of humor and wit
  • Finally, a book with talking animals that I actually enjoyed

I decided to tackle THE SHADOWS after reading a bit of Jacqueline West’s writing during my past internship. I don’t read too many middle grade novels, though I ought to, so THE SHADOWS was a refreshing change of pace to my reading pile.

Olive moves into an old Victorian house over the summer. After exploring the house’s various rooms, Olive discovers a pair of old spectacles that allows her to jump into the various portraits throughout the house. The concept of THE SHADOWS, the first book in the Books of Elsewhere series, reminds me a bit of the old Nickelodeon cartoon Chalk Zone. The idea was well executed and the paintings came alive in my imagination.

This book is quite funny. I don’t know if it’s middle grade humor in general or just simply West’s writing that cracks me up into a fit of giggles. Olive’s parents nerdy jokes sometimes went right over my head, but I adored their geeky ways. Olive was a great protagonist. I love how she isn’t characterized as traditionally book smart. Unlike her scholarly parents, Olive has no talent for math. Instead, she has more of an artistic streak. As a person who loves humanities, I was really glad to read about a protagonist who excelled in the arts.

Believe it or not, this is one of the few instances where I find the talking animals okay – in fact, they were more than okay. Horatio, Leopold, and Harvey added wit and humor to the novel and it would not have been the same without them. The three cats were fantastic secondary characters. They each had a vibrant personality. They made me giggle.

I did start to feel frustrated by the storyline halfway through the book. I thought the pacing started to drag. However, the pacing did pick up towards the end of the novel.

THE SHADOWS ties up nicely, so I am curious to know what’s next for Olive in the following Books of Elsewhere novels.  This isn’t my new favorite middle grade series, but I did enjoy reading it. I will definitely continue on with the series, but I might pick up the sequel in audiobook format.

About the Author

This is Jacqueline West. Jacqueline loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, is sadly allergic to cats (though she manages to write about them without developing a rash), and is at least a little bit afraid of all fish larger than a hot dog bun. If you are sharing a pizza, she will ask for the crust pieces. Don’t get her talking about Kurt Vonnegut, Tori Amos, Northern Exposure, or Sylvia Plath, or you’ll be sorry. Jacqueline lives amid the bluffs of Red Wing, Minnesota, with her husband and her dog, a Springer Spaniel mix named Brom Bones.

Find the Author

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Comments 8 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , , , | Words 962 words

You are here: Home » Publisher: Dial

BABE IN BOYLAND by Jody Gehrman
Publication Date: February 17th 2011 by Dial

Summary: When high school junior Natalie–or Dr. Aphrodite, as she calls herself when writing the relationship column for her school paper–is accused of knowing nothing about guys and giving girls bad relationship advice, she decides to investigate what guys really think and want.

But the guys in her class won’t give her straight or serious answers. The only solution? Disguising herself as a guy and spending a week at Underwood Academy, the private all-boy boarding school in town. There she learns a lot about guys and girls in ways she never expected–especially when she falls for her dreamy roommate, Emilio. How can she show him she likes him without blowing her cover?

Review Overview:

  • At first, I didn’t think I would enjoy BABE IN BOYLAND
  • Do not read this book in public – you will definitely laugh aloud
  • Surprisingly, this book was a fun read

After reading the first few chapters, I thought I would hate BABE IN BOYLAND. However, Jody Gehrman proved me wrong: this book was an entertaining read. I found myself sympathizing with Natalie – no one takes her seriously as a journalist or relationship columnist. Her solution: to write a winning piece for the Story of the Year contest about what really goes on in guys’ heads. Her first try at finding these elusive answers is a complete failure: either the boys didn’t trust her or thought she was trying to get into their pants. Thus, she realizes that the only way to find them is to disguise herself as a guy for a week and snoop around a private all-boy boarding school, Underwood Academy.

This is where the fun starts. Without giving too much away, I will list some highlights of the shenanigans Natalie or “Nat” gets herself into:

  • An extreme makeover – boy edition
  • A “make-out session” in the prop closet
  • A date with her hot roommate’s sister
  • A midnight swim with said hot roommate (naked, gasp!)
  • A cat fight

I do have some issues with the book – for example, Erica’s situation is a loose end that Gehrman does not tie up. Also, I feel that there is not enough interaction between Emilio and Nat. However, I suppose the lack of interaction is because their relationship is not the main storyline.

My favorite line in the book is: “Maybe all human beings are destined to misunderstand each other, regardless of our chromosomes” (206). I like the fact that Natalie thinks about human nature and reflects on her career as the relationship expert at Mountain View High School. Also, her entry for the Story of the Year contest is pretty good, as her piece shows character growth.

I recommend BABE IN BOYLAND to anyone who wants a diverting read. This book definitely deserves a chance – Gehrman’s characters are too funny to ignore.


Comments 14 comments

Permalink Permalink Category Book Review, Three Stars - , , , , , , | Words 602 words

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