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Bitterblue Review by Kirstin Cashore

14 Oct

I just finished Bitterblue by Kirstin Cashore only five minutes ago (quite literally) and felt an overwhelming need to blog about it, and so here I am. I haven’t read a book in a good long while that compelled me the way Bitterblue did. Evidence being the fact that my last book review was posted in February… dear lord February! I didn’t realize it was that long!

NOTE: This review contains no to very minor spoilers.

Anyway, to begin this book review:

Bitterblue is the third book published by Kirstin Cashore and serves as the sequel to her first novel Graceling and a companion to her second novel Fire (confusing in text, but once you read it you understand). I’ve been following this ‘series’ if you can call it that since it came out, and absolutely ADORED it. Fire, in fact is one of my favorite novels of all time (despite what others may say) and when I found out that Bitterblue was hitting the shelves i was ecstatic!

That means it had a lot to live up to. To summarize without spoilers, Bitterblue is about Queen Bitterblue who we originally meet in Graceling as a little girl. The novel is about her reign as an emerging Queen and patching up the deranged mess her Graceling tyrant of a father left behind (Leck, who is the antagonist in both Graceling, and Fire, and whose conflicts survive even after his death into Bitterblue which is set after both Graceling in Fire{chronologically they fall: FIRE, GRACELING, BITTER BLUE. Despite their publication date of GRACELING, FIRE, BITTERBLUE})

As you can see Cashore constructs a rather confusing time line. Regardless, I found Bitterblue absolutely astounding! (but for entirely different reasons than Graceling or Fire). Both Graceling and Fire are books with a lot of political crime, adventure, and romance (Graceling most heavily romantic, followed by Fire, and Bitterblue coming last). As many of you know Cashore takes very new aged stances on romantic relationships with her almost clear opposition to marriage and a rather loose view of sexuality, while Bitterblue contained some of this it was much lighter than in Fire and Graceling.

Most of Bitterblue’s plot centered around the disturbing puzzles and qualms that Bitterblue uncovers about Leck. This book showcases the fact that the entire series really centers around Leck (and understanding his past and present). A lot of the material was rather dark, and thankfully (or perhaps unforgivingly) uncluttered with the distraction of a graced/non-human narrator or the heavy romance that was present in both of its predecessors.

And the fact that Bitterblue was 100% human made this novel that much more chilling. Bitterblue is surrounded by things and people she can’t even begin to understand, least of all her deceased, graced, and mad father Leck. Everywhere she looks she sees his influence and the influence of those who were merely pawns on his board of players. Things in her castle are confusing enough without having to deal with her top adviser’s nervous break downs at the mere mention of Leck. This leaves Bitterblue at a loss for information on what happened to her kingdom, and thus how to fix it, so she decides to take control and leaves her castle one night to head out into the city, and discover it’s secrets.

Instead she makes a run in with a graced thief and a far too trusting printer who show, unknown to them, the Queen around her own city that is in shambles and still under Leck’s deadly influence. Bitterblue discovers many secrets with the help of the thieving and irresistible Saf (AKA Sapphire) and the generous printer Teddy.

Bitterblue and Sapphire’s romance is very slow burning, and at a lot of points in the novel I almost forgot about them, not because it wasn’t a good romance I was just so enveloped in the madness that surrounds Bitterblue in her castle: suicides, drunks, murderers all of them trying to forget Leck and convince Bitterblue of their rightness is covering up the past. There were so many plot twists in this novel that I struggled to come up for air even after setting the book down.A depressing sadness and eerie curiosity will keep you turning the pages. After reading the first two books really getting a look at Leck’s madness (and at his true dealings with his subjects) was both bone-chilling and fascinating.

And that’s why I truly can’t compare this book with Fire or Graceling. They are simply TOO different. Graceling was about love , Fire was about strength, and Bitterblue is about Healing and how love and strength play into it. That honestly makes it the perfect sequel/companion to Graceling and Fire. There was so much more to Bitterblue than in Fire and Graceling. It was this giant mass of secrets and politics, and fear that wasn’t in Graceling and Fire. Maybe, as I said before, because Bitterblue is not graced and is human. She has nothing but her title and that leaves her so much more vulnerable than Katsa (who is the MC of Graceling and is graced with survival) and Fire (who is a ‘Monster’ and has countless abilities and is obviously the MC of Fire). Had Bitterblue been anything but human I feel like the novel would of lost a lot of it’s impact.

Over all Bitterblue was a very weighty novel and is a nice wrap up to Graceling’s tale and a good compliment to Fire; that left us with more questions than answers about Leck.

*next paragraph contains mild spoilers*

Bitterblue has a lot of answers, but none of them really tell us the one thing that we’ve all asked through out the series: why is Leck so deeply demented? And the true beauty of Bitterblue is that we know what he’s done. We know nearly all of it, but we must figure out for ourselves why he’s done it. Or if there is any reason at all. Just as Bitterblue must. So, we the human readers really become Bitterblue, observing these strange creatures from a distance and never really understanding the madness that compelled Leck.

*end mild spoilers*

The fact that I feel the need to read this book again to fully understand it compels me to give it 4 1/2 stars if only to be able to come back and give it 5 when I read it again and absorb it fully.

I hope you all enjoyed the review! Sorry it was so long, but the book was a hefty 5oo pages and gave me a lot to say!

 

Why You No Review Books?

22 Sep

Hey everyone! It’s Saturday, so that means no school and more blog time! Yeah 🙂

Today I wanted to talk about my book reviews or… uh lack there of. I’ve had a couple people ask why I don’t do them anymore and why I’m such a slacker and what not (OK maybe they didn’t say that). So I just thought I’d talk about book reviewing today.

The main reason I haven’t reviewed any books recently is because I don’t have time to read. The last book I read was I Am Number Four and that was… two weeks ago? I think it’s been that long. My god it’s a sin! I can’t believe I’ve been that busy! I used to read upwards of 60 books a year and now I’m on track to read around 35… 40 if I’m lucky. It’s atrocious really.

So lack of reading also equals lack of reviews. I know: FAIL.

But I’m going to make a concentrated effort to do at least one review a month now. If that goes well I’ll bump it up to two a month. No promises about that though!

Since I haven’t actually been reading though I’ve been thinking about what i want to read and the list is SO FREAKIN’ LONG it isn’t even funny. The next book I’ll be reading is Destined by Aprilyne Pike (the 4th book in the Wings cycle) and I’m so super excited for that. I’ve waited FOREVER to read that book and if Laurel doesn’t end up with Tammini I am going to track down Pike and throw the book in her face and cry!

Just saying.

Anyway that will definitely get a review, because I’ll probably either think its wonderful or horrid and no matter which it is I’ll have something to blog overly emotionally about.

Besides that Bitterblue by Kiersten Cashore is on my list (high expectations there!), Fallen by Lauren Kate (which I embarrassingly enough never got around to reading), Flyaway by Lucy Christopher, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (simply because my friend is forcing me to under penalty of death… or book shelf burning O.o),  The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness (second book in the Knife of never letting go trilogy), and the list goes on for quite some time.

I’d also like to re-read The Host by Stephanie Meyer before March when the movie comes out (I’m so excited about that, that I could pee my pants)!

As you can see, I am very much talk and very little walk. To change that I will go off immediatly to read a book! Good day to you all and what’s on your reading list?

 

My Feelings about Matched by Allie Condie

13 Sep

Post: 3/17

So Yesterday I wrote a post about books people love that I hate/hate that  I love. In that post I brought up the book Matched by Allie Condie, who you probably know got rave reviews and bunches of hype for her Matched series. I hated it and said as much. One of my readers asked why and I began to respond in a comment and then realized that it was much too long, and so you get what you see here today.

Where to begin with this…

I’m sorry, if you loved this book because I’m going to have to rip it to shreds right now. I apologize in advance.

To start off, the whole book just ticked me off because I love Lowis Lowry to death. I have read The Giver six times and it’s amazing and she’s amazing and… yeah. You get it right? So when I read Matched I wanted to go club whoever let it out of the slush pile because I saw so much of the work being dead on The Giver. It’s a society where your job/mate is choosen for you, the fact that you have to take ‘pills’ to suppress your natural emotions and sedate your brain. Anything half way decent in that book was ripped right out of the giver and then basted in Condie’s particular brand of bland.

Besides this ,Condie decided to spice things up with a little forbidden reading/books (*ehm* also from The Giver). The MC’s only redeeming quality is that she likes poetry but the reasons behind this rebellious behavior are hidden in the soup of Allie Condie’s pacing. For some reason she throws in Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” and okay I guess I get it (its a dystopian, the poems about not submitting to authority), but… just WHY? WHY! Why did you throw a piece of (really overused in the first place) literature. It was like throwing a pretty dress in the mud because you thought it’d make the mud look better. All you’re doing is ruining the dress.

On the same note with the fact that the poetry is completely irrelevant since we have no reason other than the MC’s grandfather’s death*(if i remember correctly) for her to like it  we equally have no reason for her to like Ky over Xander. It made less than zero sense to me! The only reason she starts to like Ky anyway is because the ‘society’ has a glitch in her Match card (that tells her about her match) and so it totally defeats the purpose of her rebelling since the idea came from the society in the first place! Besides that, why would Ky’s information even have been in the same pool to match with her if he was a lowly worker? It doesn’t make sense. There’s no way that the computer/matchers (or whoever matches people ,I forget how it happens) would have those two sets of data in the same place. So, yeah, GAPING PLOT HOLE!

Then when Ky and the MC do get together I just found the romance so BLAH. I didn’t really like Ky in the first place. Xander was obviously a better choice. Neither of them had much personality, but at least Xander was kind of happy go lucky! Then Ky is banished or sent away and the MC is all: boo hoo! Then the Peace keepers (or whoever the law enforcers are) come in and are like, “take these pills now!” and so she hides her pill and doesn’t take it. OOOOHHHHH rebellion! Not really, keep reciting your poetry dear.

Anyway I just really hated it and it made me beat my head against my desk and cry wondering how she got a million dollar contract for THAT.

Now, for those of you who loved the book, feel free to yell at me and tell me why I am wrong! I love a good debate 🙂

*The euthanization of old people, yeah, that’s from The Giver too. Just saying.

In which I Complain About the Hunger Games Movie… Or do I?

1 Apr

I hand painted this T shirt for THG!

One of the most anticipated books of the year, finally, finally released onto the big screen. Thousands of fans have waited for MONTHS for the release of The Hunger Games Movie, and I’m no exception.

I attended the Midnight premier of the movie two weeks ago, ready to be terribly and utterly disappointed. I know we all get our hopes up, but who are we kidding? We really just want something to complain about. And Hollywood ruining one of the best YA novels of the last ten years is a great excuse.

But something went wrong, because my hope was not totally crushed! My thought process went much like this:

Okay… opening lions gate thing…so far so good… Holy crap!  That- this scenery it- it actually reassembles the district twelve in my mind!What? They actually got an actress who can… ACT. Oh my! And-and wow they didn’t totally botch the plot! WHAT IS HAPPENING! *shock and awe*

In other words, I was kind of presently surprised when seeing The Hunger Games on the silver screen. Jennifer Lawerence did an AMAZING job. I mean, the girl can act. We didn’t get another blank

Front of my hand painted THG shirt

faced ‘I can act if I play myself’ teeny bopper. We got Jennifer Lawerence, and she blew my mind. I honestly started freaking out as she started screaming after Prim’s name was called. I had chills.

Wow.

Honestly most of the acting was spot on. The guy they got to play Cato for instance. Holy crude. I was scared of him! In a good way. Like, yep he’s definitely a career, (a hot one by the way) way. Glimmer, Foxface, all of them really. I actually could not have thought up a better cast.

Now, for all it’s job-well-dones (which include (as I said) much of the casting, setting, and general stick-to-it-ness of the book’s plot) it did have a bit of a fault. Some Chemistry issues.

I could not buy Josh Hutchinson in some of the scenes. I’m not sure if it was just his acting put up next to Jennifer’s (which really isn’t fair because she’s just that awesome) or if it was my extreme giddy critical readers eye-ness. But at the ending scene where they are both about to eat the berries that will – you know- KILL them. Josh starts playing with Jennifers hair. I just kind of balked at the screen for a moment. I’m thinking: Your about to die and… Your-your playing with her hair?Right… Okay. I buy that. But to give Josh credit other than a few awkward moments with the chemistry he did a good job. I mean acting opposite of Jennifer can’t be an easy task.

Also, I was hoping for more kissing. Yes, more kissing would have been good.

Other than that and a few minor plot changes/switches (such as the way Katniss receives the Mockingjay pin, and the rebellion of district 11  jumping from book two to book one) the movie was pretty good.

So, sadly. I’m here to admit that I don’t have much to complain about. Sad, since I dearly love to complain.**

But laughing at some awkward moments will have to do.

** threw in an allusion to Pride and Prejudice there.

Have you all seen it yet? Thoughts?

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater Review

24 Feb

Maggie wowed us with Shiver, made us cry with Linger, and left us wanting more after her Wolves of Mercy Falls series ended with Forever. In answer to our prayers she came out with her first stand-alone this past year: The Scorpio Races.

And what is the Scorpio Races about you may ask?

Killer water horses.

If you are all slightly confused please just calm down, take a moment to process what I just said, and then calmly return to your computer… I’ll wait.

Back? Good.

Yes, as I was saying Maggie’s newest book is about killer water horses. In The Scorpio Races we are introduced to the island of Thisby (a geographically obscure and rather timeless little chunk of land somewhere near Ireland) where every November the Scorpio Races are held. A deadly competition that leaves men strewn on the beach their blood turning the tides red. The winner gains fortune, and fame. The losers, fall prey to the deadly horses they ride. But this year Puck (AKA Kate, our main character) is entering the races, the first girl ever to do so, and Sean Kendrick (three-time winner) isn’t at all pleased to see her on his beach.

Even going into such an unusual premise I wasn’t at all prepared for what The Scorpio Races dished out.

It was very different from what I had come to expect from Stiefvater, I went in thinking The Scorpio Races would have many of the same aspects as Shiver did. Mainly romance and a really strong suspenseful pull. But it wasn’t like Shiver at all.

The Scorpio Races starts out slower than expected. If Shiver was an atom bomb then The Scorpio Races was a line of gun powder leading up to a keg.

I also was surprised to find that The Scorpio Races main focus wasn’t romance. If you thought you’d be getting a Sam/ Grace replay then you will be sadly disappointed. Most of the story centers around preparation of the races and exploring what they mean, and Sean and Puck’s reasons for running in them, all surrounded by the dangerous carnage of the training grounds, and of course Stiefvater’s beautiful prose (something I doubt I will ever stop geeking out about)!

After finishing the book I found myself slightly dumbfounded wondering how it was that Shiver and The Scorpio Races had come out of the

same persons mind, because they were so utterly different, and as I said before that difference kind of set me off kilter. In the end I felt as though I needed to read the book again just to get a good grasp on it. Because, for me, The Scorpio Races was a lot deeper than Shiver. I remember thinking when I read it that it felt a lot more adult. Not in the plot or the wording, but in the feeling and mood. Something solemn, and serious, and intense.

Because it wasn’t really about Killer Water Horses, or Love, or racing, or Irish pastries. It was about finding out what you want, and what you need, and sometimes those things are the same. Sometimes they are not. Sometimes you don’t get them. Sometimes you do. And, sometimes when you get them it’s not in the way you expect.

And it took me a good two weeks of contemplating the novel to get the above sentences. So, my rating of the Scorpio Races?

4.5 stars out of 5

I really liked the book and recommend it to anyone who reads YA. Whether you were a Shiver fan or not (though I can’t image who those people would be).

The only reason it didn’t receive a perfect 5 stars was on the account of the romance, as I had expected a little more fire from Maggie in that department, but otherwise, I really enjoyed the novel and hope you all will add it to your reading lists.

If you’ve already read it, what were your reactions to the novel?

Entwined by Heather Dixon Review

19 Feb

Entwined is a glittering fairytale retelling of the 12 Dancing Princess.

Every night Azalea (our main character) and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in a silver forest. But there is a cost. The Keeper (who watches over all of the enchantment that is locked within in vaults of the palace) likes to keep things. Azalea is no exception, and she may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Growing up the twelve dancing princesses was one of my favorite fairy tales. I always found the tale of twirling skirts, and glittering forests all concealed in secrecy enchanting for lack of a better word.

I was rather put off by the way the tale was presented. It sounded very good in my head “Oh yes a YA novel based upon my favorite fairytale! Finally someone recognizes how great a story it is!”, but honestly I found myself having mixed feelings about this novel.

Which lead me to giving it a borderline 2.5 stars. (Give or take a half star.)

For some reason, this story, when retold, came out stilted and a bit awkward. I was constantly in a muddle trying to recall which sister was which (as the distinction between the 12 sisters was very faint).

I also thought the emotional impact was kind of watered down. At times I found myself flipping a few pages ahead to see if ‘a good part’ was coming up. Or rolling my eyes when Azalea would say something to a ‘Gentlemen’.

Azalea and her sisters spent much of the book arguing with their father about dancing, and the other parts fawning over gentlemen, and then fleeing off into the magic realm to dance when things got too bad, only later to find that things down there weren’t precisely what they seemed. It came out melodramatic and a bit boring if you ask me.

Besides that, I had issues with the way Azalea and her sisters thought of themselves in this book. I’m not sure what time period this was set in, but it was at least 1800’s; maybe earlier? Still not sure. Anyway, Azalea and her sisters had a ridiculous view of modesty. Being embarrassed when The Keeper saw their ankles while dancing, and flushing whenever a gentlemen even glanced their way. Normally I would have taken this in stride. After all, that was what it was like once, but it ended up just confusing me. One moment the girls would be protecting their lady like virtue, and the next Azalea was careening out into a rainstorm on horseback NOT riding side-saddle, making out with Lord Whats-his-face, and mouthing off to her father while in mourning.

I was utterly confused.

I suppose I’m being a bit hard on this book. I had high expectations going in, and was a bit let down by the outcome. I didn’t hate it though. The cover is lovely(and rather redeeming for some of the melodrama), and I really like the dance that was invented by Dixon called the Entwine. It’s a dance where the man try’s to ‘capture’ the lady with a scarf while dancing. And, the book also did a nice job of pulling in some new elements of magic and horror into the old tale.

Overall, I would only recommend this book only if you’ll sacrifice a bit of melodrama for glittering forests. Though I wouldn’t spend the 17.99 to buy the hardback!

I hope you all enjoyed the review. Be on the look at for my next review on: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater!

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan Review

17 Dec

I haven’t read very many good YA Sci-Fi novels. In-fact, I haven’t read many Sci-Fi novels period. But, I picked up Anna Sheehan’s novel A Long, Long Sleep out of sheer curiosity. Besides the fact that the cover is gorgeous ( and made the top ten covers of 2011) the premise is very unique.

Basically, A Long, Long Sleep is a story about a girl named Rosalinda who has been in cryostasis for over 60 years and is suddenly awoken by CPR (which she mistakes for a kiss). She wakes in the basement of her old home, to find that all of her family, friends, and her boyfriend Xavier are dead; and that her fathers interplanetary company Uni-corp is now hers. Weak from stasis-fatigue and grieving for her family, Rosalinda is confronted with issues she’d never believed she would have to deal with. Ones from a past darker than she ever let herself believe.  A Long, Long Sleep is an intergalactic tale of sleeping beauty that will leave you breathless.

This is honestly one of the most emotionally moving novels I have read in a long, long time. (catch the joke?) And that is why I am giving A Long, Long Sleep 5 out of 5 stars!

A Long, Long Sleep isn’t a Sci-Fi novel really. The more i read, the more I realized that A Long, Long Sleep, is a novel about acceptance, and loss. It’s not a novel about future technology or big brother. Even though it does have elements of Sci-Fi, A Long, Long Sleep turned out to surpass those themes and created somethings so much bigger.

I found myself crying on more than one occasion reading this book. There was a lot of heart break, and loss… acceptance. And sometimes I found myself crying about the  beautiful way Sheehan painted Rosalinda’s life before stasis. The love that She had for Xavier, and the struggle she has with herself to be strong and proper as pressure is put on her by her fathers company about maintaining her public image.

But in the end this book wasn’t all sad. I found myself smiling with a little tinge of hope at parts, as Rosalinda deals with finding her place among (unexpected) friends, and finding love again, if that’s even possible.

Along with this all encompassing love, and the completely heart consuming loss I felt through out the book, there was also the thrill of suspense that Anna Sheehan manages to deliver. Along with Rosalinda’s journey to regain a life, there is something sinister going on behind Uni-corp. Something that may very well kill her!

With it’s Sinister Suspense, Heartbreaking loss, Painful acceptance, and cautious friendships, A Long Long sleep is definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I think all it’s theme’s are very relate-able to teens (and all people really). Who hasn’t felt the awkwardness of trying to be accepted? The stumbling in the dark of loss? The fear of the future, and the ache of the past? This book really connected with me, and I expect it will, and has done so for many others.

Possibly, the thing I loved best about A Long, Long Sleep, is Rosalinda herself. She is one of the STRONGEST female leads I’ve read in YA fiction in a while (I’m sure someone will disagree with me, but I digress). Rosalinda, maintains her air of strength above all else in the first part of A Long, Long Sleep. Even though she struggles with her loss, and the shock of waking up to find she’s slept for over 60 years she deals with it fairly well. Watching Rosalinda struggle to maintain the walls she’s built and overcome her own fears is one of the most empowering things I’ve read in a long time. She handles herself  with grace, even in her weakened body.Seeing Rosalinda rip free from the bonds of her strict childhood, was amazing, and even when she looses control of her feelings, she looks to herself first for what she needs, and it was awesome to find a protagonist who could handle herself WITHOUT her boyfriend by her side.

I sincerely hope you all go out and read A Long, Long Sleep! I really enjoyed it, and think you will too. I’m now off to go by a personal copy of the novel myself!