Tag Archives: blogs

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!

 

Advertisements

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?

 

Ally on: Being a Teen Writer

20 Sep

I feel like it’s time for a little heart to heart here guys. I just need to get this situation off my chest, because everyone else seems to have an opinion about it and so here’s my two cents on teen writers, and being one.

First off, we get a bad wrap. At least I thinks so. We can’t write anything ‘good‘, were shut ins, we drink large amounts of tea, and on top of all of this people seem to think that were just writing for fun. FUN? Whomsoever thinks writing is fun has obviously never done it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to people and when I tell them I’m a writer they’ll say over exuberantly  “Oh that’s cute!” or dreadfully, “you aren’t going to college for that are you?”. With either response you might as well of just spit in my tea and walked away.

I’m not taken seriously, and i know it. Heck, everyone knows it!

If you’re between the ages of say… 13 and 20 and drop the ‘W’ bomb you’re whole ship is sunk. You automatically become the out in space, unrealistic dreamer who obviously doesn’t have his/her head on straight and clearly, ever so clearly needs to be steered in the right direction. I can’t tell you how often my Grandmother has throw out the topic of engineer, or chemist, or (if you absolutely must) biologist when I bring up writing. And it isn’t that those aren’t good jobs, or that I couldn’t do them (or don’t want to) it’s the fact that you don’t even give writing a second thought.

No one has EVER said to me (other than fellow writers) “Why Ally, you should keep writing! You could have a future there.”

And I’m not asking for handouts, or compliments, honestly. If you want to tell me I suck at writing and am a failure and that I’ll never amount to anything in the field… fine. But don’t just skim over it like it isn’t even worth a comment, like since its worthless to you it’s worthless to me, because it’s not.

And i think that’s where the big misconception is. People think this is just something I do. They think that it’s worthless.That it’s all the papers you throw away at the end of the school year (sure you used them once, they meant something once. But no one else will want them, and eventually you’ll realize you don’t need them, and you’ll just toss it out with the trash)

But it ISN”T LIKE THAT.

Writing is something that you have to commit to. ESPECIALLY as a teen! School, sports, friends, family, clubs, a part-time job, applying for college (if your a Jr./Senior), and church (if your into that) is all on a teen’s plate. Add writing to that and, well, you could just about drop dead at the end of the day. At least I could. I suppose this isn’t just teens, but every writer with a life. (haha, what life?). What I’m saying is it’s easy as a teenager to steal every spare moment of  the day to just catch your breath, but teen writers don’t and that’s what people don’t get.

Most of the time writing isn’t fun, and we have to MAKE time to do it. We have to force ourselves to do a lot of days. And anybody who writes will tell you that isn’t easy. You have to take yourself very seriously to do it.

I take myself seriously, and I just wish other people would to. I’m not asking you to tell me I’m amazing. I’m just asking you to give me chance.

Genius and Thievery!

16 Sep

Hi everyone! I have been super busy today, and still have a ton of homework to do before I head into school tomorrow. So, for today’s post I’m totally cheating and re-posting an awesome idea from Brigid’s blog My Life as a Teenage Novelist. After you read her awesome advice below go ahead and check out her site!

Fun with Wordle

Howdy, y’all!

So, if you don’t know what Wordle is, let me briefly explain how it works. It’s a nifty little website, where you can enter a bunch of text, and then it creates a “word collage” based on what you enter. The more frequently you use a certain word, the bigger it is in the collage. Fun, right?

But not only is it fun, it’s also a useful tool for writers––because it shows you what words you might be using too much.

For example, here’s what happened when I entered the entirety of my book UNRAVELING:

 
Uh wow, the word “like” is freakin’ HUGE! Same with the word “know” … and there are a lot of other words that are relatively large. 
 
Now, this is what happened when I entered six of my books at once:
 
 
The results are actually pretty much the same. Looks like no matter what I’m writing, I use a lot of the same words. Particularly “like” and “know,” for some reason.
 
Well, I take this as a sign that I should go back through my manuscripts and take out some of those words that I’m using way too much. 
 
So, my question of the day is: What are some words that you use too much? Have you ever used Wordle to find out––and if so, did the results surprise you?
Isn’t she a genius? Check out her site!
Re-posted from My Life as a Teenage Novelist

They were the Hipsters before Hipsters.

15 Sep

Friend: “… and thats what a hipster is.”

Me:, “I’m sorry but you just described every writer I’ve ever known.”

The soap box is coming out folks because this whole ‘hipster’ business, it’s ridiculous. These people were totally are  just copying writers! They just made up a new name for writer and decided to be ‘deep’ out from behind a desk. Think about it.

People say hipsters are (for one) apathetic/lazy. That’s every stereotypical writers ever mentioned! All writers do is complain and laze about until they absolutely force themselves to write something down. They work in their pajamas for heaven sakes! It doesn’t get much worse than that.

Second of all hipsters read and then apply what they read to sound ‘deep’ and ‘philosophical’. W.R. I.T.E.R. Writer. All writers do is read and then pretend they have any clue at all about what they are read. Then they write it down slap a stamp on it and send it out to other people to absorb their genius!  Actually I can’t think of a group more apt to sit down with a stack of books, meditate on it, and then philosophically or ironically (another characteristic of hipsters) discuss them than writers.

Then you have the denial aspect of ‘hipster culture’. Anyone who is a hipster supposedly denies their hipsterness. HELLO!!! Writers have been doing that for eons before the word hipster swung around the block. You ask someone if they are a writer they will usually say “no, not really, I write but I’m definitely not a writer.” I rest my case.

Of course hipsters hang out in cafes and drink herbal tea and no one does that right? Uh no, not except writers! Writers have been lining Starbucks and every other teashop and coffee house in the nations pockets since cafes existed! In fact writers will sit there for hours and work in mysterious silence sipping their drinks till they go cold. Or even better letting them go cold next to them because they are just being so philosophical that they can’t pull themselves away from their screens. Top that hipsters!

And so, my dear readers let us give a round of applause to those who were hipsters before hipsters:

Lois Lowry (The Giver) Not only is she sporting an edgy non-mainstream hair cut ,but she’s also wearing over-sized glasses, a turtle neck, and she has a shelter dog with her. She is so much better than any hipster that It’s just unspeakable!

Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter) Flaunting his mustache. Wait people had facial hair before hipsters!? No way. O.o

Jane Austen… Sporting a vintage hat. That’s right hipsters she wore a hat before you!

I hope I have brought to everyone’s attention that hipsters a totally just copying writers! Any Hipster want to take that up with me? Or am I too philosophical for you?

 

*I really hope everyone took this as a joke about hipsters haha

 

3 Writer’s Essentials

14 Sep

Post: 4/17

I’m so tired from this week, and so I’m just going to be a bum and make a list for today’s post. 3 cheers for my level of motivation! So here are three writer’s essentials.

1.Post it Notes. Why? Because they are genius! You can stick them in your car/bag/locker/notebook/planner and darn near anywhere else and instantly be able to have a place to write down ideas! On top of that they are colorful and who doesn’t like colorful paper squares? Crazies, that’s who.

2. A Fancy Pen. I feel like all writers need at least one fancy pen. It makes you feel all professional, and on-top of that it might make you like editing! (Yeah that’s a lie.) Even if it doesn’t, at least you can carry it around and look like you know what your doing, because honestly I rarely do. It just makes you feel writerly!

3. A Comfortable desk chair. I only say this because my pretty staples desk chair( of 4 years) broke and so I’m using a fold-able right now and my back has no support. This is no condition to sit in folks, especially when you are falling asleep at your desk. I never realized until now how much I desperately need a good chair. Thus, you need one too. If you’re spending hours in that chair it better be good!

That is all. Continue about your day citizens.

 

GoodReads is a Paradox

12 Sep

Post: 2/17

There are few things in life that consistently shock me over and over again. That incredibly short list has a large star next to finding out someone hates a book I love. It baffles me. How anyone could hate a book that I love t is just bizarre. You have to wonder what goes through their head as compared to yours. Is it even possible that someone could disdain a  piece of literature as much as you love it? It’s likely the most dysfunctional paradox ever.

The reason I bring this up is because my dearest bookish friend just finished FIRE by Kristin Cashore the other day. And oh my goodness I am absolutely in LOVE with that book. I love everything about it; the characters, the plot, the moral, the world building. It’s all simply genius and I was so excited to have my friend read it. It’s a beautiful piece of writing and I couldn’t wait to rave and rant about it with her when she was finished.

So, I decided to GoodReads creep today.

And what I found was astonishing. She’d finished the book… and she’d given it TWO STARS. TWO STARS! Was that even legal? I was sure she’d miss-clicked, but no, her review said she’d given it as much. When I asked her about it she just kind of waved it off, “It was alright” she said. And this is where I’m dumbfounded.

I just think it’s funny how one book, the SAME book can get such opposite reactions from two seemingly similar people. My bookish friend is indeed quit similar to myself. In fact we are often told that we are “the same person” (jokingly of course) it doesn’t help that we say things in unison at times or finish each others sentences. And it’s like that all across the board. People all have a varied reaction to every novel. Matched by Allie Condie for instance. FAILURE. JUST FAILURE if you ask me, but there were plenty of people who gave her a five-star review!

Why?

Because readers bring something to a novel that the author can never expect. An X factor that changes with each one. A readers past experiences, values, and knowledge, all effect how the book is read and in turn experienced and received. The reason people hate books you love or love books you hate is because they see something you don’t or don’t see something you do in the text. When people say it’s all about how you look at things they are right as rain.

This my friends, is why GoodReads is a Paradox.

So go ahead and tell me about books your friends hate and you love or vice versa!