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
Review: Kristin Cashore is my favorite author ever. Seriously, she can do no wrong. Keep that in mind while reading my review, okay?
It has been a long time since I read Graceling so I didn’t remember much of anything about Bitterblue from the first book. I’m almost glad, because I didn’t have a lot of preconceptions about anything beyond the world, and Cashore did a wonderful job at reintroducing everything well enough that it didn’t matter.
I love Bitterblue, even more than I remember loving Katsa or Fire. Maybe that’s because I relate most to her, but I find her spunk refreshing and her quest for knowledge no matter the cost admirable. In contrast to the kick-butt heroines, Bitterblue’s biggest asset is her mind. She’s a thinker and she’s been trained to find the truth – the greatest weapon against a liar like Leck. It is so rare to find a heroine in YA literature who values thinking and the truth over her fists recently, and I absolutely love it!
Despite the title, I don’t think the book is really about Bitterblue. It’s about so much more than that. It’s about the difference between stories and lies. It wonders why we so desperately cling to one but despise the other. It asks what we’d do if we were so horrendously lied to that we couldn’t tell the difference. And that right there is what I love about Cashore’s works. They’re never just about the plot. They have so much depth and breadth to them that they really belong to the classics.
After that amazing ride I only have one question left: what’s next?
“A drowning, a magician’s curse, and a centuries-old secret. “1537. A man hurries through city streets in a gathering snowstorm, clutching a box in one hand. He is Johann Faust, the greatest magician of his age. The box he carries contains a mirror safeguarding a portion of his soul and a small ring containing all the magic in the world. Together, they comprise something unimaginably dangerous.
London, the present day. Fifteen-year-old Gavin Stokes is boarding a train to the countryside to live with his aunt. His school and his parents can’t cope with him and the things he sees, things they tell him don’t really exist. At Pendurra, Gavin finds people who are like him, who see things too. They all make the same strange claim: magic exists, it’s leaking back into our world, and it’s bringing something terrible with it.
Disclaimers: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review. Unfortunately, I did not finish the book and this review is based on the first 300 pages or so only.
My Review: When I’m choosing what I want to read, I have to be very picky. My TBR list is far too huge to read everything that comes my way. The summary of this one sounded amazing – a boy bring magic back to the world after hundreds of years, and a house that wasn’t quite of this world seemed like elements of a great story. Unfortunately the book the summary was describing and the book itself seemed to me like two completely different things.
At first the surprise was pleasant. There were a lot of English quirks that made me really feel like I was experiencing England all over again. I especially loved the scene on the train, and was reminded of the many train rides I took while I was there. Even once we got to Pendurra, there were little thingsthat kept me smiling. The atmosphere was a little like a cross between Bridge to Terabithia and The Spiderwick Chronicles. Marina was wonderfully kooky, a little like a young Luna Lovegood. There was a flavor of mystery and I was curious to see what would happen. I could have done without the flashbacks to 1537, but I was willing to wade through them for the rest of it.
Then we hit the turning point and everything changed. Gavin takes the name Gawain and essentially becomes another person. After spending all that time getting to know Gavin, and rooting for him through the ups and downs, I found I didn’t particularly care for or about Gawain. I wasn’t that interested in his quest and I didn’t really care what happened to him.
In the end what really sunk the story for me was the weight. I found references to just about any story about ancient magic you can think of littered about the text in passing. The most prominent were the stories of King Arthur and Faust, both stories I like to see retold – but neither goes much beyond a few names and small references. I think it’s because the author was just trying to cramso many different stories into one! I’ll admit, that’s what eventually had me setting this one down – I was having a hard enough time keeping all the intertextual references straight, much less the actual story lines!
I hate to bash any book, and I hope it doesn’t sound like that by any means, but I do kind of wish I hadn’t chosen to try this book. I put a lot of effort and time into it (I was more than 3/4 through when I finally put it down) and when everything suddenly changed on me, I felt that effort was kind of wasted.
Each session will feature 2-5 books of a specific genre or theme that we will be both reading and discussing over the course of several months. The discussions are intended to provide connections between involved readers and spark discussions that go beyond book reviewing and blogging.
The Reading lists and potential schedules will be posted up to two weeks prior to the beginning of a session, along with a sign-up sheet.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve never read the books listed, or if you’ve read them 100 times. As long as you’re willing to read them with us and discuss them, we don’t mind.
Placement in sessions will be limited – we want to be able to get a good real-time discussion going [see: use of Skype], and we want you to be able to get to know your fellow participants.
There will be one official discussion for each book at the end of the allotted reading time. However, Skype names and email addresses will be exchanged between participants, and we encourage you to discuss on your own while you’re reading (just try not to spoil for anyone who hasn’t finished yet!)
These are open-ended discussions. We will have guiding questions to ask should the conversation drag, but we want YOU to talk about what you want. We will, of course, accept suggestions for questions from participants as well.
Towards the end of each session, we will be asking for suggestions of book titles, genres, themes and potential dates for upcoming sessions – you’ll have a say in what you want to read!
It is NOT necessary to have a blog to participate. If you do not have a blog, and would like to post about the books somewhere, one of the hosts will be doing a round-up post for each book. For those who do have blogs, at the bottom of the round-up posts we will include a linky for reviews or any other kind of post you’d like to add.
Some things to consider before signing up:
YOU are in charge of finding your own copy of the books, BUT where you get them (as long as it’s legal!) and what format you use (e.g. Library book, ebook, audiobook etc.) is up to you.
All discussions will be held on Skype unless otherwise stated. Skype is free to download and use, but if you would rather not use it, then please don’t sign up.
International participants are welcome! Please be aware that all discussions will be held in English, possibly spoken as well as written. Also, do be aware that we are holding discussions in real time, so we will need to be able to find common times [see: Doodle poll details]
You MAY NOT choose to skip a book. If you sign up to be part of a session, then you are agreeing to read and discuss ALL of the books on the reading list for your particular session.
As previously stated, places are limited! If you would like to be considered for a specific session YOU MUST FILL OUT THE DOODLE POLL. We will be choosing participants based on common availability, so this is absolutely imperative. If you do not fill out the poll, we will be forced to immediately disqualify you from consideration for that session. (Please note: we are aware that schedules change, and if you aren’t 100% sure about your availability, please just give us your general availability. We will do our best to make sure that if you’re chosen to participate, we’ll find a time that works for you.)
For all potential participants: The Doodle Poll times are all in Eastern Standard Time (use New York City as a reference). If you need help with the time conversion, please see THIS SITE.
This sounds great! Sign me up!
Great! We’d love to have you. Please fill out the form below, and DO NOT FORGET to fill out the Doodle Poll (please make sure the name on the entry form and the name you enter on the Doodle Poll match so that we know who you are!) The form is the same on both sites, so please only fill it out once.
I want to participate, but I don’t like the books/genre you’ve chosen!
I can’t attend during the dates you set!
Not to worry! There will be multiple sessions, all of different lengths, at different times of year, and with different types of books! We’ve chosen to set up the first session as an example, but we want YOUR input on what to do next time, and we’ll be asking for that later. Please just fill out the form below, and instead of filling out the Doodle Poll, please mark “Not this time, but please keep me informed about future sessions!”
Still confused? Check out the sample session below (just click on the titles to check out a description):
OPTIONAL August 24 – Sept 15 – The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky (Alissa and Anne will be reading this together in preparation to see the movie, coming out the 15th. Please email us if you’d like to join in!)
September 1-14 – What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn (currently on sale for $0.99 in eBook format!)
All dates for discussions decided once participant availability is known. Participants will be chosen and announced in mid-July, leaving you two weeks to find copies of the books, before the session officially starts.
My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy: a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody’s head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.
But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I’m determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why ?especially since I should have been the one who died. . .
My Review: I cannot believe it has taken me so long to start this series! I’m probably going to be saying that a lot this summer. Sometimes I wonder if I reallydo live under that proverbial rock!
Mythos Academy is a mixture of all my favorite things – boarding schools, strange magics, and mythology. But you know all about how much I love those things already. So what’s new about this one? Well, new thing number 1 is Logan Quinn! Stoic, handsome and an outsider – three things I love in a love interest, and he’s got them all. That’s kind of rare in mythology retellings, at least not without the added bonus of being a mega-jerk too. There’s a good reason for that – myths were originally meant to be simple cautionary tales of good and evil, so the people and gods involved are pretty simple too. With that strict dichotomy of good traits vs. bad traits already set up, it’s really tempting to just use it as is. But the truly interesting characters are the ones that go against the stereotypes, and Logan, as one of them, has me fascinated!
The other different thing that I really loved about this book is the inclusion of gypsy mythology. I’ll admit, probably 90% of the reason I started reading so much all those years ago, and why I’m such a reader now, is I always wanted to know everything. My parents have said I was worse than most children when it came to the “why” game – I could spend hours on end asking why, and actually honestly want to know the answer. Reading fiction is so much more fun than reading nonfiction, and I always felt you could learn just as much if the author did their job right. Anyway, I love it when an author uses a completely new (to me) element, because it means I can learn about that too! There wasn’t a ton of detail to the gypsy element, but it was definitely there, and I’m looking forward to more explanation in the following books.
Beyond that, this was just a really fun, fast read. I’m so excited to get to read more (book 2 just showed up from the library yesterday!)
For further discussion: What’s the favorite thing you’ve “learned” from a book? OR what made you start reading for pleasure?
Show of hands: How many of you have ever said “I loved this book so much I wish they’d make a movie of it!”? I bet everyone has said it at least once, right? And the movie industry is being so obliging – the trend is becoming way more popular now with developments in special effects making it possible to translate almost anything your imagination can come up with onto the big screen.
Let’s take a look at the (not-so-official) stats, shall we? According to this article on Wikipedia a good FIFTH of the number 1’s are based on some kind of print media (either book or graphic novel.) There may be more – those are just the ones I recognized off the top of my head. Add to that the popularity of True Blood, Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars and other TV shows I’d say we’re looking at a large scale trend. My question is why?!
Think about it for a second. When was the last time you went to see a movie based on your favorite book? (Probably for a lot of you it was The Hunger Games, right?) How did you feel beforehand? Were you nervous? Did you feel queasy, just thinking about your favorite parts and wondering if they’d made the cut? How about your favorite characters? We all know there’s always that chance they’ll cut the one thing that makes the story magic. We know they can’t do everything, and please everyone. And yet, like gluttons for punishment, we still go to see the movies, even though there’s a chance it will ruin everything. Just look at The Last Airbender by M. Night Shyamalan. That should have been a much easier transition – TV show to movie, instead of text to movie – and from what I hear they STILL screwed it up majorly (I still haven’t brought myself to watch it, though I feel that someday I’ll have to, if only to see for myself).
Even the ones that do get it right tend to screw up a little. When I went to see the first Harry Potter film for the very first time, the biggest thing I took away wasn’t the amazement at seeing this beloved story acted out. No, it was indignation that they took out Peeves, who was and is still one of my favorite characters. Even The Hunger Games, as well done as I thought it was had some flaws – in fact for my review I had it about evenly matched between things I absolutely loved, and things I thought they could and should have done better.
And then, of course, we have the problem of changing the pictures we see in our heads. I know for me, at least, Jennifer Lawrence will now always be Katniss, though I pictured her rather differently when I read it the first time. And heck, I’m not the most careful reader – I missed that Malfoy was blonde for the first several books, and when the first movie came out I was shocked as all get out! Now, I can’t even remember what I originally thought he looked like.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the movies and tv shows as much as the next guy. There’s something so magical about seeing a story play out on the screen. There are some things a movie can do that the book just can’t. But with all these things that we know could go wrong, why do we put ourselves through it? I really don’t have an answer, and I’m just as guilty as the rest of you (I just finished Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, and let me tell you, I already have pretty much a full cast. It includes Ben Barnes. You’re welcome ). Maybe we are just big gluttons for punishment!
This is the fourth and last of the Books and the Media series. Thank you so much for reading along and participating! If you liked the series and would like to see more discussion series’, or if you have suggestions for specific discussions, please let me know!
Week two of the Outlander Read-along already! And I’m again reading the pages on the Sunday night before *sigh* what can I say, I’m a procrastinator! You can find this week’s participant posts, and the questions for next week here.
1. Claire has been given the task of healer at the castle. She must adapt her nursing skills for the time and learn what herbs and etc will cure each particular ailment that is presented to her. Do you have any home remedies that were passed down to you (cure for a cold, bee sting or what have you)?
I don’t think I do – we do a lot of diy stuff for around the house (I build my own bookshelves, Freezer/TV dinners are practically taboo, we don’t turn the A/C on unless absolutely necessary etc.) but remedies not so much. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is hot tea for a sore throat – my mother always made me orange flavored herbal tea with honey and lemon in it, and to this day I find that drink really comforting.
2. What do you think would be the biggest challenge of living in the past? (Clothing, hygiene, food, etiquette or etc.)
Honestly? The attitude towards women. I always like to think that I would do better in a past time, because there’s lots of rules about how to act toward people, and I’m good with rules (well, memorizing them at least). But, at the same time, I would absolutely hate being forced to sit around doing needlework or what have you because I wouldn’t be allowed to learn anything, or read too much or any number of other things that I enjoy as well. That said, I do enjoy a lot of things that aren’t exactly recent hobbies, and I could hold my own at needlework, so maybe I’d be fine.
3. Do you have a favorite character, scene or quote so far? If so, share it with us.
Nothing sticks in my mind at the moment. I’m starting to like Claire, I guess, because she is so resourceful and adaptable. Oh and I really liked Gailie Duncan! She was fun But nobody has really made it to the level of favorite yet.
4. What did you think about the addition of the blood bond in the wedding ceremony? Is this something you would do with the one you love?
Here’s the thing – I have an irrational fear of pain. It’s silly because I am perfectly fine experiencing pain. At age 5 I had to have stitches in my MOUTH because I fell and split open the gums above my front teeth, and the dentist said I was the first patient he’d ever had in for stitches my age that didn’t cry. But the idea of pain has me cringing so badly that I can’t watch that one scene from Of Mice and Men (you know, the one where Lenny crushes a hand) without turning away and gagging. Therefore, I have to say that I would never agree to such a thing in advance. If they surprised me with it, though, I’d probably be okay with it. I mean, it makes sense in their culture. I’d cringe a bit at the thought of blood-borne illnesses, but that’s all.
5. Are you reading along closely with the scheduled chapters or are you ahead or behind?
I am actually 100% up to date and not a single page further! This is mostly because I’m reading other books too, so I set it down last Sunday thinking I’d read a few pages here and there all week. Then it was about, oh, 3 pm on Sunday and I realized I hadn’t read them yet. OOPS! That said, considering where we stopped, I may not stay on track very long. It’s suddenly getting interesting!
Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else we’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books we plan on reading in the coming week. [Description borrowed from On a Book Bender]
The Corner Newsstand (This week on Creativity’s Corner)
I participated in the Outlander Read-along (week 1)
I discussed Audiobooks – why I like the idea, and why I still don’t use them.
I did a set of mini-reviews on some Dystopians I’ve read since the beginning of the year.
Not much happened this week. My nook is back (YAY!) Also, I have been working on a semi-super-sekrit-project with Alissa – We hope to have an official announcement by Wednesday, so keep checking back
Around the Corner (Blog posts I found awesome since the last post)
Alex @ The Blethering Bookworm asked us what we think about spoilers. For the record I am MEGA against spoilers – I like to try to figure out what will happen as I’m reading, and if I’m spoiled I don’t get to do that.
Anna @ Anna Reads did a post on audiobooks that’s kind of the opposite of my view – if you’re looking for a different opinion, try her post.
Alissa @ The Grammarian’s Reviews had a very serious post on blog bullying and negativity. Please, everyone, go and read it, and remember that everything you say in a public forum has a chance to get back to the person it’s about, AND whether you meant it to be hurtful or not, criticism is criticism. Do it in private please. Oh, and while you’re there, check out her post on young adults in YA – it’s pretty cool too!
Reading Digest (Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next)
The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart – YAY! My first contemp of the summer!
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Okay, so I’m like 50 pages from the end, but I’m almost done. Two things: 1) I think I’m ‘shipping the wrong character, but I’m STILL not sure (This would be the first time though – I rarely guess wrong on these things) and 2) This is the first book I have ever literally jumped up and down in frustration in the breakroom (because I had to go back to work, but I just wanted to read more). Yeah. That good!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Still reading this, in fact, I need to get going on the next section!
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren – Still reading this one too, though I’ve kind of put it down because Throne of Glass got WAY good.
Insurgent by Veronica Roth – SO excited to get going on this one!
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready – Another one I’m embarrassed I haven’t read. Everyone seems to love this series, so I’m gonna give it a try.
The Selection by Kiera Cass – I seriously need a whole week of reading 24/7, because I have TOO MANY BOOKS that I want to read, like, yesterday.
I’ve gotta go get ready to drive Mom to the airport, so I’ll catch ya’ll later (Also! Burning a book to CD so I can listen in the car on my way book – my first new audiobook! Wish me luck!) If you have any great posts that you think I missed, please let me know!
These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for nearly ninety years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me. So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was feeding on her, Will’s world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagi–a headless monster that feeds through the mouthfuls of teeth in its chest–and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatenning to overtake and consume our world before it is too late.
My Review: When I first saw this book I thought “A scientist who studies obscure monsters in the time of Frankenstein and Dracula? Oh yes please!” The reality unfortunately turned out very different from my expectations. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
The main thing I enjoyed about the book was the monsters. They were incredibly creepy and created enough gore to fill a lake. I would definitely categorize this as a gothic horror, meant to terrify you into next week. I’m impressed that the book managed to do that, even with a much lesser known monster. I hadn’t even heard of the Anthropophagi before reading this book. I’m not even sure now if they’re from some myth I never knew, or if they are actually completely fiction. If they are fiction, then they’re very well done – they sound like something straight out of those ancient Greek myths, or even Gulliver’s Travels.
Beyond that, this was unfortunately a rather disappointing read, mostly due to my own expectations. This book imitates the Gothic Horror style of classic novels like Dracula, and the imitation goes straight down all the way to the style of the prose. I was expecting a historical fiction with contemporary language, and instead ended up slogging through some pretty archaic stuff – it felt like I really was reading Dracula, instead of reading a storylike Dracula. I don’t mind that sometimes, but when I’m not expecting it, it starts to make reading feel like a chore.
Possibly as a result of my surprise at the style, I didn’t ever feel like I really connected with the characters. Will Henry was a pushover and a doormat. He acted more like a third person narrator than as a main character, and I found even though it was in first person, I didn’t really care what happened to him. Doctor Warthrop seemed distant and cruel, and quite frankly an awful guardian for a young orphan like Will Henry. It’s actually kind of funny, because he reminds me a little of the Doctor (from Doctor Who) in some ways, but as a guardian of Will Henry he just made me cringe.
Honestly, I think this book just wasn’t for me. It was too old-fashioned and didn’t hold my interest like I wanted it to. If you really want to read it, then go ahead, but be forewarned – it’s like reading the classics all over again.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – The dystopian that restarted dystopians, and I can still see why! This was a reread, which usually take me up to a week to finish, but I couldn’t put it down again! If you’ve somehow been living under a rock and missed reading this, you really must read this one, even if you never finish the series.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – I liked the premise, though the inside/outside setting has been used a lot recently. The romance was a predictable “opposites attract” story, but it was still nice to watch Perry protecting Aria. I might recommend this, but mostly only to fans of dystopians.
Struck by Jennifer Bosworth – Almost more post-apocalyptic than dystopian, which was part of the appeal for me. I loved the characterization of the lightening, and I spent most of the novel marveling at how much research must have gone into the book. I was a little frustrated at the relationship between Mia and Jeremy, and I wanted a lot more of the story from before the quake. I feel like we started too much in the middle of things, and I was lost for the first half of the book. But, I would still recommend the book if you were hoping to read it anyway. Fast-paced and action-filled, it’s a fun way to spend an afternoon.
Starters by Lissa Price – I don’t actually have that much to say about this one. The premise was interesting, but the story was a little slow. I feel like the same amount could have been explained in about half the time. I liked the characters, but I feel like Callie acted a little young for a 16-year-old who had spent 2 years on the streets. I wish the antagonist had been a little less removed for the majority of the book – I didn’t feel that invested in the mystery and conflict until the “Old Man” showed up at the very end. It wasn’t all bad, though, and I’ll be reading the next one to find out what happens in the end.
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