Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue is 3rd in a series of books by Kristin Cashore; I recommend you read Graceling first.

SummaryBitterblue takes place 8 years after the events in Graceling and feature many of the same characters. Bitterblue herself is now Queen of the kingdom of Monsea, successor to and daughter of King Leck, a violent, psychopathic man who possessed the ability to lie to everyone, and have everyone believe his lies.

The kingdom is struggling to recover after King Leck’s torturous reign, a fact that Bitterblue’s advisers seem intent on hiding from her. Taking it upon herself to truly get to know her kingdom, Bitterblue begins sneaking outside her castle alone after dark to explore the city. While on her escapades she meets two thieves who open her eyes to the truth of what’s happening in her city. But the more she explores, the more she realizes that something is still dreadfully wrong in her kingdom, and the more she begins to question the trustworthiness of the people closest to her.

My Thoughts: Ever since reading Graceling I’ve been a dedicated fan of Kristin Cashore’s–Fire was just as beautiful and made me even more desperate to read more of Cashore’s writing. I’ve been waiting awhile for the release of Bitterblue, and while I definitely enjoyed myself (finished it in about a day), Bitterblue is very different in both mood, pacing, and plot than the previous two novels.

There’s none of the pulse-pounding adventure and adrenaline-spiked fights present in Graceling or Fire–instead, the problems plaguing Bitterblue and the demons she must confront are much more insidious, creeping, and hidden beneath the surface. There’s no definite Bad Guy, but there is something much more realistic and relevant to our own world: the covering-up of misdeeds, corruption in the government, false accusations and convictions, poverty and suffering, and yes, even the tedium of paperwork and bureaucracy.

Bitterblue is much more slow-moving. It is more thought-provoking and maybe even more… internal. It’s a different kind of book. If I enjoyed it any less (which I will admit that I did a bit), I think it was more due to the new characters. They weren’t as real to me. I didn’t fall in love with any of them, even the two quirky thieves, Teddy and Saf, that Bitterblue meets on her secret expeditions. Everyone just seemed… flatter.

Slight spoiler: I did enjoy the kind of relationship Cashore portrayed in Bitterblue–that your first love may not be your forever love, may not be your greatest love, and that some things (like ruling a kingdom, exploring a new land) may even come before love. But that doesn’t make the love any less worthy. In fact, Cashore is just great at depicting relationships that are sort of off-grid and nontraditional in terms of not being in the fairy-tale “meet, fall in love, get married, have kids” vein, but still being able to completely sweep you off your feet. Talent.

I really enjoyed Bitterblue in the end, and I also liked how it ended up tying the first two books together.

Author Website: http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/

How did I get this book? Ebook!

Giveaway! See Michelle Read is currently doing a giveaway of Bitterblue here! Open until May 28, 2012.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Rating: 9 out of 10
Summary: Taken from VOYA.

Across the mountains from the scene of Cashore’s first novel, Graceling, King Nash of The Dells clings to his throne through the skill of his military commander, younger brother Brigan.

The Dells are home to creatures called monsters, which resemble normal animals but for their brilliant coloration and their ability to enter others’ minds. The last human monster is Fire, named by her father Cansrel for her startling red hair. Advisor to King Nash’s father, Cansrel was widely feared and hated before his death, and Fire is glad to grow up quietly, far from the capital.

But war is about to engulf Fire as the desperate king, beset by rivals, enlists her mind-controlling skills in his kingdom’s defense. Complicating matters are the jealous protectiveness of Fire’s old friend and lover Archer and her attraction to cool, selfcontained Prince Brigan. In the background, somehow influencing events, stands a strange boy with two different-colored eyes and an ominous ability to cloud others’ minds.

My Thoughts: GAAAAAH I LOVED THIS ONE! I read it in one sitting, stayed up late in bed and everything. I very much enjoyed Graceling by Cashore, so I knew Fire was going to be a great read if not better.

It is hardest for me to write a review for the books I end up loving the best. All I can do is come up with blah blah gibberish about how much I liked it and how necessary it is for you to read it. Fire was adventurous, different, a little scary, absorbing, and romantic.

Gibberish gibberish READ IT

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

COVER graceling by kristin cashoreRating: 8 out of 10
Summary: In a world where people born with an extreme skill–called a Grace–are feared and exploited, Katsa carries the burden of a skill even she despises: the Grace of killing. She lives under the command of her uncle Randa, King of the Middluns, and is expected to execute his dirty work, punishing and torturing anyone who displeases him.

When she first meets Prince Po, who is Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po’s friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace–or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

My Thoughts: I read a lot of great things about this one before putting it on hold at my local library. I finally got it this week and it was just as good as everyone said it was!

Katsa, our heroine, was realistic and easy to relate to–I liked her immensely and I was quite sympathetic to her troubles and endeavors, and saw a bit of myself in her, which always helps. The premise and the world Cashore created was fabulous. Sort of like your quintessential pre-Industrial Revolution world where occasionally, some people are born with unusual talents, or Graces, that distinguish them from the rest of the population. These Graces can be as simple as a better-than-normal swimming ability, an unusual talent for baking delicious pastries, or in Katsa’s case, a talent for killing people. Katsa’s Grace contributes a lot to her character and her decision-making, and made for an interesting story.

I always like a good, well-formed plot with unexpected twists. Graceling had this, and I felt that the pacing and the way Cashore moved the story along was very well done. The romance subplot (acutally, it might be more than a little subplot) was nicely done, warm fuzzies all around, with an interesting dynamic that I haven’t read in romance before.

A great, adventurous read.