The Verdict: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Click to view on GoodReads.
Click to view on GoodReads.

There are just many things to be said about Bitterblue but let’s start with the basics. It’s the third book in the Graceling Realm Trilogy by Kristin Cashore and it looks beautiful.

In Graceling, we entered a world of seven kingdoms where some people are born graced with any number of unique skills or abilities and where we first meet Katsa, seemingly graced with the skill of killing and under the command of King Randa. Katsa becomes increasingly frustrated and depressed about being used in such a cruel way and when Prince Po comes along their journey together slowly reveals just how corrupt the seven kingdoms really are. In Fire, we’re transported to The Dells, a kingdom of ‘rainbow coloured monsters and underground labyrinths’ where Fire, the last human monster is both hated and obsessed over, constantly assaulted for being so irresistible and who refuses to use her mind control to steal people’s memories and secrets.

By the time we come to Bitterblue, it is several years after King Leck’s tyrannous and torturous reign in Graceling and we follow the young Queen Bitterblue as she attempts to rebuild her kingdom; a kingdom that is still deeply affected by her father’s spell over them. But how can you rebuild something that is based on lies and secrets and despicable acts? Especially when the people who were most under Leck’s spell are the ones closest to Bitterblue?

There are so many things I love about this book. I enjoyed Fire, but as soon I opened this it felt like I was coming back home. I was eager to meet up with Katsa and Po again and it didn’t disappoint despite the fact that they weave in and out of the narritive. I think Cashore could easy have ridden the wave of their romance and made that the main strand of this book but I think this portrays a much more realistic and exciting relationship. It’s certainly refreshing to see these characters living their own lives, putting the important things first and not just glaring at each other with puppy-dog eyes. They are definitely not the puppy-dog eyes types!

I love how this story slowly builds momentum. We find the clues as Bitterblue finds them -one by one- linking what really happened during Leck’s time to just how many secrets and lies are being maintained within the city walls. I found myself even more confused than Bitterblue as to who to trust and who to investigate. However, I did feel like there was a lull in the middle where the pace could have been picked up and I just wanted to grab Bitterblue and shake her yelling ‘haven’t you learnt by now you can’t trust anyone, get on with it!’

I enjoyed the mix of the old and new here too. Whenever I think of Kings, Queens and castles, whether it’s in this universe or a fictional one I think of times gone by, but Cashore’s world is full of modern themes making no fuss over boys and girls fighting each other, same-sex relationships, sex before marriage, birth control, or a Queen who wears trousers and slips out of the castle at night to smooch with a thief. And is it just me or is it completely devoid of religion? Hallelujah!

Cashore has created an in-depth world of strong, kick-ass girls, epic sword-fights, passion, and intriguing mystery. Essentially, Bitterblue and those before it are about the abuse of control and power, facing up to horrible truths and having the strength to overcome the impossible.

Bitterblue is published by Gollancz and I received a copy in exchange for a review as part of their Gollancz Geeks Blog.

Favourites Friday #2: Alice in Wonderland and why I have so many copies!

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Is it excessive to have four different versions of a book? Usually I’d say yes, but not where Alice in Wonderland concerned. As I’m sure is the same for a lot of people – Alice has been one of favourites practically from birth. I don’t actually remember my parents reading it to me but I’m sure they did. Along with The Chronicles of Narnia, Alice is a book I always come back to and I can’t ever remember a time of not having a copy close by.

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This is my bog-standard copy that I’ve had since Uni. I love it because it is battered and tatty and full of almost illegible notes from various essays I had to write.
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This was just a cheap copy I picked up in my teens which introduced me to some of Carroll’s other works including his plays and essays. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read it front to back…I really should.

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Then there’s my favourite.
It’s not particularly old, 1980, but you don’t see many Through the Looking Glass stand-alones these days. I found this in a charity shop and had to buy it. The eight full-page illustration plates by Tenniel are beautiful in colour.

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Which also has the addition of The Wasp in a Wig which I’d not seen before. Books 009

And this is a 2009 Penguin Classic special edition with canvas boards and various extra notes on the text that my friend Dora gave to me. So pretty!Books 010

I love them all for all different reasons so I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. Oh, and I’m pretty sure if I went rummaging in my parents attic I’d be able to find the copy I grew up with. I’d love to see that again. I bet it smells amazing! I’m actually going home next weekend, I’ll try and find it if I get the time.

It’s WWW Wednesday!

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To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

Click to view on GoodReads
Click to view on GoodReads

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares.– Goodreads.

Just Finished:

Click to view on GoodReads.
Click to view on GoodReads.

It took me a whole week to finish this and I keep telling myself it’s because it was so good that I didn’t want it to end, but it was probably because I’ve just been watching a lot of tennis and drinking in a lot of beer gardens (oh, hello, Sun). That said, the former statement was true too. I loved this one as much, if not more than Graceling and it brought all the three stories and the kingdoms together beautifully. I want more. If you liked the Graceling books as much as I did, I highly recommend Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina too, and its cover is just as pretty. Win all round. I’ll be reviewing this for The Gollancz Geeks Blog ASAP.

Up Next:

I’m torn between the next Ruby Redfort book which I totally forgot I’d pre-ordered and a book I was recommended ages ago and really need to read and give back – The Lies of Locke Lamora.

Click to view on GoodReads.
Click to view on GoodReads.
This does sound good…’Gentleman Bastard #1’…haha interesting…and no, it’s obviously not YA but I do like to branch out now and again.

As for Ruby Redfort, I probably never would have picked up the first book, Look Into My Eyes if it hadn’t been released by Harper Collins with its spangly hypnotic silver cover. The previous cover looked a bit too young for me, and the same goes for Take Your Last Breath, the second in the series. Ruby is sassy and witty and fearless and makes a pretty amusing 13 year old secret agent, none of which I get from this cover:

Image from Amazon
Image from Amazon
But this one, on the other hand is much more appealing to my inner teenage spy.
Image from Amazon
Image from Amazon

Leave a comment with your WWW Wednesday books or the link to your post!

An Apology!

I probably chose the worst time to start a blog so soz about the lack of reviews/updates. But y’know this has been happening….

I wish I owned these but I don't. Click Image for Source.
I wish I owned these but I don’t. Click Image for Source.
No.Words
No.Words

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Epic end to an epic match!
Epic end to an Epic Match!

And this also happened:

Fun in the Sun!
Fun in the Sun!

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We did spot a second hand book stall on the seafront in Brighton though; 3 paperbacks for £6, which was exciting until we realised there was nothing we wanted and/or hadn’t read.

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I’m almost done with Bitterblue…I don’t want it to end!