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!

www_wednesdays4

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.

Eurovision & Brighton May 2013 047

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

Favourites Friday #1: INKHEART and the Perils of Book Borrowing

I meant to post this earlier but I went to see The Great Gatsby which was…hmm meh. OK maybe it was better than meh, I’ll raise that to stunning but a bit…ambiguous (and long). But anyway,  as I’m sort of new to this whole blogging thing but not at all new to reading, I have so many favourite books on my shelves that I probably won’t get round to actually reviewing but those books are the reason why I wanted to start a book blog…because I want to gush about them all the damn time.

So I give life to Favourites Friday where each week (don’t hold me to that) I’m going rant/gush about one of my favourite books, series, author or just a particular edition/cover.

First up:  The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke.

Everything about these books are magical. I was first introduced to Inkheart by Di (who is awesome and takes awesome photos, and blogs here) who told me I would love it and thrust her copy into my greedy mitts! And obviously, she was right. I did love it and I still do.

Inkheart has everything I love in a book. It has magic, and mystery, action and adventure, a loveable protagonist in Meggie and despicable, dangerous villians like Capricorn. It is also a kind of love letter to books themselves and also to family; at its core is a beautiful father/daughter story.

The only bad thing about borrowing books is that you have to give them back. And if you truly love that book it can be difficult. Sure, you can buy your own copy, but you’ve just read it, so if you’re anything like me and don’t have that much cash lying around it can seem a bit wasteful buying a book that you’ve just read. I had one of these moments giving Inkheart back to Di. The edition she gave me was this one…

From Goodreads - Click to view.
From Goodreads – Click to view.
In the end, giving it back wasn’t so hard because I took the next book Inkspell in exchange. Whilst I was reading Inkspell the final book was released and I needed it! I can’t remember whether Di hadn’t bought it yet or had but hadn’t read it yet, but either way, she didn’t have a copy for me so I bought the shiny new hardback which was so pretty I’m sure I would have noticed it even if I’d never seen the other two.

From Goodreads - Click to view
From Goodreads – Click to view

The picture doesn’t really do it justice, and the pages inside are equally as magical. So now what, I have a hardback edition of the last book in a trilogy and not the other two. I don’t know about you, but that didn’t sit well with me. Every time I looked at it on my bookshelf it annoyed me so you won’t be too surprised that I set out to buy the other two. Obviously, being slightly weird about books as I’m sure I’ve already demonstrated, I was going to get the other two in hardback to match Inkdeath. Until that is, I saw the Gift Editions. Oh My God they are beautiful. Once again the picture doesn’t really do it justice but the embossed gold art work is divine. DIVINE. Epic, let’s say.

Inkheart

I only bought the first two in this edition which I regret now as I haven’t been able to find an Inkdeath one since. I mean, I love my copy of Inkdeath…but it would be nice to have a proper set. PERILOUS!

I’d love to hear about one of your favourite books on your shelf!

The Inkheart Trilogy is published by Chicken House.

WWW Wednesdays!

My first ever WWW Wednesdays post! Happy Wednesday Everyone!

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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:

7962513 – Bitterblue by Krisitn Cashore. I loved the other two books in this series. I’m sad that it’s coming to an end. Start with Graceling. Also…the covers are SO pretty and kick ass.

Recently Read:
Soulless – Soulless by Gail Carriger. I really liked this in the end, it made me do a few LOLs. Read my review here.

Next Up:
7741325 – Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. These two also collaborated on Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist which I read for the first time recently and loved. So I have high hopes for this one too.

The Verdict: Soulless – Gail Carriger

Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man! Click to view on Goodreads
Cheap clothing is no excuse for killing a man!
Click to view on Goodreads

Synopsis: First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire – and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

As I mentioned before, I don’t really know anything about Steampunk. Other than the fact that it’s everywhere at the moment, I like the clothes but would never be able to pull it off and that there seems to be a whole lot of what I can only describe as gold binocular type goggles and mechanical Blimps, or Glassicles and Dirigibles as I now know them to be (see, learning). That being said, I actually really enjoyed that element of the story. It brought a new dimension to your average ‘Paranormal Romance’ genre.

Soulless is basically a sort of Victorian mystery-cum-paranormal-romance in which Miss Alexia ‘I’m the one with no soul’ Tarabotti accidentally kills a feral, unregistered vampire with her parasol. Oh, how very uncouth! This results in her spending more time with Lord Maccon of BUR – The Bureau of Unnatural Registration – whose job it is to investigate such improper occurrences. Chaos and an unlikely romance ensues. Obviously.

After the initial LOLs from the almost farcical “Victorian” language Carriger uses,(can you image a vampire saying ‘she is trying to make a funny’? No, me neither) there’s actually a lot to like in this book. Lord Maccon for one. Hot, Scottish (‘of all barbaric places’) Werewolf type who I like to picture as Simon from Biffy Clyro:

Simon 'Sexy Jesus' Neil AKA Lord Maccon.
Simon ‘Sexy Jesus’ Neil AKA Lord Maccon.

AND we later come across a character named Biffy! Coincidence? I think not!

The fact that pale girls with some flesh on their bones are the desirable ones is also a confidence booster, good work Victorians. And well , it’s all pretty funny really. I’m still not entirely sure if I was laughing at it, or with it. Probably a bit of both, but either way it brought a smile to my face.

I made some really in-depth review notes for your perusal:

Don't call him your mistress!!!
Don’t call him your mistress!!!
Excellent Vocab!
Excellent Vocab!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!
Angry-sticking-up-for-his-but-not-his-woman-hot-Werewolf-action!

I’ll definitely have a go on the next in the series! I give it 4 Unicorns. (Out of 5 Unicorns, BTW)

Soulless is published by Orbit.