Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins


Lola and the Boy Next DoorTitle: Lola and the Boy Next Door 
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Books
Release: September 29, 2011
Pages: 338
Series: None (but there are companion books)
Synopsis:

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.


Review:
If you didn't read my review of Anna and the French Kiss, let me get you up to speed: I ABSOLUTELY ADORED IT. With that in mind, Lola had some very high expectations to live up to. Luckily it did; using the same wit and romantic formula that Anna did, but it didn't ever feel like a rerun. I loved how the book served both as a stand alone title as well as a bit of a catch up on the lives of Anna and St. Clair; giving the reader a taste of their lives after Anna, without making the book all about them. The new characters were Lola and Cricket, along with a whole new cast of secondary characters. I really loved Lola in particular because she pulled off her zany spirit without looking overdone or exaggerated; she was realistic and fun to read. Cricket was a great character as well due to his quirks and interesting features; he was the most original character I've read about in a while. He wasn't built to be the perfect, idealistic version of a boy that the media portrays, he was far more interesting and complex than the stock type love interest. The relationship between the two was entertaining and had a lot of background and history: not instant love.

The story began with the meat of the story and used flashbacks to catch the reader up on missing details that were crucial to the strength of character relationships. With the utilization of these flashbacks, the characters grew in leaps and bounds, allowing for a well rounded plot to occur; it felt as though you were truly there with them. This fact may also have to do with how well Stephanie is able to write; she just knows how to please her readers while still making them feel a large range of emotions. Altogether, I give Lola and the Boy Next Door a 5/5 for being an excellent read that I'd recommend to anyone even remotely interested in Young Adult books.




Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dreamless by Josephine Angelini


Dreamless (Starcrossed, #2)Title: Dreamless
Author: Josephine Angelini
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release: May 29, 2012
Pages: 487
Series: Starcrossed #2
THANKS TO HARPERCOLLINS CANADA FOR THE REVIEW COPY.
Synopsis:

As the only Scion that can enter Hades at will, Helen descends to the Underworld in search of a way to overcome the Furies and end the cycle of revenge that has cursed the Scions. But she’s running out of time. Each descent weakens her both in mind and spirit. A mysterious stranger might be her only salvation, but the price may be her love for Lucas Delos.

As an unforgettable love triangle emerges, Josephine Angelini’s compelling saga becomes ever more intricate and spellbinding. The eagerly awaited sequel to the internationally bestselling Starcrossed, Dreamless delivers with a huge emotional impact that will leave readers satisfied—and longing for more.(

Review:
After reading and loving Starcrossed, I was dying to read Dreamless. I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of it, and I dove into as soon as I went on vacation and read it within a day. Unfortunately, I did not care for this one nearly as much as I did the first one, for a multitude of reasons.

Dreamless's cover followed the same theme as Starcrossed's. It had a cover model in a flowing dress, but you couldn't see her face again, making sure the reader thought about how Helen looked and didn't get an idea from the cover. Also on Dreamless's cover, 'hot colors' were featured (orange and purple with dark shadows) rather than the 'cool colors' that were on the cover of Starcrossed. The 'hot colors' symbolized the growing tension, suspense and danger featured in the sequel versus the 'cool colors' representing the lighter themes of Starcrossed. The font of the title was the same as with Starcrossed.

When it came to characters in Dreamless, I didn't enjoy many of them. To begin with the main characters, Helen didn't always think things through for the greater good, she also got very closed minded when it came to her romantic relationships, never thinking things through straight and only seeing when option when there were multiple. Lucas had the same flaws; he didn't know when to let a relationship go and to help with the greater good. He simply didn't seem to be the same character that was in Starcrossed, and I really didn't care for him in Dreamless. My favorite character of the book was the new one; Orion. He was brave and intelligent and willing to help Helen even when she was clearly obsessing over someone else.

The best part of this book was the plot and writing. The writing features a ton of detail and truly shows the emotions of the narrator as well as the feelings of those around them. It also helped carry the story, which was one of the redeeming factors of the book. The plot moved at a fairly fast rate and did accomplish a lot in terms of moving the story ahead. There were a few slow points, but for the most part it kept a fairly steady pace. The ending was one to remember, and I will return to finish the series to find out what happens in the end.

Whether or not I read the last book, I do know that I would recommend that people who have read the first book give Dreamless a go. Altogether I give Dreamless a 3/5 for being a sequel that just didn't live up to the it's predecessor due to multiple factors.



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Night Sky Blog Tour Guest Post!

Night Sky:
After losing Sarah, the friend he’s loved, to some other guy, Jameson meets Sky. Her Native American roots, fluid movements, and need for brutal honesty become addictive fast. This is good. Jameson needs distraction – his dad leaves for another woman, his mom’s walking around like a zombie, and Sarah’s new boyfriend can’t keep his hands off of her.

As he spends time with Sky and learns about her village, her totems, and her friends with drums - she's way more than distraction. Jameson's falling for her fast.

But Sky’s need for honesty somehow doesn’t extend to her life story – and Jameson just may need more than his new girl to keep him distracted from the disaster of his senior year. 



About the Author:
Jolene grew up in Wasilla, Alaska. She graduated from Southern Utah University with a degree in political science and French, which she used to teach math to middle schoolers.

After living in Washington, Utah and Las Vegas, she now resides in Alaska with her husband, and two children. Aside from writing, Jolene sews, plays the guitar, sings when forced, and spends as much time outside as possible.

She is also the author of The Next Door Boys and the upcoming Knee Deep. 



Now for the Guest Post!
Location was a huge part of Night Sky from the beginning.


My husband and I lived in Las Vegas when our first child was born and he was in law school. We really loved being there. We lived in this tiny apartment behind the Walmart on the corner of Tropicana and Pecos - a couple miles from the strip. A mile from Wayne Newton's ranch, and close to the airport (on the landing pattern, so you can imagine the noise . . .)


We had a lot of friends who worked in the casinos on and off the strip. One couple in particular was the model for Jameson's parents - very cool people who would come to church on Sunday bleary-eyed from their late night.


I thought it would be a good setting for a YA, so when Jameson came to me, and he was a swimmer, I thought - Hey! Perfect! I can use Vegas in this one! So when I wrote the first words on Night Sky, I already knew the setting. It's also so much easier to write a place that I've lived. A lot of authors use made-up towns, but I prefer to use real places.


I didn't know where Sky was from until I'd finished with about a third of the book, only knew that I wanted her to be Native American. Making her from Alaska would make Vegas even more foreign for her, so putting together the date for her and Jameson was easy.


Consequently - the big date with Sky and Jameson - the steaks, the dolphins, and the Eiffel Tower, was one that my husband and I did more than once while in Vegas - aside from all the back-door access that Jameson had.


I liked the idea of Sky being displaced in this big city, and Jameson knowing the city so well. Red Rock proved to be the perfect backdrop for Sky and her AIA (American Indian Alliance) friends to get together once in a while, but even there, Jameson was the one who knew the area.


There's also In-N-Out Burger in Vegas, which I desperately miss, and live vicariously through my characters. That burger joint shows up in a LOT of manuscripts, lol. I should probably stop doing that. Or maybe I should KEEP doing it and lobby for one in Alaska . . .


Thanks for letting me take over your blog for a day!!!


Jolene

Night Sky web site:http://www.night-sky-book.com

Night Sky Twitter hashtag:
#NightSky

Night Sky GoodReads page:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12588673-night-sky


Jolene Perry's Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002038196677

Jolene Perry's Twitter:
https://twitter.com/#!/JoleneBPerry

Jolene Perry's Website:
http://www.jolenebperry.com/

Jolene Perry's Blog:
http://www.jolenesbeenwriting.blogspot.com/

Jolene Perry's GoodReads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4944599.Jolene_B_Perry

Tribute Books website:
http://www.tribute-books.com


Tribute Books Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Archbald-PA/Tribute-Books/171628704176


Tribute Books Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/TributeBooks


I'd like to thank Jolene for a wonderful guest post!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Interview with Sarah Alderson, author of Hunting Lila




1) What your favorite part of writing Young Adult books?
I really like how younger readers are just as demanding but also far more open to certain story types. Some of the best, most interesting writing these days is happening in this arena and I love watching it cross over into the mainstream…like The Hunger Games. It’s like we own the cool and those who only read adult writing are just starting to catch on.

I feel passionately about supporting female empowerment, about teaching girls that they can be kickass and they don’t need to wait for a man to save them. So I write for teenagers (mainly girls) because I want to inspire them. It’s a joy to write for a younger audience. They’re bright, demanding and brilliant at engaging with authors. I don’t think that authors for adults get half as many fabulous emails as I do.

Hunting Lila (Lila, #1)2) Who was the most difficult character to write?
In Hunting Lila I didn’t find any of the characters hard to write because they were all so clear in my mind. I found Suki a challenge because she can read minds so I had to always think of how that would make her feel and behave. She can’t filter so she often blurts stuff out and then she hears things that aren’t so nice about herself. I think that makes her one of the more interesting characters because she’s hilarious and eccentric and obsessed with shoes but underneath it all she’s actually quite wounded.

3) What was the easiest part of the book to write?
The romance scenes between Alex and Lila. In fact I wrote their first kiss scene almost before I wrote anything else. Everything else was just a lead up to that!

4) Do you ever put a part of your life (your characteristics, friends, setting, etc.) into your books?
Always. I’m so grateful for all the travel I’ve done. It’s all fed into scenes into my books. All the places in Hunting Lila are places I’ve been to. Suki was based on a friend of ours who works in fashion in London, Harvey is my best friend’s husband, Sara looks like my other best friend Nichola though is named after my other friend. Jack has elements of my brother and the sledging scene when Lila is 5 was something that happened to me (apart from the broken leg - that happened to a friend of mine.)

5) What inspired you to have Lila love Alex for such a long time rather than have her fall for him during the book?
I think I just wanted to write something contrary to the norm (though don’t get me wrong I’ve also written romances that do occur during the course of a book). And I think readers responded very well. There’s always something much more believable and heart-warming about a relationship between two characters who’ve known each other a long time.

Friday, May 25, 2012

500 GFC Followers

Hey everyone! 


First off; THANK YOU!! 


A little while back I reached 500 GFC followers! A thank you goes out to every last one of you for supporting me in doing what I love. 


Also, if you add my Networked Blogs and Linky Followers and Email Subscribers, I have 550 followers, which is amazing!


On a side note, I'm entering a really busy time with school wrapping up, so I appologize for the lesser number of posts, I'll be picking up speed again when my summer starts. 


So THANK YOU GUYS! Watch for a giveaway later (when I'm a little less busy, probably end of June) as a thank you for all the support you guys give me.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fated by Alyson Noel


Fated (Soul Seekers, #1)Title: Fated 
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release: May 22, 2012
Pages: 306
Series: Soul Seekers #1
THANKS TO RAINCOAST BOOKS FOR THE ADVANCE COPY.
Synopsis:

Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

Review:
Alyson Noel is a name most readers can put a book to; the Immortals Series. With such a recognizable name, it was easy to decide to read this book. In the beginning, it was a little bit rough due to characters, but as the story got rolling, it only got better.

Symbolism-wise, the cover was stellar. It modeled both situations Daire was put into, along with some of the emotions she felt. Without going into too much detail, there were scenes featuring large groups of crows, as the cover portrays. The model representing Daire shows emotions like fear, suspicion, and a twinge of bravery; all of these emotions were utilized at some time or other during the story. The cover is also quite a bit different than that of the Immortals Series, while still featuring the simplicity readers have come to expect from the covers of her books.

The characters in the book are where I experience some difficulty; they didn't seem natural. Some of their relationships had very odd dynamics, while some of them were simply too stereotypical. Paloma fell on the stereotypical side; she was too predictable and didn't catch my emotions all that much. Daire came off as bragging to me, and ungrateful. She didn't often see the other side of the story (ie. with her mom), was too melodramatic and was just not that enjoyable to have narrate the story. All of that being said, I also didn't care for how she interacted with other; she fell instantly for a boy and she wasn't very kind towards her mother. As the book progressed, I was able to put my dislikes for the characters to focus on the quickly developing plot.

There are some things I liked about this book's plot, but a few that I did not. My favorite things about the plot were how quickly the action started, there weren't many slow spots throughout the entirety of the story. The speed of the plot was the book's best feature, I couldn't put it down once I had started it. It grabbed me with the promise of unique ideas and kept me whilst delivering on that promise. One of my least favorite aspects of the plot was how quickly Daire fell in love with someone, they had just met and they were already in love. The writing was great; it featured the necessary description of a book of this nature, fueling the imagination with powerful imagery.

With all read and done, I will be returning to the series to see what will happen in Daire's future. I'd recommend this book to people who want a different take on a paranormal theme, along with a quick, light read. I give Fated a 3.5/5.

.5

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest Post by Carrie Nyman, author of Why Aren't You Sweet Like Me?

Life in Writing

When I was in college at CU-Boulder, I had a poetry professor tell me that my writing was egotistical, selfish. He then proceeded to gut my writing with one caveat: I was good at prose but seriously lacked as a poetry writer. As a 19-year-old kid who believed that writing was the only thing that I excelled in (and poetry was a big part of that, this cut me off at the knees (like many artists, I was a tad oversensitive).

I looked at my work and I found a very present word: "I." Soon, everything I wrote was insufficient. Working diligently to focus on others, to pull the work outside of my own self and my experiences, I felt that my new writing was dry, manufactured, and full of false importance. I spent three years believing one man's words about mine.
 
Why Aren't You Sweet Like Me?Having good grades, I got into the honors program and my honors thesis adviser (he's now Dean of the graduate) started asking if I wrote for fun. I confessed the moment that seemed to disable my creativity. He then started talking about how Wordsworth felt that all writing is inherently about oneself because you cannot adequately write from the perspective of another - or even from an omniscient view - without inserting your life (feelings, experiences, prejudices) into every word. In fact, the more you deny your role in your work (by trying to be someone else), the more you exacerbate it. I accepted this fact and because of it, I am a better writer.

My WWII historical fiction novel Why Aren't You Sweet Like Me?? was published this year by the Sunbury Press. In it, I write from the perspectives of my grandmother and grandfather. I identified with them (using my grandfather's letters and my grandmother's interviews) while I also had to empathize heavily with their situations in order to capture the time; as such, the experiences that I describe within the text are inherently about me as well: how I would respond, how I feel, how I express emotion. This book is about them and I honor both Honey and Don through this experience, but I cannot remove myself from my writing. They are the same. 

For instance, there is a scene with a plane crash that actually took place in 1943. It is heavily documented in military records and newspaper articles. Everything I have concerning this incident is from an outsider's perspective, that is, people wrote about it in a detached way because they weren't present for it and professionalism desired that type of language. The scene is mapped out but I had to lift it from the yellowed pages to make it involving, traumatic, and believable. That's what writing truly is: leading a blinded reader down a path and letting them use their imagination to experience your story for themselves. But just remember, you are the one holding their hand; insisting otherwise will only discredit your work and impugn your audience.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Stacking the Shelves


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to show what your book haul for the week looks like!


For Review:
Shadows Cast By Stars


Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins


Anna and the French KissTitle: Anna and the French Kiss 
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton
Release: December 2, 2010
Pages: 372
Series: None (Well there is a companion book, but I won't count that)
Synopsis:  

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home. As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

Review:
I got this a long while back and wasn't sure when I would get the chance to read it. I had one major fear that was the main reason I didn't read it earlier; what if it didn't live up to the hype? I can gladly say that it did live up to it all; in fact, I may have found a new contender for my Top Ten Books. This book successfully matched humor with romance, but it never felt rushed. There was no instant love; there was a classic boy meets girl, and it played out in a truly enjoyable way. Anna was a quirky, amazing characters; realistic and fun to read about, she was a great main character. When a character is able to teach you about things about love, that makes for a remarkable reading experience. St. Clair was just as fun to read about, he had depth and humor rolled up into his characteristics. He dealt with his life in a realistic manner and was never annoying or over exaggerated. Even the secondary characters were deep, all with a sense of background and emotion.

Stephanie Perkins has a way of writing that entraps the reader's attention, she wrote with finesse it showed in the way she could turn an awkward situation into one with comedy and heart at the same time. The plot was one that kept moving no matter what, demonstrating the love aspect along with other themes that showed morals and more. At the end of the day, Anna and the French Kiss was just as good as the hype proclaimed; perhaps even better. It marked itself as one of my favorite contemporary books I've read ever, a high honor to me because of the fact that I often do not enjoy this genre. I give Anna and the French Kiss a 5/5 for being an awesome read that I'd recommend to any fan of YA.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Ash- Born Boy

It's May 15th! 


 Not only does THE NEAR WITCH by Victoria Schwab come out in paperback TODAY, but, to celebrate its release, "The Ash-Born Boy" is finally up over at Disney Hyperion's website

So, what IS "The Ash-Born Boy"? 


 It's a free story Victoria wrote as a thank-you to her fans, and she wrote it to answer ONE question: "Who was Cole before he came to Near?" 


 Now, if you've already read THE NEAR WITCH, "The Ash-Born Boy" is guaranteed to change the way you see Cole. 


 And if you haven't read THE NEAR WITCH yet, don't worry, "The Ash-Born Boy" won't spoil anything! So basically, either way, you should go read Cole's story ;)  


And if you want to wait and read THE NEAR WITCH first, don't worry! Cole's story will stay up on Disney Hyperion's website, and if it ever comes down, Victoria will carve out a space for it on her own site. It will always be available somewhere, and it will always be free. 


 And! 


 Cole's story isn't the only goodie to go along with the paperback release. In the back of the paperback itself, you'll find the first chapter of Victoria's new book, THE ARCHIVED, which doesn't come out until January! 


 So what are you waiting for? 


 Help Victoria celebrate today by taking a look at "The Ash-Born Boy," and don't forget to buy/order/pick up your own paperback copy of THE NEAR WITCH!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bout of Books

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
Hello everyone! I've decided to participate in a read-a-thon (in Canada this weekend is a long weekend, ergo, lots of time to read!). I can't say that I remember ever doing a read-a-thon before, but it seems like a very good idea! I know I'm a day late jumping into the fun, but better late than never. I hope you guys can participate too! Without further delay, here are my goals:


The Books:
The Vindico by Wesley King
Looking for Alaska by John Green
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews to show what your book haul for the week looks like!

For Review:
No Safety In NumbersThe Vindico
No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz
The Vindico by Wesley King


Ascend by Amanda Hocking


AscendTitle: Ascend 
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release: April 24, 2012
Pages: 336
Series: Trylle Trilogy #3
Synopsis:  

Wendy Everly is facing an impossible choice. The only way to save the Trylle from their deadliest enemy is by sacrificing herself.  If she doesn’t surrender to the Vittra, her people will be thrust into a brutal war against an unbeatable foe.  But how can Wendy leave all her friends behind…even if it’s the only way to save them?

The stakes have never been higher, because her kingdom isn’t the only thing she stands to lose. After falling for both Finn and Loki, she’s about to make the ultimate choice…who to love forever. One guy has finally proven to be the love of her life—and now all their lives might be coming to an end. 

Everything has been leading to this moment.  The future of her entire world rests in her hands—if she’s ready to fight for it.

Review:
Well, we've finally reached the end of the Trylle series (for those of us that got them as they were published). With the end of the series came some mixed emotions for me; I didn't agree with how some of the characters were utilized and how some of the plot points were tied up. Wendy became more enjoyable, taking more irresponsibility for her actions and thinking more of her kingdom as well. She also realized that she had decisions to make, relationship-wise, and she did achieve those decisions. I won't spoil who she chose, but it was my favorite of her two suitors, though she did go about it in the wrong way. I didn't agree with some of the experiences that lead up to their union, but in the end I liked the way it ended. Wendy grew to the point of being capable of ruling her kingdom without the aid of others. When it came to side characters, they weren't very well developed; they didn't make me feel for them the way they should have. If more focus had been put on them, the issue could have been easily resolved.

The story was the most enjoyable of the series, the characters were all introduced and the plot was already going somewhere. It carried one fairly nicely, with only few slow spots. The writing was the same standard as the other books in the series, perhaps my favorite part of the book. With the writing so good, it hooked me up in the story when I otherwise wouldn't have been. Altogether, I look forward to reading more of Amanda Hocking, in the hopes of improved characters in her other books. I give Ascend a 3.5/5 for being a fairly good conclusion to the series.


.5

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Follow Friday





So Follow my Blog Friday is a meme held by Parajunkee and it's where you answer the weekly question and then link yourself and you go and check out other blogs of your interest.


Q: What is one thing you wish you could tell your favorite author?


Aside from how awesome they are? (John Green, I'm talking to you!) I'd also tell them just how much I admire and appreciate all the work they put into their books for their readers. Also, I'd like to tell them to continue writing for as long as possible; I don't know what I'd do without the great books they write!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Haul

This is what I got, book-wise, this week:


Bought:
AscendInside (Insider, #1-2)Lola and the Boy Next DoorAn Abundance of KatherinesDeadly Little Games (Touch, #3)Insurgent (Divergent, #2)


Ascend by Amanda Hocking 
Inside by Maria V. Snyder
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Deadly Little Games by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Insurgent by Veronica Roth


For Review:
Between the LinesRevivedBurn for BurnThe UnnaturalistsSurrender (Possession, #2)Envy (The Fury Trilogy, #2)


Revived by Cat Patrick (Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada!)
Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)
Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)
The Unnaturalists by Tiffany Trent (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)
Surrender by Elana Johnson (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)
Envy by Elizabeth Miles (Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada!)

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore


Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Title: Bitterblue 
Author: Kristin Cashore
Publisher: Dial
Release: May 1, 2012
Pages: 545
Series: Graceling Realm #3
THANKS TO PENGUIN CANADA FOR THE ADVANCE COPY.
Synopsis:

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:
After reading, and loving, Graceling and Fire, I had been dying to read Bitterblue. I was insanely curious about how she would turn out after growing up since Graceling. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of it and it was so worth the wait.

Can I start by saying how much I love this cover? The blue-ish and purple colors really appeal to the eye and go with the title. It has a certain old feel to it with the old style keys (where can I get one?) and the darker flower outlines. Back to the keys, they are all beautifully intricate and of bronze, silver and gold. The font of the title also helps to embody the feel of the book, giving it an old world feel, with a nice gold foil. Finally, the girl (I'm assuming Bitterblue) peering through the key ring has a look of curiosity that Bitterblue often had within the book.

Character-wise, the book both excelled and didn't at the same time. I greatly enjoyed reading of Bitterblue, she had matured a great deal since Graceling and was a very interesting character. She wasn't afraid to get into the grit of her kingdom, often going in by herself, to see what needed improvement and what she could do about it. Saf was enjoyable as well, he shared an intriguing relationship with Bitterblue that hooked me into the book further. Most of the secondary characters were great, especially Teddy, making the story flow better than it would have without them. The characters that let me down, were those from previous books. Katsa and Po seemed to lack the fire and sparks that drew me to them initially as well as the depth they had showed previously. Fire was OK, but she just didn't seem as interesting as I recall her being.

My main issue with this book was the fact that it sometimes slowed to a crawl, diminishing my interest slightly. There were times of great excitement which then lead to times of slowness, like when the court politics were being spoken of. The part of the book that I most enjoyed was having many of the characters from previous books all meet, some for the first time, for others it was simply a reunion. Though I didn't necessarily enjoy the characters as much, it was still amusing to have them meet for the first time. As always, Kristin rocked the writing, using her usual style to draw the reader in. By the end of the book, I was quite satisfied by where the story had gotten to and how it ended, altogether I think it will make fans of the series quite content with the closure it provides.

Who would I recommend this to? Anyone in need of a good fantasy or who want to try something different and utterly unique. I give this book a 4/5 for being a well written finale to the amazing series that will leave fans satisfied and happy.

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