Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Title: Bitterblue
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm
Rating:
 ★★★★

I’m sure there will be people who read Bitterblue who find it too long, too complex, and with too little romance. I am not one of those people. Bitterblue was a fantastic way to wrap up this series. It was the culmination of everything that had happened in the pervious novels.

Bitterblue, the little princess of the first novel, has grown up and must face the world her father created. The people of her country are confused and unsure of how to move forward. King Leck, Bitterblue’s father, was a tyrant who stopped at nothing to make the world the way he wanted it. Unimaginable things happened, but because of Leck’s grace, his entire rein comes with a cloud of fog that people are still working through. Bitterblue is trying to move her people forward to a place of piece and trust, but there are people fighting against her at every turn.

I liked the queenly side of Bitterblue, but I also found her secretive side wonderful as well. She starts sneaking out of the castle, wanting to know more about the city that bears her name. She finds that things are not as her advisors tell her and that people are unhappy. There’s a group of people wanting to find the truth of King Leck’s rein and people are working hard to keep those years unknown. Posing as a baker of the castle, she finds a group of friends that shows her the truth. When she starts to fall for one of her new friends, things begin to get messy.

There are a couple stories being told within this novel. There’s the story of Bitterblue trying to be the queen her people need. She’s coming of age and finding love for the first time. There’s a disturbing mystery surrounding her father’s rein. All of this could easily make its own novel, but Cashore was able to weave the stories together amazingly. It never feels like it’s too much going on. Just when a break from the evils of King Leck is needed, Cashore picks up the romantic storyline. Before the romantic storyline gets too emotional, Bitterblue must deal with a queenly problem. There’s a wonderful balance between everything that must happen.

I know the end won’t be for everyone. Without giving anything away, I’ll say the ending fit. Would it have been nice if everything had ended perfectly, wrapped in a perfect red bow? Of course, but then it wouldn’t have been real. There’s still happiness and peace, with the closure the characters need.

Bitterblue is an amazing novel that wraps the Graceling series up the way it needed to be. It ties everything together and gives hope for the future of the world Cashore created. Everything is not perfect, but it’s moving towards being the best world it could be. Bitterblue makes this series a must read. It’s fantastic and beautifully written with characters that will pull at your heart.

If Bitterblue sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Title: Fire
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm
Rating:
 ★★★★

Graceling was a superb novel that had me falling in love fast. It had a little bit of everything that I want in a book. I was anxious to read Fire and see if it lived up to the standard set by Graceling. Even though Fire was a wonderful book, there was something I can’t quite name that held it back from being a 5 star book.

Fire is considered a monster because of her bright and colorful hair. She’s able to influence the minds and feelings of those around her through the power of her mind and her exceptional beauty. She’s never quite sure if people like her for her or if it is because she is a monster. She becomes wrapped up in the fight over the kingship of her land, all the while learning that she’ll never truly feel comfortable with people unless she opens up and trusts how others feel.

Growing up knowing she’s a monster, with an evil man for a father and never knowing if she will ever have true friends has left a mark on Fire. She’s guarded and unsure of people, even with the confidence she has in herself most of the time. She trusts very few people and see’s her beauty as a burden instead of a gift. She saw how the power made her father into a force that people feared and she doesn’t want that for herself. It’s hard for her to see herself as different from her father, though, when the same things that made him that way are the things that draw people to her. She feels like she needs to make up for her father’s actions, but thinks she can never do enough to do that.

She goes to aid the king in figuring out the plots against him and his throne and ends up becoming wrapped up in the royal family. They want her to use her gifts to find out what secrets and plots are formed, but she feels like this is breaking her personal rules against invading and influencing the minds of others. It’s too close to what her father did, even though he did it for personal reasons and she is being asked to do it to try and make the coming war shorter.

The romance in this book was just as wonderful as in Graceling. It has a slow build and doesn’t jump right into love. The relationship starts out extremely rocky, but a trust and friendship grows first. All the build-up made that final moment even sweeter. Fire’s feelings about herself and others cause her to doubt what others feel and that made the tension even better. Not only does Fire have to come to trust what others feel about her, but Cashore wrote so well that the reader has to feel that growth as well.

There wasn’t as much action in this book; a lot of it took place outside the setting of the novel. But there’s intrigue and deception to make up for that. Even though the story was just as interesting to me as Graceling, there still felt like there was something missing and I’m not entirely sure what that is. My heart wasn’t pounding quite as hard with Fire.

Even with that missing something, Fire is still an amazing book. It’s a different story from Graceling, yet it has the same feel and same fantasy elements that made me love the book in the first place. Fire is a perfect companion novel to Graceling and can be read as part of the series or as its own novel. It’s definitely worth a read, especially if you liked Graceling. I already have Bitterblue in my hands and can’t wait to start reading.

If Fire sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
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IndieBound

Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm
Rating:
★★★★★

I’ve been hearing good things about Graceling for a while. People I trust have enjoyed it, so I went in expecting a good book. Instead I got a fantastic book.

In the world of Katsa, some people are born with a gift, called a Grace. These people are feared and the ones that have certain gifts are exploited and used. Katsa is one of those people. She is skilled at killing and her uncle the king takes advantage of her to get rid of people he views as problems. Unbeknownst to him, she is working with a group of people, the Council, towards a more peaceful world. In one of the Council’s missions, she meets Po. Neither of them is ready for how their lives will intertwine from that first meeting.

Katsa is an extremely strong character, especially once she stands up for herself against the king. She’s an amazing fighter, but it’s more than that. She wants a different world than the one she’s living in and she works towards that goal, even though she knows it’s risky. She doesn’t want to live in a world where people are feared for their gifts, or a world where a minor disagreement results in death. Once she meets Po, she sees that she can take even more control of her own fate and once she does, she continues to grow as a person.

Po is one of my new favorite love interests. He loves Katsa so fully, and he loves every piece of her. He knows that she isn’t the usual type of girl and he loves and accepts that about her. He accepts that their relationship may never be a normal one, but that’s a piece of her that he loves. As long as she comes back to him, he is willing to love her any way she will allow. Their relationship starts out complicated and unique, but it grows into something consuming and beautiful.

The plot and action of the novel are extremely well written. The world is thought out and built beautifully. I could visualize every piece of the land Katsa travelled and I could feel the seasons on my skin. The fight scenes aren’t gratuitously violent or gory; they detail the fight enough I could see what was happening but not to the point where I would see the blood and gore. The story was wrapped up nicely, but there was definitely room for more, and I’ll definitely be reading the rest of the series.

Graceling lived up to my expectations and then some. It had everything I look for in a novel. It made my heart beat faster; there was action and development, and a complete storyline. Cashore has written an excellent novel and I can’t wait to see where she takes me next.

If Graceling sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Amazon
Audible
Barnes and Noble
IndieBound