Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
Four years after Bitterblue left off, a new land has been discovered to the east: Torla; and the closest nation to Monsea is Winterkeep. Winterkeep is a land of miracles, a democratic republic run by people who like each other, where people speak to telepathic sea creatures, adopt telepathic foxes as pets, and fly across the sky in ships attached to balloons.
But when Bitterblue’s envoys to Winterkeep drown under suspicious circumstances, she and Giddon and her half sister, Hava, set off to discover the truth–putting both Bitterblue’s life and Giddon’s heart to the test when Bitterbue is kidnapped. Giddon believes she has drowned, leaving him and Hava to solve the mystery of what’s wrong in Winterkeep.
Lovisa Cavenda is the teenage daughter of a powerful Scholar and Industrialist (the opposing governing parties) with a fire inside her that is always hungry, always just nearly about to make something happen. She is the key to everything, but only if she can figure out what’s going on before anyone else, and only if she’s willing to transcend the person she’s been all her life.

Book Cover

Review:
Winterkeep starts off a few years after the ending of Bitterblue. I thought this was an interesting choice since much of this series has had a focus on Bitterblue. She feels like the heart of this series. But this time, we’re seeing Bitterblue as a fully established Queen. We’re also not only following Bitterblue, but we get Giddon’s point of view as well as a young teenager from Winterkeep. Lovisa Cavenda was my biggest problem with this book. I’ll elaborate on that in a bit.
I really liked getting to see more of this world. I thought it was interesting that instead of seeing more of Monsea or the Dells, we see a whole new part of the world. This book primarily takes place in Winterkeep. A newly discovered place that is a part of Torla. Monsea is Winterkeep’s closest neighbor. I though this new place was interesting. They’re more technologically advanced than Monsea, they have airships which was a fun addition to the story. But not everything is as it seems in Winterkeep. When two of Bitterblue’s envoys die suspiciously, it’s decided that Bitterblue, Giddon, and some advisors are going to travel there.
This is when the story really starts to get going. Like her previous books, this one was a bit slow going. But I still enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook and I really loved the narrator. They did a great job with all the different characters and voices. I would definitely listen to more audiobooks with this narrator. Now, the characters.
Bitterblue is the same girl we came to know and love from the previous books. But at times, it felt like she forgot that she was a literal queen and made herself smaller because of the situation she managed to get into. I still loved her though.
Giddon was interesting because he’s grieving for most of this book. We see him lose control of his emotions again and again. But he’s still the same Giddon from the previous books. I thought it was interesting to see him express himself, we get to see him let his emotions out, but still mostly manage to focus on the goal he came to Winterkeep to achieve.
Now, Lovisa. She’s the daughter of two people in the Winterkeep parliament. But they are both of opposing political parties. There’s a bit of unrest in Winterkeep as an important vote is about to come up. Lovisa made me mad because she could have been an amazing character. But she finds out about things her parents have done and instead of telling literally anyone, she keeps it all to herself. She eventually tries to fix the situation, but things get so much worse before she does that. I just wanted her to do something, anything really. Because of her inaction, people are killed. I also didn’t like how she used people. She has sex with a few different people in this book, which is fine, but she uses sex to get herself out of trouble and that led to others getting in trouble. She almost used it as a weapon, and then felt bad about it. I didn’t like that. I think people should have sex with whoever they want, but Lovisa always knew she wasn’t doing the right thing and felt bad about it afterward. It also seemed like she was attracted to girls, but that wasn’t ever confirmed so it felt like queerbating. I just genuinely didn’t like Lovisa, which was a bummer because she had the potential to be a really interesting character.
Overall, despite not liking one of the main characters, I still enjoyed this book. There’s interesting politics that we see unfold. There’s action, adventure, but there’s also several different emotional journeys that we get to see unfold. I also was very intrigued by the blue foxes that are well known in Winterkeep. I’ll be interested to see if/how they play a part in future books. I liked that we got to see characters we know and already love, but we also got to get to know some new ones. If you liked the first three Graceling books, I think you’ll like this one too.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.  

Fire by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.
This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.
Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.
If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

Review:
Fire is a part of the Graceling series. From my understanding, these are all just companion stories. I’ve been rereading them since there has been another installment in this series released this year. It’s been years since I’ve read any of the Graceling books, so I thought I’d reread before getting to the newest one. You can find my recent review for Graceling here.
Fire follows the main character, named Fire, in the kingdom of the Dells. This is a different part of the world than what we learned of in Graceling. So, it felt like I was learning the world all over again, because I was. I think it was easier to become familiar with this world. The magic was interesting with the monsters that live in this part of the world. They have an irresistible magic about them. I thought that was really interesting to see how it worked with all the different kinds of monsters, from monster insects to Fire, the last human monster. I think the world was, like Graceling, a bit confusing to keep track of which leaders where who and where they ruled. Add on to that, some of them are forming alliances and there is a war brewing. I liked the political aspect of the story. At times, it was a bit drawn out, but overall, I enjoyed it.
Fire was a really compelling character. She was the best part of this story. I enjoyed learning about her past, her struggles, and her secrets. She was a great choice of main character for this story. She really kept me interested in the story when I felt that it was dragging.
Overall, I liked Graceling better than Fire, but I still liked this one. It was an interesting story that shared more of the world we didn’t get to see in Graceling. I thought Fire was a great character (that I believe we see again in the future?) I’m eager to continue onto Bitterblue so that I can get to the newest story in the series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

ABC Book Challenge |F|

Hi, Bookworms!

This week we will be talking about books with the letter F. For those of you that are new here – here’s the deal, each week we post about books beginning with a specific letter of the alphabet starting with A and ending once we’ve gone all the way to Z. We’re going to mention one or sometimes a few books that were super memorable with the letter of the week and also books that are still living on our TBR lists. So without further ado.

Read last week’s post here.

This weeks letter is – F.

Most Memorable Books

Amanda

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima (reviewed here) – I can not say enough good things about this book or this author. I’m obsessed with everything she’s written. If you haven’t read these books stop what you’re doing and go read them asap. You can thank me later.

(The) Fault in our Stars by John Green (reviewed here) – No surprise here with this one. Green is my favorite author and though I haven’t read this book in quite a while I still remember it so well.

Antonia

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine – This was the first book I read of hers and it still remains my favorite. I just always loved the unique fairy tale elements and the fact that the heroine isn’t pretty but is extremely kind. It’s one of the major themes throughout the book.

Fire by Kristin Cashore – I loved everything about this book but especially Fire herself.

 

Books Still on Our TBR List

Amanda

(The) Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser – This is one I picked up because I have another book by the same author (that I also haven’t read). But the cover is beautiful and the book description sounds super interesting.

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen by Serena Valentino – I picked this up on my last Target adventure. I haven’t actually heard anything from anyone about these books, but I’ve seen them at a few different bookstores and the covers always catch my eye. I’m excited to get to this one because I love fairytale retellings and I love villains and this has both.

Antonia

(Of) Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst – Amanda review this recently (read it here) and it sounded amazing so I’ll definitely have to read it.

Fate Undone by Linsey Hall – I’ve loved her Dragon’s Gift series so I was really excited to see she has an adult romance series as well. The Greek mythology is just an added bonus for me.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to let us know what books you would use for the letter F in the comments or leave us a link to your post!

Book Tag – Halsey

halsey book tag.jpg

Hi lovelies!

Back at it again with another book tag. I love Halsey so when I saw this book tag done on Downright Dystopian’s page I knew I had to play too! This tag is originally created by Paper Riot. Now, onto the book tag!

castle

Amanda- Aelin Galathynius for sure. She’s from Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. She’s kickass and doesn’t take anything from anyone. She even has the choice to not become queen and abandon her throne but steps up and shows the world that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Antonia- Definitely Raisa ana’Marianna from The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. I just loved watching her grow throughout this series.

coming down

Amanda- I’m going to say all of the scenes written by Lynsay Sands. Sexy vampires from Atlantis? Yes please.

Antonia- Hmm… this is a tough one because I read a TON of romance. I’ll say anything by Julia Quinn because her love stories are just the best.

control

Amanda- The Darkling, for sure. He’s from Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. I don’t know what it is, but momma loves some Darkling.

Antonia- Queen Savilla from The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. She’s the queen of the endarkened (demons) and is simply evil. I just love that she has no redeeming qualities. She’s terrifying and awful and makes a fantastic villain.

drive

Amanda- This was the hardest one for me out of all of these questions. I’ve decided to go with the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Our main character is forever trapped in a love triangle between the (mostly) marriage material  Joe Morelli and the sexiest man alive, Ranger. I wouldn’t say that there’s a lack of communication, more like a stalemate. They communicate but not enough for Stephanie to be able to actually make a decision between the two. (Though I don’t think I ever want her to actually make that final choice.)

Antonia- Kvothe and Denna from The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss. I really enjoy them together and wouldn’t mind seeing them actually get together in the future but they keep so many secrets and they’re both so mysterious that it gets in the way of them ever actually having a relationship.

empty gold

Amanda- Tamlin and Feyre from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I talk about this in my reviews for this series, linked here. Though I’m sure many people feel this way. This is the couple that popped into my head as soon as I read the question. I loved them so much in the first book and then Tamlin just, ugh.

Antonia- Ember and Riley from The Talon Series by Julie Kagawa. I wanted them to be together for the first couple books so bad then somehow I ended up loving Garret so much that I stopped wanting her to be with Riley. (I still love Riley though.) And me changing my mind about characters that drastically really doesn’t happen often.

ghost

Amanda- This may be biased because of my pregnancy hormones. But when I read the breakup scene in the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova I literally spent a solid hour crying. To the point where my husband wasn’t sure what to do with me and just hugged me while I cried for an hour. I’m pretty sure he thought I was never going to stop.

Antonia- For me, this will always be Lyra and Will’s breakup at the end of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I was around twelve when I first read it and cried for days. I still cry hysterically every time I reread it.

haunting

Amanda- Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira. Every once in a while I say to myself, “you know what was a good book, Love Letters to the Dead. I should read that again.” I have recently bought it on my Kindle (I got it from the library the first time.) and I’m planning to reread it soon.

Antonia- All of them. This is actually a huge problem for me because I continue to think about books long after I’ve read them; it actually keeps me up at night. It’s why I reread so many books over and over again.

hold me down

Amanda- Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. I’m super not sorry about this either. The whole series is being written and released from Christian’s perspective. I have the first two and am waiting for the third to be released. While I wouldn’t say I’m obsessed, I will absolutely be buying and reading the third so I have all six books.

Antonia- Dark Hunters by Sherrilyn Kenyon. I actually need to catch up on this one but since I first discovered these books I’ve been a little obsessed with them even though there’s now 29 books in the series and Kenyon’s still writing.

hurricane

Amanda- If you read my posts on a regular basis you should already know the answer to this question. Looking for Alaska by John Green. If you haven’t read it read my review here.

Antonia- Beastly by Alex Flinn. This will forever be my favorite Beauty and the Beast adaptation. I reread it at least once a year and it always just gives me this light, happy feeling inside.

is there somewhere

Amanda- Every and all of the couples we find in The Shade of Vampire series by Bella Forrest. This is a 50+ book series that spans over a ridiculous amount of years, several generations, and many worlds. Every couple we meet and read about has to go through some (usually life-threatening) struggle before they get their happy ending.

Antonia- Adrian and Sydney from The Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. One of my favorite book couples but they struggle so much to keep their relationship going when both vampires and humans judge them for it. At one point Sydney’s actually institutionalized by her family for it.

new americana

Amanda- I try not to use the same book over and over when I do these tags, but I can’t help it for this. I would LOVE to be part of the Night Court squad from A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, reviewed here. It’s from the ACOTAR series, but we don’t get to meet them until the second book, so I’m using that one.

Antonia- The Demigods from The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Awesome magical powers? Check. Funny and amazing and need to be my best friends? Double check.

roman holiday

Amanda- Hazel and Augustus from The Fault in our Stars by John Green. See my review here to get a more detailed post of my thoughts on this book. I love Hazel and Gus together because they’re both just kids that had to grow up too fast and spent too much time thinking about death. Then they found each other and had a bright spot in their lives, a reason to live if you will.

Antonia- Amanda and Chris from Beheld by Alex Flinn. I talked about them in my review (here) and I just loved them together so much I think I actually squealed while reading it.

strange love

Amanda- Chaol from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas is a good one for this I think. So many people hate him after certain events in the series. I understand why he did what he did and still love him even though it cost him his relationship with Celaena.

Antonia- Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore. I’ve read quite a few reviews from people who didn’t like her which kind of astounds me because I adore her.

trouble

Amanda- Rose and Mason from the Rose Gardner Investigations by Denise Grover Swank. I wanted to put them for an OTP with obstacles, but honestly I don’t think they’ll end up together no matter how much I want them to be.

Antonia- None. Toxic relationships are pretty much an instant DNF for me. I’ve read about a lot of flawed relationships (e.g. Quentin and Margo from Paper Towns by John Green) but nothing that I would actually consider toxic. Even with examples like Quentin and Margo, I enjoyed reading about them but still didn’t ship them.

walk the line

Amanda- Shadows of the Immortals by Marina Finlayson. This series is a super interesting twist on the Gods (from all different cultures) which is a topic I really like. I couldn’t put this series down once I started it.

Antonia- Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George. This is a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon and is still one of the most unique fairytale retellings I’ve read.

young god

Amanda- This one is easy. Lyss and Hal from Cinda Williams Chima’s Shadowcaster (reviewed here) are both totally falling in love (if they’re not already in love) with one another. But neither will admit it.

Antonia- Hazel and Frank from Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. They get together later on in the series but for pretty much this entire book, they both are secretly pining for the other. It was adorable.

gasoline

Amanda- Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites series by Marie Lu, reviewed here. I hate to even say this because I love her but I also really hate her. I guess I love to hate her. Okay, I lied. I don’t hate to say it. She’s totally my favorite destructive character.

Antonia- Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. He’s so focused on his revenge the entire time that he ignores the chance to make a better life for himself but at the same time, his revenge plot is absolutely insane and amazing at the same time.

 

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Forced Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This weeks theme is top ten books that I was forced to read. This was kind of difficult for me, because I’m willing to read pretty much anything. So here’s what I came up with.

1)The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer– My middle school librarian was someone that I was really close with. I was an awkward kid that liked books. She told me to read this series, way before it was huge. It took me quite a while to actually read them, but I ended up really really liking the series.

2)The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien– This was a school assigned book. It was required. I ended up thinking that it was really interesting, even though it wasn’t really my kind of book. I dated this guy, that was in the marines. He didn’t like to read, but I showed him this book and he really liked it too. So it was useful that I’d read it.

3)Looking for Alaska by John Green– My best friend Cody’s favorite book has always been Looking for Alaska. He spent most of freshman and sophomore year trying to get me to read it. I always had other, more important, books to read. When I finally read it, Looking for Alaska became my new favorite book and it’s stayed that way. So I’m glad he forced me to read it.

4)The Left Behind Series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins– My dad’s side of the family has always been a bit religious. So when I was younger they were always pushing Jesus books on me. The Left Behind Series was on of them. I read the first when I was younger, then came back to it later on and read the whole series, which is twelve books long.

5)Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich– This one was an influence from my mom’s side of the family. They’re all avid readers and this series is a family favorite. They made me read this one first, which obviously led to me reading the entire series.

6)The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky– A girl I used to know is obsessed with this book. She loves this as much as I love Looking for Alaska. So she forced me to read it. I definitely wouldn’t call it a favorite, but I enjoyed it.

7)Graceling by Kristin Cashore– Antonia was the one to force this book upon me. It seemed a little too much on the fantasy side for me when I read the description. I ended up adoring this book. Also falling in love with Fire and Bitterblue.

8)What Happens in London by Julia Quinn– This was another that Antonia forced on me. This book was the first of Quinn’s I’d ever read. And now I’d like to think I’ve read almost all of what she’s written or atleast a decent chunk.

9)House Rules by Jodi Piccoult– Funny story, my high school nurse was where I’d go when I didn’t want to be in class. So we’d always talk about books. On on of my last days of high school I was talking to her and she gave me this book. It was more a gift than a book being forced upon me. But it was a really good book and a really sweet gift.

10)Incarceron by Catherine Fisher– This one, I forced myself to read. The description didn’t really make me enthusiastic about it. But I kept going back to it. So I made the choice to make myself read it. I’m glad I did because it was pretty good.

These are the top ten books that I was forced to read. You can find reviews of some on the review list. What were your top ten?

Antonia’s Top Ten Tuesday- Characters

This is my first time trying Top Ten Tuesday, started by The Broke and The Bookish. When I saw posts for Top Ten Tuesday, I was really excited about it. There’s nothing I like to talk about more than books. So I sat down to start it, and stopped. What genre was I supposed to pick? I changed my mind at least thirty times before deciding I would just list all my favorite characters, separated into genres, and pick whichever one had ten first. Well, then I had another problem: How was I supposed to choose? I didn’t want to just pick characters because I loved the book. We all know loving a book and loving the characters don’t always coincide. I can love a story but be aggravated by the main character. Or love a character and hate the plotline. I didn’t want to base this list on my favorite books. I really just wanted to think about the individual characters and what I like about them personally. I think I managed it. So without further ado, here it is (in no particular order):
ONE: Kyle Kingsbury from Beastly by Alex Flinn. His growth throughout this book was extraordinary, but realistic at the same time. His transformation gets to me every, single time.
TWO: Colin Singleton from An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. Colin is the type of character I don’t read about often. He’s a child prodigy. Intelligent to the point that I tend to find irritating in a character. But Green manages to make him quirky and funny.
THREE: Fire from Fire by Kristin Cashore. Fire is, for all intents and purposes, a monster. She is hated and feared on sight. However, she is such a strong character that she never lets it change who she is. She’s a good, kind person. She knows right from wrong. I love that she always stays true to herself.
FOUR: Hanson Alister from the Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima. Han is a thief, a bit of a womanizer, and doesn’t even pretend to be a pacifist. However, his circumstances forced him into things he wouldn’t otherwise have done. He wants to be a good person and never stops trying. I loved how he developed throughout this series.
FIVE: Raisa ana’Marianna from the Seven Realms Series by Cinda Williams Chima. At first, Raisa is a little bit spoiled and I really didn’t like her for most of the first book. She really grew into herself and became the type of queen I really didn’t think she’d become. I seriously enjoyed having her prove me wrong.
SIX: Adrian Ivashkov from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. He’s on this list because he’s currently my number one male character who I wish was a real person and asking me on a date.
SEVEN: Sydney Sage from the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. I really, really love how Sydney has broken away from the beliefs she’s had her entire life. As soon as she realizes some of those beliefs are wrong, she does what she knows is the right thing.
EIGHT: Wanderer from The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Wanda is definitely one of my favorite female characters of all time. She’s lived in so many different worlds and here on Earth she’s almost like a baby. She’s still learning everything about humans and her opinions of some things are seriously adorable.
NINE: Ian O’Shea from The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Ian is an asshole. I adore him. I really couldn’t get over the way he fell in love with Wanda. He fought it the entire time but in the end, he really couldn’t help himself.
TEN: Total from the Maximum Ride Series by James Patterson. Total is a talking, flying dog. He isn’t even one of the main characters. But some of the things he said had me literally laughing out loud. The comic relief he brought to the book was absolutely fantastic.
Well, feel free to agree or disagree. I love hearing other people’s opinions.
-Antonia