Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
Eight years have passed since the young Princess Bitterblue, and her country, were saved from the vicious King Leck. Now Bitterblue is the queen of Monsea, and her land is at peace.
But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisers, who have run the country on her behalf since Leck’s death, believe in a forward-thinking plan: to pardon all of those who committed terrible acts during Leck’s reign; and to forget every dark event that ever happened. Monsea’s past has become shrouded in mystery, and it’s only when Bitterblue begins sneaking out of her castle – curious, disguised and alone – to walk the streets of her own city, that she begins to realise the truth. Her kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year long spell of a madman, and now their only chance to move forward is to revisit the past.
Whatever that past holds.
Two thieves, who have sworn only to 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, who possesses an unidentified Grace, may also hold a key to her heart . . . 

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)

Review:
Bitterblue is the third book that’s set in the Graceling world. It follows Bitterblue, who we met in Graceling, eight years after the ending of Graceling. Bitterblue is now the queen of Monsea, but everything is not what it seems in Bitterblue’s life. People are lying to her. People that were traumatized by her father. She doesn’t know who to trust. She doesn’t know how she’s feeling and she doesn’t know what to do. so, she sneaks out of the castle and heads into the city. She meets two thieves, who change her life.
I think this might be my favorite book in the series so far. I haven’t read the newest book yet, but I really enjoyed this one. I genuinely liked Bitterblue as a character. It’s clear she’s overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being queen. But she’s trying and that’s really clear. She’s both trying to know her kingdom and people better and having some fun for herself. She can see that she’s failing but she never stops trying to do better. Even though it feels like everything around her is falling apart, she continues to be a mostly thoughtful person. She does have some issues regarding her privilege. She’s wealthy and it’s not something that she really thinks about, but she’s made to think about it and I really liked that conversation being a part of the book. Bitterblue makes friends with characters that aren’t privileged like she is. So, I was glad to see this difference acknowledged and discussed. Another thing that I liked is that Bitterblue doesn’t shy away from the past that is her father. King Leck, who we met in Graceling, was a terrible, cruel person. But Bitterblue’s memories from the time that she lived with her father are hazy. She wants to learn about the things Leck changed and what she might be able to make up for. There are many people close to her that don’t want her looking into the thinks Leck did and made others do. Many are still struggling with the trauma they were put through by Leck. I really appreciated how Bitterblue handled this. She doesn’t dismiss their trauma or ignore it. I think this was done thoughtfully and respectfully. Finally, I loved that we got to see Bitterblue take a moment to feel her feelings. People she loves are dying, she’s been betrayed, and she feels like she is failing her kingdom. But she takes the time she needs to cry, or scream, or just react to her emotion before she tries to think about what she must do next. I really liked this.
This story, like the previous two, was a pretty slow one, but it was so worth it. It builds and builds and builds until finally the story breaks and speeds up. But in that slower part, the characters are developing relationships and themselves. I appreciated this because the relationships felt so well developed. I was invested in them because I felt like I got to know the characters really well. I could sympathize with all of them, even the ones doing not great things. I also liked that we got to see characters that we already knew. We see Katsa and Po again along with a few other familiar faces. I highly recommend this one. I think this series overall is a pretty good one, but especially this one. The way that Cashore manages to make the story so full of emotion is impressive. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but this one had me tearing up with what Bitterblue was feeling. I cannot wait to read the newest installment of this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager – Wrap Up

Hi, lovelies! I’m back to wrap up my rereads! If you didn’t see my announcement/TBR post (which you can find here) I have been rereading books that I loved when I was a teenager. On that post, I have a list of the books that will be in this post, but I also listed books I probably won’t ever reread again. I also have books that I reread relatively recently, but before I had the idea for this post, so I shared thoughts on those books in that post. Now, lets get into my thoughts on how my rereading went! There were definitely some surprising hits and some not so surprising misses.

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
This is the only book that was on my original TBR post that I didn’t reread. That’s mostly because I couldn’t find this book at my local library and I wasn’t going to spend money and buy it.

Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter
I just reread this entire series. I’ve owned all the books since I read them the first time in 2013. I remember loving them so much because of the creative variety of supernatural species. This follows Kylie who finds out she’s a supernatural. She sees ghosts. She gets sent to a summer camp for ‘troubled kids.’ What her mother doesn’t know is that this is a summer camp for supernaturals, a place for them to learn how to navigate the human world. I liked the concept behind the story and seeing as I read the whole series, I must have enjoyed it a little at least. But there were things I didn’t like. The girls were so catty and bitchy, even the ones that were supposedly best friends. There was growth with this and I appreciated that. I wouldn’t say this is the best supernatural series, but it was definitely entertaining. My review for the first book, Born at Midnight, is linked here.

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
I reread this via audiobook in February. I think the only reason I made it all the way through the book is because the narrator is Evan Rachel Wood (who I have a huge crush on after watching her in Middlewest). The writing is pretty bad. And somehow, I still remember some of the bigger plot twists from later in the series, so there wasn’t really any mystery for me. I think I might finally be too old for this series. I didn’t have the same emotional connection to the characters. But I will say that I didn’t realize that this series actually has a pretty diverse cast, which was a pleasant surprise.

Evermore by Alyson Noel
This one was a surprise for me. I actually found myself genuinely enjoying this book. I liked Ever. She’s grieving the death of both her parents and her younger sister. But ever since the accident that killed them, she is psychic. She can see auras, hear thoughts, and see her sister’s ghost. She hides underneath oversized hoodies and blocks out the world with her iPod (lol). I think the concept of Ever’s abilities are super cool. She’d found a way to cope that worked for the most part. I did not like Damen at all. Even Ever had bad feelings about their ‘relationship’ but found that she couldn’t say no to him? There was just a lot of icky stuff. I liked the story and the magic aspect, and Ever, but I couldn’t get invested in the relationship at all. I actually did try to continue the series. But at the start of the second book, it’s all about how in love Ever and Damen are and I just couldn’t stay interested in it because I don’t care about their relationship at all.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
This book was…not good. I didn’t really remember anything about it. I think I was remembering a different book. Hush Hush is full of fat shaming, horrible diet culture, dated references (myspace, dial up internet, etc.), and completely unnecessary girl hate. I really believe that we’ve moved past the need for high school girls hating each other and being cruel and vicious. I know from experience that these people exist, but I think we’re at a point in time that we don’t need to continually see this in fiction. At least, not in the way that it was done in this book. As for the story, I did like that the romance wasn’t insta-love. There was some actual friendship development before anything romantic started. I don’t think I will continue the series. This book wasn’t completely terrible, but it definitely wasn’t good.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I still really enjoyed this one. I chose to listen to the audiobook, which was certainly an experience. The audiobook is an older one. This is clear with all of the musical sound effects. It took me a bit, but I came to enjoy this narration of the story. I think the story as a whole has held up pretty well for a book that’s 13 years old. I definitely think I liked it less than I did when I read it originally. I think it could more clearly see the the negative things about Katsa, rather than just loving her because she’s strong and has a powerful Grace. I adored Po though. He was my favorite. I liked the politics of the different kingdoms, but the world itself was pretty bland. I’m definitely interested to continue rereading the series. I think the idea of the Graces is an interesting one. I also want to say that I’ve continued rereading the rest of the series and have enjoyed both books two and three. I think Bitterblue is and was my favorite in this series and I’m excited to read the newly published installment.

Evernight by Claudia Gray
According to GoodReads, I rated this book 4 stars. If I were to rate this now, I would probably go with 2.75 stars. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t like it, or that it was a bad book. Because I did enjoy it while I was reading it. I think this book was one of the few that I wasn’t all that excited to reread. I ended being a bit surprised because I honestly was expecting to actively dislike this book. But that wasn’t the case. I don’t totally understand why the author chose to act like the main character (who is our narrator) didn’t know that she was going to a school full of vampires. I think this was a weird choice considering what Bianca is. Even the synopsis makes it seem like Bianca doesn’t know why the school and the students are so intimidating. This felt like a weird choice because when we did find out Bianca’s truth, it felt a bit info-dumpy as she tried to share all of the things she knew about vampires in a few pages. Aside from that, I genuinely had fun reading this one. There were definitely some eye-roll moments. And I am just as much Team Balthazar as I was back in 2009 when I read this for the first time. I just didn’t believe the romance with Lucas because it was a bit of insta-love. Then we got to see her become friends with Balthazar and that was more believable. I’m not sure that I care enough to reread the whole series, but this was a fun experience.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Green has been a favorite author of mine for many years. I read Looking for Alaska in high school and it’s a book that changed me. But I haven’t reread this one since 2013, so I honestly didn’t know how I was going to feel about it. I will say that the review linked with the title of TFIOS is the review I wrote back in 2013, so if you want to see my thoughts from when I was actually still a teenager, it’s there. Now, I’m currently 27 years old, so this book has a pretty different effect on me now. I still really loved this story. I still was easily invested in the romance between Hazel and Augustus. I think the big thing that’s changed for me is that when it comes to YA books I don’t really self insert into the story anymore. So, while I still enjoyed the romance aspect of the story, it wasn’t what I appreciated the most this time. I loved the writing. The banter between Hazel and Gus. But most of all, I liked the the journey. I think because I’m in a different place in my life than I was almost ten years ago, I can appreciate all the things that Hazel learns and experiences in this story. I may not be fangirling over Hazel falling in love, but I can still appreciate the things she goes through. This is still a beautiful story.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman (The Skinjacker Trilogy)
So, to preface, I mistakenly called this book Unwind in my TBR post. The series that I had on my kindle and planned to reread for this is actually the Skinjacker trilogy, which starts with the book titled Everlost. I managed to reread this whole trilogy over Mother’s Day weekend because it was super interesting and I just needed to know how everything ended. I made notes for each book, so I’ll briefly mention them before I talk about the series as a whole. The first book was interesting mostly because of the concept of this in-between place for lost souls. I liked the characters well enough, but I thought the plot was lacking. It felt like the first book was just world building and set up for the rest of the series. The second book is where things started to get really interesting plot wise. The story moves slowly, but it’s very clear that Shusterman placed building blocks, little bits and pieces, that would come back into the story later. This goes for the third book, too. Some of the things we see and learn about in books one and two come back into play for book three. I loved this aspect where we get to see things come full circle. There were a few different romances in this series, I liked all but one of them. I just couldn’t get behind Nick and Mary as romantic interests for one another. I think this was really the only thing I didn’t like about the series. It was there through all three books and I just didn’t find it believable. I did, however, really like Allie and Mikey together, as well as the other couples we see get together. I also want to mention the historical sites that are mentioned and some that play a part in this story. In Everlost, we see the Twin Towers, the Hindenburg airship, In Everwild the characters leave the East Coast and move west across the United States. We get to see the World’s Fair in Chicago and Graceland. The final book we get to see the Alamo and the Trinity Vortex (the site of the first atomic bomb). I think the way that Shusterman included these bits and pieces of history was fascinating and thoughtful. I just overall had a fun time reading this series. It was silly and occasionally ridiculous, but it was also way more serious than I anticipated.

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
When I read this book in 2012, I rated it 4 stars. I am standing by that rating. I’ve seen people compare this book to Throne of Glass, which I can see, except that Poison Study came first. We follow Yelena who is made the Commander’s new food taster rather than being executed. Yelena is a character that has some trauma in her past. But she seems pretty well adjusted. I am also totally here for the romance that develops later in the book between Yelena and the Commander’s chief of security. A good chunk of this book s Yelena learning how to detect poisons and I liked that. I love seeing characters learn new things. But once we’re past this part of the book, things get a lot more political. I also really enjoyed that part of the book. We see Yelena get involved in so many things that she just doesn’t need to be involved in. But also, it’s understandable because of the players that are involved. The Commander of Ixia is a trans man. I cannot speak to this representation, but if you can and you’ve read this, let me know about if you think this is good or bad representation. I enjoyed this book and I’m planning to continue my reread as soon as I’m finished writing this mini-review.

So, that’s all my thoughts on the books I picked up to reread. I’ve read all of these years ago, but it was really fun to revisit them. I was surprised to still actually enjoy some of them and not so surprised about the few that I didn’t enjoy. What books did you love as a teenager that you would consider rereading now?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Rereading Books I Loved as a Teenager – TBR

Hello, lovelies! This post idea was originally going to be me rereading books I loved in high school, but looking back through the books I read then, I realized it was mostly Twilight, City of Bones, and adult books. So, instead these will be books that I read when I was a teenager, as the title says. But there are some books that I can’t bring myself to reread (which I’ll have a list of, some with the reasons why I won’t reread). Today, I’m just going to share the books I plan to reread. I also have reread some books over the last year or so that I loved when I was a teenager that I don’t feel the need to reread again. So, I’ll be sharing those today to give some thoughts on them. This will be a TBR of sorts (I say of sorts because as I’m scheduling this post I’ve already reread some of them) but they’ll be in my wrap up post with more details. I’m just going to be naming the first book (many of these are series) but if I like it when I reread I’ll probably continue the series and give my thoughts on the whole series. Let’s get into it!

Books I Want to Reread

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
Evermore by Alyson Noel
Evernight by Claudia Gray
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Books I Won’t Be Rereading

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I have actually tried to reread this a few times over the years. I first read it in 2007 and obsessively read and reread the series until Breaking Dawn was released. But every time I’ve tried to pick it up to reread, I haven’t made it more than a few pages before I give up and end up reading something else. Also, after getting into the book Twitter community, I’ve learned more about some more of the problematic elements of the book.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I tried to reread this one a few years ago and just couldn’t do it. I think because I’ve watched the movies so many times and read the books so many times when I was a teenager, I know everything that happens pretty well and just couldn’t stay interested.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I’ve heard some pretty gross things about this author that have to do with sexual harassment. I don’t really want to support anything like that and feel no need to reread this one.

Matched by Ally Condie
I actually did try to reread this one sometime last year and DNF’d it because I couldn’t get through it and didn’t really care about anything that was happening.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
This is another that I tried to reread last year, and it just wasn’t good. So, I DNF’d it.

House of Night series by P.C. Cast
I have read some of their newer work and have no interest in revisiting this series.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I’ve reread this series (and all of the rest of the shadow hunter books) so many times that I don’t need to reread it again. Instead, I’ll just share my preferences for the series, starting with my favorite and ending with my least favorite. You can find my reviews for pretty much every book in the series on our Master Review List page under Cassandra Clare.
1. The Dark Artifices
2. The Last Hours
3. The Eldest Curses
4. The Mortal Instruments
5. The Infernal Devices

Books I’ve Already Reread

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
I feel so much nostalgia for this series. I found the full series for pretty cheap at my local used bookstore. Westerfeld has started a new series set in the same world but with different characters so I wanted to reread the original before I started the new series. I think there are definitely problems with this series that I didn’t notice when I devoured this series again and again as a teen. But I think the plot and adventure holds up pretty well. My review is linked here.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
This series is still absolute perfection. I reread them via the audiobooks and couldn’t get enough. I listened to this series so quickly. I think the vampire lore and the characters are still so well done. This is really a series that has held up through the passing years. I think this series can easily find new readers that will enjoy it just as much as I did when I first read it as a teenager. I think the same goes for the spin off series, Bloodlines. The characters and story are easy to love and might even be better than the original series. You can find my review for the first book in the Vampire Academy here and my review for Bloodlines here.

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
I reread Beautiful Creatures via audiobook and while I did make it through the whole book, I didn’t end up continuing my reread for the rest of the series. I wouldn’t say that it’s totally bad. It was still an interesting and entertaining story, but I wasn’t invested like I was when I read it as a teenager. I think this series is another that could find new readers that will love it, but I think I’m no longer the audience for this series.

Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith
This was….not good. I listened to the audiobook to reread. I made it through the first book (probably because it’s super short) but got halfway through the second book and just didn’t care to focus on the story. I think there are some things that the t.v. show did better and some things that the book did better, but I don’t know that I would actually be able to recommend this one to others.

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
I reread this full series, plus the Call of the Forgotten series, in anticipation for Kagawa’s newest release, The Iron Raven, which is set in the same world but follows Puck. We finally are getting Puck’s story. I have a full series review for both The Iron Fey and the Call of the Forgotten series here and here. I think these series are the ultimate Fey series and absolutely top the super hyped one that I won’t name. Meghan can be a little annoying, but her growth is so so good. The creatures and Fey that we meet in the series are so fascinating. I stand by this series excellence and cannot recommend Kagawa’s work enough.

Alright. That’s what I have for you today, folks! Some books that I will be rereading in the next few weeks/months (however long it takes me). Some books that I will probably never read again. And some books that I reread before I had the idea for this post with some brief thoughts on them.

What books did you love as a teenager that you think you would still love if you read them again now? If you are a teen, what books do you love that you think you will love once you’re no longer a teen? And the other side of that, what books did you love (or do love, if you’re a teen) that you don’t think you’ll love upon rereading?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Summary:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.
She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Review:
Graceling tells the story of Katsa, the niece of a king. She has the Grace of killing. She has been trained to be the king’s weapon, doing his bidding. But one day, Prince Po comes to court and Katsa finally finds a challenge. The two end up on an adventure they did not expect.
I don’t really want to spend too much time talking about what happened. So, I’m going to get into my thoughts on the things I liked about this book. Katsa was raised to be the king’s enforcer. Despite this, she finds ways to rebel against the things she’s made to do. She and her friends have created the Council. This Council helps those in need. I really liked that while Katsa mostly did what the king ordered, she found ways to do good things too. I mostly liked Katsa. She’s angry, abrasive, and stubborn. She can be selfish at times, but when it counts, she does the right thing.
Then there’s Po. I loved Po. He does his best to find ways in the cracks of Katsa’s armor. He gets to know her, even though she doesn’t really want that. I loved learning about the other kingdoms through Po and his experiences. I think Po was a well-developed character. I liked his family connections. I think Po’s personality was a really good balance for Katsa. They’re basically opposites, so things were really interesting when their relationship turned romantic.
I think the world building was alright. It wasn’t anything to call home about, but it was interesting. There was a bit of information dumping at the beginning. I think the politics of this world were one of the more interesting aspects of the story. The different kings were all pretty horrible, but it was interesting to see their differences.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. The plot is super interesting and the characters, while imperfect, kept my interest and I found myself easily invested in their story. I am very excited to continue onto Fire. I also forgot to mention at the start of this review that this was a reread. I read this series years ago, but with the release of Winterkeep, I wanted to reread all the books in the Graceling Realm before diving into the new one.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – Freebie! Since it’s a freebie topic, I went back to look at the list of past topics and have decided to talk about ten books I’m hoping to reread in the next year or so.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by J.K. Rowling

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts

Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

What books on your shelves do you want to reread soon? Let me know below! Tell me what you chose for the freebie this week.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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