Book of the Week-The Bitter Kingdom ARC

I am so excited to be reviewing the book that I am today. First off, ed it is the first ever ARC I have ever gotten so I’m super attached to it. Secondly, information pills Rae Carson is a brilliant writer, and caught me up in her trilogy so fast. I was very excited to read this book and I really enjoyed it.

I wanted to wait a little longer to review it so it was a little closer to the August 27th release, especially since it’s not out yet and I am doing a MOSTLY spoiler free review.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Rae Carson and her The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, you’re in luck. One, I’m about to paste the description from the first novel and two, I already reviewed The Girl of Fire and Thorns back in January, which you can read here.

The GoodReads summary of The Girl of Fire and Thorns:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do

Doesn’t that sound SO good? That’s because it IS good. Rae Carson has created an absolutely beautiful fantasy world, with rich characters and an original story that immediately caught me up. I was so happy to have a chance to read the finale early and I am even more happy to share my review with you.

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson 

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GoodReads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble 

Genre:
young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?
yes, the third and final installment of The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy

You May Like if You Liked:
anything by Tamora Pierce, Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, Eon by Alison Goodman, Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Plot Summary: 

To sort of recap the previous two books, Elisa was born with a Godstone in her belly button, making her one of God’s chosen ones, to do his work. It is a huge expectation and she never really feels that she lives up to it. Her father and sister arrange for her to marry the king of the nearby country, a king of a country in turmoil who needs the chosen one. However, when she gets there, he hides her away as a guest of the kingdom, not his wife, and she feels useless. She does make friends along the way, and she saves the kingdom, though her husband dies. In the second book, she’s a queen with the smallest grasp on the kingdom and no one seems to listen to her, a seventeen year old girl with no real claim to the throne. She goes searching for something to bring her power in the a kingdom that is turning against her.

When we reach the third book of this series, Elisa is literally at the bottom of the barrel of life. Her queendom, which is hers by marriage not by birthright, is in turmoil as some of her highest nobles start questioning her rule and starting mutiny. The love of her life, though he does not know it yet (or does he?), Hector, has been stolen away from some of the most feared enemies, the Inverni, and she is determined to get him.

But she also has a few other things in mind as well. Can she be queen enough to regain the country, keep them safe and rule? Can she save Hector? Can she live up to this expectation that she has had since birth, when the Godstone was found in her belly button, declaring her one of god’s chosen ones, to do his work. She is being hunted by her own countrymen and by her enemies.

The Bad: 

Uh, it ended so soon and since it was an advanced readers copy, there’s hardly anyone to talk to about it? That’s really all I can think of. I sped through this book so incredibly fast. I was dying to read it as soon as I finished The Crown of Embers back in January.

So I guess my only gripe with this book is that its over, the series is over and I can’t read on to see what more adventures come in the future. I want to know all what happens to Elisa and Hector and all of them :) But I do have the chance to read the series over and over again, which I know I definitely will do.

The Good: 

So. Much. Good.

Where do I even begin with this novel? I love fantasy novels. I read paranormal and dystopian and sci-fi but when it all comes down to it, fantasy is where its at. When I first read The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I immediately thought of some of my favorite writers, like Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima. Both of these ladies create these wonderful, believable, beautiful fantasy worlds and Rae Carson does it flawlessly as well. She creates this world that you get so caught up in, you forget for a moment that its not even real. Her countries and the customs and the cultures she creates in these novels are so real. She gets even the tiniest of details, even in the doubts that Elisa has about the history she’s been taught, that you just marvel at the creativity and originality behind it.

Elisa is such a wonderful character, in that she is the hero of the story, through and through. Even with her relationship with Hector, and his determination to keep her safe, as her guard, she still is the one to save the day, to do what needs to be done to get what she wants. And she’s so strong, so different than the girl we first meet in the first book. She goes from being this fat, unconfident, shy girl to a proud, strong fighter. The decisions she makes, the solutions she comes up with are ones that surprised me but also made me cheer too. When she meets with her sister, who has essentially taken over queen duties of her kingdom, and her friend, Queen Cosme, what results from their meeting was so incredibly unexpected but also a fantastic plot twist and a show of the kind of changes Elisa has gone through and the growing up she had to do to get there.

Which leads me to the characters. Something I appreciate about fantasy novels is that they always create such memorable, unique and rich characters. Every character in this novel has his or her own unique personality that you completely believe in. They each are so different and yet so connected to similar missions, to similar goals. Elisa’s coming of age journey is not new, and yet because of the complexity and development of her character, her journey is fresh and new and you follow it with open eyes, and a racing in your heart. Hector is equally a complex character, torn by his duty to obey his queen but also his passion and love and determination to protect her, no matter what she commands of him. And this sort of pattern with these fully developed characters continues with the people that serve Elisa, her soldiers, her servants, her friends and her enemies. Every character comes with such a defining personality.

Rae Carson has created a trilogy that won’t be long forgotten because of the timelessness she creates in it. This is not a series that can go out of style or lose interest, because she creates a world that you get so easily swept up in and won’t ever want to leave. She belongs in the realms of authors like Kristin Cashore, Cinda Williams Chima and Tamora Pierce, because of her ability to create an epic fantasy with a fantastic cast of characters, with the strong and passionate Elisa at the helm.

Rating: 

5 out of 5 Stars. Easily

Recommended or Not? 

Definitely. Two of my absolute favorite authors on the planet are Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams Chima and when I picked up The Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was so immediately swept up, caught up in this gorgeous fantasy world that I felt like I was in Tortall or the Seven Realms. I liked that it gave me such similar feelings to these books that I already love so much and I love that it was such a brand new story at the same time. I think Rae Carson is an absolutely fantastic writer, someone who deserves all the credit and awards she gets and more. I can’t wait to see what more comes from her as time goes on.

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of the Book of the Week.

I hope you all get a chance to read this entire trilogy, especially when the finale hits bookstores on August 27th!

Rae Carson is going on tour this fall as well so make sure to check out her website to see where she will be!

And check out previous book reviews in the Book of the Week section!

Book of the Week-Throne of Glass

Hello everyone :) Welcome to this week’s Book of the Week. I have to tell you, there I read three new books this week and it was kind of hard to narrow it down to just one to review for this week. I chose this one because it most fits what I usually review and its awesome but I’m thinking…

Should I maybe do a video blog occasionally? Maybe like, “Sara’s Quick Picks“, and I’ll profile the other books I read that week that don’t make it to the Book of the Week? It’d be like…quick reviews of the other books? What do you guys think? Let me know!

Anyway, I saw this book all over GoodReads and people were talking about it and Im like, I need to get on this train and I added it to my “to-read” list. Then I went shopping at Barnes and Noble last week to pick up some books to get signed at the Ontario Teen Book Fest and I saw this sitting on the shelf and was like “LOOK AT THAT COOL COVER!” and immediately grabbed it off the shelf.

And read in a couple days, as per usual. Its a very good book, but I’ll tell you all about it below :) Check out this week’s Book of the Week!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Genre:
young adult, fantasy

Part of a Series?:
The first book in the Throne of Glass series. The second, Crown of Midnight, will be released this summer!

You May Like if You Liked:
Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce, The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, Kristin Cashore’s Graceling

Plot Summary:

Celaena was trained from the age of 8 to become an assassin, and she becomes the most feared assassin of them, until she is caught and sent to Endovier, to the salt mines, where most criminals do not survive very long with the hard labor. However, Celaena continues to survive until the Crown Prince of Erilea, Dorian, comes to fetch her. He has has a bargain for her: if she participates in a contest of sorts as his Champion, a competition where former criminals battle it out to become the King’s Champion, a coveted role. Dorian wants Calaena as his Champion, so that she can win, serve his father for four years and then earn her freedom. Celaena immediately agrees, though she doesn’t have much of a choice. She comes from a country that no longer exists, taken over by Dorian’s father, and has worked against him her whole life. But this means her freedom.

When she arrives, things don’t go the way she expects them to. She is gaining a lot of attention from both Dorian and the captain of the King’s Guard, Chaol. She’s forming a close friendship with a princess from a nearby land. And she’s having to hide her skills so as not to gain too much attention. But then weird things start happening. Marks called Wyrdmarks start appearing, in a kingdom that has absolutely forbidden magic, and Champions are turning up dead, in seriously gruesome ways. Celaena now has to worry about making it past all the Tests and not ending up dead like the other Champions…

The Bad:

The love triangle. I’m sorry. I mean that in the best way possible. But I am so tired of the love triangle. I am so insanely over it. Please make it go away. I understand it makes for a more interesting story, blah blah blah. I was so excited in Jennifer L. Armentrout‘s Obsidian because there’s no love triangle. Not in the slightest. It was amazing. And I will say that the love triangle in this novel…its very, very subtle. Its not in your face, so there is that. I’ll also add that its subtle enough, on both sides, that you’re not really rooting for either one. At the end of the novel, I’m left going “OHMYGOD, who do I ship?” Haha. But this a very slight love triangle, and honestly, more of an annoyance than anything.

The Good:

Celaena is such a badass. She is up there with all the super badass heroines that we’ve been getting. At first she really reminded me of Katsa from Graceling. They both are kind of trained at a young age to become an assassin. I do think there is a difference between them. I love Katsa and Kristin Cashore’s Graceling but I did have some issues with Katsa; she’s very…unemotional and lacking of humanity sometimes. Sometimes its hard to relate to her. Celaena is trained as an assassin but has such a deep personality and human feelings and emotions. I love that she has a ton of humor and sarcasm. I love that she is this badass assassin with the power to kill people fairly easily and yet she loves to curl up with a book and enjoy a story. I love that she loves dogs and doesn’t want the grumpy runt of the pack to be killed.

I love the sort of repertoire she builds with the different characters in the novel. She spends the most time with Dorian, Chaol and the princess and she is Celaena with all of them, but she has a different relationship with each of them and while reading, I get eager to see what sort of interaction she will have with each character. She plays all these different parts and she doesn’t hold back. I think that’s what really attracts both Dorian and Chaol to Celaena. She is this beautiful fighter, talented warrior, gifted and brilliant and everyone knows who she is, has heard whispers of her. But I think once this famed assassin is given a name, a personality, a face…Dorian and Chaol are able to really see her as a person. And the princess, Nehemia, is really able to see what Celaena is like because she doesn’t know her true identity or her reason for being there.

I also really love the conflict that goes on within Celaena. She’s an assassin from a country that was brutally taken over by the king, and she’s spend much of her “career”, fighting and killing and working against him. And she is sent to the salt mines, where she isn’t fed well, and she’s fighting off would-be attackers and doing extreme hard labor. Of course this isn’t a place that she wants to be at. She’s given the chance of freedom, but at the cost of working for someone whom she despises. Its a very strange internal struggle for her, as she fights to win the King’s Champion position, knowing it’ll both mean her freedom, but preceded by four years of killing for a man that she definitely does not see as her king. I love that we don’t just get to see her physical fight, but we get to see her fight internally as well.

I loved the ending to this book as well, but as I’m trying to keep my reviews as spoiler free as possible because before, I just spoiled things like crazy, I won’t say too much. I loved how everything was wrapped and yet completely not wrapped up at the same time. You had a conclusion, an ending but there are so many loose ends, especially toward the end when you start getting different points of view and you see sort of the inner workings of this kingdom and what could possibly go wrong. So it leaves you both happy and frustrated which is the mark of a good ending.

And it makes me absolutely can’t WAIT til August to read the sequel. Maas has created a very realistic, fantastical world. She said it started out as kind of a throwback to Cinderella but I think the story kind of had a mind of its own and took on its own life form. She builds a world as real as Tortall or Fellsmarch or Middle Earth. You believe its real and you believe all these characters are real and it sucks you into the story. I very much enjoyed this book.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended or Not?:

Definitely. If you like fantasies with girls that kick ass, this is the book for you. Celaena is a badass character with the right emotions and personality for you to both love her and hate her, and follow her story eagerly. I literally inhaled this book because I just had to find out what happened next.

As always, the book title above will take you to the Amazon page and the author’s name will take you to their website.

Definitely check this book out!

Last little note: I hope she comes to California soon because I would adore meeting her!

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If you missed it yesterday, here is my interview with best selling author, Eoin Colfer!

And check back soon for my post all about the Star Trek Into Darkness red carpet premiere!