Loved it! The setting, the characters, the spine-tingling plot—just, ALL OF IT. I was a little sad that the romance didn't turn out the way I wanted,Loved it! The setting, the characters, the spine-tingling plot—just, ALL OF IT. I was a little sad that the romance didn't turn out the way I wanted, even though I loved both prospective love interests individually Q__Q But you know, other than that, it was pretty damn spectacular.
It's hard to create the perfect book---maybe even impossible, but Graceling does a pretty damn good job at attempting it. With it's enigmatic characteIt's hard to create the perfect book---maybe even impossible, but Graceling does a pretty damn good job at attempting it. With it's enigmatic characters, spellbinding prose, and phenomenal world-building, I was completely enraptured by Cashore's whirlwind of a tale!
-- characters Everyone fears the Graced, but Katsa, with one eye blue and one eye green has the most fearsome Grace of them all---she can kill an armed man with her bare hands. Yet, this character that kills is far more complicated and complex than that. She can choose to end one's life, however given the choice, she'd rather not. Perhaps she's not one of those characters that are secretly fragile and in emotional turmoil on the inside, but she's definitely not what everyone suspects her to be---a monster. She's brave yet kind, strong but fair and she'd rather face the wrath of an entire army and a King's fury than aim an arrow at an innocent man. With a huge heart and a voice that is just so deeply evocative, Katsa is a character that I fell in love with at the start and was incredibly sad to part with at the end!
But truly, Katsa wasn't the only character that left a deep imprint on me. We have Po, the Graced man who can equal Katsa in strength, the only man to ever lay a finger on her without dying himself. Po is certainly one of the better love interests out there---funny, kind, fiercely devoted to those he loves, however he also carries a heavy burden, for which no-one knows about. His relationship with Katsa was believable---believable because, in the face of so much insta-love growing in YA these days, this was one that grew steadily on the basis of friendship.
Yet, there's also not one character I could name that wasn't entirely convincing or fleshed out to the brim! There's Bitterblue, the young Princess of Monsea whose brave front in the face of danger was always admirable, and Raffin, who's peculiar experiments never failed to put a smile to my face---plus a dozen more characters I could name!
-- plot Katsa's quest to solve the mystery of Po's kidnapped grandfather is like an enchanting fairytale, one with a little less glimmer and glam of course. In a finely built world where Kings are selfish, greedy, merciless, and at war with each other, the ending to this fairytale might be a little different from your typical happily ever after, however that doesn't dim the fact that Cashore builds her story to it's finest point! The pacing is perfect, sparing just the right amount of action to keep readers satisfied, but also managing to balance the enticing romance, mysterious plot, and isolated survival through mountains all into one un-put-a-downable journey through the Seven Kingdoms.
You kind of have to laugh at the tagline of the UK/AU/NZ cover---"[This] exquisitely drawn romance ... will shake the thirst of Twilight fans!" For perhaps they got the 'exquisitely drawn romance' part right, but Twilight is hardly the comparison Graceling deserves. It held me captive with the magic and Graces we see in an extraordinary new fantasy world and it's not easy to find yourself bored or drifting off to sleep---everything builds up to something else, and then to something bigger after that!
-- in a nutshell Easily one of my favorite reads of 2012, or rather---ever,Graceling is a book for everyone, with it's gripping, unpredictable plot, amazing array of realistic characters and world-building that still continues to astound me. If you've not yet read this, I highly recommend it and hopefully, for those who have read it, you'll be re-reading this soon just to remember how incredible Cashore's writing is!
Okay, I loved this. I liked this a lot better than Han's Summer series. This was adorable and sweet and the way Han portrayed the familial r4.5 stars.
Okay, I loved this. I liked this a lot better than Han's Summer series. This was adorable and sweet and the way Han portrayed the familial relationships and cultural differences was something that I just could not fault. Lara Jean is perhaps, one of my favorite contemporary protagonists, although already I know some disagree, claiming that she is childish and spoilt. But I honestly don't see it that way. To me, she's full of life and personality and as hopeless a romantic as I am. Her energy just seems to bounce of the page, remaining optimistic even in the worst situations. She's half-Korean, and the way this was explored was right on point. From the online Japanese street-style shopping to the cute Korean stationary that Lara Jean likes to collect - this is genuinely what my friends and I love to do. And then there's the constant onslaught of delicious food constantly being repeated throughout the book. Lara Jean loves baking and making rice balls and their family has Korean food on their father's off days and asdfghjkl my mouth was just watering all the way through.
And Lara Jean's family! Her sister's and father are so endearing and likable. Their relationship is built around the fact that their mother is gone, and so now they all have to look out for each other and it was perfect. I honestly wasn't sure about them in the beginning, but they grew on me, especially Kitty whom I thought I would hate, but she is just so sassy and smart-assed that I couldn't help but burst out into giggles at 2am at some of the things she said.
The romance side of it is ultimately something that has been done before, but for some reason, these types of fake-date relationships just always seem to work for me, as they definitely did in The Art of Lainey as I recall, although the way they are carried out is quite different. There is a love triangle, I'll tell you now, but it's not drawn out. Lara Jean figures out what she wants before she lets anything get too far, and fixes things up before they spiral out of control. She is strong-willed enough to let one go, is what I'm saying, unlike a lot of other protagonists. And I don't think there will be a love triangle in the next book, in case the love triangle thing is really your defining factor. But I liked both guys, and even though I was viciously rooting for one over the other, I really did enjoy both of their role's in this story.
One complaint though. Genevieve. Really? Are there really such over-exaggerated Queen Bee Bitch Queens out there in high schools? Because the amount of female cattiness in every contemporary book is really making me wonder.
But aside from that, this is a really fun book. The ending made my cry in frustration because 2015?! Are you kidding me? Seriously, 2015 can't come fast enough....more
Okay so, I definitely did not expect to cry. Honestly, I wasn't even expecting this to get a near five stars. But this was beautiful. Really4.5 stars!
Okay so, I definitely did not expect to cry. Honestly, I wasn't even expecting this to get a near five stars. But this was beautiful. Really, it was. I loved it a lot more than I did Bittersweet and even though it had quite a few of the same problems, I absolutely adored the relationship between Jude and her papi alongside the adorable, swoon-worthy romance. It held a perfect balance throughout the book and Jude really grew into a likable, relatable character by the end of it, unlike the aforementioned Bittersweet.
Cashore has an extremely adept way with words, because in Graceling she captivated me with her jaw-dropping new fantasy world and characters that I'veCashore has an extremely adept way with words, because in Graceling she captivated me with her jaw-dropping new fantasy world and characters that I've come to love, and now with Fire, we see Cashore's strengths shining even brighter! Her writing is astounding---so original, creative and altogether magical, and Fire is a prime example of that.
-- characters Fire is afraid of her beauty, her ability to manipulate the minds of those she captivates, but she is also afraid of becoming like her deceased father, wicked, cruel and the reason why The Dells is going through a time of chaos and war. Yet that's what makes her so endearing, what makes her feel real. As she is summoned by King Nash to help with the inevitable war, we're able to see a drastic change in her character that springs from the people she meets to the tasks she performs for the Kingdom. Starting as a character drowning in sorrow and guilt, she blossoms into someone who stands tall and proud---that was what I loved about her! Fire isn't quite the action-packed story you see in Graceling but Fire's story of regrowth and redemption has just the touch of realism and relatability to make up for that lack of activity!
Cashore also manages to invent another entirely new set of likable, fleshed-out characters. Where Graceling held me attentive to each and every one of them, Fire's had me actually tearing up a bit. The relationships between characters are so perfectly well-crafted and palpable that by the end of it, I found myself discreetly wiping tears away when my parents weren't looking. And again, Cashore manages to stun me with a romance that left me delighted and exuberant with the outcome!
-- plot Fire is perhaps a little darker than it's predecessor---it's not focused on amazing fighting scenes or some kind of great conspiracy but the quiet truth of a world struggling to regain balance and unity. We find ourselves stuck behind the palace walls for most of the story yet so much still manages to happen. And there's always enough danger and intrigue to keep you on the edges of your seat. It is long for a book that lacks a huge amount of action, but for me, the pages flew by in a flurry! I was despearte to know what happened to the characters I had grown attached to and of course, the sweet, slow-building romance between Fire and Brigan had me always eager to read on!
-- world Set in the same world as The Seven Kingdom's yet not entirely so, The Dells is a world just as spellbinding and imaginative as Graceling's was! It's stunning, really, how well Cashore makes you want to drop everything and move into this world where there are animals the color of sunflowers and grass. And trust me, given the chance, even with the danger of my life at stake, I definitely would! Cashore's descriptions of a land by the endless sea, with bridges of unique variety and strange people who live underground has me completely entranced. It's just a shame that we only get one book in this enchanting world!
-- in a nutshell Fire is a book that not only lives up to the hype of it's companion, but rivals it in all the aspects that made it amazing! You don't have to have read Graceling before reading this, because Fire does enough with itself to stand entirely on it's own. If you're ever in the need to get lost in a new world, and spin away from reality, than this is perhaps one of the best books I could recommend you to read!
How best to describe The Gathering Dark? Perhaps mind-blowing, of the awesome variety? I was completely blown away by the depth of Bardugo's imaginatiHow best to describe The Gathering Dark? Perhaps mind-blowing, of the awesome variety? I was completely blown away by the depth of Bardugo's imagination, the scope of which her creativeness stems. There's never been a fantasy quite like this one, a world full of it's own history and magic—but here it is, and it's an easy contender for what's possibly the best book of the year.
-- thoughts It sounds like any and every other young adult book out there. And Dear Lord, in every right mind, it should have been like any and every other young adult book out there. Yet it's not. I tell you, fair readers, if you go into this book thinking that, your initial perceptions of it will be stripped clean and dried the moment you're met by what of which is Bardugo's powerful characterization and incredible story-telling!
For one thing, Bardugo's gifted us with a heroine that could very much be my new favorite protagonist and she comes in the form of Alina Starkov. She's a sickly thing, this Alina—weak, pale, perhaps the ugly duckling reincarnated in human form, you've heard it all before. However, much like the ugly duckling turns into the swan, Alina possesses a power, a power that could lead Ravka to a freedom their generation has never known—freedom from the advancing form of the Shadow Fold. And that might be what scares Alina most, because hope is a dangerous, dangerous thing. Yet it's this newfound purpose, the urge to succeed and not disappoint a praying country, that spurs her development on. That's when it becomes clear that Alina is a character to grow attached to, a character that will stick in the back of your mind for a long time coming. She's flawed, makes bad decisions, trusts the wrong people, struggles with the task of being a Grisha but as it goes, you realize that behind the wavering, uncertain shadow of a pale figure, she's strong, inside and out, with a fair heart and evocative voice that garners trust and admiration from characters and readers alike.
Though the story is very much centered around Alina, it's the other characters in The Gathering Dark that provide a stage for her to stand. Bardugo doesn't just place a community of flat, uninteresting barbie-like things onto a painted playing field, rather she builds them from her rich creation, making them a part of the story. Characters such as Genya made me impulsively ache for their problems, eliciting emotions that are usually far out of reach of mere secondary characters. And what make of Alina's childhood friend, Mal and the tantalizing, Darkling? Ah, well that deserves a paragraph of it's own.
If Alina is the fleck of grey, then Mal is a brilliant glowing white and the Darkling is the cold black of a nightmare. Easily separated by the color of their personalities, it doesn't necessarily mean they're simple, however. Mal doesn't quite strike you as enamoring at the beginning but as the story picks up, when you see his protectiveness and dedication towards his childhood friend, you'll find a sweet side to him that is impossible to disregard. Yet it's the mysterious Darkling that captures your initial interest. Perhaps you'll find that you prefer Alina with Mal, but the Darkling is a character not to be simply categorized as 'the other love interest.' Because it's not a simple love triangle by any means. The Darkling drives the plot through it's perfect pace, he makes it what it is. The secrets and dangers of Bardugo's lavishly created society is abundant in it's mysteries and it's the Darkling himself that carries them all. And ultimately, it's in this sublime, formidable world in which the Darkling rules—where magical Grisha wear beautiful keftas and the Shadow Fold threatens to dominate the whole of Ravka—that you'll find yourself unwilling to return from!
-- in a nutshell Compulsive, addicting and just plain amazing this is definitely high fantasy in it's finest form! Boasting many endearing qualities, The Gathering Dark is worthy of the praise it's already recieved and all the many more compliments to come. Fresh from the jar of creativity, this won't be a book easily forgotten!
So, so good. I am in love with Iolanthe and Titus—it really is not often that I find two main protagonists that I actually love wholehearted4.5 stars.
So, so good. I am in love with Iolanthe and Titus—it really is not often that I find two main protagonists that I actually love wholeheartedly. And I love the ideas that Thomas presented, especially to do with the Crucible. The ending was a little anti-climatic and there were definitely times in the beginning where I was a little confused in regards to the world-building, but everything just comes alive the further in you go. The dialogue is sharp, the banter between the two main characters full of wit and equality, and the secondary characters bring their own life into the story, with the villain being just as scarily capable in enacting deadly deeds as one would hope to expect. This was definitely a pleasant surprise!...more