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Mini Book Review: Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Title: Bitter Kingdom

Author: Rae Carson

Series: Fire and Thorns #3

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: Elisa is a fugitive. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves, and they await her at the gate of darkness. Her country is on the brink of civil war, with her own soldiers ordered to kill her on sight. Her Royal Majesty, Queen Lucero-Elisa né Riqueza de Vega, bearer of the Godstone, will lead her three loyal companions deep into the enemy’s kingdom, a land of ice and snow and brutal magic, to rescue Hector and win back her throne. Her power grows with every step, and the shocking secrets she will uncover on this, her final journey, could change the course of history. But that is not all. She has a larger destiny. She must become the champion the world has been waiting for. Even of those who hate her most.

The Mini Review:

Since The Girl of Fire and Thorns solidified itself as my favorite YA Fantasy last year, I have lost a lot of fangirl points by not posting a review of this 3rd book long before now. Since Carson’s new book, Walk on Earth a Stranger (which is most excellent – review to come), is out today, I figured now is as good of time as any. While reflecting on the series, I think the 1st one was the best, but definitely appreciate Bitter Kingdom for its satisfying resolution to the story. I feel like I’ve gotten to see the many wonders this world has to offer and that exploration is easily one of my fondest takeaways from this series (and the love story, and the strong/memorable characters, and the inspiring conflicts… Okay, I’m basically fond about everything). I’m still thinking about the ending to this book over a year later (yeah, my TBReviewed log goes back that far… #fail) and that’s part of the reason why the series is among my all-time favorites – it’s the type of story that sticks with you.

Overall, the Fire and Thorns series is my #1 recommend for the teen fantasy genre, even over Throne of Glass. The main character, Elise, is amazing, the love story is epic, and the adventure is endless! Read it. Read it NOW! ;-)

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The crown of embersTitle: The Crown of Embers

Author Rae Carson

Series: Fire and Thorns #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Elisa is a hero. She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country’s ruler should be secure. But it isn’t. Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled. To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with. If she’s lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.

The crown of embers

The Review:

Okay, prepare yourself for total fangirl book review that’s only semi-helpful. ;)

When I read Girl of Fire and Thorns, I was certain I’d found my new favorite book EVER! As you can imagine, I was reasonably terrified that this second book wasn’t going be nearly as good as the first. But you know what? It was phenomenal… and I read it way too fast.

Pretty much everything I geeked out about in my review of The Girl of Fire and Thorns carried over into this book. Even though I’m tempted to sing its praises all over again, I’ve decided to settle for a summary. Here are some of the reasons why I am LOVING this series:

  • The rich character development
  • The epic adventures
  • The breathtaking settings
  • The diverse and interesting cultures
  • The addicting “can’t put it down” plot
  • and The killer love-story

It has all of those things and more, and I am one book away from building a little shrine among my bookshelves for this series. That one book is book three in the trilogy (The Bitter Kingdom) and I am resisting the urge to pick it up right away – I just don’t want the story to be over yet!

I think it’s important to note that even though this book was geared towards a young adult audience, it had everything I look for in my robust high fantasy novels. This new trend of what I’m calling Teen High Fantasy is definitely my new favorite genre. All I have to say is, if there are any Throne of Glass and Graceling fans out there who haven’t tried this series yet, you are missing out!

Other books you might like:

Our YA Escape Reality Book Club has actually chosen Girl of Fire and Thorns as June’s  Selection, so if you’d like to read along or even just geek out with us, visit The Escape’s Reality Book Club Launch Post for more information on how to get involved (it’s easy).

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

girl of fire and thornsTitle: The Girl of Fire and Thorns

Author: Rae Carson

Series: Fire and Thorns #1

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: 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.

The Review:

For one reason or another, this book didn’t have much initial cover appeal to me, so I passed it over early on without taking the time to find out what it was about. Foolish I tell you – FOOLISH! It wasn’t until I jumped aboard the Throne of Glass bandwagon that I started noticing the many cross-references between the two series. Then I randomly found and purchased a signed copy of the third book and decided I should probably borrow the first one from the library to see if I even liked it (yes, I’m utilizing the library now for the first time in my entire life… unemployment will do that to you). Anyway, after a massive reading binge, I’ve decided Girl of Fire and Thorns just might be among my all-time favorites – I loved it!!! Books two and three will be telling, but for now, lets suffice to say I’m completely thrilled about how much I enjoyed book one.

It had everything I expect from a great YA novel. Heck, it had just about everything I expect from a robust high fantasy novel, too. Great, relatable characters, a unique world filled with interesting cultures, magic, an epic adventure, and fantastic pacing! I laughed, I cried, I yelled, and I seethed – basically, I was completely invested from page one and felt every victory and loss as if they were my own. It’s always nice when a book is written so well that it can draw you out of reality, and this one did so in a way that will stick with me for years.

Elisa, the protagonist, is definitely what I would call an atypical heroine. Often, champions I’ve read about in other books start out with a solid set of skills, sporting flaws that are superficial or easy to overcome (such as not knowing how beautiful they are, or being too impulsive… you get the idea). I actually can’t immediately think of a female lead with so many things to overcome as Elisa at the beginning of the book. As a heavily protected Princess, Elisa had very few skills that would allow her to be self-sufficient. What’s more, she was also dealing with the emotional damage of feeling unloved, unwanted, and worthless. These feelings caused her to seek comfort from wherever she could find it… primarily in food. Overcoming these things took no small amount of effort, and because of that, Elisa is my favorite component of this book. She was compassionate, smart, courageous, and adaptable and, although she had magic, it was those endearingly human traits that let her do extraordinary things, touching my heart in the process. I truly loved going on this journey with her, and look forward to seeing where it takes her next!

The world building was probably my second favorite element of the story. I love it when authors imagine up multiple cultures, give them some swords and religious convictions, and throw them together and to see what happens. I find it fascinating to see how they develop and react around one another, and I have the feeling I’ve only just scratched the surface of the cultural convictions this series has to offer. And, oh my gosh, the setting! With everything from tropical forests to desert wastelands, the settings were vivid and exciting. I don’t know if this is what the author was going for, but I felt like I was experiencing landscape similar to Central and South America, and it was wicked cool.

Overall, this is one of those books I want all of my friends to read because I’m just bursting to talk about it. I liked Girl of Fire and Thorns so much, I immediately ordered it and the sequel in hardcover for my collection. It has similarities to things I’ve read before, but there were enough unique elements to make me feel like I read something fresh and original. If you need me, I will be devouring the second and third books in the series…

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes