Rae Carson – The Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom

paperback
publisher: Greenwillow Books
published 2014
pages: 448

Blurb:

In the deeply satisfying conclusion to the bestselling Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen Elisa travels into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.
Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion—a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy. (Amazon)

In (Very) Short:

+ the final installment and conclusion to the trilogy
+ reuniting with old friends and foes
+ fast-paced story

My Opinion:

Since this is the conclusion to a trilogy, I don’t want to go into too much detail since I don’t want to spoiler the previous books if you haven’t read them yet. Yet I might not be able to avoid them – so beware.

Elisa is now on her way into enemy territory with her trusted and some not so trusted friends. She not only uncovers truths about herself, the countries’ history and her enemies, but she finally becomes the Queen that some people never thought she could become.

This book was as riveting as the previous ones. I adored the dynamic between the little travel group, I also enjoyed the insecurity whether to trust a character or not, I also loved the story and surely the end.

The novel was fast-paced and kept that pace pretty good. The story world became even more complex and wider and I thoroughly reveled in the world creation, the magic system, and the queen’s council.

I was happy to be reunited with characters which I genuinely liked and I was also a little sad to let them go for good.

Bottom Line:

All in all, this was wonderful and satisfying conclusion to an exiting series with a great story world and likeable characters.

Rating:

rating 5

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Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers (#2)

Crown of Embers

paperback
publisher: Greenwillow Books
published: 2013
pages: 432

Blurb:

She does not know what awaits her at the enemy’s gate.
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. (Goodreads)

In (Very) Short:

+ second installment in the trilogy
+ character-driven, fast-paced plot
+ politics and conspiracies en mass

My Opinion:

The Crown of Ember is the second installment in the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy written by Rae Carson. So be aware of SPOILERS!!!

Elisa is the new queen after defeating her enemies in the first book, but soon enough trouble arises again. There are attempts on her life, enemies within her own court, who lust for power, enemies from outside, who want her dead or alive, and then there is her destiny. The one she has not fulfilled yet.

The story was much more character-driven than the last one, which was more of an adventure story. The books driving force are the politics, conspiracies, and threats that come form outside as much as from the inside of her court. Elisa is confronted with being a queen while her advisers and supporters might have other plans or at least plan and make choices for her which do not regard her feelings or well-being.

I was a little annoyed with Elisa at times, because she seemed so blind towards all the problems, while I saw them coming from a mile away. But just as in the previous book, the main character grew with the challenges and opposition. It took her a little long, but she managed.

The story was still fast and thrilling in spite of or because of the character-driven nature of the plot. The world-building was great and found my way back quite quickly and I thoroughly enjoyed the political and conspiracy aspect.

I did not mind the love relationship either though it tested my patience occasionally, but I knew it was coming since the end of the first book. And I am relieved Elisa finally stood up to Ximena. That woman was annoying. And the cliffhanger was less cliffhanger-y as I thought it was going to be. I liked the ending. There was more resolution than I thought and still a good start for the next book, although I am not sure what the main issues will be this time.

Bottom Line:

A character-driven, political and exiting story with a likeable characters. A great read.

Ratings:

rating 4

My Reading Month June/July

Since I did not manage to write a monthly summary for June, I have combined both June and July this time and I was surprised how much I read and listened to in these months.

During the past months, I listened to more audiobooks than I read physical ones and I have to admit, that I did start to enjoy to watch an occasional TV series again – I have limited my TV watching due to my project worked which focused on TV series. But now, I spent some time with the good old Star Trek Next Gen – which I loved when I was younger and still love. Oh the good old times. But back to business.

In June, I read two books and I listened to six audiobooks – two of them being children’s stories about an hour long.

Books:

Octavia Butler – Parable of the Talents

This is the second book in a duology and it was a good and interesting read. I really enjoy Butler’s writing. I don’t want to spoil so I will refrain from summarizing and it is quite complicated to do anyway. As I said, the story was good, but I could not relate to either the protagonist nor her daughter.

Rae Carson – The Bitter Kingdom

The last book in the series was as fast-paced and exiting as the ones before. I really enjoyed the story, the characters and their developing relationships and the new characters. I did not see some of it coming and I always waiting for some twists that never came. Great conclusion.

The Bitter KingdomStorm Glass

Audiobooks:

Oliver Pötzsch – Die Hexer und die Henkerstochter

The fourth book (or audiobook) in the series. A historic crime novel centering around murder and is solved by a grumpy executioner. It was interesting, fascinating (I really enjoy all the middle age day-to-day facts), thrilling, sometimes funny, and sometimes a little sad. Great book.

Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson: Die Schlacht ums Labyrinth

I have read the books several times and I came across this audiobook in German, so I picked it up. I wanted to see if I like the story translated into German and I enjoyed it. I have to say that I like the original a little better (at least the book version) but that is maybe due to my familiarity with it. Translations are always tricky. But it was done really well.

Bibi Blocksberg wird Prinzessin

Bibi is one of my childhood friends, and the audiobooks centering around this characters are the ones that I listened to repeatedly. This time the little witch (the main character Bibi) is suddenly turned into a princess and has to find her way back to her time line. Fun and entertaining.

Sabine Martin – Die Henkerin

Another historical novel: this time a young woman witnesses the murder of her family and in order save herself she hides as a boy living with and learning to be an executioner. But than she meets the person who murdered her family and she has sworn to avenge them. It was a good read, though it was a little jumpy between different perspectives and times, it was still good to follow and interesting.

Die Zeitdetektive – Freiheit für Richard Löwenherz

The story about 3 time traveling friends who visit different times in order to learn more but then get caught up in an adventure. This is always fun and filled with interesting historical facts that I have either learned in school and long forgotten or that I really did not know. Well done and I think really great for kids.

Kai Meyer – Die Wellenläufer

The last audiobook this month is a fantasy adventure about pirates and two children who can walk on water. This is again another wonderful story that is great for children and that was fast-paced and fascinating. Who does not love pirates and who wouldn’t want to walk on water. Really enjoyable.

Master of Crows Radiance

So, after a quite successful June I had an even better July. It took me a little to get into the swing of things. I did not start to read until well into the month and I managed to read most of the books within a little more than a week. A little time off is something really beautiful. Well, in July I managed to read 7 books (two of them novellas) and listened to 4 audiobooks. A great month.

Books:

Grace Draven – Radiance

I have been circling this book for a while as it had great reviews so far. I was in the mood for some fantasy and I really enjoyed the story. Two people of different species were married in order to ensure peace and trade agreements between their two courts and both think the others are extremely strange and hideous to look at. The story was nicely paced, entertaining and the characters were not flat, though not fully developed either. Towards the end it was quite sexually explicit (which surprised me a little since I did not read anything before going into this book) but it was only short and did not dominate nor hinder the stories fluidity.

Maria V. Snyder – Storm Glass

I have loved the Study trilogy with Yelena and Valek. Now this trilogy focuses on Opal a character from the first trilogy. It was a good read, though it was a lot more annoying that Opal just seemed to stumble from one incident and accident into the next. She never saw things coming and her naivety was getting onto my nerves a little. Still, it was interesting and I am curious to see how it continues.

Grace Draven – Master of Crows

After Radiance was an enjoyable read and this e-book was quite a bargain, I started to read this. The story was OK, and the premise interesting. I liked the world creation, though I would have liked some more build up. However, this one was very explicit and centered a little too much around any form of procreation. If you are still under aged: don’t.

the assassin and the pirate lord The Assassin and the Desert

Sarah J. Maas – The Assassin and the Desert

I finally continued to read some Celaena Sardothien stories. Since the stories/novellas build on each other, I will not talk about the content. It was an interesting story with a few more or less surprising twist and turns. You could see them coming, but they were not obvious. It is interesting to see how she develops after what happened with the Pirate Lord and how things slowly change.

Nina Blazon – Laqua: Der Fluch der schwarzen Gondel

I needed some children’s adventure story and I picked up this gem by a German author. Two children have to spend time at their grandmothers in Venice and strange and evil things start to happen. An old force is trying to possess the children’s aunt. Can they stop worse from happening? A fun and entertaining read that made me want to go to Venice and start reading more adventure books set in Venice, yet I did not have any with me at the time.

Richard Stark – The Handle

This is a crime novel that was recommended and gifted to me by one of the members of my committee who attended the defense of my dissertation and since that was about crime series, we started to talk about crime fiction and the Parker novels. It was an interesting read from the perspective of the criminal. It was short, quick, entertaining, a little hard-boiled-esque, and a great in between novel. If you like the hard-boiled writers, give this one a try.

Sarah J. Maas – The Assassin and the Underworld

The next novella in the Throne of Glass series was as entertaining and again build up on the ones before. It was interesting to also see the emotional and personal struggle of Celaena to come to terms with who she has become and who Aborynn really is.

The Handle Nina Blazon - Fluch der schwarzen Gondel

Audiobooks:

Bastian Bielendorfer – Mutter ruft an

This book is somewhat of an experience report about the authors unique and yet sometimes surreal mother. It was a good book, although it took me some time to warm up to him. A nice audiobook for in between.

Marliese Arold – Magic Girls: Gefangen in der Unterwelt

I have read the first books in physical form and now I have come across the third book as audiobook. The story was captivating and thrilling (even more than the previous ones), there was a lot of mystery that is not yet solved, and it is closely connected to the previous book. I only had some issues with the reading – the voices in which some of the characters were read, were quite annoying.

Iny Lorentz – Die Kastellanin

This is also a second book in a series written by a German author or better a duo. It is a historical novel focusing on adventure, political conspiracies and murder. It was beautifully read and thus captivating. Enjoyed it very much.

Sabine Weigand – Die Seelen im Feuer

Another historical novel that centers around the witch burning mania in the middle ages. It was interesting to see how and why they were accused and burned. Sometimes it was a little descriptive for me, but I am very sensitive. So it might not bother someone with a tougher skin or stomach 🙂

So this is or better was my very long monthly summary or summaries in this blog. I am quite happy. I hope the next one will be as successful and I hope that I finally manage to get my blog up to speed again. I am currently also working on another project and it is a lot more complicated to keep track of things.

My Reading Month May 2015

May was not necessarily a great reading month, but it was OK. I have read three books and also listened to 3 audiobooks. So, at least I enjoyed six different stories, which is not bad. I really should add my audiobooks to my goodreads challenge. Than I would be ahead of things instead of behind. But let’s get started.

Crown of Embers

Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers

My first read this month was The Crown of Embers, which was the second book in The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. It was a really enjoyable and fast read, with a likeable yet occasionally short-sighted protagonist, loveable side characters, a lovely word creation and a lot of action right from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Katharina M. Mylius – Bloody Rosemary: Ein Oxford-Krimi

This cozy crime novel was written by a German author and is set in Oxford. The book is Christie-esque, the characters normal and capable to investigate and have a life, the murder mystery was interesting but not gruesome, and there was a lot of intertextual references to other books from the same publisher. Fun and light read.

Touch of Frost Bloody Rosemary

Jennifer Estep – Touch of Frost

I really thought, I am not into the whole special school for special creatures/being kind of thing and I was wrong. Gwen Frost attends a school where the descendants of many historical and mythical people go to school: Vikings, Valkyries, Amazons, Spartans and many more. She doesn’t fit in with her Gypsy gift, she has no friends and then a girl gets killed and her entire world turns upside down. I enjoyed the setting, the story was fast, and the characters likeable.

Audiobooks:

Maggie Stiefvater – Rot wie das Meer/ The Scorpio Races

I have read The Scorpio Races a while ago and I really enjoyed it. And I also enjoyed the audiobook version of it, too. The story is interesting and fantastic yet real and very character driven. I liked both Sean and Puck, I enjoyed the writing which lulled me and drew me in. Still one of my favorites. Maybe because it is a quiet book.

Andrea Sawatzki – Von Erholung war nie die Rede

The second book by this German author follows the Buntschuh family on their vacation where everything seems to get out of control really fast. Annoying mothers and mother-in-laws, even more annoying brothers and sister-in-laws and an even sometimes annoying main protagonist. This time the point of views vary between different characters. It was good and entertaining.

Maggie Stiefvater – Wen der Rabe ruft/ The Raven Boys

The second book by Maggie Stiefvater that I listened to this month was the Raven Boys. It was good book, following Blue, who can connect to ghosts and stuff, and four boys who are looking for an old dude from Wales. I know I should remember more, but I don’t. It was good and interesting, but apparently not so great that I remember. It also had to do with Gypsy things and a ghost and three very different boys and there was murder involved. Again, it was good.

December/January Book Haul

Since I did not manage to post a haul for December, I decided to combine my December and January hauls. I have accumulated quite a few books over the past two months. But it was Christmas and there was my birthday and then I was stressed and needed some treats 🙂

Sarah J. Maas – Heir of Fire

This is the third book in the trilogy (which is now turned into a series; maybe kinda like Trudi Canavan’s Black Magicians Trilogy which continued with the Traitor Spy Trilogy; I am not sure). I am looking forward to continue and/or finish the trilogy, yet I am reluctant to start. It took me a while to get into the second book and I did not enjoy it as much as the first. I just hope this one is better and has some form of closure.

Rae Carson – The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom

These are books 2 and 3 in the trilogy, which I have read over a year ago (I think even 1 1/2 years ago). I gifted them to myself for my birthday. I really enjoyed the first book because it was a different to other fantasy series, but I am not sure if I should reread the first one since it’s been a while.

Terry Pratchett – Dodger

I have never read a Pratchett novel. I don’t know why, maybe because I am not sure whether they are a series or just set in the same world without being dependent on each other. They were just to many of them and I was confused. However, I found this one as a bargain and thought I might give it a try.

Renee Holler – Das Geheimnis des Goldenen Salamanders

I stumbled upon this adventure novel for children or maybe young adults, which is set in England in the 1670s (I think). It is a historical adventure story and I am currently in the mood for either reading or listening to them. They are primarily fun and exiting without the whole teenage angst all the time. I hope this one will not disappoint.

Walter Moers – Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher

Like Pratchett an author that is widely famous in Germany and I have not yet read a book. I found this in a bargain bin because it had a few scratches, but I had to give it a new home. It is a later book in the series and again I am not sure whether I need to read the others before in order to understand or if they are somewhat stand alone only set in the same world. But I will figure that out.

december 2015 haul

Wolfram Hänel – Ein Fall für die Weihnachtsdetektive

I could not walk past this book: a Christmas story told in 24 chapters and of course a crime story for children. It is illustrated and in order to get to each chapter, I have to separate the pages. They are “stuck” together and I have to open each chapter. The book is also illustrated and the writing is in red. I just really like the design.

Marliese Arold – Dem Pharao Versprochen

I have read some books by this author and enjoyed her writing and her stories. This is set in Egypt (I like) and tells the story of a young woman who has to marry the Pharaoh but likes someone else. Sounds a little mushy, but there are times when one really is in the mood for mush.

Vicky Alvear Shecter – Mondmädchen/ Cleopatra’s Moon

Another book set in Egypt about Cleopatra’s daughter. Well, I really like the old myths and stories about Egypt, so I took it home.

Andreas H. Schmachtl – Hieronymus Frosch: Das hat die Welt noch nicht gesehen

I have read and some and own quite a few books by the author and I love them. The stories are cute and entertaining. Great for reading to your kids and short as well. The illustrations are wonderful and since this book is about an inventor frog, the writing is in green and some of the illustrations are also in green, while others are in color.

Patrick Carman – Strengstens Verboten: Willkommen im Hotel Whippet/ Floors

Another kids book which sounded quirky and fun. The Whippet is a hotel in which Leo lives with his dad, who is the maintenance man. He stumbles into an adventure when he discovers boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles and ducks. Sounds good and fun, so I took it with me.

Nina Balzon – Lagua: Der Fluch der Schwarzen Gondel

I listened to a time travel novel set in Venice when I came across this book also set in Venice. This book seems to also have a supernatural touch. A coursed gondola, two warring families, and four kids who try to discover the truth. Sounds like a good adventure story.

Josephine Angelini – Goddess

The final book in the Starcrossed Trilogy. I really enjoyed the first two books. They were entertaining and easy to read. I really like to know how that whole situation unfolds and concludes. I looking forward to meeting old friends.