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Fulfilling Fantasy: The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Hi there!

Have I told you how much I am loving my winter break? Because I totally am loving it! This morning we went to the local SodaCity Market. It was cold (yay!) but fun as usual!

In addition to fun outings my winter break has been full of blogging! I’m finally getting back on track after about two months of letting the blog lag a little. Normally, when I read a trilogy I either review the books as a whole, or each title individually. Well, I already reviewed the first book in Rae Carson’s trilogy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but to make things a little easier on me, I’m going to combine the last two books, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom together into one review.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old.The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds.

I have to start by saying this fantasy trilogy is wonderful. I adored the first book, and the last two didn’t let me down. Elisa’s world of Joya d’Arena is so full of magic and mystery, I don’t think I could ever get enough of stories set in this world! One of my favorite thing about both The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom is that both books are centered around journeys (both physical and emotional). Because of these journeys we get to see so much more of Joya d’Arena and the surrounding nations. In general, I prefer when stories open up and the author gives us a glimpse of the world our characters live in. Also, journeys, like Elisa’s allow for more adventure and excitement to enter the plot…which of course, is awesome.

Elisa’s, like before, is an inventive character. She has already gone through so much maturation and BitterKingdomgrowth in the first book, that I was afraid Elisa would fall a little flat in the sequels. Elisa, however continues to be as interesting as before: she is strong, vulnerable, afraid of her older sister, wise, frustratingly stubborn, and massively in love with a man who doesn’t always seem to reciprocate her affections. Elisa has a lot going on! And at the start of The Crown of Embers Elisa is forced to stretch herself even further as she now has the weight of a nation on the brink of war on her shoulders.

Also, I have to add that my favorite character by far is Storm, the enemy defector. He is completely sassy, suspect, grumbly, and all around hilarious. His presence adds just the right amount of sarcasm and intrigue to the already strong story.

And we cannot forget that there is some major, major swoon-worthy romantic tension going on in these second and third books! The back and forth between Elisa and her man (you’ll have to read to find out who…although it’s pretty obvious from the get-go) due to some heavy power and gender issues. But all this pent-up passion makes for amazing romance scenes! I think I swooned a thousand times. Yes. It is true.

So, in the end The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom are a fulfilling final two books to Rae Carson’s trilogy. If you’re a lover of fantasy, whether you’re in high school or older, this trilogy is completely recommended to you! You will not be sorry!

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Harper Collins, Recorded Books (September 18, 2012 & August 27, 2013)

Format: audiobook

Length: The Crown of Embers (11 hours and 41 minutes), The Bitter Kingdom (12 hours and 58 minutes)

Narrator(s): Jennifer Ikeda, Luis Moreno (The Bitter Kingdom)

Series: Fire and Thorns trilogy, books 2 and 3

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns) The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns)

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Waiting on Wednesday: United We Spy

Hi there!

I’m excited to be posting regularly again and even more excited that my Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) title this week is United We Spy by Ally Carter!

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher United we Spy by Ally CarterGirls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.

The Gallagher Girls series is seriously one of my favorite series ever (see my review of book 1). These books have everything: spying, friendship, humor, a boarding school and romance! If you haven’t read these books yet, you definitely should because they’re just plain fun!

United We Spy is the 6th and final book in the series, so I’m a whole big mess of excitement to find out what happens and sadness that it’ll be over! I can’t even handle the fact that this is so close as it’s due for release on September 17!

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Top Ten Tuesday: I Do Not Want

Hello friends!

As you may know, last week our internet chose to not work, so I wasn’t able to participate in last week’s Top Ten Tuesday. But never fear for I am back!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) is focused on the top qualities that will most likely make me NOT pick up a book. Now, I have to say that I could only think of eight characteristics that make me put a book back on the shelf and say “do not want”.

DoNotWantSometimes I think that Grumpy Cat and I have a lot in common…

Anyways…here is my list of Book Qualities I Do Not Want:

  • crying: someone’s parents die or their boyfriend, or wait…their dog. I don’t like books that want to make me cry.
  • suffering: holocaust books, books about slavery.  I can’t handle lots of these.
  • military: Partly because of the suffering, but also because the military just doesn’t interest me.
  • erotica/sex: I’m not a prude I just prefer to not read about people doing it…call me crazy! :p I’m not opposed to a scene or two, but every other page is not my thing.
  • too silly: If it’s too juvenile it’s not my thing.
  • too “edgy”: I’m not into reading about physical abuse or drug abuse…as a middle school teacher lots of these “edgier” topics hit too close to home.
  • male main characters: I do not hate male main characters, but I do prefer female main characters.
  • issue books: I’m not opposed to learning more about heavy issues like the rape, or cancer, or the modern-day slave trade, but I don’t typically want to read about it. I like my reading to be pure escapism…somewhere I don’t have to think about the bad stuff in the world.

So I couldn’t think of ten and I didn’t want to force it, but as you can see the eight book characteristics I’ve listed are mostly all focused on one basic idea: Reading to me is an escape. I do not want to cry or be forced to think about difficult things. The world is hard enough, and I’d like to have my happy place where I won’t end up like Dawson here.

Poor Dawson

But I do believe that once in a while it is good to take an excursion out of my reading comfort zone, so I do try to make myself read books with the above qualities once in a while.

What characteristics or qualities of books make you not want to read them? Do you agree or disagree with my belief that reading is an escape, or do you prefer reading to help you get in tough with your emotions? Maybe this will be a discussion post soon….

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Intimidating Books

Well hello there!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish. Every week they post a theme to create out weekly lists around.  This week this theme is Most Intimidating Books.

So, I was thinking…what makes a book intimidating? Is it size? Is it content? Is it hype?  Yes. Yes. And Yes. I think it can be all of these things, at least it can be for me. So, which books have I been so intimidated by that I’ve kept my distance?

Bitterblue by Kristin CashoreBitterblue by Kristin Cashore

I loved Graceling and Fire so I thought, surely I’ll devour Bitterblue. But then I saw just how big it was. You see, I listened to the other two companion books on audio so I never saw just how long they were. Bitterblue is scary! I’m waiting until I find it on audio.

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Two kids dying of cancer fall in love? Cry me a river! No, seriously. If I read this I’d cry a river…and we all now how I feel about books that want to make me cry…I don’t like them. So I’ve stayed away.

Copper Sun by Sharon DraperCopper Sun by Sharon Draper

The whole idea of what reality would have been like only a few hundred years ago for some of my students is so heart wrenching I can’t handle it. I don’t hide from it, because I’m very aware of those realities, but I don’t want to read fiction about it…too much.

The Book Thief by Marcus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is another one that is just too much. I have a vague understanding that this one takes place during the Holocaust. Again, I’m afraid of crying books.

VampireAcademy by Richelle MeadVampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I want to read this one, but if I do there is a whole series of like a million books that I know I’ll want to finish.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse AndersonWinter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson

An award-winning story about a girl struggling with anorexia and recovery. Talk about intensity!

SpeakSpeak by Laurie Halse Anderson

An award winning book about a girl with a terrible secret about one night at a party…I know what this is about…and it wants to make me cry…

MightyMissMalone by Christopher Paul CurtisThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

This one is so long…but I’ve heard wonderful things.

Skinny by Donna CoonerSkinny by Donna Conner

Too emotionally close to home. I don’t really want my own body image issues coming to the surface, which is what I know will happen if I read this book…

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. PearsonThe Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

This one is (surprise) not a crying book. But it sounds so strange and unlike my preferred reads I am always drawn to it, yet have still not read it.

Now, I have to clarify…I have heard AMAZING things about all of these books. Some are award winners, while others are just good books. I have no beef with them other than the fact that they majorly intimidate me. I hope that one day I can be brave enough to read some of them…but until I work up that courage I’ll keep my distance. :)

Please tell me I’m not alone and that some of these books intimidate the bajeezus out of you too!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Students’ Picks

Mirage by Kristi Cook

Hi there! Each week I participate in The Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday.  This week is a Rewind week which mean we can choose any topic we prefer. This week I decided to share the spotlight with some of my students. I asked some of my top Media Center patrons (“My Reader Girls/Boys” is what…
Continue reading »

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Top Ten Tuesday: February New Releases

Haaaay!!

Welcome back BookTasty readers!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish.  Every week they post a theme to create our lists by but since it’s the beginning of a new month, like usual, I’m focusing on the brand spanking new releases for February!

So, let’s see what new delicious treats February brings us!

Scarlet by Marissa MeyerScarlet (The Lunar Chronicle #2) by Marissa Meyer (Feb. 5)

City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam ForsterCity of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster (Feb. 5)

The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. GriffinThe Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin (Feb. 5)

Pieces by Chris LynchPieces by Chris Lynch (Feb. 5)

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (Feb. 5)

Big Nate Flips Out by Lincoln PeirceBig Nate Flips Out (Big Nate #5) by Lincoln Pierce (Feb. 5)

The Trap Door by Lisa McMannThe Trap Door (Infinity Ring #3) by Lisa McMann (Feb. 5)

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally CarterPerfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter (Feb. 5)

Pivot Point by Kasie WestPivot Point by Kasie West (Feb. 12)

Mind Games by Kiersten WhiteMind Games by Kiersten White (Feb. 19)

Don’t all of these look super interesting?! I just want to buy all the new books each month, but it’s probably best that I don’t have the moolah because really…where would I keep all those books?!

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Hits the Spot:The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Well hello there!

This summer I read all fifteen of the Florida Sunshine State Books.  The Florida Sunshine State Books are a list of fifteen middle grade titles that were chosen by librarians and teachers throughout the state.  These books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. I’m a huge fan of this list as it has introduced me to some of my favorite middle grades authors!

One of the books on this year’s list is The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg (TMTAoHPF) by Rodman Philbrick.  The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg by Rodman Philbrick

Master storyteller Rodman Philbrick takes readers on a colorful journey as young Homer Figg sets off to follow his brother into the thick of the Civil War. Through a series of fascinating events, Homer’s older brother has been illegally sold to the Union Army. It is up to Homer to find him and save him. Along the way, he encounters strange but real people of that era: two tricksters who steal his money, a snake-oil salesman, a hot-air balloonist, and finally, the Maine regiment who saved Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg and won the war for the Union.

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a good middle grades novel and when you are, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg is a fun read. It kinda hits the spot!

Homer’s story starts in the Northern states during the U.S. Civil War and centers around his search for his older brother who has been sold into the Union Army as an underage solider. Homer is a lovable character who is observant and smart, if not a little silly at times. Homer is also adventurous and is willing to do anything, even if it means getting captured by the Confederate Army, to locate and save his beloved brother.

All in all TMTAoHPF manages to tell a fun adventure story in the midst of a deadly Civil War. Philbrick mixes humor and seriousness in such a way that you don’t feel like he’s making light of the situation, but he isn’t breaking your heart either. The perfect mix for middle grades fiction, I believe! Perfect for older elementary aged students and up.

Regarding use in the middle school social studies classroom, I do think that TMTAoHPFis best suited for younger middle school students and even older elementary aged students. That being said, in Florida the Civil War is studied in 8th grade American History, and I don’t know if my 8th graders would enjoy this book as much as the 6th or 7th graders would.  I could be totally wrong, but the 8th graders at my school have edgier reading tastes. Now, don’t think” my 8th grader wouldn’t like it then”,  because they might and mine might too! :)  However, if the Civil War is taught in different grade level or you think your students would enjoy it then I highly recommend it for use in the classroom!

Author: Rodman Philbrick 

Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (Janurary 1, 2009)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 224 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: The Mostly True Adventures Of Homer P. Figg

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Top Ten Tuesday: Enchanting Fairy Tales Retold

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish to foster community among book bloggers. There is usually an official theme, and sometimes I go with it sometimes I don’t. Today is one of the times where I’m like Stevie Nicks and I go my own way!!! :p

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am a massive fan of fairy tales. Thus, I’m a massive fan of fairy tales retold. I love when authors take a well-known fairy tale, mix in their own creativity, to come out with a completely unique and new story to enjoy. Over the years, I’ve read some that I wasn’t impressed with, and then I’ve also read those that totally enchanted me.

Today’s Top Ten list is broken up into two parts. The first is Fairy Tale re-tellings I’ve already read (and enjoyed), while the second half is some titles I’ve heard are fabulous but haven’t had a chance to read yet.

Already Read:

The Goose Girl by Shannon HaleThe Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineElla Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson HaddixJust Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day GeorgePrincess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Want to Read:

Liesl and Po by Lauren OliverLiesl and Po by Lauren Oliver

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet MarillierWildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier (I’m currently reading this one.)

Golden by Cameron DokeyGolden: A Retelling of Rapunzel by Cameron Dokey

Entwined by Heather DixonEntwined by Heather Dixon

Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Berry and Ridley PearsonPeter and the Star Catchers by Dave Berry

Are you a fan of retold fairy tales? Can you recommend any I missed? I’d love some recommendations for future reading. :)