Review: The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

bitter kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Released August 27, 2013.

This is the third and final book in the Fire and Thorns trilogy and it is just as amazing as the first two.  In this third book, Elisa has been forced out of her kingdom.  Her enemies have taken her captain of the guard hostage but even more than that, they have stolen Elisa’s hopes for a budding romance with him.  Now she must go after him, trying to respond as a queen rather than someone who is heartsick with worry.  As she follows their trail, she learns more about her enemy and more of the secrets that her family kept from her about her Godstone and its powers.  She must call upon all of her courage, all of her humanity and all of her magic to survive this quest.

It is seriously hard to keep that vague about a book I loved, but a large part of my pleasure in reading this book was not knowing where it was headed.  I have only given plot points that are revealed in the first few chapters, nothing about the latter part of the book that is filled with action and reveals information about Elisa’s destiny and the world she lives in that readers will find immensely rewarding.

Carson neatly crosses boundaries of fantasy and science fiction in this final book.  Her heroine is no longer recognizable as the chubby girl being sent to an arranged marriage who started this series.  This instead is a queen, a queen with a heart that loves endlessly and who also has immense trust in others.  She is a queen with a destiny that is unknown, a duty that has been stolen from her, and a love who is missing.  In short, she is one incredible heroine for a trilogy.

Beautifully written, this series speaks to acceptance, transformation and being true to oneself.  Get this series into the hands of fans of Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore.  They will adore Elisa utterly.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Edelweiss.

Review: Peanut & Fifi Have a Ball by Randall de Seve

peanut and fifi have a ball

Peanut & Fifi Have a Ball by Randall de Seve, illustrated by Paul Schmid

Peanut had a brand new ball.  It was blue and special.  But Fifi wanted to play with the ball too.  She tried grabbing it away from Peanut, and she tried being polite and asking “Please.”  But Peanut would not share it.  Then Fifi got creative and started coming up with ideas of how they could play with the ball.  It could wear a hat.  It could be a crystal ball and Fifi could tell fortunes.  It could be bread dough and Fifi could be a chef.  This book about sharing as siblings ends with a believable twist that is clever and satisfying.

De Seve’s text really comes alive when Fifi starts to imagine what she can do with the ball.  He is consistently simple and clear throughout, allowing the story to play out with a natural rhythm and flow.  The pacing is nicely done as well, allowing both sisters to have their space to think and react.

Schmid’s art is what makes this book really stand out.  His hip and modern visual style uses strong black lines and tropical colors.  In just a few lines, Schmid manages to convey a character’s mood clearly but not in an over-the-top manner.  His art is simple and very effective.

A great pick for toddlers and early preschoolers that would make a nice addition to story times or book lists about sharing.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books.