Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill.

As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

As a brown-eyed girl, I’ve always loved colored eyes because I don’t have them. So two different colored eyes made me jealous with wanting because how awesome is that? But wait there’s more. People with two different colored eyes means that the person is graced with a specific gift? WHAT IS THIS MAGIC.

That’s what we learn when reading Graceling. In this world certain individuals are graced with particular talents. Some talents may be small, such as being an extremely good swimmer, and being able to hold your breath underwater for longer than usual. While other graces may allow a person to read minds, or be extremely gifted with swordsmanship. All in all each grace sounds pretty awesome to someone who isn’t graced with an exceptional skill. That is until we meet Katsa, her grace is a bit unusual, and the fact that she’s a woman with this particular skill is quite unnerving for anyone who meets her. She is graced with the ability to kill a man with her bare hands.

As in any world people with skills such as these are put to use for the benefit of others. Katsa is no exception, and her uncle the king has been making use of her exceptional skill level by making Katsa do his dirty work and doling out punishments to his subjects. While reading we get a sense of Katsa and her grace and we learn that although it may come in handy and she’s certainly more than capable of protecting herself, she’s not exactly free to do as she likes. Which is of course ironic because Katsa has so much power yet feels so helpless when it comes to the king because to him she is just a possession that is used to further enforce his power over others. Even though she’s the one with extreme skill level, the king is constantly pulling the puppet strings, constantly making Katsa feel as though she must hold back.

While reading I found myself loving Katsa’s character more and more. FINALLY! A female main character that can hold her own and doesn’t need a man to protect her. I found her to be of a kind nature underneath her rough and tough exterior. She most definitely has a soft spot for people that she cares for, and although she isn’t the most forthright about her emotions, she feels strongly for them and would protect them no matter what.

I also found Katsa to be unexpectedly funny! As she’s young and most people avoid her gaze as well as being near her altogether, she hasn’t had much practice in socializing, especially not with boys who are interested in her. I thought it was hilarious that she had no idea how to read signals and that the thought of someone liking her and wanting to marry her terrified and disgusted her all at the same time.

Her romantic awkwardness wasn’t solely limited to that area, but also extended to merely joking with people. She was quite uncomfortable with any lightheartedness at the beginning of the story and I thought it was incredibly interesting that killing a person was second nature to her, but laughing and being silly wasn’t something she was comfortable with. Her emotions were quite mysterious to herself, and it made for a fun read when the reader would know things about her before she even knew them herself.

Once you get into the story you’ll find yourself absorbed in Katsa’s world. Her friends and the people that she meets are all as interesting as her own character, sometimes even more so. It makes for a fun read and I found myself not quite ready for my journey with Katsa to end.

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1)

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars




Up next:

19841984 by George Orwell


Book Review: Tracking the Tempest by Nicole Peeler

Tracking the Tempest begins four months–and one eyebrow sacrificed to magical training–after the close of Tempest Rising. During that time, Jane’s been busy honing her supernatural powers and enjoying her newfound sense of confidence. Rockabill may not yet be heaven, but she’s realized it’s home. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and Ryu – Jane’s bloodsucking boyfriend – can’t let a major holiday go by without getting all gratuitous. An overwhelming dose of boyfriend interference and a last-minute ticket to Boston later, and Jane’s life is thrown off course.
But Ryu’s best laid plans inevitably create more upheaval than even he can anticipate, and Jane winds up embroiled in an investigation involving a spree of gruesome killings committed by a being of tremendous power . . .

. . . who, much to Jane’s surprise, happens to be another halfling.

I’m not sure why I find this series as appealing as I do. I don’t love the books, but I find myself getting sucked into them nonetheless.

Tempest Rising (the first book in the series) took me quite a while to warm up to, and even then I wasn’t floored by what was happening. The book only picked up towards the end, and that seems to be quite the pattern. Tracking the Tempest was of the same format.

It’s only been a few months in Jane’s life when we’re reacquainted with her in this follow-up. She’s been doing her usual night swims, now mixed with training sessions with Nell, and of course the ever present monthly sexcapade with her vampire boyfriend Ryu. While reading this I found their “relationship” to be of the typical vampire/”human” variety. He’s so hot, she wants him oh-so-much, and they indulge in passionate love-making. While definitely a cliche of this genre, the scenes would quite certainly make even the most prudish of individuals tingly in all the right places.

Other than a few battle scenes I can honestly say that I remember next to nothing that happened. The details didn’t stick with me, and I often found myself wondering where the story was headed. Also it didn’t help that one-third of the story felt full of fluff, and half the time I couldn’t help but wonder if the ever useful thesaurus was always at the ready.

That being said, there is still something that compelled me to keep reading. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but I did grow fond of Jane’s development towards the end of the book. We also get a sneak peek at the end of the book and are able to read a bit of third installment. From the excerpt I must say that I actually want to continue on with the series; it already feels as though it’s going to be better than this second book.

In no way is this a bad book, but I can’t say that I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s a fun read if you aren’t really looking for something to take very seriously.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Up Next: Graceling by Kristin Cashore


As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved words. I remember being a kid and watching my mom sign a check, and thinking it was the best thing in the world; putting pen to paper. I started scribbling nonstop, pretending I was writing stories and letters to people I’ve never met. This of course continued on into my early years of school. Teachers would have to tell me to write less because they only asked for a page of work, and I decided to write three.

My love for words has never left me and from that love blossomed an unsurprising love of books. As soon as I learned to read I couldn’t get my hands on enough stories. I devoured everything that came my way and could recite to you exactly what happened. I was ravenous in my thirst for words. I wanted them all, and the only way to make that happen was to keep reading.

To this day I still have that ravenous urge to read. If I’m not absorbed in a book I feel as though something is missing. I love to be in the midst of a story, knowing when I’m out and about that I have a book to come home to. I usually wish the stories would never end, but of course they always do.

This of course is why I’ve created this blog. To share with whomever chooses to read my posts, my thoughts on whichever new book I’ve chosen to get lost in.

I hope my reviews entertain and most importantly arm potential readers with information as to whether or not they would enjoy the story I chose to read.

So ends my first post. I look forward to starting this journey!

Happy reading,

T.K. Campos