Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cold Day, Warm Book

We've had a bit of cold weather in Texas lately. We had two ice days a couple of weeks ago and, most recently, we had a real snow day on Thursday. It was quite beautiful! On that day, I really needed a good book to warm me up after The Goldfinch left me cold and disappointed.

When I suspected we might miss another day of school due to weather, I asked a friend of mine to give me a suggestion for something I'd enjoy reading that wouldn't take long to read. I really needed something to lighten my reading mood. I just wanted a good story to keep me company on a snowy day.

I am happy to report the book she suggested is a good one, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It's one of those stories that I wanted to read quickly to find out what happens, but...I found myself trying to slow down once I was halfway through the book because I knew I wasn't going to be ready to let the characters go when I got to the end.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a wonderful book about a young woman, Katsa, who has a "Grace" she must learn to live with and control. Gracelings are people born with a particular skill they are better at than a normal human. In Katsa's case, she's a very skilled fighter. In fact, she's the deadliest killer any person or animal could come across in her kingdom. She has been raised in a castle, the niece of the king, and does her uncle's bidding when it comes to fighting. It's the only life she's known until she meets and makes an unlikely friend in Po, another Graced fighter.

Katsa is a wonderful character, and I find she's the kind of female character I like the most. She is strong and quick-witted. She is intelligent, but not in a book sense. She knows herself. Even when she's confused about her own feelings and her own thoughts on a subject, she is always aware of the struggle. Katsa knows how to pull back and analyze what is going on within herself and in her surrounding environment. She is present in every moment and is honest with herself and those around her, sometimes brutally honest.

Po is also a great character and one of those I don't mind admitting to having a 'character crush' on. What I love, too, is that Katsa is the hero,...and Po doesn't seem to mind. It doesn't hurt his ego. In fact, there are a couple of male characters in this book I like because of the way they support, and aren't intimidated by, Katsa and her Grace.

It really is an exciting adventure book. I found myself smiling after I finished it. That's always a good sign. Hugging the book close to my chest after I finish it is also a good sign. (And, yes, I really do that. I hug books, smile at them, and keep the ones I like most on a special bookcase.)

I should mention that while this book is classified as young adult fiction, I wouldn't suggest it to middle school students. Much like the book Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (which, still, remains one of my favorite books), I am surprised it is considered young adult fiction because of the adult situations and relationships in the novel. I could see an older high school student reading it, but not a middle school student.

I also think any adult who enjoys medieval fantasy books would definitely enjoy Graceling. I wish there was another book on Katsa. While the author has written a companion book to Graceling, I am told it is completely different characters and different worlds. I've been told it is equally as good, though. (And I've already ordered my copy from Amazon.)

As for the cold weather, it has passed us now. It's Texas, the weather changes quite frequently. You'd never know by looking outside today that we had ice, sleet, and snow on the ground just two days ago. It's a lovely 62 degrees and sunny right now,'s the first day of our Spring Break from school! I have plans for this week, some involving travel, but you can believe I'll have books with me wherever I go.

Happy reading!

      Sighing, Helda carried the dress from the bathing room. "It would look stunning, My Lady," she called, "with your dark hair and your eyes."
      Katsa yanked at one of the more stubborn knots in her hair. She spoke to the bubbles gathered on the surface of the water. "If there's anyone I wish to stun at dinner, I'll hit him in the face."

~ Kristin Cashore, The Graceling


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