30 September 2015

Madly Blog Tour!

The Madly blog tour has started, and you should follow along and check out all these other blogs! 

Review: Fangirl

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 445
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 9 out of 10

Summary (thank you Goodreads): Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts: This was one of those books that I wasn't expecting. I wasn't anticipating loving this book or this story of Cath so much. And then I started and I couldn't stop because I just connected with her so much so instantly. Cath and Wren are twins and are going off to university together. They've got that cool twin bond and haven't really spent any time apart. Until they start school and Wren decides she wants to
experience the college life without Cath by her side every step of the way. So they get new roommates and are off on their own, separate adventures. 

Cath is shy. She's incredibly shy and loses herself in the wonderous world of books and fanfiction and characters that rip your heart out just to put the pieces back together again. She is almost completely dependent on Wren and has no idea what to expect when she starts school. She cares for her dad dearly, she just wants to protect everyone, and when she is hurt, she feels it deep within herself. Basically, she is me. I'll admit to you, and only you, that I once even wrote the fanfiction. 

Levi was a fantastic character, Cath's roommate was fantastic, and they were all so wonderfully different from one another that it made you feel like you were right there with Cath. You were a fly on her wall and watching her experience all this stuff for the first time. There were parts of this book that made me cry just because of how truthful they felt. This book was just so incredibly real

The only thing that stopped me from giving this a 10 was the Simon and Baz fanfiction... I know, I know, it's near and dear to Cath's heart but I found myself just skipping through the fanfiction parts barely even skimming them.

Final Thoughts: I don't care if you're just starting university, are in your final year of university, or have no intentions of going to university or college or any post secondary institution, I encourage you to pick up this book. Because I loved it. Seriously, loved it. 

28 September 2015

Review: Paper Towns

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: John Green
Format: Paperback
Pages: 305
Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary (Goodreads...I don't have a witty comment for Paper Towns but you're swell): 

Who is the real Margo?

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...

Thoughts: What's colour does a Smurf become when it's chocking? Oh...you didn't want that kind of thoughts, did you? Want a thought about this book? THIS WAS THE WORST BOOK I'D EVER READ. Na, I'm just kidding. Well, I'm kind of kidding. I didn't like this book at all. Okay, that's a lie. Wow, this post is one heck of a train wreck. 

I didn't like Margo. I liked that she helped to bring Quentin out of his shell and that he was able to do wild and crazy things and grow as a human being and that he became more interesting for having spent time with Margo. I still hated her though. I thought she was self-centred and only cared about herself and that she was plain rude. Yeah, that was probably the point of her, I know.

In general, I enjoyed the sense of adventure and craziness that this book focused on. I absolutely loved the road trip scenes (the rest of the cast of characters were great). It was funny and scary and always a surprise. The rest of the novel, not so much after the opening Margo experiences. 

I still like John Green. This book just wasn't my favourite and it's getting a lot of hype lately. I wouldn't say that it was a waste of time. It had its highlights and exciting moments. Other characters in it had redeeming qualities. I just don't think that this novel is worth the hype. 

You know what though? I am glad that this novel was this novel. I'm glad that I was able to read something aside from the gooey romances or dystopian nightmares or fantasy weirdness or mythical character mayhem. I'm glad that I choose to read something easy and still thought provoking yet not at all like everything else there is to read out there, in the world of YA right now. It's no The Fault in Our Stars (Sorry John Green that people will forever compare your books to that; it's not fair) but it was still a half-decent book. Just don't believe all the hype.

23 September 2015

Review: The Sea of Tranquility

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Katja Millay
Pages: 426
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 8.5/10

Summary (thanks Goodreads, you've saved my fingers a whole lot of typing): I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

My Thoughts: At first, I had no idea what to expect. I mean, don't most contemporary novels boast about being the most heart breaking and realistic and wonderful book out there? I mean, most do. At least that I've seen. But Sea of Tranquility is one of the few that truly delivers. The reader is introduced to Nastya, a girl who has clearly had some issues and has had some hard times dealing with them. We don't know what happened to her, but we learn pretty quickly that it was something huge. Something life altering. Something that nobody should have to deal with and something that she didn't know how to deal with. Whatever had happened had took her voice - both literally and figuratively. She moves schools to live with her aunt and changes everything about her. She wants to run away from herself.

Then we are introduced to Josh, and while it's obvious that Josh is going to somehow be of great significance to Nastya, we don't know why. Josh has his own problems that are actually problems, and not issues that are just present so he can somehow have a deeper connection with Nastya. No cop-outs, he has problems and he knows it. And so does apparently everyone else at the school. They're drawn together, and form some kind of bond over the course of the school year, while in shop class and while hanging out in his garage late at night when all Nastya wants to do is run. Their connection is intense and real and thought provoking and everything I didn't know I was looking for when I picked up this book. 

There were parts that I wasn't too fond of, but I don't want to give them away for spoilery purposes. But the good far outweighed the bad and I'm so glad that I picked this one up. It will most likely be in my top 10 of 2015. 

Final Thoughts: This book is an emotional powerhouse, and I definitely, without a doubt, recommend it. 

21 September 2015

Review: Plus One

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Elizabeth Fama
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 373
Rating: 4 out of 10

Summary (I'll be your Plus One, Goodreads): It takes guts to deliberately mutilate your hand while operating a blister-pack sealing machine, but all I had going for me was guts.

Sol Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller in an America rigidly divided between people who wake, live, and work during the hours of darkness and those known as Rays who live and work during daylight. Impulsive, passionate, and brave, Sol deliberately injures herself in order to gain admission to a hospital, where she plans to kidnap her newborn niece—a Ray—in order to bring the baby to visit her dying grandfather. By violating the day-night curfew, Sol is committing a serious crime, and when the kidnap attempt goes awry it starts a chain of events that will put Sol in mortal danger, uncover a government conspiracy to manipulate the Smudge population, and throw her together with D'Arcy BenoĆ®t, the Ray medical apprentice who first treats her, then helps her outrun the authorities—and with whom she is fated to fall impossibly and irrevocably in love.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights—and a compelling, rapid-fire romantic adventure story.

So: I'm tired of novels about the struggle that is social justice. Don't we have enough of those? It's our normal life a struggle enough. Sigh.

The night versus day concept was interesting and the cover was beautiful but the follow through was lacking. WHO JUST KIDNAPS A BABY? A character that does that is a hard character to get behind. Is it really worth your life? It's nice that you want to help your only remaining family member but I bet he would tell you not to do this too.

I loved D'Arcy but, man, was he stupid too. I thought his father was pretty great. 

Also, to make matters worse. The ending sucked. It just stops, leaving you in the middle of nowhere, on a desert road where robbers will come and rob you and take everything you own, leaving you to die and let the bird pick out your eyes...okay, sorry, I'm bitter. 

This novel wasn't as good as I'd hoped. I think that this novel is for younger readers who can deal with a little violence but don't expect too much from a story. It was too... simple (?) in many ways. It was a story with conspiracy but little detail or explanation at how we arrived at ideas or how a teenager managed to accomplish all that she did. 

I didn't like this novel. What do you think about it?

P.S. I think a prequel book for this series could be something really cool with a bit of work. I want to know what happened to get us to the point we are at in this novel. 

16 September 2015

Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Jesse Andrews
Pages: 295
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 7.5/10

Summary (my bae, Goodreads): Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

My Thoughts: I know what you're thinking: great, another book about cancer. At least, that's what I was thinking when I read the description of the book. I thought it was going to be another John Green-esqe book (you know, the profoundly beautiful and incredibly moving and the oh my god I understand life a little bit better for having read and connecting with these characters), and boy oh boy I was wrong about it. I mean, I usually am, but I'm not usually this wrong about it. This book was hilarious. And well written. And quirky. And some of the most realistic fictional feelings about fictional events that I've read in a long time. 

When the description said that Greg was the master of awkwardness, I thought that it was going to be the typical "oh my god he said one odd thing and now we must turn our backs on him and shun him from our hostile high school society", but he was honest to God, basically me in high school. Awkward. Awkward. And a little more awkward. Did I mention awkward? He was all that, and then some. But he was funny, and he was relatable, and he was fantastic and Greg was my favourite part of my novel. Which was good, since you know, he was the main character. 

The format of the book was a little wonky for my usual taste. Since Greg was into making movies, a lot of the conversational part of the book happened in script form, and there were other little add ins that helped shape the book into what it is. I didn't think I would like it, but I couldn't imagine this book without it. 

I think what I loved most about this book was that there wasn't some profound revelation, and Greg didn't somehow break free of the awkwardness that plagued him and was suddenly cured. He was who he was, he thought what he thought, and he did what he thought he could to make Rachel's life a little easier than what it was. He tried to make her laugh, he tried to be his friend. And even though he didn't always succeed, and even though the movie he tried to make for her wasn't the greatest movie he ever made, he still tried. And I think there is something incredible about the journey to trying to make her life something more even though what she had was already enough. Her life didn't revolve around Greg, and Greg's life didn't revolve around her. For the most part. 

Final Thoughts: A quirky little read that actually had me laughing out loud and constantly wishing the book was just a little longer. 

P.S. Have any of you seen the movie? How was it?

14 September 2015

Review: Confess

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Colleen Hoover
Format: Paperback
Pages: 306
Rating: 5 out of 10 (this makes me SO sad)

Summary (I confess that I need Goodreads): Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

What I think: Okay, so, here's the thing. I absolutely love Colleen Hoover. I follow her on Facebook and Snapchat and I might have a little girl crush on her because I think she is hilarious and perfect and I wish she was my friend. She's simply fantastic. That sad, I'm really sad to say, this book wasn't my favourite (Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover is though, so you understand my sadness). 

The biggest problem I had with this novel was the insta-love. It's such a mistake to have that in the novel. I understand that it was due to a large surprise plot point but I don't care. I could understand it being one-sided then, but it wasn't. That just made it worse for me. I wanted something a little more realistic (in a fictional kind of way, of course). 

I did, however, love the concept. Maybe Someday had music; Confess had paintings. That was great. They were beautiful and helped me to connect to the book more. I think that the cover is perfectly wonderful and the characters had amazing depth and backstory (aside from the insta-love). I also was interested in the confessions that were used in this novel. They came from real people. What a wonderful way to include fans in the writing process and to connect with them. That's one of the reasons that I love the author so much. 

Sadly, this novel was just missing that spark. There just wasn't enough time. It was too short. They fell in love too soon. It's made worse by the fact that the writing is so good and the language is smart enough for the characters to be real people. BUT NOBODY FALLS IN LOVE THIS FAST. It's creepy.

Recommendation: Check out one of Colleen Hoover's other novels first. Check out Ugly Love (becoming a movie with super hot actors...just saying) or Maybe Someday and it's wonderful sound track that will have you falling in love with a musician as well. Confess was okay but it should have been CoHo Fantastic. 

[Fun aside: Kristen and I went to go get this book together on release day. Our local Chapters is horrible with putting books out on release day but we went anyway. We searched for about an hour, wandering up and down aisles. We searched for it on the computer (we are stupid, we should have done that first). The computer informed us that it was, in fact, in stock. Excited, we checked the selves again. Nothing. We checked the computer once more. Two in stock. We stood by the computer, whining that we might not get the book that we so badly wanted. What if there was only one copy. Kristen and I agreed that it would be a Hunger Games style battle to the death. While we debated various ways to kill each other should we ever find a copy of the book, we looked to the shelf next to us. Kristen found it, practically screaming, "There it is!" And there is was. Two lonely copies. No where near the rest of the CoHo books. I don't think either of us had ever moved so fast. There was no battle to the death but we came close, almost falling on our faces as we ripped the books off the shelf. We went home right away to read them. It didn't take too long. Thank you Chapters, for saving us from the Book Games.]

[Edit: we went to Chapters before release date for this novel and found it there by chance after looking for it even though we were well aware that release date wasn't for another week. We are stupid. Thank you Kristen for reminding me.]

9 September 2015

Review: Ten Tiny Breaths

Reviewer: Kristen 
Author: K.A. Tucker
Pages: 262
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 1 out of 10 

Summary (Goodreads, I lava you): Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

My Thoughts: I know that I should be more positive on this blog, and I really debated whether or not I should even review this because I didn't even finish it, but I'm going to anyway because I wanted to explain myself and my thoughts about it (or at least try to, y'all know how I ramble). Normally, I love me a good contemporary. I love it when it's gut-wrenching and sad and full of hot swoon worthy boys who make me gag with the sickly cute stuff they say to each other. But this one just didn't do it for me. And neither have the last few that I have read, so this may not be a contemporary issue and may just be a Kristen issue. 

The plot of the book had so much potential, and I thought that I would just connect with the main character and understand her and feel for what she's gone through. I mean, she's this badass kickboxin mother trucker who seemingly has a good head on her shoulders and is doing her best to keep her sister out of harms way. She won't let anyone stop her from successfully getting her sister away from the crappy situation that they were in. And that sounds awesome, right?! Kacey has so many demons to overcome and I just wish that she could have believed in herself a little more (mind you, this could have been her character arc but I just didn't get to that point). 

The romance was a little too cheesy for me, and Trent was a lot too stalker-y for me. Actually, I stopped reading the book when he kept coming to the strip club where Kacey worked just to see her. Hello, they've had like one conversation and I wouldn't even call them acquaintances, and there he is. Not drinking (which is supposed to be hot), not talking to other ladies who work there (also supposed to be hot) and just staring at her (okay, dude I'm going to need you to tone down your Edward just a little bit). He just didn't do it for me. Again, maybe he actually isn't as creepy as he seems at first (I truly doubt it) but it was enough for me to put it down.

I did love Storm though, she was completely unexpected and a complete badass in her own right. She was what kept me going for as long as I did. 

I also really need to point out that none of the issues that I had was with the writing of the book itself. I thought that the writing was fantastic and whatever was being described I could actually see. The characters were just a little iffy to me. I know that I am in the minority when it comes to what I thought about this book, so if you've read it, I'd love to have a discussion with you about it! Let me know what you thought down below. 

Final Thoughts: I wish that I could have loved this, but I tried twice and just could not do it. 

7 September 2015

Review: Vitro

Reviewer: Kelsey
Author: Jessica Khoury
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Rating: 6 out of 10

This is the sequel to Origin (Click here to view) but I don't think there are any spoilers.

Summary (Nothing is equal to Goodreads): On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.

Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. She enlists hunky charter pilot Jim Julien to take her there. But once on the island, Sophie and Jim encounter more than they bargained for, including a charming, brilliant Vitro named Nicholas and an innocent, newly awoken one named Lux.

In a race for their lives, Sophie and Jim are about to discover what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.

My Thoughts: I don't think that this novel was quite as wonderful as Origin was. Mostly, I think that the characters in this novel were much stupider than they were in Origin. Really, you see a scary island that everyone says horrible things about but you think that it's a fantastic idea to try to waltz right onto it? WHAT PART OF THIS TRIP WAS A GOOD IDEA? Who are you? Ditzy girl #5 in a horror movie? You just gotta run back up the stairs. You know what? Here's a concept. LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU AND DON'T GO THERE. Your mother is a grown adult and can take care of herself since she sure as shootin' wasn't taking care of you all these years...stupid head.

The island sounded pretty? You know, except for all the horrible things happening there...

Jim was just as stupid as Sophie. Maybe more so because he knew all the stories and had been there this whole time. 

Plus, I mean, the plot twists weren't major plot twists that you wouldn't see coming. 

All that said, it wasn't a terrible novel. It was written well enough and was easy to read and follow. The characters had redeeming qualities and it openly led into the next novel (which I have waiting for me at home, by the way). I concept for this series is just terrifying enough to keep you reading while worrying about the future of the world and wondering what scientists are really doing out there (Conspiracy theories ftw). 

So that's my rant.

Basically, check our Origin first. If you like that than read this one. Maybe the next one will be better.  If you are concerned about whether or not you will like this novel, I should tell you that I didn't really put it down just because I wanted to see how badly everything would end up. It wasn't not worth it.

5 September 2015

Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Sarah J Maas
Pages: 645
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 11 out of 10. Aelin insisted so Rowan made me do it. 

** Spoilers, if you haven't read up to Heir of Fire! Actually, if you haven't started/finished any of the Throne of Glass series, I would stop reading too, just to be on the safe side! **

Summary (You rattle my stars, Goodreads): Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

My Thoughts: So, you know when you absolutely love a story something fierce, so when the next instalment comes out, it's almost guaranteed it won't live up to what you've built up in your head? Yeah? That feeling? IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Sarah J Maas is brilliant, and this story is brilliant, and I am so shocked to be able to say that this is definitely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, my favourite book in the series. 

The characters this time around were probably my favourite part of the book. I re-read the series in anticipation of Queen of Shadows (and boy, I am glad that I did, because I forgot a whole lot of events that had happened. Also, SJM is the queen of foreshadowing... seriously). I love how much the characters have grown, and changed, and accepted who they are. They're unapologeticly themselves, and I am here for it. None of them have stayed the same, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. When monumental events happen, people change! It's natural! And I'm so glad that all the characters reflected that. Even though all the characters had such different journeys, they are perfectly woven together. I loved all the new characters that were introduced (Nesryn!!!), and I loved all the badass characters we were already introduced to, but who played such a huge role in this novel! (I'm looking at you Lysandra and Kaltain). In Heir of Fire, I tended to skim Manon's parts, but I was actually looking forward to what she was doing in QOS. And Rowan. Oh my god, Rowan. I love Rowan. Seriously, I just love him.

I don't want to say much more because this was one incoherent review as it is, and also for spoilery reasons. If you've read this, I'd love to discuss it with you and see what you think!

Seriously, I am in awe. Queen of Shadows has solidified my love for this series, hardcore.

Final Thoughts: Basically, this is what I looked like for the duration of the book. 

2 September 2015

Review: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy)

Reviewer: Kristen
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Pages: 355
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Summary (How could I live without you, Goodreads): Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. 

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. 

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. 

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

My Thoughts: I'm going to be honest with you, bookish friends. This book was more like a 4.5 for me until the last chapter. And then, the last chapter happened. And it's like Marie Rutkoski knew exactly how to pull me in and want to continue this series. It's like she knew that I have a serious thing for angst-filled marriage follies and that I love a good love triangle, so long as it is done correctly. So, had the last chapter not happened, I probably wouldn't be finishing this trilogy. But it did, so here we are.

I tried picking this book up a long time ago (December 2014, according to goodreads) but I just wasn't feeling it at that time. I read the first chapter, wasn't interested, put it down and didn't think about it again. Fast forward to August, and I was cleaning off my shelves and rearranging my books and saw this one again. And that beautiful cover pulled me in. So, I stopped cleaning, started reading and finished half the book in one go. Apparently my mind had made up how bad I thought the first chapter was because I couldn't stop. But, once I did stop, I didn't start again for about a week. So while I liked it, I didn't love it, and I don't know how else to describe it other than by saying just that. My biggest issue was that the characters fell a little flat for me. While Kestrel was clearly intelligent, some of her motives confused me. It's like the author wanted the reader to connect with her, but in doing so left something out about her. I just didn't love her as much as I wanted to and that was disappointing. Arin was another character I didn't understand - maybe it was the whole slave/owner dynamic that was uncomfortable but it felt a little insta-lovey to me, even though it wasn't really. I just didn't swoon for Arin like other people did. So, while they were going through the awful things they were going through, I just didn't really care. Things happened all at once and a little too easily - some things were just too much of a coincidence for me to really get behind it. But other than that, i plowed through, and though it doesn't seem like it, genuinely enjoyed most of it. And I know that I've said this enough, but the last chapter offered enough promise for me to continue on; I like the potential that I see building.

Final Thoughts: While I enjoyed this, I didn't love it either. I thought it was a little too predictably young-adultish (not that there is a problem with that!!) for my taste, but the ending really did seal the deal for me.
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