Review: “The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2)” by Marie Rutkoski


20443207Title: “The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2)”

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Publication Date: March 3, 2015 (Macmillan Children’s – North America)

Genre: YA, high fantasy, AWESOME

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

☆: 5/5 stars – a more internal approach compared to book 1, but still awesome.

Review: Oh boy. Where do I start? I loved book 1, “The Winner’s Curse”, in a way that I haven’t really loved Rutkoski’s books before. It felt like she’d evolved so much in all of the areas of technical novelship/novelcraft (is that a word? it’s a word now), and with book 2, while it did have a few slow areas, it was the quiet where the loud in book 1 was. This book is a more quiet, sinister book than book one – more quiet deception, less physical action, and more internal examination. And that’s what made it great (along with how it was used with all of our players). If you were a fan of “The Winner’s Curse”, you simply must move on to “The Winner’s Crime”.

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“The Winner’s Curse/Crime” Tour: “What’s Your Winner’s Curse?” @mackidsbooks @marierutkoski #thewinnerscurse #thewinnerscrime


WinnersCurse-BlogTourOh man, guys, I dropped the ball on this one big time (real life intervened with a serious family health emergency this past weekend, and this post was supposed to go up Sunday!), but here’s my tour stop on the “Winner’s Crime” blog tour!

The prompt is: “The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

My winner’s curse and price? I suppose I’ve already paid it.

I was hellbent in high school on getting into a good school, and going abroad to study in Japan for my major. The price? My health. My health started to decline in my junior year in high school – I’d been pushing and rarely had a break since summer 1999. I thought it was just stress, so I tried to slow down after I knew what schools I’d gotten into in senior year.

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Review: “Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)” by Maggie Stiefvater


17378508Title: “Blue Lily, Lily Blue (Raven Cycle #3)”

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: YA, magical realism, contemporary, AWESOME

Source: ARC from publisher

Publication Date: October 21, 2014 (Scholastic – North America)

Summary: There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

☆: 5/5 stars – SO MANY FEELS YOU GUYS.

Review: Guys, I just…I can’t even with this series anymore. But in a good way. So much heartbreak, but it feels so good. This book (which I guess, is kind of a middle book? out of four?) just proves Stiefvater’s prowess and her unstoppability in terms of keeping a story going with no loss from when you put down the previous book and start the next. With the plot getting crazier, more puzzle pieces falling together, and more doom and gloom gathering, “Blue Lily” is an AWESOME addition to the series, and it makes me hanker for book four even more. Trust me. You want this book.

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Review: “Fire & Flood” by Victoria Scott


23555803Title: “Fire & Flood”

Author: Victoria Scott

Publication Date: February 15, 2014 (Scholastic – North America)

Genre: YA, dystopia, contemporary

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: Time is slipping away….

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

☆: 4/5 stars – dystopia plus social commentary? yes please.

Review: It’s only taken me this long to figure out that the “Fire & Flood” series is really not just a dystopia piece (like so much of YA right now), but it’s also a huge social commentary on how big pharma/big biopharma is really starting to harm our lives. The proof? “The Brimstone Bleed”. A lot of reviewers have panned this book as being a “Hunger Games” ripoff, but only after this long (and starting to read the second book), have I really started to see this book as what it is. I’m not sure the actual YA age set will get it, but I hope they will. I really enjoyed this one, and am currently enjoying the second one. If you’re looking for something with grit and heart, and a little bit of finger-wagging at our current society, “Fire & Flood” is for you.

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Review: “When My Heart Was Wicked” by Tricia Sterling


22749511Title: “When My Heart Was Wicked”

Author: Tricia Sterling

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Magical

Publication Date: February 24, 2015 (Scholastic – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: “I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good.”

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She’s a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter’s heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the “old” Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?

☆: 4/5 stars – a great magical realism debut!

Review: This one was a pleasant surprise, though I wish it had been longer. “When My Heart Was Wicked” is a snapshot of what can happen to someone as a cause of an unstable, dangerous childhood trying to become an adult – but through the lens of Francesca Lia Block-esque magical realism. I loved this one, and it makes me feel like Stirling will be one awesome author to watch. If you’re looking for a little magical realism in your tough stuff YA issues book, “When My Heart Was Wicked” is definitely the one you want to pick up.

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Review: “Passionaries (The Blessed #2)” by Tonya Hurley


17860324Title: “Passionaries (The Blessed #2)”

Author: Tonya Hurley

Publication Date: January 7, 2014 (S&S – North America)

Genre: YA, retellings, AWESOME

Source: Publisher-provided finished copy

Summary: Agnes, Cecelia, and Lucy watched as Sebastian sacrificed himself for what he believed in. Will the girls trust that their destiny as saints and martyrs and perform the miracles as Sebastian instructed? Or lose faith in themselves and each other in his absence? Time is running out for them to make a decision, and the fate of the world lies in the balance.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a great middle book to this trilogy!

Review: Man. If you guys liked book one, “Passionaries” is definitely going to knock your socks off. Going to places that I didn’t think Hurley would go in this retelling/modernization of the lives of three Catholic saints, “Passionaries” shows the lives of three girls forever changed and now with the weight of the world on their backs with all of the creepiness that I was hoping for. If there’s an awesome retelling middle trilogy book out there for the year, it’s definitely this one.

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Blog Tour Stop!: “Mortal Danger” – Ann Aguirre on Beauty, Plastic Surgery, and More!


MortalDanger-BlogTourBanner[1]Hey, everyone!

I’m quite happy to be hosting this stop on the “Mortal Danger” tour – I LOVED the start of this new series from Aguirre, who’s already proven herself with the “Razorland” trilogy as a capable YA author (and her NA stuff, so far, ain’t too bad neither).

So, I asked Aguirre to write a guest post. She chose the topic of beauty. Let’s hear what she has to say on it after the jump!

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