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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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: “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!: Review – “The Kiss of Deception” by Mary E Pearson


unnamedTitle: “The Kiss of Deception”

Author: Mary E Pearson

Publication Date: July 8, 2014 (Macmillan – North America)

Genre: YA, high fantasy

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – a really awesome new series has just begun!

Review: Definitely different fare from Pearson, whose Jenna Fox series is the only work I’d read from her so far. I’m happy to say that “The Kiss of Deception” blows all of her previous work (that I’ve read) totally out of the water, and adds some more wonderful content to the very small YA high fantasy canon. With Lia as a wonderfully dynamic character leading the charge, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t drooling over the next installment and wanting it right now. If you’re looking for some awesome new YA high fantasy with a great female MC (or even if you’re not), go ahead and give “The Kiss of Deception” a try.

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Double Trouble Review: “Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)” and “Unite Me (Shatter Me #1.5, #2.5)” by Tahereh Mafi


13188676 18481271Title: “Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3)” and “Unite Me (Shatter Me #1.5, #2.5)”

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: SERIOUSLY AWESOME, dystopia, YA, fantasy/sci-fi

Publication Date: February 4, 2014 (both – HarperTeen – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided finished copies

Summary:

IGNITE ME: Juliette now knows she may be the only one who can stop the Reestablishment. But to take them dowPerfect for fans of Tahereh Mafi’s New York Times bestselling Shatter Me trilogy, this book collects her two companion novellas, Fracture Me and Destroy Me, in print for the first time ever. It also features an exclusive look into Juliette’s journal and a preview of Ignite Me, the hotly anticipated final novel of the series.

UNITE ME: Destroy Me tells the events between Shatter Me and Unravel Me from Warner’s point of view. Even though Juliette shot him in order to escape, Warner can’t stop thinking about her—and he’ll do anything to get her back. But when the Supreme Commander of The Reestablishment arrives, he has much different plans for Juliette. Plans Warner cannot allow.

Fracture Me is told from Adam’s perspective and bridges the gap between Unravel Me and Ignite Me. As the Omega Point rebels prepare to fight the Sector 45 soldiers, Adam’s more focused on the safety of Juliette, Kenji, and his brother. The Reestablishment will do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam cares about.n, she’ll need the help of the one person she never thought she could trust: Warner. And as they work together, Juliette will discover that everything she thought she knew – about Warner, her abilities, and even Adam – was wrong.

☆: UNITE ME – 4/5 stars – a must-have for any “Shatter Me” series fan!

IGNITE ME: 5/5 stars – because who am I kidding? This was ridiculously awesome.

 

Review: Now that, ladies and gentlefolk, is an ENDING. Between “Ignite Me”, “Infinite” by Jodi Meadows, and “Into the Still Blue” by Veronica Rossi, I definitely have three contenders for best concluding trilogy books of the year. But Mafi goes all out in this last installment of “Shatter Me” trilogy – so much so that there’s bullets flying everywhere, as well as broken hearts, and a main character that has made such an amazing progression/evolution that just remembering it takes my breath away. There’s also “Unite Me” (the paper publication of the novellas) to talk about, and we’ll get to those in a bit. But seriously, guys, one of the best novels of the year? It has to be “Ignite Me”.

 

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Review: “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski


16069030Title: “The Winner’s Curse”

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: AWESOME, YA, Fantasy

Publication Date: March 4, 2014 (Macmillan – North America)

Source: Publisher-provided ARC

Summary: 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.

☆: 4.5/5 stars – I NEED BOOK TWO NOW.

Review: While this one started off kind of slow, “The Winner’s Curse” is one of those books that sneaks up on you and won’t let go until the very last page. It’s almost a remarkable leap when compared to “The Shadow Society” in terms of nearly every technical area of writing. Plus, you have a wonderful high fantasy/political intrigue that would make George R R Martin quite proud. “The Winner’s Curse” is definitely one of my favorites of 2014 so far, and for good reason. I’m definitely hungering for that next book. NOW.

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