Review: The Winner's Curse (Marie Rutkoski)

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)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.




I have checked out this book at least twice from the library over the last year and returned it unread. Why, I have no idea. That cover is beautiful, and it has called to me with its subtle siren song from the moment I first saw it. But something has kept us apart... until now. 

But it is better to be tardy to the party than to never arrive at all. Unless you are Kestrel... in which case you should just stay home, but that's not really the point I was trying to make. The point is, The Winner's Curse is AMAZING. Believe everything you have heard. It's all true. I thought it couldn't possibly live up to the hype, but it has. In fact, it might have actually-- gasp-- exceeded my expectations.

I can't recall the last time I have stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to read a book. Or, better yet, binged read a series. When I finished The Winner's Curse I frantically sought out The Winner's Crime. Luckily, I found the digital copy at the library and devoured it in one sitting. But now I have to wait for book 3. I'm not too happy about that. I need this book like I need air.

Marie Rutkoski has a remarkable talent for weaving a story that will have you enchanted. The characters are so well developed! My word. It's hard to imagine that they only live on paper. As I sit an contemplate exactly what I want to share about the books, I find that maybe Ms. Rutoski has done a disservice to YA literature. How will other writers be able to compare? How will she be able to top her own work? The bar has been set high, I'm afraid.

If you are wondering what you will find between these pages, here is a short run down:

  • clean romance
  • lots of danger and trickery 
  • lies, lies and more lies 
  • so many feels 
  • beautiful descriptions
  • powerful insights into the complex nature of emotions and what fuels them


Minute Review: And I Darken (Kiersten White)

And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point. 



Well, here is a review that will be a bit embarrassing to write. How about I did not realize And I Darken was a gender flip about Vlad the Impaler until 5 minutes ago? Seriously. So I read the book over six months ago, and didn't really think it was anything amazing... apparently I completely missed a major detail to the story line. 

(On a side note, I've been crazy busy with adult responsibilities so I do feel I get a slight pass on missing something so crucial.)  



Now that I realize the error of my ways, things that were unclear make more sense. I can appreciate this story more. It doesn't really change my feelings about other aspects of the story line and the characters, but it helps redeem a few things. As one would expect from the author, the writing is well done and rich with descriptions. At times, I found myself skipping chunks of text because it was too rich, but then again I didn't really feel invested in this story. For whatever reason, I did not click with these characters. It was probably Radu. He got on my nerves. Actually, Mehmed bothered me too. I liked Lada though. Even though I realize now that I probably should not like Lada? And I Darken definitely gets all the gold stars for originality and having a unique setting, so that was much appreciated. Even if I will likely not continue reading the series. 


Review: The Bone Witch (Rin Chupeco)

The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1)The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves. 



Let's take a minute to discuss the beauty of this cover. The deep purple with the gold swirls... that skull that just floats. Tiny Tea sitting on top of the rock lost in thought. It's perfect in so many ways. 

When I started this book, so many months ago, I had no idea what I was getting into. I don't even think there was any buzz about it at that time, either. For me, it was just something to break the monotony of my usual reading. (To be fair, there hasn't been a lot of reading going on lately due to school/work obligations, but that is a side note.) Alas, I could tell from the moment I opened The Bone Witch that I was reading something very different from my "usual" likes.

I am not typically a fan of alternating points of view. They tend to irk me. Probably because most of the time they aren't done to standard and the characters just seem sub-par. When I realized that The Bone Witch might be an alternating point of view story, I got a little nervous. But then I realized, it wasn't p.o.v. switch at all, but more of a time switch. So, that was interesting. I met Tea in the present who obviously had a lot of things to work out (someone really pissed her off) and Tea from the not too distant past.

It has been months since I read this book (at least 4) and I still remember a good portion of the finer plot details and things I liked. That is such a good sign! It's always so disappointing to read a book and tell someone you liked it, only to find you can't recall much about it when they asked what you liked. I feel like The Bone Witch is a story that will linger. It will make you think and pick details out. I also think Tea's story is going to become even better as the series continues. I am anxiously waiting to see what happens next! Rin Chupexo has an incredible talent for writing and story telling. The setting and world building sucked me in and held me captive. I could not put this book down. I wanted to be there with Tea. When deception and trickery found her, I felt her pain and anguish. I felt her fury as my own. I felt the loss of her brother (and you know what I mean) as if I walked beside her myself. This is a book I recommend time and time again to fans of fantasy, and it has not failed me yet. 


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