“The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutoski- Book Review

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About The Book:

“They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people . . . but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of rebellion, duels, ballroom dances, wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.”

My Review:

I’ve seen some praise for this book, and I’ve seen some disappointment for it, too. But I’ve see more “YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK” than anything else, and the cover was just so pretty… So yeah, I caved in, bought this book, and proceeded to think that I’d read it one day. Well, over a year later, the day came, and I finally got to see just what the fuss was about this book. How did it measure up for me?

I think it measured pretty well. I mean, I finished it. Goodness, I’ll just go and ahead and say that I overall liked it. I found it awesome how the heroine was different from so many of the popular female leads in YA fiction. She wasn’t some naturally gifted warrior queen. At least, not in the way that seems to be more often portrayed in YA. She’s good with battle technique, and is resilient enough to get through some fairly difficult situations. But she’s just not one of  those girls who picks up a sword and excels in battle. In fact, she’s trained for some time with weaponry, and still isn’t great with them. I think I majorly liked this because it gave us a heroine who didn’t need to be a skilled, combat fighter to be strong, which resounds with the type of heroines we see/read about in real life.

Other things I liked were, one, the setting. I feel like the author did just enough world building to make me feeling I visited some fantasy world without throwing a bunch of unfamiliar things at me that could cause confusion from trying to keep everything straight. Secondly, the romance was also interesting to read. It was full of drama, and I like drama, so… There were also some pretty interesting plot twists that made this book unique from many other fantasies I’ve read.

As much as I liked some parts of this book, I did have some issues with the book. The world of this book is not a pretty place, plus there was some use of foul language. I’m also not one of the readers who were blown away by the book’s ending. Maybe I was expecting a more exciting plot twist than what this book ended with…? Whatever the case, I wasn’t flailing with wonder. Yes, I admit the ending was not something I saw coming, but it just did leave me feeling AMAZED. This isn’t really a problem, but it just makes me wonder why others were so excited by the end?

However, despite its lack of having a heart-pounding finale for me, it did leave me curious to find what happens next. And again, I over all did like this book. So I think I’m going to give “The Winner’s Curse” by Marie Rutkoski a rating of four– I’m taking off a star for the negative stuff.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

“Beyond the Rising Tide” by Sarah Beard- Book Review

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About:

Kai met Avery only once–in the moment he died saving her life. Now when he’s not using his new healing powers to help people, he watches helplessly as Avery’s life is unraveled by his death. To help her, he risks everything by breaking the rules, dangerously blurring the barriers between life and death.

My Review:

Ghost stories aren’t ones I’ve often read. In fact, until I read “Beyond the Rising Tide,” it had been years since I’d read a ghostly story. But when I saw this book available for review, there was something it that appealed to me. Yes, it has a lovely cover, and that may have helped in my decision to read it. But the synopsis also fascinated me, and I decided to give this book a try.

I think I’ll start with the lovely aspects of this tale, such as what beautiful writing this author has. Seriously, it has some– if not THE– prettiest writing I’ve seen in a YA with a contemporary setting. It made me want to read more of this author’s works, for sure.

Secondly, the romance. Oh man, did I get the feels! As one of the characters was a ghost, there was some tension that made me unsure of just how everything would turn out in the end, and it had me turning pages at a quicker-than-usual pace to see what would happen. Seriously, it still makes my heart pound when I think on it. Now, I won’t say how I feel about the end, because I’m afraid that would cause some spoilers, and I do not wish to ruin the end for anyone. So I will just say that I did at least feel some satisfaction, but I won’t tell you anything more. 😉

My third (and final like I’ll ramble on about) is that I enjoyed how  this book was pretty clean for not being a Christian book (what usually passes the clean test for me). It’s not very easy to find a YA contemporary romance that doesn’t have extreme foul language, and questionable romance scenes. However, the romance was clean (and sigh-worthy) in this book, and there wasn’t extreme foul language. I really appreciated this.

In the end, I think the only thing I did not care for in this book was the “afterlife” picture. As a Christian, I believe in getting to heaven only through having Jesus as your Savior. But I already knew this wasn’t a Christian book when I requested it, and had just chosen to look at the story as a contemporary fantasy. So while I did not agree with some of this story because of personal convictions, I was still able to overall enjoy the book.

So yes, I did like this tale, which means I’m going to give “Beyond the Rising Tide” by Sarah Beard a rating of four. Age recommendation is for mature teens and adults.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

*Thanks to the publisher through SLB Blog Tours for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, I was not required to write a positive review.

*Originally posted on my old blog. Hoping to transfer more of my reviews in the coming weeks.

“Red Winter” by Annette Marie- Book Review

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About:

“Emi is the kamigakari. In a few short months, her life as a mortal will end and her new existence as the human host of a goddess will begin. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a yokai, a spirit of the earth, an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

Red Winter includes ten beautiful full-page illustrations by award-winning artist Brittany Jackson.”

My Review:

I love the cover of this book. Sorry, but not sorry. I had to say that.

Moving on, beyond the cover is the story that I’m reviewing today. I saw this book on Amazon one day and wanted to read it. It was fantasy, Asian, and the cover…yes, I added it to my Kindle Possibilities list. Then I saw that I had a chance to review it and both of its sequels, and now I can say that I read them.

While I am fascinated by Asian culture, I had not delved much into Japanese culture. I enjoyed getting a peak into a country I do not know much about. This book takes place in modern day Japan, yet it still had a fantastical and historical feel. The story was steadily paced at the beginning, so not too fast or slow. It was hard not to  sympathize with the heroine when she found the bad news that she might be going to die soon, and her ensuing rebellion is where the story really began to pick up for me. The fantasy elements gripped my attention, intriguing characters were introduced, and it was interesting to watch Emi try and figure out the truth about her death, and the events that follow once she learned the truth.

The heroine was also likable. As I mentioned, I felt bad for her. Can you imagine finding out by accident that some of those around you might know you are going to die soon, but have not told you? Harsh, but that is what she had to deal with, along with still feeling to blame for the death of someone she loved. I think she was the perfect mix of serious temple girl and teenage girl, and I enjoyed getting to know her.

Emi, however, is not my favorite. Ya’ll, this story has a Kitsune, the Japanese equivalent to one of my favorite mythical creatures, a Gumiho. (These creatures are basically foxes with nine tales, and they can transform into humans.) Anywho, I loved him. Shiro, the Kitsune, is adorable, funny, and probably now one of my favorite heroes ever. He just- Gah! I loved his relationship with Emi. Also, he was especially adorable when he rode the bus with Emi and people thought he was her dog.

Yumei, the crow dude was also pretty cool. Yes, kind of cranky, but I still found him a lovable addition to the crew.

Negatives were that there were some curse words. Other than that, I do not have much of a complaint.

All in all, this was a nice read. I really enjoyed it. I’ve been kind of tired of reading some of the same old medieval fantasies, and this one was a nice change in scenery. It was not my favorite of the series, but a fair introduction to it. Plus, it has some lovely art every now and then, so that added to the story. I give it a rating of four and a half.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

*Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

“Ocean of Secrets” by Sophie-Chan— Manga Review

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About:

Lia was adopted by a family to replace their deceased daughter. One day she finds herself in need of rescue, and finds herself on a ship…floating in the sky!

Thoughts on the Artwork:

Soooo pretty, guys. (Especially the cover!) The artist of this book was self taught, and I can see her hard work has paid off, because her drawings are gorgeous.

Thoughts on the story line:

This was a pretty interesting manga. It had some surprising twists and turns, and some sweet relationships that gave it some cuteness. It did seem to be a bit too fast at some points, and I felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the information that was thrust at me. However, this did not ruin my overall enjoyment of this manga. The world was fascinating, taking place in a realm in the sky that humans are not aware of. There’s flying ships, pirates, kingdoms that wield different elemental powers… I can tell that there was a lot put into thought for the plot and world of this story, and I want to know what happens next.

Rating: Four. Not quite the most amazing thing I have read, but still an enjoyable tale.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

*Thanks to Netgalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review.

“Lizzie and Jane” by Katherine Reay- Book Review

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About:

  This story follows the journey of Elizabeth, a New York chef. She’s lost her touch in the kitchen of her restaurant, and ends up taking a break when her boss brings in another chef to take over her kitchen help her out (so thoughtful… <—Sarcasm). Heading home, she ends up staying with her sister, Jane, who has been diagnosed with the same cancer that took their mom’s life. While there, Elizabeth is confronted by emotional family problems, romance, and a choice about what path to take for her future.

My Review:

  When I first read the synopsis for this book, I was not very interested. Stories that involve Cancer were sad to me, and I did not care to read something that had a character going through it. BUT, then my own sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I was thrust into my own real-life role of having to see my own sibling go through having this terrible disease. When I looked at the synopsis of “Lizzie and Jane” after this, the book had become something I wanted to read. Amazing how life can change our perspective on things.

I really liked this book. Not because it was full of amazing plot twists or beautifully written passages. No, I think it was because it was so relate-able, and the parts that were not something I could relate to were just so heart touching. Reay’s characters feel real. They’re… I don’t know. Maybe the phrase I’m looking forward is not fluffy? I’m a sucker for romantic comedy, so the contemporaries I go for are usually full of some pretty far fetched situations. Which is fun, but it was nice to read something that felt like every day life, but in a way that was interesting enough to keep my attention. It was an enjoyable thing to watch one woman’s journey of finding herself, confronting long held pain, and learning that dreams can change. The romance was also sweet, and I liked how it wasn’t the main focal point of the story. It was nice being able to read a book where the best thing wasn’t that the girl found a guy, but that she became a better person.

Also, this book has plenty of references to food and Jane Austen. I appreciated this because yes, I like food (who doesn’t?), and Jane Austen is awesome, so it was nice seeing her stories taking small parts in this tale. So if you’re into either of those, then this might be a read for you. 🙂

I’m glad that I decided to give this book a try. I actually liked it better than “Dear Mr. Knightley,” her debut. I give ‘Lizzie and Jane” a rating of four and a half.

P.S. My sister is currently cancer free. 😀

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

Mini Book Reviews #1

Oi! I feel as if I have neglected the book part of my blog. I’ve been meaning to write some reviews, but with work, I’ve just not had much time where I want to try and force thoughts from my head. However, before I forget some of these books, here are a few mini-reviews of some books I’ve read.

30653719“Beauty and the Beast” retellings have been some of my favorites to read, and it was with some excitement that I added the 2017 release “Hunted,” to my TBR  list. I pre-ordered it, waited for it to arrive (*hates waiting for books to arrive*), and then read it. Sadly, I did not like this book as much as I hoped I would. Honestly, it just wasn’t as fast paced as it looks. Yeah, I liked parts of it. I guess, with the lack of a lot of action, it just didn’t have enough of a magical, fairy tale feel that I like in retellings. I also like books that have lots of characters, but there were long spots with just the Beast and Beauty. Especially at the Beast’s castle, there were no side characters to add that extra little charm. In the end, I give it a rating of three.

106I’ve seen this book around, but not often shown in a positive light. But it looked so cool. I mean, mummies? I love mummies. Ignoring the criticisms of others, I decided to see for myself if this was a book for me. It was. No, it’s not perfect, but boy did it entertain me. It was simply a fun adventure romance that I could escape into, and I’m glad I did. Was it similar to the Tiger’s Curse series? Maybe, but not enough that it was not its own story. I loved the characters, the settings… I guess the worse part was the end. Sad, but there’s hope with the sequel. I give “Reawakened” by Colleen Houck a rating of four.

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The next book I’d like to give a few quick thoughts on is “Three Wishes” by Lisa T. Begren. I really do not have much to say about this book. I mean, it was nice enough. It lacked (compared to its series’ predecessor) in the action and adventure department, but it was cool getting to  read about some of the history of the Spanish in California. It is a subject I’ve not read much of, and I found it a nice change in book scenery. No, this one is not as good as Bergren’s original “River of Time” series, but it was not an all together bad time travel story. Just…different? Maybe more of a romance than the original series? Anyways, I give it a rating of three and a half.

Book Review Ratings:

5. Great Book!

4. I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.

“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh -Book Review

 

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About:

The story follows a girl who decides to volunteer to be the wife of the king. Doesn’t sound so bad, but there’s this thing where’s he’s already been wed quite a few times, and each time the bride ended up dead… One of these deceased wives was the best friend of Shahrzad (*the heroine of the book whose name I probably mentally mispronounced), and is the reason she’s volunteered. After all, Shazi (*her nick name I think I correctly pronounced) wants revenge for the death of her friend, and what better way to get it then to get close to the king as his bride?  But not everything is what it it seems, and Shazi soon finds herself second guessing herself.

Oh, and there’s also some political stuff where people want to take over the kingdom (not too much, though) and this thing where Shazi’s first love does a lot of stuff in order to get her back from the king.

My Review:

I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it released, which was almost two years ago. Yikes! Where did the time go? Thankfully, I was browsing through the best section YA section of my library and found that they had it. How I did not know this is beyond me (I’m usually pretty good at knowing what the library has), but I did not spend much time pondering whether to pick i up. Nope, it quickly made it to my hands, I took it home and, long story short, I can now say I’ve read it.

My thoughts? First, I loved how the setting had an “Aladdin” feel to it. Which makes sense, as this is a retelling of “A Thousand and One Nights.” But, still, it is not the usual forest/mountain setting that is prevalent in many fantasies I’ve read, so it was a nice fresh of air to “visit” a place that felt less familiar.

Secondly, I found most of the characters were well written (I almost wrote well done, but that made them sound like a steak :-P). I like how flawed they are, yet the author still managed to wedge them into my heart, including *gasp* the king.

Third, there was a magic carpet! No one rode it, but THERE WAS A  MAGIC CARPET!

I also liked the aspect of the story that dealt with revenge not being a good answer to pain that others have caused. It was nice to see a story that portrayed a message of forgiveness instead of holding onto a grudge.

As I’ve mentioned, the story did have a few things that kept this book from being perfection to me (seriously, it was close). I won’t rant and rave, but would just like the mention the two things that I wasn’t a big fan of. One was the foul language, and two was that some of the romance between certain married characters was a bit much for my taste.

I’m giving “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh  a rating of four.

Book Review Ratings:

5.Great Book!

4.I  liked it!

3. Okay.

2. Did not like it.

1. Did not finish.