Monday, April 13, 2015

Review of The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2) Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

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.


(Summary from GoodReads)


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When I read The Winner’s Curse in 2013, it immediately became one of my favorite books, period. It’s beautifully written, has a great plot, and I loved the way Rutkoski deals with themes of slavery, war, and undermined people.  The Winner’s Crime continued to excel in all of these areas, except Rutkoski made Kestrel’s relationship with her father even more complex and gave the reader even more to think about in terms of gender, making it an even more outstanding read.

I was worried about not enjoying the prose in this one as much, because it was so lovely throughout The Winner’s Curse, but it really struck me with this book how many awesome metaphors and symbols there are. I mean, yes, they were there in the first book, but Rutkoski seriously kicked it up a notch.  Someday someone could probably write a thesis on the use of metaphor or similes or symbolism in this book, but I digress.

The Winner’s Crime is one of the most tension filled books I read in 2014.  Some of that tension is quiet, some is loud, but it’s all heartbreaking.  This was especially the case with Arin. Rutkoski makes wonderful use of dramatic irony with his character.  A lot of it is also with Krestel’s father, a relationship that broke my heart in a million ways.  I can’t wait to see how it grows and continues to give me all of the emotions in The Winner’s Kiss.

Reading this sequel, I realized that this series is hugely about gender. Pretty much all of the people who are trying to control Kestrel are men, and the only real female she's had to guide her has been Enai.  Since this series is inspired by times and places where women didn’t have as much power as men, this is extremely fitting, but it also meant that Kestrel had a great character arc throughout this book, which will be even more awesome to see as the series wraps up.

Part of me can’t help but feel a twinge of regret over reading this book so early. It ended with a major plot twist and I cannot wait to get my hands on book three.  The Winner’s Crime suffers from zero sophomore slump, and this trilogy is quickly becoming one of my new favorites.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review, but I also bought my own hardcover after reading it.

Other reviews:
Book Rock Betty
Love Is Not A Triangle
Pure Imagination

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#WednesdayYA April Selection

I'm a little late in posting this, but what else is new!  We had a great discussion about The Wee Free Men on my channel at the end of March.  If you missed it, fear not, you can watch it right here.


At the end of the liveshow, we announced our selection for April, which I got to choose because my birthday is April 1st.  I picked something I've been wanting to read forever, and I actually wanted us to read it so badly that I bought Misty a copy. Whatever, she already owned the second book in the series. Without further ado, here is our April read.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

(Summary from GoodReads) 


Be sure to join us if you want to read along, or if you just want to chat with us. The liveshow will be on April 29th at 8:30 p.m. EST and this time, we'll be on Misty's channel. We can't wait to see you there!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review of Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time After Time (Time Between Us, #2)
Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn't. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work...until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn't want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us's Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.


(Summary from GoodReads)


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While Time Between Us isn’t a book that holds a spot on my favorites shelf, I liked it enough that I wanted to know how Anna and Bennett’s story ended.  Time After Time is a nice continuation of this series and plays out in a way that I’m sure lots of readers will expect.  If you’re looking for a sequel that gets into the science of time travel and has an “I can’t believe it just went there plot,” this may not be the right book for you.

We got to know a little more about Bennett and who he is in this story, which is great.  His character is well-developed, and I can see why he has appeal to Anna and a lot of readers.  Stone’s writing was lovely as she showed us more of Bennett and his romance with Anna.

A lot of authors hook readers by writing about why characters should be together—but things aren’t that simple here.  Instead, Anna and Bennett wind up having to confront why they shouldn’t be together.  This was a perfect choice for this series—while not every teen reader who picks up this duology will have the ability to time travel, I’m sure many of them will have seen or experienced relationships that raised questions of who should and shouldn’t be together.

Time After Time doesn’t perfectly unravel the science of time travel, and I don’t think it would’ve been a good fit if it did.  This series isn’t about a teen learning how to use his ability, it’s about learning to live and love with in it spite of the odds.  While I started to see the ending coming, I ultimately thought it was a good fit.  I would definitely put this book in the hands of readers who want a YA romance with a bit of a twist.

Disclosure: I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.

Other reviews:
Alexa Loves Books
Clear Eyes Full Shelves 
Tabitha's Book Blog

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#WednesdayYA March Selection

It's a little late in the month, but I wanted to share the book that Misty and I picked for our #WednesdayYA read in March.  For those of you who don't know, Misty's birthday is March 1st, so she got to pick the book for the month.  Given what has happened this month, I think the choice wound up being something of a fitting tribute, though that certain was the plan.

When Tiffany Aching sets out to become a witch, she faces ominous foes and gains unexpected allies. As she confronts the Queen of Fairies and battles an ancient, bodiless evil, she is aided (and most ably abetted) by the six-inch-high, fightin', stealin', drinkin' Wee Free Men.

Laugh-out-loud humor and breathtaking action combine in the books that launched the unforgettable adventures of a determined young witch and her tiny but fierce blue friends.


(Summary from GoodReads)


Although this book is part of the Discworld series, most of them can be read as a standalone, and The Wee Free Men happens to kick off Tiffany Aching's storyline.   It's worth noting that the bind-up Misty and I both own contains The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, but we'll just be reading The Wee Free Men.

Our liveshow is going to be next Wednesday March 25th at 8:30 p.m. EST.  We'll also be chatting on Twitter with the hashtag #WednesdayYA.  We hope you can all make it!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 Challenges

At the beginning of 2012, I said I was going to stop doing reading challenges for the time being.  It made sense at the time--I was just starting my second semester of graduate school and most of the reading I did was for class.  I've also noticed that since I've started working in professional library jobs (i.e. the job I had in Iowa and the one I have now) there's a lot more stuff that I feel obligated to read, even if it's something I want to read. For example, I feel obligated to make sure that I'm incorporating lots of middle grade into my reading, even though YA is my bread and butter.  I love MG too, so I ultimately don't mind doing this, but I do tend to think more about how reading a particular book could help me better advise the readers with whom I work.

While there is a lot that I feel obligated to read, I also know that if I only read that stuff, my reading diet will start to feel all off balance. In my Reading Imbalance and my Struggles with my TBR post, I introduced the three Lizes of reading (Inner Liz, Blogger Liz, and Librarian Liz) talked about how I try to make three different Lizes happy when I make my reading choices.  As 2015 began, I found challenges that would satisfy both Inner Liz and Blogger Liz.  Let's talk about what they are.

The TBR Jar Challenge

A lot of people to TBR jar challenges, and I'm doing one that was created by Katytastic.  There are twelve challenges, and each month you pick a book (or two!) to meet the challenge.  The challenges are...
*Read a book with 500+ pages
*Reread a favorite book
*Read a 2015 debut novel
*Read a book that someone else picks
*Listen to an audiobook
*Read a book you DNF'ed/gave up on
*Read a new-to-you author
*Read a book that is not a novel
*Read/watch a book and its adaptation
*Read an award winning novel
*Read a classic novel
*Read a series finale
I'll only be reading books I already own for this challenge.  My TBR is as full as ever so while I haven't read my January or February selections yet, I plan to catch up in March. This one makes Blogger Liz happy because catching up on unread books one owns is always a good thing.  I hope to post at the end of the year about how this one went.  

Flights of Fantasy
If it's not obvious, this challenge hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Hello, Chelly ought to keep Inner Liz pretty happy.  For this one, I'd love to read a total of 24 books, and I've read three so far that I know would count.

So those are the two challenges I'm doing this year. Are there any challenges that you're trying to complete? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog Tour: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski + Giveaway

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I am so excited to be part of The Winner’s Crime blog tour today!  If you want to visit every stop, check out the tour schedule here.  I absolutely adore this series so far and I hope those of you who are reading it are as well.  Today, Marie was gracious enough to stop by and answer a few questions I had for her.  But first, a little bit about the book.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20443207-the-winner-s-crime?from_search=true
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

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.

(Summary from GoodReads)


The setting in The Winner’s Curse reminded me a little bit of Ancient Rome.  If you could pick an ancient empire or society to live in, which one would you choose and why?

I am trying really hard to think of an ancient society where life wasn’t subpar for women. I fail. And I don’t want to be a man in any of these ancient worlds either. Although not ancient, and not exactly a nurturing environment for women either, I wouldn’t mind living a life of leisure in Jane Austen’s England, at least how it’s depicted in her books. 

Maybe I just want to live in Jane Austen’s books.

Your characters play a game called Bite & Sting.  What game inspired it?  Do you have a favorite board game?

The game is a hybrid of poker and mahjong, I suppose. As for a favorite board game, I loved The Settlers of Catan. I also like playing dominos and poker, because that’s what my family plays. I love chess but don’t get much of a chance to play it. I’m also not very good at it. Good enough to beat my husband, though.

In The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel is engaged.  What is your favorite fictional wedding from film or television?

I will chose two: Clair and Jamie’s wedding from Outlander, and Marie and Jess’s from When Harry Met Sally

For the first, yes, of course, the whole episode is sexy and romantic and tender, and I love all of that, but I also admire the structure of the episode, and the way what we see of the wedding is broken into parts and revealed to us after the fact of it. I’m reminded of Battlestar Galactica’s episode “Unfinished Business” (my favorite, maybe, of the series, though not at all about a wedding! It features boxing)—and that’s no coincidence, since BSG and Outlander both belong to Ron Moore. 

I love Marie and Jess’s wedding because of what happens between Harry and Sally at it. I love their fight. It’s funny (to us) and vulnerable (to them). I’ve seen the movie a million times, but recently read the script for the first time, and it’s just so good. 

You have a magical pot that will make you endless quantities of whatever food you desire (I’m thinking of Strega Nona here).  What food does your pot make?

A hearty bread called “pain des amis” from a Parisian bakery called Du Pain et des Idées. I die just thinking about it.

Thanks for having me!

Thank you Marie for stopping by!

***
My review of this book will be up in just a few days.  Until then, I’m giving away a copy to one lucky reader.  Check out the rules and fill out the Rafflecopter if you’re interested.
*One winner will receive a hardcover copy of The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski.
*Must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
*Open to U.S. readers only.
*Giveaway will close on March 16th at 11:59 p.m.

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