The Winner’s Trilogy, books 1 & 2

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
AND

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary of The Winner’s Curse (from Goodreads)

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.

Book 2, The Winner’s Crime follows Lady Kestrel and Arin as they continue to decipher if they can trust each other, and if they can trust themselves. Their skills in deceit both help and hurt as they try to uncover a shocking secret affecting both their countries.

My Review

I haven’t been so wrapped up in a series since the Hunger Games. I did not want to put these books down. Only necessities like feeding myself or my children could tear me away. It’s just a good thing that I had the sequel on hand and could start it immediately after finishing book 1. But I have now finished book 2, and book 3 hasn’t been released yet!!! Goodreads shows the expected publication date as March 1st. I HATE waiting.

The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime are part of the Winner’s Trilogy. They are the perfect combination of action, intrigue, romance, and engaging prose. I enjoy the excitement, and fairly “clean” and innocent romances of YA fiction, especially when I am looking to just get lost in a story for awhile, but these books surpassed that basic entertainment value and became enthralling. They have all of the thrill of forbidden love, and palpable chemistry between the main characters; then add to that a unique world, and thought-provoking moral and philosophical situations and you get a captivating story.

The setting for these books is NOT a dystopian future, as is so popular in YA fiction these days. The world is completely a fictional one, but there are similarities to our world’s history, particularly to the days of Roman conquerings and enslavements. It is original and refreshing, and presented and described well. It feels as if it could be real.

But let’s get to what really sets these books apart for me. Never have I read a story with so much deceit, lies, half-truths, conspiracy, and stratagem on the parts of both the “bad guys” and the “good guys.” These are smart characters that have had to learn the ways of war, secrecy, stealth, disguise, in order to survive their world. Now they have to face situations that challenge everything they thought they knew and everything they thought they were committed to. I loved the believability of their reasoning, thought-processes as they were forced to examine themselves and their world. And even as the plot becomes more and more intricate the conclusions of the characters stay completely plausible and consistent within the characters motivations and knowledge.

The Winner’s world is one of “grays.” You see multiple sides to every issue and watch as characters try to do the best they can to make choices they can live with amidst a culture and civilization that makes it impossible for all sides to live the way they want. Even when unpleasant events occur because of the choice of one of the “good guys” you can completely see the logic and reasoning behind that choice and why they are still a “good guy” despite the bad things that happened. Definitely makes me glad I am not in the business of politics, war, or revolutions. Though I hope the leaders in those fields in our world are as careful and considerate with their decisions as the characters in these books.

I enjoyed the writing as well. It’s easy and fast to read, just as I like it when I’m completely caught up in a book, but there is also depth and beauty to the ideas and presentation that goes beyond your average entertainment read. These are not literary classics, by any means. This is simply a YA romance series, but it’s one that I am totally loving.

So, I say, “Well done Marie Rutkoski. Now hurry up and finish the third book!!!!”

View all my reviews

Age Recommendation: The are intricacies in the plot as well as moral implications that make these books for 15 and older in my opinion.

Appropriateness: There is deceit, war, murder, torture, and romance described, but none in gory detail so I wasn’t grossed out or disturbed. These could be interesting book club reads as they would give much to discuss about the choices of the characters, whether they are good or bad, justified or not, and whether you would act the same way. The state of the world also provides great discussion material – how is our world the same and different? How do we avoid the problems they are facing? How have we overcome some of these struggles? Are we heading for more?

Book Recommendations: If you like The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime you should read The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barbara Cohen, The Books of Bayern Series by Shannon Hale, Eruption by Adrienne Quintana, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, and Graceling by Kristin Cashore

 

Eruption

I have had a great couple of days wrapped up in this book. I am excited to share my review!  And even more excited for my friend Adrienne Quintana who wrote it.

Eruption

Eruption by Adrienne Quintana

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: “Jace Vega has finally landed her dream job—working for Omnibus, an up-and-coming tech firm. But a mysterious message from her future self sets Jace and her old friend Corey racing to piece together clues before Omnibus destroys their future—and their past. This fast-paced thriller will keep you guessing till the very last page.”

My Review

I have waited eagerly for almost a year to get the published copy of this book into my hands. It was completely worth the wait. If only I didn’t have to wait for the next book now!

Eruption is unique in many ways; I love that Jace Vega is not an annoying teenager still trying to figure out how to not care what the cheerleaders will think of her. She is a young professional with smarts and drive and confidence. Of course there are some deep-rooted issues that she is trying to figure out, otherwise where would we find a plot? But rather than bumbling around whining about all her problems she has coping strategies that allow her to still function and contribute to the world. The coping strategies don’t solve it all; she does have to face her problems and deal with them, but it was so refreshing to have a capable adult’s perspective rather than a teenager’s while also enjoying all of the excitement, drama, suspense, and romance that we have come to love from the current popular young adult fiction.

You won’t find a storyline and plot like Eruption anywhere else. It is an intricate science fiction techno thriller with a large dose of psychological insight and just good clean romance. From page one it draws you in and the pacing and plot revelations are perfectly timed. As each mystery is introduced the suspense builds gradually. Pieces of the puzzle are presented at just the right moment to keep your interest. Then there is the action peak and it’s full speed ahead. You won’t want to put it down until all has been revealed.

The smarts in coming up with this plot and arranging it to make sense and keep the suspense is admirable. Reminds me of the workout my brain had after watching the movie “Inception.” Eruption will keep your mind busy for days after as you think and rethink about how it all fits together. The implications of this unique take on time travel will give you plenty of food for thought as well. I enjoyed the use of social media in the plot and character development. Problems and benefits of social media are presented in a completely “non-preachy” way. Instead readers can simply evaluate and draw their own conclusions about what’s good and bad and how it all fits into their own relationships.

The writing style is enjoyable too. Interesting and consistent characters with a great mix of dialogue, description, 1st person narrative, and action sequence allow you to get caught up in the story and lose all track of time. It is an easily entertaining read, but with substance. It sticks with you and gives you the opportunity to ponder more than just who will end up with you; though rooting for your favorite suitor has its pleasures too.

View all my reviews

Age Recommendation: The writing is not difficult to read, but the time travel concepts may not be understood by younger or immature readers so I would recommend it for 14 and older.

Appropriateness: Clean and suspenseful. No immorality or profanity or anything else  offensive in my book, but plenty of excitement including a scene in which my needle phobia kicked into high gear. Anyone else ever almost faint from reading about cuts and stitches?

Book Recommendations: If you like Eruption you may also enjoy Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville, The Giver by Lois Lowry, City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, or A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Eruption

I can’t wait to get this book in the mail this week! The official release is Jan. 13 but you can preorder at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

You know when you discover something and you just know in your gut that it’s going to be a big hit? It’s so amazing and you just can’t wait to share it with other people and you feel so cool for finding it before it becomes all the rage. I have felt that way twice in my life so far; the first time was in college when I heard Michael Buble on David Foster’s online radio. The second time was a little less than a year ago when I got to read a draft of my friend Adrienne’s book. She was preparing to send it to publishers and I knew someone would snatch it up, and if they didn’t then the publishing world was just plain stupid.

But of course publishers wanted it and now in just a few short days I will hold the real thing, all bound and with cover art, in my hand.  If you like to read, or if you have ever read anything in your life, even if it was just a street sign, you should read this book. In fact, if you have a pulse you should read this book. I feel confident saying that without even having read the final draft. The revisions and edits of the last year can only have improved upon an already unique and engaging story. Go here to find out more about the book.

Then go here to find out more about the author. You will love the book all the more after you find out how witty, adventurous, and real she is. She is the one that inspired me to start a book blog and gave my confidence the nudge it needed to actually do it. So it’s only fitting that her book is the first to be reviewed. I’ll hold off posting my official review until I have actually read the published  copy, but spoiler alert – it’s gonna be a positive one.