DARE YOU TO

“You’re so scared that you’re going to be caged in forever you can’t see the way out.”

Official Summary:

     If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

My Thoughts:

This book left me kind of conflicted. I enjoy the way Katie McGarry writes- the alternating perspectives, the intertwining stories through all four of her novels, etc- but this one left me feeling unsatisfied. I didn’t like Beth’s character in Pushing the Limits, the first novel in the series. I thought she was rude and ungrateful (and she was) and I didn’t feel any sympathy for her situation after I found out how bad it was because of her attitude in the first book. Although it was really bad, the way Beth reacted to every single thing that happened really got on my nerves- there’s closed off, and then there’s just absolutely ridiculous. Ryan is more understanding and sweet than any guy could ever be, and he just seemed unrealistic to me.

I got a little lost in this book, and not in the wonderful way that takes you out of the real world. I was lost in the plot. So much was happening in such short periods of time that I really felt overwhelmed in some places. There were a lot of new characters introduced all at once, so close together that it took me forever to figure out who was who and what their relationship was with the two principal characters, Beth and Ryan. I still haven’t figured out a lot of it, and I finished the book. I’m really hoping Crash Into You, book three, lives up to my expectations- expectations brought to life by the fourth book in the series, which, so far, is my absolute favorite.

I guess overall this book was pretty good, but the overwhelming number of plots, the impressions I had already formed from the first book, and the way some of the characters reacted to certain events really cooled my excitement for this one. I’m still eager to read McGarry’s upcoming novel, Nowhere But Here, and I think this may have just been the book every author writes once- the one that doesn’t live up to the rest.

What to Watch:

Answer: Everything.The language was abominable, f-bombs dropped at least once every page, it seemed. There was sex referenced and then actually done, homosexuality, violence, domestic abuse, drugs, underage drinking, bam bam bam- filling the book with unsavory sections. This was definitely not a good pick for a sensitive reader- or one who’d like to keep their heads clean. While the writing was good, I would not recommend it to a friend simply based on the content. I’m not going to go into details beyond this simply because there was so much, and going over it all would take pages and pages- it would almost be re-writing the book in this blog post. I did like the writing, but based on the content, I can’t recommend it. And I didn’t love it, anyway.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

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AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE

“Remember, we show courage in many ways.”

Official Summary:

     Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, a month before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice. If Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

    Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights the one who appears the most guilty had not already captured her heart.

My Thoughts:

     I will admit that I was really looking forward to this book. I thought the cover was so intriguing, and the synopsis was just as attention-grabbing- knights competing for the hand of a beautiful damsel in distress, with one of them trying to destroy the others’ chances? Totally awesome!

     Well, let’s just stop right there. All the knights are friends. Like, BFFs to the point of girliness, and one has even promised not to fight for the Lady Rosemarie’s love. He gets it anyway, but really, that’s pretty predictable. I expected battles and heated fighting between the three of them, maybe a duel or two to defend her honor. Nope. They just took turns taking her on picnics. The first half of the book was kind of dull, really, and I was hard-pressed not to skim the pages looking for some action. The historical accuracy was stellar, though, and I could tell that Hedlund did a lot of research before writing.

     I also was not a great fan of the main character. Rosemarie seemed too naive and confused to be any kind of ruler, even when she was supposed to be groomed for that her entire life. Of course, I understand that her personality had to be that way to an extent to play a role, but she was so passive at times that I felt robbed of what a true emotion would bring to the book- the entire situation should have been very emotional, but we read as though she’s deciding who should be chosen as her personal bodyguard instead of her husband. The love story was a little flat for me, and I wish I would have been given more insight into Rosemarie’s emotion besides ‘Am I ready to be married?’

     I did enjoy the mystery that emerged toward the end of the book. It added some spice, and gave my brain something to chew on while I read of picnics and meaningless gifts. Although I knew the knight accused did not commit the crimes (as mentioned, they made a pact, one not so easily broken), it was fun trying to figure out who the would-be killer would turn out to be and what his or her motivation was.

     Overall, I did like this book, but I was glad it was short (254 pages) because I found that it dragged in several places.  But that’s just my opinion- I would love to hear yours!

What to Watch:

     Jody Hedlund is a well-known Christian fiction author, and this was her first foray into YA novels. What this means is that really, there was very little to watch. The only thing I would caution for younger readers is the violence. As it takes place in a medieval setting, one of the struggles Rosemarie faces is that of torture- that is, whether or not to torture criminals. The book opens on a scene of the sheriff disobeying orders and attempting to both boil a man alive and pull one to pieces. It’s not graphic and it is stopped, but in process. Rosmarie’s nursemaid is also tortured, and they are kidnapped. And of course, there is the final battle between the knights and ‘the bad guys’, which gets a little bit intense. Other than those occurrences, though, there is nothing else to worry about.

     Personally, I liked this book, and I think it is a solid yes for readers with a sensitive conscience. No language, no graphic wording, no drugs- it’s all smooth sailing for those looking for a clean read.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

FINDING MR. BRIGHTSIDE

“I’m done changing my mind.”

Official Summary:

Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

My Thoughts:

I love this book. I want to read it again right now, even though I only finished it days ago. (Side note: This is posted nearly a month after I read it, as full reviews were not allowed before publication) It tackled the pain of addiction and loss without becoming depressing or dark, it dealt with a first love without being a cheesy, tacky cliche, it was fun and lighthearted right when you started feeling down. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about this book, but I felt that it was very honest- Abram is very down-to-earth, willing to try, and Juliette feels as many normal human beings feel, instead of being secure in her aloofness and unwilling to talk about what hurts her. She wasn’t a perfect, cold princess- she was just a regular girl, and that makes for a good story, even if some critics think she’s annoying. But that’s what real people are, and she gets over her insecurities- wouldn’t you have some if your mom got you addicted to Adderall and then died in a car wreck with her extramarital affair partner? And Abram- oh, he is the stuff of dreams. Funny and gentle and sweet, pushy without being annoying, willing to listen when everything is going to pieces, strong enough to hold everything together if he needs to. I loved Abram. All the characters, large or small, were so loveable in their different ways, and I really appreciated the lightness of this read, while it didn’t lack substance. All in all, I thought this was a very real, honest book, and I would highly recommend it.

What to Watch:

Even though I really enjoyed this book, I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers. First, the drugs. Juliette and Abram are both addicted to their respective prescription medications, and while Abram kicks his addiction fairly quickly with Juliette’s help, she is less willing and struggles with it throughout the book.

Additionally, this is a romance, and there is kissing. They go to a beach house together, and in a moment of insecurity, Juliette intends to sleep with Abram, but they come to the conclusion together that it isn’t a good idea. Abram’s father was also deep into an affair with Juliette’s mother, and that situation is discussed throughout the novel as well.

Other than these, there isn’t any violence and nothing is described in graphic detail. I did really love this book though, and I can’t wait for more by Jay Clark.

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

A DIVERSION FROM THE USUAL

I found this while snooping around WordPress today, and I think it’s worth sharing. A fun, easy exercise to keep the blog active while I battle my way through my current book, a 500 page monster!

1. A Whole New World- What is your favorite newest fantasy series? What a horrible question! The Lunar Chronicles edges out the Starbound series only because Starbound is more sci-fi than fantasy. And I devour every page of a Lunar Chronicles book, while Starbound takes a little bit more to get into

. 2. Part of Your World- What book world would you like to live in? All of them. Although my brain says Pride and Prejudice, that’s too easy, and they didn’t shower back then. I really like showers. So I would have to say the world of the Graceling series, by Kristin Cashore. I’m dying for a Grace, and I totally want to marry one of Po’s gorgeous brothers. Or anyone from that world.

3. Let it Go- What book/series do you wish everyone would stop talking about? The Hunger Games. Please, make it end. I hate it, hate it, hate it. What’s so great about kids killing other kids? So Everdeen beat the other kids- but she didn’t really do anything, they all eliminated each other while she hid in a cave, and the last guy got eaten by mutant dogs while she hung out at the top of a giant cornucopia of death. And she never does anything in the other books either, except lead two guys on when they really have more important things to deal with. I’m desperate for it to end. I simply don’t understand why it’s such a big deal.

4. When You Wish Upon a Star- What book or series do you wish you could have more of? How is this even- I can’t. All of them. I want more of….The Distance Between Us, by Kasie West. I never want the Lunar Chronicles to end. But oh, I think my top choice has to be The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler. I could read that book all day, every day. Actually, no. I want more Elizabeth Scott. Heartbeat or Something, Maybe in particular. Can I have this many? Does it still count? I’ll stop. My final answer is the Graceling trilogy, by Kristin Cashore. Mostly because there’s no news of that author writing a new book.

5. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- What is the longest book you have read? It’s probably Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, at 1463 pages. That was a monster. I liked it, once we got past all that nonsense about the bishop that has like, .2 seconds of helpfulness after all that backstory. I love the musical, though.

6. Hakuna Matata- What book could you read over and over without a care in the world? Oh, wow. This is also very difficult. I have to say…honestly, anything by Elizabeth Scott, with Sarah Ockler coming in at a close second only because her books are longer and therefore harder to find time to re-read. I’m always desperate for more from either author, and re-read religiously to pass the time.

7. A Spoonful of Sugar- What couple has the sweetest relationship? WHAT KIND OF QUESTION IS THIS??? I’m just going to give multiple answers. Scarlet and Wolf, from the Lunar Chronicles. Auden and Eli, Along for the Ride. Conor and Isabella, Airman. (I can feel myself getting closer to my favorite) We have a tie in Jude and Emilio, The Book of Broken Hearts and Caymen and Xander, The Distance Between Us. Then there’s perfectly gorgeous Celeste and Justin, Flat-Out Celeste. But I think, simply because it was so unique and so perfect, I have to choose Elizabeth and Fear, Some Quiet Place, because everything about them was exactly how I wanted it to be.

8. You Got a Friend in Me- Who are the best “best friends”?  Honestly, this is a tough one for me. I have to start with Anne and Diana from Anne of Green Gables simply because they survive childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as best friends. However, Leisel and Rudy in The Book Thief are also fantastic. I guess I don’t pay that much attention to the best friends- I’ll have to start doing that more in the future.

9. Zero to Hero- What character wasn’t expected to be a hero? Fear, from Some Quiet Place. I come easily to this conclusion, because Fear as a general rule is not supposed to save people. Fear is supposed to destroy, paralyze, injure- and yet, Fear is a hero, someone who defies every expectation to become what he must to save the one he loves.

10. You’ll Be in My Heart- What Character death made you cry the most?  The mainstream, foolish girl in me says Augustus Waters- but that was before the TFIOS hype. Now, it’s one of two really heartwrenching deaths for two very different reasons. 1) Theodore Finch, All the Bright Places. Even though I knew it was coming, it still broke my heart. It was so painful and beautiful and just- the whole book made you hope, and then it tore you to pieces. 2) Rudy, The Book Thief. That was a shocker, and a heartbreaker. He was too young, too sweet, too everything, and he never got his kiss from Liesel. Different types of tragedy, but definitely more impactful than poor Augustus Waters succumbing, painfully and slowly, to cancer.

So this is the Disney Song Tag that I found on a fellow Presser’s blog, romance4thebeach. She reads different books than I do, but I though this was a great idea. If you do this on your own blog, post a comment with the link so I can check it out!

ACES UP

“Hopefully her eye pencil is waterproof.”

Official Summary: (from goodreads.com)

     Seventeen-year-old high school senior Shannon Card needs money. And lots of it. She’s been admitted to Wellesley, but her dad just lost his job, and somehow she has to come up with a year of tuition herself. But Shannon’s dream of making big bucks waitressing at the local casino, the Collosio, disappears faster than a gambler’s lucky streak. Her boss is a tyrant, her coworker is nuts, and her chances of balancing a tray full of drinks while wearing high-heeled shoes are slim to none. Worse, time is running out, and Shannon hasn’t made even half the money she’d hoped.

When Shannon receives a mysterious invitation to join Aces Up, a secret network of highly talented college poker players, at first she thinks No way. She has enough to worry about: keeping her job, winning the coveted math scholarship at school, and tutoring her secret crush, Max. But when Shannon musters up the nerve to kiss Max and he doesn’t react at all, the allure of Aces Up and its sexy eighteen-year-old leader, Cole, is suddenly too powerful to ignore.

Soon Shannon’s caught up in a web of lies and deceit that makes worrying about tuition money or a high school crush seem like kid stuff. Still, when the money’s this good, is the fear of getting caught reason enough to fold?

My thoughts:

I actually didn’t realize this was a book until I was meandering through goodreads one day. I really, really love the author, Lauren Barnholdt (at least the books I’ve read) so to find a book by her about poker (which is always a good time) was like a dream come true. And I really, really wanted to love this book just like all the others. But…I didn’t, not really.

Shannon, the main character, just annoyed me. Say what you will for a take-charge heroine, but she didn’t take charge very well. Everything she did resulted in a bad consequence, and not just when she was caught. It was immediate- and her horrific naivete just made me angry.

And the love triangle- what was that?! I hate them anyway, but holy cow, this one took the cake. I decided not to like Max, because Shannon didn’t like Max. And I like the bad boys sometimes, so Cole would do. But it was ALL. SO. RANDOM. At risk of this becoming a rant, I’ll try to stop myself. But there were no smooth transitions between Max and Cole- all of a sudden Shannon and Max were like BFF In Love a day after she had been to ‘third base territory’ with Cole the night before! Can you say indecisive and shallow and pathetic? What happened to my take-charge babe who was going to do what she wanted on her own terms, who didn’t need Max and wasn’t going to pine over him? Because that was all she did, and really all that I felt happened in the whole book.

I’m going to stop myself, fittingly, with the conclusion. I thought it would be epic. I wanted her to go on to win the poker tour and have the money and still be able to turn in Aces Up, but no. She didn’t even go out with a bang, and I think the tournament lasted about ten pages out of the entire book. Quite disappointing. But of course, this is my opinion.

What to Watch: (SPOILERS)

There was romance in this book, but no graphic descriptions of what happened- Shannon talks about being in ‘third base territory’ and she spends a lot of time on Cole’s hotel room bed making out with him. There is also talk of other ‘hookups’ which can mean anything from making out to having sex.

There was also gambling, which may be objectionable to some readers- Shannon gets very involved in the poker scene, as well as lying about her age, getting forged documents, and participating in an illegal collusion scheme with Aces Up.

As far as violence, there are a few minor fights, but nothing very serious.

There was some language in this book, but not too frequent.
Honestly, I didn’t really like this book. It was okay, but the plot structure was confusing, most of the characters were annoying and two-dimensional, and I just couldn’t get into it. Still, I look forward to Barnholdt’s next series, simply based on her last book, Through to You which I absolutely adored. Funny how that happens. Remember that these are all opinions, and I would love to hear yours!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

UNINVITED

“Prove them wrong.”

Official Summary:

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

My thoughts:

     I wanted to really like this book, and for a while, there in the middle, I really did. The beginning was slow, a little too much high school drama for a book that promised action and thrills, but I thought it painted an interesting portrait of what could potentially happen in our future- if science isolates a gene that marks people for something they may not become, but it’s easier to keep them all quarantined, what would society become? So yes, I did like the new perspective. But I found the characters lacking- Davy, at least. She keeps thinking that her world will go back to being perfect, and even though it’s intentional- I know Jordan wanted to portray someone who never expected it adjusting to the lower class of society- it drags on a little too much. I love Sean, but the romance seems rushed and confusing- borne of convenience, not of any real attachment (which may be a correct assumption- in the summaries of book 2, Unleashed, that I’ve seen, Sean isn’t even mentioned and a new love interest appears) and is kind of shallow for what it prompts Davy to do. I suppose I liked it, even though as I think back there wasn’t a lot keeping me reading, but I won’t be revisiting the series for later books and I won’t give much thought to Davy and Sean after this.

What to Watch: (SPOILERS)

     The violence is probably the most prominent thing to be careful of in this book. There is death, people are beaten, all to show how the gene affects people- say they’re a monster, and they’ll become one. Davy kills a man when Sean’s life is threatened, and there are numerous occasions of violence throughout the book, especially when Davy her friends are sent to a training camp where the government is trying to mold their genetics into killing machines for the military instead of just violent kids on the street.

     This novel did include some romance, and Davy and Sean’s kissing gets pretty heavy sometimes, even though nothing happens. A girl in the cage with Davy is taken advantage of by the teacher frequently, for ‘protection’ from their peers, and the teacher tries to make the same ‘arrangement’ with Davy, which she refuses.

     As far as language goes, there were a few occasions, but not too many.

Honestly, I didn’t love this book, and I’m not dying for more, but I did like the fact that it was a realistic fiction from the near future- I could easily see this situation (or one like it) taking place here in the United States- or any modern country, for that matter. Of course, it’s always your choice what to read, so read on!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

THE WINNER’S CRIME

“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
Official Summary: (From goodreads.com)

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.

My thoughts: I think my mistake was reading it so soon after finishing the first one. Because after the wonder of The Winner’s Curse, what wouldn’t pale in comparison? I’m sorry to say that this one was just less thrilling. As a reader, I often felt overwhelmed with the sheer number of new events when there was no resolution to the first one. Or any following. I feel as though Rutkoski wanted to keep me on the edge of my seat, but she lost me in the continuing upward spiral of new revelations, when I hadn’t fully understood what came before.
    I think my biggest issue with this book was that fact- something new happened every few pages, and you never really knew why, and then there were few satisfying answers to questions that you first had while reading book one. I left book two feeling a little lost and sort of sad- I had expected more from the sequel of the book that made time explode (see the review of The Winner’s Curse).
    Additionally (and obviously this was a personal issue), I wish there had been just one moment where Arin and Kestrel were in sync, or some kind of peace between them. But all there was was mistaken hatred and anger and hurt. Even the letter explaining everything at the end of the book from Kestrel to Arin was lost, so he left thinking that she hated him (words borne of necessity because an enemy was listening) and she was swept away to the north without him knowing.
     Honestly, I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t read The Winner’s Curse and immediately picked up The Winner’s Curse. But that’s the way I read them, and this is how I felt- you may have felt differently, so let me know!
What to Watch (SPOILER alert):
     Really, the only thing worth mentioning in this is the violence. A spy is tortured, people are killed, and it’s no secret how they died. While it isn’t graphic, it may not be the best choice for younger readers. In addition, it does concentrate a bit more on the war Kestrel’s father is fighting in, and she offers up tactics to win battles in the east. Arin is attacked, and his face is cut open, which could be disturbing to some readers.
     Additionally, (and this was very minor) Arin is kissed once, propositioned once, and nearly lets the women have what they want, but stops himself in time. There is a slight description of these events, but nothing too serious.
     I liked this book, and I will be looking out for the third and final book in the trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss, but I wish there would have been more satisfactory resolutions to some of the issues brought up.
Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

THE WINNER’S CURSE

“…People in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.”

Official Summary: (goodreads.com)

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.

My thoughts: This book. Wow. And again, wow. I understand the praise on the back of this one, which is from two amazing authors. This book made time explode for me. I thought I was reading for about ten minutes, but nearly forty-five had passed. I finished this one in half a day, and I don’t regret that time for a moment. I would do it again. Here’s why.

     A lot of these books- the forbidden love, the dangerous elite society catching on, etc. are predictable. You know the love story will happen in the first three or so chapters, and what’s left is all secret meetings and soft glances, maybe a stolen liaison or two. Not so in The Winner’s Curse. The romance develops in the challenges, the angry truths, the realization that even though they can infuriate each other, there’s an understanding that overreaches the world they live in, and they will change the world for each other.

     And the writing. Oh, the writing. I am in raptures. Sweeping, elegant, beautifully painful at times, Rutkoski captures what it means to write a novel that takes you into its world. Some authors have a hard time describing a foreign world in a way that makes it both understandable and yet still uniquely beautiful, but this author certainly does not, capturing the essence of the Valorian world and the beautiful, rich culture of the Herrani.

     While I loved the conflict between Arin and Kestrel, the conclusion of the book tugged at me, confused me just a little, and left me…unsatisfied. While we see the reasoning, of course, it still feels just the slightest bit forced, like Rutkoski herself was pained to write it. Contrary to popular belief, if your writing is as good as Rutkoski’s, you don’t need to end with a cliffhanger, but she did, and it felt so…wrong that I just couldn’t appreciate the thrill.

What to Watch:

     The most unsettling thing in this book is the way the Herrani are treated as the slaves of the Valorian, and the descriptions of their rebellion. Many people die, by the sword or by poison, and a popular punishment is the cutting off of the ears and nose. Slaves are also beaten and verbally mistreated, spoken to like animals and insulted to their face. When the Herrani take revenge, they do it with a bloody overthrow, and the violence does continue when the Valorians return to attempt to retake the city.

     This is also a romantic novel, and while there are no scenes of a sexual nature between Arin and Kestrel, they do kiss a few times. Additionally, after the (SPOILER) Herrani revolution, their leader, a man called Cheat, makes unwelcome advances toward Kestrel until Arin comes in and kills him.

    I have a lot of respect for Rutkoski, coming out with a book as stunning as this one. Although the sequel didn’t impress me nearly as much (review coming soon), The Winner’s Curse will remain in my memory as one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Of course, you may have a different opinion, and I would love the feedback!

     Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

RED QUEEN

“You should know the difference between secrets and lies.”  

Official Summary: (goodreads.com)

The poverty stricken Reds are commoners, living under the rule of the Silvers, elite warriors with god-like powers. To Mare Barrow, a 17-year-old Red girl from The Stilts, it looks like nothing will ever change. Mare finds herself working in the Silver Palace, at the center of those she hates the most. She quickly discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy Silver control. But power is a dangerous game. And in this world divided by blood, who will win?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book. I really did. The writing was smooth, the idea of it was so magnificent, the setting was gorgeous and well-defined…so why don’t I remember it? The simple fact is that while everything else twisted and wove through the story like milk and honey, the characters fell flat for me. Mare, our heroine, is too…bland. Something about the way she reacts to every situation seems too little, too late, and she isn’t as striking as she needs to be to make this story work. I thought better of the Scarlet Guard members, but they appeared too infrequently, and when they did, it seemed as though they faded within just a few pages. And the princes. Oh, how I wished them to be more than they were. My hero was dull and never really did anything too heroic, which soured this book for me, because while I love a rip-roarin’ heroine, I like it better when she has a hero to keep her motivated, even if it’s not because he’s her hero. And his brother wasn’t much better, not until the very end, anyway, all pale and quiet and inconsequential in the heat of his brother and Mare’s chemistry.

But the writing aside from that was very good, descriptive without drowning you, giving you enough to imagine but not taking the fun out of it. And I did really like the premise and the execution of the storyline, but for me to be interested in the rest of the trilogy, I need the characters to come to life, and they didn’t do that for me.

What to Watch: (Spoilers!)

Honestly, in terms of what to watch, it’s pretty much nothing or everything depending on your perception. To me, the Silvers had simply mutated, developed abilities and then developed their own elite society, so those traits became stronger. Other people perceive it as magic. If that’s the case, this book is a huge no-no, because that’s the premise and the story revolves around these powers.

Other than that, you may want to be cautious of the violence- though it only appears sporadically, it does include torture and sometimes death, and it can be gruesome to those with a tender stomach. But that, you might be able to discern from the cover- a silver crown dripping blood, representative of the red blood of Mare infiltrating the Silver domain.

Overall, I liked this book, and would have loved it if the characters didn’t feel so forced. So bland. But that, of course, is only my opinion, and I would love to hear yours!

Questions? Comments? Have a book you’d like me to review? Post a comment below and tell me what you think!

 UPDATE: NOW A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER! Congratulations, Victoria Aveyard!!!

Update 2.0: I don’t know how I liked this book. Looking back, attempting a reread, I think I must have been blinded by hype, swept up in how other people feel. Because I hate this book. It bores me to tears, and the characters still have no flavor. I was going to try Glass Sword, but I get the feeling it’s not much better. Yikes.