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!
Advertisements

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.

FAIREST: LEVANA’S STORY

“Maybe the princess could save herself.”

My Rating: PG-13 for some sexual themes, violence, disturbing images, and just plain craziness.

Official Summary: (From goodreads.com)
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

My thoughts: Levana is psycho. I mean, we knew that before, with all her scheming and the insanity that is the Lunar Queen, but this book draws out just how twisted she really is. It was much darker than the previous three books, with little humor and a lot of painful realizations. It’s almost difficult to read, and I’ll admit that I nearly put it down at a few points and didn’t pick it back up because I was so uncomfortable. But that just goes to show how deep Levana’s insanity really goes, and has been so deep since she was just fifteen years of age. Anyway, I never put it down, and while it was horrifying in places, it was also a very eye-opening read, letting you see the reasoning behind Levana’s cruelty and solving the mystery- finally– of what she really is behind the glamour and the veil.

What to Watch: (SPOILER ALERT)

There are a lot of sexual references in this book. Channary loves to flirt and makes many comments about it, Levana is obsessed with an older man and eventually marries him after his wife’s death, and there are many instances where it speaks of them ‘going to the bedroom’ or engaging in sexual activities, even when there are no graphic details. There is kissing, too, which is unsurprising considering the characters go farther than that.

As far as violence/disturbing images goes, there are some, as mentioned. Channary is very cruel, and used the bioelectric manipulation to hold Levana in a fire, scarring her very badly. The ability to know the inner workings of Levana’s mind is in itself a disturbing fact, because her twisted obsession with Evret Hayle goes beyond a childish crush and into a dangerous delusion. And she does not know where the line is, brainwashing Hayle into a mindless drone and forcing him into romantic situations, and finally marriage, all the while believing that he loves her of his own accord.

They do drink some wine (or their equivalent), but there is no drug use and no foul language in this book, which is at least one plus.

Of course, the decision is always yours what to read or leave on the shelf, but I hope this helped in your decision, or at least left you a little more enlightened. I did like this book, but not nearly as much as I enjoy the full novels- Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. It was a decent filler for the wait for Winter, though, out in the fall of 2015.

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

AVALON

“Stealing a spaceship shouldn’t be this easy.”

https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1371481016l/17149396.jpg

My rating: PG-13 for some suggestive wording, a spot of language, and violence throughout.

Official Summary: Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they’re damn good at it. Jeth doesn’t care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents’ ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he’ll go to get the freedom he’s wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon’s cult hit show Firefly.

My thoughts: While it took a little while for this one to catch my interest, once it did, I was swept away. Holy moly. This book…When it says it’s a match for fans of Firefly, it isn’t kidding. I love that show, and I loved this book. It picked up fast, and no one can trust anyone, leading to all kinds of betrayals and twists just when you think everything is finally going to work out. The writing is gorgeous, descriptive enough to give you a complete picture but not so detailed as to bore you with the never-ending sci-fi talk. While it does take some getting used to, what with the new terms that always come with a science fiction novel, it ultimately is a wild joyride of action and weird happenings in the Bermuda Triangle- of space.

What to watch:

     As far as language goes, there was very little cursing, and that only happened in the most dire of situations.

     As far as romance, one of the ruses they use to sneak by guards is two crew members in ‘passionate embrace’, and there is a touch of romance with the leader and another girl, but it’s nothing too extreme, just kissing, and most of the detail is what they’re thinking (even though it’s slightly cliché- “hearts beating in harmony” and so on). There are some suggestions from the bad guys about putting the girls in a brothel, as a threat to the main character.

     The biggest issue in this book (if the small amount counts as an issue) was some of the violence. The main character works for the cruelest man around, and he is willing to torture anyone to get what he wants. That includes our hero, and there are some mentions of child abuse by someone who is supposed to be good. There’s a lot of fighting, shooting, and some killing, including a few semi-graphic deaths of influential characters in the story.

     Overall, I thought this was a great read, and I recommend it for anyone, not just lovers of science fiction and interstellar pirates. But of course, everyone reads what they want to read, so go for the gold, whatever that gold is to you!

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