Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Publication date: 3rd July 2014
My rating: 4 stars.  

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love. 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 Soul is yours”... “You know that it is” 

After reading several glowing reviews for this book I was expecting to read a gorgeous story, normally when I have high expectations going into a book, the book never usually lives up to them. So I was glad for once that The Winner’s Curse delivered everything I was hoping and so much more. 

Rutkoski really outdone herself in creating such a complex and elegant world in The Winner’s Curse, there was enough detail to make this world truly believable, but also not so much to overwhelm you with too much detail. We are first introduced to our two main characters Arin and Kestrel at an auction. Arin is the slave up for action and Kestrel not intending to make a purchase ends up leaving with a slave worth more than the money in her purse. Not that money is an issue, being the General Trajan’s daughter. But Arin is a blacksmith (rare to find these days) so she knows despite her outrageous bid, her father shouldn’t be too displeased with her buy. With this significant divide (Arin being the slave and Kestrel his owner, you would think that this would be reason enough for these two characters to loathe one another, but Arin was a Herrani and Kestrel a Valorian and the bad history could be dated back to ages ago. The last war had given the Valorian control, but the grudge between the two had not been easily forgotten. However this is one of the reasons that I adored Kestrel, despite being the general’s daughter, she wasn’t quick to take her place that was required by her (be married or join the military) she was never a good fighter, she knew the stuff she needed if anything ever happened, but she preferred playing her piano and underneath her beauty she really was an intelligent individual. Intelligent that she didn’t make judgements about Arin, or even listen to the gossip, that was going on about her. 

The interactions between Arin and Kestrel were slow but steady going, but I truly appreciated the way Rutkoski weaved their relationship into the story. Both Arin and Kestrel weren’t immediately trustworthy with each other and their feelings didn’t appear immediately, but appeared to bloom slowly like a flower until it was tugging at my heart strings. But for some reason at the beginning I wasn’t a huge fan of this relationship, this may have been largely because I sort of viewed Arin as a boy, he was two years older than Kestrel, but some of his actions hadn’t really had me convinced that he was mature enough. I don’t even think that is the right word. But after one of the major things that happened halfway through which forced Arin to behave differently, this character which came through some may not have liked, but I liked the growth that he went through. For me he truly went on and became the man I was hoping he would be from the beginning. 

The Winner’s Curse overall was a gorgeous read, but I much preferred the second half, there was more chaos, destruction, secrets, heartbreak and scheming going on. Rutkoski really knew how to mix this up really well, despite so much going on, I found myself fully invested in this story. Also like Kestrel I found myself torn about how I wanted things to go, it was so hard with some of the decisions she had to make (at points she reminded me of Celaena and what she had to deal with in Crown of Midnight). There was also lot of heart crushing in the second half, but this did definitely help me form a strong emotional attachment with the characters. Overall The Winner’s Curse was an absolutely gorgeous read, Rutkoski covered so many different elements that it’s a sure book that would appeal to all kinds of readers. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book and what Rutkoski will put us through next.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cover Fever: #8. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Hey all, we have another set of fantastic covers to share and discuss with you. I was in the bookstore the other day, when I noticed that Divergent had another cover update! And also with Divergent being the film that everyone is talking about I thought it would be brilliant to have a look at the covers which had been published for this fantastic book.

                     US Cover                              UK Cover

               ITALIAN Cover                   UK Cover (re-issued)

Rachel: I've never been a huge fan of the US Cover but to be honest I'm not over the moon over any of the other versions either. If I had to choose one I think I like the Italian cover best and I'm not ever sure why.  I usually have a lot to say about a cover, I do love them so, but for some reason the Divergent ones don't seem to inspire much from me.

Rachel's Final Verdict: 
The Italian Cover.

Jasprit: I actually love the US cover, when this pretty was released this is the cover that I actually bought, which kind of sucks now, as my covers of Insurgent and Allegiant are the UK ones now, so they don't match. I like the colours that they've used on the cover, and also how the dauntless sign is the focal point of the book. The setting also gives a futuristic sort of vibe, which I really like. The original UK cover I have to admit has a really pretty colour scheme (the entire series does actually), but the girl on the cover isn't really how imagined Tris to be at all, also I find the tag line of the US cover much more eye catching than the UK one. I have no idea what's going on with the Italian cover, is Tris getting ready to go to a club? Also it gives the impression that this book is an erotica of some sort. The new UK cover is quite nice and simple, I was actually wavering in buying a copy, because I really did like it, it isn't a cover which is too overdone, but is quite simple and to the point. 

Jasprit's Final Verdict: The US cover for sure!

Which book cover would you like to have on your shelves?

Monday, 14 April 2014

Review: The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Publication date: May 2nd 2014
My rating: 3 stars 

VENGEANCE WILL BE HERS Allison Sekemoto once struggled with the question: human or monster? With the death of her love, Zeke, she has her answer. MONSTER Allie will embrace her cold vampire side to hunt down and end Sarren, the psychopathic vampire who murdered Zeke. But the trail is bloody and long, and Sarren has left many surprises for Allie and her companions—her creator, Kanin, and her blood brother, Jackal. The trail is leading straight to the one place they must protect at any cost—the last vampire-free zone on Earth, Eden. And Sarren has one final, brutal shock in store for Allie. In a ruined world where no life is sacred and former allies can turn on you in one heartbeat, Allie will face her darkest days. And if she succeeds, triumph is short-lived in the face of surviving forever alone.

The Forever Song was one of my highly anticipated reads this year, with the way things had ended in The Eternity Cure with my heart in my throat, I was anticipating more of the same in The Forever Song and whereas I did enjoy The Forever Song, for me this was the weakest book in the series. 

One of the biggest let downs for me was the characters, the characters that we got to know and love in the previous two books really had changed dramatically. Allison was a much more defeated character, yes I understand that she had every right to be, but she was at times totally reckless, with Jackal and Kanin continually having to rein her in. And the progress she had made in not believing she was a monster anymore really had been lost; she’d receded back to a person that I really didn’t like. I wanted the feisty Allison back, the one who could keep her hunger in check, but also kickass when necessary. In contrast, Jackal and Kanin totally made this book for me, Jackal was once again the wind up merchant we knew and because of his constant grating comments, he did at times bring out Allison from the constant dwelling she found herself in. I adored the banter Allison and Jackal shared on their journey; they really did come along way, actually at times behaving like brother and sister. Jackal also surprised me in many ways, he really was a character who changed dramatically from the character we were introduced to in The Immortal Rules, and I truly did hate his guts then. But I don’t know if it was spending time around Kanin and Allison, but he really did show a whole another side to him at times, one I really didn’t expect to see (highlight to view spoiler)  going back to save Allison, saving members of Eden, when his own life was in jeopardy

Kanin once again was the enigmatic character that we have become to know, we never really knew what he was thinking or feeling, with this shroud of mystery always around him. But this just made me want to know him that little bit more. I liked watching the family dynamics between him, Allison and Jackal and how he had to step in between the bickering vampires, but I also liked how wise he was. On their journey despite Sarren’s numerous attempts to set them off their way or get caught up in his traps, Kanin would always find a way out, or be suspicious about what was going on. Yes they did sometimes find themselves in a sticky situation, but that was mainly because Sarren was just so messed up and always ahead in the game. But honestly Kanin is one of the best vampires that I ever come across, if I was ever turned into a vampire, I wouldn’t want anyone but Kanin to be my sire and teach me the way of the world. 

The chase of Sarren and attempting to stop him from reigning chaos was one I enjoyed, like I said Sarren was really clever in out witting Jackal, Allison, and even Kanin. His numerous obstacles that he threw their way did have me thinking at times that he would succeed in his end goal, and he did go to such extreme lengths to actually hurt these vampires individually. Despite me enjoying this chase, I did feel at times that it went on for so long (highlight to view spoiler)  we didn’t actually get to see Sarren, until nearly at the very end, I was hoping that there would be a lot more encounters with him along the way, instead of giving us this huge battle at the end  Also things were wrapped up way too primly for my liking, and things at times were resolved too quickly, (highlight to view spoiler)Allison was able to bring Zeke back from Sarren’s control way too quickly, I know this shouldn’t really be a complaint, but I really wanted some more fight back from Zeke, come on Sarren’s meant to be this all clever vampire whose been one step ahead for so long and just one thing brings Zeke back so quickly?

I didn’t want my review to come across as a rant, as it really isn’t, as I mentioned there were parts which I really loved (highlight to view spoiler)  Zeke and Allison finally actually being together, the banter between Allison and Jackal along the way and the ever considerate Kanin. But I think I just needed more breath taking scenes, more emotion from me as a reader, I really didn’t find myself as emotionally invested as I was with The Eternity Cure. Despite me giving this book a 3 star rating, this series will remain one of my favourite post-apocalyptic series for a long time to come.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Showcase Sunday #50

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea. The aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week. 

Hi everyone, I hope you've had a brilliant couple of weeks. Things have been hectic the last couple of weeks, but also a lot of fun, I was able to attend the Divergent premier, you can read my recap here. I actually really enjoyed this film, and went to see it again with my sister (who has become a huge Theo fan overnight!) and I was also quoted for the the first time, in The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas! And I also went on a bit of a splurge too, the cover to Plus One was just too gorgeous to resist, look how pretty it looks with all my purple books! And the bookseller in my store convinced me to give Every Day a go.

Thank you to William Morrow and Orchard Books

Over to Rachel and her haul.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley!

I bought Addicted to You after it tied with Shadows in our readers choice poll. I’m going to read that instead of Shadows because I’d rather wait until the last book is released before picking up Shadows. Both books are highly praised, but Addicted to You seems more my preference for now.

If you posted a book haul this week, feel free to leave us a link in the comments! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Review: Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: March 11th 2014
My rating: 4.5 stars. 

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin. Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be? Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings? Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all...

Ask Again Later was exactly the cute fun read that I was in the mood for, I admit after seeing the cover, I thought that this book would be a bit young for me, but this was not the case at all. 

Heart is asked to prom by two guys, (well actually one, as Heart’s brother Phil forces his friend Troy on her, who has been dumped by his girlfriend just before prom). Heart’s really a decent girl and doesn’t want to let either guy down, so decides that a coin toss will help her to decide who she should go with. The way that the story went from this point onwards I was a bit confused about at first, but I soon came to realise was cleverly done. Each chapter gave us an insight into how Heart’s date would have turned out if she went to prom with either guy. So we’re treated to alternative chapters of Heart’s prom night with Ryan and Troy. I have to say I immensely enjoyed these alternative chapters, it was clear from the very beginning who Heart should have gone with to prom, but still it was fun watching the night unravel before us. 

There were a great set of characters that were each brilliant in bringing something different to this story. Normally when there are such a huge number of secondary characters, it can be hard to recall who everyone is, but for me this was not the case at all. I had many laugh out loud moments with these characters although at times there was one character (highlight to view spoiler)  Phil who I wanted to knock some sense into at times. However Ask Again Later couldn’t have been this fun quirky little book without these different personalities. 

Although the story was written into two separate nights; Heart’s prom night with Troy, and prom night with Ryan, the blending of the events from one night into the other was done wonderfully. I didn’t find this aspect repetitive at all, but appreciated seeing it from another whole perspective (Phil’s friends or Heart’s friends). Heart’s night was full with chaos in both possible scenarios, however much more in Troy as Heart’s potential prom date. I did at times really feel for Heart in this perspective, as she was roped in on making Troy feel better and was guilt trapped into attending prom with Troy in the first place and then every time she did want to enjoy prom with her friends, her brother Phil would go and put a dampener on things. But through this Heart went to show how much of a great character she was, from being knocked to the ground, having a table thrown at her and going to prom with guys she wouldn’t have gone for, she showed just how selfless she was. 

Although there were many wonderful characters in this book two stood out the most for me; Heart and Schroeder (how awesome is this nickname, not only did his nickname have me sighing, but he was just such an amazing character). Poor Heart was clueless to what was going on, but I loved the build up from both perspectives to the ending that we were given. 

Whenever you need a quick fun pick me up, which will cause many snort laughing moments and consequent death glares from people sitting next to you on your journey to work, I highly recommend giving Ask Again Later a go, it definitely surpassed all my expectations.

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