Five Reasons You’ll Love The Winner’s Crime

Posted April 29, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 4 Comments

Five Reasons You’ll Love The Winner’s CrimeThe Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 12th March 2015
Pages: 406
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Source: Bought
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Lady Kestrel's engagement to Valoria's crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust ...

While Arin fights to keep his country's freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner's trilogy.

Have I told you how much I love this series? No? Then let me sing my love for this trilogy from the highest trees.

The Winner’s Trilogy is sublime. It’s everything a non fantasy reader like myself wants in a fantasy book, with a fantastically crafted and engaging world modelled on Greco-Roman society (the Author’s Note in the back of The Winner’s Curse is a must read for ancient history lovers!) and perfectly flawed characters you can’t help but fall in love with. Every page, every word, leaves you breathless and hanging. I’m not usually one who is a fan of third person point of view, but like her fantasy compatriot, Sarah J Maas, Rutkoski executes it perfectly. So rather than bore you with big words and lengthy paragraphs, here’s five reasons why you’ll love The Winner’s Crime.

  1. Move Over, Romance

So there isn’t really a lack of romance, because the whole trilogy is about the effects of the relationship between Arin and Kestral, but in The Winner’s Crime the romance really takes a step back and focuses more on developing the characters and the world – for obvious reasons you’ll know about if you’ve read The Winner’s Curse. It’s quite refreshing to read a YA novel where the romance isn’t the centre focus of the story. And if you think that the ending of Book One would lead to a love triangle, you’re totally safe.

  1. Political Intrigue, Betrayals, Murder, Oh My!

I love books where everyone is betraying everyone. A bit weird, I know, but I think it makes for better plot twists. The Winner’s Crime is just full of it. There’s so much tension, with the threat of war between the Herrani and the Empire and beyond. Political intrigue intensifies as Kestral struggles to make clear of the Emperor’s actions and twisted plots. And that ending. OH THAT ENDING!

  1. The Winner’s Crime Takes You Beyond the Empire

Another reason I love this trilogy so much is because Rutkoski has created such an intriguing fantasy world that one just wishes she had time to explore it all. Sadly, because of plot, we don’t have time to be tourist, but unlike other novels where the world isn’t fully developed enough to make it feel like you’re in an actual place, this trilogy actually takes you beyond the fantasy veil and transports you to into the setting.We get to see past the Empire, where the majority of the action is happening, and see how other nations and kingdoms have been affected by the atrocities that the Empire has wreaked upon the world.

  1. Secondary Characters Aren’t Just Background Noise

I love when secondary characters are more than just their name. Every single one of the secondary characters in this series is totally justified, and I love seeing the different relationships grow and evolve or fray as Kestrel and Arin learn the consequences of their actions around them. It all makes for pretty heady stuff to be honest. And my new favourite? The King of Sass, Rosh. I just love the growing bromance between him and Arin.

  1. Arin & Kestrel’s Growth & Relationship.

I don’t know two people more doomed than these two! Talk about not cutting a break. I love it! One of the things I love about the books is that Kestral is such a different heroine than what we are usually given, and that is completely refreshing. These two are literally the opposite sides of the same coin, and it’s interesting to watch (read?) them learn and grow within their actions, and how the different circumstances of their birth have led to those actions. And of course who can’t deny that that slow burn chemistry between the two of them is just sizzling?

Have you read The Winner’s Crime yet? Let me know what you think in the comments, and stay tuned for my review of the final book in one of my favourite fantasy series!

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Ten Brilliant Bookstagrammers I Love To Stalk

Posted April 5, 2016 by Hannah in Features, Top Ten Tuesdays / 2 Comments

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I love Bookstagram, but I never have enough time to sit through and properly scroll through my news feed. I’m also a terrible Bookstagrammer, mainly because my phone sucks and I don’t have a proper camera, so my photos are few and far in between. That being said, there are some people on Bookstagram I absolutely adore, and I’m going to share them – and some of their awesomeness – with you today. If you love as much as I do, I highly recommend giving them a follow!

If you haven’t found Cait’s amazing instagram yet, then I don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Cait gives me total photo envy – every one of her photos are perfection, and on top of that she’s completely amazing and down to earth (read: she’s a big book nerd at heart, just like the rest of us!) and always seems to say what I’m thinking. Her book collection is on point too!

 

Taneika and I have such a similar taste and thought in books it’s scary! Aside from being a wonderful West Aussie and generally awesome in general, Taneika’s Bookstagram is what got me started. Her photos are divine, and she does it all through her phone camera and they still come out looking absolutely gorgeous! I love hearing what she has to say about books as well, and my TBR pile is always growing from her recommendations!

I absolutely adore Kat’s photos. I don’t know a lot about photography and filters, but I love whatever Kat does with hers. Photos like the one above, where she combines quotes and books are my favourite.

 

Another person who has such a beautiful bookstagram account! I love the softness of Casey’s photos, they’re so gorgeous. And she’s also West Australian, I believe, which is awesome enough!

#celineannajillmarch16 | bookish reflection ✨ i’m reusing a different angle of an old photo (because i failed to take pics once again, whoops 😂). i promise i’ll take some tomorrow… · on another note, i managed to buy 1) a pair of shorts 2) a candle 3) a candle holder 4) a wooden crate, and 5) a mug from @bookwormboutique all in the past day and a half… help i have a shopping problem 😂 (although let’s be real, it’s partially bookstagram’s fault… i bought 4/5 things mostly because i want to take pictures of them 😖 ugh what has my life come to 😂 i should stop spending…. butbutbut AESTHETICS. there’s also that tiny part of my brain that’s just like *books! books! books!* and all of me that’s like *props! candles! mugs! lights!* and i CANT HAVE BOTH BUT I WANT IT ALL IM SO BROKE HELP). · okay wow there was no coherent thought to the caption, but you know what, we’re gonna role with my mini rant/whatever that was (because i’m sure you can all relate 😋) ·

A photo posted by a n n a (@alittlebookworld) on

Talk about stunning! I could stare at Anna’s photos all day. I love the way she uses pastels (especially in this photo!). There’s something feminine and so beautiful about her photos.

 

Ella’s bookstagram is simple but really eye catching. I love the way she uses a white background to make her books really stand out.

Kelly deserves a place on my list for the sheer fact that I have no idea how she manages to get her black and white photos to have that colour pop, and she always does it in such a striking way too!

 

I’ve been following Lisa’s bookstagram for a long time (read: stalking), and I adore her photos. Even though there’s a lot going on in them aside from showcasing the books, she always manages to make them look so beautiful and striking. And I love the way she uses those flowers too!

Emily’s another bookstagrammer who always seems to have the most beautiful flowers on hand! Her photos are so colourful and bright.

 

I love how understated Paula’s photos are. She always has fantastic backgrounds but the main focus is the book, and it’s never over the top too.

Do you have a Bookstagram, or follow someone on Bookstagram that I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

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Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Posted March 31, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Book Chat: The Winner’s Curse by Marie RutkoskiThe Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 3rd July 2014
Pages: 359
Format: E-Book, Paperback
Source: Bought
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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.

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.

Reading The Winner’s Curse is like taking a really deep breath before going underwater because you don’t know when you’re going to remerge. The whole entire book is one big constant what if and what now. Even re-reading it for a fourth time, I find myself completely spellbound by this fantasy world – where no magic exists – that Rutkoski has created.

Originally I was going to do a mini review for both Curse and Crime, as I’m about to start reading the final book, Kiss, but I realized I have too many feelings and there was nothing “mini” about my review.

Kel is one of my favourite YA heroines. She’s not like my other badass favourite, Celaena (from Throne of Glass), who uses her fists and crazy ninja skills more often than logic. Kel, on the other hand, is logical. She’s smart and very tactical, and it’s her desire not to spill blood that makes her highly appealing in a world where it seems that to have a strong YA heroine, she has to be a fighter. She’s also not perfect, and we’re reminded of this with her interactions with Arin. Both of them are fighting for what is best for their people, and at whatever cost that may be, which means a lot of self-sacrificing on their part.

And Arin. Arin, be still my heart. You make me swoon but you make me angry too. Fourth time reading and I still feel shocked at the turn of events halfway through. And that, dear reader, is the hallmark of a great book. These two have so much room to grow that I don’t know if my heart can handle it.

The beauty of The Winner’s Curse is that it’s a book of subtlety. There’s no grandiose or over the top reminders that things are about to get real. The romance is understated and slow burning and you’ll find that most of the time you just really, really, really want Arin and Kestral to just hurry up and fecking kiss already, but at the same time, it’s a huge breath of fresh air.

What I also loved was that there was a good mixture of plot and characterisation, so you never felt like as a first book, The Winner’s Curse was an info dump of world building and setting up the next two books. I love that even though it’s a fantasy, there’s not even a hint of magic. It’s really defined a new set of rules for the fantasy genre that will open up the gateways to a whole new set of readers.

Full of unexpectancy, intrigue and the strongest main characters in YA right now, The Winner’s Curse is definitely one for your to-be-read-right-now pile.

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Queen of Destroying My Feelings: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas

Posted March 30, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

Queen of Destroying My Feelings: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J MaasQueen of Shadows Series: Throne of Glass #5
by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury ANZ on 1st September 2015
Pages: 645
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Finished Review Copy
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Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.

Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

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Let me begin by saying that attempting to review this book is just plain insane. Even now, six months later, I’m not done with Queen of Shadows and the way it makes me feel. To review and have that review give this book justice is just plain crazy, and so much has already been said that I feel I’m just adding noise to the crowd. But because Bloomsbury Publishing ANZ are amazing, wonderful people, I’m going to attempt to. I don’t my review does any justice to the level of thought running through my brain right now, so if you’d like to discuss what I’ve said (and I’m sure there’s lots I haven’t said, you are more than welcome to talk to me – which means, please do, because I’m at a total loss!)

Now for the obligatory warning: this will more than likely, at some point, contain spoilers from previous novels. If you don’t want to be spoiled, run away! Leave now! At the end of my review, there’ll be a spoilers for sections about some pretty heavy thoughts I have on certain things that happen in Queen of Shadows. It’ll be a lot of rambling, but I’m still unable to process thought coherently.

There is no doubt that Sarah J Maas has earned herself the title of Queen of YA Fantasy. If there isn’t a title, then I’ll dump the crown on her head myself. Or steal it from someone. You guys, if there was a Writer’s Got Talent show, Maas would win it, hands down. The thing I love about Sarah is that she has this amazing way with words that I can’t even begin to describe. It’s purely magic. Her words jump off the page, and I’m so usually immersed that I forget everything. Like being in a library and not to yell out in public at certain events.

“She was fire, and light, and ash, and embers. She was Aelin Fireheart, and she bowed for no one and nothing, save the crown that was hers by blood and survival and triumph.”

Sarah J Maas is also the only person who can make me like third person, multiple point of view storylines. In Heir of Fire, this bothered me a lot, but in Queen of Shadows, I loved it. I loved reading all the different point of views and anticipating how they were going to intertwine with each other.

Which brings me to the secondary characters. You guys, if Queen of Shadows can be anything, it’s awesomely badass. The female characters absolutely MADE this book. There was so much other stuff going on that was breaking my heart so much, but with Manon, Elide and Lysandra being absolutely buttkick awesome, I was able to piece myself back together (sort of). Let’s talk Manon. Her character annoyed me in Heir of Fire, but that changed in Queen of Shadows. She was so awesome! Have you ever heard Tom Hiddleston talk about villains and Loki? It’s exactly how I feel about Manon. Of course now that I want the quote, I can’t find it. Even Kaltain, who I had forgotten even existed, makes an appearance and turns Queen of Shadows into a Beyonce song.

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Aelin, no longer going by Celaena, is still someone I’m trying to figure out. In parts of the novel, I loved her, but she’s not the same person she was in the other books. Of course, that’s to be expected, but at the same time, I don’t think the change was for the better. Sure, she was sharp and cunning, but her vengeance also made her vindictive and unlikeable. Aside from the female characters, the way she treats people (okay let’s face it, the way she treats Chaol, Dorian and Aedion) was completely awful. In some ways I lost a lot of respect for the girl she’s become, and I’m hoping that the next two books can change that.

Now all I can say is this: bring it, Maas. This isn’t endgame, not by a long shot. I’m on to you. The inconsistency throughout this book just doesn’t add up to me, and I’m not satisfied. And if you are about to embark on the journey that is this book, be prepared, because the feels factory is working over time.

Did you hear me say spoilers? If you want hear my darkest, rambling thoughts about a few things, mainly the elephant in the room, just click on the view spoiler button.

View Spoiler »

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Book Chat: The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney

Posted March 29, 2016 by Hannah in Reviews, Young Adult / 3 Comments

Book Chat: The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz DelaneyThe Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney
Published by Allen & Unwin on 4th January 2016
Pages: 348
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Surf-loving Heidi impersonates her horse-mad twin to help Harper get a scholarship to attend the much sought-after agricultural school in this rural romance from Australia's queen of teen, Kaz Delaney. Suitable for teen readers of Rachael Treasure.

Harper Gage has won the opportunity of a lifetime - ten days at Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school. The camp could give her the recommendation she needs to go to the exclusive Agricoll for years 11 and 12. But when an accident leaves Harper hospitalised, her twin sister, Heidi, goes in her place. The only problem is that Heidi is not much of a country girl - not like her sister. And to make life even more complicated, her sister's biggest rival Trent is going to be there. Will she be able to fool him?

And then the reality of the school hits Heidi hard. It's all dust, snakes and heat - a million miles away from the surf she loves. When she meets the fun and handsome Chaz, life at the school suddenly doesn't seem so bad, although with Trent acting up and trouble brewing with the other students, Heidi's not sure how long she can keep her identity secret. And if her secret is revealed, will Chaz ever be able to trust her again?

The Reluctant Jillaroo was probably one of the cutest books I’ve read in a long time. Perfect because I’ve just moved to New South Wales, have always been a bit horsey (still mad my parents never let me do riding lessons as a child), and enjoy a good bit of whodunnit, The Reluctant Jillaroo had a bit of everything in it that made for a great light read.

Surf loving city girl Harper Gage inadvertently caused the accident that left her twin sister, Heidi, in hospital, and out of a placement in one of the the best jillaroo camps in Australia, thus ending her chances of getting into a prestigious agricultural school in New South Wales. So the twins come up with a plan – Harper will spend the ten days pretending to be Heidi, Heidi’ll get a reference and (fingers crossed) get into ag school, Harper will feel less guilty about injuring her twin and everything will be dandy.

Of course, as life goes, it’s not quite all sunshine and roses.

What I love about this book is that it’s quintessentially Australian without being stereotypical in the character’s behaviours and traits. It read like a rural romance for young teenagers (and as a “city” girl myself, I love rural romance). I felt like I was right there alongside Heidi – er, Harper – as she went on this crazy adventure pretending to be her sister. While it’s definitely aimed at younger teen readers, which means the language and tone of Harper was at times a bit grating (“Holy Batman”, one of Harper’s catch phrases, got old quickly), I think this has a great wider appeal to older teens and adults as well.

Of course, thrown in was a splash of romance – Chaz was adorable, and I loved the budding romance between him and Harper – which gave Harper the moral dilemma of was she doing the right thing. It was definitely a learning experience for her, and as a 15 year old she matured quite a lot through the course of the book too. The sub plot of items mysteriously disappearing was a great addition as well, and I thought rounded out the novel.

I would love young adult rural romance to become a thing here, it would definitely be right up my alley, and I hope Delaney explores the world she’s created (Harper and Trent’s adventures, maybe?) in forthcoming books!

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