ARC Review: The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen #1) by Emily R. King

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As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

review

****Big thank you to Skyscape and Amazon Publishing for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review****

Wow, let me just say I am pleasantly surprised with how much I ended up enjoying this book! It has every element I love in a YA fantasy and I honestly cannot wait for the rest of the series now!

PLOT

Of course it’s easy to think with the description of this book that it would be something similar to “The Wrath & The Dawn” or even “The Star-Touched Queen” and while there are some similarities it’s still very unique. I would still say that if you were a fan of either you will probably enjoy “The Hundredth Queen” as well!

I really enjoyed the world building a lot, I liked how every aspect of the lore we were introduced to was incorporated into the plot. I also never felt overwhelmed or confused when information on the world was provided, no info-dumps here! The mythology was probably my favorite part about this story since it ended up playing a major part and was just so fascinating to learn about.

I found the magic system to be pretty unique and actually reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender since each element is represented, that’s probably why I loved it so much……

While the pacing wasn’t necessarily slow in the beginning it was a little bit harder for me to get into since there was a bit of insta-love that really put me off. However, once I got a little bit further in I was completely engrossed in this story! There were many twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming and I felt like there was definitely plenty of action and fast pacing to keep me turning pages.

The rank tournaments themselves were actually pretty brutal too, there definitely wasn’t any sugar-coating this aspect of the story which I liked since I feel YA authors always try to get out of or gloss over any sort of violence in their novels. Not that I’m some blood-thirsty, horrible person! It’s just I get tired of books promising fights to the death and then not delivering.

I also liked the way females were represented in the story as well as female relationships. There is a bit of girl-on-girl hate at the beginning of the story but I promise you it isn’t what it seems as it changes as the story progresses. I appreciated how the author would point out the wrongness of the way women were treated and how they sometimes treated each other in this world as well and how our heroine, Kalinda, also frowned upon any negative treatment of women and would intervene. The women in this story are honestly total badasses and I loved it! Although I will say I wish the few positive relationships between females would have been shown a lot more.

I was also really impressed with the writing and it was hard to believe this was a debut novel, everything flowed so well! Simple and easy to read overall, which sometimes is just perfect.

characters

The characters in this book were actually very enjoyable, all of them! Once again, I was pretty surprised by how well I thought a lot of them developed and the levels of complexity a few of them had. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with these characters but I love to be proved wrong in this case!

Kalinda was the perfect protagonist, in my opinion. She was brave and loyal but also had her moments where her courage would fail her, she wasn’t perfect. I also really liked how she wasn’t some “super skilled special snowflake” (that’s a bit of a tongue twister, huh?), she had skill but she definitely wasn’t as skilled as lot of the other characters. I think maybe the best word to describe how I felt about Kalinda’s character was “heart-warming” because everything she did, said, or felt just gave me tingles because she was just so realistic and down to earth!

The secondary characters were all well done too, I felt like I knew so many of them even though they were only around for a few sentences! I loved how many were also not just by-standers and we got to see so many of them grow and develop throughout the story.

As I mentioned earlier I really liked all of the female relationships in this book but especially the friendship between Kalinda and Jaya. Honestly, I wished there was more shown between those two because I feel YA could really use more positive female friendships like this one!

romance

The only real problem I had with the romance was that there was some heavy insta-love at the beginning but overall I did like it and felt that Kalinda and Deven made a great couple. Was it anything super special or impressive? No, not really but like I said I did enjoy it so that’s all that really matters.

Plus it doesn’t hurt that Deven is a pretty swoon-worthy love interest. He treated Kalinda right and I’m all for a good guy love interest!

in conclusion

What I Loved:

  • The world building and mythology
  • Kalinda was a great female protagonist
  • The writing flowed well and was easy to follow
  • The plot was fast-paced, action-packed, with plenty of twists
  • Kalinda and Jaya’s friendship

What I Didn’t Love:

  • There was some girl-on-girl hate (which is never okay although in this story it was overcome)
  • Insta-love relationship (even though I did come to like them together)
  • I wish Kalinda and Jaya’s friendship would have been shown a lot more and maybe some more of the female relationships as well

RECOMMEND

I definitely recommend checking this book out especially if you’re looking for something a little similar to “The Wrath & The Dawn”!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

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When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha — one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

review

**** Big thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

I was super pumped when I found out Rin Chupeco was writing not only another book but a dark fantasy book! So of course I went into this book expecting to love it since I loved “The Girl From the Well” and luckily for me I was not disappointed.

PLOT

While I was very much invested in the plot of this story I will admit that the pacing was pretty uneven it was borderline slow. It felt like this book was more so setting up for the next book than having any real action on its own. This is a book you have to be a little patient with.

I also really liked how the story was told from two different POVs one being a Bard whom an older Tea tells her life story in the present and the other being told from the past by a younger Tea. I have to say the present day Tea is very dark and mysterious and I found her to be the most interesting I want to know what happened to her to make her this way! So this does jump back and forth throughout the story between the present and the past which I thought worked really well in this book, it made the story more suspenseful and interesting, it kept me reading!

The story may not be the most fast paced or action packed but it’s still super interesting with all of the world building. I absolutely loved reading about the asha and their magic as well as the horrible monsters the daeva which were actually pretty terrifying. Reading about how Tea is such a rare breed of “witch” and watching as she comes to terms with her Dark abilities and learning how to use them was just a ton of fun.

The world building was also spot on and very creative, it provided just enough to keep me happy and withheld enough that I am interested to learn more in the next books. I loved the concepts of the magical Asha, the demonic monsters Daeva, the mythology of the world, and the different aspects of all the Kingdoms. Also the magic system was interesting as well. There was definitely no lack of world building here and at the same time there was no info dumping either.

The writing was something I had a sort of love-hate relationship with, on one hand I liked it and thought it was very beautiful but on the other hand I found it to be almost TOO descriptive at times. It did help me visualize things a little better but the in depth details got a little tedious after while, I can only read about clothes in that much description before it gets old.

THAT ENDING THOUGH! It wasn’t necessarily a cliffhanger but at the same time it left me crying because I don’t want to wait a YEAR for the next book!

characters

Overall the characters were pretty great in this book, I did feel some lacked a little development though especially the secondary characters because I would have liked some more background on them. I still got very attached to a lot of them mostly the other asha characters such as Althy and Polaire!

The more central characters were a little better such as Tea, her brother Fox, and her mentor Lady Mykalea. We got a lot more background on these characters and I assume we are only going to get more as the series goes on.

romance

I’m happy to say that the romance did not play a HUGE factor in this story, it didn’t take center stage and didn’t take precedence over the plot. Apart from that it wasn’t really developed either, once again I’m assuming it will be explored more in the next book.

There is a bit of a love triangle although without spoilers I will say it isn’t what you think it is a first, they kind of throw a red herring our way and it WILL surprise you when you get to the end. I hate love triangles and this one didn’t bother me at all!

in conclusion

Overall I was very satisfied with this book even though it did bother me a little bit that so much is left to be determined in the next books. The world building is the strongest (and best) part! I am VERY excited to continue with this series and so far Rin Chupeco has yet to disappoint me!

What I Liked:

  • The overall story was intriguing
  • The world-building was great and creative
  • The POVs between past and present was interesting
  • The ending left me wanting MORE
  • The characters were pretty well written
  • The romance didn’t take over the plot

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The writing got a little TOO descriptive at times
  • I wanted just a bit more background on some of the characters

RECOMMEND

If you’re interested in reading a dark YA fantasy I highly recommend this one, it combines all the best parts of fantasy with a little bit of horror since the monsters and sometimes the magic get very creepy. Also if you liked Chupeco’s other duology I think you’ll love this one too!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: The Crown’s Game (The Crown’s Game #1) by Evelyn Skye

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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

review

This book was one of my most anticipated releases of 2016 and I was very, very excited to read it but then the negative reviews started trickling out among the positive ones and I began to question whether I should read “The Crown’s Game” or not. I definitely should not have wasted  my time. This has got to be one of the most disappointing books this year because of how high my expectations were and how badly this book failed.

PLOT

Let me start out by saying this book wasn’t completely awful hence the two star rating instead of one star but it is incredibly unoriginal. If you’ve ever read even one YA fantasy book then don’t even bother with this because it’s nothing new.

I would say the biggest let down of this entire book was the fact that this is supposed to be a magical battle to the DEATH and all we got were parlor tricks that were so unbelievably underwhelming. You’re supposed to be trying to kill each other not painting buildings with your magic for crying out loud! So freaking boring! The magic might as well not have even been included because it was essentially pointless. These two enchanters are supposed to be the most powerful people in Russia and they can’t even summon something spectacular to kill their opponent? What wasted potential.

There was no world-building, no mythology for this version of Fantasy Russia, and no explanations for ANYTHING. We basically are just set adrift in this world and are supposed to be content with no background and no fantasy elements in a FANTASY BOOK! You want to know what supposedly made this book fantasy? The magic. That’s it and even that was disappointing.

There’s next to no action at all and what action there was were the displays of magical “power” which as I’ve said were incredibly dull. The entirety of this plot is romance, which I’ll get to in a bit and so there’s hardly any story to speak of. The pacing was slow and I was generally uninterested throughout my entire reading and it’s really a miracle I didn’t DNF this book.

What I did like was the setting, even though I would have liked a lot more depth to it, I did like this Fantasy version of Russia. I also liked a few (very few) points in the story that I found to be interesting such as a couple of the twists even if they were pretty predictable. I didn’t think the story was completely awful since I did manage to finish this book but it was not what I was lead to believe it was about.

Then there’s the ending…..which I found to be anti-climatic and left me completely disinterested in reading the sequel. I already know where the next book is headed and honestly there’s no point in torturing myself with this series anymore.

characters

Flat, uninteresting, and absolutely no depth to these characters. I could have cared less about any of them which is pretty bad considering I’m supposed to fear for their lives since they have to try and kill each other off. We didn’t really get any insight into Vika or Nikolai and they didn’t have any flaws, they were essentially perfect little special snowflakes. Which in my opinion made them very boring and unrelatable because let’s face it we all know perfect people don’t exist and I don’t want characters to be THAT unrealistic.

That’s really all the words I’ll waste on the characters.

romance

Where do I even start with this? First of all the romance is the sole focus of the story, it definitely takes center stage over the “magical death battle”.  Which annoys the living crap out of me when I was promised said magical death battle and all I got was a book littered with your typical YA romance tropes.

First of all we have gag-inducing insta-love and eye-roll worthy love triangles. Both of which are represented in the usual, annoying, run of the mill ways. Nothing original or unique about the romance at all! Overall I felt like it was way too over the top and used to provide more drama and suspense to the plot and it just did not work at all.

in conclusion

“The Crown’s Game” is one huge disappointment to me and while it had a few minor things to save it from a one star rating I still think it was a waste of my reading time.

What I Liked:

  • The Fantasy Russian setting
  • A few plot points that maintained my interest

What I Disliked:

  • Slow pacing
  • No action
  • Misleading premise
  • No world building
  • Flat, boring characters
  • An extremely trope-riddled romance

RECOMMEND

No I can’t say I would recommend this book to anyone and even if you’re a fan of YA fantasy (which I am as well) I would skip this one because it’s nothing new. For you YA romance fans I can’t honestly say for sure (I am not a romance fan) but I think this romance was far too dramatic and unoriginal.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

ARC Review: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

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Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

review

**** Huge thank you to Holiday House for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!****

Let me just say….wow I did not expect to love this book as much as I did! It’s magical, wonderful, amazing, and an all around fantastic debut novel! “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” is definitely one of my favorite reads in 2016 too because it is PERFECT for any fan of fantasy (which I am) and it blends four fairy tales together seamlessly and therefore is perfect for any fan of retellings as well. Seriously, there are so many wonderful things about this book I don’t even know where to start..well maybe at the beginning right?

PLOT

The story starts out fast paced and grabs your attention immediately with Bristal (the MC) being kidnapped and whisked away to the Water to see if she will become one of the ancient, magical elicromancers. Exciting stuff right? We also get some good insight into the world right away with explanations of the magic system and what elicromancers are but I won’t give any of that away because it’s just so great to read through! There’s just some great, classic world building in this book complete with the always fun royal politics too.

I also love the way Hannah West weaved the tales of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, and Emma together. In my eyes it was flawless. We see Bristal act as a fairy godmother to both the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty characters and watch as she disguises herself as a man to join one of the prince’s group of soldiers. It was so much fun reading and trying to guess how each retold fairy tale would play out and who was acting as which character, if you’re familiar with these tales it is almost guaranteed to be enjoyable for you!

(Also on a side note I never read “Emma” by Jane Austen so I have no idea how it fit into this story, if anyone would like to enlighten me PLEASE do so!)

Then the main threat in the story is the impending war between the villain and their gathered army of supernatural creatures and the continent of Nissera, so basically Bristal is running around shape-shifting like a mad woman to ensure each character is doing what they can to prepare for the incoming war. There are also many smaller stories (the fairy tales if you will) that all intersect throughout the main plot interlinking everything into one. There are so many things going on guys, it’s awesome and there are so many crazy plot twists too! I was freaking out to the point where I’m fanning my face and yelling “NO, NO, NO!”. You guys know how that goes…..

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My only complaint about this book is that at times during the story I felt like some stuff was a little too convenient. Certain things would happen to make sure everything worked out perfectly, it wasn’t annoying but at times it was kind of unbelievable.

Overall though the plot line is magnificent it combines every element of YA Fantasy that I love: magic, ball gowns, (good) romance, world-building, royalty, class good vs. evil, and a good old fashioned villain.

characters

There are actually quite a few characters in “Kingdom of Ash and Briars” and they were all amazing, I LOVE well developed secondary characters it’s a must have for me in a book.

Bristal is the perfect heroine she’s selfless, brave, and clever. Her sole purpose is to protect the kingdoms and guide them even if it means giving up her own happiness. It’s so….honorable. Gosh I just loved her so much and she’s definitely a heroine you can’t help but root for the entire time.

Then there are so many other characters: Anthony, Charles, Elinor, Rosamund, Brack, and Tamarice – all amazing characters that add so much to the story. (Also Brack is my favorite, just saying.)

I’d also like to share without spoilers that the villain is so realistic and well developed. I love villains with depth, ones that we can FEEL for and understand and know why they chose to act the way they did. It makes the story so much more interesting when we feel conflicted about the antagonist.

romance

Now I’m pretty sure I say this in every review and if you’ve been following me for a while you already know…I do not like romance especially in YA books because they are almost always riddles with tropes. So I’m glad to say that I adored the romances in this book.

While some of the lesser romances between our fairy tale retelling princes and princesses aren’t quite as developed and are borderline insta-love they’re still just so cute. I mean come on they’re fairy tales so the insta-love can actually be pulled off without nauseating anyone. But the real romance between Bristal and Anthony is so beautiful and swoon-worthy…awww my poor little heart! Everything about them being together worked, it really did.

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in conclusion

“Kingdom of Ash and Briars” is a wonderfully told tale full of action, romance, and magic. The only thing that upsets me is that it’s a standalone and I want more! I will absolutely be checking out anything else Hannah West writes because just going by this debut novel I can guarantee I’ll love it.

RECOMMEND

Yes, a million times yes! If you love YA fantasy and fairy tale retellings this book will be perfect for you since it combines all elements of each so well!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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description

In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king’s champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien.

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass–and it’s there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena’s fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.

review

I didn’t really like this book.

I am having an immensely hard time coping with the fact that I did not think this book was that great, it was just okay. Not great, not mind blowing, not the best YA fantasy I’ve ever read. The hype surrounding this series is INSANE and that’s probably why I had such a hard time with this book because, to me, the hype just was not worth it at all.

I’m very disappointed with “Throne of Glass” but at the same time it was alright. In the end I feel like a three star rating is being very generous because I honestly could have easily gone with 2 stars or 2.5 stars as well.

PLOT

I think what my biggest problem with this book is that it promises things it doesn’t deliver. Celaena is described as the best and most dangerous assassin around and she spends the better half of the book SAYING she is but not SHOWING that she is. Where’s my badass assassin who actually kills people? Where’s the action? I wanted more action! We got to read about some of the tests for the competition but only a handful, why? If we had more insight into this King’s Champion competition it could have been more action-packed and therefore a little more interesting, at least for me. There was a lot of missed out opportunities to read about something other than the love triangle and dresses.

So while I didn’t think there was ENOUGH action and too many descriptions of Celaena’s dresses, Maas did succeed in keeping the plot suspenseful and tense. I did manage to finish the book after all, right? I wanted to know what was going to happen next and that’s what kept me turning pages even when nothing else really did. I really wish I could explain more in depth what I loved about the plot but I can’t  without spoiling it, so you’ll have to find out on your own!

The pacing was pretty fast and seldom was there a time when it really slowed down. I know it took me practically forever to even finish this book but honestly that wasn’t due to a slow paced book so much as me not being very attached to the characters.

Also the world building was pretty decent, there were enough interesting tidbits to satisfy me and make me curious for more all at once. It is a little bit light on the world building for my tastes but it was still interesting and I liked the descriptions of the places, religion, and politics of Maas’s world in “Throne of Glass”.

characters

Remember when I said my biggest problem with this book is that it doesn’t deliver? That mostly applies to these characters. They were all just very bland to me I didn’t feel any sort of connection to them and I was very underwhelmed when anything happened to them.

Celaena by far is the most disappointing overall and honestly I think it may be safe for me to say she’s the most disappointing character I have ever come across. Everyone, herself included, talks about how dangerous she is and how she’s the world’s greatest assassin but I found myself asking “how?” the entire duration of this book. As far as I could see all she did was talk about how skilled she was instead of proving it, I just have a hard time believing Celaena Sardothien is the best assassin this fantasy world has to offer.

Celaena is also extremely vain and we spend an extensive amount of time reading about her worrying about dresses and shoes. I mean for someone who is supposedly the greatest assassin ever you would think she wouldn’t covet material items so much, right? We also hear about how beautiful she is constantly with her special eyes with special rings of gold in them. All of that was definitely giving me Mary-Sue vibes.

Then we have Prince Dorian and Chaol the Captain of the Guard. Meh. That’s how I felt about both of them they weren’t particularly interesting and definitely not very swoon-inspiring.

Honestly my favorite character was Princess Nehemia and I thought her to be far more worthy of my respect. She doesn’t shy away from anyone or anything and I loved her loyalty and devotion to her people and her country. If the entire book was more about her I might have enjoyed it more.

romance

I did not enjoy any of the “romance” one bit. We have borderline insta-love and a tedious love triangle. Count me out.

Celaena is almost instantly enamored and making moony eyes over Dorian and I feel like their “relationship” came out of nowhere, it didn’t feel developed at all since they barely spent any time together. With Chaol it was a little more believable since he was always training with Celaena. Either way I thought both options were very uninteresting and I could have cared less who she chose in the end.

I also feel like the love triangle took away from both the characters and the plot in this book.

in conclusion

I’m going to try my best to just quickly sum up my feelings on “Throne of Glass”:

  • I strongly disliked our main character, Celaena.
  • I really hated the love triangle.
  • I didn’t think there was enough “world’s greatest assassin”-worthy action.
  • I did enjoy the pacing and the plot itself, it was actually interesting.
  • The world building was satisfying enough.

So there is both good and bad for me which is why it received a sort of neutral rating at 3 stars. I enjoyed it enough to finish but overall I wasn’t too impressed.

I will be continuing the series with “Crown of Midnight” because it seems to me everyone says it gets way better. *crosses fingers*

RECOMMEND

Eh, not really. For as crazy as the hype is I think if you want to check it out for yourself then definitely go right ahead, it’s not a terrible book but for me it just wasn’t as great as I thought it would be.

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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description

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.

review

This is a book where I honestly did not expect to love it as much as I did. It’s a very romance oriented book and all I was expecting were balls, dresses, and boys. It also seemed like it was too fantasy lite for me and  “The Winner’s Curse” is also extremely hyped. For once the hype is definitely justified.

PLOT

As I mentioned the world building was a little lite making this book have a very simple fantasy setting, it wasn’t high fantasy there were no mythical creatures or magic here. It’s also something that, for once, was easy for me to overlook in a YA fantasy. It didn’t need all of those things to satisfy me and I still felt that it had the atmosphere for a fantasy and I was still able to immerse myself in this world.

The plot itself focuses a lot on Kestrel and Arin as well as balls, upper class parties, and gossip. At least for the first half of the book, so if you find these things boring don’t be disheartened! Things definitely get more exciting towards the end of the book and it’s worth it to push onward. All of the twists and politics you were promised or expected start to come out of the woodwork in the end, I promise you! I can’t say too much without the risk of spoilers so you’ll have to trust me on this.

As far as the pacing goes, it was a bit slow to start. Ultimately I believe the first half with the slower pacing is setting the stage for the latter half of the book, since everything really starts picking up later. I’m going to go ahead and stress this again, stick it out to the end and the slow beginning is really worth it.

What really kept me reading though was Rutkoski’s writing, it’s gorgeous and downright addictive it  compelled me to keep turning pages. Something about it just flowed so naturally making “The Winner’s Curse” both easy and fun to read through.

characters

Let me tell you something about our main character Kestrel: she is probably one of my new favorite heroines. I loved the fact that she wasn’t some badass warrior who could kick the living crap out of anyone and everyone. Instead, Kestrel’s strength lies in strategy where she relies on her wits to make tactical decisions. It was such a breath of fresh air to have a character that wasn’t your average female fantasy heroine.

Arin’s character was also really likable he’s mysterious, smart, and determined in everything he pursues. He’s just as much of a strategist as Kestrel, which I really enjoyed. He’s a pretty swoon worthy character too…just saying…..

 

There weren’t as many developed secondary characters as I would have liked in a fantasy but Kestrel’s and Arin’s POVs prove interesting enough where I didn’t mind a whole lot. They’re both so well developed and likable that I didn’t feel a lot of loss as far as having other important characters. Although in a fantasy setting I do like more POVs or at least more characters to get insight into the world and happenings.

romance

I actually really liked the romance in “The Winner’s Curse” which was a surprise since I almost never enjoy the romances in YA books. I figured this one would be loaded with your usual tropes: insta-love, forbidden love, love triangles, and so on. However, these weren’t really present except for the forbidden love which I’ll get to….

Usually I don’t really like the whole forbidden love thing but in this case it was done very well, it really helped that there wasn’t any insta-love and the romance was more of a slow burn. So the fact that it was a slow burn romance and the fact that they shouldn’t be together, in the end just made me want them to be together. I’m rebellious like that.

After reading through this I really found out how much I love a good slow burn romance, it makes me want the characters to get together even MORE.

In the end I really, really adored Kestrel and Arin’s romance. I am now a hardcore shipper of these two!

in conclusion

While I didn’t really like the slower pacing at the beginning of the book or the lack of important secondary characters these were some very minor dislikes compared to my overall enjoyment of the book as a whole. Kestrel was an amazing main character, the romance was surprisingly enjoyable, and the plot was very intense.

I have so much love for this book now and it was definitely a huge surprise since I didn’t think it would be something I’d enjoy. I am so glad I decided to take a chance with it and hopefully you all do now as well. It’s worth it! (Especially since the sequel is even better!)

RECOMMEND

Definitely! Even though the fantasy element is a bit lite and the plot does have its far share of romance and ball gowns, it’s definitely worth reading for the plot and unique heroine. Usually I’m a stickler for heavy world-building and zero romance but even I was won over with “The Winner’s Curse” so hopefully that’s a good enough example for you to check this amazing series out!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy