“The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy, #1)” by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review also found at: Goodreads

I have no idea how to classify this. It’s YA, but not fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, steampunk, paranormal, or any of that. If anything, it’s like an alternate history. The people ride horses and carriages and have to send “letters” by hand to relay messages. They have ships and cannons and archers and knives. So it takes place in some generic past, I think? The females wear dresses sort of like the Regency period, I guess? They have balls and fancy picnics and stuff.

The main character in this is a 17 year old girl born in privilege, the daughter of a famous general and warrior. The main male lead belongs to the “slave class.” One imperialistic people had invaded a more peaceful and artistic country and taken its citizens as slaves.

A lot of the book is about high society, politics, intrigue, and a rigid government based on war and the expansion of an empire. Kestral, the female, spends a lot of her time stressing out because she doesn’t want to join the military or fight. She’s not physically strong or able to learn to be. She’d rather be playing the piano.

She buys a slave on a whim, it seems, and he ends up becoming much more than a “slave.” She’s got a couple of rich friends, one to serve as the role of the superficial, yet loyal BFF, and one to serve as part of a love triangle. I actually liked Ronan a lot and he seemed to really like Kestral.

This was a “star-crossed” lovers kind of romance. The “society will never accept us” thing, which, I actually love. The romance (and even the love triangle) wasn’t annoying. What made this a 3-star book instead of a 4-star one is Kestral. I found her kind of annoying.

She was always fainting, it seemed like. I don’t require that every female heroine has to be a bad-ass, but she seemed overly weak to me. And not just weak, but devious and vindictive too. In one part, she was rude to a slave for no reason, just because she was frustrated. It also seemed like she had no backbone. She just goes along with a lot of things and acts brainwashed about her country. I guess I get it because her father has drilled the military into her since birth.

She freed a slave (her nurse who was like a second mom to her) and I guess that is supposed to make her sympathetic, but when the shit hit the fan, she didn’t follow through and did what a good citizen would do.

She also had two males of worth in love with her and acts like she likes them both at certain times, but rejects them both.

The ending was irritating too. Of course, it sets up the next book (including another love interest, sigh). I think fans of Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy would like this. It kind of reminds me of that. That was a trilogy that annoyed me. I was the one with the unpopular opinion on that one.

Overall, this was a very quick read, uncomplicated…there’s nothing really original about it, yet it was engaging enough. I think I liked all the other characters more than Kestral. Maybe she has growth as the books continue. I might read the next one, but I’m not in any hurry to at the moment.

Original post:

Wow, so many of my friends have read this. Eh, may as well add it to the pile.

Buddy read with the Saucy Wenches in January 2016.

View all my reviews

“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review also found at: Goodreads

I’ve been thinking for days now how to review this book when almost everyone has. It seems like almost everyone likes/loves it, while a few didn’t (or didn’t like the second half). When I started it, I wasn’t sure, but before I knew it, I was completely wrapped up in the story and characters. By the end, I had cried, my feels broke, and I was blown away by the imagination of the author and the story she had created. So I guess I’ll just ramble on about a few things.

Even though this book had the trope of “ancient powerful male falls for very young inexperienced woman,” it worked. There was romance, but the story did not revolve around it and it was actually a fairly minor part overall. The girl’s life did not revolve around the male character’s loving her and she was fine with or without it. She had her own things going on and was not a love-sick puppy.

There is a sort of mega alpha jerk in this, but it worked for me. We got to understand why the Dragon was the way he was. He was annoying sometimes and a bit too much “prickly” and cantankerous, but I grew to really love him. Even though he wasn’t really a dragon and that was just his wizard name.

The magic in this book is awesome. There’s spells, chants, illusions, and even magic that can literally shape and change reality. There are fantastical creatures – chimeras and forest monsters. The forest is like a dark spirit that can possess people when they go into it and make them do evil things.

Part of the book takes place at the royal castle and there are politics and intrigue. The end has a more other-worldly, mystical vibe. It really feels like a fairytale laced with mythology.

One of the things I came to truly love was the main character, Agnieszka. She was so kind and giving and had joy in her heart and soul. Her loyalty to Kasia was a foundation of the story. I love how strong she was and how content to just roam around the land and be grounded and use her magic to help the villagers in the valley. She had no interest in being a fancy, rich wizard.

I could go on and on with how much I was unexpectedly swept up by this. I think it will become a favorite for me for years to come and I can imagine re-reading it several times. I am not classifying this as Young Adult because it doesn’t seem like it to me. It just has a 17 year old as the main character. But I highly recommend!

Original post:

OMG you guys. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

RTC.

Buddy read with Buddies Books and Baubles starting January 8, 2016.

Okay, I have to see what all the fuss is about with this book. Everyone in the world seems to have read it but me. Some people adored it, others only liked the first half? I’m curious what I will think. I hope I like it!

View all my reviews

“The Sisters Brothers” by Patrick deWitt

The Sisters BrothersThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The setting for this book is during the time of the Gold Rush in California. Most people are dirt poor and lots of them headed west to try and make their fortune, but ended up starving to death, getting murdered, or died by some other sickness or disease. Everyone smelled and brushing your teeth was only on the fringe of becoming trendy. You had one outfit you wore until it fell apart. Horse meat and pork fat was pretty much the main staples of your diet. Doctors gave out bottles of morphine for “brandy sickness.” You get the picture.

Charlie and Eli Sisters are famous outlaws, known for killing. People fear them. They work for some bad-ass named the Commodore. When he got mad at someone, he sent the Sisters Brothers to “get rid of them.” In this one, the Commodore wants Charlie and Eli to kill someone named Hermann Warm because he created a liquid substance that, when poured into water, illuminated the gold in rivers, and the Commodore wanted it for himself.

The thing about Charlie and Eli is that you wondered how they made it so far and for so long. This was what Charlie (the older brother) was usually doing:

He didn’t seem very smart, but he was still deadly and every once in awhile, he’d surprise you. Eli, the younger brother, was the more sensitive and poignant one. Yet he was usually very apathetic and just went along with what Charlie did.

There are a lot of funny lines and situations in this story. Some crazy over-the-top stuff happens. But it’s also kind of a meandering story. It’s a western comedy road trip by horse adventure. But there are serious moments as well. I kind of expected an ending with more action. But it was still satisfying.

I loved Eli’s horse, Tub. Man, that horse went through a lot.

Charlie and Eli have a complicated relationship. They’re bound together by family and also just because they don’t really know anything else. Sometimes they hurt each other, but they are also loyal. It’s dysfunctional, but it changes as the story progresses.

Overall, I really liked this. It was an easy read and not something I’d normally pick. It was a good “palate cleanser” or good in-between book. I definitely recommend it!

View all my reviews

“Wrath and Bones” (Marnie Baranuik #4) by A.J. Aalto

Wrath and Bones (The Marnie Baranuik Files Book 4)Wrath and Bones by A.J. Aalto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review also found at: https://theparanormalpaladin.wordpres…

This was my first completed book of 2016. Yay me! And it was a really good one!
I think Wrath and Bones is my favorite since Touched. To be honest, the love triangle and Marnie’s obnoxiousness kind of ruined Death Rejoices for me, but maybe I wasn’t in the mood. I liked Last Impressions better, but this really seemed like inspired story-telling.

From the first page, I was drawn in the story, and there seemed to be very little setup before you were thrust into the action. A LOT of things happen in this book. One reason I may have liked it more is just that I love me some vampires/revenants and the whole premise surrounded them. The Houses are summoned to replace the King, who has gone mad and can’t do his job anymore.

Asmodeus, who was a total jerk, had Marnie go off with Declan (the Irishman returns and I was glad to see him) and Batten on a quest to retrieve three objects. Marnie also has to prevent Trollpocalypse. She gets to meet other Daysitters, most of whom seem like shitty people.

The world-building here is top-notch, in my view. I was fascinated by the orcs, trolls, spriggans, werefox, and mellified mummy man? Awesome stuff. The scene towards the end where they battle the trolls with the help of a massive Baltic sea wyrm was fantastic!

Also, this one had some of the best “nonsense” words that Marnie makes up and uses as swear words. So funny. Snatchgoblin, “donked in the wabbles,” twatdribble… lots of funny in this one.

No sexy Harry times, but I guess I can forgive that. TEAM HARRY forever! LOL

All in all, I think this is the best story since book one. I thought the author was really on her game with this one. Fantastic.

Review also found at Goodreads.