This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is the Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year. So they’re not necessarily new authors, but they’re new to me! I had so much fun going through my list and seeing which authors I just started reading this year. What are your favorite new to you authors?
**Warning! If you haven’t read The Winner’s Curse which is the first book in the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski, there will be spoilers ahead. You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**
The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski is the second book in the Winner’s trilogy. It picks up right where the first book left off and it’s easier to feel immediately engaged in the story because of the past familiarity with the main characters Kestrel and Arin and the world in which the story takes place. The Winner’s Crime is entirely heartbreaking in every way and I felt SO MUCH while I was reading this book. Days later, I’m still crushed by the ending and I cannot wait for the third book because there is so much unrest with the second installment.
Kestrel spends her time in the Emperor’s home and advises him on wartime tactics for the Valorian people. Kestrel is intelligent and her real life plotting and planning is the perfect equivalent to her love of strategizing and winning games. Kestrel always tries to stay a few plays ahead of her opponents but with the Emperor, it often feels like she just can’t catch up no matter how hard she tries. She’s still torn between her alliances for her people and her father, the general of the Valorian army, and Arin and the feeling that his people, the Herrani, deserve their freedom. She’s faced with some really rough choices which usually amount to her needing to choose the lesser of two evils. Arin has tried to reach out to Kestrel several times, putting his heart and his position on the line, but it’s to no avail and it’s slowly driving him insane.
There’s one particular scene which takes place in Kestrel’s practice room that caused me to audibly yell “No! No! No!” I hurt my hand by involuntarily banging my fist on my desk because of how upset the scene made me. It’s such a well written and stressful situation for the characters to be in so I almost can’t get upset with Marie Rutkoski for causing me to take some hits of physical damage. There were so many lovely metaphors in this book, particularly involving the moths. Rutkoski has crafted such an elaborate and layered story that it is impossible for readers not to be swept away by her tale.
Final Thoughts: The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski is a heartbreaking continuation of the the first novel. I’ve decided to begin referring to it as The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy. This book is ripe with metaphors and bursting with emotion. You will not be able to tear yourself away from Kestrel and Arin’s POV’s and the ending will leave you feeling a combination of sad, angry and craving the final installment.
Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
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. (via Goodreads)
I’m posting this video a little late seeing as how we’re already about halfway through March, but better late than never! In my monthly wrap up videos I’ll be giving mini reviews for all the books I read that month along with a star rating since I don’t always have the opportunity to write a full review for each book I read during the month. I also just became a Book Depository affiliate! So if you’re looking to purchase some discounted books with free international shipping (for instance, those neon Hunger Games books from my January Book Haul) I’ll make a small commission if you use this link: http://www.bookdepository.com/?a_aid=superspacechick
I moved The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski to the top of my TBR pile when I realized that it’s sequel, The Winner’s Crime would be debuting within a week and oh my goodness am I ever glad that I did! The top reason that I enjoyed The Winner’s Curse as much as I did is the fascinating plot coupled with Rutkoski’s extraordinary world-building. It starts out slow, but once I got into the world, I was really INTO it. The series takes place in a world with different classes where slaves exist. Our main character, Kestrel, is being pressured by her father to enlist in the Valorian army or get married, as all girls her age are forced to do in their society. Kestrel doesn’t have any desire to do either but later events in the novel force her into a choice. There’s a forbidden romance that forms between Kestrel, the daughter of the Valorian General, and Arin, slave she purchased who is of Herrani descent. I was very hesitant to pick up the book (despite the glowing recommendations from other bloggers) because the idea of reading about a world with slaves that’s heavily political didn’t really interest me but gladly, I was very wrong and The Winner’s Curse definitely broadened my horizons!
The romance between Kestrel and Arin was very atypical and didn’t feel like a romance at all. Their relationship was closer to a game of Bite and Sting (a popular tile based game played by Valorians) than a full blown Romeo and Juliet type of forbidden love affair. Their feelings for each other developed slowly and began mostly because Kestrel is intrigued by Arin’s brutal honesty with her and his interest in music which he denies. She begins to value his opinion and thinks of him as the sole truth teller in a world of people who feed her niceties in an effort to appease the general’s daughter. Because Kestrel puts so much trust in Arin, it hurts her when she learns that Arin is not in fact being honest about who he is or what his intentions are. You can almost feel Arin’s pain too when certain events occur because he does really cares about Kestrel and he’s obviously very confused about these feelings. The pair are drawn to each other against all odds and watching them try to figure out their feelings while other outside events that are so much bigger than them are occurring is heartbreaking.
Kestrel is an AWESOME heroine. She’s one of the sassiest teens you will ever meet and while everyone believes her to be well trained in combat since she’s the general’s daughter, it’s actually her cleverness that often gives her the upper hand. She’s strong minded and continuously strategizing outcomes of every situation. Kestrel really wants to understand her feelings, make her father proud, and live a life that isn’t chosen for her, a feat that seems like an impossibility. Arin, on the other hand, is blunt and borderline disrespectful but his attitude is justified in a world where his people lost everything they once had including their freedom. Arin is also highly intelligent and he knows how to push Kestrel’s buttons. Everything that happens in The Winner’s Curse is strategic. It felt as if I were reading a political thriller and Rutkoski did such a great job of developing both the Valorians and the Herranis that it was very challenging to choose a side to root for.
Final Thoughts: The Winner’s Curse is an intriguing read with compelling world-building. The political aspect and the forbidden romance keep you on the edge of your seat, especially once you get through the first 50 pages. I’m looking forward to more character development in the sequel, The Winner’s Crime, which hits bookstores tomorrow.
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. (via Goodreads)