The Winner’s Kiss Review

the-winners-kiss

All if fair in love, war, and the final book in a series.

The Winner’s Kiss concludes the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner’s Kiss is a complicated book with many twists and turns. Without giving too many spoilers, The Winner’s Kiss follows Arin who decides he is over Kestrel and focuses his attention to the war. Meanwhile, Kestrel pays for her traitorous crime in a Valorian work camp.

Last year, I read The Winner’s Curse in this series and absolutely loved it. Earlier this year, I picked up The Winner’s Crime and was equally impressed. Going into The Winner’s Kiss, I was afraid that I set my expectations too high for the final book. Even though I had a minor problem with The Winner’s Kiss, overall it delivered an exciting and satisfying ending to the series.

I’m not sure if I didn’t notice it in the first two books in the series, but I loved Marie Rutkoski’s writing style. Everything flowed so nicely. Furthermore, Kestrel and Arin’s section each reflected their personalities perfectly. Additionally, the author’s writing style allows for great world-building. The culture, attitudes, and histories of each land are highlighted so well that they actually seem real.

One of the best aspects of this book would be the battle scenes. The author must have really researched military strategy and weaponry because every battle was well thought-out and realistic. Although not a battle, my favorite strategy scene is a Bite and Sting game between the emperor and Kestrel. Not only did the scene capture both of their personalities, but it kept me on the edge of my seat!

Another aspect done well in The Winner’s Kiss are the relationships. Throughout the series, I appreciated that Rutkoski strayed away from the typical love triangle. In all three books, readers see how Kestrel and Arin’s relationships grows based on the changes they undergo in all three books. I also liked seeing Kestrel wrestle with feelings towards her father. Their ending may not be perfect, but it is extremely realistic and true to their characters. I also enjoyed seeing some of the more platonic relationships, such as Arin and Roshar. Each relationship was well developed and directly affected the plot.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

There was only one problem that I had with The Winner’s Kiss. Out of every plot twist, memory loss is my least favorite. When I watched Cinderella III, which uses a similar plot twist, I almost turned off the movie. Personally, I dislike how a memory loss story line almost ruins the original story by taking away the experiences of one or more characters. While the author does make Kestrel face the past, I didn’t really think this part of the story was necessary. It only dragged out the beginning of the novel.

END SPOILERS. 

Overall, I really enjoyed The Winner’s Kiss. I will really miss reading about Kestrel and Arin! I rate The Winner’s Kiss as four out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Lunar Chronicles Memes

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s theme is fandom freebie. There have been a lot of fandoms that have stemmed from books.  In high school, I LOVED The Hunger Games. I bought a shirt, I bought the nail polish, I bought the pin, and I wore it all to the midnight premiere. Besides The Hunger Games, I never became extremely invested in another book “fandom.” Then, I read The Lunar Chronicles.

I love fairytale retellings and I loved the unique takes Marissa Meyer took on some of my favorite classic fairytales. I loved every character and breezed through every book within the span of a few days. After scanning Pinterest, here are some of my favorite memes/pictures from The Lunar Chronicles fandom (all images from Pinterest):

I remember Marissa Meyer saying somewhere how she had watched Tangled and her first thought was,"Hey that's my cocky bandit!" And then you see this.:

Source: broadwayandballgowns THIS IS SOO BEAUTIFUL:

This is so true oh my word:

Source: broadwayandballgowns THIS IS SOO BEAUTIFUL:

Cresswell:

 

What is your favorite fandom?

Thrift Store Book Haul #9

one dollar bills 2

Recently, I went to a local thrift store and Goodwill. I found some great books at really low prices! Here’s what I found:

  • Biscuit’s Birthday by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing

The Night Before picture books are so cute. I’m glad that I found another one!

  • The Grapes of Math by Greg Tang

I love finding picture books that make math fun! This will be a great book to add to my collection.

  • A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

I actually found these two Eric Carle books when I searched the books at Goodwill a second time. I’m glad that I looked again because these books are BEAUTIFUL and in perfect condition!

  • Philppa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister by Liz Kessler

I saw this book was by the author of the Emily Windsnap series. I haven’t read that yet, but the plot sounded cute, so I picked it up!

  • Judy Moody by Megan McDonald
  • Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #3 by Dav Pilkey
  • Captain Underpants #6 by Dav Pilkey

I remember seeing tons of people reading this series when I was in elementary school. When I saw a few at the thrift store, I knew I couldn’t pass them up! I know the movie is coming out soon, so I’ll have to try to read one before it comes out.

  • The Magic Treehouse #5: Night of the Ninjas
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

I’ve checked this book out so many times from the library, but still haven’t read it yet. Now that I have my own copy, I can read it whenever I want!

  • Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

I’ve wanted to read this book since it came out a couple years ago. When I saw this book in perfect condition at Goodwill, I couldn’t pass it up!

 

What are some of your recent deals on books?

September Surprises Review

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I’m not surprised that I enjoyed September Surprises by Ann M. Martin.

September Surprises in the sixth book in the Main Street series. Even though there may be minor spoilers if you read the books out of order, it is not absolutely necessary to read them in order. In September Surprises, Camden Falls experiences a lot of new changes as another school year begins. Flora, Nikki, and Olivia move up to the middle school where Olivia faces a bully. Meanwhile, Ruby helps her class raise money to support a school faced with a disaster and distresses over her grandmother’s possible love interest.

I remember that I picked up the Main Street series when the book came out (I was only eleven years old!). There were aspects of the first two books in the series, which I read when I was younger, that I liked and did not like. After reading the sixth book in the series, I think many of my pros and cons are the same.

I think the relationships and realistic situations in this book are extremely well done. I think many children and adults can relate to Olivia’s situation. The author accurately depicts on anyone would feel when faced with a similar situation. While I wish Olivia’s situation was resolved more in this book, I suspect it will also play a role in later book of the series. I also really appreciated seeing Ruby’s relationship grow with Min. The author depicts a very healthy relationship between the girls and their guardian.

My feelings towards the writing style are mixed. Martin’s writing is very descriptive and the scenes that pan in and out of the town give a good description of the time. However, the writing sometimes makes me bored and makes the plot move extremely slow. I actually started this book last year, stopped halfway, and it didn’t pick it up again until January. While this book is written beautifully, it may bore younger readers who want more action.

Overall, I really like the Main Street series and enjoyed September Surprises. Since I only had minor problems with this book, I rate September Surprises as four out of five stars.

Selfie Saturday: My Washington D.C. Trip

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Recently, my college had spring break. A few of my friends and I decided to spend spring break in Washington D.C.! I had never been to Washington D.C. before, so I loved seeing all of the monuments and places that I saw on TV and textbooks in real life. Here are some of the highlights from my trip:

  • On my first day in D.C.,  I visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum! I didn’t have much time to spend here (only an hour), so it was my least favorite of the museums that I visited. My favorite part about this museum would have to be the different pilot and flight attendant uniforms from different decades!

plane

  • On my second day of D.C., I saw a lot of the monuments. First, I attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Presidents attend a service at this church before they are inaugurated. Then, I stopped outside of the White House. After the White House, I walked to the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, and Lincoln Memorial.

white housemonument

  •  After the walking on the National Mall, I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was one of the major highlights of my trip. The Holocaust Museum is definitely one of the best museums that I have ever visited. When you enter the museum, you receive an identification card. Every floor, you read more about the real person on your identification card. One of the most impacting moments for me in the museum was there was a hallway and on each side of the room were piles of shoes from victims of the Holocaust that were taken when they entered a concentration camp.
  • The next day was a little lighter after experiencing the Holocaust museum. First, I went to the Zoo. I was really excited to see one of my favorite animals, the panda! The day I went was a little chilly so many of the animals were not outside. Luckily, the National Zoo has many inside exhibits so I still got to see the pandas!

panda statue

  • After the National Zoo, I went to Georgetown. I was excited to get cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, the store that was featured on TLC’s D.C. Cupcakes. The Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake cupcake was the best cupcake that I’ve ever eaten and the Unicorn cupcake was so cute!
Image may contain: dessert and food

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cheesecake cupcake (first on the right), Unicorn cupcake (second from the right)

  • The next day, I did a lot of walking… about fifteen miles! I started by walking to the Jefferson Memorial. After the Jefferson Memorial, I went to the National Archives. It was so cool to see the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in person! I also saw Rosa Parks’s fingerprints and arrest report, which was very interesting to see.

jefferson

  • After the National Archives, I visited Ford’s Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Even though the theatre was not open, the museum was very well put together. I also loved how Ford’s Theatre also included the house where Lincoln was carried after he was shot and included a lot of information on the plot to assassinate Lincoln.
  • After Ford’s Theatre, my friends and I practically sprinted to the Library of Congress. I really liked looking at the reading room in the Library of Congress, but wasn’t that interested in the other exhibits. It was interesting to see so many artifacts from early America, but it wasn’t my favorite place that I visited during my trip.
  • Since there was still some time left before the museums closed, I went to the Smithsonian Natural History museum. My favorite parts of this museum were seeing the dinosaur bones and the mummies!

natural history

  • I finished off the night by walking to the Capitol Building and monuments on the National Mall at night! Even though it was raining, all the monuments were so beautiful when lit up.
  • On my last day in D.C., I visited the Smithsonian American History Museum. My favorite part of this museum was seeing Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz!

 

What places have you visited recently? 

 

The Wrath and the Dawn Review

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There may be a thousand and one nights, but I rate Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn as three stars.

Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, The Wrath and the Dawn follows sixteen-year-old Shahrzad who volunteers as the caliph’s next bride. Every night, he marries a new bride and she dies by dawn. Shahrzad, or Shahzi, is determined to live through the night and to avenge her best friend’s death by killing the caliph. Surprisingly, Shahzi falls for the caliph who is nothing like she expected.

I remember seeing The Wrath and the Dawn in bookstores when it came out, but I never picked it up. I’ve heard a lot about this series through the blogging community, so when I found it in my library’s e-books, I decided to give it a try. While I liked many aspects of The Wrath and the Dawn, I think it fell flat in several areas.

Many of novel’s strengths rely on how it stands out from out young adult novels. The setting and the author’s writing style were very different from many other young adult novels that I’ve recently read. While I thought the author’s writing style was beautiful and enchanting, I felt slightly distanced from the story. This caused me to not feel as close to the characters.

Another aspect I really appreciated was how the author integrated the characters’ native language. Personally, I don’t like when authors use a word foreign to the audience to just define it in the next sentence because it often disrupts the story’s flow. I appreciated that the author of this novel did not do that, but included a mini-dictionary in the back of the novel.

One problem that I had with this book was the inconsistency in some of the characters. Shahzi is frequently described as extremely clever, adventurous, and determined to avenge her best friend’s death. Her actions, however, say otherwise. She exposes her archery skills to both the caliph and the head of the military. After only a few days, she’s already in love with the man who killed her best friend. Since I felt so distanced by the writing style, I had a difficult time connecting with her.

Another issue that I had with The Wrath and the Dawn would be the pacing of the different story lines. The magic aspect popped up only a few times throughout the story. Even though it will most likely play a larger role in the second book, the author could have elaborated more on this story line. Also, Tariq’s story line started strong but barely appeared in the second half of the story. When he did appear at the end, his motives didn’t seem to hold up.

Overall, The Wrath and the Dawn stands out for it’s unique setting and writing. However, I felt too distanced from the characters to be completely invested in the story. I rate The Wrath and the Dawn as three out of five stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring TBR

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This book’s theme are ten books on your Spring TBR. Since I am student teaching this semester, I do not have much time to read. However, I still have a lot of books that I hope to read before Spring ends! Here are my choices:

1.) Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy

Just Fly Away

I received an ARC of this book, so I really want to read it before its release on May 28. Just Fly Away follows a fifteen-year-old girl who discovers that she has a brother after her father had an affair.

2.) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon

This is another ARC I hope to read before its May 2 release. This book interested me because it centers on a foster child with autism trying to adjust to her new foster family.

3.) Love, Ish by Karen Rivers

Love, Ish

Once again, another ARC I hope to read. I actually received this book only a few days before its release date (which is today), but I hope to read and review it ASAP! Love, Ish follows Ish, a girl who dreams to be one of the first settlers on Mars. Her dreams are threatened, however, when she is diagnosed with cancer.

4.) Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne

Snowed In

Snowed In should be a short, quick read. I really want to read this book while snow is still on the ground!

5.) Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark

Icing on the Lake

Like Snowed In, Icing on the Lake is a cute winter read that I want to finish before flowers start blooming!

6.) The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

The Fill-In Boyfriend

Even though I’m no longer in high school, I think The Fill-In Boyfriend would be so much fun to read around prom time since the main character finds a fill-in date at the last minute.

7.) Shooter by Caroline Pignat

Shooter

Shooter is described as a Breakfast Club-type story that focuses on a group of students hiding in the bathroom during a school shooting. Anything with the Breakfast Club in the description pulls me in! 

8.) Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys 

Salt to the Sea

After visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. over Spring Break, I really want to read more books set during World War II. I’m a huge fan of Ruta Sepetys and I’m sure this book will not disappoint!

9.) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

I’ve been wanting to read this book for awhile now and I finally started it during Spring Break! Hopefully I can finish it before the spring ends.

10.) Deuteronomy in The Bible

Holy Bible: New International Version

I’ve been working through Deuteronomy for awhile now, so I hope that I can finish reading it by the end of March!

 

What is on your Spring TBR pile?

 

Books on my College Bookshelf

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Even though I probably don’t have much time for reading this semester, I wanted to bring a few books back to college! Here are the book currently on my college bookshelf:

The Statistical Probably of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

I’ve wanted to read a book by Jennifer E. Smith for awhile now, so I was so excited to find this book at a local thrift store. This book seems cute and fun, so it is high on my TBR list.

Tarnish by Katherine Longshore

Tarnish

This cover looked so pretty that it made me want to read it! It will be interesting to go into this book since I really don’t know anything about it. According to Goodreads, Tarnish is about Anne Boleyn when she arrives in King Henry VIII’s court.

Gilt by Katherine Longshore

Gilt

Gilt is another book in the Royal Circle series and another case where I haven’t heard much about it. Like with Tarnish, the cover pulled me in. According to Goodreads, Gilt focuses on Kitty, a friend of Catherine Howard, caught in a love triangle.

Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns

I’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and a short story by John Green in Let it Snow. I just thought they were okay. For some reason, I’ve really been wanting to read this book. Hopefully I like this book better than the other works I’ve read by him!

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy 

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

My sister picked up this book last summer at our library’s book sale. I started thinking about this book a lot recently, so I thought I would bring it back to college for my TBR shelf. In this book, two Jewish children and taken in by a German woman during the last months of Nazi occupation.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

This book has been on my TBR for a really long time. Now that I have my own copy of this book, hopefully I will finally read it!

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 

Burn for Burn (Burn for Burn, #1)

Even though this book was published awhile ago, I’ve really been wanting to read it recently. Luckily, I found a copy at a local thrift store! I’ve never read anything by Siobahn Vivian, but I’ve really enjoyed everything I read by Jenny Han, so I’m excited to read this one.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)

My sister read this book and didn’t like it, so I never picked it up. However, I heard someone on Youtube talking about how much they loved this series recently. I can’t wait to read this book to see what side I fall on!

 

What books are on your TBR pile right now?

Kill the Boy Band Review

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The offensive humor and poor satire in Goldy Moldavsky’s Kill the Boy Band killed this book’s rating.

Kill the Boy Band follows four fan girls of the British boy band, The Ruperts, as they try to score tickets to the band’s Thanksgiving concert. In the process, they “accidentally” kidnap one of the band’s members. Soon, the girls realized the people they bonded with online are not the same people standing in front of them. One girls harbors a deep secret that threatens to kill their friendship… and the boy band.

After researching more about this book, I discovered that the author actually wrote this book after watching a documentary about boy bands where girls cried, screamed, and fainted over their favorite celebrities. I think this negatively impacted the book which acts like these are the only fans who existed. Although the book uses dark humor and satire to deliver its message, therefore may use stereotypes to prove a point, the book fell flat in both areas.

For me, most of the “humor” crossed the line to plain offensive, especially in the first half of the book. The main character repeatedly refers to Rupert P., the boy band member they captured, as “the ugly one” and “the jerk” of the group. It was almost used to justify the harassment and torture that followed. During Rupert P.’s kidnapping, the girls threaten to use his sexuality against him. Though the author describes how this is wrong in a paragraph on the next page, it is continually used against Rupert P. afterward. In addition, one girl sexually harasses Rupert P. by sitting on his lap without her shirt and takes sexually suggestive selfies despite Rupert’s voiced discomfort.

The characters also constantly put down one of the other girls, Apple, for her weight. Every time Apple’s character appeared, they put down her weight. It was even stated that boy bands always include an “ugly” member like Rupert P. so “unattractive” girls like Apple felt like they stood a chance. The book further perpetuated a poor self-image when it mentioned Apple went on a diet so she could be pretty enough for one of the boy band’s members. Even with dark humor, I think there are lines that should not be crossed and this book crossed too many lines for me.

I think the prevailing message of the book was also lost. The author tried to show that boy bands caused talented girls to waste their potential following boys who never cared about them. However, this message was delivered by Erin, the most unreliable character in the book who wanted to (metaphorically) kill the boy band. Her reasons (which I’ll cover later) make sense based on her feelings and experiences, but I think it causes the meaning to be lost. As a result, I think this book encourages extreme fan girls and isolates fan girls who know the difference between loving something and idolizing it. I would have been more on board with that story if the author adopted that stance rather than completely condemning fan girls who are the people most likely to purchase this book.

Since the overarching message within this book is blurred, I think it will encourage an unhealthy aspects present in fandoms among young readers of this book who cannot differentiate between healthy and unhealthy ways to express their love for their favorite book, movie, band, or internet celebrity. Although intended as satire, this book suggests that “true fans” send death threats, act possessively, and shames any girl who stands next to their favorite celebrity. Spoiler: In the end, the characters face no consequences for their actions. The validates all of the actions throughout the novel, especially for the fans the author described.

The only aspect I really liked within this book was Erin’s “secret.” Another spoiler: During a prior concert, Erin went backstage to sleep with a member of the band. She expected him to fall in love with her, but he just used her. I think many fan girls share Erin’s expectations and there are definitely celebrities who take advantage of that. I am glad the author raised this issue within the book.

Overall, Kill the Boy Band greatly disappointed on many levels. Maybe huge fans of dark humor and satire will enjoy this book more than me. I found this book so problematic that I couldn’t enjoy it. I rate Kill the Boy Band with one of five stars.

Books on my DNF List

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Even though I try to finish every book that I start, there’s some books that I picked up once… and never again. However, I hope that I can try to read some of the book on this list again this year! Here are some books on my DNF list:

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Mysterious Benedict Society (The Mysterious Benedict Society, #1)

I tried reading this book over the summer and I think I made it around 1/3 of the way through before I put it down. The plot moved incredibly slow to me and I still had a lot left to read. Maybe I’ll try this book again in the future (I found the first three books of this series for extremely cheap at a library book sale), but not during the summer when I usually read more light and fun reads.

#scandal by Sarah Ockler

#scandal

I usually love Sarah Ockler’s books, but I didn’t even get through the first half of this book. Right away, the first character was extremely unlikable. Also, the writing style and plot seemed so different from her other books. Since I really like this author, I will probably try and read it again at some point.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)

I think I made it 50-60% through this book before putting it down. I didn’t feel invested invested in the story or characters. I heard the second book is better than the first, so maybe I’ll try reading this book again another time.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

I actually really enjoyed reading this book. However, I got this book out of the library and returned it before finishing it. I do want to read this book again, but classics always get lost in my TBR pile.

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson 

Image result for the star of kazan

I couldn’t find the right cover, but in elementary school this book caught my eye immediately for having a shiny gold cover. I checked it out at least five times, but never finished it. Looking at the summary now, it doesn’t seem like a book I would pick up.

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Image result for sloppy firsts

I read Jessica Darling’s It List last summer and LOVED it and before I even heard about that series, I always wanted to read Sloppy Firsts. When I found Sloppy Firsts at a thrift store, I was so excited! Whenever I read, it usually doesn’t bother me to see swearing throughout a book. However, this book used so much language that it made me uncomfortable. I might try reading this book again now that I know what to expect, but it’s not high on my TBR right now.

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff that Made me Famous by Kathryn Williams 

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous

I bought this book at Dollar Tree a few years ago. The plot sounded interesting: a teenage girls earns a spot on a reality cooking show. However, the characters fell flat for me and I never finished the book. This book still sounds interesting to me, so hopefully I can give it another shot this year!

 

What books are on your DNF list?