What’s Your Winner’s Curse? (My contribution to the Marie Rutkoski blog tour!)

Be sureto scroll to the bottom of this post for a giveaway of The Winner’s Curse!
WinnersCurse BlogTour

The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

In The Winner’s CurseKestrel pays far too much for Arin–a slave whose presence in her home forever changes both their lives. Even Kestrel herself can’t say for sure what prompted her to pay too much. That one choice–and its consequences–inform the entire book. The ramifications can even be felt far beyond in the sequel The Winner’s Crime.

I like to think of myself as a practical person. I tend to be optimistic but I think it’s also important to be pragmatic.

But even that has limits.

Something I’ve learned about myself repeatedly over the years is that I would pay any price for my family’s well-being and happiness. While I’ve never been in a position where it would help, I know already that I would give a lot–maybe even too much–if it might make things a little easier for someone I love.

I wouldn’t do this for many people but in some cases there isn’t even a choice. I’m not close to a lot of people but if a family member (and yes, that includes some of my closest friends) needed me I know I would be there and I know I’d try to help at any price.

There’s no way to know for sure since the series is not yet finished but I think that’s something both Kestrel and Arin would understand.

That’s me. What about you? What would you pay too much for?

Wondering what other bloggers consider their winner’s curse? Check out the full Winner’s Curse blog tour schedule: http://www.macteenbooks.com/ya/whats-your-winners-curse/

You can also find more about the series (including the game Bite and Sting) at: http://thewinnerstrilogy.com

GIVEAWAY: As promised, here is the giveaway info at the end of the post. Thanks to Macmillan (and Gina Gagliano who put this great tour together), I am hosting a giveaway (US ONLY) for a copy of The Winner’s Curse so you can gear up for the second book which will be out in March. This is a rafflecopter giveaway and running until February 6, 2015. Follow this link to enter!

The Winner’s Crime: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

*The Winner’s Crime is the second book in Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy which begins with The Winner’s Curse. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one!*

“The winner knows her whole line of play. But Kestrel saw only one move, and maybe the next.”

The Winner's Crime by Marie RutkoskiKestrel knew the cost would be high when she petitioned the Emperor of Valoria in an attempt to save Herrani lives. Months later outward appearances suggest that Kestrel has everything she could want. Her gambit to offer Herran independence as a colony only serves to better help Valoria while Kestrel’s shrewd strategy brought her to the attention of the Emperor. Engaged to Valoria’s crown prince, Kestrel is privy to countless parties and celebrations while all of Valoria admires the future Empress.

To Kestrel, it feels like nothing so much as a well appointed cage.

Kestrel longs to tell Arin the truth of her engagement. But with stakes higher on both sides, Kestrel is no longer certain she can trust Arin–if she ever could.

Arin thought his problems would end when Herran won its independence and he became governor of the new color. But independence as a reality–as more than a word–is a difficult thing. Leading an entire people is harder still. Arin buries the hurt deep, wrapping it in distrust and doubt. But once Arin thought he knew the truth in Kestrel’s heart. As he learns more about the machinations at work with Valoria, he wonders if he was ever truly wrong.

Navigating the complex alliances and threats of the capital, Kestrel comes to know the ruthless nature of life at court as well as her own heart. But despite years of training and loyalty, Kestrel’s heart no longer belongs to Valoria. It may not even belong to herself as she sets herself on a treasonous path to save her both the country and the man that never should have captured her love.

As lies multiply and deceptions wear thin, both Kestrel and Arin will have to face shocking truths as they answer for their deceptions and crimes. For both Kestrel and Arin, the greatest of their crimes may be not knowing their own hearts in The Winner’s Crime (2015) by Marie Rutkoski.

Find it on Bookshop.

The Winner’s Crime is the second book in Rutkoski’s Winner’s Trilogy which begins with The Winner’s Curse.

This story greatly expands the fraught world of intrigue and political machinations readers explored in the first novel as Kestril and Arin move through Valoria and lands unknown. The stakes have never been higher for either Kestrel or Arin.

Although there is still abundant action, The Winner’s Crime is an often introspective story as both protagonists try to make sense of their own hearts and motivations. After years of following her father and her empire without question, Kestrel begins to wonder if there might be more to honor that doing what is expected. Arin, meanwhile, stews in an untenable combination of responsibility to the Herrani and regret at having lost Kestrel.

The Winner’s Crime is a brutal, emotional read as both Kestrel and Arin deal with the ramifications of their unlikely association in Herran. Rutkoski’s prose continues to dazzle with rich, elegant descriptions of the decadent world of the Emperor’s palace. The shifting dual perspective between Arin and Kestrel is also used to excellent effect as this book once again highlights how much can be said between two people without uttering a word.

The Winner’s Crime is another stunning installment in a series that continues to impress.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, A Wizard of Earth Sea by Ursula K. LeGuin, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, Snow Like Ashes by Sarah Raasch, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury, A Darker Shade of Magic by Victoria Schwab, Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, And I Darken by Kiersten White

*An advance copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher*

You can also check out my post for the What’s Your Winner’s Curse blog tour starting January 30!

The Farmer and the Clown: A Picture Book Review

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla FrazeeThe Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee is a wordless picture book with artwork done in black prismacolor pencil and gouache. The story starts right at the title page as a baby clown falls off a passing circus train only to be picked up by a very surprised farmer.

Varied page designs including full page illustrations, two page spreads and smaller panels draw readers through the story while also highlighting key scenes.

Frazee presents a fully realized narrative with her use of color and light throughout the book. In the beginning we see the Farmer’s world in neutrals with many shadows. Until a pop of color in the form of a young clown appears. From that point on the light and the color in the story shifts as the titular Farmer and Clown get to know each other.

Moving from day to night and back again (always with beautifully drawn changes in light) readers see the Farmer and the Clown get to know each other. Although this story is wordless, the themes of friendship and finding home remain permeable–particularly when the Clown’s makeup is washed off and we see the scared child underneath.

The real beauty here, the thing that makes The Farmer and the Clown so special, is that as a wordless picture book readers are able to bring a lot to the story with their own interpretations. Frazee gives readers all of the pieces they need but it is still up to the reader to get the Farmer and Clown to their happy ending.

The Farmer and the Clown is a truly delightful and often whimsical story. Large pages and bold illustrations make it ideal for group or one-on-one readings alike. I presented it at my library system’s Mock Caldecott (where it received the winning vote) and fully expect it to receive at least an honor at the actual Caldecott in February.

Because of the whimsy (and the clowns) this would pair well with Lester’s Dreadful Sweater’s by K. G. Campbell. The theme of friendship also brings to mind Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato.

The Memory of After: A Review

The Memory of After by Lenore ApplehansFelicia Ward doesn’t know how long she has been in Level 2. Time is hard to track when you’re dead and your body no longer needs food or sleep or air. With the constant lure of a memory chamber to help her relive her fondest memories, sometimes it’s hard to even remember she is living in a hive in Level 2 and not back home with her family and her boyfriend Neil in the life she had before the car accident.

She could look at other, less comforting, memories. But what’s the point in reliving the moments from her past that Felicia wishes she could forget?

Everything Felicia thought she knew about her post-death existence is thrown into question when another girl in the hive turns up dead and Julian, a handsome boy from Felicia’s life, shows up in Level 2. On the run with Julian, Felicia will have a chance to reunite with Neil–but at what cost? Soon, Felicia will learn that the truth behind Level 2–and her own place there–is more shocking than she could have imagined in The Memory of After (2012) by Lenore Applehans.

The Memory of After is Applehan’s first novel. It was previously published under the title Level 2.

Applehans offers a haunting story of life and what comes after in this story that combines flashback memory sequences with Felicia’s after-life in Level 2. The Memory of After is an austere story that focuses on Felicia and the truths to be found about death and what comes next.

The story, much like Felicia herself, is divided between Felicia’s memories of Neil and her present escape with Julian. While this story offers a love triangle, it may feel one-sided as Julian is often a much more vivid character compared to too-good-to-seem-real Neil. (Much of the storyline with Neil takes place at church or bible study or other religious activities which while handled well, may pull non-Christian readers out of the story.)

This high-octane blend of action and science fiction mind games create a story that is both engrossing and original. Although the plot often moves in starts and stops because of Felicia’s memories, the storylines are well-balanced. Applehan’s uses the memory chambers effectively throughout the novel to effectively present information.

The Memory of After is a strong and twisty debut sure to appeal to science fiction fans who like their action to take place in surprising worlds. If you want to find out what happens to Felicia next you can also check out the sequel Chasing Before.

*A copy of this book was acquired from the publisher for review consideration at BEA 2014*

Possible Pairings: Matched by Ally Condie, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, Starters by Lissa Price, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, The Program by Suzanne Young, Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin


Week in Review: January 25


This week on the blog you can check out:

My birthday was this week so I tried to focus on posts I’ve been really excited to share which I totally accomplished.

I was off until Wednesday and then had a late night shift Thursday so my internal clock is pretty broken but I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things.

Work-wise I presented at my library system’s Mock Printz about why This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki deserves Printz gold this year. It wasn’t as hard a sell as my Caldecott title BUT my book did win. I feel like I should make myself a plaque or something. It’s totally fun and awesome to win two in a row but also a bit embarrassing because I honestly doubt it will ever happen again.

Our honor books were Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero and The Family Romanov by Candice Fleming.

Me after the winner announcement:

Blog-wise I’ve cleaned up my blog roll and sidebar and have been doing small maintenance here and there. I’m also neck deep in planning my April 2015 series. I think I also am supposed to prepare for Contemporary Conversations but I am sort of just waiting for Kayla or Veronica to tell me what to do lol.

I also received this lovely from Bloomsbury which I am SUPER excited about:

As you read this I will be getting ready to see the ever delightful Nicole for a slightly belated birthday hang out.

How was your week?

A Thousand Pieces of You: A Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia GrayMarguerite’s parents were on the brink of a huge breakthrough with their research into traveling between parallel universes when her father is murdered and their graduate assistant Paul disappears without a trace.

When Paul disappeared he took the Firebird, the device that makes parallel universe travel possible, with him. Marguerite is left reeling from the sudden loss of her father as well as the betrayal of a boy she thought she could care about.

Determined to get revenge, Marguerite embarks on a multi-universal hunt for Paul with the help of her parents’ other assistant, Theo. As Marguerite gets closer to finding Paul she begins to realize that their lives entangle again and again in each universe.

The closer Marguerite gets to Paul, the more she begins to wonder if he really is the villain she thought in A Thousand Pieces of You (2014) by Claudia Gray.

Find it on Bookshop.

A Thousand Pieces of You is the first book in Gray’s Firebird trilogy.

Gray creates an extremely interesting premise here as she introduces readers to the concept of a multi-verse while exploring ideas of fate and destiny.

If that sounds lofty, don’t worry, the mechanics of universe travel are quickly glossed over when Marguerite explains that she is not interested in physics or science and tends to tune out when her parents get too technical. Marguerite is an artist.

While Marguerite’s interest in art is a key part of the story, it is deeply frustrating to see art and science set up as mutually exclusive. Furthermore, although again it is addressed somewhat in the story, it is deeply problematic to have Marguerite note repeatedly that she is not as smart as other characters in the book.

That isn’t Marguerite’s only problem. She is also headstrong as she makes rash assumptions about Paul, Theo and almost every other character she meets in the story. She spends a lot of the book telling readers how capable she is and how strong she is; she reminds readers that she is ready and able to do her duty and avenge her father’s death. But she’s also happy to have Theo with her because how could she possibly accomplish anything without a smart boy to help her?

In addition to an under-developed world, Gray gives readers a love triangle that is often painful as Marguerite’s final choice is glaringly obvious in addition to neither male lead being sufficiently well-developed to inspire any strong feelings let alone romantic ones.

The basic premise of parallel universe travel in this story is fundamentally flawed (travelers hop into or “borrow” their parallel bodies) while also serving as a central plot point in both the main story and the romance sub-plot. Weak world-building, a disappointing heroine who makes terrible decisions and a denouement that is laughably simple and incomplete further serve to diminish this book as a whole.

Readers looking for solid science fiction will be better served by other time travel/parallel universe titles. Readers who go into A Thousand Pieces of You expecting a sci-fi lite romance are likely to be much happier with this novel.

Possible Pairings: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West

Book Giveaway: A Court of Thorns and Roses [CLOSED]

To celebrate its release week I’m giving away an ARC of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Giveaway is open to any readers over the age of 13. US only.

Giveaway will run from now through January 30. Winner will be notified January 31. If I don’t hear back from the winner by February 1 I will pick a new winner from the entry pool.


I’m running the giveaway through a Rafflecopter giveaway. Details on how to enter can be found by clicking “enter” above or clicking the photo!

You can also check out my interview with Alethea on Tuesday and my review of the book on Wednesday.

In the Afterlight: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Black is the color of memory.

“It is our color.

“The only one they’ll use to tell our story.”

In the Afterlight by Alexandra BrackenRuby is haunted by memories of her time at Thurmond–the country’s largest rehabilitation camp–and what she has done to survive since her escape. No matter how hard she runs, she can’t get away from the memories of the people she has lost along the way.

But she has to keep moving because there might finally be an end in sight with a potential cure for IAAN–the disease that has killed so many children and left survivors like Ruby with strange and sometimes crippling abilities.

Pressure is mounting to rescue Psi kids from the camps. But time is also running out to stop IAAN. After surviving the government’s attack on Los Angeles, Ruby and the other Psi kids are even more determined to bring about change. Questions arise, however, as they try to decide what to do and who to follow.

Ruby’s loyalties are soon torn between Liam, the boy who has Ruby’s heart and his brother Cole, the only person who understands everything Ruby struggles to control. With both brothers trying to pull their motley team of survivors in different directions, Ruby has to make some painful choices.

After years of hiding, Ruby will have to embrace who she is–and what she can do–to save the people she loves in In the Afterlight (2014) by Alexandra Bracken.

Find it on Bookshop.

In the Afterlight is the conclusion of Bracken’s Darkest Minds trilogy. It is preceded by The Darkest Minds and Never Fade.

Bracken once again delivers a high action and deeply thoughtful story as she brings her bestselling trilogy to a close.

While the story has its moments of action (and a bit of a road trip) this novel really shines as the focus turns to Ruby and the characters that have been with her from the beginning. Readers have seen Ruby push people away and sacrifice her own well-being for the sake of others. Throughout the series she has also struggled with her ability and what it means in relation to her sense of self. In the Afterlight includes the same struggles but more than ever it is obvious that Ruby is coming into her own as she embraces who she is and everything she can do.

It’s impossible to say too much about the plot without revealing too much, but rest assured that In the Afterlight has everything readers could hope for in this final installment. In the Afterlight is largely the story that these characters, particularly Ruby, deserve and also one that is deeply satisfying. An excellent conclusion to an excellent series.

Possible Pairings: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, White Cat by Holly Black, The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, False Memory by Dan Krokos, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud, All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Love and Other Perishable Items: A Review

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura BuzoAmelia is fifteen and chafing under her stunning lack of control over her own life. She is also painfully and completely in love with Chris who works checkout with her at the local supermarket.

Chris is twenty-one.

Amelia is a smart girl and she knows that Chris is a smart guy. She knows that Chris talking to her about literature doesn’t mean much beyond the fact that no one else working at the Land of Dreams actually reads. She knows that being his confidant about his studies at university or even his partner for witty banter does not magically mean she’ll ever be his girlfriend.

But somehow when Amelia is with Chris, anything seems possible. Especially when, as time passes, it starts to feel like maybe Amelia isn’t the only one feeling the effects of this crush.

In a year filled with a lot of change and a lot of new things for both Amelia and Chris, this improbable pair will learn that friendships–and sometimes even more confusing feelings–can blossom anywhere in Love and Other Perishable Items (2012) by Laura Buzo.

Find it on Bookshop.

Love and Other Perishable Items is Buzo’s first novel (published in 2010 in Australia before making its way to the US in 2012). It was a finalist for the Morris Award for YA Debut Fiction in 2013.

Love and Other Perishable Items is an incredibly smart book with not one but two introspective narrators who are as approachable as they are authentic.

Amelia is sharp and clever as well as utterly endearing. The first part of the novel, called “Spheres of No Influence,” aptly highlights the breadth of her world as well as its limitations in a way that makes sense within the context of the plot as well as for an actual teenaged girl.

Spending so much of this novel seeing Chris through Amelia’s rose-colored glasses, it’s hard to view him as anything but perfect. In the frame of Amelia’s adoring descriptions, who wouldn’t fall in love with Chris just a little? Buzo brings Chris into sharper focus by presenting parts of the story through his journal entries. Chris is broken. He is lonely. He hurts. He is, like many young adults, lost and trying to find his way to adulthood in whatever form that may take.

The incredible thing here is how well Amelia and Chris’s stories come together. Their frustrations and hopes, on many levels, mirror each other as both characters struggle to figure out who they want to be and how to get to that version of themselves.

Love and Other Perishable Items is a melancholy, buoyant novel about looking for love and finding oneself with equal parts letting go and holding on. Nothing in this book is especially neat or clearly defined, but neither is real life. In many ways this story is only the beginning, for both Amelia and Chris, as readers are left to imagine what other marvelous things life has to offer these two well-realized protagonists. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhatena, Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom, The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, Alice MacLeod, Realist at Last by Susan Juby, Undercover by Beth Kephart, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, Consent by Nancy Ohlin, Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey, Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki, This Golden State by Marit Weisenberg, Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood, Rayne and Delilah’s Midnite Matinee by Jeff Zentner

Week in Review: January 18


This week on the blog you can check out:

This week was crazy busy but it ended with a 5 day weekend/mini vacation for my birthday next week so NO COMPLAINTS.

Thursday I presented at the annual METRO conference with coworkers about virtual reader’s advisory and got to make a dorky 17th Century poet joke like a boss.

Friday I did errands including mailing lots of letters and postcards!

Saturday I ventured into New Jersey with Nicole for a signing Holly Black had in Maplewood. It was so much fun! Maplewood is a cute town and the store was great. The signing was really small so it was intimate and omg Holly Black is just the greatest. I haven’t been this inspired to write in months. And now it actually feels doable too! I have an arc of The Darkest Part of the Forest (signed) but wound up buying a new finished copy too.

I also bought myself a copy of Penguin Threads edition of Emma because I had been wanting it desperately. It’s everything I hoped for.

Sunday plans were very, very rained out so I am cooking tomato sauce and meatballs and backing up my computer files (I lost the flash drive I carry everywhere which was stressful!). I also was able to get an ARC of Thanna Lai’s forthcoming book from Amazon Vine and I’m really excited about it. An arc of Becoming Jinn also came in from Macmillan!

It took me this entire week to finish ACOTAR and I was . . . not thrilled. Partly for reasons that are my own fault and partly for legitimate reasons. Watch for an ARC giveaway soon.

I also got a lovely comment on a review on Amazon of all places which was delightful!

“Best review I’ve read. I finished the book yesterday and was looking for inspiration for my review. You’ve set the bar high for what I’m about to write.”

Don’t forget to check my reading tracker for what I’ve been reading this month.

I’m also planning two new features including one about backlist titles and one about blog stats so if you think you’d want to participate, leave a comment!

How was your week?