The Winner’s Crime

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Publication date: March 12th 2015

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc (UK & ANZ)

Number of pages: 368

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy (2#)

Genre: YA Fantasy

Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Lady Kestrel’s engagement to Valoria’s crown prince calls for great celebration: balls and performances, fireworks and revelry. But to Kestrel it means a cage of her own making. Embedded in the imperial court as a spy, she lives and breathes deceit and cannot confide in the one person she really longs to trust …

While Arin fights to keep his country’s freedom from the hands of his enemy, he suspects that Kestrel knows more than she shows. As Kestrel comes closer to uncovering a shocking secret, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth.

Lies will come undone, and Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them in this second book in the breathtaking Winner’s trilogy.

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Review:

There may be spoilers for the previous book…

Clever, dazzling and intricately woven, Marie Rutkoski stuns again with The Winner’s Crime. Now, Kestrel has to tread more carefully than ever.

The first and foremost thing I love about these books is Kestrel. She’s witty, brave and generally quite awesome. I love the way that she doesn’t have to be a supreme physical fighter to kick butt, but rather she wields her skill with strategising and her intelligence. It’s pretty great that she can still be such a strong heroine while not being a Katniss (The Hunger Games) or Tris (Divergent) in the way that there is less emphasis on physical fighting. Not that emphasis on physical fighting is a bad thing, I’m just saying that I like that it’s something a little different for me.

I’m guessing that if you read the above paragraph you won’t be very surprised that I preferred the parts of the text that were centered around Kestel (or Kestrel and Arin) rather than just Arin. Even in the last book I wasn’t a major supporter of Team Arin. He just falls kind of flat for me and I don’t a) find him particularly interesting, or b) like him that much. I find that he can be a little bit too moody and he just doesn’t really jump out at me.

I love the game that the characters are playing. The book so wonderfully shows the consequences of the actions of the characters and it’s all so carefully and cleverly plotted. It’s just so unpredictable that you really don’t know what move the characters are going to play next and what’s going to happen. And yet I feel like I know the characters so well.

…And I’m about to contradict myself. I did see the ending coming. But I didn’t mind so much because I was unsure and it did still hit pretty hard. One scene in particular towards the end between Kestrel and another character was really painful.

But enough about the sad scenes – because PUPPY! If there is a cute puppy in any book then I can just about promise you that I will love the book. Dogs are the best thing ever (sorry cat lovers) and they are the most cutest, loyalist creatures. AND PUPPIES ARE ADORABLE.

These books have made me really interested in playing the game Kestrel plays in the book: Bite & Sting. It sounds so cool and I’d love to know what it’s based off. So if you know…please do share.

I did feel very sorry for Verex though. To be honest I wouldn’t even have minded if Kestrel’s love switched to Verex rather than Arin. And I could not stand Jess in this book. I don’t really sympathise with her whatsoever.

All in all, I thought that this was a stunning sequel that actually surpassed The Winner’s Curse in my opinion. If you loved the first book, you will love this one.

4.5/5 comets
KABOOM! That only leaves one continent (one little flaw). 

Add The Winner’s Crime to Goodreads

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Goodreads author bio:

Marie RutkoskiMarie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner’s Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

http://us.macmillan.com/author/marier…

Review: The Ring and the Crown

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

The Ring and the Crown (The Ring and the Crown, #1)

Publication date: April 1st 2014

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Number of pages: 384

Series: The Ring and the Crown (1#)

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Source: Borrowed. This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

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Review:

A world of magic, politics and love where passions run high.

I’m not going to lie. I really didn’t have high expectations for this book. At all. The reviews I’d seen hadn’t been brilliant and I wasn’t a fan of the author’s ‘Blue Bloods’ series. Thankfully, I did like this one more than I thought. Otherwise that beautiful cover would completely have gone to waste.

I’d describe this book as following 4 main female characters (Marie-Victoria, Aelwyn, Isabella and Ronan) and one male, a man named Wolf. It was told in third person but narrated various scenes of the lives of the 5 characters listed above. I surprised myself to actually liking all the characters listed above (usually I’m pretty biased and find one point of view that I like most/least). But I was very interested in all their stories and really felt for them.

I love the way that Arthurian legends have highlighted so heavily in the story. There are mentions of characters like Merlin and Vivian and I really wish that there were more books that kind of showcased these legends. Being from a background rich in British and Celtic history, these legends have featured a lot in tales my parents used to tell me. Plus who couldn’t love BBC’s television adaption of Merlin. That actually has to be one of my favourite shows ever. Ever, ever, ever.

I also adored Melissa de la Cruz’s writing. Even though she was writing in third person, I never felt detached from the story. Her writing just kind of flows perfectly and is very easy to read. I got through this book very quickly and could easily have kept going.

While for my enjoyment level of the story I would rate the book 4/5 stars (or something like that) for most of the book, I feel like the ending and the story fell a bit flat over all. I feel like I was waiting for some big climax or some complication of sorts to happen. I don’t really feel as though much happened over the entire course of the novel. The story seemed to be more about who was falling in love with who.

Which left me feeling totally disappointed towards the end. I can’t really say much more without spoiling it but I decided to drop my rating because I felt a little cheated. Like everything that did happen in the story happened for nothing and it was pointless.

Although, I did appreciate the twists. Even if some of them made me a little bit frustrated.

And I loved the way it was kind of written as an alternative as to how history could have gone. I would love to read more books like that in YA.

The other thing is, we didn’t get to see much of the friendship particularly between Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn. I don’t feel like I really saw much closeness between them, only relied on what the author had shared about their past, which to be honest wasn’t that much.

I thought this review would be more positive but apparently now that I’m reflecting on it, things have changed. I probably won’t continue on with the trilogy. However, I actually did enjoy what I read, believe it or not. It was a nice, light read.

3/5 comets
The Earth shook. If they thought the Leaning Tower of Pisa was leaning before…

Add The Ring and the Crown to Goodreads

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Goodreads author bio:

Melissa de la CruzMelissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

The Winner’s Crime inspired outfit!

Please forgive the picture, I’m working on another one 🙂

I just can’t believe how long it’s been since I last did a Trendy Thursdays post…

The Rules:

  • You can make an outfit that can be worn in real life inspired by an character in a book you have recently read and reviewed. If not, you can just make an outift for any book.
  • Design an outfit you think they would wear.
  • Leave a comment down below with the link to your blog.
  • Post the Trendy Thursdays sticker on your blog (or make your own) with a link to my blog (Bookcomet).
  • Try to post something for each catergory.
  • Have fun!

This week’s book is…

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)

I would have done the Aussie cover but I much prefer the US edition…

Goodreads synopsis:

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.

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The dress:Appliques Navy Blue Ball Gown Taffeta Quinceanera Gown (source)

Hairstyle:  (source)

Makeup: permanent makeup, clean, pure, pretty make up (source)

Nails: Dark blue glitter nails (source)

Shoes: dark blue high-heeled shoes with brilliant stones (source)

Masquerade Inspired Outfit

The Rules:

  • You can make an outfit that can be worn in real life inspired by an character in a book you have recently read and reviewed. If not, you can just make an outift for any book.
  • Design an outfit you think they would wear.
  • Leave a comment down below with the link to your blog.
  • Post the Trendy Thursdays sticker on your blog (or make your own) with a link to my blog (Bookcomet).
  • Try to post something for each catergory.
  • Have fun!

This week’s book is…

Masquerade by Kylie Fornasier

Masquerade

Goodreads synopsis:

It’s the Carnevale of 1750 and Venice’s ballrooms, theatres, palazzos and squares are filled with delicious gossip, devilish fun and dangerous games. In this glittering masked world, everyone has a secret…

Set in an age of decadence made famous by Casanova, Masquerade uncovers the secrets of seven teens, from the highest aristocrat to the lowest servant – their dreams, desires, loves, loyalties … and betrayals.

All the world’s a stage. Let the show begin.

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The dress:

Hairstyles:

Makeup:

Nails:

Shoes:

Accessories:

 

 

 

*I do not claim ownership of any of the images used in this post. All were taken from Google Images except the book cover (Goodreads) and the Trendy Thursday button (me).

Review: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Publication date: April 3rd 2012

Publisher: Houghton Miffling Harourt

Number of pages 549

Series: His Fair Assassin (1#)

Genre: YA Historical /Fantasy

Source: Purchased. This is my honest opinion.

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 Goodreads synopsis:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

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 Review:

I usually associate the word ‘grave’ with grey. But in terms of Grave Mercy I associate it with light.

Before you splutter and tell me that is the corniest line you’ve ever heard, hear me out. You see, I was in this thing called a “reading slump” and I’m pretty sure that it itself is associated with the word grave. It sends shudders down readers’ spines. I had given up on yet another book and decided to head for my bookshelf, where many unread books lie. Then, I kid you not, I kind of had this moment. One of the ones where the world stops spinning (not for long, don’t worry) and you just get that feeling that you know if you were in a movie, a heavenly circle of light would have surrounded Grave Mercy in it’s modest little place on the shelf. That was the moment I just knew that the time had come for me to read it.

Then the fangirling moment came along when I remembered what Grave Mercy was about. How on Earth had I ignored it for so long? I adore historical fiction, kick-butt characters and FRANCE! So I began reading immediately.

But it took me just over a week to finish Grave Mercy. Usually it takes me two/three days to read a book but I really just had to savour this one. Plus it’s pretty long.

Let me tell you: Ismae doesn’t just have an awesome name. That girl is epic. She’s girl power in medieval France form. And epic Ismae wouldn’t be complete without the epic assassin stuff. I thought that it was so cool how Robin LaFevers had incorporated it into the setting, seriously, read it and know what I’m talking about. There’s this stuff with marques and poison…Plus it’s clear she did a lot of amazing research which only made the book more interesting.

And I read along pretty much quite happily. But I eventually reached the point where I was like “I’ve had enough now”. I just thought that the story dragged on a bit. Which brings me to my next issue: the ending. I mean, where was it? I thought that it was totally meh. Especially since it’s the last book in the series told from Ismae’s point of view, I just feel like there should have been more “Duval and Ismae together time”. Especially after what happened between them a few pages before. Speaking of Duval, while I liked him, I didn’t love him. I thought that while he was strong, brave and obviously cared deeply for Ismae, he lacked maybe even a little bit of personality?

While I’m looking forward to the next book, I’m just a little upset because I want it to be from Ismae’s point of view again. But alas, all I can do is hope that she is still in it a lot (after that ending anyway *cough, cough*) and that Sybella’s point of view is just as interesting. Come to think of it, I’m very curious for her story. She is probably my least favourite character out of her, Ismae and Annith (the three friends who the books are about) but thinking about it I am very, very curious about her story.

I would definitely recommend to historical fiction fans who love action and a little romance. Soooooooo good.

4/5 comets
Meteor shower.  A great show.

Add to Goodreads

Series Spotlight (2#)

seriesspotlightbgGemmaDoyle

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1)

Goodreads synopsis:

A Victorian boarding school story, a Gothic mansion mystery, a gossipy romp about a clique of girlfriends, and a dark other-worldly fantasy–jumble them all together and you have this complicated and unusual first novel.

Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother’s death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls’ academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing. There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order. The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions “for a bit of fun” and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the “others” and rebuild the Order. A Great and Terrible Beauty is an impressive first book in what should prove to be a fascinating trilogy.

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Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle, #2)

Goodreads synopsis:

Ah, Christmas! Gemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy, spending time with her friends in the city, attending ritzy balls, and on a somber note, tending to her ailing father. As she prepares to ring in the New Year, 1896, a handsome young man, Lord Denby, has set his sights on Gemma, or so it seems. Yet amidst the distractions of London, Gemma’s visions intensify–visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened, something only the realms can explain…

The lure is strong, and before long, Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world of the realms that Gemma alone can bring them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms–or out. The mysterious Kartik has reappeared, telling Gemma she must find the Temple and bind the magic, else great disaster will befall her. Gemma’s willing to do his intrusive bidding, despite the dangers it brings, for it means she will meet up with her mother’s greatest friend–and now her foe, Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task.

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The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

The Sweet Far Thing (Gemma Doyle, #3)

Goodreads synopsis:

IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CHANGE since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a
laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order – the mysterious group her mother was once part of – is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.