Here is PART TWO of my first official book reviews. If you missed PART ONE, go catch up! Let’s get right to it… hope you like it!
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy Published: March 2014
About the book: “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”
This is first book I’ve read in 2105 that I LOVE and that I would recommend without hesitating.
With much respect to cover artists and humans in general, the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous AND absurd for this book. I do believe in the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” but also? Sometimes judge a book by its cover! If I were an author, I would HATE it if my audience was saying “ignore the cover and read this book!”
That being said… ignore the cover and read this book! The back copy does the story no justice. Rutkoski built an intricate world that really has nothing to do with slavery and tween love, but everything to do with complex political ties, what strength lies in the oppressed and those that do the oppressing, how cultures bias an opinion, and what someone burdened by a star-crossed love will do for that love.
(I hate saying “star-crossed love” because of Romeo & Juliet and all that junk, but if you know that I despise Romeo & Juliet as a love story but revere it as a love satire, we should be square on what I mean by that. Because what I mean is NOT “like Romeo and Juliet.”)
This book goes so much further than a girl falling in love with a slave, which I was not expecting and very much appreciated. You know what I mean? When you read the summary of a story and you get halfway through the book and all of the summary has happened, but there is still HALF THE BOOK LEFT? Yes. That. That’s what happens in this book.
Gold Mine: Rutkoski uses her prose in conjunction with her characters’ emotions. If the character is confused, irritated, lonely, or happy, so becomes her syntax. This is a tricky maneuver to pull off and when utilized poorly it’s highly irritating. But Rutkoski is a master.
For Fans Of: Chess, espionage, dare I say… Pirates of the Caribbean? Yes, I think I shall. There are no pirates betwixt these pages (yet? maybe?) but there IS ever so much adventure and cunning. Elizabeth Swann, FTW.
**Something fortuitous: I’d completely forgotten that the sequel to this book, The Winner’s Crime, came out on Tuesday! I may have to set aside my March Graphics for a little bit to devour the rest of Kestrel’s story!
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton Doyle
Genre: Memoir… kind of? Published: April 2013*
About the Book: “In Carry On, Warrior, Melton shares new stories and the best-loved material from Momastery.com She recounts her mistakes and triumphs with candor and humor, and gives language to our universal (yet often secret) experiences. She believes that by shedding our armor, we can stop hiding, competing, striving for the mirage of perfection, and making motherhood, marriage, and friendship harder by pretending they’re not hard. In this one woman trying to love herself and others, readers find a wise and witty friend who will inspire them to forgive their own imperfections, make the most of their gifts, and commit to small acts of love that will change the world.”
This book is very dear to my heart because I found it in a time of great need and emotional turmoil. Self-help and how-to books? No thank you. Memoirs wherein the author describes personal stories and what COULD be learned from them, universally? All in. Even before I was married, I knew that I wanted to fashion a safe haven for my future family, a strong refuge of kindness, equality, inclusion, love, and safety. The first years are HARD, but this book reminded me that creating a Family of Purpose can be done and that living a life with passion is not an impossible goal.
I come from the church and I am proud of that, but its no secret that today, religion as a whole is doing more to drive people away by warring over semantics than they are striving to create a safe community to learn and be loved and to help. Melton describes this phenomenon beautifully and sharply in her book while answering her own quest and question: how can I love simply and fanatically? How can I teach others the same? How can we, the women, the men, the world, learn and recognize that every human has GREAT WORTH even when they are messy and broken…because there is not a single human out there who is perfect and whole.
It is both inspiring and down-to-earth, because Glennon encourages every human to believe they can do great things and Hard Things, but she is the first to tell you that sometimes getting out of bed and putting on pants is the Hard Thing that day. She coined the term “brutiful” for a life that is both brutal AND beautiful and that’s what I have to say about this book. It is brutiful. It has brutiful lessons and stories, and it is how my little family has chosen to approach the world.
Gold Mine: All of it. But especially the story where Glennon teaches her son how to connect with his classmates and how to deal with bullies. That story gives me hope for the scary thing that is parenthood, should it ever descend. (For more on THAT, read the chapter where her son asks about what word Mommy says when she drops her keys…)
For Fans Of: I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, but especially to my people who have done Hard Things, who are in the middle of living Hard Things, and people whose very soul vibrates when they hear “You, too? I thought I was the only one.”**
*I should note that the paperback book was released in April of 2014, and it contains a couple new essays that the hardback/ebook version do not have.
** Paraphrasing the amazing C.S. Lewis.
More short thoughts on other 2015 books…
I’d heard great things about this space series and it was a fun read, but ultimately, I was not impressed. The last book is the best of the series, and the tightest, plot-wise, and I’m just not sure that can be a compliment for a trilogy. Everything I said HERE that Redwine DOESN’T do? Revis does. A good chunk the books would have been rendered useless if the protagonists had used their brains or their words and stories like that just aren’t my thing. I prefer plot points that are inevitable, no matter what the characters do or say. (with or without ignorance.)
The Body Electric by Beth Revis | Genre: Young Adult
I actually read the above series to get to this companion book because it’s copy intrigued me. (And I cannot, CANNOT read stories out of order. Bless my heart, even typing that gave me some hardcore NO!Shivers.) It is set in the same universe and time (kind of) but while ATU takes place in space, Electric is about what happening on Earth. The plot was tight and the pacing was good, but everything else was structured poorly. I dislike when an author stays vague vague vague about a specific point to further confusion and tension but never delivers on the vagueness or tension. It’s one thing when that is the point or the theme, (like the ending of Inception…I guess?) ((I was not confused by the ending of Inception)) but it didn’t feel like that was the point of this book. It just felt like there were too many arcs not tied up (neatly or at all) and too many questions left unanswered.
These two review posts have been SO FUN for me. There is something different about writing out thoughts about art mediums, as opposed to just having a conversation.* Typing out the thoughts seems to make me want to find better ways to say what I really mean, and I enjoyed the heck out of that challenge.
Definitely more BOOK TALK to come, with more multi-book reviews and some singular reviews, as well, I think. Love and hugs to y’all for sticking with me. Book Talk makes my heart smile. Cheers!
*STILL. WAITING. You know who you are,