The Winner’s Kiss Review

**Minor to Major Spoilers**

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Title: The Winner’s Kiss

Series: The Winner’s Trilogy

Number in Series: 3

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Flap copy: “War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people―and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?”

I actually read this a while ago, but just was too busy to write a post.

Anyways, you all know, KNOW, how much I love this series. This last book was so good, until the ending. If you don’t have the time to reread the first two books, don’t worry; through a plot devious, Rutoski actually made it okay not to remember that much.

I do love how Arin gets more time in the book. I remember reading, not sure where, that Rutoski deliberately made Arin have more page time as a way to show that since he was free, that balance of power is now shared between him in Kestrel. That woman is brilliant!

My only complaint was how quickly the ending wrapped up. A lot of people read this book differently, but for me it was always a complex romance series, so I was really disappointed that the ending of the book felt rushed and hurried.

I love this series and will probably try to convince my mom to read it, so if that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will. Read this series!!!

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A Court of Mist and Fury Review

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Title: A Court of Mist and Fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Flap Copy:  “Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.”

So I’ll admit, I was not looking forward to reading this monster of a book. It is over 600 pages!  I’ve been finding myself getting really annoyed at the editor of Maas’s books because she is not pulling it back. The Throne of Glass series books just keep getting bigger. And since this book is not the end of this series, I will admit to fearing that the next book is going to clock in at 900.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

I don’t remember being in love with the first book. It was good, but it didn’t have the punch in my mind as other books did (Hello, The Winner’s Curse). I have to say though, this book is BETTER than the first one. Much more character work and relationships. I found myself saying out loud, “I love that bitch” about one of my favorite new characters.

Could I have done without a lot of the sex scenes? Yes. This book is definitely for older teens, but even then it just started to really annoy me. I also would have cut a few lines and there is one line in particular that stands out as god awful that I am still not sure what the author meant.

One thing I am learning at work is how to look at book pages shortly after being designed to see how they look when they read, i.e. does an italicized word look the same size as the rest of the words. Whoever did that for this book FAILED.  SO many italicized words and they looked weird on the page.

I still thinking that the editorial team needs a refresher course and to pull the author back, but this is one of those reads that if you like commercial books, and need more sex scenes in YA fantasy, it will be right up your alley.

I love Sarah J. Maas, and I would love to have her as an author, but I also think someone needs to reign it more when editing.

Side note: still not a fan of the covers.

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**WARNING: Minor Spoilers**

Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here

Author: Patrick Ness

Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

Flap:

“What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.”

Well, I am glad I read this. Did I love it? No, but I liked it. It was a nice flip on the books I usually read about “the Chosen One”. This was my first Patrick Ness read and I really enjoyed the idea of exploring the lives of the kids who are surrounded by the monster fighting, magic wielding characters that in basically every other book are the protagonist.

The diverse element comes in with Mikey being OCD and possibly bi (though he does not yet identify that way in the book).

I probably wouldn’t have even seen this to be able to acquire, because this is so different than what I usually read. It was nice book, but I have no idea how I would have even begun thinking about editing it.

Picture Perfect Review

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**WARNING: Minor Spoilers**

Title: Picture Perfect (Geek Girl)

Author: Holly Smale

Publisher: HarperTEEN (HarperCollins)

Flap:

“Geek Girl is coming to America! The internationally bestselling series takes on the Big Apple in this third hilarious, high-fashion adventure.

When Harriet’s dad gets a job in New York City, Harriet is beyond excited to move to the land of skyscrapers, museums, and taxicabs—especially since she’ll get to see her dreamy supermodel boyfriend, Nick. Except . . . when her parents said New York, they meant a tiny, boring town two hours from the city by train. Diving back into modeling should be just the right distraction. But can a geek girl stand out in the fashion capital of America?”

Y’all know how much I love this series! This is the next generation’s Meg Cabot. Harriet is literally my favorite and I could not love this series more! I highly recommend this for anyone who need a pick me up, or an escape from everyday.  I’m ready for the next one.

I do wish there had been more modeling in this, but since Harriet has been let go from her modeling agency, it made sense that there was not as much modeling. I am wondering how she is going to get more modeling going forward though.

Also there is a major development in her relationship with Lion Boy!

Sword and Verse Review

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**WARNING: Minor Spoiler**

Title: Sword and Verse

Author: Kathy MacMillan

Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)

Flap:

“Raisa was just a child when she was sold into slavery in the kingdom of Qilara. Before she was taken away, her father had been adamant that she learn to read and write. But where she now lives, literacy is a capital offense for all but the nobility. The written language is closely protected, and only the King, Prince, Tutor, and Tutor-in-training are allowed to learn its very highest form. So when she is plucked from her menial labor and selected to replace the last Tutor-in-training who was executed, Raisa knows that betraying any hint of her past could mean death.

Keeping her secret guarded is hard enough, but the romance that’s been blossoming between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance–an underground rebel army–to help liberate the city’s slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries–one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.”

I had high hopes for this book. The cover looks amazing and it sounds good right?

Unfortunately, I did not love it. The beginning felt very rushed, almost like it was originally planned to be a series or a much longer book and had to be shortened. The pacing just did not match the ending at all.

Once I got to the middle to end of the book, I enjoyed it. But 3 years in the beginning had to be condensed to make room to linger on the a few months in the end.

Not sure what happened during the editorial process, but I think this book could have been much better.

I don’t think I would have acquired this. I suspect a lot of work went into the editorial process and while that wouldn’t have stopped me (since I am in the beginning of my career, I probably will have to acquire projects that need a lot of work), I am not sure it would be strong enough to get passed my editorial team.

Up to This Pointe Review

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Title: Up to This Pointe

Author: Jennifer Longo

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (Random House)

Flap:

“Harper Scott is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing Amundsen and Shackleton to the South Pole. Amundsen won because he had a plan, and Harper has always followed his model. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart. It will take a visit from Shackleton’s ghost–the explorer who didn’t make it to the South Pole, but who got all of his men out alive–to teach Harper that success isn’t always what’s important, sometimes it’s more important to learn how to fail successfully.”

So the publisher also says this, “Hand this utterly unique contemporary YA to anyone a who loves ballet or is a little too wrapped up in their Plan A.” To say that this sums me up perfectly is an understatement. Y’all know how much I love a good ballet book or want one.

This book was amazing!!! It was the perfect balance of ballet and regular person. It hit me right in the feels.

All I can say is if you are looking for a fun read that also will punch you right in your emotions, I recommend this.

Would I have acquired this? So this is a bit of an interesting question: I would have loved to acquire this, but I am not sure it would be right for the imprints I work for. I would certainly have taking it to our editorial staff meeting.

An Ember in the Ashes Review

**WARNING: Minor Spoilers**

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Title: An Ember in the Ashes 

Author: Sabaa Thair

Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin)

Flap:

“Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.”

So I will admit, I didn’t think I was going to like this. I had heard from that it wasn’t that good, and when I looked at the sample pages, I will admit I was not excited to see alternating points of view (POV).

But HOT DAMN!

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I started reading this on a cold weekend when I was in the mood to just sit in bed, under heating blankets, and read. And I DEVOURED it. I could not stop! I legit texted my mom that I wasn’t going to the gym, she was like “the book will still be there if I went to the gym”, and I was like “nope, too good to stop.”

I love the complexity of both Laia and Elias. Laia is a character I can relate to you from the first page. She is not Katniss or Hermonine. She shows a healthy dose of fear when trained killers come for her family. But then she spends the rest of the novel trying to atone for her cowardice (or as I see it, as reasonably healthy dose of self-preservation).

Elias is awesome! One of my favorite childhood books is Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. Elias reminds me of one of the characters in that series (I am not telling which one just so you can go and read the books and then guess who he reminds me of).

I could go on and on about this book. But seriously, this was a book I didn’t think I would love and then it was so beautiful, I couldn’t NOT love it.

Would I have tried to acquire? YES, I would have tried my hardest.