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Cuddlebuggery Book Blog > Fantasy

The Winner's Curse audiobook

A year ago when I first heard about The Winner’s Curse, it was during the Fierce Reads tour where I had an opportunity to interview a few MacKids authors, including Marie Rutkoski. It was a lot of fun and remains one of my favorite interviews I’d ever conducted. I really enjoyed The Shadow Society, Marie’s YA debut novel, and loved her writing style, so I knew I’d be more than eager to check out any of her future works. I asked what she and the other authors where working on and she mentioned The Winner’s Curse, which I mistakenly called in my mind “The Winter’s Curse.” When she explained the premise, I was instantly intrigued. Later, when Kat and I were offered the opportunity to be early readers, we were both honored and delighted but, admittedly, hesitant. A novel exploring a relationship between slave and master can only go one of two ways: really awful or amazingly well.

Don't You Forget About Me

Since I’ve started my little project of Reading Whatever I Wanna — AKA This Ain’t Your Job — I’ve noticed I’m reading more and, more importantly, enjoying it. Sometimes I still want to talk about these books, though, so that’s when To All the Books I Forgot to Review was born. This works out perfectly for a few reasons: (1) Sometimes I don’t have an entire post worth of words to talk about just one book. (2) Since we have so many reviewers now, we might end up reading the same books, but I don’t always review them. (3) It also let’s me read more and talk more, just in a more condensed format. Of course, the best part for my readers is that this post will always feature a giveaway of some of the books mentioned, open internationally to our readers.

Hover over the books for the synopsis and links!

The Ring and the Crown

The Ring and the Crown. Huh. Huh.

This is…a tough book to review. Did I like it? Yes. A lot? No. But maybe? I’m not sure. So let’s dive into these unsure feelings, shall we? I found the book very put-down-able. I enjoyed reading while I was reading, but I didn’t think about the book throughout my day, nor was I ever itching to get back to it. But while reading, I’d think something like, “Oh, this is very pleasant. Why do I keep putting this down? Magic and gowns!

So let’s talk about what this book DOES have going for it. First: sexy times. While not explicit in any way, these characters don’t shy away from talking about or referencing their desire for sex. I found this refreshing for characters living in a society such as the one presented in TRATC.

There’s another plus for this book: the setting.

Stormdancer US

For those of you following on twitter, I finally got my first tattoo this week and it was a pretty awesome experience. It was, of course, inspired by a bookish theme. But I’m already planning my next one and I almost certainly think it should be a YA inspired one. I’ve thought of a few series you could easily tattoo from. Let’s all share and care to help inspire each other!

Things to consider/I’ve learned from my tattoo experience:

1) Size of your ink

Since lines blur and fade over time, you want something that’s not going to become a hot mess in a few years. If you’re getting a small tattoo, keep it simple and not too detailed.

Also, if it’s your first tattoo, maybe do what I did and go with something small and quick to get.

2) Consider future ink

This was some great advice I got online.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor 
Goodreads | Purchase
By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. 

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

***There may or may not be spoilers here. It all depends upon whether or not you’ve read the last two books, and if you want absolutely nothing about the end revealed or not. I keep things vague, and do not give away any details, but mentioning the conclusion at all could potentially ruin things for you.*** 

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She lived in a city of wonder, behind an inauspicious door, in a refuge for beasts. She ached from something missing, but cherished her strange life just the same.

This girl eventually found love in a killer, who left her adrift yet also helped her find herself. She was given joy and had it stolen. She abandoned comforts to raise an army, to atone for her sins. She sacrificed what she could and wished for the impossible. Her heart ached and her mind hated. She dreamt of worlds as she destroyed them.

Half Bad

When I first picked this book up from BEA, I wasn’t very interested because I saw the word “witches” and thought, “NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.” Even in my review policy it states that I don’t review books about witches. Why? Well, because of Harry Potter. I didn’t want to sit and compare the two and I had a feeling that I would. What made matters worse was the fact that ended up being toted as The Next Big Thing from The Hunger Games to, you guessed it, Harry Potter. So it’s a good thing this book was nothing like Harry Potter.

Upon finishing Half Bad my first thought was, “HOLY SHIT!”, so I went to Goodreads to see what everyone else thought. It’s interesting to see how split most people are on this book, and it’s not hard to understand why. The enjoyment of Half Bad is going to largely depend on your ability to adapt to the writing style.

Death Sworn

Death Sworn, what the hell happened?

I’m sorry, that’s harsh. You weren’t the worst and at a few points I really did almost enjoy myself, but the fact remains, you put me to sleep. Four times. Once would have been highly unusual behavior for me, but four? Something’s wrong.

Here’s the thing Death Sworn, looking back I can see you had a plot arc but while I was reading it felt like things were just happening. I didn’t buy the villain in the slightest, the romance seemed abrupt and jerky (did the characters even like each other before declaring the other irresistible and making out?), the twists and turns came out of no where in a way that was more wtf than clever, the MC whined ALL. THE. TIME. and the cult of kamikaze children aspect unnerved me (but less creepy plot element and more in a I do not understand why this is happening, but I know I don’t like it).

20th Century Ghosts

If there is but one thing that I truly adore about Stephen King’s work, it is his penchant for crafting consistently interesting short stories. Granted, the quality of his storytelling tends to vary quite broadly from one tableau to the next, and his tone can vary so dramatically that it is oftentimes difficult to maintain a stable understanding and mindset towards what he is trying to accomplish in the space of some dozen pages at a time. Still, his entries are always, if nothing else, entertaining, with at least one wonderfully weird, wonderfully unsettling idea or detail to make the brief journey in one way or another worthwhile.

I bring this up because Joe Hill strikes me as being much the same sort of writer as his father. In fact, I could easily see 20th Century Ghosts as being a work stemmed from the elder King’s pen, so similar is Hill’s wordplay and imagination.

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Ignoring the love triangle advertised in the blurb (first mistake: never ignore a blatantly touted love triangle), Defy should have been a good book. In theory it has some great stuff going for it (adventure! badass girl warrior! gender-bending! sorcery!) but in actuality, all of these things fell apart or flat out failed to show up in the first place.

Come along gentle readers as I break down the good, the bad and the OH MY GOD I WILL SLAUGHTER SOMEONE AND THEN BURN THEIR VILLAGE TO THE GROUND- I mean, ugly.


The Good:

I…I finished it? I can’t really count that as a point in the book’s favor because it’s not like I continued due to any positive feelings, it was more the horrified fascination brought on by something spectacularly awful.

The Bad:

This book was a rousing game of Pick A Trope. Tropes themselves aren’t inherently bad, it’s how they’re used that makes the difference and in Defy’s case they were used in the most clumsily over the top way possible.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Beauty and the Beast retellings evoke a sort of Pavlovian response in me. I hear of them, I read them. Totally basic response to stimuli. This sometimes works out really well and sometimes not so well.

Cruel Beauty is one of the times it worked out really, really well.

What a unique story this is. Seriously I didn’t think I could be surprised by a Beauty and the Beast anymore. I kind of liked the comforting sameness of them all, like a worn in hoodie you snuggle up in when you feel crappy. This book is not like that in the slightest. It’s a tough book to review. It holds you at arm’s length for a good chunk until you suddenly realize that you’re into it and now that you think of it, you’ve been into it for awhile and you’re not entirely sure when that happened.

This book is not going to be for everyone, pretty much every character is an asshole.

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