What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

I have to admit, the cover of the first book made me put off reading this series for years because fainting girls aren’t really my thing. But Kestrel is most definitely NOT a fainting flower! She might not be the strongest fighter physically, but she will destroy you in any game of strategy you can devise. From the moment she accidentally wins the bidding war for the slave Arin, she becomes caught up in the struggle for power between their two nations. Her father leads their army, and Arin struggles to lead his country in the rebellion. I couldn’t put these down and I can’t wait for the final book in March!

The Winner's Kiss

Still not sure if it’s for you? You can read my reviews here!

The Winner’s Curse & The Winner’s Crime

What if you don’t have time? There’s an amazing site out there called Recaptains: readers who recap and sum up everything in previous books so you are fully prepped for the next one. A life-saver time-saver for sure!

Here is the recap of The Winner’s Curse, and The Winner’s Crime from their site. Beware, there are spoilers on purpose!

The Winner’s Crime

20443207by Marie Rutkoski
YA Fantasy / YAFiction
4 of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in this trilogy, and I grabbed this one as soon as I could. I enjoyed it even more than the first! The few clunky missteps establishing the first book weren’t present in this one. It was smooth, cat-and-mouse royal court intrigue from beginning to end, and I loved watching it play out. As with the first book, I was never quite sure what would happen next, and that is the best praise I can give.

Kestrel and Arin are rarely together, which could have been disappointing, but I felt their plot lines were stronger when they were kept apart. The growing internal tension they both experienced made their decisions feel so real. Jess isn’t the dumb best friend that Kestrel assumed she was, and she pressed the flip side of Kestrel’s assertive nature with the declaration that Kestrel never does anything against her will. Despite feeling cornered and caught between horrible options, part of Kestrel’s trap is being known for going her own way, and this betrayal from her own nature was brilliant. Her internal unraveling under the unending pressure of her new life as the future empress made her character arc so believable, and I really fell in love with her in this book. Arin’s struggle to discover Kestrel’s true feelings amidst his own political responsibilities was equally moving. These characters came to life and I can’t wait for the final book!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Winner’s Crime is available on Goodreads and on Powell’s store website, here. Powell’s has several locations in Oregon, and is one of the largest independent bookstores in the country. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – A YA fantasy series following assassin Celaena Sardothien as she uncovers a plot in the kingdom and her own destiny. This has similar court intrigue with a bit more magic and adventure. See my review here.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – The second in a trilogy about Alina, the Sun Summoner who realizes the kingdom’s most powerful sorcerer, the Darkling, isn’t all that he seems.
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron – A retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Sophie Bellamy is pushed into an arranged marriage, then discovers her fiance is more than meets the eye. This is almost a relief, because she has a secret too. See my review here.
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore – Katsa decides to rebel against her uncle the king when a foreign prince asks for her help with finding his grandfather. This is beautifully told and rich in detail. See my review here.
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – This quartet about four different women from fairy tales is an excellent genre-mashing epic. Scarlet becomes concerned about her missing grandmother, and reluctantly trusts a street-fighter named Wolf to see if they can find her. But when Cinder crashes into their lives, things get more complicated. See my review here.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – Shazi swore to avenge her best friend’s murder and kill the king responsible for so many girls’ deaths. But when she volunteers to be his next bride, she becomes entangled in the mystery surrounding his court of death. See my review here.
  • Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat – (An m/m romance for mature readers). Damen and Laurent have begun to build trust between them to combat the regent’s schemes, but all of it could come crashing down at any moment if they don’t continue to stay one step ahead. The plot and characters are incredible! See my review here.

The Winner’s Curse

16069030by Marie Rutkoski
YA Fantasy / YA Fiction
4 of 5 stars

I was skeptical at first but this book won me over. At first glance it had too many tropes–the girl caught between two loves, one perfect but boring, the other fiery but impossible–the best friend who is just around to gossip, the militant father (in more than one sense), blond white people enslaving darker people, the fate of two kingdoms hinging on the relationship between Kestrel the general’s daughter and Arin the slave.

However, this book was nothing like I expected. First of all, the pacing was so fast! Instead of spending long chapters agonizing over issues, the short chapters with cliff hangers flew by–I couldn’t put this book down for long. The continually rising stakes in the cat-and-mouse games between Kestrel and Arin, Kestrel and… okay everyone she encounters, was incredibly satisfying. To have characters outsmarting and out-gambling their opponents was awesome. And it helped balance the few amateur mistakes made early on, because yes, Kestrel and Arin both had a few lapses in judgment that were exasperating. I’m still not entirely sure if I understand why they are in love–if it’s even strong enough to call it that–but I suppose everyone wants something forbidden.

Fast-paced, strategic, with an eye for efficient world-building and power plays–I’ll definitely be finishing this series!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Winner’s Curse is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch – Meira has lived her whole life in exile, working towards freeing the kingdom Winter from Spring’s tyrannical grip. But the process involves more than luck and magic–it pits Meira into a world of politics and strategy that might be beyond her. See my review here.
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – Alina’s unique abilities present an opportunity to save her kingdom from the spreading darkness–if that’s all the Darkling truly wants. This has a similar relationship between two main characters and a similar tone. See my review here.
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Speaking of star-crossed relationships that could ignite a war, Karou’s mysterious past finally finds her, but in the way she least expects. This is probably the most similar to The Winner’s Curse. See my review here.
  • Rook by Sharon Cameron – A fun, fast-paced adventure following another pair of strategists as they spy, plot and slip around each other trying to free innocent victims from the violent city’s regime. See my review here.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – The evolving relationship between the king who killed so many girls after one night, and Shazi, the girl determined to avenge them, set against the backdrop of political intrigue and mystery. See my review here.
  • Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – Mare Barrow finds herself with the people she hates most – the supernaturally powerful Silver-blooded royal family – after a strange display of her own gift. The gift she shouldn’t have, because she’s Red-blooded. Spies, plots, and twists abound as Mare navigates her new life and tries to find a way to free the oppressed Reds before she’s killed. See my review here.
  • Old Magic by Marianne Curley – Kate is inexplicably drawn to the new boy at school – and once she realizes it’s because she needs to break his family’s deadly curse, they have to work fast before he is the next victim. This is a light YA fantasy with some fun twists.

Rook

23399192by Sharon Cameron
YA Fiction / YA Dystopian
4 of 5 stars

This is a genre-mashing action-packed read and I loved it! Centuries after a global cataclysmic event, the Sunken City that was once Paris finds itself on the brink of revolution once again. The Razor beheads anyone who disagrees with the new regime. The Red Rook liberates prisoners from their fate in the dead of night, and everyone wonders who he is and how he does it. Everyone except Sophia Bellamy, because she is the Rook.

This story of spies and smugglers takes place over the course of a few weeks, as the Rook evades capture and the net tightens around Sophia’s secret identity. It’s full of plots, counter-plots, betrayals and surprises and the pacing is marvelous! I’ve never read The Scarlet Pimpernel, so I’m not sure how much of the plot would be easier to guess thanks to the intentional homage by the author, but that being said, everything comes together in the end in a satisfactory way, rather like an old movie.

It’s a bit long, and the characters don’t experience much of an arc, but it’s a standalone novel and it was too fun for those critiques to annoy me. I’d recommend this for something different in a very genre-based market.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Rook is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – This is a similar tone and way of wrapping up the plot strings. Alliances are formed and changed as Echo and her companions seek the Firebird to save their world from destruction. See my review here.
  • Holes by Louis Sachar – An older story that has a similar feel of narration. We follow Stanley Yelnatz as he tries to break an old curse on his family while at a summer camp with questionable activities.
  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – A zombie who doesn’t want to be undead finds himself experiencing strange feelings around Julie, a beautiful girl who doesn’t want to accept the zombie apocalypse as the end of the world.

%d bloggers like this: