The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

BLOG“Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.”

As the daughter of a revered general, Kestrel has two options in life: join the military or get married. Neither appeals to her as she does not posses a natural skill for combat, and any marriage at this point in her life would be purely out of obligation. Durning an outing to the market she stumbles across a slave auction and on impulse and instinct she places a winning bid on a young man she feels an unexpected connection to. Over time, the bond between Kestrel and Arin grows, but there is much left unsaid. Arin has a secret and once events are set in motion, there will be no turning back.

I have to admit that I love a good YA fantasy novel. Especially during cold winter days, when a cozy blanket, a hot drink, and an escape into a fantastical world is a recipe for a wonderfully relaxing evening. The Winner’s Curse has been popping up on my Goodreads page quite consistently, so when I was looking for a new fantasy read I decided to finally give it a go. It is an easy read, and one you can absolutely breeze through, however, it is not one that is particularly memorable for me. I enjoyed the writing in this novel, and it is obvious that the author is very skilled at what she does. Overall, the story just fell flat for me. Not a whole lot happens in the first half of the story, which I wouldn’t mind if the connection between Kestrel and Arin was better developed. I found myself not connecting to either and didn’t really buy their connection. So, once the story really takes off, I was not at all invested in the events that were unfolding. Which is a shame because the latter part of the novel does have a level of intrigue and entertainment that I would have loved had I at all felt invested or interested in the characters. Ultimately, I am glad I gave this book a read, but I will not continue on with the series.

The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst

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“I suppose I’ll need Jastra’s plan after all. Pity.
It would have been nice to avoid murdering anyone.”

The Queen of Sorrow concludes The Queens of Renthia Trilogy; a wonderful fantasy series and one I have enjoyed immensely. In this final instalment, the focus is on the political landscape of Renthia, and the dynamics between three very powerful women. Daleina is a queen who has settled well into her role, although she lacks the power of her predecessor. Naelin holds great power but lacks training, and her role as queen is one she never sought or wanted. The most important thing in her life is her children whose safety and well-being she puts above everything. And then we have Queen Merecot, the key antagonist in the story and who fast became one of my favourite characters. She is incredibly ambitious, humorous, and borderline sociopathic. Her intentions are slowly revealed as the story progresses and she kept me guessing more than anyone else.  Continue reading “The Queen of Sorrow by Sarah Beth Durst”

Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

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“That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.”

The Southern Reach Trilogy is a science-fiction trio of books that consists of Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, which revolve around the mystery of Area X. This is a zone that has been cut off from civilization and numerous expeditions have been sent in order to uncover just what is happening in Area X and why. The first expedition returned successfully with reports of a pristine landscape, members of the second expedition all committed suicide, while members of the third expedition turned against each other and died in a fury of gunfire. Continue reading “Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer”

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen

BLOG“But they don’t tell you the pain comes with you. They don’t tell you that hurt travels at light-speed too.”

Emmett is among a group of young people recruited for a space mission by the mysterious Babel Corporation. The reason behind his recruitment is unknown to him, but the one thing he knows for sure is that it is an offer he cannot refuse. The dollar amount offered along with added benefits would change not only his life but the lives of his family and those he treasures most. With this in mind he sets out into the unknown, and soon discovers that it is not as easy as signing on the dotted line. Instead he will have to compete against the other recruits and fight for his spot. Those successful in securing a spot will travel to a hidden planet, which is only known to Babel, and mine a substance called Nyxia. But soon it becomes apparent that there is more happening than they have been led to believe.

“Wanting something and actually making it happen are two different things.”

This is the first book in a new YA science-fiction trilogy (The Nyxia Triad). The plot is interesting, the pacing is on point, and I couldn’t help but be completely drawn into the story. There is plenty of action and competition as the training of the young recruits progresses and interesting dynamics arise. The only thing that really fell short for me was the tiny bit of romance involved, which felt awkward and didn’t really click for me. I would have liked to know more about the hidden planet and its inhabitants, but that is sure to follow in the next release. Nyxia is an entertaining read and a great setup for what looks to be a very compelling series. I look forward to the next part of the adventure.

The Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst

IMG_4978“Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .
And those spirits want to kill you.
It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns.”

The Reluctant Queen is the second book in the Queens of Renthia trilogy, with the first being The Queen of BloodI read the first novel earlier this year and it quickly became one of my favourite fantasy books, with its beautiful writing and memorable characters. The Reluctant Queen picks up about six months after the events of the first novel as the newly crowned queen has settled into her role, keeping the peace and protecting her people from the spirits that seek to harm them. However, she is hiding a secret that jeopardizes her position and affects the safety of those she is committed to protect; she is dying. Without anyone in line to take her place, the search begins for a new heir, but finding someone gifted and strong enough to take on such a responsibility is no easy task. The search leads to Naelin, who has spent her life denying her power, and who wishes to stay far removed from the business of the palace. The only problem is, she may be the queen’s only hope.

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As with its predecessor, The Reluctant Queen is wonderfully imaginative and inventive. It completely captured my attention from the beginning right to the very last page, leaving me wanting more and eagerly anticipating the next adventure. There is action and a bit of mystery, all of which is fun and enjoyable, but what really propels it all forward is the cast of compelling characters. There are returning favourites from the first novel, as well as new ones that add to the dynamic of the story with amusing dialogue and humorous moments. This is a great second instalment in the Queens of Renthia trilogy, and one I cannot recommend highly enough.

*Book provided by author for an unbiased review. Publication date: July 4, 2017.