The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: The Winner's Curse
     Author: Marie Rutkoski
     Genre: YA, Fantasy 
     Publisher: Farrar, Straux and Girroux
     Publishing Date: March 4th, 2014

          - World-building and politics - so intriguing! 

    Things that could have been better:
         - Characters - just didn't feel real/relatable to me
         - Plot - too coincidental for me to believe in 

Rating: 2.25 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I've heard so many people rave about The Winner's Curse!  Plus, that gorgeous, gorgeous cover was calling to me. So I decided I had to take the plunge and just read it! 

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love... 

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. 


Kestrel was very difficult for me to understand. I just didn't feel like I connected with her at all - she wasn't relatable. I feel like this was partially due to the writing style, with the use of third person. The third person format really distanced me from Kestrel, and she was just unfathomable to me. 

Arin was even worse than Kestrel. He didn't make sense. In a normal world with consequences - I feel like Arin would never have been kept around in Kestral's household, with how rebellious he was at times. I felt like his purpose was to be the love interest, and it was very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief that he and Kestrel were right for each other. 

Let's talk side-characters now. I honestly didn't get Kestrel's attachment to Jess? It didn't seem like they were honestly that great friends - we get told they are best friends, but the actions in the novel don't support that, with how little we see of Jess. Ronan was really interesting to read about - he seemed like such a nice guy, and if I read the sequel - Ronan will be one of the reasons that I do so! 


The plot wasn't very interesting to me. It all felt contrived, it felt like things just happened for the sake of happening. For example, some plot points felt too convenient - highlight for spoilers. I thought that it was just too convenient that Kestrel happened to come by Arin being auctioned off, and Cheat was just REALLY lucky to engage Kestral into buying Arin. 
That being said, whilst I had problems with the plot - I did love the world-building. It was a familiar world to me, easy to grasp hold of, and I enjoyed learning more about each of the groupings - the Herrani and the Valorian. I especially loved reading about the Valorians, because they had such interesting beliefs/morals - women were allowed and even encouraged to enlist. This is so different to our society, because yes women are encouraged to go to combat in our world, but with Valorians, it seems to be more of an expectation. 

Finally, Rutkoski left us in a good spot for the ending. I'm curious to see how everything plays out in the second book, because the ending involves politics, is all I'm saying. And I'm interested to see how Kestrel will maneuver herself out of the spot she's in. 

Writing Style

The writing style wasn't my favourite. For one, there was the third-person format that hindered the character relatability. I didn't feel like I got to know Kestrel very well - it felt like I only knew superficial things about her, like that she likes music, or that she's bad at combat - not her thoughts, her wishes, her desires. I really feel like this is because of the third-person format. 

Furthermore, it seemed like everything was being dumbed down for readers. Sometimes, I felt like Rutkoski was repeating information previously mentioned. Whilst this is good because it reinforces that this information is important and keeps it fresh in readers' minds - at the same time, I feel like there was too much repetition, and it was almost as if Rutkoski was dumbing things down a bit, and I skim read a lot of The Winner's Curse as a result - just to reduce the amount of time I had to spend reading repetitious material. 

Entertainment Value

I kind of did have to force myself to read this book. I was really excited to start, because I heard so much great stuff about it, but I don't know I just didn't get immersed into the world. Nonetheless, it did keep me occupied, and reading for a couple of hours, although I did have to take a couple of breaks because I just wasn't loving it. 

Final Thoughts

I think an English teacher told me once that in order for a book or a movie or a play to be successful, sometimes there needs to be the suspension of disbelief. With The Winner's Curse, I couldn't suspend my disbelief with the plot and characters, and ultimately I couldn't enjoy the novel. The Winner's Curse, whilst easy to read in a couple of hours (even though I didn't fully enjoy it) is an ultimately forgettable novel to me, with little that distinguishes it from other fantasy books and other characters in separate novels. 


Thoughts in a Phrase 

It's not you, it's me. 

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Conversations: Which Blogging System Do You Use?

Hi everyone! 
This is gonna be a short one today - more mid-semester exams to study for! 
The topic for today is...
Which blogging platform do you use and why? 
But of course, this is a bit of a sparse topic - so there are more prompts below! :) 

I use Blogger, as you all can probably tell. There's honestly no real reason for this - it's just the first platform I came across. 

Why haven't I been wooed by Wordpress yet though? It's too tricky for me. I tried using it once, but it felt like it was too much for me, with so much functionality, so much possible! I could probably spend a week trying to customise a blog with Wordpress. Time that I kiiiind of don't have. 

Blogger wins me over with its simplicity. Even though there are lots of times where I groan and sigh and hiss over how ridiculously simple it is, preventing me from doing more complex things that I would like. But I prefer this simplicity - after all, so long as I have a platform that allows me to post and comment with as little trouble as possible, I'm happy! 

I know this is probably a difficult topic to talk about - not much subject matter for a Conversation as such. So there won't be a link-up - sorry! 
I haven't caught up with you all in ages, I have been a bit AWOL. addition to telling me about your blogging system, tell me about YOU! What has been going on in your wonderful lives? Big events? Birthdays? Blogoversaries? I want to know! 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Conversations: Which Commenting System Do You Use and Love?

Hi everyone! 
It's been a long time since I've posted! Sorry about that - lots of things happening at uni! But this week, the Conversations post is something I'm very interested in...
Do you use a particular form of commenting system? 

For me, I use Disqus, as you all can see, if you scroll below. 
There are many reasons why I use Disqus. 
As you all know, I HEAVILY emphasise how blogging should be about communication, making friends, etc. Disqus has such a wondeful system to facilitate that - it has notifications, a bit like Facebook, for if someone has replied back to your comment, and all that jazz. It's truly awesome. 
It also looks really good. I'm a huge fan of the minimalist look - it's difficult for me to implement, but it looks awesome! Disqus is pretty minimalistic, so it's nice to have on the blog. 
Then, let's not forget how Disqus can be integrated with pretty much anything. If you're using Disqus, you don't have to make a Disqus account or anything - you can sign in with Facebook, Twitter, and some other options, I believe! So pretty much anyone can comment on your posts, let you know what they think! 
Finally., Disqus is awesome because you get to "thumbs up" comments. Sometimes, I find it's hard to reply back to some comments - you know, the generic ones, that are like "oh, nice post!". But I still feel that obligation to do something, to acknowledge that comment, so instead of spending ten minutes thinking of an adequate reply - I just thumbs up! :) 

To be honest, I can't really think of reasons NOT to use Disqus. The only drawback is the lack of a mobile app - but even then, I think that has been resolved! I just have to play around with some code-y things..which I'll do sometime soon... >.<
Actually, thinking about it, Disqus can be a bit confusing to implement. Denise @ The Bibliolater and I have had many panicked conversations about how to install Disqus and how to keep it working (there was one time when Blogger had changed its system or something, and Disqus couldn't cope o_O ) 

What commenting system do you guys use? Why do you use this system? Can you think of any reasons not to love Disqus - I know I'm very biased! 
I love finding out more about each commenting system - so let me know! :) 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Conversations: Forgetting Books Is No Big Deal

Hello everyone! 
So the topic for this week's Conversation is..
Do you forget books as easily as you read them?

The short answer? Yes

Let's define what forgetting books involves. For me, it involves forgetting minor things, like a minor character's backstory (e.g. who Ernie Macmillan is in Harry Potter) to more major things, like a major plot arc (e.g. Voldemort dies in Harry Potter) or a main character's name (e.g. Harry Potter in Harry Potter). 

There are some books that are more forgettable than others. For me, these are usually contemporary romance novels... >.< They're my favourite genre, but some of them are just so forgettable. Even the good ones are really forgettable to me. If I had to hazard a reason why they're more forgettable for me than most other books, I'd have to say it's because a lot of the same tropes are reused in contemporary romances, such as the 'I-didn't-see-him/her-like-that-until-now" one, the 'best friend' trope, the 'fake boyfriend' trope, etc. Plus, there's also the fact that it's so similar to my life sometimes, I sometimes mix up my life with the book o_O 

Examples of books like these include...
  • The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West - I only read this on Thursday, but I'm beginning to forget major details. I was trying to write a review for it on Goodreads, and I had to look up what the main character's name was. 
  • Anna and the French Kiss - I absolutely love this book...but I've forgotten everything about it. My sister was reading it the other day and fangirling, but I was like '...o_O Who's Bridgette??" 
  • Paper Towns - ??? All I remember is that there's some super cool girl called Margo and she runs away and the main character (IVE FORGOTTEN HIS NAME) tries to find her with clues I think?? Not 100% sure... Same goes with An Abundance of Katherines - all I remember is a guy who's obsessed with girls that are named Katherine, and he eventually ends up with a non-Katherine girl, I think?? NOT SURE xD 
There are some books that are pretty memorable...but I still forget them. This, I attribute to just my poor memory skills, and a lack of rereads. Or binge-reading. And just time in general, to be honest. 
Some books I'm just plain bad at remembering details about are:
  • Percy Jackson series and Heroes of Olympus series - OH MY GOSH, this is the worst offender. I think it's because I binge read these books. But yeah, I reread these books, and I always finish reading the series within two or three days...and five days after that, I go "...wait. What happened in Titan's Curse? Who's Frank again??"
  • Deltora Quest series - I think this is just because I haven't reread it in a while...but I recently reread the first series, so I'm on track now! Just gotta read the second and third ones... 
  • Skulduggery Pleasant series - HAHAHAHA, there are honestly so many books in this series, that I've forgotten everything past the first three books (which I reread incessantly) 
  • The Mortal Instruments - To be honest, after City of Ashes, I'm not 100% sure on what happened. Valentine was defeated, and Sebastian's the new baddy, that's all I know o_O 
  • Evernight series - okay, this one is pretty bad. I used to love this series, so I really should know more. Bianca and Lucas (I THINK THATS THEIR NAMES) are like forbidden lovers or something because Bianca is a vampire and Lucas is a vampire hunter, and...that's all I remember, folks! There's some ghosty/wraithy stuff going on too...IT'S BEEN TOO LONG. 
But to be honest, forgetting books isn't a huge struggle for me. People ask each other all the time, "If you could re-read a book and experience it for the first time (again), what book would it be?". For me, with my weird ability to forget books, I can just reread a book, and definitely experience it for the first time. 

Here's the link-up! 

If you can't link up, let me (or other people, through their posts in the link up above) know what you are like with remembering books? Are you like me, and you can't remember most books from a specific genre? Do you think it's a good thing to forget books? Any tips for remembering books? Start up a Conversation! 

On an unrelated note, I'm going on hiatus again...
I honestly do this too often! :/ I've been very busy with university (overloading and doing five subjects instead of the usual four), giving love to my new puppy (LIBBY! <3 ), and working at my job. 
AHHH :( 
I'll definitely stop by and comment on everyone's blogs when I can - but no guarantees with anything on my blog, with the sole exception of this feature, Conversations! 

Keep reading and loving books!

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The Aussie YA Blog Hop | In Which I Cheat and Have Too Many Answers

Although I've lived in Australia for about 10 years - I'm sad to say that I haven't read many Aus YA books until the last few years or so. The #LoveOzYA crew have been instrumental in increasing my awareness of lots of new Aus YA novels, and I've got to give credit to Google - without both of these groups/entities, I wouldn't have been able to answer these questions! 

What I Love About Aussie YA
...can I pick more than one thing? 
I think the great thing about Aus YA novels is how diverse they are. There are so many broad topics that these authors cover, and for a small continent, it's crazy how many great books on so many topics are churned out. 
I also really love reading Aus YA novels and being able to identify with many characters, look at the settings and just go "YES, I know this place!". It makes for a richer reading experience, because then I get to integrate my real-life experiences with what's happening in the novel, and I just have a deeper understanding of the book and what's going on. It forces me to pay more attention instead of skim-reading. 

My Favourite Aussie YA authors
Difficult question! 
Jackie French 
Garth Nix
John Flanagan 
Lynette Noni
Emily Rodda 
...all make my list! I still read some of their books - rereads and new books! 

An Aussie YA book I Grew Up With I have to choose just one??
Anything by Paul Jennings and Andy Griffiths - their books were ones that I reread constantly as a child. 
Paul Jennings's books were just...creepy and horrifying, and I LOVED IT. 
Andy Griffith's books epitomised LOL and ROFL for me - they were so humorous...and my parents disapproved of his type of naturally I loved reading his books! 

My Favourite 2016 Aussie YA book 
I really loved reading Akarnae by Lynette Noni, and I was super happy that Noni also published the sequel to Akarnae, Raelia, this year! 

An Aussie YA Debut I'm Looking Forward To 
I actually don't keep up with debuts too often, to be honest. So no answer here... 
If you've got any recommendations though...hit me up below! :) 

My Favourite Aussie YA series 
Honestly so surprised that not many people know about these series - they both got me reading fantasy, I think! 

An Unexpected Aussie YA Surprise 
I didn't expect that she is an Australian, actually! Thanks Google for letting me know! :P 
But honestly, I used to read Emily Rodda's novels constantly. Like they'd always be at the library, and I would borrow them out and just read. 
Here are a couple of the series that I used to read from her: 
Deltora Quest books - there are four series now, I believe! 
...she's honestly such a prolific writer - I admire her so much! 

An Aussie YA Book I will ALWAYS recommend to others
...once more, do I HAVE TO CHOOSE JUST ONE?? 
I'm not going to choose just one - anything by Jackie French
Jackie French is remarkable with historical fiction. Especially some of her Australian fiction works. Honestly, I never cared about Australian history in history classes at school - but reading her work helped me learn about Australia's history, and it was just so much more interesting when she wrote about it! 
Some of her titles set in Australia - I haven't read all of them, by the way: 

An Aussie YA book on my TBR

It sounds really interesting, and definitely relevant to Australia. We've had lots of debate around refugees and letting them into Australia in the past couple of years - so I'd love to see how Abdel-Fattah writes about it in When Michael Met Mina

My favourite Aus YA bloggers
I actually don't know toooooo many Aus YA bloggers. I used to think that there were virtually no Aus YA bloggers...but I now know one or two, which I'm so grateful for!
This is in any random order! 
1. Brett @ Brett Michael Orr - Brett is not only an Australian blogger, but also a writer, so woo! :D He and I both come from Brisbane, which is epic! 
2. Jean @ Happy Indulgence - Jean also comes from Brissy :D And I love tuning in to her #LoveOzYA segment on ABC Radio! :) 
3. Emily @ Loony Literate - Emily has some of the most gorgeous photos, and her posts are insightful and just a pleasure to read@ 
4. Cait @ PaperFury - no comment. Just check out her blog...and you'll know what I mean ;) 
5. Maddie @ PasoMaddie - honestly one of the friendliest bloggers I know! :) 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Conversations: I Love My Books!

So, this is a bit of a late post...sorry! 
The Conversations topic for this week is... 
How do you show your love for a book?

We all love our books. I mean, that's why you're here reading this post right? And that's definitely why I have my blog! But how do you guys show that you love a book? Here are a couple of ways that I do...

1. Write a lovely review - Whenever I absolutely love a book, I make sure to write a review on it, and try to force as many people to read it. After all...if no one knows the book, how else will I get to spill all the feels?? 

2. Buy different editions of the book - this applies more to classics and books that get more reprints in general, but I love looking at the different covers, looking at how they vary! 

3. Take lots of bookstagram photos with it - To be honest, I don't usually use bookstagram a lot...but I still take lots of photos of my favourite books! I just don't upload them >.< But what better way to showcase a wonderful book, than by highlighting it on bookstagram? 

4. Binding it with protective film - This only applies to paperback books, but I usually protect all my books from spills, large creases by covering them with stickyback or contact. This doesn't fully protect them from everything, of course, but it does add an extra layer of protection, which lets me sleep better at night, knowing my books are protected! 

5. Writing in it- OKAY, I know this is blasphemy, but I actually kind of like writing in my books. Usually, when I have a favourite book anyway, I have a second copy of that book. And in that second copy, I annotate. I highlight my favourite parts of the book, and I write notes (usually me going "AHHH", and just me spilling out all the feels). It makes for a very...interesting reread session down the track! 

This was a short, more list-y topic this week! I hope you enjoyed it - let me know if you prefer list-like topics or if you like the usual lengthy debate-esque topics we have! 
Also - let me know in the comments or in the link-up, how you show your love for all the books! <3 

Keep reading and loving books!

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Soundless by Richelle Mead | Sub-par At Best, Problematic At Worst

The Breakdown

General Info:
     Title: Soundless 
     Author: Richelle Mead
     Genre: YA, Fantasy 
     Publisher: Razorbill
     Publishing Date: November 10th, 2015

          - The concept was original
          - Writing simple to read 

    Things that could have been better:
         - The characters were 2D 
         - Concept execution was poor 
         - Illogical events 
         - Appropriation of Chinese culture

Rating: 1.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon

Initial Thoughts

I absolutely loved Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series. I read it in 2012, because my friends were reading it, and I pretty much binge-read it because it was just so good. When I heard that Mead was publishing a book that had Asian influences - I was super excited! After all, my heritage is Malaysian-Chinese, so I was really excited to dive into Soundless. 

In a village without sound…

For as long as Fei can remember, no one in her village has been able to hear. Rocky terrain and frequent avalanches make it impossible to leave the village, so Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink. Many go hungry. Fei and all the people she loves are plunged into crisis, with nothing to look forward to but darkness and starvation.

One girl hears a call to action…

Until one night, Fei is awoken by a searing noise. Sound becomes her weapon.

She sets out to uncover what’s happened to her and to fight the dangers threatening her village. A handsome miner with a revolutionary spirit accompanies Fei on her quest, bringing with him new risks and the possibility of romance. They embark on a majestic journey from the peak of their jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiguo, where a startling truth will change their lives forever…

And unlocks a power that will save her people.


The characters were really two-dimensional. Fei was driven solely for her love for her sister. Whilst admirable - there was nothing much that really defined Fei as a character to me. 

The main couple in the books weren't shippable to me - they had absolutely no spark, no chemistry. It felt like they were just smooshed together, with no common ground between the two. Pretty much, it was like tokenism, but with romance, if that makes sense? Having a main couple in there, just to have romance. 

In general, the characters were forgettable - writing this review now, I've actually forgotten most of the character names, and their attributes. But maybe that's just me...

I also found the character depictions to be problematic. I was hoping for some representation in Soundless, but honestly, if you replaced the character names with Western names, the book would still flow as smoothly as if you had done nothing. All that makes this book 'diverse' is the character names. There is nothing else that really depicts a Chinese culture, and it was appropriation of Chinese culture.


The world didn't make sense to me, despite its originality. There are different classes of people in the world that Mead constructs in Soundless - the most important of which are artists and the least valued are miners. Artists get preferential treatment - miners are generally left hanging for scraps. However, miners work more and are critical towards maintaining the economy of the world. This contrast in value and necessity just didn't make sense to me. In our world, we have doctors who are paid more (generalisation, sorry!), and that's because they are essential towards maintaining the health of the population. Essentially, with Mead's world, doctors are less valued than painters. And to me, that didn't make sense.

Writing Style

Mead's writing is clear-cut as it was in Vampire Academy. Simple to read and easy to follow writing, that is Mead's talent. I would have thought it would be hard to depict communications between people who don't speak, and use hand gestures to communicate, but Mead manages it somehow. Despite this, this unique trait is diminished with the way that Mead presents it. It's difficult to explain, but Mead writes as if the characters are speaking to each other normally, which diminishes the uniqueness of having non-speaking characters. 

There's nothing that stands out with the writing - no wonderful quotes, no lyrical phrases, nothing. Just simple, easy to follow writing. 

Entertainment Value 

I had to force myself to read Soundless. It just didn't entertain me very much, because I found it problematic, filled with appropriation 

Final Thoughts

The only thing that was bearable about Soundless was perhaps Mead's writing style. As I've stated time and time before, the characters make or break a book for me, and in Soundless, the characters were subpar at best.The cover is gorgeous - but as we all know, we shouldn't judge books by their cover, and it is certainly the case with Soundless. 


Keep reading and loving books!

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