Review: THE WINNER’S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.


Seriously, that’s it. That’s the whole review. Pain and suffering. You thought The Winner’s Curse hurt? Oh my child, you know nothing. I think I made maybe six notes for the entire book, and at least half of those were simply to mark new names so I wouldn’t forget later. Honestly, it’s hard to write when you’re rolling around in agony.

Note: Spoilers for the first book coming up. Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (77)

Rewind & Review

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

*rolls around in good books* *wallows in epic television* *gives away evan more good books*

Stuff I Received

  • Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen
  • Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt (both from Bloomsbury)
  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (from Disney Hyperion)
  • Joyride by Anna Banks
  • Tuck Everlasting (40th Anniversary edition) by Natalie Babbitt
  • Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendson (all three from Macmillan)
  • Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (from RandomHouse via NetGalley)

Thanks to Bloomsbury, Disney Hyperion, Macmillan, and RandomHouse!

What I Read

 Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer – Already wrote my review. Check it out!

All That Glows by Ryan Graudin – This was a reread, and thanks to the Golden Globes, I kept picturing Eddie Redmayne as Richard. I approve.

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan – My first Kane book, and I’m LOVING it so far!

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil – Started great, ended with a sad trombone noise. Review to come.

Lion Heart by A.C. Gaughen – ASDFGHJKLKJHGFDSA MY HEART. Review to come.

A Court of Thorn and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – *zips lips* Review to come.

Event of the Week

PEACE OUT GIRL SCOUTS #byebyeHealthpark

A photo posted by Shaelit (@shaelit) on

Twooooo big events this week. First, I quit my job! Woohoo! It was sad saying goodbye to everyone, but I can’t wait to get to New York and dive into the publishing world. Anyone who wants to hang out, give me a nudge and I’ll let you know when I land. We can swap phone numbers!

The second big event is one I don’t have a picture for yet, because I’m still in the middle of it. As part of my moving preparations, I got to go visit my college roommates, which is always an event to remember. I love that I have such close friends even so long after graduation.


What’s Your Winner’s Curse?

Everything has a price. Be it money, time, energy, or something else, everything costs something. In finances, advisors often talk about opportunity costs. The $10 you pay for that fancy bistro sandwich that you eat and then push out later in the day could have instead been spent on a gorgeous paperback that you carry with you for the rest of your life. (But you also need to eat, so the bite of an opportunity cost goes both ways.) Energy and emotion spent rereading The Winner’s Curse could have instead been spent, I don’t know, watching a lush ASPCA commercial over and over. (But oh, it’s such a beautiful pain.)

Honestly, opportunity costs is a concept I wish I’d never learned. I am a notorious skinflint. I pinch a penny until it screams for mercy. So when the brains over at Macmillan gave me a prompt for the book tour, I cringed: What is your winner’s curse?

“The winner’s curse” is another economic term that actually jumpstarted the entire series for Marie Rutkoski, as she explains in the preface to the first book in the series. The idea is that in an auction, if a bidder becomes too committed, they will continue to bid in order to win the item but end up paying more than the item is actually worth. It’s a fascinating psychological phenomenon that is explored through Kestrel and, to some extent, Arin in both books. My problem as a cheapskate is that I purposely aim to get the best deal possible, making a winner’s curse type situation my worst nightmare. Willingly falling under the winner’s curse is a nightmare. But for the sake of argument, here are a few things I could see being worth the winner’s curse:

My family/friends

I think this is pretty common for most people. The human race as a whole can be pretty stupid, but everyone has someone they’d go to war for. My level of commitment and involvement varies based on my ties to the person in question, but by the time a person reaches family level (either through actual familial ties or by being such a good friend that I’ve figuratively adopted them), and I will be your personal, fauxhawkified bouncer. Make my baby sister cry and I will break you. Disrespect my mother and you can see yourself to the door, sir, and make it snappy before I decide to help you out.


I’m a rules person. I like rules. I like it when right and wrong is clearly defined and expectations are bluntly stated. I like knowing where I stand in relation to everyone else. I like fairness and equality and seeing the spirit of the law being honored just as much as the letter of the law. Rule-breakers drive me nuts, as do stupid rules that weaken whatever code of conduct they’re a part of.

Many times, my anger over a lack of justice circles back to my friends and family, because I can see those broken rules eventually hurting those I love, or I can put them in the place of the people being wronged and boy do I get fired up.


Oh, books. Books are the one loophole to my cheapness. Some days my mom can’t get me to buy a new blouse to save my life, but give me a book sale, and I go hog-wild. I love to own them, to see them on my shelf with their pretty spines, to have them close at hand and ready at a moment’s notice. Granted, I try to limit my book buying to good sales and moments when I have a gift card at hand, but still. I buy a lot of books.

The first two might cost me friends and acquaintances who disagree… well, and so might the third, but I think the cost is justified. Do I really want to hang around people who don’t value the things I value? I don’t think so.

But what about you? What would YOU pay too much to have?

Tell me in the comments below and enter to win a copy of either The Winner’s Crime or The Winner’s Curse (your choice). Don’t worry. All it will cost you is a couple seconds of your time and (once you read the book) a whole lot of delicious squeeing and heart-clutching. The price is worth it.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the rest of the tour for MORE chances to win, see the official Winner’s Trilogy website for more news about the trilogy, and watch out for The Winner’s Crime to hit shelves March 3rd!


Why You Should Watch The 100

Once upon a time, a wide-eyed blogger went to BEA and got a whole stack of books. One of those books was a slender, white volume about criminal kids in space sent to explore a radioactive Earth. The blogger did not like the book. Fast-forward a year and some change, and the book is now a TV show. All of Twitter has gone mental over said TV show. The wide-eyed blogger was confused and wary. She gave into peer pressure. She watched the show. And now she’s going to school y’all on why you need The 100 in your life.

Seriously, I’m kind of obsessed with this show. I blame Gillian and her Bellarke tweets. (I’ll explain what a Bellarke is later.) The very brief synopsis is that Earth was destroyed by a nuclear war and the survivors fled to space and have orbited around Earth in a massive space station called the Ark. Now, decades later, the Ark is running out of air, so the Council has jettisoned 100 teenage criminals to the ground as guinea pigs to see if Earth is survivable. There are so many exciting twists and turns and plot threads that spin out of that basic concept, and I don’t want to ruin them all for you, but here are just a few reasons why I love this show. Continue Reading →


Review: SOULPRINT by Megan Miranda

Alina Chase has been contained on an island for the last 17 years—whether that’s for the crimes of her past life, or for her own protection, well, that depends on whom you ask. With soul-fingerprinting a reality, science can now screen for the soul, and everyone knows that Alina’s soul had once belonged to notorious criminal, June Calahan, though that information is supposed to be private. June had accomplished the impossible: hacking into the soul-database, ruining countless lives in the process.

Now, there are whispers that June has left something behind for her next life—something that would allow Alina to access the information in the soul-database again. A way to finish the crimes she started.

Aided by three people with their own secret motivations, Alina escapes, only to discover that she may have just traded one prison for another. And there are clues. Clues only Alina can see and decipher, clues that make it apparent that June is leading her to something. While everyone believes Alina is trying to continue in June’s footsteps, Alina believes June is trying to show her something more. Something bigger. Something that gets at the heart of who they all are—about the past and the present. Something about the nature of their souls.

Alina doesn’t know who to trust, or what June intends for her to know, and the closer she gets to the answers, the more she wonders who June was, who she is, whether she’s destined to repeat the past, whether there are truths best kept hidden—and what one life is really worth.

If you want to get technical, I actually read Soulprint in the waning days of 2014. However, as the book won’t be released until February, I claim it as a 2015 book and already anticipate it showing up several times on my End of the Year Survey. Yes, it was that good. Continue Reading →


Review: TRUST ME, I’M LYING by Mary Elizabeth Summer

Julep Dupree tells lies. A lot of them. She’s a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at Chicago’s swanky St. Agatha High, where her father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, sends her to so she can learn to mingle with the upper crust. For extra spending money Julep doesn’t rely on her dad—she runs petty scams for her classmates while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.

But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and her father gone, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, and her loyal hacker sidekick, Sam, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has at stake, Julep’s in way over her head . . . but that’s not going to stop her from using every trick in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her. Because that would be criminal.

I am such a sucker for con stories. Honestly, all a description needs is a whiff of a con, theft, or other form of illegal trickery to lure me in like blood to a shark. Of course, since I’m such a fan, con stories can be hit or miss for me. In this case, Trust Me had the dubious distinction of being both a hit and a miss. Continue Reading →


Darcy and Pan and Eyre, Oh My!

I want to talk about a fantastic thing that is happening in the book community. Two years ago, Hank Green, Bernie Su, and Jenni Powell started a feed on YouTube called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD). Together with carefully selected actors, writers, assistants, and artists, they set out to retell Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a modern day vlog (video blog). There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of LBD or even watched some of the videos, because the series completely took off. The series was Kickstarted into a DVD, the actors went onto parts in other (non-web) arenas, and the feed was changed to Pemberley Digital, a fictional company that then retold other pieces of classic literature.

Wait, perhaps I should explain what I mean by a literary web series. Okay, some vocabulary. First of all, what is a web series? A web series is basically what it sounds like—a series of sequential videos that tell a story that is posted for public viewing on the web. Or, to quote Wikipedia:

Generally, the best place to find web series is YouTube, but they can technically be found anywhere online where videos can be saved and shared. Technically, a literary web series means any web series about a piece of literature, though really when most people talk about web series, they mean something like LBD—a scripted conceit in which a piece of literature is visually retold and reimagined in the modern day.

LBD changed things. I don’t know whether literary web series were a thing before, but they definitely are now. Companies and individuals alike are trying their hand at retelling a familiar piece of fiction in visual form for a wide audience. Whether or not literary web series were a thing before, they are A Thing now.

I tried to explain to my mom why literary web series are such an amazing thing, and the best explanation I could come up with was the ingenuity involved. This isn’t a bunch of high school kids wandering around in period costumes, drinking tea, and talking with bad accents. What a good literary web series attempts to do is take a beloved, familiar tale and recontextualize it in the modern era. So for instance, in the original Pride and Prejudice, we read about Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a poor landowner and his meddlesome wife, and Ms. Bennet’s ever-changing relationship with the haughty and misunderstood Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. It’s a wonderful, romantic story set in the 1800s and full of scandal, romance, and witticisms. In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, we hear Elizabeth’s story from Lizzie herself as she attempts to record everyday life for her thesis project in grad school. In this story, her best friend is Charlotte Lu, is a film student who agrees to help her with the project, Bing Lee is a Harvard medical graduate, and William Darcy is a young, business-minded entrepreneur with a penchant for newsboy hats.

It’s so exciting to see how your favorite characters and scenes will be reimagined. Maybe Darcy’s cousin is actually black and named Fitz Williams. Maybe Lydia is a rambunctious redhead with a social media addiction. Maybe Mr. Collins is actually a geeky guy with a neckbeard. Maybe Kitty Bennet IS AN ACTUAL CAT.

Recently, I set about collecting all the literary web series I could find so that I could check them out at my own pace. I was tired of hearing about some amazing, new retelling and then forgetting before I could watch. And oh my gosh, what a fiesta that opened up. By my count, there are at least FIFTY literary web series being produced in some form at this very moment.

You can check out the entire list here, but I just want to pick out a few I’ve enjoyed and some I’m excited to check out.

Ones I’ve Watched:

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Duh. Of course. Watch it NAOW. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Emma Approved

This retelling of Emma is produced by Pemberley Digital and follows Emma Woodhouse, head of the matchmaking and lifestyle division of the developing Highbury Partner’s Lifestyle group. Basically, she’s Yenta meets the guy from The Kid. I love this retelling pretty much entirely for Knightley. Mmmm, Knightley.

East & West

East & West is a retelling of North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell, a.k.a. one of the most romantic stories you will ever read/watch in your entire life. Unlike the previous two series, this one seems to be produced by two individuals, and amateur individuals at that. However, it’s so lovely. There are only three videos up right now, and the only character we’ve met so far is Maggie Hale, but she’s lovely and has a wonderful accent. I have very high hopes for this series.

Ones I Want To Watch:

Elinor and Marianne Take Barton

Of all of the Sense and Sensibility retellings on the list, this one seems to be the most promising. It’s a bit amateur, but that’s okay. They have accents.

The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy

Confession: I think Peter Pan is creepy and more than a little sociopathic, and I think man-child characters are annoying. However, I watched the first episode of this retelling and both laughed and “awwww”‘d, so I’m definitely going to give it a chance.

The Autobiography of Jane Eyre

So the first video is really, um, emo hipster-ish, but I watched the second video, and it’s pretty nice. I’ve heard good things on Tumblr, and I can’t wait to see how they do Mr. Rochester and his history (*cough cough*).

Nothing Much To Do

I am not normally a Shakespeare person, but I’ve heard amazing things from Tumblr, and I liked the first episode. And oh my gosh, you guys. SHE’S A KIWI. Hi, my name is Shae, and I have an accent obsession.

In Earnest

This guy is cute. He has an amazing smile. The channel art implies that boys in suits may be a regular fixture. I’m in.

Some that aren’t out yet that interest me:

The Misselthwaite ArchivesThe Secret Garden retelling. Yay! Coming January 23rd!

Masked – Oooh, a Scarlet Pimpernel retelling. Yes, please. Coming Summer 2015!

Project AoGGAnne of Green Gables! Gilbert Blythe! GIMME! Coming… soon?

What about you, my people? Which of the series on the list have you seen? Which are your favorites? Are there any retellings you’d give your right arm for?


Review: EVERY BREATH by Ellie Marney

When James Mycroft drags Rachel Watts off on a night mission to the Melbourne Zoo, the last thing she expects to find is the mutilated body of Homeless Dave, one of Mycroft’s numerous eccentric friends. But Mycroft’s passion for forensics leads him to realize that something about the scene isn’t right–and he wants Watts to help him investigate the murder.

While Watts battles her attraction to bad-boy Mycroft, he’s busy getting himself expelled and clashing with the police, becoming murder suspect number one. When Watts and Mycroft unknowingly reveal too much to the cold-blooded killer, they find themselves in the lion’s den–literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning to Rachel Watts again…

Pretty much everyone knows the story of Sherlock Holmes. One crotchety, antisocial, brilliant private investigator (Holmes) teams up with one long-suffering, good-natured medical doctor in need of adventure (Dr. John Watson) and together they solve crime, usually in Victorian England but sometimes in modern-day London or even New York. In this case, however, the part of Holmes is being played by James Mycroft, an antisocial, brilliant teenage boy who teams up with next-door neighbor Rachel Watts, a good-natured but tough teenage girl, in Melbourne, Australia, of all places.

Every Breath will make the fifth version of Sherlock Holmes that I’ve engaged with and therefore had some pretty high expectations to meet, especially with half the blogosphere exploding over the ship that is Wattscroft (Mycroft + Watts). What if I didn’t like it? What if Mycroft irritated me? (Canonically, Holmes is a jerk and not a good shipping element.) What if the mystery fell flat? What if Watts was whiny? WHAT IF I DIDN’T SHIP IT?!

Spoiler alert: I SHIPPED IT. Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (76)


Rewind & Review


Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Review: The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick

Help Me Move—Books For Sale!

Soundtrack of My Year

40 Days For 40 Years: Tuck Everlasting Anniversary Blog Tour

DNF Reviews: Dream a Little Dream, I’ll Meet You There

Stuff I Bought

A photo posted by Shaelit (@shaelit) on

  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Canadian paperback)
  • The Princess Curse by Marrie Haskell
  • All That Glows by Ryan Graudin
  • Starglass by Phoebe North
  • Red Glove by Holly Black
  • Black Heart by Holly Black
  • Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • Deception by C.J. Redwine

Book Outlet Boxing Day sale, my friends. 8 book for $23, heck yes.

What I Read

The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord – This was my first Emery Lord, and it was so cute! Review to come.

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold – Adorable and maybe made me cry. Maybe. Review to come.

Flirty Dancing by Jenny MacLachlan – Also very cute, fluffy in the best way. Review to come.

Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Eason – Ugh. DNF. Review to come.

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark – Another DNF. This was an unlucky week. Review to come.

Princess Academy: Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale – In the middle of this one still, but it’s nice getting to be with Miri again.

Event of the Week

This has been a busy week but not a terribly exciting one. I wrote a lot of posts. I packed. … Yeah.


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