Welcome to yAdult Review, a space where two girls review novels from across the genres, from YA and MG, to fantasy and sci-fi, to historical fiction and mystery, with a sprinkling of non-fiction too. We hope you enjoy your stay here as much as we enjoy ours.

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20443235The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:  Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?. – Goodreads

Review:

To be completely honest, I struggled with this book. In part due to my mood — where every book I was reading was a struggle, but that being said, I’m so glad I read The Winner’s Kiss. When we finished the second book The Winner’s Crime Rutkoski left us on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. Arin was lead to believe that Kestrel lied to him and actually became engaged to the emperor’s son, not knowing it’s all part of a ruse. Because Arin was convinced that Kestrel has changed, and not for the good, he is now prepared for war.

Kestrel; however, is now a prisoner of war and what she quickly learns is the way everyone survives is to be drugged. I spent a good portion of this novel with my heart in my throat because I honestly wasn’t sure where Rutkoski was going to take the novel. You can tell that her craft is finely tuned and really at its best throughout The Winner’s Kiss.

“Nobody hurt her. This was very Valorian. Kestrel was here to work for the empire. Damage bodies don’t work well”  –6%

Kestrel’s scenes throughout the prisoner period were extremely painful to read. What Rutkoski did was make me, as the reader, feel as if I was there in the jail with Kestrel. It was uncomfortable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The chapter breaks of Arin’s point of view was not helpful either, because he was not having an easy time himself. Although The Winner’s Trilogy has always been Kestrel’s trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss is really Arin’s time to shine. Although there was a very slow start to this book, by about 15% of the novel the speed begins to pick up and doesn’t stop until the final page.

A pivotal moment in the book is the moment Kestrel and Arin are reunited and one of them doesn’t recognize the other. It’s painful, harsh and cuts open a few wounds, but it was needed. It made The Winner’s Kiss an even stronger novel. Kestrel has obviously changed after her time in the worker’s camp and has extreme PTSD.

As well written this book was, I extremely struggled with The Winner’s Kiss, based on the fact that I’m a mood reader, I wanted to quit at about 40%. I understand that this sounds like sacrilege, but it’s true, I really struggled with this book. Ultimately for a final book, I expected more.


23310714Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ARC from publisher
Rating: DNF
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Running away from home isn’t as easy as Ren thinks it will be. At least she isn’t running very far-just a few miles to the ghost town of Fortune . . . or Mis-Fortune as everyone else calls it. Mis-Fortune on the Mississippi. Supposedly, there’s an abandoned school on the outskirts with cheap rooms for rent. Ren knows her plan sounds crazy. But with only a few more weeks until Dad comes home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, she also knows she has to do something drastic so Mom will come to her senses and stop seeing that creep Rick Littleton, the creep she promised she would stop seeing but didn’t, for good.

From the moment she enters the school’s shadowy halls, Ren finds herself drawn into its secrets. Every night old Mrs. Baxter, the landlady, wanders the building on a mysterious quest. What could she be up to? And can Mrs. Baxter’s outlandish plan to transform the gym into a pearl-button museum ever succeed? With a quirky new friend named Hugh at her side, Ren sets out to solve the mystery that could save Fortune from fading away. But what about her family’s future? Can that be saved too?– Goodreads

Review:

I feel Finding Fortune could have been really, really good, but it just didn’t work for me. From pacing, to characters, to setting I could not find myself able to get through it. I wanted to know the answers to the questions that had been posed. But after two months of trying to read Finding Fortune I decided it was time to put it aside. I may come back to it later because I was enjoying it. Just not enough.


21947304 (1)Star Wars: Episode IV a New Hope: Being the Story of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rise of the Rebellion (Star Wars Illustrated Novels #1)
by Alexandra Bracken
Release Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Source: Audio from library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….– Goodreads

Review:

I’m going to say something…taboo. I’m not a big Star Wars person. I know. Sacrilege. How can I live this life. However, this past summer when I had a chance to go to LucasFilms when I was in San Francisco, HECK YES I went. And I got it. I got the love of Star Wars. I also got excited about Alexandra Bracken’s newest book in the universe.

Star Wars: Episode IV a New Hope: Being the Story of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rise of the Rebellion is a retelling of Episode IV, from four points of view. Where this story shined for me is the fact I listened to this as an audiobook. With two narrators and sound effects I felt like I was there, in the middle of all the action and I wanted more. I think this story will be good for people who are beginners of the series.

 


keeperClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip M. Hoose
Release Date: January 20, 2009
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Source: Digital Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history. – Goodreads

Review:
In my next foray into required classroom reading, we meet Claudette Colvin, who was a real person who did real things, and this book acts as a bit of a history lesson about Jim Crow. My university was founded by the Roosevelts in the 1930s, so social justice is a big thing there. Most of the novels have some kind of social justice thread throughout. Everything about the Jim Crow era makes me sick. I just can’t even imagine how that world was, the constant normalcy of humiliation, not to mention violence, that hung over everyone’s heads. It’s awful.

This book is interesting though, because it’s not fiction. There are real interview excerpts with Colvin herself interspersed with factoids about the Jim Crow era, completely with pictures of “white only” grocery stores and movie theaters for “colored people.” I feel as thought a lot of history written for children is whitewashed, so to speak. They say Rosa Parks was “just tired” when really she’d been a civil rights activist for years. They call slaves “servants” in textbooks. But this book doesn’t whitewash and it doesn’t focus on just one thing. They talk about rape, and trumped up charges, and injustice done by the justice system. I liked that. Show us what really happened. Don’t cover anything up.

This book is so interesting because it’s real life and not fiction. Claudette Colvin was like a teenager precursor to Rosa Parks; in fact, Colvin knew Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr basically got his start with her case (though he wasn’t the lawyer who represented her in court). Colvin was pretty much  the reason the Montgomery bus boycott happened in the first place, something I never knew, even though it happened months after her arrest. This is what I mean by history books whitewashing history. Everyone is taught that poor, quiet Rosa Parks was tired one day and didn’t want to get up, and that’s why the boycott began and the buses were desegregated. But Parks’ protest was planned, she was an adviser and confidante of Colvin’s, and Colvin’s bravery kicked everything off. These people were not just exhausted from work, they were tired of being seen as less.

This is an important book because it’s more than standard teenage coming-of-age stuff (though that is plenty important too). This is a book told in the words of the people who were there, a recounting of history as it happened. Everyone should know the truth in all things, especially this.


23310761Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Release Date: September 15, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ALA 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

From the author of This Song Will Save Your Life comes a funny and relatable book about the hazards of falling for a person you haven’t met yet.

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either. – Goodreads

Review:

Tonight These Streets Are ours is the story of Arden who ultimately takes care of everyone around her. Unfortunately because her mother has recently left the family, no one takes care of Arden. Arden realizes her father continues to be absent, her brother needs someone to parent, her boyfriend knows she’ll understand, and her best friend always knows Arden will be there. Arden is sick of being there. Arden wants to be taken care of and needed herself.

I wanted to hug Arden and tell her “I get you. I get what it’s like to be the ‘understanding’ person. It gets old!” But Arden and I quickly diverge paths from each other when Arden decides to leave her small town for New York City for the chance at seeing a blogger she admires. Arden sees this blogger living the perfect life and for one night she wants to be part of that. Of course, what Arden doesn’t realize is how blogging often paints a perfect picture but behind the scenes is much more than that. And it’s true, I have spent many nights/days talking to my co-blogger, my friends Jen and Lauren discussing just aspects of blogging, but it’s more than meets the eye. It always is. Arden never thinks of that though. Arden sees the pretty picture that it is and views it as the truth.

She’s shocked when she gets to New York City with her BFF and finds the blogger isn’t everything that she imagined him to be. Her friendship with Lindsey falls apart. Her car falls apart. The blogger falls apart Arden is lost and finds hope in the least likely of places in New York City.

I didn’t find Tonight These Streets Are Ours to be a let down or anything, I just didn’t find it particularly…grabbing. A lot of it was a bit unrealistic, which is fine if it works for the story, but this is a case of where it didn’t work for the story, or therefore me.


keeperDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction!

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets.

But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.

Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air. – Goodreads

Review:
Add another to the list of class-required reading! Newbery Medal books pretty much never disappoint, and a lot of them actually end up being a part of our larger cultural narrative (The Giver, anyone?). Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed my first required novel, at least not at first. I loved Miss Volker and the snappy dialogue, but any book that’s written in dialect or dated slang is not my taste. Since this book was set in the 1960s, the dated slang is out of control, and it drove me crazy reading it. The plot and narrative, however, are definitely deserving of their Newbery Award, and as the story went on, I started getting more and more into the story.

Jack Gantos lives in poverty in what was once a Utopian-esque town set up by Eleanor Roosevelt. His father is a war veteran who is frequently away for work (and refers to everyone as “Commies”) and his mother spends her time making food for the needy. They cannot afford a $3 ticket, and they certainly can’t afford a medical procedure for Jack’s mysterious and frequent nosebleeds. Jack is grounded for the summer, only allowed to leave his room to help Miss Volker write obituaries for town residents. There are all sorts of weird things happening around Norvelt though, and Jack is caught up in them despite his eternal grounding.

Miss Volker had my heart because she was a feminist with anarchist leanings, but I really grew to love Jack. Witty, bloody-nosed Jack, grounded for life, afraid of dead people, lover of books and war movies. His adventures and growth made this book such a fun read, and the mystery of it all helped too. This book fully deserved its award, as all Newbery winners do. It’s a quirky little read that might take some getting used to at first, but it’s worth anyone’s while to do so.


Hello! We are thrilled to be part of What’s Your “Winner’s Curse” Blog TourAfter I read both books I knew I would flail my arms to be part of this tour. So here we are! Welcome to our stop!

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The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  What would you pay too much for?

I’ve thought long and hard about this actually. Love? A solid job that I love every day? Concert tickets? (I go to a lot of concerts.) A puppy? Let’s be real, it’s going to be the puppy right? But I ultimately decided on books, because here’s the thing. 10938939_10104635626778671_1187815709_oEven as a librarian, I own  a lot of books. I use the library all the time, I work at a library, I’m lucky enough to read ARCs and last year I still spent enough to pay off a good portion of my student loans if I would have just said no.

It’s a problem. I often buy books that I have to have only to have them sit on my shelf for a year before I sell them to my used book store down the street. Many times I start the year going “I am only going to get books for a book signing that’s coming to town!” But then I read a really, really good book and I have to buy it. Or my friend publishes a book and of course I’m going to support 10478135_10103856641970471_4860144068877182893_nthem. While in The Winner’s Curse  and The Winner’s Crime, Kestrel probably wishes that her curse could be something as simple as too many books and not paying too much for Arin, but still, without a doubt my winner’s curse is books. Oh the buyers regret I’ve had. Not every time, but enough that I have started to double guess almost any book purchase I have, because I recognize I have a problem.

But isn’t it a good problem to have? In my room I am literally surrounded by literature and my friends. Of course 10675520_10104490744693531_1017883376531321512_nmy father jokes that one spark and my room is gone. And I don’t regret the money I’ve spent going to book events (including yallfest and driving to California one day, just because I wanted to see Kasie West.) There is something comforting about seeing an author who’s book you loved and telling them how much it meant to you. Or seeing Stephanie Perkins, who you’ve talked to on her blog a lot and having her recognize your name and having her give you a hug because she knows you needed it. I don’t regret that. I also don’t regret the friends that books have brought me.

From Tina, who I run this blog with and send daily emails to about books and general life complaints to my friend Erica who works in book publishing and I almost never talk to about books. Unless it comes to how I need to purge my 711606_10102227000614811_1257611367_ncollection and she’d like to set a skype appointment with me because “Ashley you have a problem. Let’s work through it.” Or having a bookbff in which there is no book judgement? Those friendships mean the world to me.

Will I get better about my winner’s curse? Maybe. I am running out of room. It would also be nice to pay off my student loans. But the feeling of those books? And my friends? Worth it.

More about The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime

16069030The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 14, 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

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.  – Goodreads

21469060The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

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.  – Goodreads


21469060The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Publisher (Thank you!)
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

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. – Goodreads

Review:

After I finished the first book, The Winner’s Curse, I quickly picked up The Winner’s Crime. The Winner’s Crime picks up quickly after the first book, about a month has past and Lady Kestrel currently lives in the palace with her future husband and father-in-law. Kestrel is still as ornery as she was in the first book and is still a smart game player.

She calmed herself. The emperor didn’t know the truth about the day she had pushed for an end to the Herrani rebellion. No one did. Not even Arin knew she had bought his freedom with a few strategic words … and the promise to wed the crown prince.–pg. 7 ARC.

Because Kestrel is an excellent game player, she is trying to push the wedding as far off as possible. No one, but her future father-in-law wants, this wedding to happen. The man she is promised to, Verex, is not interested in this wedding and is actually wondering why she wants to be married to him.

“If you won’t be my friend,” she told Verex, “you’ll regret being my enemy.”–pg. 46 ARC

The Emperor is not a good man, and neither is the Prince. While, for most of the novel we have no feel on the Prince, what we know is that he bribes many around him and has them in their pocket. It seems the apple didn’t fall far from the tree when it came to him. When Kestrel lies to the Emperor he makes it clear she will live to regret that action. For quite sometime nothing happens, which of course makes Kestrel let her guard down, which is the last thing she

Kestrel’s life is better when she knows who the bad people are and who the good people are, and this includes Arin. Sweet Arin who ends up at the Palace with Kestrel, who remembers all of the feelings she has for him even when they both try to deny it.

They are both a Taylor Swift waiting to happen with their lack of communication and how you just want to smish them together so they can be happy. Alas, that doesn’t happen throughout The Winner’s Crime, but that’s okay, becasue Rutkoski’s email kept me so firmly in this world, that my heart was willing to forgive. I should be clear, there is nothing about The Winner’s Crime that is romance. I spent a lot of time reading this article not even sure if there would be a happy ending because Rutkoski is that good.

“Marry him,” Arin said, “but be mine in secret.”–pg. 194 ARC

The problem with the two, is that they are on different pages hoping the other is reading their page. It’s hard enough in friendships when there is misunderstandings, but when it comes to two rulers that aren’t holding a proper conversation, it is painful to read. But it is a must read. It doesn’t suffer from that dreaded middle book syndrome and is a solid book that left me wanting more from the third book.