Please Read This Before April 6th!

I picked this particular link concerning “SB 277″ because it had the most simple explanation as to what this bill could do to parental rights.

http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/elertarchive.aspx?7469

I’m a cancer survivor.

I don’t tell this to people often, and only my family really knows this fact about me. If others know about it, they probably did not hear the story from me. But today I am telling you, readers, because I wanted to share with you some info about a certain bill that the government is trying to pass.

 A bill called “SB 277″ is trying to passed and its purpose is to remove the right for vaccine exemptions. Most beliefs on vaccines will be considered invalid by the government and health officials if “SB 277” is passed. To simplify the definition of its purpose: mandatory vaccination for all children attending school. In essence, this law that they are trying to push through will deprive you of your right to say, “my body, my choice,” or if you are a parent/guardian,”I have the right to decide.” I’m an advocate for personal choice (and social equality for all), especially when it involves your body and vaccines. One of the reasons for this is what I experienced when I was five years old.

Quite a few years ago I had to get vaccinated because I was headed into first grade. No biggie right? Well that is what I thought until the nurse told my mother and me that we had to get four or five vaccines that same day. My mother had asked the nurse if that was wise considering the fact that I had barely gotten over strep throat and was still running a low fever. The nurse had said to my mother that I would be fine, and that the vaccines wouldn’t affect me or do any damage. Plus, doctors and nurses reasoning is that statistics prove that only 1 in ever 100,000 (rough estimation) have gotten really sick from being vaccinated. Why would I be the one to get sick? I came out with five Snoopy print band-aids on my legs that day, and a few months later I was diagnosed with leukemia (a cancer that limits red blood cell production and creates too many underdeveloped white cells). Partially because of what happened that day, I became a statistic.

Obviously I’m still here, but I’m not writing to tell you about what I went through. I do, however, want to inform you about vaccines and the rights that you should have concerning them. After I was diagnosed, my mom was SO careful to make sure that she paid attention to ingredients in food and medical prescriptions (a couple of allergic reactions later, we found what to avoid), and she made sure to sign a waver to ensure that I could opt out of certain vaccines. Here we are, years later, and I am cancer free and intend to stay that way. I am grateful for what I went through because I can tell people about it now so they can be informed from both sides: the medical world and personal experience. This isn’t just me on some weird rant, guys; there are real correlation studies that are linking low immune systems combined with vaccinations (especially concerning the mid-twenties and late teens in America) to different forms of cancer and type 1 diabetes.

My family members and me took those vaccinations/prescriptions because we were told to, but now we know that it is wise to do our research before we put things into our bodies. I am so grateful for the exemptions I received during those first few years of having leukemia because I stayed so much healthier than some of the kids I knew who had cancer and were consistently vaccinated. But nowSB 277” wants to take the right to choose away from parents and adults. I’m not telling anyone that all vaccines are bad because some of them can be very helpful. All I want to do is to prompt you to think twice before you put something in your body, and that you should also have the right to choose whether you and your children want to be vaccinated or not. There is not judgement to the believers of vaccines or those who doubt them, because, for me, all I want is the right to choose. My body, my choice.

I picked this particular link concerning “SB 277” because it had the most simple explanation as to what this bill could do to parental rights.

http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/elertarchive.aspx?7469

Thanks for reading!

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

cynthia hand the last time we say goodbye book

“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” by Cynthia Hand

4 out of 5 stars.

Lexie’s world is shattered when she learns that her brother committed suicide. How could she not have seen it coming? How could she, Tyler’s sister, not understand that he wasn’t okay? No amount of dwelling on the ifs or whys can change what happened that night in her family’s garage, and it is time to pick up the pieces of what’s left of her life. But healing is so much easier said than done…

After she starts seeing a therapist, Lex begins to think about the time leading up to Tyler’s death, and all of the ifs in her life. Could she have saved Tyler? Maybe if she had known what he was going to do that day she could have talked to him, stopped him. Would her life be different now if she had answered Tyler’s text that night? The past is a painful thing to remember, and as Lexie travels a rocky road to healing, she discovers that all of the anger and hurt over Tyler’s death and her parents’ broken relationship are slowly suffocating her. Even the way she ended things with Steven haunts her waking hours. Hope and healing seem so far away when everything appears to be broken, and Lexie begins to wonders if life can ever be good again after so much pain?

“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” was an extremely emotional book for me. Suicide is very heavy topic and so the content of this book was a bit weightier than what I am used to reading; suicide is not uncommon these days, and that truth makes this book all the more heartbreaking. Despite such a heavy topic to write a book around, I felt that Cynthia did a fantastic job of taking Lexie’s character from being consumed by her pain and sorrow to a girl who was growing as a person, and who wanted to live her life instead of hiding away from everyone and everything. It was a rough but beautiful journey that Cynthia took me on, and I loved seeing Lex grow into a more confident and emotionally stable person.

Lexie was a slightly abrasive character at first. She had been through so much, even before her brother’s death, and I could understand why she was such a prickly girl. Cynthia Hand did a fantastic job of writing a character who was stuck in her sorrow and pain, and was unable to find a way out of it. I didn’t necessarily cry during the first hundred pages since Lex wasn’t a crier or a super “emotional” character; she was more of a matter-of-fact person than a feeling one during the first part of this book, but I could still feel for her. She hurt way down deep, and it took a while for me as a reader to see the depth of her sadness and how buried beneath it she was. I hurt for her from the start, but it took until about the halfway point in this book for her to start remembering things that began to hit me quite hard. I haven’t read a book or perspective like this in a long time, and I hurt for Lexie and all that she had been through.

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Another thing that really got me concerning Lex’s character was how she shut practically everyone out of her life. She distanced herself from her good friends who cared about her, she and her dad were not on good terms, her mom had checked out after Tyler’s death, and she had broken up with her boyfriend. I think that might have been on of the hardest parts about “The Last Time We Say Goodbye” for me, how Lexie just closed in on herself so she wouldn’t get hurt. Her doing that, though, was what was stunting her healing and making her hurt even more, and it was so sad to see that!

Beyond the sadness and pain, Lexie really grew on me. I was cheering for her during this book and I wanted to see her thrive. Cynthia Hand did a great job of slowly making Lex progress as a character in a more realistic way, and I loved where she ended up by the last few pages of “The Last Time We Say Goodbye.” Lexie wasn’t completely healed by the end of this book, but she was on the road to recovery and was starting to live again by letting people like Damian and Steven back into her life.

Damian had a smaller part in this book, but I ended up really liking his and Lexie’s friendship. I can’t really tell you any more because I don’t want to spoil something that happens towards the end, but I thought that Damian was a really great addition to this book and my heart hurt for him in this book.

Steven was a character who I can acknowledge as being a really good guy, but I just did not connect with him. He was a super sweet and kind character, and the flashbacks of him and Lexie together were pretty cute. As cute as those scenes were, he was still not in this book enough for me to get attached to him. I wish that Lex and Steven had spent more time together in the present, or that Cynthia had written a few more scenes with them from before Tyler’s death; I really wanted to get to know him better, but there just wasn’t enough for me to feel attached to his character. I am okay with how it was done and Steven was a sweet boy, I just was not all that attached to him.

“The Last Time Say Goodbye” was a beautiful and heartbreaking story and it hit me in the heart multiple times. Cynthia did an amazing job of taking this story from being hopeless and broken to become a book about hope and strength. It was lovely and I was so happy with where Lexie ended up by the final chapter. I will warn you to prepare for the some ugly crying during the last chapter, but that is nothing compared to the ugly sobs that will come from you when you read Cynthia’s Author’s Note. I knew that it was coming, but it still hit me really hard.

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I so admire Cynthia Hand for what she endured during her college years, but even more, I admire her for how brave she was to decide to write this book. “The Last Time We Say Goodbye” was a lovely book, and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind the truth and a good cry. Bravo, Cynthia!

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Quotes: This Shattered World and The Winner’s Crime

Because I can’t stop raving about how much I LOVE these two books, I thought I’d do a quote post.

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner bookQuotes from “This Shattered World” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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“There are no stars, because there are never any stars here, only a thick darkness that rushes down her throat and into her heart. She dreams of drowning.”

“What do you know of souls and hearts and how they break here? You don’t know me at all.”

“You’ve ruined me,” she repeats, her voice quieting a little as it catches. “You’ve ruined me—you made me wake up. And now I can’t get rid of you.” Her voice surges again as I reach out, curling my hand around her arm, her skin flushed hot under my fingers. “You won’t leave me alone.”’

“My breath catches, responding to an unfamiliar pull in my chest, an ache in my soul. I shouldn’t miss him, but I do; this boy who had every right to pull that trigger, and instead threw himself between me and death. This boy, the only one who believes I’m not what they say I am what I believed I was; a soldier without a soul, a girl with no heart to break. He’s the only one who’s proved me wrong.”

“He’s as tense as I am, maybe even more so, but it’s so hard to reconcile that with the serenity of weightlessness. His faux-blond hair is floating out away from his head. He’s wearing a worn, much-mended, and too-large shirt his friend in town must’ve found for him to help him blend in. He looks nothing like the Romeo who dragged me off the base, nothing like the Cormac who threw himself between his own people and me. It’s like that guy’s gone, and I killed him.”

“He can’t take his eyes off the stars, but I can’t take mine off his face. I can see the stars reflected in his eyes, can see the wonder of it in the way his mouth opens but no sound comes out. His eyes, his face—they’re beautiful.”

“My throat closes up then, and we’re both silent, with only the rain on the roof to break up the quiet. I study the girl I knew, another casualty of this fight, wondering how the wounds of it will mark her. “Clear skies, Sof.” It’s all I have left to say. “Clear skies,” she whispers. “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

“You’re the most important thing in this universe. You; this vessel; the people of this planet; lovers, warriors, artists, leaders, dreams more numerous than stars. Each mind unique, each thought created for an instant and then broken apart to form new ones. You don’t understand the unbearable beauty of being you.”

the winners crime marie rutkoski bookQuotes from “The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski

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“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”

“Someone was coming through the velvet. He was pulling it wide, he was stepping onto Kestrel’s balcony—close, closer still as she turned and the curtain swayed, then stopped. He pinned the velvet against frame. He held the sweep of it high, at the level of his gray eyes, which were silver in the shadows. He was here. He had come. Arin.”

“An emotion clamped down on her heart. It squeezed her into a terrible silence. But he said nothing after that, only her name, as if her name were not a name but a question. Or perhaps that it wasn’t how he had said it, and she was wrong, and she’d heard a question simply because the sound of him speaking her name made her wish that she were his answer.”

“She’d felt it before, she felt it now: the pull to fall in with him, to fall into him, to lose her sense of self.”

“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”

“Arin hadn’t fallen asleep on the deck of his strangely still ship, yet, it felt as if he’d been dreaming. As if dreams and memories and lies were the same thing.”

“She turned to look at him, and he was already looking at her. “I’m going to miss you when I wake up,” she whispered, because she realized that she must have fallen asleep under the sun. Arin was too real for her imagination. He was a dream. “Don’t wake up,” he said.”

Guest Post and Giveaway Entry

Originally posted on Ashley Townsend:

Hey all!

So if you stopped by here last night, you probably saw my heat-of-the-moment rant/lament/explanation of my passionate love of “The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski. And you might be thinking that some of those gifs were overdone and that I couldn’t have possibly felt so many emotions over 350 pages…. -_- You would be wrong.

Anyway! I’m popping in to let you know that I was so distracted with finishing the book and processing everything that I forgot to mention that I had done a sort of inspirational guest post for Christian Bookshelf Reviews that went live yesterday. When you check it out, be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to enter to win a paperback copy of “Chasing Shadows” and a $25 Amazon gift card from me! You don’t want to miss out on freebies, do you, silly goose? It ends on April 3…

View original 61 more words

Cover Reveal: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Okay, I know this is kind of sad, but I’m not all that interesting in “Winter” by Marissa Meyer. “The Lunar Chronicles” should have been finished this February, but instead us readers have to wait until November. Eight months are left until I can even get my hands on a copy, and that is very frustrating. *sigh* I find it sad that it got delayed, either by the author or publisher, that far out, and I am already losing interest in how Marissa will finish “The Lunar Chronicles.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED and still love “Cress,” but if a series takes too long to finish like this one, I begin to “grow” out of it. The book that won my heart still has it, but the new comers are harder for me to bond with. I also find it a bit vexing (yes, vexing) that it is supposedly going to be 800 pages. Yeah, I love huge books like “Cress” (around 550 pages), but at times, I found the sheer number of characters’ perspectives I had to read from to be a bit excessive, and that the quantity sometimes drew away from Marissa’s amazing writing. I’m all for 500-600 paged books and a lot of times I love them much more than smaller books, but 800 is a number that I will have to read to believe.

I’m sorry for all the complaints, and this IS a cover reveal. Let’s get to it!

 

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Thanks for taking a look, bloggers!

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book #3’s Title

Alright, now that I have reviewed both “The Winner’s Curse” and “The Winner’s Crime,” it is time to tell you (if you do not already know) the title for Marie’s third and final book in this trilogy. Drum roll, please…

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Okay, I have mixed feelings about “The Winner’s Curse” #3’s title. My first feeling is that it sounds amazing, and that I am looking forward to seeing how Marie Rutkoski incorporates her title into the book itself, if you catch my drift…

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I like the title, “The Winner’s Kiss,” a lot, but my problem is that I may or may not have minor OCD. I have this very, very bad issue concerning aesthetics when books are involved. Nothing drives me more crazy (other than light coffee) than when a publishing company changes the cover of a book mid series/trilogy. Yeah, they recover the paperback of the first book, but now the hardcovers don’t look right next to each other. *sighs* Why do they do that to me?

I know that Farrar Straus and Giroux won’t change the covers because, well, this trilogy’s covers are perfect the way they are, but I am bit disconcerted with the title. The person who made the mockup title cover above had “The Winner’s Crown,” and personally, I love that. It’s a bit vague on what will happen in the third book, but it’s still enough for a reader to draw their own conclusion of what “crown” could mean. Another benefit of it is the fact that it begins with a ‘c’ like all the other books, and it has the five letters necessary to be balanced with Marie’s other books when it stands on a shelf. Yes, I know I have issues. 

I love the title “The Winner’s Kiss,” but I kind of wish that it had been ‘crown’  because it would have fit seamlessly with the other two books. Despite that, I am extremely excited that the third book has a title, and I cannot wait until it comes out! Just 361 days to go!

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)

the winners crime marie rutkoski book

“The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski

Publishing Company: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Release Date: March 3rd, 2015

5 out of 5 stars.

 The wedding of Kestrel Trajan to Verex, the Valorian prince, is a dark cloud over Kestrel’s heart. The sacrifices she has had to make, the lies she has so skillfully woven, are strangling her. She feels as if she is trapped in an immaculately decorated cage that is of her own making. For all of her cunning plans, Kestrel has never been able to find a way to save Arin while still keeping her freedom and securing her own happiness. She has been dealt a treacherous hand of playing cards, and now she must finish the game she started that fateful day in the slave market.

But Kestrel soon discovers that all of her carefully planted lies could be for nothing when the governor of Herran, Arin, comes to the emperor’s palace. It would have been foolish of Arin not to have come at the emperor’s bidding, but it was also stupid of him to be so exposed to the cunning of such a ruthless ruler. What can she, the soon to be bride of Verex, do to protect Arin from danger? How can she save him when she has no other cards to play?

As the game wears on, Kestrel and Arin realize just how easily the emperor is playing them against one another. One wrong move and the two of them, and all of Herran, will be dead. Each player must keep their cards close to their chests, but that means hiding what they most want to share with one another: their hearts. Danger surrounds them and their countries on all sides, and no one connected to them is safe. Can Kestrel really protect Arin by keeping him in the dark about her secret identity, or will her carefully planted lies be what destroys him and all of Herran in the end?

I have the hardest time trying to write reviews for books I REALLY love. It’s as if I don’t know how to put into words everything that those books do to my heart; they break me and heal me all at the same time! Marie’s books are those kinds of books, and they leave me (almost) speechless. Now that you understand my occasional difficulty in wielding the written word, please forgive the shoddy review.

Winning an ARC of “The Winner’s Crime” might have been the highlight of my month; it was incredibly special to receive something that was, and is, extremely precious and close to my heart, and I am so grateful for it. But even without having won it and being included in such a fantastic chat with the author on twitter, this book would have still been insanely enjoyable. In lieu of that, I just want to say a HUGE thanks to Macmillan Teen, Fierce Reads, and Marie Rutkoski for the ARC copy and the gorgeous map of Kestrel’s world! In no way has this affected my review of “The Winner’s Crime.”

“The Winner’s Trilogy” is an abusive relationship. It treats you right for the first hundred pages of each book, and then they stab you in the heart. After the first wound has healed, you think you’re home free, but then the second half of the book comes and Marie Rutkoski uses the written word to hurt you again. This happens over and over, but I keep coming back for more, and Marie never fails as an author to deliver an amazing story that seems to shatter my heart. “The Winner’s Crime” was no exception to the heartbreaking rule; let’s just say that it was an elegantly written form of emotional torture. “The Winner’s Crime” was completely magical like “The Winner’s Curse,” and even now it’s calling to me from its resting place on my bookshelf, and it’s saying,

Pitch Perfect e41bd4fea3c202317ea047e0b82bcda5

Okay, you get the point. “The Winner’s Crime” was beautiful torment, but now it’s time for some examples.

Kestrel was a fabulous heroine. The more I got to know this girl, the more I liked her. She was intelligent, cunning, and despite her flaws, she had a good heart. Kestrel was so clever in “The Winner’s Curse” and she was even more so in “The Winner’s Crime”; court life was a dangerous thing, and it was all about survival and protecting those she loves in this book. Another aspect of Kestrel’s personality that I really liked was how brave she was, and she had to make some very hard decisions concerning things that I would not have had the guts to face. But difficult choices also meant consequences, and Kestrel paid dearly for what she did and who she protected.

I think that might have been the most painful thing about “The Winner’s Crime”: the fact that I knew as a reader why Kestrel made certain choices, yet no one else in the book really understood. They didn’t know all that she had done for them, so they blamed and accused her for the errors that they saw on the surface. It was pure torture reading and wishing that the other characters could just see all that Kestrel had chosen to sacrifice to keep them safe, but they never did! An aspect of this book I was surprised about was that I did not end up being too frustrated with all of the secrecy. Oh, it hurt, but Marie wrote it in such a way that I could accept it while remaining hopeful that a time would come for those miscommunications to be resolved. What also made it easier to keep forging ahead was that I understood why Kestrel made those choices and decided to keep those secrets, and even though I wasn’t a fan of them, they didn’t ruin the book for me. Normally I HATE miscommunications in book to the point of it ruining the story, but Marie did a good job of tearing out my heart while making me want to read more. Another aspect of Kestrel’s character that I was really proud of was how strong and determined she was to protect her friends, family, and loved ones.

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 Speaking of loved ones…

If you’ve read my review of “The Winner’s Curse,” then you know that Arin grew on me the longer I read that book. I didn’t want to fall in love with his and Kestrel’s relationship, but I did. I wanted to not care about Arin, but I ended up loving him and wanting him and Kestrel to have a happy ending. “The Winner’s Curse” did not have a happy ending in store for Kestrel and Arin, and it tore me to pieces, yet I remained hopeful and kept rooting for a good end to their love story. Throughout the first half of “The Winner’s Crime” I remained firm in my desire for them to talk things through, communicate their feelings before either of them went off of the deep end.

In the first half of “The Winner’s Crime” I really liked Arin. I liked the fact that he felt a bit destroyed by Kestrel’s decision in “The Winner’s Curse,” but that he was willing to fight for her. *Sighs* And that moment on the balcony?

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I’ve waited nine months for a moment like that to happen between them, and it was so good! Thank you, Marie! So, yeah, I liked Arin in that moment and for another fifty pages, especially when something quite surprising happened. I’ll be honest, I did not expect that from Marie.

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There was also one other really notable moment between Kestrel and Arin that made me loved them as a couple all the more. It was such a great scene for readers to see their two personalities, and how they were both at war with their lives and current circumstances. Both of them wanted to be together, but everything seemed to be leading them down two very different paths in life, paths that would never cross again. Just the way Marie led up to that moment was so good!!

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After that scene, as good as it was, I started to get irritated with Arin. I get his frustration with Kestrel’s and his circumstances, but I felt like that didn’t justify what he began to think about Kestrel. He lost faith in her for a time, and I did not like that, no matter how logical it may have seemed. Reading Kestrel’s point of view and understanding that she had given up everything to protect Arin and her friends, and then him thinking of her in that way was unacceptable!

In the end I kind of forgave Arin, but I was still frustrated with some of the choices he made. He made things even harder for Kestrel than they already were, and that saddened me greatly. I also wish that I would have gotten a few more moments of Kestrel and Arin being around each other before you-know-what hit the proverbial fan, but I get what Marie was doing; the title of the book is “The Winner’s Crime” after all. Beside my irritation with Arin, though, I really did love this book.

Another great aspect of “The Winner’s Crime” was the addition of Verex, the emperor’s son, and Tensen, a Herrani man and Arin’s friend. These two men were great characters and I loved what each of them added to this story. Tensen was a very cool older male figure, and Verex was a character that I hope to get to know a bit more in book three. I liked Verex because, unlike Kestrel, he was not shrewd and cunning. Instead he was kind, smart, and clever in his own way; he acted a bit petulant and childish at first, but he grew out of that quickly. I really ended up liking him and Kestrel, and how sometimes he acted as her conscience, and kept her from doing anything too rash. Kestrel was very smart and clever, but she was also desperate, so she would occasionally error when it came to the emperor. Verex had suffered greatly at the hand of his father, but he still seemed to have a good heart, and he wanted to do good in the world.

I think my one real complaint about the characters in The Winner’s Crime” was not Arin, but that Ronan and Jess were not really in the book. Jess had a few scenes, but when she was present, she was quite cruel to Kestrel. It saddened me to see Jess do that to her friend and I don’t know where Marie Rutkoski is going with their relationship. Ronan hurt my heart even more than Jess, though. He was only in one scene with Kestrel, and he was not the kind and jovial Ronan I knew and loved from book one. I missed him and wished that he had played more of a role in this book than he actually did. Although I was disappointed about Ronan, his lack of “screen” time in this book was far less painful than what happened at the end of “The Winner’s Crime.”

There are not really words that I can use to describe the full torment that the final four chapters of this book put me through. Since I don’t have the rights words to describe it, I’ll just substitute them with pictures.

Arrow adc438e869ee987fbef6245e9aec9997My initial reaction to realizing that I was on the last hundred pages, and that Marie had only set up more dominoes to fall at the end of this book.

New Girl 0aefe0d756d689b166f68e684f3f9bf7How could so much go wrong in such a short amount of time?

Arrow 867bf7eb9e84826203a0f90fe74a8b62 ArrowThe last three chapters were traumatizing, and I did not want that to happen…

Arrow 6f9d6576497ebb9511e164351f4c906dyup, Marie decided to go there!

Arrow 7fee628550157846474fdbf50561445eI was too shocked at that point to do anything but internally scream/cry…

Arrow 24f723edb19cb5eb10c8a10f5cf040d2and then I closed the book and realized that I have to wait a year for the last book to come out.

“The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski was an impressive second book. It mended and broke my heart repeatedly, and I am anxious to see how Marie is going to solve everything that imploded at the end of this book. I think that “The Winner’s Curse” is still my favorite because, well, it started it all, and I fell in love with Arin’s and Kestrel’s relationship in that book. But “The Winner’s Crime” was amazing, and I loved where Marie took Kestrel as a character. Kestrel showed phenomenal growth, and she was such a strong and intelligent character that I can’t help but root for her! Overall, a fabulous book!

To: Marie Rutkoski,

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