Saturday, June 28, 2014

Book Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Release Date: 4 March 2014
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: ARC for Review
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

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.

I feel like this quote from John Green's TFiOS perfectly describes my feelings towards this book: "I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." I was just dipping my toes in, and then very slowly was pulled in until I closed the book and realized how in love I was with this book.

First off, I must talk about the world building in this story. The depth of this world is inconceivable. There was so much richness to it that it literally felt like I was walking through Valoria. It was very evident that Rutkoski was inspired by a variety of cultures (especially Roman) and she did her research, while leaving herself plenty of room for creating a highly impressive world of her own.

Kestrel was an awesome main character. She is so strong and independent, but still comes across as likeable. She challenges the expectations placed on her, with courage and confidence. In a lot of ways she seemed like she could've been an old friend with her nature.

Arin was both the complete equivalent and opposite of Kestrel. He's dark and mysterious, but inside there's so much. I almost with this book had been entirely from his perspective. The way it was written, we got to see quite a bit from him, but I think there's so much more to see from him.

The writing was spectacular. Beyond the outstanding world building, Rutkoski managed to convey emotions in such a beautiful way through her words. I could feel what Kestrel and Arin felt, and their dialogue brought the story to life with even more depth.

There are rumors that there's a trilogy in the works, and I must say I will certainly be an avid fan!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Write On Review-a-Thon {5}

Write On Review-a-Thon


The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. It’s 2 days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Friday, June 27th and Saturday, June 28th. Let’s get those reviews done!

I missed the last review-a-thon because life got in the way, but here I am now, ready to review my heart out! My goal is to review eight books from the dozens I have on my list of books-that-haven't-been-reviewed-for-months. I'm feeling highly motivated right now, so hopefully I can get through these quickly!

Anybody else review-a-thoning this weekend?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bite Sized Reviews: Golden by Cameron Dokey & The Crimson THread by Suzanne Weyn

   Bite Sized Reviews at Debz BookshelfI think it only fitting that we have two such SWEET bite-sized reviews today!

Golden (Once Upon A Time Faitytales)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 1st, 2006
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Purchased
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

"Once upon a Time" is Timeless...

Before Rapunzel's birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel's help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely "two nights and the day that falls between" to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed... forever.

Golden takes the classic fairytale of Rapunzel, full of romantic imagery, and takes away it's most iconic element--the Hair. That is the first thing you think of when you hear Rapunzel, as it is so engrained in our culture. How could this story succeed, then, with no hair? Absolutely beautifully.

Dokey wrote a wonderfully deep story that maintains many traditional elements, while making it very much its own. The writing was rich and lyrical, and the characters had surprising depth for such a small book.

Out of all the books I've read so far in this Once Upon a Time series, Golden is by far my favorite for interpreting a personal favorite with such freshness and creativity.

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 17th, 2008
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling
Source: Library
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads


The year is 1880, and Bertie, having just arrived in New York with her family, is grateful to be given work as a seamstress in the home of textile tycoon J. P. Wellington. When the Wellington family fortune is threatened, Bertie's father boasts that Bertie will save the business, that she is so skillful she can "practically spin straw into gold."

Amazingly, in the course of one night, Bertie creates exquisite evening gowns--with the help of Ray Stalls, a man from her tenement who uses an old spinning wheel to create dresses that are woven with crimson thread and look as though they are spun with real gold. Indebted to Ray, Bertie asks how she can repay him. When Ray asks for her firstborn child, Bertie agrees, never dreaming that he is serious...

My favorite thing about this Once Upon a Time series is the fact that it takes these fantastical stories, and sets them in an real place and time, usually with historical significance. The Crimson Thread takes Rumpelstiltskin and places it in the completely unexpected setting of 1880's New York.

The plot followed the structure of Rumpelstiltskin, but added so much more. You wouldn't think it would work, but now I can't imagine a better setting for the Miller's Daughter's story. Still, there were new elements that had me on the edge of my seat.

I was so surprised by the depth of the characters. I felt like I knew all the characters well, and in such a short book (under 200 pages) that is a huge accomplishment.

I haven't enjoyed some of Weyn's other retellings, but The Crimson Thread has shown me I certainly shouldn't discredit her as a seriously brilliant spinner of stories.

Monday, June 16, 2014

{Fairy Tales Retold Challenge} June Review Link Up + Giveaway

2014 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge

I deeply apologize for taking so long to realize that it is in fact June and time for another link-up and giveaway! I've been sort of out of it the past little while, but I have great plans (it'll just take a while to get those in action!) Hopefully, since the year is almost halfway over (I can't believe it), you're almost halfway done with the challenge. If that is the case, congratulations! If you're falling behind a bit, never fear! A read-a-thon is in the works!

And now to copy and paste the instructions from March:

There is a Linky directly below, where you can link-up any reviews which qualify for the 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge (any retelling which you’ve read in 2014). Ideally have them formatted as such: Debz Bookshelf: Cruel Beauty. Blog name and book title. Easy peasy, right? The Linky will be open through July 15th, in order to give you time to catch up on your reviews.


And now on to the fun stuff! I’m offering a giveaway of ONE of the five following books: A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz, ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine, THE PRINCESS CURSE by Merrie Haskell, THE LAND OF STORIES: THE WISHING SPELL by Chris Colfer, and RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN by Liesl Shurtliff to US residents, or a $10 Gift Card to International entrants!


  • Must be 13 or older, or have a parent’s permission
  • Must be a US resident, or be able to accept an Amazon gift card if International.
  • Must be an official participant of the 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge.
  • Giveaway will run from June 16th @ 12:01am to July 15th @ 11:59pm.
  • ONE winner will receive ONE book of their choice from the options presented, OR a $10 Amazon Gift Card if the winner is an international participant. (If you already own all three choices, then we can work something else out (: )

The mandatory entries are Join the 2014 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge (which hopefully you did back in December!) and to Link Up a Review. You can earn additional entries for each additional review you link-up (up to 5 reviews). You CANNOT link up reviews previously linked-up. Only reviews since then are eligible. Anybody who disregards this will be ineligible for the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions, please email, tweet, or comment.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf BFYR
Release Date: April 9th, 2013
Genre: Middle Grade Fairy Tale
Source: Library
Challenges: Audiobook, Fairy Tales, Quick Fix
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

Rump has never known his full name—his mother died before she could tell him. So all his life he's been teased for his half-a-name. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. For Rump discovers he can spin straw into gold. Magical gold.

His best friend Red Riding Hood warns him that magic is dangerous—and she's right! That gold is worth its weight in trouble. And with each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse.

There's only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds aren't great for a small boy in a land full of fairytale bullies, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—Rump just might triumph in the end.

Rump by Liesl Shurtliff was exceptional in every way. It was the perfect blend of everything I love in a book: witty narration, memorable characters, surprising plot twists, and an irresistable fairy tale setting.

Rump is a dejected, lonely boy who has a pretty dismal-looking fate lying ahead of him, all thanks to his less than flattering name. Yet, as he embarks on a journey through a somewhat...familiar tale he discovers there may be more to his fate than he first believed.

I love seeing my favorite stories from new perspectives (I STILL haven't seen Maleficent!!!) and this book was especially impressive in that aspect. I've always had a soft spot for Rumpelstiltskin, but this book presented him as a sympathetic character who genuinely wishes no ill on anybody (except for maybe a certain Miller...) and I loved that.

Every single character was so full of life. They had distinguishing characteristics that brought them to life in a whole new way! I was so impressed with the development behind each of them, making both old and new seem like old friends (or nemesises).

The writing was spectacular. Liesl Shurtliff has so much talent for a debut author. So many times I found myself laughing out loud, or uttering exclamations in response to the brilliant dialogue and narrative presented.

On a deeper/cheesier level, I loved the message that we are all of value, and we can all take control of our destinies. Any book that manages to be inspiring on top of hilarious and clever is one that will wind its way into my deep, cheesy, book-loving heart.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014



Hello amazing people! I know I haven't been great so far, but luckily there's plenty of Summer ahead to make up for my less than wonderful behavior. I have big plans for this blog, but before I go ahead and (almost literally) turn this blog on his head, I figured I would consult with you faithful and immensely helpful blog readers, by way of a survey!


Just click that beautiful button to be taken away to a randomly random survey that will hopefully help to build my blog into something even cooler than it already is!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Library Books Read-a-THon!

 photo LibraryReadathon2014_zps1ebc4cdf.jpg

Hello world! I feel bad for promising to get back into blogging, and then real life gets in the way. Oh well. I may have missed the first day of Rachael's Library Read-a-thon, but I will do my best not the miss the rest of it!

My goal is to read five books, including but not limited to:


Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Enders by Lissa Price
The Shadow Throne by Jennifer Nielsen
Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Prodigy by Marie Lu

I've been on a rollercoaster of a reading schedule lately, reading two books in one day, then none for another week. Hopefully this read-a-thon will even out my reading habits.

Thanks to Rachael for hosting this awesome read-a-thon!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Top Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag

A weekly meme hosted by the
Broke and the Bookish

Well, maybe not beach bag, since I'm not at all a beach-goer and I no longer live by the beach, but for sure my wandering the woods and road-tripping to [somewhere in the Midwest] bags!Top Ten Tuesday 
The One by Kiera Cass

This series is full of fluff and drama, but I love it anyway. I can't wait to get around to finishing!

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria

This has been sitting on my review pile for months and it looks amazing! Hope I can read it soon!

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Out of all the upcoming retellings coming out, this is the one I'm most excited about! I doesn't come out just yet, but Hyperion and NetGalley are awfully friendly (:

Paper Towns by John Green

I'm trying to mentally prepare myself for The Fault in Our Stars, and how better to do that than a John Green read-a-thon (actually, that sounds like a bad idea—too many tears!)

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

This book sounds like a great mix of fun stuff and more serious stuff so I'm excited to get into it.

Wild by Alex Mallory

A modern Tarzan? It sounds like it shouldn't work, but I've actually already started it, and I'm impressed!

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Again, this has been on my review pile for months and I just haven't read it! I swear that will change—it's Shannon Freakin' Hale for Pete's sake!

Transparent by Natalie Whipple

I've heard so many great things about this book, including that it includes the kind of fluffy romance that's perfect for Summer!

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I've heard so many mixed things about this book, so I have to see for myself! The premise is amazing, and I'm ready to dive in!

Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

Doon is literally a dream-come-true of a book for me. It's so perfectly awesome, and I cannot wait for the sequel, which you can bet I'll be reading the moment I can get my hands on it!

What books are you packing in your beach bag?

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