Redesign Reactions [4]: The Winner’s Trilogy


Welcome to Redesign Reactions, where we talk about books, covers, and what happens when new cover designs take over a series!

On this edition of Redesign Reactions, let’s talk about
The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Hoo boy did things blow up with the reveal of the new cover for THE WINNER’S KISS, the final book in Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Crime trilogy. I don’t personally know the ins and outs of why the cover was changed after the initial reveal but obviously there was serious potential for the new covers and expanding to another market or larger audience.

Personally? It does irk me when covers are changed mid-series… But I really think some people did not handle it well. Keep in mind that a cover change is really almost always out of an author’s control and they’re probably stressed out about the book already much less when a new cover is revealed. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the way some people handled their frustration and it was a bit upsetting to see BUT I also understand being upset about a big, fan-favorite series getting a cover redesign on the last book.

I actually really like the new covers! I do think it’s a bit more “YA-looking” with the girl on the cover (although there was a girl on a cover in a dress before so that was even more “YA-looking”, I guess?) but I love how badass Kestrel looks and it really gets me excited to think about what’s in between those covers.

The good thing for readers is that Fierce Reads announced just yesterday that after everything they heard from fans of the series, they are now in fact keeping the original cover for THE WINNER’S KISS so apparently this is now a battle between the hardcovers and the paperbacks! Breathe easy, matchy-matchy friends. Your hardcovers are safe from change!

the winners trilogy covers

OLD COVERS: The original covers were clean and simple — just an image of Kestrel, obviously her dagger, and some lovely typography. I actually liked the dresses on this cover since it wasn’t just “girl in a dress” syndrome — Kestrel actually does wear nice dresses and I think they’re gorgeous to look at. Although let’s just say… I really, really did not like THE WINNER’S KISS original cover. That pose? HER FACE? It just all looks terribly uncomfortable and awkward. I can’t stand her facial expression there.

NEW COVERS: I really enjoy the general badass feel of these covers… But I don’t know that they give off the right impression to readers before they pick up the book. Yes, Kestrel is badass but she really is more of a strategist than actually heading into battle. The lines do blur there but I actually thought “girl in a dress” felt more accurate than badass fighter (as much as I love it). Also, I don’t know why but THE WINNER’S CRIME cover just looks off to me for some reason.

Which do I like better? I do think I like the original cover better for THE WINNER’S CURSE and THE WINNER’S CRIME and I frankly, I think I like the redesign more of THE WINNER’S KISS. In a perfect world, the covers would have matched with the dress theme and Kestrel would have just been in a different pose on THE WINNER’S KISS cover, but I’ll take the redesign here. I’m so torn on the change/change back with the covers that just happened because I really did like the new cover for THE WINNER’S KISS, even though it wasn’t 100% matching (the spine would have matched). I know it was hard for readers to swallow a change mid-series but I do understand a publishing house/marketing team has serious reasons to do so! A redesign also spends a lot of time, money, and resources to put together so I trust their reasons for pulling the switch. At least now everyone can keep their original matching hardcover and the paperbacks will still feature the redesigned covers so all of that effort isn’t totally wasted.
If I hadn’t seen the originals and this redesign was the first set of covers that I knew, I think I would still be excited and stunned, but knowing the first set of designs… I do lean more towards the originals. Especially for books one and two.

So tell me! Which design do you like better? Take the poll below and let me know in the comments which you prefer and why! I’d love to hear your reactions!

[bctt tweet=”Which cover for #TheWinnersTrilogy do you like better: Original or redesign? Take the poll at @bookaddictguide!” via=”no”]


Blog Tour: What’s Your Winner’s Curse? (Plus Giveaway!)

WinnersCurse BlogTour

What’s Your Winner’s Curse?

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?

This is quite the interesting question posed to us bloggers by Macmillan and it really made me reflect on my life and see what my true “Winner’s Curse” would be. There really aren’t that many things that whip me into a frenzy, causing me to spend more money than I normally would (except, of course, books… which was the first thing that came to mind haha!) Ever since we bought our house and spent so much money on our wedding, my husband and I have gotten better about saving money… But the more I thought about it, there are two things that naturally are expensive and have me justifying the amount of money that I’d spend on them even if the cost is exorbitant: upgrades for my house and vacations.



My bookcase is one of the first upgrades/big projects we did for our house. After saying adios to my apartment, I left the crappy (and falling apart) bookcases behind. As much as that pained me, I knew we would build a glorious bookcase in our new home… And we did just that! It was a large sum of money but my husband has a friend who builds homes for a living and was wonderful enough to do this project for us on the side. We stained it ourselves which was a TOTAL pain (and I will never do that again — because it was already assembled) but LOOK HOW GLORIOUS! The money and time and effort was totally worth it and I’d do it all over again. We’re also getting a pantry build in our dining room because we REALLY REALLY need the storage space so as you can see… money is already going into some flashy home improvements!

God forbid we ever move (we will eventually, I’m sure), we cannot take this built-in bookcase with us. Alas. We’ve spent a lot of money on it and as much as I would LIKE to try to take it with, that’s impossible. BUT we can always build a new one someday… In the meantime, I’m always pinning more bookcases and libraries on my Shelf Envy Pinterest board! We may have to use these for inspiration someday ;D





Screen Shot 2014-12-20 at 3.39.04 PM

Shane and I got married this past November and we went to Aruba on our honeymoon. I’ve NEVER taken a trip like that before (we go on trips all of the time but usually always in the US and never quite so expensive) and I’ll be honest… we did not pay that all in one lump sum haha. I almost NEVER buy things if I can’t afford to pay for them outright (house, car, wedding, etc aside) so the fact that we took this very expensive (well, very expensive for us) vacation to Aruba was quite the splurge for us! We justified it because it was our honeymoon, but I’d also like to take some more expensive and/or “dream” vacations someday!

I think we’ll always love splurging on trips, though. It’s sort of become something that we do together and do often. It doesn’t have to be far but we’ll grab a hotel room up in Milwaukee for a weekend, take a stay-cation in downtown Chicago, or camp in the Snowy Mountains in Wyoming. No matter where we go, we always have a good time and our travel memories are some of my favorites! I love visiting new places (and some old ones too) with Shane and I look forward to doing this for the rest of our lives, even if it’s something that we spend maybe a little TOO much money on sometimes. These are the ways we treat ourselves!

I had SUCH a blast today on the blog tour for THE WINNER’S CURSE and THE WINNER’S CRIME! Thank you again to the always fabulous folks at Macmillan for putting this tour together. They’re always such wonderful hosts and they set up these fabulous tours so we can bring you wonderful books — and giveaways too!

Don’t forget that you can find out more about the tour as well as both books in the series so far at the links below! 

  • Check out the entire blog tour schedule to see the rest of The Winner’s Curse choices from other bloggers as well as their own personal giveaways!
  • You can check out everything about The Winner’s Curse series on The Winner’s Trilogy website!
  • You can also play Bite and Sting, the game in the book! (I’ve played the game myself and it’s a LOT of fun!!!)
  • Don’t forget to follow #TheWinnersCurse hashtag on Twitter as well!


Want to win a copy of THE WINNER’S CRIME? I bet you do! Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win! This will be a finished copy — not an ARC. Winner must be 13 years of age or older and a resident of the United States. Good luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Curse #2) – Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Curse #2) – Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 3, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: November 27, 2014
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

     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.


Um. Yeah. Marie Rutkoski? You broke my feels (probably everyone’s feels) with this book. Is it possible to be broken in a good way? Because I think this was it. I don’t usually put gifs in my reviews but let’s just say I’m lost somewhere in between “a little broken” and “shattered to pieces”… I’ll admit it — I was one of those people who felt like THE WINNER’S CURSE started out juuuust a bit slow (don’t worry — obviously I was totally captivated in the second half) but in retrospect, I think that was just because it was a non-magical fantasy and I wasn’t quite used to that. Immediately after finishing CURSE I was dying for CRIME so I picked this one up fairly quickly after I got it in the mail from Macmillan! Now that some time has passed, I girded my feels for what might happen in book two (wasn’t really possible), and I knew exactly what I was in for (I really didn’t), I threw myself head first into THE WINNER’S CRIME.

The book starts off pretty much where THE WINNER’S CURSE left us. IN AGONY. No, but really. The plot picks up a little ways where we last left Kestrel and right from the first page I was hooked. I don’t really want to go into the plot (of CURSE or CRIME) because I don’t want to start spilling out spoilers but let’s just say Kestrel put herself in a compromising position in order to try to help Arin and then these two… This is the most tension and frustration I’ve felt since I read JUST ONE YEAR. It KILLED me to see these two constantly sacrificing something to help the other and that plan backfiring, or missing opportunities to finally say something to each other, or almost giving in to what they want and pulling away. GAH.

One thing I really loved was how twisty everything got at the end of THE WINNER’S CURSE and CRIME surely follows in the same vein as well. Kestrel and Arin constantly killing us with all of their clandestine meetings and emotional self-torture, but obviously they both have their reasons to do so. THE WINNER’S CRIME is a sort of constant volley back and forth between Kestrel’s plans and Arin’s plans and witnessing how close they are and yet how far they are is just torture. If these two could just communicate… but they can’t. And the readers go NUTS.

Okay, trying to move away from the feels here… Once again, Marie Rutkoski does a fantastic job with making these characters just leap off of the page. The new characters that are added are just fantastic and I really connected to them in a short time span, getting immediately invested. I had a love/hate relationship with the emperor because he was just awful but like, an amazing evil (think Umbridge) that I just loved to hate him. I also love the way this world grew. I got to know more about neighboring regions and the imagery in my head was just gorgeous. The descriptions were so wonderful that I could really picture everything as it was playing out. Just fantastic.

I honestly want to say so much more about this book, but like its predecessor, THE WINNER’S CRIME is one you just want to experience for yourself. It’s a great balance between character and plot and when things start to escalate in the end, I assure you that you’ll be on the edge of your seat! Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you finish and want book three immediately…


“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

The Winner's Crime reading updates


Kestrel // Character Obsessions: Her wedding day, secrecy, plotting, Arin, her father.
MAN, Kestrel is so badass. I love how she’s plotted and schemed her way into this… well, terrible situation, but she’s always planning one step ahead. That’s not always a good thing when other characters have plans too *cough*Arin*cough* but she is always thinking and I just love her brilliance and ferocity.
The Emperor // Character Obsessions: Plotting, control, dominance, torture.
This guy is one SCARY DUDE and I love it. I mean, I totally hate him but I’m also fascinated wondering where he ends up in the plot the whole time and what he’s planning while others are planning too. He’s very smart and he always knows what’s going on. So scary.


Kept Me Hooked On: Non-magical fantasy. I do love magic systems in most of my fantasy books but I love that this is high fantasy without magic. World building is honestly one of my favorite parts and I totally feel like I can envision this entire world.
Left Me Wanting More: Kestrel/Arin interactions. I mean, obviously. These two KILLED me. In a good way? I’m glad that things happened the way they did because it was SOOO good but I also just wanted to lock the two of them up together so they could talk. And kiss.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

These books are great. I feel bad that I wasn’t AS invested in the beginning of THE WINNER’S CURSE and that kind of affected my overall love for the series (at first) but CRIME totally knocked it out of the water. It was so incredibly captivating and I cannot wait for book two!



(Click the cover to see my review!)


The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Curse #1) by Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 4, 2014 by Macmillan
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 13, 2014
Related Posts: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

    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.


THE WINNER’S CURSE is easily one of the most-anticipated reads of 2014 so far… And it’s only March! I have to say, I can easily see why there was so much excitement for the new fantasy series from Marie Rutkoski. Just nine pages in and I was already getting a feel for this colorful and history-rich fantasy world (and had a few things feel reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire!) so I knew I was going to easily fall into the setting of this book.

This book TOYED with my emotions but definitely in a good way. I was intrigued right off the bat, but admittedly, with all of the hype I found myself waiting all-too anxiously to see where this story would go. I wanted to blame hype for that, which it really did factor in to my nervous anticipation a little bit, but sometimes with fantasy I just find myself too impatient in the beginning when everything is getting laid out because I KNOW things are about to go down and I just cannot wait to see what they are. I feel like their was a fair amount of world-building towards the beginning as we get to know Kestrel and Arin as well as the fantastic world created here, but I was so hungry for more information that it was hard to push all my questions and theories aside!

The beginning was definitely captivating, but the middle and the end just simply blew me away. I felt like every time a situation presented itself, I totally got knocked over with the directions the story took. Each conflict had so many possible outcomes and I was never quite sure in which direction the story would go and somehow it always ended up being the thing I least expected! I was truly impressed with Marie Rutkoski’s ability employ plot twists and keep the reader on their toes because I felt like I never knew exactly what was going to happen — and as soon as we hit that roller coaster, the book was on an unstoppable path of back-to-back-to-back surprises!

I really came to love both of the main characters. I loved Kestrel’s ferocity and of course I can’t resist Arin’s strong, silent, smoldering personality. I felt like they both played off of each other really well too. It took me a while to fall into the groove of the romance but there came a certain point where I was totally hooked. A forbidden romance… It just kills me every time. I really loved the relationship that Kestrel and Arin ended up building but in a way, I wish it had been built up just a bit more.  I still loved their romance and it broke my heart and put it back together many times, but sometimes in a non-contemporary setting (even in contemporary too), I need just a tiiiiny bit more of establishing that relationship before I fall in love with. That’s just the most minor of concerns though because I really did fall in love with this romance too!

Marie Rutkoski’s writing was just beautiful. She has a fantastic knack for stringing words and sentences together so melodically that the prose just sang to me (which intentional or not for the music theme throughout the book, I don’t know but it totally seemed to fit perfectly). The book was just such a pleasure to read and as well as the prose, the plot seemed to flow incredibly well too. I think one of the only other (minor) qualms that I had was that I was so, so anxious to learn so much more about this amazing world that Marie Rutkoski had created and I felt like I didn’t see a lot of the history until much closer to the end when we got more into the war games and politics. Then again, often times world-building is something I can never get enough of!

THE WINNER’S CURSE was a fantastic first installment in this new fantasy series from Marie Rutkoski. As soon as I finished, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on book two…. Which was a shame since technically book one wasn’t even out yet!! This is definitely a thrilling and captivating read and you can bet I’m in this series for the long haul!




Kestrel // Character Obsessions: War, fighting, love, honor, piano.
I loved Kestrel’s strength, courage, and determination. When forced with the decision to either fight in her father’s army or choose a man to marry, Kestrel wants to do neither and is (not quite hopelessly) caught in the middle. This story starts off with Kestrel purchasing Arin as a slave at the auction in town and… she’s really not 100% sure why she did it. She was quite a puzzle to figure out and I really enjoyed getting to know her character as the story progressed.
Arin // Character Obsessions: Obeying Kestrel, war, strategy, motives.
Arin was even harder to figure out than Kestrel… and I LOVED that. There were so many different things going on with Arin at all times and it took a while for the reader to also be clued in as to what those things were. I loved his air of mystery as well as his passion which usually lingered beneath the surface.


Kept Me Hooked On: High fantasy. Sigh. I just love high fantasy. I love the setting, I love the character development, I love the world building. I love the war, the fighting, the history. I love the romance, betrayal, deception. IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
Left Me Wanting More: Early reveals. I didn’t want everything to be given away in the beginning of the book, but I always appreciate a few little clues or reveals or MOMENTS in the beginning. I won’t say it was a “slow” ending, but it did take a while to pick up for me.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think this is going to be a fantastic series and I am so excited to keep reading it. From start to finish I was definitely captivated and with that ending… I honestly just need book two as soon as humanly possible. (No pressure, Marie.)



(Click the cover to see my review!)

A Game of Thrones     Graceling


I read this book along with my other friends in The Selective Collective for our monthly read along! Check out their posts featuring the book below!

Tee @ YA Crush  Casting Call: The Winner’s Curse
Candice @ The Grown-Up YA  Freebie
Diana & Sandie @ Teen Lit Rocks  Roundtable: The Winner’s Curse
Daphne & Kristina @ Gone Pecan  Interview with Marie Rutkoski + Giveaway!