Blog Tour: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Marie Rutkoski's The Winner's Kiss, the last book in her The Winner's Curse series. I am so excited about this book. This series has been so exciting and squeal-inducing and just lovely all around. To celebrate the release of The Winner's Kiss on March 29, bloggers around the interwebs have been sharing their favorite kisses from books new and old. I'll be sharing my own later in the post, but first, more about The Winner's Kiss.

The Winner's Kiss
by Marie Rutkoski

On Sale March 29th, 2016

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?

About the Author

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Celestial Globe. The Cabinet of Wonders, her debut novel, was named an Indie Next Kids’ List Great Read and a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, among other honors. Rutkoski grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She attended the University of Iowa, where she took Writers’ Workshop classes and studied with Pulitzer Prize-winner James Alan McPherson. After graduating, she lived in Moscow and Prague. Upon receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University, she held dual appointments as a lecturer there in both English and American Literature and Language, and History and Literature. Rutkoski is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and creative writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and cat. 


Now about that favorite kiss...

Hello, friends and strangers. Remember me? It’s been quite some time since I’ve truly written a post for WFTM. I could blame a job that is drowning me in madness. Or a wedding that I don’t have the faintest idea how to plan and yet somehow am planning anyway. Or just a general lack of apathy or time or patience. Or how everyone wants to hang out with me these days and I’m rarely home. Whatever the reason, I have been missing and I am sad about it.

But today! Today we talk about kissing! Now I’m not a mushy person. In fact I am best described by the following t-shirt graphic:

And yet there was once a day when I enjoyed a good kissing scene, especially if it were earned. Alas, my brain is now more swiss cheese than brain matter, and I don’t remember all the best ones. So I tried cheated. I looked at all the other wonderful bloggers who were part of the tour, except most of them chose books I’d never heard of or hadn’t read. That’s no help.

So I googled best literary kisses and that came up with… more books I’ve never heard of or hadn’t read. Then I despaired about all the amazing books I’ve never heard of or read and WHERE IS ALL THE READING TIME?

But finally I settled on my choice. And it was the first choice that came to mind at the thought of the topic, so I’m not entirely sure why I tried to cheat anyway.

What Book Is Your Favorite Literary Kiss In?

It’s not quite “literary”, but it’s going to be Soulless by Gail Carriger.

Who Is Kissing?

She of the soulless nature, one Alexia Tarrabotti, and the very uncivilized Lord Maccon.

Why Is It Your Favorite?

I am quite fond of love-hate relationships that turn into a happily romantic pairing between equals who respect one another, and the relationship between Alexia and Lord Maccon check all those boxes. I’m also fond of slightly rough make out sessions that take place in fancy libraries. Though this scene doesn’t tick the library box, I do get one of those later in the book.

So let me set up the scene: Alexia keeps attracting unsavory sorts who either want to kill her or recruit her. The latest was a weird man that snuck into her carriage. She’s escaped with the help of Lord Maccon, who demands she have a body guard type person with her at all times. She is infuriated and there is arguing, some flirty teasing and then some anger on the part of Lord Maccon. Then simply…

The earl grabbed Miss Tarabotti’s chin with one big hand and the small of her back with the other, pulling her toward him hard. He slanted his mouth over hers almost violently.
She jerked back. “What are you…?”
“Only way to keep you quiet,” he grumbled, taking her chin in a firmer grip and planting his mouth atop hers once more.
It was not the kind of kiss Alexia had ever experienced before. Not that she had been kissed all that frequently prior to this particular point in time.
The kiss itself was initially quite gentle: slow and soft. Alexia found it surprising given the violence of his embrace. She also found it faintly unsatisfying. She gave a little murmur of frustration and leaned in toward him. Then the kiss changed. It became harder, rougher, parting her lips with purpose. There was even, shockingly, tongue involved in the proceedings. Miss Tarabotti was not certain about that. It bordered on sloppy, but then again, the sheer heat of it … Her pragmatic preternatural self assessed the situation and realized that she could definitely learn to love the taste of him: like one of those expensive French soups, dark and rick. She arched her back. Her breath had gone all uneven, perhaps because her mouth was clogged with kisses. Alexia was just beginning to come to terms with the tongue concept and notice that she was now getting too warm to need the earl’s jacket, when he left off kissing, pushed the coat roughly down, and started nibbling on her neck.

And it continues – quite scandalously for events happening in a Victorian street – until they’re rudely interrupted by Maccon’s associate with news of the latest threat to Alexia’s life. This is only the first – and probably tamest – kiss in the book, much less the series. I guess I like my love affair with a bit of self-deprecating humor and sarcasm.

Now What Kiss Do I Want to See in The Winner’s Kiss?

Well, Kestrel and Arin, of course. Those two need a happy ending after all their misunderstandings and standing on opposite ends of the battle field. I want happiness and joy and safety, though I have a feeling some more pain and suffering will be felt on all sides before everything comes to an end.

So what is your favorite kiss from a book? Share in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TheWinnersKiss.

And regular activity at WFTM will start up soon. Hopefully? Maybe after this wedding? If anyone is still around?

Why I Couldn't Care Less About Marvel's New Spider-Man

I guess it shouldn't really matter who is in the suit considering half the movie is CGI anyway...

I guess it shouldn't really matter who is in the suit considering half the movie is CGI anyway...

Late Tuesday Marvel Studios announced that they had finally found their new Peter Parker in Tom Holland. I don’t know if many people are familiar with the name Tom Holland, but he’s an 19-year-old British actor who has been in things like The Impossible, Wolf Hall and something coming out soon called In the Heart of the Sea. I know I couldn’t have told you who this kid was, though he has a passing resemblance to Billy Elliott (also known as Jamie Bell).

This is not Tom Holland. That's Jamie Bell from  Billy Elliot . This gif just makes me smile.

This is not Tom Holland. That's Jamie Bell from Billy Elliot. This gif just makes me smile.

What I can tell you is that I could care less about another version of Peter Parker. I am so bored with Peter Parker, and that’s coming from someone who loved Andrew Garfield’s fluffy haired version of the character. I didn’t love the movies he was put into, but his version of the character was great and his chemistry with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was possibly the most perfect version I could image on film.

But with five movies in 13 years, I just do not care about another Peter Parker Spider-Man film. I get that the Civil War comic book story line really relies on having a Peter Parker, but Marvel Studios has made massive changes to well-known plot lines before. They could easily have replaced Peter with the never-before-seen-on-screen Miles Morales and had a new Spider-Man that not only added diversity, but didn’t require rebooting a character for the third time in less than 15 years.

I can’t bring myself to care about another Peter Parker, even with Marvel (mostly) controlling the reigns. The Amazing Spider-Man movies relied too heavily on special effects, forgetting to put much heart or plotting into the story, and leaving their far superior cast to do more heavy lifting to give the films any sort of charisma. And I don’t even want to talk about Spider-Man 3. None of the films have fully gelled since Spider-Man 2 and even that one had the problem of Tobey Maguire being a milquetoast–verging-on-whiney Peter Parker.

Perhaps having a truly younger version of Peter will give this new version of the franchise more life than the last three movies, but I have a fear that we’re just going to get a rehash of a Peter Parker origin story that we’ve already seen twice. It’s been done. Let’s move on to something new and interesting. Even Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone couldn’t make the second retelling seem new, interesting or intriguing. We knew all the plot beats before we ever entered the theatre because pretty much the same movie had been made a decade before.

Maybe Marvel will skip the origin story this time, but I honestly can’t see that happening. Origin stories are just so easy to do, and knowing that pretty much everyone and their mom knows Peter Parker’s story at this point probably won’t be enough to persuade Marvel to try something more creative.

This is Tom Holland, by the way.

This is Tom Holland, by the way.

I wish Tom Holland best of luck and I hope he and the Marvel team surprise me. I can’t imagine he’ll get much screen time with the already over bloated cast of Captain America: Civil War, but maybe they’ll figure out a way to make him stand out. It’s just going to take something special to cause me to have any interest in seeing Spider-Man The Redux Again (He’s Really Younger This Time!) in 2017.

I’ll just be over here waiting for Captain Marvel when I can genuinely get excited about Marvel movies again..

Are you excited to get another, younger Spider-Man in 2017? Who would you have cast if given the chance? Do you know who Tom Holland is? Hit up the comments to discuss.

Author Blog Tour: From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Meg Cabot's blog tour for From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess. Visit here to see the full tour schedule.

As part of Meg Cabot’s tour for From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess, Meg and First Second books asked a bunch of bloggers what they would do if they woke up tomorrow and found out they were royalty. This is a particularly difficult question for me to answer because it’s been a really long time since I imagined myself a princess. What do princesses do these days? Does it come with financial security and a charmed lifestyle? Would a charmed lifestyle work well with my not-quite-so-traditional personality? Could I just lounge around reading books and eating cupcakes and ignore the rest of the world? What would my princessly duties be?

So if tomorrow I learned I was a princess, I would be a barefoot jeans and sneakers type of princess, who avoided balls and makeup and fancy gatherings. I would travel the world trying to teach people the value of being nice to one another and learn about cultures all over the world. I would eat loads of unusual and yummy foods and meet interesting people. I would try to be good and spread a little bit of happiness around the world, not for the sake of cameras, but because it would be the right thing to do.

I would hope that my new found royalty wouldn’t come with paparazzi and crazy stalkers, so I could explore the world around me and see how best I could contribute to it. I would use my new privileged position to snuggle a koala bear in Australia, but not to get much more special treatment outside of that. I would still wait in lines and wait my turn. Just because I have title wouldn’t suddenly make me better than everyone else.

What I can tell you is that I wouldn’t be a designer dress and heels princess. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m too clumsy for such baubles. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having people do everything for me either, so I would still bake yummy things for myself and other people, maybe even fold my own laundry! I wouldn’t mind having someone to drive me around though…

But mostly I would try to be good, just like I do every day I’m not a princess. Maybe I’d be able to do it on a grander scale in a more world-wide type of capacity than I can now, but I would remain a student of the world, learning all the time and finding the best ways to contribute to make things a little better. I’d hope royalty wouldn’t change me that much.


So what would you do if you woke up to find you were royalty? Answer in the comments and enter to win a copy of From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess by Meg Cabot below! Winner must have a US mailing address to receive the prize from the publisher.

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From the Notebooks of a Middle School Princess
Meg Cabot

Fiewel & Friends
Released May 19, 2015
192 pages
Middle Grade / Fantasy

Find it on Goodreads

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Olivia Grace Clarisse Harrison has always known she was different. Brought up by her aunt's family in New Jersey, book-and-music-loving Olivia feels out of place in their life of high fashion and fancy cars. But she never could have imagined how out of place she really was until Mia Thermopolis, Princess of Genovia, pops into her school and announces that Olivia is her long-lost sister. Olivia is a princess. A dream come true, right? But princesses have problems too.

In FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF A MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCESS a new middle grade series, readers will see Genovia, this time through the illustrated diaries of a spunky new heroine, 12 year old Olivia Grace, who happens to be the long lost half-sister of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

The original Princess Diaries series sold over 5 million copies in the US (15 million worldwide), spent 82 weeks on the USA Today bestsellers list, and inspired two beloved films.

About the Author

Meg Cabot is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series. Born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana, Meg also lived in Grenoble, France, and Carmel, California, before moving to New York City after graduating with a bachelor's degree in fine arts from Indiana University. She is the author of numerous books for adults and children, including five #1 New York Times bestsellers. Over 25 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Meg Cabot currently lives in Key West with her husband and cat.

Blog Tour & Contest: What's Your Winner's Curse?

Welcome to the Working for the Mandroid stop on Marie Rutkoski’s blog tour for The Winner’s Crime, the second book in her fantasy series. I reviewed the book last week, but as part of the tour, Marie and Mac Teen are asking book bloggers a question related to the series:

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?

So what would I spend too much money to obtain? At this moment, I would have to say a bionic arm. I think I would pay all the money I have in this world to chop off my current flesh and blood arm to replace it with a fully functional robot arm so that I could continue living day to day life without the obnoxious pain that comes from my malfunctioning nerves. I might also consider bionic eyes and/or robot ankles.

Perhaps I just want to become a robot at this point? I’d rob, beg and steal to upload my consciousness to a body that didn’t feel regularly obnoxious pain.

On a more materialistic level, I would also pay too much to meet Benedict Cumberbatch and have him read books to me for an afternoon. That would be the most lovely afternoon in all of history. I would also jump at the chance to spend a day with the Supernatural cast or hang out with the film version of the Avengers.

So what would you be willing to spend way too much to get what you wanted? Would it be an experience or an actual material possession? What do you want most in the whole wide world?


You can see all the other awesome bloggers that participated in the blog tour over here.

If you’d like to learn more about Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse series, visit the series’ site here. You can also play Bite & Sting online here, the game Kestrel and Arin plays inside the book series.


Enter to win a copy of The Winner's Crime! Open to people with mailing addresses in the US. The prize is generously being supplied by the publisher at the end of the contest.

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Random Tuesday: How Do You Choose Your Next Book?

Normally this is where I would put together a list of links and art and awesome random things for you since it's Tuesday. For some reason Tuesdays feel like the best days for random, but not this Tuesday. This Tuesday I just have a random question. How do you figure out what your going to read next?

If you're hanging around here, you probably have TBR list that has long since turned into a pile that morphed into a mountain that's threatening to overtake your home. Or is that just me? I have a TBR room that has spilled into other parts of the house and that's not counting the hundreds (and oh, do I mean hundreds) of unread books on my Kindle and the dozens of unread shorts, novellas and such I have bookmarked online. There is SO. MUCH. STUFF. And I want to read it all. So what is a good way to choose?

This year I made a promise to myself because I found I kept buying books I wanted to read, but pushing them aside for books I felt obligated to read, either because a publisher sent them to me or I'd got them from the library or it was a cultural zeitgeist moment I wanted to take part in. This year I've decided to give myself a 1-for-2 rule. I get to read 1 book I own for every 2 "supposed to read" or review books I read. So right now I'm reading Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, which has had a home on my bookshelf for years and years yet left untouched. That's because I finished two books sent to me by publishers.

But then! How do I figure out what that one book should be? And why do I keep requesting e-ARCs only to ignore my Kindle completely (besides the fact that I'm not big on the whole e-reader thing)? How do I balance that with my bookmarks and Tor's weekly shorts?

You got me. I haven't the faintest idea, but I am making a tiny dent in the shelves and shelves of books I've bought but haven't read with this 1-for-2 thing, so I think I'll stick to it.


How do you choose what your next read is or what format it will take? Are you a mood reader or do you schedule your reading so you always know what book is on deck? Help me figure out a manageable system in the comments.

Happy 40th Anniversary to Tuck Everlasting! #Tuck40th

One of my favorite books from when I was a child is celebrating its 40th anniversary, so when the lovely people over at Macmillan asked if I wanted to participate in the celebratory blog tour, I was all for it. Tuck Everlasting is a book that became dog-eared and ragged in my hand as I read it over and over again. I’m so excited that it has had such a lasting presence for 40 years, and can’t wait to share it with the kids in my life when they get a bit older.

A special 40th Anniversary edition with a foreword by Gregory Maguire (the mastermind behind the Wicked series) is coming out on January 20. You can preorder it here and I highly suggest that you do. I just received my copy in the mail and it’s beautiful. It made my nostalgic heart grow a little.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Macmillan is asking book bloggers are the interwebs one simple question:

What if you could live forever?

Oh man, that’s the ultimate dream, right? Then I would have all the time to read all the books and see all the television shows and consume all the stories that I could possibly ever want. Living forever without the fear of sudden death and illness would lift a weight that likes to follow me around during day-to-day life, so I absolutely would dream from Winnie Foster’s spring.


Because there has to be an except. Would immortality be worth it without being able to bring your loved ones along? Can I have that caveat? That I would absolutely live forever, but only if my significant other and my family could come along with me? I would love to have all the time in the world to explore careers without fearing that I was stuck wasting my time doing one thing for the rest of my life. I could be more adventurous knowing that some of the worst consequences couldn’t apply for me. But it would only be worth it if I wasn’t alone, that I didn’t have to face the rest of eternity without someone with me.

So I suppose my answer is yes, but with a caveat. The rest of time is a lonely place to be on your own.

What about you? Would you dream from the well of immortality? What would you do with all that time? And do you have fond memories of reading Tuck Everlasting as a child like I do?


Tuck Everlasting
Natalie Babbitt

Farrar Straus Giroux
40th Anniversary Edition Comes out January 20

Preorder it Here

Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.

Random Tuesday: Vaguely Thinky Thoughts About Ender's Game Movie Sequels

So Ender’s Game finally came out and though it didn’t do gangbusters, it won its first weekend. Of course that left all the entertainment journalists with the requirement to run stories about potential sequels. Those articles then led me to grind my teeth in frustration. I know that journalists – entertainment or otherwise – don’t know everything about everything, but if there is a movie theatre that thinks the true, published sequels to Ender’s Game can be translated into a film with a similar tone and feel to the original, they really haven’t read the true sequels to Ender.

Orson Scott Card has made a fortune with the Ender-verse. What started out as a short story turned into a novel that is a perfect gateway into science fiction. At 13 years old, I walked into Ender’s Game hating science fiction and everything not contemporary realistic fiction or vampires pretending to be realistic fiction. Several hours later I set the book down and realized I was suddenly a spaceship-obsessed, alien-loving, all-things-sciency and crazy science fiction nerd. It was a pretty drastic transformation for the catalyst to be a 300 page book.

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