Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 484 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some kisses come at a price.

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

At least, that’s what he thinks.

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

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

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

STILL AMAZING.

This book doesn’t get old.

Nope. After my second read through I will read this series again, I just know it. I love it so.

This is one of those books where I find myself shouting at characters: KISS ALREADY. When it has been held off for 2+ books at this point and you know the love is there and all you need is that last sealing kiss. I get so giddy whenever this happens. AT LAST KESTREL AND ARIN. AT LAST.

The action is full speed ahead in this one y’all. The entire book is basically at the front of a battle and it will keep you busy. My heart would freak out every time I was concerned if someone was actually about to die. Luckily, what needs to happen does and the necessary actions are taken. I love the way the war scenes are written because Rutkoski expertly moves between Arin and Kestrel’s POV as they both show us the sides of battle. I feel like I get the entire scene and their emotions in a perfect combination.

The Winner’s Kiss also has one of the best ways for a villain to go down in any books I’ve read. Kestrel’s mastermind self takes down the Emperor is such a satisfying way. It really brings the entire series together because of the way it has woven throughout all three books. There’s a connection, a point, an actual ending to what’s happening.

Kestrel and Arin are one of my favorite OTP’s and this series needs way more recognition and love (even if it’s older). Definitely one of my favorite YA Fantasy series ever.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, very little detail fade to black scene
  • Violence: war, poison, swords, guns; a bit violent with a lot of battle scenes (full scale warfare)
  • Trigger warnings: drug withdrawal causing memory loss

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 402 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Following your heart can be a crime.

A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

THAT ENDING.

This is my second time reading this series. The first time I read them, I read all three in two days. You want to know why? Because by the time I finished this book I couldn’t handle not waiting another moment to read the last installment. That’s how much I love this series.

One of my favorite romances is in this fantasy. Arin and Kestrel and THE TENSION. I can’t handle the tension. I flip pages at speed waiting and hoping and hurting for them to have a moment alone where Kestrel can explain everything to Arin. This is one of the few times that lack of communication actually benefits the book (for me). Kestrel is doing everything to protect Arin and trying to play both sides of her loyalties to do so.

Kestrel is a fantastic heroine. I want to be her friend. She’s brave, bold, and utterly intelligent. I am again amazed at her ability to politcally maneuver one way, and saving those she loves the other way. Kestrel is constantly using her knowledge to help be the best spy she can be. I love her so much.

Arin is my sweet soul that I just want to hug and explain everything too. He’s so wrapped up in helping his country and making sure Kestrel is okay that it’s swoon-worthy. I love seeing his character grow up too. Arin and Kestrel both have to start being adults way sooner than planned. They make some mistakes and grow over the course of this book especially.

Those last few scenes hurt me to my core. AH. I am so wrapped up in the story at this point that there’s no way to put it down. The betrayal, the misunderstanding, the anger, the love. IT’S ALL THERE. This is the reason I keep coming back to this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, knives, swords, animal attacks, physical

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Book Review

Book Review [Re-Read]: The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA fantasy romance
Length: 355 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

RE-READ WAS SO WORTH IT.

I listened to this on Audible with narration by Justine Eyre. I really loved it on audio and thought the voices and accents were great. Highly recommend in this format.

Oooooh I missed this book, Ooooooh I missed these characters and this romance that still felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest when I finished it.

THIS OTP Y’ALL. Kestrel and Arin are all mine. I can’t get enough and love the absolute slow, angsty burn they give off the entire book. Coming from two different sides in their world they have a lot to conquer to realize they want each other. They slowly build from a tentative friendship to a passion-filled moment where the pieces start to fall into place. I love that the power dynamic flips between the two and we get to see how each responds to their struggles. While still fighting for their country, Kestrel and Arin realize they have started to fight for each other too.

Sneaky politicking and schemes abound in this entire series, but I love seeing the start-up in TWCurse. There’s a glimpse of the players laying out plans and putting others into action that really build over the books. I love the sharp mind Kestrel has to flush out and strategize. It’s even cooler how their game, Bite and Sting, has its own roll in the books.

So much action. I love how things are constantly fluctuating from slower, quiet moments to big, WHAT WILL HAPPEN moments. I found myself this time (it’s been 3 years since I’ve read it), still guessing a bit and LOVING IT. I generally knew what was going to happen, yet, when a book can provide the feels a second time around, you know it’s good.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few passionate kisses
  • Violence: battles/skirmishes, duels, poison, swords

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