The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)

3e8130f0-da10-0132-cec8-0e01949ad350 marie rutkoski the winner's kiss

“The Winner’s Kiss” by Marie Rutkoski

4 1/5 out of 5 stars.

After having been discovered as the Herrani spy called the Moth, Kestrel is sent as a prisoner to a Valorian slave camp in the north, where she knows survival will be slim. Any clever plan she might come up with won’t be enough to get her out of the sulfur mines, but Kestrel can’t bear the thought of not trying, because she can already feel herself slipping away in this place, suffocating under the weight of her father’s betrayal and the fear that she has been forgotten by everyone who might have cared for her.

Arin thought that time and distance had erased Kestrel from his mind and heart, but when news arrives in Herran of Kestrel’s imprisonment, Arin realizes just how little his feelings had changed toward her. But after making a daring rescue to bring Kestrel home, Arin finds that being together again is different than he thought it would be, and his desire to protect and earn Kestrel’s trust back is beginning to cloud his judgment, causing him to make mistakes on the war front that he would not have otherwise made. Arin knows that he should put Kestrel out of his thoughts, but what will winning the war mean if he ends up losing her?

With the Valorian Army pressing in on all sides, both Arin and Kestrel fear the perilous choices they will be forced to make during this war, choices that could ruin them and their world forever. But the pieces are on the board and the game has begun, and Arin and Kestrel must play it to its end. One last time…

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin this review. I guess that is just what Marie Rutkoski’s amazing writing style does to me, rendering me speechless when I am actually full of things that I want to say. Time has not made her words any less impacting, because two years ago I said the exact same thing in my review of “The Winner’s Curse.” So much had happened over the course of Marie’s first two books in her beautiful trilogy, which meant that a LOT was riding on “The Winner’s Kiss,” and although I never doubted Marie Rutkoski’s ability to write, I was worried what the last book in “The Winner’s Trilogy” might do to my heart. I was right to worry because this book did hurt my heart at times, but Marie managed to make me love this book amidst the emotional torment; it was brilliant, and I was so happy that the final book in a trilogy/series that I loved was (almost) as good as the first book that had captured my heart. It was so satisfying to read a finale where the characters, whom I loved very much, still felt like the same people I had met in the first book, despite all of the things that they had endured until this point.”The Winner’s Kiss” was great for many reasons, but it was just so amazing to experience the last book in a trilogy and to still feel the same connection to the hero and heroine’s story, despite the time that had passed.


Kestrel is one of my absolute favorite female characters. I love how Marie Rutkoski has always emphasized Kestrel’s intelligence and her struggle between getting what she wanted and doing what was right, which was sometimes a fine line between one bad thing and another, far worse choice, and how it was not about swordplay or brute force with this female character. Physical dominance was never Kestrel’s forte, so she always chose to outwit her combatants, and I thought that it was so refreshing to see a character who was strong and a force to be reckoned with, but who did not fall prey to the trend of an aggressive female who brutalized her enemies with weapons instead of intelligence. Sorry, but I prefer the spectrum of strong females who beat their foes with wit and shrewd intelligence, and that was who Kestrel was.(One of the reasons why I love the covers of this trilogy so much is because of how they tease a reader with beautiful dress, a clever-looking girl, and an elegantly displayed weapon on their fronts, and everything about them is just perfect for the story that “The Winner’s Trilogy” tells!) I so enjoyed seeing how much Kestrel grew and changed in “The Winner’s Curse,” but what I loved was seeing her attempt to save Arin and the Herrani people from the Valorian Emperor in “The Winner’s Crime.” My heart hurt so much for Kestrel in the second book of this trilogy because of how much she went through, and everything she sacrificed for a people who were not her people and a boy who seemed to no longer believe in her. It was beyond tormenting, especially with the kind of ending that Marie Rutkoski had written in “The Winner’s Crime,” and I knew that my heart was bound for more hurt when I started “The Winner’s Kiss.”

Kestrel’s journey throughout this trilogy has been really interesting and dynamic, and although I still loved her in this book, I felt like she took a bit more of a backseat emotionally; the cause of this was completely valid, so I was okay with it, but I did feel the difference while reading from her perspective. As “The Winner’s Kiss” went on, though, I thought that it was interesting where Marie was taking her book, and I thought that it was cool how Kestrel became a part of the fight in more ways than one; I will always prefer the strength of a clever mind to that which comes on the battle field (with the exception of Wonderwoman!), but I did like the fact that Marie allowed Kestrel to still be Kestrel, while also adding a different dynamic to her heroine and trilogy. Even after all of the events that occurred in “The Winner’s Trilogy” and the growths and shifts in character, Kestrel still remains one of my favorite female characters, and I loved the fact that Marie Rutkoski gave her readers the opportunity to see Arin and Kestrel resolve some of the things built up between them after being apart for such a long time.

Oh, Arin, you finally came back to me.


“The Winner’s Crime” was an amazing but difficult book to read at times because of how Arin acted, and what he thought about Kestrel at times; Arin’s judgment tended to be clouded by his emotions, especially in the case of Kestrel, and that led to a lot of misunderstandings on his part. I had adored Kestrel in the second book, but I had also felt like Arin, whom I love very much, had slipped away from me for quite some time. But, thank goodness, Arin really came back strong in “The Winner’s Kiss,” and I loved that I got to see a much wider emotional range than just the angsty, insecure Arin who was present in “The Winner’s Crime.” Arin had to fight obstacles of all kinds, even those involving the heart, in “The Winner’s Kiss,” and I liked seeing how he grew even more as an individual as this book progress, and how he had to fight for Kestrel this time around. I fell in love with Arin all over again in “The Winner’s Kiss” and that was one of my favorite things about this book, because I have wanted and waited for it since the ending of “The Winner’s Crime.” Another thing I loved about this book was that I got to see Arin and Kestrel remember their beautiful but broken history together.

I love the fact that “The Winner’s Trilogy” took place over about a year, because I feel like that amount of time helps to validate the things that these characters have endured together and apart. I loved that I got to see my epic couple together in the first book, and then had the chance to explore who they were when forced apart, and was finally allowed the opportunity, after an interminably long separation, to see them work together again in order to defeat the Emperor of Valoria. Their relationship was not rainbows and sunshine anymore, but I loved seeing Arin have to man up and fight for Kestrel while still setting her free, and how Kestrel dealt with the lingering effects of the past few months being in a Valorian slave camp. It was heartbreaking to watch them both struggle, but I was so happy that an author finally had her two main characters working together in the last book; so many authors keep our favorite couples apart in the last books, and it is SO frustrating because the story lines sometimes lose their luster and sparkle due to the ceaseless strain between the characters and the perilous plot lines. Yes, tensions were high between Arin and Kestrel, and so were emotions, but just seeing them together, working on a plan to save Herran and win the war was so great. It was really emotional seeing these beloved characters endure so much pain and heartache, while also knowing that this amazing trilogy was about to end.

It is always so strange saying goodbye to a series or trilogy that has been dear to me and that I have followed for a couple of years. Sometimes there are happy but tearful farewells, whereas others can lead to the kind of goodbye that makes me want to (possibly) chuck the book across the room. Marie Rutkoski’s books, especially “The Winner’s Curse,” have always felt a little different, though, like they have a distinct sparkle that sets them apart from many of the other YA books out there, and they make me think and see things differently. And much like her books as wholes, their endings are also uniquely impacting. The ending of this trilogy was well-done, tied up beautifully and satisfactorily, and once I had finished Marie acknowledgements, I just sat quietly for a little while, absorbing everything that happened in “The Winner’s Kiss.” The end of this trilogy felt very different from other finales, more reflective, and I just sat quietly for a while, flashing back to the first two books and thinking about the amazing journey that “The Winner’s Trilogy” took me on.


“The Winner’s Kiss” was a very satisfying end to a stunning and unforgettable trilogy. I did find myself wishing for less action and wartime scenes, because I really just wanted to experience the slow-burn emotion of this book without its interference. I don’t need action in a book or movie to keep me interested because I’m there for the characters, for the relationships and the interactions between friends and enemies, and so lots of action sometimes takes away from my enjoyment. I still loved “The Winner’s Kiss,” but I preferred the small pockets of intensity and action that were in the first two books to this book’s half relational/half wartime intrigue.

Obviously the tones of each book are quite different, but what I absolutely love about the evolution of “The Winner’s Trilogy” was how each book let the characters have their “shine” moment: Kestrel and Arin shone beautiful and bright in “The Winner’s Curse” together, “The Winner’s Crime” showed Kestrel to be even smarter and more determined than in the first book, and “The Winner’s Kiss” belongs to Arin because this was the book where I got to see the Arin that I loved come back to me. Each of Marie Rutkoski’s books in this trilogy are so impacting and I love all of them so much for different reasons, but I do not think that many books can compare to “The Winner’s Curse” for me. It was the chapter in Arin and Kestrel’s story that stole my breath and my heart, and it holds a special place in my affection as a reader, despite how good the other two books in this trilogy are. I loved “The Winner’s Kiss” and how it resolved things in such a way that nothing was perfect, but there was hope for Herran and its people, and I also adored the quiet, almost reserved feeling it gave me once I finished it. Marie did a wonderful job, and now that this trilogy is finally over, I am not quite sure what to do with myself…



Les Petits Bonheurs #11…


This picture is a good depiction of me during my Spring Break, reading and drinking too many cups of tea and coffee, and over Easter weekend I was able to get my hands on a copy of “The Winner’s Kiss” by Marie Rutkoski, and ended up finishing it before a family gathering. *sighs* Marie’s words are something to be savored, but I had to read as fast as I could because I knew that I would be sitting at dinner thinking about what might happen at the end of “The Winner’s Kiss” up until I got home and could finish it. Despite having finished it before I left the house, I still found myself thinking about Marie’s final book in “The Winner’s Trilogy,” but in a good, slightly bittersweet way. It was sad to say goodbye to these characters and this trilogy, but I was also happy to know how Marie Rutkoski had decided to close the story that she wrote in “The Winner’s Trilogy.” I am equal parts sorrow and happiness, and reading “The Winner’s Kiss” makes me want to go back and reread “The Winner’s Curse” again, where this beautiful journey began.

Les Petits Bonheurs #10…


Since the release of “The Winner’s Kiss” by Marie Rutkoski is under a week away, I thought that it would be appropriate to post some fanart I made for this trilogy a while ago, instead of another French quote. But even then, this French quote reminds me of her trilogy as a whole:

“Vous ne rêvez pas.”

(You are not dreaming.)

I cannot wait to read the conclusion of “The Winner’s Trilogy,” even if I am extremely worried that it will tear my heart in two. *whispers* Please, Marie, don’t hurt your fans too much…

Top Ten Books Published In 2015

Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone! This past year was pretty crazy and full of lots of great books, and looking back I think that 2015 was one the best years for my favorite series ending well and others commencing. I was very excited to look at my goodreads ‘read’ list and see that I had accomplished my 2015 goal of reading more than 55 books, and if you are interesting in seeing that list, follow this link: I In lieu of all of the amazing books that I’ve had the chance to read this year, I definitely do have favorites that were published in 2015, so here’s my top ten.


the winners crime marie rutkoski book

“The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski.


18798983 The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh book

“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renée Ahdieh.


23399192 Rook by Sharon Cameron book

“Rook” by Sharon Cameron.


16182308 a cold legacy megan shepherd

“A Cold Legacy” by Megan Shepherd.


Sarah J. Maas A Court of Thorns and Roses 16096824 book

“A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas.


18660447 Kasie West The Fill-In Boyfriend book

“The Fill-In Boyfriend” by Kasie West.



nowhere but here Katie McGarry book

“Nowhere But Here” by Katie McGarry.


sweet temptation wendy higgins

“Sweet Temptation” by Wendy Higgins. Leigh Bardugo Six of Crows

“Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo.


13138736 their fractured light amie kaufman and meagan spooner

“Their Fractured Light” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Thank you so much for all of your comments and visits and for sticking with me this year, and I hope that you all have a Happy New Year!

Fangirl Friday #13…Books that I’m Waiting (Impatiently) For

Okay, so this week’s Fangirl Friday has a few of the books that I am really forward to in 2015 and 2016. Here’s my top five:


13138736 their fractured light amie kaufman and meagan spooner

“Their Fractured Light” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Release date: December 1st, 2015

Goodreads summary:

“A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.”

I want this book to come out so bad, and I don’t know if I can wait another month for it!!!

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 2. the rose and the dagger renee ahdieh

“The Rose and the Dagger” by Renée Ahdieh

Release date: May 3rd, 2016.

Goodreads summary:

“I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.”

Don’t even get me started on how much I need this book!!! *hyperventilates*




3e8130f0-da10-0132-cec8-0e01949ad350 marie rutkoski the winner's kiss

“The Winner’s Kiss” by Marie Rutkoski

Release date: March 1st, 2016.

Goodreads summary:

“War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.

But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?”

This is another one to not get me started on with how much I want it. Why must March be so far away?????? *weeps*

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walk the edge by katie mcgarry book

“Walk the Edge” by Katie McGarry

Release date: March 29th, 2016.

Goodreads summary:

“One moment of recklessness will change their worlds

Smart. Responsible. That’s seventeen-year-old Breanna’s role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully’s line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas “Razor” Turner into her life.

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don’t belong. But when he learns she’s being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it’s time to step outside the rules.

And so they make a pact: he’ll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she’ll help him seek answers to the mystery that’s haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they’re both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they’re going from here.”

Uhhhh, can I please have this book, like, now?





“My lady Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows.

Release date: June 7th, 2016

Goodreads summary:

“For fans of The Princess Bride comes the comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey.

Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger—and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that’s the least of Jane’s problems. She’s about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.”

“My Lady Jane” sounds really fun, and I love that they are comparing it to “The Princess Bride”! I am definitely looking forward to it!

I guess the theme of this post is that I REALLY want a time machine so I can go forward in time so I can read my most anticipated books without having to wait for them. *sighs* But maybe it’s all the waiting that makes them so sweet when you get your hands on a copy? I still want a time machine, but I do see the benefits of being patient…

Thanks so much for visiting me this Friday! Have a good weekend!

Cover Reveal: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Guys, it’s here! The cover for Marie Rutkoski’s “The Winner’s Kiss” has officially been revealed and a summary with it.



Saying I’m excited for “The Winner’s Kiss” is an understatement. Marie Rutkoski is a magician of a writer, and “The Winner’s Trilogy” is one of my most favorite series/trilogies that I have EVER read! *starts to cry* Her writing is just so beautiful and I want more!

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Okay, here’s the cover for the magnificent conclusion to “The Winner’s Trilogy.”









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I’m SO excited for “The Winner’s Kiss,” and it’s going to be a long year waiting for its release….


If you’re interested in reading the synopsis of “The Winner’s Kiss,” visit this link to the blog that did the official cover reveal:

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 book

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


“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 book

Quotes from “The Winner’s Crime” by Marie Rutkoski


“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.”