Friday, April 1, 2016

Title: The Winner's Kiss
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Narrator(s): Justine Eyre
Series: The Winner's Curse, book #3
Length: 12 hrs 13 mins
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR
Publication Date: March 29, 2016
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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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?

This finale was brutal and sublime and just everything I could have wanted for these beloved characters. I don't feel like I can thoroughly review this final novel in The Winner's Curse trilogy without fear of spoilers, so I'm just gonna lay out my feelings in this mini review and call it a day.

Basically, what I loved most about The Winner's Kiss is the strides it makes in rebuilding the severed relationship between Kestrel and Arin. They are both so broken by what they've seen and done, by the horrors of war and the sacrifices it requires. While they work through all of that, the story becomes one of redemption, regret, and remembering.

And it is a thing of exquisite beauty, thanks to the lovely words of Marie Rutkoski. I bet she could take even a mundane thing like a grocery list and make it sound absolutely heartbreaking, so evocative are her words. But try as I might, I will just never love Justine Eyre as the narrator for this series. I can see why some do because she is able to convey such raw emotion in her narration. It's just not for me, though. Why, then, did I listen to The Winner's Kiss, you ask? Because I wanted to "read" the full book before someone spoiled me, of course! And she's not terrible.

Oh, oh! I can't forget the bromance because, my god, it is perfection. The book heavily featured Arin and Kestrel and the coming war, but the side characters were still brilliant. Most especially Roshar and his pet tiger Little Arin. For a boy whose last friend utterly betrayed him, Arin has made a strong ally in Roshar, despite owing his life to him...or maybe in spite of that. Roshar and Arin have this fantastic back-and-forth, give-and-take in their relationship, and I loved that for them because both desperately needed that in their lives.

As I said in my pre-review on Goodreads, it makes me feel all melty and warm when a series finale ends on just the right note. (Pun intended.) And The Winner's Kiss was the perfect ending to Kestrel and Arin's story. I'll be re-reading this series again...and again...and again.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of several novels for children and young adults, including The Winner’s Curse (March 2014). She grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois as the oldest of four children and decided early on that she was Someone Who Loved Books.

After attending the University of Iowa and living in Moscow and Prague, she studied Shakespeare at Harvard University, where she honed her skill in referring to herself in the third person.

Marie is now a professor of English literature at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance drama, children’s literature, and fiction writing. New York City is her home, and she thinks there must be birds of prey living in Washington Square Park; she can see large, wheeling wings from the window where she sits and writes. Marie has two small sons who try very hard to make friends with the family cat, only to be snubbed for the dark quiet of a closet. Marie can tie a double figure-eight knot with her eyes closed. She’s learning how to play the violin. She’s a sucker for fancy tea, and her favorite dessert is crème brulée. Or maybe sticky toffee pudding. Tough call.

Find Marie:

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Title: Marked in Flesh
Author: Anne Bishop
Narrator(s): Alexandra Harris
Series: The Others, book #4
Length: 15 hrs 21 mins
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source: purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

This series is slowly killing me. The more entrenched I become in the world of the Others, the more I fear for them...and for the humans they've made allies of. And though the main characters are all supernatural, I still feel that this story echoes the discrimination and bigotry we see in the world to this day. A war is on the horizon and though I'm fairly certain the terra indigene would come out on top, it's still worrisome.

These books are fairly long but not a lot happens. But it never feels slow or bogged down in world-building. You can just tell that every bit of information is leading up to something big...something that will make all of this wait and anticipation worth it. Especially with certain events and individuals now seeming to be linked.

I mentioned in my review of the last book how slow-burning the romance is in this series, and that honestly still hasn't changed, though the characters have. Meg and Simon are more attuned to each other than ever, and it's made some of their encounters downright awkward. I want to see more of that. See them learning who they are to each other. Besides, you know, kissing. Even when they're not on the page, I'm still screaming internally to JUST KISS ALREADY DAMMIT. I'm not proud of it, but it is what it is.

If you haven't started this series yet, I highly recommend going the audio route. It took a bit to get used to Alexandra Harris' narration, but I can't imagine these characters without her voices in my head now.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

Anne Bishop lives in upstate New York where she enjoys gardening, music, and writing dark, romantic stories. She is the author of fourteen novels, including the award-winning Black Jewels Trilogy. Her most recent novel, Twilight’s Dawn, made the New York Times bestsellers list. She is currently working on a new series, which is an urban dark fantasy with a bit of a twist.

Find Anne:

Website | FacebookGoodreads


  1. OMG I am will you 100 and 10 percent on your review of Marked in Flesh. I finished reading it just this week and there were several times where I found myself holding my breath not knowing what was going to happen next. And yes, Simon and Meg need to kiss already. If they don't kiss by the end of this series, I may just explode. I will be sad though when it's over because I have come to deeply care for Meg, the Others, and the Human Pack as well.


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