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He didn t smile He cupped her face with both hands An emotion tugged at his expression, a dark awe, the kind saved for a wild storm that rends the sky but doesn t ravage your existence, doesn t destroy every thing you love The one that lets you feel saved I finally finished this series YAY I promised myself noreading until after my basic science exam, but I broke it Shame on me I have this hollow feeling after reading this book, I loved it and all, but the ending left me kind of d He didn t smile He cupped her face with both hands An emotion tugged at his expression, a dark awe, the kind saved for a wild storm that rends the sky but doesn t ravage your existence, doesn t destroy every thing you love The one that lets you feel saved I finally finished this series YAY I promised myself noreading until after my basic science exam, but I broke it Shame on me I have this hollow feeling after reading this book, I loved it and all, but the ending left me kind of devastated I honestly can t tell if it was because I wasn t ready to accept this series came to an end, or because Ive been in a weird mood these past few days This book felt like nostalgia, a melancholic touch of vague feelings Maybe better said a kind of chilly dejav She pressed her face into the pillow His scent was there She was stupid to have come, yet didn t have the strength to leave.The ghost of him between the sheets The shadow of her old self curled into the shadow of him This was my favorite part, truly It was so beautiful, I wanted to curl onto myself with raw emotion It was so intimate, a kind of intimacy born of desperation and need unfulfilled An illusion of intimacy per day At the begging I was so happy and overwhelmed with joy about the fact that instead of a pity party like I had expected, Krestel picks herself up no matter how many times she falls, I was further exhilarated when she lost all memory of Arin It was a second chance for them to fall in love, and for me to love them all over again For the first half of the book, the story is amazing, its unique, it s emotionally plundering, a true roller coaster The typical after becoming a couple drama that usually is the main staple of the final installment in trilogies was absent BUT, somewhere along the way, around the second half of the book I felt like I was reading a completely different book Maybe I m mistaken, but it felt like the writing style somehow changed, as if the author were someone else entirely The characters behavior, the fast pace and plotting, everything was the same yet different At some point the book had taken on a poetic stance Krestel went from clever and witty to, I don t know, somehow docile It wasn t bad, it was just different Kestrel felt a slow, slight throb, a shimmer in the blood She knew it well.Her worst trait Her best trait.The desire to come out on top, to set her opponent under her thumb.A streak of pride Her mind ringed with hungry rows of foxlike teeth This is why I love Krestel, why she became a YA protagonist favorite I love ambition, andthan that I love ordinary people who strive for their ambitions, they don t whine and ask it handed to them on a silver platter.I can t really word properly how I felt, and maybe it s just me, but it just felt changed I m not complaining, or okay, yes I am, maybe just a little I loved the winners crime so much, that honestly the second half of this book disappointed me a little The storyline ended amazingly, I couldn t even go near predicting how things would end It was beautiful and touching, a perfect ending to an amazing series I guess it s just the mindset that you read something in that determines how great you feel Overall this book was an emotional and thrilling, imaginative, and creatively expressed It had everything a YA novel needs It was a easy flowing book, and was powerful in terms of literary writing It also like I mentioned earlier, had a poetic drift to it Maybe it was perhaps that both the protagonists were artists in their own way One a creator of music and the other a player of instruments I felt the softness to the souls that were created on these fictional characters, and that was beautiful If I have the time to reread a series, I d probably choose this one again I finished this book on one sitting I have no regrets. Some Kisses Come At A PriceWar 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 For The Empire Than She Did For The Lives Of Innocent People And Certainly Than She Did For HimAt Least, That S What He ThinksIn 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 HerBut No One Gets What They Want Just By WishingAs 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 4.5 stars Exquisitely painful, in the best of ways. Before Reading I m going to need Arin and Kestrel kissing Each other A lot Forever.After Reading NOT ENOUGH STARS IN THE UNIVERSE LOVELOVELOVELOVE This was beyond anything I could have imagined or asked for, for this book and these characters Seriously It was perfection PERFECTION Read it Dear Marie Rutkoski,Thank you.Thank you for this world and these characters and this story Thank you for showing that a girl s intelligence, tenacity, determination and cunning is every bit as appea Before Reading I m going to need Arin and Kestrel kissing Each other A lot Forever.After Reading NOT ENOUGH STARS IN THE UNIVERSE LOVELOVELOVELOVE This was beyond anything I could have imagined or asked for, for this book and these characters Seriously It was perfection PERFECTION Read it Dear Marie Rutkoski,Thank you.Thank you for this world and these characters and this story Thank you for showing that a girl s intelligence, tenacity, determination and cunning is every bit as appealing, sexy, desirable, important and necessary as her outward appearance or physical strength Thank you for Arin A boy who started out with a vendetta and ended up vested Seriously, thank you Arin has moved to the top of my YA Book Boy Shelf Because swooning is a real thing.Have I said thank you for Arin yet I don t won t to forget to do that Thank you for Roshar He is the Be Fri to Arin s Est End and I want to keep him And his little tiger too Thank you for the love, friendship, forgiveness, romance, and redemption woven throughout this series Thank you for all of the things I can t say right now because spoilers but that I fully intend to tackle hug you for the next time I see you Don t be scared, I ll be gentle I promise Thank you for your prose which is so gorgeous, it makes anything I ve ever written look like I have been finger painting with poop This is a compliment, I swear Lastly, in case you didn t know, the god of cupcakes loves you Jen a beautiful end to one of my favorite series ever quintessentially marie I m crying and screaming and laughing and shaking, I m full of so many emotions but most of all just happiness I can t believe this series is over, but I am so so overjoyed with how it ended Review to come when I finally stop smiling like an idiot and my hands stop shaking. Marie Rutkoski isn t an ordinary author.She s an artistLater, Kestrel wished she had spoken then, that no time had been lost She wished that she d had the courage that very moment to tell Arin what she d finally known to be true that she loved him with the whole of her heartThe Winner s Kiss isn t an ordinary book.It s a poem A sad melody The blood that pumps in your veins The air that ruffles your hair.It s a promise A promise of love lost and found.It is beauty, in its pu Marie Rutkoski isn t an ordinary author.She s an artistLater, Kestrel wished she had spoken then, that no time had been lost She wished that she d had the courage that very moment to tell Arin what she d finally known to be true that she loved him with the whole of her heartThe Winner s Kiss isn t an ordinary book.It s a poem A sad melody The blood that pumps in your veins The air that ruffles your hair.It s a promise A promise of love lost and found.It is beauty, in its purest and most radiant form.The tale of two enemies that fell in love, lied, schemed and betrayed each other continues, sweeping everything in its path Arin tries to win a war that seems like a lost cause, Kestrel pays the price of her mistakes Arin wants to forget her, Kestrel tries to forgive him They re hurt and angry, desperate and hopeful, ready to gamble one last time, to find out whether they re blessed or cursed To find out whether they can handle the truthEvery chip of her being slid into place, into the image of a lost world The boy discovering it The girl who sees it spark and flare, and understands, now, what she feels She realizes that she has felt this for a long timeDo you know the feeling when you love a book so much that the mere thought of it makes your chest swell and your heart ache and your eyes water It s the most satisfying feeling in the world Marie Rutkoski managed to compose a tale of war and love with threads of sadness, hope and despair, all of them at the same time Her writing is lyrical Expressive You can taste it in your tongue You can travel into faraway lands, smell the gunpowder, shiver under the rain Her descriptions, her battle plans, her military strategies, everything is crafted so masterly that you can t help but bow to her brilliant mind and her brilliant pen She has the power to shatter your heart and then mend it, and repeat the same process until you don t know what s left of you to give but you give it nonetheless She is magicHe hadn t been blessed by the god of death.Arin was the god of deathGod of death or god of lies, Arin is a character you can t help but love deeply He s changed, he doesn t regret the blood he s shed, he s cunning and manipulative, but he s also afraid He blames himself for every misfortune that s ever happened to the people he cares about but he loves fiercely and expects nothing in return In this book his patience and his thoughtfulness made me weep several times But Kestrel s trials also bought me tears She had been strong for so long that she finally gave up, and the result was gut wrenching All she ever wanted has her father to love her for who she is, she wanted his approval and his acceptance and all she got was pain and betrayal She was afraid to open up her heart again, and Arin posed the most imminent danger Her pride, her wit and her fire make her one of the best female heroines an author has ever createdShe looked into the shadowed corners of the room Talking with him was like having a flower unfold inside her chest, then close up tight Creep open Collapse in on itselfIn the final book of this trilogy, Arin and Kestrel got to know each other and fall in love from the start and this time, there were no lies and deception but bluntness and honesty And trust Roshar s part managed to break the tension and offer lighthearted moments of laughter, a great addition to help me breathe Because I drowned in a sea of bittersweet, agonizing emotions and I was overwhelmed by a longing and a desire so palpable that felt like they were my own But Marie didn t focus only on romantic love There was also the family love, a bond that seemed broken and even though you were angry, deep down you wanted it to survive.And now that this magnificent series has ended, I don t want to say goodbye Instead, I ll say thank you Thank you Marie Rutkoski For Arin and Kestrel For this wonderful ending For everythingCome closer, and I will tell you But he forgot He kissed her, and became lost in the exquisite sensation of his skin becoming too tight for his body He murmured other things instead A secret, a want, a promise A story, in its own way Final books are hard Readers dive in with so many expectations, hopes and fears, and let s not forget the ships I suspect it must be at least a little daunting for an author to want to give their readers everything and stay true to their story Friends, for me, Marie Rutkoski has done just that This story has taken me on a remarkable journey, capturing my heart and and melting my emotions in one fell swoop The Winner s Kiss is a perfect conclusion to an expertly crafted series And as always Final books are hard Readers dive in with so many expectations, hopes and fears, and let s not forget the ships I suspect it must be at least a little daunting for an author to want to give their readers everything and stay true to their story Friends, for me, Marie Rutkoski has done just that This story has taken me on a remarkable journey, capturing my heart and and melting my emotions in one fell swoop The Winner s Kiss is a perfect conclusion to an expertly crafted series And as always there are many familiar reasons to love the final installment as much as its predecessors while containing quite a few twists that kept me anticipating the turn of each page Our protagonists, Kestrel and Arin, experience a lot of growth as previous choices finally reach shocking, climatic consequences, many of which I was unsure how they d move past I definitely didn t expect the changes Kestrel underwent she is both the same and vastly different, exploring physical and mental strength of female characters You don t need to be gifted with a blade You are your own best weapon The unpredictability of this novel is its greatest weapon as Rutkoski clearly shows she s not afraid to make you beg for your favorites survival She s heartlessly brilliant like that What I didn t expect was how much I enjoyed Roshar s character I give his sarcastic, witty remarks an A and loved how he reminded me of a rougher version of Sturmhond from The Grisha series It was smart for him to have as much page time as he did since The Winner s Kiss contains romantic tension to the max with a few scenes causing me utter desperation moments where I was throwing buckets of water out of my ship, lest it sink, screaming Noooooooooo fiercely at my ceiling I still admire the writing and how it manages to convey so muchthan is actually written It s made me re think my stance on 3rd person narration, usually my least favorite But the fact that I, too, now feel as though I can translate Kestrel and Arin s Epic Starring Contests, Roshar and Arin s Bromatic Body Language among a host of other tells, just goes to show you the quality of writing No words are wasted, and always feel so carefully deliberate while still maintaining its raw honesty Perhaps what The Winner s Kiss succeeds at the most is its ability to straddle that fine line between a character driven and plot driven novel Neither side took over the other, out shining or lacking in development The relationships were given the proper amount of time and dignity Not only is there a focus on Kestrel and Arin s, but also of another that s made very clear it s just as important, and maybe evenso And, yes, in case you were wondering, this book does indeed pass the Bechdel test, something which I m always pleased to see in a YA novel The plot was excellent Surprisingly detailed battle scenes, strategies and political maneuvers are at the front without making my eyes glaze over with confusion And I loved that Arin s cultural religious beliefs along side Kestrel s disbelief was handled with a great amount of respect and love It really highlighted an ongoing theme of tolerance and respect of others differences, and that is so incredibly relevant And, of course, I really enjoyed how the novel began and ended with A Winner s Curse, bringing the entire series full circle Nice touch I am fiercely in love with all things Kestrel and Arin Their relationship struggle in the novel was so real Finally a YA book where it s not the fantasy world keeping them apart, but actual real relationship bumps that plagues us all break down of communication, acknowledgements of individual changes and growth, trust issues, accepting faults along with strengths, understanding personal struggles, guilt of hurting the one you love the most, forgiveness, and above all, mutual respect Favorite quoteHe changed us both She seemed to struggle for words I think of you, all that you lost, who you were, what you were forced to be, and might have been, and I I have become this, this person, unable to She shut her mouth Kestrel, he said softly, I love this personIt s sad for me to come to the conclusion of a favorite series, one that I never expected to adore so much But I loved every minute of this ride and can t wait to revisit Highly recommending Excellent series is excellent An ARC was provided by the publisher No monies or favors were exchanged.More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Gods I love this series Flawless.