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If You Liked… The Winner’s Curse

Ever since I read the conclusion to The Winner’s Trilogy, I’ve been thinking how much I loved these books and what a great series it was. I absolutely loved the forbidden love, strong characters, political intrigue, and a fantasy world without magic. The Winner’s Trilogy has grown to be a fan-favorite within the YA community and if you’re a fan of the series, I wanted to share some of my personal recommendations on what to read next!

12 BOOKS TO READ
IF YOU LIKED THE WINNER’S CURSE

if you liked the winner's curse


IF YOU LIKED THE WINNER’S CURSE…


Try… SCARLET by A.C. Gaughen.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I think SCARLET and this Robin Hood-retold series is a great read for those who liked THE WINNER’S CURSE. Since it’s based on Robin Hood, it has that fantasy world but there’s no magic involved in the story. SCARLET also features a very strong female main character (named, well, Scarlet) who has her own hardships but learns to overcome. There’s also a bit of — well, I guess I wouldn’t call it forbidden romance — but the characters essentially hem and haw and don’t quite feel it’s right to be together. The books in this series are just really well done. I read them back-to-back-to-back!


THE IMPOSTOR QUEENTry… THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN by Sarah Fine.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I had a similar experience reading THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN as I had reading THE WINNER’S CURSE — the book wasn’t slow to start but it took me a while to really get in the swing of things, but once I did, oh boy. The book was good. The characters really grow, the romance becomes intense, and there’s some really interesting world building throughout that provides insight to secret motives and a whole lot of political conflict. THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN was the first book I read from Sarah Fine but it really got quite interesting and I loved how it turned a few tropes upside down.

The Scorpio Races paperback coverTry… THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE SCORPIO RACES isn’t really like THE WINNER’S CURSE but I like its original feel, similar to what I felt when I read The Winner’s Trilogy. It walks a line between fantasy and magical realism (I’d say more on the side of magical realism since it does mention real places and it is largely realistic aside from its one magical element — the water horses). It’s a little bit fantasy in the sense that the book takes place on the fictional island of Thisby, similar to the fictional regions in The Winner’s Trilogy. THE SCORPIO RACES is much more character-driven than action-driven but I think that’s also what makes it so special. You really get to know the characters and that’s something I liked about Sean and Puck in THE SCORPIO RACES as well as Arin and Kestrel in THE WINNER’S CURSE.

The Wrath and the Dawn coverTry… THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renee Ahdieh.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
THE WRATH AND THE DAWN was an intimidating book for me, having received so many amazing reviews before I had even read it. This one took me a little bit to get the hang of as well but the set-up and intro is really necessary to everything that follows, which sets up a wonderfully sweeping romance, gorgeous descriptions of setting, and some truly interesting and complex characters. I love how much influence even secondary characters had on the plot of this book and it really shows how even the smallest of actions can affect and entire kingdom. The end of the book really started to dip into those magical elements as well so this would be a great selection for fans of THE WINNER’S CURSE who are just dipping their toes into the fantasy world.

The StoryspinnerTry… THE STORYSPINNER by Becky Wallace.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
I loooved THE STORYSPINNER when I first read it. There was just something special about this book that had me diving in head first. The book has a Portuguese influence which really made it feel unique and quite distinct from so many fantasy books that usually venture to Iberian influence through Spanish adaptations and not Portuguese, if they venture there at all. I also really loved all of the different character POVs. There were quite a few (at least six) for each of the main characters in the crew but I didn’t feel confused by the switches or inclusion of any of them. I really loved the overall feel — and the series is only a duology so you can read both books back-to-back!

Grave MercyTry… GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I selected GRAVE MERCY largely for its political plot and its slow burn romance. This series from Robin LaFevers is actually a trilogy of companions that all revolve around the same political plot and each lead in their respective books play a certain part in the on-going conflict. Based on some real-life history, GRAVE MERCY can technically be categorized as historical fiction but it’s also a bit fantasy hedging on the side of mythology, the basis of which revolves around the god of Death. I’m not big on historical fiction but these books are so well written that it’s easy to get caught up in the story! The slow burn romance is also top notch and I love the gradual yet amazingly strong connection that the characters make with each other.

The Kiss of DeceptionTry… THE KISS OF DECEPTION by Mary E. Pearson.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

This is a series I still need to continue but so many people love it! Where the first book left off, there was just a hint of the magical elements that were to come into play so it’s a nice push into the fantasy world, still getting the basis of world-building with the (current) absence of of magic, for the most part. The book was quite interesting with some really clever twists! I think this is a fantastic read-alike for those who were fans of The Winner’s Trilogy and personally, I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series! I was waiting for the very last book to come out so I could read the second and third one right after the other because I have a feeling I won’t want to wait!

GracelingTry… GRACELING by Kristin Cashore.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
GRACELING was one of my first forays into fantasy and I instantly fell in love! I had no idea what fantasy was all about when I first picked up this book. My first experience was The Lord of the Rings and I just really had a hard time with Hobbits and orcs and the like. Once I got more into high fantasy that felt a little more… realistic, I guess, I really started getting into it a lot more! GRACELING opened that door with a little bit of magic and a whole lot of amazing including characters, setting, and some really creepy villain-types.

the crown's gameTry… THE CROWN’S GAME by Evelyn Skye.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

I adored THE CROWN’S GAME. I wouldn’t say it has a slow start but the build is gradual and totally rewarding. I loved getting to know a new setting (based on actual events, although the book is not really historical fiction) as well as the two characters and how their worlds collided. It’s one of those amazing and yet terrifying books that basically makes you fall in love with two characters but promises to destroy one (no spoilers there… that IS “the Crown’s Game”) so I spent the whole book basically holding my breath… as I had with The Winner’s Trilogy! I love the dashes of magic and this forbidden romance just had me all aflutter.

rebel of the sandsTry… REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon
REBEL OF THE SANDS was another 2016 favorite that I just loved all around. It definitely has a lighter feel and a bit more snark than The Winner’s Trilogy but I think it’s a great recommendation despite its different feel. If you loved the writing and strong characters of The Winner’s Trilogy, REBEL OF THE SANDS is a great fantasy read to jump to for a little more action, some fast-talking (and fast-shooting) characters, and a bit more magic. I also loved how there was a clandestine identity (ooh, in more ways than one) and how two very different characters ended up being quite similar. This book was just great and I’m highly anticipating its sequel!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Try… THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Sarah J. Maas has grown to be quite a household name by now with huge hit series like Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses. Even though I’m sure most fantasy readers have picked this one up by now, I wanted to include THRONE OF GLASS in my recommendations today because I love Sarah’s storytelling and her incredible ability to really build things up throughout the course of a series, much like how I felt with Marie Rutkoski’s books. I love the feeling that the books are really going somewhere and that they’re so connected throughout. The character growth is also monumental and I appreciate that things don’t always go the “right” way just to please an audience. They truly feel like realistic situations and feelings/maturity/strengths change over time.

Try… SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.
Review // Goodreads // Amazon

Leigh Bardugois basically queen and if you haven’t read any of her books yet, YOU MUST. SHADOW AND BONE kicks off one of my favorite series ever, The Grisha Trilogy, and although it’s a world based largely in magic — ahem, small science — I think it’s a great read alike for THE WINNER’S CURSE even though Marie’s books don’t contain magic. Alina does some serious growing throughout the books and really comes into her own abilities, much like Kestrel. Both leading ladies are forced to face what their strengths really mean in terms of their future and how they’re going to help their country. It’s quite an excellent journey to witness!


So what do YOU think? Which books would you recommend for fans of The Winner’s Trilogy? Are there any favorites of yours on this list?

I hope you enjoyed the post! If you’re looking for more reading guides or recommendations or more posts about The Winner’s Trilogy, check out some of my links below! 

More reading guides and/or recommendations: 

More posts about The Winner’s Trilogy

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

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) – Marie RutkoskiTitle: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 29, 2016 by Macmillan
Source: Netgalley
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: February 1, 2016
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2)

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?

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THE WINNER’S KISS was simply outstanding. I’ve been anticipating the finale to this series ever since I read THE WINNER’S CRIME (five months before it came out… That only added to my wait!) and I can say that I was completely satisfied and overjoyed with how this series concluded. Everything came together brilliantly and Marie Rutkoski really gives readers a book with a bang to finish off this trilogy!

This series is possibly best-known for the level of angst and tension in the most gut-wrenching way. THE WINNER’S CRIME was full of “almost”s and “could have been”s and it was excruciating in the best possible way. My heart has ached for these characters and I’ve been dying for them to finally get together and just be happy! While I won’t give away details of what happens in THE WINNER’S KISS, I will say that I loved the consistency of the trilogy, maintaining that ache and pull until the very end. There are several things that Arin and Kestrel still need to overcome if they want to be together and THE WINNER’S KISS throws even more obstacles in their way (if you can believe it)! Every situation and scene is really so well done and Marie Rutkoski does a great job of maintaining conflict but still giving her readers that inkling of hope that things will work out for these two in the end.

I feel like Marie’s writing has grown exponentially throughout the series! I’ve found each book beautifully worded but it was something that I specifically noticed in THE WINNER’S KISS. Every scene appeals to multiple senses and really draws the reader right into this world. I could picture each setting, imagine the smells, and draw upon character’s feelings. The structure of everything came together just perfectly and I was so impressed with how lovely this book was to read!
I also loved the alternating POVs from Kestrel to Arin not only from chapter to chapter but within each chapter as well. It was great to be able to see the appropriate action when it was needed and not wait for the next chapter to catch up on the next character’s POV. This was especially noticeable during the battle scenes (YES, war! You knew it was coming) and it really kept the action moving forward!

The romance is, of course, amazing. Arin and Kestrel are a fantastic couple with an incredible bond and a whole lot of things to overcome. It was great to see their dedication to each other and each character has such quiet strength, especially when things get rough. There are moments of rage, passion, fear, and comfort and every single scene between the two of them was just amazing. I always love a good “forbidden love” story and this was perfectly crafted in every way. Both characters are incredibly strong and smart but each have their own strengths. I love the two of them and THE WINNER’S KISS was such a satisfying conclusion for Arin and Kestrel.

I also have to note how much I love the secondary characters in this series! Roshar became an absolute favorite and I just adored his friendship with Arin as well as his role throughout the rest of this series. He becomes a really crucial part of this book and really enhanced every scene that he was in. The other secondary characters really came to life as well and were a great supporting cast to Arin and Kestrel. It’s always wonderful to see such well-developed minor characters and how they enhance a story.

I’ve loved watching the characters grow over the series and Marie Rutkoski’s writing has only gotten more beautiful along the way as well. It’s so rewarding to really see a series blossom and grow and The Winner’s Trilogy only got better with each book. THE WINNER’S KISS was my favorite of the series and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed by this conclusion. It was positively stunning, epic, and satisfying.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantasy without magic. This was a really interesting concept, crafting a fantasy series that didn’t use magic, when it seems to be such a given for fantasy lately. I loved this new world, characters, war, setting — really everything about it — and the plot ended up being much more romance and strategy based rather than building a world around a magical concept. It’s done so well that it’s not even something you miss!
Left Me Wanting More: X factor. So this is more of a series note than specific to this book but I wish I had found that extra oomph that really flung me head over heels into this series. I wasn’t IN love with the first book and although I did love so much about the second and the third, it never quite came together as a series that I was fangirling over. While I was reading, emotions were high and I was having an amazing time reading these books and yet I don’t find myself gravitating towards them after finishing. I’m not quite sure why that is!

Addiction Rating
Buy them!

These books are just wonderful and fan-favorites for so many. Really everything is so well-done and Marie Rutkoski knocked this trilogy out of the park!

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BOOKS LIKE THE WINNER’S KISS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

GRAVE MERCY    GRACELING

Blog Tour: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | The Winning Kiss

Blog Tour: The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | The Winning Kiss

Welcome to the blog tour for THE WINNER’S KISS
by Marie Rutkoski!

I am thrilled to be today’s stop on THE WINNER’S KISS blog tour to share my favorite kiss *booming announcer voice* in ALL OF LITERATURE!!! A big, big thank you to Gina and Brittany from Macmillan for inviting me to be a part of this epic tour! It’s quite the honor to be a part of this blog tour and to be able to read THE WINNER’S KISS early (no spoilers but it’s just as achingly beautiful as the first two books)!

Before we jump into my favorite kiss of ALL TIME, let’s take a second to talk a little about the book! I’m sure if you’re checking out this post, you’re already a fan of The Winner’s Trilogy (or maybe you’re here for the kisses — I don’t blame you) but here’s all of the vitals about THE WINNER’S KISS!

Blog Tour: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski | The Winning KissTitle: The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Publishing Info: March 29, 2016 by Macmillan
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: January 27, 2016
Related Posts: The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Curse #1), The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2), The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)

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?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders and The Marie-Rutkoski-credit Tobias EverkeCelestial GlobeThe 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.

THE KISS!

If this post had come pre-WINTER, I would have had to spend a lot of time debating which kiss winter marissa meyerwould take the cake for me. Before I read the book, people were raving about pages 601 – 603 and I was like, “Okay, I hear you, friends, but I’m not there yet.” I had some theories about what it could be but if possible, the kissing scene on those pages was even better than I could have imagined!

Not only was this an incredibly kissing scene, but it was between my OTP, Cress and Captain Carswell Throne (who you know I swoon for hard anyway)! Things had been building up and building up and you can tell that there’s a huge miscommunication about feelings here and then when THE KISS finally happens, it’s just absolutely glorious. Check it out:

She started to not, but was surprised when Thorne pushed away from the door. Cress blinked and stumbled back, started by the sudden movement. Three, four steps. The back of her thighs hit one of the desks.
“What –?”
In one movement, Thorne lifted her onto the desk and pressed her back against an enourmous potted fern and — oh.
Cress had built a thousand fantasies around their rooftop kiss, but this kiss was something new.
Where before, the kiss had been gentle and protective, now there was something passionate. Determined. Cress’s body dissolved into nothing but sensation. His hands burned her waist through the skirt’s thin fabric. Her knees pressed against his hips, and he pulled her closer, closer, like he couldn’t get her close enough. A whimper escaped her mouth, only to be swallowed by his. She heard a moan, but it could have come from either of them.
And where, on the rooftop, the kiss had been cut too short by the battle raging on around them, this kiss went on, and on, and on…

I mean… *fans self* MAJOR SWOONS, am I right? I simply adore Thorne but that kiss, man. Whew boy. That goes down in history as one of my all-time favorites.

Bonus Question: what kiss do you hope will occur in Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss?

Oh gosh, obviously Kestrel and Arin but seeing as I’m about 20% in so far, these two are constantly killing me. The kiss I’m hoping to see in THE WINNER’S KISS is the one where they finally reunite and see eye-to-eye again… and this better be one hell of a passionate kiss! (I mean, I really have no doubt. THE TENSION in these books….) I am all about those passionate kisses.


Thanks again for checking out my stop on THE WINNER’S KISS blog tour! So tell me — what’s your favorite kiss in literature? Does the Cress/Thorne kiss make your favorites list? How excited are you to read THE WINNER’S KISS!?