The Rose And The Dagger Release Day Blitz + Giveaway!

Check out this awesome giveaway!

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We are so excited that THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh releases today and that we get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by author Renée Ahdieh, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN and a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER and an awesome candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only!  So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

About The Book

Title: THE ROSE & THE DAGGER
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook

Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks 

 

The much…

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The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh Is Out!

It’s a beautiful day, everyone, because “The Rose and the Dagger” by Renée Ahdieh is out in bookstores!!!

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Yeah, it’s feels like a magical day is ahead of me, and I can’t wait to be done with my school today so that I can read “The Rose and the Dagger.” Bring on the feels, Renée Ahdieh, bring on the feels…

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Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (The Dark Artifices #1)

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“Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare

4 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“In a kingdom by the sea…

In a secret world where half-angel warriors are sworn to fight demons, parabatai is a sacred word.

A parabatai is your partner in battle. A parabatai is your best friend. Parabatai can be everything to each other—but they can never fall in love.

Emma Carstairs is a warrior, a Shadowhunter, and the best in her generation. She lives for battle. Shoulder to shoulder with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, she patrols the streets of Los Angeles, where vampires party on the Sunset Strip, and faeries—the most powerful of supernatural creatures—teeter on the edge of open war with Shadowhunters. When the bodies of humans and faeries turn up murdered in the same way Emma’s parents were when she was a child, an uneasy alliance is formed. This is Emma’s chance for revenge—and Julian’s chance to get back his brother Mark, who is being held prisoner by the faerie Courts. All Emma, Mark, and Julian have to do is solve the murders within two weeks…and before the murderer targets them.

Their search takes Emma from sea caves full of sorcery to a dark lottery where death is dispensed. And each clue she unravels uncovers more secrets. What has Julian been hiding from her all these years? Why does Shadowhunter Law forbid parabatai to fall in love? Who really killed her parents—and can she bear to know the truth?”

Alright, it is high time for a review of “Lady Midnight,” especially since I finished it a month and a half ago. *sighs* At least I am keeping up with reading, if not reviewing!

Wow, “Lady Midnight” was a big book. Personally, large books do not intimidate me, and I actually like the fact that I get more book for the same amount of money, which is the deal-seeker in me coming out. The only problem with large books (more than 500 pages) is that there is a recovery time for the hands and wrists after reading one. I was prepared for this after seeing the page count of Cassandra’s newest book, but I was personally not prepared for the C.C.H. (Cassandra Clare Hand is an acute case of carpel tunnel that only reading “Lady Midnight” can produce) that ensued after I finished reading this book. All that being said, just have a wrist brace on hand when you pick up Cassandra’s latest book, and you’ll be fine.

Dramatics aside, after having finished the monstrous beauty that is “Lady Midnight,” I had (almost) no regrets. Cassandra Clare has written another wonderful and adventurous novel, and I was so excited to get to know some of the new characters that she had written in “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. Per usual, I was just as anxious about meeting the characters as I was excited to get to know them, because sometimes I just don’t connect with the individuals in new series of a well-liked author, even though I really want to. But I shouldn’t have worried, because Emma Carstairs and all of the Blackthorns were such great characters, and I fell in love with them while reading “Lady Midnight.” I personally don’t think that any of Cassandra Clare’s other characters, past, present, or future, could ever take William Herondale’s place in my heart, and no parabatai bond is as precious to me as his and Jem’s, but I still felt myself fall a little in love with everyone in “Lady Midnight.”

I liked Emma Carstairs a lot, not just because she was a distant relation to Jem, but also because she was a fun, albeit wild, heroine who kept me interested in “Lady Midnight” as I read her parts of this book, and her past was as interesting as it was heartbreaking. I still have not read Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series, so when I first started “Lady Midnight” I was a tiny bit lost with some of back stories of certain characters and with what happened in the war that went on before this book began. Emma’s background was tied closely to “The Mortal Instruments,” so it did take me a little bit of time to put the pieces of her past together, how some things went down in the other series, and how Emma ended up becoming a part of the Blackthorn family. Once I kind of deciphered those few things, I was able to follow along easily with what was going on within the Shadowhunter world, and how Emma and the Blackthorns were affected by the Cold Peace that came about as a result of the war. Cassandra did a good job of not making some of the rehearsed facts about the Shadowhunters become mundane (no pun intended!) or arduous to read, and I feel that anyone, regardless of whether they’ve read “The Mortal Instruments” or not, could easily pick up “Lady Midnight.” Oddly enough, though, I do think that reading “The Infernal Devices” could be far more helpful to readers coming into this book because of how those events people in Cassandra’s historical Shadowhunter novels are tied so closely to everything in “Lady Midnight.” It is not absolutely necessary to read “The Infernal Devices,” but it seemed like, having read that trilogy, I was able to understand the underlining tones that were going on within this book, because the history behind “The Infernal Devices” was not described or eluded to, whereas the events of “The Mortal Instruments” were broken down for readers in “Lady Midnight.” All of that being said, I felt that jumping right into Emma’s story was pretty easy, and I thought that she had a much more enjoyable and active protagonist, especially when compared to Tessa Gray.

The only thing that really saddened me about “The Infernal Devices,” other than its soul-shattering and sob-worthy ending, was that Tessa ended up being the kind of female character who felt mildly worthless and ineffective. I know the story was technically about her, but I felt like Will and Jem, as well as the other Shadowhunters, carried the story so effectively all by themselves that if Tessa had disappeared from the trilogy, I would not have felt impacted by her departure. With Emma, however, I felt like she played a truly important role in how the story of “Lady Midnight” unfolded, and despite not always agreeing with her brash behavior, I appreciated the fact that she was an active protagonist who was fairly impacting. Although I liked Emma, the characters who really stole my heart were the Blackthorn siblings, especially Julian.

Thirty pages into “Lady Midnight,” and I was in love with Julian as a character. Call it insta-love on my part, but I felt so emotionally attached to this male character only a few chapters in that I became really invested in this fiercely loyal and loving young man by the time I finished Lady Midnight.” His past and present circumstances tugged at my heartstrings, and I couldn’t help but feel the pain and weight that Julian carried around on his shoulders due to the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings his whole life. He was only seventeen or eighteen-years-old, yet he’d had to take on the immense responsibility of keeping his family together when no one else would after the Shadowhunter war ended, and his story and love for his siblings, the sacrifices he had to make in order to take car of his family, made him a truly compelling character. I liked Emma, but I loved and was rooting for Julian throughout “Lady Midnight,” and although this book was supposed to be about Emma’s parents’ murder, it really turned out to be a Blackthorn book. The summary for this book might have been slightly false advertising, but I was personally happy that “Lady Midnight” focused mostly on Julian and his family. Julian was an amazing character, and I thought that Cassandra’s choice to make him an artist was a good one because his gifting and love for it helped to make him feel even more rounded out as a protagonist and hero of this story. I fell for Julian while reading this book for a lot of reasons, but it was mostly how much he cared about his siblings and the dynamic that existed between them that made him such an interesting and compelling character.

The interactions between Julian and his family were what took “Lady Midnight” from being a good book to becoming a great one; I don’t know if any of Cassandra’s other books could capture my heart quite like the “Clockwork Angel” and the “Clockwork Prince” did, but Julian and his sisters and brothers made “Lady Midnight” come quite close to the mark. Each of the Blackthorn siblings were well-written, and I loved their relationship with each other because it felt genuine and real, and everything they went through over the years and getting their brother Mark back, while not exactly getting him back made my heart ache for all of them. Each of the Blackthorns were wonderfully written, and I adored every interaction I got between them and Julian! They were all such great secondary characters, and I loved that they added so much to the story that unfolded in “Lady Midnight.”

Although the Blackthorns made this book for me, I also ended up loving the addition of Cristina Rosales, who was a new Shadowhunter in the L.A. Institute. I thought that she was a cool and very likeable female character, and I wish that there had been a little bit more of this book told from her perspective, since it was so large. Cristina had an interesting and slightly hidden past, which I thought added another great dynamic to this book.

“Lady Midnight” was a large book, nearly reaching seven hundred pages, but I felt like it was well-paced in the fact that I kept reading and was interesting in the story and its characters, despite having my favorites. I honestly don’t have a lot of complaints about this book, but the one thing that did end up bothering me was the romance between Julian and Emma.

At first, I was really rooting for Emma and Julian as a couple, and I was quite torn up over the fact that they were both such awesome parabatai, but because of that bond, they were also allowed to pursuing a romantic relationship. One of the frustrating things in YA books, especially with a story line like “Lady Midnight,” is that miscommunication is used as a plot device most of the time. In this particular situation, I understood why Emma and Julian both kept their feelings secret, because telling each other would honestly do nothing but wreck their relationship as parabatai. I understood why they kept their feelings hidden from one another, and I was shipping them for the first half of “Lady Midnight,” enjoying the tension of untold truths, and even knowing that they both cared for each other when they were both unaware of that fact. But after about halfway through this book, the romance progressed, happening so suddenly and all at once that I was a little bit frustrated because it seemed irrational and to almost belittled what they had. There had been tension throughout the book, but once they had their moment, everything came crashing down around them because they acted without thinking. I know they had history from being friends, so it was not insta-love or anything, but it just happened so fast that it made me like their relationship less because I wanted them to have a few sweet moments, like the scene where they dance together, before it fizzled and crumbled to pieces. I felt like this relationship was over before it ever began, and that was a little disappointing to me, because I had really liked the idea of them together.

Overall, I really liked “Lady Midnight.” I thought that it was a great start to what seems like a promising trilogy, and I really enjoyed the L.A. setting mixed with the world of the Shadowhunters. I found the faerie-related things (the Cold Peace, faerie history, etc) to be quite interesting, and I, as you already know, fell in love with all of the Blackthorns. Their family dynamic and how they got their brother, Mark, back only to have to fight for him to stay was as heartbreaking as it was beautiful, and I adored all of the siblings and thought that they gave this book heart. Julian stole a little piece of my heart away in “Lady Midnight,” but I am anxious to see where Cassandra Clare is taking him after the ending of this book; it did not end on a happy note, and I just hope that he does not go to a super dark and broody place in the second book of “The Dark Artifices” trilogy. “Lady Midnight” was a great new installment to Cassandra’s Shadowhunter world, and if you liked any of her other series or fantasy novels in general, you should definitely pick up this book!

Les Petits Bonheurs #13…

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“If you search for me, I’m in the west.”

‘À l’ouest’ can also mean ‘daydreaming.’

So, basically all I want to do is read. I know, I know, this is not surprising coming from a blogger, but last week I did not read much, which means that I need to make up for some lost time with my beloved fiction. With that thought in mind, I was so excited when I got a couple of books in the mail this week! I bought myself a paperback of “The Wrath and the Dawn” because it had a scene from Khalid’s point of view, and I wanted it in physical form rather than kindle. So sue me, I own a hardcover, a paperback, and a French addition of Renée Ahdieh’s gorgeous book! I also feel justified in the purchase, though, since “The Rose and the Dagger” comes out on the 26th of this month, and I needed to reread “The Wrath and the Dawn” before its release. And, honestly, who could resist that pretty paperback cover?😉

Among other rereads on my list, I was able to check “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas off of my to-read list, and I am so ready for “A Court of Mist and Fury” to come out on May 3rd! It’s a book that I am both excited for and afraid of; Sarah’s is not a gentle author, so let’s just say that I fear for my Tamlin! But in all honesty, there is definitely more excitement than fear in it for me, well, at least I think so…

Ahhh, and the last book news is not about rereads. I purchased “The Glittering Court” by Richelle Mead, so I am extremely excited to read it. Most of the bloggers I follow have great things to say about Richelle Mead’s newest book, despite the mixed reception of it, so I am hoping that I will like it. “The Glittering Court” just seems like such an amazing book, and its gorgeous does not hurt matters…

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

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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…

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