Les Petits Bonheurs #26…

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“Lire, c’est toujours une bonne idée.”

(Reading is always a good idea.)

This is my goal for the weekend: a delightful book with some powerful coffee in hand, and no school books or work to be dealt with. Crossing our fingers…

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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1)

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 “This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab

3 ½-4 out of 5 stars.

 Goodreads summary:

“There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?”

“This Savage Song” ended up being a very enjoyable and conceptually unique YA read, and I liked the fact that it was a dystopian novel, but it also felt like it could belong to the fantasy genre because of it strangeness at times. The concept of Schwab’s novel felt fairly unique to me, though I can imagine that there have probably been other novels before it that took hold of the idea that humankind’s wicked actions had the ability to bring to life real monsters. But for me personally, I had yet to read a book with that concept as the main theme until I picked Victoria Schwab’s latest novel, and that made my reading experience a lot more enjoyable. Oh, and did I also mention that this was my first Victoria Schwab book?

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I know, I call myself a YA book blogger and I only just got around to one of its up-and-coming authors. I have personally never felt the need to read a Victoria Schwab novel beyond wanting to be up-to-date with the rising authors and their successful books, but I still did not get around to reading Victoria’s novel “Vicious” or her “A Darker Shade of Magic” series before this book was released. With “This Savage Song,” however, I was thoroughly intrigued by its concept, and when amazon.com dropped the hardcover price to just under $8, I knew that I had to give at least one Victoria Schwab books a try to see if I liked her writing style.

I liked the depths that Victoria’s writing reached toward in “This Savage Song,” and I found her concept of monstrous actions awakening various kinds of monstrous creatures to be quite fascinating; it made for a darker reading experience, but it almost felt brutally honest to how such crimes awaken ugly things like hate and fear in the hearts of people. I liked how in August, though, Victoria displayed the changing force of hope that comes along with the desire to do better, to be more than our former selves, which created a silver lining to her novel’s darker tone. Victoria Schwab’s writing style also added a haunting atmosphere that made her story and its concept fit quite well together.

A lot of bloggers and readers of Victoria’s most recent novel complained about the pacing, but I was actually quite happy with it. I never felt like the pacing of “This Savage Song” was too fast or too slow while I was reading it, and I enjoyed the progression of this book’s plot and how Victoria Schwab slowly revealed little details about the world that her protagonists lived in. Schwab is fantastic of writing impacting and/or slow reveals of certain places or events that have taken place, and I like that her style has the ability to create an atmosphere of mystery to surround its readers, even as they are making guesses as to what is happening. Although some of the events and surprises in this book felt a little predictable to me, I still enjoyed the atmosphere that those plot twists created in “This Savage Song.”

Despite finding the story held inside of this dark book to be interesting and Victoria’s writing to be quite good, I don’t feel like I fell completely in love with “This Savage Song.” It was well-written and fairly unique, but I just felt like there was a slight disconnect from me and the story and its characters.

August was a sweet and compelling character, but I did not fall in love with him. I was always interested in “This Savage Song” when August was present, and his struggle between embracing what he was and who he wanted to be was very compelling in my opinion, but there was just a distance between either me and this book or its characters that could not be bridged. I though that August was a sweet, interesting character, and I liked the moments where he reminded me of Jem from Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” series with his gifted violin playing, but my heart was not completely invested in him as a character.

I had expected to dislike Kate because of her desperate need to do terrible things in order to have her father notice her, but instead I just felt bad for her. I felt the same disconnect with Kate’s character that was present with August in this book, but I still enjoyed reading about her character. The little glimpses of her past were quite interesting, and the dynamic between her and August definitely kept me reading, despite the fact that I was not particularly emotionally invested in them. Neither of Victoria Schwab’s characters were under develop or lacking in dynamic, but there was a slight distance between the characters and me and that might have just been the time in my life when I read “This Savage Song.”

Victoria Schwab is a very good writer, and I can see why people like her writing so much, even though I was not deliriously in love with the first book of hers that I read. “This Savage Song” was an interesting book with a unique premise, and I am very curious as to how Victoria will continue August and Kate’s story in “Our Dark Duet.” If you are looking for a dark, dynamic dystopian novel that has streaks of fantasy in it, you should give “This Savage Song” a try.

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Les Petits Bonheurs #17…

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From “Unravel Me” by Tahereh Mafi.

It has been such a long time since I have read “Unravel Me” by Tahereh Mafi, but with it being the summer of rereading some of my favorites, I am going to take the time to pick up Tahereh’s book. It was such a beautiful and amazing book, and Tahereh’s writing style really stuck out to my sister and I as being very unique from most of the other novels that were being published during that time. Seeing some of the quotes from Tahereh’s “Shatter Me” series made me want reread it, and since I have a book buying problem, I bought myself a copy. ;-D  I am so excited to pick back up the amazingly addictive book that is “Unravel Me” for a reread session!

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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Les Petits Bonheurs #11…

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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…

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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…

Fangirl Friday #15…The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (The 5th Wave #1)

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“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey

3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“After the 1st wave, only darkness remains.
After the 2nd, only the lucky escape.
And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive.
After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.”

Last week I went to the theater with my sisters to see “The 5th Wave,” and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I ended up liking it. I had not read the book before seeing the movie, so I was kind of a blank slate going into the film; I knew a fair amount about the plot and characters from hearing my sister talk about “The 5th Wave,” but I did not have any expectations going into the movie since I did not yet have an attachment to the story. I ended up having a lot of fun watching the movie, and I am happy that I went into the film adaption of “The 5th Wave” without having read the book because that allowed me to just go along for the ride, instead of picking out the things that did not match up with the book. But after coming out of “The 5th Wave” movie, having fallen in love with Evan Walker and enjoying the character of Cassie, I knew I had to read Rick Yancey’s book!

While reading “The 5th Wave,” I was really grateful that I had seen the movie before I picked the book up, because having the visual details and the seeing the interactions between the characters on screen really helped me to envision everything that happened this book. Rick Yancey, for me, had an almost distancing style of writing that was kind of jarring at first, and he was not very descriptive during key moments in this book when I really wanted to see and feel what was happening. Most of the authors I love write stories that feel more consuming and immersive, but despite not having that quality of making me feel as involved in the story as I wanted to be, Rick Yancey’s book was surprisingly addictive; it doesn’t usually happen for me that way, yet “The 5th Wave” somehow made me feel a tiny bit withdrawn, but also like I couldn’t put it down. This book was glued to my hands for an entire evening, and I almost finished it before I had to go to bed, which I have not done in a long time!

I think one of the things that I liked about “The 5th Wave,” besides Evan Walker, was that it reminded me of “The Host” by Stephanie Meyer and an old show from the 1990s called “Roswell.” Science fiction and aliens were my two favorite things in books for quite a few years, and it wasn’t until just a little bit ago that I started to branch out beyond the science fiction genre. It was enjoyable to see those old themes that I used to love so much in “The 5th Wave,” and I thought that Rick Yancey did a very good job writing alien and dystopian dynamics, while still making them feel fresh and ready for a new generation of readers. Although I appreciated the elements he used to build his plot line, I was not the hugest fan of Rick Yancey’s writing style.

Rick Yancey had a kind of jarring, and at times, disjointed writing style that made me feel a little withdrawn from the story and its characters. It took me until about the halfway point in “The 5th Wave” to get used to his style, and once I did, I had a lot more fun reading it. Despite getting used to this book’s writing style and enjoying its addictive quality, I still struggled to care for some of the characters because of how distant I felt from them.

Cassie had a very intense and slightly grating perspective to read from, but honestly, I could not blame her too much for being that way because of everything she had been through. Cassie was a survivor and I admired that about her, but the way Rick chose to write her reactions and thoughts towards different situations and people in “The 5th Wave” made for a more aggressive and cold perspective to read from, which did not always make for the most enjoyable or compelling voice to read from. I think one of the reasons why I liked the movie version of this book so much was that Chloë Grace Moretz portrayed a more pleasant version of Cassie, and watching Chloë display all of the traits of Cassie’s character made me understand and feel more compassionate towards her and the loss she had endured, and I really appreciated that. I did admire, regardless of the movie, how much of a survivor Cassie was, and how determined she was to find and save her brother. I found the journey she went on to find her brother to be really interesting and it kept me reading, despite the fact that I was not the hugest Cassie fan, and once Evan Walker came in, I felt like “The 5th Wave” got WAY more interesting and dynamic.

Yeah, I might be a little bit in love with Evan Walker’s character.

Every time Evan was present, it felt like the writing in this book got better and its story line became more interesting. Part of that’s me just caring for Evan a lot more than the other characters in “The 5th Wave,” but I also think that something clicked in this book when Evan showed up and started helping Cassie; it just felt like he made this whole book feel like it was more, and he truly added SO much to this story. Cassie had a pretty harsh/intense perspective to read from, but when Evan showed up, his sweetness, his kindness, even his loneliness, made this book have so much more depth, and his presence also provided an opportunity for Cassie to show more than anger towards the life she had because of the Others’ coming. I was truly moved by Evan as a character, and my shipper heart just loved/loves this character SO much!

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“The 5th Wave” was an interesting and fast paced book, but when Evan Walker was present, it became a more dynamic and engrossing read. Evan was such an amazing and interesting character in this book, and I also really loved what they did in the movie with his character, and the actor who played Evan did a great job making all of his qualities come across on the big screen. I think the only thing that was disappointing about “The 5th Wave” movie concerning this character was that they skipped a few really great scenes that were in the book, and I wish that they had been in the film. I would have gladly sat through another twenty minutes of “The 5th Wave” just to get some extra time with Evan! I think the only problem with Evan Walker being such an amazing character was that I desperately wanted for the rest of the book to just be about Evan and Cassie as they searched for her brother, and that made the perspective changes a little disappointing.

Zombie, or Ben Parish, was not necessarily a bad character, but I just read through his sections of “The 5th Wave” in order to get to Evan and Cassie, which is not a good mindset to be in when you’re supposed to get to know a character. Even while watching the movie, I was anxious to get back to Cassie and Evan, despite the fact that the actor who played Zombie did a great job, and that feeling of wanting to move through his scenes faster definitely did not change for me while reading this book. Zombie might have had an even rougher perspective to read from because of his being in such a harsh environment, and he was also quite bitter and vengeful due to everything that he had been through. All of that was understandable, but his were not my favorite sections of this book. There were a few interesting moments during Zombie’s parts of “The 5th Wave” that built the plot a bit more, but even then, all I really wanted from this book was for it to just shift back to Cassie and Evan.

Overall, I thought that “The 5th Wave” was a very fast paced and addictive read, despite the fact that I was not the hugest fan of Rick’s writing style. It was very enjoyable to read an alien science fiction book, and it had a pretty interesting plot that was well thought out, whether it be in book or movie form. What really kept me reading, though, was Evan and his interactions with Cassie, and I thought that those sections of “The 5th Wave” made this book come together and become a more likable story. Honestly, I would have been happy for this book to be another hundred pages or the movie twenty or thirty minutes longer just to get more time with Evan!

The book or the movie?

I definitely feel like the movie was a 4 1/2 to 5 star movie for me because, although it wasn’t a perfectly done film, I had so much fun watching it, and I fell in love with the actors’ portrayals of the characters. I also felt like the movie did a great job of drawing real emotion from me during some of the really key moments in it, and I liked that a lot about the film because the book never made me feel emotionally invested unless Evan was involved. Personally, I think that “The 5th Wave” was more of a 3 1/2 out of 5 star book for me due to the slightly jarring and disjointed style of writing and how overbearing some of the characters were at times, and it was actually the dynamic between Evan and Cassie that kept me reading it. It’s an odd and unexpected choice for me, but I ended up liking the movie more than the book this time, despite the fact that it was missing a few great scenes between Evan and Cassie.