Les Petits Bonheurs #29…

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These Latin quotes always remind me of Cassandra Clare’s “Infernal Devices” trilogy, and it’s about that time when I do my annual rereads. ;-D

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Les Petits Bonheurs #27…

Labor Day weekend was pretty crazy this year! School and work have kept me busier than I would like, and I wish that I had the energy to read for fun after finishing work and studying. Sadly, it has been about a month since I have picked up a book for enjoyment, but that did not stop me from going crazy at Barnes and Noble this last week with buying every book and vinyl record that I could get my hands on. Yeah, call me greedy, but when there are amazing sales and 40% off the vinyl soundtrack of Disney’s”Cinderella,” one must become a little cupide, as the French say. And let me tell you, the music from “Cinderella” has never sounded better than it does on vinyl, and I just adore relaxing to this classic soundtrack!

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Over the weekend, I also decided to get another vinyl by one of my favorite artists, and I might have also bought, like, five other books. For blog related research, of course…

I’m still cringing at how much I spent, but seriously, how can a girl resist the most magical store on earth when it has a 40% coupon just calling her name? It came to the point where my battery had to die on my computer before I could stop purchasing books and vinyl albums.

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Yeah, we’re going to be paying those items off for a little bit, but it was a wild ride! Thanks for visiting my blog today, and hopefully I’ll see you soon with a new review!

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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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!

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 Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Mara Dyer #3)

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“The Retribution of Mara Dyer” by Michelle Hodkin

3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.
There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.
She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.
She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.”

Spoilers for “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” and “The Evolution of Mara Dyer” are present and unavoidable in this review.

This book was kind of disappointing in my opinion. I had known from my sister going into “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” that it was a bit of a disappointment, especially to the die-hard fans who had waited the full two years for Michelle Hodkin to finish it. With the previous two books, I had powered through them and felt thoroughly engrossed in the plot that Michelle had been developing, but with the third book in the “Mara Dyer” trilogy, I felt kind of bored and it was easy to put it down compared to the previous two books. Despite it not being that interesting or engrossing of a book, “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was still a fast read, and I was able to finish it in a day without a problem. I had expected to not be that enthused by it, but I was still kind of bummed for myself and for the dedicated fans by how this book felt like a chore to get through at times and did not seem to expand much farther than what was already presented in “The Evolution of Mara Dyer.”

I think one of the reasons that “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” ended up being so dull at times was that a hundred pages were spent in the asylum (which I have forgotten the name of) with Jamie, Mara, and one of the other patients, who were all trying to escape. Once they got out, half of the book was them on the run, trying to figure out where Noah was or if he was still alive, and that did make the book feel like it was going by a little faster, but not by much. Jamie definitely became the funny one of the group, and there was one scene in “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” involving Skittles that made me burst out laughing, so I did appreciate those few moments of tamed enjoyment, since Mara was not the most pleasant perspective to be stuck with. Jamie definitely helped me to keep reading, but without Noah in this book, it lost some of its dynamic and appeal which “The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer” and “The Evolution of Mara Dyer” had both possessed because of his presence.

Although the first half of “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was not the most interesting to read, the latter half picked up a lot and was more exciting, mostly because of the flashback chapters from Mara’s grandmother. I had become less and less a fan of Mara as this trilogy progressed, but the alternating between her perspective and her grandmother’s once every few chapters helped to make me read this book faster and find it more interesting. I also enjoyed the appearance of Daniel, Mara’s brother, later on in this book, and I did appreciate that, despite all of the craziness that had occurred in Mara’s life, her love for her family never changed.

“The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was an okay book, but was a mildly un-climatic ending to a pretty good trilogy. I think one of the things that saddened me the most about these books and how they progressed was that Mara chose to turn into the person whom she had feared she would become when this trilogy started. While reading, Mara reminded me a lot of Juliet Moreau from Megan Shepherd’s “The Madman’s Daughter” trilogy, but in Megan’s books, I had felt engrossed in the story and fascinated by Juliet’s evolution as an individual, whereas I was not as interested in Mara’s story. These two female characters dealt with a lot of traumatizing events that caused some emotional and psychological issues, and I felt like Juliet went to a very dark place for a time, but she came out on the other side a lot stronger and wiser, choosing a better path for her life. My problem with this trilogy’s ending was that Mara went through similar things to Juliet, like getting stuck in a dark place, but instead of climbing out on the other side wanting more out of life, Mara instead seemed to like that she had become the aggressive, darker person whom she had not wanted to be originally. It just made me sad that the promise of a brighter future seemed to be overshadowed by the choices Mara made in this book, and that she was content with seeing the world through a darker perspective.

Overall, the ending of this book and trilogy felt a little bit lackluster and sad because of Mara’s shift and other spoilery things I can’t tell you about, but it also wasn’t a bad ending; it was an ending that left me wanting something more is all. “The Retribution of Mara Dyer” was not the best ending to a trilogy/series that I have read, and I understand the frustration of the fandom concerning these books. All that being said, though, it was still a fast read, and the issues that were strung through the trilogy seeming to be fairly well-resolved by the end of this book. The “Mara Dyer” books were pretty good, they just did not have the best ending.