Friday, 28 April 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor // Book review

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

Publication date: March 28th 2017
Genres: young adult, fantasy
Number of pages: 536

Summary: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep. 

“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?”

I've been in love with Laini Taylor's writing ever since I read her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy (in about three to four days, when they're so big), so of course, when I heard about Strange the Dreamer, I was so excited to get my hands on it. The release date was pushed back by several months, but in the end, it was a good thing, considering how amazing this book was.

I don't talk a lot about author's writing, except when it stands out a lot. Laini Taylor has such a poetic writing that makes you feel like you're inside a fairy tale and that's part of what make her books so different from the others. From the first line of the prologue, I was compelled into the story, because it seemed so tragic and intriguing. By the way, I had forgotten part of the prologue when I read the ending and when I reread it... W-O-W.

Moreover, the world-building was absolutely spectacular. Laini Taylor created such a vivid and interesting world and she explained it so well, I never felt left out or overwhelmed this information. It's true that because of it, the book is a little slower-paced than most fantasy novels, but I really didn't mind. It was the type of book where you savour every word because you can never get enough. The characters didn't really know about the city of Weep at the beginning of the novel, except for Lazlo, but when they discovered all about it, it wasn't cliché like in some books. I already miss this unique world and I cannot wait to get back into it when The Muse of Nightmares will be released.

”You have no idea how much consideration I've given it. I lived seven years inside these books. My body may have been going about its duties in the library, but my mind was here. Do you know what they called me? Strange the dreamer. I was barely aware of my surroundings half the time.”

I absolutely loved the main characters of this book. At first, I wasn't sure that I was attached to them the way I was attached to the characters of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but oh well, this time I didn't have the whole series waiting on my shelf. Lazlo was absolutely wonderful to read about, because he was a dreamer and a librarian, so obviously I could relate to that. He was curious and so dedicated to understand the mysteries of Weep that I was there, just along him, trying to figure everything out. The other main character is Sarai and I was a little unsure about her at first, because we only saw her later in the book. I can't say much about her, because it would be a spoiler, but I felt so much compassion towards her. At the end, I loved her so, so much. She was brave and challenging, and in fact, was also a dreamer.

The thing is, I can't talk much about this book without spoiling, even though there are still a lot of things I wish to say. I'll just talk a little about the romance in the spoiler section because I want to, but that's about it.

/SPOILER/ (highlight if you want to read)
”I think you're a fairy tale. I think you're magical, and brave, and exquisite. And...” His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. “I hope you'll let me be in your story.”

At first, I thought that the romance was happening a bit too fast, but it made a lot of sense. Lazlo and Sarai had both been lonely their whole lives and it felt logical that they found happiness with each other. Also, the scenes when they were together in his dreams reminded me so much of Legion (aka my favourite show at the moment), I had so many feelings. /SPOILER/

After that ending, I have no idea how I'll be able to wait until The Muse of Nightmares comes out, but I don't really have a choice, don't I? This book was absolutely amazing and I'm so happy Laini Taylor didn't disappoint me... At this point, I'd read her groceries list.

OverallStrange the Dreamer was absolutely amazing and worth the wait (I mean, I waited two years and some people three?!). It had beautiful writing, original world-building and characters I grew to love. I was hesitant to give it five stars, for I couldn't help but try to compare it to my love for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but it wasn't fair, as it's not even a series yet. But honestly, it's such a unique book that I couldn't stop reading and wow. I can't wait for The Muse of Nightmares!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Making Faces by Amy Harmon // Book review

Making Faces by Amy Harmon

Publication: February 21st 2017 by Spencer Hill Press (first publication on October 12th 2013)

Genres: contemporary, romance, amazingness (haha)
Number of pages: 300

Summary: Ambrose Young was beautiful. The kind of beautiful that graced the covers of romance novels, and Fern Taylor would know. She'd been reading them since she was thirteen. But maybe because he was so beautiful he was never someone Fern thought she could have . . . until he wasn't beautiful anymore.

Making Faces is the story of a small town where five young men go off to war, and only one comes back. It is the story of loss. Collective loss, individual loss, loss of beauty, loss of life, loss of identity. It is the tale of one girl's love for a broken boy, and a wounded warrior's love for an unremarkable girl. This is a story of friendship that overcomes heartache, heroism that defies the common definitions, and a modern tale of Beauty and the Beast, where we discover that there is a little beauty and a little beast in all of us.


When I first heard about Making Faces, I thought I wasn't interested in it, because the cover with a shirtless guy was so misleading. I was pretty sure it was another new adult novel and I don't really enjoy those. I actually read this because of French reviewers, who kept recommending it to everyone. When I saw the new cover, I finally bought it, without really reading the synopsis.

Let me tell you: Making Faces is so much more than a romance. In the first pages, you think it's going to be the typical romance where the main character, who feels that she's ugly, will end up with that so hot guy. But oh, that's not the case at all and that's what I understood when the characters saw the events related to 9/11 unfold. It was the first time I read a book that dealt with the attacks in 2001 and the Iraq war. These events had heavy consequences on the main characters and I loved how it felt way more realistic because of that. Making Faces isn't just about our characters: it's about life in itself. Amy Harmon plays with cliches and turns them around every time.

The main characters were absolutely fantastic. I related so much to Fern, who was a bookworm, loved to write and wasn't confident. She doesn't feel beautiful and yet... She's a strong young woman, because she learned from an early age to take care of people. Ambrose seemed like her opposite at first, because he was this beautiful young guy who had it all... Until he hadn't. He was strong physically, but fragile emotionally, and also completely kind. But the one who stole the show was Bailey. He was hilarious and optimistic, despite his disease and knowing his life wouldn't be long. These three main characters were so complex and complementary from each other, it was absolutely wonderful to read about them.

Moreover, I loved their dynamics. Obviously, I loved the romance between Fern and Ambrose. Amy Harmon built it slowly and I loved how healthy, sweet, playful and profound it was. These characters were perfect to balance each other and it never felt like there was drama. In most novels, I roll my eyes so hard because of relationships drama, but here? It wasn't the case at all. I loved how Fern showed Ambrose that there were so much more to life than what he first thought. They loved each other for their personality and who they were and you could definitely feel that.

 The other relationship that shines through the whole novel is Bailey and Fern's. They've known each other their whole life and aren't scared to be who they are, even if they look ridiculous in front of the other. It's probably one of the purest friendship I've ever read about. 

 On top of these wonderful characters and relationships, Making Faces also talked of many important topics. I already mentioned it was set right during and after the attacks on the World Trade Center. This novel explores the consequences of these events on people, because their mentalities changed, but also for people who chose to go to war to defend their country. It was also the focus of abusive relationships, religion, tragedy and getting back on your feet when life hits you down. It was an emotional roller coaster (I cried so much) and from an early stage, I knew I was going to rate it five stars and that it would become one of my favourite books. I don't think I can give this book justice in a review, because it was how good it was

 Making Faces was such a wonderful and heartbreaking story, I know it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I'm so happy I finally discovered Amy Harmon's writing through this one and I cannot wait to read her other books. I have so much love for this novel that it's hard to put it through words, but I can only recommend you to drop everything to get yourself a copy.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? If you've read any other book by this author, tell me which one I should read next! :)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco // Book review

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Published: September 20th 2016 by Jimmy Patterson
Genres: YA, historical, mystery
Number of pages: 326

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.


It's always complicated to read hyped books months after their release day. I've been excited for Stalking Jack the Ripper since it was announced, because I'm obsessed with Victorian era and I find the mystery behind Jack the Ripper completely fascinating. So, I tried not to listen to the hype – almost impossible – and to finally read it. 

From the beginning, we discover the world of forensics in Victorian era and I found it so interesting. Before I realized I wasn't really into science, that's what I actually wanted to do with my life, so of course I loved that part. The atmosphere Kerri Maniscalco created with her novel, which is definitely in the vein of gothic novels, was so fitting to the time period, I felt like I was actually there. She definitely captured the essence of the time period and while I wasn't scared, I felt the darkness and the tension involved while the characters were trying to find Jack the Ripper. 

However, I found that the pacing of the novel was a bit off. Indeed, while I was very excited in the beginning, I lost interest a few times, which is a bit sad, considering this book was only 326 pages long. I'd say that the first two thirds of the novel are good, but not mind-blowing, while the last hundred pages are truly stellar and makes the whole book worth it. Well, I had guessed the identity of Jack the Ripper because of one small detail the author probably didn't think of, haha. But despite guessing it, it was so well done! 

Now, I'll tell you about what actually bothered me in this book. Like most of us, I'm always happy to see a character that challenges social constructions of her time and that doesn't want to live according to them. Obviously, when I saw that Audrey Rose wanted to have her own career and to be an independent woman, I was there for it. Then, I realized something was bothering me and it took me awhile to discover what it was. In the whole novel, when Audrey Rose talks to other women, it's always about men or parties. There is one exception when she sees another woman because she's here to see her father, but that's about it. I'm sorry, but to me, it means it's failing the Bechdel Test. Not completely, but at 90%. 

Moreover, during the whole novel, Audrey Rose feels superior to the rest of women. I don't mean that she feels superior to prostitutes because of her social class, no, but to her peers. She's judging them and saying that they're shallow and uninteresting, because they accept what society want them to be. Every time she's with them, she's complaining. There is only one time a woman finds grace in her eyes and is deemed interesting, but it's at the end of the novel. I consider myself a feminist but I don't think that judging women – who have no choice and rebel in other ways – is the way to go when you're a feminist.

Audrey Rose does think society has it wrong, regarding women (and she's right), but she doesn't get to feel superior because of that, and to judge other women in the process. It feels like the author was trying to make Audrey Rose better than all these women to make me like her, but it only angered me. I know some people won't agree with me, but it's a trope we see a lot in young adult but almost never discuss, and it's making me sick. (I'm done with my rant part I guess.)

Despite being mad at the main character, I really enjoyed the whole cast of characters. Indeed, they were multidimensional and I liked to see how the author showed that you can never know someone completely, because we all have secrets. I also loved Thomas Creswell's sassiness when he was interacting with Audrey Rose, I laughed quite a few times. 

Overall, Stalking Jack the Ripper was a good enough book and I can see why people loved it so much, because of the atmosphere, the mystery and the sass. But, I thought the pacing was a little off, and there was this huge business with Audrey Rose that made me mad. Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure I'll read the sequel, to see if Audrey Rose changes for the better, but also because it involves Dracula and discovering a country I've never been to.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Paris Book Fair and meeting Internet friends // March Wrap-Up & April 2017 TBR

Can you believe that we're already in April? It's all so crazy. I feel like I'm saying that at the end of every month, but really. I have no idea where all this time is going. March was such a busy month for me, I didn't see it pass. 

At the beginning of the month, I met an Internet friend for the first time ever. Can you imagine my anxiety? It was grand lmao (but it was great). Anywho, I met Clara (aka thebookwormofnotredame on Instagram) and we went to Shakespeare & Co. and other bookstores, because obviously. Here's to overcome my social anxiety, because I wouldn't have met her and Lydia otherwise.

In March, Paris Book Fair happened and it was the first time I ever attended. I was so excited and it was such a perfect week-end. My best friend was with me so we finally had time to catch up and watch Beauty and the Beast. I hadn't felt that happy in a long time, because I could truly be myself (and fangirl all day), as I was with people who are like me, with the best squad ever. At the Fair, I got to meet Rainbow Rowell, Marie Rutkoski and Jojo Moyes (!!!), it was so amazing. And I was freaking out on the inside obvisouly, but not as much than with Leigh Bardugo, haha.

Me with Marie Rutkoski / Rainbow Rowell / Jojo Moyes

  • A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab 4 stars
  • We Are Okay by Nina LaCour 3.5 stars
  • Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2) by Rachel Caine 2 stars
  • And I Darken (The Conquerors Saga #1) by Kiersten White 4 stars
  • These Ruthless Deeds (These Vicious Masks #2) by Tarun Shanker et Kelly Zekas 3 stars
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them by J.K. Rowling (audiobook) 4 stars
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly 5 stars
  • and two French books I both rated 3.5 stars

My reading tastes are broadening themselves so much lately and it makes me so happy. March clearly showed that, because the only book I rated five stars was non-fiction. Wut. I had loved Hidden Figures when I watched it and I knew I had to read the book, even though it was just facts and I wasn't sure I would enjoy it. This book was a punch into my face and I still haven't been able to form words to talk about it, but I will, soon. Moreover, I finally started to listen to audiobooks in English – I was only doing that in French before – and started with the new Fantastic Beasts, because it was narrated by Eddie Redmayne (aka I have no words to describe him except for my fangirling). I loved it so much and I'm pretty sure I'm ruined for other audiobooks, but now I know I can do it! I'm so excited to listen to more of them.

 I'm supposed to be on a semi-book buying ban (but it won't last long I'm sure), which means I should empty my TBR a little. Here are the books I'm most excited to read:
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
  • Tess of the d'Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy (which I'm currently buddy reading)
  • Making Faces by Amy Harmon
  • Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (reread) => time to prepare for ACOWAR even if I'm not ready. *sobs*

What did you read in March?