Friday, 31 August 2018

Reading wrap-up + Favourites | August 2018

Hello, beautiful people!

I am so happy that August is coming to a close, it was such a busy and long month for me, as I spent most of my time at my summer job (but as you're reading this, I'm freeeeeee). It was quite a tough month as well, and I won't go too much in details about that, but can I please stop worrying all the time? UGH. Despite that, there were so many highlights in August, such as my best friend's birthday, watching many, many movies, surprising my boyfriend for his birthday, watching football games, drinking a lot of coffee, starting the great Gilmore Girls rewatch of 2018 and so on. 

W H A T  I  R E A D

Following the great "31 books in 31 days challenge" that I did back in July, I didn't want to read as much, but I still managed to read a lot, and as I participated in a 24h readathon again, it certainly helped. Here are the books that I read:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, 5/5 stars (reread)
  • Wait for Me by Caroline Leech, 3.75/5 stars
  • Guermantes' Way (Le Côté de Guermantes) by Marcel Proust, 3/5 stars
  • Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell, 3.5/5 stars
  • Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis, 3.5/5 stars
  • The Muse by Jessie Burton, 4/5 stars
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, 4/5 stars
  • Pauline by Alexandre Dumas, 3.5/5 stars (reread)
  • Peril at End House by Agatha Christie, 4/5 stars
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan, 4/5 stars
  • Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson, 3/5 stars

In August happened the #classicsathon hosted by Lucy @ Lucy The Reader, which I was really excited about, as it motivated me to read some classics I had been meaning to read forever (mainly French ones), so I read four classics! Other than that, I mostly read historical fiction, as it's all I've been in the mood for lately. I don't really want to say it's back to being my favourite genre, but... When I look at my favourite books, 90% of them are either historical fiction or classics. Ahem. I've been in a huge fantasy slump since the beginning of the year, I really need to get out of it soon. Anyhow, August also was the month where I destroyed my TBR once and for all, I'm so happy about that. I'll talk more about why I don't want a TBR anymore in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned for that!

F A V O U R I T E  B L O G  P O S T S

Fatima @ Screen Queens reviewed the movie adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and she also talked about the Q&A with the cast that she attended. Special thanks to her for making me read a first draft of it, she's the best and I adore this post!
Shealea @ That Bookshelf Bitch talked about #bookishwish and how it came to be.
Holly @ Nut Free Nerd explained how she came to study English at college (and why she kept it that way).
Jemima @ Be Aware of Books talked about the "right" to be a Shakespeare fan.
Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary shared her views on many book lovers' nightmare: damaging a book.
Lauren @ Bookish Byron talked about her dissertation on the Brontës - more specifically on the relationship between marriage and class in Charlotte’s Shirley, Emily’s Wuthering Heights, and Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - which was so interesting, I had been curious about her dissertation for months!
Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books discussed how to support international book bloggers.


BEAUTY | (almost) no makeup & dyeing my hair

I'm part of those people who hate their skin. Like, why do I still have to have acne at 22? My skin isn't the worst, I know that, but I've felt self-conscious about it for my entire life and started wearing BB cream, then foundation a year and a half ago. However, with that came the fact that I hated going out without makeup, then for some reason (probably laziness and the heat)... I just stopped everything at the beginning of July. At first, I was just trying to get used to not wearing make up, then decided to drop it for the rest of the summer, and it actually feels great, I'm getting less and less self-conscious every day. There are days where I wear nothing, or lipstick and nothing else (not even mascara), which I used to do all the time three years ago and I've been loving it.

In July, I also dyed my hair for the first time, then did it again in August and got the results I wanted! It's nothing big really: my hair has different shades of blonde, but it's gotten darker in recent years, especially during winter, and I just want to be completely blonde (aka I just wanted the color my top hairlocks have, so it would look more even). So I did that and I feel so much better and it gave me a bit more confidence, so yay!

MISC. | Tottenham Hotspur (Football)

Hear me out: when France won the World Cup... I couldn't let it go. I couldn't, not when watching games made me forget all of my problems and that I realised how much I had missed it. I've been wearing my French bracelet since then and if I have to go outside without it, I actually freak out. As I was saying last month, I used to watch football games when I was younger, then gradually stopped, except for the games with our national team. After the World Cup, I really wanted to start to support a team, and that's how I came to root for Tottenham and to follow what was happening in the Premier League  (lmao, of course, if I had to watch a football league, it'd have to be the English one, what a surprise). 

I'll confess that yes, I did start watching Tottenham's games because of Hugo Lloris, but I've been having so much fun that it's more than that now! It's also very stressful when I have to find livestreams or when it takes us* a long time to score (we've won all out August games, though). Still, I adore it and you can tell that I've turned into a proper supporter when I'm screaming "he does score in August" in front of my laptop like everyone else and it has meaning to me (He did score in August! And twice at thaaaat >> excuse me, my excitement couldn't be contained).

*"us", "we", oh my, I have really turned into a proper supporter who checks everything about her team all. the. time. oops.

MUSIC | Mamma Mia!, Born to Be Yours & Dying in LA

Apart from the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again soundtrack that I'm listening to daily (Andante, Andante is my current favourite), here are the two songs that I've been listening to all the time:

(it's been going on since... mid-July)

(At some point, I realised that I was getting The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo vibes
 from this one, then I was completely lost and couldn't stop listening to it anymore)

Now, moving on to TV shows and movies...

TV SHOW | Land Girls 

I hadn't realised how much I had missed period dramas, until I finished Mr. Selfridge in July and needed to start a new one. On my mom's recommendation, I started Land Girls and flew through it (I was basically watching one season per day, they're quite short, but still). I don't watch a lot of period drama/read a lot of books set during World War II, but I figured out that it was okay for me when it was about what happened to people left behind during the war. Land Girls was so entertaining, full of drama and interesting characters (as the Land Girls didn't always stay from one season to another). I'm a bit sad they didn't renew it for a fourth season, because there are some loose-ends, and that they changed the actor for Henry, but still, it was great!

TV SHOW | The Bold Type

I had already dedicated an entire blog post to it earlier this month, but I adore The Bold Type so much and I devoured the second season of it in a few days in August. I won't dwell on it too much, as I already discussed it at length, but it is such a topical, diverse and needed TV show, which focuses on women and makes me feel so good about myself and my dreams. Kat, Jane and Sutton, I miss you so.

MOVIE | BlacKkKlansman (2018)

I watched quite a few movies this month, but the one that truly stood out was BlacKkKlansman, which isn't very surprising, considering how excited I was about it. If you haven't heard of it, this movie is based on a true story. In 1979, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is hired as the first black cop in his town; he pauses on the phone as a white man to join and infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan, one of his white colleagues, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), pretending to be him during meetings. I attended a premiere of it with my best friend, the room was packed and people even clapped at the end, which rarely ever happens in France*. It is such an important movie, so hard to watch at times because of all the racist remarks/acts, but it was amazingly done. I am so happy it won the Grand Prix during the Cannes Film Festival, it truly deserves it and I hope it'll get many awards during award season! If you can, please go watch it.

*it did happen at the premiere of Love, Simon, but it wasn't the same type of audience at all, that's why it surprised me so much after BlacKkKlansman!

L O O K I N G  A H E A D

I am excited about the month of September, I am terrified of the month of September. I'm about to start my last year at university, doing a master in cultural mediation, heritage and digital technologies, which I'm beyond excited about, as I won't be doing something by default anymore and I'm breathing again. It's going to be quite challenging though, because it's a new field to explore and I'll have to talk to new people, but it will be okay. I'm also really looking forward to living on my own again when I move back to Paris (it's been four months...), it'll take me time to adjust to everything, but it'll be so worth it in the end. Plus, classes only start at the end of the month, so I still have some time to get ready!

I also have some releases to look forward to, not as much as for the last months of the year, but still! In September will finally be released Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton, Wildcard by Marie Lu and Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (I really dislike JKR now, though, so I'll get it from the library, because I need to know what happens after the evil cliffhanger of Career of Evil anyway). I don't think I'm looking forward to any movie releases in September, but Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is going to play in theaters in France again! Can you imagine how excited I am? For TV shows, The Good Place is also coming back for a third season and I am so ready.

How did August treat you? Any new favourite things?

Lots of love,

Friday, 24 August 2018

Mamma Mia! Book Tag

Hello beautiful people!

A few days ago, Romie @ Romie We Deserve Love did the Mamma Mia! Book Tag and not only did I scream, because that's all I wanted and it gives me a reason to talk about how much I love Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and to write a post with gifs of Lily James, but also because I didn't know it existed (okay, it was only created recently, but still)?! Thank you, Romie, for bringing it to my attention, you're amazing! So of course, I'm doing this tag today, because how could I not? This tag was created by Ashley @ Ashley Outpaged and you can find the original video here.

Like so many people, I adore Mamma Mia and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. I was so excited about the sequel coming out, even more when they announced that Lily James would play young Donna, because I've loved her since Downton Abbey and will watch anything she's in. She's such an amazing actress and I'm so glad she's finally getting more recognition! I've been so obsessed with the movie and have been listening to the soundtrack all the time for the past month. I can't wait until the DVD release, so I can rewatch it again and again.

But anyway, time for the tag!

Side note: I couldn't find gifs for all the songs, but I did my best haha. Also, as I put gifs, minor spoilers for the movie I guess?

When I Kissed the Teacher | Name a book with a shocking plot twist

I'm usually quite good at figuring out plot twists, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid had a shocking plot twist for me! It kinda made it easier for me to predict the twists of that type of books now though, but I'm not mad, as it was splendidly done in that one. But maybe the most shocking plot twist was that I knew I wanted to reread it a hundred pages into it? How did you do that, Taylor Jenkins Reid? Um... I was also trying to find a way to mention it, as it's one of my favourite books and Evelyn would totally have kissed the teacher too, so... you know... 

Waterloo | Name a book you're positive you'll be in love with

Am I supposed to think of the books in my TBR? That I have added on Goodreads? Well, we'll just take into consideration my enormous TBR, which is made of... two books (at long last, I won't have a TBR by next Monday and I'll be able to conduct a very interesting I-don't-have-a-TBR experiment, but I digress). Anyway, I'm quite positive I'll love Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, I've been so excited about this one and it's actually set during the Napoleonic Wars, so I find even funnier that it's my answer for the Waterloo question. Now, I better love it, or it'll be awkward.

Why Did It Have To Be Me | Name a book you went to 
to get over a reading slump

I don't have reading slumps really often and the last really bad one happened in 2015. The book that got me out of it was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, I read it in one or two sittings. Since then, it has ignited a love for everything Becky Albertalli writes and I adore the movie, so it'll always have a special place in my heart.

I Have a Dream | Name a book character that inspires you

It's not going to be very original, as I already mentioned this character in the Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag, but she means so much to me. Juliet Ashton from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society inspires me all the time, through her personality, through her writing, through her whole story. I also picture her as Lily James because of the movie, so it's true it fed my love for her even more. If I had to pick another character, so my answers would be a bit more original, Frances Janvier from Radio Silence also really inspires me to work hard, pursue what I love and put myself out there, even when it means going out of the path most people take.

Andante, Andante | Name your current read

I'm currently reading two books. First, I'm reading The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, which I'm planning to finish today (I have a hundred pages left, so), as there is a 24h readathon happening tomorrow. I've been pleasantly surprised by it, as I haven't been screaming at the historical inaccuracies that much, it's quite easy to read once the plot has really started and it's so entertaining. I'm also slowly making my way through Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales: a Selection, I've been reading tales here and there. Can you tell that we're in August and I'm participating in the #classicsathon?

Knowing Me, Knowing You | Name a book you had to break up with and DNF

I recently DNF-ed The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, which made me a bit sad because I so wanted to read it, but I didn't click with her writing at all and as it was about her life (which was so heartbreaking), I didn't want to force myself to read it. I started it during my 31 books in 31 days challenge, I didn't want to drag it behind me all month, and it was a wise decision. Sorry, little book.

Mamma Mia | Name a book you recently read again

I reread The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows at the beginning of the month (what a surprise) and fell in love with it even more than the first time around. It's definitely one of my favourite books of all time and such a gem, I already want to reread it, which might be a problem, as I just did. I almost wish I could keep this treasure to myself at times, even though many people fell in love with it before I did, haha, I'm a bit possessive when it comes to it. *hides* Also, Juliet Ashton is probably my favourite book character ever, but I already said that.

Dancing Queen | Name a book that made you want to dance around the room

I had trouble finding an answer to this question, until I got through my Goodreads shelves, saw Autoboyography by Christina Lauren and realised it was the perfect answer. It is quite a hyped novel, but I totally agree with it and this book made me so happy (and broke my heart several times, but oh well). Not only was the bi rep absolutely amazing, but I related to Daniel so much, which was quite unexpected. I adored the way the romance was written, but also seeing present and supportive parents, it made my heart full. I need more contemporary novels like this one. Tanner and Daniel, I miss you.

Super Trouper | Name a series you haven't finished due to its intimidating size

I still need to finish some trilogies, but that's not because of their size, so I'm not quite sure it counts. However, I still haven't started the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, nor Robin Hobb's huge Realms of the Elderlings series (there are three trilogies and two spin-offs series or something? WHAT?) due to their intimidating size. I am finally finding motivation to read fantasy again, though, after such lack of that this year (for me, that is). The book coming out this Fall about the Targaryens makes me want to pick up the A Song of Ice and Fire series really soon and it's on my reading bucket list of 2018, so it's time. I think I also got the final push from my boyfriend to read Robin Hobb's books, he just read the first one and adored it (he literally said he loved it more than Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone? He only read the series last year, but still?), and my parents have been obsessed with it for years. Time to stop putting those series off.

Writing this post has been so much fun, as I had no choice, but to listen to the soundtrack yet again to type my answers! I'm not tagging anyone in particular, but if you're obssessed with the movie like I am and want to do this tag, bam, you've been tagged!

That's it for me today y'all, now I'll go back to singing along to the soundtrack!

Have a nice day,

Lots of love,

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

The Bold Type | Currently Watching

Hello, beautiful people!

Last May, I binge-watched the first season of The Bold Type and completely fell in love with it, to the point that I said on social media that it was my favourite TV show of 2018 (so far). Unsurprisingly, I was beyond excited to watch the second season, which finished airing in the U.S. recently. I really wanted to share some of my excitement about it with you today, so I could, maybe, convince you to give it a shot.

What is The Bold Type about?

This TV show follows three best friends, Jane, Kat, and Sutton, who work for Scarlet, a global women's magazine. The show explores their lives in New York City, as they learn to find their own voices and explore their sexuality, identity, love, and fashion.


Through every single episode, The Bold Type has been such an empowering show for me, mainly because it focuses on women, whether it was the three main characters, their boss (yay to women of power), the friends they make along the way or the readers of Scarlet. When I started watching it, it felt like the one, the show that was made for me, that would motivate me to fight to follow my dreams and that would be there for me when I didn't believe in myself anymore and we all need that in our lives.

The Bold Type is a feminist, diverse and topical show, tackling down so many contemporary issues and doing it in such a clever way. Some people might think, from the premise, that it's gonna be a very cliché show, all about fashion, women hating on each other and romances worth of eye rolls. It definitely isn't. The showrunners actually use the fact that it is set in a global women's magazine to talk about what women (all of them) have to go through in their every day lives, through the articles everyone are working on, or by following different storylines in Jane, Kat and Sutton's lives. 

I had already made a quick list of topics talked about in the first season, but to give you some examples, the second season talked about white privilege, body positivity, sex between women, religion, unemployment, slut-shaming, the #MeToo movement, picking your career over your love life and so on. I could give you a dozen more of examples, but I didn't write this post so it could be a list. I truly adore this show, because I feel represented in it, because of the representation in part*, but also because it talks about topics that matter to me, that I have to deal with, and that I wish we could see more of.

*Will I ever stop crying when I see a bisexual woman in a TV show/movie? The answer is absolutely not.

Sutton (Meghan Fahy), Jane (Katie Stevens) and Kat (Aisha Dee)

The three main characters mean so much to me, because not only the portraying of their friendship is one of the healthiest I have seen on TV, but I see myself in all of them, and they all are my role models in a way. They still are at the beginning of their professional lives - they've worked for four years or something? - and it's so encouraging for me, as I'm almost done with my studies. If you asked me who out of the three was my favourite, I wouldn't be able to answer, because it changes with every episode and I love them in different ways. 

> Jane can be my favourite, because she's a journalist and seeing her finding her voice through her writing is so inspiring. She's also the type of person who needs to keep her entire life planned out and organized to stay sane, I so feel her on that. At the beginning of the first season, she was so scared to dare and to put herself out there, seeing her pushing herself to become a better person and a better writer has been amazing and motivating.

> Kat can be my favourite, because she's so outspoken and confident, I so want to be more like her. She also works in social media and I adore seeing her working. More than that, seeing her exploring her sexuality hit so close to home. When I started watching the show, I was going through similar events and feelings than she was in the first season, so seeing her embracing it all made me so happy and even prouder of who I am.

> Sutton can be my favourite, because she reminds me to follow my dreams and that being yourself is important. I love her because I know what it feels like to be late to find your way in life, to keep going without really knowing where to. She always makes me remember that it's never too late and that what we truly want is worth fighting for. I'd also give her a special shoutout for the time she said she was all game for a healthy competition against another female character at work, but not for slut-shaming. 

I love one (1) superior ship

Another thing I adore in the first season of this show is that, while there are three romantic ships, each for one of the main characters, the only one you will truly remember is Kat and Adena. Seeing representation of a romantic relationship between two women is so rare on television, but you have it on The Bold Type. Not only that, but this dynamic is the main focus when it comes to romance for the first season (Pinstripe and Richard who?), they're absolutely adorable and we're also talking about a romance between two women of colour! This is a TV show that gives you representation and not two minutes just to say that they did it. I'm quite upset with what they did in the second half of season 2, though, I get that they wanted more screen time for the other romantic (straight) ships, but please tell me they'll go on the right path on that topic for season 3. 

The Bold Type is definitely one of my favourite TV shows and I cannot wait for the third season to air next year. I'm not sure how much of a good idea it was to write about it, considering that now, I want to rewatch it even more, but I hope that I managed to convince you to watch it, if you haven't!

Have you watched this show or are you planning to? 
What's your favourite TV show that's currently airing?

Lots of love,

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

31 books in 31 days challenge | Tips, tricks and conclusion

Hello, beautiful people!

As you might have seen in my wrap-up of last month, in July, I decided to challenge myself to read 31 books in 31 days. Why would you do that to yourself? you will ask. Well, because I was on holidays, wanted to read as many books as possible to lower my daunting Goodreads TBR (I'm not talking about unread books I own, though), and wanted to enjoy the free time I had to read, before working full time and then starting university again in September. 

And... I did it!

I didn't put the list with my entire wrap-up in this blog post, as it was already pretty long, but if you're curious about what I read, I talked about it in my July wrap-up.

I had previously done such a challenge in June 2015 (which was the time I started this blog, oh my, how does time fly), but I wasn't that much connected to the book community, then, so I decided to do it again, now that I was, and it was so much fun. I'm so surprised by the amount of people who cheered me up, congratulated me, or even said that I had motivated them to do such a challenge in turn. So to anyone who messaged me about it or have been following this adventure, thank YOU. Anyhow, I thought that today, I would talk a little more about how I won this challenge and my tips, for those interested.

Before I start this blog post, Resh did a 30 books in 30 days challenge earlier this year and talked about her experience in this amazing blog post.


On which books to pick up...

Reading 31 books in 31 days is about focusing on quantity (but don't lose quality over this), which means that reading shorter books is the best course of action. Obviously, you won't want to pick a book that is a thousand page long (Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, I promise that I'll read you soon!), it wouldn't be productive in regards to this challenge. When the month started, I made a list of the smallest novels I had on my Goodreads TBR, of novellas and comics I had been wanting to read for so long, so I could make them a priority. I didn't get to them all, but I had a large choice of options and it always helped me to have ideas when I didn't know what to pick up. However, it doesn't mean I only read short books during the month, but I'll talk more about that later on.

Side note: I only mentioned novellas and comics, because there were some I wanted to read, but graphic novels, mangas, plays, collections of short stories and so on are equally as great for such a challenge.

Besides, trying to read a large quantity of books means that it's better to pick books you're confident you're going to adore, it might not be the time to get out of your comfort zone and experiment, for if it doesn't work out for you... You might end up in a reading slump. I'm not saying that reading outside of your comfort won't work, just be careful with that... On the other hand, it's true that you might also be disappointed by books in your comfort zone. But we're just trying not to fall into a reading slump here! 

On a similar note, do not hesitate abandoning books you don't feel like reading - in the end - early on, you don't want to drag a book behind you for weeks now, don't you? I DNF-ed one book during my challenge, because I read 20% of it, then put it aside for days, before realising I didn't want to read it anymore. Of course, you might end up reading books you won't like that much during the challenge and finishing them, I did that too (well, we're still trying to read loads of books), but if you're not feeling it in the first few pages, don't force yourself. 

While I'm at it, try to pick books that you can read quickly, I'm not talking about their length here, but how difficult they can be to read, depending on the writing style. I didn't pick that many classics during the month, while I adore them, because I know that classics will take me longer to read. 

On managing your reading time...

Before I get into this portion of the post, I'll actually confess that... I didn't read every single day of July nor did I finish one book every day. Still, I managed to read 31 books, because I managed my reading time well enough.

The first tip is always the same one every single reader will give you to read more: have a book with you everywhere. You'll never know when you'll have five minutes to read, or even more. What about if you have to wait for someone who is late? For an appointment? Anything else? In the meantime, you can always manage to read a bit. At the end of one week, you'll see how many pages you'll have gotten through.

What helped me the most during this challenge was balancing shorter books with longer ones; that's why I didn't necessarily finish a book per day nor read every day in July. When you're reading shorter books, such as comics, short stories, novellas, mangas or anything else, it can take you less than an hour to two hours, depending on their length. There are days where I only read comics or novellas, increasing my book count for the challenge. 

However, I didn't want to stop myself from reading longer books... So I read them anyway! It could take me three days to finish one, but it didn't really matter, because I was always ahead or knew I would catch up, when I would read shorter books. Balancing books of different length is perfect for this type of challenge, because you don't always have time to read one book in one day, or don't have a lot of time you can dedicate to reading, period. I barely read when I'm with my family, but I caught up while I was on holidays with my best friend (as we're both readers, reading by the beach was amazing) or on my own.  

If you have the opportunity to do so, participating in a 24 hour readathon might be a great idea. My friend Morgane hosted/is hosting one every month this summer (the next one is on August 25th), so it was perfect for my challenge in July. It might be even better to participate in such a thing with a friend (I've done three of them with my best friend), so you can motivate each other to keep on reading (coffee also helps, though). I managed to read four novels in one day, which is also why I didn't have to read every day.

Final tip, don't forget to breathe. It's okay to do other things on top of reading. Easy for me to say, when I was on holidays in July, but we all have our lives and many things we enjoy on top of reading. It's true that this hobby can become a priority during such a challenge, but as I said, I didn't spend every single day reading: I went out with friends, did family activities, went to the movies, walked outside. Other activities also helped me not to get "tired" of reading, not to fall into a reading slump because I had read so much. With a little bit of organization, you can do this!

Of course, there are other tips and I don't pretend to be right with everything, but those really helped me in July!


I started writing this conclusion part several times, but didn't really know how. The main thing I realised while doing this challenge was that I am not the same person at all than the Lucie who made the same challenge in 2015. While doing that challenge, I wanted to remember that and it wasn't just about books, it was about moving forward. 

This reading challenge was for the most part positive, because it made me clean my TBR (both my Goodreads shelves and my physical one, as I only have two books in it at the moment) and realise how much my reading tastes had changed, yet again, this year. Last year, I said as a joke that my favourite genres might become historical fiction, classics and mystery, as they were my favourites when I was younger, and I wasn't far from the truth! The genre - for novels - that I read the most, during this challenge, was historical fiction. Well, it was followed by fantasy, which has been my favourite genre for so long, but looking at my ratings, I saw that I mainly had been disappointed, considering I didn't even rate one fantasy novel four stars or more. I've started to take a step back from it lately and while I can still enjoy it immensely, I'm so picky these days that I'm scared to reach for any. I'm also quite proud of the fact that I'm finally reading more 20th century classics and non-fiction, which I has been so much fun. In a way, this challenge confirmed the type of books I enjoy. Let's hope I'll continue on that path!

On the other hand, I know that I probably won't do such a challenge again, which might be a weird conclusion, no matter how true it is. I know I can read tons of books, you just have to look at my Goodreads challenges from previous years to know that, so reading 31 books in 31 days was just confirmation that I could still do it. I haven't set up a real Goodreads goal this year (it's at one book, just to be able to track everything), I hardly ever look at it, to be completely honest, because it doesn't really interest me (there, I've said it, please don't hate me). While I think that, I still did this challenge, no one ever said I was the most logical person, anyway.

In my reading life, I am way more interested in challenging myself to read from certain genres more, to get out of my comfort zone at times, which is why I'd rather participate in challenges such as the #classicsathon this month, #Victober in October, or even #NonFictionNovember in (you've guessed it) November. Don't get me wrong, reading books in my comfort zone is great, but I don't want to become tired of said comfort zone; that's why I like mixing everything up. I still did that with that challenge, but not that much, because it wasn't the goals. Besides, reading 31 books in 31 days could almost have become a chore and now that I did it, I realise how much not reading for days can be freeing, in a way. Still, reading IS amazing! I'm just not into that type of challenges anymore. 

Have you ever participated in such a challenge? 
Do you like to challenge yourself when it comes to reading?

Lots of love,

Friday, 10 August 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley | Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

When I saw that I could request Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley on Netgalley, I didn't hesitate one second, as it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, considering how much I adore her other works. Of course, I was over the moon to get approved and to discover another era, another mystery and another love story. Bellewether was released this Tuesday, so today, I thought I would share my review of it with you!

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Published: August 7th 2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Genres: historical fiction, romance
Number of pages: 512

Summary: "The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."

It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.
Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.


Disclaimer : I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. The quotes I used might have changed in the final copy.
"You'll find most people, when you get to know them, are not what you were afraid they'd be. They're only people."

Susanna Kearsley's novels are in part known for their dual historical perspectives: they usually follow a character in our own time, trying to understand what happened to historical figures, with a touch of supernatural. This time around, our protagonist was Charley, who had just been appointed as a curator to the Wilde House Museum and discovered the legend of Lydia and her French soldier, which made her curious to understand what really happened, to potentially include it into the museography of the museum.

I truly enjoyed reading about Charley, especially because I knew how accurately Kearsley described what it meant to be a curator, talked about their daily duties and the opposition they could encounter by an administration board or local historical societies. Susanna Kearsley actually used to be a museum curator – so she's trained in history and that's why she's amazing with historical details! – and I felt like it showed, so it made me really happy, considering all the knowledge I have of that world. Charley's narrative also was quite interesting, because it was about reconnecting with your family, as well as grief, which was splendidly done. Bellewether also had references to some of Kearsley's previous novels, I didn't catch those she mentioned in her author's note, but she mentioned Sebastian from The Firebird, I wasn't quite sure until I double checked, but it made me so proud to recognise that as a fan of her works!

Moreover, while all of Kearsley's novels (that I have read, at least?) are set in Europe, this one was set in America and I was so curious, because I don't know that much about the Seven Years War from an American perspective. Once again, Kearsley astonished me with the accuracy of her research, how she wrote about some historical figures, how I time-traveled and was walking alongside Lydia and Jean-Philippe. As I'm French, I also was fascinated to learn about French people in America at that time, whether it was the Acadians or the Canadians, for we don't learn about them that much at school. Bellewether also was, in part, about slavery; the author wrote about people who owned slaves and people who were against it, about running away and staying, about how we, in our modern societies, could hide from that past.

"Lara told her, "That's true. You know, back when I went to school we never learned about us having slaves in the north. It was all just the Underground Railroad and Lincoln, and how we were good and the south was so bad, and then I read this article on slavery in Brroklyn and it said at one time New York had more slaves than any city except Charleston. And it blew my mind. I mean," she said, "it shouldn't have. I should have known of course we had slaves, too. The history was all right there, if I'd just looked for it." "You liked the 'nice' story better." Malaika was matter-of-fact. "Most folks do. It makes them feel good." (p. 125)

Bellewether confronted racism several times, when it talked about slavery, of course, but also about Native Americans. In the 18th century narrative, it approached the topic with a dual perspective from two soldiers, one talking about how they were 'savages' (that character was truly awfull), the second one trying to show him how wrong he was and how those societies that called themselves 'civilised' could be prejudiced and in the wrong. It also approached that topic in the contemporary narrative, as an important character was Native American. It also talked about respectful terminology, I don't know how accurate it was and it felt a bit forced at first, but then it got better.

The plot of this novel was really enjoyable, even though I had to confess that I struggled a bit to get into it and thought the second half was so much better than the first one. The first half of the novel was about setting the mystery and the characters, whereas the second half was about getting all the answers and it became gripping. I adored the atmosphere created around the Wilde House, with the supernatural element (a ghost this time), it was almost a bit scary considering the legend, which was so much fun in a way. I also have the feeling that the ending was a little bit abrupt: I did have the closure I wanted, but it all happened so fast, like the author realised that she had to finish her book. I truly hope this was resolved in the final copy, because it was a tad frustrating.

"She'd fought those feelings all the could, while standing in that doorway. She had told heself the trembling was from fear, and nothing else. But it had been an unconvincing explanation, and her heart had not believed it.Hearts were stubborn things, and often inconvenient." (p. 280)

Now, about the romance. There is always a point in Susanna Kearsley's novels when the romance takes a big step on the plot and unfortunately, they usually are my least favourite part of the novel, because there are one in the contemporary era, one in the historical one, it kind of feels too much. I quite liked the one involving Charley, in the 21th century, even though a certain scene didn't feel natural. However, I wasn't that convinced about Lydia and Jean-Philippe. I agree that they liked each other, I do. I agree that Kearsley can write romance scenes that make me smile, I do. But how am I supposed to believe that two characters are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together when they didn't really speak the same language and had known each other only for a few months? I can understand attraction in this situation, but I thought that the love bit was a little too much. I know I'm not big on romance most of the time, but still.

Overall, Bellewether was a good historical novel, although it wasn't my favourite of Kearsley's works. While I adored the mystery, the setting and Charley's storyline, I had a suspension of disbelief problem with the romance between Lydia and Jean-Philippe. Still, if you're interested to read a historical novel set during the Seven Years War in America, you should give it a go! Otherwise, you should still try some of Susanna Kearsley's other works, such as The Winter Sea (my personal favourite), The Shadowy Horses or The Firebird (also that's the chronological order if you want to get all the references).

Thank you for reading,

Lots of love,