My blog is clearly slowly changing. After 5 years of writing mainly about travel and other lifestyle topics (in french! now I started even to write some articles in English), you might have noticed, I’m taking more and more pleasure in writing reading articles. I have always loved reading but strangely enough, I didn’t know how to approach the subject on my blog. There are so many YouTubers and bloggers who specialise in books on the Internet that I didn’t feel I belonged there. And yet, being confined at home for almost a year now has allowed me to read even more! I’ve started reading in English at the end of 2020 and I am slowly trying to get out of my literary comfort zone – young adult fantasy. Today, I’d like to offer you a new reading article which I hope will be the first of many. Basically, I will wrap up my latest reads and give you my opinion on them. The format is simple: I give you the title of the book (and its series if applicable), the author, a score out of 5, a short description without spoilers, my opinion, a link to Goodreads/Amazon and voila! Let’s go, shall we?
Young Adult & New Adult Fantasy
Well, we don’t change a winning team! This month, I was in the mood for fantasy reading but also romance. So, give me a couple to ship in a fantasy world and I’m happy! Unfortunately, my first books of the year weren’t really convincing but luckily I finished in January on a high note.
Half-Blood (The Covenant #1)
Jennifer L. Armentrout
Direction the USA where there are hematoï, pure bloods capable of mastering the four elements. Those who are not pure-blooded must become Covenant Sentinels to drive out demons or be slaves. Alexandria, daughter of a hematoi and a mortal, finds herself drawn into a complicated story after her mother’s murder by demons. With the help of pure-blooded Aiden, she resumes her Sentinel training… and well, of course, a lot is going to happen.
My note (2/5) : This is the first book I read in 2021 and what a disappointment. I loved From Blood & Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout but I didn’t like this one at all. Alex, the main protagonist, was childish and superficial and I didn’t get hooked on her relationship with Aiden which is supposed to be a slow burn romance. I also didn’t like the fact that the action takes place in contemporary USA. I thought it was too weird: a mix of Greek mythology and American kids? Makes no sense to me. The story itself was OK (apparently it’s a copy of another book?) and, although this book is the first of a series of 5, I’m not going to put myself through the pain of reading the rest of the series!
The Bridge Kingdom (complete duology)
Danielle L. Jensen
Lara is the princess of the starving kingdom of Maridrina and has trained her whole life to be a spy until the day she is sent as a wife to the evil king of Ithicana under the pretext of fulfilling a peace treaty signed many years ago. She will do anything to uncover the secrets of the legendary bridge that links the continents and thus overthrow the king to whom she is married. Between political intrigue, espionage, battles, it is a series full of action but also of sexy romance!
My note (4/5) : One of my favourite concepts in fantasy style is undoubtly the “enemies to lovers” trope. Of course, it all seems a bit too cliché at first but I particularly liked the world where the plot takes place as most of the action happens in an archipelago of wild islands with snakes and a large ocean, but also great nations are fighting and you soon find yourself in a political puzzle. Lara and Aren were both strong personalities and I was so carried away in their story that I read both books in less than a week. Oops! Careful, this is not a YA reading but New Adult book that could be categorised as Fantasy Romance too (there are some explicit scenes).
A deal with the Elf King
For 3000 years, every young woman suspected of magic from the village of Capton is offered as a wife to the King of the Elves to honour a treaty between humans and elves. Usually identified at the age of 16 or 17, she is prepared for her task for two years, except that this time, no one seems to have an ounce of magic… Until the day when the King of the Elves decides to find the human destined for him. Inspired by the story of Persephone & Hades and Beauty & the Beast, this book is a fantastic romance where we follow Luella, caretaker of her village, and Eldas, the King Elf.
My note (4/5): I’ll be honest, I chose this reading for its cover. With an illustration like this, I had to take a look at it and moreover, this book was a stand-alone and I wanted to get out a bit of the fantasy series with super complicated plots and full of characters. And what a nice surprise! Although Eldas, the king of the elves is a little… bland compared to other protagonists in fantasy series (for example Rhysand from ACOTAR, Casteel from From Blood & Ashes or Cardan from The Cruel Prince), I loved the slow-burn love story of Luella (courageous and brave) and Eldas (who oscillates between hot and cold), the story is both rich and full of details even if it’s not a series and has a happy ending. Sometimes, it feels good to read a nice book, without getting a headache and enjoy a happy ending, don’t you think? In conclusion, an easy and pleasant reading!
Sorcery of Thorns
All sorcerers are evil, everyone knows that. So does Elisabeth. Our heroine was raised in one of the great libraries of Austermeer, where books whisper in her ear and where the most powerful books are chained. And… Provoked, they can turn into real monsters capable of the worst. Elisabeth aspires to become a guardian, in charge of protecting the kingdom from their power until the day when a powerful grimoire is released and she finds herself involved in this act of sabotage. Then, against all odds, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, known for his links with demons, offers her an alliance to unleash a century-old conspiracy.
My note (3/5): I was looking for another standalone and finally read Sorcery of Thorns which had been in my PAL for months. Recommended by several booktubers and book bloggers, I heard a lot of good stuff but in the end, I’ll admit it was a bit overhyped. I don’t deny, I loved the world where the story takes place! Books that come to life? A heroine who aspires to protect knowledge? Magic and demons hiding in the shadows? I say YES! Elisabeth is strong and brave, Nathaniel is dreaded and fearsome but a little something was missing. I also didn’t really feel the spark of their relationship. Moreover, I was completely lost at the end of the book, which ends in a big fireworks nonsense. A book that is easy to read and that I recommend if you want a little trip into an intriguing fantasy world!
The Lives of Saints
Present in the world of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, the saints are an integral part of this universe. The Lives of Saints (or Istorii Sankt’ya in ravkan) tells the stories of each saint in the form of short stories. In total, there are about thirty stories, based on one saint, and each story is illustrated on a full page. Let’s say that it is rather a book of stories illustrated in the style of the Grisha religion?
My note (3/5): This little book is actually an accompaniment to Grisha & Six of Crows. The object itself is absolutely beautiful with a beautiful blood-red cover and a golden embossing (written in ravkan). A real beauty in any library. I think it’s a perfect little book for fans of the series and it’s nice to read one or two short stories as each story is between 2 and 4 pages long. The problem is that the “religious” aspect of Grishaverse had already bored me little when I read Grisha (and in Six of Crows it’s not as present) so I didn’t really get hooked on the stories per se. Once again, the strong point of this book is definitely its illustrations and its “collector’s item” aspect for the fans. Apparently, the audio version is incredible so maybe it’s a good compromise?
But I also read fiction!
I am slowly trying to diversify my reading (especially in English) but I find it a bit difficult to motivate myself to read something else. It’s a bit like having a huge box of chocolates open (my pile of fantasy books) and every time I think “OK, I’ll just have one and then I’ll eat a fruit”. Eventually, I find myself craving another chocolate and I finish the box. Does it make sense what you’re saying? Anyway, fantasy is my sweet little sin but this month I finally read Pachinko that I had bought in a bookstore a few months ago for its beautiful cover and… I don’t regret anything!
Min Jin Lee
Pachinko tells the story of a family through the generations and takes place between Korea and Japan in the 20th century. It follows 4 generations of a Korean family through the political turmoil of Japanese colonisation in Korea, World War II, the search for a better life in Japan and finally the division that was created in Korea after the war. It is a story of love, sacrifice, identity, ambition and courage. It’s hard enough to sum up in a few words but which will undoubtedly touch you.
My note (5/5): Wow, what a book. I got caught, and I devoured this book in 5 days, which is pretty fast since it’s really a small brick with a very small typeface. I discovered over the pages a rich story, strong characters and an unimaginable reality. During our trips to Japan and Korea, I had already been able to learn more about the relationship between these two countries and about this past. Colonisation, resentment, racial discrimination, loss of identity, war crimes, I knew it had happened. Nevertheless, this story got under my skin. I could, in a way, recognise myself, understand what they might have felt and I can hardly imagine what they went through at the same time. It was an absolutely incredible, emotional reading (I may have cried a little) that helped me to learn more about these countries and their cultures, which I highly recommend.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them? I hope you enjoy this article! Find me on Goodreads and feel free to add me if you wish!