Daughter of Smoke and Bone: My Review

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I haven’t posted an article in a while, but here is a review of this fantastic book I finished at the beginning of the month!

Genre: YA, Fantasy
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication: 2011
My rating: ★★★★☆

The story:

Karou has been raised by a mysterious group of chimaera until she was old enough to live on her own and is now studying art in Prague, running mysterious errands for her strange family, and trying to get away from her ex boyfriend.

But soon, the traces of burnt black hands appear on the doorways that lead her to her beloved chimaera, and people claim to have witnessed angels – but beware, angels are not as nice as we thought.

Karou travels from Paris to Marrakesh and all around the world, but when she meets Akiva, her life is about to be transformed and soon she realises that her past hides much more than she could ever imagine.

My opinion:

I read this book as part of a readalong on Books Amino, and I’m so glad it was the pick of the month because otherwise I would probably never have read it, but oh boy, it was amazing. To be honest, I had heard a lot about this book, but I had no idea what it was about, and for some reason, I was sure that it was overrated. But my conclusion is that in facts, it is worth all the praise. I jumped in not really knowing what to expect, and in the end, it was an amazing journey.

What struck me the most is the fantastic world building. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is an incredible fantasy, which seems to be a mix of both urban and high fantasy. And it’s a really perfect blend. It just works, in the most amazing way. I never knew I wanted to read about chimaera and angels that badly, but apparently, I really did.

I loved the world that Laini Taylor built here, and I absolutely loved all the characters. I really appreciated the fact that Karou had a best friend who had nothing to do with this crazy amazing world, but who still got included in the story, and that’s what I live for. I always feel like it when perfectly “normal” human beings get mixed up in this kind of story, so this was a nice surprise.

It took some time to get to it, but I absolutely loved the back story of Akiva and Madrigal. I loved learning more about the chimaera and this fascinating world. And hopefully, this hunger will be even more satisfied in the next books.

My only regret is that the romance was really rushed in my opinion, and even though we get some explanations later on, it still bothered me from at least 50% of the book. They did seem to be wonderful together though, it’s just that I felt like some building up was lacking. I still enjoyed this book nevertheless, and I am left with so many questions that I HAVE TO pick up the sequel.

One more thing I wanted to add before concluding this article is the fact that the setting was really wonderful, both when it came to the fantasy and the earthly world. I have personally been to Paris, Prague and Marrakech but these are not setting often found in YA books and I have to say it made me really happy. I think Prague was an amazing choice of setting, and it’s also really refreshing to see something a little bit different!

Let me know your thoughts if you have read this book, and if you haven’t, then I definitely recommend it!

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2 Years Blogging Anniversary!

For some reason, I always think I started my blog on the 11th of August, but as it turns out, it was actually on the 9th so this post is actually one days late, but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, I have come a long way in this two years. I have written more than 400 blog posts and have reached more than 400 followers which is something I never expected, and I am eternally grateful to you guys for being there.

At the moment I have to complete my Master’s thesis which keeps me busy, and I don’t have any coffein to keep going to be honest. I have also become addicted to the game Love Nikki Dress Up Queen on my phone which keeps me busy the rest of the time. I guess I’m in a bit of a reading slump. And I’m also on holildays. I guess that just as usual, my reading journey has its ups and downs,

I just wanted to write a quick post to say hello, I’m still here, even after two years, and thank you so much for being there.

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I have changed a lot in those two years, I built project after project, I probably lost hope thaousands of times, but hey, I’m still here, stronger than ever, and little by little, I’m starting to understand myself more and more. Thank you for being there on this journey.

Here’s to the next years of blogging!

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July Wrap Up and August TBR

June wrap up:

Berlin Tryiptich by David Wagner ★★★★✩
Flame in the Mist
 by Renee Ahdieh ★★★★✩ (review)
Bright Minds Empty Souls by Jennae Cecelia ★★★★★
Nothing in this world is free, just poetry! by Darren Hobson ★★✩✩✩
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor ★★★★✩

Currently reading:

Crooked Kindgdom by Leigh Bardugo
Arab Queen by Güner Yasemin Balci
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

And I don’t have much else to say but thank you so much if you watched the video and I hope you have a wonderful day ♥

Let’s Talk About Feminism Some More

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article where I shared some thoughts about inequalities, feminism and bullying on Twitter among other things (here is the link). Someone answered telling me that the gender pay gap was a myth, and trying to explain me why. After turning this in my head over and over trying to figure out what to do with this, doing some quick research to make sure that yes, this was bullshit, I finally decided to come back with yet another article, because apparently this is what I do.

And in case you’re wondering, I left the comment below the article though I didn’t really know what to do with it. And yes, I know everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but sometimes people are wrong, and considering this person is using swastika to symbolize feminist, I will not bother answering them. Maybe they will read this article. In any case, I will not take time to answer them, considering the fact that – as I addressed in my previous article – the term “feminazi” is highly wrong as it refers to a historical group that exterminated thousands of people for anti-Semitic and racist reason. I will not delve further into this, but this whole thing is making me more and more uncomfortable.

Don’t. Ever. Use. The. Term. Feminazi. Ever.

It is not a word and it shouldn’t be.

Let me tell you a few things about what mattered in my previous article (and still matter to me, and should matter to everyone in my humble opinion), and some things about why his comment was inappropriate and angered me endlessly.

What I was trying to point out was the fact that feminists were often misjudged. We are in a constantly evolving society, and yes – thankfully – a lot of progress have been made for women. But oh my, we are still far from it. And yes, white straight female from wealthy/privileged countries probably don’t always see that problem. And to some extent, I am immensely happy for them. Because I am happy for successful women. But come one people, let’s not stop at that. There are still thousands of uneducated young girls, young women, and older women, because people don’t value women’s education as well as men’s. (If you want to help, or just learn, check out CARE’s website.) And that is only the beginning of the problem. There are wage inequalities between white men and white women, but these get even worse for women of colour. And lower wages are only the surface of the iceberg. Men are usually considered first for promotion (and by that I mean allocishet white males). It’s harder for women of colour and trans women to get jobs. And why should it be? Name one single reason? There is absolutely not a single reason why we as women should have less rights than men.

By the way, this person was trying to assess his point of view with some examples, if you want to get some knowledge on gender wage gap, check out this Wikipedia page, it is extremely well made in my opinion. A few numbers to remember: the gender wage gap between men and women is somewhere between 4 and 8%, and at this rate, wages would be equal by 2109 – and I am delighted to tell you that I will be very dead at that point, so that’s not very encouraging.

Some people think it’s not necessary to be angry. I’m not asking you to be angry. I’m just asking you to acknowledge that I do, in facts, have a right to be angry. And as a white cis woman from a privileged country, I also know that I am privileged compared to many others. What I was trying to point out in my previous – and want to emphasize here again – is the fact that not only there are gaps between men and women, but that these gaps increase for women of colour, or trans women, or disabled women, who face even more discrimination. Not only do they get lower wages, but it is harder for them to get jobs. And we need to fight for them, we need to fight for their rights.

The thing is, the discrimination against women is not something that can only be seen on read through facts and numbers. It is something that is deeply rooted in our society. Centuries ago, men were going out to work while women were taking care of the house. There is also the problem of children, and when women get on maternity leave, they also can get in trouble with their jobs. Husbands earning more money as their wives is seen as the normalcy because the man is usually seen is the one who brings food on the table, and earns money. Women in high positions of power are often disrespected just because they are women and it makes men uncomfortable. Women are judged for what they look like rather than what they think and can do. And that, once again, is a prejudice deeply rooted in our society.

Even if you truly believe that the gender wage gap is a myth please don’t go argue with me in the comments and get your facts straight. And for once, listen to women when they tell you the situation is not fair rather than dismissing them because they make you uncomfortable.

I also wanted to add that I was quite pissed because this gender wage gap problem is the only thing this person has taken from my article when I was trying to address so much more issues such as the fact that it is normal and revolutionary for women to fight for their rights through social media. It makes you uncomfortable? It’s probably because it’s working. Oh, I’m sorry we are taking away from your privilege. (Kidding, I’m not sorry.)

I know this article in some parts just sounds like an angry rant, but hey, I have every single right to be an angry feminist, and I will keep hoping and working for a better world.

In the meantime, I promise you some bookish content very soon, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

A Little Life Update

I’m writing this article as an explanation on why I’m so inactive this month, and why there is so little bookish content on my blog recently (although my last article is a book review). The main reason is, I’ve been super busy, obviously. And since I haven’t done a proper life update post in a while, I decided I might as well do one now, since lots of things have been happening!

As some of you may know, I have been living in Berlin since the end of September. Moving here was a crazy adventure, I had to move dorms in the middle of the year, I had to struggle with German, I met so many amazing people, I got to travel… But more importantly, and something I absolutely did not expect, I found a place where I belong. Sadly, this amazing year is coming to an end, and I am going back to France of Tuesday. I still cannot believe it.

I have been super busy since the beginning of July, because first, two of my friends visited me, and it was amazing.

Then, I had to move out of my dorm in the middle of exams. I am now staying in a friend’s room in my previous dorm, because my contract ended one week before the end of the exams. I am not going to discuss this matter further, but if you want to read my live-tweet of this adventure (yes I do that) you can read it here. I can’t believe it’s been a week already. On top of that, I had exams, so not much time to read or blog.

Another reason why there is less bookish content on here sometimes is that I want to speak up more about things that matter to me, like feminism and mental illness, and this is something that is reflecting on my blog as well as my twitter account (which was always a mess of things anyway). I am also trying to inform myself as much as I can on all sorts of issues, both on the internet and by reading diverse reads. (And I’m loving it.)

I have also been struggling a lot with mental illness recently. There are ups and downs, obviously. But I have been feeling better this past few weeks. I have met some amazing people throughout this year. I am finally making projects for the future, and by that I mean projects that are getting me super excited, projects where I can actually see myself. Things are starting to make sense. And it’s getting me super excited. Of course, there are still tons of things unanswered. But I have things to look forward too.

And after wondering about it forever, I decided to get a tattoo, which is also something that I am super excited about. I’ve had it for about a month now, but I don’t think I have mentioned it here, so here we go!

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And one more thing I wanted to mention because it also got me really excited. On Saturday I attended Christopher Street Day, also known as the Berlin Pride Parade. It was my first time attending Pride, and it was an amazing experience. Unfortunately we got caught in a massive storm – I honestly have never been so soaked in my entire life – but it didn’t matter. It was so heartwarming. A beautiful, amazing experience.

Bonus: my friend nudging me and telling me “that’s your people!!” when a group of people walked by with a bisexual pride flag. And I have to admit, it was so comforting and beautiful and welcoming. Hard to describe. But it felt good and I’m so glad I went. It didn’t even matter that there was a huge crowd, and I will definitely do it again.

I guess that’s it for today. Bits and pieces of what has been up with me recently. I hope you are all having a fantastic day. And thank you so much for still being there! I recently reached 400 followers, and it is so unbelievable! Stay awesome!

Flame in the Mist: My Review

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Flame in the Mist is Renee Ahdieh’s new novel. You might know her from her duology The Wrath and the Dawn which was a retelling of the Arabian Nights (review), but this time, the story is set in Japan, and follows the daughter of a samurai… And it’s just as great.

Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre:
 YA, Historical Fiction (bits of Romance and Fantasy)
Publication: May 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆

The story:

Flame in the Mist follows Mariko, the 17 year old daughter of a samurai, who is attacked on her way to the capital where she was supposed to marry royalty. She fakes her own death and goes in hiding, deciding to take revenge on the Black Clan, responsible for the deaths of her people. Hiding in the forest as a boy, she finds a freedom she never had as a girl, and manages to infiltrate the Black Clan, where she soon befriends the cook and attracts the wrath – and more ? – of the clan leader’s right hand, a mysterious boy nicknamed the Wolf.

My thoughts:

First of all, I wanted to mention how gorgeous this cover is. Now that I have said it, I can move on to the actual story. (But really. It’s one of the prettiest covers I have ever seen.)

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Might contain spoilers!

Now, onto the story. I have heard this book marketted as a Mulan retelling for some reason but I did not mention it in the synopsis, because I personally think it’s wrong. Mulan is set in China, while Flame in the Mist is set in Japan (and later in time I believe). Mulan is the single daughter of an old man who is too old to fight, while Mariko has healthy parents and a twin brother more than able to fight. Mulan infiltrates the army to replace her father and defend her country, while Mariko infiltrates a gang of outlaws for completely different reasons – survival, revenge, and a need to prove herself. So really, the only thing they have in common is a girl crossdressing as a boy, and honestly, that is not enough to consider this book a retelling of Mulan in my opinion. If you go into this book looking for a retelling of Mulan, you will probably be disappointed. However, that left aside, it’s an amazing book.

The second thing I wanted to address is the fact that this really gave me some Asian drama vibes which I really enjoyed. Of course, this makes sense since the story is set in Japan. But I have also watched quite a few (Korean or Japanese) dramas where the female lead is crossdressing as a male, and lives in a guys only environment (Hana Kimi, Ikemen Desu Ne…). Same with some mangas and manhwas I have read (Idol Shopping, Love in the Mask…) So I guess this rang a bit the same. And I really liked it.

I think Mariko was a really interesting character. She is a rather badass girl, who tries her best but still remains human. I also really liked the other characters such as Okami, Renmaru, Ren, Yoshi… Though I didn’t really like Mariko’s brother Kenshin.

The universe was really nice, and changed from what I usually read. I need more books like this, honestly.

The story line especially in the second part reminded me a lot of The Wrath and the Dawn/The Rose and the Dagger in the way that the main character starts to feel empathy for those she considered her enemies and infiltrated in order to get her revenge. Just like Sharzad, she realises she might have been wrong, that there might be more to the story, and that there is another enemy somewhere else. Love gets in the way. And then she realises there is also more to her family than she expected at first. And for some reason, this kind of plot really works for me, so I loved it.

I also really enjoyed the fact that we didn’t get the story only from Mariko’s point of view, but also from Kenshin’s and the Emperor, which allows the reader to know a bit more than the characters, and makes the story even more interesting.

Overall, I thought that Flame in the Mist had a pretty basic plot but still a very enjoyable one, as well as some great twists. I knew something was up, but I couldn’t really piece up what, and the ending left me with so many questions. I can’t wait for the sequel!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you have read this book as well!

No therapist? Problem.

I don’t have a lot of bookish content to share these days, but it seems I have a lot of things to vent about, and since I consider these issues important, I wanted to share my thoughts with you all. As usual, feel free to share your opinion with me!

The matter I wanted to address today is this add that keeps popping on my Facebook feed.

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It is promoting an app called “BetterHelp”, supposedly for people who have mental issues and don’t have time to see a therapist. It also seems to target people who can’t afford one, but considering their cheapest plan is $35 a week, I wouldn’t exactly say it’s affordable.

I have a few problems with this ad, and the first one is that it keeps appearing on my Facebook feed as if it knew that I am the targetted audience and that makes me slightly uncomfortable to say the least.

My second problem is the image featured on the ad – let me just mention that this is not always this one, but I wanted to talk about this one in particular. It also makes me super uncomfortable for the very reason that I am the targetted audience for this app. I don’t know. It seems really triggering and I remember that the first time I saw it, I really didn’t feel good afterwards.

And finally, what really bothers me is their motto “no therapist? no problem” because it promotes the wrong idea, even if the point here is that you will get a therapist through the app. I wanted to pinpoint the fact that for some people, having no therapist is a real problem. And it’s not necessarily because they don’t want to, but can also be because they cannot afford it. And that’s a real problem. It also promotes the idea to people who don’t understand this kind of problems – that mentall illness is a real issue – it promotes the wrong idea, that having no therapist is not a problem, when it is. It gives the wrong idea that you can deal with this yourself, when sometimes, you just can’t.

I think this app may be a great thing for people who don’t have time to meet a therapist regularly, or simply don’t have a good therapist nearby. And I would be glad to hear it helps some people. However, I really don’t like the way it is marketted. And I personally don’t think it is “affordable” as promoted.

Basically, my point with this article was simply to once again raise awareness about mental illness, and tell you that YES, THERAPY IS GREAT though its cost may be a major problem. Don’t hesitate to talk to a doctor if you have suicidal thoughts, or if you suspect you have a mental illness. It can help to talk even if the problem is not that major. Everyone perceives things differently. Please contact a therapist if you think you need to. If you are a high school or college student, your school/university should have a therapist that you can consult for free (I know that really helped me this year). Please take care of yourself.

Anyway, this is only a few thoughts I wanted to share with you all because I think it’s important. Please let me know your opinion if you feel like it, remember that you are valid whoever you are, and have a wonderful day ♥