May 2020 wrap-up : let’s see if I hit those goals!

In the beginning of May, I set myself some pretty ambitious goals (at least they are for me, of course – what’s ambitious to me might be everyday life to you, in which case : you’re awesome, congratulations on being amazing and doing so much!).

So let’s go over these again and see how I did over the month !

Blogging goals

Maintain a regular posting schedule

This one was… only partly done. I’m tempted to say that it wasn’t fully my fault : me and my boyfriend moved out of our apartment on may 1st, and the technician who installed out internet connection didn’t come until a week after, so we were without a connection until may 6th or 7th, if I remember correctly.

I struggled to write blog posts in the first half of the month, the stress of the current situation catching up with me and amplifying my fears and anxiety. Luckily, things got better, and I managed to get back to my posting schedule as much as possible, so overall, I’d say I did okay!

Personal goals

Keeping up with university work

So far, so good ! My first exam of the semester was two days ago, and I think I did well – I’m hoping for good things in my two summer classes, I really like the content of the classes and the teachers are trying their best to make it fun to learn via zoom.

Playing video games

Sadly, I didn’t do as well as I wanted on this one : I’ve been extremely busy these past weeks, and just couldn’t find the time to play as much as last month. But I did work a lot of hours, so there’s a solid reason for that.

Watching TV shows

I’ve finally started watching She-Ra and the princesses of power, since I’ve already seen all of Avatar : the last airbender and of The dragon prince, and I can’t believe it took me this long to check out this show! I’m only a few episodes in and I’m already loving the story, the artworks, and the wholesome characters.

The last season of The 100 also started, so I’m watching that as soon as each episode comes out – I’ve got high expectations for this season !

Related posts : Why I love The 100, yet haven’t read the books

Writing something

I’m super proud of myself for this one, because I actually did it! Granted, it’s only a 500 words Star Trek : alternate original series fanfiction, but still : it took me a lot of courage to write and post it, and the views, kudos and comments it got on AO3 have given me a lot of encouragement to keep trying, and maybe write some more in the future!

TBR

  • Men explain things to me, by Rebecca Solnit ✔️
  • Crown of feathers, by Nicki Pau Preto – sadly didn’t have the time to read it before my library hold expired
  • Furyborn, by Claire Legrand – also deleted from my phone before I could read it
  • The 30-day money cleanse, by Ashley Feinstein Gerstley ✔️
  • Better than before, by Gretchen Rubin ✔️
  • Buy yourself the f*cking lilies, by Tara Schuster ✔️
  • Followers, by Megan Angelo ✔️
  • Surrender your sons, by Adam Sass – this was a NetGalley ARC that comes out in September 2020, you can see my review here on Goodreads! ✔️
  • The rise and fall of the dinosaurs, by Steve Brusatte ✔️
  • Caliban’s war, by James S. A. Corey ✔️

I also read some books that weren’t on my TBR at the beginning of the month, including :

  • Planetfall, by Emma Newman
  • This book betrays my brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope
  • The sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
  • Happily ever after & everything in between, by Debbie Tung – this was a NetGalley ARC and it comes out in June, you can see my review here on Goodreads!

And I’m now a little more than 30% into The way of kings, by Brandon Sanderson – and this book is HUGE, oh my god.

Overall, I was surprised to see that I managed to achieve most of what I’d set out to do at the end of April. I’m feeling pretty good about this, and I’m hoping I can continue that way in the future !

The never tilting world, by Rin Chupeco

I read this book as part of the January read-along for the Books and tea bookclub, and it was my first-ever book by Rin Chupeco, also author of the acclaimed series The bone witch – which I have added to my TBR, after hearing so much good about it on book twitter over the last few weeks, by the way.

Synopsis

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands

I’ve got some conflicting opinions about this book, so I’ll try my best to express them intelligibly – it’s past midnight when I’m writing this and I haven’t slept well in a few days, though, so I can’t promise anything. (Please do warn me in the comments if something I wrote didn’t make any sense, and I’ll try to fix it if possible!)

What I liked

First of all : the cover is ridiculously good. It makes you want to pick up this book immediately. I absolutely love it.

Secondly, I really liked the concept of this story : a world that has been broken in half and has stopped spinning on itself, damaging the climate in the process – it sounded super interesting when I read the synopsis.

This was a very character-driven story, with both goddesses traveling all the way from their respective home cities to the breach in the middle of the world, to try and repair it to the best of their abilities. It made for a lot of character development, and you can really see the changes in both girls, from the beginning of their journey to its end.

A third thing I liked was the romance – I’m not usually a fan of romance in books when I’m expecting adventure or saving-the-world shenanigans, but this one had love interests that were actually likeable, made sense, and it was overall adorable.

Finally, on the topic of LGBT representation, this novel does have a lesbian main character and an f/f ship at the center of the story. The topic of PTSD was also mentioned via Lan, Odessa’s bodyguard, and it seemed tactfully written to me (although I’m not an expert on the subject, so if there’s something I’ve missed, feel free to notify me!)

An honorable mention : the sand dolphins were the cutest things ever. Best fantasy animal of the year so far.

What I didn’t like

I think this is the first this year – I wasn’t a fan of the system of magic in this book. It just never seemed to make sense to me, and I didn’t find it as engaging as the other parts of the worldbuilding. The overall mythology and legends were interesting, but I didn’t manage to grasp the actual rules of the magic in this world, and it might have diminished my enjoyment of the ending a bit. (Also, I’d like to know what exactly makes Odessa and Haidee goddesses? I mean, they’re clearly different form other people, but what distinguishes a goddess from, say, a really strong sorceress?)

The 4 narrative points of view were also a bit too much for me, as I felt like the story kept switching to another character’s perspective right when things became interesting in the current chapter, and so on. Even with all the character development and the drama going on in their respective sides of the story, the changing POV made it difficult to get attached to the goddesses.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t put this book in my all-time favorites list, but it was a solid fantasy novel and it did leave me wanting to read more. Hopefully, since the second part of this duology is expected to come out in 2020, I’ll be happily surprised by the ending of the story!

Even if I haven’t been blown away by this book, I still intend to read the next one – maybe I’ll change my opinion once the full story is complete!

Have you read other works by Rin Chupeco? If I wasn’t a fan of The never tilting world, do you think I should read The bone witch nonetheless?

A day in my life during the summer

Continuing on with the personal posts, this one is more of an “about the blogger” type – I’ve been thinking about making a “day in the life” post for a while, so here’s a summer-themed one!

During the summer, my days are mostly split between rest days and work/study days. During the rest days, I mostly… do nothing, watch some TV, and maybe go out to do a short jogging. The work/study days are much more interesting.

Regardless of the day, I usually go to sleep pretty late, so I tend to wake up late in the morning too : it’s rare to see me emerge before 10 am on a day when I don’t have any video calls scheduled in the morning. Breakfast tends to be optional, depending on how close to 12pm I’m getting up : if it’s too close, I’ll just directly get lunch and get on with the rest of my day.

It’s taken me a while to go beyond the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mentality, and actually listen to what my body is telling me – if I’m hungry, I’ll eat something. If I’m not, and just want to eat for no apparent reason, I’ll think about it and try to figure out if the real reason might be boredom, sadness, anxiety, tiredness…

I use a bullet journal to keep track of my daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and I’ll usually check it in the morning after I wake up. If my laptop is on, I’ll also open feedly and check out what new blog posts have come out in the past day or so, and try to comment on a few of these.

Related posts : check out Kal’s post on @reader voraciousWhy I switched to Feedly for blogopping ! It’s an excellent guide on how to use Feedly to your advantage.

A part of my – relatively short – morning is spent studying : I’m taking two intensive classes this summer, and exams are fast approaching (in fact, I have one today!), which means I need to do my best to stay on top of the course work. I’ve been having some difficulties with one of those classes, as the teacher posts videos online and asks the students to watch them at home : the videos are longer and the content is more dense than in an in-person class, and it requires a lot much work to take notes on all of it.

I’ll also try to write some more on a future blog post during that time, as the building is calm and silent in the morning and I can focus much better than in the evening. I try to have a consistent lunch, but it depends on whether or not I have a lot of time before I have to go to work – for the moment, my work schedule is alternating between days when I start at 3:15pm, and days when I start at 4:15 – and it makes a huge difference in what I’m able to do at home before I have to leave.

Our apartment is located downtown, and there’s a big park nearby where me and my boyfriend sometimes go to play American football, or do some jogging – we’d like to do some boxing too, but so far haven’t found the time to do so. Often, after lunch (around 1pm), we’ll go out and spend some time outside before I have to go to work or get back home to attend my online classes.

On an average work day, it takes me about 40 minutes from the moment I leave my apartment to the moment I start working. I walk for about 10 of those, then take the metro, and get to work 5 minutes before my shift begins so I can put on my uniform shirt and grab my cashier bag to open a cash register. (And, if I’ve slept extra late the day before, I leave home 5 minutes earlier and grab a small coffee at Tim Hortons on the way to the metro station. The perks of living in a big city where you don’t have to walk half an hour to get to the nearest Tims…)

I have relatively short work days – the longest one lasts about 6 hours – since I’m not a full-time worker : my heaviest week so far is going to be this week, with a total of 27 hours planned. But I really like this job, and it helps me keep a somewhat good work-life balance : mornings are mine, afternoons and evenings are for work, and I’m home by 10pm every day so I can eat dinner, relax and spend time with my boyfriend.

In all of that, I usually manage to find some reading time during my breaks at work, and in public transport, as well as in my wake-up time before I try to do much of anything else. I’m currently trying my best to get through The way of kings by Brandon Sanderson – I liked his Skyward series so much that I decided to give a chance to his other writing too – and even if it is super interesting, it’s taking me a long time to read.

What does your day-to-day look like during the summer? Does it usually change a lot, or do you have a regular schedule you tend to follow? And how do you fit your favorite activities into your “work” days?

Why I love The 100, yet haven’t read the books.

I have to admit it : I not so secretly love the TV show The 100, but have never read the books it’s supposed to be inspired by. And I’m not sure I will.

Warning : this post might contain spoilers for The 100, seasons 1 to 6. It will not contain any spoilers for season 7, which is currently airing. Read at your own risk.

I discovered The 100 in my second year of university, which was in itself a weird time. I was supposed to study biology for a year, then try to get into med school somewhere in France again, as I had failed the first year of med school once. But honestly, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life, and I had absolutely zero motivation to study and do well in biology.

I didn’t do much work at home, but one this I did have was good internet and lots of free time, so… I binge-watched The 100 right before finals.

I stopped in season 3, at the Lexa episodeyou know which one, then tried again, and stopped immediately after, when Ontari takes over, because… ew. But I couldn’t stay away from the show for very long, and I’ve been watching it dutifully ever since, episode after episode, right when they come out. It might be the show I’ve stuck with for the longest time, after Criminal Minds (which ended in 2019 and oh boy was I sad about it).

So why do I enjoy this show so much ?

It’s a post-apocalyptic scenario with spaceships

I’m a hoe for spaceships. I just love sci-fi, and anything sci-fi related with a mostly interesting premise will have me interested in no time.

Here’s the synopsis of season 1, on IMDB :

Set ninety-seven years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends one hundred juvenile delinquents back to Earth, in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.

Nuclear apocalypse + spaceship + last survivors of the human race ? Sign me up.

It has kick-ass women characters

Octavia is my fave, sorry not sorry – her determination, from the beginning, to survive on the ground and make her life there was admirable. Raven is amazing, and clever, and her character arc during the A.L.I.E. storyline was excellent. And, of course, my favorite bisexual disaster, Clarke. And Harper, who finally got the happy ending she deserved, along with Monty.

Promotional photo from IMDB

I’ve even come to love Emori and Echo (although I don’t say too often that I think the Bellamy / Echo ship is pretty cute, because of how… vindictive Bellarke shippers can be. But that’s a discussion for another time.), and both their tragic backstories.

On a more serious note, I love the strength and the differences between the women characters, and I appreciate the fact that they each have their own interests, desires and goals. And they don’t take shit from anybody.

It reinvents itself every season

Future storylines are mostly set up well in advance, and it makes the renewal of the show at every new season more of a “the universe is bigger than we thought!” thing than a “this is a deus ex machina plot twist” feeling.

When we first learn about the flame, the “spirits of the previous commanders that guide the current leader in their thoughts“, we don’t think much of it. But when we realize that the flame is actually a computer chip that stores people’s consciousness in a highly specialized AI, made by the person responsible for the AI that destroyed the world ? Wow. The universe really is bigger than we thought.

The show tries to reinvent itself every season, and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Even seasons 5 and 6, taking some pretty big leaps to bring new things to the screen – with the Dark Year and the 120+ years slumber, were entertaining and in line with the rest of the show in terms of risks and consequences for the characters’ actions.

It tries to do justice to some pretty heavy themes

Sure, they might not succeed every time – looking at you, season 3 episode 7 with that dumb as hell “kill the lesbian” idea. But The 100 tries its best to bring some morals to the characters’ decisions, and gives them interesting moral dilemmas right from the start. After all, Clarke is imprisoned because her father had planned to tell the truth about the oxygen situation to the people of the ark – and how might have things gone differently if the people in charge had listened to him rather than executing him for his decision ?

Promotional poster from IMDB

The most important themes in the show are those of humanity, survival and leadership, and you can see these themes in every single episode – from Abby telling Kane in season 1 that she’s “here to make sure [they] deserve to survive”, to Clarke telling Madi that “there are no good guys” in season 5, and choosing to protect her daughter at all costs. Conflict is well set up, and when it arises, it makes sense.

Why haven’t I read the books, then ?

The thing is, the TV show isn’t an adaptation of the books – it’s inspired by them. Which means it doesn’t follow the novels’ plots.

The story itself is apparently very different, almost right from the beginning, and something that accentuates that difference is the absence, in the book, of a number of main characters from the show! Finn, Raven and Murphy, for example, simply don’t exist in the books – and since two out of these three have managed to survive up until the final season, their absence is bound to make for a very different story. It’s true the other way around too : the books introduce main characters (one of them who has her own POV) who never appear on the screen!

Simply put, when writing the TV episodes, The 100 writers don’t take the book into account at all – and I’ve been putting off reading the books because, since I appreciate the show so much, I’m afraid my expectations will prevent me from enjoying the original story as much as I should.

I might still give the books a chance, though, but I think it’ll have to wait until season 7 is over, and all loose ends have been wrapped up in the TV show. I don’t think I could make sure not to be influenced by one in my reading / watching the other, and my enjoyment of both might be diminished because of it.

Have you watched the series and / or read the books? What do you think of them? Would you watch a book that inspired a show, if the show isn’t a direct adaptation?

Blogging when English isn’t your first language

Today’s post is a little more personal than usual – I’m going to be talking about the challenges of writing blog posts when English isn’t your first language. (And yes, this might have been inspired by my frustrations this week, trying to understand some subtleties in English grammar and spending hours on it).

Learning English

When I first discovered blogs as a teenager, I was mostly reading blogs in my native language, French. I read a lot of lifestyle blogs at the time, and absolutely loved the visuals, the soft colors, the energy in those blog posts. (Sadly, when I got back into blogging in my twenties, I couldn’t find those French lifestyle blogs again – I wonder where they went…)

In high school, I went on to learn English out of spite. I began high school with grades averaging 20% in English class, and tried to talk about it with my teacher at the time. Having no patience for a student with grades as bad as mine, he looked me right in the eye, and, in front of the whole class, loudly said : “It’s not my fault if you’re lousy.

Yeah. Talk about building confidence.

So I learned English out of spite. I started reading fanfiction in English only, changing the soundtracks on my favorite TV shows, and slowly improving step by step. By the end of high school, I was back with the same teacher for my last semester – the irony! – and when he gave me my last exam paper, he pulled me aside and told me he was impressed by my progress. (I always wondered if he knew being mean would motivate me to study even more ?)

Blogging in English

Moving to Canada in a bilingual province helped me become more confident in my ability to communicate in English, and I started reading almost all of my books in their original language, without having to wait for a French translation – but I didn’t feel comfortable enough to write and blog in my second language yet.

Blogging in French, however, was much more difficult than I expected. Not because I had trouble with the writing part, but because finding an audience was challenging and even though blogging isn’t for the followers, it is in part for the interactions and the comments – which I just couldn’t get in French. English is the language of the internet, and if you want to reach out to people, you’ll have much more luck using a language that so many of them will understand.

I started blogging in English about a year ago, and every time I write a post it takes me forever to write – not because I don’t know the words, but because my sentence structure is inherently French and I want my posts to feel as natural as possible for the readers.

My boyfriend kindly offers to check up some of my posts once in a while, but it can get really frustrating to spend so much time re-writing every single sentence in my posts. Usually, he’ll point out phrasings that mimic French grammar a little too much, or that would seem a bit strange to an English speaker – and help me find more specific words for the precise thoughts I want to express.

For example : just this week, more than 10 minutes were spent trying to figure out the essential difference between “this lacks _” and “this doesn’t have _“. It’s something that can seem extremely simple, but if you’re writing in a language that’s not your first, it’s one of the many things you might want to pay attention to so you don’t write something that sounds unbalanced, or poorly constructed – at least, that’s what I was thinking.

Is it really important?

More and more, I question the relevance of putting so much effort into the perceived “quality” of my writing. I know it’s important when I’m trying to write something more narrative, like fanfiction, for example.

But should people try to use elaborate sentence structures in blog posts, or should we try to make them as accessible as possible, with more direct phrasing and easily understandable vocabulary?

I’ve read a few posts on how to improve your posts when English isn’t your first language, and some of them mention that an overly complicated language might be perceived as pretentious or showy. A more conversational writing style seems to be preferable – but how do you, as a non native speaker, distinguish a conversational writing style from an overly simple one?

Do you blog in your first language? If not, what kind of methods do you have to make your posts as “natural” as possible?

Related posts : on the same topic, you can check out Kristina’s post @books and dachshundsblogging with anxiety : can I say that?

Why The latte factor is one of the worst personal finance books I have ever read

Warning : this post contains spoilers. But, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone, so go ahead and read the spoilers.

If you’ve read a few personal finance books in the past year or so, or browsed through some personal finance blogs, you’re likely to have encountered a reference or two to the now international bestseller The latte factor, by David Bach.

As a personal finance aficionado, I got this eBook on loan from the library a few weeks ago, after hearing a lot about it – if everyone is talking about this, it must be interesting, right ?

Right.

Sadly, The latte factor was, by far, the most disappointing personal finance book I’ve ever read.

Synopsis

Zoey cannot see any way off her endless treadmill—until one morning, when she strikes up a conversation with Henry, the elderly barista at her favorite Brooklyn coffee shop.

Over the next few days, as Henry reveals what he calls the “Three Secrets to Financial Freedom,” Zoey discovers that there is more to his life story than meets the eye—and that by following the simple, proven path he describes, she truly can create the life she’s always wanted.

What I didn’t like

The narration

The narration of this book felt terribly condescending and patronizing, and you could see every “plot point” miles before it even came up.

On a certain level, the story reminded me of another disappointing read : The 5 am club, by Robin Sarma. Both were a masquerade of financial advice disguised as a pseudo novel featuring an elder man as a mentor-like figure. Even the protagonists were similar : the Brooklyn journalist who wastes her money on coffee, and the entrepreneur who doesn’t know how to be productive, were both a version of the reader being lectured by the author.

Both these characters are women, by the way – isn’t it interesting how the ignorant protagonist is a woman and the wise, old know-it-all-but-still-seductive one happens to be a man ? Almost as if he were the writer’s self-insert, and the main character a projection of his misogynistic vision of women.

As one reviewer said : “Thanks for mansplaining money to me“.

The advice

It’s simply boring. The “three secrets to financial freedom” that Henry, the barista-actually-owner-of-the-coffee-shop (I told you there would be spoilers!) so generously gives to our main character are actually the following three things :

  • Pay yourself first
  • Make it automatic
  • Live rich now

And that’s… not really groundbreaking advice.

Pay yourself first

The first piece of advice is the best one – keep some money out of your paycheck to put into a savings account, before calculating how much you can spend on leisure or activities this month. The author’s take on the underlying logic behind this is, however, difficult to follow, and doesn’t seem that revolutionary.

Make it automatic

This is an extension of the idea that if you have to make efforts to save money, you won’t get around to doing it – but according to Bach, if you set up automatic payments from your main account to your savings or investments, it’ll be done without your active participation, and thus will have a stronger chance of actually being done.

This felt like a very condescending depiction of his readers : the author assumes that if you’re reading his book, you lack the self-discipline and/or organization skills necessary to put a set amount of money into your savings account every month. And sure, there might be people who need to make it automatic to make it easier, or to be sure they don’t forget – but that’s not a reason to treat your reader like a child, unable to do things themselves.

Again – not particularly bad advice, but not a secret, and not new at all.

Live rich now

The idea behind this one is to figure out what’s important to you – what projects or dreams you want to achieve the most – and budget for it accordingly. And even though, in the beginning of the book, the author tells us that budgets just don’t work for individuals – hence his second piece of advice – he seems to skip over the step where, in order to see if you can save the money necessary to take that extra photography class, or go on vacation, you kind of do need to make a budget.

Sorry, David. You can’t escape it.

The math

The problem behind the math in this book is that it’s blatantly wrong. Even the most basic parts.

For example : in the beginning, the author tells you that your latte at 5$ a day will save you 1885$ a year if you stop buying it – then goes on to explain that liking a nice coffee when you’re on your way to work is what secretly keeps you from becoming truly rich. But wait – if I’m getting coffee on my way to work, even if I work 6 days a week, that only amounts to… 1560$. Aaand we’re already more than 300$ off the mark.

But even if you choose to ignore the weird math : the most important piece of advice that’s supposed to help you become a millionaire with all those 5$ bills you’re so diligently saving is an investment – specifically, one with a 10% (or more !) return rate.

You heard right – more than 10% of interest.

As expected, when the main character goes home and talks about this amazing opportunity with a friend, they immediately tell her that she’s never going to get an account that will yield these kinds of returns – not in this day and age. Yet the author only uses that to further his point even more, making the friend sound like an idiot and doubling down on the 10% interest rates road.

In real life, investing all your savings into something high-risk that promises you a 10% interest rate is the best way to lose all your hard-earned money – and if you, like most Americans, need to save for retirement or pay pack heavy student loans ? That’s not an option you should ever consider.

What I liked

I’m sorry, I’ve got nothing to show here. I wish I could. Sincerely.

Conclusion

Don’t read this. For the price of this book, you could buy yourself 5 Grande lattes at your local overpriced Starbucks, and have a morning full of joy (and caffeine) – something you definitely won’t get if you decide to spend your time reading this.

In the end, the only person that will be enriched by The latte factor is… David Bach, with his masterclasses on how to follow the Latte factor method and live your dream – at “only” 50$.

Seriously. Go read something else.

An Enchantment of Ravens, by Margaret Rogerson

I read this book a while ago as part of the March 2020 read-along of the books and tea book club, and even if it wasn’t something I might have found on my own, I had fun reading it !

An Enchantment of Ravens is YA author Margaret Rogerson‘s first novel, published in 2017 – you might also know her from her second YA fantasy novel, Sorcery of thorns, published last summer.

Synopsis

With a flick of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and they trade valuable enchantments for Isobel’s paintings. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life.

Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending upon each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love… a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folks’ ruthless laws, rendering both their lives forfeit.

What I liked

The magic system in this book felt very new to me, but it might be because I haven’t been reading a lot of YA fantasy lately – if you’ve read books with the same kind of magic system, please feel free to recommend it in the comments !

In Rogerson’s world, the Fair Folk are physically unable to use any sort of creative ability – what they call Craft, and what they so desperately crave from humans. The village the MC comes from specializes in providing such Craft, in exchange for enchantments given from the Fair Folk – but all magic comes at a price, and the Fair Folk’s magic is especially tricky. If you don’t make a specific, clear, and loophole-free demand, the enchantment you asked for will be turned against you, and could lead to serious harm – or even death.

I loved the sharp wit of the main character at the beginning of the book, and the way she managed to exercise her Craft and sell it to the Fair Folk without falling into any of these possibly deadly loopholes that could be used against her and her family. (And her little sisters were the cutest). We so often see characters who take up the offer of immortality as soon as it appears, without a second thought or a “hey, could I regret this in the future?” that her determination to hold on to her ideals and her stubborn refusal of immortality, even if it might mean death for her, were refreshing to see.

The portrayal of the Fae as more cruel, alien-ish beings than in most other fantasy stories where Fae are just, well… very beautiful and immortal humans, also felt original and added a lot to the overall atmosphere of the story. I liked discovering their inhuman characteristics,the way they looked lie under their glamour or the depth – or absence – of their actual emotions.

I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but I enjoyed the plot twists a lot, and the ending surprised me without being disappointing in a Game of thrones level of subverting-your-expectations (Ugh. Let’s never talk about that again.)

What I didn’t like

I wasn’t such a fan of the romance at the center of the story, to be honest – but that’s probably because I’m not easily sold on romances in action-heavy books. This one wasn’t an insta-love romance, but I still found it a little too fast for me, which made it a little difficult to believe in : as soon as the prince appears on the page, you can see where the story is headed.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the context in which this love develops – for all intents and purposes, Isobel is essentially captured by the prince to be condemned in his kingdom, and something about falling in love with your captor while running for your life and hoping he doesn’t led you to your untimely death is… a bit icky to me.

Conclusion

With a great worldbuilding and lore, and a plot that always keeps you on your toes (except for the romance part), this book is a very fun YA fantasy suited for anyone who likes Fae stories and journey-centric novels, sprinkled with a little add-on of cheesy romance on top.

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