What do you do when you feel unmotivated? I bake. Or I go buy books but this addiction is proving a bit expensive these days. I also have many unread books on my shelves… so I decided to bake! And nothing other than an Eton Mess Cake. Why you may ask?
Because, you know, considering the mess that is Brexit and British politics and that they are the results of Eton alumni’s stupid decision, demagogy and misplaced pride, I felt that it was appropriate. What do you think?
Enough talks about Brexit. It’s taking up a lot of space already. Back to baking and making a classic British cake! First time, first try, we’ll see how I get on and you’ll get a recipe!
For the cake
For the cream
For the decoration
-300g self-rising flour
-200g caster sugar
-300g unsalted butter
-600ml double cream
-100g caster sugar
-50g Greek yogurt
1. Heat the oven at 190°C (or 375°F). Butter and flour three round cake tins. Line with parchment. You can use one tin and then cute the cake in three layers.
2. The cake. In a food processor, cream the butter and the sugar. Once creamy, add the eggs one at a time. Add in the flour. Mix until combined.
3. Separate the batter equally between each tin. Or put all the batter in one single tin, but you will have to cut the cake in three layers once baked.
4. Put in the oven for 35 minutes. Check it is baked. If not, leave to bake longer. Remove from the oven. Let cool then remove from the tins. Leave to cool.
5. The cream. In a food processor, beat the cream with sugar until creamy. Set aside.
6. Place 500g strawberries in a blender and mix. The mixture must have some visible small pieces of strawberries.
7. On the first layer, apply 1/3 of the cream and 1/3 of the strawberry mixture. Place second layer on top and repeat process with each layer. Put some strawberries on top. Your Eton Mess cake is ready! Enjoy!
Have you ever baked an Eton Mess cake? How did it turn out? If not, will you try this recipe? What is the latest thing you baked?
Can you believe it’s already September, autumn is about to start and before we know it, it’s gonna be Christmas?! How time flies! I am really enjoying doing those monthly reading recap. After June and July, the turn of August has come so here comes my August reading recap!
Nine books in total, some very good, some less good and some big disappointment! But see for yourself!
1. Obsidio, Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff Published: May 2019 Genre: YA Sci-Fi Pages: 640 Series: The Illuminae Files
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4.5/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis Obsidio: Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza–but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys–an old flame from Asha’s past–reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken.
My review: Book three was good but not as good as the other two. I felt like it was the end of the series and that it was time to end it. There were more characters being introduced, another location and the characters of the two other books. Which made it a bit confusing at times and also explains why we have much more narration in this book than in the two others.
The humour is flawless once again and I found a lot of chapters and scenes very touching. However, considering the breadth of the crime perpetrated in the book and the scandal that it created, I am a bit disappointed that the book finished straight after the verdict. I would have loved it if the book went more in depth into the consequences of this verdict and the PR scandal following. Overall I spent a great time reading this and it actually made me like Sci-Fi, which I used to despise. So yeah, I recommend!
2. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
Author: Charlotte Brontë Published: April 1847 Genre: Fiction Pages: 290
Plot: 2/5 Characters: 1/5 Ending: 2/5
Synopsis: Throughout the hardships of her childhood – spent with a severe aunt and abusive cousin, and later at the austere Lowood charity school – Jane Eyre clings to a sense of self-worth, despite of her treatment from those close to her. At the age of eighteen, sick of her narrow existence, she seeks work as a governess. The monotony of Jane’s new life at Thornfield Hall is broken up by the arrival of her peculiar and changeful employer, Mr Rochester. Routine at the mansion is further disrupted by mysterious incidents that draw the pair closer together but which, once explained, threaten Jane’s happiness and integrity.
My review: I had so much trouble reading and finishing this book. I was so close to giving up so many times! The writing styles, the story itself, the book format. Really, I did not like this book at all.
I know that I need to put this back into context and that back in the 19th century, this was avant-garde but I just cannot. This book contains all the literature tropes I hate. Women being bitches to each other. People being unnecessary mean just to reinforce, highlight and intensify the main character. Parents blinds to their offsprings’ wrongdoings. A boy harassing and bullying a girl. A priest that is a social climber, a dickhead and also clearly the enemy of the very people he is supposed to help, making sure the poor will always stay poor. A ten year old child with the maturity and elocution of a thirty year old. And that mariage at the end.
I cannot. I am sorry. I tried.
3. Four Dead Queens, Astrid Scholte
Author: Astrid Scholte Published: February 2019 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 432
Plot: 2/5 Characters: 3/5 Ending: 3/5
Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.
With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.
My review: This book had such an amazing potential but it ended up being a disappointment.
The two main characters were very interesting, well written and deeper than your typical YA characters. The romance was slow paste and coherent. However, the entire plot felt so unrealistic and farfetched. I have no other words. The end did surprise me a lot, I did not see it coming but at the same time, it was so absurd.
The world building isn’t there, while again, it was so interesting and promising. I would have loved more details on that because it would have make the book so much better. Especially because the system in itself raises so many questions and creates so many ethical issues. Issues that are so current and it would have been great to see them address. But what can you do?
So yes, a bit of a miss for me.
4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
Author: Laini Taylor Published: June 2019 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 448
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?
My review: I had heard so much about this trilogy. Everybody seems to be a fan. So I gave it a go, got the boxed set and read the first installment.
I cannot say I am as hyped as other people have been by the story. It was indeed a bit more unique than what I am used to read. I was pleased to see that for once in an American YA book, sex isn’t a taboo and is talked about openly. The magic system and back stories were interesting. The characters were actually well-written. I did like how magic was sort of incorporated in life and how the characters were not afraid of showing it to non-magic beings. That added some fun and humour to the story. There isn’t much else to say of this book.
I feel that this first one is an introduction and that the next two books will be much more intense. So I guess I need to read those to find out!
5. Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
Author: Tomi Adeyemi Published: March 2018 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 544 Series: Legacy of Orisha
Plot: 4.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
My review: This is definitely a book that booktube and bookstagram made me buy. After seeing so many people obsessed with this book, I gave it a go. And what a story! I loved it! I could not put down the book.
Before I start, you should know that the plot is not mystery or suspence driven, but 100% character driven. There is no real mystery of any sort as things are revealed as we read and it is more of a “road movie” type of story where the only thing we don’t know yet (but we can still guess) is the conclusion of the journey. However, the characters were strong and interesting enough to drive the plot till the end.
Speaking of, I fell in love the main female characters, Zélie and Amari, whom we see growing as the story goes. They change, deepen, mature. There is actual character development but beyond that, we see characters questioning themselves and their beliefs, admitting to their flaws and insecurities, taking steps back to think. There is romance in the book of course, but it never takes over the story.
The male character was so well made that it created all kind of emotions in me. Mostly frustration and anger. This guy was the typical example of entitled masculinity who looses all good senses when his privileges are questioned; who does not think for himself but only for the society he was born in and which shaped him. He would accept something for his loved ones or love interest but for no one else, confirming the double standard and hypocrisy of the system he works so hard to maintain. God knows what would happen if the people would get those privileges too.
In conclusion, I loved it and I can’t wait to read the next book!
6. The tethered mage, Melissa Caruso
Author: Melissa Caruso Published: October 2017 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 480 Series: Swords and fire
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 3.5/5 Ending: 4/5
Synopsis: Magic is scarce in the Raverran Empire, and those born with such powers are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon army, to be used as weapons in times of war.
Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire Empire.
Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations. But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.
My review: Another book that booktube made me buy. One that I have a more contrasted opinion about though.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved the political intrigue. It was so well made, so thrilling and captivating and definitely drove the plot. However, a lot of aspects of the book disturbed me. Because they were problematic, because they were not addressed, because they were ignored. So is it on purpose? Did the author left things as they were to have the reader react and be outraged? If so, well done because, god, they really angered me. If not, well, you might want to check your principle.
For example, Zaira cannot read, which she repeats a lot in the book. This led me to think that there must be a reason. You don’t repeat one thing many times not to address it, right? But never ever does Amalia offer to teach her. While they are now at the top of the political chain in their country. Surely it would be easier if Amalia could read, no? Another one is the falcon system where mages are basically glorified slaves. They belong to the empire and must serve the emperor. They live in a fortress and can’t really leave without express permission of their Falconer. Finally, they will never be free and will always need to have a Falconer. And no one ever questions the system despite Zaira always highlighting how unjust it is. And what about those romantic relationships between Falcons and Falconers? Surely, the relationship can’t be healthy since the Falconer will always be the dominant one, no?!
So, even though I loved the political intrigue, a lot of things in the society created by Melissa Caruso really disturb me. They are not addressed in book one so I am waiting to read book 2 and 3 to see how the author handles them. How she addresses them or not will determine what I actually thing of the saga.
7. Legendary, Stephanie Garber
Author: Stephanie Garber Published: May 2018 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 464 Series: Caraval
Plot: 3/5 Characters: 3/5 Ending: 3.5/5
Synopsis: A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
My review: I was not really convinced by the first book due to the main character. Because the protagonist is different in book 2, I gave a second chance to the series. And although book 2 is better than book 1, I am afraid it is still an accumulation of clichés.
We’ve got the mysterious broody buy, the (almost violent) bad boy, the damsel in distress, the girl who swears to never fall in love but who of course will. We’ve also got the chase of the past rather than focusing on one’s future. Maybe I am not the right target audience for this series. I might be too old. I don’t know.
Sure, the plot was more mystery driven in this book and I found it more thrilling. But the clichés everywhere in the book made it hard for me to enjoy it. And what with this moralistic undertone everywhere?! So what if she kissed a boy. Or more than one. It makes it sound like she is a slut. Guess what, you can kiss, or oh god worse sleep with, as many boys as you like, it won’t make you a slut. Jesus Christ! I hate that sort of guilt-tripping moralistic shit in YA!
8. Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare
Author: Cassandra Clare Published: September 2015 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 656 Series: The Infernal Devices
Plot: 3/5 Characters: 2.5/5 Ending: 3/5
Synopsis: A net of shadows begins to tighten around the Shadowhunters of the London Institute. Mortmain plans to use his Infernal Devices, an army of pitiless automatons, to destroy the Shadowhunters. He needs only one last item to complete his plan: he needs Tessa Gray.
Charlotte Branwell, head of the London Institute, is desperate to find Mortmain before he strikes. But when Mortmain abducts Tessa, the boys who lay equal claim to her heart, Will and Jem, will do anything to save her. As those who love Tessa rally to rescue her from Mortmain’s clutches, Tessa realizes that the only person who can save her is herself. But can a single girl, even one who can command the power of angels, face down an entire army?
The tangled threads of love and loss intertwine as the Shadowhunters are pushed to the very brink of destruction in the breathtaking conclusion to the Infernal Devices trilogy.
My review: I read book one and two in June and July. They were actually quite good and I hoped that the few details that annoyed me in them would be addressed in the last book. Sadly not. And that’s a shame because it made me sort of despise the third book.
I must admit it is a good conclusion to the whole series and I am glad it is over. However, I am now realizing how full of clichés this series is. So much about the bromance but nothing about the female friendship while the main character and the author are both women. Speaking of the main character, must she always be a damsel in distress even though she received proper Shadowhunter training? Speaking of her savior, must he always think that the ladies in his life cannot protect and defend themselves? Even though they received proper training and are sort of better than him at blade throwing?
And what about the sexism in this book? The author makes a point of highlighting all the misogynistic nonsense of the Victoria era and yet, yet… all her female characters and the behavior of her main male characters remains deeply sexist! Back we are with this moralistic undertone of the book. Yes, I know, the story takes place in the Victorian era, which is known for being very uptight, but still! If you’re gonna have vampires, werewolves and Shadowhunter, you can make a Shadow world a bit more tolerant.
Also, you’ve got 15 main characters. Why must they all end up in a heterosexual relationship?! What is this obsession of wanted to couple up every single character?! Especially when said romances are so sudden? So yes, I am not a fan of this last installment.
9. Heartless, Marissa Meyer
Author: Marissa Meyer Published: November 2016 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 464
Plot: 2/5 Characters: 2/5 Ending: 3/5
Synopsis: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.
Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
My review: The book was beautiful but here we have another instance of “you must never judge a book by its cover”. The whole book would have been 10 pages long if the main character had just spoken out and say “no”. It would have saved us time and the pain of reading it.
So much ado about nothing, as they would say. Honesty. I had high hopes for this book but what a disappointment. Clichés and all. Why must we always make the woman guilty of a relationship not working? It takes two to tango so why is the woman always taking the fall?! But beyond that, I found the book rather boring and had a really hard time not DNF it. So many other things I could say about why I did not like this book but oh well…
I love Marissa Meyer and I adore Renegades. But Heartless did not do it for me.
What books are in your August reading recap? Anything good? A new discovery you want to talk about? Or any disappointment? Did you read any of the books mentioned in this post?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
What is it with this title you might say? And I would agree with you! Because, it is true, not so long ago, I did publish a post on how to transition from summer to autumn fashion. So you’d assume I’d stop with summer content and jump right into fall. Which you’ve been ideal. However, in New York, summer is not over yet. Let me explain.
Having lived in the UK for almost five years, I can absolutely confirm that summer is over mid-August. Especially if you live in Scotland. And I should know since I lived in Edinburgh for my master’s! However, in New York, the weather is a bit more volatile. Mid-August, we did have a drop in temperature. We went from 35°C to 25°C. A massive drop which felt so abrupt I actually felt cold, but which is, compared to September temperature in England, still very far from what we would call autumn.
It’s almost mid September and it is still 25°C outside. Furthermore, as my husband just announced, it’s gonna be 30°C again next week so I guess the premise of autumn are already gone and we are back to summer! Hence a little summer fashion inspiration!
Before I begin, know that every single item featured in this post have been sent to me as gifts. Most of them come from Shein as tagged down below and you can use my code 9TEA to get 15% off your order!
1. All hail the little white dress
I think we’ve talked about this one often enough. Not this dress in particular. I mean, yes, maybe, since it was in my outfit inspiration for a stroll in Brooklyn. But just in general. We’ve established how cool little white dresses are. They are stylish, they are versatile, they are easy to style, and most important they are perfect for when summer is not over yet.
It can be mixed and matched with any color. Literally. It’s white. Everything goes with white. Especially black or blue. Like the heels and the bag chosen in this outfit. I am so glad it is not too cold yet and I can still get to wear this dress. I love how romantic the style is. The shape is so cute, but also, when you add the belt, it makes a complete different dress! More empire-like.
I think this outfit is one of my favorite ever! On this blog and ever ever! To be honest, I really hesitated before ordering the top. The gigot sleeves are so big, I was not sure I could ever pull it off. Turns out, I managed! Turns out, what they say is true. You need to take risks in life.
Paired up with a sheer mesh skirt, it has the most romantic vibe, don’t you agree?! I don’t think I can accurately describe how I feel when I wear this outfit or how much I love it. I just do. And I can’t wait to share this on Instagram!
I never wear yellow. It is not a rule, it is just a fact. I do have one yellow playsuit but it has a daisy print and I mostly wear it at home. That is just how it is. But since we are actually entering into autumn, one must agree that yellow is the perfect fall color. Even better if it shines. Because you can’t see it that much on the photos, but the yellow co-ord is indeed slightly glittery. Which makes it even better.
Once again, I was very skeptical at first since it is absolutely not the type of things I am used to wearing. But you know, life is short, so let’s go for the unusual, am I right?! Turns out it looks super nice and I actually love it! Well, it is not very practical on a bike, but beyond that, I am in love! Even more so with those snake print heels, which seems to be made of dreams!
How is Autumn treating you in the United Kingdom? Happy it finally started? And what about my US readers? What do you think of summer carrying on for some extra weeks? And what do you think of those outfits? Which one is your fav?
Edinburgh is like home. Do you know that feeling? It does not matter if you no longer live there. It still feels like home. And you are always happy to go back. That’s how I feel about Edinburgh. I lived there for a year for my master’s, spent quite a few weekends up there afterwards, even got married there. And I love this city more every time I visit!
Good news is, I am back in Edinburgh in October for a wedding. So of course, I am gonna revisit my favorite places (i.e. Harry Potter stuff) but also my favorite foodie places! Because there are a few. It is like a pilgrimage at this point. Some accept walk in, but some others are so popular that you better book before you come. And BookATable is the perfect tool for that!
St Andrew Square & New Town
1. The Ivy On The Square
Any Londoners around here? The Ivy is quite the institution in the capital, isn’t it? Those gorgeous floral displays, those delicious pancakes, and those branches anywhere you need them? If you travel to Edinburgh and want to find familiar grounds, the Ivy also has a branch in the city, on Saint Andrew Square. My favorite dish? Their buttermilk pancakes!
Dishoom isn’t one who needs introduction. The brand may have venues in London and Manchester, it is in Edinburgh that it was founded! And it is one of my favorite restaurants up there and also in London! They do Indian food. For breakfast, for brunch, for lunch, for dinner… for any time of the day really! And everything is so delicious! Especially the cocktails!
3. Urban Angel
Residents of Edinburgh will know about this one. It has a different vibes than the other two but is very enjoyable nonetheless. Serving food all day, it has this hipstery vibe and is perfect for a quick bite! Avocato on toast, Acai bowl, egg Benedict and even an afternoon tea! The location is very popular so you better book or get up very early!
George IV & Old Town
4. The Outsider
I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first time at the Outsider. Or my second time there for that matter. Introduction to the in-laws and wedding dinner. You get it, two memorable experiences! It is on George IV and has a very varied menu. Meat, seafood and vegetarian options, you will find something that you like. The wine menu is also of the impressive kind!
5. Ting Thai Caravan
Are you a student in Edinburgh? Having classes on George Square? You’ll know about Ting Thai! It is a Thai restaurant that is rather small but had the most delicious food ever! Sure, you have to get there pretty early if you don’t want to wait too long before being seated, but you will not regret the efforts! Pad Thai is my favorite, and every time I go to Edinburgh, I visit the place! It’s on Teviot Place, you can’t miss it!
6. Tower Restaurant
Back when I did my master’s degree in Edinburgh, I also got myself an internship. Upon receiving my first pay, I treated my then-boyfriend now-husband to dinner at Tower Restaurant. Any idea where it is? Maybe not. As it is hidden on top of the National Museum! It is more pricey than the other options in this blog post but has an amazing view of the city and serves delicious seafood-based dishes! I still remember the risotto I had!
I remember that time I went to Akva. The place was invaded with families and toddlers. Akva is a Swedish restaurant and offers a canal side beer garden and a lively vibe. It is family friendly, you can sit outside by the canal, order some very healthy and delicious food, and again, it is quite popular. Thus, you might want to book beforehand. My husband took me there back then, the morning after my birthday.
Ah, Loudons. One of my favorites. Not so much for the venue itself, but for the food. Oh the food! Every time I go to Edinburgh, I make it there for at least one brunch. It is another very popular venue. You either need a reservation or amazing timing! Their menue is rather big and will suit any taste. I always go for the pancakes. They are the fluffiest and also so filling! Their Scottish breakfast isn’t bad either, believe me!
Wether you are from Edinburgh, live or study there, or will just be visiting this incredible city, you now have some lunch places to go to! There is something for every taste and budget, and all eight have been thoroughly vetting by me. I tried them all and I can assure you, you won’t regret it.
Edinburgh has a lot of many other great food places such as Elephant House (birth place of Harry Potter as the legend says), Kilimanjaro Coffee, Vittoria On The Bridge, etc.
Are you planning on visiting Edinburgh soon? Have you already been? Did you know of those places? Have you tried any? Which one was your favorite? Any other recommendations you may have?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
Millennials are always a prime topic of conversation, aren’t they. Newspapers love to bash them, consulting firms to produce studies on them. While the press blames us for all the bad things in the world – we are killing the diamond industry after all – studies show statistics that you would have never expected. You and I should know, as millennials.
A study from Free Office Finder shows that what matters most to millennials when it comes to work is 1. a good office environment, 2. salary and 3. location. Then comes work flexibility. Benefits come last in 5th position.
And that generations before us and the one just after us, Gen Z, put salary first no matter what. So, I am no Gen Z, but I’d do the same nonetheless. What do you think? Is the study right? It is representative of your personal experience and your choices as a millennial?
After I left university, I was idealistic. I’d get it all: the salary, the benefits, the amazing work environment. Back then, I was indeed caring more about feeling good at work than making enough money to do more than just surviving. As a matter of fact, I got a job where I was promised the most amazing work environment, with many perks (i.e. 40% off their product, free gym, Friday socials, etc) but with a salary that was below London minimum wage.
Turns out what is an amazing work environment for some, is a terrible for others. Case in point. This experience was horrible. I learnt a lot, but still had a very bad time. To be very honest, I was ashamed of saying how little I was making. I had been through six months of making barely any money while not liking my office, the company culture, being unable to connect with my colleagues and experiencing some basic discrimination along the way.
My salary was so low that I had not been able to save much money. And I’d tried very hard. Because I was very good at grocery shopping, making lunch at home, etc. Still. When I changed job and moved to London, I did not have enough money to pay a deposit and first month of rent. Life was about surviving. And it is not fun. Millennials, Gen x, Gen Z and Baby Boomers will all agree.
But I had still done it. For the sake of a good office environment.
I have learnt my lesson though. Free coconut water does not pay rent, colleagues are not all nice, and I’d much rather pass on fun work environment if I get more money. Safer bet, less risky, more secure for your future.
I do agree that location matters. I would not have moved to Exeter, Hull or Aberdeen. In London, I would not have said yes to a job in zone 5 or 6. It would not be my prime concern but still important to me.
Now let’s talk about benefits. Because it seems that it is the least of millennials’ concerns and frankly, I find it baffling.
Usually a good office environment goes beyond having work flexibility, nice colleagues, a nice building to work in, amazing devices and a cool boss. They are also perks. Free coconut water – yes, I am still not over this one! -, free pizza on Friday, a ping-pong table, 40% off the products your company sell, you name it.
Does all those things pay the bills though?
Just so you know, coconut water is gross.
Can you pay your hospital bill with a 40% off discount? With coconut water? Of course not. Duh! But that’s what might happen to you if you don’t have insurance. Or not a good one. Maybe I have a very strong opinion about this one because I just moved to the US where we all know the system is very unfair and unaffordable.
I guess the NHS is free (for now) so healthcare would not be such a worry for UK grads. However, in the US, healthcare is expensive. And so is insurance. Because a lot of companies will provide with a great office environment and good perks, but a low salary and bad insurance or no insurance at all. How do you afford insurance if your salary is low?
Because you can absolutely not, not be insured. An ambulance ride costs $2000. How much if you break your leg? Not sure, but you’re surely indebted for life after that. That’s where the insurance would have come handy, no? And what if you give birth and your company does not pay for maternity leave? Back to work two days after giving birth. Great.
I know these examples are extreme and might not be applicable everywhere in the world. But insurance goes beyond hospital bills and healthcare. It can be any other thing house-related, car-related, travel-related, etc. When everything works, it is all good and fun. But when something bad happens, it never comes alone and that’s when you need money and a good insurance. And as far as I am concerned, I’ll happily give up on the “fun work perks” if it gives me a good insurance that will also ease my mind and not have me worry about anything that could happen.
As a young graduate, I would have agreed with those studies and say that yes, a good office environment would be on top of my list over salary probably. But now that I have experienced a bit of life, had my share of troubles and had to pay unexpectedly for things that literally destroyed my budget, I can say that I’d much rather have a higher salary. Peace of mind over coconut water, sorry.
And I am curious to know the age range of the millennials interviewed for this study. I feel like millennials after 2 or 3 years of post-university work experience would have different answers. At least, that was my personal experience. What about yours?
What do you think? Would you rather have a nicer office environment than higher salary and good benefits? Have you been in the situation where you had to choose between both? What did you do? Why?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
Autumn starts in a month. Officially. Because in the UK, fall tends to start end of August. As for the US, I’ve got no clue. It is still 30°C end of August here so we might just not get autumn until maybe mid-October. Or have a very sudden change of temperature. Who knows. I’ll keep you updated. But, new season means new wardrobe thus it is time to have a look at autumn fashion.
However, it is still summer and warm out there. At least where I live. So no need to rush into it, pack your summer clothes at the back of your closet and get all your comfy fall jumpers out. No. Let’s do it little by little, with a smooth transition from summer to autumn fashion.
1. Yes to long sleeves
I feel that summer is for dresses and showing your legs. I mean, I do that in winter too. As a matter of fact, I barely ever wear trousers. Yes. As it turns out, my legs are also quite insensitive. I stand corrected. They are touchy as f*ck when it comes to waxing, but the cold? No. No impact at all. The cold does not botter them. It’s summer all year long for my legs. However, my arms do feel the cold.
Thus, you can start transitioning to autumn fashion by incorporating dresses or tops with long sleeves. Your outfit will still look quite summery but you’ll be warmer, have arms and shoulders covered and protected from cold breezes. It also looks really nice. Not all sleeves are warm also. Some are made of very thin fabric and are more for style than warmth. So you won’t suffocate if out of nowhere, it it warm again.
And that’s exactly how that dress is. Very summery with pastel colors and a flower print. Frills here and there. Really thin floating sleeves that make the dress look warmer than it is. And the perfect style to start transitioning to autumn fashion.
Onto step 2 now. So, we already have the long sleeves. Flowers are gone, trees are no longer green, pastel is irrelevant. I mean, no, it is not. It is still nice to wear pastel, but you’ll really stand out, surrounded by warmer colors. So yes, we’ve got the long sleeves covered and now, it’s time to get the colors right.
Yellow, burgundy, orange, brown. The colors of autumn. Golden orange and black? Why not. Long sleeves and frill for the perfect autumn dress. As we said, little by little, one detail at a time, until we get the full look right! September is still warm enough for bare legs. At least in NYC. I hope. Although even in Edinburgh and by 12°C, I was bare legs too so…
And even more perfect when the print of the dress is leafs and flowers? Again, everything for a smooth transition! With a matching black bag and blag shoes!
Shop the outfit 10% off your Romwe order with ‘CORINNE’ Dress – Romwe* Bag – Zaful* Wedges – H&M
3. Say yes to pants
Now, onto my favorite outfit of this autumn fashion edit. Of course you can still wear dresses in autumn and winter. I don’t wear pants often, and when I do, it’s exclusively during fall or winter. Hence this outfit. We can keep a little summer detail with the woven beach bag. Or add a touch of fun to an autumn outfit.
But of course, the highlight here is the crop top. Absolutely in love with this blouse. And perfect to wear with a high waisted pair of pants. A brown one, so that you are on tone with fall. Looking like I put everything on without thinking, but there is in fact a lot of deep thinking behind this outfit. Just kidding.
Still very much in love with this blouse. And this outfit in general. Which is, again, my favorite of all three in this article!
Since I moved to NYC, I tried a few brunch and lunch places around the city. Yet, I never thought of reporting on them afterwards… So I decided it is time to change that and write about the places I go to. Because, you never know, you might be looking for recommendations should you be coming to NYC soon. So let’s start with Luxamor NYC, which is in the West Village.
I never really know where to go for food, so it is mainly my friends who know where to take me. Either because they’ve been here for a long time or because they are much more proactive than I am. Anyway, Evangeline wanted to try out Luxamor NYC, and I needed to shoot a few outfits, so we hit two birds with one stone. And did both on the same day.
First thing you noticed when you get in Luxamor NYC is how instagrammable it is. Millenial pink and pastel blue, velvety benches and green plants. It has a bit of a Sketch vibe when you look at it. And the porcelain is super pretty. Floral and vintage. Perfect for photos.
We didn’t not eat inside and decided to seat outside, as the weather was very good. Thus, we had another decor, with metallic white chairs and tables, big parasols, pinks walls and plant pots on walls. Just as cute.
The menu there is absolutely crazy. Again, everything is very instagrammable. Look at the waffle plates and you’ll get what I mean! They do starters, main and desserts. Starters are often big enough, especially if you are tempted by a dessert. While Evangeline started with avocado on toast – sorry, avocado on hash brown – I decided to go for pancakes. I love pancakes. One of my fav things here in the US! So fluffy and delicious!
And also really filling. So much so, I did not need anything else… While they are categorized as a starter. Never mind. They were delicious and so was the avo on toast, since I got to try a bite of it. Then, Evangeline had a coconut quench. It is a coconut shaped chocolate shell filled with coconut mousse, poppyseed ganache & lemon poppy cake. It did look delicious and so cute too!
One thing with New York, is that food in cute places always end up super expensive. Or they start affordable but then you need to add tax and tip, which make the food very expensive in the end. But I was surprised how affordable Luxamor NYC was. I paid $21 tip and tax included for an Earl Grey tea and a stack of three pancakes. It’s around £18. I feel like it’s the norm in London, isn’t it?
One thing I do all the time, and really need to stop doing, is comparing NYC and London. Life-wise, price-wise, food-wise, subway-wise.
Overall, we had a great experience and the place is beautiful. Perfect for photos and super cute. It is not too expensive for NYC and for the West Village. The food was really good and I’d happily go back there!
What do you think of this place? And the food? Would you give it a go? Are you looking for food place recommendations in NYC? You coming to the city soon?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
It was Harry Potter’s birthday on the 31st of July. So I baked a cake. A bit late, but still. It’s the recipe for that “Happee Birthdae Harry” Hagrid baked in book one. The recipe is there if you want to check it out! And since I am re-reading the books, I decided to do this Harry Potter tag. Why not after all?! Tags are always a good idea! So let’s start!
The Harry Potter Tag
1. What is your house? Pottermore sorted me into Gryffindor. Which is good because I had auto-proclaimed myself a Gryffindor. And I have too much Gryffindor merch to go in another house.
2. What is your Patronus? After completing the test on Pottermore, I found out my Patronus is an otter. And although a phoenix would have been amazing, I am quite content with an otter.
3. What is your wand? My wand is spruce wood, with unicorn hair core 10″ and surprisingly flexible.
4. What would your boggart be? To be honest, there is nothing “big” that scares me. Like death, heights, etc. My fears are much more stupid. Beyond being repelled by pigeons, I have this weird fear of crocodiles. As a kid, I watched one of the first black and white Tarzan movies, hidden behind the couche, while supposed to be fast asleep in bed. At one point, the whole expedition is on a raft and crocodiles come destroy it to eat everyone. The image is still fresh in my mind. So crocodiles.
5. What position would you play in Quidditch? Seeker. 100%.
6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood or muggle born? Muggle-born. I am the only one on my family with a big interest in Harry Potter.
7. What job would you want to do after leaving Hogwarts? Auror. Then Minister of Magic. That’d be cool.
8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose? No choice here. The invisibility cloak.
9. Favorite book? The Order of The Phoenix. For so many reasons. First, we go from the golden trio to a group of six: Luna, Ginny, Neville. Second, we see Neville becoming powerful and considering how much shit he gets in the first four books, that’s something that needs to be highlighted. Third, we finally get to understand the plot as a whole, why Voldemort tried to kill Harry Potter, what the prophecy created and that Harry might not be the one. To me, it’s the book that changed it all.
10. Least favorite book? The Half Blood Prince. I feel like nothing happens in there. Did not have a good time reading it.
11. Favorite film? The Prisoner of Azkaban. Alfonso Cuaron is a genius. Soundtrack, general vibe, colors, imagery, scenes, feelings. Everything is perfect. So dark yet so appropriate.
12. Least favorite film? The Half-Blood Prince. For the same reasons as question 10. Plus, the horrible intolerable unbearable stupid romance all over the movie. Ron and Lavender?! Come on! There are more subtle way to set up a love triangle and install romance. Harry and Ginny? What is this scene were she ties his shoelace for him?! And how awkward the whole romance is! This movie feels like a bad romance. Which, proved that there was not much happening in the book to use. Or that they made really bad choices for the adaptation.
13. Favorite character? I find Luna the most interesting character, the most contrasted and the most sympathetic one.
14. Least favorite character? I am incline to say Snape. Because I think he is a dick and that nothing justifies a full grown adult bullying 10 years old kids. Yes, he did protect Harry. But bullying Hermione and Neville? Inexcusable.
15. Favorite teacher? Minerva McGonagall.
16. Least favorite teacher? I want to say Umbridge but I can’t really, because she is the best vilain ever created which makes her one of my favorite characters actually.
15. Anything you would change in the books? I would remove all the romance. It’s awkward and unnecessary and it would have avoided us that painfully cringe epilogue.
16. If you could, which movie would do re-do? Hard one. I would add so many elements regarding the prophecy to The Order of the Phoenix. I’d remove all the cringe worthy things in The Half-Blood Prince. BUT… making my final choice, I would kill off Harry in a grand sacrifice, have Neville finish the job and spare us this cringe epilogue. So, yes, the last movie.
17. Something you don’t like about the books? After re-reading the books, I have spotted many things that actually disturb me. And beyond the queerbaiting J.K. Rowling does on Twitter, it is really her female characters which annoy me. There are all clichés of their own kind. -Molly Wealsley: Lives by and for her children, isn’t defined by anything else. -Bellatrix Lestrange: Frustrated, cruel, sneaky, withered witch. -Minerva McGonagall: Spinster witch. -Fleur Delacour: only girl and weakest of all contestants in the cup. -Lavender Brown: love interest as sole purpose, stereotypical fangirl, hysteric lover. -Hermione Granger: Trinity syndrome, know-it-all, stronger than both Harry and Ron but not acknowledged. -Umbridge: sour cat lady. -Ginny Weasley: Love interest, weak woman to be protected, is barely there in book 7. The only female characters that go above YA tropes are Luna and Tonks. Note that those apply mostly to the books as the movies make the characters look better most of the time. Ginny is more powerful, Umbridge is the perfect vilain. But overall, I do think that most female characters match literature tropes, most of the time sexists, that it would have been good to see go.
20. Any unpopular opinions about Harry Potter? I have so many! Snape is a dick. Harry is entitled. Ron isn’t nice with Hermione. Emma Watson is a terrible actress. Poor Neville. The whole series is very black & white when it comes to “vilains” while “good guys” can get away with doing bad things more easily. Narcissa Malfoy is the most contrasted vilain and deserved more screen time. Why are Slytherin always portrayed as all evil? Why is Gryffindor the “only” house worth it. Dumbledore isn’t a hero. Zero chemistry between Ron and Hermione. I could go on. BUT I STILL DO LOVE THE SERIES!
So please don’t kill me!
Is Harry Potter one of your favorite series of all time? Did you prefer the books or the movies? What are your unpopular opinions about the saga? Do you want to do this Harry Potter tag?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
“You’re a wizard, Harry!” I wish someone would tell me “You’re a witch, Marie“, but oh well, we can always dream. Still waiting for my letter though. Not losing hope. And getting into baking Harry Potter goodies while I wait. So I know, Harry Potter’s birthday was some time ago already but I could not help myself and try to bake Harry Potter’s birthday cake!
Happee Birthdae Harry.
And now it is your turn to try and bake it. Because, as it turns out, it is so easily made and so delicious as well! Perfect with a cup of tea, with only a thin layer of frosting, and just yummy!
For the chocolate sponge
For the frosting
-225g softened butter
-2 tsp baking powder
-50g cocoa powder
-150g softened butter
-330g icing sugar
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-2 tbsp milk
-Pink and green coloring
1. For the chocolate sponge. Pre-heat your oven at 180°C.
2. Put the softened butter in a salad bowl and beat with an electric whip.
3. Add one by one and little by little, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Beat until fully incorporated.
4. Butter and flour two cake tins. Lin with parchment papers. Divide mixture equally between both tins. Put into the oven for 25 minutes.
5. Let out of the oven. Let cool for 25 minutes. Remove both sponges from their tins. Put on a rack and let cool.
6. For the frosting. Mix in a salad bowl softened butter, icing sugar, vanilla extract and milk. Beat with an electric mixer until fully incorporated.
7. Set aside 1/4 of the mixture in a small bowl. Put a few drops of pink coloring in the big bowl. Mix until fully colored. Start little and add more coloring to get a brighter pink.
8. Cover the top of the first sponge with a thin layer of frosting. Put the other sponge atop. Cover the cake with pink frosting. Let set in the fridge for a few minutes.
9. Add a few drops of green coloring to the remaining buttercream. Beat until fully colored. Pur green frosting into a piping bag.
10. Use a toothpick to draw the latter on the pink frosting to use as template. Remove cake from the fridge. Pipe the letters on the cake.
11. Cut yourself a slice, pur yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!
Are you a big Potterhead? How many times have you read the books? And watched the movies? Have you ever tried to replicate some of the food they have? Will you give Harry Potter’s birthday cake a go?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
July 2019 has been an amazing month book wise and I did read a lot of books! I am taking part in a Youtube challenge cold The 4 Houses Challenge. It is a reading challenge happening on the French booktube. I am putting the like here just in case, should you speak or understand French, and want to check it out. However, the books in that challenge will not be mentioned in this post otherwise it is gonna be the longest ever.
I will however, do a blog post just dedicated to that challenge once it is over!
Because as far as the challenge is concerned, I have read four books till now. Unrelated to this challenge, I have read eight books! Which is almost three a week. Which explains my addiction and why I keep on ordering new books…
Because I just discovered this website called Bookoutlet where so many popular and recent books are heavily discounted. If this isn’t a reader’s dream, then I don’t know what it is! Anyway, back to what I read in July 2019!
Author: A. Kaufman & J. Kristoff Published: October 2015 Genre: YA Sci-Fi Pages: 608 pages Series: The Illuminae File
Plot: 5/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than a speck at the edge of the universe. Now with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to evacuate with a hostile warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A plague has broken out and is mutating with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a web of data to find the truth, it’s clear the only person who can help her is the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
My review: I mentioned in my June reading recap how I don’t usually like Sci-Fi but how I adored Aurora Rising, by the same authors. Well, I fell like those guys are really making me love science-fiction because O.M.G! I adored Illuminae, just as much as I loved Aurora Rising, maybe even more!
Yes, I must admit, the format of the book did unsettle me at first and I had to get used to it. It is not your usual writing but a collection of emails, maps, files, instant conversations, medical reports, interviews, etc. Since yes, it is all a file, the Illuminae File. But once you get used to it, you just cannot stop reading. The format of the book does help a lot in building a lot of suspence, secrecy and mystery. You get the transcript of a video file for example but why, what, how? So many questions pop in your head every two minutes or so!
I was also very impressed at how I could never guess what would happen next. Or was convinced something that had happened was the truth, forgetting the whole thing is a file, which can be tempered with. Seeing how wrong I was and all the revelations blew up my mind. We’ve got space travel, life aboard space ships, chemical weapons, blood thirsty corporations, characters that are funny, relatable and very well build. The main character is a hell of a hacker and one of the best female character ever build in YA in my opinion. So, yes, I highly recommend this book!
Author: Nicki Pay Preto Published: February 2019 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 496 pages Series: Crown of Feathers
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 5/5
Synopsis: I had a sister, once… In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
I promised her the throne would not come between us. Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled. Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.
My review: Ok, so, what attracted me in this book at first, was the cover. Because it is beautiful. But then I saw a phoenix on it, plus apparently there were plenty of those in the novel AND… they were dragon size and companions to Phoenix riders. So yeah, Eragon meets Game of Thrones meets ACOTAR. You had me in love, you had me hooked. And what a book…
Being 100% honest with you, I did think the beginning was a bit slow and sometimes I was drowning in information. However, this allowed a really good world building and a much better grasp of the whole plot and everything that was happening next. The writing was beautiful, the world amazing too, the characters very well built and I did not see half of the things coming.
I cannot say too much without spoiling. If I go into details about why I loved this book so much, it will inevitably happen. So I’ll keep quiet. I can only say that there will be times you will share the main character’s anger, frustration, helplessness as well as joy, amazement and sadness. And if you like fantasy, GoT style book, dragons and thick plots, then, this book is for you!
3. Truthwitch – Susan Dennard
Author: Susan Dennard Published: January 2017 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 432 pages Series: The Witchlands
Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 3.5/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble―as two desperate young women know all too well.
Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.
Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her―but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safiya’s hotheaded impulsiveness.
Safiya and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and privateer) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.
My review: Truthwitch is a book that I had spotted a long time ago and that Amazon kept on recommending me, so I took the leap. And although it was a good read and I spent a good time, I feel like something was missing to make it an incredible book. Let me rephrase, it had everything it needs to be a hit but I feel like the book is not reaching its potential.
We are promised many things in the synopsis, which announce a lot of action, adventure and all. Yet, as far as I am concerned, I did not feel like Safi was particularly important to the plot, or at least not as important as the summary would suggest. Because, yes, she does seem to have that interesting power, but from what we see of it in the novel, it is nothing special nor extraordinary. I have found her quite passive most of the time, despite some bravado and swagger here and there. Even when she comes to a realization that she is capable, she can’t do anything. More talks than actions. I feel like other characters are much better developed and could hold the novel on their shoulders alone.
I am quite curious to see how this will fare in book two, because I want to read it, for the sake of the other characters which I find much better. Furthermore, I feel that this book as a lot of potential and that most of it revolves around “things are never what it seems”, which had some mystery I guess. So yes, a good read, but not the best.
Author: Margaret Rogerson Published: September 2017 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 304 page
Plot: 3/5 Characters: 3/5 Ending: 4/5
Synopsis: Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.
Furious, Rook spirits her away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously wrong in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.
My review: If you’ve read my June recap, again, you know how much I loved Sorcery of Thorns from the same author. I am sad to say, An Enchantment of Ravens did not live up to the hype.
Yes, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and the premise is super interesting. However, the book is so short and most of the narration is focusing on the romance. Thus, there is barely any world-building. It is a shame as the information popping up here and there really bring more mystery and had me ask so many questions. There are so many things I wanted to know about the world itself, the Faes, the raison d’être of the novel, etc. But no answer at all, and instead romance.
Which isn’t a bad thing, since, despite being a bit cheesy at time, the romance progresses very naturally and goes beyond the “love you, love you not” or “love at first sight because he is hot” tropes. Still, the world-building was missing, which gave me hard time understanding what was going on or all the revelations that we had coming along the novel.
Author: Leigh Bardugo Published: June 2012 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 368 pages Series: Grisha
Plot: 4.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4/5
Synopsis: Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Orphaned and expendable, Alina Starkov is a soldier who knows she may not survive her first trek across the Shadow Fold―a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. But when her regiment is attacked, Alina unleashes dormant magic not even she knew she possessed.
Now Alina will enter a lavish world of royalty and intrigue as she trains with the Grisha, her country’s magical military elite―and falls under the spell of their notorious leader, the Darkling. He believes Alina can summon a force capable of destroying the Shadow Fold and reuniting their war-ravaged country, but only if she can master her untamed gift.
As the threat to the kingdom mounts and Alina unlocks the secrets of her past, she will make a dangerous discovery that could threaten all she loves and the very future of a nation.
My review: I had heard so much of the Grisha trilogy and wanted to read Six of Crows from the same author. Booktubers seemed to say it is better to read Grisha first to understand the Six of Crows series, so here I was.
I read this book in two evenings. The writing was fluid, easy, well written. The story had a very good flow and enough mystery to keep me reading. Despite the main character’s tendency to always question her worth and belittle herself which at one point annoyed me so much, I felt most of the characters were very well built. And I sure did not expect what happened at the end. Although I had a feeling, things would not go smoothly for everyone.
I really love all the references to the Russian culture with names, religious terms, countries, etc. It added something different to the novel, to the point I even thought the author was Russian. But she is not. Overall it was a good read and I can’t wait to read book 2. However, I really hope the main characters quits her “putting herself down” with her “why me? what do they see in me?” every other page. Fake modesty is at best crying for attention and at worst hypocrisy. At worst worst, it is the trope of the woman who is amazing but does not know about it, which is what makes her so attractive, and is validated only when the male character tells her she is so strong and beautiful. Curious to see how this fare in book 2!
Author: Stephanie Garber Published: January 2017 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 416 pages Series: Caraval
Plot: 3.5/5 Characters: 3/5 Ending: 4/5
Synopsis: Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
My review: I had heard so much about Caraval! Everywhere! On bookstagram, on blogs, on booktube. Everybody seems to love the novel. And I always saw the book in bookstores but the synopsis never really tempted me. Until I finally, after two years, decided to take the leap.
I am not gonna lie, I don’t see why people are so crazy about this book. I did enjoy reading it, it was a good read, entertaining, easy and quick to read. However, as far as I am concerned, the praises stop there. The world building is in my opinion very good. We have all the information we need to understand. But, the characters lack charisma and development. Especially Scarlett. I disliked her so much: her closed-mindedness, how priggish she is, how her opinion is the only what that matters, how she is convinced the world lays on her shoulders, etc. I hated the free violence from the father, with as sole explanation for his behavior that his wife left him… Not a reason to beat your daughters almost to death. However, I did like Tella and Julian.
The main character is what made me struggle with the book. However, I do admit that the time crush really worked on me. There were enough suspence and sense of urgency to keep me going and that I did not see the end coming at all. Not at all. And that was a very good surprise. Plus the revelation at the very end which tickles my curiosity and the fact that Tella might be at the center of the next book. So I bought book 2, which I will read in August!
Author: Renegades Published: November 2017 Genre: YA Sci-Fi Pages: 576 pages Series: Renegades
Plot: 4.5/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.
The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies―humans with extraordinary abilities―who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.
Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice―and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.
My review: I had never read a novel by Marissa Meyer but I did heard there always was a lot of fluff in her books. Renegades was, however, a very good surprise.
For the characters which were very well developed and never too shallow, with different personalities, abilities and motives. Never too clichés I might had. You know how much I dislike clichés. The world building was also very good and it was very interesting to see the main characters lean one side or another. Because, another thing I loved about this book, is that things are never what they seem, what you are told might not be the truth, nothing is black or white.
So the main characters cannot decide which side she is on. Both sides think they are the good side and the other are vilains. The heroin is trying to understand what both side’s motives are. The end was a very big surprise to me. Indeed, who she thought her entire life were vilains, turned out, as she evolved alongside them, maybe to be good guys, but the end… wow! I am not gonna say more but I can only recommend this book!
Author: Cassandra Clare Published: September 2015 Genre: YA Fantasy Pages: 560 pages Series: The Infernal Devices
Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Ending: 4.5/5
Synopsis: In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when it becomes clear that the mysterious Magister will stop at nothing to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, tortured Will and the devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal and fueled by revenge. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa is drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa answers about who she really is? As their search leads to deadly peril, Tessa learns that secrets and lies can corrupt even the purest heart.
My review: I read Clockwork Angel, which is book 1 of the series, last month and I quite enjoyed it. It was a very good read with some suspence, surprises and things I did not see coming, along with some mystery around the main character that I want answers to.
Book 2 was just as good, with more information, a plot that thickens and a bigger sense of urgency. You want to know what happens next. There were a few things I did not see coming, and although the love triangle did annoy me at times (i.e. near misses, lack of communication, etc), I still enjoyed this book.
Speaking of one of the main characters, I could not decide whether the reason behind his shitty behavior was hilarious or farfetched, and I hope no one will forget about it in book 3. Because no matter the circumstances, nothing justifies being an ass. Indeed, I feel that in many YA books, if the author comes up with a “good enough reason” (i.e. brutal past, death of previous partner, “I just wanna protect you”) people tend to forgive that awful behavior, which sets a very dangerous precedent. But that’s just my opinion. Still a good read, and can’t wait to read book 3!
Have you read any of the books mentioned above? Did you like them? Was July a good month for reading? What books did you read?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
I can’t really say I have explored much of New York. Yes, it’s been 3 months now, but I mean, the city is big. So big! So I know a bit of the east village, as well as Murray Hill/Kips Bay (where I live), Midtown and Gramercy. Those are the places I hang out at most. So, yes, I do not go on the other side of the bridge often (I’ve been once) and Brooklyn isn’t familiar territory. Dumbo even less. Am I being Blair Waldorf or what?
By the way, maybe you’ve heard, but Gossip Girl is getting a reboot and I can’t wait!
By the way number 2, the TV show always shows the Humphrey’s loft in Dumbo, just by the Manhattan Bridge while they are supposed to live in Williamsburg, which is very far away, north a bit east.
Back to the topic at end… Brooklyn and Dumbo… As you know, I work with Shein a lot (use 9TEA for 15% off) and when they sent me new pieces to shoot, I decided that those two bridges would make the perfect backdrops and that it was also the occasion to explore DUMBO a bit.
1. Get that tourist shot on Washington Street
Have you ever been to Brooklyn? And to Washington Street? Well that’s this little street where you have the Manhattan bridge locked between two tenement buildings. The perfect New York backdrop. And a prime tourist location. So be there early or know how to play with angles. When taking a photo, make sure your body hides most of the other people… I look almost on my own on the photos and yet… the street was more crowded that Covent Garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon or Peggy Porschen after lunch.
I have a thing for lace and white dresses. It would also appear that I have a thing for see through pieces and dark underwear… Yeah, I realized afterwards. Moving on… I explained last year how a little white dress was just as much a wardrobe staple than a little black dress. So I added a new one to my collection.
And I styled it down with some sequin shiny trainers. The good girl vibe is forever gone. With an edgy black bag, which is a perfect dupe for Rebecca Minkoff’s, and a cuff from Les Georgettes for a touch of chic. What do you think?
If you walk down Washington Street and then turn left, you’ll end up on the water front, right across Wall Street. Take a water taxi and you’re on the other side in no time. But on Dumbo side, you’ve got some cool old brick industrial building with the perfect city vibes.
And in this very long building? So many little restaurants, cafés and shops! Get an ice cream or a cappuccino, sit along the water front, and you are set for the day. Plus, you’ve got the Brooklyn bridge in the background, so what else could you ask for?!
When I saw this blue ruffled dress, I was very intrigued yet skeptical. I absolutely loved the look of it but I had no idea how it would look on me. Would I look absolutely ridiculous? Well, like is made for taking risks, am I right? So I picked this one. And it turns out, it does not look too bad! And look just as perfect with those shiny trainers and a straw bag for a more summery look!
What do you do when it’s so crowded you can’t get a good photo on the Brooklyn Bridge? Well, you go under. Because the view is just as nice, and there are not so many people around. And bonus, you do have the Manhattan sky line in the background. Wall Street, my bad. But that works just fine!
Last year I found that I love maxi dresses and since then, I’ve gotten myself a few. Their biggest perk? No need to wax my legs! But they are also super stylish and if it’s windy outside, you won’t have our ass on display for everyone to see. So that’s a good thing too… I guess…
Green, because why not. With a floral print, because again, why not. Also because I love florals! Perfect for spring AND summer. But also winter, in case you are wondering. And a straw bag to complete the look. Because again, it’s summer, so let’s have the straw bags out!