🌟 Hi bookish family! I hope you’re having the most wonderful day & a GREAT weekend, today I’m more than happy to bring you a double review of my most recent readings. ❤️ You know that I LOVE to share all my opinions with you in the most honest way, and above all, I love that we can exchange opinions respectfully, so don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments and we can chat a little about it, I also want to know what you’ve been reading this last week & what books accompany you this weekend!!! 😍
As I was saying, I’ll be reviewing two books, one of them is an ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review, for which I’m deeply grateful, in this book we enter the world of a ballet competition and explored its darkest side 🩰 & the other one is my own choice, a book with a lot of hype which I had only heard the most incredible things about, where we meet a super diverse group of characters while we surround ourselves with a magical landscape. 🌅 I think that one of these stories may have been a totally different experience than I expected, while the other exceeded my expectations. 😊
I’m very excited to tell you EVERYTHING about these books! 👏🏻 So without further ado, make yourself comfortable, prepare your favorite drink & let’s get started! 🌟
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
| Goodreads |
I’m very grateful to Algonquin Young Readers for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review & I’m so sorry for the lateness of my review!
This book ended up being a different experience than I expected, this doesn’t mean that it was a negative experience as a whole, only I found a heavier book, full of topics that could be triggering for many readers, so I want to begin my review recommending discretion to those who decide to read it, as it contains sensitive topics such as abortion and eating disorders, among others. Personally, I think that this book didn’t meet my expectations fully because it has an immature tone in terms of character creation & drama, on the other hand, I liked several aspects, especially the focus on ballet & the focus on this “friendship” which was very interesting to explore.
In Bright Burning Stars, we follow a double POV of the characters of Marine & Kate, two best friends whose bond has grown stronger due to certain family tragedies in their lives and because they also share the same passion for ballet. But when both girls want to be the only girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious ballet corps, they’ll begin to wonder what they’re willing to do or how far they’re willing to go to win it and we will see that this bond wasn’t as solid as we thought.
The promise of the book captivates me, I love that it’s about competition, I like that it focuses on this weird/kind of toxic friendship and above all I really like the dark tone behind that invokes betrayals, secrets, and lies, it seems like one of those super addictive plots which I enjoy watching in TV series, for example, but the execution is really messy. This plot is highly focused on the development of the characters, therefore it is a character-driven book, which isn’t a problem for me because I love this type of stories, even so, I feel that the main problem that I’ve had and I think it has It’s been something I’ve seen from other readers as well, it’s the feeling that the characters don’t grow up enough or don’t have that impact to really engage with them. I think it’s okay, in fact, I got quite hooked on everything that was happening, but it’s true that the girls don’t have strong growth towards the end and there’s not much learning or evolution regarding their relationship.
This book, as mentioned before, touches on extremely sensitive topics and does so in a rather crude way, so if you’re sensitive be very careful with that. I don’t want to focus too much on each problem as such since I think that I couldn’t give a complete opinion due to my ignorance on certain issues, even so, I want to mention that I would have liked a little more information or commitment on some points, especially in the abortion issue, since the way it’s approached in the book seemed to be almost “simple” and “flat” on the other hand, issues such as eating disorders, even mental illnesses and emotional abuse I think they’re approached with more “success “ Even so, always remembering that my opinion is personal and I haven’t gone through these situations, so I cannot speak from my experience but only based on what I’ve read.
I was surprised while reading for the lack of descriptions in the story, I’m not the biggest fan of descriptions, in fact, I prefer when they’re brief but here it seems like it needed it, you know? There’s something about the setting that I love and I find it extremely beautiful that it’s located in Paris, so I’m surprised that there’s not a little more focus on the surroundings. Yet this was only my perception and it may have been totally enough for others. On the other hand, the author’s style seemed good to me, I’m not sure if it’s for me, though, because even when I enjoy my reading experience, I don’t think the way in which the author approaches the story or the structures of the plot itself be for me. Which is fine, this doesn’t mean that I can’t recommend it anyway.
One of the things I liked the most is exploring a bit about the competitive and more intense side of ballet. Having been a ballet dancer myself I know how the pressure feels and the havoc it can cause on your mental health. I dance for a lot of years, so I know how exhausting it can be and the competitions can be very demanding. So seeing the darker side of all this was very interesting, obviously, I had a wonderful experience, but being a demanding person myself I can understand some situations within the book, and how girls give their all to achieve excellence makes sense to me. Even so, it’s not a book that shows a healthy environment, in fact, the author has decided to focus more on all the negative aspects within a competition and decided to add a bit of mystery and tension from the hands of many twists and betrayals around the corner, which was really good.
At times, I was so hooked on this story especially with the whole subject of the competition, the dance school, Paris, and the relationship between Marine & Kate, that’s why I say that I’ve enjoyed this story, even though I know that it has its flaws or at least weak complements that don’t add much to the plot itself or are choices that I personally wouldn’t have made or simply with which I don’t agree, such as the love triangle, for example, you know how I feel about that
Even so, and leaving these things that I haven’t liked very much aside, I can recommend it if you want to read something intense with a lot of drama, focused on characters (non-likable ones) that although flat at times are interesting to follow and can provoke many emotions. I don’t feel that the growth of these, but it does make sense, sometimes in life things don’t go the way we want and the endings aren’t always perfect or happy, so here you have one of those outcomes that leave you with a bittersweet taste. So if you enjoy dark, dramatic plots that involve betrayals, friendships, and gossip then surely this will be your cup of tea & even though I’m not entirely convinced with the execution of the idea in general nor the evolution of the characters, I can see why others could enjoy it more.
A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours
| Goodreads |
“Change often starts with the smallest of whispers. Like-minded people building it up to a roar.”
Oh My, this book is SO adorable and meaningful, I adored it. I think there’s something so innocent about this story, where the author has totally focused on showing the warmest and most real side of the characters, especially the children, who then spread their dreaming spirits to the main character who’s colder and more formal. I love it, this book reflects a lot on the purest side of the human being and how we can all have dreams and goals in life and fight for them regardless of our appearance or our age, or our current situation. I love it, especially the second half since I think that’s where the book shows its true soul.
In The House in the Cerulean Sea we follow Linus Baker, a man who works for the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, which means that he must ensure the well-being of children living in orphanages. Linus lives a rather drab and gray life until one day he’s sent on a trip to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. This work is of utmost importance and of high value for Linus’ bosses, although he still doesn’t know why, with little more than a few simple files he arrives at this place with more questions than answers, and there he meets Arthur Parnassus, the caretaker of the children, and as the two begin to become close, many secrets begin to come out and Linus must make a decision that may change his life forever: destroy a home or watch the world burn.
This book feels like a hug, it welcomes you with its very unique style and great narrative, it’s highly focused on the characters, so I would say that it’s character-driven, although also the plot itself and the idea that underpins everything is brilliant too, it’s well built and the author has managed to make this whole fantasy/contemporary world easy to read, but it’s still very complex. There are many paths that the author could have chosen to explore with this plot, but I loved that he stayed with the more human side of it. I love how we get to know this unusual group of children, and we grow more and more fond of them as we progress through the story. I also love how everything flows so naturally and in such an organic and perfect way between each character, the relationships in the book and the bonds that are formed are very well achieved, they almost make you feel like part of the family, and I love that.
It has a very personal tone that makes you think and a beautiful message behind that focuses on family and its meaning. What is a family for you? What does this mean? What is our true home? and OMG, I love that concept and seeing it develop among the children, as they’re adopted among themselves as siblings and how Arthur, their caregiver, loves and cares for them in such a pure and honest way that it almost moves me. Caregivers in this world are supposed to remain neutral about their opinion of children and never cross that professional barrier, it’s almost like taking good care of them but without feelings involved, so what Arthur does and his behavior has put his superiors, The Extremely Upper Management, on alert. I really liked the whole concept and how it develops, I think the characters are the protagonists and what stands out the most from the book, without a doubt.
The writing style can be somewhat dense, …I personally like it because I think it sets the mood for the reader very well and gradually makes you feel immersed in the plot, but I confess that it can be heavy. The book has almost 400 pages, it’s quite average, but it feels as if it had more in someway, it took me a long time to read and although this doesn’t minimize my enjoyment, I wanted to mention it just in case it is something you want to know. On the other hand, the descriptions seemed very beautiful to me, I want to live on that Island like yesterday and the ideas for each of the children are very original, with this I mean their appearances and their unique powers or abilities, which were something that I never read about before, so it seems to me that somehow that separates it enough from other books that may have some similarity to this one, for example, Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Personally, I think that the first half isn’t as solid as the second, where I feel that you can see much more of the characters and each story as well as the relationships between them, and also the story really begins to have a clearer direction after the 200 pages. The beginning is good, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it, but if it seemed normal to me, I don’t think they’re at the same level. Maybe this is because it takes time to really feel inside the plot as such, but once you get to the Island and meet the children and their stories, you really want to stay there forever, I almost forgot that another place existed out there, it’s very magical and beautiful.
I want to talk separately about Linus as a character because I think he was so unique, it’s a super-smart decision on the part of the author to choose a main character like him, since he’s a man who’s in his 40s and you can see that he leads a super monotonous and boring life, he’s not satisfied with what he has, he mentions on occasions that he felt almost incomplete and depressed, and this you can see for yourself when he reflects that he doesn’t have dreams or aspirations apart from his work, which he doesn’t either love. I think it’s brilliant to put this man with such a gray and sad countenance in such a magical, colorful, and excitingly unique place, because it shows a very strong contrast of these two realities, it was incredible to explore and I really appreciate this point, that’s why I wanted to give it a separate paragraph.
I also take the opportunity to say that I DEEPLY LOVE Chauncey, and this character wasn’t only my favorite in the book, but will become one of my all-time faves, he’s simply so unique, beautiful, and adorable, I want to hug him forever, he deserves all the good things in this world!! Apart from this, I adore all the characters, some of the children may not stand out as much as others for me, but they all have very marked personalities and you can get to see them as real people as they almost jump through the pages.
Another thing I want to highlight is the relationship between Arthur and Linus which I love, it’s not easy to give me a romance that I buy, but this one I take home lol. I think there’s something so pure and real happening here and seeing the evolution not only of the relationship but also of the characters as individuals makes me feel immensely proud. I could talk about it for years but I’ll be brief here, and add that my favorite thing about this is how it affects Linus so profoundly and makes him question things that he never thought would question about himself, transforming him in such beautiful ways. He’s way too pure guys, I can’t!
Plus, there are SO MANY quotes that I took out of this book, it’s very beautiful, I recommend it from my heart.
Maybe this book hasn’t been a full 5 stars, but even so, I’ll not take away the merit it deserves, entering a book with many expectations is a challenge sometimes, so I may have felt slightly neutral about the story at the beginning, but towards the end already had my heart and it will be one of those stories that I can recommend for a long time without getting tired of.
If you want to read something that makes you feel good inside, this is the book for you. I also recommend it if you want to read a funny, entertaining and magical plot, but with its little dark sparkles for moments as well. It’s also SUPER QUEER, which is deeply appreciated, the representations when made with respect and loves really feel, you know? I also recommended it if you enjoy unique plots, but highly focused on characters, their developments, and evolution. It’s a book focused on family, dreams, and hope. It shows you how beautiful really comes from within and how we should never judge by people’s appearance, as this doesn’t define us. I assure you that you’ll fall in love with each of these “monsters” as they have been called so many times, but then you’ll realize that the only thing there is a group of adorable and sweet children that all they really seek is love, acceptance, and a family.
🌿 Have you heard about these books? | Would you like to read them? | Have you read these author’s works before? | What do you think about them? 🌿