March Wrap up + FULL REVIEWS!♡ Middle Grades, foreign literature & Classics.

It is that time of the month again when I share my wrap up. This month, I read 14 books and I have decided to share with you not only their titles and my rating, but also short reviews for most of them. Ready? Go!

Middle Grades

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill. ☆☆☆☆☆ (such a favorite!)

This is such a magical and wonderful book. I had heard lots of awesome reviews about it and obviously I had to read it, but nothing is enough to describe that masterpiece.
The language is absolutely sublime, delicate and deep. The storyline is absolutely perfect and I am always so fascinated by those books making several subplots meet at some point.

In the beginning of the book, we are led to believe that a nasty witch kills the youngest child of the protectorate every few years, and that parents are forced to let their child in the forest in order to preserve peace in the protectorate. However, that witch may not be as nasty as they say, and she may even be the blessing of these children, while the protectorate is their curse…
I won’t say more about the plot in order not to give spillers, but just know that it is beautifully written and extremely interesting.

I listened to the audiobook version and I highly recommend it: the narrator just knows how to capture the vibe of each and every character, how to change voices and how to give her voice to characters who normally do not even speak…
if you have a thing for audiobooks like I do, please give it a try: I have rarely seen such a convincing audio!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl ☆☆☆☆☆

This story is a masterpiece. I already loved the movie but had never read the book so when I saw a beautiful copy of it at work (aka at the library), I had to borrow it. I read the book in a day because it was just that good. I read a French translation of it, a very good translation, and my edition was full of the most wholesome and beautiful illustrations.

For those of you who are not really familiar with the story (which does not have to be considered a problem), we are following the story of the young Charlie Bucket. Charlie is a very poor young boy who lives with his parents and his four grandparents in a tiny house. Charlie is cold and Charlie is hungry, but he is the kindest boy ever. One day, Willy Wonka, who created the greatest chocolate factory in the world, decided to put golden tickets in the papers of his chocolates – 5 tickets for 5 children. The children who get access to these tickets will get access to the factory: what a dream for Charlie!

I really enjoyed learning more about Charlie and seeing how beautiful his heart is. It is always refreshing to read Middle grades in which there is so much kindness and beauty. I highly recommend it, for the story, for the languages and for the beautiful illustrations.

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson ☆☆☆☆

I loved this book so so so much! It is crazy to me to think that this author has written books that have so little to do together; I love it when authors manage to impress me by writing things that are totally different from what I associate them with.

We follow the adventures of the young Jim who tells the story of his journey to the Treasure Island. That book is full of pirates and adventures, two things I am particularly fond of. If you love a good pirates story without gore elements everywhere (which I personally hate!), I would definitely recommend this book.
There are many characters and some of them have different names so it was quite hard for me in the beginning but in the long run, I got used to it and having so many characters interacting ended up giving depth to the story.

Once more, if you are looking for pirates and adventure, go for that book!

Matilda, Roald Dahl ☆☆☆☆☆

I really enjoyed that book, as I enjoy most Middle Grades. I have a serious fascination for Roald Dahl’s books, I think they all have the perfect mix of magic, satire and sweetness.
In this book, we follow the adventures of Matilda who is able to read and count at only 4! She is extremely smart, but her parents do not seem to care: everything they care about is watching TV. Her parents are vain and the only persons who seem to care for Matilda are the librarian and her school teacher. That book is all about the love of reading but also a sharp criticism of what I would call “bad parenting”, even though not having children myself, I always feel a little bit weird talking about parenting.
I highly recommend this book, especially if you love Roald Dahl’s writing (that is to say, if you have read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!⭐️)

Les petites filles modèles, Comtesse de Ségur ☆☆☆☆

Les petites filles Modèles is such a perfectly wholesome book. Unfortunately, I gave it 3 stars only because it lacks a plot in my own opinion. However, I am fully aware that the goal of the book is just not to have a proper plot so I know that some of you will probably give it 5 stars. That book completely fulfills its purpose and is extremely character-driven. For those of you who prefer character-driven books to plot-driven one, you may love it so very much!

We follow the adventures of perfect little girls (Madeleine, Camille, Sophie and Marguerite), living the lives of privileged (more or less, especially when we consider Sophie’s situation) little girls of their time, with the amount of joy and sorrow that comes with it. We watch their everyday life unroll and get to know them all through the book.
Obviously, as perfect little girls, they speak in a perfect little way and are examples of kindness (most of the time) but that is something I found “weird”: it felt unnatural. Nonetheless, given the date of publication and the theme, it is so normal for the girls to speaks the way they do.

To sum it up, I would say that I recommend this book to anyone looking for a beautiful, wholesome story taking place centuries ago. However, if you are looking for something more timeless and plot-driven, it is not a book I recommend.

Book Written in French (+ French reviews)

Le service des manuscrits, Antoine Laurain. ☆☆☆☆☆

J’ai vraiment beaucoup aimé ce livre. Lorsqu’un manuscrit est publié par une maison d’édition mais que l’auteur reste introuvable en dépit de la nomination de son œuvre au Goncourt, tout se complique. Lorsque les meurtres décrits dans le manuscrit se produisent exactement comme décrits dans ce dernier, “compliqué” devient un euphémisme pour décrire la situation.

J’ai adoré l’histoire, les personnages et les nombreux rebondissements. Je ne m’attendais pas à autant de rebondissements dans un livre si court (moins de 200 pages il me semble) et j’en ai été agréablement surprise.
La fin du roman tend à décevoir beaucoup de lecteurs mais pour ma part, je ne la trouve pas si tirée par les cheveux que cela. Au contraire, on se sent que l’auteur savait ce qu’il faisait depuis le début du roman (en tout cas, c’est l’impression qu’il parvient à donner) et j’aime ces fins “logiques” où tout semble trouver sa place.

Un livre sans détails superflus qui se lit en quelques jours, je recommande !

Histoire secrète de la DGSE, Jean Guisnel ☆☆☆☆

La Caissière ☆☆

Foreign literature

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi ☆☆☆

I liked that book, but I got bored with it a little fast. The idea is awesome and I loved it so much: a Café offers the possibility to go back in time, however, there are rules to follow. Some of these rules make the experience rather complicated, others seem rather harmless, but one of them is absolutely essential for the person travelling in time: the coffee must not go cold.
When you travel back in time, you are served a cup of coffee, and that is your “timer”: you can stay in the past as long as the coffee is hot, but when it starts getting lukewarm, it is time to drink it fast and return to the present. What happens if you don’t? Well, you probably do not want to make that experience…

My problem with that book is not the plot: I loved it. It is not the characters either: I got attached to them. My problem is more linked to the structure of the narration: we are following different characters going back in time, but as soon as we get to really like them, another takes their place. I would have preferred only one character travelling back so that I could spend more time with them. The fact that different characters got to travel back made it a bit repetitive, which I did not like.
However, the book is stills beautiful and worth reading!

Acia, Ivan Turgenev ☆☆☆☆☆

I loved Acia so much! I did not know about Ivan Turgenev even though he is apparently as famous in Russia as Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. However, I am extremely happy to have been able to read this book.

Acia is a short story/ novella about a lost, tragic love. I feel like if I describe a 100 pages story any more, it would necessarily come to be a spoiler so I would rather stop here.
Just know that if you love that kind of depressing Russian literature that I am personally in love with, Acia is going to be your thing, I have no doubt about it.
It is also a great way to get introduced to Russian literature without having to read bigger books like Crime and Punishment! In the same note, you can have a look at the Gambler by Dostoevsky, which is rather short as well!
Reading it was a pleasure, thanks again to my Russian friend Evgeniya for the discovery!

The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli ☆☆☆☆☆

This reads as a series of tips dedicated to a Prince. Without getting in too much details, I would say that it tells a ruler how to govern, what to do, what not to do. It also tells a ruler how to be loved, how not to be hated and with whom to surround himself. I really loved reading it, it’s a rather short read (around 100 pages), even though it is full of historical references and can take time to read amid you take the time to read all of the notes.
Anyway, I highly recommend and I think that even if we are not princes ourselves, we can all benefit from it!


Overcoming Addiction to the Status Quo, Kathryn F. Burmeister Esq. ☆☆☆☆

Click here to read my review on the blog.

The Friar’s Lantern, Greg Hickey ☆☆☆

The author of this book recently reached out to me to get a review of the book, and I really did not know what to expect. I had never read that kind of book in which you have to make decisions for the character and the only books I knew of were children’s books.

I did know how Iong it would take me to read it, and then I have started, out of curiosity, reading the first page, and so on and so on: I ended up reading the whole of it!

I must say that the story is super well-researched and very interesting, studying the way human beings work. It is quite a heavy read, because of the topic of course, but also because of the terms used (legal and medical terms especially). It may be easier for you but as I am not a native English speaker, it was sometimes quite hard. However, I find the story to be very interesting and obviously, the author is very well-documented.

When it comes to the format, I see that it is a great book of that type, but I can now say that these decision-making books aren’t for me. I liked reading it, the experience of it, but it was (weirdly enough) too “energy-consuming for me”. I think I prefer following a character who evolves on his own. Nonetheless, the book is great and if you love that type of book or are curious about it, give it a try!
However, I think that a paperback copy would make it easier: I would have preferred, I think, turning pages in order to go to the indicated pages after making X or Y decision.

Altogether, the book is great and if you are tempted, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Twas Just Before Bedtime, Jessie L. Best ☆☆☆☆☆

When the author contacted me to ask whether or not I would like to read and review her book, I felt like “oooooobviously”. I mean, we are talking about children’s literature and that is the theme of my thesis so it could not be more perfect!
I have already read a few children’s books for authors who asked for a review, but nothing like this one. I would even go as far as to say that I have never read anything like this book at all, ever.

The way the book is built is actually extremely interesting. Basically, this book is meant to be read as nighttime stories and for every night, the child is given one short story, two illustrations and one poem: what a perfect idea! Well, I am not a child but I personally enjoyed that concept so so much!

All these stories (poems included) are astonishingly beautiful, both in their themes and in their writing. Starting out with the themes, these short stories are all about family and love and all involve magic. You will come across magical forests, fairies, animated objects, kind witches and so much more; all is made for children to spend the most beautiful night (full of the most wholesome dreams).
As far as the writing is concerned, I am such a fan of it! The author knows how to make sentences magical without making them too long or too complicated. A child could easily read the book himself and an adult who would read it would see a form of magic in these sentences; that is what makes this book perfect for both adults and children.

As you have probably understood, I highly recommend this book, not only for your children but also for yourself if, like me, you love children’s literature and magic.

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