“The Book of Pearl” by Timothee de Fombelle | Fairy-tales, Wicked Kings, Insta-Love, and Endless Marshmallows



In prose as magical and intricate as the tale it tells, Timothée de Fombelle delivers an unforgettable story of a first love that defines a lifetime.

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

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Rating: 2.5 marshmallow-y stars

Who could have guessed that she used to be a fairy?

I adore fairy tales, and this is basically the fairy tale OF ALL FAIRY TALES. It has practically three different plots mish-mashed into one very dense storyline. Though undeniably a creative twist, this makes the book more than a little difficult to follow (particularly for someone as daft as me).

Basically: there was a prince and a fairy, both madly in love. There was magic. There was a wicked king, a 14-year-old narrator, a war with green cloaked archer assassins, and a marshmallow shop. (The marshmallows sounded delicious, by the way.) THERE WERE SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS AND I AM ALL THE CONFUSION.

Perhaps some of this confusion can be attributed to the nuances lost in translation, considering The Book of Pearl was originally written in French (and from my understanding, quite popular in its native country). Regardless, the seemingly abrupt shifts from first to third person POV threw me off. One minute I’m reading from the perspective of an angsty 14-year old narrator, then he’s suddenly an adult, and then suddenly I’m watching fairy tale characters flouncing about in Paris during WWII? AND THEN TWENTY PAGES TO THE END, THE LITTLE BOY NARRATOR POPS UP AGAIN. I’m sorry, but my brain simply. Cannot. Compute.

With so many different stories tangled into one, you’d think the pacing would be fast-paced, maybe even confusingly so. Quite the opposite, actually: the book moved slowly for me. Veryyy veryyyy slowlyyyy. I can’t put it any other way—I was bored. Which is never a good thing when you’re reading fairy tales, because hello, fairy tales are an absolute delight. This is most likely a matter of personal taste; the plot had that languid, cat-stretching-in-the-sun feel that inches by like molasses. Some readers like that. I didn’t.

To be sure, I acknowledge the author’s incredible literary talent—the writing style is truly very lush and whimsical, perfect for the magical fairy-tale setting. (Or settings, considering that the storylines seemed to shift 1000 times.) I can imagine being forced to painstakingly dissect this, sentence by sentence, inside an AP Language class; it’s chock-full of the figurative language and complex syntactical patterns and everything else that would make my high school English teacher cry tears of joy.

But stories change us. And there are some encounters that flip us onto our back like tortoises, forcing us to wake up and listen.

Despite that beautiful writing, I never quite connected with the characters as much as I’d hoped. Like many of you, I’m the type of reader that prefers to fall COMPLETELY in love with the story. I like books that make me feel. I like having my heart torn to shreds. I like to be destroyed. (But in a fun way, of course.) Unfortunately, with these characters—Olia, Ian, Joshua Pearl, the 14-year-old narrator whose name I can’t ever seem to remember—I just couldn’t. I definitely felt that fairy-tale vibe of WATCHING the characters interact on the page, but never really empathizing with them. (I’m serious. If the protagonist had suddenly choked on an acorn and died, I wouldn’t even have BLINKED.)

Don’t get me wrong: there was something refreshing in the black-and-white morality of all the characters. Happy couple GOOD, wicked king BAD. There was something refreshing about observing such a wholesome, idealistic love that stretched out across decades.

Ultimately, though, I’m sorry to conclude that this just wasn’t my type of book.

I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Candlewick Press, as well as to the translators of this edition, Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon. All quotes are subject to change in the final publication. 

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Publication Date: February 6, 2018

Genre: Teens & YA

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let us chat

What about you—do you love fairy-tales? Do you prefer fast-paced or slower plots? Do you get easily confused in books? Do you think translation takes away some of the original meaning?


Burn, Write, Reread Tag | Wherein I figuratively burn lots of books I hate

I was tagged a literal year ago by May @ My 1st Chapter, whose posts are always a delight to read! If you’re on here, May *waves frantically* thank you for tagging me, I love this tag and I love you.

I know this tag is super outdated but no judgement plz, I’m late to everything else in life so this honestly shouldn’t be a surprise. :’)

(Obviously I would be figuratively rewriting all these books because no matter how much I like to dish out 1-star ratings, my own “writing” basically consists of me slamming my head on the keyboard and hoping something coherent comes out.)

ANYWAYS, the rules are: (1) Go to your “read” shelf on Goodreads, (2) Categorize them under “Random”*, (3) Pick the first 3 books that appear, and (4) Repeat 4 times more, & (5) Judge away!!

*This sounds easy, but because I’m a naturally daft person, it took me forever to find the “randomizer” button. I spent a good fifteen minutes scrolling through Goodreads and then gave up and consulted the all-knowing Google. *shrugs*

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“White Chrysanthemum” by Mary Lynn Bracht (Sorry, I can’t hear you over the SOUND OF MY OWN TEARS)


For fans of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko and Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.

Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.

South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?

Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.

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Oh my goodness, I’m so bad at this award thing. I was nominated for it practically EONS ago, but…. *hides*

(you think I’m kidding, but I was literally nominated SIX MONTHS AGO, why am I like this :’))

Anyways, sending all the virtual hugs and kisses to Steph @ Lost: Purple Quill and Maram @ She Reads Past Midnight for their lovely nominations. You MUST immediately hop on over to their blogs and immerse yourself in their fabulousness! Seriously, I demand it.

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Which #GIRLPOWER Contemporary YA Book Should You Read According To Your Ice Cream Preferences? | I Know That You Know That You Want to Know This

I love classifying readers according to their ice cream preferences.* Deeply philosophical stuff, really. It tells you so much about them.*

HELP ME I HAVE NOTHING ELSE TO POST HELP I thought this was such an incredibly ingenious idea; it’s not like this quiz hasn’t done 1049290 times before. HELP ME I’M STUCK IN THE WORST BLOGGING SLUMP EVER I’m just blown away by my own creativity. HELPPP

Basically: Just click on each of the yummy ice cream pics to find out which YA book you match to!! Be sure to have a pint of Ben and Jerry’s near you on standby, because this may or may not result in intense ice cream craving episodes.

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my spirit animal… or sponge. spirit sponge.

*Ice Cream Psychology 101. LET’S MAKE IT A THING.
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Blogger Recognition Award | In Which I Practically Swim In Validation

I feel so recognized right now and it’s the best thing ever.

I think I’m going to print this badge out and frame it in my room so that I can look at it whenever I need to feel validated again. Which is basically all the time, let’s be honest, because I’m a very #desperate and #insecure lil marshmallow.

(Also please note that I am using these hashtags ironically because I think they are the worst things EVER, but at the same time I find them so so funny. #ilikewritinglonghashtagslikethis #couldyouevenreadthat)

look…. look at how beautiful this is *single tear*

ANYWAYS, massive thanks are in order to the lovely Queen Delphine *, who very generously tagged me, a mere peasant! Her posts are always a delight to read and she’s SO SASSY and SO SO WONDERFUL. I love it. I love her posts. I love her. I love you. I AM FILLED WITH LOVE FOR ALL THINGS.**

*WOW that rhymed! Coincidence? I think not!

**except for American cheese, I hate American cheese. And also the Percy Jackson movie. I hate that too.

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Reading Slumps, The Bane of Any Bookworm’s Miserable Existence | 7 Foolproof Ways To (Sort Of) Drag Yourself Out Of Them

What exactly is a reading slump, you ask? Allow me to enlighten you.

reading slump (n)

  • the devil incarnate.
  • a specter that haunts a reader’s worst nightmares.
  • not being able to read a book because you can’t. you just CAN’T.

To give you a better picture of the monstrosity that is a READING SLUMP, allow me to present an actual, real-life scenario, starring yours truly and inspired by Urban Dictionary. Because obviously we all know that Urban Dictionary is such a trusted and legitimate source of factual information.

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The UNIQUE Blogger Award (Who, Me??!!)

You might be asking yourself, why is there a picture of pineapples on the featured image?? What does this award even have to do with pineapples?

WELL, a) this photo was aesthetic and b) more importantly, it was FREE. Those are the two things I look for in life: aesthetic and free.

Also, I really like pineapples, just not on my pizza because that is just UNNATURAL end of the story. (Join me in my quest to cleanse the pineapple-on-pizza plague from existence, one scathing remark at a time!)*

MOVING ON, I can’t believe I’ve been nominated for ANOTHER award! *squeals* Sending all the love to the bibliophile Ash @ Ash the Bookworm for generously nominating me! You can also send all the love, too, by checking out her amazin’ blog because she deserves so many more followers. THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME FEEL VALIDATED. LOVE YOU. ❤

*I may have just offended the entire pineapple-lover population 

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“ROAR” by Cora Carmack (ARC Review) | And No, It’s Not That Annoying Katy Perry Song

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