Hello everyone! I had…no idea how good my ‘Reading Blog’ for To Sleep In A Sea of Stars would end up being here (my official review for the book is out btw!) and I was so surprised and overwhelmed with the positive response. I had already planned to do another and today’s reading blog is for The Beautiful and The Damned by Renée Ahdieh! Renée’s latest series that have had mixed reviews, especially as they feature an old YA creature we haven’t seen in a while…vampires!
A quick disclaimer before I begin, I had no idea that The Perks of Being Noura, a blogging goddess herself, had already been doing reading blogs for a while! I think I never caught any of the posts because I simply hadn’t discovered her blog at the time – but now that I know this, please give her reading blogs a read because they’re so good! It’s awesome to see that another blogger had the same train of thought and I hope that we can make reading blogs more popular with our posts 🙂
NEW READING BLOG FEATURE
I had a couple of requests to include my SPOILERY thoughts into these reading blogs, so I have provided you guys with an optional drop down section in this post with my spoilery thoughts. Don’t click if you don’t want to be spoiled!
Let us begin!
DAY 1: 14th September (?) – Prologue & First Chapter
I honestly can’t remember when I officially started this book, my Goodreads says the 14th, but I do know that I read the prologue and the first chapter one evening after work. It was super intriguing and I loved the historical and mystery aspect we got from the get-go. I think this was the day where I spent the evening gaming instead of reading so I didn’t get super far into it (and that’s okay!).
DAY 2: 15th September – at page 150~
I can’t believe I’m 150 pages into this book but it was just so good! I had to reread the prologue and first chapter, especially as I realised that the prologue wasn’t a prologue but a different perspective of an unknown character. Took me a whole minute to realise those chapters aren’t the main character Celine. So far, the story is moving along so nicely, the pacing seems perfect and almost fast because I’m almost halfway through this book! Celine is such an interesting and mysterious character. Pippa is also cool and the Mother Superior’s character and personality have certainly changed swiftly the more we have seen of her. I kind of hope that we don’t get a horror nun concept in this book – that would be kind of scary.
The whole ‘vampire’ aspect is so subtle but I LOVE it. You can totally spot all the little things that indicate someone is and isn’t a vampire even though Celine has no idea they even exist.
I honestly thought it was Sebastian who was the killer from the way he was introduced but now it’s becoming more clear that he’s the vampire love-interest, and I’m very suspicious of everyone else. Odette came off as such a cool character but I’m also slightly suspicious of her, but then again, the set-up and the murderer’s point of view makes it seem like he’s doing this to send a message to someone – someone who could very well be Odette. So far, since I speak French, it’s been pretty interesting seeing bits of french dialogue here and there. I honestly hope it isn’t confusing to non-french speakers; I’m usually not one for random bits of dialogue in other languages. I understand that it can be really confusing.
I don’t think I like Sebastian right now…the last bit I read, when he was negotiating with the police office (who is a total arsehole btw), I did not like how condescending basically all these male characters were to Celine. The inequality in this world is obvious and well-staged. This era is super sexist and racist, but it was nice that The Court of Lions obviously had a diverse set of characters, a great juxtaposition. Not to mention that the scene where Celine can’t help but try and stop that man getting beat was giving me the worst second-hand embarrassment. Her character as a determined and level headed woman is great and all but I hope it doesn’t breach into the ‘determined yet stupid decision-making’ territory so many YA female characters fall into. The detective and Sebastian scene kind of alluded to that, but I don’t like seeing protagonists be treated like crap or make silly decisions – let’s see how this goes.
DAY 3: 16th September – at page 210~
I didn’t end up reading a whole lot because I was distracted watching 4K kpop videos on my TV, especially as my favourite group finally had a comeback after 1 year and 3 months (fromis_9). I did manage to read about 50-60 pages and so far, I’m really enjoying myself. The plot seems to be going so fast even though not a whole lot is really happening – which still makes this book super enjoyable so far. My suspicions for who could be this serial killer have changed quite a bit, and Sebastian’s character is slowly being fleshed out a bit more. I’m overall just really intrigued and just want to keep reading!
I went back to thinking Sebastian was potentially the killer, then to Odette cause she had that bloodstain on her dress when she met Celine and Pippa, then I kept thinking outlandish thoughts like maybe it was the mother superior lol I’m honestly a little confused about the yellow ribbon thing that happened as well. That could’ve been written better, is it that Celine saw Sebastien with a yellow ribbon before they met or while they were there, and that ribbon was in the dead girl’s hair before she died? I don’t know. But, it continues to make me super sus about Sebastien.
That whole scene where they fed on those arrogant guys and how they can just wipe their memories away was also cool but so mysterious, like just TELL me how these vampire powers and such work already! The detective being all nice to Celine was also a complete 180 after he was so mean to her the other night, I don’t trust him…even if he’s Italian and knew Sebastien since he was a kid. Speaking of, wonder why so many people around Sebastien just went and died so suddenly. Very sus…
DAY 4: 17th September – finished the book!
So…I finished the book! I just flew through it in one evening and it was so good. I rated it 4-4.5 stars. I think the best thing about this book was the writing and the atmosphere. Renée’s writing was so so lush and I did not know what was coming so the mystery and intrigue were always, and it continues to the end with that little cliffhanger there. I still have so many questions so I’m literally going to jump straight into the sequel (which I’ve got handy). I’m optimistic about what we’re going to learn next, and I’m just looking forward to getting straight back into this world. It honestly ended up giving me the best vibes of The Originals (the TV show), a better twilight in a historical scene and so much nostalgia because of that – like screw reading Midnight Sun, this was it for me.
Celine was a very consistent character throughout and she didn’t really have much development that I could see but she was so strong. Some downsides I had was that although it’s realistic to the time period, I don’t think the romance was as well developed as it could’ve been. I wanted more scenes with Celine and Bastien getting to know each other. The slight love triangle that got sneaked in there was okay; it’s not my favourite trope at all but it was done…elegantly. Overall, this was so enjoyable to read and experience. I’m keen for the next book!
I realised how confused I obviously was earlier about the yellow ribbon thing and now I just laugh at myself. I honestly DID NOT see Nigel being the bad guy coming. First I thought it was Bastien, then realised that Bastien was the target. I don’t know if I could’ve predicted Nigel being the bad guy if I had gotten to know him more but I really wished Celine had had more interactions with the members of this family. I appreciated the Six of Crows-esque family gang from all sorts of places with different backgrounds and powers, but I didn’t get to know them all well so it didn’t hit as hard when Nigel betrayed them all. Not to mention, who was the minion he sent to scare Celine? What happened to that guy? But it made more sense that it was a pretty person like Nigel, especially after that first death. I honestly just feel so bad for Celine, the poor thing and now she won’t remember Bastien and Bastien is a vampire now so god knows how he’s gonna hold up. I have so many questions and can’t wait to get into the next one like now!
DAY 1: 17th September – up to 30 pages
First opinions; THANK YOU for establishing whose point of view we are reading from before each chapter begins. It was pretty annoying not understanding that some chapters were from the pov of the killer in the last book. I find it’s always a little weird when a book doesn’t have numbered chapters either so this is still weird for me.
This book so far has a great start, we are getting Odette’s pov and her character is so interesting. There is still so much intrigue especially since I haven’t read a chapter that involves Celine yet and who knows where she’s at because of how abruptly and cliffhangy the last book ended. I wonder if Bastien will be the main pov of this book and how this changes the narration of the story. I’m only at like 30 pages so I will likely binge more of this book tomorrow. Even with the most beautiful prose, it’s SO easy to read. Renée writing is a goddamn gift with her cohesion and flow.
DAY 2: 19th September – up to 50 pages
I took a bit of a break from reading cause I had to work on a uni assignment and had a weird night where I was super anxious but I managed to read up to 50 pages. So far, it’s again, looking at Sebastien, how he’s dealing with everything that happened at the end of the last book. Really enjoying how fast it is just fly through just one chapter as well because one chapter is sometimes 10+ pages.
The group dynamic of the court of lions is continuing to intrigue me; it was good to get another ‘introduction’ to these characters so that we can remember who they are and just get some background on them at the beginning of this sequel. I definitely don’t think I’d be super confused if I read this sequel and it had been months since I read The Beautiful so Renée recapped the main events of the last book quite well in that regard too. Main opinion right now: Nico is a downright ass. I have yet to see a perspective by Celine but the next one is by someone I can’t say…
I was kind of surprised to see that Émelie would actually be alive and I’m so interested to see how she is incorporated in this book – obviously because she has her own perspective, she’s going to have a much bigger role in this book’s plot. We don’t know much about her yet other than being a werewolf – which – omg does that mean…Mr Detective whatshisname is a werewolf too?? *confusion*
DAY 3: 21st September – up to 200 pages
I got super busy finishing an assignment and didn’t get back onto reading until today and holy cow, I’m loving this. This book has a completely different vibe, it has way more supernatural elements I wasn’t expecting but I’m loving. The plot twists!!! I’m finding super interesting that we are getting Bastien’s POV more than Celine and finally we got to see Celine after what happened at the end of the book. The family dynamic of The Court of Lions is way more prominent in this book which I’m very much enjoying. I feel like I know these characters more and they are bringing across so much depth not just to their characters but Bastien’s Uncle’s. Politics are starting to set into this plot too and I’m very intrigued. I can’t wait to read more – I think I’ll finish this tomorrow!
Holy cow, I did not see Celine being from the Otherworld coming! That’s insane and I’M SO HAPPY that Jae Hyuk isn’t just a faithful follower of Bastien’s Uncle. He’s such an interesting character. I’m kind of conflicted about Bastien’s character, he is constantly battling things; first the fact that he’s now a vampire and then fighting the plan Nico has for him – which is annoying btw, Nico is truly an evil antagonist through and through. But I don’t really understand the whole ‘evil demon’ inside Bastien. The other vampires don’t seem to struggle or sympathise with having a demon inside themselves, they’ve only talked about dealing with the hunger and craving other people’s blood so I’m a bit confused here though.
DAY 4: 22nd September – finished the book!
Holy cow, oh my goodness. As I predicted, I devoured the rest of this book in one sitting (with one dinner break) after work and it was so good. I’m kind of shocked at the direction this book went. I won’t say it did a complete 180 but the atmosphere was definitely different and it went from a spooky New Orleans vibe to adventurous scary ACOTAR vibes that I actually really enjoyed! I feel so much more invested in this world now and just when I thought this was a duology, this book solidified that this is just the beginning and that I NEED MORE.
I seriously felt like I could connect more with all the characters in this book, I loved each characters’ found family story and the ending was just crazy. I wasn’t a huge fan of the epilogue but how the story itself ended was amazing. I think it ended up being the highlight of this book that we mostly read from Bastien’s point of view instead of Celine, although we did see POVs from other characters that I wasn’t expecting and it just added another degree of depth to side characters that are obviously more important to the overall plotline.
The writing and the pacing were so good, I loved that I could fly through this second half and see so much happen without feeling like it was rushed. The action was so unprecedented and magical – and the plot twists that seemed obvious now I look back, hit me straight in the face. With the ending, I could really see Bastien’s character development and also what makes Celine such a powerful and strong female protagonist. I’m honestly so excited for the next book, I still have so many questions!
I don’t even know how to process that I didn’t click together that Émelie was Luca’s wife and it shocked me how heartless she was; I think she became more like Nicodemo and that’s incredibly ironic considering she hates him. I was a bit shocked that Nico just went off and poofed himself in the sun, I wished we could’ve seen him talk with her and see why he decided to do this. He was originally such a strong evil character, then he just changes his mind and dies?! Émelie was a strange antogonist for sure, I don’t know the significance of her left hand being chopped off but it sure showed a lot of Bastien’s development as a character not to kill her outright right there. I honestly feel so bad for Michael; not only did he kill his cousin and become a werewolf but he was just so GOOD. Even when it looked like he was going to be with Celine instead of Bastien, I couldn’t fault him because he just wants to be happy!
The ending with the French guy coming to arrest Celine, I could almost predict it from the random mysterious POV we got earlier and I love that Celine is just like, let’s just go to the Otherworld for a while together lol
The epilogue was kind of confusing to me because while Pippa was an important side character for Celine in the first book and made appearances in the second, I don’t quite know why it’s a big deal if she finds out about the vampires and werewolves etc. She has known that these people are inhuman for a while but is this suspense because she might go crazy and turn on Celine or because she has a bigger role in all of this? I don’t know but it was a strange thing to end on tbh. I’m very much excited to see more of the Otherworld, Celine’s time there with the boys was kinda scary and all the fae and new creatures in this new world gave me good ACOTAR vibes. I’m also super sus about Celine’s mum, there is no way I trust her.
And those are my thoughts on The Beautiful and The Damned by Renée Ahdieh! I personally really enjoyed these two books, they were so well written and so fun too. I’ve started to get a bit attached to these characters and I’m very excited to read the next books in the series. These books are also so beautiful! I love the covers, especially The Damned.
If you have read these books already, what did you think? did you like the spoilers section?
If you haven’t – did this reading blog convince you to pick them up? Looking forward to any comments <3
Until next time,