3 stars · Dystopian · Fantasy · Young Adult

Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


I gave this book 3.5 stars. Until the end, I would have given it a mediocre 3, but more on why in a minute. 

A brief summary from Goodreads:

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.”

This first book is very much the world building book. Camille, a belle, is raised an innocent, sheltered life. She’s a sweet girl that wants to help people learn to love themselves. When she gets old enough to start working though, she gets a rude awakening into reality. There are some not so great things going on in the real world related to the belles.

At first, I was intrigued, but the mysteries stayed mostly vague, and no plot really happened (the end is the exception). There was a lot of description of pretty people and pretty dresses, and after a while it got dull.

I was really getting bored, until it got to the end and the story started happening. At the end, there starts to be a plot. At the end, there starts to be some action. The end is what led me to actually have interest in reading the second one.

I know that a lot of other people liked this book more than I did (and even in interested in the sequel), so I would recommend this book. I think it also makes a difference knowing this is meant for world building, not plot. I will be reading the second one.

3 stars · Young Adult

Review: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

2.5 stars, which really bums me out! I was so excited for this book! Monty is an 18 year old gentleman in historical England who is attracted to men in a time when that is highly unacceptable. He’s also secretly in love with his best friend. His sister is a female interested in education, culture, and science, in a time when girls were sent to finishing school to become proper wives, not taken to museums. Continue reading “Review: The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue”

3 stars · Fantasy · Young Adult

Review: Unblemished by Sara Ella

published Oct 11, 2016; 353 pages

Brief Summary from Goodreads:

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

3 stars. While it is definitely a bit more corny and aimed at a slightly younger teen audience than what I usually read, I still found myself enjoying the story.

This was a solid book with plenty to love. The fantasy world is great and has a ton going on. While the transition into it is a bit rocky, it was easy to get involved once the story was solidly there. I would actually say the same for the love triangle. At first, it feels a bit rocky and forced, but as we get into it I was fully on board. I also loved how innocent it was. The whole book has a strong theme around kisses and their importance, and that’s as steamy as the book ever gets. As a book that felt aimed at a younger teen audience, I felt this was appropriate.

There were, however, a lot of little things that kept me from being fully immersed in the story:

1. I was really bothered by all the put downs El gives herself from the very beginning. She has a birthmark, and thinks that this means she is ugly and that people should hate her and she should have no friends because of it. She is constantly putting herself down. Her mother also refuses to let her have social media accounts or even have a school picture, and El decides this must be because she is so ugly. I didn’t feel like this was a good message to be sending to anyone. It’s okay to be embarrassed or uncomfortable about a particular feature; that’s pretty common teen stuff. But the all out hate on herself about it was much too much.

2. The transition from real world to fantasy world was a bit jarring, and made more annoying by El’s blantant questions about things. It was very obvious that it was put there to explain things to the reader, and didn’t feel very natural. It got a lot better as the story progressed though.

3. El makes a lot of snarky comments and WAY to many pop culture references throughout the book. A little of it has it’s place, but there was much too much of it. In many instances, it wasn’t necessary to feel the tone of the situation. It just jarred me out of the story.

Over all, I did enjoy this book. While I would encourage anyone interested to read it, but wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.


3 stars · Young Adult

Mini Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Published Aug 29th, 2017; 352 pages; Historical-ish fiction

I think the biggest problem with this book for me was that the main character felt too flat. She didn’t grow much as a person, and she stayed focused on revenge all book. It was fresh and interesting to experience a gender fluid main character, but that’s not character development. There is way more to any person than what this character was.

The story was good, the writing and the pace were interesting, but I wish there had been more to the main character. 3 stars, and I wouldn’t personally recommend it if you’re not already psyched to read it.

3 stars · Young Adult

Mini Review: Forbidden 1 & 2 by Kimberley Griffiths Litle

Book 1: Forbidden; 397 pages; YA historical fiction

Jayden is betrothed to the future tribe leader, but isn’t looking forward to her upcoming marriage. When she meets a traveling stranger and starts to have feelings for him, all sorts of trouble breaks loose. Continue reading “Mini Review: Forbidden 1 & 2 by Kimberley Griffiths Litle”

3 stars · Dystopian · Fantasy · Young Adult

Mini Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake

Published Sept 12th, 2017; 416 pages

This is book 2 in the Frostblood series.

Summary from Goodreads:

“Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his throne of ice. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby’s powers and past…
Continue reading “Mini Review: Fireblood by Elly Blake”