The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton | Review

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy in exchange for honest review. All thoughts are my own. 


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Rating: ★★★★☆

Release Date: February 6th, 2018

Trigger Warnings: sexual assault, animal torture

Pages: 448

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Goodreads blurb:

 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. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.


R E V I E W

To start off this review lets just address how beautiful this cover is. I’m not usually a fan of people on the cover of books (my eye prefers designs) but wowThe Belles was a book I instantly wanted to pick up after seeing the cover. The model is stunning and so is the design surrounding her. I don’t know, I was just left utterly speechless when I saw it.

Now, about the book. The Belles was a book I felt a bit cautious about. I had requested it but I wasn’t sure if it was a book that would suit my tastes. Especially since it took me a couple days to even reach 100 pages. However, once I was able to sit down and truly get into the world I flew through the remaining pages in a day. The concept and execution were so seamless for me that I couldn’t put the book down without knowing what happened.

The Belles is a fantasy novel set in a world where a large majority of people are born void of colour. A select few girls are born with colour and are tasked with the job to make everyone (who can afford it) beautiful. To keep trends changing and people different because in this world beauty is power. If you are not beautiful you are basically treated like trash. Camellia is a Belle, one of the few, and her goal has always been to become the Favourite of the queen. Which means that she will be the one doing all the beauty treatments of anyone royal, creating the new fashion and being trusted by the most beautiful people in Orléans.

I was pleasantly surprised by everything in this book. I didn’t find it predictable at all and I felt that every scene was happening for a reason and not simply to add page count. I also really enjoyed reading about a character who I shared a name with. One of Camellia’s sister’s name is Ambrosia but goes by Amber (which, is my name if you weren’t aware).

Speaking of the characters I felt everyone had such a depth. Especially Camellia. At the beginning, she isn’t that great of a person and I didn’t exactly like her, at all. Throughout The Belles, she grows as she realises the world and position she holds aren’t what she always dreamed about. The world around her is a lot messier and she needs to adapt now or die (not even an exaggeration). Everyone around her isn’t as she originally thought. My favourite character had to be Remy, who is the bodyguard for Camellia. I’m rooting for him in the sequel.

To round this up and stop babbling about this masterpiece, The Belles shattered me. It is well worth the hype in my opinion and has a fantastic cast throughout. I desperately need help picking up my scattered brain for this. I’m sure once the book is officially out in the world there will be some more concise book reviews out but just trust me here read this book. It’s worth it.


Happy reading everyone!

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Meet Cute by Various | Review

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Rating: ★★★☆☆

Release Date: January 2nd, 2018

Pages: 320

Publisher: HMH Books For Young Readers

Goodreads blurb:

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real. 


The Meet Cute anthology was an interesting one. There were so many authors and so many stories. Some I couldn’t wait to end and others I wanted to be extended to fill the pages of a novel. For this review, I’ve tried to review each story featured in this anthology. They’re quite short but I find it difficult to rate an anthology as a whole (3 is what I just figured was the average among these).

This collection definitely was super cute and I do love meet-cute stories. Some definitely stood out. I would recommend this collection though if you’re looking for a short read to fill a rainy day.


SEIGE ETIQUETTE BY KATIE COTUGNO

STORY ONE – 3 STARS

I’m not sure this was the best start to the novel. I feel there were so many other ‘meet cute’ stories throughout the novel which were better suited for the first story – ones that would have had a better impact. I enjoyed the writing style and I did gush, but there was cheating and abuse which wasn’t dealt with and only very briefly mentioned that made me feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing.

I also hate people who are self proclaimed popular so I had that issue with the main character, since she knows she’s popular. I feel like there were just little facts in the story that, ultimately, didn’t add to the overall story and actually took away from me being able to enjoy it. I felt for her backstory, but she really did ruin it by being a self righteous bitch.


PRINT SHOP BY NINA LACOUR

STORY TWO – 4 STARS

This was the first f/f romance in the book and I loved it. It wasn’t as if it was anything special but the writing itself and the characters the author created in those few short pages were incredible. It shows just how talented the author writing it was.

I was so engaged it the idea of the print shop (especially since it was a queer business). The author didn’t rush a single moment. It all felt super organic and very well written to me. I was completely involved with the main character as she did her best to help the client in need. Print Shop was just super feel good and fluffy, if the idea had been extended into a full novel I would be so happy!


HOURGLASS BY IBI ZOBOI

STORY THREE – 3 STARS

This was when the lack of conclusions in this anthology really started to get to me. I also had a problem with every character but the main one in this particular story.

Our POC MC just wants to escape her small town despite all the waitlists she’s been placed on, her best friend ended up backstabbing her and she’s 6’5 (a queen). Her meet cute doesn’t really start until the end. Quite literally the last two pages or so it happens. So, it felt like a lot of build up which ultimately had a good ending. I just wanted a bit more interaction so I could root for the two characters some more!


CLICK BY KATHERINE MCGEE

STORY FOUR – 4 STARS

Click was one of my favourites in the anthology. The author creates such authentic and deep characters so quickly that had my heart racing. I loved the concept of online dating – it’s hard to meet people and online dating shouldn’t be shamed. I absolutely adored the twist as well.

I’m not even sure what to say, I loved how the MC was a smart girl and the love interest was a good guy. It just made me feel happy and mushy and the overall message was super sweet.


THE INTERN BY SARA SHEPARD

STORY FIVE – 2 STARS

The Intern was flat as heck for me. There was no climax. There was no moment I rooted for the two characters. Nothing. I felt for the main characters as much I felt for the cast of the new Jumajii movie (nothing).

I’m not too interested in ‘celebrity falls for normal girl and she makes him remember his passion’ trope either, which this fell into it. It really did have that classic love cures all vibe too which I am not down for in the slightest. There was also just no connection between the characters, they didn’t know each other long enough for what concluded.


SOMEWHERE THAT’S GREEN BY MEREDITH RUSSO

STORY SIX – 3 STARS

This particular story featured a transgender (male to female) character. Nia is in quite an accepting environment, with her dad accepting her and her friends. The problem is the church and the schools won’t acknowledge her gender in order for her to use the correct bathrooms. A part of this reason is that a girl in her grade has spoken out against Nia on the news on behalf of her church.

To rectify her choices this girl decides to out herself to her peers, recording it so her conservative parents will 110% see it.

My problem with this particular meet-cute was the fact one girl had to out herself. I just didn’t think she was ready to do so from her inner monologue. Maybe I’m wrong, and I completely understand I may be, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.


THE WAY WE LOVE HERE BY DHONIELLE CLAYTON

STORY SEVEN – 4 STARS

Now, this was an interesting concept. I’m not even sure if I can really find the words to accurately describe this story or even give my views. This isn’t a contemporary story like the others, this one is straight up urban fantasy with the inclusion of a thing called a love bond. I’m not even sure if I truly understand the concept to explain it either.
The writing style, however, was beautiful. I loved the characters the author was able to create in the few available pages she had. The story was so engaging and one of the few in the anthology that I didn’t pause while reading. I was simply so involved in what was happening on the page. This was yet another concept I wanted to be extended into a novel so I could truly get a feel for it.


OOMPH BY EMERY LORD

STORY EIGHT – 4 STARS

This was one of my favourites in the anthology. It was another f/f romance that left me feeling mushy and wanting to scream. The girls pretend to be CIA and FBI agents in an airport while they wait to board their separate flights. It was honestly nothing too original or too out of the ordinary but the authors writing left me desperately grasping for more once I finished the story. It was such a romantic read that I was shocked it wasn’t extended into a full novel.


THE DICTIONARY OF YOU AND ME BY JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT

STORY NINE – 5 STARS

This particular story was my favourite. It featured a library-based romance that left my heart racing at the sheer adorableness of it all. I know this story had its flaws, obviously, but from the first page I was grinning ear-to-ear and desperately yearning for more. This was yet another story that could have been a novel, the idea definitely could have extended more than just a few pages and I would not be mad.


THE UNLIKELY LIKELIHOOD OF FALLING IN LOVE BY JOCELYN DAVIS

STORY TEN – 1 STAR

I don’t have much to say about this particular excerpt in the anthology apart from boring. The whole story was so analytical that I was left confused at all the jargon. I also just didn’t care as soon as math was mentioned. I am terrible at math and as soon as it’s mentioned in fiction or real life I instantly check out.

I also was not feeling the love connection either. This would have been to the quick changes of scenes. We’d get a few paragraphs about something and then a quick change. It made the whole story feel disconnected and the flow felt extremely off.


259 MILES BY KASS MORGAN

STORY ELEVEN – 3.5 STARS

I was so excited by this story, we were finally getting a male perspective after all this time. I’m not sure why but I expected more male perspectives. I absolutely loved the concept of having to go to Mars to create new life. However, the conclusion of this story left me feeling unhappy since it wasn’t a happy ending. Who allowed this? I was not okay.

Basically, fuck everyone. This story made me feel things and then ruined me.


SOMETHING REAL BY JULIE MURPHY

STORY TWELVE – 3 STARS

This did not go where I thought it was going. Honestly. A celebrity dating show where two girls compete in order to score a date with the celebrity on national TV. How nice. Sounds like my worst nightmare. The two girls competing couldn’t be more different on paper either. However, literally everything goes wrong and the end had me definitely like ‘what?’ It was cute though.


SAY EVERYTHING BY HUNTLEY FITZPATRICK

STORY THIRTEEN – 2 STARS

Now, this was the definition of mediocre for me. It read the exact same way as the author’s full-length novels and didn’t exactly vary from the plot line either. It was a very forbidden love like with the twist (if you can call it that) thrown in.

I don’t really have much to say. At one point I got some The Greatest Showman vibes but not really. It was just super mediocre and nothing to brag about.


DEPARTMENT OF DEAD LOVE BY NICOLA YOON

STORY FOURTEEN – 3 STARS

I think Nicola Yoon works much better for me in a short story format than her novels. I really do enjoy her short stories in the two anthologies I’ve read that feature her. It was super engaging, super messy and just overall reminded me of the concept of More Happy Than Not.

It was just a very interesting story and a pretty fun concept of meeting someone who realises you are over your previous partner.


Happy reading everyone!

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If you use my Book Depository link I will receive a 5% commission from your order at no expense to you. I would sincerely be grateful if you chose to use it.

The same goes for my Booktopia link, which is a great service for Aus and NZ residents.