Spoiler Free Review: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton

Pub. Date: February 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 448

Format: eGalley & Physical ARC

*HUGE thanks to Disney Hyperion, Netgalley and Dhonielle Clayton for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

The Belles is the type of book that will sink it’s teeth into you without you ever noticing. The opening scene sets the stage for this lush & colorful world, leaving you hypnotized by all Orléans has to offer. The Belles are introduced to us readers & the royal court on their 16th birthday. Beautiful carriages stream in one by one, each carrying a Belle named after a specific flower. Each one will be introduced to the royal family & each one will hope to be chosen as the “Favorite.” The Favorite will solely tend to the needs of the royal family while the others are assigned to the different tea houses in the land where they will provide a service. Born with a special gift, The Belles are the only ones that can bring beauty to a otherwise gray world & people. Their services are sought out by the wealthy who can afford to pay the hefty price for beauty.

“Belles are the descendants of the Goddess of Beauty, blessed with the Arcana to enhance the world and rescue the people of Orléans”

We are introduced to our MC Camellia Beauregard whose mother once was the Royal family’s Favorite, and whose footsteps she hopes to follow. Camellia & her sisters are recieved by the court with great celebration, a vote will be cast for the Favorite. Camellia wants the coveted position of Favorite more than anything in the world but so does her closest sister Ambrosia. Both Camellia & Ambrosia have shown great skill with their power called the Arcana, a power that is not without it’s consequences if misused. The Royal family is hiding many secrets & The Belles are unfortunately pawns used to maintain appearances. The Favorite will find herself pushing the limits of the Arcana at the risk of her own destruction. Filled with plot twists and political intrigue, this book had me on my toes trying to figure out the next move in the game.

“Always remember that emotions are tethered to the blood, and the blood is where your gifts are. Any excess passion can cause contamination and too much pressure. It can damage the Arcana. I cannot stress this enough.”

We’re introduced to Camellia, Ambrosia, Edelweiss, Padma, Valeria, and Hana on their 16th birthday. Although each one doesn’t get a ton of page time, their personalities definitely jumped off the page, some more than others. The MC Camellia has a reputation for being a rebel & going against the rules set for The Belles, she’s very unpredictable. Camellia wants nothing more than to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she is ambitious & confident in her Arcana. I enjoyed meeting a MC who walked into the story with confidence & determination, she refused to allow self doubt to creep in. Camellia’s only real competition is Ambrosia who she is most closest to having been raised together by their Mamans aka Mothers. The Belles for the most part get along well & treat each other like sisters. They’ve been raised together since infancy & so we see the typical sibling rivalry take place but none as complicated as Camellia & Ambrosia’s relationship. They cheer each other on & look-out for one another but they both desire a position only one can hold.

Edelweiss is probably my most favorite besides Camellia, she cares not for being a Belle & would much rather see the world. We see Edelweiss often challenge Madame Du Barry who is head of their house & responsible for their training. I really enjoyed seeing how far Edelweiss would push the limits, very outspoken & quick to set any of her sisters straight, she quickly became one of my favorite characters in this book. There is one other supporting character that deserves mention, Rémy who is assigned to protect & watch over Camellia. Although there is no romance between Camellia & Rémy in this book, there is some budding chemistry between the two. Rémy is loyal, the kind of guy who is hard on the exterior but mush for those he loves. I appreciated that he wasn’t made out to be some raging jealous guy once he saw Camellia’s actual “love interest” come around, he respected her space.

The villain…cause it wouldn’t be a Fantastical world without one amiright?!?! Ha! Princess Sophia, daughter to the Queen & King of Orléans will make anyone’s blood go cold just by looking their way. Cruel, Vain, implacable, and unpredictable. She’s also one of the smartest villains I’ve met in YA Fantasy, always ten steps ahead of the game. She is calculating & mainpulative & many times left me asking myself “does she know?” Princess Sophia plays her cards close to her chest & what she does and doesn’t know is a source of tension for both the reader and those in her court.

The first impression I got when I read the first page of this book was beauty would be splattered everywhere!!! In the fashion, foods, and streets of Orléans and that it was! giving off Hunger Games Capital vibes, you are sucked into the MOST colorful & opulent world guaranteed to leave you eyeing the closest pastry shop. The world building was A+ but perhaps my only complaint is that the magic system isn’t throughly broken down early on. This book is quite hefty and that means that for the first half you are only holding certain pieces of knowledge on the way things work with The Belles. We know that their treatments are temporary fixes & that only the wealthy can really afford them & the maintenance that goes along with it. The consequences of pushing the limits however, isn’t disclosed in the first half of the book. It wasn’t too complex of a system at all to understand, I just wish we had been given more of it towards the beginning. There is a TON of information that is revealed towards the end, the second half of the book is absolutely much faster paced than the first. That being said, I cannot deny the lure of this world & how I couldn’t put the book down for long. The rich color palette encompassing all skin colors/tones used by the Belles to treat the Gray, signified the lack of racism in this book. However, classism is well & alive in The Belles where only the wealthy can afford to receive treatments while the less fortunate walk around Gray & drained of life. There are also three characters from the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, one who is Bi-sexual & the other two are Lesbian (won’t say who cause spoilers). Orléans is a world where LBTQIA+ and people of color live well among others without discrimination. I LOVED the commentary on beauty & societal standards this book brings to the forefront! Camellia loves being a Belle & bringing color to peoples lives but then there are those who are never satisfied…


Hello Bookworms! hope you’re all having a wonderful day & enjoying all of your current reads, has The Belles made its way onto your TBR’s? Thoughts? The Belles will be out on February 6th. 2018 🙂


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Review: The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

Title: The Dark Intercept

Author: Julia Keller

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopia

Publisher:  Tor Teen

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for a honest review, all opinions are my own.

  

The State controls your emotions. What would you pay to feel free?

In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

The dark Intercept caught my attention with its interesting concept & cool cover depicting a sleek new planet suspended above another that is gray & ominous. In a world filled with violence, crime, sickness, and hopelessness; science & technology have provided a way out. Not everyone however has been granted access into New Earth, that right has been reserved only for the privileged elite. Everyone else has been left behind on Old Earth to fend for themselves. The invention of the Intercept has made it so that there is no need for law enforcement to be present at all times. Every single human being both on Old Earth & New Earth have had a chip inserted in their arm & emotions have been weaponized as a method of control over the populace. Every single emotion is digitally recorded by the Intercept & law enforcement is called the minute it picks up on any nefarious actions. Criminals caught in the act are subjected to the Intercept while it selects your most painful memory on record & replays it for you so vividly it’s as if you are re-living the moment over & over again until left in crippling agony. I found this alone to be a scary concept simply because the implementation of chipping in humans isn’t far fetched in real life today, as a matter of fact you may have heard of one company in Wisconsin who has embedded them in their employees. In The Dark Intercept, we have a population that has been entirely abandoned to its own devices on Old Earth & it’s pretty much survival of the fittest down there.

We get introduced to 16 year old Violet who works at an office monitoring The Dark Intercept for any signs of malicious activity. Whenever the Intercept picks up on criminal activity, Violet initiates the feed of painful memories/emotions to the criminal. Violet is also the daughter of the man who created New Earth & because she is able to see the live feed of Old Earth, has a deep appreciation for the Intercept. This is why Violet can’t understand why Danny, a guy she has feelings for, can’t seem to stop himself from going down to Old Earth despite orders not to. Danny works for law enforcement on New Earth but unlike Violet, he was born on Old Earth & has plenty of secrets to hide. For the majority of this book we follow Violet as she tracks Danny’s moves on Old Earth in an attempt to discover his motives. I really wish this has been multiple POV, I was very interested in Danny & a few of the other supporting characters. I also didn’t really see much chemistry between these two characters in a romantic sort of way particularly because Violet came off as very immature in contrast to Danny who is in his early 20’s.  Since that didn’t really go anywhere, I’m hoping it stays that way and that instead we see a platonic relationship between these two characters. Less focus on Violet tracking every move Danny makes & more on the characters in the shadows is what I’d like to see in the sequel.

Along with multiple POV’s I also would’ve liked Old Earth to have been a bit more fleshed out. We do get introduced to a woman on Old Earth & there is mention of a group of teens who stick together in survival mode by any means necessary but it’s not really as fleshed out as New Earth. There is one character in particular who goes by the alias Tin Man that I was REALLLLLY interested in & would’ve loved to see more story on. I love stories where the oppressed fight back against a system that’s broken & for a minute there I had some guesses as to who would helm the revolution if there were to be one.  I’m hoping to see some of these predictions come true in the next installment *fingers crossed*.

In terms of writing, the second half of The Dark Intercept was definitely stronger than the first. I found myself flipping pages a bit faster when plot twists were introduced but also found that I had reached the end by the time my interest was at its most highest. Above all, what I liked most about the Dark Intercept is perhaps the potential for conversation it opens up on the ramifications of human chipping. This may be a YA Sci-Fi but a lot of what was going on doesn’t seem far fetched anymore in the real world of today. Overall, The Dark Intercept presents an interesting concept with some flaws in terms of world building/character development however, the Big Brother element hooks you in & the plot twists make for an entertaining read, I gave it 3.5 stars.

*HUGE thanks to Tor Teen and Julia Keller for the arc copy of The Dark Intercept in exchange for an honest review.

*Images for book aesthetic obtained from Pinterest

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books! ❤ ❤ ❤


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WWW Wednesday 10/25/2017

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

The Dark Intercept (The Dark Intercept #1) by Julia Keller

I requested this book from Tor back in June & had totally forgotten about it since I hadn’t heard from them. I was very happy to have received it in the mail last week but since its publication date is 10/31 this means I had to squeeze it in this weeks reading schedule. There aren’t many reviews as of yet since I believe I read somewhere that the Publisher asked reviews to be posted first week of November. Of the reviews/ratings that are up on Goodreads, not many are good but I’m not letting this deter me from reading this one. I started it this morning so I’m only 25 pages in but I will be reading throughout the day & updating my Goodreads as I ago along. Blurbed by Melissa Landers author of the Alienated series & Emmy Laybourne author of Berserker, I have hope for this read *fingers crossed* 


YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by MITALI PERKINS

This is the eGalley that I was supposed to be reading together with Nyxia last week lol. Well…Nyxia kind of snuffed out everything in sight & I could only focus on what was going on in NYXIA! smh so reading 2 books was a #epicfail last week. I have hope this week since I am reading The Dark Intercept in physical format on my commute to/from work & this will be the eGalley I read while at work during down time. I’ll aslo be updating my progress & thoughts on Goodreads 😉


Berserker (Berserker #1) by Emmy Laybourne

I finished Berserker yesterday & settled on a 3.5 rating, it certainly had many elements I enjoyed however, I expected a less than neat conclusion to what really was a bloody read. Many thoughts I’m still sorting through but my review will be posted this week. 


Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen

I recently read, loved, & wrote a GUSH review for Nyxia by Scott Reintgen (my review)…I’m still not over that ending!!! *sobs* this book was a burst of adrenaline each & every time I picked it up. I enjoyed the cast of diverse characters immensely & can’t wait for the sequel next year! Also, on Friday my luck was on a roll & I won a signed copy of this book from a giveaway the author himself was running. He was very nice & promised that book 2 amps up the fun even further which gives me something to look forward to. Last but not least, I came across NerdNarration who also reviewed Nyxia & BOOKWORMS she nailed it! I loved her enthusiasm & style of reviewing so much 🙂


Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Yes! Yes I am reading Renegades next & Yes! I am over the top excited & have tired of stroking the spine every day when I walk past my shelf haha! This is 576 pages I am SO READY for & because it’s a hefty one, it will be my last read for the month. Hoping to close October with a bang! 🙂


What are you wonderful bookworms currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if you’re reading any of the ones I mentioned, sound off in the comments down below! ❤ ❤ ❤


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June Owlcrate & Book of the Month Unboxing

Hello Readers! I come to you with a very late June Unboxing but I didn’t want to post any spoilers for those who receive Owlcrate. Last month I actually skipped the unboxing…more like it slipped my mind…but umm yea I actually like doing these since It gives me an opportunity to hear what you all got in your BOTM boxes & your thoughts on the Owlcrate selection. Some months are better than others, but I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty happy with the last few mths. The April & May Owlcrate boxes (The Upside of Unrequited & Eliza and her Monsters) were a nice surprise because I was lucky enough to have read galleys of these books & LOVED them to pieces. On to my unboxing…

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I had seen Sandcastle Empire make its rounds on all of the bookish platforms & immediately added it to my TBR. I heard that it had LOST vibes & there was a time where I lost my head over that show & binged before binge was even a thing! let’s not talk about the last season cuz I skipped it once it started spiraling out of control. I digress…my point is that I haven’t found anything quite like the show & Sandcastle instantly appealed to me for that small comparison lol *fingers crossed*

I’m also VERY pleased to see New World Rising in my box since I have been following Ben over at OfTomes publishing & have added every single book of theirs to my TBR. Not only are the covers all S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G but the synopsis are all sOoO Good! lol *not that fancy with words* The author is a sweetheart and I will be reading & reviewing New World Rising here on LairOfBooks 😉

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A bit of a confession here, I have been TERRIBLE in regards to reading the books I’ve been selecting every month for Book Of The Month *sobs* yet I can’t seem to stop picking a book each month *addicted to books* so this month I decided to add a book I already read & loved as my add-on. I was lucky enough to read a galley of A Million Junes & included it in my Top Ten Tuesday as one of my favorites for 2017 so far (see here). Loved it to pieces, it brought back many memories of my own dad & already owns a special place in my <3. The other book I selected had to be the quickest selection I’ve ever made LOL! I mean, we’ve all seen pictures of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo ALL over social media. The books is GORGEOUS & screams HOLLYWOOD! This will probably be the book to break me out of the bad habit, it screams summer read & so I shall read this summer 😉

What are your thoughts on the June Owlcrate box? Have any of my bookish peeps read The Sandcastle Empire? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for June? also, if you subscribe to any other boxes & have a unboxing, drop your links down below <3’s!