The Belles Starts an Important Dialogue

The Belles by Dhionelle Clayton

Published: February 6th 2018 by Disney-Hyperion

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Pages: 448

Well! Of course, I had to read The Belles. And I really, really like it. It has a definite Marie Antoinette meets The Hunger Games vibe? And I’m not mad at it.

This. Cover. Though! Gorgeous.

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.

Dear Dwayne With Love

I liked the premise of The Belles immediately, if mostly because I thought it would be a good way to make snide remarks and allegories about plastic surgery/beauty standards. What I did not see coming were all the twists and turns and confusion that make this book so worth it.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

The writing is gorgeous. Beautifully woven sentences, descriptions that leave you feeling and smelling and tasting everything going on in this world.

What I adore most is that this candy-colored, beautiful world is so grizzly. I love the incongruity between a cutesy, pretty setting with really awful things going on. For me, this was my favorite part of the entire book.

Initially, the vibe reminded me so much of Marie Antoinette and Panem from The Hunger Games. The world of Orleans is very similar to these. Luckily, the world has very unique aspects so it doesn’t feel like a ripoff.

The setting is so fun, with people riding in carriages and the different beautiful tea houses.

I will say it took me a while to get into this. I needed about 100 pages to get through what felt like a lot of setup and info dump, to get into the real meat of the story. Once I did, though, I was in and couldn’t wait to see what would happen and the pacing from that point is phenomenal.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

So the characters are tough for me, because I don’t really like any of them. I end up caring about Camellia, our narrator, and I eventually root for her, but I don’t know that I ever really like her. Her obsession with being the favorite, her willingness to abandon all sisterly love, even though that’s all she’s ever known, for the sake of being the favorite, is a pretty big turn off for me.

I do love the antagonist. She’s absolutely awful, but brilliant, and I love a scary, evil, intelligent female antagonist. She’s written very well. I was scared during some of her scenes, so freaked out by what she may do next.

There’s also a very exciting element in that there are so many minor antagonists, and you never really have a firm grip on who can and cannot be trusted.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

The magic in The Belles is so very cool. I love the way the Belles work, how Camellia is willing to push her magic further than many have before. The descriptions of changing people’s looks are gorgeous and so fun to read.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

I went into this expecting a book about a twisted world that worships beauty, and got so much more than that. This beautiful, twisted book is awesome.

*Each of these beautiful photos links to an IG post, show these people some love!*

*I don’t own any of the photos used for aesthetics in this post. Each photo links to where I found it!*

Down the TBR Hole #2

My Goodreads TBR shelf is currently at about 400 books. I tend to add things without thinking too hard about it, and then its state stresses me out and I never actually look at it for suggestions!

Luckily, I saw this meme done by JJ at This Dark Material, (her blog is great, check it out), and I figured I’d give it a go, so this is my second round. Last time I knocked out three books.

The plan:

Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf

Order on ascending date added

Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books

Read the synopses of the books

Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m going to go through ten at a time, so it should take a while to complete! (Especially since I never stop adding more, universe help me.)

The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

Female illusionist and possible husband murderer? OF COURSE this stays.

Keep

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder

Obv, this stays. I know I need to read this series. I’ve owned Cinder for a bit, so I don’t even have an excuse.

Keep

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This just sounds so amazing. I hate the circus so WHY DO I WANT TO LOVE A CIRCUS STORY?

Keep

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Hmmm. So. I like JSF. I do not like stories about September 11th. I do like stories about kids, and this one sounds weird. Hmmmmm.

Keep

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

It’s Gaiman, it obviously stays.

Keep

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

I really love the Percy Jackson books, I really love Riordan, this stays.

Keep

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Ditto to everything I said about The Lost Hero.

Keep

Skin by Ted Dekker

This. Just. Nothing about this sounds like something I would like? I think I bought this at a thrift store and maybe I should donate it on back.

Pass

Obsessed by Ted Dekker

Again no why do I own this?

Pass

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

I just. Umm. I don’t see it happening. There’s so much to read and this is about salt.

Pass

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

I think I saw this movie a really long time ago? Anyway. I like Jennifer Weiner, I love her book Good In Bed. I think this one stays.

Keep

So! I’ll be keeping 7/10 again!

What About You?

Have you read any of these? Are you doing Down the TBR Hole posts? I’d love to see them!

Rectifying Rating Regret #1

So my current rating system (I’m going to go ahead and call it a system) works something like this:

“I LOVE THIS FIVE STARS”

or

“I didn’t love this but didn’t hate it so three stars”

Like MOST of my ratings are like this? It has come to my attention that I am way, way liberal with my stars. And then I think about how I gave a book I barely remember five stars, and does it hold up to my favorite books NO OF COURSE IT DOESN’T.

So I messaged my best friend (who is actually much worse than I am at rating books but he is my person, the one I message about absolutely everything) Jon, who, get this, ALREADY HAD A SYSTEM IN THE WORKS FOR ME?! As a joke.

I tweaked Jon’s system, which was loosely based on the way Leslie Knope judges a beauty pageant, and it’s now my life.

But what about all my former, incorrect, nonsensical ratings, you ask? Well that’s why we’re here. I haven’t seen anyone else do this, and therefore I have no one to link you to, and please let me know if you or someone you know has decided to rectify their rating regrets.

And yes, I’m calling this Rectifying Rating Regret

because

I actively and adamantly adore alliteration.

How it works:

Go to read shelf on Goodreads

Apply new rating system (with all its sexy, complicated math)

See where we land!

I’m going to try to do ten per week. As I start now, my average rating on Goodreads is 3.85.

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Current rating: 5 stars

Chaotic Good is SO DAMN CUTE. I love everything about it, so I won’t be surprised by the math.

New rating: 5.25, rounded to 5 stars! (Not surprised.)

Friends and Other Liars by Kaela Coble

Current rating: 3 stars.

This wasn’t my favorite, for a ton of reasons. I have a feeling the math is gonna show it.

New rating: 1.5, rounded to 2 stars. (Not surprising.)

Hearts Like Hers by Melissa Brayden

Current rating: 4 stars

Hearts Like Hers is one where I have a feeling I’m being generous. I liked it, but other than the lesbian rep, it was fairly unspectacular.

New rating: 3.25, rounded to 3 stars. (Not surprising.)

The Beloveds by Maureen Lindley

Current rating: 3 stars

This one feels pretty spot on. I loved some things and disliked others, hence my review being in the form of a pro/con list.

New rating: exactly 3 stars! (I figured.)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Current rating: 4 stars

Honestly, I’m not sure if this is generous or not? I loved the writing so much that it made up for a lot of the stuff I didn’t care for, so I am way interested to see how the math will come out.

New rating: 3.25, rounded to 3 stars. (I thought as much.)

The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

Current rating: 5 stars

I LOVE this one. So much.

New rating: 4.75, still rounds to 5 stars!

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

Current rating: 4 stars

Hmm! This one is a mystery. I loved some parts, hated others. I think maaaybe I’m being generous? Let’s see!

New rating: 3.75, so 4 stars! Nice.

Dear Dwayne with Love by Eliza Gordon

Current rating: 5 stars

Ooh. I’m not sure here! This is one I really like, but it’s not necessarily a favorite. Should it be five stars in that case? Let’s see what the math says!

New rating: 3.75, so 4 stars. (Can’t say I’m surprised. I figured I was being generous.)

Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch

Between You and Me

Current rating: 2 stars

I don’t do a ton of 2 stars, because generally, if I don’t like something, I’ll DNF. This one I pushed through and feel very meh. Let’s see.

New rating: 1 star. Yeesh.

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt

Bookish Boyfriends

Current rating: 5 stars

I really love this and I don’t feel I’m being generous. Let’s see.

New rating: 5.25! I knew it.

So there we have it!

I changed the rating on half of these, and I feel good about it! I knew I was being generous. My average rating also went down to 3.84. Which isn’t super significant, but if I continue to change this many, it could be!

Let me know what you think! Are you too kind with your ratings? Or maybe too stingy? Do you have a system, or rate on a whim? Tell me everything.

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap Up

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

I did two arc reviews this week! (click on the picture to see the review):

 

Friends and Other Liars, an adult novel that turned out to be way different than I expected. I give it 3/5 envelopes.

  

Chaotic Good, a YA that turned out SO MUCH BETTER THAN I COULD HAVE HOPED. 5/5 sewing needles!

This is where everything falls to shit for me because I never read what I plan to. I switch between reading my e-arcs in order of release date, so I can get the review as close to the release date as possible (my current method), and in order by their expiration date (my former method). How do you decide which arcs to read in which order?

These are books I’ve had on my bookshelf for a while that I’m working through slowly.

 

Big Little Lies I am LOVING the voice of! So snarky, so subtly funny.

Me Before You is cute so far! Can I say though that I hate this cover so much I almost never bought it? I’m not even sure why?

Each of these links back to an IG post, show these beautiful people some love!

           

I did two other posts this week:

Down the TBR Hole, in which I look at my Goodreads TBR and choose what to keep and what to pass on.

Let’s Talk About Tropes, Baby, in which I discuss my favorite and least favorite tropes.

 

I hope everyone is having an incredible week, and I can’t wait to read your posts!

Chaotic Good: YOU HAVE TO READ IT

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner

Published by Knopf, scheduled for March 2018

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Pages: 256

THERE AREN’T EVEN WORDS. I INHALED Chaotic Good. I read it in one sitting and will absolutely, definitely be buying a copy to read again. It’s my favorite book of the year. Of several years. Let’s get into it.

Can we please talk about this cover? It’s so beautiful. I’m in love.

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious. 

Dear Dwayne With Love

The premise of Chaotic Good intrigued me immediately, because your girl is a nerd. I’ve played D&D, Call of Cthulhu. I’ve spent many a Friday night in a room with a bunch of dudes playing tabletop games. I kicked EVERYONE’S ass at Geek Battle. This book sounded like it would be a love letter to nerdiness, and I knew if that was the case, I would adore it.

It does not disappoint.

It brings up SO many points about what it’s like to be a girl in nerd culture. Some MUCH needed reflection on the male gate-keeping of nerd culture. I knew I would love it, but I didn’t know just how much.

I also really love the girl-dresses-as-guy-to-infiltrate-guy-space thing.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

The writing is perfect. Effortless, easy. Hilarious.

There are also many cartoons throughout the book, showing what is happening within the D&D campaign, and I love this touch.

The pacing is spot on. I flew through this book in a couple of hours. It’s also exactly as long as it needs to be, which isn’t super long! Every word is absolutely necessary. A perfect YA novel.

(These are the chapter headings, can we please talk about how cute they are?)

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

I LOVE these characters.

We have Cameron, our narrator, who is funny and smart and witty and so passionate about what she does. I love a YA with a narrator who knows exactly what they want and goes the hell after it. Cameron goes through some very significant harassment, the kind we all remember from the likes of Gamergate, and she throws herself further into her work, her designs. We need to see more of this. Cameron also stands up for herself, which is gorgeous and beautiful and I’m here for it.

Cooper, Cameron’s twin brother, is amazing. Their dynamic, their effortless back and forth, is one of the beautiful things about the novel. He plays D&D with her even though he’s not about it, and lets her borrow his clothes. That’s a pretty damn good brother.

Why and Lincoln, two of the guys from their D&D campaign, add SO MUCH to the story. Again, here, every character is necessary. There’s no fluff. Lincoln’s grandma who runs the fabric store, Cameron and Cooper’s parents, even Brody, the dudebro in the description. Every character brings something unique to the novel.

Cameron stays in her boy clothes for a bit longer than is necessary, because she relishes the safety and anonymity of being an average guy. It’s all throughout the story: at one point she mentions how much easier it is to shop in a comic book store as a boy. In another part, walking alone at night, she talks about how she would normally be scared. But she’s in her guy clothes, and thus, “invisible.”

I think everyone can benefit from reading something that shows so clearly what it is often like to be a girl and eventually a woman. It goes way beyond being a D&D geek or cosplayer, these things are practically universal.

We also have two main gay characters, woot woot!

I’m gonna do something I never do here, and tell you beautiful people a personal story.

I am a HUGE fan of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have a tattoo on my book arm of a 42 that says “DON’T PANIC” going through it. Walking along in Portland, one day, I saw a guy in a DON’T PANIC shirt, and I stopped him and said, “Hey, omg I love your shirt!” And was gearing up to nerd out with him, and he literally, to my face, said, “Please, bitch.” And walked away from me. Stuff like this happens ALL. The. Time. Nerd girls will forever have to prove their nerdiness, and it’s honestly bullshit. Soooo maybe you can see why this book struck such a chord with me, and why it probably will with many others.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

I honestly squealed out loud. I cried. I screamed. I ADORE THIS BOOK. The general geeky goodness combined with an important message simply cannot be beat. Readitreaditreadit.

Each of these gorgeous photos links to the IG post, show these some love!

*I don’t own any of the photos used for aesthetics in this post. Each photo links to where I found it!*