I’ve got two bite-sized reviews for you today: a YA new release and a MG contemp. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Series: The Belles #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, some violence)
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.
The central messages in this book are fabulous! The book highlights our images of beauty and how far we will go to attain them. This is a society that sees itself as “ugly,” so people will endure great pain (and spend tons of money) in order to “fix” themselves. This is such an interesting commentary on our world, and not that far off from the truth. How many people will go to great extents to achieve a certain standard of beauty? We’re sort of obsessed.
Camellia’s personal desire to be the Favorite (an official title of the Belle that works for the royal family) leads to a break in her relationship with her best friend (who is basically family). And then there’s the intrigue behind what’s actually going on with the princess—things look more than a little shady. These two issues keep you turning the pages. I did think parts of the book were a little slow, but overall this was a great read!
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via ALA Annual ’17 in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
The Ambrose Deception by Emily Ecton
Published by Disney-Hyperion on February 13th 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Action & Adventure
Source: The Publisher
My content rating: MG (Nothing questionable, in my opinion)
Melissa is a nobody. Wilf is a slacker. Bondi is a show-off. At least that's what their middle school teachers think. To everyone's surprise, they are the three students chosen to compete for a ten thousand-dollar scholarship, solving clues that lead them to various locations around Chicago. At first the three contestants work independently, but it doesn't take long before each begins to wonder whether the competition is a sham. It's only by secretly joining forces and using their unique talents that the trio is able to uncover the truth behind the Ambrose Deception--a truth that involves a lot more than just a scholarship.
With a narrative style as varied and intriguing as the mystery itself, this adventure involving clever clues, plenty of perks, and abhorrent adults is pure wish fulfillment.
This book is perfect for a middle grade reader (and for us moms who like to read middle grade too!). It has super fun characters, an educational element (that isn’t prominent enough to make it obvious it’s teaching you anything) and a cute and wacky mystery.
The book takes three unlikely scholarship hopefuls on an adventure across Chicago to try to solve riddles. The educational element comes in because you end up learning about some of the lesser-known sights in Chicago (and some of the more fun elements of the city as well, since Wilf doesn’t take his scholarship opportunity all that seriously). I really enjoyed the escapades that the kids go through to figure out their clues, and the ending to the book has some elements that kids will LOVE that I don’t want to spoil. What can I say? This book is adorable and adventurous and is pretty much middle-grade gold, in my opinion. I plan to give it to my daughter to read next because I’m convinced she’ll love it.
***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
That’s it for now! Have you read either of these? What did you think?