spoiler free, tbr thursday

April TBR

After March taking forever I’m somehow still in denial we’re now into April, it’s crazy. This was meant to go up yesterday on the first Thursday of the month like usual but it didn’t occur to me what day it was until it was over half gone so although a TBR Friday doesn’t have quite the same ring to it you get the idea!

Some people on Twitter etc have dubbed this month ARC April and although I’m not officially taking part in anything for that I am using April to try and get through my ever growing backlog or ARCs and early finished copies to help give me a nice clean slate, clear some physical shelf space and hopefully improve my currently terrible NetGalley rating! So these are the books I’m planning to read!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
This is my current read and feels very Vikings meets Game of Thrones so far, I’m enjoying it but it does feel a little predictable at this point, not quite done yet though so we shall see. Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
It may look gorgeous with it’s pink sprayed edges but this book sounds seriously spooky and I’m kind of looking forward to it freaking me out a little.  Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

No Way by SJ Morden
I read and reviewed One Way last year and the ending was left wide open but I had no idea until about two weeks before publication last month when my review schedule was already full to the brim so I’m so glad to finally be able to get around to it at last. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Much like the situation with No Way, I read the first book The Belles last year and was swamped during its publication date this year. Although I’ve been a little reserved about reviewing the second one I definitely want to get it read and see how the sequel pans out. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean
One of the problems of being a mood reader is when you get books like this one that sound totally up your street, look gorgeous etc but when you get them you just can’t get yourself into the right frame of mind to read them and that can really ruin the experience so I’m hoping that now the time is finally right. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
A bit of an older book but with the sequel, Shadow Captain having recently been released I was sent a finished copy of this first book in the series to try out as it sounds like a great fit for me and would love to get in the sci-fi mood ready for Aurora Rising in early May. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been a bit behind with my reading of late so I’m really hoping April is a good reading month! What are you reading right now and how are you enjoying it?

book reviews, spoiler free

The Belles – Spoiler free review

thebelles

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Rating: XXXX

Published: February 8th 2018 by Gollancz

“No one is a prisoner. Even you have the power to make your own choices.” 

I am a Belle. I control Beauty. 

In the opulent world of Orléans, the people are born grey and damned, and only a Belle’s powers can make them beautiful.

Camellia Beauregard wants to be the favourite Belle – the one chosen by the queen to tend to the royal family.

But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favourite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that her powers may be far greater – and far darker – than she ever imagined.

When the queen asks Camellia to break the rules she lives by to save the ailing princess, she faces an impossible decision: protect herself and the way of the Belles, or risk her own life, and change the world forever.

One of my friends read an ARC copy of this book and immediately recommended I read it so for a change I did as I was told and devoured this book the first chance I got. I was not disappointed! This wasn’t a book that had particularly been on my radar previously but when said friend described it to me as “darker than it looks” I found myself unable to resist.

I like the cover for this book which is strange for me as I often don’t like covers with people on them, especially because more often than not they look nothing like they are described in the books (See Luce’s long hair instead of short on the Fallen cover for example) but this fits how I imagine the MC to look and I love the lighting effects in the top left corner as well. The letters used for the title falling apart came across as a little strange at first but I think maybe they’re meant to represent the reshaping of beauty that The Belles can do?

I enjoyed the writing in this book and I especially loved the headlines used to further the story and add little funny or intriguing moments throughout. To begin with I was really intrigued and fascinated about the process and different tools that The Belles use to change and beautify their clients but about half way to about three quarters of the way through the book the samey descriptions begun to bug me and I found myself skimming them a lot of the time, especially as events got more heated. The writing style on the whole though was smooth and easy to read.

The plot itself was intriguing and although most of it is fairly obvious from the synopsis there were much darker elements to this story which boosted it for me as alone I feel the story would have been a little too plain. What really made this a book I’ll remember though was the emotion it evoked in me. I’m used to being sad, happy crying and ugly sobbing but this was harder to explain and that was anger.

I wasn’t mad at the book exactly but think back to Harry Potter, the only character that was arguably more hated than Voldemort was Professor Umbridge. For her derranged mind, her manipulation of the system and outright abusiveness. Most people don’t hate the books or films because of her but it tends to generate a righteous anger towards the character herself.  A character in this evoked a very similar feeling for me and I wanted them to burn for the things they did, any scene with this particular person in had me instantly gritting my teeth in rage and…I enjoyed that. I don’t think the kind of hate I have for that character would have been possible if I hadn’t been invested in the other characters and the plot so much. As a previous victim of bullying when I was younger it really struck a cord with me when other characters were left helpless to the point were I shed tears of frustration and rage.

I didn’t find the main character to be anything majorly special to begin with and the romance based interactions had me roiling my eyes and hoping the scenes would end so we could get back to the good stuff but that’s quite possibly just me. The other Belles weren’t especially interesting either but I did like that they were easily identifiable via their individual characteristics which made them easy to keep track of if not especially interesting.

A great aspect of The Belles I feel, is the setting as I found it enjoyably difficult to place, it feels like it’s somewhere between an alternative, not quite steampunky past and a strange decadent dystopian future akin to the likes of “The Capitol” in the Hunger games universe, complete with teacup elephants and dragons to fabric dye that animates and changes colour as well as features such as (my personal favourite) post balloons! I imagine these as tiny decorated blimps with trailing coloured ribbons and I always loved the descriptions of these whenever they were present in the story.

Overall this was one of the better books I have read this year but a few too many little nuances prevented it from reaching that XXXXX mark for me. I revelled in the rage fuelled page turning towards the end of the book and I was eager for more and more. I found the ending fairly disappointing but  will more than likely be picking up the second in the series when it releases but I’m not sure it’s something I will preordering for release day.

You can get hold of your own copy of The Belles with free shipping here and add it to your goodreads here.