Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: The Belles

Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Freeform
Series: The Belles #1

Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orleans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orleans, 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 Orleans 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 Orleans 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. 

Camellia was the perfect protagonist to lead me through this story. I got to experience this world just as she did. She was learning to adapt to the new world around her and I felt as if her perspective was very true to what it would be were this actually reality. She is conflicted at times between what she knows is right and wrong, which shows anyone’s true nature. Her character is easy to fall in love with and you will find yourself rooting for her success at court amongst all the deception and intrigue.

I also loved the relationship Camellia describes between her and her sister Belles. She seems to be the strongest of her sisters, but her love and admiration for them is endearing and one of the only picture perfect things about this treacherous new world that Camellia is immersed in. A lot of the other Belles lack in all things compared to Camellia. I loved learning about them, but ultimately I was only concerned with Camellia and her thoughts, actions, and feelings. She was an amazing main character and I look forward to reading more from her voice.

This is the first of Dhonielle Clayton’s novels to dawn my shelves. Her writing was easy to follow and the four hundred plus pages took me no time at all to get through. Her descriptions were out of this world and made me long for my next meal. The palace came to life and jumped off the page as I read. I could picture everything so easily, and this has to be my favorite thing about this book. This world leaped off the page, immaculate, eloquent, pretentious and all other word that you think a palace full of beautiful people would be!

“Be the best without trying to be better than the others.” 

“You have to decide for yourself. It is you who must live with the outcome.” 

“You can never be clean enough, pretty enough, or smart enough.” 

“Dreams remind us of who we are and how we feel about the things around us.” 

Very rarely do I read books that I know are in a series and that I have to wait a year for the next one to be released. However, this is the exception to my rule. I cannot wait until the next book is released and I will be reading it as soon as it comes out. I gave this book a five out of five stars on Goodreads and I will not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who shows interest.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: Surprise Me

Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Dial Press

A witty and emotionally charged novel that delves into the heart of a marriage, and how those we love and think we know best can sometimes surprise us the most—from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sophie Kinsella

After ten years together, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, and beautiful twin girls, and they communicate so seamlessly they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years . . . and panic sets in.
They decide to bring surprises into their marriage to keep it fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me—from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to sexy photo shoots—mishaps arise, with disastrous and comical results. Gradually, surprises turn to shocking truths. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other at all.
With a colorful cast of eccentric characters, razor-sharp observations, and her signature wit and charm, Sophie Kinsella presents a humorous yet moving portrait of a marriage—its intricacies, comforts, and complications. Surprise Me reveals that hidden layers in a close relationship are often yet to be discovered.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: My Floral Affair

Author: Rachel Ashwell
Publication Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: CICO Books

Discover Rachel Ashwell’s floral inspirations and the unique touch she brings to interiors in her first book dedicated to flowers, a deeply-held passion come to life.

Flowers and floral decoration are at the core of Rachel Ashwell’s world and her designs. From her showcase rose garden in California, she set out with photographer Amy Neunsinger to capture the full-blown romance of the quintessential English country house, the dramatic colorways of northern Europe, and the faded opulence of a Parisian apartment. This is the story of that magical journey, which takes us through a variety of beautiful spaces large and small, some ornate and others simple. Every aspect of floral accents is showcased, from wallpaper to fabrics, floors to ceilings, architectural details, lighting and, of course, flower arrangements, some breathtaking and some simple… but all beautiful in their own right.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: Fashion and Versailles

Author: Laurence Benam
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Flammarion

The Château de Versailles—the indisputable birthplace of fashion—continues to inspire glamour and style today.

The royal residence of Versailles—this unparalleled seat of power and seduction—is an important influence on contemporary fashion, inspiring passions and vocations. Since the establishment of the world’s first dress codes under the rule of Louis XIV to incite the whims of the queens and royal mistresses, fashion at Versailles has been a constant and inexhaustible source of inspiration for designers, photographers, decorators, and directors and has launched countless fashion revolutions.

Courtesan Madame de Montespan launched the “innocente” robe to camouflage pregnancy, Sofia Coppola memorialized Marie-Antoinette in extravagant wigs and pastel hues, and Annie Leibovitz captured Kirsten Dunst in a delicate taffeta-and-chiffon Alexander McQueen gown against the dramatic backdrop of a peristyle at Versailles. Haute couture in the 1950s launched the cinched-waist “neo-trianon” trend. Karl Lagerfeld used the château’s gardens as the runway for his 2013 cruise collection featuring Versailles-influenced crinoline dresses and brocade jackets.

This stunning volume showcases the best of fashion inspired by Versailles, set against the exquisite background of the most spectacular palace in the world.