Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Review: Belles

Book: Belles
Author: Jen Calonita
Series: N/A
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pages: 356
Source: publisher (Thank you so much, HBGC!)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon CA | The Book Depository | Chapters
Stars: 4/5
Fifteen-year-old Isabelle Scott loves her life by the boardwalk on the supposed wrong side of the tracks in North Carolina. But when tragedy strikes, a social worker sends her to live with a long-lost uncle and his preppy privileged family. 

Isabelle is taken away from everything she's ever known, and, unfortunately, inserting her into the glamorous lifestyle of Emerald Cove doesn't go so well. Her cousin Mirabelle Monroe isn't thrilled to share her life with an outsider, and, in addition to dealing with all the rumors and backstabbing that lurk beneath their classmates' Southern charm, a secret is unfolding that will change both girls' lives forever.

(summary taken from Goodreads
MY THOUGHTS: 

I've always been more of a paranormal or fantasy girl (preferring made up worlds to our boring old realistic one), but I think that this was exactly the kind of contemporary book that I've been looking for to get me back into the genre and I kind of want to hug it for that!

Belles zeroes on the lives of two completely different girls who are inexplicably linked: Isabelle (Izzie), the spunky swimmer who comes from the "wrong side of town," and Mirabelle (Mira), the privileged social butterfly who's still finding out who she is. Set in a beachy Southern town, it may not be a fantasy book but it's still kind of magical in its own way.

I loved both of these girls from beginning to end! Even when they made mistakes and trusted the wrong people, they were realistic and fun and easy to relate to. Izzie didn't take crap from anybody, and Mira surprised me by being more artistic and confident than I expected.

And of course no good contemporary is complete without its sweet boys (one of which is a surfer)! The romance was adorable, but it also didn't take away from the surprisingly touching plot. You get to grow to love each of the characters just like you do with Izzie and Mira, and the benefit of this being a standalone is that you get a nicely wrapped up ending.

Filled with a fun cast of characters and one life-changing secret, Belles is a book you'll want to read while sitting by the seaside and burying your feet in the sand. It finds the balance flawlessly between sweet but not too fluffy, drama-filled but not a soap opera, and inspiring but not preaching. I just loved it! :)

BUY or BORROW?: On top of having such a beautiful cover (I probably had to stare at it in my hands for a few minutes it's even prettier in person!), I'm definitely taking this book with me the next time I suntan on the beach. Can't do that with a library book, right? ;)

-Mimi

42 comments:

  1. Sounds fabulous! I also prefer paranormal/fantasy books to contemporary, although I do like some contemporaries now and then. And this one really sounds like the one I have to pick up next!

    I like what you said that they are two very different girls. It's nice reading about people with charcter (or carisma, or whatever). Oh, and I think it might be interesting since -if I understood it right- the story doesn't only revolve around their love stories (oh, I'm not going to complain... surfer boy! what's there not to love?).

    Glad you reviewed it, Mimi, loved it! ♥ Now I know I can't let it outside my radar. Definitely going to consider it in the summer, when I go to the beach. :)

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  2. BEACH READ -- all right!! (: You're such an atmospheric reviewer, Mimi! I already want to dive into the sand and suntan even though we're still having bipolar weather here in Canada. If I tried to go to the beach, I'm pretty sure I'd freeze my butt off LOL. It can't just be me who wants to move to a Southern town just because of their beaches and awesome Southern drawls! And Izzie sounds kind of like you, except I'm probably the girl from the wrong side of town :P

    Fantabulous review, Mimi-Doll! <333333 I'm def planning on taking a bunch of books to the beach too (because I'm cool like that), so this one will def be on the list! (:

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  3. I'm a paranormal girl at heart too, although since I started blogging, I've been reading more contemps. This one sounds like a lot of fun, and you know, before your review I had never even heard of it! I'll add it to my list! :)

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  4. Your review has so got me in the mood for the summer, I hadn’t even come across this book until your review, so thanks for bringing it to my attention, and I’m a sucker for beautiful covers, this one looks so pretty! Wonderful review :)

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  5. Isn't it funny how we all have our fav genres and get a bit reluctant to read anything out of our comfort zone? I am totally a dystopian/paranormal girl and yet every time I read a contemporary book I feel like jumping up and down and going cartwheels. This book is a bit like the OC and Gossip Girl all rolled into one! Gotta check it out.

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  7. The cover is just beautiful! I don't have a clue what else to read this summer and Belles sounds perfect! Thank you for the review!

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  8. Love the cover! Sounds like a great read. Going on my WL.

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  9. Sounds wonderful-I'm so happy to see this review posted so soon after you mentioned it on IMM so I don't have to wonder how you liked this contemp :) Hope you'll be giving more a shot in between your bread-and-butter paranormals and fantasies!

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  10. Wow this sounds sooooooooooooooooo good Mimi. Ive never seen this book before, but reading your review made me sooooo excited for this book! Wants!!! Great review lovely Mimi<3

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴ƷFICBOOKREVIEWSƸ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

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  11. Hi Mimi!
    The best contemporary novels are always the ones with distinct characters and fun-filled drama! Fantastic review! Defiantly a book I'm reading this summer at the beach!

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  12. Ooooo I'm really excited for this one! I'm typically a paranormal girl myself, but contemporary reads have really been growing on me, and this one sounds brilliant. And did you say surfer? *swoon* That's reason enough for me to read it right there. CAN'T WAIT!!! Thanks for the awesome review Mimi!

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  13. I've been wanting to read more comtemporary YA books, and this one sounds great.

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  14. Excellent review Mimi! I absolutely love beach type reads, so I'll definitely be checking this one when it comes out. Plus, I so need to find out more about this surfer boy!

    Thank you so much for adding another book that I can't wait to read Mimi! <3<3<3

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  15. Aw, Mimi! You're right, there does seem to be something very magical about this book even though it's a contemp! I don't even really like the beach that much but you definitely made me want to sit by one to read this. :) I like that the romance was sweet but isn't the main point of the book. I wonder what the life-changing secret is now! Lovely review, Mimi. <3

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  16. I also prefer a made up paranormal world but sometimes if done right a realistic fiction/contemporary romance can knock me down! It follows two completely different girls but do their lives end up intersecting with a purpose? Or do I have to read to find out how and that is the twist? Just curious. Always love a good romance especially when it isn't a love triangle plus who doesn't love a suffer. Thanks for another great review!

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  17. This one sounds really good! I love contemporaries and this one sounds awesome. It's good that it sounds light as well, I haven't read a light contemporary book in forever and I definitely need to. Awesome review :)

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  18. This sounds like an absolutely perfect summer read! I hadn't heard of this book before, but your review definitely makes me want to read it right away! The cover is so pretty too! Wonderful review. :)

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  19. When will it be beach weather up in your parts, Mimi? I'm just curious because our weather is beach ready now. :P

    And yes, I totally know what you mean about preferring paranormal verse the same old thing. I was the same for a long time and I totally avoided contemporaries. But now I love them with a fiery passion. Plus, how could I resist a surfer dude and a sweet romance?

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  20. Is beach weather ever going to get here? Reading your review totally made me want to sit by the ocean, stick my feet in the warm sand and read. Heaven. This book sounds delightful on top of the gorgeous cover, there is a surfer, sweet romance and a life changing event... curious to find out what that is. This book has been on my radar, and now I know I need to pick it up soon.

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  21. I always prefer a parnormal plot over contemporary but sometimes it's just great to dig into a good contemporary story. This one actually sounds super cute and I love the idea and your thoughts! And.. Oooo I'm so glad to hear it's not "preaching" - I hate this! So yep, going to add it to my (evergrowing-always-overfloating) Book pile!

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  22. Awesome review Mimi! Now I want to go to the seaside and read this book :D I actually love contemps so I'll have to keep my eyes on this one. :) It sounds like a great story!

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  23. Like I said on GR, your review has me wanting to read this! I don't usually go for contemporary novels either but it's reassuring to hear you liked it, Mimi. Plus I DO adore that cover. :D Brilliant review as always Mimi! I'm thrilled you enjoyed this one.

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  24. Contemporaries are really hit-or-miss for me, but I'm sooo happy to hear that you liked this one! It sounds absolutely adorable and so fun. Also, it's always a nice surprise to find that a fluffy book has a nice message in it as well. OH--and the cover is absolutely gorgeousss! <3 Love your review, Mimi! :)

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  25. I am definitely reading this book now!!! I have never heard of this book before, not until you made an IMM post about it and this sounds just like the book for me! :) <3

    And ooo, this one sounds like a perfect summer read! Awesome review, Mimi! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  26. Perfect review, Mimi! :) I really fell hard for this one - between how amazing Izzie was, and Mira's character growth, I just want to hug BELLES, as well! It was such a charming, sweet story, that managed to keep me entertained AND invested in the characters.

    Once Upon a Prologue

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  27. Mimi, I haven't heard of this one but it really does sound like a fun read that's perfect for the summer. Plus, I love the cover. You're so good at showing off books I haven't heard about!

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  28. Love the cover! I've seen this book around . . . sounds good. Great review!

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  29. I actually saw this book the other day @ Barnes and Noble and thought the book had an incredibly pretty cover. I am glad to see you liked this book, Mimi. I tend to be a paranormal/fantasy girl, too. And sometimes I need that Contemporary break, as well :D

    Great review :)

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  30. Once again, Mimi, you always write reviews that make me want to read the book like CRAZY. Like, RIGHT NOW. :D I just heard about Belles the other day in B&N and fell madly i love with the cover...and now your review has me convinced! I need to read it asap!! :D
    I love romances that are sweet and prominent but don't take away from other things in the story. I also love when an author can write two completely different perspectives really well. And as summer is coming and I live in San Diego, this sounds like a book I'll be reading in July or August while I tantantan! :D
    Thanks for a wonderful review!

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  31. This sounds FANTASTIC<3 Looks like I should explore the contemporary-loving side of me now, eh? Aawwwww<3 Lovable characters, an awesome plot and an adorable romance, who wouldn't want to read this? Eeeeeee! I can't wait to read this :DD Awesome review, Mimi!

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  32. Oh, I'm just like you! I prefer hiding into impossible worlds, but if I have to read a realistic story, a small town setting is always my favorite. There's just something about the small town atmosphere that makes it seem like a different world altogether.
    I love that you loved it and I love this review. As usual, you make me want to read it right now! And aside from two relatable heroines, there's a surfer in the picture? Say no more. I'm on it. :)

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  33. YES. I'm more of a dystopian/paranormal/fantasy kind of girl, but there's certain contemporaries that manage to consume me in the same way. I LOVE how you say, "it may not be a fantasy book but it's still kind of magical in it's own way." These are the kind of books I love and you have 100% SOLD me on this. The characters all sound so fun and unique and I like that while the romance is wonderfully adorable, it doesn't overshadow the main plot. Much as I love romance, I don't like when that happens.

    I LOVE YOUR REVIEW <3

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  34. I didn't know this one but I agree it's the same for me I'm quite difficult with this kind of book. I'm glad you enjoyed it, I think from time to time it's nice to read something different like that. great review mimi!

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  35. The first thing in my mind when I saw the cover is: historical YA!! The cover is completely gorgeous but the bow and the font is very classical, so I'm kind of surprised when it turns out to be a Contemporary YA! I think I might buy the book just based on the cover, Mimi, but you know I'm a sucker for Contemporary book... and Cinderella story! The blurb reminds me a little of The OC TV series! ;)

    When you mentioned that you both love the girls, I'm definitely sold, Mimi! Oh, and I won't refuse sweet romance read! Paranormal/Fantasy may have the strongest and drop-dead gorgeous heroes I swoon over, but Contemporary always provide me with the list of guys I wish REAL LOL! x) Amazingly beautiful review, Mimi! I'm glad you enjoyed it even though this book is not Paranormal/Fantasy! :)

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  36. Like Hilda, the book totally gives me The OC-vibes! Which is goood. I miss The OC! Anyway, I'm quite the YA contemp girl though it's really hard to find YA contemps that get everything right! I'm soo glad you liked BELLES! I was waiting for your review, ever since I saw it in your IMM x) YAY for sweet boys and real, interesting characters. It's also great that it's a standalone, really! Of late, I've been reading a lot of books that are part of a series and while that's awesome- especially when I grow attached to the characters- there's something magical about a standalone that gets wrapped up neatly by the end of the book!

    I cannot wait to read this! It's perfect for summer :D Fantabuloustic review, Mimi! <3

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  37. I was a little iffy about reading this, but you've helped me change my mind and the pretty pink cover helps too lol

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  38. Ohh! I'm seriously curious about this one! I'm not much of a contemporary girl myself, but you have me super intrigued. o: And it sounds good, so maybe it's worth giving a try! Awesome review, Mimi!

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  39. I like fun contemporaries with some depth to them, so this should be a good one to try out. :D

    Asher

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  40. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I have to agree, when I opened the package and saw the cover I thought itwas absolutely gorgeous! I still think it is. It looks amazing on my shelf!

    I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about Izzie and Mira! It's a really cute contemporary.

    Great review!

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  41. I just wanted to say that you have a lovely blog :) I can't wait to read Belles. I'm glad to hear that it is good!

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Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts! I love hearing what you have to say, and I always try to comment on one of your blog posts in return! :)

It's really nice to meet you!