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    A Unique and Inventive Universe

    I knew from reading the synopsis of this book that I would immediately love it. The concept and plot of this story is superb, while its development is slow and steady. We meet our main character, Camellia, immediately and it’s through her naïve eyes that we are carried through the story. Since Camellia is essentially an outsider and separate from the bulk of society on account of her gifts, I believe that she worked as a great protagonist since readers are able to accurately and realistically learn about this creative universe through her perspective as she herself learns. Her slow character development led readers in a natural direction that was easy to follow. I absolutely fell in love with the mystery behind the true nature of this magical, fictional New Orleans. My only complaint concerning this story is its writing style, which is technically only a matter of taste. I spent the first several chapters forcing myself to read rather than enjoying myself. However, once I became used to the writing style, I eventually came to love and enjoy it. Overall, this is a completely original and thoroughly unique story which conveys a clear message that the author skillfully intertwines with the plot and heart of the story. Such a message is not thrust down reader’s throats, but told in a fashion that allows readers to develop their own perspective of the matter. The story works almost as an interpretative, symbolic piece representative of the struggles each and every individual likely feels each time they look in a mirror. I’m definitely anticipating book 2 of this series!
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    Who Are the Belles?

    In simplistic terms, they're beauty makers/stylists for people born with gray skin and red eyes. There's nothing more a Belle loves to do than add beauty to the world. They primp, polish, pamper and shine their blank canvases from head to toe. These makeovers don't last forever so this beauty makeover should be used to every advantage. Once you've tasted the fruits of beauty and all that embodies ... can you then live without it? Visually stunning descriptions and imagery. I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book provided by Disney/Netgalley.
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    The Belles

    What an amazing story. The worldbuilding was so careful and inventive, the characters so vivid and relatable, and I screamed at the ending. This book had me reading it every chance I got just to find out what happened next. I cannot wait for the next book because I must know more! Dhonielle is an amazing writer and has a fan for life.
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    Amazing Take on Beauty Ideals

    Our main character is Camille, a Belle, who can manipulate the body and personality of others. And in this world called Orléans, people are gray as a default; the Belles put give them "beauty" and changes how they look from their original self and gives them color. This was a gorgeous and lyrical book that was enthralling and captivating. This world was scary and twisted— a reflection of our own society and the dream of the "ideal beauty." The book starts off slow and builds the mysterious world of Orléans— but after the first hundred pages or so, the world is fast-paced and the stakes are high. I loved so many of our three-dimensional characters and their relationships with Camellia. The bodyguard is professional but soft-hearted. Ambrosia's sister-like relationship with Camellia is loving, but it can change within a heartbeat from competition. This book has so many important messages about beauty, feminism, and competition. Trigger and content warnings for sexual assault, torture, animal cruelty, misgendering of a trans character, and the use of the "bury your gays" trope.
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