Hello readers! It’s time for another round of Mini Reviews, where I talk about some of the books I don’t write full length reviews for. This installment, let’s chat about four books: Suggested Reading, Love & Gelato, Daughter of the Siren Queen, and The Belles.
Suggested Reading | Dave Connis (ARC)
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.
Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.
So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.
Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear? Goodreads
“Books are wild things. You can’t tame them. People are wild things.
You can’t tame them, either. Put those two together and you
can’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s not on you.”
Thank you to the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a hard one to review. Generally speaking, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. I liked the premise of the story and Clara is a witty narrator. Clara’s character development throughout the story as she learns to be less judgemental of people and less self-absorbed is also very well portrayed. And I must say, after reading this, I’m quite curious about the fictional book that Clara is reading throughout the story and taking inspiration from.
However, I did not enjoy the writing style as it felt like it was all over the place. Suggested Reading has a solid concept, but in my opinion, is lacking in execution. Overall, this was a good, but not great read, and would probably be better suited for a younger audience.
Publishing Date: September 17th, 2019 (Katherine Tegen Books)
Love & Gelato | Jenna Evans Welch
Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.
But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.
People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more….Goodreads
This was a really cute read and pretty much exactly what I expected, having read the author’s other book, Love & Luck, a few months ago. Lina arrives in Florence to live with her dad, whom she has never met or heard of before, after the death of her mother, and she is naturally anything but happy about the situation. But even as she arrives in Italy, fully determined to leave at the end of the summer, she begins reading an old journal of her mother’s that she is given in hopes of understanding more about what her time in Florence was like, and more importantly, what caused her to leave so suddenly. This was a bit of a cheesy romance, but with a surprising element of mystery as Lina unravels her mother’s journeys in Italy step by step.
I absolutely adore books set in Europe, and Italy in particular is among the countries I want to visit most. The setting of Florence in this book was beautiful and this book really brought the sights, the streets and the culture of the city to life. Every so often, I like to add one of these types of books onto my reading list – light hearted, entertaining and a perfect summer novel! Highly recommended!
Publishing Date: May 3rd, 2016 (Simon Pulse)
Daughter of the Siren Queen (Daughter of the Pirate King #2) | Tricia Levenseller
Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.
When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen. Goodreads
Like the first book, this was a total entertainer! There are too few books in YA with a pirate setting and I was glad to return to this series. Alosa has retrieved all the pieces of the treasure map, but when she discovers a long-kept and terrible secret of her father’s, she finds herself sailing to the siren’s lair with her crew – with the Pirate King’s ships at her heels. The only way to make it there first is to use her siren nature – something dangerous and not easily tamed.
Alosa is an amazing heroine, strong-willed, determined and loyal to her crew. I really liked how the author spent a lot more time on Alosa’s siren heritage in this book and her struggle to control it was very well depicted. We are also reunited with Alosa’s all female pirate crew, Riden, and finally get to meet her mother, the infamous siren queen. It was great to get to know more about these characters as they embark on another high stakes mission.
It really is a pity that this is only a duology because I would happily read several more books set in this world. With non-stop action, Daughter of the Siren Queen was an adventure from beginning to end, and a very enjoyable read. Definitely recommended, especially for fans of Pirates of the Caribbean!
Publishing Date: February 27th, 2018 (Feiwel & Friends)
The Belles (The Belles #1) | Dhonielle Clayton
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…. Goodreads
An interesting concept, and a fast paced read. I liked the plot and the themes and thoughts regarding beauty and power which provides a lot of food for thought. The world-building was also very well done, particularly the descriptions of the grandeur and excess of the royal court of Orleans. The bits of mythology we get in the beginning were also a nice touch.
I would have really liked more of an explanation about the arcana, as even after the explanations about the three types of arcana that a Belle has: manner, aura and age, I’m still kind of confused about how they work. The characters overall, are rather hard to connect to. Camellia was extremely naive at times, and her friend Amber, well, I just couldn’t understand her at all. She is so determined to win and be the best even when it’s quite obvious they’re all being manipulated. Princess Sophia is, however, one of the better villains I’ve come across in fantasy recently and I’m curious to see how this is all going to play out in the sequels. Overall, this was a good start to a new series that I am definitely going to continue reading.
Publishing Date: February 6th, 2018 (Disney-Hyperion)
Have you read any of these books or do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!