Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Belles was one of those books that pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until the very last chapter. From the first couple of pages, I was completely sucked into Isabelle Scott's story and the world of Mira Monroe. I seriously could not get enough!
Isabelle "Izzie" Scott is just a down-to-earth kind of girl living in Harborside, a quaint although slightly run-down town full of surfers and pizza joints and not-so-well-off families. She loves to be out in the water, especially if it's with her hunky friend Braydon. But then everything changes-- her grandmother has to go live in a nursing home and Izzie finds out that her only surviving family is a rich uncle and his family who live in Emerald Cove. EC is the complete opposite of Harborside-- the wealthy, privileged families there spend more money on dinner than Izzie makes in a year. Learning how to fit into this new place is anything but easy, especially when Savannah, the Queen Bee of Emerald Prep, decides that Izzie is her most-loathed enemy.
Mira Monroe is Isabelle's cousin and she's been in the lap of luxury her entire life. One of the social elite at Emerald Prep, the only things Mira has to worry about is what expensive designer bag to buy next and where to hold the next fabulous Social Butterfly party. Having Izzie enter her life and live in her house is definitely not easy, but when her best friend Savannah decides to make Izzie's life a living hell, Mira has to decide between sticking up for her cousin or becoming a social outcast too.
The best thing about this book was the characters-- I pretty much loved each and every one of them, because they jumped right off the pages and came to life. I could totally feel Izzie's pain at having to be uprooted from her life in Harborside to go live in a place that doesn't welcome her and where she doesn't feel like she belongs. And I could also relate to Mira, Izzie's rich cousin who does want to do the right thing and help Izzie, but is afraid of losing everything that her society has taught her to care about. Heck, I even loved Savannah as a character-- yes she was downright horrible and I wanted to slap her into next Tuesday for being such a little brat, BUT she was interesting! The dynamics that played out between all the characters just had me dying to read more.
I also really loved the world that Jen created in this book-- it was vibrant, colorful, and I could picture every scene as I was reading it-- the sunny beach at Harborside, the pristine mansions in Emerald Cove, and the over-the-top, totally ridiculous Sweet 16 party that Savannah has-- it was all just so much fun to read and experience! On top of the settings, I really loved that the story was told from both Izzie's and Mira's points of view, alternating between each chapter. This didn't make the story confusing at all, and it allows the reader to get into the heads and see from the perspectives of two very different girls-- I loved that!
The ending was totally unexpected for me, and because I didn't read the summary on the back of my ARC before reading it (hint, hint, if you have the ARC DON'T read the back because it has a huge spoiler in it!) I was completely surprised by the major secret that is revealed. I only wish that the ending itself hadn't seemed quite so rushed, or like there were some strings that still needed to be tied... maybe this means there will be a sequel?! I'm hoping so!
Altogether, Belles was bright, funny, glamorous, and girly, not to mention totally addicting and perfect for the start of my summer-time reads. I thought the characters were awesome, the story was unique, and every chapter ended on some major cliff-hanger that just begged me to keep reading. Light and refreshing, Belles is definitely one you'll want to add to your TBR lists!
This is such a lovely, girly-girl kind of cover! It also matches the tone of the story perfectly. I love the peachy-pink hues, the scroll details, and especially the picture of the girl at the top, her hair pulled back with a big, pink peony. Everything about this cover just screams pretty! I literally couldn't stop staring at it every once in awhile as I was reading it, haha :D