Winter White (Belles, #2) By Jen Calonita

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    Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe are still reeling from the revelation that they share more than just the roof over their heads. The media has pounced on their story, and while Izzie and Mira have each put on a happy public face, someone is leaking their true feelings to the press. It seems as if the world is watching their every move, but at least the girls have each other.


    With cotillion season right around the corner, however, Izzie and Mira have barely had time to process their newfound sisterhood. Mira has dreamed of making her debut in a gorgeous white gown forever--now if only she had an escort... Izzie, meanwhile, is still struggling to find her place in Emerald Cove, which seems ever more impossible with EC mean girls, young and old, trying to keep her down. As cotillion preparations heat up, there are dance steps to learn, manners to perfect... and secret initiations to complete?


    It's time for the gowns to go on and the gloves to come off. Winter White (Belles, #2)

    I was really hoping Winter White would redeem the Belles series for me. But it’s books like these that had me believing for so long that I wouldn’t ever enjoy a contemporary novel. Sure, I now know that isn’t true, that there are some really superb YA contemporary novels to be had. I’ve even reviewed some of them here. But the Belles series simply continues to fall short for me.

    First of all, it feels like these books lay on the Southern drawl just a tad too much. I’m from Texas. We have a bit of twang and drawl in our regional dialect, but there are only a few of us who sound anything remotely similar to the characters in these books. I thought that maybe it was a fluke with Belles because I listened to the audio for that novel, but it’s still ever-present in Winter White and therefore not the product of whimsical narration on the audiobook. It was cute at first, but after awhile, it begins to wear on one’s soul.

    Also, I understand that these girls lead privileged lives and money is no matter, etc., etc. But all of the brand name-dropping and product shilling is reminiscent of the House of Night series, and it’s just too much. I read the first book in that series and the first chapter of the second book before I called it quits. So, I guess that says something for the Belles books…that even though so much of the story perturbed me, I was able to read till the end of the second novel and not throw the book across the room.

    So, on to the actual story. It mostly focuses on the family’s troubles after the revelations at the end of Belles and how it all affects their father’s campaign and vice versa. I think what troubled me the most was the fact that what Bill Monroe did, what information he withheld from the family, he did so at the behest of his imprudent campaign manager and out of his own misguided belief that he was doing the right thing. And yet the girls simply can’t forgive him. He’s been a pretty great father and uncle up to this point, and yet they just can’t let it go, can’t see it from his perspective. Ah, to be an arrogant, selfish teenager again. Well, I guess when I look at it like that, maybe the author did get that particular outlook correct.

    I wanted to read Winter White because Belles left me curious at the end. But just like Belles, Winter White was terribly predictable. I had already anticipated the twist and how it would all turn out by the time I was a third of the way into the book. And just like in Belles, just as everything seems to be wrapping up nicely at the end…blammo! There are a couple of curveballs thrown in the last chapter, just enough to make you curious for the next installment.

    There’s quite a bit more I could say, most of it of a derogatory nature, but I don’t want to rag on this novel any more than I have since I know plenty of people who enjoy this type of book. Pretty much, this book wasn’t for me, but it might be more your style. Regardless, I contemplated giving this novel only two stars, but the fact that I still kinda want to read more (assuming there is another book -- couldn’t find anything on Goodreads or on the author’s website) of Izzie and Mira’s story forced me to tack on another star. Damn my curiosity!

    Thanks to Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours for providing a copy of this book for review!

    This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue. English This review contains no spoilers of either Belles or Winter White

    Mira and Izzy are back to their fabulous glory in Winter White. After Belles ended with some life changing revelations, we get the aftermath of these secrets brought to light, and how the girls are dealing with it all. Belles was a really fun novel; a chick lit with fantastic personalities, drama-filled shorelines, and a little romance to give it its final touch. In Winter White, we get reacquainted with the same old energetic characters; there may be a little less drama, but there are tons of ridiculous antics and interesting romantic developments to keep you highly entertained.

    The characters are by far the greatest aspect of this series. We have two different perspectives from two very different, very charismatic girls. Mira, now ex-miss-popular, is trying to deal with suddenly finding herself friendliest after being on top of the ladder. I enjoyed how much she has grown from the previous novel and again throughout this one. Her character has changed from a selfish queen bee to someone who is surprisingly well rounded and caring. Then we have Isabelle who is still adjusting to a sudden life of riches, not to mention the bomb that she was thrown at the end of the last book. Izzy remains my favourite of the two, mostly because I can relate to her more. Her determined, take charge attitude is very attractive for a main character. It's incredibly easy to like her. Then we have the family and friends who really bring out the colors in this sequel - as in Belles.

    The plot this time is a little tamer. We don't have big, life changing situations like Belles, but what we get is a whole lot of fun. The cotillion is under way, and Izzy -- to her dismay -- gives in to her aunt's pleas to attend. This was before she knew what the preparation entails: The initiation consists of dares that the girls have to do that become quite amusing, and very satisfying when we see the prissy characters get the worst of it. In addition to these charming antics, we get some fun facts that I actually found pretty interesting -- having lived the simple small town life without much experience with proper dining. What? Who needs 5 forks? I promise, eating desert with a big fork is just as easy as with a small fork. Try it! It actually makes eating humongous cakes slices easier! >.< This glamorous lifestyle is endlessly fascinating to me, however, which is what a big part of my enjoyment of this novel and its predecessor centers around; we get all the jazz and sass of a privileged teenage life.

    Romance is, again, not a very big factor in this book. But, we do get a few romantic developments that made me endlessly curious to see how it would all turn out. It's realistic teenage romances with insecurities and misgivings. As in Belles, I was not disappointed by the lack in this area -- it never felt like the book was missing an elements whatsoever, the little we do get simply adds charm to the already lively book.

    You're missing out on an extremely fun, refreshing chick lit series if you haven't sinked your teeth into Belles yet, and if you have, you can be sure to get another great taste of the life of the rich and famous in Winter White: it has all the gossip and drama you could want!

    --
    An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

    For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads English I truly enjoyed Belles by Jen Calonita (the first book in this series). The events of Winter White pick up where Belles left off as Mira and Izzie try to piece things back together in the wake of their father’s big revelation. The fallout that comes from that is the source of a lot of emotional turmoil throughout this novel.

    I’ve always been more partial to Izzie. I just got her in the first novel, and that continues here. Mira, however, surprised me. She managed to work her way into my heart, which I didn’t think Calonita could pull off. After the events in Belles (the ending notwithstanding), I was pretty irritated with how petty and snobby Mira was, but Winter White is her time to shine. Of the two, I felt like Mira had more to deal with this time around, and that really opened her up to me as a reader.

    This series is light and fun and airy. It doesn’t strive to be literary genius, and that’s part of its charm. It’s sweet; something to curl up with and indulge in. I won’t lie and say there weren’t parts that made me want to slap both girls (but hey, they are teenage girls), but overall this is a series I truly enjoy reading and you will, too.
    English This installment of the Belles series starts with the Monroe family on an Oprah-like TV special talking about their reactions to the news that Izzie is Bill's daughter. Despite appearing to be taking everything in stride, inside, Mira and Izzie are both pretty distressed over their father's lies. This, however, brings them closer together, and makes them team up to fight off the rumours, messes, and crazy of Emerald Cove.

    In Winter White, the girls are getting ready for cotillion and their debut into society. Of course, their debuts are fraught with challenges. In the previous book, Mira stood up to her former best friend (aka evil beyotch), Queen Bee Savannah. As a result, Mira is a bit of an outcast at school, and she really has no friends, although she starts to get closer to scholarship kid and fellow art enthusiast Kellen. Meanwhile, Izzie is adjusting to life in EC, but still feels like an outsider. This isn't helped by the fact that her crush Brayden doesn't seem to want to stand up to his family and show that he wants to date her.

    All of this happens in the shadow of cotillion, which includes etiquette, dancing, and other classes, but also pretty white dresses, and crazy initiation antics - all culminating in a big event with show-stopping dresses, family, and hearts on the line.

    Review:

    The strength of this book and series are the characterizations of Izzie and Mira, and their relationship. Everything else - the romance, the mean girls fighting - that's all pretty stereotypical. The authenticity of the book - and what keeps me coming back - is in how Izzie and Mira learn and grow together.

    Read the rest of this review at Mostly YA Lit English ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: http://blueskyshelf.blogspot.com/2012...

    *WARNING* This is a sequel. If you have not read the first book, you might not want to read this review. So go buy it/borrow it/get it from the library/steal it (okay, don’t do that one!). Then come back here.

    First off, I adore Jen Calonita. I've read every one of her books, own a few, and get them from the library constantly. Her books are ones that I love to just curl up and relax with. Her characters feel real and amazing and I want to be like them. I stinking love her books.

    Her first book in the series, Belles, was great. I loved the plot and how she created the characters. I didn't have just one main girl character to enjoy, I had two. When you have two main characters, it’s easy to not feel connected with them, especially in third person. But I didn't feel that way at all with Izzie and Mira. I read it once then got it for my birthday a couple months ago. Right when I found out there was a sequel, I pre-ordered it. My day got even better when it arrived early. Who doesn't love getting books in the mail? Finally, I dove in.

    Mira and Izzie found out about their true relationship with each other at the end of the last book. Their father is one and the same. In this book, they’re trying to deal with it all. Since their father Bill is running for Senate, he’s trying to clear away the “scandal” while others are popping up all over the place. Both girls don’t want to talk to him, much less be in the same room as him. Added on to all of that, they’re also participating in the famous cotillion. Mira has been dreaming about it for her whole life, while Izzie is only sticking with it for two reasons: to please Aunt Maureen and Mira and to do the initiation while watching Savannah Ingram suffer.

    Along with the scandals and cotillion, both girls are having boy trouble–of course. Mira is confused about her relationship/friendship with Kellen while Izzie wants Brayden to step up and be a man. He couldn't stand up to his mommy, but he did yell at his sister a couple of times. His sister was another character that was introduced this book. Dylan is the black sheep of the family and dislikes her parents greatly. She even has a few problems with her brother. She manipulates him which then causes him to lose it with her. He tells her to stop, even though he can’t even do that to his mother where evil Savannah is concerned. I was with Izzie on this one. If he liked her so much, why couldn't he defend her and their relationship?

    Mira did start creeping up on my nerves in one area. I felt that Mira was angrier and more unforgiving toward her father than Izzie was. That didn't settle right with me. In my mind, Mira had some right but not all. Her brothers forgave him. Why not her? I know it’s wrong, but Izzie was the one who had the most right to be angry. She didn't know who her father was! Mira did. So Mira and her “poor me” act grated on me in pieces of the book. I did sympathize with her in some aspects, but Izzie will always be my favorite by far.


    A person's a person no matter how small.
    Horton Hears a Who
    Now, if you are like my sister, I don’t recommend this book for you. She doesn't like contemporary and she would be very annoyed at the mysteries since they were easily figured out. It is also not a dystopian, mystery, action, or historic novel. This is a contemporary YA fiction book. Got that? And I personally love that there’s no cursing or sexual innuendo. And it still felt realistic. Not every contemporary book has to be a Sarah Dessen novel. Not every YA book has to have a PG-13 rating. Jen Calonita does a great job of being herself and writing amazing books. Books with enjoyable characters and dynamics. Every problem is a problem, no matter what it is.

    I felt as if I could be friends with these characters. I could picture their world. It might not have been dystopian, but their world was different than mine. These teenage girls might not have undermined a government, but they do go against some pretty mean people.

    The great part of this book was that it was very light and easy. There were conflicts, but I had a great time reading it. Jen Calonita even mentioned a character from her other series! That made me extremely giddy. It’s great when a character you love is mentioned somewhere else.

    Did I mention how much I love Jen Calonita?

    Word to Parents: I really don’t see why it wouldn't be fine, it was clean.
    English

    Winter

    This is rare (since I am normally not a big fan of second books in series), but I think I enjoyed this book more than the first. I also have to admit that I could not put this one down. Yep, read it in 5 hours straight. I had to give it 5 stars, because it has been a long time since I have read a book that I had to keep reading (losing sleep in the process).
    We join the Monroe family, right after the big surprise announcement has been made. Mira and Izzie are both reeling from the news. Their family has to put on their happy faces though, because this scandal could be the blow that ruins Mr. Monroe's chances at a senate seat.
    It is also time for the Emerald Cove Cotillion. Since I from California and cotillions are not as popular out west... I found the whole cotillion process so interesting. I don't know if real cotillions are anything like the one that these girls do, but it was still fun to read about. I also could really relate to Izzie as she is thrown into all the pomp and circumstance.
    We also get to meet some new characters. Brayden's sister, Dylan, suddenly shows up out of the blue (due to taking time off of college) and Izzie instantly likes her. As much I as I liked her too, I could tell that there was more to Dylan than met the eye. I was so glad that I was right. Her father also has a new PR person, since he had to fire his campaign manager at the end of Belles. She is bubbly and is well liked and offers the girls someone to talk to since they are not talking to their father and really the whole family seems to not be getting along so well at that point.
    What I think I liked most is the way that Mira and Izzie have now found some common ground and it was just wonderful to see how their relationship changed and grew throughout the book. In the first book the characters were not as rounded as I usually want them to be, so it was great to see the become more dynamic and more well-rounded. This one was definitely a feel good kind of book.
    I really can't wait to see what the next book has in store... especially because she leaves us hanging with the entrance of another interesting character. English For some reason I just couldn't really like this book. I really enjoyed Belles so I was surprised when I read this book and realised I was bored most of the way through.

    First off I was waiting for something really bad to happen the whole way through but it never did happen, I thought Dylan was going to be a really horrible person but found out she wasn't even a bad person in the end. So I wondered why I was made to really not trust or like her.

    Izzie annoyed me so much in this book, she was so self centered all of the time. Always blaming Brayden and making him feel like he was a horrible guy when in reality I completely understood every decision he made. I hated that Izzie didn't once try and look at things from his point of view. I just thought she was incredibly selfish.

    Mira was annoyingly spineless and it drove me crazy. Her self confidence was completely shot down and she didn't even try to improve it. She just went along with what everyone else said and mopped around all the time. She needed other people to make her feel better and that was annoying.

    The ending was very anti-climatic and boring. I was just bored most of the way through this. I felt like nothing happened.
    English A couple days ago when I was in the car for 6 hours and as bored as heck, my mind drifted to a scene where a girl and a boy were sitting opposite of each other in a restaurant booth, the girl hinting to the boy she wanted him to take her to Cotillion, yet he wasn’t taking the hint. (Don’t ask me why 🤣)
    I saw it play out in my mind, trying to figure out what movie or TV show it was from—turns out it was from this book! That’s how good of a visualization I got from the scene—not to mention the last time I read it was over a year ago.
    Now THAT is impressive… English Oh Jen Calonita and her cliffhangers. It's going to make waiting for the next book a lot harder! The drama, Butterflies, boys and dresses are back in this one. I don't know why, but I really enjoy reading contemporaries with tons of drama, I don't like being involved in it myself (I had enough of that in high school!) but it just seems fun reading it. Maybe because it doesn't actually effect anyone and I need to see what happens next! Jen Calonita certainly knows how to spin a story shock full of juicy drama, while making you actually care about the characters as well! I was tearing up at some parts towards the end and had other moments where I was seething at Savannah (that girl.. grrr!). She definitely can bring out your emotions with her writing. And the covers of these books?? So gorgeous!

    In Winter White we are once again thrown into the upper class life in Emerald Cove and it's drama. And is there every drama! After the huge bombshell at the end of Belles, I couldn't wait to see what would happen. Life gets crazier than normal for both Izzy and Mira after the new breaks. Then the girls both participate in cotillion and it opens up even more drama and woes for them. Izzy has a lot to learn about being a proper lady and Mira is having friend issues, but the girls at least have each other to lean on. Izzy is struggling to find her place but they both have one thing in common, they are both extremely mad at their father!

    This is another great Belles book and I will be anticipating the next! If you're someone who really enjoys reading about a little (or a lot!) of drama, than this one is for you. The competitive world of high school mixed with gowns, politics, enemies and boys. It's a great light read if you're looking for something to get you out of a reading rut! Just watch out for the cliffhangers, it makes me sad that it takes so long for the next one to come out! Highly enjoyed! You should definitely give it a try! English I loved the first book in this series and I loved the second one just as much!!! This series is always interesting...and has something in it for everyone!!!! I would highly recommend for readers who like learning how the rich live....and how the middle class live in comparison...but you know it's well written so u don't feel sorry for either class you just accept it...really this story keeps surprising I can't predict the outcome from one minute to the next...I thought Kellen was the bad guy...and it shocked me when the publicity agent was the culprit....really good story line...! English