Tag «Alternate History»

Series Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Leviathan (from Goodreads):

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

breakdown

Series: Leviathan Trilogy
Author: Scott Westerfeld
# of Books: 3 (Leviathan, Behemoth, Goliath)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2009 – January 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I adore anything Steampunk so I marked Leviathan on my TBR years ago but never got around to it. Like most “I’ve been meaning to read this forever” novels I’ve read this year, I started this series because I needed a new audiobook to listen to for my commute to work. This series was available and so I instantly downloaded it and dove in.

I was looking forward to learning about the setting (I’ve never read a Steampunk that takes place during WWI before) and I wanted a fast-paced adventure to keep my attention.

The Concept / The World:

I’ve totally fallen in love with this world in every aspect. It’s so rich and well researched that you can’t help but be enthralled by it.

One of my favourite aspects of steampunk is that no world is the same as another and I’ve never encountered a world like this. The scientist in me, particularly one who studied biological science, adores the blend of biology and mechanics in this trilogy. Most steampunk novels focus on the mechanical revolution and inventions so it was refreshing to see the biological evolution front and center. And using that clash to amp up the danger of the world was brilliant.

But I also liked the alternate history aspect as well. Parts of this story are rooted in actual historical events but other moments are elaborated to allow the story to go down a different path. The afterwards in each novel where Westerfeld explains how he crafted the world is just plain awesome.

The Plot:

I found Leviathan slower than I anticipated. I blame the synopsis a bit on this one because it gave me the impression that Alek and Deryn would meet sooner rather than later and have an adventure together. But the fact of the matter is that they have two completely separate storylines for half of the novel and I really craved that interaction. I wanted more high impact action and to see the chemistry of the characters interacting. So that first half was a little tougher for me to get through but I enjoyed watching the world grow and develop in the mean time.

Behemoth was more what I thought Leviathan was going to be. It always seemed to be moving and there was great character development and moments.

Which in turn, makes Goliath seem a little slower in comparison but it has some much needed character resolution.

The Characters:

It’s easy to love Deryn as a character I think.  Her spirit, drive and loyalty are things that make a great heroine in an adventure novel. Her motto is definitely: anything a boy can do, I can do better. Gotta love that.

Alek has tremendous growth throughout the series. He really embraces everything that is thrown his way and that was a lot of fun to watch.

The Romance:

The definition of slow burn I think. I almost wonder though if I would have appreciated it more if the relationship was kept as platonic? Regardless, it plays such a small role here that it shouldn’t be your main motivation for reading this.

My Audiobook Experience:

This was read by Alan Cumming who is an actor I’m very familiar with and I have to say he did a great job. The accents were great and he did the female voices very well. It was a fabulous performance and I highly recommend the audiobook.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3/5

Leviathan 3.5/5 | Behemoth 3/5 | Goliath 3/5

overall

This book had a bit of a younger feel to it so I might have enjoyed it more 5 years ago but it’s cleverly crafted and impressive for readers of any age!

Read if You Like: alternate histories, WWI setting, steampunk
Avoid if You: dislike adventure
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Fresh Fridays: The Glittering Court (#1) by Richelle Mead

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

The Glittering Court Trilogy

Other books in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Glittering Court (from Goodreads):
Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Disappointment 2016
Series: The Glittering Court Trilogy
Author: Richelle Mead
# of Books: 3 (The Glittering Court, Book 2, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected (might be more companion based)
Complete?: No, Book 2 has yet to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical, Alternate History, Adventure
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 5, 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Richelle Mead is one of my favourite authors ever. Vampire Academy and its spin-off Bloodlines are two of my favourite series ever with some of my favourite book characters every written. She writes strong females in worlds that are complex yet never overly complicated and she is pretty great at writing forbidden, loads of sexual tension romance. After the flop that was Soundless (it was ok, but didn’t blow me away)–I was really excited to see her jump into a new series and one that was almost like an historical romance.

Tip: Don’t Expect something a la Vampire Academy (High Action)

I’m adding this centralized subheading because I think it is really freakin’ important. Don’t be like me and come in with super high expectations for a fast plot because you will be disappointed. If you are familiar with Mead’s paranormal romance works, you know she always has a ton of physical and often political action to her stories. That really isn’t the case here. It’s a slower plot (as I’ll explain below) and it really is so different from her previous works. Go in with a clear mind and leave your Richelle Mead expectations at the door.

What I Liked:

–The World–

I really liked the world for this story. It mimics our own in terms of European explorers looking for the New World (North and Central America) but has brand new names and the like. If you have studied any history about this (which we do in Canada let me tell you), you’ll see all the parallels and see the political and social aspects Mead brings to life. I thought it was really smart and not overly complex and I simply loved it.

–Adelaide’s Character Development–

While I like that Adelaide is a head-strong girl, she really rubbed me the wrong way at the start. She’s a little selfish and a lot spoiled so she comes across as arrogant and stubborn. So that made it a little hard to be sympathetic to her situation at the start. BUT, she really comes a long way as the story progresses and I did warm up to her by the end.

She may not be my favourite heroine ever, but I can respect her progression as a character.

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Slow Plot–

I feel like this book could have been 50 (ebook) pages shorter. I think this book kinda shoots itself in the foot because it is the first book of the series and it needs to set up the world and the other girls’ stories. But I found the first third to be pretty dry (mostly when they were at school) and then it picked up when they went to the New World. Then it weened a bit near the end but I did enjoy the last half of the book way more than the first.

The plot is also pretty linear in its progression. There isn’t a whole lot happening at once–it reminded me of an adventure story in that aspect. It read like A to B to C–when one thing “finished” another would pop up but nothing really seemed overarching when it came to Adelaide’s story besides her hidden identity. I wanted a little more substance I suppose to the plot.

–The Romance–

This was a huge disappointment for me. It felt like a love at first sight type of story because I didn’t get why they even liked each other besides some subconscious feeling. While the sexual tension in the middle of the book peaked, I found it quickly dissipated and I was left disappointed overall in the romance. Especially when the book was on the drier side, I really looked to the romance to give me some excitement.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

–The Interweaving Stories–

What I like about this series is that each book focuses on a different girl and the stories all interweave. I’m assuming the next two books will be about Mira and Tamsin since they are the only other girls we really meet but that’s just a guess. I was really intrigued by these two, especially when all this stuff happens–so I can’t wait to connect the dots.

My Rating: 3/5

The Glittering Court 3/5 | Book 2 TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

This book didn’t wow me like I wanted it to. I wanted a little more passion I suppose in all aspects. BUT, I am very curious what the next story will be so I am definitely sticking with this series.

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate histories, adventure
Avoid if You: dislike initially spoiled characters, want more romance building

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Series Review: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Favourite 2015, New Must Read Author, Favourite Series, Sad to See Go 2016
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
# of Books: 3 (The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, The Winner’s Kiss)
Book Order: Chronological

There is a prequel novella: Bridge of Snow

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, High Fantasy, Alternate History
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating

Thoughts:

I won’t lie: the covers are what drew me to pick up this series (it wasn’t until after I read it that this book seemed to be on a lot of blogs that I follow). Both The Winner’s Curse and The Winner’s Crime were new additions to my library’ eCatalogue and after I read the synopsis, I decided I really wanted to read these books. I honestly didn’t know what to expect plot-wise from these novels but I knew that I was expecting awesome things and I eagerly dug in.

I didn’t get right into The Winner’s Curse because I felt like it was assumed that I knew the history of the world. Not that the world is overly complicated (I got the gist of it pretty quick); I just felt like it was expected that I knew why these two cultures were clashing and why there was conflict in Kestrel’s world on a deeper level without being told why. Perhaps I just missed that one key line that explains everything earlier in the book. Regardless: the truth of the matter is that the conflicts present in this book are no different than the conflicts we see in our modern world despite its historical edge. And once I was a few chapters in, I was sold (no pun intended) on everything this book was bringing.

If you take the intelligent, strategic heroine of June from the Legend Trilogy, minus her physical ability to kick ass and add the historical vibes of For the Darkness Shows the Stars, you get The Winner’s Curse.

Which means it’s pretty awesome!

Despite my personal distaste for slower novels, I really loved The Winner’s Curse! I loved how everything built up slowly and was intricately linked together. There was a plot-line I wasn’t expecting and I thought it made the story 20x more interesting. This book was never afraid to take risks and that makes it vastly different from the other dystopian YA novels out there. (Though it isn’t really that much of a dystopian novel, rather a high fantasy with some dystopian elements present.)

It also differs from other YA with its AMAZING heroine! I adored Kestrel as a heroine. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a dystopian-esque heroine that didn’t drive me up the wall in some way or another. She was smart, always thought about her actions and was never irrational in her decisions. She’s a strategist and I find that so refreshing in a heroine. Don’t get me wrong, I love heroines who can physically kick ass but it was so AWESOME to read about a heroine who uses her intelligence to outwit her opponents instead of her fists or sword.

I also really liked Arin and her relationship with him. It’s slow building but has so many interesting layers to it that it was a lot of fun to read about. It reminded me a lot of June and Day’s relationship (from Legend) in the sense that they balanced each other out. They were a great pair when they were together but just as amazing when they were on their own and I loved that! Being “on their own” is an important thing to highlight because if you are expecting some grand romance–think again! I found that the romance played a very minimal part in the story as it focuses more on the politics of the countries wayyyy more than it does on the relationship between Arin and Kestrel. It is definitely there but it takes more of a backseat throughout the story.

The Winner’s Crime doesn’t slow down from where its predecessor left off; in fact, it builds on it. Though I thought it started on the slow side, it quickly amped up its pace as you read. The Winner’s Crime definitely has more political intrigue to it which I have been craving to read about for such a long time and that made me really happy. So many great twists and turns! I really didn’t know what was going to happen despite all the clues along the way–which is probably why I would say it is my favourite of the two so far (but it was a really close and hard choice to make!).

I simply cannot wait to read The Winner’s Kiss!!! I just want to see a cover or a synopsis or even a specific release date so I can satisfy some part of my excitement!

Just a quick note on the novella (well, it’s really just a very short story). It takes place when Arin was a child, therefore it is technically a prequel. However, I think you will get more out of it if you read it after The Winner’s Curse or even The Winner’s Crime. I read it after The Winner’s Crime and I feel like that was a good time to read it because I could make the connections it inspires. However, it really doesn’t contribute to the story in any way other than to provide a taste of Arin’s life before The Winner’s Curse and isn’t necessary to read if you can’t find it (or don’t want to pay the $1 to read 20 pages).

updates

–May 23, 2016– Book #3: The Winner’s Kiss


I admit, I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to the personal hype I’ve built up in my mind over the last year waiting its arrival.

But damn, this book was finale perfection!

It had everything I wanted: politics, action, romantic tension and great twists. I was absorbed from start to finish, hanging on every word. Even though I’m sad this series is over, I couldn’t have asked for a better finale!

Series Rating: 5/5

The Winner’s Curse 5/5 | The Winner’s Crime 5/5 | The Winner’s Kiss 5/5

overall

One of my favourite YA reads this year and a new favourite series for me! Loved every minute of these books! (I may even break my buying physical books pact to own these novels!) If you want to read a dystopian-esque novel with a FANTASTICALLY intelligent heroine, her complimentary male counterpart and lots of political intrigue–this is the read for you!

Read if You Like: intelligent heroines, politics, high fantasy
Avoid if You: want more romance, want more detailed world-building

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Synopsis for The Winner’s Curse (from Goodreads):
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

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Series Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Young Elites by Marie Lu | The Young Elites Series

 

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Young Elites (from Goodreads):
I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Must Read Author
Series: The Young Elites Trilogy
Author: Marie Lu
# of Books: 3 (The Young Elites, The Rose Society, The Midnight Star)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Antihero, Alternate History, Dystopian, Dark Fantasy
Heat Rating: cool (sexual references are made though)
Point of View: First Person (Single) + Third Person (Multiple)

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

As soon as I finished the Legend Trilogy my first thought was: what else has this author published? I loved the Legend Trilogy, more specifically I loved the strong, independent and willing to fight characters that Lu created and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on any other story she had written.

I always feel bad when I start a new series by a previously read author because their new series inevitably gets compared to the previous series even if they are two completely different stories. This story is completely different than the Legend Series in terms of plotline but Lu still manages to deliver a solid story with her writing.

I haven’t read many anti-hero stories besides Shakespeare and the Blood of Eden Series, though I watch Scandal, House of Cards and How to Get Away with Murder which counts to some degree 😛 So I really enjoyed reading about an anti-hero. Adelina was interesting to read about and she kept my attention throughout the novel. When I first read the synopsis, I assumed that we would be getting 3 POV characters that would alternate but that isn’t the case. Instead, we get Adelina narrating in the first person and a few other characters who have short third person POV chapters here and there. Having these little side chapters helped get a fuller picture of what was going on and I think in the end it was a wise decision to use that approach.

The plot starts off slow but I enjoyed learning more about the world and understanding Adelina. I was expecting a little more though to be honest but I felt like it built up nice enough. The last quarter of the book was non-stop fast-paced with some great twists so I loved that. I’m excited to see where this series is going to go and can’t wait to get my hands on book 2!

updates

–November 10, 2015– Book 2: The Rose Society

This book was getting rave reviews and I totally understand why. This book just flowed in a fantastic way from start to finish. It kept building up to the climax and I really enjoyed that. We get some fresh characters, some more plot to play with and as always, some great twists that keep the momentum going.

However, I wasn’t WOW’d with this book, hence the 4/5 and not a 5/5. It’s a solid book and absolutely very well done (probably my favourite of the two so far) but it just didn’t have that last shock factor to leave me breathless. And that isn’t to say that I don’t want the 3rd book in my hands ASAP–because I do!–I just wasn’t left absolutely blown away by it all even though I enjoyed it immensely!

–February 22, 2017– Book 3: The Midnight Star

I was super excited to read this book! The cover taunted me every time I went to the library!

This was a bit of a slow start for me. Perhaps it just took me a while to get reacquainted with a world I haven’t seen in a year. But it didn’t take long to get back into the groove of things.

This story is solid. It’s never rushed and there is plenty of action. It also has strong character moments. Adelina especially; it was great to learn more about in the third and finale book. She’s had such great development from the start of the series and I think it shows to Lu’s strength that her characters still can grow in the last novel.

Again, this book didn’t blow me away though. I just couldn’t give it a 5/5. I’m not sure if it’s the whole anti-hero thing or if I just constantly compare this to the Legend Trilogy (one of my all time favourite series). But it’s still a solid book and I think it is slightly stronger than The Rose Society.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Young Elites 4/5 | The Rose Society 4/5 | The Midnight Star 4/5

overall

Don’t read this expecting a carbon copy of the Legend Trilogy. You can expect the basic foundations like plot twists, a larger overarching plot line and strong characters; but the feeling of this series is completely different. If you want to read about a true anti-hero, this is a great series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: villains as protagonists, dark YA
Avoid if You: dislike dark stories, characters with powers

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Series Review: Romances of Arquitaine by Lilith Saintcrow

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Series: Romances of Arquitaine
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
# of Books: 2 (The Hedgewitch Queen, The Bandit King)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Politics, Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Alternative History, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person

Thoughts:

The Hedgewitch Queen takes the honour of being the first eBook I have ever bought–yet it took me nearly 2 years to actual get around to reading it. Eventually, I managed to find the time to read both books and here are my thoughts about them:

One thing that nearly turned me off of reading The Hedgewitch Queen once I started it was the odd writing flow it had to it. I found that I had a hard time understanding what was going on and there were a lot of terms used that I didn’t always know the meaning for (though there is a glossary of terms at the back of the novels that does explain some terms). Eventually, I got the movement of things a few chapters in and that was when I started to enjoy the story a lot more.

My favourite aspect of the plot was the mystery/suspense surrounding the treason of the King. I really had no idea how everything was going to unfold so I enjoyed watching it come to life as I read it. I find the sequel, The Bandit King does a great job of connecting things together from the first book so you get a better understanding regarding what happened in the previous book. Really, it was the treason plot that I liked most about this book because the romance isn’t as big of a focus as one expects when you read the series title as “romances of”. It’s definitely there but I felt it was more subtle and behind the scenes–what I’m trying to say is that it isn’t just a lovey-dovey romance novel. If you go in expecting a political soap-opera of sorts you will get a better grasp of what is happening.

I think a lot of people will struggle with the characters. The Hedgewitch Queen is told solely from Vianne’s POV and The Bandit King is from Tristan’s POV. I had a very hard time liking Vianne. Man, at the start of the Hedgewitch Queen she is easily one of the most annoying heroines I have ever had the displeasure of reading. She was extremely vain and dumb and I found that very frustrating to read. BUT, she has great character growth and definitely smartens up by the end of The Hedgewitch Queen which I appreciate. As for Tristan, I really liked him overall but I think a lot of people will get annoyed by his “angstiness” at times. He plays the tortured lover well I think and I enjoyed having him telling the second book to save me from another round of Vianne’s thoughts–though it was a little much at times.

I really had no idea how the series was going to end or what was going to happen next in either book and I really liked that. I’m glad the series was only 2 books long because I don’t know how much more could be added to the series before it seriously began to suffer from an inflated plot. So I think the Bandit King ends things nicely though I would have liked an epilogue.

Conclusion:

I liked this book because it was very different from other books that I read. I really got sucked into the treason plotline and I liked the unpredictability of it. I don’t think a lot of people will enjoy it though so I recommend that you read a sample of it and if you can’t stomach the first few chapters then pass completely on the series. But if you are looking for or want to try a Young Adult political thriller with magic, this is for you!

Rating: 4/5
Would I Recommend this Series to a Friend: No, I don’t think my friends would be interested in this type of storyline.

Similar Reads: Throne of Glass by Sarah H. Maas (Throne of Glass Series #1); The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Fire and Thorns Series #1)  and The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz (The Ring and the Crown Series#1)

Synopsis for The Hedgewitch Queen (from Goodreads):
Vianne di Rocancheil is a lady waiting at the Court of Arquitaine, where she studies her books, watches for intrigue, and shepherds her foolhardy Princesse through the glittering whirl. Court is a sometimes-unpleasant waltz, especially for the unwary, but Vianne treads its measured steps well.

Unfortunately, the dance has changed. Treachery is afoot in gilded and velvet halls. A sorcerous conspiracy is unleashed, with blood, death, and warfare close behind. Vianne must flee, carrying the Great Seal of Arquitaine with her. This is the one thing the conspirators need to rule, and they won’t rest until they have it. A life of dances, intrigues, and fashion has not prepared Vianne for this. Nor has it prepared her for Tristan d’Arcenne, Captain of the King’s Guard and player in the most dangerous games conspiracy can devise. Yet to save her country and avenge her Princesse, Vianne will become what she must and do whatever is required.

A Queen can do no less.

Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Standalone Review: Catch my thoughts on this book!

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Series: The Ring and the Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 1 2 (The Ring and the Crown, The Lily and the Cross)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: YES

This was originally going to be a trilogy but Melissa announced on her blog in March 2016 that it would be a standalone novel. The sequel was written as a draft and it is available for purchase though no further work will be done on the series.

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance, Drama, Alternate History
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple

Thoughts:

I’ve read most of Cruz’s Blue Bloods saga (one book to go!) and enjoyed it for the most part. It was a cool spin on vampires and angels and I loved the more mature young adult feel to it. While the series went on longer than I would have liked (it felt like it dragged at times), I really liked her writing style and her ability to write interesting characters and plots. So when I saw this book, my interest was peaked.

What really sucks is that the Goodreads synopsis (read it here) really gives the reader the wrong first impression about this book. When you read the synopsis, you think this book will focus on two best friends stuck in political and royal turmoil–but that is only half of the case. If you get the actual physical copy of the book like I did and read the synopsis there, you get a completely different plot summary–and one that is much more accurate to what the novel is about. That synopsis is the one I have decided to use for my review and you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Long story short: if you are expecting a novel about two girls fighting for the crown complete with lots of offensive magic spells and evil politics abounds–you will be severely disappointed. This book is mostly about 4 girls trying to find their place in a world where they are restricted by society, politics and simply for being females.

Once I figured out what the plot actually was, I started to enjoy the novel. Like her other series, this book focuses on multiple main characters that all interweave in the plot–which makes it that much more interesting if you ask me because there was a lot going on plot-wise. It’s fun to see how everything links together and it keeps the pace of the book on the faster side because multiple things are happening at once.

I was a little lost trying to keep everyone’s lineages straight but once I got more into the story, things started making more sense and I really started to get wrapped up in everything. The plot synopsis is really deceiving again because you think the story will mostly focus on Aelywn and Marie but Aelywn really doesn’t do much for the entire book. I found the book mostly focused on Ronan and Marie with little spurts of Aelywn and Isabelle thrown in. I actually didn’t mind so much because I was really interested in Ronan’s story but I really think Aelywn really could have been developed more and made a really awesome character.

When I was reading, it was really unclear to me if this book was a part of a series because it ended really suddenly yet it seemed to wrap everything up–and I really disliked the ending because of that. Suddenly things that happened “off-stage” are brought to light and it ruined what would have been an awesome ending if they had been more developed instead of simply stated as fact. Looking back at the novel as a whole, it took too long to reach its climax but I still enjoyed reading it.

So if there is a sequel, I’m really interested to see where it is going–because up until the last chapter I was totally on board with what was going to happen in the sequel but the ending really threw me for a loop. Turns out that there is a sequel and based on the synopsis I read it sounds like it is the same cast of characters but with new games afoot. I will probably check it out just for curiosities’ sake but I won’t be counting down the days.

**NOTE: This was going to be a series but the author has decided to keep it as a standalone!

Conclusion:

I think if you go in to this book understanding what is really going to happen with the plot, people would enjoy it more. But frankly the plot descriptions provided to the reader don’t fully explain what is happening. If you are looking for a young adult read filled with magically and politically suspense–look elsewhere because this isn’t it. There is no other way to describe this book other than “chick lit” because the book mostly focuses on the romances of the girls and them trying to find their place in the world. There is a dash of suspense, but it really isn’t present until the last 40 pages. I enjoyed it once I got a grasp of what was happening, but I wish the ending was better. I think de la Cruz missed the mark a bit with this book which is a shame because it would have been really great.

Rating: 3.5/5

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Synopsis for The Ring and the Crown (from Chapters/Indigo):
Magic is power, and power is magic…

Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire.

As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d’Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.

But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family’s position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.

Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn”t even want Leopold-she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry.

When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.

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