Review: The Ring and the Crown

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

The Ring and the Crown (The Ring and the Crown, #1)

Publication date: April 1st 2014

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Number of pages: 384

Series: The Ring and the Crown (1#)

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Source: Borrowed. This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys’ magic, Eleanor’s extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen’s Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie’s face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she’s always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she’s always dreamed of–the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor’s court: trust no one.

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Review:

A world of magic, politics and love where passions run high.

I’m not going to lie. I really didn’t have high expectations for this book. At all. The reviews I’d seen hadn’t been brilliant and I wasn’t a fan of the author’s ‘Blue Bloods’ series. Thankfully, I did like this one more than I thought. Otherwise that beautiful cover would completely have gone to waste.

I’d describe this book as following 4 main female characters (Marie-Victoria, Aelwyn, Isabella and Ronan) and one male, a man named Wolf. It was told in third person but narrated various scenes of the lives of the 5 characters listed above. I surprised myself to actually liking all the characters listed above (usually I’m pretty biased and find one point of view that I like most/least). But I was very interested in all their stories and really felt for them.

I love the way that Arthurian legends have highlighted so heavily in the story. There are mentions of characters like Merlin and Vivian and I really wish that there were more books that kind of showcased these legends. Being from a background rich in British and Celtic history, these legends have featured a lot in tales my parents used to tell me. Plus who couldn’t love BBC’s television adaption of Merlin. That actually has to be one of my favourite shows ever. Ever, ever, ever.

I also adored Melissa de la Cruz’s writing. Even though she was writing in third person, I never felt detached from the story. Her writing just kind of flows perfectly and is very easy to read. I got through this book very quickly and could easily have kept going.

While for my enjoyment level of the story I would rate the book 4/5 stars (or something like that) for most of the book, I feel like the ending and the story fell a bit flat over all. I feel like I was waiting for some big climax or some complication of sorts to happen. I don’t really feel as though much happened over the entire course of the novel. The story seemed to be more about who was falling in love with who.

Which left me feeling totally disappointed towards the end. I can’t really say much more without spoiling it but I decided to drop my rating because I felt a little cheated. Like everything that did happen in the story happened for nothing and it was pointless.

Although, I did appreciate the twists. Even if some of them made me a little bit frustrated.

And I loved the way it was kind of written as an alternative as to how history could have gone. I would love to read more books like that in YA.

The other thing is, we didn’t get to see much of the friendship particularly between Marie-Victoria and Aelwyn. I don’t feel like I really saw much closeness between them, only relied on what the author had shared about their past, which to be honest wasn’t that much.

I thought this review would be more positive but apparently now that I’m reflecting on it, things have changed. I probably won’t continue on with the trilogy. However, I actually did enjoy what I read, believe it or not. It was a nice, light read.

3/5 comets
The Earth shook. If they thought the Leaning Tower of Pisa was leaning before…

Add The Ring and the Crown to Goodreads

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Goodreads author bio:

Melissa de la CruzMelissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.

Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.

She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.

Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.

Review: Thunderstone

Thunderstone by Barbara Pietron

Thunderstone

Publication date: October 30th 2013

Publisher: Scribe Publishing

Number of pages: 262

Series: N/A

Genre: YA Mythology

Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

Sneaking out at night, driving without a license, and falling for a guy weren’t things fifteen-year-old Jeni expected to do while visiting Lake Itasca, Minnesota with her family. The guy, Ice, turns out to be the local medicine man’s apprentice, and when he tells Jeni she’s connected to the spirit world, her first instinct is to run. But after Ice’s stories of a mythical underwater monster—that Jeni allegedly released—prove true, she realizes it’s up to her to contain the beast. Jeni must first convince herself that she’s able, and then save the locals, Ice, and ultimately herself.

“…well-written and entertaining…Jeni makes for a likeable protagonist that readers will identify with,” – Publishers Weekly

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Review:

This is one of those little hidden book gems (or should I say thunderstone – sorry, I had to) that you never would have given a second look should it have not been for some strange reason.

What initially attracted me to Thunderstone was the notion of reading about Native American gods. I had never read a book (or even heard of one) centred around Native American gods. Roman gods, yes, Greek gods, yes, Christian angels, yes, Egyptian gods, yes, but never Native American gods.

And with Native American gods, of course you are going to get Native American people. And here is why this is an extra good thing: there is a huge call out for diverse books at the moment. I don’t know of a single reader who isn’t getting into the We Need Diverse Books campaign and with no super prominent Native American YA books that I have heard of around, I think that this is major bonus points for Thunderstone.

But enough commending of the Native Americanness. I have to talk about other things of course.

I really took to the main character. She was smart, modest and very likeable. Although I can’t say she really…stood out? I immediately liked her relationship with Ice. They were really cute.

But perhaps my favourite character was Tyler. I thought his character was funny and I loved his relationship with his cousin (the main character). Yet another thing that is fairly rare for me to find in YA books – blood cousin relationships. I think it’s more common to find characters who are treated like cousins but aren’t actually related in YA books.

The actual story was alright. It could have been better but it was interesting enough and made up for it in how the other elements of the story set it apart from others.

All in all, I will probably recommend this to anyone looking for a book like this. I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected and hope to see more people reading it.

3/5 comets
The Earth shook. If they thought the Leaning Tower of Pisa was leaning before…

Add Thunderstone to Goodreads

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Goodreads author bio:

Barbara PietronA lifetime love of books and the written word convinced Barbara to choose writing as a second career. She began by writing non-fiction for magazines and achieved both regional and national publication. This success was all she needed to encourage her to complete a novel. Her first manuscript was a beneficial learning experience along with critiques, books, contests, and blogs. Barbara sees Thunderstone as only the beginning; she has two other novels in the works and has started a Thunderstone sequel. When not reading or writing, she likes to walk, garden, and sew. She works in a library and lives in Royal Oak, Michigan with her husband, daughter, and their cat—who often acts like a dog. – See more at: http://scribe-publishing.com/barbara-…
Follow Barbara on Facebook: www.facebook.com/barbara.pietron.19

Review: Dead Beautiful

Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

Dead Beautiful (Dead Beautiful, #1)

Publication date: September 1st 2010

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Number of pages: 464

Series: Dead Beautiful (1#)

Genre: YA Paranormal

Source: Received in exchange for review. This is my honest opinion.

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Goodreads synopsis:

On the morning of her sixteenth birthday, Renée Winters was still an ordinary girl. She spent her summers at the beach, had the perfect best friend, and had just started dating the cutest guy at school. No one she’d ever known had died. But all that changes when she finds her parents dead in the Redwood Forest, in what appears to be a strange double murder.

After the funeral Renée’s wealthy grandfather sends her to Gottfried Academy, a remote and mysterious boarding school in Maine, where she finds herself studying subjects like Philosophy, Latin, and the “Crude Sciences.”

It’s there that she meets Dante Berlin, a handsome and elusive boy to whom she feels inexplicably drawn. As they grow closer, unexplainable things begin to happen, but Renée can’t stop herself from falling in love. It’s only when she discovers a dark tragedy in Gottfried’s past that she begins to wonder if the Academy is everything it seems.

Little does she know, Dante is the one hiding a dangerous secret, one that has him fearing for her life.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking read, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

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Review:

“Just one kiss will take your breath away”

I am ridiculously thankful for finding this book. I actually learned a lot from it and really didn’t expect much. I basically read it in a day and was so into it the whole time.

I’m really into Latin and all that stuff, so I am incredibly jealous of the classes that the main character in this book gets to take. Seriously. This is her schedule:
“Elementary Latin I
Ancient Civilisations
Imaginary Arithmetic
Horticulture
Philosophy
The Arts
Crude Sciences”

Are you jealous? I was pretty jealous. I don’t really understand how arithmetic can be imaginary, but it sounds like an improvement. I would loooove to take Latin, Philosophy and Ancient Civilisations though.

I’d say the word ‘cool’ sums this book up pretty accurately. There was so much history, language and mythology woven through it that I thought my head may explode from how much awe was building up inside me. The author must have done so much research, or at least must have spent a lot of time devising a world as intricate as that one.

This isn’t going to be the best of reviews because I don’t remember a terribly great amount about it. I read it almost two months ago and have been sitting on this review ever since, struggling to convey my feelings appropriately so that I can do it justice. Now, here we are, months later and I’ve forgotten a lot. Brilliant.

Ah. One thing I do remember especially is that I found myself comparing Dead Beautiful to the Twilight saga a lot. If you read my Goodreads status updates I think you’ll find at least one where I mention a comparison. Especially a certain scene involving the science lab. That was almost just…uncanny.

I really liked the characters and considering that Dead Beautiful was one of the only two books I finished in November (and that says something, usually when I’m in a reading slump I don’t always finish what I start).

I would totally and wholeheartedly recommend this. If you love divine mystery and mythology, served with great characters and intrigue, then what are you waiting for?

5/5 comets
Bye, bye Earth! Out of this world!

Add Dead Beautiful to Goodreads

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Goodreads author bio:

Yvonne WoonYvonne Woon grew up in Massachusetts. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts in fiction from Columbia University. She lives in Manhattan.