Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Salvage and The Ring and The Crown

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Salvage and The Ring and The Crown

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Welcome to Mini-Reviews, in which I give you my short take on a few upcoming releases.

Salvage 
by Alexandra Duncan
To be published on April 1
by Greenwillow Books

Source: Thanks to Greenwillow for allowing me to read an e-ARC for review purposes.
Mini-synopsis, adapted from Goodreads: Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean.
My mini-take:  Like These Broken Stars, Salvage is one of those books that seems like it's going to take place on a spaceship, but doesn't for long. The first ten chapters or so take place aboard the Parastrata, a space merchant ship that houses an oppressive, patriarchal little community, complete with arranged polygamous marriage. I wasn't really sure I was up for reading 500 pages of that, but then -- BAM! - a few chapters in, our heroine is banished and the interesting part of the book begins. 

Salvage is a beautifully written coming-of-age story set first in space, then on an floating island of flotsam in the Pacific, then in a futuristic Mumbai. Alone and undereducated, Ava will have to make her way in an unfamiliar world, deal with her shame at being cast out by her community, unravel some family secrets, and learn that she can be strong and also accept help from others. This book is long and while it's not fast-paced or filled with action, I was never bored. There are some truly heartrending moments along Ava's journey of self-discovery, and the narrative had a beguiling, almost dreamy quality.

The blurb compares it to Across the Universe and A Handmaid's Tale. I don't really see the former at all, except for the spaceship setting, though I can see the latter, as the book does have a strong feminist bent. The book that it reminded me most of was Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Both books featured intelligent, inventive futuristic worlds and beautiful writing.

The Ring and the Crown
by Melissa de la Cruz
To be published on April 1
by Disney-Hyperion

Source: Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for allowing me to read an e-ARC for review purposes.
Mini-synopsis adapted from Goodreads: 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. 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.
My Mini-Take: The Ring and the Crown is an addictive alt-history paranormal soap opera. Think Downton Abbey + Gossip Girl + King Arthur. Secret romances and royal pageantry abound, and the narrative has a fun, chatty feel.  The alt-history premise is very cool. My European history is a touch shaky, but the way I understood it, England defeated France at the time of the Hundred Years War using magic -- the powers of Merlin beat out those of Joan of Arc -- resulting in an early twentieth-century world in which the Franco-British empire holds onto its power through supernatural means. This worldbuilding is done with a light, deft touch -- don't be afraid if you're not a big historical fiction reader -- but it all made sense to me.

The Ring and the Crown features a large cast of characters, each quickly sketched and each madly in love with the most inconvenient person possible.  Like Downton Abbey, the plotting in this book is brisk to the point of breakneck. On the positive side, you're never bored. On the negative, there isn't a lot of time for reflection or character development.

I found this one pretty fun -- a great antidote if you've been reading a lot of slow or serious books. If you love breathlessly narrated, multi-character historical soapfests like the Luxe series or Downton Abbey, you should definitely check this out!

32 comments:

  1. Downton Abbey? Count me in! I think I would enjoy The Ring and the Crown. I don't about Salvage, though. I don't do good with slow paced books. BTW I love that picture with the little tiny books!
    Bethzaida @ Bookittyblog

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    1. Well, these two have a huge contrast in the pacing but I really enjoyed them both!

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  2. The first one sounds pretty interesting. Never heard of it. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Oh, Both Salvage and The Ring and the Crown sound great! I'm glad you pointed out that the Ring and the Crown is not a heavy alternate history, but fast and page-turning. Great reviews. I think I have both still on my wish list-keeping them there :)

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    1. Definitely not! This is definitely on the lighter side, but I found it pretty fun!

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  4. Ooh! looking forward to the ring and the crown even more now! Breakneck is great!

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    1. You love PLL so I think you will enjoy this!

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  5. Salvage sounds great! I'm kind of discouraged now for The Ring and the Crown. I was reminded of Game of Thrones for some reason when I read the blurb. I think I'll save The Ring and the Crown for when I'm in the mood for breakneck speed. Great reviews, simple and to the point :)
    -Marianne

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    1. No -- definitely not at all like Game of Thrones. Much more Downton Abbey with paranormal elements.
      Glad you like the mini-reviews. I'm loving them!!

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  6. Ooo, I cannot wait to read Salvage! I'm on the blog tour for that one, so I haven't read it yet, but I shall very soon! Actually, I think my post is next week O_O

    And I rather loved The Ring and the Crown! I have not watched Downton Abbey, but my sister and mother LOVE that show (up until a point, and then apparently, things got bad. I don't know, honestly). I think I also compared it to Gossip Girl, in my review! Or 90210. Or something like that. But I'm glad we both picked up that vibe! Usually, I wouldn't like reading those types of books, but it totally worked in this book. I love historical fiction, and honestly, in history, that's kind of how court/royal life was. But de la Cruz adds a modern touch, which is great and totally warranted, in my opinion.

    ANYWAY. Fantastic reviews, Jen! :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. Yep, it is soapy, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!!

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  7. I'm actually reading The King and The Crown and I tweeted you that you got quoted! Congrats again Jen! *throws confetti* I hope it turns out to be a great book since Mel is such a promising writer, I have my fingers crossed! As for Salvage, I can't wait to pick this one up!

    Happy Reading and great review Jen :))
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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    1. Thanks for telling me that! I will put it in my weekend update postt next week -- I'm on vacation right now.

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  8. I'm excited for both of these books! Salvage sounds very nice and so does the writing. While The Ring and the Crown sounds really exciting although I've heard from other reviewers that the characters are pretty choppy. Anyway, loved your reviews!

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    1. Well, there are a lot of characters. I think they'll get more filled out in future books. But it was pretty fun!

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  9. I tried reading Salvage but put it off once she was thrown off the ship. I don't know--I guess I was scared that there would be no plot since she'll be alone (I assume) and such. I might pick it up again soon, though. The Ring and the Crown looks amazing! I can't wait to read it--yes to addictive historical romances! Super excited for it. Fantastic reviews, Jen!

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    1. LOL - that's where I got interested. But I was disappoined in These Broken Stars when that happened, so I hear you!!

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  10. I've yet to read Salvage but I am totally looking forward to it. I adore stories that are set or are partially set in space. There's something so beautiful about the emptiness and eternity in it that attracts me like a moth to a flame. And coming-of-age, too! I can never pass that up.

    As for The Ring and The Crown, I'm looking forward to it as well. I've never read anything from the author, so I'm going in with absolutely zero expectations. Hope I liked it as much as you did! Flaws and all ;)

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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    1. I liked both. It's sort of funny that I paired them because they could not be more opposite.

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  11. I'm glad you enjoyed these both. I honestly didn't find myself too interested in reading either but you have me a little curious now. lol

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  12. I'm excited to read The Ring and Crown. Love Melissa!

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    1. Then I bet you'll adore this. It has that Blue Bloods feel in a completely different time and place!

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  13. I just got Ring and the Crown. It doesn't seem like something I would enjoy but I like that you said it moves fast. I just might end up liking it.

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  14. Great to hear both of these are pretty good in their own aspects, I was sent them both as well and they were unexpected, so trying to see if I can fit into review schedule.

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  15. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed Salvage. It sounds totally like my kind of book, and I'm so excited to read it! And as far as The Ring and the Crown goes, you had me at Downton Abbey + Gossip Girl. Actually, you had me at Downton Abbey. ;) I need both of these books NOW! Great mini reviews, Jen!

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  16. I'm pretty much in agreement with you on The Ring and the Crown--though it did induce some real eye rolling moments from me--the DRAMA of it all! But this is what Melissa de la Cruz does really well in the books she writes and I know that many, many readers eat that shit up and are hungry for MORE:) Drama aside I'm sure I'll be tuning in for the second book in this series because even I can admit that it's pretty addicting stuff:)

    And now I am kinda bummed that didn't read Salvage when I had the chance because it sounds like it's a really great book. You know I like those books with feminist leanings :)

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  17. This two looks like fun books to read, great reviews.
    I am not so sure will I read The Ring and the Crown, but Salvage is 100% on my list.

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  18. These are both on my tbr lists along with a bunch of others I am dying to read! Lol! I volunteered to judge for the Whitneys, so my other reading is kind of on hold for another month except for what I can sneak in or just can't wait to read or what I have to read for tours. You do so well in managing your books, Jen! I need you to rub off on me more. ;)

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  19. I've been wanting to read Salvage since I read the synopsis, and you comparing it to The Handmaiden's Tale? Totally a bonus since I adored that book! I cannot wait for my preorder to download to my Kindle!
    The Rong & The Crown I wasn't too sure about, but it seems like it'd be a fun read, so I'll probably will have to check it out at some point too!
    Great minis!!

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  20. I'm actually really excited for Salvage even though I have seen some mixed reviews. I haven't read any of Melissa's other books either, but the Ring and Crown sounds pretty good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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