Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cinders and Sapphires

Cinders and Sapphires by Leila Rasheed
4.5/5 stars
Hyperion, 2013
389 pages
YA Historical Fiction

Source: Received an ARC from Jen Ryland/YA Romantics

Wow-this book basically has everything! It has so many of the plotlines from "Downton Abbey" and similar stories, all jam-packed into a very easy reading style. I polished this book off very fast and felt quite accomplished as I've been a bit behind on my reading goals.

Since I mostly liked the book, I'm just going to point out a few criticisms, not to be a downer but in order to be more balanced. The book is narrated in third-person past tense and although it mostly focused on just a few people, it shifted around, sometimes quite abruptly and caused some confusion. This mostly happened at the beginning so either it was edited out or I became accustomed. My second main criticism is just that there is so much stuff, much of which felt familiar (due to the fact that I actively seek out books set in this time) but also which subsequently didn't receive much treatment. There is only so much space and we have a serious amount of plot threads set up. The upside is that now there is so much to look forward to learning about in book 2. Third and final criticism would have to be the instant love that strikes Lady Ada in the prologue; one kiss and she's a goner, this secret, forbidden love motivating her for the entire novel. Never mind that there are a ton of cute boys to kiss (or at least to flirt with since kissing was much more serious back then); I just didn't feel the love for this guy since we barely got to spend any time with him.

Now that the negative is over, what did I like? Well I really liked our two main characters Ada and Rose, young lady of the house and maid respectively who have the lion's share of the narrative. I especially liked how Ada is a bluestocking, interested in studying at Oxford and promoting women's suffrage, a cause close to my heart (think about it: just 100 years ago, I would not have been allowed to vote! That makes me kind of mad!) Rose is the sweet and shy ladies maid with a secret past (that should be fairly obvious to most readers). Other characters include Ada's new stepfamily with a conniving stepmother, whose portrait was much more cartoonish than the similarly crafty Lady Summerset, really conniving stepsister, and two stepbrothers with their own secrets, more extended family, various politicians, and a household of servants. Although there are a lot of characters, I did not feel overwhelmed by them, keeping their names easily straight for the most part.

I also loved the many themes that were touched on, especially women's education as touched on above. I feel like this book has the potential to be fun and frothy while also exploring the fascinating history. Of particular interest was the British Empire's involvement with India as well as hints at trouble on the Continent (it is only 1910 so we still have quite some time before WWI breaks out-hope the series will reach that point!)

Overall: A light, fast-moving historical novel-perfect for those craving another hit of "Downton Abbey" as well as for people who like lighter stories in general.

Cover: Love! Although the title makes me think of Cinderella, which is not really a part of the story, I don't mind the misleading. I love the swirls all around although I feel bad for the girl (I'm guessing it's supposed to be Rose) having it go through her head.

Other Opinions:
Bookshelves of Doom
Forever Young Adult
Jen Ryland/YA Romantics
Reading Extensively


  1. Completely agree -- I thought those characters were fantastic. And it is hard to balance sp many characters and plot lines!

    Jen @ YA Romantics

  2. While I'm not super excited about the instalove that strikes Ada in the prologue, everything else about this story sounds fantastic. I love the focus on women's suffrage and education, that's always something I enjoy reading about. So glad to know you enjoyed this one!

  3. Ada and Rose sound like great characters to read about. Lovely review.
    Happy reading with <3, Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  4. I had issues with the quickly developed relationship between Ada and Ravi too as well as the many many subplots. I liked the book too and look forward to the sequel. It is very similar to Summerset Abbey.

  5. I've been seeing this one around but I'm still not sure I want to read it.

  6. Hrm! I'm quite curious about this one. I don't think it would be LOVE for me but it does sound like one I may enjoy? Wonderful review!

  7. I really want this book. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Ada and Rose sound like they are great. Awesome review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  8. Since Summerset Abbey wasn't a great hit with me, I'm now pinning my hopes on this one, because yours is the second positive review I've seen in as many days. I can't wait to try it. I wish I hadn't entered a couple of contests for it--that's the only thing keeping me back from buying it right away!

  9. Ooo, I need to get my hands on this one! Downtown Abbey reference totally sells it for me. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  10. I love the title of this book! I think I want to read it, but I'm a little worried about the insta-love motivating Ada. Your high rating is pretty promising, though!

  11. Waa, I'm so so excited about this one! nice to see your reassurance about its awesomeness, although I have a feeling I'm going to dislike the insta-love, and most of all, I'm going to dislike the fact that there are going to be a lot of cute guys there that don't get the girl ):

    But anyways, I need this!

  12. I read a sneak preview of this book and enjoyed the first 1/4 or so of it. This review increases my desire to get my hands on a full copy of the book so I can see what happens next.


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