Thursday, September 18th Diva Book Nerd
Friday, September 19th Inside My Worlds
Saturday, September 20th Books for a Delicate Eternity
Sunday, September 21st Thoughts by J
Monday, September 22nd Kids Book Review
Tuesday, September 23rd Striking Keys
Wednesday, September 24th Genie in a Book
Thursday, September 25th Fictional Thoughts
Friday, September 26th Book Much
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Hello and welcome to my stop of The Jewel blog tour! Today I have a double whammy and will be sharing an interview with the lovely author, Amy, as well as a mini review for the book 😀
Author Interview with Amy Ewing
Hi Amy! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.
1. I read in your bio that your mother is a librarian. How exciting! What are the top five childhood books that influenced you to become a writer?
She is! And my grandmother used to mend books for her local library, so books have always been treated with the highest respect in my family. My top five childhood books would have to be: The BFG by Roald Dahl, Little Women by Lousia May Alcott, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien.
2. What influenced you to write a novel like The Jewel? I see you’ve studied to be an actress, did that play a role in the characters you created?
Acting has definitely helped me with character development—that was one of my favourite parts of being an actor, creating a rich, fully developed character that felt like a real person. The concept for The Jewel came from watching the movie Taken, with Liam Neeson. Yeah, not really the place you’d expect, but there it is. There’s a scene where his daughter (the one who gets taken) is paraded onto this stage and bid on by wealthy men to serve as a sex slave. I watched that scene and thought, what if it was women buying this girl instead of men? And that’s how the Auction, and Violet’s story, came to life.
3. What would you say to readers that are comparing your book to The Selection series, but have yet to read The Jewel?
I would say read The Jewel! But I’d say that to anyone, regardless of whether or not they are a Selection fan. Both books have palaces and gowns and parties, so if you liked those parts of The Selection, you’ll hopefully like those parts of The Jewel. Reading is so subjective—I think The Jewel is a little darker than The Selection, so if darkness is your thing, then do I have a story for you! It’s all about each individual reader’s taste. The Selection is a great series, and I certainly hope fans of those books will love The Jewel too.
4. If you can only read one author for the rest of your life, who would it be?
Gah! What a tough question! Okay, I’ll say Neil Gaiman because I love his darkness, his wit, and his beautifully bizarre imagination.
5. Sum up The Jewel in one sentence.
It’s about a city where young girls are auctioned off as surrogates to royal women who can no longer have children naturally on their own.
Read on for my review of The Jewel!
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Title: The Jewel (The Lone City #1)
Author: Amy Ewing
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 1/2
Format Read: Paperback, 368 pages
Publication Date: 4th September 2014 by Walker Books Australia
Synopsis: “Today is my last day as Violet Lasting. Tomorrow I become Lot 197.
The Jewel is a shocking and compelling new YA series from debut author, Amy Ewing.
Sold for six million diamantes, Violet is now Surrogate of the House of the Lake in the centre of the Lone City, the Jewel. Her sole purpose is to produce a healthy heir for the Duchess – a woman Violet fears and despises.
Violet is trapped in a living death, her name and body no longer her own. She fights to hold on to her own identity and sanity, uncertain of the fate of her friends, isolated and at the mercy of the Duchess.
The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Other Boleyn Girl in a world where beauty and brutality collide.” (Taken from Goodreads)
I’ve never read The Selection, so The Jewel is my first forage into a society that sits on the brink of fantasy and dystopian. I wouldn’t really classify this book as dystopian though, because the reader is not given a fully developed back-story as to how this place came to be. The world was built by four founding houses and consists of five rings. The outer ring called the Marsh, the fourth called the Farm, the third called the Smoke, the second called the Bank and at the very centre, the opulent Jewel where all the royalty resides.
Violet Lasting is special. Tested at a young age, she and many other girls from the Marsh are removed from their families and held at a holding centre where they are trained. They all seem to possess these special powers called ‘auguries’ that can change the colour, shape and even growth of an object. But it’s not without its consequences. Because of their special gifts, these girls are auctioned off and become property of the royalty, who for some reason are infertile, and loses any semblance of their previous lives. Even their names.
I must say I did enjoy this book. It was a quick read that both entertained and captured my attention. I liked Violet as a protagonist and found her personality quite compelling. While she’s resigned to a future as a surrogate, she manages to stay positive by finding little things that she can rebel against. Although some of it is not without its consequences. Violet as a character was likable, and I really appreciated how much love she had for her best-friend Raven, another surrogate she met at the holding centre.
Unfortunately, she did become quite insufferable towards the end when the love interest suddenly appears. After meeting him twice, she suddenly finds herself infatuated with the guy (who I couldn’t even be bothered the remember the name of). And her jealousy made her even worse. The romance was definitely insta-love but I don’t hate it because of that reason. I can honestly understand why Violet and the guy was drawn to each other. She, because she’s only ever been surrounded by girls for most of her teenage years (hormones must be off the chart), and he because he’s seeking comfort and love in someone that’s not from the Jewel. But I still didn’t like it because it was a plot ploy that set up the storyline for the next book in the series.
The Jewel introduces the reader to a variety of characters, each with their own unique personality. The one thing I liked the most about the book is that there’s a thin line between good and evil. Violet is sold to the Lady of the Lake, who is strict but rewards good behaviour. She’s deadly, but strong-willed. And she also has a soft side. It’s hard to hate her because she does treat Violet properly, and only strikes out at her when Violet rebels and misbehaves. Of course, the fact that she can even buy a person is awful, but that is how her society works. At least she doesn’t starve her surrogate or experiment on them unlike other royal families.
While the book was entertaining, there were still a lot of plot holes that I can’t seem to overlook:
- Backstory. The world is situated on an island and was built by four founding families … where did they get the money and resources to do that. And why would other inhabitants agree to live in the outer rings?
- If they resided on an island, does that mean there are possibly other worlds across the water?
- Why are the royalty infertile? Cross-breeding? There was one point where it was mentioned that the new Electress who was born outside the Jewel had to be made infertile as part of the rules of marrying into royalty. So do they make themselves infertile as a status symbol?
- Where did the auguries come from?
Overall, I enjoyed The Jewel quite a lot. It was entertaining and kept my attention easily. If you’re a fan of stories filled with intrigue and fancy ball gowns, then give this book a go!
Thank you to Walker Books Australia for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.