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Posted January 22, 2014
I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. This book originally hadn't been on my radar until Julie at Bloggers [Heart] Books mentioned it while we were at NYCC12. And I am so glad that she did.
This book was delightfully unexpected. I never watched Downtown Abby, and so this was to be an entirely new experience for me. I am, however, a huge fan of historical fiction and so this one seemed to call out to me. I was intrigued by the concept of this family returning to their estate in England after leaving India in disgrace. At first it was a little hard to follow all the different characters as we were introduced to them from the third person, so there was a little bit of jumping around, but each character had their own personality and seemed to know who they each were. There were a few too many characters and at times it was hard to keep their names straight, but in the end, the ones that mattered were great.
On the topic of characters and how I liked that they had their own personalities, I appreciated that they made me feel strongly towards some characters. For example, I totally did not like Fiona, Charlotte and Stella who were the wicked step mother and sister in this story, and wicked they were. They seemed to have nothing better to do than come up with ways that would impede Ada and Georgiana. There were times that I just wanted to smack all three of them and say “Shut up! No one cares about you!” But, of course that wasn’t strictly true because the boys of the family like Sebastian and Michael.
I did really like all the different side plots that seemed to be occurring because while all the different interactions between characters are very important, people forget that they aren’t always with the other main characters and that they have other things going on in their lives. For example, the “friendship” that Ada and Ravi shared ever since they met on the boat to England. I loved the letters between the two of them and how Rose would help out. Even better was how they would try to meet and have these deeply intellectual political talks. I also adored the side story of Sebastian and his valet, Oliver who he seemed to have feelings for. I adored that Rasheed broached these sensitive topics like bi-racial relationships and even going as far as a gay relationship in the 1920s. When I say that I was glad Rasheed didn’t avoid touchy subjects and I said including Biracial couples, I didn’t mean racy for our time period, I more meant that for that time period the idea of Ada and Ravi being together was more than salacious because that just didn’t happen back then. There really is no good way to explain it.
I wish that there were an easier way to talk about all of these different relationships without giving away what really made them special, because there were truly great things about each and every one of them. Sadly, there hasn’t been too much word on when the next book is going to be hitting shelves, but I just can’t wait to get my hands on it to find out what else is going to happen to the family. Especially given their perilous financial situation
Posted June 13, 2013
By: Leila Rasheed
Published By: Disney-Hyperion
Age Recommended: YA - Adult
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Book Blog For: GMTA
Series: At Somerton #1
"Cinder and Sapphires" by Leila Rasheed was a wonderful historical romance that may be of interest to 'women fiction and /or Chick lit.' I found this a good read and was of " a fabulous account of the life of the rich and famous as well as what it was like to be part of the working class in a large estate such as Somerton." We find from this read that the Averley family are coming back to Somerton...Lord Averley is wedding Fiona Templeton. His and her children will have to learn to get along alone. Rose has now been promoted to 'lady's maid. Will she be able to 'handle the responsibilities that come with all of this? Be ready for there to be much 'drama, love and scandal.' There will be Ravi, a Indian, who is travelling to England to study at Oxford. There will be a romance between these two and since this is forbidden they secretly send letters to each other. If will not be long that Ada will have to decide what she want to do...or what is expected of her. Now, this is the time that I say you must pick up "Cinder and Sapphires" to see how this author will work her magic in this relationship. There will be many characters in the read and for the most part they well all well developed and colorful. There will be some serious issues in this read bringing up "women's rights, homosexuality, social class, and Imperialism."
If you are looking for a good series with adventure and mystery then I would recommend "Cinder and Sapphires" to you as a good interesting read. audience.
Posted March 17, 2013
This is almost an exact duplicate of Downton Abbey in many ways. Some of the similarities were remarkable, including love between one of the young ladies and a man of lower station, a homosexual couple sneaking around, the upper and lower classes theme, and the estate's finances being saved through a wealthy wife. Too many characters are introduced right away and I felt overwhelmed and frustrated when I couldn't keep them all straight.
I loved the atmosphere of the story. It has a beautiful air and feel to it that I adored. I enjoyed the scandal and drama, even though some of it felt forced. I'm interested to see how the rest of the story plays out, but I'm not sure that I'm interested enough to pursue the series any further.
Posted February 17, 2013
I keep seeing this compared to the show Downton Abbey. Apparently I need to watch this show because I really enjoyed this book.
I don't normally go for the gossip and cattiness that comes with well-off people, especially teenagers. But, there's something about Regency England that I just love. And honestly, cattiness and gossip are just part of the nobility. I was hoping to get something different with Ada and her sister Georgia. And I was partly right. Ava is not only beautiful, she's smart. She wants to go against the grain and attend college. Something relatively unheard of in that day and age. Her sister isn't entirely that same mold, but I liked her nonetheless. She's that girl you want to protect no matter what.
The problem lies in the fact that the sisters have spent most of their lives in India, far away from the glaring eyes and loose tongues of The Ton. They haven't learned yet how to guard their secrets and maybe even their hearts. Her father's quick departure from India has left the family as the hot topic on the gossip chain. His quick engagement leaves more questions than answers. Her soon to be stepsister and stepmother will stop at nothing to bring those of the Somerton house to their knees. But, it turns out they are hiding just as many secrets of their own.
A pages turner for sure. I love the idea of the nobility, but every once in awhile a book comes to light that reminds how hard and dangerous that kind of life could be. It didn't take much to bring you down, and then life could turn around and bring you back up. I eagerly await the next book in this fun series!
Posted January 25, 2013
Downton Abbey for Teens
This review is based on a digital sneak peak copy provided by Disney Book Group which did not include the full novel. The review is of the first thirteen chapters.
At Somerton: Cinders and Sapphires is the story of the many characters who inhabit the Somerton estate in England at the beginning of the 20th century. The story mainly follows Lady Ada Averley, daughter of the Earl of Westlake, and her ladies’ maid, Rose. Rose has grown up at Somerton with her mother, Mrs. Cliffe, who works as head housekeeper. At the age of sixteen, Rose has just been promoted to lady’s maid after serving as a lowly housemaid for many years. Rose is very nervous about moving into a new position with so much more responsibility, not to mention visibility in the house. Some of the other staff think Rose is not ready for such a position, and Rose is inclined to agree. What Rose doesn’t know is that her promotion is in thanks to her mother suggesting it to Lord Westlake, who mysteriously feels he owes something to the young housemaid.
Lady Ada is sixteen and about to “come out” for her first season, a term that here means she will be introduced to society and attend balls and parties in order to meet suitable bachelors. But she is not interested in anyone but a young Indian man whom she knows she is forbidden to love. Lady Ada also wants to attend Oxford, a notion which her father finds foolish since he believes women don’t need to be formally educated since they only need to serve their husbands and run their homes.
In this upstairs/downstairs story, author Leila Rasheed juggles so many characters that they get a little hard to follow. I found myself having to flip back and forth through pages to remind myself how everyone is related. A family tree or character map at the beginning would have helped so the reader has a reference point. Despite this confusion, however, the problems presented in the story kept me reading to see what would develop. I don’t know that the setting will appeal to the average young adult reader, but the themes of longing for love and acceptance are universal. As a fan of the TV series Downton Abbey, I felt I had a good grounding in the class system and positions of the members of the household in this novel since the setting is very similar, which helped me understand what was going on. In fact, I often pictured and heard the characters from Downton in the roles of Cinders. I enjoyed what I have read so far and look forward to reading the completed novel.
Posted March 3, 2014
No text was provided for this review.