Thursday, August 28, 2014

Blog Tour: The Jewel by Amy Ewing {Review + Playlist + Giveaway}

I'm excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for Amy Ewing's The Jewel today! I've been excited about this one for a long time, and I've got a TON of stuff to share with y'all! There's my review and playlist I created inspired by the book, the book's awesome trailer and an excerpt for you to try out, PLUS a giveaway to win one of three copies of the book. So, scroll away!

Release date: September 2nd 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 358
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.
I've been excited to read The Jewel since I read the intriguing synopsis and saw the gorgeous cover months and months ago. The novel starts off really strongly, and while it veers off in certain elements, I found it to be an addicting read that left me dying for more.

In the world of The Jewel, for an unknown reason, the nobility of the Jewel cannot produce healthy children. Instead, they use Surrogates, girls from the poorest sections of their society, who, for some reason, can carry their children and they are born healthy. Surrogates can also perform Auguries, manipulations of items to change their color, shape, and even make them grow. Violet is a Surrogate, taken away from her family at age 12 to be trained and then sold to a noble family to keep their line going. What struck me about Violet, and what I so liked, from the beginning is her unwillingness to be a a part of the system she's a pawn of. Unlike other girls, she is not pleased to be given the "honor" of being taken away from her family and sold to strangers to bear their children. She wants to help her family, though, so she goes along with the forces, even as she puts in little bits of resistance here and there. It is not the introduction of a love interest that spurs her disillusionment with the system she's a part of and that is not when she starts wanting to escape. She values her own life and the validity of making her own choices, which I just loved.

I know, if you've read a review of this book at some point, you've heard about the instalove. Yeah, it's there, and yeah, it's a problem. Instalove isn't something, however, that bothers me terribly, so it didn't affect my reading experience as heavily as it did for others. I do think, though, that it wouldn't have affected the story terribly for Ash to be introduced sooner and given more moments with Violet to establish a real relationship before it got to the mention of love. Nonetheless, I found Ash appealing as a character. While obviously not in the exact same position as Violet and theoretically free, he is subject to the whims and wishes of the same people she is, stuck in a position he can't get out of for love of his family. I really would have liked to get to know him better, both for the sake of their relationship's development and simply because I liked him.

My only real qualm is the worldbuilding. It's vaguely dystopian, yet there's little information as to what led society to form in the way it did (a story, but it doesn't tell much). How big is this city? Where are the rest of the world's people? No mentions. The whole setup is still very compelling and I felt like the dangers of the world were real, but I just wanted a clearer picture of it.

I flew through The Jewel. I haven't read a book in a single day in a long time, but The Jewel called to me when I wasn't reading and its development kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The ending is a surprise and a terribly cruel cliffhanger that only made me more excited to see how the series develops. It's one that may start out roughly for a lot of people, but I think The Jewel's got a lot of potential to be the start of a highly addictive series.

As part of my stop, I'm sharing a playlist I made for the book! It's got a mix of songs I feel fit the mood of the book or Violet's mindset, plus several cello pieces that I quite like and could have imagined Violet playing. ("Royals" just felt all too appropriate.)

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Follow the FFBC The Jewel Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Amy Ewing is the young adult author of THE JEWEL, the first in a trilogy from HarperTeen, coming out September 2014.

She grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Win (1) of (3) copies of The Jewel (Us Only)

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