Review 244. J. Nelle Patrick – Tsarina.

17382389Title: Tsarina.
Author: J. Nelle Patrick (Jackson Pearce)
Pages:  331.
Published: February 27th 2014 by Razorbill.
Sort: Stand-alone.
Source: Netgalley & Publisher.
Natalya knows a secret. A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia's Winter Palace. It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics. A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov. Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life. But it's not in the right hands. 
Rating:

This story has a beautiful setting and interesting concept. I know from her previous work like Sister Red and Sweetly that the author knows how to write an engaging story. But despite the well crafted world-building, I wasn’t fully invested in the story and the problem lies with the main character Natalya.


”That wasn’t foolish Natalya. That was love. Love hopes for happy endings.”

Natalya is in love with Alexei Romanov, next in line to be ruler of Russia. It seems that they have a long history together and that is why he trusts her with a dangerous secret. Before he died, Rasputin poured his magic into a Faberge egg. This egg ensures their hold on Russia and their health. Until the egg is stolen in the middle of a riot from the Reds. They are tired of their bad treatment and poverty, so the royal family is captured and Natalya is in desperate need to find the egg. But she isn’t the only one. Leo believes that he is capable of changing the ‘owner’ of the egg in the hope to help his people. He kidnaps Natalya and her best friend Emilia and they travel to Moscow.

The world-building was great. It felt like I was walking besides Natalya and I felt the tension when she sees her beloved city fall into the hands of the Reds. The setting was interesting too. The story behind the Romanov family and the questions about the survival of Anastasia are well incorporated. It’s obvious that the author did her research on the matter, which made it all feel more realistic.

Natalya started out as a promising character. It wasn’t hard to imagine her sadness when she discovers that Alexei is hold captive and her desperation to find the one thing that might save him and his family. The only thing is, I couldn’t connect with her. I wished I liked her more, but her sudden romance with Leo messed everything up. I just can’t understand how she fell in love so fast, especially not in that situation. It almost felt like a betrayal of her love with Alexei.

Despite that, I quite liked Leo. He represented the other side of the story. He shows Natalya the reason behind their rebellion and he always came across as a good person. His character gave balance to the story and I like how it changed Natalya and her look on things. He has his reasons to find the egg – an aspect that surprised me. I never thought there would be such a focus on magic.

Overall, a good book, but it wasn’t mind-blowing.


35 comments

  1. Yes, this one was good, but not amazing, I agree. I had a few issues with it, too, but still enjoyed it quite a bit. Thought she did a great job with the setting and I like how determined Natalya was to find the egg and keep the family protected. Another good story from this author!

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    1. Her determination was the thing I liked about her the most :)

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  2. Aww, I had such high expectations for this one (mainly based off that gorgeous cover...). It's too bad that it didn't quite live up to its potential. Still, I'm relieved that you still thought it was a good read, so I still may check it out if I have time - I do so love the story of Anastasia!

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    1. It was good, just not the best book ever :)

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  3. I think the cover and the Russian setting will draw a lot of people to this book, me included, so it's a shame that it wasn't fantastic character-wise, but the story sounds good :)

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  4. I really love Russian historical fiction so I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for this book. Sad to see that you didn't really like this book but since it's my thing, I'm trying it out for myself. Great review!

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    1. You should! It's always important to read books you're interested in, no matter the reviews :)

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  5. Kind of sounds average, there seems to be lots of historical fiction in YA coming out. sounds like you enjoyed it though, I wouldn't rush to read it.

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    1. Average is the perfect word to describe this book :)

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  6. Hmmmm. I'm personally really interested in Russia and it's history etc. So this seems like a book that I would enjoy reading, but reading this review, it doesn't really make me want to read it that badly. I'll put it on my TBR-list anyways :)

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    1. I think you would really appreciate the setting :)!

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  7. I've been hearing mixed things about Tsarina! Historical isn't my usual genre but maybe I'll give it a try once my TBR pile has lessened. I've read the author's other work and I'm pretty impressed with them. The world building sounds amazing and realistic though! I haven't felt like that for a quite some time.

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    1. Yes, she was great in describing the setting! I'm not sure I would recommend this book to people who don't read historical fiction often, but you could always give it a shot :)

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  8. It's a bummer that your feelings for main character threw things off for you, but I definitely understand how that can happen. I've not read a book by the author before, but I have heard great things. Great review!

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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  9. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't love this book Mel. That you didn't connect with the main character. But I'm glad you still enjoyed it, a little bit. <3 I'm annoyed about the romance thing. But from my peeking, I'm rooting for Leo, lol (A) though I haven't read my copy yet. Wishing she hadn't been in love with the first guy, though. Sigh. Anyway. Thank you for sharing :)

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    1. I was sort of too, but he was there on a bad timing for my idea!

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  10. EEK. I'd have felt the same way about the romance with Leo. I was actually intrigued by this one but you saved me from a whole lot of rage. Romances like that just don't work out for me because it almost seems like the character is cheating on the other person :/

    Great review, Mel!! :)

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    1. Exactly! The great love of her life just died, but she is already falling in love with some other dude she hardly knows.. Leo was a great character, but it still didn't seem to work for me. The timing was just off.

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  11. I love the sound of this book and while in high school I did some research on Romanov family and they are so amazing. I'd love to see them in YA so I think I'll give this book a chance. Hopefully I'll connect with Natalya better. Great review, Mel :)

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  12. I've been so sad to see reviews of this one. I was ready to rush out on release day and buy it, but once I started to see reviews, my excitement dwindled. I can't get enough of Russian history and the story just sounds so cool, but I think I'm going to get this one from the library. :( I seriously love that gif, though.

    Great review, Mel! :)

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    1. You might end up loving it so much that you buy is anyway, who knows :D!

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  13. I felt the same way Mel. I wanted to love this one so badly...the world was great but the MC was just meh to me. not only could I not connect with her but I tended to not like her at all. She actually annoyed me more than once :-( I have seen a lot of people loving this so I imagine it will be a book that you'll either feel meh or adore. Sad we both fell into the 'meh' camp.

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    1. Yes, but at least we could enjoy the world-building! :)

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  14. Hmm... I don't think I'll be adding this to my tbr at the moment, though that cover os gorgeous! It does sound interesting and I think I could enjoy it, potentially, but the switching romantic focus seems peculiar and it would likely annoy me.
    Sorry it didn't work out better for you!

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  15. Hmmm....I need to read this soon, but your opinion seems to be shared by a lot of people, which is sort of discouraging me from starting it.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  16. Aww I'm sorry this one didn't quite work for you. It sucks when you just can't connect with the MC and for me it usually ends up ruining my overall impression of the story. I had really high hopes for this one too, and I certainly love the way you described the world-building and the premise. I'll still check this one out eventually but I'm sorry you didn't have better luck with it. Thanks for the lovely review Mel ^^ xx

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    1. I hope it works better for you if you get to it! :)

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  17. Eep, I understand how sudden romances will ruin the book, especially when that character is supposingly in love with someone else. I hate when that happens. :l

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  18. I have been seeing quite mixed reviews of this one. The fact that you could not connect with the main character is a bit concerning, I usually struggle when I cannot connect to the main character. This one has not been high on my radar so I was curious if your review was going to bump it up but it seems it was just okay, so I will hold off :)
    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

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    1. I think that it's a good decision :) I wouldn't say that this book is an essential to read.

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  19. My reactions to Tsarina were pretty similar. I think the story would have worked so much better without the Leo romance. They still could have been allies working toward the same goal, and it would have been just as effective with none of the eye-rolling.

    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

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    1. Without the romance, I might have added 0.5 or even 1 flower to the rating :)

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  20. Anastasia is one of my favorite non-Disney animated movie. The whole backdrop of this story completely fascinates me and I will probably read it for that reason alone. It's good to now I might struggle with Natayla though.

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