Ruined by: Amy Tintera

Summary:

Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.

But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.

In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.

Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.

The Review:

This is another book I decided to pick up on a whim and I have also seen reviews for Avenged, the sequel to the book.

One thing that surprised me about the book was how it started off. It puts you right in the middle of the action, with Em and her friends trying to infiltrate the enemy kingdom of Lera, by posing as the prince’s bride to be. Right of the bat you see Em kill someone in order to do so. and it surprised me how quickly she was able to do so. It establishes her as a character who has a lot of moral grayness to her.

The beginning of the book also establishes her motivation. After seeing her mother and father killed, with her sister kidnapped, she feels that she needs to do what she she needs to do in order to have revenge on those who wronged her and killed her family. It reminded me a lot of Arya from Game of Thrones.

The main plot surrounds Em pretending to be a bride-to-be of Prince Casimir or Cas, and trying to get information on the whereabouts of her sister, Olivia, and also act as a spy for Ruina. She, or course begins to fall for Cas. While it may be a bit cliched, and of course most have seen this story before. But the difference is how the story and characters are framed. The main strength is how you see Cas’ perspective, mostly due to his POV chapters, which establishes his relationship with his mother and father and how the kingdom is handled. It made Cas a more fleshed out character, rather than a plot device.

I also liked the world building and the lore. The people of Ruina have special abilities, which is why they are hated. It reminded me a lot of The Young Elites in that regards. While Em does lack the abilities that her people has, you were able to see the special abilities from the other characters. The book also puts you right in the middle of the conflict, and you learn about the world through conversations, so it didn’t feel like info dump.

I also felt while the ending was a bit rushed, I did like the ending, it was a really good page turner with a lot of great character moments for both Em and Cas. You also see how their relationship becomes more fleshed out. It wasn’t all insta-love, Em began to fall for Cas mainly because he wasn’t like his father.

In the end, I enjoyed Ruined. While yes, on the surface it does come across like YA bingo. The characters and plot make up for it. I thought it was really good and I hope to read the sequel.

Grade: 4/5

Hype or Like Friday: The Crown’s Game by: Evelyn Skye

Happy Friday everyone,

and here is a Hype or Like Friday review for The Crown’s Game by: Evelyn Skye

Hype or Like Friday is a meme created by JillianLarkin, and Britt to discuss about hyped books and see if they’re hyped up or not. There would be book of the month that you can read, and the post your review for it on the end of the month, then rate it whether it’s a hype it or like it.

Summary:

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

The Review:

I was very excited that this book was picked for Hype or Like Friday, because it was on my TBR for quite some time and I was glad to have an excuse to read the book, even though I have heard some  mixed things about it.

This book reminded me a lot of an Ember in the Ashes. mainly within its fantasy setting set within a historical time period and it also mixes in a lot of Ottoman empire within the story. The world building was well done, not as good as other fantasy books which entrenched you into their world. I liked that it gave us just enough information about the world without it feeling like info dumping.

The story is told from two POVs, Vika and Nikolai; two of the combatants of The Crown’s Game, which is a tournament that tests their magical skill in order to become an Imperial Enchanter, the loser would have to killed. Both of them are really engaging characters. Vika, is someone who was raised in isolation mostly by her father. I like how snarky and independent she is, but she is also very reserved especially with the fact that she may have to kill someone.

Nikolai is someone who sees the Crown Game as a way out. He was orphaned at at young age and spends most of his time with the Prince, Pasha. I like his friendship with Pasha,you don’t see a lot of male friendships in YA books and I am glad that this one was well developed. Pasha, was a crowned prince but he didn’t act like a spoiler prince, I also liked his courtship with Vika, he actually felt that he had to get to know her. While there is a love triangle between Vika, Pasha and Nikolai it wasn’t to distracting from the actual plot.

The Crown Game is sort of like a twisted Tri-Wizard tournamnt, it tested the skills of Vika and Nikolai and what type of enchanters they will become. While the Crown Game is the back drop for the book, it takes a few turns especially dealing with Nikolai and who he really is. I thought the twist was actually really done.

One of the problems I sort of have is a lack of main antagonist. Without giving to much away, I felt that the villain felt a little tact on without any much development. I also wanted to know a bit more about the conflict. I hope the sequel will flesh out those parts of the book.

In the end, I enjoyed The Crowns Game. It had great characters that kept me engaged at every page and it took full advantage of the Ottoman empire and its setting. I hope some of back stories could be more fleshed out along with its villain

My Grade is: LIKE

Grade: 4/5