Spoiler Free Review: Ruined by Amy Tintera



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.

I’ve been meaning to pick this book up for so long, and thanks to Harper Collins who kindly sent us a copy, I have been able to do so! And yes I am very late to the party on this one but so, so happy I finally picked this up!

As the synopsis above states, this story follows Em who has taken the place of Prince Casimir’s betrothed, tricking the family and marrying the heir to the Lera throne so that she can take them down and avenge her parents. As this storyline alone will suggest, stakes are pretty high and the story has you on the edge of your seat wondering if Em will be discovered, and if so, what will happen to her. I’ll be honest here and say that if you have read a lot of YA set in warring, magical kingdoms then this plot will not be the most unique and refreshing, however it is very entertaining and if you are a fan of feuds, magic, tragedy and romance you will really enjoy this.

One of the main things I liked about this book is the world building. The kingdoms all have their own personality and relationships to each other and to magic and I found this really intriguing. It was done in a really clear and concise way so that you knew the traits and beliefs of each kingdom but weren’t left confused and overwhelmed by the details. Also I love the Ruined and can’t wait to read the sequel to get more information on their magic and (hopefully) meet more characters from there- more Ruined please!

I was pleasantly surprised by the characters in this book and so happy to report that none of them got on my nerves! A very rare occurrence indeed! Em did have the potential to annoy as she does fit into the typical YA ‘tough girl’ trope, but she didn’t! I liked her loyalty and her baddassery (that’s a word right?), but also liked to see her human side, yes people, sometimes badass female characters are human and can’t help be attracted to nice, good-looking men! And let’s face it Cas was a nice guy, and I like nice guys- so yay for Cas. My favourite character, though, had to be Aren. Just read it if you haven’t guys, so we can talk about Aren, he’s a cool guy.

The one part I did not like was around the 300 page mark which was pretty much a chapter devoted to the romance. I did not like that chapter. If you love romance though, you will probably like this and it does give you a little respite from the politics and violence, but honestly I just didn’t like how the romance was executed here, it felt rushed and a little unrealistic, but maybe that’s just my sceptical self. Also the below quote:

And he’d taken his shirt off and slung it over his shoulder. Em found herself staring at one particular drop of water making a journey from the base of his throat down the center of his chest. She watched as it rolled down, sliding across his skin and disappearing into the ridges of his abdominals. She had never wanted to be a drop of water so badly.

Yeah, no. This is not for me.

All in all I really enjoyed this book and cannot wait to pick up the next one. If you guys haven’t read this yet but have thought about it, I recommend you do! It’s a quick, entertaining read and I’m pretty sure the third book comes out this year, so good timing!

A minor caution to younger readers that this book does include a fair amount of graphic violence.

Until next time book friends,

Star x


Spoiler Free Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie



Rating 3/5 Stars


Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer. Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself. As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.


If you love fantasy, kingdoms, political intrigue, love triangles and angsty romance, let me say this again for emphasis ANGSTY ROMANCE, then this is the book for you!

I went into this book fairly blind and I didn’t have many expectations, so when I started reading and the story began as it did, I was both pleased and surprised. There was so much action and tragedy for the beginning of a story – if any of you reading this have read it- guys what was that fire?! Didn’t see that coming at all. I really enjoyed the first 30% and the magic aspect was really unique and interesting… but honestly my main criticism is that this book took close to 500 pages to do what it could have done (in my opinion) in 300. I felt like the same scenario was being played out over and over, which brings me to the two brothers.

If you do not like love triangles be warned 90% of this book pretty much revolves around a love triangle between Sonya and the emperor Valko and his brother Anton. I’ll admit that at first it is intriguing and there are a few twists and turns in there, but it doesn’t take long before you get tired of the same ‘will she/ wont she’ and the same scenario plays out over and over. Let’s just say it is fairly obvious how Sonya’s relationships with the two royals were going to end.

There were some side characters that I enjoyed throughout however they were just sprinkled into the plot. Also I was waiting for a huge crescendo at the end of the book, the ‘ooo its all kicked off!’ moment… but it was a little bit of a damp squip. Again I think it focused too much on the be all and end all love triangle when in reality there were far bigger issues at play. I just wish we had a bigger focus on the world building, politics and plot.

All in all it was a decent fantasy read with some great moments and some roll eye moments. Although it may seem that I’m being a little negative in this review I am glad I read this book and I know there will be people out there who love it. Like I’ve already mentioned, if you like romance and love triangles then you need this book.

Huge thanks to Harper Teen UK for sending us a copy!

Until next time book friends,

Star x

Spoiler Free Review: The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

Rating 3.75/5 Stars

glass spare.jpg

Wilhelmina Heidle, the fourth child and only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.
Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, though, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.
But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with Wil’s power.
With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

The Glass Spare is a fun, quick read which helped me (Star) get out of my reading slump (yay!) The story is a take on the Myth of King Midas, a reference which comes up a fair amount throughout the book and an aspect I loved! We’re always sucker for a good fairy-tale/ legend reference in our YA 😉.
I really enjoyed the dynamic of the royal siblings, how they interacted, their stories, their relationships and their unique talents (or lack thereof). Owen and Gerdie were particular favourites, as their personality shone a little brighter than Wil’s and the somewhat forgotten sibling Baren.
Owen is the heir to the throne and thus the mature, capable and exemplary of the royal children. He’s wanderlust filled and selfless, just an all around good guy, really. Gerdie is the sickly younger sibling who almost died from plague at a young age and is now crippled and paranoid about his health. He is, however, an amazing alchemist that can make just about anything in his lab – this aspect of the story was so good! As for poor Baren, I would have liked to get more insight into his character and why he is the way he is. Why is he the undesirable and ‘evil’ one of the four siblings? Surely there has to be more to his character than being ignored by all the other siblings because he’s jealous of Wil- no?
Now Wil….the more I read on, the more indifferent I became to Wil as a character. Wil could, in my opinion, fall into the vast sea of average YA heroines. She is forgettable in pretty much every way except for the power she possesses (but does nothing with- but I suppose that’s where the next book comes in?!). As for Loom, I enjoyed him as a character in himself, but did not enjoy his interaction and strange draw to Wil.. it came across as the typical YA trope and I was frustrated how quickly he trusted and confided in her considering his apparent suspicion and motivations when he first met her. Thankfully the end of the book sheds a little light on this…yes- you will have to read the book to find out!
This relationship between Loom and Wil unfortunately meant that the middle part of the book did drag and very little actually happened. The book did improve again towards the end, however much of this was down to the characters Zay and Espel, which I hope to see more of in the next book.
The world building is difficult to describe, as it both drew me in while simultaneously confused me to no end! I loved the different kingdoms and their traits and flaws, how the royal children were used as political advantages- there is so much potential! Alas there wasn’t enough detail about the kingdoms for me to really get invested and to understand how the world worked. In the same vein, I LOVED how DeStefano used alchemy in this world, I thought the use of alchemy in a medieval setting with castles, royalty and swords was fantastic… until the steampunk element came in. The inclusion of telephones, trains and guns in a medieval world sounds so interesting, but the lack of details and explanation left me struggling to put the world together in my head, I couldn’t quite meld the alchemy/ magic, medieval and steampunk elements together into one coherent world.
Overall I enjoyed The Glass Spare, the side characters were great and the beginning/ ending were very entertaining. I think The Glass Spare does more to set up the next book, and with that in mind, I cant wait to see what happens next!


Thank you to Harper Collins for sending us a finished copy of this book.