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: The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo


So I want to keep these reviews pretty vague and minimal in case you haven’t already read these because its best going into these stories with as little detail as possible. All I’ll say here is that I LOVED this collection and  the way Leigh Bardugo uses traditional fairy-tales but throws those plot twists at you is so SO GOOD you guys! So if you want to hear my thoughts on each story, read on below…

1- Ayama and the Thorn Wood
5/5 Stars

I LOVED this story! It managed to capture the perfect fairy-tale ending in an unconventional way, breaking the typical tropes and promoting diversity and feminism, instilling moral codes in a unique but fascinating way- you must read this! If you like Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella inspired stories, you’ll love this- honestly it’s probably my favourite…

PS it also has three mini stories within it which is a WIN.

2- The Too-Clever Fox
4.5/5 Stars

Such a great little story!
At first I wasn’t sure I’d like the story as much as some of the others as it seemed a bit duller and little more predictable in places. At the last minute however, Leigh Bardugo pulls it out of the bag and leaves you satisfied with an ending you weren’t sure you were going to love. This one reminded me quite a lot of the classic Grimm’s fairy tales (with some violence and darker aspects to it) which made me love it all the more.

Oh and I think this story is totally reminiscent of Kaz and Inej!

3- The Witch of Duva
5/5 Stars

So this story definitely had those Hans and Gretel vibes and was one of the creepiest stories in the collection. While reading the story you knew something was going to happen and it would be turned on its head, but you just can’t quite figure out how… and yep, I did not predict the end at all! It makes you regret your first impressions and leaves you redirecting all your feels…this is also one of my favourites from the bunch. If you haven’t already – READ THIS!!

4- The Little Knife
3/5 Stars

Ok this rating may seem a little mean compared to my other ratings, and I can appreciate this is a well written story, it just wasn’t for me. I do think one of the main reasons I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the previous ones is because I was spoiled about the ending, so warning- you will enjoy this story more if you go into it completely blind!!

5- The Soldier Prince
3.5/5 Stars

This was a charming story but wasn’t my favourite, maybe it’s because I don’t like the Kerch ‘style’ as much as the others, I’m not sure… but its seemed a bit slow, confusing and unproductive compared to the other stories. I still enjoyed it though and if you like the Nutcracker/ Pinocchio type story you’re sure to love this one!

6- When Water Sang Fire
5/5 Stars

Ok.. So maybe I would have given this four stars opposed to five if it weren’t for a certain character appearing in this. I was SO happy when they appeared and I savoured every moment *wicked grin* but honestly this read more like a story than a fairytale, unlike the others. Let’s just say if you like Ursula in the Little Mermaid you’ll probably like this story. Leigh Bardugo sure likes to grab those tropes, rip them up and throw them back at you with plot twists you didn’t see coming!

All in all, this collection of short stories is magical and is one of the prized possessions on my bookshelf (We both own two copies each). It makes me want to have children just so I can read these stories to them… or would that be cruel and give them nightmares.. on second thoughts…

Also let’s just take a moment to appreciate the physical beauty of this book. The art is so stunning that it’s worth picking up the book purely for this. Needless to say.. webookingloved it! and the book gets an overall 5/5. If you have a favourite let us know in the comments!!

Until next time book friends,

Star x

Below are some illustrations from the book to oogle…