Tag Archive | action

Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Series: Carve the Mark #1

carve the mark -veronica rothIn a galaxy powered by the current, everyone has a gift.

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is the son of a farmer and an oracle from the frozen nation-planet of Thuvhe. Protected by his unusual currentgift, Akos is generous in spirit, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get this brother out alive — no matter what the cost.
The Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, and the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. Will they help each other to survive, or will they destroy one another?

Carve the Mark is Veronica Roth’s stunning portrayal of the power of friendship — and love — in a galaxy filled with unexpected gifts.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Carve the Mark is one of those books that’s left me with a variety of emotions upon completion. Like a rollercoaster ride, the slow ascend into the unknown drove me crazy, but the quick drop left me breathless trying to catch up with everything that’s happened.

I get that some reviewers think the beginning was ridiculously hard to understand. I will say that Roth isn’t the type of author who wastes time explaining bit by bit of the complex world that she’s created. You just gotta slowly go over what she has said in the context that she put it in and try to piece together an image of the scene. I found knowing beforehand that the world could be confusing, lasting approximately the first 100 pages, really helped me take it slow in the beginning so that it would make better sense as I went along. And frankly, I didn’t find the first 100 pages all that bad with that mindset in place.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to this novel. It’s very different from Roth’s previous works, which hardly anyone cannot know at this point with her works being made into major movies. But I felt it still had the makings of a good read. I will try to dissect my feelings into what was positive and what was…less than positive.

Positives on the novel:

– The world building was absolutely stunning. Even if it can get confusing for some, you can’t argue that she thought a lot about how things worked amongst the different cultures and the different planets in this little solar system. With the main story focusing on the planet Thuvhe, there are 2 groups of people fighting for this land throughout history. Technically this planet as seen by the governing body ruling this solar system to belong to the Thuvhesites (hence the official name of the planet), but Shotet nation wants to gain recognition and get this land too. Each group, and even each culture from the other planets in this galaxy, have different views on spirituality and religion. But at the centre of this world is something called a currentstream, which apparently gives life to everything.

There are also currentgifts that each individual grows into as they age. I kinda think of them as some sort of magical abilities. But it’s through this current that lives in each person that determines how its power is uniquely molded by each wielder. In a way, this concept seems like something I’ve seen before, yet there is something still innately unique about it in my opinion.

– Aside from well-thought world building, which honestly sets the foundation of a whole series, the nature of the protagonists was right. We get to follow both Cyra and Akos’ POVs. Oddly enough, Cyra’s is in first person and Akos’ is always in 3rd. I don’t know why this was the way but it makes me feel closer to Cyra sometimes. Enemies by birth yet their circumstances draw them closer, as their fates have said. Maybe it sounds a bit like a Romeo/Juliet thing, but it’s really not. Cyra isn’t as bad as her preceding reputation makes her out to be. She didn’t ask for her currentgift to be pain, both for herself and for anyone who touches her. And Akos isn’t the pure little hero come to redeem the girl born in a tyrant’s family either. They both required redemption, and had to find their own way of achieving what they each wanted. Neither was necessarily better than the other. Everyone made choices they had to make in the moment and sometimes those that turned out to be mistakes haunted them long afterwards.

Anyway, there’s a lot that can be said about these two. There’s no one else we get to know as well as them. There may be plenty of secondary characters but it’s their hearts that we learn to understand. And before you get all twisted about it, yes, a romance blooms between them over time.

Now, what’d I FEEL exactly about this romance of theirs? Honestly? I felt the minor tidbits of romantic expressions were the right amount. Some people (me included) really love romance to be littered throughout a good fantasy. But sometimes, it shouldn’t be the focus, or even there at all. Roth did a great job with this. It wasn’t instalove. And it wasn’t exactly a slow-burn love either. It was formed through loyalty and a deep friendship. I wouldn’t have necessarily minded if there were even fewer mentions of how they felt for each other as there’s just so many OTHER things to focus on in this first book. Would it be right for Akos and Cyra to have some romantic interlude while they’re running for their lives or soldiers are coming for them? No. I sure hope not.

I believe Roth chose right and Carve the Mark had just the right balance of action and romance so the focus always stayed prioritized on moving forward the very complex plot she had in mind for these characters.

Less than positives:

– With such a strong focus on plot and her world that she created here, sometimes the plot felt long and dragged a little. It didn’t deter me from reading this straight through but sometimes there were more events that were solely meant for world building over furthering the build-up of the plot in this book. While I appreciated learning a bit more about how this world and the other surrounding planets worked, this story definitely was made longer by it. The suspense of what would happen next lulled and occasionally I wanted to just skip ahead to hurry it up.

– There may be many secondary characters, but I don’t always feel very close to them. Most barely spend time with either main character, so we don’t see them too often. It was hard to form any connection with anyone else, and sometimes that’s necessary too.

What’s the overall consensus?

While I enjoyed this ride (as long as it was to finish it), this novel just made me think a lot at the end of the day. It’s not what you would call a light read, and I’m still processing a ton of emotions about it. The world was described well, and I felt like I lived within these pages while I was there, but at the same time, I’m glad for whenever I had a little break from it all. All the scheming, all the mysteries that opened up even more questions at the very end. Care the Mark is one complicated book, but I think it was enjoyable for what it was.

Overall Recommendation:
Carve the Mark is nothing like what you may know of author Veronica Roth. This is both good and bad. With a completely new world that’s sometimes confusing but fully immersive to the readers, we take a journey with both Cyra and Akos as they navigate the politics and the fury between two nations vying over one planet. Dealing with big topics such as fighting your own fate and finding your own redemption, it’s one book that made me think more than anything else. Like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, it may leave you with a mix of feelings both good and bad as you exit. Overall, I’d say it’s a worthwhile book to give a shot as it has plenty to offer and I do believe the sequel would only bring even more excitement.

Review: Avenged by Amy Tintera

Series: Ruined #2

avenged -amy tinteraIn the sequel to Ruined, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn’t as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.


4 Drink Me Potions


**Avenged comes out May 2, 2017**

Thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this copy in exchange for an honest review

Avenged continues with the level of action and intrigue that its predecessor already set. Smart, emotional with touches of romance, this sequel was no disappointment.

Picking up a little bit after where we last left off in Ruined – might I add what a cliffhanger that was, Em and Cas are separated and dealing with different difficulties. Cas’ main story arc is trying to find support as even though he’s king, his sympathies for the Ruined weren’t well received amongst his council. On top of that, his cousin Jovita is vying for his position, and it looked like she actually stood a chance. Meanwhile, Em’s with her vengeful sister Olivia and their friend Aren, trying to stop the Ruined army her sister is creating to fight against Cas’ people to destroy his kingdom.

Things are looking pretty dire for the two of them. The pacing in the plot sometimes lagged a bit in my opinion, and it also sucked that they were separated a lot of the times from each other. It was a lot nicer when they were in each other’s presence more, like in the first novel, but I guess we can’t all be choosers, now can we? The moments when they were together and had a chance for privacy were amazing. I didn’t want those moments to end. It reminded me so much of their slow burn attraction for each other, against all the odds stacked against them. But of course, they always ended too fast. At least while they lasted, it got a little steamy.

I liked that there was never any true love triangle forming in this story. By “true”, I meant that Cas and Em’s feelings were always for the other and never strayed to another (phew!). But another potential suitor who wanted to marry Em popped into this book (did NOT like him) and for a moment, I thought Cas may turn bad and look at another girl just ’cause he and Em fought. Thankfully, nothing ever really happens and feelings did not go astray, I repeat, did NOT go astray. So I’m very much thankful for that.

Emotions also flew rampant in my mind as certain characters – ahem, Olivia – drove me absolutely nuts. We got a chance to see how bloodthirsty this girl was before, but that was her just getting started. She has an addiction to bloodlust and torture. Sure, she was tortured herself and wants revenge on the people who ordered that on her, but she kills innocents. INNOCENTS! Only because she can and she needs to sate her bloodthirstiness. What was worse was trying to tempt Aren into her bloodlust as he’s almost as equally powerful in Ruined magic as she was. I’m absolutely tired of her thought process, which by the way, we get a firsthand look at since she has her own POVs. I hope she dies. I hope she gets defeated by Em somehow.

If you were rooting for another ship, well it’s started sailing a little between Aren and a friendly warrior from another kingdom. The warriors and their roles in this simmering war between Cas and Em’s kingdoms are fleshed out more in this book, and you can feel the tension increasing as kingdoms prepare for war.

Although I liked this sequel, Avenged suffered a bit from Middle Book Syndrome. Things that happen here are important and essential for the plot to progress into the conclusion, but sometimes it felt like I was always waiting for more to happen. I hope the concluding book would be absolutely amazing, but for now, I appreciate the little bits that Tintera gave me with this novel. Nonetheless, the ending was another cliffhanger (though not as much of one as the previous novel) that only leaves me more eager for the last book to come out…in a year.

Overall Recommendation:
Avenged was action-packed with tidbits of romance as our familiar protagonists find their kingdoms at odds after the events of the previous book. Em and Cas are still as wonderful as I remember, and their little romantic interludes together were so sweet (and hot). I wished there were more, but this book really sets the stage for the tense conclusion with war potentially looming in the distance. Other familiar, but newer characters, were developed here and occasionally I wanted to strangle one or two, but all’s good in the end. Although it hits the Middle Book Syndrome a little harder than I had hoped, this sequel is still very much worthwhile to read for fans of Ruined.

Review: The Great Pursuit by Wendy Higgins

Series: Eurona Duology #2

the great pursuit -wendy higginsIn The Great Pursuit, the dramatic sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Great Hunt, Wendy Higgins delivers another thrilling fantasy filled with dangerous enemies, political intrigue, searing romance, and a princess who is willing to do everything to protect her kingdom.  

One hunt has ended, but the pursuit for love and justice continues.

The kingdom of Lochlanach has traded the great beast that once terrorized the realm of Eurona for something far more dangerous: the ire of powerful Lashed woman Rosaria Rocato. Rosaria demands that Eurona overturn the laws prohibiting magic, or an innocent will be killed each day.

Despite the king’s resistance, Princess Aerity believes they must make peace with the Lashed, and though she’s accepted a betrothal to the man who took down the beast, she cannot help thinking about Paxton, the Lashed man who stole her heart and disappeared.

Aerity soon discovers that Paxton has joined Rosaria’s army in the war against her family. Though her feelings for him are still strong, her duty to her kingdom and her family is stronger—especially when her parents are kidnapped and she has to step up to the throne and once again put aside what’s best for her in order to do what’s best for her people. Paxton and Princess Aerity must fight to see what is more powerful: their love or the impending war between the magical Lashed and the non-magic humans.


 

4.5 Drink Me Potions


The Great Pursuit wraps up a duology in a way that fit my expectations and some. With mysterious intrigue about the evil Rosaria and her plans for the Lashed, this story has elements that would excite different readers.

Starting back very closely from where the previous novel left off, our protagonists are all in a bit of a pickle. Aerity is being rushed to marry Lief, who previously won her hand for killing the first beast that terrorized the land. Her actual love, Pax, is on the run into other kingdoms following the Zandalee women, fierce warriors who showcase the power and might of women instead of the traditional male-dominant role. And Aerity’s cousin, Wyn, fancies Lief while it’s obvious that someone else who’s more worthy of her attentions is left with his unrequited love.

What a love-mess. Fortunately, I thought it was more fun untangling this than I thought it would be, and all my ships have come true. But that’s besides the point (unless that was something you desperately wanted to know too).

Facing off not just one enemy, but two, the powerful Lashed army is coming upon them and they don’t even know it. I normally appreciated Aerity a lot for her stance against her country’s laws on the Lashed and for how selfless she was to sacrifice her own wants for the better of her kingdom, as a true leader should do. At times, it was still difficult as of course the ship game is strong for Pax, but at least I got it.

I felt the romance took up a large space in this story, yet there still felt like it was balanced well with the action parts that took up the rest of the plot. Nothing was going to be the same again in this kingdom if they wanted Lashed and un-Lashed to get along with each other like they once did. This particularly trope reminded me a lot of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse trilogy and I think it similarly looked into this element. Although how it was developed and managed was quite different between the series, Higgins managed to still deliver a heart-pounding story that I gobbled up in a matter of hours.

Oh, and did I mention there was such a HOT scene with Pax and Aerity? My wait since The Great Hunt was definitely rewarded.

Overall Recommendation:
The Great Pursuit delivered the perfect ending that I had wanted, almost wrapped up in a neat bow without it getting too stiflingly perfect. From a world divided and lovers separated, this story brought together battles facing off cunning foes and romances that were just as I had hoped. Aerity is still the strong-headed leader she’s been becoming since before and each of these characters learn more about what it means to live in a world that’s changing. I think fans of the first novel would be satisfied with this ending.