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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.

Review: The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May

Series: The Falconer #2

the vanishing throne -elizabeth mayEverything she loved is gone.

Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive.

Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault.

Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of doing so might be her life…


3 Drink Me Potions


The Vanishing Throne was just as imaginative and epic as its predecessor, filled with character development and lush new settings and mysteries.

First off, can I just say that I’m so glad Aileana isn’t constantly harping on about revenge and what not in her mother’s killer in this book? It was a major turn-off in the first book as her bloodlust drove her to do irrational things and the descriptions of how it overtook her was just getting tiring.

That’s not to say that she doesn’t have things that happen to her in this book that wasn’t worthy of being mad about. It starts right off where we last left our hero. Trapped in some underground world with their number one enemy. Things pretty much stay level on the action department from there. I felt so bad for her as her strong spirit was slowly broken down and her physical body tormented in cruel ways. Fortunately, they don’t stay in this world for long in the book, which surprised me as I assumed this part of the story arc would last longer.

But of course, this allows more time for the other familiar characters from book 1 to appear. Derrick is such a sweet little thing, with a fiercely loyal spirit to Aileana and love for honey. We get to know more about him and his people in this story, including the weird history that he and Kieran share. Speaking of our resident bad boy, a TON of things about his past and who he was were answered, although many more questions popped up just as soon afterwards. He’s a lot softer than I remembered him being in the first novel, but I suppose feeling love towards another human could do that to you. The romance was unrushed, but at the same time, it felt a little lacking for me. I totally love this ship but my heart just wasn’t captivated by it so much in this book.

What disappointed me less was the overall story plot. After getting back to Scotland, things were so very unlike what they were in the first book. Time has passed (after all, fae time differs greatly from human time on Earth) and people Aileana knew had changed after facing horrendous events in the aftermath of the Wild Hunt in Edinburgh. While this completely different setting, and their new camp base, intrigued me, the action (aka battles) weren’t as suspenseful or mysterious as I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, crazy things go down as their enemies close in on their surviving human base, and of course a certain few fae were really gunning for our girl Aileana. Some of the events that occurred just felt a bit predictable overall.

Although exciting things do happen with regards to this main story arc, no matter how predictable, I felt this book suffered a little. I can’t quite pinpoint how. It seemed to have the makings of everything I could want in a fantasy to make me quite happy, yet I felt my attention swerving to another book and it took a while to finish this book after a long break. This could’ve just been me and the exciting books I read prior to it, so don’t feel too disappointed yet with this sequel. That ending! Oh my goodness, it really sets things up for the next and last book. I’m pretty sure some big head-to-head is coming our way. So stay tuned and just get through this one. I’m sure it can be enjoyable for quite a few readers who loved The Falconer.

Overall Recommendation:
The Vanishing Throne continues with our brave heroine, Aileana, as she tackles one-on-one with a fearsome foe. Although there are plenty of scenes that should leave you breathless with anticipation and excitement, something just didn’t hit me right with this book. Maybe it was the pace which sometimes felt a little slow, or the romance that just didn’t seem to excite me as much as it should. But with plenty of imaginative additions to the fae lore and familiar secondary characters playing a different role in this book, I’d say this sequel should satisfy most fans even if it didn’t quite do the trick for me.