A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer Trilogy

May 22, 2017 All-Time Favorites, Reviews 25

Today I’ve got bite-sized reviews of two awesome fantasy series that I’ve started (they’re not done yet, so it’s actually not my fault this time that I haven’t finished them!). Hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer TrilogyRuined by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 368
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
5 Stars

A revenge that will consume her. A love that will ruin her.
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.

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On the surface, this book seems like it might be sort of derivative. It’s not. Well, okay, it sort of is. I mean, just based on the basic description, I feel like I’ve read this book before: Em’s parents were murdered because a power-hungry king is afraid of her people’s abilities, and she wants revenge. She decides to pass herself off as the prince’s bride-to-be (possible since they’ve never actually met), but she falls in love with the prince and starts to doubt her plan to betray him. It sounds vaguely familiar, right.

But Tintera makes this series stand out because she doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Em’s no wronged angel, she’s a killer, right from the very start. And though her people may have been unfairly hunted, Em’s mother was brutal herself and gave people reason to fear her. And while Cas is innocent enough that Em falls in love with him, he isn’t perfect—he’s turned a blind eye to his father’s inhumanity, excusing it in order to hide from any sense of guilt. And Tintera never really lets up. This isn’t the sort of story where everyone realizes they were wrong and they fix their mistakes and get a simple happily ever after. The characters (and the realistic political embroilments) are too complex for that. No, once things get underway, it almost doesn’t matter what anyone wants anymore—there are kingdoms and many lives at stake. Tintera never lets us forget that!

This story is simply brilliant. It has everything I want in a fantasy: high stakes, complex characters, and deadly magic! I give it 5/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer TrilogyAvenged by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #2
Published by HarperTeen on May 2nd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Source: Edelweiss
My content rating: YA (Characters discuss and consider sex; Violence)
My rating:
5 Stars

A war that will fuel her. A bond that will destroy her.
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 just because Em and Olivia are out of Lera doesn’t mean they are safe. Their actions over the past year have had consequences, and they are now targets of retaliation. Olivia will destroy everyone who acts against Ruina. 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. Lera may have destroyed the Ruined for decades, but Em knows that Cas is different. And now that he’s 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, she 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.

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After reading Ruined (and being tortured by the cliffhanger), I doubted that book two could live up to the amazingness of that first book. I was so happy to be wrong. If anything, things get even more complicated in this installment as Em is torn between her love for her sister, her loyalty to the Ruined, and her love for Cas. Once again, Tintera doesn’t pull any punches. Nothing is easy or black and white. It’s sometimes hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, and danger lurks around every turn. Em spends most of the book simply trying to avoid an all-out war (without retreating or surrendering, of course). I loved every minute of this follow-up, so it gets 5/5 Stars. And the series makes it onto my list of All-Time Favorites!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer TrilogyWalk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #1
Also in this series: After the Fire, Into the Bright Unknown
Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Western, Magical Realism
Pages: 436
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Length: 10 hrs 53 min
Source: Library, Purchased
My content rating: YA (Some death and violence, Nothing more than kissing)
My rating:
4 Stars

Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.
Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.
She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.
The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush–era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

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Walk on Earth a Stranger is barely fantasy. If anything I’d call it historical fiction with a bit of magical realism thrown in. That didn’t stop me from loving it, but if you’re looking for a fantasy full of magical adventure, you’re looking in the wrong place. If you’re interested in a gold rush (or pioneer) adventure with a slight magical element, this is perfect for you!

Pioneer stories have always fascinated me, so the idea of combining a story of the westward expansion in search of gold with the magical ability of a character who can sense gold was incredibly appealing to me. Like I said, the magic is limited in this story—it only comes into play a few times throughout the book, but that doesn’t mean that the book is any less exciting. If you know anything about the gold rush, you know that making it to California alive is a feat in itself. Lee has the added danger of an uncle who is hunting her and of someone discovering her gift, which raises the stakes even higher. I was a huge fan of the romance between Lee and her best friend Jefferson, and I was hoping that things would work out between them (though I actually wasn’t sure if they would). Jefferson is half Cherokee, and the mistreatment of Indians and slaves is another theme in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed this story!

Narration: Overall, I thought that Erin Mallon was a fantastic narrator for this book. My only complaint was that she didn’t use accents for any of the foreigners, so I was confused about their nationalities at first.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

***The reason this book says both library and purchased for its source is because I bought the ebook when it was on sale but then ended up listening to the audiobook via my library in the end. Whoops! Oh well.***


A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer TrilogyLike a River Glorious by Rae Carson
Series: The Gold Seer Trilogy #2
Also in this series: After the Fire, Into the Bright Unknown
Published by Harper Audio on September 27th 2016
Pages: 432
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Length: 10 hrs 27 min
Source: Edelweiss, Library
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some violence)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

The sequel to the New York Times–bestselling and National Book Award longlisted Walk on Earth a Stranger

After her harrowing journey west to California, Lee Westfall has finally found a new home—one rich in gold, thanks to her magical power, a power that seems to be changing every day. But this home is rich in other ways, too: with friends who are searching for a place to be themselves, just as she is, and with love. Jefferson—her longtime best friend—hasn’t stopped trying to win her heart. And Lee is more and more tempted to say yes.

But her uncle Hiram hasn’t given up his quest to get Lee and her power under his control. When she’s kidnapped and taken to him, Lee sees firsthand the depths of her uncle’s villainy. Yet Lee’s magic is growing. Gold no longer simply sings to her, it listens. It obeys her call. Is it enough to destroy her uncle once and for all?

Rae Carson, acclaimed author of the Girl of Fire and Thorns series, takes us deep into the gold fields as she continues this sweeping saga of magic and history, and an unforgettable heroine who must come into her own.

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The stakes in the second book in this series are somehow even higher than in the first. Lee has made it to California, but she’s far from out of danger. To make things worse, she feels like she’s putting her friends in danger as well. She knows that the only way to keep everyone safe is to take care of the Uncle Hiram situation one way or another. But things go from bad to worse really quickly and Lee finds herself (and her friends!) in an impossible situation that she can’t escape. This book highlights the racial injustices of the westward expansion even more strongly than the first book did. In fact, pretty much everything is ramped up in this installment: the action, the stakes, the romance. Plus, even though this book is only the second in the trilogy, it gives us a satisfying ending that could almost wrap everything up (so I’m still excited for the next book but I don’t feel like I ended this one with pain!).

I give this second book 4.5/5 Stars.

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (though I ended up listening to the audiobook from the library) in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

25 Responses to “A Start of Two Series: Bite-Sized Reviews of (the Start of) The Ruined Series and The Gold Seer Trilogy”

  1. Lloyd Russell

    Have you read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir? It was really good. I haven’t read A Torch Against The Night, book 2. But I will.

  2. Sam

    I loved the first Gold Seer book so much, and I am excited to see you think the second one is better. Right? Avenged was so good, and I cannot wait for the next one. Great reviews!
    Sam @ WLABB

  3. sjhigbee

    I love your mini reviews and both these series have really grabbed my attention – but I MUST complete more of the series I’ve got stacked up on my TBR pile – that said, I really love the sounds of The Gold See trilogy.

  4. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    Ooooh now I MUST read Ruined, especially if Avenged is an all-time favorite! I have Ruined, and since Avenged is out now, I won’t have to wait! And I loooved Walk on Earth a Stranger and Like a River Glorious! I am kiiiiind of obsessed with The Oregon Trail, so having them actually take it was amazing- but I agree, the stakes were crazy high in the second book, and I think the author did such a good job of tackling the awful crimes that went on, too. Great reviews!

  5. Karen Blue

    I started reading Avenged right after I read your review. I forgot how good Ruined was. I am almost done with Avenged already, it is so good! I really loved Walk On Earth a Stranger, I need to find time for Like a River Glorious. Great reviews!

  6. Cait @ Paper Fury

    I’ve read both Ruined and Walk on Earth a Stranger and they’re like two of my favourite authors before these books sooooo I LOVED THEIR NEW BOOKS SO SO MUCH. *flails wildly* I need to read BOTH the sequels yet though. Whyyyy haven’t I yet omg.😭😂 I’m glad they didn’t disappoint for you! Both these writers are just so fabulous. (And I love Cas and his appreciation for cheese bread. <3)

    • Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

      Oh, I’m the worst at this, so you don’t have to explain to me. I have SO many unfinished series. It’s kind of ridiculous, really. I actually remember your review of Ruined. That was the review that convinced me I needed the book in my life. 🙂

  7. ShootingStarsMag

    Glad to hear you are enjoying both of these series. That’s great that the Ruined series – despite having a “typical” premise – is still a unique book.

  8. Dina

    I want to read Walk on Earth a Stranger, but I am not even done with Rae Carson’s first trilogy. For me, it takes a while to get into her books so far. I like them, however, it is kind of a process to delve in. She’s a great writer though, I have to admit.

    Haven’t read Ruined yet! I didn’t really notice that one around. Ahh. So many books, so little time.

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