Book Review: Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins

Book: Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins

Published September 2015 by Harper Teen|484 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Sweet #4

Genre: YA Paranormal/Angels

Bad boy Kaidan Rowe has never wanted for anything—money, popularity, musical talent…hot girls—but seducing them is part of his duty as a Nephilim, slave to the demon Dukes. As the son of the Duke of Lust, Kaidan has learned his father’s ways, becoming a master of passion, a manipulator of chemistry. Disobeying his father would mean certain death. Thankfully for Kaidan, he’s good at his job. And he enjoys it. 

Until he meets Anna Whitt—smart, feisty, and inexplicably good—the one girl seemingly immune to his charms. The daughter of a guardian angel and a fallen one, she makes him wish for more than he could ever deserve. 

Determined to save all the Neph from their dark lives, Anna joins forces with Kaidan to overcome the Dukes’ oppressive ways. In the light of her affections, Kaidan must undergo his toughest test of all, a battle of the heart.

Sensual and swoonworthy, this companion volume to the Sweet Evil series, told from the perspective of the mysterious Kaidan Rowe, gives readers revealing insights into the true emotions that drive him.

I’ve really loved this series, so I knew I had to read Sweet Temptation!  I knew it was the series told from the perspective of Kai, and I was really excited to read the events of the series from his perspective.  I didn’t love it, but it was interesting to see things from his POV.

I think, if you love the series, you’ll probably like this one.  I know I did, even though I wasn’t enthused about it.  It really is more of a companion novel than an actual sequel, though I would recommend reading the other three books first.

It did feel like I was reading random scenes from Kai’s perspective, and it didn’t feel completely cohesive as a story. The other thing I noticed when I was reading it was how it felt like things were really crammed into one book.  Higgins covers events from all three books in the original trilogy, and it did feel like a re-hash of the series so far.  I know that’s sort of the point, but even having not read the series in ages, I was able to keep up with what was going on.

I think I was expecting a slightly different story.  I don’t know that I’d want to read the entire series from Kai’s perspective, but still…it felt like there was too much going on.  To the point that I felt like we didn’t really get to see what Kai was truly thinking.  I got the general idea of what things were like for him during the series, but overall, that’s how I’d describe this book.  A general idea of Kai’s perspective on things.  Thinking about it, I really wanted something a little more from Kai and this book, but it was still a fun and entertaining read.

3 stars.  I did like it, and it’s a great book for fans of the series, but it felt like it was rushed and covered too much time in a short span of time.

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Book Review: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Published January 2018 by Simon Pulse|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

A moving, lyrical debut novel about twins who navigate first love, their Jewish identity, and opposite results from a genetic test that determines their fate—whether they inherited their mother’s Huntington’s disease.

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

I really liked this book!  I especially liked the relationship between Adina and Tovah, and how much Huntington’s changed their families and their lives, and especially the relationship with each other.

I can’t imagine having a twin and then finding out one of us had no risk at contracting a genetic disease, while the other one of us would.  Adina really struggled with it, and while she took it seriously, knowing that the results have completely changed her life, she also went down this very destructive path.  I can understand that maybe she doesn’t want to deal with it, and to a degree, she pretends like everything is fine.  But I still can’t imagine reacting the way she does.  Everyone’s different, of course, but she took it to a completely different level.

Adina has people who care about her, but she doesn’t seem interested in seeking help until the very end of the book.  Maybe she had to hit rock bottom to realize she needed more help than she wanted to admit.  Still, you never know how you would react to the type of news she receives, and I don’t want to judge her too harshly just because I don’t think I’d react the same way.

The book does make you think, not just how you’d react, but if you’d even go in the for the testing.  Some people want to know, and some people don’t.  Even I’m not sure if I’d want to know, but at the same time, part of me would.  Also, I think it’s important to know what runs in your family and to make sure you’re following up on things.  Like getting your yearly physical or mammogram, or following up on diabetes or whatever it is.  Seriously, though, it is important to follow up on stuff like that.

I did have a harder time relating to Adina, and I felt like Tovah and I were more similar.  And they have a really difficult relationship- they definitely drifted apart, and part of me hopes that they are able to work it out.  As an only child, I do not get the relationship between siblings at all, and I had a hard time relating to how much they seemed to dislike each other.

Still, we do see how they’re both dealing with everything, and this is one of the few times I actually like the dual POV.  It worked for this book, because you’re following two very different people dealing with a lot of different things.

4 stars.  I really liked You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, and there were a lot of things I was thinking about while reading it and even after finishing it.

Book Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Book: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Published May 2015 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Thriller/Mystery

Meet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic fifteen-year-old, ready to take on crime in her hometown. When Scarlett agrees to investigate a local boy’s suicide, she figures she’s in for an easy case and a quick buck. But it doesn’t take long for suicide to start looking a lot like murder.

As Scarlett finds herself deep in a world of cults, curses, and the seemingly supernatural, she discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks…and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father’s murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

I liked Scarlett Undercover!  It’s this cool mystery with elements of the paranormal, and part of me wishes it were part of a series…just to see the more supernatural elements.  It’s not often I want more books, but I would definitely read more books if we got to read more about Scarlett solving mysteries.

I wasn’t expecting a world of cults and curses that are centuries old, and I ended up really liking that part of it.  I finished the book wishing that we got more books with Scarlett solving paranormal mysteries.  It really made me wish that the book focused more on that, but at the same time, I know things needed to be set up, and that we weren’t instantly going to be thrown into the more supernatural elements of the book.

Those elements were pretty rooted in reality, so while those elements are there, it’s not the whole book.  It really is more of a mystery/thriller than a paranormal, and I thought the supernatural would be more present.  Still, I liked the connection between that and Scarlett’s family and some of the people in her life.

I do wish it were explained a little more, though, because Latham didn’t go into a lot of depth in some areas, and other things were inconsistent.  Scarlett, for example, goes from blowing off prayer to praying 5 times a day.  Obviously, what happened changed her, but it wasn’t really explained.  Her religion/faith wasn’t a big part of the book, which is fine, but with some of what happened in the book, I thought we’d see something a little more.

Overall, the book isn’t really about her religion or spiritual journey, so don’t expect that.  It was more about her trying to solve a mystery.  Still, I think it could have been interesting, but I’m also fine with the fact that it’s not really part of the book.

Scarlett is a pretty developed character- though, as the main character, one would hope she’s a pretty developed character- but I couldn’t really say that for the other characters.  It’s part of why I thought things could have been explained a little more, because the other characters were either bland or their role in things were confusing.  Scarlett herself is pretty spunky and sure of herself, and she really does want to help people.  She’s brave and she wants justice, and she’s pretty determined.  I just wish that the other characters were as interesting as Scarlett was.

3 stars.  I liked it, but I did want something a little different.  If you like mysteries, this is a pretty good one to check out.

Book Review: Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

Book: Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao

Published October 2017 by Philomel Books|363 Pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: Rise Of The Empress #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Re-telling

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

I absolutely loved this book!  It took me forever to get through (partly because I wasn’t in the mood, and partly because I was trying to get through some other books).

I love this re-telling of The Evil Queen, and while this story is Xifeng’s journey to becoming the evil queen, it’s still worth reading.  It makes me want to read the next book so, so much.  Regina Mills from Once Upon A Time is an amazing Evil Queen, but Xifeng comes pretty close.  It’s basically Snow White before Snow White, if that makes any sense.  It’s basically a prequel to the Snow White story that we all know (at least from Disney, but this is not the happy Disney version.  Please don’t expect a happy, Disney version of the Evil Queen, because this is not that book.

If you need to like characters, especially the main character, this book probably isn’t for you.  It was so hard to like Xifeng at times, but I did find myself understanding where she came from, and why she did what she did.  She does get jealous of other women, and she wasn’t very confident, especially at the beginning of the book.  She changes so much over the course of the book, but it felt really natural and not forced at all.

I feel like her journey isn’t going to end well, but this is one story that I feel pretty invested in, and I can’t wait to see where her story goes, even if the ending isn’t a happy one.

I thought the world was amazing and really detailed.  I had such a clear picture of what was going on, and I loved how vivid everything was.  My copy of the book was an annotated one from PageHabit, and those extra details really made the book for me.  It was interesting to see what inspired her, and where certain things in the book came from.

Also, this is not a light and fluffy story.  It is dark and twisted and sometimes gory.  I mean, she eats hearts to gain power and make herself stronger.  She will do anything to become Empress, and I thought the use of a prophecy was interesting.  As weird as it may be, I did like seeing how far she was willing to go to get what she wants and what she was willing to do so she could fulfill the destiny that was foretold.

I’m not sure if this was something the author intended, but I couldn’t help but think about prophecy and destiny and how cutthroat some people are, and how they’ll use prophecy to get whatever they want.  Also, some of the characters are pretty catty (and petty), and Xifeng was willing to take them down because they were standing in her way.  I’m sure there’s some sort of real world parallel you could draw.  I won’t, because my brain doesn’t want to work right (and I myself in not confident in my ability to draw a meaningful comparison) but it did feel very real.  Girls and women are pitted against each other as well, and you can definitely see why they act the way they do.

5 stars.  Overall, I loved this book.  The setting is amazing and vivid, and I just loved the world and the mythology and the characters.

Book Review: Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Book: Beautiful Music For Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Published October 2012 by Flux|262 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

“This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.”

My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.

When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side–not heard as often, but just as good.

It’s time to let my B side play.

I liked Beautiful Music For Ugly Children!  I didn’t love it, but I still think it’s a book everyone should check out.  I was hesitant to read it, because it’s not an #ownvoices book, but Cronn-Mills did a pretty good job at writing Gabe, and what he was going through.  It seems like she really did her research, though I could have done without the author’s note at the end.  Something about it didn’t sit right with me.

I spent a lot of the book angry at how other people treated him.  His parents misgender him, they call him by his birth name, and there is quite a bit of transphobia.  He does live in a fairly small town (as small a town as a town that has 40,000 people can be), and I can’t say I’m surprised by how he was treated and with how people reacted.  I’m trying not to assume that everyone who lives in a small-ish town is transphobic, and we do see some people who are really accepting of Gabe.

Still, his parents do come around, and I can understand why they’d have a hard time accepting that Gabe is their son. Especially his mom, who seems to feel like she did something wrong, even though she didn’t.  I did find myself feeling uncomfortable at their insistence on calling Gabe Elizabeth, even though we see him correct them throughout the book.

One thing I thought was interesting was his best friend Paige.  She seemed so supportive, until she herself is threatened because of her friendship with Gabe.  And suddenly, she’s having a hard time with it.  I’m not sure what to think about it, because she did seem so supportive initially, but when she was threatened by the same people who threatened Gabe, she seemed to have a hard time.  Almost like it wasn’t real until she was personally affected by it.  I get she’s maybe having a hard time that Gabe is Gabe (and not Elizabeth) but I still found myself frustrated by how she was acting.

I did love his mentor John, and the whole idea of the Ugly Children Brigade.  It gave the book a nostalgic sort of vibe, and I think that part of it made me think of a couple of books: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford.  If you like either of those books, then you’ll probably like this one.  Plus, I liked how music tied into his story, and how A sides and B sides tied into how he saw himself.  They really are kindred spirits, despite their age difference, and I loved their relationship.

Some of the terms were really derogatory and out-dated.  I know this book was published in 2012, and that things have changed, but this still took away from the book a little bit.  And while Gabe was a great character, I wasn’t enthused with Mara, Heather or Paige.  The female characters fell flat and were pretty one-dimensional, though Paige seemed a little bit less so than the other two.  And they were all love interests, which is fine, but it would have been nice to see Gabe have at least one female in his life who he has a platonic relationship with.

3 stars.  I liked it, but I didn’t love it.  I can’t speak to the portrayal of a character who’s transitioning, since I’m cisgender, but it does seem like Cronn-Mills did a lot of research.

Book Review: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

Book: My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula Freedman

Published October 2013 by Harry N Abrams|256 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

During the fall leading up to her bat mitzvah, Tara (Hindi for “star”) Feinstein has a lot more than her Torah portion on her mind. Between Hebrew school and study sessions with the rabbi, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to hang out with her best friend Ben-o–who might also be her boyfriend–and her other best friend, Rebecca, who’s getting a little too cozy with that snotty Sheila Rosenberg. Not to mention working on her robotics project with the class clown Ryan Berger, or figuring out what to do with a priceless heirloom sari that she accidentally ruined. Amid all this drama, Tara considers how to balance her Indian and Jewish identities and what it means to have a bat mitzvah while questioning her faith.

I liked this one!  For me, it’s one of those books that’s hovering between middle grade and YA- there is something about it that is a little bit more YA, but I could easily see it as an older middle grade book.

I thought Tara was interesting, and I liked seeing her balance both her Indian and her Jewish identities.  There were a couple of things that really stood out to me.  One was a comment from one of her classmates about how she’s not really Jewish because her mom converted to Judaism, and the other was someone assuming she was Muslim because she was from India.  She was easy to relate to, and I really liked her relationships with both her family and her friends.

Adult me’s reaction is that if someone says they’re Jewish, then they’re Jewish…and I’m pretty sure teenage me would felt the same way.  But I also grew up Catholic, and my knowledge of other religions is pretty limited, so maybe I’m missing something here.  I just liked seeing her struggle with her identity, and how she struggled with her faith.  She is full of questions, and for some reason, I really liked that about her.

I did like Sheila and I really, one of the other characters in the book.  It seems like she gets whatever she wants, but she also has some issues she needs to work on.  I felt a little bad for her, but I also wish we saw more of her backstory, because I am curious about why she did some of the things she did.

Something else I wish we saw was more of her mom’s experience as an immigrant.  Tara and her mom are very different, and her mom seems wary of Tara connecting with her Indian culture.  There does seem to be a little bit of a disconnect at times, but they are also very different.  Still, at least a little about her experience immigrating to the US would have been nice, and I think it would have added something different to her relationship with Tara.  But she was still an interesting character.

I also liked the glossary at the end, which was helpful because there were a lot of phrases and words I wasn’t familiar with.  It was nice to actually see what they meant, instead of forgetting to google it later, or trying to figure out what it meant.  I like it when books include a glossary, and that Freedman recognized that not everyone is going to be familiar with some of the phrases we see throughout the book.

3 stars.  I liked it, and I especially liked Tara.  But while I liked it, I didn’t love it.  I thought a couple of things could have used some more backstory, but overall, I’d still recommend it.

Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Book: The Young Elites

Published August 2015 by Speak|384 pages

Where I Got It: I own the paperback

Series: The Young Elites #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

An explosive new series from New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy, Marie Lu 

Darth Vader, Voldemort, Maleficent. Witness the rise of a new villain.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars–they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.
Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

I thought The Young Elites was interesting!  I liked it, and I wanted to like it more, because I really liked the concept.

Something about the book made me think of the Spanish Inquistion and even the Salem Witch Trials.  I mean, the Young Elites are hunted down and killed because they’re different.  Anyone suspected of being a malfetto was destroyed, and it’s interesting that Teren should be the leader of those tasked with finding the Young Elites.

I really liked Adelina, and she’s dark and twisted and hurt, but she also really cares about her sister.  No one is good or bad in this book, and everyone is very much shades of grey.

I didn’t particularly care for Enzo, and I think his chapters were my least favorite.  Teren, though, was interesting.  I didn’t particularly like him, but I do understand why he acted the way he did.  I really wish we saw more of Raffaele! I would have been happy if we had more chapters with him than with Enzo, but that wasn’t something that happened. Hopefully there is more of him in the rest of the series, should I continue on with it.

I’m not surprised that this book was a fantasy book, but I think part of me was expecting some dystopic or post-apocalyptic elements.  When you start talking about an illness that killed people, but the surviving children come out different…well, I was expecting something a little different.  It’s darker than I thought it would be, and I am curious about what will happen next.  I don’t know if I want to continue the series- while I liked The Young Elites, I don’t know if I like it enough to keep going.  Maybe one day I’ll pick it up, but if I do, I’ll most likely get it from the library.

I never really got a clear picture of the Fortunata Court, and even though we have a map at the beginning of the book, I never really got a good sense of where everything was in relation to each other.  I felt like the Fortunata Court in particular was sort of vague, and I’m not hopeful that we’ll get a better picture of it.  I’m still hoping, of course, but I don’t want to be overly hopeful and then have that come crashing down because it wasn’t described the way I wanted it to be.

3 stars,  I liked it, but I had a hard time getting into it.

Book Review: Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Book: Leah On The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Published April 2018 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray|339 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Creekwood #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

After reading Simon a couple of years ago, and reading The Upside Of Unrequited earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading this one.  I just didn’t like it as much as I wanted to, and for whatever reason, I wasn’t as into the book as I wanted to be.

I’m kind of wondering if I should have re-read Simon first, just to get back into this world.  I mean, it is a stand-alone, but I think it would have been helpful to read Simon first for a refresher, because there’s a lot I didn’t remember, and I felt like there was some history I was forgetting.

I didn’t particularly care for the romance in the book.  It felt forced, and initially, I thought the relationship between those two seemed to be based on jealousy.  And the way Leah to this particular character was frustrating because it didn’t feel like it was good enough for Leah.

I didn’t like Leah in this book, but I’m clearly in the minority on this one, since a lot of people really like her.  If reviews are indication.  I thought she was horrible to a few of the characters (and I did think some of them didn’t deserve it).  Still, one of the few things I did like about her was how she felt uncomfortable because she and her mom didn’t have the financial stability her classmates seemed to have.  For some reason, that made her seem like an actual person.  She wasn’t really easy to relate to prior to that moment.

It also seemed like a lot happened off-page.  We never find out certain things- like people’s reactions to the new couple, and Simon being nervous to talk to Bram about wanting to go to a different school, but things are magically fine.

Leah On The Offbeat ended up being okay, and it wasn’t all that memorable.  I’m having a hard time talking about it because I can’t remember what happened in the book, and I only finished it a few days ago.  Apparently, it’s a pretty forgettable read.

2 stars.  I don’t remember enough to actively dislike it, and there were a few parts I liked, but it wasn’t enough to actually get me to like it.

Book Review: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Book: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Published February 2015 by HarperTeen|337 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A Wicked Thing #1

Genre: YA Fantasy/YA Re-telling

Rhiannon Thomas’s dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I thought A Wicked Thing was okay.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while (and it’s been on my TBR for years), and I finally got around to reading it.

I did like that everyone she knew had passed away in the time it took for her to wake up.  Can you imagine waking up and learning that everyone you knew was dead?  And to be taken in by the current king and queen because their son is your true love?  I can’t say I’m surprised by that, because I really wasn’t.  But I did like it, predictable as it was.

I know this book is a series, so we’ll learn a lot more about Aurora’s world in the next books.  We did get a pretty good picture of her life before the curse and also what happened during her 100 years of sleep.  But I just wasn’t as into it as I thought I would be.

I thought Aurora’s reaction to everything was pretty well done- she did seem confused and overwhelmed and not sure what to do.  I feel like I’d feel the same way if I were in her position, and I can see myself reacting the same way she did.  She constantly felt like she a prisoner- both before her birthday, and long after.  I really felt for her, because her life was decided for her, and no one bothered to ask her what she thought or how she felt.  Everything was decided for her because everyone knew better than she did.

There’s a lot she doesn’t know, of course, and she does need some sort of protection.  I don’t think she helped things by randomly wandering around in the middle of the night, but she also didn’t deserve to be locked up again.  I think a little more freedom (and explanation and including her in things) would have gone a long way.

I did like that her tale is well-known, and that she reads a book that is her story.  I’m not sure why I liked it, but when you’ve been sleeping for as long as she has, it does make sense that stories would be told.  And of course, the original story is far more gruesome than what we see here.  It should be interesting to see where things go, if I do decide to continue on with the series.  I don’t know that I’m interested enough to keep going.

The book does move pretty slow, and even though it took me a few days to finish it, it’s because of how short the book was.  I expected more action, and the action scenes we do have were boring.  I did want to see how things would turn out for Aurora, and what she’d do, but that was one of the very few things that kept me going.

2 stars.  A Wicked Thing was okay, and even though I like the idea of a Sleeping Beauty re-telling, this one didn’t work for me.

Book Review: Inferno by Julie Kagawa

Book: Inferno by Julie Kagawa

Published April 2018 by Harlequin Teen|397 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Talon #5

Genre: YA Paranormal

TODAY, WE STRIKE BACK.

WE SHOW TALON THAT WE WILL NEVER ACCEPT THEIR NEW WORLD.

Ember Hill has learned a shocking truth about herself: she is the blood of the Elder Wyrm, the ancient dragon who leads Talon and who is on the verge of world domination. With the Order of St. George destroyed, Ember, Riley and Garret journey to the Amazon jungle in search of one who might hold the key to take down the Elder Wyrm and Talon—if they can survive the encounter.

Meanwhile, Ember’s brother, Dante, will travel to China with a message for the last Eastern dragons: join Talon or die. With the stakes rising and the Elder Wyrm declaring war, time is running out for the rogues and any dragon not allied with Talon. 

The final battle approaches. And if Talon is victorious, the world will burn.

I really liked Inferno!  Not as much I thought, of course, but it was a pretty good end to the series.

It’s fast-paced and action-packed and we’re kept on our toes from the beginning, until the very end.  I liked seeing how things turn out, and there are some interesting choices and revelations.  I don’t want to spoil anything since Inferno came out pretty recently.  Some things may be predictable, but I’m not one who usually tries to figure things out, so I was quite surprised by some of the things that happened in the book.

I liked Ember a lot in this book, and she’s changed a lot since we see her in Talon.  I actually re-read the series so I’d actually remember everything that happened up to this point, and I’m glad I did.  It was nice going into this book having been reminded of everything up to this point.  Ember is pretty amazing, and she was so determined to do the right thing, no matter what.  I think only Ember could get the allies she needed to take down Talon, and while I wish we saw more of the Eastern dragons, I get why they didn’t want to get involved.  Except for Jade, of course.

I did like that everything turned out okay.  I’ve come to love a lot of the characters, and I finished the book feeling hopeful that things will change for the dragons at Talon, and that St. George will continue to be there should Talon need a counterbalance.  I love that about her series finales- they always end with the hope that the characters will go on to be okay, no matter what happened before.

I suppose she does have a certain story she’s going for, and her Talon series has been no exception.  It is pretty predictable as far as last books go (particularly in her case) but that didn’t stop me from really enjoying the book.

I especially loved the author’s note at the end of the book.  She talks about her love of dragons, and how long the story has been with her.  And I love the modern take on dragons as owners of huge corporations.  It works, and I love that she does put a modern spin on dragons and knights, and how they changed with the times.

The other thing I loved about the author’s note was the part where she talked about othering and how we see people who are different from us, and that part really stuck with me.  You can really see it in the book as well, and now that I think about it, it is there throughout the series.  It’s in the interactions between Talon and the Rogues, St George and the dragons, and Talon and the Eastern dragons.  I did see the story in a completely different way after reading it, and I’m glad that so many characters did try to challenge their beliefs and see things in a different way.

4 stars.  So, I didn’t love it, but overall, it’s a pretty good ending to the story.