Red Rider’s Hood
Young Adult / August 16, 2017

Dark Fusion #2. Author: Neal Shusterman. Summary: In this second entry in Neal Shusterman’s Dark Fusion series, he twists the familiar fairy tale “Red Riding Hood” into a brooding story about a city plagued by gangs. Red, a boy famous for cruising around in a bloodcolored Mustang, takes on the Wolves after they rob his grandmother. He decides to beat them by joining them, to learn their weaknesses. After a while, however, he finds himself drawn to the pack. At the next full moon, will Red take up their murderous ways, or will he take them down? (Published Summary) My Thoughts: Quite a creepy little retelling of Red Riding Hood. I like the distance achieved, where the story is obviously fairy-tale based but far enough away to be its own story, and I think Shusterman did a good job with the rather dark, gritty city setting and atmosphere. Not sure I agree with the main character’s choices, but it’s not a story where the right/wrong sides are pinned down hard and fast – it’s fairly open-ended for the reader to decide. (Note that the Dark Fusion series is more a grouping than a series… no need to read the books…

A Dragon of a Different Color
Young Adult / August 1, 2017

Heartstrikers #4. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: To save his family from his tyrannical mother, Julius had to step on a lot of tails. That doesn’t win a Nice Dragon many friends, but just when he thinks he’s starting to make progress, a new threat arrives. Turns out, things can get worse. Heartstriker hasn’t begun to pay for its secrets, and the dragons of China are here to collect. When the Golden Emperor demands his surrender, Julius will have to choose between loyalty to the sister who’s always watched over him and preserving the clan he gave everything to protect. (Published Summary.) My Thoughts : Bernadette: Well, I enjoyed it, but A Dragon of a Different Color wasn’t as good as the previous books. I imagine Rachel Aaron had all this awesome worldbuilding done that she really wanted to give her readers… so she tied plot twists to each discovery, and crammed them all together. And it was exciting and fun and illuminating, but – it was also crammed. It felt like the entire book was just a series of twists and reveals, with never enough down time to process the new reveal or even to just enjoy the new characters…

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished
Young Adult / January 21, 2017

Heartstrikers #3. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place. To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it. (Published summary) My Thoughts: Julius has changed a lot since we first met him. Remember, back in Nice Dragons Finish Last, his niceness wasn’t exactly a philosophy – just his personality. He was just the runt of a litter, getting kicked off his computer for not being blood-thirsty and ambitious…

One Good Dragon Deserves Another
Young Adult / October 5, 2016

Heartstrikers #2. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: Julius finally has his own magical business, in partnership with his human friend Marci. He’s happy to settle down there and never see the heartstriker clan again – but Bethseda is finally interested in him. His involvement with the Three Sisters has made him useful, and she’s not letting him disappear. Soon, Julius realizes he can’t try to back out – his clan needs him, whether or not he likes them. Mysterious attacks on high-ranking dragons, Estella’s suspicious co-operating, and the appearance of Alonquin’s dragon hunter adds up to more trouble than even Bob the seer can manage. Especially when futures are dropping off the map, whole trains vanishing completely. Can Julius and Marci find the future they need… and how much are they willing to trade for it? My Thoughts: I think this was even better than the first book, with more character development on all the minor characters. Very enjoyable, with fast-paced plot, intriguing characters, a well-worked out world and a good sense of humor. Content Review: Sexual content: One scene opens with dragon-woman in bed, grumping because her “young lover” is up and dressing “before noon”. Female dragon shapeshifts to human,…

Nice Dragons Finish Last
Young Adult / June 15, 2016

Heartstrikers #1. Author: Rachel Aaron. Summary: Julius Heartstriker has just been tossed out of his parent’s home, where he spent most of his time in his bedroom online. He’s in the big city now, with a job offered by his older brother – searching for a missing person. All this sounds quite normal. Julius, however, is a dragon. He may quite literally be killed if he doesn’t accomplish this task, a last chance to prove himself, and the runaway he’s hunting for – a dragoness – will be enspelled and dragged back to her home. Julius had better shape up fast and figure out which way his life is going, with help from a feisty human-mage, (no, she’s not my human, mother), his mysterious seer brother Bob whose predictions come true 80% of the time and are un-understandable 100% of the time, and another brother, Justin, the brawn of the outfit. My Thoughts: A fun, fast-paced read. The characters are distinct and interesting, from our main character – an unfortunate nice dragon born into a savage brood – to the FMC, with her dangerous past and determination and distinctly quirky housing and work arrangements. The setting is also unusual and vivid;…