The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim (ARC Review)

Dragon's Promise by Elizabeth Lim cover for book review


Goodreads: The Dragon’s Promise
Series: Six Crimson Cranes #2
Age Category: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Publication Date: August 30, 2022

Official Summary

Princess Shiori made a deathbed promise to return the dragon’s pearl to its rightful owner, but keeping that promise is more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She must journey to the kingdom of dragons, navigate political intrigue among humans and dragons alike, fend off thieves who covet the pearl for themselves and will go to any lengths to get it, all while cultivating the appearance of a perfect princess to dissuade those who would see her burned at the stake for the magic that runs in her blood.

The pearl itself is no ordinary cargo; it thrums with malevolent power, jumping to Shiori’s aid one minute, and betraying her the next—threatening to shatter her family and sever the thread of fate that binds her to her true love, Takkan. It will take every ounce of strength Shiori can muster to defend the life and the love she’s fought so hard to win.

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I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Lim’s work since I read Spin the Dawn, and as a sequel to Six Crimson Cranes, The Dragon’s Promise did not disappoint. It has action, adventure, vivid world building, and the strong family ties readers first saw in book one when Shiori committed herself to saving her brothers from a life as cranes.

I admit my memory of Six Crimson Cranes is a bit hazy, and it took me a while to remember all the events that had occurred previously that were relevant to this story. The Dragon’s Promise is not one of those books that effortlessly reminds readers of the plot of the books that came before, so do be aware of that. However, once I got my bearings, I was once again swept into the world Lim has created and eager to see how protagonist Shiori would fulfill her last promise to her stepmother, all while keeping herself and her entire world safe.

The pacing is a bit wild, which is something I’ve noticed about Lim’s work in general. The first third of the book probably could have been expanded into its own book, and event after evert keeps coming at Shiori and the reader. It’s certainly a roller coaster. Perhaps this is even something a lot of readers will love — unending action and twists and something always happening with hardly a break in between. I personally would have liked the pacing to be a bit more even, but it’s not a deal breaker for me, and it certainly keeps things interesting if nothing else.

I most loved the relationships Shiori has with her friends and family, and all the characters readers could have fallen in love with in Six Crimson Cranes get plenty of page time in The Dragon’s Promise. We get to see all six brothers, of course, as well as the love interest, and even Shiori’s father, who is clearly struggling with his duties as a emperor seeming to conflict with his priorities as a parent. We even learn more about Shiori’s stepmother’s past and get some insight into the decisions she made in book one. Character development is more than fulfilled, and I don’t know if Lim could have done a better job with any of the fairly large cast she has created.

Lim’s books are always a delight to read, and The Dragon’s Promise is no exception. Definitely pick it up if you enjoyed any of her other books.

4 stars

Darcy Swipes Left by Courtney Carbone and Jane Austen

Darcy Swipes Left


Goodreads: Darcy Swipes Right
Series: OMG Classics
Source: Gift
Published: 2016


Pride and Prejudice, one of the greatest love stories ever told . . . in texts?!

Imagine: What if Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy had smartphones and dated IRL (in real life)? A classic is reborn in this clever adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!
A truth universally acknowledged: a rich guy must want a wife.
A terrible first impression.
A couple that’s meant to be . . . if they can just get over themselves. #hatersgonnadate
Don’t miss: Lydia taking selfies with soldiers, Mrs. Bennet’s humble-brag status updates, Lizzy texting from her long walks, and Darcy swiping left on a dance card app.

tl;dr Jane Austen’s most famous novel told through its characters texting with emojis, posting photos, checking in at locations, and updating their relationship statuses. The perfect gift for any teen (or any reader with a sense of humor)!
A glossary and cast of characters are included for those who need it. For example: tl;dr means too long; didn’t read.text

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One might wonder what the point of reading Jane Austen’s classic Pride & Prejudice reduced to texting and emojis is, and when I first started reading Darcy Swipes Left I wondered myself. It felt like a novelty book, something someone thought was an amusing idea and would sell but…might not really be worthwhile reading. I changed my mind by the end of the book, however.

To be clear, this is a book I can only imagine reading once, unlike Pride & Prejudice or the other classic books that the author has given the text message treatment to. However, I did enjoy it–and I think that’s largely because Austen’s story is just so compelling that any sort of retelling or adaptation can’t help but be engaging, as well. I know how the story goes (and I think you’d have to in order to even understand Darcy Swipes Left), but I still wanted to keep reading to see how everything played out. It’s just always interesting to see Charlotte choose to marry Mr. Collins, to see Darcy and Elizabeth change their minds about each other, to see Mr. Bennett’s well-timed quips.

Carbone’s decisions while turning the story into text messages and social media channels are hit or miss. At times, they are extremely amusing, which I think is what appeals to many readers. If you aren’t an Austen purist who will be aghast at the idea of turning her beautiful prose into LOL’s and OMG’s, then watching the characters text each other and send emoji reactions and block each other is just funny. However, I do think some of the adaptation seems a bit forced. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone text with as many emojis the character use in the book, and I don’t think I’ve seen them used quite that way. I don’t know anyone who writes out a work and then puts the emoji for that word right after it, but I got the impression that the author just really needed to cram in the emojis to make her vision for this book work.

Overall, this is fun. I wouldn’t buy it because, as I said, I don’t see the point of ever rereading it. But if you’re the kind of person who would think this is amusing and not a desecration of Austen’s great art, it’s worth checking out.

4 stars

Sisterland by Salla Simukka

Sisterland MG book by Salla Simukka


Goodreads: Sisterland
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: December 3, 2019 (US)

Official Summary

Fall under the spell of this contemporary fairy tale that’s perfect for fans of Emily Winfield Martin’s Snow & Rose and the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Alice thought it was unusual to see a dragonfly in the middle of winter. But she followed it until she fell down-down-down, and woke up in a world unlike any other.

Welcome to Sisterland, a fantastical world where it is always summer. The most enchanting magic of all, though, is Alice’s new friend Marissa. But as the girls explore the strange land, they learn Sisterland’s endless summer comes at a price. Back on Earth, their homes are freezing over. To save their families, Alice and Marissa must outwit the powerful Queen Lili. But the deeper they go into Sisterland, the less Alice and Marissa remember about their homes, their lives before, and what they are fighting for.

This is a wondrous tale about heroism, loyalty, and friendship from one of the most celebrated Finnish children’s authors, Salla Simukka.

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I was excited to read Sisterland because I encounter so few novels in the US book market that have been translated from another language, and I’m always interested to see what’s going on in the international literary landscape.  Unfortunately, although the book promised to be a good read for fans of middle grade fantasy like the Chronicles of Narnia and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I found both the plot and the characters to be too underdeveloped for me to enjoy the book.

I will disclose that comparisons to Narnia tend to rub me the wrong way because far, far too often the similarities to Lewis’s work are too overt for my tastes, more lifting than inspiration.  In Sisterland, we have a locked magic garden (somewhat like in The Magician’s Nephew) and then a world ruled by an evil ice queen (like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) with the difference that in this world it’s always summer and never winter.  There’s also the matter that when humans return to their world, no time has passed.  Next, there are also clear borrowings from Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, such as the characters’ following a mysterious magical animal and then falling a long way down a hole in order to enter the magic world.  Some people may like these “nods” to other, more famous works; personally I prefer more subtlety.

Mostly, however, I was not a fan of the pacing of the plot.  Sisterland is one of those novels where everything happens quickly with no development.  The protagonist meets a new character?  Instantly she just trusts him and they are the best of friends, even though neither she nor the reader knows a single thing about him, his history, or his personality.  The protagonist encounters a riddle?  It’s solved on the next page.  She needs to complete part of a quest?  Done in four pages.  A minor hiccup might interrupt her success for, oh, two paragraphs or so, and then she surmounts it and plows on to the next quest.

To be fair, this might not have bothered me if I were ten years old and reading this book.  At that age, I didn’t look for a lot of development within the novel and would often fill in details myself.  I’ve been surprised to reread books as an adult that I loved as a child only realize they’re very sparse; few things happen or are really elaborated on, but I never noticed when I first read the book.  As an adult reader, however, this is a major flaw for me and one of the lines I think that distinguish middle grade books that will appeal mostly to children and ones that can find a wider audience and transcend ages.

The characterization has the same problem.  People become friends or enemies or have big emotions that just…aren’t really explained.  This is a book about a friendship so deep that two girls can feel like sisters, and yet I felt nothing about or for the girls.  For all I could tell, they became friends partially because they were the only two girls around and both were generically nice.

So, I wanted to like this.  A translated middle grade fantasy about friendship and cool magical places with dragons, amusement parks, an ever-changing garden, and more should have been right up my alley, but mostly I thought the book skipped along too fast and very few things made sense.  This is definitely the most disappointing book I’ve read so far in 2020, though I do still think very young readers might like it more than I did.

2 star review

Ghost of a Chance (100 Dresses #2) by Susan Maupin Schmid

Ghost of a Chance


Goodreads: Ghost of a Chance
Series: 100 Dresses #2
Source: Library
Published: July 25, 2017

Official Summary

Inside an enchanted castle, there’s a closet—a closet with one hundred magical dresses that only Darling Dimple can wear.Each one disguises her as somebody else.

It turns out that Darling needs disguises. A thief is on the loose! Someone is causing an uproar among the servants—moving things around, stealing clothes from the laundry, and even pocketing Princess Mariposa’s jewels. Then Darling and her friend Roger think they spot a ghost roaming the halls. Could the culprit be a spirit? Can Darling and Roger get to the bottom of it all? With the help of the one hundred dresses, there just might be a ghost of a chance.


Although Ghost of a Chance doesn’t have quite the same amount of whimsy and charm as the first book in the series, If the Magic Fits: 100 Dresses, I enjoyed continuing to read about the adventures of Darling Dimple, her magical wardrobe of dresses, and the secrets of the castle her ancestors helped build.

This book takes on a more serious tone, as items begin to go missing in the castle, and Darling and her friend Roger believe it may be the work of a ghost.  The rest of the castle isn’t buying it, and things turn sour as servant turns against servant and the princess becomes suspicious of everyone.  It seems as though only Darling’s daring to find the ghost will save the day–except Darling herself is widely out of favor!

I enjoyed watching Darling grow in this installment, taking on more serious responsibilities and digging more into her past.  Many of the secondary characters also receive some strong page time, including the spunky best friend Roger and the mean head servant girl Francesca.  Princess Mariposa drifts in and out of the story a bit oddly, but I think Darling already has a bit of an oddly close relationship with the princess considering she’s a young servant child whose main job is to iron, so perhaps this adds some realism to the book.

I think “cute,” “light,” and “magical” were all good descriptors for the first book, so this darker turn for the series was a bit of a surprise.  I have certainly read much, much darker in middle grade, but I guess I experienced some disappointment from not getting quite what I was expecting in terms of a fun, charming adventure.  I also don’t think Darling used the magical dresses as much as she could have, which, frankly, seems to be a part of the point of a series titled “100 Dresses.”  Basically, this is a strong middle grade fantasy in general, but perhaps a slight letdown as a sequel to If the Magic Fits.  I liked it, and Darling, enough to continue reading the series with some excitement, however.

4 stars Briana

Batgirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

DC Batgirl Superhero Girls


Goodreads: Batgirl at Super Hero High
Series: DC Superhero Girls #3
Source: Library
Published: March 2017

Official Summary

Batgirl has always hidden in the shadows but does she have what it takes to stand in the spotlight at Super Hero High?

Barbara Gordon has always been an off-the-charts, just-forget-about-the-test super-genius and tech whiz, and then she gets the offer of a lifetime when Supergirl recognizes that Barbara s talents make her an ideal candidate for Super Hero High. Donning the cape and cowl, Barbara Gordon becomes Batgirl, ready to train at the most elite school on the planet, next to some of the most powerful teenagers in the galaxy. She s always had the heart of a hero . . . but now she ll have to prove that she can be one. Good thing she loves a challenge!


In this installment in the DC Superhero Girls series, Barbara Gordon—newly minted Batgirl—is invited to enroll at Super Hero High based on her super tech knowledge and her past services to the school as part-time IT help.  Some people aren’t sure that Batgirl qualifies as a superhero (she, technically, doesn’t have actual powers), but Barbara knows being a hero is all about the desire to help people.

I enjoyed this book a bit more than the Supergirl one because—in spite of some very impressive tech skills—Batgirl does come across as sort of an average teenager.  She believes in herself and what she can do, but she has to convince her protective father to accept her decision to train to be a hero.  I think a lot of readers can relate to having disagreements with their parents over what path they should take life, what they should study in school, etc.  Batgirl also relies extensively on her brain, whereas Supergirl’s talents are more in physical strength, and I had some empathy for Batgirl’s struggles in gym class.

Even better, though there is a villain in this novel (I assume that’s a motif in every installment, considering these are superhero books), it was a unique one, and fighting him was in some ways not the main focus.  There’s, as mentioned, Batgirl’s relationship with her father, but also her adjustment to transferring to a new school, as well as scenes with friends and a cool reality show.  It sounds like a lot going on, but it all works really well in the novel to make an original, cohesive story.

My one minor gripe about the book is that it picks up directly where Supergirl’s installment stops, and yet several details do not match up with the preceding novel.  This is most noticeable in Supergirl’s epilogue and Batgirl’s prologue—which ostensibly depict the exact same scene and yet differ on noticeable points like what actions characters take or their dialogue.  A few details in the body of the book are slightly off, as well.  It’s nothing that affects the story, and perhaps readers might not even notice if they did not read the two books back-to-back as I did, yet it seems like something an editor/copyeditor should have caught.

After reading both this book and the Supergirl one, I see a lot of merit in this series and would love to continue reading about some super teenage heroines.

4 stars Briana

Supergirl at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee

DC Supergirl Novel


Goodreads: Supergirl at Superhero High
Series: DC Superhero Girls #2
Source: Library
Published: March 2017

Official Summary

Get your cape on with the DC Super Hero Girls™—the unprecedented new Super Hero universe especially for girls! Readers of all ages can fly high with the all-new adventures of Wonder Woman™, Supergirl™, Batgirl™, and some of the world’s most iconic female super heroes as high schoolers!

Supergirl is the new girl in school—and she just also happens to be the most powerful teenager in the galaxy!

After losing her home planet of Krypton and everyone she knows, Supergirl has made a new home on Earth, but she’s isn’t so sure that Super Hero High School is the right place for her. Wonder Woman, other new friends, and a kindly librarian make her feel welcome, but breached inter-dimensional portals, invading alien armies, and bad dreams shake her confidence. It’s not easy being a super hero and a high school student all at once!


The DC Superhero Girls series is a collaboration between DC and Random House that introduces young readers to some of DC’s most popular superheroines—who are all teenagers attending Super Hero High together!  (You can read Krysta’s review of the first novel, which features multiple protagonists instead of focusing on just one, here.)  Considering I am a fan of both superheroes and middle grade novels that imagine classic characters in school together (such as the Grimmtastic Girls series, featuring fairy tale characters at school), I assumed these books would be right up my alley.  I was not disappointed.

Although Wonder Woman’s novel come before Supergirl’s, I haven’t read it and did not find that to be a problem.  Though the novel references some minor details I assume were introduced previously, the book functions primarily as a standalone.  Even better, Supergirl is entering Super Hero High as a new student in the middle of term—so some of the basics of how the school functions are helpfully explained to both her and the reader.

Supergirl in this series is characterized as friendly and eager to learn, but also nervous about fitting in and incredibly clumsy.  There were some times I felt as those the author were hitting me over the head with Supergirl’s concerns and I kind of wanted to shout, “I get it!  She doesn’t believe in herself!”  Overall, however, I thought she was a realistic character, and I think many readers will be able to relate to her conflict between wanting to excel while worrying she won’t be able to.

Other superheroines round out the cast, and readers get a good sense of their personalities, as well.  The author also sneaks in a few “mean girls,” not a small feat since these characters do all seem to consider themselves heroes and not villains.  (It’s worth noting that boys also attend this school, which was not immediately apparent to me from the marketing.  They also have distinct personalities and do make reappearances, though they tend to be more minor characters than the girls.  There’s also not really any focus on romance.)

I do wish that this series came with some illustrations in the novels.  I do like that all the pages have cool comic book dot designs on the edges, and I understand that these are novels and not graphic novels.  Yet something about superhero-inspired story does seem as if it would lend itself to at least a few sketches at the beginning of chapters, particularly because the author’s descriptions of what certain heroes look like or what they are wearing are often awkward and hard to envision if you are not already familiar with the characters.  I love the cover art and would have been very pleased to see the author do a bit more work for the inside of the books.

A fun read recommended for those who enjoy superheroines or young readers who might be meeting them for the first time.

3 Stars Briana

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Blood Rose RebellionInformation

Goodreads: Blood Rose Rebellion
Series: Blood Rose Rebellion #1
Source: City Book Review
Published: March 28, 2017

Official Summary

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.


Blood Rose Rebellion is generally an engaging book. It’s well-written with strong characters and an engaging plot.  Unfortunately, it reminds me of a lot of other YA fantasy I’ve been reading, and it doesn’t stand out from the crowd.  The marketing team for the book is comparing it to Red Queen, presumably because of the class differences that the book explores; magic is in the bloodlines of the ruling elite.  However, for me the story most brought to mind A Shadow Bright and Burning with its setting in an alternate 1800s Europe and focus on a female protagonist with unusual powers whose destiny may lead her to dispense magic to people to whom the ruling class declares it does not belong.  While both novels are good, reading them side by side does make them blend together, and I wish Blood Rose Rebellion had felt more original to me.

That issue aside, I very much liked the characters in the book, particularly protagonist Anna Arden. She’s passionate and idealistic but sometimes too impetuous for her own good. Her personality makes her a great main character to follow, as she’s always getting into one adventure or another.  I also enjoyed her grandmother, dignified but with a hidden strength, and her cousin who also has a hidden heart of  gold.

On the hand, I do wish the love interest had been more developed.  I know what I’m supposed to think about him–he’s smart, hardworking, and loyal to his family.  However, I felt as though this was often told to me rather than shown, and I didn’t feel a connection between him and Anna.  For me, the romance is not the high point of the story.

The world building is solid, and I felt like I could picture the magic system that Eves has created.  The historical aspects might have been better integrated, however, as I mostly got the general points that Hungary wants to be free from the Habsburgs and that Europe is in a general state of rebellion.  Anna mentions Queen Victoria of England in passing.  Eves does include an author’s note with some more historical details at the end of the book, but I would have liked this information to be included in the actual story.  I also could have done with fewer info dumps.

I think fans of YA fantasy will enjoy Blood Rose Rebellion, but I didn’t really read it at the right time to fall in love with it.


A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

A Shadow Bright and Burning


Goodreads: A Shadow Bright and Burning
Series: Kingdom on Fire #1
Source: City Book Review
Published: September 2016

Official Summary

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?


A Shadow Bright and Burning uses some YA fantasy tropes, but still manages to be a fun and creative read.  Though readers will be introduced to character types they may have seen before–the overly charismatic flirt, the wise teacher, the girl prophesied to change their world–minor twists and tweaks will allow readers to still fall in love with them all. Henrietta herself may be the biggest draw here. Sure, she’s the “chosen one” and a bit of a special snowflake at times, but she also has real flaws and real doubts, which she combats with a spunky attitude and a willingness to work hard to achieve goals.

The plot follows Henrietta as she trains to become a sorcerer, the first female one in ages, and looks forward to a future where she can help her kingdom fight the monsters that have taken over the seas and most of the large towns.  The pacing is occasionally slow, but this often made up for with interesting characters and world-building. There’s a nice Victorian vibe to the book, as well, and the opening scenes in Henrietta’s orphanage may bring to mind echoes of Jane Eyre–if Jane Eyre were in possession of some powerful magic.

Speckled in with the adventure are some serious conversations: the divide between the rich and the poor, the hard decisions the sorcerers must make about which lives to save, and the prejudice facing all magic workers who are not sorcerers.  Henrietta’s world has magic, but it’s not often beautiful. It’s dark and full of secrets.

A Shadow Bright and Burning, overall, is a solid fantasy adventure.  It has a determined protagonist, real danger, and a hint of romance to come in the sequels. YA fantasy fans will probably enjoy this take on magic.

4 stars Briana

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies by Beth Ain

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies


Goodreads: Izzy Kline Has Butterflies
Series: None
Source: Publisher for review
Published: March 7, 2017

Official Summary

Fourth grade is here, and Izzy Kline is nervous! There are plenty of reasons for the butterflies in her stomach to flap their wings. There’s a new girl in her class who might be a new best friend. The whole grade is performing Free to Be . . . You and Me–and Izzy really wants a starring role. And new changes at home are making Izzy feel like her family is falling apart. First-day jitters, new friends, an audition . . . How many butterfly problems can one fourth grader take?


Middle grade verse novels seem to be becoming increasingly popular, and they are a nice way to give impressions—both small and big moments—of an entire academic year in a short space. Personally, I struggled with the fact that this one is written in first person. The voice seems wrong for a fourth grader; I cannot imagine someone who is ten years old sitting down and putting her thoughts into verse of this form, nor can I imagine her making some of the observations she does. Indeed, some of the thoughts seem more like reflections from the older author, realizing in retrospect things about fourth grade she did not entirely understand at the time, than like thoughts springing from the mind of an actual child.

Beyond the voice issue, however, the book is a charming one and covers topics and situations that will be relatable to many young readers. Izzy deals with everything from the divorce of her parents to practicing to audition for a part in a school performance to navigating the tricky waters of friendship. Small milestones are marked: the first day of the new school year, a friend’s birthday party, the day of the performance. Even if readers have not experienced some of these things themselves, they surely know other students who have.

Izzy herself is a wonderfully realistic character. She has many admirable qualities, such as caring about her friends and knowing when to laugh at herself, but she also has some common fears, like not really knowing what the right thing to do is sometimes. While I do think parts of the book sound like they are coming from someone older than Izzy, there are other times Ain gets fourth grade just right; she clearly remembers what it feels like to be a child learning to navigate the world.

The book is framed around Free to Be…You and Me, which is a “children’s entertainment project” (according to Wikipedia) that I had never even heard of. (A reviewer on Goodreads remarked that it was popular in the 1980s.) While familiarity with Free to Be…You and Me is not necessary to understand the novel—I got the gist that it’s supposed to be empowering and the title might be alluding to it—I could not help but wonder if the book would be more powerful if I actually understood the references and connections. I also doubt the target audience for the book will know it, and I do question the decision to center the novel on an allusion many readers will not recognize, as this creates distance between readers and the text. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it is odd.

Overall, however, Izzy Kline Has Butterflies is a relatable yet charming snapshot of Izzy’s year in fourth grade. I don’t think the book has enormous crossover appeal for adults, but I do believe it will be a hit with its target audience of young readers. It could also be a great discussion starter about poetry, since verse tends to be prevalent in picture books but peters away with middle grade.

4 starsBriana

Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

Poison's KissInformation

Goodreads: Poison’s Kiss
Series: Poison’s Kiss #1
Source: For Review
Published: January 10, 2017

Official Summary

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It’s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya, a poison maiden, is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.


I was intrigued by the concept of Poison’s Kiss, the idea that a girl could be an assassin who kills with a single brush of her lips.  Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting a hardcore assassin or an epic story, but rather one that incorporated some minor assassinating with lot of romance, and that’s pretty much what I got.  I think it’s a stretch to compare this to bestselling books like those of Sarah J. Maas (though the publisher goes for the comparison with gusto), but it’s a solid YA fantasy and a fun read.

The plot follows Marinda as she begins to question her role as a royal assassin–only after she’s instructed to kill a boy she likes, of course.  This seems like a pretty cliche YA move, but I think it’s a nice point in that it shows Marinda questions the motives of her employer when she knows the victim and cannot imagine someone so seemingly good is deserving of murder.

Frankly, the love is instalove.  I think both characters have really compelling qualities on their own, but their romance could have a lot more build up.  They go from thinking “Oh, he seems like a nice guy/girl” to head-over-heels in love so quickly that I didn’t feel invested in the romance at all.  The relationships between Marinda and her brother and Marinda and her friend/coworker are much more complex.  In fact, Marinda’s relationship with literally everyone else she knows in the book is more convincing and realistic.

The plot in general is well-paced and exciting. It took a couple of turns I genuinely did not see coming, which I always appreciate in a novel.  I also thought the end sets up the story perfectly for a sequel.  Readers get enough closure from book one to feel as though they’ve read a full story, not the first third of one, but the action leads readers right into expecting epic things from book two.

Poison’s Kiss isn’t necessarily my favorite read of 2017, but it’s entertaining, and I like the Indian-inspired setting.

3 stars Briana