Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins (The Sweet Trilogy #4)

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“Sweet Temptation” by Wendy Higgins

5 out of 5 stars.

Having everything at your fingertips can be fun. Being able to party, take what he wants without consequences, and a dad rich enough to change the rules when he breaks them makes it seem as if rich, bad boy Kaidan Rowe has it all. But appearances in the world can be deceiving, especially when you’re the son of a fallen angel.

Kaidan’s purpose as a Nephilim is to darken the world by making mankind give into temptation, and Kaidan has never been bother by his “job” too much. Sure, he has experienced momentary guilt, but that is a feeling that has to be stamped out and ignored, because to survive in his world, you have to be willing break people and cause them stumble, otherwise a Duke with come for the disobedient Nephilim. Kaidan’s fear of death has always been stronger than his desire to do good, so he has chosen to survive in the only way he knew how. But that all changes when he meets Anna Whitt.

Kaidan has always known his place in the Neph world, but after meeting Anna, something within him begins to shift. Getting to know her and choosing to help her discover why she is different from him and the other Neph begins to matter more to Kaidan than obeying his awful father, and through knowing her, Kaidan realizes that he wants to do more than just survive his life sentence. But after eighteen years spent doing wrong and hurting people, Kaidan wonders if someone as broken as he is can hope to have a better future?

I had heard great things about Wendy Heggins’s “Sweet Trilogy” from my sister, as well as other readers and bloggers, and last fall, just after the release of  “Sweet Temptation,” I had been experiencing a dry spell in reading material and had decided to pick up the first book in Wendy’s trilogy, “Sweet Evil.” After reading and enjoying the first book, I kept going with this trilogy and ended up discovering that “Sweet Temptation,” a companion novel to the “Sweet Trilogy,” was my favorite of the four books.

 The first three books of the “Sweet Series” were pretty good, especially “Sweet Peril,” and I had loved Anna as a heroine because of her sweetness and dedication to doing what was right in the face of great obstacles. Anna was a wonderful protagonist and I enjoyed her perspective a lot, but there was just something about reading from Kaidan’s point of view that really rounded out this entire trilogy for me. Three books were crammed into just “Sweet Temptation,” and it filled in the parts of this the “Sweet Trilogy” where Kai was absent, as well as some other really key scenes, which could have ended up being too much for one novel. But while reading this book, I never felt like it was rushed, or as if random things were put into it to link up with the other books; “Sweet Temptation” actually felt like it was more rounded out and far more complete than “Sweet Reckoning,” which I personally thought read like it was rushed. While reading “Sweet Evil” and “Sweet Peril,” I always wanted to know where Kaidan really stood, what he was thinking and doing during important moments in Wendy’s series, but I could only get so much from Anna point of view. I wanted to understand Kai for myself, instead of through Anna’s perception of him, and with Sweet Temptation,” I got that and so much more. I loved how this book made the rest of the series come together and feel more whole and complete, and as great as Anna was, Kai’s perspective was a hundred times better!

Kaidan Rowe…

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Yeah, I kind of loved reading this boy’s perspective, and I thought that Wendy Higgins did such a good job of writing this complex and dynamic character. I feel that sometimes certain authors lose the feeling and connection formed between a reader and a beloved character when they write from a different character’s perspective, and it’s an awful feeling when a voice switches and the character who you knew so well feels like an entirely different person. Wendy, however, did a fabulous job of taking the Kaidan I knew from the first three books through Anna’s eyes and giving him his own voice. Kai still seemed like Kai, and I felt like I got the chance to not only grow to love this character even more than I already did, but to also understand him so much better.

I loved and hated seeing Kai struggle and suffer as a Nephilim. I hated seeing little pieces of his soul be chipped away due to his “inheritance” as a Neph, but I loved the opportunity to understand and uncover who this boy was firsthand; it was heartbreaking and sad to read, but I loved seeing him and the environment he was raised in, because it helped me to understand why he responded the way he did in certain situations. Kaidan was broken when Anna first met him, and he hated himself and the life that he lived, despite the persona he had shaped for himself. He acted like a bad boy and was wicked on occasion, but he had a good heart and just needed someone to show him that there was a way out of that kind of life, and seeing Anna do that for him from Kai’s perspective made this trilogy even better.

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Besides just loving “Sweet Temptation” because I could see and feel what Kai went through during the “Sweet Trilogy,” this book also made me like Anna and Kai’s relationship all the more.

Yes, Anna and Kai’s romance was definitely swoony in the previous books, but I loved them together even more after reading “Sweet Temptation” because I could see through Kai’s eyes how much he loved Anna, and how hard he fought to protect her and tried to change to be worthy of her. Obviously Anna loved Kaidan long before he ever started to turn his life around, but seeing him fighting against all that he had ever known and struggling with how ashamed he felt because of his history…well, it made my heart hurt for him.

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Kai was very good at being a Duke’s son, and for a while he liked being wicked, but underneath all of that was a thick layer of guilt and self-hatred, which always seemed to eat at him. Throughout this trilogy, he struggled with the actions of his past, and in “Sweet Temptation” it was painfully evident how much he regretted most of the things in his life. This book was fairly heavy and gritty because it dealt with a ton of different issues that plague the world like addiction and human trafficking, but I appreciated the fast that Wendy Higgins did not sugar coat the topics that were in this book. I loved that Wendy wrote such an amazing story of overcoming for her characters, and it was wonderful to see firsthand the growth that Kai experienced over the course of the “Sweet” books, how he eventually conquered his fears and addictions and helped Anna stay strong, too. Kai’s story was beautiful, amazing, and heart wrenching, and I loved seeing and experiencing his journey through his eyes. Oh, gosh, and the epilogue of the “Sweet Trilogy” from Kai’s perspective was SO beautiful that I might have cried.

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I loved how amazingly well paced “Sweet Temptation” felt despite how condensed it was, and if you’ve read the other books in Wend Higgins’s “Sweet Trilogy” and enjoyed them, then heartily recommend “Sweet Temptation” to you. Kaidan’s perspective, although much darker than Anna’s, was amazing to read from because it helped to round out this entire series and made me understand and love Kaidan even more as a character. Without a doubt, Kai’s book was by far my favorite “Sweet” book, and I can’t wait to see what Wendy Higgins writes next!

ARC Giveaway of: Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

Giveaway time! If you are interested in time-travel and/or historical fiction, this ARC of Janet B. Taylor’s “Into the Dim” could be a great read for you! Check out the rules before you enter, and then follow the link below to the rafflcopter form that is open to you. Good luck!

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Goodreads summary:

“When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.”

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/f96c41f53/

Conditions/Rules:

One winner will receive an ARC of “Into the Dim.” I will double check all of the winner’s entries, so no cheating, please! Once I have confirmed the winner that rafflecopter choses, I will give them 48hrs from when I contact them to email/direct message me their shipping info. If they do not return my message within that time, I will have to choose a different winner. Once I have shipped the prize, I will safely destroy all personal info of the winner, which will only used to address their prize.
*Once I send out the prize, I am no longer responsible for any lost or damages items. Also, please keep in mind that the ARC cover of “Into the Dim” is not the same as the cover it is being published with, which is pictured above.*

United States residents only.
Starts: February 26, 2016.
Ends: March 26, 2016

 

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor (Into the Dim #1)

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“Into the Dim” by Janet B. Taylor

Publishing house: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release date: March 1st, 2016

Quality of writing: 4 out of 5 stars.

How much I enjoyed it: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing. Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.”

Thank you, HMH publishing, for sending me a review ARC of “Into the Dim.” In no way has influenced my review.

I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable “Into the Dim” ended up being! It took me a while to get adjusted to Janet B. Taylor’s writing style and her heroine’s voice, but one I did, I started to feel more immersed in the historical and time-travel elements that were in “Into the Dim,” and that made reading this book quite fun. Janet is a very good writer, and I enjoyed the “science” of her time-travel in this book, which felt very similar to the style of time-travel in “Timeline” the movie. I adored that film growing up, so the similarities between it and “Into the Dim”definitely endeared this book to me more than anything else in it. Despite being partial to its “Timeline” vibes, I did find some of the characters in “Into the Dim” to be quite likable.

Hope turned out to be a pretty good character. At first, I felt a bit disconnected from the writing style and this character’s voice, but after about a hundred pages, I realized that Janet B. Taylor’s book was going to be a much younger feeling YA novel than was advertised online. “Into the Dim” was marketed as 14 and up, which made me go into reading this book with the expectation that it was going to be far darker and more gritty than it actual ended up being. Once I got into my head that the female character was supposed to feel quite young and that this book seemed to have been written with a younger audience in mind, then I was able to enjoy this character’s perspective and the rest of “Into the Dim” a lot more.

Like I said before, Hope felt like a very young heroine, which was appropriate since she was only sixteen in this book. I have gotten so used to reading protagonists who were sixteen- to nineteen-years-old, but who felt like mature adults, that it was slightly off-putting at first to read a book about a heroine with such a young voice, but once I got used to Hope feeling so young, I was okay with how young she and everyone in this book seemed. In most cases, I prefer more mature protagonists, but I did like that Hope’s young voice left a lot of opportunity for her character to grow and mature over the course of this book, which I liked. I don’t really think that a week and a half is long enough to drastically change and mature an individual, but I still appreciated that Hope and the other characters in “Into the Dim” experienced some personal growth during their journey through time. Although Hope was a pretty good character, I was slightly unsettled by Hope’s infatuation with Bran Cameron.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Bran in “Into the Dim,” especially since he reminded me a wee bit of Zach Goode from the “Gallagher Girls” series by Ally Carter, but I personally did not buy into Hope’s insta-affection towards Bran Cameron. I liked Bran and thought that he was an interesting and slightly mysterious character, and I did not mind his side of the romance in this book, but even after having finished “Into the Dim,” I am still a little unsettled by Hope’s half of the romantic relationship in this book.

Despite my not-so-fond feelings towards Hope and Bran’s romance, I thought that Janet B. Taylor did a good job of writing a pretty likable heroine and an interesting lead male character, but I think that my favorite part of this book, other than it’s “Timeline” vibes, ended up being the secondary characters. Phoebe, Doug, Collum, Bran, and the adults in this story made it endearing and likable, and at times it felt as if they were more dynamic than Hope, even though she was the protagonist. Oh, and William Lucie and Rachel were adorable together! I really wanted to get to know Janet’s secondary characters better, so I am hoping that she will choose to focus more on them in second book of her “Into the Dim” series.

Overall, I enjoyed reading “Into the Dim.” Janet B. Taylor’s book was well-written and fast paced, but there were also times when it felt a little too rushed, and I found myself wishing for a bit more layering of the historical aspects. All of the historical facts in “Into the Dim” were well-researched and interesting, I just wish that there had been a bit more of them threaded throughout this book in order to make the era that Hope had traveled back to come alive for me as a reader. Other than wishing for a bit more from the setting and historical elements, I enjoyed “Into the Dim,” and I think that it would be a good read for mature middle school aged kids and younger teens.

The Sweet Trilogy by Wendy Higgins (Sweet Trilogy #1-3)

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“Sweet Evil”–4 out of 5 stars. “Sweet Peril”–4 out of 5 stars. “Sweet Reckoning”–3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Anna Whitt is a good girl to the core. She’s responsible, a good student, respectful, and a great friend. Addictions to substances, however, have always been a struggle for her, and resisting their dark lure has not been easy to resist all these years.

Despite the fact that dark desires aren’t uncommon among the human population, being able to see other peoples’ guardian angels and their emotional auras is definitely a little out of the scope of an average teenagers abilities, and ever since she was a little girl, Anna has known that “different” was just a small part of who she is. Anna’s adoptive mother has always been there for her, helping her when she struggled with her unique gifts, but despite her mother’s dedication, Anna has always felt that there was something more to who she was than just being special.

Years of wondering what had made her able to know and see things that others couldn’t come to an end when a very attractive and very bad drummer named Kaidan Rowe swaggers into her life, giving her the answer, as unexpected as it is, that she has been seeking for: she is a Nephilim. Anna now knows what she is, but there is so much more to who she is, and even Kaidan is stumped as to why this seemingly unsuspecting teenage girl is so different from the other Nephilim he knows. With a change in heart, Kai begins to help Anna in her search for answers to questions as old as time, and the more times he spends with her, the more Kai wonders if there is something more to life than just surviving it.

During their journey to discovering how to take down the Dukes and stop their reign of destruction on the earth, Kaidan, Anna, and their friends find that there is always hope even in the darkest hours of their lives. And with that hope, they rediscover who they are and that second chances do exist. But facing up against the Dukes in their most dangerous encounter yet, Anna and Kai’s group of reformed Nephilim wonder if they will live to see that second chance…

Last September I was low on books and school was a bit stressful, so upon the suggestion of my older sister, I borrowed her copies of Wendy Higgins’s “The Sweet Trilogy” to take a breather and walk away from the work and anxiety of college for a little bit. I had expected to enjoy Wendy’s books, but dang, they were really interesting and fun to read, and I ended up loving this trilogy and the characters in it!

Anna had a really sweet and good voice, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective. I hate it when sometimes I’m reading a book and I love the style of writing, the secondary characters, and the plot, but I don’t care for the protagonist’s voice, which ends up stopping me from loving the book. Those are the times when I beg for third person rather than first person perspectives, but I was so happy while reading the “The Sweet Trilogy,” because Anna was such a kind person with a pleasant voice that endeared her and these books to me. It was refreshing to have a female character who wasn’t overly wild or rebellious, and I appreciated that fact because it made Wendy’s books stand out from the other paranormal and contemporary novels that have flooded the YA market the past few years. I also loved seeing Anna go from a sophomore in high school to being college age, and it was great seeing her growth as an individual and determination to do what was right in the face of great obstacles. Anna was the kind person who lived by the motto “kill them with kindness,” and it was nice to have a character female who was strong, as well as kind and compassionate towards others. And in the tradition of most great stories, the bad ass heroine had an equally amazing hero to stand by her side.

I fell for Kaidan Rowe. Wendy Higgins did such a great job of writing this character, how the awful world he’d lived in had shaped him into a person who could be very, very bad, but who also had immense depth and potential to do good. Anna was the one person who came into his life and expected nothing of him, and she gave him the tool he needed to turn his life around: love. I liked him in “Sweet Evil” a lot, but it was “Sweet Peril” that made me really love both Kaidan and Anna as individuals, as well as a couple.

“Sweet Peril” was the book where I got to see how much both of them had changed and how they had become stronger because of the things they went through, and I loved their unwavering determination to keep traveling down a better path for themselves. Kaidan  made my heart hurt throughout this trilogy, because for most of it, he was prone to pushing away the people he loved due to the environment that he had been born into and the life he had lived. Whenever Kaidan had a moment of revealing his heart, Wendy did such an amazing job of writing a character who had not let anyone get close to him in a long time and was just beginning to feel again. It was surprisingly emotional to read about, and I may or may not have been drowning in my own feels during the moments when the walls that Kai had built around his heart started to crumble.

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I adored Kaidan, and I think that his journey was really beautiful.

Another thing that I loved about this trilogy was that, although its characters were amazing and interesting, they weren’t the only things that kept me reading these books. I really appreciated the fact that I enjoyed a little bit of everything that made up the “Sweet” books, including the dynamic that Wendy Higgins’s paranormal/supernatural aspects created. I found Wendy’s take on the Nephilim to be quite interesting, and I felt like she did a good job of laying it out well for her readers, which added a lot to the story this trilogy tells.

I guess at times you could say that Wendy Higgins’s books were pretty content heavy because of the issues presented in them, but I didn’t necessarily find these books overly heavy or despairing due to how well Wendy dealt with different situations. The various Dukes and their children represented the deadly, and not-so-deadly, sins that we all know exist in the world; this trilogy was brutal at times because the children of the Dukes all struggled with a specific vice more than the humans, and they had to take that predisposed sin and perfect it to use against mankind. Anna’s proverbial thorn in the flesh was substance abuse and Kaidan’s was lust, and they both struggled and fought to overcome their issues while not being murdered by the Dukes for failing to fulfill their “purpose” as Nephilim. It was interesting, as well as heartbreaking, to watch Anna and Kai’s journey, and I really appreciated that Wendy did not shy away from or attempt to sugar coat the heavy issues within her books. Wendy Higgins dealt with the issues her characters encountered and participated in really well, and she did not pass over them as if they, in some forms, were acceptable. Despite how heavy some of the content was, I never felt like Wendy Higgins’s books got gross or seedy, because at no point did she ever hail the destructive tendencies, nor she did not dwell on them more than was necessary to make me as a reader understand what was going on.

Anna’s struggle with addiction felt real the way Wendy wrote it, and her learning to overcome her addictions and fears made for a very compelling story. During these books, Anna had to pretend that she was serving her purpose as a Nephilim, influencing humans to give into their addictions in order to keep the Dukes from discovering that she had her own plans concerning the Dukes’ children. Despite participating in that kind of dark life, Anna was strong enough to be true to herself and to not give into things just because it was  easier than fighting against her own addictions. I admired Anna and thought that her evolution in this series was really great. I really enjoyed this trilogy as a whole, and I loved watching Anna and Kaidan grow individually and as a couple, but I definitely played the favorite card with two of the books in Wendy’s series.

“Sweet Evil” was a great start to Wendy’s “The Sweet Trilogy,” but my favorite of the first three books was definitely “Sweet Peril.” I loved seeing how Anna began to change and grow as a person, and it was admirable how she stepped up to the plate in order to stop the Dukes from terrorizing her Nephilim friends and her family. As much as it hurt me as a reader, I also really liked that Kai and Anna were apart for a little while between the end of “Sweet Evil” and for most of “Sweet Peril.” I liked that there was a fair amount of distance between them geographically and emotionally because it gave them the chance to grow as individuals, so that when they got back together, they were stronger than before due to what they had endured while apart. Another reason why I really loved “Sweet Peril” was that there were a lot more interactions between the secondary characters like Ginger, Marna, Anna’s mom, Jay, and a couple of other Nephilim in it, and all of them added a lot to the story.

I ended up caring a lot about the character that Wendy Higgins had written in “The Sweet Trilogy,” and their journey together in these books was heart-wrenching at times, but it also beautiful. I loved how this trilogy managed to be extremely entertaining while still being full of emotional and spiritual depth, and I thought that Wendy did a great job of showing the grittiness of the darkness that is in the world and balancing it with the power and truth that love and hope possess. I would not recommend the “The Sweet Trilogy” to people looking for a light read, but I think that if you’re up for a trying and emotional journey and you like books about angels, then Wendy’s trilogy could be a great read for you.

P.S. Keep your eyes out for a separate review of “Sweet Temptation,” which is a companion novel to the “The Sweet Trilogy” that is from Kai’s perspective. It is also my favorite of the “Sweet” books.

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C. Stevens

The Lies About Truth by Courtney C Stevens

“The Lies About Truth” by Courtney C. Stevens

Publishing House: HarperTeen

Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Quality of Writing: 4 out of 5 stars.

How much I enjoyed it: 3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“Sadie Kingston, is a girl living in the aftermath. A year after surviving a car accident that killed her friend Trent and left her body and face scarred, she can’t move forward. The only person who seems to understand her is Trent’s brother, Max.

As Sadie begins to fall for Max, she’s unsure if she is truly healed enough to be with him — even if Max is able to look at her scars and not shy away. But when the truth about the accident and subsequent events comes to light, Sadie has to decide if she can embrace the future or if she’ll always be trapped in the past.”

Thank you, HarperTeen, for hosting the giveaway on goodreads and for sending me an ARC of this book. In no way has this influenced my review.

“The Lies About Truth” was a pretty good contemporary book. It had a lot of depth to it because of the issues that Courtney C. Stevens dealt with, and I thought that the character were well-written. I can see why people like “The Lies About Truth,” because it was a very good book, but it just did not click for me.

There are a lot of moments in my life when I wonder what’s wrong with me and why I don’t like something that seems, from all appearances, so good? I felt that way about this book because, even though it was well-written and had a great, emotional story, I just did not connect with the characters or the story. I could appreciate it and the journey that the heroine and her friends went on, but I did not fall in love with the heart of the story. I feel like whenever I read a novel by Katie McGarry, I am completely emotionally invested in the story she tells and the characters she writes; her books capture my heart, and that’s all there is too it. Sadly, I didn’t get that feeling of being emotionally drawn into the story or invested in the characters, despite their tumultuous circumstances and really wanting to connect with them. “The Lies About Truth” had a great story and well-developed characters for the genre, but for some odd and frustrating reason, I could not get into Sadie’s story.

Sadie was a great contemporary fiction heroine; she had secrets and had been through a lot, but she was not the kind of female character who grated on my nerves because of her more depressive inner thoughts. I was okay with her perspective because it was understandable considering what she had been through, and I did honestly want to see her break free of her fears and past hurts. I also thought that the emails between Max and her were very cute, and I liked that the two of them, who had been the most effected by the crash, were able to lean on one another and accept each other when they needed it most. I thought that Courtney Stevens did a good job of writing Sadie and the journey to self-acceptance that her character experience; it really was a lovely evolution, even though I did not feel super invested in this book.

Maxwell was also a good character, and the relationship that existed between him and Sadie because of the crash that took his brother’s life. One of the things that I loved seeing about both him and Sadie was how they accepted the “new” versions of each other, and where others might have seen flaws, they just saw a friend and someone who could understood them. I think that most people can relate, in one way or another, to the feeling that comes with finding a person who may or may not know every thought in your head, but they still understand you. While reading “The Lies About Truth,” I felt like Max and Sadie had that, which warmed my heart towards this book’s story and characters a bit more; I still didn’t feel attached or all that invested in the story, but I definitely appreciated that aspect of the it.

Overall, I thought that “The Lies About Truth” was a very good contemporary read. It was mature but clean, and I thought that Courtney C. Stevens handled the issues of self-image and self-acceptance quite well, despite not being that attached to her characters. This book was a bit predictable at times because the issues it dealt with are so commonly used now in young adult fiction, but isn’t that why we read certain contemporary novels, because we know how it will go and that it will end happily? “The Lies About Truth” was a good book, even though it was not necessarily my favorite contemporary story.