Going Down in Flames (Going Down in Flames #1)
Published: 30th June, 2014
If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.
Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.
Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.
Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.
At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can’t have.
What I liked: I liked how the personalities of each of the dragons depending on their clan showed who they are, and it’s so very interesting to see how things work on the surface of the dragon-shifter community. Besides that though, there is a ton of snark and funny moments in this book and it’s a light read because of that. The snark starts early on in the book, and Bryn’s dad had a few funny moments himself, but the friends that Bryn makes at the school are snarky in their own way so I at least chuckled most of the way through this book, which I’m glad for because it made for a fun read. The “revolution” sort of aspect that the summary implies with the “change the rules” doesn’t really even come close to happening and I was completely okay with that because so much else was going on that I was completely entertained by this book. Zavien though, I’m a bit suspicious about this guy because he seems too “perfect” in a way even though he keeps himself at an arms length from Bryn. Bryn’s also a girl who loves to eat food, and so we see her eat lots of food over the book and it has a relevant impact on the story later on, multiple relevant impacts I suppose. The descriptions of what it was like to be a dragon-shifter and what life was like was incredibly well done, especially with how Bryn deals with stress. The abilities that dragons have also makes for some really interesting things that happen.
What I didn’t like: There were just so many love interest for Bryn, and while I get that it could be normal, after a while one of them just seems to become completely irrelevant simply because she doesn’t feel comfortable dating him since he already has a marriage contract that was permitted by the Directorate. I just didn’t see why there needed to be so many people interested in her, but since that does happen to some people I do understand how it could. It just seemed a bit much to me really.
Overall Review: I think the way the dragons clans were done was (while not original for me) well put together and the way the dragons lived was different from what I was expecting. There were a few surprises, some that were good but not all, and there were moments I questioned not just the characters around Bryn but the way Bryn acted and how she handled things herself. I wish she could have had a closer connection with her human best friend that we met in the beginning, because that friend just didn’t matter after a while and I get that she felt that they really didn’t have much to talk about but even then there should have been something that happened that let her stay connected with her friend.
Recommend?: Yes definitely! This is a very good book that is both humorous and serious, I can not wait to read the second one!
My Rating: 4.5/5
Bridges Burned (Going Down in Flames #1)
Published: 19th January, 2015
Don’t just fight the system…burn it.
Since discovering she is a shape-shifting, fire-breathing dragon on her sixteenth birthday (surprise!), Bryn McKenna’s world has been thrown into chaos. Being a “crossbreed”—part Red dragon and part Blue—means Bryn will never fit in. Not with dragon society. Not with the archaic and controlling Directorate. And definitely not when she has striped hair and a not-so-popular affection for rule-breaking…
But sneaking around with her secret boyfriend, Zavien, gets a whole lot harder when he’s betrothed to someone else. Someone who isn’t a mixed breed and totally forbidden. And for an added complication, it turns out Bryn’s former archnemesis Jaxon Westgate isn’t quite the evil asshat she thought. Now she’s caught between her desire to fit in and a need to set things on fire. Literally.
Because if Bryn can’t adapt to the status quo…well, then maybe it’s time for her to change it.
What I liked: This book has honest and sometimes heartwrenching truth about how the Directorate really seems to function now that Bryn has her grandparents. Bryn is learning more and more about how Blues really are in dragon society and about how everything fits together on the surface. I adored Jaxon’s mom, Lillith. While just as over the top about things like in the first book, she’s a character who I really enjoyed. Bryn’s grandmother, Marie, was also a character I loved. While a bit more strict than Lillith, Marie wasn’t above sometimes encouraging Bryn to be who she is or for standing up for herself. Marie does have certain expectations for Bryn though since Bryn is a Blue through heritage and is a Sinclair, a very well respected and very powerful family of Blues. There’s also a big reveal near the end about the people who keep attacking and quite possibly why the attacks keep happening. It was rather unexpected but at the same time you expected it to happen, since it makes sense that this would be the thing we learn.
What I didn’t like: The death of her parents just seemed, very odd. While the emotional reaction from Bryn and others who knew them (especially Bryn’s grandmother), I just felt that it was…too well placed and convenient to happen. It makes me suspicious about the whole thing. There was a lot less snark going on in this book too, but with everything falling apart (sometimes literally), it’s to be expected. Thankfully, the banter between Jaxon and Bryn was, while tampered down to be a bit more polite usually, still there. Bryn and Valmont’s relationship left me a bit confused as well because I can’t really decide if the way Valmont is a product of being her knight or what, because if it’s the bond it’s a little weird for it to emerge that way. Actually, very weird.
Overall Review: This book brings to light the (potentially) destructive mindset of the Blues and the Directorate because of how set in their ways they are and how casually they take the things they do and see as normal. Bryn sees it from an outside perspective, and in several places she calls others out about it. Zavien plays a role in the beginning but I’m more aware of how he sees Bryn now than I was in the first book. Plenty of this book takes places with Bryn at her grandparents house so there’s a lot of getting to know her grandmother since Bryn spends most of her time with her. I loved most of the characters, still dislike a few who haven’t changed since book one (just one but if you read the first book you could guess who I’m talking about here), and I’m super excited to see what’s in store next for Bryn as we learn more about the world she’s been dropped into! Hopefully there will be some more snark next time like there was in book one.
Recommend?: Yes definitely! A very enjoyable read, I can’t wait for the third book to come out!
My Rating: 4.4/5
About the Author
I love reading and writing snarky, kick-butt characters who take on the world and win.
My truths: You can never have too many books, shoes, or purses.
Coffee is the Elixir of Life.
There should be a National Nerf Bat Day where you are allowed to whack annoying people upside the head.