Book Review: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd

Book Review: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) by Megan ShepherdHer Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Series: The Madman's Daughter #2
Published by Balzer & Bray on January 28, 2014
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Horror, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Goodreads
3 Stars
To defeat the darkness, she must first embrace it.

Months have passed since Juliet Moreau returned to civilization after escaping her father's island—and the secrets she left behind. Now, back in London once more, she is rebuilding the life she once knew and trying to forget Dr. Moreau’s horrific legacy—though someone, or something, hasn’t forgotten her.

As people close to Juliet fall victim one by one to a murderer who leaves a macabre calling card of three clawlike slashes, Juliet fears one of her father’s creations may have also escaped the island. She is determined to find the killer before Scotland Yard does, though it means awakening sides of herself she had thought long banished, and facing loves from her past she never expected to see again.

As Juliet strives to stop a killer while searching for a serum to cure her own worsening illness, she finds herself once more in the midst of a world of scandal and danger. Her heart torn in two, past bubbling to the surface, life threatened by an obsessive killer—Juliet will be lucky to escape alive.

With inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this is a tantalizing mystery about the hidden natures of those we love and how far we’ll go to save them from themselves.

Book Review:

Inspired by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, HER DARK CURIOSITY is the second book in the Madman’s Daughter trilogy. Picking up months after the end of THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER, Juliet has escaped her father’s island, and is now living in London, the ward of one of her father’s old friends. But life isn’t peachy, as she’s still struggling with her illness and having trouble fitting into “respectable” life. Juliet is also missing Montgomery, one of the boys she loved.

One of the few things that bugged me in THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER was the love triangle between Juliet, Montgomery, and Edward. Unfortunately, that love triangle is back in HER DARK CURIOSITY. Although Juliet thought Edward was dead at the end of book one, he actually survived, and follows her to London. Montgomery eventually shows up too, hunting Edward, as his Beast side is slowly taking over his human side. I didn’t mind what she did with them, but I didn’t get behind her flipping between them. Meh. I’m just not a fan of love triangles.

Otherwise, I liked HER DARK CURIOSITY. When I started the book, I got halfway through it before I realized it. It’s very easy to sink into this book and keep flipping the pages. My favorite parts where whenever Juliet’s thoughts went into a dark direction, such as when she asked Edward what it was like to be the Beast. The title of this book really fits, as Juliet does a lot of thinking about her father’s experiments, wondering if he was right or wrong to try and create human life from animals. There’s a part near the end where Juliet does something very dark, and I liked that the author went there.

The book does end on a cliffhanger (boo!), so I am looking forward to the end of the trilogy to see how everything wraps up with Juliet and the rest of the characters.

Let’s talk about it:

What do you think of love triangles?

Socialize with the author:

Megan Sheperd:
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– leeanna

Book Review: Pretty When They Collide (Pretty When She Dies #0.5) by Rhiannon Frater

Book Review: Pretty When They Collide (Pretty When She Dies #0.5) by Rhiannon FraterPretty When They Collide by Rhiannon Frater
Series: Pretty When She Does #0.5
Published by Self-Published on March 13, 2013
Genres: Horror, LGBT, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 145
Format: eBook
Source: Own
Goodreads
4 Stars
An exciting new novella set in the world of Pretty When She Dies...

Cassandra is a dhamphir-the offspring of a vampire and mortal woman-and a thief of occult relics.

Aimee is a full-blood witch that is bound to a powerful vampire who traffics in the slavery of supernatural beings.

Both are powerful, lonely, and trapped in the dangerous world of the vampires.

When Cassandra steals a relic from Aimee’s vampire master, he targets her as his next acquisition. What he doesn’t realize is that a chance encounter between Cassandra and Aimee ignited a spark between them that they cannot deny.

To survive, the women must find a way to band together and fight against the ruthless evil that conspires to enslave them forever.

Book Review:

PRETTY WHEN THEY COLLIDE is a novella in the Pretty When She Kills universe, focusing on Cassandra and Aimee. I sped through it, and hope their story continues!

Having not read any of the main books in the series, I was a little worried I’d be lost or confused. I wasn’t, so I’d say PRETTY WHEN THEY COLLIDE would be a good introduction to the universe. There’s enough background to get your bearings, but not so much that the book is full of info dumps.

Cassandra is a dhampir, half-human and half-vampire, and Aimee is a full-blood witch. Cassandra is a kick ass thief, and Aimee is bound to a nasty vampire. Once they meet, sparks fly — literally. Aimee’s magic responds to Cassandra, which is something that’s never happened before. Before long, Aimee wonders if Cassandra is her way to be free of her vampire master, and Cassandra can’t resist helping out a damsel in distress.

The relationship between Cassandra and Aimee is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to read this book. I can think of very few f/f (lesbian) relationships in urban fantasy/paranormal romance. They’re rarer than were-unicorns. I was cheering for them to get together, and although I knew it would happen, I still enjoyed reading the progress of their relationship. I was sad when the novella ended and I had to say goodbye to them.

Aside from the relationship between Cassandra and Aimee, I want to mention the horror aspect of this novella. It’s not disgusting, full of gore and guts, but psychological, stomach-twisting horror. Frank, Aimee’s vampire master, is a real … douchebag. Yeah, I can’t believe I’m using that word in a review, but he is. Let’s add in creepy and sadistic, and you have a worthy villain for Cassandra.

Socialize with the author:

Rhiannon Frater:
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– leeanna

Book Review: The End Games by T. Michael Martin

Book Review: The End Games by T. Michael MartinThe End Games by T. Michael Martin
Published by HarperCollins on May 7, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Horror, Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult
Pages: 369
Format: ARC
Source: Amazon Vine
Goodreads
3 Stars
It happened on Halloween.

The world ended.

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

My Review:
I’m kind of torn on THE END GAMES. I’m having a difficult time figuring out just what I want to say about it. It was one of those books I just liked — I didn’t love or hate it. I enjoyed it while reading, but afterwards, it was forgettable. But even though THE END GAMES didn’t stand out for me after finishing, I would still recommend the book for a few reasons.

The first reason is Michael, the main character. He talks and acts like a real guy. If you’ve read young adult books, you’ll know that male protagonists are hard to find. Michael is a video game nerd, much more comfortable playing a FPS (first person shooter) than interacting with other people. He’s also super protective of his younger brother, Patrick, and the close relationship between them was great to see. In a world that has changed, Michael does everything he can to protect Patrick, and to get them both to the Safe Zone.

The second reason is that the video game twist is refreshing. As somewhat of a gamer geek myself, I loved how the author sprinkled game references and lingo throughout the book. A lot of times when writers try to sound like teens, they fail, but in this case, the author nailed it. I was nodding right along every time Michael called someone a “newb,” or tried to emulate a sniper in a video game to get through a tough situation. That said, the writing style may take some time to get used to. Don’t give up.

For the first quarter or so of the book, I couldn’t turn the pages quickly enough. Michael and Patrick are on the run from the Bellows, aka zombies. They score points for killing Bellows, finding supplies, and progressing towards the Safe Zone. They’ve been on their own for twenty days, surviving in a zombie-infested world.

But once Michael and Patrick find other survivors, THE END GAMES started to go downhill for me. I think it was due to the pacing. Even though Michael and Patrick were on the run for their lives, I actually never felt like either of them would die or that they were in danger. So the constant action wore on me. The book slowed to a crawl by the middle, and I kept wanting to flip ahead to see if anything was going to happen. The premise of the book changed; it became less about the game, and more about other things, which I’m not going to spoil for you.

THE END GAMES is a standalone novel, which is awesome considering how many young adult books are part of a series. However, because I was disappointed with the ending — I thought it was too open and I wanted more of a conclusion — this is a time when I wanted another book.

Readers that have already consumed a lot of zombie books might be bored by THE END GAMES, but maybe not. The video game twist does keep it new, and as the book progresses, it becomes less about the zombies and more about Michael and Patrick.

For me, THE END GAMES was almost over 9000, but not quite.

Let’s talk about it:
What’s your opinion on zombies?

Socialize with the author:
T. Michael Martin:
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– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2) by Laura Bickle

Blog Tour Book Review: The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2) by Laura BickleThe Outside by Laura Bickle
Series: The Hallowed Ones #2
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers, Houghton Mifflin on September 3, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Blog Tour, NetGalley
Goodreads
5 Stars
After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it's up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?

Today I am the stop on the tour for THE OUTSIDE by Laura Bickle. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours, and you can visit the rest of the stops here. I have a very long review for ya’ll because I couldn’t stop talking about this book.

While you’re here, I’d love for you to check out my review of THE HALLOWED ONES and my interview with Laura Bickle.

One last thing: if you haven’t already read THE HALLOWED ONES, the Kindle version is on sale throughout August for $1.99. That’s a steal!

My Review:
I first read THE HALLOWED ONES in February 2013. I was blown away by how much I loved the book. I thought mixing Amish and vampires would be a kooky idea, but to my surprise, Laura Bickle did an amazing job. I had a hard time writing a coherent review for THE HALLOWED ONES, because I fangirled pretty hard over the book.

So to say I couldn’t wait to get my hands on THE OUTSIDE is an understatement. I admit, I was a little nervous to start it, and had my usual worries when I read the sequel to an awesome book. Would it be as good as the first? Would it fulfill all my expectations? I’ll assure you now — I had NOTHING to be worried about. Once I started reading THE OUTSIDE, I literally didn’t stop until I finished it. I carried my e-reader everywhere with me, from eating to brushing my teeth, until I flicked the last page.

THE OUTSIDE picks up where THE HALLOWED ONES left off. Katie, Alex, and Ginger were exiled from the Amish community at the end of the first book, and now they’re on the way to Canada, to find Alex’s family. They also hope to find other survivors. But the journey is hard and lonely, leaving them all wondering just who is left in their changed world. Night is the most dangerous time, when the vampires come out to hunt. And these aren’t sparkly vampires. Nope, these vampires are terrifying creatures of evil who have the ability to glamor (charm) their intended victims and one bite is all it takes before you become one of them.

I’m finding it difficult to say a lot about the plot without giving away too much, so I’ll just mention a couple of things that really stood out for me.

One: Katie. I really, really like Katie. She’s definitely one of my favorite characters this year. She’s got a quiet strength I admire, the total opposite of what you might think an Amish girl to be. Katie doesn’t want to be forced to follow rules, but wants to think about those rules and decide for herself that they are the best to follow. She questions herself and her beliefs, wondering just how much she and her morals are changing in the face of an unknown world. And even though her people have turned against her, and shunned her for trying to reveal the truth about the Darkness (vampires), she still wants to save them. My admiration for her just kept notching up throughout the book, and at the end, let me tell you, she has a scene to rival Buffy.

Two: The relationship between Katie and Alex. Usually relationships are one of my least favorite things in a book, but here, I was just melting with how realistic they both were about it. Loving Alex goes against everything Katie was raised to believe, but they rely on each other for survival, and truly do care about each other. I bookmarked several quotes for Katie’s thoughts on the two, but I’ll stick with this one: “We had been thrown together at the end of the world. I didn’t know if we would have cared for each other if we had met in a more usual way. [...] But just for tonight, I told myself to take it for what it was (p. 152, ARC).”

DUDE! How often are a girl and guy thrown together at the end of the world? All the time in dystopian novels! But how often do they acknowledge their attraction may be partly based on that? Not very often!

Three: Different faiths. Katie is Amish. Alex is an anthropology student. Over the course of THE OUTSIDE, they talk about how almost every faith has its own end of the world story. Alex mostly shares the stories and myths, but Katie just doesn’t sit there and listen to him lecture. She puts those stories against her own beliefs, and thinks about it all.

Four: A new explanation for vampirism. This one is a little harder to talk about without spoiling, but I’ll try. Belief in God, symbols of belief, and holy ground are the most potent weapons Katie and Alex have against the vampires. It’s all any of the survivors have, really. When they encounter a pocket of other survivors, they learn about a mostly scientific explanation for both the vampires and a way to fight them. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anything like it before, so kudos to the author for coming up with something original.

Mini thing: Fenrir and Horace! I’ve now read all (I think) of Laura Bickle’s books, and one of my favorite things about her writing is what a good job she does with animals. They’re always so real and characters in their own right. There was a scene where I was thinking, “NO! Don’t hurt Fenrir! Don’t you do it, evil vampire jerk.”

Okay, so I think it’s obvious that I freaking LOVED this book, and that I could go on all day about it. Again, Laura Bickle did an amazing job. With THE OUTSIDE, she delivered a more than worthy conclusion to the story started in THE HALLOWED ONES, and I can’t think of one thing I’d want done differently. The characters are flesh-and-bone real, and the action scenes are nail-biting and full of tension.

THE OUTSIDE is categorized as a young adult book, but I think it’s one that has crossover appeal. Katie and Alex aren’t your typical young adult characters, and they’re both quite mature. I loved that the author didn’t “write down” to her audience.

Together, THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are on my list of favorites for 2013.

About the author:
laura bickleLaura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams).

Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.
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– leeanna

Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

This review of THE HALLOWED ONES is part of today’s two post feature on Laura Bickle. Check out my interview with Laura.

the hallowed onesInfo:
Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Series? The Hallowed Ones #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Dystopian
Page Count: 311
Rating: [5/5 stars]

Summary:

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenag-ers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de-cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

My Review:
Amish + vampires = freaking amazing book!

THE HALLOWED ONES has one of the craziest combinations ever. At first, I didn’t think such a combination would work, but to my pleasant surprise, I loved this book. I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what would happen next, and next, and next … and now I can’t wait the sequel, THE OUTSIDE.

THE HALLOWED ONES could have been a really boring book. A book about an Amish girl? Usually that’s firmly the realm of Christian Fiction, not a genre I read. But the author made Katie relatable to regular teens. On the verge of Rumspringa, Katie can’t wait to experience the “outside world.” She already knows she likes Coke and comic books, and one of the first things she wants to do is see a movie. Also, unlike the other members of her community, Katie has trouble accepting the word of the Elders at face value.

I really appreciated that the author put in plenty of details about Amish life and culture. Without that information, the story would have felt inauthentic. The setting of an Amish community for a book about the end of the world is such a great idea. Without television or the Internet, Katie has few sources of information. It’s creepy, in a good, scary, and thrilling way.

There’s even an unlikely romance in this book. Romance isn’t always my favorite thing, but I liked Alex, and the opportunity his character gave for Katie to think about her religion and beliefs.

I could go on and on about THE HALLOWED ONES, but really, the best thing I can say is give it a read. I’ve recommended it quite a few people, who give me the “Really? Amish and vampires? Are you kidding?” look, and I just repeat that there’s so much good stuff in the book. It’s one of those books where I just want to flail about instead of saying anything useful, so I’ll end with this: In THE HALLOWED ONES, Laura Bickle created an amazing story, a great cast of characters, and some terrifying vampires. I cannot wait to read the sequel!

About the author:
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs.

She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.
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– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: The Murmurings by Carly Anne West

Today I am one of the stops for Carly Anne West’s new book, THE MURMURINGS, hosted by Shane @ Itching for Books. Check out the other stops here. Also, check below my review for a dream cast and giveaway!

the murmuringsInfo:
Title: The Murmurings
Author: Carly Anne West
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Publisher for blog tour
Series? No
Genre: YA, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Page Count: 384
Rating:

Summary:

Everyone thinks Sophie’s sister, Nell, went crazy. After all, she heard strange voices that drove her to commit suicide. But Sophie doesn’t believe that Nell would take her own life, and she’s convinced that Nell’s doctor knows more than he’s letting on.

As Sophie starts to piece together Nell’s last days, every lead ends in a web of lies. And the deeper Sophie digs, the more danger she’s in—because now she’s hearing the same haunting whispers. Sophie’s starting to think she’s going crazy too. Or worse, that maybe she’s not…. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I don’t usually read horror — I don’t like being scared! — but the summary for THE MURMURINGS caught my attention. Immediately I wanted to know why Nell committed suicide, what the voices said, and why Sophie was hearing them too. I also think the cover’s intense, with the girl staring right into my eyes.

The book starts out creepy, with Sophie seeing something in the mirror. I think everyone’s seen things, then really looked and nothing’s there, so it’s an easy way for the reader to relate to what’s happening to Sophie. THE MURMURINGS is also sad, a look into a family broken by grief. I really felt for Sophie, trying to cope with Nell’s death without the help of her mother.

Nell’s death has also made Sophie an outcast at school, and I liked that she wasn’t the popular girl. I did have a bit of trouble believing the relationship that sprang up between Sophie and Evan, but Evan is one of the few male characters I’ve liked lately. He’s awkward, and unsure of himself in an endearing sort of way. Refreshingly, he’s not one of the bad boys that are so trendy in YA. Ethan reads like a real guy.

The basic story of THE MURMURINGS, without giving too much away, is that Sophie is trying to find out why Nell died, and why she heard voices. The scariness for me wasn’t actually in the voices or the things in mirrors, but in the mental institution. Now, Oakside put the eep in creepy. Dr. Keller and the rest of the staff made my skin crawl.

Spread throughout the book are passages from Nell’s diary and blog posts from Adam, an orderly at the institution. Adam’s blog posts were some of my favorite parts. They were of the “crazy dude in a tinfoil hat” variety, and I didn’t know if I could trust him or not, which added to the twists in the book. But in the end, THE MURMURINGS wasn’t as full of horror as the summary implied. It’s hard to explain why without spoiling too much, but I felt like there was a lot of focus on a supernatural element that wasn’t very scary.

I’d recommend THE MURMURINGS to other readers like me, who may not like horror stories. It would be a good way to get into the genre.

Socialize with the author:
Carly Anne West:
Website
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Dream Cast!

Sophie played by Sophie Turner. I wasn’t sure who to pick for Sophie, but when I went looking for faces, I stumbled over this picture. The hair is a bit light, but I like the combination of vulnerability and “leave me alone” on her face. Plus, the actress’s name is Sophie, so it’s like it was meant to be.


Evan played by Michael Trevino. Again, I wasn’t sure who to pick, but I found this picture and I knew it was Evan. He’s got a perfect geeky, sort of awkward expression.


Dr. Keller by Cillian Murphy. I knew immediately who I wanted to pick for Dr. Keller. Cillian Murphy does a good “I’m creepy, but you can trust me” expression.


Adam played by Colin O’Donoghue. This is inspiration from my recent infatuation with Once Upon a Time.

Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is not hosted by me. I am not responsible for prizes.

– leeanna

Book Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

the madman's daughterInfo:
Title: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: Amazon Vine
Series? The Madman’s Daughter #1
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Horror, Gothic, Romance
Page Count: 432

Summary:

In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
The Madman’s Daughter was inspired by The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with that classic before reading. You don’t need to be, although it definitely adds to the story if you are.

Juliet is a plucky heroine. I liked her from the very first page. She’s strong, smart, and capable. Left alone after her mother’s death from consumption and her father’s abandonment, she’s managed to make a life for herself. To be sure, it’s not a glamorous life — she’s a maid cleaning up after medical students — but she’s not fallen to the ultimate low of prostitution.

Unlike most girls of her time, Juliet is fascinated by medicine and science. It’s only natural; her father, Henri Moreau, was one of the greatest doctors in England before a scandal brought him down. Also unlike other girls, she’s not the type of faint or surrender to danger, which leads her into trouble.

After finding out that her father is alive, Juliet takes the chance to reunite with him. Beyond craving his approval and recognition, she can’t help but wonder if any of her father’s madness is in her blood.

If there was a “Worst Father of the Century” award, Juliet’s father would win it. He’s one slimy rat bastard, and that’s without going into any of his madness. My heart ached for Juliet when their reunion didn’t go as she hoped it would, and then I wanted to bash his head against the wall as the story developed further.

Overall, I really liked The Madman’s Daughter. As I said above, Juliet is a great character. My favorite things about the book were Juliet and the unexpected plots twists. I was totally surprised by the last third or so of the book, which I loved. Even though I suspected what was happening on the island, I didn’t see certain things coming, and I had some “Oh my!” moments. I’m being vague on purpose — this is one story I don’t want to spoil.

I did have a few issues with the book. One big annoyance was the love triangle. Considering the time period in which the story is set, it’s shocking, but I just didn’t want it. Juliet’s feelings flip-flopped a lot between Montgomery and Edward, sometimes on the same page. I could understand why she liked Montgomery as they grew up together, but I couldn’t see where her interest in Edward came from.

I also thought the book dragged on for too long. I had the feeling that the author was stretching the story out to make a trilogy. The book could have done without some of the jungle scenes and Juliet’s “I’m mad” moments.

I do have to mention one other thing about The Madman’s Daughter. Balthasar was my second favorite character. I wanted to give him a big hug and tell him he could come live with me. The author created a really sympathetic character in him. Balthasar is perfect for thinking about some of the deeper themes in the book.

The Madman’s Daughter is the YA book I’ve been looking for. Dark, gothic, and scary. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds.

Rating: 4 owls

Socialize with the author:
Megan Shepherd:
Website
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– leeanna

Book Review: Broken by A.E. Rought

brokenInfo:
Title: Broken
Author: A.E. Rought
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Series? No
Genre: YA, Romance, Horror, Gothic, Retelling
Page Count: 384

Summary:

Imagine a modern spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where a young couple’s undying love and the grief of a father pushed beyond sanity could spell the destruction of them all.

A string of suspicious deaths near a small Michigan town ends with a fall that claims the life of Emma Gentry’s boyfriend, Daniel. Emma is broken, a hollow shell mechanically moving through her days. She and Daniel had been made for each other, complete only when they were together. Now she restlessly wanders the town in the late Fall gloom, haunting the cemetery and its white-marbled tombs, feeling Daniel everywhere, his spectre in the moonlight and the fog.

When she encounters newcomer Alex Franks, only son of a renowned widowed surgeon, she’s intrigued despite herself. He’s an enigma, melting into shadows, preferring to keep to himself. But he is as drawn to her as she is to him. He is strangely… familiar. From the way he knows how to open her locker when it sticks, to the nickname she shared only with Daniel, even his hazel eyes with brown flecks are just like Daniel’s.

The closer they become, though, the more something inside her screams there’s something very wrong with Alex Franks. And when Emma stumbles across a grotesque and terrifying menagerie of mangled but living animals within the walls of the Franks’ estate, creatures she surely knows must have died from their injuries, she knows. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
I was really excited to read Broken. First, the cover is gorgeous! I especially liked the heart in the “O” of the archway and the red background. Second, it’s billed as a “modern spin on Frankenstein,” which is one of my favorite classics.

Unfortunately, my excitement didn’t last long. But before I get into the bad, let me talk about what I did like about Broken.

Emma. I liked some aspects of her personality. Many of the other girls at Shelley High are catty and cruel, like clique-y teenage girls can be. When Emma spends the first part of the school year mourning her dead boyfriend, she’s “emo.” But when she moves on to Alex, she’s “a slut.” Emma doesn’t let the mean girls get to her, which is what I liked. She has somewhat of an “I don’t give a f*ck” personality in that regard.

The other good thing about Broken? We see Emma’s parents! All too often in YA books, parents either aren’t around or are bad parents. It’s the exact opposite in this book. Emma’s parents are both present and both care about their daughter. Her mom is super over-protective, with the typical “no guy is good enough for my daughter” attitude. Her dad is pretty cool too, and having both parents in Broken allows for some parent-daughter conversations you don’t always get in YA books.

Moving on.

I almost gave up on Broken within the first few chapters. Not much happened, except Emma moping over her dead boyfriend and giving every single detail about her day from what she ate for breakfast to the clothes she wore. And when she met Alex, the new guy at school, I knew I wasn’t going to like Broken very much. Hello, insta-love! The summary for the book really spoils things in that regard, but Emma gives it away, too, with her repeated comparisons of Daniel and Alex.

I kept flicking the pages, though, somehow getting through the boring middle. Not a lot happens, at least not a lot that I can remember. Just lots of descriptions of typical teenage life, with Emma going back and forth about Alex. The “I shouldn’t feel this way about him, I barely know him, but I can’t live without him” variety. In Broken’s defense, there actually is a reason for the insta-love, but it still wasn’t something I enjoyed.

The ending of Broken finally brought the action I had been hoping. But by that point, it was too much, too fast, and too late. I didn’t get the mad scientist vibe for Dr. Franks, couldn’t understand Josh’s motivation, and I wasn’t creeped out at all, even by the half-dead animals on the Franks estate. I think this was partly due to the writing — the author has some creative and different ways of describing things, but she did it for everything.

Some examples of how Emma’s cellphone is described:
—”My cell comes to life, the vibrate setting making the pink thing look like it has legs.” (est. p9)
—”My cell phone comes alive in my locker, a swarm in a metal can.” (est. p21)
—”My cell phone buzzes, sounding like bees and chicken bones as it rattles against the pencils in the front pocket of my backpack.” (est. p121)
[page numbers are estimates, from the page counter on Aldiko]

So by the time I got to the animals that were half alive and half metal, I was numb from that type of writing. If it had been used more sparingly, I might have been more horrified by Dr. Franks and his experiments.

To conclude, Broken just wasn’t the book for me. Too much romance and too little action.

Rating:

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– leeanna

Book 131: Diaries of the Family Dracul 3: Lord of the Vampires

Lord of the VampiresDiaries of the Family Dracul #3: Lord of the Vampires, by Jeanne Kalogridis

The final book of Kalogridis’ Diaries of the Family Dracul series, “Lord of the Vampires” merges seamlessly into the events of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” and even expands on the story.

The author incorporates another famous character of vampire legend, the Countess Elizabeth Bathory, into the series as well. Elizabeth goes to Castle Dracula at Vlad’s behest, to restore his energy and power; she also befriends Zsuzsanna, showing Vlad’s niece all the opportunities undead life provides.

Bram Van Helsing journeys to England to hunt for Vlad, determined to end his family’s curse. In England he meets a student he mentored in the past, Dr. John Seward. Readers of “Dracula” will recognize Seward as the administrator of the insane asylum, as well as a friend to Quincey Morris, Arthur Holmwood, and Lucy Westernra. Kalogridis weaves her book and Stoker’s together quite neatly, while adding to the classic novel. While Vlad was the main bad guy of “Dracula,” in “Lord of the Vampires” he’s bad, but not the baddest. That title belongs to Elizabeth Bathory, who is revealed to be extremely evil and superbly manipulative.

I really liked how the author put her own spin on the events of “Dracula,” and how she expanded the character of Dr. Seward. The inclusion of Elizabeth Bathory was great for me as well; at first I wasn’t sure about it, but she worked her into the plot quite well. As an ending to the trilogy, “Lord of the Vampires” is a good book, summing up all the story lines and providing closure for all characters. The writing mix of horror, suspense, thrill, mystery, gore, and some even darker subjects is a winning combination.

Now that I’ve finished the trilogy, I want to go back and reread all the books, to look for any little details I missed. As a fan of Dracula and vampires in general, I very much enjoyed this author’s interpretation of events, and what led up to “Dracula.” Recommended for fans of Stoker’s novel, or anyone who enjoys a well-told story.

4/5.

Book 130: Diaries of the Family Dracul 2: Children of the Vampire

Children of the VampireDiaries of the Family Dracul #2: Children of the Vampire, by Jeanne Kalogridis

A sequel to “Covenant with the Vampire,” “Children of the Vampire” continues the Dracula prequel with diaries by Arkady, Zsuzsanna, and two new characters: Stefan and Bram Van Helsing.

Because Vlad broke the covenant he made with the Devil in the first book, he still owes the soul of the eldest son to purchase his continued immortality. Now that Arkady is a vampire, Vlad must find Stefan, Arkady’s son who was spirited away from the monster’s castle as a baby. Vlad and Arkady alternatively kidnap and save Stefan, as each tries to oppose the other.

“Children of the Vampire” is a weaker book than the first in the series; parts of it drag on and on, especially in the middle. It felt mostly like setup for the final book in the trilogy; like the author was moving all the characters and plot lines to where they needed to be for the last book. There are some metaphysical elements which start out interesting, but I got a little tired of pages and pages of them.

One thing I do like about this book, though, is that again Kalogridis isn’t afraid to broach any subject, or write any plot twist. I was never exactly sure what was going to happen, and the unpredictability was nice.

If read alone, “Children with the Vampire” suffers, but as a middle book for the Diaries of the Family Dracul series, it’s alright. I’m definitely looking forward to the last book to see how everything finishes up.

3/5.