The Madman’s Daughter – Megan Shepherd

Standard

07be8e3880befde5ff479930b992b52eIn 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.

What We Thought:

m: The Madman’s Daughter is one of my favorite novels. I am typically not one to gravitate toward a thriller/horror book and I wasn’t to sure on whether or not I wanted to read this novel specifically because I wasn’t really interested in books that had that creepy kind of story line. I actually won my copy of the book during Tea Time with Epic Reads (Wednesdays @ 3:45pm on UStream). I thought that since I had the book I might as well read it, I do believe that Lyli read the book before I had so I knew that I could at least talk to someone about the book after I had read it. I was very hesitant when I first started the book because I wasn’t sure where it was going to go and there were a couple times when I thought about putting the book down but I just couldn’t. Megan Shepherd’s writing style just kept me intrigued and after a couple of chapters I just couldn’t put it down. I started really loving the story line (no matter how terrifying it was) and Megan’s writing style created a balance between the stereotypical horror story and a poetic kind of horror story. I think that’s what made the novel one of my favorites.

l: I’m like Masie in the way that this isn’t my typical read. I don’t read hardly any paranormal books, or anything remotely horror-centric. I’m not the type of person that enjoys being scared. (: I think the thing that intrigued me the most when I heard about this book was the fact that it was a retelling of a classic novel, but not in the typical way. This story takes a character from H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau and tells the story from her perspective. As it implies in the title, Juliet – the protagonist – is Dr. Moreau’s daughter. The story centers around her trying to unravel the mystery that is her father, and coming to terms with the fact that she shares the same blood. I felt really guilty reading this without reading the original classic first, but I didn’t know when I would finally get around to it and decided to go ahead with TMD. The beginning of this story had me kind of iffy. It seemed kind of dark for my taste, but – like Masie – I was interested enough in the story to keep reading, and I’m glad I did. The story was heart-poundingly intense, and honestly kind of stressed me out. There were some aspects that had a little too much “horror” for my taste, but I enjoyed the gothic, a la Jane Eyre, side of it. I don’t like horror per say, but I do like gothic, especially in British literature. Like so many of those, this story was beautifully told. I think Masie put it perfectly in saying that it balanced the horror with the poetic. It had a subtle beauty to it that really is a credit to Megan Shepherd’s writing.

m: This novel is definitely one I would recommend for you to read, unless your somewhat squeamish then I would suggest that this is not a novel for you. I also suggest you don’t read this book at night, as you might not have a peaceful night sleep afterwards (unless this kind of stuff doesn’t phase you, then have it!) This book will definitely draw you in, though it may take you a couple of chapters to get into it. The novel is also one that you are going to want to read in more than one sitting; there are lots of details and it is a pretty long book – 419 pages. You also might want to keep in mind that this book is a part of a trilogy and the next book, Her Dark Curiosity, follows along through the life of Juliet but is a retelling of Frankenstein. HDC is going to be released into bookstores on/around January 28th, 2014.

l: I’m not going to lie: I was creeped out reading certain parts of this book. Despite this, I really ended up enjoying it. It’s definitely not the type of book I want to be reading all the time, just because it’s kind of dark and depressing. I usually lean toward, well, happier books. (; This is one of those books that someone who doesn’t usually like the genre might enjoy. I’m nerdishly excited because the two sequels – while still direct sequels, continuing where TMD left off – are based off of the classics Frankenstein and The Mysterious Case of Dr. Jeckl and Mr. Hyde. I read both in my British literature class a few years back, so I’m excited to see how the rest of the story plays out!

RATING: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

NOTE: On a writing/storytelling standpoint, we would give this book five stars. We ended up taking off a half of a point just based on the creepiness factor that wasn’t suited to our personal taste. 🙂

book nerd swag review: the elite by kiera cass

Standard

the eliteIn America Singer’s world, a bride is chosen for the prince through an elaborate televised competition. In the second book of the Selection series, America is one of only six girls left in the running. But is it Prince Maxon—and life as the queen—she wants? Or is it Aspen, her first love? The Elite delivers the adventure, glamour, political intrigue, and romance readers of The Selection expect, and continues the love triangle that captivated them.

what we thought:

m- Let me start by saying that when I first read this book I couldn’t stop. This book definitely gave me the feels (if you know what I’m saying ;)). I remember watching the book trailer for The Selection over and over again before the book came out because I was excited (and because the ‘Maxon’ in the trailer was pretty cute if I do say so myself). hehe. When I first picked up  The Selection I fell in love and when I realized I was going to have to wait a year for The Elite I was devastated. I could not wait that long but thanks to Lyli we didn’t have to wait to long.

l – Yep! Although the release date was a few weeks ago, we actually read this book last winter. The fabulous Kiera Cass has so many cool contests for her fans, and one of them was a Tumblr haiku contest – by which I won an ARC! Needless to say, Masie and I were pretty darn excited, and had a hard time not sharing about the book before now. I was absolutely captivated by The Selection and couldn’t wait to dive into its sequel.. All of the romance and drama from book one was still there, only cranked up a notch! I felt like the emotional impact of this book was so much greater; the stakes felt higher. Before, the impact of America’s actions only affected her and her family, whereas in book two, she has so much more responsibility. I think we really saw that strain on her character.

m- I completely agree. America was faced with many more challenges and really had to make some life changing decisions. I will say though that in this book I was faced with a rollercoaster of emotions. I was seriously shocked by tons of the events that took place. I don’t think that any one could have theorized what happened. I give props to Kiera Cass for shocking me. I was definitely not able to put it down. I couldn’t put it down not only because of the suprises but because of how much more we got to see into the lives of the characters, especially Maxon. 😮 I know what you’re thinking ‘What could Maxon due that’s so shocking?’. Well you ain’t see nothin’ yet. haha. Maxon was pretty much a completely seperate roller coaster along side the roller coaster of the overall book. I won’t say (type?) anything else. The Elite will definitely keep you intrigued and on your toes.

l – For the first quarter or so of the book, I had this uneasy feeling that things were going too well. For America, a lot of her actions hadn’t caught up with her yet, and you could tell that it was coming. America is different from a lot of the other YA protagonists I’ve read about – I’ve had a little bit of a harder time empathizing with some of the choices she makes. At the same time, though, you can relate to her that much more because you can see so clearly just how human she is. While you might be screaming internally for her to make once decision (like I was), if you think about it deeply enough you can probably picture yourself doing the same thing. She’s a selfless character in a lot of areas, but in others she is definitely looking out for her own best interests. Sometimes at the cost of *cough* other people’s emotions. I felt like even if she couldn’t make the decision I wanted her to make, she at least needed to make some sort of decision.

m- I agree with you. America is the kind of character that you really just can’t help but adore even though at times you have no idea why she’s making that decision. I admire her for standing up for her decision despite what other people think. She knows that she doesn’t really belong but that doesn’t stop her from using that as an opportunity to help people. Another character that I adore is Maxon. As you know, he causes a lot of emotions to come tumbling through you when you read The Elite but we get to see, like I kinda said earlier, into his past and it definitely explains a lot. The Selection series is a Dystopian YA fiction and we didn’t get to much of a chance to dive into that Dystopian world in The Selection (my opinion) but I felt that in The Elite we really got to jump into the world of Illéa and really see what is going on ‘behind the scenes’. I seriously am so stoked for The One!!!

l – Yes! The whole “rebel” concept was really only touched on in The Selection, but in this book we got to see some more context. Of all the character developments in this story, Maxon’s was probably the most shocking. Before, he was just sort of the Prince-Charming-from-Cinderella-type… he’s handsome, he’s kind, he’s polite, he always says the right thing, but we don’t really understand who he is as a person. In The Elite, a lot of Maxon’s personality comes out, for better and for worse. All in all, I couldn’t put this book down! Evidence of this is the fact that I read it in one sitting. I love the title of book three, The One, and I am eagerly anticipating seeing the way things turn out! I kind of have my heart set on a big, beautiful, palace wedding… *sigh*

Rating! (out of five stars): ****

Would we recommend it? Yes! (See, we made a decision… it’s not that hard, Mer!)

masie reviews: katie weldon series by robin jones gunn

Standard

katie weldonA fresh start? Katie Weldon catches more than just the bouquet at the wedding of her best friend, Christy Miller. She also snags a job offer that launches her into an adventure she never imagined. Katie eagerly accepts the job as resident assistant at Rancho Corona University, only to find herself in a community of conflict. She thought this was where God wanted her, but how can God use her—and love her—when everything is falling apart? Especially when it comes to her boyfriend, Rick. Katie turns to the women in her life for solace, including Christy. In the safety of their love and encouragement she finally allows herself to spill her heart about her relationship with Rick. But even their advice can’t postpone the decision Katie must face, a decision that will define who she is and the woman she’s becoming. Peculiar Treasures is the first book in the Katie Weldon Series.

what she thought:

i would like to start this off by saying that when i found the Katie Weldon series i totally freaked out. i was soo happy. i there are 4 books in the whole series: Peculiar Treasures, On a Whim, Coming Attractions, and Finally and Forever. i would definitely advise that you read the whole Christy Miller series as well as the Christy and Todd: The College Years before diving into the Katie Weldon series. ok, so now that that is all said and done, AHH!!! this series was so amazing (i’m kinda repeating myself). 🙂 Robin Jones Gunn did an INCREDIBLE job with this series, as well. she did not leave anything unsaid or just hanging in the open. usually the series after a series starts up a few weeks ahead of where everything left off. Peculiar Treasures picks off almost immediately after ‘I Promise’ ends (I Promise is the third book in the College Years series). i found that really, really exciting. there were so many twists and turns that happened throughout the next three books, that i seriously could not stop reading them. I read one after the other. the sad part… i kinda hate to admit this but i did not realize that there was a 4th book in the series, so after the 3rd book (Coming Attractions) i just thought they ended. sad, right. 😦 well… I WAS VERY VERY WRONG!!!!!! THERE IS ANOTHER ONE!! i was so so so so excited to read Finally and Forever. the excitement was overwhelming. this book made the pain of not knowing about it so much better. if i had to pick my favorite book out of the series, it would definitely be Finally and Forever.

 
to the characters we go. *pretend to march*

Katie is such an amazing character and i think she sounds like an awesome best friend. i loved reading from Katie’s perspective. it was kinda confusing for me, at first, because i kept thinking that it was Christy but after a while i got used to it. this series felt kinda like a Behind The Scenes look of the Christy Miller series for me. when you are so used to seeing only one perspective, it was simply awesome (Doug would be proud) to see someone elses side of everything that had happened. you learn so much about Katie in this series and you definitely understand more about why she is the way she is. her character is someone who i kinda strive to be: unique, confident, happy, and strong in the Lord. i will tell you that you see Christy and Todd in the books a few times which is a very amazing bonus. 😉 you also get to see some characters from the Christy Miller series. which i was really excited about, it made the books kinda mesh together so they flowed very nicely.

~SETTING~

normally, i wouldn’t really mention the setting at all but these books deserve it, especially Finally and Forever. icompletely loved the settings in these books. i love it when the settings are relatable. i think it makes the connection between the reader and the books’ world stronger. the fact that you can “try” to put yourself in to that world and look at it all in your point of view to kinda see where you would want to take it and what kinda decision you would make.

rating: *****

check out Robin Jones Gunn website (link below):

http://www.robingunn.com/

lyli reviews: what’s left of me by kat zhang

Standard

What's Left of Me

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else–two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t… 
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable-hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.
What She Thought:
     This book was equally sweet, terrifying, and thought-provoking. I picked it up after a “like, try, why!” from Harper Teen where it was recommended for fans of The Host, and being as big of a The Host nerd I am, I just had to read it.
     Within the story, there is an interesting narrative; it’s told from the perspective of a two separate souls living within the same body. I give a lot of credit to the author for making the POV so easy to get used to, because it’s very unusual to read a book where it says things like “our arm” and “we blinked.” After a while, you rather forget that both Addie and Eva are telling the story and just become wrapped up in the plot.
     The first half was somewhat of a slow build, but it’s worth it. The end is, well, downright stressful… but that may have just been because I was so emotionally invested in the story. There are parts of the story that make you want to cry, parts that make you want to throw the book against the nearest wall, and parts where you don’t know what to think. At times in the story, you can guess what is going to happen next, but it felt more like strategic foreshadowing than unoriginal writing.
     There are some parts that are a little disturbing… actually, several parts. There are a lot of scenes where children are involved, which made it a lot harder to read. All in all, I was a little creeped by several aspects of this story. (There wasn’t really any gore, though, which I appreciated.)
     Because the characters are very straight-forward and logical, it’s not typical YA dystopian/sci-fi storytelling. They are driven more by reason and experience than by their emotions, which makes the story a little harder to become emotionally connected to. However, as it went on, I did become attached to certain characters which made me more anxious to find out what happens. I’m constantly being left at the edge of my seat by these books written as trilogies! I love it, because some of these stories are just too big to fit into one book, but it’s also frustrating to have to wait 1+ years to find out what happens next. I will most certainly be reading the next book in The Hybrid Chronicles!
Rating! (out of five stars): ***1/2

book nerd swag review – reached by ally condie

Standard

reached_510After leaving Society and desperately searching for the Rising—and each other—Cassia and Ky have found what they were looking for, but at the cost of losing each other yet again: Cassia has been assigned to work for the Rising from within Society, while Ky has been stationed outside its borders. But nothing is as predicted, and all too soon the veil lifts and things shift once again.

In this gripping conclusion to the #1 New York Times-bestselling Matched trilogy, Cassia will reconcile the difficulties of challenging a life too confining, seeking a freedom she never dreamed possible, and honoring a love she cannot live without.

our review of matched

our review of crossed

what we thought:

m- this book was ahhh-maa-zzzing. it was, to me, the best one of the whole series. it felt like all of the other books were just leading up to this one. i will say that this book starts off pretty slow and doesn’t really start to pick up the pace until around part 4. the book got so much more intense and intriguing for the last few parts of the book. i also really loved the fact that the book was written in cassia, ky, and xander’s point of view. i think that added a lot more depth to the overall story. being able to see everyone’s take on the same event.

l – kay, so forgive my dramatic tendencies for a second, but this book blew my mind. if you read our review of matched you know that we weren’t crazy enthusiastic, which i regret now. i feel like it took me all this time to really understand and appreciate ally condie’s writing style. from my experience with dystopian and YA in general, i was looking for that fast-paced, edgy writing style that is so frequently seen in action/adventure stories for teens. while i absolutely love that a lot of the time (see divergent or the hunger games, just to name a few) i think that it’s ally condie’s simple, poetic, slow-building storytelling that sets this book apart. my very favorite character in this series is xander, i love the steady, steadfast strength he brings to everything he does. with that in mind, of course i was so happy when we got to see the story through his eyes for the first time. i was concerned at first with there being three perspectives (cassia, ky, xander) because it seemed like a lot, but i was wrong to worry. ally condie expertly weaved the three narratives together seamlessly and i couldn’t see the story being told any other way.

m- i felt the same way at the beginning of the series. i was waiting during matched and crossed for the story to pick up and i wasn’t taking the time to completely fall in love, like i did in reached with ally condie’s writing style. i really want to go back and re-read the whole series and see what things i missed annnd read all of the cute things that xander and ky say about cassia. i am kind of torn between ky and xander. i love xander and how steady, strong, and safe he is but i can’t help but love ky and how unique he is. i seriously keep jumping between them buuuuuuttttttt… if i had to seriously choose one or the other i would choose ky. i just couldn’t help the attraction i felt toward his character. hahaha. (we are getting married in june! jk) i think that this is the first book that lyli and i have ever really been on separate sides of the love triangle. i think that xander is that sweet and adorable lover boy while ky is the bad-boy with a sensitive side and kinda, reallyyy, very very attractive. 😉

l- dibs on bridesmaid! (and xander will see me catch the bouquet.) yes, that’s so funny how we’re on separate male lead teams! haha. i really like ky as well as xander, though. i think by the end of crossed i was resigned to the fact that cassia probably wasn’t going to change her mind about the whole ky/xander thing (even though ally condie keeps it completely open). i just felt like xander was a more endearing character. he took action early on, while ky dragged his feet a bit when it came to joining the rising. xander is a man of action. ❤ masie and i will be formally debating this later, stay tuned! haha. this is killing me not to be able to reveal more about the plot, but this story will SMACK YOU IN THE FACE. like, you don’t see it coming and then whamo! you are officially busy for the next three hours. i was completely fascinated by the way the plot went… i was honestly expecting some old-fashioned rebel/”the man” stand-offs and a few battle scenes, but once again i was completely off. the book took a completely creative and unique turn and i loved every second of it.

m- yes, of course you may be my bridesmaid. (i will be sure to accidentally toss my bouquet in your direction!;)) now we haven’t really talked about cassia. cassia, to me, was kind of aggravating. i felt like in the first three parts of the book she just kept getting on my nerves. i think that in the first three parts i just got kind of bored with her character and what was going on with her. i guess i was on CASSIA OVERLOAD. (or i was just mad at her for stealing ky. :I) haha. when i got to the last few parts in the book i became more interested in her character and what she was doing. the last few parts of the book are like BAM BAM BAM BAM!!! one big thing after another! i was very intrigued i could not put down the book. as lyli said i dont want to give anything away because i want you to read this awesomeness for yourself. 🙂 lyli and i have been talking about the ending of this book and we both think that it was pretty close to perfect. it was the best way, i think, to sum up everything from all three books and close it so perfectly ally condie deserves a round of applause! *applause* *applause* *applause*

l- *claps and cheers* oh, and our texts during the last part of this book were pretty much like this.

“AAAAAAAH!”

“I KNOOOOOOOW! AAAAAAH!”

“AAAAND THIS PART? AND THAT PART?!” ASDFGHJKHJKHG!”

“ASGFDHGJHKJFHDGSGFSHGSJSKJKDLFKFJDHDGDSGSHJFJF!”

true story.

rating! (out of five stars): ***** (five stars that ky will wait among for cassia… sigh…)

would we recommend it? yeah, baby!