Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Title: The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter #1)
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: January 29th 2013
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble



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.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Review:

I actually hate myself a little bit because it took me way too long to pick this book up, even though I have heard so many great things about it; and now that I have finally read it, I can say that The Madman's Daughter is easily one of my favorite books of all time. My love for any book that can mess me up psychologically has never steered me wrong (all my favorites are mindf*ckers) and I am glad that I set my sights on this book. I have so many feels right now. So. Freaking. Many.

I have never really been the type to enjoy books that aren't set in the twentieth-century and onwards because historical themed novels or anything tend to get boring and I was pleasantly surprised to not have gotten bored in any part of The Madman's Daughter. I actually felt like the London setting already gave a hint for the darkness that would come next, like a foreshadowing of sorts. I was very impressed by the way Megan Shepherd set a slow but menacing pace to the book, like that feeling you get when you are being watched, you don't know who and where that person is but you just feel the discomfort and fear. That's what it was like reading The Madman's Daughter, I knew something sinister was going to happen and I readied myself for anything but what Megan Shepherd revealed was more than what I could possibly have expected. Mind = blown. Also, Megan Shepherd gives really good suspense. I found myself furiously flipping pages and drinking everything in because I felt that if I stopped, I would lose that momentum that was growing and growing, and I just couldn't stop. I couldn't put the book down!

Megan Shepherd has a lot of amazing words. The dialogues and especially Juliet's inner thoughts and reflections really got to me. There was darkness in her words and more than a touch of madness, but they were what made them so appealing and unique. I don't even want to know what frame of thought Megan Shepherd had to put herself into to create such an authentically distraught and slightly disturbed mind but I applaud her for it. She definitely has a talent of weaving words, sentences, and pages with not just meaning but also emotion and a rawness that not a lot of authors can put into their books. Her words gripped me with sharpened claws and did not let go. I can still feel the pressure and lingering madness that Megan Shepherd's writing left behind. And she will keep you guessing, you will not be able to see the plot twists she has in store for you, trust me. I was completely caught off guard.

For a girl who was raised as an upper class citizen, Juliet Moreau definitely had a wildness to her that I know the London society won't approve of. But lucky for her, between working as a maid after her family's fall from grace and moving to her father's mysterious island, the London society had no time to judge her for any indiscretions. And yay, because she didn't care what they thought anyway so, ha! I don't know if you can already tell but I really liked Juliet, not just as a character but a human being as well. That rebellious and fierce part of Juliet gave her a spark that most characters don't have. She wasn't flamboyant when it came to her snark unlike most protagonists, she was subtle and knew when to unleash all that wit. Each move from her was very calculated but also impulsive, Juliet was definitely a walking contradiction, and I say this in the best way possible. Her unpredictableness made her all the more exciting and made her (mis)adventures even more dangerous. There were times when I felt like Juliet wasn't afraid of anything... and the thing was, she wasn't. At least, not anything completely physical, of course. I think she was more afraid of the darkness that lived inside of her, that she inherited too much of her Father's madness to be normal. However, it was also her Father's blood that gave her her intelligence and curiosity so she didn't completely lose out. The internal battle going inside her mind was very clear, that urge to drive away all that tainted blood but no matter how much a we may fight ourselves, no one ever really wins, we just give up and accept it. Kind of like Juliet, that dark part of her also helped her even if she couldn't accept it. Oh and cue crazy plot twist somewhere in the book.

Normally, I'd totally be shaming a book for having a love triangle because books tend to get extra messy when they do and the characters end up becoming annoying but I was actually pretty okay with what happened in The Madman's Daughter. I wasn't a fan of the times when Juliet would get absorbed whether she liked Montgomery or Edward more and sometimes, the romance-y parts of the book didn't fit into the scenario that was happening but generally speaking, the depth of the romance scenes gave it extra points. The chemistry and bond between Montgomery, Juliet and Edward was very interesting. I found myself conflicted as to who I wanted her to be with but after a while, I was totally Team Montgomery. It was hard to pick not just because they were both great guys but because it was hard to trust anyone in the book, I was suspicious of both of them. (You'll find out why when you read the book.) For a YA novel, there was definitely a lot of steam but not too steamy, if you know what I mean. *wink wink, nudge nudge* Just enough to keep you interested and definitely begging for more of that. Both the M/J and the E/J pairings really worked and I loved the interactions between all of them but I am still 100% Team Montgomery even after everything that happened.

To make things simple: Juliet's Father is a rat bastard. That is all.

Okay, even though Juliet's Father totally creeped me out, his creations were very interesting. I was mystified at how Megan Shepherd was really able to put detail and character into Father's creatures. Just, wow. They were disturbingly captivating, it was hard to look away. Megan Shepherd's writing will do that to you, keep you spellbound. Among all the creations, I adored Balthazar the most. Throughout the whole book, I wanted to give him the biggest hug ever. Such a sweet fellow. No matter how evil or dark the act may be, sometimes the result will be the exact opposite. Balthazar was an example of that, he was hope.

Argh, I just completely loved this book. I cannot recommend The Madman's Daughter enough, everything just went so well together. From the haunting writing, to the exhilarating scenes, you will not be able to stop yourself from falling in love with Megan Shepherd's novel. Even though I already have the next two books on hand, I'm doing my best to prolong the series end. Seriously so. Dang. Good. I can't even right now.

Rating
.5

Monday, October 27, 2014

ARC Review: Archangel's Shadows by Nalini Singh

Title: Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7)
Author: Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication date: October 28th 2014
Source: Received from author (Thank you sooo much, Nalini and Ashwini!)
Pre-order the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble



In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot— should not—be walking the streets.

This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves…

Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there’s one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash’s secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Review:

If there's one thing I am complete sure of in my life, it's that Nalini Singh is a writing goddess. I swear, that woman manages to write even deeper and more complex stories every new novel; if that's not the work of a writing goddess, then I don't know what is. Nalini Singh always manages to outdo herself so it is so difficult to choose favorites (Archangel's Shadows is currently my favorite, haha, but I'm pretty sure that'll change when I read her upcoming books), it's literally like changing clothes, you like a certain piece for a while then something better comes along and then you love that one even more, I mean this in the best way possible, of course. There's a beauty to Nalini Singh's writing that a lot of other authors can only imagine having, she has this insanely amazing ability to create such complex and intricate stories that will leave you completely shattered and renewed every time you read them. I could go on and on about my author crush on Nalini Singh but I have got a review to write, haha.

I first encountered Ashwini and Janvier as a pair in Angels' Pawn and from there on, I absolutely fell in love with them. Their playful but also sexually charged banter never fails to get me laughing or hot and bothered, their chemistry is palpable and flows from the pages of the book so that even you can feel it. But even though Ashwini and Janvier have awesome dialogues and interactions with each other, there's still a shared darkness between the two. It lurks in the corner and leaves you wondering what the two are hiding from each other (hint: crazy stuff, trust me).

Ashwini is the type of person who I'd love to be friends with; little kooky, more than a little dangerous and loyal to the bone, I adored her. My heart broke as Nalini Singh slowly peeled Ashwini's layers, exposing her, till there was nothing left to hide. The extent of what Ashwini went through and was still going through threw me off, her vulnerability shook me, seeing such a strong person reduced to someone who thought herself as something completely different shattered me. I was so amazed at how Nalini Singh was able to characterize and flesh Ashwini out as a person, I have never felt such a deep connection with a character before. I felt as if everything Ashwini was feeling was somehow being channeled to me as well, I summed it up to Nalini Singh's writing goddess powers. Being given the chance to get to know Ashwini on a deeper level was a torturously beautiful experience and yes, Archangel's Shadows is the very first Nalini Singh book I have ever cried at.

Janvier. Oh, Janvier. I cannot even express how much I fell in love with this Cajun. His devotion and obvious love for her did me in. It broke my heart even more seeing how much he was suffering because Ashwini was suffering, I was completely overwhelmed (I'm feeling it even as I type this review). Janvier definitely suffered the most, in my opinion. I won't go too much into it but I'll leave you with a though: If you're an immortal and the person you're in love with refuses to join you in immortality, what would you do? (There's more follow up questions but I won't go there anymore, it'll hurt too much.)

Good news for people who want more of the normal cast, you'll definitely get more than a glimpse of the happenings of New York, post-war. It's common knowledge how much I absolutely freaking love Illium and it was great seeing another side of him, but also a bit worrying because of the darkness growing inside of him. But if there's one character who really shined the brightest in Archangel's Shadows, it's Naasir! It was so fun getting to know him better; there's an innocence to him that makes you think that he's harmless but he's really not. Naasir is also very genuine when it comes to his actions, every move is thought out and deliberate, I completely adored him. I kinda want him as a pet, lol. His idiosyncrasies made him all the more interesting and captivating, you won't be able to help yourself, you'll be completely enthralled and enchanted by him; I know I was.

Suffice to say, you've got another winner with Archangel's Shadows, it is Nalini Singh at her finest. She blends the perfect mixture of danger and sex, lust and love, and everything else in between; she will also show you that within darkness, there will always be light. Nalini Singh will grip your heart and will not let go until she has carved a space in your heart reserved for her characters. The passion and emotions she was able to convey gave me shivers, I could feel my heart filling up with, literally, all the feels. Nalini Singh never fails to amaze me and I will never get tired of saying how much she completely blew me away with Archangel's Shadows. I. Need. MORE. (Here's to hoping that the next Guild Hunter will be about me and Illium or Illium and Aodhan because anything else is unacceptable, lol. But seriously, I am very serious.)

Rating:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum (Asylum #1)
Author: Madeleine Roux
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: August 20th 2013
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble



For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)

Review:

I have always been and always will be a horror junkie so when I heard about Asylum, my interest was immediately piqued. I love anything that has to do with haunted asylums, and plus points if there are any creepy clowns (disturbing? Yes, I know, but I love them). I will admit that I only got around to reading Asylum because of how awesome a person Madeleine Roux is, I was fortunate enough to meet and have an interview with her, so her awesomeness bumped Asylum way up into my reading list. The way Madeleine Roux explained the process of her research and the different creepy things she learned made me want to read her book even more... but unfortunately, I hyped myself up a bit too much.

As I started reading Asylum, I didn't really expect anything crazy to start happening immediately and I was pretty patient going along with the book. The pacing was slow but tolerable (I liked-ish the pictures but more on this later) and as the book went on, it started to kind of gain momentum. Why kind of? Well, the darkness of Asylum creeps on you and you won't actually know if the bad stuff is already happening or not, mostly because there was too much teen drama in the book. Yup, you heard me right, teen. Drama. *headdesk*

Our hero, Dan Crawford, a high school student turned college-student-for-the-summer started off super excited to finally find a place where he belonged, with a group of really gifted and smart teens. He meets his roommate Felix (whom he really doesn't connect with) and instantly becomes friends with Abby, an artist, and Jordan, a homosexual Math genius and no, he isn't a GBF. And then the three of them venture into the campus' creepy basement in a moment of rebelliousness even though the gate was locked and there was a "No Trespassing!" sign on the door. And then a bunch of crazy stuff happens. Now let's get down to business. Dan gave me... anxiety. That guy was seriously not right in the head and it wasn't just the memory loss that tipped me off, he was constantly paranoid and quite honestly, a douche. Even though he wasn't vibing with Felix, didn't mean he should just blow him off, there'd be moments when he'd consider inviting Felix to go out with him, Abby and Jordan but then he'd remember that he wanted Abby all to himself. And that's another probably regaring Dan, his constant need to isolate Abby, I mean, I get that he wants to date her but that doesn't mean he should get all territorial over her. They've only known each other for a couple of weeks, jeez! Honestly, I felt like Abby, Dan and Jordan weren't even real friends. It's like Madeleine Roux threw them all together to create some kind of pseudo-Harry Potter gang, which didn't really work. There was no chemistry between the three and definitely no trust. And each one was always hot or cold, either one person gets pissed or all of them get pissed at each other, it was so annoying. Gosh. I'm not even going to go into what happened with Jordan, his room and his legal pad. Nope. Not even.

Now, I'm sure you noticed the bit about the pictures so yes, the book does have pictures. Kind of like Ransom Riggs's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children series but nowhere near that magnitude. If you were a person with no knowledge of how to properly use Photoshop and took the pictures from Ransom Riggs's books and actually used Photoshop to tack on super random torture devices into the pictures, you'd have the photos from Madeleine Roux's books. The images were so amateurish and there were times when the description of the picture being detailed in the book didn't even match the photo they picked for that part. Consistency has always been a big deal for me so I was very disappointed by this. There were some that were interesting but generally speaking, they were too "meh" for me to leave any sort of impact.

While I generally did not enjoy the book, there were still parts that kept me interested. I really liked the idea of The Sculptor, this murderer who would position his victims in whimsical poses after he kills them. The concept reminded me of an episode of Hannibal with the guy who would position his victims in religious ways (the angel praying pose was horrifyingly awe-some). I appreciated the fact that Madeleine Roux was able to still keep that character significant until the latter part of the book and I am actually curious as to what happened to him... However, the whole __________ thing didn't really do it for me. I have no idea where that came from but I do want to know more about _________ _____ and h__ role in the story. And the plot thickens...

The whole horror aspect of the book was lacking too. You will be able to feel it creeping up on you and curling around your body but once you look away from the book, the connection will break. There were no lasting impressions or fear. The build up was too slow so it didn't really work out... unfortunately.

Overall, Asylum was a series of contradictions and while I did enjoy certain parts, the ones that I disliked won out more. From character development to the whole horror genre thing, the whole thing just didn't work out. I felt like Madeleine Roux tried to save the book by adding that one nugget at the end that will leave you curious and also aware that there will be a sequel. I am still unsure whether I will read Sanctum but if I do, I won't be coming in with high expectations, that's for sure.

 Rating:

Stacking the Shelves (29)


Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews! It's where bloggers can share what they got for review, bought, borrowed, won or gifted (both physical and eBooks may be included! :D)

Here's what I got recently:


Purchased:

*signed* Spellcaster (Spellcaster #1) by Claudia Gray (Goodreads)
*signed* Balthazar (Evernight #5) by Claudia Gray (Goodreads)
*signed* Fateful by Claudia Gray (Goodreads)
*signed* A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray (Goodreads)
* all the Claudia Gray books are signed


*signed* Asylum by Madeleine Roux (Goodreads)
*signed* Sanctum by Madeleine Roux (Goodreads)
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Goodreads)


Borrowed:

*ARC* Lailah (The Styclar Saga #1) by Nikki Kelly (Goodreads)

Gifted:

*ARC/signed* Sorceress (Spellcaster #3) by Claudia Gray (Goodreads)
*ARC* Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas (Goodreads)
*ARC* This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner (Goodreads)
*ARC* The Invisible (Brokenhearted #2) by Amelia Kahaney (Goodreads)


*ARC* Stay with Me (Wait for You #3) by J. Lynn (Goodreads)
*ARC* Letting Go (Thatch #1) by Molly McAdams (Goodreads)
*ARC* A Cold Legacy (The Madman's Daughter #3) by Megan Shepherd (Goodreads)
*ARC* A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas (Goodreads)
*ARC* The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows (Goodreads)
*ARC* Forged (Taken #3) by Erin Bowman (Goodreads)


*signed* Falling into Place by Amy Zhang (Goodreads)
*signed* After the End (After the End #1) by Amy Plum (Goodreads)


*ARC/signed* Archangel's Shadows (Guild Hunter #7) by Nalini Singh (Goodreads)


Swag:

Um... a lot!

So many people to thank, so here they are: a ginormous thank you to Sarah Woodruff from HarperCollins International for everything (literally everything), National Book Store for being a great bookstore and hosting CG and MR (and for releaseing ATPOY early, hehe), Claudia Gray and Madeleine Roux for signing the books, Nalini Singh and Ashwini for being the awesomest people in the world, Jess from The Reading Nook Reviews for being such an amazing human being, Hazel from Stay Bookish, Chyna from Lite-Rate-Ture for being my lending buddy, lol, and last but never the least, my parents for being so supportive and everything else. <3 p="">

What new goodies did YOU get recently? Be sure to leave us a comment with a link to your post and we'll check it out! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{Cover Reveal + Excerpt} The Librarian Principle by Helena Hunting

We are so excited to unveil the cover of Helena Hunting's The Librarian Principle! It is one of our most anticipated reads of 2014 so we're really looking forward to this one.

Title: The Librarian Principle
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication date: December 21st 2014



Annaliese Harper knows that one tiny mistake can jeopardize a career before it’s even begun. Letting your boss find the extensive collection of porn on your personal laptop is one way. Sleeping with him is another. Liese manages to do both.

As the new librarian at a prestigious small-town private high school, Liese is drawn to her sexy, charismatic principal, Ryder Whitehall—an attraction she refuses to acknowledge given their relationship and her recent liberation from a delusional ex-boyfriend.

Liese is certain Ryder’s flirtation is the product of her sex-deprived imagination—until he discovers her digital porn stash during working hours and demands a private meeting. Behind closed doors, their attraction explodes into a dangerous, passionate affair that not only threatens their jobs and reputations, but most of all, their hearts.
     Liese was in the middle of adjusting her skirt when her phone chimed. She rummaged around inside her purse and found Marissa had sent her a message. Against her better judgment, she checked it. There was no text, only a photo, and it was too small in the message window to adequately discern the content. She clicked the image, and it expanded on the screen.
     A noise that sounded vaguely like a cat dying escaped her. Marissa had done it again. Ryder's head was superimposed onto the body of yet another well-hung porn star, and this time the image also included a woman—superimposed with Liese’s face—sprawled out over a desk, much like the one she stood in front of now.
     “Hi there.”
   Liese screamed, caught completely unaware. She turned to find Ryder standing in her office doorway, leaning against the jamb, his coat thrown over his arm, briefcase in hand. His suit jacket was unbuttoned, giving him a more relaxed look than usual. And sexier. If that was possible.
    “Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you,” he said. “You seemed rather invested in whatever you were reading just now.”
     Liese hit the button on her phone, and the screen went blank. “It was my girlfriend,” she explained.
     Ryder stared at her, unblinking.
     At his lack of reaction, she elaborated. “My best friend—she's expecting me later this evening. She was just checking in.”
     “Oh.” He sounded relieved for some reason she couldn't fathom. “Am I keeping you? We can reschedule for next week if you need to go.”
     “No, no, it's fine. I'm happy to meet with you, unless you have another engagement.” Liese slid her phone back into her purse, turning off the volume as she did so.
     “I have no prior engagements.”
     They stared at each other for a few interminable seconds before Liese realized they were on her territory, and she should invite him in. “Would you like to work in my office or out there?” Liese gestured to the empty library beyond.
    He glanced over his shoulder and then surveyed their current surroundings. “I think your office would be more private.”
     “Sure. Right.” Liese nodded, clutching the back of her chair.
     “Unless you'd be more comfortable working out there,” Ryder supplied, watching her speculatively from his spot in the doorway.
     “What? Oh, no. Not at all. I'm perfectly comfortable with you in me.”
     His shock formed a counterpoint to her horror.
     “In my office! I'm perfectly comfortable working with you in my office.”

About the author:

Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She’s putting her degree in English Lit to good use by writing contemporary erotic romance. She is the author of Clipped Wings, her debut novel, and Inked Armor.​

You can find her here: