Mother Raised No Fool (The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd)

Review of 
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

To uncover the truth means risking all...

London, 1894, Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself 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 proves the rumours about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns her father is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations were true. 

Yet what she finds on the island is twisted beyond all imagining, and out of her father's control. As the island rapidly descends into chaos, she must escape the horrors of her father's creations, but not before she discovers the true extent of her father's genius - and madness - in her own blood. 

I was so very hesitant about this book. I’d heard good things, but couldn’t remember what exactly people had liked. The summary on the book is pretty good, but still it doesn’t give away too much. That’s of course a good thing, but when I glanced at the pages, Juliet’s voice wasn’t that impressive. 
I think I might have conflicting feelings, but we’ll see. 

Juliet Moreau, who is the narrator of our story, has been quite the ordeal. Kicked out of society and then being left all alone in the world. In the first couple of chapters, I think Juliet’s her strongest, she knows her way around and without these chapters she’s stay a stranger to the reader. She’s quite book-smart, in having read her father’s books thanks to her curiosity, which also is a big part of her character and storyline. 
She’s used to having to stand steady even when somebody tries to take her down and after the first scenes, we start getting a glimpse of who Juliet really is underneath her tough exterior. And I don’t think she really knows herself: especially when she gets to the island, she starts doubting everything and everything around her becomes unknown. Even then she keeps fighting, though she falters. 
But because she’s the narrator, we remain unsure with her and that makes it hard for me to get a solid grip of her. I do like Juliet, she’s straight-forward and honest in her narration and she’s a survivor. 

And because Juliet is a first-person narrator, it gives the book a chilling claustrophobic feeling at times, like as if the danger with Juliet is also with the reader. Sometimes her uncertainty is annoying, but it does make you feel uncertain as well so that uncertainty is a big part of the book. Just, at times it did annoy me as she went back and forth, but it did seem to belong in the book, so I can’t really hate it. 

Slightly spoiler-y: Now, besides Juliet, there were several important characters, that perhaps quite didn’t rise to main character-status, that I truly cared about. (I can’t decide, mainly because it’s so very much Juliet’s story.) The story focuses mostly on Juliet, though several characters get their time and moment and even if it’s a tiny moment, you start caring for them. Several characters’ fate had me making weird noises out loud, so that people around would look at me weirdly. (I was reading this at work.) I loved how much we learned about the people around Juliet just through brief moments and where most of what we learned was thanks to their behavior and not words. 

Now, the plot is pretty basic. It’s simplicity really is what makes it good and makes the book so tightly-woven and at times really claustrophobic. And even though it really keeps up the same, steady pace, some points seem to just fly by because they are so very action-filled and well, even a little scary. I could tell you about several times that had me scared for the characters, that really had me on the edge of my seat. 
Part of what I loved in the book was the threat of creepy, madness and even danger. It wasn’t something that any of the characters mentioned and even though the narration focused on it at points, it seemed to still lurk at the corners. It was brilliant. I pretty much picked up this book because of the mystery and the need to know what the hell the madness actually means (in this book). 

I did end up guessing the “big revelations” and where the story went. But partly thanks to Juliet’s narration, I didn’t believe my guesses. Some things were obvious to me even before Juliet or anyone else believed them, but then Juliet realized some things I hadn’t until she said them. The narration keeps you on such a tight leash throughout and you do feel a little like some thing’s about to creep up on you. 

I perhaps would have liked a little different view on the whole madness-theme. Thanks to the summary, I had expected something big, grand and perhaps a big showdown involving it and Juliet. But in the end it does end up being a very small theme that while it is discussed, the madness that Juliet faces, I wasn't really that impressed by it. There are other things that take over, the mystery for example, so while it doesn't make the book bad, it did disappoint me a little. 

But one of my absolute favorite things about the book is the ending. I’m not going to tell you anything but that it’s quite abrupt and it doesn’t really end where you think it would, but that just makes it so much better! The ending is so very perfect and I screamed out loud at the book and I really loved it. 
I might have been annoyed at some of Juliet’s doings, but that ending pretty much fixed everything. 
And that gets to me to the other thing. There's a sequel. Since I loved the ending so much, my first reaction was a big disappointment. But then I started itching to read more, so we'll see. 

Final thoughts: If you’re looking for a mystery, this is the book for you. Though it focuses briefly on others, it tells the story of Juliet, who tries to solve the mystery of her father’s island, while fearing herself and those around her. The book tricks you into thinking it’s harmless with its slow pace and long sentences, fancy word choices. And then it stabs you in the back. 


Shiny interlude!

Hello lovelies! I've seen a lot of people poking around and hello! Everyone is welcome, please come in! Just take off your shoes, have a seat and would you like a cookie? 

Today's special announcement that we're celebrating is the new theme! YAY for the new shiny theme. I think it's pretty good for someone who knows absolutely nothing about making blogs and/or HTML. So I'm pretty proud of myself. 

The theme is the reason why there was no update on Sunday - I was so caught up in it that I forgot to update. So there was a triple update on Monday. If you haven't read them yet, go check them out, they're about the book of one of my favorite authors, Kelley Armstrong. 

The theme isn't quite done done yet, I'll keep fixing things in the next few days, but I'd been working on this for so long that I had to just put it up. I have very little patience for these things. But oh well, it's up now. 

But the main thing is, that if something doesn't work, let me know! I'll fix it. 


It's Between Us (the Calling by Kelley Armstrong)

Review of 
the Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Maya Delaney's paw-print birthmark is the sign of what she truly is - a skinwalker. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows she will soon be able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents, including local bad boy Rafe, with whom she shares a powerful secret. 

Now Maya and her friends have been forced to flee their homes during a forest fire they suspect was set deliberately. Stranded in the wilderness of Vancouver Island, only their extraordinary abilities can help get back home. But can Maya really trust her friends? 

And can she learn how to control her dangerous gift, before it controls her? 

Second book in the trilogy, starts right up from where we left off. Are you ready? I’m not sure if you are. (Overview of Darkest Powers, a trilogy companion you might want to read before this is here and this trilogy’s first book the Gathering’s review is here.) 

Now, we start off immediately where we left in the Gathering. I love it when a series does that. 
But remember when I said that you know, the Gathering was a little slow, it was just basically introducing things and what not. Well, all that pays off in here. We were given the introduction to things last time so that now we know the basics already and Armstrong can just drive us off the deep end and it’ll be okay. And it doesn’t even feel like bad, because the “introductions” fit with the last book, with its sort of “theme” and style and here it doesn’t feel like you’re being told the same things twice. 

I didn’t really know what think about Maya when the last book ended. I mean, I liked her, but she seemed a little naive and a boring good girl. Well, in the Calling she’s in her element. This is really her time to shine: she’s smart, she knows what she’s doing and she won’t give up. It’s really clear that this girl is used to knowing what she’s doing, she will never give up as long as she can keep fighting and hell, she’ll go through stone if that means that she’ll achieve her goals. I just love this girl, how she kept a cool head even when she was close to panicking. 

And while I liked Daniel and her best friends-team in the last book, oh boy, it gets better in this one. So much better. It's sweet and sad, because now they become this super-awesome team that practically saves the day (if I'm exaggerating a little) but then it's sad because they both have this package they have to work around because there isn't time. And they have lovely heart-to-heart conversations where they lean on each other. I just love their friendship a lot. I feel like they grow a lot just in this one book. 

So basically Gathering was paving the way for this. I’m very disappointed with myself, that I didn’t grab this book right away when it came out. This is a faster book then the Awakening, the second book of Darkest Powers. Or so it feels. 
The Calling is a little about the mystery, but it’s a little more thriller-like and you know, it focuses a lot on the characters surviving.
The danger, action and mystery that I was sort of waiting for in the last book is all this book’s made of. It never really slows down, it just hits the ground running and keeps going. But it doesn’t feel heavy or like an info-dump. This is probably because of Armstrong’s writing. She handles it really well, the small info-dumps are just realizations that the characters have. It’s so very natural.

We may have thought we got to know the characters in the last book, but this one just throws that on its head and everything changes. WE even get more into Maya’s head, as her life is thrown inside out and it’s really fascinating to read how the kids deal with the sudden change. The characters either really grow in front of your eyes or then there are some scenes that could be summed up to them taking off a mask that has another mask under it and then again later taking that off only to yet another mask. It’s fun, because you never know who to trust and while I weren’t really trusting anyone in last book, now the characters are also catching up to that. And it’s pretty painful, because you can see how all they thought was right is crumbling down and that’s not cool. Suddenly, I really care about these characters, without noticing. I really weren’t sure what think when the Gathering ended but reading this book has made me love that one so much. 

Though I have to admit, that the group of characters that we mainly play with in this book, does feel a little like playing with dolls at points. I don’t really get as close to some of them, while the other characters care about and Maya takes up a lot of page space worrying them. It felt awkward when I just wanted to move on and drop the dead weight. That would have been problematic, until I remembered, while writing this, that that’s exactly the same feeling I had about two certain characters in the Awakening (Darkest Powers 2) that I in the end, care about the most. 

I just couldn’t put this book down. I had to keep going. There weren’t any slow parts and even the parts where Maya spends time just trying to make sense of things or trying to figure something out, I just wanted keep reading. Now I really have to have the last one, because it just can’t end here!

Final thoughts: In some trilogies the second book isn’t that good. Well, the Calling is an action-packed, mystery and will keep you reading it until the last page. You can’t put it down. If the first book was a little blah to you, well this will fix all the bad feelings you might have had. In this book I really, really fell in love with Maya and now the next book can’t be in my hands fast enough! 

Count to Ten (the Gathering by Kelley Armstrong)

Review of 
the Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Maya Delaney has always felt a close bond with nature. The woods around her home are a much-loved sanctuary - and the pawprint birthmark on her hip feels like a sign that she belongs. 

But then strange things begin to happen in the tiny medical-research town of Salmon Creek. A young girl drowns mysteriously in the middle of a calm lake. Mountain lions appear around Maya's home and won't go away. Her best friends Daniel starts experiencing bad vibes about certain people and things. One of those is Rafe - the new bad boy in town. What is he hiding - and why is he suddenly so interested in Maya... ? 

The Gathering is the first book in a trilogy called Darkness Rising and it’s a companion of Darkest Powers -trilogy. It isn’t really necessary to read Darkest Powers first, but I would still suggest that. It’s such a better combination like that, because we are talking about trilogies that tell the same story with two different stories. If that made sense. 

I wrote an overview of the Darkest Powers here, but since I have so many things to say about these books separately, I’ll write separate reviews of these. Plus, you know, I read that trilogy such a long time ago it’s hard to separate my thoughts for one book. 

The book starts the story of Maya Delaney, who lives in a small medical-research town and that already gives you a completely different feel for the book unlike the other trilogy. Now with our book, strange things start happening, a new bad boy, a mysterious death, a curious reporter and something about Maya herself. 

Now, I immediately fell in love with Chloe: my love with Maya was more of a slow-burning candle compared to that. Maya’s lived her life in a small town, where she knows everyone and trust everyone. She’s never really had a hard life in things: she’s been one of the popular kids in school and in general she likes everyone and everyone likes her. The small things she has with some people really stand out since they’re so unnatural. 
Sounds boring? Don’t worry, Maya’s actually a very smart girl - in a town like this, the kids have been trained to their best abilities and Maya’s tough: she’s no pushover. As in that she’s athletic and her most stand-out feature is her love of nature, though that doesn’t quite describe it. Maya is a part of the nature, the woods surrounding the town are her territory and she’s good with animals. She may have not lived a tough life, but she does use her head. And the more obvious it becomes that there is a mystery to be solved, the more she starts thinking about the things around her.

One of my favorite things is Maya and Daniel's relationship. They've grown up together and are best friends, so they get along so well and there is the feeling that they know pretty much everything about each other. And I love how there isn't even a hint of any weird tension.  They just work so well together, behaving as a kickass team. I'm a sucker for best friend-teams and theirs is so special because there's some sadness left and while they seem perfect on the outside there are parts in which we see that they aren't. 

Like in Darkest Powers, there is a wide range of characters, none of them just good or evil. Everyone settles in the uncertain grey areas of who’s on what side. And we think we know people, but we only know what they want us to know - we learn more about their motives and it becomes more clear that no one should be dismissed. 
What’s curious is that I, personally, came from Darkest Powers and having learned from that to not trust anyone, the way Maya and her friends trusted people, felt weird. And it’s a curious feeling, when the main character thinks “Well, I know these people. They want what is best for me.” And you  think, “But how do you know that?” Basically, there’s a mystery here as well, but you know that when you start and the characters don’t. 
It isn’t something that bothered me, but it was a very interesting perspective to read the book from and see how things unraveled. That’s mainly why I think you should read Darkest Powers first. 

The Gathering starts more slowly than the first book in Darkest Powers does. There’s less of an urgency going on, but there is this feeling of quiet before the storm. The tension grows and grows and you’re kept on your toes, waiting for it blow up. 

The plot, I think, is rather simple. I didn’t guess it before it happened, but it isn’t that complicated. The Gathering doesn’t get to the good parts yet and it does feel at points. We spend a little more time just getting to know the characters and their lives before, instead of things just happening. Though, I can tell you that all the “waiting” does pay off in the next book. 
And even if it feels like nothing happens, there are a couple of big surprises that just blow up in your face when you least expect it. 

Final thoughts: A slow beginning to the companion trilogy of Darkest Powers is promising, but the hook is small compared to the must-know-now of the Summoning. But the Gathering is absolutely charming, with Armstrong’s writing captivating your taste buds and delivering mystery-goodness. Knowing about the mystery before your characters is in my opinion so much fun. 

Darkest Powers by Kelley Armstrong: An Overview

Overview of 
Darkest Powers Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

Darkest Powers trilogy contains three books, the Summoning, the Awakening and the Reckoning. The names get me confused when I’m trying to remember the order in which to re-read them but it actually makes pretty damn good sense. 

The trilogy tells the story of Chloe Saunders, who’s fifteen and who basically starts seeing ghosts. She wants just a normal life, but her supernatural problem gets her admitted to a group home for disturbed kids. The Lyle House, as it’s called, seems okay, until things start happening that can’t be just explained away. 

Now, I adore Armstrong’s writing. I haven’t quite collected all of her Otherworld series yet - I’ve been reading them out of order, too - but if you like that series, you might want to give this a try. But don’t worry, this is also a good place to start because even if the reality she works in is the same, earlier knowledge only adds to things but you’ll get the hang of it. 

Three things that at first made me hesitant about the series: first, Chloe is fifteen. Sometimes really young characters are a little odd to read about, because even if I love YA, really young characters can be written, well, really young. No problems here - I’ll explain soon. 
Second, the group home. I was really curious about how Armstrong would write that, but she handles it beautifully: it really reminded me of the ways some adults would treat me when I was a kid. The group home becomes a really interesting feature and place to “be in”. It doesn’t feel like ugh, crazy people, but there is this feeling of strangeness, but Armstrong gives us the notice that it could be something else, too. 
Third, it’s written in first person narrative and you know I’m not really a fan. Well, apparently I’m a fan if Armstrong writes it. No, seriously, I adore the narration; it’s quick, flows well and gives us such a good description that it’s like watching a movie. Adore!

Now, Chloe. She’s spectacular. I absolutely adore her point of view. There just are some characters that you just click with and Chloe’s one of them for me. She’s a big reason why I love the series so much. She has her own quirks and especially her ghost-problem is delicious from the way it’s written. It’s painful and heartbreaking and it comes so close to you. And her relationship with it and everyone else’s is a fascinating thing to read because it’s a roller coaster; it has its ups and downs.
Chloe’s young and maybe a little inexperienced thanks to a rather sheltered life and yet, she still has these bad memories and traumas that just come up and get to her. She’s basically moved around a lot and hasn’t had anyone be there for her, so she knows how to take care of herself. So that small innocence and yet her toughness makes it a nice balance that we see several times in action. 
She is kind to others, but she isn’t really socially active, probably because of the moving, so she isn’t a loner, just a little quiet. And I just love the way she sees the world: sort of through a lens, which could be because of her love of filmmaking, which we do see nicely at times. 

Armstrong really writes excellent characters and this series is full of good characters. All of the good guys have big or small flaws and very few of the bad guys are absolutely evil. Armstrong writes her characters in a real way: they walk the line or their motives are lined with grey. You can feel how they really become real on the pages. All of the characters have their motivations and even if we see things from Chloe’s perspective, we still get such a good view of them: partly because of her. 

There is such a wide range of characters that it is hard to describe them all. But they don’t really fit the usual tropes. The sort of main male characters good be the elusive and mysterious brothers Simon and Derek. The brothers both could fit the obvious love interest trope: a charming and a funny boy and a brooding, strong guy. But as the story goes, we see that Simon is far from perfect and Derek isn’t quite what you’d think either. If I said more I could spoil something, but I love how we get to know them in the same way you’d get to know them in real life. First you have only your first impressions and then, through these small things and conversations you realize that hey,  there’s a complicated person underneath. I actually didn’t really think much about them when we first met them but hey, things change. 

The other cast of characters at the group home is just as multifaceted. Some are selfish and spoiled and then, we see the reason behind that and you can’t really say no to that. And then you befriend someone who turns out to be something else completely. (That could refer to two things so it’s a sneaky hint!) And the adult characters are absolutely delicious, because even adults on your side aren’t necessarily on your side. After all, Chloe is a fifteen year old girl with a ghost-problem. Not many of adults are going to be on her side. 

Now, Armstrong’s writing is perfect throughout. It moves pretty fast, but not so fast it would be hard to follow. But the writing describes things in detail but using very little words. It’s like down to the basics-kind of a thing and it works so well. I don’t mean that it’s dumbed down for kids, but that there’s no unnecessary prose and yet, it feels like when you’re reading that there is this huge list of adjectives given to you. Armstrong does with simple words what some might do with a dozen complicated ones. And that’s what makes it so good. And it works with the plot. 
The writing makes it feel like you’re really close to the things happening and the characters. So everything that happens to them, feels really close to you as well. Armstrong keeps it simple and grounded, but this just makes it so much bigger when something heartbreaking happens. And the really exciting, adrenaline-filled parts are just gut-wrenching. 

Some books are very character-driven. Here, it’s all about the mystery that slowly unwraps. The trilogy is a puzzle and you’re given most of the pieces at the beginning and then you add to them and then you can almost guess what the mystery is. The plot moves constantly and it keeps you on the edge of your seat. Because while it never stops, it is sneaky. It lets you think you’ve stopped or slowed down, but instead something else entirely is going on. 
And even if things are very plot-driven, the characters move in it freely. It doesn’t become heavy or too action packed. The characters are valid players, but as they try to solve mystery, the plot doesn’t stop. You’re constantly on the edge of your seat and you just want to know what the hell is going on! 

Final thoughts: Writing the review was hard because I adore this trilogy so much that I just wanted to gush about it. I love the characters, the mystery is absolutely delicious, I love how you get small pieces of it revealed. Armstrong delivers a good thriller, that keeps you at the edge of your seat. It’s definitely an excellent re-read and if you don’t like first person narrative, I’d still say give this a try. 
There’s action, romance, mystery, villains and fights for the good of all  - what else could you need? 


Interlude: Have I told you how much I love Andrea Cremer?

Because I do! Her Nightshade series is absolutely brilliant, with the trilogy and the prequels (that I'm still saving money for but they're undoubtedly brilliant). Then there's Snakeroot coming up, telling the story of Adriane after everything happened. I can already tell it's going to break my heart and then fix it. 

And then there's this. 

The first adult novel set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Nightshade series, Captive delivers a steamy, forbidden romance between sworn enemies drawn together by an irrepressible desire.

Twenty-five-year-old Tristan Doran enjoys a life of incredible power and privilege. As a direct descendant of the Keepers—witches who have embraced dark magic—he defers to no one but his overlord, Lord Bosque Mar. For most of his life, Tristan has been kept out of the centuries-old Witches War, his bloodline too valuable to risk in battle.

But when a beautiful, young human Searcher named Sarah is captured and made a prisoner in his Irish castle, Tristan’s infatuation with her flings him headlong into the fray. Captive and captor, unable to contain their longing, embark on a passionate, forbidden romance together—only to learn that their love is at the heart of a prophecy predicting the downfall of the Keepers’ ages-old reign.

Captive explores the darker side of the richly imagined Nightshade universe, a fantasy world of powerful dark witches, shape-shifting wolf warriors, and fascinating history. The first of three erotic novels, Captive delves deeply into the fiery, illicit romance of two young lovers whose very desires invite their doom.

The author's A.D. Robertson, but it's still the talented Cremer. She says the name-change is because the book isn't really kid-friendly in the same way the other books were. And I'm okay with that. The author's name doesn't really matter nor does it if the book is adult or YA. I'll read anything good. The change just means I really have to try my best to remember what to look for. 

And because even I needed a reminder, have Snakeroot: 

Snakeroot focuses on Adne's struggles to adjust to the post-Witches War world of the Searchers. She's plagued by disturbing dreams and visions, all of which draw her to the gardens of Rowan Estate. The cover image perfectly depicts the way in which Adne has become entangled by her own turbulent emotions and an encroaching dark magic.

Ariadne is one of my favorites (well I love almost every character in the books) so I'm super excited to get to go deeper into her head! 

With these two and the House of Hades excitement, I think I have some pre-ordering to do.. 

Interlude: the House of Hades

So on Friday, I think, Rick Riordan revealed the cover for the House of Hades, the fourth book in the Heroes of Olympus series. I do realize I'm a little late to the cause but hey, I blog what I want. 

And that's the US cover. Now, before the Mark of Athena was published I counted down the days on this blog. I'm still pretty proud about that 30 day marathon. 

But the closer we got to the House of Hades anticipation, the less excited I was feeling. This has to do with what I was discussing in a previous Interlude about some personal book problems. But this cover? Boy, it's got me excited! I'm already thinking about what to do on the blog. Probably not another 30-day-thing, but something. But that's a long time in the future and anyways. 

Oh, let me mention the UK cover. I'm not always so much against the UK versions, usually I have my favorite and I want the same versions of all the books in the series (unfortunately this hasn't happened with either the Percy Jackson series nor Heroes of Olympus). But when it comes to the UK covers in this series or some of Riordan's other ones? Ugh. I prefer the US ones. Just look:

I mean really, it looks bad mainly because things don't really match. But well. 

The summary's pretty awesome, too. I'm not sure if you can tell, but I'm pretty excited! 

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

PS. I'm sorry if my English is bad today. I've been working some extra hours and then I have some entrance exams next week so that's mostly what I'm focusing on.