Category Archives: Romance

Book Review- The Madman’s Daughter

madman'sdaughter

I missed reading thrillers and I forgot exactly how much I enjoyed them until I read this book. I have heard raving reviews about it for a while, but now I know firsthand how great it truly is!

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.

One thing I love about thrillers in general is that when they’re well written, you can never see the surprises coming. This book was done really well in that regard. It also kept me on the edge of my seat, and I couldn’t put it down from the minute that I picked it up until I finished it. Even before Juliet reaches the island, her story is exciting.

The animals made my blood crawl, and as the plot unfolded I became more and more emotionally invested in the story. Sometimes I’ve noticed that when romance is involved in creepy plotlines like this one, I only get more attached to the characters and their romance. Speaking of which, there is a love triangle in this book, but it felt soft and well done, not annoying like most of the ones you read are. There isn’t a love triangle for the sake of one, there is a girl drawn to two different men in a natural way. That is okay, in my book. I thought it added to the story.

The ending broke my heart into little pieces, but maybe I’m just sentimental. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT to read the rest in the series (I believe there’s three?) and spread the word about these great books.

Highly recommended for anyone not looking for the typical YA and lovers of gothic horror and old timey literature.

Happy Spring!

Olivia

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Book Review- Unravel Me

unravelme

My hopes were SO high for this book, especially because I absolutely adored the first one. (it stands one of my favorite books ever) I went in with plenty of expectations, most of which Tahereh laughed at and turned upside down. But for the first time in a long time, I wouldn’t have it any other way. (caution- slightly spoilery synopsis ahead)

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.
She’s finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.
Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.
In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam’s life.

I just… wow. Where do I start? Let me just say that even those who weren’t *huge* fans of Shatter Me will love this. Trust me, I’ve recommended it to plenty of friends who ended up disliking it because they didn’t like the florid language, or thought Juliette was spineless, etc etc. But in Unravel Me, Juliette really comes into herself. Unlike some 2nd books in trilogies (i like to call them “bridge books”), it is vital to the series and even better than the first at times. (I can’t believe I’m saying that) The language is just as brilliant as the first time, yet not trite, and more readable. Before, I realize, the strikethroughs and Juliette’s insecurities were hard to get through for some. But it is beautiful, I think, the utterly human and real way Juliette’s rough edges begin to smooth.

Now for the romance. This is a bit of an embarrassment for me, almost. I now include a quote from a review I wrote of Unravel Me that I wrote sometime last year, after I finished Shatter Me.

“If Juliette and Adam do not end up together {in Unravel Me}, I will throw this book in the garbage”

Yeah… oops. I’m not telling you that Warner and Juliette suddenly get together, but Unravel Me definitely made me consider my unwavering commitment to Adam and Juliette that most people forge in Shatter Me. That is what I get for reviewing prematurely, I guess. Because now my entire heart has done a 180. Yep, I’m Team Warner. I never, EVER thought that would be me. When I finished Shatter Me, I didn’t even think there WAS a Team Warner because no one could possibly like a ruthless man with no heart! I can’t explain it, because a lot of my reasons in this sudden conversion lie in things I wouldn’t dare spoil for you. But I think I learned my lesson about writing characters off.

Before I wrap this review up, two things:

1) even if you didn’t like Shatter Me, I BEG you to read Unravel Me. I think you’ll love it just as much as I did. And if you haven’t read Shatter Me yet, do it! It is one of my favorite books ever, and one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read, too.

2) if you have already read Unravel Me, please express to me in the comments the extent of your feels about Chapter 62. And whether you’re Team Warner or Team Adam.

Love, all!

Olivia

PS.- my absolute favorite book on the planet, Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, is on sale on the Kindle store for only 1.99! That’s half the price of a latte, and I swear you’ll appreciate and love it for much longer. This book will change your life. (reviewed here) (buy it here)

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Book Review- For Darkness Shows The Stars

What an absolutely gorgeous cover, am I right? It is absolutely perfect for the book, I don’t think it could be improved upon at all! For Darkness Shows the Stars is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Austen’s Persuasion. Having not read Persuasion, I can’t vouch for its accuracy. But as reluctant as I am to read retellings of books where I haven’t read the original, this was very worth it and did not disappoint.

Generations ago, genetic experiments caused most of the population to be Reduced. The only ones who escape call for drastic measures- which means banning most technology, bright fabrics, machinery, anything remotely new- and begin to call themselves Luddites.

Elliot North took charge of her family’s estate at a young age- what else could she do? Her mother died, her father is a useless, money spending lump, and her older sister is too busy flirting with the neighbors. For years she manages the estate and pushes away the heartbreak that started when her mother died and continued afterwards when her best friend and childhood love, Kai, left with no warning. Elliot is eighteen now, and preoccupied with managing the plantation and her secret, illegal genetic modification of wheat, with no time for love. Until Captain Malakai Wentforth shows up on her doorstep.

“Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society… or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.”

(that last bit was from the Goodreads summary. I’m having some trouble lately with writing summaries for these books- they’re so abstract and hard for me to summarize.  I’m considering converting entirely to GR summaries. Let me know what you think in the comments! :))

This book was amazing. The kind of book that you hug to your chest after you finish reading, the kind where the ending replays itself on a loop like an endless happy mix tape in your head. (did I really just reference a mix tape? Whoa.)

Let’s talk about the writing style for a moment. I enjoyed it a lot (and that’s huge, because writing style is big for me. I LOVE flowery prose) and it definitely fit with the fact that it was a retelling. I’m not saying that retellings always have to imitate the style of their originals, but I enjoy it when they do. The prose was very Jane Austen-esque and I absolutely loved it.

Elliot was great. I appreciate heriones like this, not necessarily overthrowing the regime with brute strength, but with their cunning wit and curiosity. Kai is perfect for her, it’s obvious from the beginning, but the finale is well worth waiting the whole novel for them to kiss already. (I sound like SUCH a teenage girl. But still.)

The world building obviously took second place to the romance, but that was something I wasn’t bothered by. It was clear enough that I wasn’t worried about the details. It wasn’t fuzzy, or confusing, it just wasn’t overly detailed, and there is nothing wrong with that.

I even got attached to the minor characters, especially Ro. She was so innocent and cute, yet brilliant in her own way. She was the character that really made me understand the Reduced, and connect with them. Without her, I might have been more annoyed by the whole “Reduced are servants” thing. I know, this book has servants in it. But they aren’t mistreated- they’re people who don’t have full mental capacity and literally can’t survive on their own. I believe the plantation owners take them in out of compassion, not want for laborers.

This is a must-read for fans of romance, especially anyone who loves Jane Austen!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Olivia

P.S.- I met Diana at YALLFest (post on that very soon) and she was super sweet! She also told me there is a companion to this book coming out sometime next year or the year after (don’t remember) and I’m EXCITED.

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Book Review- Crewel

So, this book was AMAZING. WITH ALL CAPS LOCK. I’m in shock. I was lucky enough to win it in a signed ARC off of Twitter, and I also have signed matching bookmarks. Matchy matchy! So cool. I’m very lucky.  (as always with bigger ARC’s, I’m sticking to the GR summary)

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: she wants to fail.
Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But if controlling what people eat, where they live and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.
Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and wove a moment at testing, and they’re coming for her—tonight.
Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her Dad’s stupid jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.
Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

Sounds unebelievable. Y’all know I’m always wary of books that are too hyped, because nothing kills your love of books like reading a book where you expect it to be great and it stinks. (Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I’m talking to you) This book wasn’t what I expected, it was BETTER.

First, lets talk about the writing style. Gosh, do I love Gennifer’s way with words! This is such a delicate story; a genius idea and great world building, but without the breathtaking and poetic writing style, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressed. It could have been one of those novels you love the idea for, but the excecution was terrible. But it wasn’t, and thank goodness for that! Right from the start, I was hooked by the gorgeous prose. And after a couple pages, the plot captured me, and the rest is history.

The world buiding is eeriely believable. With such a specific topic, it would have been easy to do something characteristic of James Patterson and forget the details you wrote earlier, thus making the reader very, very lost. I was absolutely glued to this book for all of yesterday and didn’t give up until I finished.

I love how this book has me thinking about weaving. I can almost see the weave of that walls around me (not really, I wish). Made me really thing about the scarf I’m crocheting, and what if I was using a thunderstorm for yarn instead, or the gold time thread, or water, or a person. People have threads, too. It especially reminds me of a yarn I’m crocheting that scarf with right now. It’s called The Wedding Job from Nerd Girl Yarns. (I think they should rename it Crewel, but…)

The romance is great. There is a sort of love triangle, but not in the usual tear-your-heart-apart-everyone-ends-up-sad way. The realistic kind, I wouldn’t be surpised if it happened in real life. The boy Adelice eventually chose was the one I (and a lot of other people too, I think) was rooting for from the beginning. The other boy isn’t too torn up about it. Whenever they were together, I got this silly smile on my face, because as terrible as the situation is, they were still really adorable.

The whole plotline is tangled up, and the way it unravels is truly awe-inspiring. The ending is very…. whoa. There were way more sci-fi and thriller elements in it than I expected, but I was not disappointed! The way the end was worded was a little bit hard to understand, but once I understood what had happened I couldn’t find the words to talk about it. I can’t…. she totally surprised me. The second book isn’t even officially OUT yet and I’m already dying for it!

Crewel releases October 16th, and you can pre-order it here! Recommended to everyone. Really great book. And if you would like to try it first, the first 5 chapters are available free on Kindle!(Link)

Hope everyone liked the review! 🙂

Olivia

P.S. Have y’all seen my new header? I love it! It was designed by my friend @alliebbooks. I’ll be adding contact info for her on my bio soon.

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Book Review- Jellicoe Road

 

I am making it a life goal to read every single book Melina Marchetta publishes ever, because that’s how much I loved this book.

Jellicoe Road tells two tragic stories; one set in the present and one set in the past. They weave together in such a delightful way that you are emotionally invested in each one, and finally seeing the connection at the end shatters your heart. The present story focuses on Taylor Markham, who was abandoned at a Seven-Eleven on Jellicoe road six years ago. The past story focuses on five friends who attended the same school as Taylor does now; Narnie, Webb, Tate, Fitz, and Jude. 5 friends with a iron friendship only rivaled by the one several years later.

This book is set in the Australian bush (which is really awesome, except the author lives in Sydney so I have to wait extra time to get her new books!) Most of Taylor’s life and the life of her classmates revolves around a war with two other facctions (for lack of a better word) near their school. The Townies and the Cadets, which are pretty self explanatory. But when she’s elected leader of their school, she has to negotiate with the curious Jonah Griggs, a boy from her past and leader of the Cadets. She knows something happened with him, but her mind doesn’t quite let her remember.

This book…. I can’t put it into words, y’all. That’s how astonishing it was. I read this a week ago and I still can’t get the characters and their stories out of my head. Every single little detail means something, and has stuck with me all this time. I can’t get it out of my head.

Keep in mind that this isn’t only a romance. This is two stories, unbelievably interwoven, heartbreaking, beautiful, breathtaking, life-changing. This isn’t a book that you read to escape reality. You read this book to remember how blessed we are to have friends, to have love when we look for it, and to realize that sometimes pain makes the happy moments even sweeter. It’s an adventure. It will make you think it is a fantasy at the beginning, but you have to remember that it is real.

I felt different after reading this book. It might have something to do with the large number of tears that I had shed by the end of it. You know how sometimes, when you cry over a book, you feel awful afterwards? When I cried at the end of this for a couple of minutes, I felt refreshed. Like I had cried out the world’s problems. I was close to tears about 6 times over the course of reading this. It’s not a sad book per se, but sometimes you read something so beautiful and true that your eyes well up a little bit.

The one drawback is that the first 100 pages are ridiculously confusing. If you can get past it, it is so, so, SO worth it. Basically, you need to remember that

A) the italics are the past story, told in the form of a manuscript.

B) It is contemporary, not fantasy. Just keep that in mind.

C) Remember that everyone else is confused too, and that if you stick it out the rest of the book is completely unbelievable. The beginning is great too, just a bit cryptic.

Everyone, please read this. I’m afraid I haven’t conveyed how emotional a review and read this was for me. I cried, I burst into laughter, I melted. Like Kirsten Cashore, the romantic scenes are few but the type that make you believe in humanity, melt, cry, smile, dance, sing, and laugh. I picked it up thinking it was a light MG book, but there is not one person in the world that wouldn’t benefit from this book. It’s the opposite of preachy, full of everything lovely and broken in the world. You can’t lose with this read. I’m getting a copy as soon as possible and it will live on my shelf forever.

Hope your weekend is lovely. I’m afraid my reviews are more sporadic lately because I don’t have much time to read, but I’m doing my best. Head out and enjoy this book in the gorgeous (almost) October weather! {Wordpress is being a butt right now and won’t let me add a link, tags, or the cover photo. I’ll get it up ASAP. Sorry guys!}

Olivia

“Hold my hand because I might disappear.”

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I Capture the Castle

Once upon a time, there was a girl.

She was a sporadic reader, usually coming back to the same 10 or so classic books. She loved the familiarity of the words, her old friends. It seemed like all of the new books she tried ended with sadness. Sadness made her not want to read, to go back to the old comforting, predictable books.

One day, the girl’s teacher handed her I Capture the Castle and said “Please read it. I know you’ll love it.”

The girl did so.

She was captured by the candid descriptions of the English countryside. By the shaby castle. By Cassandra, her literary kindred spirit, stole her heart from the first line- “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

She finally found a happily-ever-after book, but not the fake kind. One that, after much love and writing and hardships, the main character turns out all right. It taught her life that life is moments of extreme happiness and sadness, and that you need both to appreciate the magnitude of it all. That laughter really is the best medicine, besides writing.

The girl wondered where she could find some friends to talk about this book with, the book that started it all. Her teacher was great, but the girl wanted some others too. So she started a blog, and began to read everything in sight.This book made her step out of her comfort zone, and she hadn’t gone back since. She made lots and lots of friends, and felt like she found a purpose.

A few months later, on her second read of this book, the girl thought about writing. She thought about an idea that had been in the back of her head for a while. She decided to take a chance, found a kitchen sink of her own, and started to write.

Several ideas later, the girl is still going. She doubts she’ll ever stop.

****

This was just my little thank you letter to the book that started it all. Highly recommended! 😀

Olivia

P.S. Thanks to my friend Alice and her lovely Girl Series posts that gave me the idea to write this subjectively! ❤

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Book Review- Origin

I’m happy to say that this book made me think. A lot. More than any book that I’ve read recently. About genetics, morality, true love, science…. I really enjoyed this change of pace!

 Origin is about a girl named Pia. Scientists have engineered her to be perfect; unbreakable skin, ridiculous endurance, a sharp mind. All her life she’s lived in Little Cam- her compound somewhere in the middle of the Amazon-, never leaving. She’s never wanted to leave, until one day she sees a hole in the fence around the compound and can’t resist. She expects to be gone for just a few minutes, but then she meets Eio, and everything changes. All of a sudden, she’s sneaking out every chance she can to be with him. Eio makes her challenge everything she knows about her immortality, and the further she digs into the secrets of Little Cam, the more disturbing her past becomes.  (if you’d like a nice little snippit of the book, here’s the book trailer! It’s the first one I’ve actually liked in a long time!)

What a summary, huh? This book captured me from the very first page. I found Pia to be likable and very relatable. She’s very brainwashed at the beginning (i.e. “What’s San Francisco? Who is Shakespeare?”) but it’s amazing to watch her break out of the cage they’ve built for her. She begins to question things, come into herself. Pia is refreshingly dynamic, a huge contrast to some static characters in popular YA (such as Katniss, even? Don’t go off on me for that- I just didn’t think she changes that much through the series). I also have an affinity for standalone books (probably due in part to the fact that series’ usually end up ripping my heart into pieces, but that’s beside the point) and it pleases me that I could read this and not go crazy waiting for a real ending! There is talk of a companion, which I would happily read, of course.

The world building is complex, and I love that it *isn’t* a future dystopian. It’s so creepily realistic. It shows us the semingly perfect girl, and the terrible things that happened to create her.

I loved the romance. To all the people saying that this book is ‘too chaste’, I think you don’t know teens well, honestly. This book isn’t deliberately preachy or clean, it’s natural. Honestly, if I was running from wack-job scientists and a bunch of other very bad things I can’t tell you for ruining the novel (but there may be flesh eating ants involved) my primary focus would not be kissing Eio. As hot as he is, in the moment that is not important. Protecting him is, but not kissing him. I appreciate the genuinity of the romance, I thought it played out naturally and it couldn’t have been better.

The pacing and action are great. Unlike some books, I was totally surprised at the plot twists. By the end, I was attatched to every single character- the minor ones, Pia, Eio, Albert, even Paolo. Jessica Koury gave them the layers that you can’t find in not-so-good YA.

My only negative thought is that it took me a couple chapters to really get engrossed in the story. But once I did, it didn’t leave my hands until I was finished. The sci-fi elements that I would normally avoid like the plague were surprisingly charming.

Overall, I loved it! I truly think this book will be The-Next-Big-YA-Sensation, and I’m so happy that a book with such potential to be popular conveys a great, non-preachy message among lovely writing. I look forward to many more years of fabulous books from Jessica Khoury. (she’s only 22!)

Happy Reading, all!

Olivia

P.S. To all those who’ve read it, I am really looking forward to seeing some Origin inspired jewelry! Yresa necklace, please! 🙂

P.P.S. Origin is now released! YOU should go buy it!

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