The Madman's Daughter-- Megan Shepherd

Release Date: January 29th, 2013
Genre: Thriller, Romance
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 420
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
In the darkest places, even love is deadly.

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

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Review: Enna's been giving me some great books to read recently, because The Madman's Daughter is the third book in a row that I've given five water drops to. Before I started reading the book, I read the back cover and was informed that the rights to publish the trilogy went in a very competitive bidding war and that the film rights had already been sold as well. I was a bit surprised, but the second I started reading, I instantly saw it. I was completely sucked in. The writing was simple, but elegant and the characters intriguing. They weren't complex, but they weren't simple either. It was the perfect juxtaposition of interesting, but relatable. The main character, Juliet Moreau is a seemingly orphaned girl living in England. Her father, a famous but now disgraced scientist vanished when he was discovered to be experimenting with dark and taboo ideas. His work was more important than his wife and child.

Juliet's mother died, leaving her daughter to fend for herself. She works as a maid until she is forced to suddenly flee with her father's old assistant and family servant- a handsome man her age named Montgomery- shows up in England. Juliet discovers her father is alive and sets off in search of him, running into a shipwreck survivor named Edward. From there, the book gets dark. It was pretty gripping up until that point, but nothing was really revealed. I was dying to know just exactly what Juliet's father was doing and if he really was a madman or not (a question that plagues Juliet).

When they arrive on the island, you're immersed in a fascinatingly different world so carefully and intricately laid out that I could see it perfectly in my mind. The book toes a delicious line between black and dark, and leaves you guessing as to what terrible things are actually occurring there. There were several extremely tense scenes where I was actually getting really scared and anxious- the writing and setting of the mood were that good-- and one point where I was tempted to toss the book across the room in horror (Don't worry Enna, I didn't!). Frankly, I loved this book. When it ended, I set the book down calmly on my coffee table and bravely fought back tears. Nothing was expected at all. It's such a different genre for YA fiction and the way it plays out was just so intriguing to me.

The characters were interesting, but my one complaint is that I didn't feel like I was getting to know them really. I could sense that there was a wealth of information and history about them, but the author kept a tight lid on that so that when one semi-prominent character bit the dust, I didn't really feel anything, even though I should have. If I had felt that extra connection or pull to the characters, it would have made this story that much more powerful. Also, the plot revolves around scientific experiments-- experiments that really aren't super plausible. I was left with the occasional nagging question "But HOW did he do that?". Sometimes it just didn't make sense and it couldn't be explained, and despite the fact that it's fiction, it felt real and I wanted a real explanation to it. It ended up not being overly frustrating, because somehow those scientific questions melded into the mystery of the story.

I definitely recommend checking this out. I think this book and subsequent books will do very well.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Pivot Point-- Kasie West

Release Date: February 12th, 2013
Genre: Sci-fi
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.
Review: I am an emotional train wreck right now. Seriously, Pivot Point is brilliant. I don't even know how to cope with it right now, let alone really review it, but I finished it moments ago and I want to get my thoughts down while they're still fresh.

My very first impression of the book was a mix of "Wow, this is kind of a terrifying world" and "This book is obnoxiously cliche." However, neither of those original impressions really lingered for very long (well the first one did a bit). Addison is a girl with mental powers who lives in a secret city called the Compound. Beyond the fact that everyone who lives there has mental abilities, it's a fairly average place. Addie has the ability to Search, or view the consequences of each side of a choice placed before her. When her parents get a divorce, she Searches to decide whether or not to stay with her mother or go with her father into the normal world with the "Norms".

This is where the book evolves from average-ness into awesome-ness. Each subsequent chapter alternates between the story line of the two choices- but the choices play out as if Addie had actually made that decision. There's the story line where she stays with her mother and gets involved with the star quarterback and then there's the story line where she goes into the normal world, makes new friends and meets a normal guy who was mysteriously injured in a football game against Addie's old paranormal school.

The stories remain separate, but the same key plot points happen in both, and you get to see how Addie's choices play out in either story, from different viewpoints. I found it especially delightful as the reader because when a protagonist makes an important choice in a novel, I tend to spend the rest of the book wondering in the back of my mind about what would have happened if they had made a different choice. I got to see two completely different dimensions intertwined with a sinister and interesting plot and I loved it. I found myself comparing the different choices and really getting involved in the book.

I do have one small critique though, which was that there was some minor confusion in the middle chapters of the book when the plot events in the stories coincide really closely. It was vaguely tricky to remember which chapter I was in and which life Addie was living. I blame this partially on the speed at which I read, which is terribly fast (I started and finished this book today in between class and work). Sometimes I read so fast, I don't have the time to properly record the events that I'm reading in their right order and it gets a little tangled. So if you're a fast reader, keep in mind that you might have to pause for a moment to straighten things out, but it's definitely not a reason for you to avoid this book.

I could semi-predict what was going to happen before it happened, but I was just barely ahead of the book and it kept me on my toes. I wanted to know which choice Addie would pick when she was done searching, because I just couldn't decide ahead of time. And in the end, when she made her choice, I was amazed. Not because it was some huge break from what I expected or from the rest of the novel, but because it wasn't conventional and it was just...heartbreaking to me. The way the choices played just...UGH. I really wish I could pick the plot events apart here, but I don't want to give anything anyway. I want you guys to read the book and be as surprised as I was, as engrossed as I was, and as impressed by this novel as I was.

And I just had to include what she wrote to me after the review: (Seriously Enna, I really liked this book. You should definitely read it. It was really interesting to me. I really wish it was longer.....)

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Seraphina-- Rachel Hartman

Release Date: July 10th, 2012
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 451
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
Review: I can’t believe I let this book sit on my shelf for so long! I have to say, I loved this book. It was unique, it was thoughtful and it was creative. I’ve been in a book rut lately where I just haven’t been drawn into any book in a long time, but Seraphina reversed that. I was immediately drawn to Seraphina and to the world that she lives in. After reading the Eragon series as a kid, I've been completely disenchanted with YA dragon fiction and I was hesitant to read Seraphina, but it easily undid years of dragon-dislike.

The best thing the author did was create a functioning world. She planned it out, and she planned it well. It really seemed like a world that had experienced centuries of war between humans and dragons and then had come together to work it out- it wasn’t just something the author had mentioned. It was complete with strained relations, underground movements and years of precedent. It all flowed together to create a vibrant, multi-dimensional world. I actually felt like this was a legitimate world and that I was there with Seraphina.

In that same vein, Seraphina is a completely believable protagonist. She’s half dragon, half human (kind of a spoiler, but this becomes evident fairly early on) and this is dealt with in a realistic way. Seraphina has to take care of her scales and wear long sleeves. She’s realistic in her emotions and for once, I wasn’t completely disgusted by the inevitable young adult love triangle.

Seraphina falls in love with the prince, who is promised to the princess. The nice thing is that Seraphina is friends with both and the princess is a likeable character. I guess I just really liked this book because it did away with conventional YA fiction stereotypes. It stands marvelously on its own and really satisfied my craving for depth and creativity. The world-building was superb and for a dragon novel recommended by Christopher Paolini (I really mistrusted his review at first), it was excellent all-around.

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

**Transparent-- Natalie Whipple

Release Date: May 21st, 2013
Genre: Bio-Punk (click here for details)
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 352
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Blurb: The awesomeness that is this book cannot be contained!

Review: I was planning waiting until closer to the review date to review this, but two months isn't that far, right? And I just can't hold back my feelings about this book!

This book grabs you from the first page. Seriously. I wasn't even 10 pages in before I knew that I needed to buckle up. I felt like I had stepped into a mix of the X-Men and Oceans 11 and it. was. awesome!

First of all, it was clear that Natalie had thought about this book in every way possible. Every single piece of this world was extremely well developed. One of my favorite parts was probably how Fiona thought of herself and how her childhood and development would have been so different since she was invisible. So often in books like this the characters have some kind of super-power and nothing is different in their lives. Not so in this book, each character not only had a power, but a clear way in which that power had affected their lives.

I also loved that the idea of having super-powers wasn't a secret. In every other super-hero show I've seen/book I've read the people with abilities have to remain a secret. Not in this world, nearly everyone has a power and everyone knows about it.

I also kinda... sorta... maybe... fell head over heels with one of the characters. There was a rough spot in which Fiona talked about her lame math teacher, but then HELLO cute math-tutor! He was so great. Again, a conflicted character because of his abilities and life, but he had overcome them to become awesome.

I thought this book was very well self-contained. It certainly works as a stand-alone. But I do wish that there was more. I would have loved to see what this super-ability world was like on a larger scale. This small piece of the world was so interesting that certainly the whole world must be even cooler. I want more!!

Other Reviews:
  • I couldn't find any yet. Hopefully I'll be able to link to some soon!

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.

Fox Forever Blog Tour!

I'm so pleased to be participating in the Fox Forever blog tour! I have been a fan of these books since the very beginning. I have reviewed the first book not once, but twice. The Adoration of Jenna Fox was one of the first ARCs (if not THE first) that I ever received from a publisher. I even have it in French!

Today Mary is here to talk about a passage from Fox Forever. Although this will not be spoilery for Fox Forever, and not explicity spoilery for the first two books, just know that some things will be revealed here that might change how you see the first two books if you haven't read them yet. You've been warned!

With that said, here's Mary!

This passage is from Page 58.
Locke has just arrived at a dance—his first in this new future world but he has to keep his true origins a secret:

“Hi. I’m Locke Jenkins. New to Boston— and all of this.”

Raine doesn’t respond. She just looks down at the torn knees of my pants and then away.

The blond girl next to her smiles. “I heard there was a new guy in the Collective. We rarely get new blood. I’m Vina.”

She holds out her hand, the backside of it up, like I’m supposed to kiss it. I’m caught off guard. I missed this lesson on social graces, but since I don’t know what else to do I take her hand in mine and lightly kiss it. “A pleasure, Vina.”

The group’s eyes widen and I know I’ve missed the mark, but Vina giggles and seems pleased.

“And you are?” I say to Raine.

“Bored,” she replies. She begins to look away again but I don’t give her a chance to disengage.

“Not having fun?”

She’s a piece of work. She blinks her eyes at glacial speed. “This is a requirement of the Collective. Do I look like I’m having fun?”

“Dance?” I grab her hand and pull.

She doesn’t budge, but there’s a brief moment of surprise on her face. It’s a relief to see any expression there at all, but just as quickly she gives me a very firm and deadly, “No,” and shakes my hand loose.

From behind her shoulder I see a large Bot rapidly approaching us. He’s taller than me and his skin is rigid metallic gold. Even his eyes are gold and he has no pupils at all. He looks like he’s been extruded from one solid chunk of metal. He steps around her and grabs me by the throat, lifting me off the ground so we’re eye to eye. “Never lay a hand on the Secretary's daughter unless you would like your hand permanently removed. Do you comprehend?"

Mary: Social situations can be so awkward! Ha! That's a bit of an understatement I guess, but I think we’ve all been there done that—like being at some fancy schmancy dinner with 500 forks and trying to figure out which one to use!

But Locke’s situation is even worse. It’s 260 years in the future and it’s his first time at a real social gathering. He has to wing it! Not only wing it but not make the others suspicious about who he really is. When he makes gaffs he has to roll right past them and improvise. Of course, some gaffs incur the wrath of big gold Bots, and have bigger consequences like losing a hand. Suffice it to say, Locke made it through the dance with his hand intact, but just barely!

Besides exploring the technological advances in the future world of Fox Forever, I had a lot of fun thinking about how our social world might change. But some things—like Vina flirting with Locke—are timeless.

Thanks for hosting this leg of the tour, Enna!

Giveaway time!

Macmillan has been kind enough to provide a great prize pack! Enter the rafflecopter to be entered to win paperback copies of The Adoration of Jenna Fox, The Fox Inheritance, and a hardcover copy of Fox Forever!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013

**Shadowlands-- Kate Brian

Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 336
Amazon Link*: Click here
Goodreads Page: Click here
Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

I hope y'all don't mind, but I'm going to ease myself back into reviewing with this shorter-ish review (not that my reviews are ever very long...)

Review: Wow. I was NOT expecting to like this book this much. I mean, I love serial killers and all, but it seemed like a pretty contemporary read. And to be honest, it was. The majority of this book reads like a standard contemporary novel, but that 20% that ISN'T contemporary... woah. That blew me away.

That's all I can really say without giving major spoilers. This book really messes with your head. It was SOOOOO good. However, it would have been 100 times better if the last line of the novel wasn't included. I don't like that the author doesn't think I'm smart enough to realize what's going on. (DO NOT READ THE LAST LINE BEFORE READING THE BOOK. IT WILL GIVE EVERYTHING AWAY!) And I wish this was a stand-alone.

Other than that, though. AH-MAZING!

Other Reviews:
  • Emily's Reading Room (Loved it!)
  • (It was okay) I couldn't really find people who thought it was just okay. They either loved it or hated it. If YOU thought it was "just okay," leave a link to your review!
  • Wendy Darling (Didn't Like It)

All review content © Enna Isilee, Squeaky Books 2007-2013
*I am an amazon affiliate. If you purchase this book using my link, I will get a tiny fraction of the purchase, which goes toward contests.
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