A New Year Brings Much Needed Change

I started my original blog on Blogger in July, 2013. The idea of starting my own blog came to me one day from an unknown source and ever since, has stuck to me. I loved reading so much, I decided why not share my thoughts on the books I was reading. What started as a wonderful idea (at least that’s what I thought) soon fell through the cracks. Ever since that hot summer day when I created my blog, I failed to make something out of my blog. I have been bombarded with homework and could never seem to find the time to sit down, read, and write reviews.

I plan to change that this coming year.

This year, 2014, I will fix the mistakes I made. Many believe New Year’s Revolutions are simply wishes that will never come true, but I plan to make my aspirations become a reality. The reasonable ones at least.

Goals:

1. I will create a reasonable schedule for my blog  and stick to it.

2. Be an active blogger.

3. Stay interested. Take part in weekly memes, create/join fun events, etc.

4. Be myself. Often times, whenever I did post something on my old blog, I always felt a lack of confidence. Fearful that what I wrote wasn’t good enough and basically any thoughts you can conjure related to my lack of self-confidence. This new year, I plan to change that.

5. Be honest with myself. Make reasonable goals and accomplish them. I know doing so will help me become a better blogger.

6. Socialize. Don’t be afraid to comment on other people’s blogs and start a conversation. A book-related one, that is.

7. Read 50 books–I am determined to accomplish this goal.

8. Regarding stats, I would love to reach 100 followers and 1,000 page views–hopefully this will happen!

So with this new year, I pledge to make this new blog more successful. Am I expecting it to become popular overnight? Absolutely not. I know it will take time and hard work and a great deal of patience, but if I abide by my goals, I know I will get there one day. I know I will.

Review: The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

ImageTitle: The Madman’s Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Pages: 432
Genre: Young Adult, Gothic, Historical Fiction
Series: The Madman’s Daughter #1
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5
Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

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.

Goodreads |  Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble  | Book Depository  | Books-A-Million

My Thoughts . . .

The Madman’s Daughter is a delightfully creepy novel, filled with twists and turns that will render you speechless. There is never a dull moment as you blaze through the pages as if the book is on fire.

The story begins in late nineteenth century London. Juliet’s father, Henri Moreau, a once acclaimed surgeon, flees London to a remote island when rumors spread of his alleged gruesome experiments–leaving his wife and daughter, Juliet, a poor reputation. Their once glamorous life vanishes and is replaced with many hardships. After Juliet’s mother dies, Juliet is left to fend for herself. She becomes a maid in the university where her father used to work, and tries to sustain herself. One thing leads to another and before Juliet knows it, she is on a ship with Montgomery, her family’s previous servant and they travel to an island–where her father is alive. Juliet at first is determined to find out if the rumors are true but in the end, traveling to the island was a mistake.

Megan Shepherd crafted this story beautifully–with vivid imagery, well-developed characters, and a storyline that will leave you breathless. I started this novel with high expectations and I must say, they were delivered. The storyline is filled with many events, one after the other, that ensures a rapid pace, only crescendoing as more startling information is unraveled. The bottom line: your mind will explode. Especially in the end, I was not expecting that.

My favorite characters were Henri Moreau, the arrogant, overconfident madman. His experiments were intriguing and I could not believe he accomplished what he did given the time period–he truly was a mad genius. I loved his character solely because of his ill-mind–what can I say, I love mad people. Juliet. Juliet is the perfect protagonist. Her story was heart wrenching and when I discovered the truth behind her medical history, it left me dazed. Although a strong female character, she experiences difficulty containing her own madness because of her father’s blood coursing through her veins. What I admire about Juliet is how she challenged social norms when on the island. Since she is far away from London and the watchful and judgmental eyes of its inhabitants, Juliet began to care less and less about what people would think of her because of her actions. It truly reveals how absurd social norms can be as Juliet broke the expectations of a young woman. I was not very fond of Montgomery in the beginning, but as the story progressed, I started to like him more and more . . . until what happened in the end. Once the family servant, he became Juliet’s father’s assistant, helping him perform his experiments. It became clear that on the island, Montgomery was no longer the young boy Juliet knew from her childhood. On the island, Montgomery was described by Juliet as wild, from the way he dressed to his ability to survive the island’s harsh conditions. He knew his way around the island, it became his home. Then there’s Edward. Edward, Edward, Edward. Edward was the castaway found floating in a dinghy, struggling to stay alive during Juliet and Montgomery’s voyage. They rescued him and then brought him to the island so he could continue to recover. Edward has a mysterious past, which makes him alluring. He claims to have run away from his father in London, but near the end, the starling truth is revealed. Honestly, Edward’s character was the most frightening of all once the truth was uncovered.

Favorite Quotes . . .

“As a surgeon, blood had been his medium like ink to a writer. Our fortune had been built on blood, the acrid odor infused into the very bricks of our house, the clothes that we wore. To me, blood smelled like home.”

“He’d never said the accusations were untrue. Just unfair.” 

“‘We aren’t in London anymore. Who’s going to gossip?’ I hissed. ‘The birds?'”

Overall . . .

The Madman’s Daughter is a book I will never forget–it will haunt me forever. With romance, creepy experiments, and a madman, The Madman’s Daughter is a must read. There are many surprises that will leave you speechless and an ending that will leave you wanting more. Megan Shepherd’s debut novel is hauntingly delightful, and will creep you out. I cannot wait for the second book in the trilogy, Her Dark Curiosity. I am dying to find out what happens with Juliet and the island and its inhabitants that I’m sure will haunt her for the rest of her life. I regret not reading this book sooner, so if you have not done so already, pick up a copy today. You need to read this book.

Already read the book? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts on it, I would love to know what you think of it. And if you have not read it, I hope you will change that shortly.

klaudiasig1

Review: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

17339241Title: Perfect Ruin
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Pages: 356
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Source: Library
Rating: 5/5
Summary (from Goodreads):

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan’s older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.
Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

My Thoughts . . .

Perfect Ruin is a book that will leave you wanting more. The world DeStefano created is whimsical, creative, and most important of all, original. To understand the reason behind the formation of Internment,

The first humans were especially ungrateful. After the birth of the sun and the moon, they asked for stars. After the crops rose from the ground, they asked for beasts to fill the fields. After some time, the god of the ground, weary of their demands, thought it best to destroy them and begin again with humbler beings. So it goes that the god of the sky thought the first humans too clever to waste, and he agreed to keep them in the sky with the promise that they would never again interfere with the ground.

The History of Internment, Chapter 1”

I found Interment’s background intriguing, which pulled me into this book. If you are hesitant about the concept of a “sky god,” there is no need to fear because this book does not revolve around it. The concept of the sky god is for the inhabitants of Internment to have faith in someone or rather, something. They need to know that they were placed on Internment for a reason and that their life has a purpose.

But Morgan, does not buy it. She believes in the sky god in the beginning but once disturbing events unfold, such as a murder, she begins to question her faith. She wonders about the ground, and what life must be like there. Having a Jumper in the family (her brother, Lex) persuades her to reconsider being one herself. But the allure of the edge continues to draw her attention, and she fantasizes more about the edge than she should.

The structure of Interment is intriguing, to say the least. Individuals are betrothed to one another at a young age; expected to wear a clear ring that on their wedding day, will be filled with the other’s blood. When the couple wants to have a child, they sign up to be in the queue, where they must wait to bear a child. This ensures balance between the birth and death rate. There is a king in charge on Internment, with a police force to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

Then there are the Jumpers, those who are declared irrational because of their actions. Jumpers are those allured by Interment’s edge and who are so desperate to see the ground . . . they jump. Because Internment has a dome of wind surrounding it (to prevent clouds from colliding with them), Jumpers are pushed back onto Internment by the wind’s sheer force. All Jumpers always suffer a consequence and Lex’s was blindness.

I adored the following characters in Perfect Ruin: Morgan, the main character who as time goes on begins to realize that Interment is not as safe as she was taught to believe; Basil, her betrothed, who is a charming gentleman, always on Morgan’s side and willing to do anything with her; Pen, Morgan’s best friend since youth, who faithfully remains her friend, even after the incident with Lex; and Alice, Lex’s betrothed, who is always loyal to him and does everything for him because of their undying love for one another.

From the characters to the setting, Perfect Ruin is a must read for all lovers of unique, dystopian books.

Favorite Quotes . . .

“Every star has been set in the sky. We mistakenly think they were put there for us.”

“He gathers me up and I’m weightless before he sets me on the railing. He’s the only thing keeping me from falling back, out of the reach of daylight. I’m not afraid of falling. I don’t fear the sky beyond the train tracks like I did before. I can go anywhere just so long as it’s with him.”

“We accept gods that don’t speak to us.  We accept gods that would place us in a world filled with injustices and do nothing as we struggle.  It’s easier than accepting that there’s nothing out there at all, and that, in our darkest moments, we are truly alone.”

“So many of the things I’ve wanted are the things I’ve been taught to fear.”

Overall . . .

I loved Perfect Ruin because it differs from all the other dystopian novels I have read. It is about a young girl, whose thoughts and ideas are too large to be contained on the limited space of Internment and aspires to visit the ground and discover what’s outside the floating island she lives on. The world of Interment is very unique, which was not only admiring, but a pulling force that sucked me into this book. DeStefano’s writing was descriptive and awe-inspiring, enabling me to visualize the events on Interment and wonder about them. I was able to connect the events on Interment with the real world, which I loved because it made this fantasy world more realistic. And the ending . . . it will render you speechless.

If you are a fan of original, dystopian books, you need to read Perfect Ruin immediately. You will not regret it; instead, you will wish its sequel would be published sooner.

klaudiasig1

Top Ten Books of 2013 ~ Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2014

Top Ten Books of 2013

*listed in no particular order*

1.

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2.

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3.

13645069

4.

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5.

9460487

6.

17415470

7.

11870085

8.

12157407

9.

13335037

10.

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Each of these books will hold a special place in my heart. They were all truly unique and original and I highly recommend you read them if you have not done so already.

*I am aware that not all books were published in 2013, but I read them that year, hence why they are included in the list*

[Covers are linked to Goodreads for your convenience]

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Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2014

*listed in no particular order*

1.

18635064

2.

18667954

3.

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4.

18140842

5.

12396528

6.

Sanctum (Asylum #2) by Madeline Roux

7.

Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto

8.

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

9.

Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles #2) by Lauren DeStefano

10.

The Infinite Sea (The Fifth Wave #2) by Rick Yancey

I cannot wait to read these novels and see the cover reveals of those without a cover at the moment. Note: it was extremely difficult for me to pick only ten books that I’m looking forward to next year, but I managed to choose them somehow. Maybe because most of them are sequels to my favorite books from 2013.

[Covers and titles are linked to Goodreads for your convenience]

So what are your favorite books from 2013 and books you’re looking forward to in 2014?