Monday, May 20, 2013

Mini Reviews: Embrace, The Diviners, and The Madman's Daughter

Goodreads summary:

It starts with a whisper: “It’s time for you to know who you are…”

Violet Eden dreads her seventeenth birthday. After all, it’s hard to get too excited about the day that marks the anniversary of your mother’s death. As if that wasn’t enough, disturbing dreams haunt her sleep and leave her with very real injuries. There’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms that wasn’t there before.

Violet is determined to get some answers, but nothing could have prepared her for the truth. The guy she thought she could fall in love with has been keeping his identity a secret: he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her.

A centuries-old battle between fallen angels and the protectors of humanity has chosen its new warrior. It’s a fight Violet doesn’t want, but she lives her life by two rules: don’t run and don’t quit. When angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Why this book is so popular is beyond me.  I just really don't see how others can enjoy it.  Shall I mention the indecisive main character?  Or the weird love triangle?  Maybe the way one of her love interests is a freaky, manipulative stalker.  And don't forget the cliché, airheaded best friend who serves no role in the book other than to encourage the MC to get a boyfriend.  As for the plot, I haven't even gotten started on that...

Basically, this book was like one big train wreck for me.  There wasn't anything I liked.  What irks me the most is the way Violet never knows what she wants.  One second she hates being part angel and "just wants to live a normal life!" then she gets mad at one of the guys she's in love with (I don't remember his name) and is all, "You lied to me my whole life!" and THEN she meets another guy and falls in love (or lust, actually) with him.  And of course, she can't make up her mind and constantly switches between the two guys.  Not only that, but this second love interest actually manipulates what she thinks.  Yes, he can manipulate her mind.  And she still trusts him.  Am I the only one who finds this creepy?

The story itself was torture to read.  The plot just bored me and was much like any other angel/paranormal/romance book.  Definitely not continuing this series.

My rating:  2 out of 10 (1 star)

Goodreads summary:

Evie O'Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City--and she is pos-i-toot-ly thrilled. New York is the city of speakeasies, shopping, and movie palaces! Soon enough, Evie is running with glamorous Ziegfield girls and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is Evie has to live with her Uncle Will, curator of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult--also known as "The Museum of the Creepy Crawlies."

When a rash of occult-based murders comes to light, Evie and her uncle are right in the thick of the investigation. And through it all, Evie has a secret: a mysterious power that could help catch the killer--if he doesn't catch her first.


After recently going through post-Downton Abbey depression, I decided I needed to read a historical book set sometime around that time period.  And WOW, The Diviners was not a disappointment at all.  This is truly a hidden gem of a book.  You simply can't go wrong when you combine the 1920's and a supernatural murder mystery.

Okay, I love Evie.  Sure, she's a little airheaded at times, but despite all her faults, this girl is hilarious and real and a truly unique protagonist that I loved.  And how about the romance, which developed ever so slowly and sweetly - finally, an achingly realistic romance.  Then there's the setting, which is described so well.  Libba Bray really is amazing at creating the mood and atmosphere of the 1920's.  And the mystery was so creepy and suspenseful!  I loved the dark twists and turns.

The only thing I wasn't completely crazy about is how long the book is.  It's nearly 600 pages, and I do think *some* of it could have been cut out.  Still, the writing is so rich and gorgeous that it more than makes up for the length of the book!  I will definitely be reading more by Libba Bray and I am highly anticipating the sequel to The Diviners!

My rating:  9 out of 10 (4.5 stars)

Goodreads summary:

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.


Most people seem to love this book, and while I enjoyed it, there were some aspects that failed to impress me.  I never really connected with the main character, and she really didn't seem to have much of a personality.  The love triangle was unnecessary and a bit annoying at times.  I didn't care for either of the love interests, although I do appreciate the way the love triangle ended up becoming important to the plot.

So although I didn't like the main character or romance much, I loved the creepiness of the plot.  It's so suspenseful, horrifying, and scary.  Yes, the story dragged on and there were a few times I got bored, but overall I loved the gory, gothic feel to the story.  So if you're looking for a gothic thriller, I'd definitely recommend this, but keep in mind that there are a few tedious clichés mixed in.

My rating:  7 out of 10 (3.5 stars)

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