Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series: Shades of London series
Pages: 290 pages hardcover, 304 paperback/ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

I’m always afraid to start book series because the second book rarely lives up to the first. For some reason, the second book always seems like more of a way to get from A to C without really having much of a point. The Madness Underneath is not one of those books. It’s definitely not a book that can stand by itself, but it is its own book and serves a greater purpose than tying book 1 to book 3.

The Madness Underneath deals with the aftermath. The aftermath of the attack on Rory, the aftermath of her newly discovered power, the aftermath of what happened in the bathroom at Wexford. There’s a lot of material to work with in this book and Johnson does a suburb job of handling it all.

Rory has been living at home with her parents, but just wants to get back to her life in London. She wants to go back and act like she’s the same person she was before everything happened. Once back at school, she realized she’s bit off a little more than she can chew. The world didn’t stop for her while she was gone, and now she’s lagging just a little bit behind everyone else.

On top of that, she still has to deal with her new ghost knowledge and powers. There are things going on that only she and a few of her friends know about, but even they aren’t sure how to handle this new situation.

The Madness Underneath didn’t have me fearing every little noise, but it still had a sense of creepiness. There was no way to guess at what was about to happen and the ghosts are still sticking around. This was a book even better than the first. After the major cliffhanger in The Name of the Star, I thought I’d be able to handle anything Johnson threw at me. But the ending of The Madness Underneath punched me in the gut. I simply cannot wait to read what comes next.

If The Madness Underneath sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Thank you to Putnam and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend series
Pages: 356 pages paperback, 372 hardcover/ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve been getting lucky lately when it comes to reading the middle book in a series. So far, they’ve been avoiding the sophomore slump and have been as good, if not better, than the first novel. Prodigy definitely doesn’t disappoint.

There is no break in the action from Legend. The story starts right away with June and Day trying to find the Patriots. From there, it is non-stop, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat fantastic. The world Lu has created drew me right in and it felt like I was running right along with them.

June and Day’s relationship has moved quickly. They’ve only known each other for about a month when all of this goes on. That doesn’t bother me though. There is something so perfect about how these characters are written, so amazingly human and real, that everything that happens feels perfect. They have those lusty moments teens are supposed to have, they can be over-thinkers, jealousy is there, they say things without thinking…all of that combines to create two wonderful people in the middle of a sweet romance in the middle of a crazy world.

The twists and turns this novel takes are out of this world. Just when I’d think I’d have something figured out, Lu would throw a new loop in and pull me completely off course. And the ending. Wow. I had been hearing about the gut-punch that was awaiting me at the end of this book and thought I was ready. I had prepared myself for so many different scenarios that when the end actually came and I turned the last page, I was still reeling.

Prodigy is the kind of book that you can’t start and stop. You have to sit down and read it all in one go. It pulls at your heart, hurts you where it counts, and yet you still keep coming back for more. I cannot wait to get my hands on Champion and find out what is in the future for June and Day.

If Prodigy sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Shadows in the Silence by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title: Shadows in the Silence
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Series: Angelfire series
Pages: 469 pages hardcover, 384 ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

Shadows in the Silence blew me away. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading and as soon as I finished, I had that feeling. There’s really no way to describe that feeling, but you know when you have it.

Ellie really comes into her own in this novel. She’s strong, determined, and really figures out who she is. I really liked the focus on Ellie and her humanity. Moulton did an amazing job of speaking about what makes humans human without sounding like she was trying to preach; she wrote about souls perfectly. The struggle Ellie faces between saving the human world and possibly losing herself, or keeping who she is and risking evil taking over is done in a breathtaking way.

Will and Ellie together are fabulous. They realize that while love can make you weak in the knees, it does not make you weak in the heart. It gives you something to fight for when everything looks like it is stacked against you. They rely on each other, but they aren’t dependent upon each other. There’s a wonderful balance of give and take in their relationship and it’s perfect.

I was very hesitant about reading the Angelfire series. I just wasn’t sure if it would be my cup of tea. Moulton’s writing shook me and made me think, really slow down and savor each word she wrote. Ellie and Will’s story is timeless and I’m completely in love with them. Shadows in the Silence is a gripping, fast-paced novel that keeps you turning page after page, needing to know what’s next. Even in the darkest times, Moulton created a world that still had that ray of hope.

This is a definite must-read series for me. Don’t make the mistake I did and pass it up for two years. Read it, and read it as soon as possible.

If Shadows in the Silence sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton

Title: Wings of the Wicked
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Series: Angelfire series
Pages: 516 pages hardcover, 544 paperback, 533 ebook
Rating: ★★★★★

I had heard of Angelfire a couple years ago. I thought it sounded a little meh and predictable. I didn’t look at it again for almost two years, when the final book in the series was getting ready to be released. I both love and hate myself for that decision. I love that by putting reading it off for two years, I don’t have to wait a year to see how the series ends.

I hate myself because that is two years that this book series wasn’t in my life.

Wings of the Wicked was spectacular. If the action and drama of having to destroy the demonic wasn’t enough, Ellie must deal with finding a way to balance every piece of her. She needs to be Gabriel, she needs to be Ellie, and she needs to be Will’s. There is always the worry in her mind of losing one of those pieces and not knowing what her world would be like if a chunk of it was suddenly gone.

Will and Ellie’s romance was superb. It wasn’t the typical Young Adult, teen love angst. Yes, some of that was there, but there was another layer to it because even if they looked young, their souls had been through so much. I felt so caught up in their every interaction, my heart hurting at one moment and soaring the next.

I’m so happy and relieved I was able to get Shadows in the Silence the moment I finished Wings of the Wicked because I would have crumbled if I had to wait. I want to dive right in and let Moulton’s story wrap its arms around me and take me right back into Ellie’s life. I am officially a Courtney Allison Moulton fan.

If Wings of the Wicked sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Stealing Parker
Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundren Oaks series
Pages: 462 pages
Rating: ★★★★

Sometimes, companion novels worry me. I spent time falling in love with the characters of one book and introducing me to other characters can rattle me a bit. I was already so in love with one set of characters, why not write more of their story? Why risk writing a new story when people already love the original?

Stealing Parker makes me rethink my view on companion novels. It is a separate entity from Catching Jordan, but it is still just as sweet. Through the entire novel, I just wanted to pull Parker away from the choices she was making and make her see what she was doing. My heart hurt for her and how much hurt she had gone through. Trying to navigate through some tough issues while still being a teen is never easy.

Right from the beginning, it’s easy to see things aren’t going to be easy. Things keep building up; creating a precarious tower that could fall at any second. For each little happy thing that happened, something equally as horrible was added to the pile until it all falls down.

The ending was sweet, but I felt like there was a little bit more story to tell. Parker has a few choices in front of her and I wish I got to read the path she decides to take. The end tied up loose ends, but the ends were still a little bit frayed and there was the possibility to explore just a little bit more.

I really didn’t think I would end up enjoying Kenneally’s books as much as I have. Catching Jordan caught my attention and as soon as I finished it, I knew I was going to be a Kenneally fan. She writes teens exceptionally well and manages to put in some good life tips while doing so. Stealing Parker is another fabulously sweet novel and has me anxiously awaiting Things I Can’t Forget.

If Stealing Parker sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Title: The Tutor’s Daughter
Author: Juile Klassen
Pages: 412 pages paperback, 416 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been a fan of Klassen for a couple years. She’s able to write Regency romance extremely well. Despite a slow start, The Tutor’s Daughter fits right in with the style and sweetness of Klassen’s previous novels.

Emma Smallwood and her father travel to Cornwall set to tutor the two younger brothers of students Mr. Smallwood once had at his school. They hardly get off on the right foot, arriving somewhat unexpectedly. Emma had been friends with Phillip Weston and tormented by his older brother Henry when they were boys at her father’s school, and she’s both anxious and nervous to see how living in the same home goes.

Right from the beginning, it’s easy to tell there are a couple secrets being kept. Odd things keep happening and no one seems to have the right explanation for them. I will say I guessed one of the secrets early on, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

The first third of the novel moved a little too slowly for my tastes, but the last third definitely helped make up for that. There’s action and accusations and it’s wonderful.

Klassen once again proves her fantastic ability to write a 19th century English romance. The language she uses is perfect, and she’s able to paint the world as it was. The Tutor’s Daughter has just the right amount of mystery and romance, plus it doesn’t over do it when it comes to the religious discussions. I know this genre isn’t for everyone, but for lovers of Regency romances, Klassen is an author to add to your bookshelves.

If The Tutor’s Daughter sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

Title: Boundless
Author: Cynthia Hand
Series: Unearthly series
Pages: 438 pages hardcover, 448 paperback, 320 ebook
Rating: ★★★★

I’ve been looking forward to reading Boundless for a while. I was nervous and excited and anxious to start it as soon as I got my hands on it. I knew once I started reading, I wouldn’t be able to stop until I had read every last word.

Boundless starts off the fall of Clara’s first year at Stanford. She feels a little alone, even though Angela and Christian are there with her. Angela begins to drift away from her and Christian wants more than she can give. She misses her mom, her Jackson friends, and Tucker. On top of that, she’s trying to balance being a typical college freshman with being an angel. Every choice she makes can alter the lives of those around her.

While I’ve been a huge fan of Tucker for the last two books, I did warm up to Christian. I could see why Clara struggled so much between her feelings for the two. It was a black and white choice. An author has to be amazing in order to make me love both guys in a love triangle, but Hand easily does it. I knew either choice Clara made would be bittersweet.

As for the other important part of any novel, the plot, it was just amazing. It had me anxious, waiting for someone to pop out and say the figurative “Boo!” I was completely engrossed, barely paying attention to anything in the real world. It kept me engaged and interested.

Boundless is the satisfying end to a fantastic paranormal series, definitely one of the best I’ve read. It has strong messages about life and love, and even with the paranormal aspect, it speaks true to life. Finishing a book is always bittersweet, but Boundless ends with hope lighting the future. Amazing book, amazing series, amazing read.

If Boundless sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
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