Author: Mindy McGinnis

Book Review – A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

November 20, 2015 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2015, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnisA Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 6th 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Gothic, Historical Fiction, Mental Health
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Not a Drop to Drink

two-stars

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.

‘They all had their terrors, but at least the spiders that lived in the new girl’s veins were imaginary. Grace has learned long ago that the true horrors of this world were other people.’

A Madness So Discreet introduces Grace Mae, a young woman who has been placed in an asylum in an attempt to hide her out of wedlock pregnancy in addition to the horrible secret to how she came to be pregnant in the first place. She is certainly of sound mind, however, the long nights spent listening to the screams of patients echoing the corridors is enough to effect even the toughest of individuals. When an opportunity to leave the asylum is presented to her she jumps at the opportunity for a fresh start, but Grace soon finds that sometimes your past finds a way to sneak up on you.

The beginning is one of the most shocking and audacious introductions I have come across in YA. We’re introduced to Grace and the patients in the Wayburne Lunatic Asylum of Boston and a terrifying picture is quickly painted. This is set in the 19th century and patients are not treated as people, they are not given sufficient food or clothing, and they are thrown into the basement cells which leak rainwater from outside as a form of punishment. There are other far worse punishments described as well. It was grisly and utterly distressing but considering grisly and distressing are totally my thing, I was immediately foreseeing a first-rate reading experience. Alas, the book took an odd turn after that.

‘They work their discreet types of madness on us, power and pain, and we hold on to our truths in the darkness.’

Going from a decidedly Gothic feel and leaving the confines of the asylum, it quickly transforms into a something of a crime thriller, just minus the thrill. Grace is placed in the care of Dr. Thornhollow after he takes a keen interest in her sharp mind and believes she can be of assistance to him. Why he goes to such dramatic lengths to get her out of the asylum is beyond me though. See, Dr. Thornhollow believes himself to be Sherlock in his spare time, investigating crimes and catching killers. Towards the end we once again take an odd turn and it quickly becomes an episode of Law & Order.

Referencing a book as having a Gothic feel, set in an asylum with crime and legal aspects should have been a home-run for me and I can’t decide whether all aspects combined were simply too much or it was simply too far-fetched for it to feel any way authentic. I would have much preferred Grace’s story to play out within the asylum walls, wrestling her inner-demons.

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Book Review – Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

October 10, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnisNot a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 24th 2013
Pages: 352
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: A Madness So Discreet

three-half-stars

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….
With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own.

Seeing that my one of my favorite genres is dystopian/post-apocalyptic, this was high on my expectations list. Post-apocalyptic became super popular in recent years and practically all the ways the world could possibly come to an end have been covered. A world where the water has been contaminated and clean water is a precious commodity? I had yet to read a book covering that so I eagerly awaited this one.

The story starts off strong, introducing Lynn and her mother, a duo that has learned to survive on their own in the harsh world. For years it’s just been the two of them protecting the pond that gives them the only hope of living to see another day. The day to day accounting of the daily tasks they performed in order to survive were detailed and authentic. As the book progresses, we’re given vague details regarding how the world came to be and while it was enough to paint an adequate picture it wasn’t sufficient enough to appease my curiosity of this harsh world.

The writing is bleak and subtle, but albeit fitting. It properly depicts a world that we could only dream of; a world where turning on your faucet to get water is no longer a reality. Lynn is the definition of strength and is willing and able to do whatever needs to be done to protect the pond. She reminded me of the character Ree from Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, another literary figure that was burdened with great responsibility at a young age. Lynn grew up solely with her mother, only seeing glimpses of a single neighbor, and seeing any others through the cross-hairs of her rifle before she took them down. There was no guilt or remorse for those acts, she was simply doing what needed to be done to secure her own personal survival. She was a solid character during the first 1/3 or so of the novel but I had issue with how she changed as the book progressed.

Without giving too many details as most are potential spoilers, more characters are introduced and a romance even develops. Considering the ways that Lynn was raised, being completely unaccustomed to social skills or people in general, the fact that a romance was introduced seemed too far fetched. Personally I felt that her willingness to let people into her life and building trust was difficult enough to incorporate into what we already knew of her as a character, but a romance was simply unnecessary.

Books that I feel are most similar are: Ashfall, The Road, and Orleans so if you’re fans of those you should consider checking this out. If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure, this isn’t it. Not a Drop to Drink is a story that slowly builds with intensity and is predominantly a story of surviving in a harsh and grim world.

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