Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Book Review – A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Posted November 20, 2015 by Bonnie in 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 on October 6th 2015
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
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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

Posted October 10, 2013 by Bonnie in 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
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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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Waiting on Wednesday – Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell

Posted August 21, 2013 by Bonnie in Waiting on Wednesday / 9 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Dear Killer by Katherine EwellDear Killer by Katherine Ewell
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on April 1st 2014
Genres: Horror, Thriller
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Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe.

Psychological thrillers always interest me and this one has a Dexter and ‘I Hunt Killers’ feel to it I think… will definitely be picking this one up. 
 
What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Book Review – Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth

Posted April 6, 2012 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2012, YA / 3 Comments

Book Review – Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica RothDivergent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 3, 2011
Pages: 501
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Sci-fi
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
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three-half-stars

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

“Decades ago our ancestors realized that it is not political ideology, religious belief, race, or nationalism that is to blame for a warring world. Rather, they determined that it was the fault of human personality – of humankind’s inclination toward evil, in whatever form that is. They divided into factions that sought to eradicate those qualities they believed responsible for the world’s disarray.”

‘Divergent’ was one of those books that I simply decided not to read (at first) because there was so much hype about it despite the fact that I’m a huge dystopian fan. When it was awarded the Goodreads Choice Award for Favorite Book of 2011 I still hadn’t had much interest in reading it though. Sometimes after that attention has died down I’ll decide to finally read it and almost a year after its initial release I’m finally doing it.

‘Divergent’ is set in dystopian Chicago where society is separated by factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Erudite (the intelligent), Amity (the peaceful), and Candor (the honest). At the age of 16 all individuals are to take an aptitude test which determines which faction they are best suited to and then pledge their loyalty to the faction of their choosing.

I had a hard time connecting with this book in the beginning, not because I didn’t find it interesting, but because I found this dystopian society interesting and I wanted to know more about it but it wasn’t thoroughly explained. I also had difficulty really feeling anything for the main character Tris; she was a hard one to get a hold on. The main issue I think I had was she was an extremely emotionless character. I enjoyed watching her development as the story continued though. Once she really started feeling a part of Dauntless was when she (and the story) really came alive for me. It took me 7 days to read the first 30% and 1 day to read the final 70%.

The action scenes and the impossible stunts these Dauntless members would undertake were exhilarating and an immense amount of fun to read. The ending was quite exciting and I honestly didn’t see it coming.

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Book Review – Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

Posted January 17, 2012 by Bonnie in Book Reviews, Read in 2012, YA / 0 Comments

Book Review – Love and Leftovers by Sarah TregayLove and Leftovers on January 3, 2012
Pages: 453
Format: eBook
Amazon
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two-half-stars

My wish is to fall cranium over Converse in dizzy daydream-worthy love.

(If only it were that easy.

Marcie has been dragged away from home for the summer—from Idaho to a family summerhouse in New Hampshire. She’s left behind her friends, a group of freaks and geeks called the Leftovers, including her emo-rocker boyfriend, and her father.

By the time Labor Day rolls around, Marcie suspects this “summer vacation” has become permanent. She has to start at a new school, and there she leaves behind her Leftover status when a cute boy brings her breakfast and a new romance heats up. But understanding love, especially when you’ve watched your parents’ affections end, is elusive. What does it feel like, really? Can you even know it until you’ve lost it?

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written story of one girl’s journey navigating family, friends, and love, and a compelling and sexy read that teens will gobble up whole.

Love & Leftovers is about Marcie, a soon to be 16 year-old girl who has recently been uprooted from her home in Idaho after her parents have split up. Her father left her mother for a younger man and it’s left Marie and her mother devastated. Her mother, suffering from severe depression, takes off for their summer home in New Hampshire. Originally thinking this is only temporary; Marie starts to realize that they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

This book dealt with several issues: broken homes, cheating, depression, and finding love. The story was well written but I was left feeling underwhelmed by the story itself as I felt it lacked distinction… up until the last page I kept waiting for something more to happen. Unfortunately that just didn’t happen.

I had an issue with Marcie’s ‘fear’ that the boyfriend she left behind in Idaho just might be gay and that’s why he never tried to sleep with her. I understand that that ‘issue’ broke up her family so it may be credible for her to think that could happen to her again, but it never crossed her mind that she’s 15 and maybe he was just being a decent guy? Maybe my grown-up mature self has difficulty grasping this ‘possibility’ but it just seemed far-fetched.

“But I’m worried that if Linus is gay like my father, I’ll become depressed like my mother.”

I’ve been looking forward to this story for a while, but much like The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight I was also left feeling underwhelmed. Yes, there were several great lines and there were some cute moments where I found myself smiling, but overall it just didn’t hit the mark for me. I loved that it was written in verse; however, being a huge fan of verse I’ve found that not all stories can be written this way and achieve what it was originally meant to.

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