Saturday, October 31, 2015

Rage and Darkness: A Madness So Discreet Review

Title: A Madness So Discreet
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: October 6th, 2015!
*Source: physical ARC.

From Goodreads...
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.

My Review!
*Minor spoilers!

Please tell me there’s going to be a sequel. PRETTY PLEASE?! That’s all I want in life. You know, I don’t think I paid enough attention to this book until a few weeks before its release, and I don’t know why because it sounded like my kind of book. As a psychology major, I’m always very interested in the exploration of mental illness (and especially mental institutions and the like) in books, so when I finally got my hands on a copy of it, I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold off reading it for long. And I’m so happy I listened to my mood, said why the hell not, and just started it. Because once I did, I never wanted it to stop.

Normally historical fiction isn’t my thing. I tend to find HF books boring, but this one was so NOT. And I think that’s because of both the way Mindy McGinnis wrote it, and the subject. I think I remember reading in an interview that she spent like a whole year researching this book before she even started it, and you can tell. This was thoroughly and completely researched, and the historical details were so spot-on. I know a lot about mental institutions’ histories from psych classes, but there is only so much you can learn in a 15-week course. There is so much about them, and the way they ran, that has been forgotten. Ignored. Because you know what? It wasn’t pretty. Mental institutions were AWFUL, and anyone could be thrown in one, not just the insane. And the way they were treated was truly horrific, as evidenced by what happens in this book, especially in this time when people still didn’t understand the mentally ill.

The main character, Grace, is full of strength. The situation that she was in, the treatment she received from the people who were supposed to take care of her, the shit that she went through, all of it just toughened her up. Her strength kept her going, even when she wanted to give up hope. But she persevered, and found a purpose. A purpose that let her finally know what safe and comfortable felt like, that gave her control and power over her life. Grace has a quick wit, and is exceedingly smart, a trait that entices the incomparable Dr. Thornhollow to take a chance on her, to give her a second shot at life. And she takes it, all the while still trying to move on from what happened in the mental institute, and before. It takes its toll on her, and makes her question a lot about humans and the fine line between good and evil. But that inner strength of hers and that need to be useful give her fulfillment for the first time in her life. And after everything she went through, she still manages to smile and laugh, which I think is incredibly beautiful.

Dr. Thornhollow gave her that purpose, and brought some light back into her life. The good fellow was performing lobotomies on some of the patients at her old institute, and was stunned when Grace asked for one. At that point, she had basically given up on life and happiness. But he convinced her that she was more useful alive, and that she could aid him in his work. The doctor wanted to try out his science to catch criminals, to use psychology and look at all aspects of a crime than just the during part, to try to capture the killer. And he knew that Grace’s eye for detail and her intelligent mind could help him out in Ohio, so he staged her death and smuggled her out of Boston under the cloak of night. And once there, the two of them work together to solve a mystery that ended in moral dilemmas and questioned what made one insane or not, what made someone strictly good or evil. But, as we all know, that area is so gray and the lines not so easily drawn in the sand.

Through the crime-solving, the two of them get to know each other, and we the readers do as well. The banter between them, and the other characters in this book, were so on point. I was cackling aloud many times, and wanting tissues at others. The streaks of dry humor lightened up the tension and broke through the dreary atmosphere when needed. Especially with Thornhollow. This dude is hilariously socially awkward, doesn’t totally understand human emotions, and can throw out a one-liner like no one’s business. Seriously, the under-the-breath insults had me stopping to laugh for a few seconds before I could move on. I think he and Grace complemented each other SUPER well, and I’m honestly a little disappointed nothing ever evolved out of it. Because I think it would have been amazing, but I do understand how it didn’t really fit the story, or Grace’s character, to have a romance.

This book was chocked full of friendships, though, and they were just as fulfilling. I especially loved Grace’s friends, first with Mrs. Clay in the Boston institute, and later on with Nell (the dirty-talking Irish lass) and Elizabeth (the quieter soul who talked to a non-gendered specific String on her shoulder). The friendship between the latter two and Grace was wonderful, especially since it really helped strengthen the main character and give her more to look forward to than killings. I adored how they supported each other, and how they looked after one another. And the banter between them was just so fun and REAL.

Throughout the book, I was hooked on the storytelling, and I was just as obsessed with finding out who the killer was as Thornhollow and Grace. I loved how they used psychology in their discussions, and how they started looking at a whole person instead of just the moment when the murder happened (which is what most police and criminal investigators were doing at the time). Thornhollow had decided that it would be beneficial and help catch the killer a lot faster, and he was testing that theory out with Grace alongside him. I wasn’t sure about the whole situation at the end, but then I was like who am I kidding SWEET, SWEET JUSTICE WAS SERVED. I was happy, especially with how it helped Grace move on from everything that had happened to her. Even when she lost herself a few times, and backtracked, her development was truly something to behold by the end.

I am serious about a sequel. I really want one. I want way more books about Thornhollow and Grace solving crimes (and falling in love MAYBE POSSIBLY YES?). I’m kind of obsessed, to say the least. Going in, I knew I would probably really enjoy this book. I just didn’t know HOW MUCH I would love it. And that I would be dying for more, of these characters and of the storyline. I need more books like this, ones that explore psychology ala Criminal Minds, and ones that are dark but also full of hope. A Madness So Discreet was a deliciously horrific thriller that pulled me along on a journey of wills, strength, and one woman’s fight to find her voice.


Favorite Quotes!
"Dear child, do you even know all the rage that is inside you?"

"Sometimes the loveliest places harbor the worst monsters."


RATING:
    

Friday, October 30, 2015

Brighton Walsh Double Feature: Exposed and My Strongest Weakness

Title: Exposed (Captive, #2)
Author: Brighton Walsh
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: July 21st, 2015!
*eARC kindly provided by St. Martin's Press via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...

In this sexy, suspenseful New Adult novel, a young woman hiding from her criminal past is taken captive by her ex-boyfriend, the ultimate bad boy.

Evie is about to embark on the perfect life. Beautiful, poised, and engaged to a rising business star, she fits the part of trophy wife perfectly, except for one thing: her entire identity is a lie. 


Five years ago she created a new identity for herself, but it all crashes back when something she witnessed years ago comes back to haunt her. Now she's in danger of losing more than her social status. 


Determined to protect the careful life she's built for herself, Evie doesn't want anything to do with Riley, the criminal for hire who broke her heart years ago. But Riley has other ideas. He's never forgotten Evie, and to protect her, he steals her away. Hidden from the world, sparks begin to fly as old memories resurface and their passion reignites.


My Review!
Okay, so this is gonna be short and sweet because I am so behind on reviews right now.

I really enjoyed this book, as I have with all of Brighton's I've read so far. It wasn't the strongest, nor my favorite (I don't think anyone's gonna beat Jason and Tessa Ever After so that's not really fair competition in any case). BUT it was just a lot of fun to read. And steamy, very steamy. ;) Riley and Evie have a very intense and passionate relationship, one that makes the fast-paced romance more believable when you add in that they were first loves for each other back in high school. And their feelings for each other have never gone away, a fact that comes to light very early on in the book. But they have a lot of obstacles to go through: Evie's past, her life the last year (which kinda felt convenient when you find out about it, but I wasn't too bothered by it), and the people who still want her dead. It all led up to a resolution that I felt was anticlimatic and way too simple. But I digress, this book was more about Evie and Riley, their second chance, and the lengths people will go to to protect the ones they love. And yay for Ghost cameos!

Exposed was just a fun, hot romance between two characters who deserved a second chance at love.
RATING:
   

*****


Title: '90s Playlist
Author(s): Brighton Walsh, Lorelie Brown, Amy Jo Cousins, Audra North, Rebecca Grace Allen, Jennifer Blackwood
Publisher: N/A
Release Date: October 13th, 2015!
*eARC kindly provided by one of the authors, Brighton. Thank you, wonderful!*

From Goodreads...
Six stories of sex, love, and being young in the ‘90s, inspired by songs of the decade…

My Strongest Weakness by Brighton Walsh
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. No one would find out; no one would have to know. And then once turned into twice, and twice turned into several times a week, and now pierced, punk-loving, rebellious Tia Lanning is banging Mason Brooks, the big man on campus and Mr. All American. But banging him isn’t the problem. Falling for him is. Especially when he’s content to let her remain his dirty little secret. 

Worthwhile by Audra North
Jill didn’t expect her semester in Leeds to start with getting dumped by her boyfriend. Especially since she only came to England to be with him. Two weeks in, all she wants to do is go home. Finding love with someone new is definitely not an option. But when she literally stumbles into grad student Stuart’s arms, her experience abroad becomes a lot more worthwhile.

Creep by Lorelie Brown
Roni lives for the raves in Oakland’s warehouse district. Dancing till dawn in white gloves under black lights breathes life into her soul. Nothing will get her kicked out of her underground world faster than turning over Skittles, her dealer. She refuses to provide info about the underage runaway to his big brother Tom. But Tom is going to find Skittles with or without Roni’s cooperation. But Tom is special. He’s rich, handsome and bold. Roni wishes she was special. And like the rave scene she loves, nothing lasts forever.

Smells Like Teen Spirit by Rebecca Grace Allen
Rory Stone's days of grunge and poetry are behind her, her reality now in bags of Arabian brew, and counting the change in the tip jar. Can indie singer James Griffith rock her muse back into the present?

The Belle vs. the BDOC by Amy Jo Cousins
Shelby Summerfield is a gold star lesbian, even if she doesn’t look like one. Florence Truong is the only other dyke at Carlisle College in 1993 not wearing plaid flannel, and Shelby sets her sights on seduction. But instead of a delightful tumble in the sheets, Florence calls her out for being a straight girl. With seduction off the table, Shelby settles for revenge for her humiliation. But if all she wants is to show up her campus rival, how come Shelby can't stop herself from saving Florence instead of annihilating her?

Little Red Thong by Jennifer Blackwood
Emily Jones is ready to embark on the most epic spring break trip of her college career with her bestie, twin brother, and her brother’s best friend, Chase. Chase has been in love with Emily since the eighth grade when she kicked his ass in laser tag. He’s not going to piss away his last chance to tell her how he feels. When the group decides to play a game of Spring Break BINGO that involves body shots, a red thong, and secret hookups, this is the perfect catalyst to get him out of the friend zone. But as things get heated, they have to decide if twenty years of friendship is worth putting in jeopardy because of a game, and what will happen when they hit dry land.


My Review of My Strongest Weakness!
This review is only going to be for Brighton Walsh’s short story instead of the whole book. For the moment! I do want to read the rest at some point, but I was mostly interested in this because Brighton wrote  a story here. So confession: I don’t remember the 90s. I was born in ‘93, so I was just a kid. So I’m not the expert on all things from the decade, but I could pick out some definite 90s stuff there. Haha, I’m going to get so much shit. I WILL READ ANYTHING BY BRIGHTON, OKAY, EVEN IF IT’S NOT MY ELEMENT.

Anyway! I paid more attention to the story than the actual theme, and I adored it! I loved the whole opposites attract, hate-to-love romance. And I loved the message that you shouldn’t judge people by what they look like or who they are on the outside. It’s the person on the inside that counts. Throughout the story, our two main characters are loathe that they feel so much for the other, but they can’t stay away. However, due to both of their need to not disrupt the status quo, they decide to keep their “relationship” a secret. But we all know how that works.

Tia and Mason fall for each other, despite the fact that neither of them are quite okay with telling the world about their relationship. Mason more so than Tia. He had a lot of growing up to do, cared more about his status in a frat than he did about standing up for his feelings for a girl he never thought he’d fall for. And Tia was stubborn about it as well, though she was more willing to give them a chance. And when Mason fucks up, she has to decide if he’s still worth it, if making a go at being more than just friends-with-benefits is what she really wants. Even though this was a short story, I still really enjoyed their banter, and loved seeing how their relationship turned into love. They were opposites in a lot of regard, but they fit well together. They just had to stop being so idiotic about status quo and cliques to realize that. :p

I knew I would like Brighton’s story, as I’ve enjoyed all of her books. Even though it didn’t give me the nostalgic feel as it would people who actually grew up in the 90s old enough to remember it, I really liked it. And I would have totally have read a whole book about these two characters.
RATING:
   

*****

I will seriously read whatever this woman writes, no matter what! She's one of my all-time favorite authors, and I SO enjoyed both of these stories. And I'm pretty much dying for Paige in Progress. Have you guys read any of her books yet? IF YOU HAVEN'T, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, GO DO THAT! :D

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Release Week Blitz: Surviving Ice by K.A. Tucker


Title: Surviving Ice (Burying Water, #4)
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: October 27th, 2015!

From Goodreads...

The USA TODAY bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths series and Burying Water—which Kirkus Reviews called “a sexy, romantic, gangster-tinged page-turner”—returns with a new novel packed with romance, plot twists, and psychological suspense.

Ivy Lee, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have finally found it working in her uncle’s tattoo shop in San Francisco. But all that changes when a robbery turns deadly, compelling her to pack up her things yet again.

When they need the best, they call him. That’s why Sebastian Riker is back in California, cleaning up the mess made after a tattoo shop owner with a penchant for blackmail got himself shot. But it’s impossible to get the answers he needs from a dead body, leaving him to look elsewhere. Namely, to the twenty-something-year-old niece who believes this was a random attack. Who needs to keep believing that until Sebastian finds what he’s searching for.

Ivy has one foot out of San Francisco when a chance encounter with a stranger stalls her departure. She’s always been drawn to intense men, so it’s no wonder that she now finds a reason to stay after all, quickly intoxicated by his dark smile, his intimidating strength, and his quiet control.

That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter was no accident—and that their attraction could be her undoing.

I love this series, so y'all should definitely pick the books up! SO GOOD.

Buy Links!


SURVIVING ICE Excerpt:
A soft meow catches my ear. The resident tabby cat—a whore who hops from one villa to the next, sharing her affections without discrimination—struts across the thick balcony wall to me, her tail curling in the air as she approaches. I stroke the soft patch of fur beneath her chin and listen to her purr while I begin to mentally prepare myself for my return to California.
It’s been almost five years since I last stepped foot on American soil. Soil that once brought me purpose, love, and determination. Then pain, weakness.
Disgrace.
What will it bring me now?
My hand drops from the cat’s chin, deciding I’ve given her more than enough. She leans forward, head-butts my arm— allowing me a chance to reconsider, to show her the kind of love that I am no longer capable of—before giving up and scuttling away.
With a sigh and one last glance over the peaceful blue waters, I flick the cigarette butt that sits mashed up on the railing and venture back inside to where an olive-skinned Grecian beauty is sprawled across my bed. She’s the smoker, and an unexpected outcome of last night, while I enjoyed a quiet solo meal by the water. A curvy, sensual woman, much like the tabby cat, stalking in to impose herself on my life. Except her affections weren’t as easily dismissed, wearing away at my defenses over the hours with throaty laughs and wandering fingertips.
Manipulating my loneliness.
I rarely succumb to it, but last night, I did.
I also must have had too many glasses of that pricey limnio, because I don’t usually end up in my own bed with a prostitute.
I slide a hand back and forth over the smooth skin of her hip until she stirs with a small groan. Eyes as blue as the Aegean Sea below us flutter open to meet mine. Her plump natural lips—that were wrapped around my cock with such expertise last night—curl into a smile. “Good morning, American,” she purrs in her thick accent, reaching for me. “You want more, don’t you?”
Had I not just received that call from Bentley, I probably would have taken her again. But minutes within getting news of my next assignment, my mind is already shifting focus, shutting down my weak human urges, preparing the rest of me for what is to come.
I quash her efforts for a repeat by filling her groping fingers with her crimson dress. “You can let yourself out.”
“But . . . last night was . . .” She stumbles over her own surprise. “Will I see you again?”
There’s no use pretending that either of us is something we’re not, that we will be more to each other than we were for a few paid hours last night. So I don’t bother answering, leaving her on my bed to head to the bathroom, feeling her anger blazing into my back.

*****


Buy Links for the Series!
BURYING WATER: 

BECOMING RAIN

CHASING RIVER

*****

About K.A. Tucker:
Born in small-town Ontario, K.A. Tucker published her first book at the age of six with the help of her elementary school librarian and a box of crayons. She currently resides in a quaint town outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and an exhausting brood of four-legged creatures.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Sometimes Hype Can Really Work

What I've come to notice in blogging is that select few books receive extensive promo from their publishers. Many don't receive the attention they should and are basically left behind in favor of the ones believed to become really popular with the masses. Most, especially if the publisher is one of the big ones, are made into ARCs that are sent to librarians, booksellers, bloggers, etc. But that's it. Just a little ARC distribution and nothing more. So there are many books that fly under the radar with me, and ones I never even know about until later on, or even until after they're published.

This is an instance where HYPE IS GOOD, where hype receives a high five, a gold star, and a pat on the back from me. There are quite a few books that published this year that would have flown under the radar if it hadn't been for other bloggers. There are three distinct ones that come to mind. Ones that I read and loved and want to now push onto everyone I can. Because they totally deserve the hype.



I never knew about the three books above until bloggers started fangirling and flailing over them. If I had been on NetGalley, I probably would have passed Uprooted by if the hype hadn't pushed it in my face. That cover screamed middle grade to me, even though the girl on it looked a bit older, and it just didn't... appeal to me that much? For Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I never knew about it until like a month before its release date. I think this one had a fairly big ARC distribution (not exactly sure about that), but I never saw any promo for it until fellow bloggers started singing early praise for it. And with The Fixer, again, I would have missed if it hadn't been for the amount of people reading it and loving it and shouting about it over Twitter and on Goodreads.

Sometimes, in cases like these, hype makes me happy. Uprooted is definitely one of my favorite books this year. I savored that book for weeks, it was so good. The Fixer isn't typically my type of story, but I have loved the seasons of Scandal that I've watched, AND it had political intrigue. The hype from other bloggers brought these books to my attention when I probably would have just skipped over them in a lineup. And I'm so happy to say that the hype was WORTH IT. I loved them all!

Of course, these books could have had way more promo from their pubs than I think. They could have been given more attention. I could have just missed initial announcements and tweets about them. (And of course I'm not forgetting that just because a book is popular in the blogosphere, it doesn't mean it is elsewhere). But if it hadn't been for other bloggers, I don't know if I'd ever have read them. Maybe years later, but in the same year they released? Probably not. And here are some other books I'd never heard of until the hyped up presence on Twitter and blogs made me put them on my TBR:



I haven't read any of these yet, but I really want to! I don't know if Every Breath would have gotten on my radar at all if it hadn't been for its presence in the blogosphere this year (it actually released in 2013 in Australia but 2014 for the US). I don't pay nearly as much attention to Aussie authors as I should. Both The Dead House and Air Awakens are recent releases that I hadn't known about before then. I didn't even know about AA until after it was published! Haha. It's also not *that* hyped up, but my friends are LOVING the series and I'm definitely going to be reading it soon.

*****

Are there any books you didn't know about until people (bloggers/authors/pubs/whatever) started flailing about them? Does that kinda hype work for you sometimes too? Let's talk! :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

(39) Top Ten Books Perfect for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Halloween themed freebie -- your choice (ie. 10 best ghost stories, 10 things that scare you in books, 10 literary Halloween costumes, 10 vampire novels, 10 books that WILL scare you, 10 non-scary books for Halloween, 10 scariest covers, etc.)

I originally had a different plan in mind, but then I just didn't wanna finish the post and I didn't have very many books for the topic anyway. So I decided to be boring and uncreative by talking about the scary/creepy/horror/thriller books *I* want to read that would be perfect for Halloween! I'm not normally a fan of them, so I don't read them often. But I want to start because I want to find that one YA novel that's going to give me nightmares and keep me awake at night. It hasn't happened yet, but it will someday. 

1. These Shallow Graves
I'm not sure how "scary" this one is, but it's a thriller that I cannot wait to read. AND JUST LOOK AT THAT COVER.

2. Blood and Salt

I've been wanting to read this one ever since I heard of it and saw that cover. And I've heard such praise for this book already. It's definitely one at the top of my TBR list, and not just because it's October. ;)

3. The Dead House

This one wasn't originally on my radar until bloggers started receiving and reviewing it. And then people started talking about how great and scary it is, and I was like NEED. It looks and sounds like the perfect Halloween read.

4. Amity

I've been meaning to get to this one since last year, and even though I've pushed it off for so long, I still really want to read it. And I've always been a fan of horror and scary movies with houses that seem to be alive.

5. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

I'm not a huge fan of anthologies, but I love quite a few of these authors AND they're all scary/horrific or psychological thrillers. They'd be excellent October/fall/Halloweenish short stories.

6. Daughters Unto Devils

This sounds freaky as hell just based off of the cover and synopsis. And I've heard good things about it as well. 
But seriously. That cover is creeping me out. It's giving me The Ring vibes. 
NOT. COOL.

7. The Fall

I really love paranormal stories, and especially psychological thrillers. Plus it's a reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, which I've read and found to be very atmospheric (as are all his stories) and dark. 

8. The Creeping

Does that cover not make you want to hide under the covers? Just me? Ah. This one sounds like a thriller with a little bit of a fantasy and paranormal mixed in. I definitely wanna try it!

9. We'll Never Be Apart
Anything set in a mental institute or ward automatically gets put on my TBR. I LOVE psychological thrillers, and this one sounds right up my alley.

10. Asylum
An old, renovated asylum? Check. A bunch of teens lurking around the hidden shadows and exploring the place? Check. A chilling mystery? Check. COUNT ME IN.

*****

Do you like reading these types of stories during October and Halloween? What are some scary books YOU'D like to read? Do you have any recommendations for me? FIND ME THAT ONE THAT'S GOING TO GIVE ME NIGHTMARES, PLEASE. :D

Monday, October 26, 2015

BEA Mini Review Session #3

Title: Legacy of Kings (Blood of God & Royals, #1)
Author: Eleanor Herman
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 18th, 2015!
*I received a physical ARC of this from BEA.

From Goodreads...
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means having to compete for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince.

And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet betrothed, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the shocking details of real history, New York Times bestselling author of Sex with Kings Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known, Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.


My Review!
Dear Lord I’ve had this book sitting on my review list for so long but I waited over three months before finally writing it. But the problem here is that I just don’t remember anything about it. All I know is that I really enjoyed it at the time, even though the multi POVs were very confusing and sometimes made it hard to really get INTO the story. And although I’m a huge history buff, I’m not at all familiar with where and when this book is set. But I did like the history, even when I had no idea what going on. This was definitely full of details, and the characters were pretty fleshed-out. But with this type of book, and series, it’s just better to read them all in a row. Because then you get to know the characters better, the secondary plotline of magic would make more sense, and you won’t be sitting there a year from now with the sequel in your lap wondering what the hell actually happened in Legacy of Kings. Haha.

RATING:
  

*****

Title: A Thousand Nights
Author: E.K. Johnston
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 6th, 2015!
*I received a physical ARC of this from BEA.

From Goodreads...
Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister's place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin's court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My Review!
I’m not going to lie, the writing in this was GORGEOUS. But here’s the thing: it was like it was trying too hard to feel old-school. The pace was sloooow because of that, and the journey the main character is on is not exactly filled with adventure. It’s a lot of mystery wrapped up in a main character you don’t really understand or know throughout the book. And the author never lets you in on who she is. You just know her motives, her situation, and her desire to do what needs to be done. You never even find out her NAME. The only name of significant importance is Lo-Melkhiin’s. The guy who’s killed hundreds of wives and comes looking for another. But what he gets is a girl with a plan. A plan with no room for romance between the two (which was actually super refreshing in a YA novel). There were also mysterious magical things going on behind the scenes that I can’t really remember (or paid much attention to while reading, I guess) and it led up to a intensely-packed but short scene that I think the whole book was leading up to. And I really liked the ending! Also want to mention that this is definitely way, way different from The Wrath and the Dawn even though they’re basically the same stories.

RATING:
  

*****

Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1)
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: September 22nd, 2015!
*I received a physical ARC of this from BEA.

From Goodreads...
Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

My Review!
So, I don’t think Rae Carson’s writing is for me. I tried The Girl of Fire and Thorns once before, and I DNFed a little ways in. I can’t even explain it, but her writing makes me want to quit reading her books. But I was actually enjoying the beginning, and I was curious, so I wanted to continue. The middle was slow and I slogged through it and I got bored quite a bit, but I’m glad I made it to the end. I loved how strong the MC was, that she dressed as a boy to get of a tough situation and never gave up. Even though of course most people knew she was a girl anyway, I really liked how that all played out. The historical aspect to this was very spot-on for how the country and the Oregon Trail was during that time period. BUT it was like 90% historical fiction and only 10% fantasy. I was disappointed that nothing happened in that regard, except for a few bits throughout. It was like a carrot being dangled in front of a horse to keep it walking. I was enticed by the idea of it and now I’m intrigued enough to read the sequel.

RATING:
  

*****

So I liked all of these books, but I didn't LOVE them. Have any of you read these yet? What did YOU think? I'm curious. Let's talk! :)