Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) – Alison GoodmanTitle: The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman
Publishing Info: January 26, 2016 by Penguin
Source: Audible, Gift
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal
Date Completed: February 21, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

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I had heard a lot about THE DARK DAYS CLUB and seen it around many places and actually didn’t pick it up until I had read a little bit more about it. Demon hunting in the regency era? Heck yeah that sounded interesting, so I grabbed this book in an Audible sale!

THE DARK DAYS CLUB started off interesting for me and then quickly hit a really big stall. It was such a weird read for me. I knew what I was getting into and yet the pacing really took me by surprise. For the first 100+ pages, really nothing happened. There was a lot of set-up but not even the demon-hunting side of things. There was a lot of Regency Era story and set-up but honestly, that wasn’t why I picked up the book so I really wasn’t interested without the demon-hunting part.

Things really did finally start to pick up around 40% and I really did end up enjoying the end. I was hoping more would happen throughout the course of the book but it finally did hit its stride and I surprisingly do want to continue the series. I almost DNFed this book, actually, with so little taking place at the beginning but now that things have been established, I actually am looking forward to seeing what else happens.

I’m still  little hung up on the fact that it felt really slow to me so although I enjoyed the ending, I’m not sure when I might continue on in the series. I liked where things were going and yet writing this review quite a bit after finishing, I don’t really feel that pull to keep going.

I’m also not really sure about the love triangle here… but it did give me feels on both sides. I have a lot of thoughts. I didn’t really think it was necessary to throw in there and one part of it seemed odd to me. I guess all of these factors combined may have me skipping the rest of the series.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Regency era. I really don’t read a lot of historical fiction or paranormal/urban fantasy period books so this was interesting! I don’t think it’s my favorite time to read about but it was fun.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. This book did have some good action but the beginning and middle just really dragged. I actually wanted fewer pages instead of more of something.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This is highly rated by many of my friends but it didn’t quite do it for me. It was an interesting read but I struggled with it in more than one way. Something for which you might want to check out reviews!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DARK DAYS CLUB

          

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William Ritter

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William RitterTitle: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017
Related Posts: , Jackaby (Jackaby #1), Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2), Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

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For some reason, this was the least engaging book of the series for me and I felt a little bogged down and that things were going slowly in the middle. It’s entirely possible that it was because I essentially binge-read the first three books, but that was also only earlier this year and it’s not like there had been THAT much time in between reads. I had a hard time picking the book back up because I felt like it wasn’t really progressing for a while, but I also know that’s my lack of reading time that really hurt my reading pace as well.

I also know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when so many supernatural creatures are introduced at once because it always feels like overkill to have them all present at the same time, and that was a big part of THE DIRE KING. Things come to a grand conclusion so everyone an everything are involved and it sort of loses that magic for me when so many creatures are present.

I did absolutely love the ending! There was the perfect amount of bittersweet that every series finale should have. Things were wrapped up nicely, concepts exchanged hands, not everyone was perfectly okay, and it presented a new life for the characters after the events of this series wrapped up. I thought that was handled beautifully!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal but historical. This whole series was a lot of fun! I loved the historical meets paranormal and it was great fun to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. I just felt like everything was rushing to a conclusion and it was all a bit much sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a natural flow and it seemed like ALL of the supernatural concepts were thrown in at once.

Addiction Rating
Read it

The actual ending itself is super solid — one of the best wrap-ups, I think — but I just wish I had felt the same about the rest of the book. Still worth the read if you’re already three books in!

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Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri Maniscalco

Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) – Kerri ManiscalcoTitle: Hunting Prince Dracula (Stalking Jack the Ripper #2) by Kerri Maniscalco
Publishing Info: July 11, 2017 by Hachette, Jimmy Patterson
Source: ALAAC17, Author
Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 8, 2017
Related Posts: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)

In this hotly anticipated sequel to the haunting #1 bestseller Stalking Jack the Ripper, bizarre murders are discovered in the castle of Prince Vlad the Impaler, otherwise known as Dracula. Could it be a copycat killer...or has the depraved prince been brought back to life?

Following the grief and horror of her discovery of Jack the Ripper's true identity, Audrey Rose Wadsworth has no choice but to flee London and its memories. Together with the arrogant yet charming Thomas Cresswell, she journeys to the dark heart of Romania, home to one of Europe's best schools of forensic medicine...and to another notorious killer, Vlad the Impaler, whose thirst for blood became legend.

But her life's dream is soon tainted by blood-soaked discoveries in the halls of the school's forbidding castle, and Audrey Rose is compelled to investigate the strangely familiar murders. What she finds brings all her terrifying fears to life once again

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Kerri Maniscalso has done it again. HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is just as fantastic as STALKING JACK THE RIPPER with a whole new exciting and yet horrific tale (and I mean that in the best possible way). I loved that HPD was a sequel to STALKING JACK THE RIPPER but it develops its own mystery and its own story line. The series continues with main characters Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell, so readers get to continue reading about their relationship, their work together, and their adventures along the way, but there’s no panic to think about the time that naturally occurs between each new book release because each case wraps up neatly! Although I will say that I’ll still panic a little bit since I read this book so long before its own release in the fall (I finished in May) and now I need to wait probably over a year for book three when I want to read it nowwwww. *ahem*

My only complaint about my experience with HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA is that life got in the way and I didn’t have enough time to just sit down and inhale it, as much as I wanted to. *grumbles things about responsibilities* Just like SJTR, I had so much fun reading this book from start to finish. I love the gothic horror elements, the pieces of true history combined with amazing adaptations and embellishments for the books, and most of all, the excellent banter between Audrey Rose and Thomas. Their relationship is fantastic in every possible way.

The suspense was constant and I loved the way that Kerri Maniscalco continuously shifted focus, as is natural in a mystery. When murders are occurring, it’s natural to be suspicious about everything and everyone and I always am as a reader so it was great to see how the focus tended to shift throughout the book as Audrey Rose and Thomas gathered up more clues. It kept me guessing as a reader and left some excellent surprises in the end! Looking back, I probably should have picked up on a few things but I’m actually glad that I wasn’t even thinking in that direction because the reveal was MOST EXCELLENT and the dark part of my heart totally flipped. out. a certain reveal point!

Kerri Maniscalco’s books are stunningly sensory with great visuals for the reader to picture, wonderful atmosphere, and delightful descriptions that really appeal to every sense. It was so easy to get lost in the castles and forests of Romania in a totally different time period despite knowing little to nothing about either the time or the place. The light tone from the banter amongst the characters really brings a great levity to a horror story that I always appreciate and it breaks some of the more serious moments to allow readers to enjoy some of that character development. The balance of dark and light is truly perfected within these pages and to quote the book, “I am wholly bewitched.”

I cannot wait for the third installment and I will be thinking about it until it’s finally revealed what the third book will be about!!

** I received a copy of HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA from the author, Kerri Maniscalco, for review purposes and to assist in the creation of new candles inspired by the book. The fact that I received this copy to read from the author in no way affected my review, feedback, or the fact that I have the mighty need to be endlessly book-pushing and recommending. **

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Kept Me Hooked On: Horror. I’m loving the historical horror and the blend of myth and history. These books are SO much fun and really make you feel like you’re a part of the action!
Left Me Wanting More: Audrey Rose & Thomas. UGH these two. They’re just the best. I love the tension, the banter, the support, the back-and-forth. It’s all great.

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

Kerri Maniscalco is wonderful and I simply adore her books. They’re fun, clever, thrilling, and romantic.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

The Valiant (The Valiant #1) – Lesley Livingston

The Valiant (The Valiant #1) – Lesley LivingstonTitle: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston
Publishing Info: February 14, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 18, 2016

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

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Am I in a reading slump? Am I destined to be the black sheep for this year’s popular titles? Or do I just need to wait for similar opinions and reviews to surface?

Sigh.

This one didn’t do it for me. The pacing was a little too slow and there just wasn’t the amount of action that I expected. When a book advertises female gladiators, I’m expecting quite a bit of fighting or training or… something. Fallon was awesome in the beginning, being on Team Fallon and kind of pushing the boys aside but then I just lost interest in her character. She ended up annoying me, being more stubborn than logical, and then saying some really dumb stuff of the “oh, of course he doesn’t like me” realm. Meh. Stop it.

It was almost halfway or around halfway through the book for Fallon to even get to Rome and literally 75% of the way in for a single battle to happen. And then it was a party, a bargain, and the final battle of the book. What??? Where was like… everything? Again, I don’t NEED action to keep me hooked to a book but the rest of the plot and character development didn’t do it for me. Fallon started off awesome and then I didn’t feel like her character got anymore complex. There was a whole aspect of the book (which I can’t talk about because spoiler) that I thought could really have developed the characters some more and there could have been so much more done there but wasn’t. The romance in the book was also way underdeveloped. Barely into a boy as more than a friend in the very beginning and then pining over him the rest of the book (although I can give her some of that since they were childhood friends. I’ll take that as mourning someone close to you and not mourning the romance). Then a meh romance throughout the rest of the time in Rome when there could have been an awesome slow burn, a forbidden romance, any romantic tension at all. I wasn’t feeling it.

I’m mostly saddened that the plot didn’t really go anywhere here. The book can basically be summarized as: Fallon is stolen away to Rome. Plot twist happens that changes her view of things but if it wasn’t there, the rest of the book still could have happened. Kissy things at some point. An epic battle at the very end. End book. It just didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat to the story and I felt like there could have been a lot more plotting elements that could have developed the story so much more.

I also felt weird with the way the book ended. It was so much action all at once and then I’m assuming was set up for a sequel. I would have much preferred this to be a stand alone novel and had it wrapped up in one book. It felt like it was stretched out unnecessarily and forced to continue into a sequel.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. The gladiator concept and setting was a unique historical fiction (well unique to YA, I think) that I haven’t seen done often or at all! It was an interesting way to read historical fiction.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. There was one big twist and that seemed to be all of the plot. I just wished that more had been built up and developed. There was plenty that could have been but it seemed like it all just happened instead of experiencing it.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I didn’t think this was a bad book but it really didn’t do it for me. Tons of other people really loved it so I’d recommend checking out reviews!

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BOOKS LIKE THE VALIANT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) – Rae Carson

Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) – Rae CarsonTitle: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1) by Rae Carson
Publishing Info: September 22, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 4, 2015
Related Posts: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1)

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.

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I had heard some really good things about WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER and naturally, I was super excited to see fantasy elements in a historical fiction aspect. I always love discovering new books where genres collide and I was so excited to see magical elements in American history instead of a more high fantasy feel. When I received the audiobook for review from HarperTeen, I couldn’t resist starting right away!

WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is essentially the Oregon Trail but in book form and with more backstory for each character. Leah Westfall embarks upon a journey to California after a traumatic incident at home in Georgia leaves her with virtually nothing left to stay for. The book definitely took on that Oregon Trail-feel for me with important points like Independence, MO and several things you might have encountered in the game while “on the road”. That’s not really the point or inspiration of the book but that really was a big feel of it for me since I’ve read very little about Pioneer times!

The hard thing for me throughout the book is that is really didn’t feel too much different than the Oregon Trail for me. There was the Gold Rush aspect which was interesting but aside from travelling from Georgia to California to go find the gold, there wasn’t too much happening (yet) with the Gold Rush. I didn’t realize at the time that this is actually the first in a series so the book actually closed off one leg of this adventure but even knowing that now, it still feels like not too much happened here. Personally, I have trouble with “journey” stories. As much as the journey itself is an adventure, it’s not enough to really hold my interest. A journey itself really isn’t enough plot for me so I just felt like there really wasn’t much going on aside from traveling.

Another big issue I had with WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is that it was so heavily marketed as a historical fiction/fantasy blend but there really wasn’t much magic in the book at all. Leah’s abilities are introduced and lightly explored but aside from that (and being a motivator for her to leave for California), I didn’t really feel like the magic was involved much in the book at all. Again, I suppose a thing that will be explored in the rest of the series but since it didn’t grab me in the first book, it leaves me wondering if I even want to continue with the series.

The journey to California seemed to be such a big part of the book that I felt like I was just missing so much from plot, characters, and other points of action. I easily finished the audio and mostly enjoyed the book but it seemed to drag for a while when all the characters were doing was travelling and there was little to no magic to really bring that fantasy element around. WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER may just not have been the book for me and I’ll probably think on this a while before I decide if I want to continue the series or not. 

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I tend to be pickier with female narrators over male narrators but I actually really enjoyed this narration from Erin Mallon. I feel like she did a really good job overall with Leah/Lee’s character and that was really important to the story! The rest of the voices were good, though nothing really stood out to me a lot. I will say that she was sort of terrible with accents. Leah meets several people who have come to America from other countries and who speak different languages or are learning English and hoo boy, those accents were not good. Even when the foreign-language speaker was saying something and Erin Mallon was performing their voice… I’m passionate about languages and that was sort of my jam in school (and even after I graduated) and it was just painful to feel like she didn’t try to have any sort of accent at all with those. Overall, it was a decent audio performance. Some parts felt overdone and then over parts I was underwhelmed. Not sure I’d select another audiobook narrated by Erin Mallon after this, though.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

walk on earth a stranger gr updates

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Leah/Lee // Character Obsessions: Escape, gold, travel, hiding. 
Leah was… all right. She was strong, definitely a tough girl and I really loved her quiet strength as well as her obvious determination. I didn’t really connect with her much though. Again, could be a preference thing like how I have trouble with characters who have a one-track mind/single mission and everything else doesn’t matter. I would have really liked to get to know her more and learn more of her background to find out who she really is.

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Kept Me Hooked On: American Historical Fiction. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction and it was really fun to read some more than takes place in American history! I love the Gold Rush aspect.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. Pretty much all of the action was contained within the journey to California so although it was definitely a personal preference, I really felt like there wasn’t a lot going on.

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one. I think I sort of missed out on this one because it was a “journey” book and that’s just not my thing. It really doesn’t hold my attention.

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BOOKS LIKE WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

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VENGEANCE ROAD    A MADNESS SO DISCREET

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnis

A Madness So Discreet – Mindy McGinnisTitle: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Historical Fiction, Psych/Mental Health, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2015
Related Posts: The Female of the Species, This Darkness Mine

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.

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** Word of warning that I WILL be talking about some minor spoilers for the book. It’s nothing that will give plot or twists away but I will be discussing character relationships, the nature of some which are not revealed until later on in the book. ** 

How amazing is the cover for this book!? As soon as I saw it, I immediately knew I had to read it… BUT this book had a serious case of “misleading cover”! From the look of it and the title, I went into the book thinking it was going to be creepy, paranormal, and take place mostly with the mental patients within a very scary institution (we all know how much I avoid the synopsis right before I start)… and while some of that was indeed true, A MADNESS SO DISCREET turned out to be much more historical fiction meets murder mystery than creepy psych hospital!

A MADNESS SO DISCREET took me a little bit to get into, but once I found out that it was more murder mystery, I was all on board! The beginning started out a bit slow and confusing for me as I was trying to get a grasp on what the deal with the mental hospital was. Readers are thrown right into Grace’s story with little introduction of who she is and why she’s there so I was getting to know Grace as I was getting to know the setting which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but for some reason with this particular book, it was a bit confusing trying to get a read on both.
There were a few hints at some extra-sensory abilities from fellow inmates so I was anticipating that playing a bigger role than it did (especially with the creepy hand reaching out on the cover!) but after finishing the story, I wonder if that was just more of an “illness” thing than actual ability. The confusing part was that the inmate’s ability was accurate so the lack of presence of this character and seemingly realistic powers throughout the book sort of felt like a waste of a mention.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about all of the other things I really enjoyed, which was a lot! I really enjoyed the historical setting. I’m not usually a historical fiction person but I usually do love a gothic horror feel and that always draws my attention. I really got the feeling like I was thrown back in time to where this book was taking place and felt totally immersed in the time period, the setting, and the characters. The setting especially was so vivid and so well done. I really felt like I could picture so many of the locations and the overall tone was consistent and gave a really nice gothic horror feel!

I also really enjoyed the character relationships. Grace Mae actually wasn’t my favorite character of the book and neither was Dr. Thornhollow (it was Nell!) but I just loved the way that they worked together and how much they trusted each other. It was interesting to see how similar they thought and formed ideas and I thought they made a great team. I thought it was great that they had a sort of chemistry going on and they seemed to have somewhat of an attraction but it wasn’t forced into being a relationship. As of right now, MADNESS is definitely a stand alone, but if the series continued, I think I’d enjoy seeing that relationship develop! Because of the circumstances, it didn’t quite make sense or feel right to have those two characters romantically involved but I like the idea that it sets up for a future for them should they wish to pursue it.
Grace also a had a great friendship with her fellow institution gals that I just loved. I immediately warmed to Nell and she became my favorite and I loved how she and Elizabeth really took Grace under their wings. The friendship was just delightful to witness and I grew really attached to those girls.

I also really enjoyed the mystery aspect! I always feel like there’s a lack of young adult mysteries and I just love how this pieced together in a historical setting. There were some nice clues, great teamwork, and some interesting suspense! The only complaint is not the lack of twist but lack of anticipation of the murderer’s capture. I don’t really need a twist in all of my mysteries (though they are fun) but I thought it ended rather quickly and easily. While that may have been a realistic conclusion, I think I would have appreciated a bit more storytelling as far as wrapping that mystery up.

There is one more thing I have to touch upon before I close out the review that I think I just can’t pass up and it was something I battled with the whole book… The whole incest thing really was hard for me to read. If I had known it was a part of the book, I’m honestly not sure I would have read it and I really think it hindered my reading experience. It’s just something that I find truly appalling and my brain tends to immediately turn off not just from the offending character but from the whole book. There’s a sort of cloud that sits over the whole book and it was just really hard to get over. I’m not saying it’s something that shouldn’t be talked about, but for me personally, it just really creates an “ick factor” for the whole book. It does make the offending character that much more of a monster and that much more “hateable” but I couldn’t shake that overall gross feeling because it’s actually a consistent part of the book.

A MADNESS SO DISCREET was a really enjoyable read for me and I was left wanting so much more of this world! I think in part because I took a while to feel out the characters and I also think I’d enjoy another book in this world without the constant reappearance of incest hanging over it. I’d love to see Grace and Thornhollow solving more mysteries or even something else taking place in the asylum. I just loved the atmosphere and would love to spend more time in it but even if this is the last we see of MADNESS, it won’t be the last I see of Mindy McGinnis! Now I have to worked my way backwards and read her previous works!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

a madness so discreet goodreads updates

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Grace // Character Obsessions: Survival, revenge, resolutions, justice.
I actually didn’t connect with Grace a lot. I guess it’s hard since she’s kind of closed off, given what she’s been through, and she was actively shutting herself down in the very beginning. Even after she started opening up more, I didn’t quite make a connection to her, though I appreciated her goals (I was on her side, of course) and thought she was interesting to get to know!
Dr. Thornhollow // Character Obsessions: Science, medicine, mysteries.
I would love to learn so much more about Thornhollow. He was so interesting and intelligent and I wished I could have gotten to know him better! I wonder what things would be like from his POV…

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. It’s always great when I can find a historical fiction novel that I enjoy. It’s not my genre of choice so I’m so glad I found another one that I just fell into!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I think I was drawn to the characters who were more outwardly emotional. Nell was very outgoing and she was my favorite, but I dare anyone not to like her! She was fantastic. I think Grace is just more reserved, as is Thornhollow, so it was a bit harder to get to know their true personalities.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I had a lot of fun with this one! The atmosphere was great, the plot was interesting, and it felt like a pretty quick and fun read while at the same time staying a little dark.

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BOOKS LIKE A MADNESS SO DISCREET

(Click the cover to see my review!)

BORN    The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter #1) – Megan Shepherd

Blog Tour: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis | Author Interview + Giveaway!

Madness Tour Banner

Welcome to the blog tour for
A MADNESS SO DISCREET by Mindy McGinnis!

Today I’m on the blog tour for A MADNESS SO DISCREET hosted by Irish Banana Tours and Harper Teen! I am SO excited to share my interview with Mindy McGinnis with you today and talk to you about A MADNESS SO DISCREET! Before we hop into the interview, let’s have a refresher on the book first!

Blog Tour: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis | Author Interview + Giveaway!Title: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: October 6, 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2015
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet, The Female of the Species, This Darkness Mine

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.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBook | The Book Depository

INTERVIEW WITH MINDY MCGINNIS

Brittany: I really enjoyed that A Madness So Discreet is a historical horror/thriller novel! Did you have any specific references or influences from history when creating the setting and characters?
Mindy McGinnis: Yes, definitely! For setting I was relying heavily on the history of the Athens Lunatic Asylum in Athens, Ohio. It was a beacon of moral treatment in the late 1800’s for the insane. Characters I always allow to grow and inform me on their own time. I start with a shell and let the story make them, so, no historical influences there.

B: I just loved the gothic horror feel of the book. Did you have any specific inspirations for this time period while writing Madness
MM: Not necessarily. I love the 1890’s because it was a huge cultural change for a lot of people. Technology was moving forward in leaps and bounds, medicine was changing, schools of thought across the board were morphing constantly. There was a lot of quiet upheaval going on, which relates well to the book.

B: Are there any awesome trivia facts or anecdotes about the writing and creation of Madness (I recently read that you wrote it in three weeks!)? 
MM: Ha! Yeah, I did write the majority of it (probably 90%) in three weeks. I was confused about when my deadline was, and writerare better at procrastinating than actually writing. So… that was interesting. I don’t recommend it, although I was immersed in the world.

B: What did you find the most challenging about writing a historical fiction piece?
MM: I researched for an entire year before writing a word of this book. There was much to learn – the beginnings of criminal psychology, the history of asylum medicine (both the good and the bad), and of course historical details in general. What kind of lighting would be in a room in 1890? What would an asylum inmate be wearing? I’m very particular, and there were days when I couldn’t finish a sentence without doing half an hour of research in order to make sure I got it (hopefully) right.

B: The different locations throughout the book were so vivid for me! Did you have a favorite setting within the book or one that was exciting to have the characters explore? 
MM: The Athens Lunatic Asylum in Ohio has an amazing history. You can do a quick Google and learn about how it’s one of the most haunted places in the world and hear horror stories about the graveyard. And while I’m a fan of the supernatural, I’m also a fan of data. That type of history doesn’t interest me, because most of it quite frankly, just isn’t true.
I toured the buildings, which are now part of the Ohio University campus. You can’t go into the patient wards for safety reasons (they are literally crumbling), but some parts of the building are currently in use as staff offices as well as an art gallery. The gallery is open to the public, and when you visit you can see original floors, staircases and woodwork from the insane asylum years. Definitely hit up my Pinterest board if you want to see some pics from my tour!
You can most definitely repost some of my pics from Pinterest, just make sure if you use any of the older ones that you use the attribution that I did, b/c some of those actually belong to University Archives.

B: Is this book the start and end of A Madness So Discreet or do you think you will revisit it somehow (novella? Companion? Inspiration for another historical novel?) at a later date?
MM: I would love to write more in this series. I have an outline for another Grace / Dr. Thornhollow adventure, but it is unsold, as of this interview. If Madness does well, that could change!

ABOUT MINDY McGINNIS

Mindy McGinnisMindy McGinnis is a YA author who has worked in a high school library for thirteen years. Her debut, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, a post-apocalyptic survival story set in a world with very little freshwater, has been optioned for film my Stephanie Meyer’s Fickle Fish Films. The companion novel, IN A HANDFUL OF DUST was released in 2014. Look for her Gothic historical thriller, A MADNESS SO DISCREET in October of 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books. Mindy is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

A big, big thank you to Mindy McGinnis for this awesome interview! I had an absolute blast and it’s always so neat learning more about the writing process and inspiration before and after reading the book! 


Be sure to check out all of the other awesome blogs and post on this tour! There are some truly great posts in store for you!

GIVEAWAY

There is also a tour-wide giveaway! One Winner Will Receive a Harper Teen Horror-themed prizepack! All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter!
Winner must be 13 years of age or older to win. US residents only, please!

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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) – Amie Kaufman & Jay KristoffTitle: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publishing Info: October 20, 2015 by Source: ALAMW15, BEA 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 9, 2015
Related Posts: Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1)

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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The hype for ILLUMINAE was already huge several months before the book came out so by the time I got around to reading it (you know… still three months before its release date), it was already a pretty intimidating book from all of the reactions, not to mention the fact that the ARC was pretty honkin’ big. ILLUMINAE (in advanced copy form) clocked in at about 600 pages and taking on that brick (and I mean that extremely lovingly) was a bit scary, especially when it’s right smack in prime sci-fi territory: future and space. Thankfully, I had absolutely nothing to fear because I simply couldn’t put ILLUMINAE down and it may be one of the best books I’ve read this year. 

How to review a book like ILLUMINAE… well, let’s start with the formatting. The book is exactly what the series title implies: a collection of files. From transcripts of interviews to video surveillance reports to emails to data pulled directly from the ship, ILLUMINAE tells the story of Kady and Ezra — two teens attempting to survive and reunite once an attack on their planet evacuates their community into space. At first I wasn’t sure how I would handle the formatting but not only was it not detrimental to my reading experience but it enhanced it exponentially. It was so interesting to pick up the full story from all of these forms of files and it was incredibly creative! I loved how different it felt and the representation of so many different forms really brought the world to life even more. I was fully submerged into The Illuminae Files and didn’t want to be yanked out of that world once I got into it.

The formatting also heightened the level of emotion for me. I think there were a few factors contributing to this, one of which is being able to read direct dialogue in emails and chat sessions. There’s no “he said” or “she said” or extra helpful information within a paragraph that sometimes takes away from being the moment of emotion or action. The action sequences were more contained within reports from outside observers so the reader is able to witness action in a different way as well. I really think these methods of capturing and presenting information allowed me to stay in the moment and not have to read a lot of descriptors which can sometimes cause my minder to start thinking more about the structure again and stray from the emotional side.
The other main factor was that the formatting was just so visually appealing. The files presented to the reader came complete with headers, logos, different fonts, pictures, strains, wrinkles, and more. Other pages were structured to represent how a machine was working, a pilot’s flight path, or a character’s journey. Then there were some pages that only had one or two words on it to really drive a point or emotion home to the readers. It was so exciting to see something so different and that visual representation really added another layer to the book!

Aside from the help from the formatting, the story really was just so good. It took me a little while to establish the characters and get to know them but once I did (and it really didn’t take that long), I felt like I knew them inside and out. I grew very attached to them and really felt like I took this journey with them. The plot and storytelling were also incredible. The suspense was constantly building, emotions high, action going, and there were quite a few twists that totally took me by surprise! 

I feel like I could go on and on about ILLUMINAE but the bottom line is that you don’t want miss this book. It’s totally worth all of the hype and buzz it’s received and I think a lot of people will be stunned by it! I’m a BIT sad that I read it so early because now I need to wait a very long while for book two… But you can bet I’ll be inhaling the rest of this series!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kady // Character Obsessions: Family, survival, hacking, Ezra.
I didn’t quite know what to expect from Kady at first but I ended up LOVING her. She was such a spitfire and always willing to take on a challenge, especially to help the people she loves. Kady was so much fun to get to know and she really just came to life in this book.
Ezra // Character Obsessions: Romance, compliance, Kady, survival.
Ezra was kind of the softer side to Kady. He was a bit more romantic than Kady and seemed to be much more on the emotional side. I loved the balance he brought to the story and the side he brought out of Kady!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Epic space adventures. This is another time where I’m like, “Remind me again why I was avoiding this?” ILLUMINAE opened me up to a little more sci-fi and adventures in outer space.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus… but rarely! The ONLY thing I could possibly say about this book that I didn’t 100% enjoy was that there were a few times when I got distracted because of formatting. But almost all of the time it enhanced my reading experience, but honestly that’s so nit-picky because this book was phenomenal.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I loved ILLUMINAE. I think this may be a book that I’ll end up collecting because so far I can’t bear to part with the two differently formatted ARCs that I have and I know I need a finished copy too… You’ll want this one for yourself!

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BOOKS LIKE ILLUMINAE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE 5TH WAVE     ARMADA

Vengeance Road – Erin Bowman

Vengeance Road – Erin BowmanTitle: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Publishing Info: September 1, 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 19, 2015

When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

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I’ve never read a Western before — honestly not one Western that I can recall — so I was both nervous and excited to read VENGEANCE ROAD! The extent of my Western pop culture knowledge pretty much comes from Back to the Future Part III, so that about sums up my tangles with the Wild West. VENGEANCE ROAD was a fun and fast-paced read that quickly dissolved and qualms I had about reading something so different for me in the realm of historical fiction and I’m so glad I was able to read and enjoy!

The book took off for me pretty quickly. Right away, there was a little bit of action and I immediately took to Kate’s character. She was spunky, determined, and tough as nails and she made a great heroine for this revenge story! I honestly loved how ruthless she was and I don’t normally root for people to seek out revenge but the atmosphere of the Wild West just totally demanded that Kate got her vengeance. There were also some really nice twists in the book! Some I could see coming but others were just a total surprise! I really enjoyed how Erin Bowman put this story together and brought readers on the journey right alongside Kate.

The setting was just excellent. I really could picture myself with the characters the whole time and Erin Bowman did a great job at really making this world come alive! I definitely picked up the desert-vibe as well as the time period and it was so fun to envision myself going on a journey with these characters (although thankfully I didn’t have to endure the peril that they did)!

One of the great things about this book is that is that for a non-historical fiction person like me, it felt more like a book full of action in a specific setting. I shy away from a lot of historical pieces because I’m just not a history person so I don’t usually enjoy all of the implied references, historical settings, and characters based on actual people. I supposed it’s not that I don’t enjoy them but without the extensive historical background, I’m not able to appreciate them as much. VENGEANCE ROAD certainly does have all of those things but if you’re not a history buff, you don’t feel like those things are going right over your head. It was also a very different time period and physical location than I’m used to with a lot of historical fiction so it was definitely fun and fresh for me!

If you’re unsure of VENGEANCE ROAD for any reason, I don’t think you need to worry. It was a truly picturesque book with some excellent action and a really stand-out heroine to boot. I think readers will really enjoy!

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kate // Character Obsessions: Revenge, family, survival.
I really loved Kate. Right away I connected with her and I sort of loved how cold and ruthless she was. I also think I’m a sucker for any character who starts out cold and full of hate and softens a bit. I love that she never gave up her mission though she did learn to compromise. She was so strong and just really fun to read about.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Westerns. Heyyyyy, I like Westerns? Well, maybe. This book opened the door to other ones though and made me feel comfortable to try them!
Left Me Wanting More: Emotion. I’m not sure if it was because Kate was so hell-bent on her revenge mission (which I enjoyed) but I felt like I could have connected JUST a bit more emotionally. Sometimes it’s me and a book or me and a character but I was left wanting juuuust a bit more to really pull me in!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a lot of fun! It was quick, well-written, and had some really nice characters. A really fun read for me.

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BOOKS LIKE VENGEANCE ROAD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

DANGEROUS GIRLS     REBOOT

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) – Rachel CaineTitle: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine
Publishing Info: July 7, 2015 by Penguin
Genres: Historical Fiction, Steampunk, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 1, 2015

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden. Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.
When he inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

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I was SO excited for INK AND BONE when I first heard about it. Libraries? The Library of Alexandria? Fantasy elements? Young adult? Yes, please! I was so thankful to receive a copy from Penguin to review and immediately started because I just couldn’t wait!

I have to admit that INK AND BONE started out very slowly for me and I ended up struggling with the pacing throughout. It honestly took me over two weeks to complete just over 100 pages of reading and that’s just too long for me. I’ve talked before about books with a slow start and unfortunately it just really hinders my reading experience. There was actually a lot of explanation in the first few chapters to establish the setting so I wouldn’t really say it was lack of world-building but it was a rather long set-up and I was hoping to jump into some more explanations of how the Library system worked and whether it was actually magical elements or scientific elements. I think giving away just a bit of information instead of things being more secretive could have helped me understand the ins and outs better at the beginning to really pull me into the book right away.

Actually, the very first chapter was not slow at all. It started out with a flurry of action, introducing main character Jess in his younger days. My issue was that there was so much going on — establishing a world, witnessing a chase scene, meeting characters — that it was kind of hard to follow without knowing exactly what this book was about and what was the mission of the main character. I wish the action had come just a couple chapters later in the book once I knew more of what was going on because I think I could have appreciated it more just a tad later. Especially once I started feeling like I was losing steam with the plot, a little chase scene pick-me-up could have really helped!  I felt like the action was abrupt in the very first chapter and then came a little too late later on.

I really did enjoy the characters. They kept me going and I really enjoyed getting to know Jess and his friends as well. It was great to see so many characters from all over the world come together and they created a nice, diverse cast! I also thought the character development was done really well and each person really did come to life. The personalities really pulled me in and it was one aspect of the book that I really connected to! I felt like I could really picture each character and their personalities definitely helped bring these characters to life!

I’m sure this more of a personal thing, but I just could not get a grip on what this world was. It was clarified early on that this was an alternate history which led to a sort of steampunk not-too-distant future but that was so hard for me to grasp for some reason. My brain kept making it historical fiction and I kept trying to tell myself that this wasn’t all taking place in the past. (I guess that’s kind of historical fiction and yet it’s really not.) It ended up feeling kind of like The Mummy to me in terms of time and place since there was a sort of steampunk thing going on (I think that’s really what threw me the most since I associate that with historical elements).

Even though I had a hard time placing it in the future in my head, I really did love how the world came alive in this feel and how I was able to really picture it as the characters discovered new places and the Library for the first time! The setting was actually really vivid for me and I really appreciated the detailed imagery! I just really had a hard time making it a solid and realistic place in my head.

The concept of INK AND BONE was just great but it was another book that I couldn’t quite connect with overall due to pacing issues and a bit of a lack of world-building in the beginning. Many people said how it had a Harry Potter or The Name of the Wind feel before I started and I really do see those feels represented in INK AND BONE but that was also a bad thing because those are just amazing novels/series and that’s a very hard thing to live up to!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Alternate history. The alternate history idea was very cool! It’s so neat to wonder what would have happened and how the world would have turned out if X and X hadn’t gone down they way they did.
Left Me Wanting More: Alternate history? I would have loved to see this more historical and less future. I think it just really tripped me up to try to reconcile this alternate history and how everything progressed. I think it would have worked better for me personally if things had changed in the past but the book was still in the past. But again, that’s clearly a personal preference and doesn’t really have anything to do with the structure of the book. I kept wanting it to feel like The Mummy so I think that really tripped me up with the fact that it actually was not taking place in the past.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This one didn’t work for me as well as I had hoped BUT the good news is, I appear to be the black sheep on this. I’ve heard from so many people that it does set up a lot in the beginning but really picked up for them! Totally worth the try!

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BOOKS LIKE INK AND BONE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

HARRY POTTER     RED PYRAMID