Waiting on Wednesday: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

A Madness So Discreet by Mandy McGinnisAuthor: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release date: October 6, 2015

Synopsis 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.

Why I’m excited: I’m excited because THIS BOOK SOUNDS AMAZING. Also, this line, “Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness” just speaks to me; I don’t know why. The description sounds fascinating, and I can already feel myself drawn to Grace. Plus, LOOK AT THAT COVER. I cannot wait to read this one, and you can bet I’ll be ordering it for my library.

Audiobook Review: Jackaby by William Ritter

Jackaby by William RitterAuthor: William Ritter

Narrators: Nicola Barber

Audiobook length: 7.5 hours

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction

Publisher: HighBridge Audio (Audiobook); Algonquin Young Readers (book)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

The book:

Jackaby is described in its summary as “Doctor Who meets Sherlock”. I think this is a pretty apt description – Jackaby is similar to both the Conan Doyle Sherlock and the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock with a little bit of Matt Smith thrown in for good measure. Usually I hate when books are compared to other books, TV shows, or movies, but in this case, it wasn’t off the mark. Thankfully, Ritter’s characters are so unique and solidly-done that I was able to completely separate them while reading (er..listening to) the story. The world that Ritter has created is full of seriously cool fantastical creatures and I absolutely loved learning about everyone and everything in it.

My only complaint is probably going to surprise most of you. There is practically no romance in the book, which is actually quite nice to have, but the lengths Ritter went through to emphasize the lack of romance between Abigail and Jackaby is a little ridiculous. Instead of allowing the two leads who would actually make a really great couple because of how well they balance each other, we end up having two secondary characters written in for Abigail and Jackaby and it really just muddles the story. In fact, the romance between Abigail and her police officer often feels forced. Here’s hoping the romance that actually should be happens in Beastly Bones (the sequel to Jackaby).

The audiobook/narrator:

Nicola Barber is a fantastic narrator. She has an amazing ability to do different voices distinctly and with incredible believability. I was able to become fully immersed in the story because each of the characters’ voices were all so unique and easily identified. I’m so glad she narrated this story because it made for a wonderful listening experience. I would highly recommend checking out some of the other books she’s narrated (I also listened to Wild Born by Brandon Mull narrated by her).

The bottom line: Jackaby is a fun, enjoyable novel. Ritter mixes an amazing fantasy world with historical details that make reading Jackaby like being in the world of Sherlock Holmes if it were on a different planet. Nicola Barber’s narration is absolute perfection, and if you are a fan of audiobooks, I’d highly recommend checking this one out in that format.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

Waiting on Wednesday: Beastly Bones by William Ritter

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Beastly Bones by William RitterPublisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Author: William Ritter

Release date: September 22, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads: “I’ve found very little about private detective R. F. Jackaby to be standard in the time I’ve known him. Working as his assistant tends to call for a somewhat flexible relationship with reality.”

In 1892, New Fiddleham, New England, things are never quite what they seem, especially when Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer R. F. Jackaby are called upon to investigate the supernatural.

First, a vicious species of shape-shifters disguise themselves as a litter of kittens, and a day later, their owner is found murdered with a single mysterious puncture wound. Then in nearby Gad’s Valley, now home to the exiled New Fiddleham police detective Charlie Cane, dinosaur bones from a recent dig mysteriously go missing, and an unidentifiable beast starts attacking animals and people, leaving their mangled bodies behind. Charlie calls on Abigail for help, and soon Abigail and Jackaby are on the hunt for a thief, a monster, and a murderer.

Why I’m excited: I ADORED Jackaby – the writing style, the characters, the time period (and you guys know that I don’t usually like historical fiction), all of it. It was a really fun, entertaining, and unexpected book for me. I was very happy to hear there was going to be a sequel when I finished it, because I don’t think I could’ve handled not seeing these characters again. I can’t wait to visit East Fiddleham again and see what these wonderful characters are up to.

Thursday Thoughts – Why don’t I like historical fiction?

Thursday Thoughts on Caught Read Handed

Let’s talk about historical fiction, okay? I don’t like it. BUT let me explain.

I can read fantasies from ALL the time periods – hundreds of years ago, the last couple of decades, contemporaries, and in the future. Fantasies set during a renaissance-type era (like in The Young Elites) or some made up land of beasts and monsters and all that (most recently, Beastkeeper). Fantasies set during our own era (Wolves of Mercy Falls, anyone) or at a school of magic (Harry Potter, obviously).

But I can’t stand historical fiction. If it’s set during World War II or a romance taking place during the turn of the century, take it awaaayyy! Sometimes I can’t even read a book set a couple of decades ago. I was scrolling through Goodreads the other day and saw an interesting cover. I clicked on it to read the summary and saw something along the lines of “Set during the blah blah blah in 1973…” and I immediately clicked off. That’s not even that long ago! I don’t really know why I do this. Maybe because I was reading a contemporary at the time, so it put me off?

I’m looking at my shelves right now and other than some fantasies, I honestly can’t find a book that has all human characters and is set more than ten years ago. I think it may in part have to do with the fact that I’m always thinking of the present or what I have to do next. Do I not like historical fiction because I don’t like thinking of the past? I want to keep moving forward? I wasn’t a big history class fan in high school. I LOVE going to see history (a trip to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, museums, etc.) but reading about it? No thanks.

Mostly I’m writing this because as I skipped reading that book’s summary on Goodreads, I sat here for a second wondering why? Why isn’t historical fiction something I like?

Do any of you avoid historical fiction? Do you know why? Or if you love historical fiction, tell me why! Maybe you’ll convince me to try one.

Audiobook Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I loved The Help audiobook so much that I didn’t want it to end. I could have listened to stories about those characters every single day.

The Help

Author: Kathryn Stockett

Narrators: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer

Audiobook length: 18 hours, 19 minutes

Genre: Realistic, historical, southern fiction

Publisher: Penguin Audio

I’m pretty sure everything that I could possibly say about The Help has probably already been said at some point, but I’m going to try. I won’t go into the fact that the novel, and Kathryn Stockett, perpetuated the Mammy stereotype in The Help and that no white woman will ever be able to fully express or comprehend what it was like to be African-American in the South during this time. What I will talk about is the fact that The Help is highly entertaining. It is a really good story, and I did not want the audiobook to end.

I haven’t read this as a print book, but the audiobook was fantastic. The narrators, particularly Octavia Spencer, perfectly embody their characters, and I was able to visualize everything through the rhythm, cadence, and passion in their voices. By the way, Octavia Spencer plays Minny in the movie, so she was well-versed in Minny’s sass, passion, hardships, and anger for her role in the movie. The listener really gets a true sense of how each character felt. I honestly don’t know if I would have enjoyed to read the print version of the book; I think having four distinct voices to listen to really worked for this book. I do want to try to read The Help in the future though.

I think that readers of The Help can and should enjoy this story for the emotions it elicits and for the absolutely wonderful story it tells. However, a reader should also remember that the story told here is one person’s side of the story – the white side, whether or not you have African-American characters who are “speaking their minds”.

Oops. Got a little rant-y there. Back to the book: I honestly didn’t want this audiobook to end. I could’ve listened to stories about Skeeter, Minny, Aibileen, and the rest every single day on the way to and from work. I know I’ve said it a few times already, but The Help is truly entertaining. I enjoyed the four voices of the woman chosen to narrate this one. I got completely swept up in this story. I cried, laughed, smiled, and felt sick. This audiobook evoked emotions in me that no other audiobook has done so far. I wanted it to keep going. I missed the characters as soon as it ended.

If you like audiobooks, I would highly, HIGHLY, highly recommend this one.

ARC Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Of Monsters and MadnessAuthor: Jessica Verday
Genre: Historical fiction, retelling, paranormal, young adult
Publisher: Egmont
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
288 pages

Check out the synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Egmont for letting me read this.


What I thought:

I’m a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe so when I saw that this book was a retelling of Annabel Lee, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I enjoyed what Verday with Poe; I’m okay when an author takes creative liberties with an author’s work or life as long as it is laid out. What she did with Poe was very interesting though at times it was quite obvious.

1820s Philadelphia was the perfect setting for the book as it gave Of Monsters and Madness a decidedly creepy feel. There is a dark, Gothic feel to the book, which felt just right for an Edgar Allan Poe retelling. I was really looking forward to an author’s take on Annabel as, in the poem, we don’t know her except through Poe’s eyes. Her mother has recently died and she moves from Siam (Thailand) to Philadelphia to live with her father. She wants to be a doctor, which is not a proper role for a woman at that time. You would think she would be strong willed and brave and fierce, but really, she was boring, in my opinion. Something that irritated me was Annabel’s thoughts: the book is set in her perspective but occasionally we would get her thoughts in italics. The book is set in her perspective! Those are her thoughts, which made the parts in italics rather repetitive and unnecessary.

The book’s pacing is quite slow. It follows an almost day-by-day timeline for Annabel’s first weeks in Philadelphia, and of course, every day is not exciting. There were three or four scenes that I found truly exciting and creepy. I also found that the big secret was pretty obvious early on, though that didn’t stop me from wanting to keep reading and see how it played out.

There is not as much horror or creepiness as one would expect from a retelling of anything Edgar Allan Poe has written. If you are offended by creative liberties in regards to an author’s work or life, I probably wouldn’t recommend this one to you. Overall, the book didn’t really impress me though I won’t say that I hated it. I was obviously intrigued enough to keep reading. The ending was kind of abrupt though, so maybe there’ll be a sequel?

I want to share a few lines that I thought were wonderful and unbelievably romantic. Annabel’s love interest comes to her and this happens:

“You have haunted my dreams. My waking hours. Every moment in between,” he says.
I stare up at him, lost in the darkness of his eyes. He lowers his mouth to mine, and just before he steals away my breath again, he echoes my thoughts. “I am lost in you.”

Ooooweee. If someone said that to me, I’d be gone.

The bottom line: If you are looking for the gothic, horrific, creepy awesomeness that is Edgar Allan Poe, this may not be for you. If you are looking for a quick, strange take on Annabel Lee and Poe, you might want to check this out – particularly around Halloween. This book came so close to being what I wanted, but each time it fell short.

Rating: 5 – take it or leave it

Reading next: The Shadow Prince and Mortal Enchantment by Stacey O’Neale