Book Review: Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

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We here at A Midsummer Night’s Read really enjoy a good book that will keep you on your toes and maybe even give you chills, so of course we jumped at the chance to join in on Penguin Teen’s WICKED READS campaign.  This means that this week, I will be featuring the creepy books that I have enjoyed to help count down to Halloween this Saturday!

Welcome to WICKED READS!

 

Does any one else remember these books?  I remember ordering them from the Scholastic book fair back in Elementary school, and I also remember throwing the books in my closet after reading one of their particularly scary entries.  What was your favorite scary book as a kid?

 

23845997“When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

As soon as I read the synopsis for this novel, which was a long time ago before it was released or even before it had a cover, I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy of this book as soon as I could.  Luckily, I was able to reach out to the author and expressed my extreme interest in her novel, and somehow found myself in contact with the publisher. Less than two weeks later, I had a beautiful copy of this book in my hands.

First off, maybe I should give you a few buzz phrases that can describe this book: Creepy, Cult, Ghosts, Bloody. I devoured this book in a matter of hours.  Sure, there are a few things that could have been done better, as there are in any book, but on the whole I found this book to be a really entertaining.

I really enjoyed the magical realism in this novel, and I like the fact that there really isn’t any true type of explanation for it.  It makes the ideas much more intriguing.  I do, however, wish there had been much more of a reason for the audience to really understand the pull of the corn and the entire aspect of the ceremonies going on within this little cult.  Although the characters are quick to dismiss that this is a normal cult, and both Ash and her brother Rhys are drawn in fairly easily with little to no argument.

The only thing that I found super creepy was this bloody woman that kept appearing to the main character in many precarious situations.  I wasn’t too scared by the corn, or how the corn seemed to dictate what exactly was happening within the little city, but I understand what Liggett was trying to do here.  Evidently a lot of people made some connections between this novel and “Children of the Corn,” but I’ve never seen that so I don’t really see the parallels that other reviewers have pointed out.

I’m never really a fan of insta-love or anything like that, but I did actually enjoy the romance aspect of this novel and found Dane to be a super jerk by the end of the novel.  I’m not going to give away why!

Overall this is a good read for creepiness right here at Halloween!

4 Bards!

fourbards

 

Book Review: A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

madnesssodiscreetGrace 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.

First and foremost, thank you so much to Harper Collins and Mindy McGinnis for providing me an advanced copy of this book to read and review! Secondly, look at that amazing book cover that was designed by Brooke Shaden!  She is one of my absolute favorite photographers and this cover just scrapes the surface of her brilliance. (Seriously, check her out.)

I will definitely admit that this book isn’t exactly what I wanted it to be.  I really wanted it to be a story that delved further into the depths of the terrors in the American Asylum System in the 1800s and Early 1900s.  What I got, on the other hand, was a story that kind of scratched the surface of it, but then went off on a tangent that really became about exploring the beginnings of criminal psychology and what would eventually become the subject of Criminal Minds.

I really thought that McGinnis did a great job of characterizing Grace and by hinting at the true nature of her pregnancy.  McGinnis took Grace and built her family out of her as a character, and practically everyone but her sister is positively deplorable.

I really do wish that we had spent more time with the patients in the asylum in Boston, because I really think there is a wealth of information and possible storylines there.  I enjoyed that McGinnis didn’t straight up name the full frontal labotomy that was taking place in the basement of the asylum, but managed to provide gritty details of the process instead.  It was a great way to keep it mysterious and to show how primitive the process was without tainting the description with the loaded title of labotomy.

I couldn’t quite decide if I liked the character of the doctor, but I absolutely adored both of Grace’s friends in the asylum in Ohio.  I loved that McGinnis chose to show syphilitic insanity and make it so wonderfully relatable in a world where this isn’t common anymore.  This is a part of the book that also covers the topic of suicide, and I think she did it as best as she could and made the healing process for her characters so raw and emotional.

Also, the ending…JUST DESSERTS. Love it.  Read the book and you’ll know what I mean.

Overall, I’m giving this book a solid 4 Bard rating!

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 13, 2015

Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can’t shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer’s behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she’s forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 13, 2015

An intricately crafted mystery set in the contemporary Middle East. 

Zan is a politician’s daughter and an adrenaline junkie. Whether she’s rock climbing or shoplifting, she loves to live on the edge. But she gets more of a rush than she bargained for on a forced mother–daughter bonding trip to Turkey, where she finds herself in the crosshairs of an antiquities smuggling ring. These criminals believe that Zan can lead them to an ancient treasure that’s both priceless and cursed. Until she does so, she and her family are in grave danger. Zan’s quest to save the treasure—and the lives of people she cares about—leads her from the sparkling Mediterranean, to the bustle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, to the eerie and crumbling caves of Cappadocia. But it seems that nowhere is safe, and there’s only so high she can climb before everything comes tumbling down.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 27, 2015

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone–she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

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