Category: Review

A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis
389 Pages
Published: October 6, 2015

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon

Grace Mae is already familiar with madness when family secrets and the bulge in her belly send her to an insane asylum—but it is in the darkness that she finds a new lease on life. When a visiting doctor interested in criminal psychology recognizes Grace’s brilliant mind beneath her rage, he recruits her as his assistant. Continuing to operate under the cloak of madness at crime scenes allows her to gather clues from bystanders who believe her less than human. Now comfortable in an ethical asylum, Grace finds friends—and hope. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who will bring her shaky sanity and the demons in her past dangerously close to the surface.

Kim’s Review:

This is the second time I’ve read this book; unfortunately, I didn’t remember much from my first reading, so I went for a second reading. I’m so glad I did! This book is fantastic! I originally found this book sitting on the YA shelf in Barnes and Noble, but I don’t believe this is a YA book. I wouldn’t let any younger teens read it at all. There isn’t anything blatantly explicit, but certain themes are not appropriate for younger readers. I don’t want to imply that this is a dirty, ultra-mature book. There is very little language, some “old fashioned” crude humor, and grisly murder scenes. This is another book for the Criminal Minds fan.

Thornhollow and Grace view crimes through the lens of behavior. There’s also the frustration of knowing who the culprit is, but having no physical evidence to confirm guilt.   Although Grace’s life is now centered around asylums, they are not actually the center of the story. Grace goes on a journey of self-discovery that is fascinating to observe. The irony of her status as insane while being of exceptional intelligence thrilled my soul. There is also a theme of true feminism during a time in which women were still fighting for the right to vote and fighting against the power of men to do as they please with no consequences.

Unfortunately, this book highlights problems we still have within our American mental health system. Involuntary commitments are still rampant, based on nothing but one person’s word, for whatever reason a judge deems sufficient. And the ending is oh so satisfying!!!!! I completely forgot how the story ended so I gasped out loud when I figured out Grace’s scheme! Totally worth it! I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes criminal psychology, historical fiction, mental health issues, or just looking for an awesome story.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Before We Were Yours


Author: Lisa Wingate
334 Pages
Published: June 6, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 Stars

Description from Amazon

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shanty boat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge–until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents–but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption. Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals–in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country–Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

Kim’s Review:

I enjoyed this book. I was a little worried at the beginning since Avery’s family is so wrapped up in politics and I was waiting for the author to head off into a political rant in the middle of the book, but she never did. I did appreciate how the Staffords, regardless of their political standing, dealt with life in the spotlight. Those of us not in public service, are far too often over-critical and demanding of every aspect of a politician’s life. I liked how Wingate focused on the humanity and family of a major political figure and their response to public scrutiny. And as y’all know, I’m all about some historical, familial mystery, and this book delivered that in spades! I’m from a family who has traced its line all the way back to the Norman invasion, so we know exactly who we are and there’s not much left to be discovered. But Avery goes after her family history with a passion and I love it!

I’ll admit that I’d never heard of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, but I can’t say I’m surprised by the corruption and child trafficking. I was a little surprised by how deep the corruption went. That Georgia Tann was a business genius, but an evil one! She could fit in with any villain from any fairy tale! I was a little disappointed with the resolution of the story. There were certain loose ends that ended up staying loose and unanswered and I found that really frustrating. Finding out the identity of Avery’s grandmother was somewhat unsatisfying. I spent the whole book becoming emotionally attached to the Foss kids, but then with the ending, there were too many random add-ins and others left out, and that kept me from being totally happy. But overall, a good read that I would recommend to anyone looking for historical fiction or a good mystery.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Short Story Sunday: Back to December

Author: E.J. Bennett
Published: December 1, 2017
5155 words

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: November 19, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Short Story Description:

Bella, an old grumpy woman, finds herself in the past. To a time she was happy and loved. Bella must race against time and her mind to change a devastating event if she wishes to save her future.

A white Christmas wedding and the love of her life. Will Bella be distracted?

Can Bella keep her mind set on the task at hand? Or will she fall back into her old life and old ways?

Jessica’s Review:

I am quickly becoming a fan of E.J. Bennett’s short stories.  I like that I am able to read these short stories read during my lunch break!  Bennett is a talented writer: She is so descriptive in her writing that I feel I am there and can see everything happening as I read the story.

Bella is a grumpy old woman, but rightfully so.  She lost the one thing that was important to her. Mysteriously she goes back in time and has an opportunity to change things.  Will she accomplish this or not?  We see the transformation Bella makes over the course of this short story as she went from the grumpy old woman to a young lady I was rooting for that I was wanting to succeed!  This is a short story of 5155 words, so I can’t really say more.  Just go get this short story!

Special thanks to E.J. Bennett for sending an arc copy to read and review. I really enjoyed it!

Back to December is available worldwide on all platforms.  (Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple Store, etc). The Amazon links are below:

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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