Book Buddies is a discussion-style review that takes place with one of my two buddies. (Learn more and see past reviews here) We both read the book and then have a private discussion about it. We post our discussion as a review on the last Wednesday of each month. You’ll be able to see our similar/different opinions on the overall book, characters, writing style, etc. – just like a regular review. The first half our discussion will take place right here, and the second half will be on Kaitlin’s blog! (Link below)
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.
It’s the one year anniversary of Book Buddies!
Back in October 2014, I expressed an interest in finding a Book Buddy to read and review with each month. I just wanted to collaborate with one person by reading the same book and discussing it – like our own mini book club. I put out an “application” for people to fill out and see who had similar books to me on their TBR. Kaitlin and Cristina both stuck out to me right away, and I couldn’t choose between them! I ended up asking them both and deciding to alternate months, with different goals in mind for each. Kaitlin and I would be binge-reading book series together, while Cristina and I would read books based on the season or holiday. It has been such a fantastic experience reading with these ladies and getting to know them each month. I can tell I made the right choice! 🙂
We decided to ALL read the same book this month and have a discussion about it, in order to celebrate! On top of that, there’s a giveaway for the book at the bottom of the post. We’ll be giving away TWO COPIES OF A MADNESS SO DISCREET to two lucky winners (international!).
Lauren: So, I guess we can start with one of the more basic questions. In a sentence or two, what did you think of the book overall?!
Cristina: It was very different genre-wise than I thought it would be, but I thought it was just as dark as it was compelling, which is to say very. I think it really broke a lot of boundaries in the type of content written in YA for sure.
Kaitlin: Well, it definitely was not what I expected it to be. I was really looking forward to a girl who was put in an asylum because of psychological reasons rather than her parents being complete jerks. However, it was still a great read and I really loved the different characters and plot!
Lauren: Totally agree! It looks like we all kind of felt the same way. The book wasn’t what I expected from a genre perspective, but I’m glad it wasn’t AS creepy as I thought it’d be. I don’t do well with books like that! Overall, really pleasantly surprised me.
Cristina: Me too! I’m not a horror person, so I’m glad it took more of a mystery slant. However, I think you could argue it was a horror book in a different way.
Lauren: I actually don’t usually read mysteries OR historical fiction OR horror… so this really was out of my comfort zone.
Kaitlin: And what star ratings did we all give this book?
Cristina: 5 stars.
Kaitlin: 4 for me!
Lauren: I’m right in the middle: 4.5 stars! haha
Cristina: What were the things that kept it from being 5 stars for you guys?
Lauren: For me, I wanted a little more action maybe? The mystery aspect was interesting overall but I was hoping for more twists and turns. The ending kind of made up for it though, as far as that’s concerned!
Kaitlin: I think the pacing was kind of off and slow for me. At times I felt like I really did not want to be reading this book and rather do something else.
Cristina: I actually found it to be totally engrossing from the beginning to end, which is not the experience most people seemed to have with it!
Lauren: I actually read the book and listened to the audiobook, on and off. I had a SUPER busy weekend (I was in a wedding!) so I was able to read the physical copy when I had time, and do the audiobook while driving everywhere. It helped with the pacing because with the audio, I was “forced” to listen when I usually may put the book down. I noticed that a lot of people had some issues with the pacing. I kind of did, but I was generally in the mood for it – especially towards the end.
Kaitlin: Yeah the ending was definitely something I wanted to keep reading on. I was actually kind of surprised that the author decided to take on that part of the book. I think it did something great for the character development and just showed how much Grace grew.
Cristina: The ending was actually my least favorite part, to be honest. I seem to be the outlier here, haha.
Kaitlin: Why is that Cristina? I would love to know!
Cristina: I wasn’t expecting it to take on that “courtroom” vibe, and it sort of threw me. I think for me what I loved about the book is it hovered on that line between mystery and paranormal. Like you had psychological reasoning for so many things that happened and patient behavior, as explained by Dr. Thornhollow…but then you also had some patients who had abilities that couldn’t really be…explained.
Kaitlin: That’s true, the last place I really expected to be in this book was a courtroom.
Lauren: I have a few thoughts on all of this haha. I LIKED the ending because I didn’t see some of it coming. I was happy that the people who deserved some kind of punishment ended up with it, but I think it dragged on a little longer than necessary. The courtroom was a surprise. Also, as far as Grace is concerned, I felt disconnected from her as a character. I’m not sure why but I just didn’t relate to her and felt like she was closed off. I know that was mostly because of what happened to her, but I just wanted a little MORE from her. That’s another thing preventing the five star rating for me.
Cristina: I can definitely see why you feel she was inaccessible, Lauren. However, I liked her arc.
Kaitlin: I could see where that comes from. I mean when you read from a main character who is in an asylum, there isn’t much to relate to.
Cristina: I like that Grace started as someone “normal” who got thrown in the Asylum for a physical condition, rather than a mental one (the abuse she suffered aside). And then her behavior starts to mirror those with a psychological disorder, such as her complete and utter lack of empathy toward the middle of the book – almost like she has antisocial personality disorder. And then she sort of rebounds from that and finds her personality again.
Find the next part of the discussion here!
|Plot & Premise|
|Pacing & Flow|
|Feels or Swoons|