Books · Uncategorized

A Madness So Discreet: A Book Review

Title: A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Copyright Date: 2015


(photo credit: Good Reads)

Set in the 1800s in a famous insane asylum in Ohio, this thriller explores insanity and the patients who find themselves exiled to the depths of asylum halls. Grace Mae is the oldest daughter of a senator. When her father’s secrets become a danger to his reputation he sends her away to an asylum in Boston where she is mistreated. During her stay in Boston she meets a young doctor named Thornhollow who specializes in the practice of performing lobotomies to cure the insane.

The doctor sees that Grace is no less sane than himself, but rather she has become the victim of a dark man. He devises a plan to get her out of the Boston asylum and brings her to Ohio with him where she will be cared for and will serve alongside him in the study of criminal minds.

In her new home, Grace hides under the alias of insanity. She trades her voice for a chance to catch criminals like her father and becomes protege to the doctor.

A letter from her younger sister, Alice, changes her focus and forces Grace to take much more drastic action.

A Madness So Discreet was one of my favorite books I’ve read in the past couple of years. It was brilliantly written and had me hooked from page one. The dramatic themes of the book kept me on the edge of my seat as I hoped to find justice for all the wrongs done to Grace by people she should have been able to trust. Her desire to protect her sister from the harm she faced also pulled on heart strings. This book is a cross between historical fiction and criminal investigation with a large dose of family drama.

The author, Mindy McGinnis, is an Ohioan whom I have met on several occasions. Her first book, Not a Drop to Drink, is one that my students read and she came and spoke at my school last spring after we finished reading that book. Also, she spoke to my SCBWI group a few weeks ago about character development. Next month she is releasing a new book, Given to the Sea, that I am excited about. Mindy’s YA books are among my favorites and A Madness So Discreet is my favorite one yet. If you are looking for a book to hook you from the very onset this is a great book for you!

The Ameri Brit Mom


Books · Uncategorized

Thin Space: A Book Review

Title: Thin Space

Author: Jody Casella

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Copyright Date: 2013

51d6G3YXuaL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ (photo from Amazon)

A few months after the car accident that stole away his twin, Marshall is desperate to contact his brother. He remembers the old Celtic legend that his elderly neighbor told him before her passing. A thin space is a place where a soul both entered and left the world. It is believed that these are places where the wall between this life and the after life is thin enough to pass through. At the time his neighbor explained this legend it sounded insane, but now Marshall is so desperate to see his brother and set things right that he’s willing to give it a try.

Before her passing the neighbor left Marshall instructions for locating a thin space. Part of the legend states that one must enter the thin space with bare feet. Marshall goes all over town in the dead of winter without shoes in the off chance that he walks through a thin space.

When Maddie moves into the neighbor’s house, Marshall starts to open up about the accident. At first, it’s the convenience of wanting to search her house for a thin space which sparks their relationship, but soon Marshall learns that they both have something to gain from finding a thin space.

This is a boy’s journey to cope with the loss of a sibling. It shows how we go to great lengths to just have one more conversation with the ones we love who have passed.

I really enjoyed this read. I’ve been reading through YA fiction from Ohio authors this year. I have actually met Jody Casella on several occassions as she is the coordinator for my chapter of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) If you are looking for a supernatural thriller Thin Space is an exemplary piece.

The Ameri Brit Mom


A Book Review: Not a Drop to Drink

The following is a book review by The Ameri Brit Mom. This post expresses the genuine opinion and experiences of The Ameri Brit Mom and is in no way endorsed by authors, publishers, and outside influences.


Title: Not a Drop to Drink

Author: Mindy McGinnis

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Copyright Date: 2013

Over the past several months I have been working in collaboration with some of my colleagues to map out our first ever whole-school read in the Freshman Academy. I have been zealously searching for the best materials and novels to use as a common experience to usher in the new freshman class next year. This is a trend that is becoming popular among universities and secondary schools and the idea behind the common school read is fostering a community of readers throughout the student body and faculty as well.

One of the biggest decisions when planning out a novel study that involves so many people is the choice of novel. We set out to discover a novel that the students would enjoy, be able to relate to, and that communicates a coming-of-age message with which they could sympathize. I turned to the school librarian for wisdom as she is an amazing resource. Our school has a Battle of the Books group which she advises and they travel and compete against other schools in their knowledge of prescribed books. Recently, this club had read Not a Drop to Drink and the students really enjoyed this book. She recommended that I take a look at the novel and see what I thought about using that as the subject material for the whole school read.

One thing I loved about the book from the beginning was that the author is from relatively near to where I live and specifically mentions the area where I live within the first five pages of the novel. That’s one thing that I thought may help to draw in some of the students especially because of the post-apocalyptic nature of the book. From the beginning of the book I wanted to know what happens to South Bloomfield!?!

Not a Drop to Drink is about a girl named Lynn and her mother, Lauren. There is a shortage of water in their post-apocalyptic world, but Lynn and her mother have their very own pond. Their lives are spent protecting their pond, house, and water source at all costs. I particularly love the opening line of the novel:

“Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared swoop in for a drink.” (McGinnis 1)

In the beginning, Lynn is used to a life of doing whatever it takes to survive. Her knowledge of life beyond the boundaries of her property are limited to the few trips she’s taken for wood and looting already empty homes. Her mother has taught her all she needs to know about survival and never hesitates to extinguish whatever life form threatens the security of the life she has worked so hard to build for her daughter.

After a series of emotional events Lynn is left questioning the only life she has ever known. She learns her own limitations and the value of trust. Also, amidst her circumstances she begins to see the value in others as they face the same struggle as she: survival.

I must admit that I can foresee my students falling in love with this novel. Some of the messages it conveys are ones that are hot topics in Young Adult media culture right now like: Is it ever okay to kill? Should the government control water sources? How can we preserve water in a world with a booming population?

It’s hard to say much more about this novel without giving away the premise. There are many plot twists and surprising scenes and you should read for yourself to see how things end up for Lynn in her quest to protect the things in life that mean the most to her. I look forward to reading the sequel, In a Handful of Dust because Mindy McGinnis has me hooked to the characters and world she has so carefully created.