Review of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis


Given to the Sea
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Format: E-Arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:

Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

My Thoughts:
I really love that McGinnis’ style and genre changes for each book she releases. When I saw she was venturing into fantasy I had to have this book. It was a tad different than I expected but it did have some of the McGinnis trade marks- it wasn’t an overly happy story and it had a complex world. The story was told from 4 point of views. I am a fan of multiple POV so I didn’t have trouble with this though I did sort of mix up a character or two. For some reason the Witt story line had me confused each time it went to his chapters. I don’t know if I couldn’t get a good feel for his character or what but I was always having to remind myself who he was.

I thought at first that I would enjoy Khosa’s character the most but I never did really connect to her. I thought the idea of her family history and her draw to the sea was so interesting though. What a completely original story idea! Her constant draw, even against her will, to the ocean was mesmerizing. The fact that she felt dancing in her bones and the need to dance to her death? Wow, that’s dark and awesome.

The characters I really grew to like were Dara and Donil. The fact that they were the last of their race was so sad to me. I loved their magical abilities and how much it really weighed on them and their actions. The unrequited love Dara felt had my heart breaking for her. Really- they just had such a sad story.

Vincent was likeable and easy to read about. I enjoyed his POV and I might have felt he was the easiest to connect to. With the combination of all these characters and their stories it was a really complex storyline. I admit, there were times I wasn’t sure what was happening! I still felt the draw to continue reading regardless.

Final Thoughts:
Given to the Sea wasn’t what I expected exactly but regardless I found the characters and story to be incredibly interesting even if I didn’t follow everything throughout my entire read. It all pulled together and the further I read the more I could grasp the world and reasoning behind character’s actions. As with most McGinnis books, this one wasn’t overly happy but it had a realistic quality to it that I really appreciated.

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis- Deeply disturbing yet beautifully written

efitz-5528355e1a3aaa4@2xA Madness So Discreet
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: ARC
Source: Friend picked me up a copy. Thanks Kate!

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
I went into this book expecting to be disturbed, creeped out and generally enthralled. I was happily not let down on these desires though the story was much different I expected. McGinnis’ writing style always manages to really grab my interest and I find it to be incredibly beautiful.

A Madness So Discreet started out in an asylum that had little care to actually help those living there. Grace has swallowed her words and refused to speak. This first section of the story was DARK. Really, really disturbing and a good amount of the subject matter was really hard to read though somehow it didn’t manage to be so dark I was at all wanting to stop reading. It was a mesmerizing darkness that kept me eager to know what would come next.

Once Grace meets the doctor, Thornhollow, the pacing and the feel of the book really switched gears. Going into this book I expected the asylum darkness and the horror of reading about Grace’s horrible past. What I didn’t expect was the banter between Grace and Thornhollow and the focus on Grace’s friendships with the inmates at her new ethical asylum.

McGinnis introduced many side characters that really played a major role throughout the story. I enjoyed watching Grace open up to them and begin to live again. Dr. Thornhollow pulled her from inevitable death and despair and gave her the hope to live again. I felt this was all very well done. Grace as a character was exceptionally strong, loyal and brave. I was very impressed with her perseverance in the face of amazingly awful things occurring.

Thornhollow was the classic intelligent, socially awkward and brilliant doctor/detective type. I am such a sucker for this character type I was immediately a fan of him. His care for his patients and his dedication was also a draw to his character. I loved that though he was caring and considerate he lacked that human connection to others in many cases. I felt that as the story progressed and as he gets to know Grace he learns from her and begins to open up himself.  I also liked that though many elements of his personality seemed so positive it still look me back a bit by the things he was willing and able to do to others.

While reading this book I became fascinated in asylums and the use of lobotomy. I have had very little research in how asylums have changed through time and how our perception of mental illness continues to evolve. I still have some researching I’d like to do because of questions and curiosities this book introduced. I can easily see that McGinnis did a wealth of research to be historically accurate and it came across very naturally within the story.

The only aspect that sort of threw me off was that the story switched gears three times. The first section was dark and disturbing, the second was the hunt for a serial killer and the last section focused on Grace coming to terms with her family history and seeing retribution and protection for her sister. Somehow, McGinnis was able to succeed in her execution and the story did flow rather well for containing so much in a rather small amount of pages. I was able to connect to the characters and I was always interested in the outcome. I do think that it might have been a little more successful to me if more time was spent on the different story themes.

The book didn’t leave off in a manner where there HAS to be a sequel though I really would love to read more with these characters. I still see many possibilities for expansion on the character’s stories and growth.

Final Thoughts:
Mindy McGinnis is an incredibly strong writer and it’s always a pleasure for me to read her writing. I really enjoyed the characters introduced in A Madness So Discreet and it was evident many hours of research were done to help create the setting and historical elements. I only wish that some of the story elements had been either cut or expanded on since it felt rushed in spots.



Lego Cover Art- A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis

The moment the cover for Mindy McGinnis’ next novel, A Madness So Discreet, was revealed I knew I’d have to make a Lego cover of it. I loved how creepy the cover was and that hand reaching up was so amazing. I’d hoped to be able to create a Lego foot in some way but after many attempts it didn’t work out so I had to cut it. I’m still really pleased with how it came out and I hope you enjoy it.



  • Review of Not a Drop to Drink
  • Review of In a Handful of Dust
  • Interview with cover designer/artist Erin Fitzsimmons
  • Look for my upcoming interview with Mindy McGinnis

Past Lego Covers

Blocks Unhinged   The Immortal Rules   UnboundLego320 LegoStillBlue320

thewinnerscurse320fin MortalHeartFinal KissOfDeception320 ACOTARLego320 TheWrath&TheDawnLego

Review of In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis

In a Handful of Dust (Not a Drop to Drink, #2)In a Handful of Dust
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: September 23rd 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

The Story:
I was blown away with Not a Drop to Drink, I thought it was brilliantly done. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this companion novel and see what McGinnis was going to hit us with this time. This book was bound to surprise me in some way and it surely did. I had a couple moments that I didn’t see coming.

Overall, this book was slow paced though McGinnis’ writing was intriguing enough to keep me invested though not a lot was happening. Some areas did drag a bit more than I would have liked. You can see from the above summary that in this book we focus on Lynn and Lucy’s story, both of which we were introduced to in Not a Drop to Drink. I loved revisiting some of the characters from the prior book though the secondary characters are only present for a very short time.

Most of this book centers on the cross country journey our main characters are on. We are introduced to new characters on their path and learn a bit more about this world without water. The entire book has a very western feel since everything has been reduced to finding water and traveling by foot or horseback. The path was strewn with many obstacles for our leads that gave the book some needed action sequences. Of course the stakes are high but though I worried for our characters I was never as invested as I was with the first book. I think I got thrown off by the slower pacing but I can’t be sure why I didn’t connect as deeply this time around.

Once we get to some of the big reveals they are sure to surprise the reader. I wasn’t overly enthused about one in particular. It felt almost overblown to add some shock value to an otherwise slow story line. That sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. I just didn’t feel it was overly realistic. Or, perhaps I’d rather not think it would be for my own sanity.

The Characters:
We spend a short amount of time with Vera, Stebbs and the rest of the old cast of characters because only Lynn and Lucy are really focused on. It’s not far into the story that they take off on their journey.

As in the first novel McGinnis has crafted a beautifully touching and poignant relationship between these two women. I loved their mother/daughter relationship and felt that it was the driving force for the novel. Though there are many action scenes within In a Handful of Dust it read more character driven story to me. I think the readers enjoyment will depend upon how connected they feel towards Lynn and Lucy. Without a deep level of emotional connection this book might fall flat for some readers.

We are introduced to a handful of new characters that I never fully trusted or cared for. They all had a role to play in Lynn and Lucy’s journey but I wasn’t overly enthused to read about any of them but one. I’ll let you read to figure out if and who you connect with. For the most part the characters were well developed though a few later in the novel felt very one dimensional to me.

Final Thoughts:
McGinnis’ writing was a strong as ever and her ability to create realistic and emotional relationships between her characters was impressive. Though I enjoyed In a Handful of Dust I never had the level of connection that I’d have liked. I felt the pacing was a bit on the slow side though I’ll not soon be forgetting Lynn and Lucy’s story any time soon.


  • Review of Not a Drop to Drink
  • Interview with Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust’s cover designer Erin Fitzsimmons

Event Recap- Austin Teen Book Festival 2013

Last Saturday was the huge event Austin Teen Book Festival. It was a blast and I got to meet Sherry Thomas, Mindy McGinnis and more. There were so many authors and so much going on my introverted self barely could take it. We showed up late so I missed the Dark Days vs Fierce Reads–from the pictures I’ve seen it looked like a blast. I did get to see three panels: Dark Days, Into Hearts of Darkness and Powers Strange and Perilous. I had intended to take notes and highlight them in my recap but I was so distracted with what everyone was saying I forgot to take notes.

The festival had a great turnout and every panel was almost full. Each panel was moderated by one of the authors which added an interesting element to the questions. In the Into the Hearts of Darkness panel Victoria Scott moderated and included devil horns to the author with the most naughty answer. This really created an interactive experience between the panel and the crowd, it was so much fun watching audience members scream out who deserved the horns.

One of my favorite moments was walking through the halls and coming across people sitting or sprawled in sitting areas reading in between panels. It was a great event (and I got to meet the TeaTime girls and Snarkles!) Thank you Austin, all the volunteers and authors for creating such a fun day.

Dark Days:


 Into Hearts of Darkness

Powers Strange and Perilous