Review for Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson

LikeaRiverGloriusLike a River Glorious
By: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Greenwillow
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
After a harrowing journey across the country, Leah Westfall and her friends have finally arrived in California and are ready to make their fortunes in the Gold Rush. Lee has a special advantage over the other new arrivals in California—she has the ability to sense gold, a secret known only by her handsome best friend Jefferson and her murdering uncle Hiram.

Lee and her friends have the chance to be the most prosperous settlers in California, but Hiram hasn’t given up trying to control Lee and her power. Sabotage and kidnapping are the least of what he’ll do to make sure Lee is his own. His mine is the deepest and darkest in the territory, and there Lee learns the full extent of her magical gift, the worst of her uncle, and the true strength of her friendships. To save everyone, she vows to destroy her uncle and the empire he is building—even at the cost of her own freedom.

My Thoughts:
I am really loving Carson’s newest series and her foray into westerns. I think she has captured the harshness and tension that had to have been present during this time period in California. My take-away from this novel- the gold rush was not fun. I’m not sure I’d have made it due to the hardships but reading Lee’s journey was incredibly riveting.

This book was very dark at times and the tension was hard to get through. I had to read this one slowly because all the struggles Lee had to endure really took a toll on me. I am really emotionally connected to these characters so their journey was my own. It was hard reading about them coming upon one bad thing after another. And Hiram- ack what a sadistic jerk. Carson has given his character incredible depth but my dislike for him runs deep. I wanted to throttle him throughout his scenes. His treatment of Lee and the people working his mine…grr.

There was a romance that started in the first novel and grows some in this one. It wasn’t a focus of the novel although it does push along the plot and Lee’s motivations at times. I really love this couple and I hope that at the end of the series there ends up being a HEA. I need it. This novel wasn’t at all filler to me, the plot points of the storyline were done wonderfully and this didn’t end on a cliff-hanger which I appreciated. I’m not all that sure where the last book of the series will go but I’m excited to find out.

The historical aspects of the novel were well done though I don’t have much to base them on. I’ve not done much study into this time period or the treatment of the Native Americans or Chinese workers but this depiction seemed incredibly realistic and makes me want to further my education and learn more about what it was like for them. It wasn’t easy to read but I think necessary for all of us to remember. I think it’s so easy for our historical knowledge to gloss over these nasty bits and that really needs to change.

I love that this series is so based in history and reality and the magical elements are incorporated seamlessly. Lee’s magical ability was such a blessing yet curse for her. I love how she struggles throughout both novels to really grasp the extent of her skill and its impact on others around her.

LikeARiverGloriousIG

Final Thoughts:
Like a River Glorious was such a beautifully done novel though certain aspects were really hard for me to read. I had to take it slow and read another novel in between because the struggle Lee goes through as well as the treatment of people in this book could be really depressing. I was always riveted to the storyline and feel it was a strong follow up to the first book.

 

Review- Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

WoEaSWalk on Earth a Stranger
By: Rae Carson
Release Date: September 22nd 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

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

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

The Story:
I really didn’t know what to expect from this book when I requested it. I admit, I saw that it was by Rae Carson and requested it without reading the summary. I was so impressed with the research, captivating story telling and characters in this novel.

The pacing was very slow and though the characters travel a great distance it didn’t seem that a lot happened. We follow the story through Lee’s point of view on her journey to California. The story begins in Georgia and we really get a feel for the setting and time period. I found myself intrigued by Leah (she changes the spelling when she pretends to be a boy to Lee). Her ability to sense gold seemed like such a hindrance to me. I loved that Carson approached practical elements…such as if you can sense gold you still can’t cash it all in because that would cause suspicion.

Once Leah dressed as a boy and hit the trail I was so reminded of the old 80’s game my generation played in school, The Oregon Trail. This game was IMPOSSIBLE and I died of dysentery every time I attempted to play.

oregon_trail
Carson represented the hardships of traveling by wagon over miles of land so beautifully. I was so impressed with how she handled the small aspects of life (our main characters gets her period!) I loved seeing how things were handled and I felt that Carson did one of the best jobs I’ve read representing a girl character hiding as a boy.

As I said the pacing was slow and the action sequences scarce but I felt completely captivated and I read this book in a short number of days. Where the story left the reader also has me really ready for the next book…not a cliffhanger all that much but it’s the type of ending where you flip the page expecting the next chapter and not the end of the book.

The Characters:
Wow, Carson did such an excellent job creating a cast of characters that were unique, well rounded and so realistic. I loved Leah/Lee and felt she was incredibly easy to root for and connect to. I wanted for her to succeed and I was worried for her multiple times throughout the story. Her best friend, Jefferson, was so likeable though I could use a bit more focus on him in the next novel.

I became attached to the people Lee traveled with on the trail to California and I was as engaged with their stories as I was with Lee’s. I was very impressed with the depth Carson gave the secondary cast of characters.

You might be wondering if there was a romance? Not really though there will most likely be one as the series progresses. I was very much behind a couple though and I’m hoping my ship will sail (or there will be tears).

Final Thoughts:
I was very impressed with how beautiful and captivating Walk on Earth a Stranger was. Although the pacing was slow the story was easily able to keep my interest and I’m incredibly eager for the next book. I must know what happens next in Lee’s life!