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review 2016-09-27 01:38
The Gold Seer Trilogy #1...
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson,Erin Mallon,HarperAudio

"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?"

 

When I saw this series was set during the Gold Rush I knew had to read it. There's something about that era that's very alluring and I think it makes the perfect setting for a fantasy adventure story. Carson delivered everything I was hoping for. I think she captured the essence of the period beautifully. I listened to the audio book and the narrator's performance enhanced the story even more. The sequel, Like a River Glorious, releases tomorrow so I'm glad I don't have to wait very long for it. : )

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review 2016-06-22 23:56
Walk on Earth a Stranger
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

I think this is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”

 

When I was a kid/young teen, I went through a multi-year obsession with survival stories. I pretty much only read nonfiction about people (usually historical people) who survived crazy wilderness situations. The California and Yukon gold rushes were probably my second-biggest wilderness passion. Arctic exploration was definitely my deadly-story first love, but I read a lot of gold rush nonfiction. If a book promised that someone was going to die horrifically in the wild, young me was all over it.

 

So, what does this have to do with Walk on Earth a Stranger? Well, this novel is set in gold-rush-era America and focuses on a teen girl named Leah. She has a secret: She can sense gold. She uses her power to make her family rich. This attracts the attention of some unsavory people. After Leah is forced to flee from her home, she decides to head west with her kind-of-sort-of boyfriend. Gold has recently been discovered in California, and she knows that she’ll be able to find enough of it to make a new life for herself. Her biggest challenge will be surviving the trip from Georgia to California.

 

“‘Only way to reach the green grass of Oregon or the sweet gold of California is through hell itself.’” –Walk on Earth a Stranger.

 

I didn’t like this book as much as I expected I would. I know that I burned myself out on gold rush stories when I was younger, but I thought that Leah’s gold-sensing magic would add a new twist to a familiar tale. Unfortunately, the magic is barely present in this book. Hundreds of pages go by without it even being mentioned. The book is marketed as fantasy, but it feels a lot more like historical fiction, which would usually be fine with me because I love historical books. My issue is that this book doesn’t bring anything new to the historical fiction genre. I found Leah’s journey to California to be painfully slow and highly predictable. I felt like I spent the entire book waiting for something big to happen, and nothing ever did.

 

I also wasn’t feeling Leah’s love interest. Jefferson seems to spend most of his time sulking. I understand why he’s unhappy—he’s often near-death and has to deal with racist idiots on top of it—but I started to wonder what Leah sees in him. He doesn’t have a lot going on in the personality department.

 

There are some elements of the book that I love. Leah is a badass woman. I really like her. She’s loyal and quick-thinking, and nothing is going to stop her from getting to California. She’s confident in her body but not unrealistically beautiful, which is rare for a YA heroine.

 

“I have a strange life; I know it well. We have a big homestead and not enough working hands, so I’m the girl who hunts and farms and pans for gold because her daddy never had sons. I’m forever weary, my hands roughed and cracked, my skirts worn too thin too soon. The town girls poke fun at me, calling me ‘Plain Lee’ on account of my strong hands and my strong jaw.” – Walk on Earth a Stranger

 

The book discusses a lot of interesting gender issues. For part of the story, Leah is forced to dress as a boy, “Lee,” because she needs money. The author does an impressive job of showing the differences in the ways that Lee and Leah are treated. Even though they are the same person, Lee gets all of the advantages that society has to offer. Leah is treated like property.

 

“‘Men can be relentless,’ she agrees, ‘when they think a woman belongs to them.’” - Walk on Earth a Stranger

 

This book does have some positive aspects, and I was entertained by parts of it, but I probably won’t continue with the series. It just didn’t offer much that I haven’t seen before.  

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text 2016-03-05 15:15
Book Tag- The Fifty Bookish Questions

I came across this tag on My Little Book Blog

I have linked each book I mentioned to their GoodReads page so you can check them out yourself!

 

1.) What was the last book you read?

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

 

2.) Was it a good one?

It wasn't for me

 

3.) What made it good?

Well, I liked the idea of  the underground compound setting in the aftermath of a nuclear war. 

 

4.) Would you recommend it to other people?

It's not my go to recommendation

 

5.) How often do you read? 

Mostly everyday!

 

6.) Do you like to read?

I LOVE reading

 

7.) What was the last bad book you read?

The last absolutely horrible book I read was Storm by Donna Jo Napoli

 

8.) What made you dislike it?

I had really high hopes for it. Its a Noah's Ark retelling and I just could not get into the writing or any of the characters.

 

9.) Do you wish to be a writer?

Its something I have thought about, but then I think I have too many books to read to write my own. But sometimes i'll get a creative moment. 

 

10.) Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

Many, but only one comes to mind. By the Time You Read This I'll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters Its about a girl who wants to commit suicide because of the way she is bullied. I read this when I was in high school and I think that's why it had an impact on me.

 

11.) Do you read fan fiction?

No

 

12.) Do you write fan fiction?

Negative

 

13.) What's your favorite book?

It changes. So far this year it's Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson The first in a trilogy. It made me want to travel. And its historical fiction!

 

14.) What's your least favorite book?

I know I have some but nothing comes to mind

 

15.) Do you prefer physical books or to read on a device (like kindle)?

Definitely physical books

 

16.) When did you learn to read?

Whatever age you normally learn to read at.

 

17.) What was your favorite book you had to read in school?

By far, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

 

18.) What is your favorite book series?

Always and forever, The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

19.) Who is your favorite author?

I cant pick

 

20.) What is your favorite genre?

I would have to say YA (and the branches that spring from that) and historical fiction. 

 

21.) Who is your favorite character in a book series?

At the moment, Lee Westfall from Walk on Earth a Stranger

 

22.) Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

Every one.

 

23.) Wish book do you wish had a sequel?

I Think im going with Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

 

24.) Which book do you wish didnt have a sequel?

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

 

25.) How long does it take you to read a book?

Anywhere from two days to literally forever

 

26.) Do you like when books become movies?

yes, if I actually read it

 

27.) Which book was ruined by its movie adaptation?

I dont think any that I have seen

 

28.) Which movie has done a book justice?

cant say

 

29.) Do you read newspaper

I think I have only read one newspaper. I bought it from a flea market and its from 1942

 

30.) Do you read magazines?

I like them, but not usually

 

31.) Do you prefer newspaper or magazines?

Magazines

 

32.) Do you read while in bed?

Thats where most of my reading is done

 

33.) Do you read while on the toilet? 

Im not going to say I never have.

 

34.) Do you read while in the car?

Yes but not often

 

35.) Do you read while in the bath

Id love to, but I dont have that kind of set up

 

36.) Are you a fast reader?

yes

 

37.) Are you a slow reader?

no

 

38.) What is your favorite place to read?

Anywhere that it is sunny, warm, and has natural lighting.

 

39.) Is it hard for you to concentrate while you read?

not usually

 

40.) Do you need a room to be silent while you read?

Id prefer it, but not necessary. 

 

41.) Who gave you your love for reading?

Im not sure, I think my grandmother.

 

42.) What book is next on your list to read?

Sounds funny but, I bought it while in a Disney World gift shop. Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson

 

43.) When did you start to read chapter books?

Whatever age you normally do

 

44.) Who is your favorite children's book author?

Barbra Park for sure

 

45.) Which author would you most want to interview?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

46.) Which author do you think you'd be friends with?

no idea

 

47.) What books have you reread the most?

I don't reread

 

48.) Which books do you consider "classics"?

I tend to refer to my childhood favorites as classics

 

49.) Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

Nothing in particular, but ones that make you reflect on your life or the world.

 

50.) Which books should be banned from all schools?

Nothing I can think of

 

And that's it! If you read through all of my answers I tag and thank you! 

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review 2016-02-09 18:13
Walk The Earth A Stranger
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

You know that game, The Oregon Trail? You would choose an occupation (I was usually a carpenter, so I could fix broken axles, wheels, etc), assign your skill points for foraging or keeping morale high, choose a city to start from(I always started from Independence or Jefferson City) and a city as your end destination(Honestly, I mostly shot for Salt Lake City, as it was the closest, and involved less desert), choose when to leave (I would leave in the middle of February, because spring would be coming soon, but if you made good time, you'd be able to cross the rivers when they were frozen and miss the spring floods), and then wander around town, buying food, guns and ammo for hunting, livestock, and assorted goods, being careful not to exceed the weight limit of whatever wagon you bought. (I always bought the biggest - I needed to be able to cart along those extra 100 pounds of celery, cheap and nutritious.) And then, finally, you would start off down the trail.

This book was the rest of the game.

You would travel and travel, finding wild fruits and veggies, riding out on hunting expeditions (a bison stampede, oh boy!)

 

 

fight outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, general illnesses,

 

 

and the death of members of the wagon train.

 

 

Somebody would get grumbly and you'd rest for a few days to bring up morale. Maybe you'd run out of water and frantically search for an trading post that might still have a barrel. If you were enterprising, you could trade with other wagon teams or Indians you met along the way. Sometimes the hills were so steep, you'd have to use chains on the wheels, or risk a tipped/broken wagon(Lee's wagon train should have considered chains...) And then of course, inevitably, no matter what you did, a wheel, axel, or yoke would break.

 

 

And while this book didn't have every minute element of the Oregon Trail and it certainly had some additions to the expedition, it was basically the same. (No surprise there.) Except I'd have been rather playing the game. Which is not to say that this was bad, but it was slow and it's basically just a long lead-up to the following books of this series. Very little happens that you couldn't start with Book Two and jump right into the story. Lee's gold finding abilities are utilized very little, and nothing much comes of it, except for it being the driving reason why she leaves town for California. And honestly, I see why she's going to California, because people are gonna be less suspicious of her tripping over gold every time they turn around, but it will also incite a lot of jealousy on their part, even if they don't discover her secret. So California also seems the absolute worst place someone of her abilities could go. Someone finds out about your ability, and you're up a creek without a paddle. In fact, she's already discovered that people are willing to murder to get to her and her abilities, and the murderer is following her to California. Like, come on, girl, GO TO TEXAS OR SOMETHING.

 

But actually, now that I'm considering this, this book is a cross between The Oregon Trail and the Yukon Trail, which was boring as heck as you traveled up to the Yukon and really only got exciting when you could stake a claim and start panning and mining for gold.

 

 

That being said, I will be checking the second book out, because maybe something exciting will happen now that Lee's in California? One can hope.

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review 2016-01-31 10:42
Not what I expected...
Walk on Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson

I am not quite sure why this was marketed as a fantasy- because in my opinion it isn't.

 

 

Well, it does have some fantasy aspects.. but on the large, I would call this a historical novel. And therein lies my biggest issue. There is no world building. If this is a fantasy- then the world building is extremely bad. Because the only bit of world building that has been done: There are some people with witchy powers. Full Stop. That's it. No other fantasy or paranormal aspect at all. Ok maybe because there is some paranormal bits- we could call it a paranormal historical? Even that is kind of a big stretch at the moment at least, maybe Carson will add more paranormal bit in the next installmen? Who knows, but for me this was a huge let down.

 

Now. Let's look at the rest of this novel.

 

The genre is different from what I usually read. This is a rather realistic historical western- based on the gold rush to California. And if you look at it that way... it's rather a different experience. To be honest I am not that well versed on that part of the history. But as far as I can tell Carson did a smashing job at it. The difficulties and dangers that people faced, the euphoria , the drive of the gold rush. It's brilliantly described and conveyed.

 

Carson's description, her writing style are beautiful. This a really well written novel. Clearly well researched. I love the landscapes Carson painted with her words. But mostly I loved her character building. It's definitely my favorite part of Walk on Earth a Stranger. While everything is told from Lee POV, so the view of a young girl, who travels by herself west, each character has real depth. Over and over we get to see other sides to each of the support cast. Lee changes hugely, her fears and hopes were pivotal to me. I totally got where she was coming from. Her upbringing being unique for it's time, the mysteries around her parents past and the friendships she forms are part of what makes her feel like a real historical character. I feel like I got a glimpse of one of the tracks west. A slice of those exciting and scary dangerous times thanks to the exceptional character building.

 

Because while Lee is in constant movement- and somehow quite a bit happens. This is totally character driven. It's the lives and story of the characters that build the story.

 

Looking at the plot. I was left with a gazillion questions. As I said, Lee is in constant movement. There is a hint a romance, but not much happens in that department. But if I would have to sum the plot up.. in one sentence: This is the story about Lee's track, who through bad and unexpected circumstances, ends up joining the gold rush to California, on her own and in disguise. I found this rather slow paced. I kinda expected more adventure. But after I got over my initial expectations- I enjoyed the slow but beautiful way this was written, reveled in the brilliant way Carson conveyed an interesting part of history through her ability to bring the human aspects of the time across.

 

 

While I am totally unimpressed with the worldbuilding. I liked that this is something different, a completely different setting than what I usually read. So at this point I am planning on reading the next installment.

 

 

Walk on Earth a Stranger is a beautiful and interesting coming of age story, set in an intriguing time with a splash of paranormal. 

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