Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers

These are some early October books! Good news, most of them were awesome!

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future by Veronica Roth
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett



Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
Published by Balzer + Bray on October 1, 2019
Pages: 384
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

From the author of Printz Medal winner Bone Gap comes the unforgettable story of two young women—one living, one dead—dealing with loss, desire, and the fragility of the American dream during WWII.

When Frankie’s mother died and her father left her and her siblings at an orphanage in Chicago, it was supposed to be only temporary—just long enough for him to get back on his feet and be able to provide for them once again. That’s why Frankie's not prepared for the day that he arrives for his weekend visit with a new woman on his arm and out-of-state train tickets in his pocket.

Now Frankie and her sister, Toni, are abandoned alongside so many other orphans—two young, unwanted women doing everything they can to survive.

And as the embers of the Great Depression are kindled into the fires of World War II, and the shadows of injustice, poverty, and death walk the streets in broad daylight, it will be up to Frankie to find something worth holding on to in the ruins of this shattered America—every minute of every day spent wondering if the life she's able to carve out will be enough.


I will admit I do not know the answer. But I will be watching, waiting to find out.



That’s what ghosts do.

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Thirteen Doorways is such a genuinely gorgeous book, I hardly know where to begin. Look, it’s gut-wrenching, let’s get that out of the way. I mean, it’s orphans during WWII, you’re probably not expecting sunshine and roses, right? The thing is, as hard as it is at times to read, there is a really inspirational aspect to it as well. It left me hopeful, that maybe humanity isn’t doomed. Our mistakes are plenty, but there’s still good, there’s something worth fighting for.

The characters are incredibly well developed, I rooted for them from the start. And not just because of their circumstances, but because I genuinely cared about them as characters. The story is told mainly through Frankie, one of the young women at the orphanage, and well, a ghost named Pearl. I have mixed feelings about paranormal, so I am extra happy to report that the author handled this magnificently. I absolutely was as invested in Pearl’s story and observations, as she had such a special and unique insight into both Frankie and the world around them.

And the stories were compelling, of course. Frankie is trying to keep her sister and herself safe in the middle of incredibly tumultuous times. There is a war raging around them, and they fear especially for all male family and friends, as they see young men in their own orphanage being drafted (and volunteering) for the war. I cannot comprehend the terror, frankly. Between worrying about your daily existence, and a looming global battle, Frankie had unfathomable courage.

The range of emotions that this book made me feel was epic. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, happy, inspired. I haven’t read anything with such impact in quite some time.

Bottom Line: This is one of the rare books I would recommend to quite literally everyone I know. It’s such a heartfelt, touching novel with current-era takeaways that should definitely not be missed.


Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers The End and Other Beginnings: Stories from the Future by Veronica Roth
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on October 1, 2019
Pages: 272
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers a stunning collection of novella-length stories set in the future, illustrated with startling black-and-white artwork.

No world is like the other. Within this masterful collection, each setting is more strange and wonderful than the last, brimming with new technologies and beings. And yet, for all the advances in these futuristic lands, the people still must confront deeply human problems.

In these six stories, Veronica Roth reaches into the unknown and draws forth something startlingly familiar and profoundly beautiful.

With tales of friendship and revenge, plus two new stories from the Carve the Mark universe, this collection has something for new and old fans alike. Each story begins with a hope for a better end, but always end with a better understanding of the beginning.

With beautifully intricate black-and-white interior illustrations and a uniquely designed package, this is the perfect gift for book lovers.

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I enjoyed this short story collection so much that I might be ready to forgive Veronica for Allegiant. In seriousness, it was so entertaining, and really quite thought provoking. Sure, some of the stories I liked more than others, but they were all quality, all were so well-developed that it hardly felt like I was reading short stories at all. I fell so in love with one story in particular (Inertia, which happened to be the first story), that I might have sobbed in a bubble bath. (Just kidding, I definitely sobbed during a bubble bath.) I tell you this because that is how powerful these stories felt. How did I care about these characters in such a short amount of time? That’s pretty magical, frankly. And since a few stories are set in the world of Carve the Mark, guess that means I am getting to that sooner than later too.

Bottom Line: These stories will entertain, and make you feel. They’re exciting, but they’re also very human, reminding us of who we are regardless of where in the universe we end up.


Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
Series: The Never Tilting World #1
Published by HarperTeen on October 15, 2019
Pages: 400
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

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One of these reviews is not like the others, I’m afraid. Here’s the thing: it wasn’t bad per se, but I was just really bored through most of it? I almost DNFed (if I had a dollar for every time I said that, right?) but I kind of started caring about the characters a little, and also I am stubborn.

See, at first, I didn’t care about the characters, the world, the plot… really not much of anything. I still liked the concept, I really didn’t quite understand what was going on with the world. Maybe I should have tried harder, but alas. The plot, as it revolved around the actual makeup of the world, also was a bit convoluted for me. The author seems to have developed a very intricate world, it just didn’t translate onto the page for me.

The characters, like I mentioned, were the one piece I enjoyed here. Though I think it might have been a bit better with two POVs rather than four, I still grew to care about the main characters and their dilemmas and plights. Unfortunately, I wasn’t invested enough to want to read the sequels so I’ll probably never know. It’s certainly not poorly written, but I just didn’t find it particularly compelling, either.

Bottom Line: This could be a case of  “it’s not the book, it’s me” but who can tell? If it sounds interesting, I’d still say give it a go!


Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
Published by Wednesday Books on October 8, 2019
Pages: 416
Format:eARC, ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley, ALA

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!

“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

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“They can call it magic.
I can call it madness.
But one thing is certain.
There is no grace here.”

Some things I enjoy in general:

  • Dystopians
  • Awesome book covers
  • Fiercely feminist media
  • Kim Liggett

You see where I’m going with this? The Grace Year has basically every hallmark I look for in a book. From grittiness, to competition, to forbidden love, it basically runs the gamut of awesome. I am going to delve deeper into some of what made this one extra good for me!

  • Stunning exploration of the patriarchy pitting women against each other. Oh this happens constantly, and throughout time. But the way the author pares it down to the basics of quite literally forcing the women to mistrust each other is an incredible allegory to our current society.
  • Such gritty, dark undertones set the ambiance of the book perfectly. I mean, for a pretty large portion of the book, the girls are living in actual filth and squalor. But it just feels so… demoralizing. Which, of course, is the point. Liggett does a tremendous job of making the reader feel the desperation of the situation. More than that, she also makes us feel even the day to day weights that lie on the women’s shoulders. So even when they’re in a seemingly civilized environment, the dread permeates. It’s fantastic.
  • Tierney is awesome and impossible not to root for. I mean, she’s super smart which is helpful, but she also acknowledges that her dad treating her a little better than other dads helped give her an advantage too. She’s incredible from start to finish, flawed yet completely relatable. She has her friends and family who she’s not keen on leaving for the Grace Year, but I mean, who is? And when she gets there… wow. All the complex relationships she forms will blow you away, no doubt.
  • The turn it took, the end, it kind of blew my mind. I was sure I knew where this book was headed. I could not have been more wrong. And when I finished, I was floored. It took me a minute to figure out how I felt about it, (thanks to Emma for chatting about it with me)! I realized that I loved it, and the message it sent. I obviously have to be vague here but if you have read it… DM me or leave a comment or something because I have thoughts!
  • It’s just a good story. At the end of the day, this matters. A book can throw all the messages at you, but if you’re bored, who cares. This book was not only profound, but was entertaining as hell, too.

Bottom Line: The more I think about this book, the more I love it. And trust that I have not stopped thinking about it since I read it.

Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Let us chat about them!

Posted October 3, 2019 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 14 Comments


14 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: Early Octobers

  1. I LOVED The Grace Year! I’m so excited to see that you did too! Too bad about The Never-Tilting World. That’s on my TBR and it sounds promising. The four POVs sound like a bit too much. :/

  2. Great reviews as always, Shannon! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed The Grace Year – I’m really intrigued by that one, and I’ll always trust your judgement when it comes to dystopian fiction. I haven’t really read any Veronica Roth (I actually DNF’d Divergent years ago) but I’m interested in checking out her short story collection – I love the cover!

  3. It feels like *everyone* has been talking about The Grace Year lately. I’m seeing it everywhere. When I first read the synopsis it held no interest for me but the more raves and reviews I read the more I’m second guessing myself. And your mention of that turn at the end… definitely has me intrigued.

  4. Frozen meets Mad Max- how does that even work lol? Sorry that one didn’t work out, but it does sound kinda hard to pull off. Now The Grace Year- wow. That does sound good. I think you’ve got me talked into that one.

  5. Sam@wlabb

    I sort of wanted to erase The Never Tilting World from this list, because this was a pretty phenomenal run for you. I had started the audio version of Bone Gap, but it wasn’t working out in that format. I keep meaning to pick it up again, because it’s constant raves for that book. It’s always fantastic, when the author’s followup is a solid hit as well.

  6. oooh such glowing recommendations!! I actually had little interest in reading that short story collection of Veronica Roth’s because I thought it was ALL set in the Carve the Mark world and I haven’t read that yet haha. But eep, sounds like I need it!!!

  7. Beth W

    I’m so excited about this! I have all of these on my list already (yay) and now I’m doubly excited about them.

  8. I usually LOVE WWII books, and Thirteen Doorways caught my eye, but I ended up passing it up because I thought it sounded a little too dark/heavy for me right now. But your review sounds SO GOOD and now I’m questioning everything. xD Maybe I’ll grab it when my library gets it in and just sandwich it between two lighter reads.

    Shame that The Never-Tilting World didn’t work for you. I wasn’t sure about that one, either, but I ultimately gave it a pass for now (I want to read Chupeco’s other work first, anyway). Sounds like I made a good choice.

    That’s a pretty darn glowing review for The Grace Year, too. I do love me some dystopia. That might be one I’ll have to keep my eye out for, too. 😉 My TBR always groans when you do these reviews in a minute posts haha.

  9. I think I might need The Grace Year now. It sounds like such a stunning, thought provoking book that lets you stare into the emptiness in front of you for ages after you finished reading and…. I’m here for these kind of reads hahaha. Fantastic reviews! <3

  10. AWW the never tilting world makes me sad! I wanted to read that one but now I don’t knowwwwww. (but hey, look, instead of adding something to my TBR after visiting your blog, I may remove or at least take a closer look before buying lol)

  11. I didn’t know what Thirteen Doorways was about before, but oh goodness, I need to read it now! And I’m glad you really liked The Grace Year too – second really positive review I’ve seen today.

    -Lauren

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