Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

Title: Walk on Earth a Stranger 
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (an imprint of Harper Collins)
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2015

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Photo Credit: @stephanieleannebookish

There’s something so charming about Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson. At first, I was captivated by the plot and how the story opens. So, it’s 1849 and the Gold Rush is in full swing, but our main character, Leah Westfall, has an impossible secret. Leah has the magical ability to sense gold and it seems someone may be onto her secret after all.

The story opens with the death of Leah’s parents and the discovery that her Uncle, the only living person to know of Leah’s secret, has swiftly come into town to take ownership of her home, her rights, and her “witching” powers. So, Leah changes her identity and hightails it West to California.

Now, I thought this story would read more like a fantasy novel, but it reads more like a historical fiction with a magical realism twist. Leah’s magical ability is what causes the plot to move forward, but overall the story is rich with historical detail and the gruesome realities of traveling across America in search of Gold.

While I could spend a deal of time discussing how much I enjoyed the plot, though admittedly slow at times, the characters are what makes this series worth reading and ultimately what kept me engrossed. I lived for these characters, even the characters who nestled under my skin. I continued to root for each character and hope for their well being in the end.

I have read a total of five YA Westerns and have come to the realization that fleshed out and flawed characters paired with character development is what makes or breaks a Western. Yeah, you can have a thrilling shoot ‘em up, but what about the parts in between when the characters have to spend three months crossing a boring desert? That’s right, you get to know the characters, and Carson does an amazing job fleshing out and developing her characters. I am so attached to almost every ‘good’ character we meet that I feel as if I know them and I continue to think about them every day… and truly I don’t cry easily, but lord help me this book had me shedding a tear left and right!

A solid 4/5 ⭐️ read!

-Steph (Assistant Teen Librarian)

Everless by Sara Holland

Title: Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Harper Collins
Published: January 2nd, 2018

“What if the person to be feared is me?”

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Photo Credit: @stephanieleannebookish

Everless by Sara Holland was an interesting read, but not my favorite. The world building is a bit lacking, so what I will say is our main character Jules lives in a world where time is currency (much like that Justin Timberlake movie In Time) and one never truly knows how much time they have left. Jules and her father used to live on a wealthy estate in Everless as a blacksmith and servant, but one day Jules saves Roan after his brother, Liam, pushed him into a fire, and everything changes for Jules and her father. Years and two different towns later, Jules and her father are in dire need of time and she must go back to Everless to help serve at the royal wedding, but once Jules arrives back in Everless she is wrapped up in a mystery that might explain everything about her past.

As I said, the world building is a bit all over the place and it took me a bit to piece together what was what, but it didn’t take away from the main point in the story, which was figuring out Jules past. Everless is shrouded in mystery and it’s what kept me so engaged, I wanted to know what was happening just as much as Jules.

As for characters, I actually like Jules and her determination. It never felt like she had the wrong motivations when it came to why she chose to go back to Everless and essentially put her life in danger in order to get closer to the Queen. Only once did I question her decisions, which is saying a lot. I do feel that the characters were fleshed out for the most part, but I wouldn’t say I connected with any of them, even Jules. I liked a few of the characters, but most of them were forgettable. Even Roan, who Jules gushes on and on about, is a cardboard cut out of a character. Though I will note that due to the ending of the book this could serve an overarching purpose, but as it stands I couldn’t care less about his character or if he develops an actual personality.

Although Everless reads like your typical YA fantasy and falls into some of the trope traps, Holland does a beautiful job of twisting tropes and conventions that made the story seem fresh. I mean TIME AS CURRENCY, what a horrific thought. Overall, the story fell flat for me and I am afraid over time I will stop caring about the plot and the characters (not that I cared about the characters much, to begin with).
So this ended up being a 3/5 for me.

-Stephanie (Assistant Teen Librarian)