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The Gold Seer Trilogy #1

Walk on Earth a Stranger

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Gold is in my blood, in my breath, even in the flecks in my eyes.

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more.

She also has a secret.

Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift.

436 pages, Hardcover

First published September 22, 2015

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About the author

Rae Carson

35 books5,866 followers
Rae Carson was born in 1973 in California and now lives in Arizona. She developed an enthusiasm for storytelling in her earliest childhood. She studied social sciences and worked in various industries after graduating from university before she realized her dream and became a writer. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is her debut novel.

In her own words, she "write[s] books about teens who must do brave things. [Her] books tend to contain lots of adventure, a little magic and romance, and smart girls who make (mostly) smart choices. [She] especially love[s] to write about questions [she doesn't] know the answers to."

Has also published as Rae Carson Finlay.

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5 stars
5,443 (29%)
4 stars
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3 stars
3,669 (20%)
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394 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,050 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,989 reviews298k followers
September 2, 2015
Trust someone, Mama said. Her dying words, burned into my heart. But she was wrong. When there’s gold to be had, you can’t trust anyone. Not a single soul.

3 1/2 stars. Walk on Earth a Stranger is a very promising start to this historical/paranormal series set during the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Westerns - a genre that has been fairly empty for many years (outside of Western Romance) - are making a comeback. I have read three this year and enjoyed them all - Under a Painted Sky, Vengeance Road and, of course, Walk on Earth a Stranger. 2016 also promises more Western excitement with Revenge and the Wild.

I'm trying to make it VERY clear what this book is, because I was under the impression that it was another high fantasy, similar to the author's The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy. It isn't. It's primarily a fast-paced historical adventure, with a paranormal twist to make things even more interesting.

But whatever, I was hooked from the first chapter. I didn't love Carson's The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but she sure knows how to tug you along for an action-packed ride. And this book is even more compelling. Lee Westfall is an extremely likable, brave and sympathetic character. I was immediately pulled into her story and felt her sadness, her anger, and her frustration following the murder of her parents.

It's a very exciting book that jumps from drama to blood-soaked drama. When Lee suspects that her new guardian is responsible for her parents' deaths, she runs away disguised as a boy. On the trail of her friend - Jefferson - who is headed to California, Lee finds herself thrown from one heap of trouble, to surprising friendships, to yet another heap of trouble.

But being a girl isn't the only secret Lee must keep. She also has the ability to sense the presence of gold. She is drawn to it. Imagine what this power would mean if a person could control Lee. They would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

I rated down slightly to 3.5 because I think that many of the secondary characters (and there were many) were left underdeveloped. They should have been more complex and nuanced, but the author missed the opportunity to take their characterization further than a basic surface level. I'm hoping this will come later.

But otherwise, this was a very enjoyable read. Lots of action, lots of tension, and a slow-burn romance.

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September 23, 2015
DNF at 50%. Where is the plot? Is there a plot?

What a disappointment. This book suffers from something that has plagued every single Rae Carson book I've ever read, however good they ended up being: it's slow as molasses. It started off so well, with a strong character and a rare setting in young adult literature.
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.

But there’s plenty I love about my life that makes it all just fine: the sunrise on the snowy mountain slopes, a mama and daddy who know my worth, that sweet tingle when a gold nugget sits in the palm of my hand.
But it wound up being a huge disappointment to me, because I fully expected to love this book. A long time ago, back in the Paleolithic Era, I was a grade schooler. We had these things called Computer Labs, and once a week, the whole class would get to use it and played (educational) games. My favorite was this game called Oregon Trail. We played as settlers who wandered across the country, fording rivers, hunting wild game, dodging attacks, surviving dysentery. This book was pretty much the same thing, it was fun at first, but it got really boring.

This is essentially the plot:

Girl has magical gold-finding powers. Girl is unpopular but happy with her life and her parents.
Make that WAS HAPPY with her life. Parents got murdered right off. Boo.
Girl is assigned a (sinister) guardian. Is there any other kind?
Girl runs away! Disguises herself as a guy (not that original, but admittedly, not too many other options)
She gets supplies
She travels
She gets in trouble
She travels some more
She gets in more trouble
She travels some more
Oh crap! Trouble!
Whew, let's travel on!

Rinse, repeat until I got sick of all this because it feels like I've gone through all this before while playing a grade-school game. I would give this book the benefit of the doubt, since I did end up enjoying Carson's previous series, but my time is a lot more precious to me these days, and I'm a lot more impatient.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,752 followers
December 29, 2017
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

This book . . . GAH.

I was already a HUGE fan of Rae Carson from reading her Fire and Thorns books, so I was dying in the interim between series, scavenging for any bit of information I could find about what she was working on next.

And the more I learned, the more excited I became: a girl on the run with the ability to sense gold like a dowsing rod . . . during the California Gold Rush . . .

Pretty cool, right? I'm not a huge fan of American history, but even I thought that was a pretty great scenario.

In hindsight, I feel kind of silly for not seeing the inevitable similarities between traveling in wagons across the county to California and traveling across the country in wagons . . . on the OREGON TRAIL.

BUT. As an adult, I finally grasped the gravity of the situation.

It was not an easy trip. People traveled in huge caravans b/c there was safety in numbers. A family would start the journey with a wagon jam-packed with various "necessities" they refused to leave behind, and the longer they traveled, the more stuff they tossed out, b/c they learned: if it isn't food or water, it's not important.

REAL people were dying from real diseases. LOTS of them. Not just random stick figures I'd named after my fourth grade best friends.

But Carson didn't only capture the realities of long-distance travel in Gold Rush-era America, she captured the mindsets. The blasé attitude that went hand-in-hand with the prejudices. The irony of the American settlers' response to perceived Native American threats. The desperation of women who were wholly dependent on their husbands b/c they had no rights of their own. The blind stupid belief of religious men who expected God to everything for them, believing that taking any type of precautionary action was a "lack of faith."

It was heartbreaking and infuriating and thought-provoking and, above all other things, REAL.

Viscerally real.

Which is quite an accomplishment for a YA fantasy novel.

My only complaint was that there were several shocking plot twists that---BAM!---hit you at the very beginning, and I hadn't had enough time with Leah to really be affected by the awful things that happened to her. B/c they were awful. Horrible, tragic things. But I only felt them cerebrally, not emotionally.

BUT. It was a problem that was short-lived. By the time I was one-third of the way through it, I was well and truly ensnared. I tore through the pages, finishing only six(ish) hours after starting it. And I'll admit, around the 90% mark I started getting worried . . . I could almost see a cliffhanger ending biting its thumb at me in the distance . . .

Thankfully, it was all in my head. I finished in agony, but only the agony that springs from finishing a truly great book and knowing that you have a year to wait before finding out what happens next. *wipes sweat from brow*

WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER is pure gold. In this phenomenal first installment of Rae Carson's new GOLD SEER TRILOGY, you will meet a fascinating cast of characters whose journey from the Southern United States all the way to California will spring to life as you feverishly inhale chapter after chapter, willfully ignoring silly things like food and shelter b/c you physical CANNOT put it down. At least I couldn't. Highly recommended.

Jessica Signature


This book . . . I LOVED it. A slow(ish) start was my only real issue, and it resolved itself by the 1/3rd mark.

I loved the characters.
I loved the story.
I laughed, I cried, I wrung my hands, I swooned, I LOVED IT.

Full review to come closer to the release date.
Profile Image for Dear Faye.
492 reviews2,123 followers
August 28, 2015
Long story short: this book got me out of a dreadful book slump.

One of a bookworm’s worst nightmares? That feeling when you just can’t get into any book. I’ve started feeling this way recently, having started at least five novels in the last five days and not finishing a single one. I just couldn’t feel anything towards them. Is it me or is it the book? Either way, I was a wreck with the guilt, considering the backlog of books, ARCs and otherwise, that have been on my shelves for months.

Leave it to Rae Carson’s fantastic storytelling skills and genuine characters to pull me out of that abyss. ALL HAIL THE QUEEN!

This book gave me newfound life. The Gold Rush era + an uncanny ability to feel the presence of gold wherever they are + a gender bender during a time when women are seen as something to be taken care and owned?! This is definitely one of the most unique premises I’ve read recently, and Carson owned it with Leah Westfall’s character, the only daughter of gold miner parents who was killed by someone after her abilities.

Leah Westfall is the fricking bomb, guys. I love her to kingdom come. She is headstrong, level-headed, and determined; she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty mucking stalls, hunting game, and looking for gold during a time when women were seen as only good enough for childbirth and laundry. Because of the unfortunate circumstances that befell upon her, she is forced to present herself as a boy in order to find a new life elsewhere, all the way to California where it was rumored numerous amounts of gold were found. And I don’t blame her at all for wanting to take this direction, especially during a time when bandits and thieves prey on lonely travelers. Women back then weren’t taken seriously when it came to business, either, so she had to disguise herself and take on a new identity in order to be able to do the things she was good at.

But even though her hands are calloused with the hard work she’s given throughout the years, she is still a vulnerable and relatable heroine and my heart ached and felt for her for the loneliness, danger, and restlessness she felt as she traveled and look for Jefferson, her best friend, who went on to California ahead of her. I can’t imagine what I would done if I were in her own shoes. Would I endure an uncle treating me like cattle, or be in control of my own life but be in risk of other dangers? I really like that despite everything, Leah simply wants to be able to be herself – not to be seen as a useless woman good for child-bearing and washing, but simply as Leah who can do these things and still be more.

And may I remind you, this took place in 1849 in the California Gold Rush.

The only thing about this book is that 80% of it is composed of traveling, so it may be too snail-paced to other people. I mean, America is huge! People back then didn’t have airplanes and trains were just starting to be built. People traveled the old-fashioned way – by walking, horseback, or wagons. And oh, steamships and flatboats, too. Because of this, the book is largely composed of Leah and her friends trying to survive the travel to California. They encounter bandits, hordes of buffalos, sickness. They go through mountains, through long rivers that take weeks to travel, and the scorching hot desert. They meet all kinds of people along the way – suspicious ones, endearing ones, slimy ones – and it’s all just so mesmerizing.

Yes, the pace is slow, but I loved every page, every second of it. Leah is an amazing, rootable character who is strong and full of life and resolve. I love how she took her life in her own hands and proved how people’s impression of her were wrong again and again. I love how even though certain individuals were demotivating her, even though she made fatal mistakes here and there, she never gave up and always, always, stood up again.

The only thing that I wasn’t really feeling here was the romance. It didn’t really feel genuine to me, although that may be because Jefferson was never a key character to Leah’s development and well-being. He was more behind the scenes most of the time and I guess that’s why I just couldn’t connect with him, and thus, couldn’t back their feelings for each other. But, hey, having read Carson’s previous series before, this may change.

All in all, this book is insanely good. Don’t mind the slow pace and just bask in Leah’s character and character development, and the relationships she creates with other people who are as interesting and diverse. Trust me on this one, guys!
Profile Image for Chantal .
343 reviews832 followers
April 12, 2016
After having read and loved Rae Carson’s The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of the year. And in many ways this book didn’t disappoint – it contained many of the things I loved about Rae Carson the first time around – however, I just didn’t love it as much. I’m clearly in the minority here since it seems that many readers actually preferred this book to The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but for me, the latter was just more complex, more fascinating and I felt much more attached to the characters.

Walk on Earth a Stranger has a rare setting for a YA novel: the 19th century California Gold Rush. It was a very interesting period to write about and Rae Carson did a commendable job portraying the time authentically. The novel is historical fiction with a little bit of paranormal thrown in; don’t go into it expecting a fantasy novel.

The story starts when Leah Westfall decides to run away from home to California because she believes that her new guardian is responsible for her parents’ death. But because society is what it is, Leah has to disguise herself as a boy. She follows the path that she hopes her best friend Jefferson took a few weeks earlier and hopes to meet him on the journey there. What nobody knows - not even Jefferson - is that Leah has a secret, a secret that may prove deadly under the circumstances: she can sense the presence of gold. A girl with this ability during the Gold Rush era? There are bound to be many conflicts.

Before I get into the things that I did enjoy about the novel, let me tell you why I only rated it 3 stars. The main reason was the plot. I’ve started to realize that I’m not very fond of journey stories. The kind where a major event happens at the beginning to set the story in motion, and the rest is basically just a description of how the characters manage to get to a certain place within a certain time and the troubles they encounter. After the initial starting point – which drew me into the story immediately – things start to slow down considerably. There is little plot and the story is very stop-and-go. Leah travels, there is trouble, more traveling, more trouble. The issues she encounters are realistic and depict an accurate and vivid picture of what it was like to journey through America at the time, however, it became repetitive and predictable early on and I started loosing interest around the 40% mark. To me, it feels like this story was unnecessarily stretched out into a series, it needed to be more compact.

Undoubtedly, Rae Carson has the ability to create realistic and likable characters. I never found Leah to be annoying or whiny, instead she is a strong female character, brave and determined. Even better, she goes through considerable character development throughout the novel. She wants to be seen as an equal, not someone in need of rescue. Leah also doesn’t judge other women. Rae Carson is the queen of female friendships in YA literature: the females aren’t torn apart by jealousy or unnecessary misunderstandings.

Despite all these positives however, I could never truly connect with Leah. I liked her, but she just wasn’t interesting or memorable enough to compensate for the lack of plot. Similarly, I thought the slow-burn romance was realistic but I never felt the spark. It didn’t help that Leah’s magical ability had very little presence in the story.

Something I did enjoy, was how the author explored many of the social issues of the time. Sexism, homosexuality, discrimination against the Native Americans, xenophobia…all of these issues are touched upon, yet it never became overbearing.

Ultimately, I did really like many aspects of this book, but they weren’t enough to make me engaged in the story. For me, this was a book that was trying to be more plot-driven than character-driven, but it never hooked me and consequently it didn’t realize its full potential on either account. It didn’t leave me feeling satisfied.

I do think this book is a promising start to the series and if the reviews for the sequel are positive I will pick up the next one. And if not, I’m still very excited for any future books Rae Carson writes.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,935 followers
September 17, 2016
Hey guys, this book is $1.99 on kindle today 9-17-2016 and I also saw it yesterday on Bookoulet for really cheap for the hardcover. I don't know if it will still be there as you all know how they sell out really quickly on Bookoutlet!



I really loved the character Lee. She's so strong and goes through some terrible things that I just can't imagine. I felt sorry for what happens to her and all because of greed. But, she figures out what she needs to do to make sure she survives.

As we all know, Lee can sense gold. She can feel it's pull in the ground, in someone's pocket, it doesn't really matter.. it calls to her. That would be nice wouldn't it? The best version of a metal detector I can think of!!! But she finds nuggets by just feeling the pull and this can be a blessing and a curse!


What ever you do.. DON'T. LET. IT. LEEK. OUT. THAT. YOU. HAVE. THIS. POWER.

So Lee has a best friend named Jeff and she decides she's going to meet him when he runs off to go with all of the travelers to California to find gold. Lets say she really doesn't have a choice!

There are a lot of really good characters in the book, even the bad ones are made out really well, even though I want to shoot them, but I digress.

Even though I only gave this book a 3.5, I intend on reading the whole trilogy as I do like the book. But let me tell you right now, my favorite character in the book is Peony! See image below :)


Yes, Peony is Lee's Palomino and I love her and nothing better happen to her!!

Oh and I love the fact the author mentioned Lee traveling through my city of Chattanooga and some of the towns close by and I think the cover of the book is absolutely beautiful!

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
March 28, 2016
What started as a 4-star read gradually devolved into a 2-star.

I quite liked the beginning. Evidently, I enjoy historical fiction with hard working young girls without families making it in the world all by themselves (see my highly rated "Hattie Big Sky" and "The Hired Girl.")

What I don't like in books like this, I guess, are dull and dour narrators with no sense of humor and lacking in optimism, long, boring treks and the stories unnecessarily stretched out into series.

Gold Rush was an interesting era to write about, but this story needed to be more compact and more exciting to get me through hundreds of pages of people going from one place to another while dying of measles, childbirth, etc. It may be that thousand page-long Outlander novels have ruined me for enjoying this type of walk-get injured-die of gangrene-die of childbirth-get attacked by Indians-walk some more adventure. At least in the Outlander books there was some humor and smut to break up the monotony.
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,071 reviews2,631 followers
January 26, 2016
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2015/10/11/y...

From the very start, I had a feeling that Walk on Earth a Stranger would be just the book for me. I have a huge weakness for fantasy western settings and themes exploring wild frontiers, so a story set in Gold Rush-era America about a young woman trying to make her way to California sounded exactly like something I would enjoy.

Ahem. Then came several of my Goodreads friends’ reviews comparing it to The Oregon Trail.

Okay, hold up a second. The Oregon Trail? THE OREGON TRAIL?!! I loved that game growing up. I’m not ashamed to admit that I still dig it up to play every few years, just to relive the nostalgia. If this book lives up to even just a fraction of those descriptions, it was going to be awesome.

But the best has yet to come. Not long after I started this book, I was delighted to discover that In Walk on Earth a Stranger, the protagonist is a girl named Leah Westfall who has to take on the guise of a boy, becoming Lee McCauley in order to strike it out on her own cross-country.

Why, yes, the girl-disguised-as-boy trope happens to be one of my favorites, actually.

Perhaps my love for this book was a forgone conclusion, perhaps not. Regardless, I don’t hand out full marks lightly, especially when it comes to Young Adult fiction. Folks know I’m super picky about my YA. As I was reading, I was looking for other things to fall into place, because nothing frustrates me more than a great idea undermined by shoddy execution. This being my first book by Rae Carson, her writing and storytelling was also a big question mark to me so I had no idea what to expect.

As you can see though, I ended up enjoying every moment! I was also very impressed with Carson’s writing, so much so that I want to rush to add her other books to my TBR, post-haste.

Still, I’m not sure that I would enjoy anything as much as I did Walk on Earth a Stranger. True, this book features several themes I like, but it also deviates from a lot of YA conventions, which is probably another reason why I took to it so completely.

First of all, if you like a lot of magic in your fantasy, you’re not going to find much of it here. The only fantasy element in this book is Lee’s special power, her ability to sense gold around her. A most handy talent for someone with plans to head out west during the Gold Rush hoping to make their fortune, but it doesn’t come into play throughout much of the story, which mostly involves a lot of traveling. And traveling. And more traveling.

Which brings me to my second caveat. If you’re seeking action and excitement, a fast-paced plot to get your blood pumping in your veins, Walk on Earth a Stranger is not really that kind of story. It is a tale of survival, with as much focus on the emotional journey as the physical one. Let’s go back to The Oregon Trail comparison. You remember all the horrible things that could befall your company, right? You had everything from buffalo stampedes to little Mary has the measles. The point is, not every danger or threat is immediate; some, in truth, are pretty boring and routine. Doesn’t mean they still can’t kill you though, if you don’t have help. Thus, while brute force and personal determination might help get you to California, so too does the power of cooperation and forging lasting friendships. No, this book isn’t exactly a page-turner, but what you do get is your character development and meaningful relationships in spades. The people you meet in this book will become your family. Whenever good things happened to the characters, I couldn’t help but feel giddy with joy. And when they experienced tragedy, my heart ached along with theirs.

Third caveat: If you need a love story, you can forget it. While the slightest hint of lovey-dovey feelings are ever present between Lee and her best friend Jefferson, the romance is so slow-burning that it is virtually non-existent. Wait, you mean, there’s no unnecessary romantic drama to get in the way of the story? Perfect! Lee does end up feeling jealous towards another girl in their wagon train, but eventually the two of them actually become friends. I can’t tell you how refreshing that is, especially these days when it feels like every four out of five YA novels I read that has a female character who’s not the main protagonist, they inevitably become bitter enemies. It’s nice to see a potential rival end up an ally for a change.

Another nice thing about this book is that it can be read as a self-contained story. Of course, Rae Carson leaves plenty of breadcrumbs along this journey to pick up for the later books, but she’s not leaving us with any burning questions or an infuriating cliffhanger. Honestly, I don’t need any of those to want to read the sequel; a chance to spend more time with the wonderful characters I met in this book is already incentive enough for me. This is YA fiction done right, in my opinion, with a charming approach to history and just a light brush of fantasy. I loved it, and I want more like this.
Profile Image for Lucia.
735 reviews815 followers
February 7, 2017
After surprise attack that shuttered Leah’s family, Leah has no other choice but dress as a boy and set up on dangerous journey to California - a place where she can put her secret gift of sensing gold to use during American Gold Rush era and start a new life for herself. And so it began, the adventurous tale that I grew to love so dearly.

"Trust someone, Mama said. Her dying words, burned into my heart. But she was wrong. When there’s gold to be had, you can’t trust anyone. Not a single soul."

Leah - an ordinary girl forced to live not so ordinary life thanks to her unusual magical gift. It was very easy to connect with her. Hardships of life in Golden Era America made a tough girl out of her. She was able to take care of herself in all situations. She was a strong admirable heroine, not some damsel in distress. As a (young) female in that particular period, she had to prove her worth twice as hard as any man. And she did. Oh boy, did she. Leah may not be perfect but she is a heroine to look up to. I wish there were more characters like her in YA books. It would make my readings less frustrating for sure.

"It’s like I’m not really a person. Just a thing to be tossed around to make men feel good about themselves."

On the top of that, you won’t find a single one-dimensional character in this book! Author presented awesome variety of realistic side characters which made my reading experience special and memorable above any other YA historical novels I have read before. Moreover, this novel has one of the most realistic teenage romances I have encountered in YA genre. It was all based on genuine feelings and it was developed gradually in believable way. This is what I call superb slow burn.

“Seems like I’ve been waiting for you to come around my whole life, Lee. But a man can’t wait forever and stay a man.”

I am not an expert in this particular part of history but I got an impression that author did her research well. The use of period slang and words, detailed descriptions of museum worthy things; it all sounded very authentic to me and showed me clear picture of given historical period.

Fantasy aspect is important but somehow it doesn’t play a leading role in this book. I didn’t mind one bit since story concentrated mostly on heroine’s thrilling journey across the nation for the chance at new beginning, not her ability. But I have a feeling that it will play much bigger role in next instalment!

Plot-wise, author had it thought out to tiny details. There were no plot holes and no frustrating moments. In this novel you will find only rich world-building, slow burn romance, unforgettable characters and fascinating setting of 1850s. A book nerd like me could not ask for more. Author wasn’t even afraid to touch topic of slavery and Indians which gave this novel more serious vibe. Walk on Earth a Stranger is YA historical novel I have been waiting for and I whole heartedly recommend it to everyone!

*ARC provided by publisher as an exchange for honest review*

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Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews908 followers
March 31, 2016
An Electronic Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review.

I didn't know what this book would entail but I had no idea it would be about women and their roles back in the days where everything was unequal. It super sad sad our main character Lee had to be dressed as a boy to get anything done. There are moments where other side female characters had to defer to their husbands in every way. Like they were property and not a human being. The men and women roles in this one had me reeling! There was just so much sexism I could take. I don't know how women back then could take it. Maybe only because they didn't know any better and having equal rights was something they could never dream of. 

Rae's writing is just as vivid and surreal as her other trilogy which I loved so. She paints a picture of families trying to make a better place out in the west. Along the way our characters lose each other or sometimes themselves. I loved reading how much Lee changes and how strong she is to be able to do the things that she does.

This is all about the journey and even though it has some magical elements, it wasn't the focus. It was about getting to the destination in one piece. I've never read about a journey to the western side of America before but Rae Carson has a way with words that gets me interested and enthralled at the same time.

Excellent writing! What a wonderful journey Rae Carson has written. Her characters are so strong and independent! I loved it! A girl who has to look like a boy to make it to California and she naturally senses out gold.. I was enthralled at every page. Read this one for the journey, pick it up because of that gorgeous cover and for the mere fact that it's Rae Carson!



"I am patient. I am a ghost."

"The world is a poorer place today, but heaven is all the richer."

"When there's gold to be had, you can't trust anyone. Not a single soul."

"The harm we do others always comes back around."

"I miss having people familiar and dear—so familiar and dear that belong with them is easy. Never worrying what they're thinking or if they care about you or what will happen if they find out who you really are."

"Dan was a white man, as white as they come. And nobody ever said he did it because white men are savages. But one Indian does something bad, and suddenly all of them are bad."

"I've never felt so far from God's grace. I suppose I am a stranger walking on earth, but I'm not son of God. I'm no son at all."

"Men are men. It's men thinking other men are snakes that's the problem."

"I'd rather be treated with respect than treated like a lady."

"I'm treated like I'm nobody again, to be owned or herded or strung along, so helpless and awful that I must be redeemed or married off because it's convenient for everyone."

"There's not a place in the whole world where everyone isn't willing—no,eager—to give a girl up to a man."

"It's like I'm not really a person. Just a thing to be tossed around to make men feel good about themselves."

"Idle time brings idle thoughts."

"Men can be relentless when they think a woman belongs to them."
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,738 reviews1,306 followers
September 29, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“The gold sense sparks in the back of my throat, sharp and hard. It creeps down my throat and into my chest, where it diffuses into a steady buzz, like dancing locusts.”

This was a YA fantasy story, about a girl who could detect gold.

I felt quite sorry for Leah, the things she went through with her parents and her uncle was awful, and what she was then forced to do was also pretty shocking.

The storyline in this was about Leah leaving her home to find gold (there were other reasons but I don’t want to drop spoilers), but I felt like Leah’s ability to feel gold was almost forgotten in favour of other things that were going on during her journey, which wasn’t what I was expecting. The pace was also a little on the slow side for me, and I did lose interest a bit.
There was a little hint at romance in this, but not a lot really.

The ending to this was okay, but there was plenty of room left open for another book or more.

6 out of 10
Profile Image for Helen 2.0.
404 reviews910 followers
June 1, 2017
2.5 stars.
Ever played the game Oregon Trail? Walk on Earth a Stranger is a teen hero story version of The Oregon Trail.

I like the Gold Rush Era, it's a fascinating time in US history. But if I wanted to learn about what it might be like to travel west in the mid 1800s, I would have picked up a history book, maybe an old diary. I did not want a history lesson, I wanted a YA paranormal romance book in a historical setting. Unfortunately I got the former and not the latter.

Lee has this amazing power to sense gold from a distance and sniff it out. She could be rich beyond imagining or use her power to help people in need. But no, Lee takes advantage of her ability only maybe once or twice in the whole book. In fact, her family is poor and her best friend is even poorer. I never understood why Lee let the people close to her suffer poverty when she could easily help them out.

Basically, Walk on Earth a Stranger was too slow, too boring. Nothing extraordinary happens anywhere in the plot, and the characters aren't interesting enough to make up for it.
Profile Image for ♛Tash.
223 reviews212 followers
November 12, 2015
Review also on

This is the stage for Rae Carson's Walk on Earth A Stranger. Leah "Lee" Westfall is a very special girl, she can witch up gold. She can sense the presence of gold and the bigger the piece, the stronger the sensation she feels. Needless to say that a girl with her abilities is a prime asset in their gold rush town, but I imagine it will be useless in our time and age. Lee and her family kept this special ability a secret. Instead of striking out and making it big panning or mining gold, Lee is content running their modest homestead. Then one fateful day, her quiet life is violently torn away from her. With nothing else left, Lee ventures out to California, where wealth awaits a girl with her gold-divining abilities.

Lee travels from Georgia to California, that's 2,454.8 miles of lawless and hostile lands. Surely, it makes for great adventure on paper but just imagine actually doing the land travel with only oxen and horses, doing your personal things in rivers and bushes, drinking waters from streams and bathing only when there's an opportunity to do so. Terrible. Walk on Earth A Stranger satisfactorily described the hardships of long journeys. I appreciate the depiction of sleeping on the cold hard ground more than sleeping under the stars more. I know it can be both but there's nothing romantic about it when you know you have months of it ahead.

Technically, there is nothing wrong with this novel, it is well written, the narrator's voice is authentically southern and the characters were likable enough, but I did not feel connected with any of them at all. Lee is a good character, too good if you ask me. She's brave, selfless and can shoot a thimble off a man's head, but I didn't care about her at all. Even after all the tragedy she went through, she remained the same old good Lee. If you ask me, the author missed a good opportunity to develop a more complex Lee.

I enjoyed the first 40% or so of this book, but as the novel progressed though it got kind of predictable. As soon as they hit the trail, there was noticeable pattern of travelling, stopping for trouble, then more travelling, more trouble repeat until you get to California. Given, they're different kinds of troubles, take your pick of diseases, accidents, childbirth, etc. There were also some Hallmark moments I found terribly uncharacteristic of the setting. However, take this with enough salt to turn the Dead Sea with, because for some this would be enough, but I've always pictured survival in the Wild West to be unkind and scrambling, so sadly, I found Walk on Earth a Stranger underwhelming.

Walk on Earth A Stranger is a YA historical with a touch of magic. Yes, you read that right, historical. I thought it was gonna be heavy on the fantasy, but it's more historical than anything else. Given the ending, I expect the story to only get better in the following installments, but this series starter was just okay, it could've been better.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
538 reviews660 followers
September 19, 2017
*2.5/5 stars*

I'm really sad that this book didn't work out for me. I love Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy so I expected to fall in love with this book as well, sadly it didn't happen. Walk on Earth a Stranger is not a bad book by any stretch of the word, but it wouldn't be for everyone either. Objectively, yes, it's quite great book, but I felt so very disconnected from everything. The characters - while I found the MC admirable, I couldn't really connect to her, neither any other characters (aside for very few like Mrs. Joyner - who had great development - and Jef), I didn't even remember who all the side character actually were or their names. The plot was extremely slow, boring and repetative (it took me a month to read this book and I almost DNF'd it) and the fact that I didn't really care about the world building - even though it seems very realistic - or didn't feel any nostalgia or whatewer toward it didn't help either.

On a more positive note, though, I really liked how this book portrayed many things concerning that time period: There was expressed diversity in terms of sexuaility and race. This story realistically portrayed the hate and disrimination against Native Americans befitting that time.
And sexism - just as Carson't previous series, this book was quietly feminist and had many ampowering messages and quotes without it being too much. Also, zero f/f hate. All the things were mastefully baded into the story.



I'm kind of weary starting this book because the premise of this story doesn't sound as interesting to me, but I loved Fire and Thornes trilogy by Rae Carson - book two and three were among my all time favourites, and her stories always seem quitly feminist and diverse. So hopefully I'll like this one as well.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,506 reviews855 followers
November 18, 2016
4.5 stars. A fascinating account of a bunch of disparate people in one wagon train and their determination to get to California in 1849 at the beginning of the Gold Rush. The main character is an orphaned girl who brings the group together through her courage and kindness of spirit.

As well as an excellent work of historical fiction, this novel is intended to have a light touch of fantasy to it. I think if you were anticipating this book based on that alone, it is possible you would be disappointed. I know I was; however I love historical fiction in general and the Gold Rush is a favourite period of mine, so really it was difficult to stay disappointed for long!

Really looking forward to reading the next in series where hopefully the fantasy element will make a more significant appearance. It's very likely that it will: Gold Rush + ability to sense gold..... don't think that's much of a spoiler since it's in the blurb for this book, let alone the next.

Profile Image for Whitney.
343 reviews
January 13, 2016
I love this book so much. It is currently 2:18 AM in my neck of the woods so I will have a review up tomorrow. But for right now all you need to know is this book is amazing and YOU NEED TO READ IT.

**Minor Spoilers Ahead**

"The presence of gold fades with distance, but never leaves me. Maybe, in California, it will infuse me constantly, like the warmth of my own private sun."

This is the first book I've read by Rae Carson and it certainly will not be the last. I loved her writing and the characters she created. She did not hold back in this book when it came the history and the events that occurred within the story. Life, death, violence, anger, HISTORY, all of these things came together to create a truly magnificent story.

“’This nugget is nothing, Lee. Even your magic is nothing. You’re a good girl and the best daughter. And that? That’s something.’

‘Yes, Daddy.’”

The story is told in the perspective of our butt-kicking heroine, Leah Westfall. We first meet Leah in the woods of Dahlonega, Georgia in January of 1849. The Mexican-American War has just ended a year earlier and one of the results of this was President James K. Polk acquiring the California territory. This would forever change the United States as well as Leah Westfall’s life. Leah’s parents are tragically murdered in the beginning of the story. After this event Leah’s Uncle Hiram comes into the picture. He intends to take over Leah’s home and life, and Leah sees that the freedom she experienced with her parents is quickly being taken away. The only way she can truly be free is if she heads west to find her best friend Jefferson and escape into California where her Uncle Hiram has no power over her. So Leah disguises herself as a boy and she starts on a journey that will be extremely tough but also fulfilling in Leah’s search for herself.

“So it’s now, with my own fire crackling, my lips greasy with the squirrel I just ate, and the night echoing with the distant yip of a coyote that I miss Daddy most. He should be here with me. We should have been on this adventure together.”

One part that really struck me was when Leah was travelling alone in the beginning of the novel. She is such a strong character and person but the reader still must remember that she is still grieving for both her parents and the life she had before. Rae Carson made Leah’s emotions so real and her grief actually made me emotional. A lot of this book made me emotional actually. However, we see Leah eventually find Jefferson and find people that she comes to care for and care for her.

Trust someone, Mama said. Her dying words, burned into my heart. But she was wrong. When there’s gold to be had, you can’t trust anyone. Not a single soul.”

Leah has a secret power. She can sense gold, whether it’s in the Earth or it’s a necklace around someone’s neck. It is a dangerous ability for any person to have because of the lust for gold during the California Gold Rush. This lust is partly what drove her Uncle to murder her parents and she knows she has to keep this a secret from everyone, including her best friend Jefferson. Although Leah begins the story unwilling to trust anyone, she learns along the way that there are people she can trust. Her growth throughout the novel is shown in her interactions with Jefferson and the other families that she travels with to California. I loved the entire journey that Leah was on. It brought me back to my Oregon Trail days. I was OBSESSED with that game when I was little kid. My mom allowed me to play on our dinosaur of a computer for only an hour a day and Oregon Trail was my go to game. Rae Carson made me feel like I was there on the trail with Leah. It was so realistic and actually really historically accurate. I am a history major and I’ve learned my fair share of American history. It’s never been my favorite history to learn about but I’ve always loved learning about this era with the California Gold Rush and the move west. The scene that really killed me was the buffalo scene because that kind of thing actually happened. The measles blankets also really made me angry, because again it’s something that people actually did. Rae Carson does an amazing job of including real history in this story and it was such a breath of fresh air.

“Seems like I’ve been waiting for you to come around my whole life, Lee. But a man can’t wait forever and stay a man.”

I just want to say a few things about the relationship between Leah and Jefferson. First of all, I loved their relationship. They have been best friends forever but now that they’re older it seems like it could be more. Rae Carson made their relationship develop very slowly and that was so great. We hardly have any romance in this novel, it’s not the main focus and that’s what helps make this novel great. I totally thought Jefferson and Therese were going to have something and I was going to get annoyed but that’s not the case. I can’t wait to see where this relationship goes.

“There’s not a place in the whole world where everyone isn’t willing—no, eager—to give up a girl to a man.”

Can we talk about the feminist undertones in this book? Obviously, we can talk about Leah and her independence but we can also really analyze Becky Joyner as well. I even like Mrs. Joyner now! She was a you-know-what in the beginning but she really grew on me. Her unpleasantness stems from her husband, in my opinion. And once he dies I think she is able to find that independence that all women in their lives want. Leah’s transformation is really at the forefront of the novel but as a reader I also loved watching Becky’s transformation as well. She is a mother who cares only for her children and she does everything in her power to protect them even if that means to be rude and harsh to people like Leah. However, over the course of this journey Becky Joyner learns more about being a woman and that there’s more to life than being a wife.

This book is one of the only books where I haven’t been annoyed with a single character. Yeah I didn’t like some of the bad guys but they all worked in the story and I enjoy reading about them. I just really can’t wait to read the next book. I love all of these characters and their relationships with one another. I would recommend it to everyone, especially if you love American history and are in the mood for a journey because this book really takes you on one. I feel like I’ve written an essay but this book has really had an impact on me. My only regret is that I wish I read it sooner!

“I’ve never felt so far from God’s grace. I suppose I am a stranger walking on Earth, but I’m no son of God. I’m no son at all.”

Happy reading, friends! ☺

You can also find this review on my blog here:
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
August 10, 2015
I've had this one on my TBR for over two years now! :D

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Book One of The Gold Seer Trilogy
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

The first book in a new trilogy from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Rae Carson. A young woman with the magical ability to sense the presence of gold must flee her home, taking her on a sweeping and dangerous journey across Gold Rush–era America.

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? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

What I Liked:

I absolutely ADORED Rae Carson's Fire & Thorns series. I'd read The Girl of Fire and Thorns before blogging (mid-2012), but read The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom as they were published. Such an agonizing wait for The Bitter Kingdom! I loved that the series got better with each book. I'm really hoping that the same will apply for this series.

Leah Westfall can sense gold, which is a handy ability during the Gold Rush. No one knows about her ability excerpt her parents - and her uncle who murders her parents and tells Lee they will be heading West, him and her. Lee runs away, journeying to the West on her own. On the way, she joins a family - the Joyners - and a friend who also ran away - Jefferson - and it's not long before Lee feels like she has a place in the group that she's traveling with. But Lee has more secrets than one - she can sense gold, but she's also masquerading as a boy.

Rae Carson has certainly created a unique and rich story, scene, and cast of characters. I haven't read many Westerns, or books set in nineteenth-century United States, in YA. I actually just read Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman, and it follows the EXACT PLOT (except Kate can't sense gold). Parents are killed (parent, in Kate's case), girl goes out on her own, gold is a huge factor in the story. I LOVED Vengeance Road, but I didn't quite love this one.

Still, I was very interested in this story, from start to finish. Despite this book being slightly longer than most YA books (which doesn't bother me!), the story moves at a decent pace. I have a dislike about the pacing actually, but it's a little different (see below). I wasn't bored, even though the plot wasn't terribly fast.

I liked Lee from the start. She is an only child, with no brother, so she does all of the labor that a boy would normally do, including mucking the stables and whatnot. She also pans for gold, since she has the gold sense. Lee takes care of her family, so when her parents are murdered, Lee knows that she can't let her uncle treat her like property. Lee is strong (and not just physically) and brave, brave enough to start her journey to California (from Georgia) by herself.

Jefferson is her friend from Georgia, who leaves for the West before she does, just after her parents are murdered. The pair don't meet up until Lee reaches Independence (Missouri, I believe) with the Joyners. Jefferson is half-white, half-Native-American, and is used to people treating him terribly. He keeps Lee's secret about being a girl from everyone, but he doesn't know about her gold sense.

Overall, I thought the story was interesting, maybe not engaging though (see below). I expect a lot more from the next books, which should be the case, given what I know about the Fire & Thorns series.

What I Did Not Like:

My biggest issue with this book is that I felt it was going nowhere. Lee is on a journey to the West, okay. But is that it? It really seemed like that was it. We REALLY get to know the people in the group she's traveling with (the Joyners, but also a few other family, and Major Craven, some college boys, and more). But there is no additional layer to the book. You'd think Lee's gold sense would come back to haunt her at some point, or Uncle Hiram would find her and kidnap her and force her to find gold. I don't know what I was expecting, but I think I expected MORE. This book was so one-dimensional, one-layered.

Not to say that it was boring? But it moved in one direction, and that direction wasn't really anywhere. Going to the West. The end. Is the book about making friends along the way? Golly gee, I really don't think that's what I wanted to read, or expected to read. Given that her last series was a high fantasy one, I think I expected this book to have shenanigans going on.

So I'd say the pacing was slow. Interesting, not terribly boring, but slow.

Also, let's talk about anachronisms. Some of the speech and dialogue in this book were definitely anachronistic. I wish I had bookmarked where I saw these lines, but I didn't want to dog-ear my book! But I distinctly remember thinking, that sentence is way too modern, at least a few times. Not a huge deal, but not a good thing, necessarily.

The ending felt so anticlimactic. I think this goes along the lines of what I was saying earlier, about the story being flat, but the ending felt like nothing really changed? Sure, there were plenty of deaths along the way, but the actual climax and ending didn't seem riveting or anything. It was just there. Just another day in the West. La la la.

Also, isn't it strange that certain people caught up to the group in the West, while traveling? The West is a HUGE place... it seemed way too coincidental. Too convenient.

This last thing I'm going to mention isn't *really* a complaint, but more of a comment for those like me who enjoy a good romance alongside a story - the romance isn't really a thing in this book. Sure, there are seeds, but not happens, nothing is going on. Just seeds. Please water them in the next book, Rae Carson. Knowing what I know about the Fire & Thorns series, I'm sure that will be the case.

Would I Recommend It:

Despite not loving this one, I'd recommend it! It's fun to read different genres, and Western historical fiction is definitely one that I don't read nearly enough. Granted, there aren't that many published in YA lit. Me reading two Westerns in one year is impressive, let alone two in two months! Even if you don't like Westerns, give this book a shot! I think things will pick up in the next book.


3 stars. I hope to see more related to Lee's gold sense. I hope to see more once Lee and the gang reach California and tuck in. There needs to be more to the plot, because right now, this story isn't meaning much to me! Still, I am interested in the next book, as I trust Rae Carson.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
September 23, 2015
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Walk on Earth a Stranger may just be the best YA Western I’ve read so far. It’s all I ever asked for bundled into an exciting adventure that had flipping pages as fast as I could. Fair warning though, this book won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

For as long as I can remember, reading books that feature journeys has been *my* thing. I mean lots of things are my thing, but I always find myself craving a good old adventure. Across a country, to the top of the mountains, WHEREVER. I love living vicariously through characters journeying to some place and reading about the hardships they have to overcome. But that is just me as a reader and not everyone wants to read an entire book reading about a character’s journey. Some people will want more.

I don’t have much to go on but I have noticed that all the YA Westerns I’ve read so far, parents seem to die and I am not sure how I feel about this trope. Wouldn’t it be nice if parents actually got to live and if there were other catalysts to inspire these journeys across the wild west? There were a bunch of other tropes but I kind of just moved on from them once we got to the actual journey bits. That’s when the book REALLY just grabbed my attention and I COULDN’T STOP.

Leah is a fantastic main character. I loved reading about her, I loved being inside of her head and I LOVED getting to be a part of her journey. When her parents are suddenly killed and it becomes obvious that her uncle, her new guardian was responsible, Leah decides to run. Leah is smart. A lot of female leads are smart, but I love that Leah is not someone who rushes things. When she decided to run away from her uncle, she actually decided to stay an extra couple days so she could plan and get things ready. She also knows how to take care of herself but realizes that when running away, groups are better than individuals.

This book also features a diverse set of characters which is awesome. We have the “confirmed bachelors”, we have Hamptom who is a slave and Leah’s best friend Jeff who is half Native American and thus has to deal with with a lot of prejudice and resist the urge to punch people (or was that just me?)

What I loved about this book is that it not only featured diverse characters, it also addressed a lot of important issues of the time. The book brought up the injustices being committed against various races by the Caucasians (trying to be PC here and not say white people) and it also showed us instances of where assholes did horrible things because of their assumed superiority.

The writing was also terrific although I did find myself sometimes slipping into the ‘cowboy slang’ from Vengeance Road. If you read my review for Vengeance Road, you’ll know that the cowboy slang had actually bothered me in the beginning, but here I was finishing off certain sentences the way they would have been if this book were written in the same style as Vengeance Road. Having said that, I thought the writing style was perfectly suited to the situation and really did make me feel like I was right in the middle of it all, journeying across the continent with Leah and company.

The book also has a slight fantasy aspect, given Leah’s gold-detecting powers but their origin wasn’t really explored and to be honest, it really didn’t bother me that it wasn’t. I didn’t need the answers to all the questions and I was okay letting her powers be (especially since there were so many other awesome things happening.)

There is also a subtle romance in the book. My shippy senses were already tingling as soon as I was introduced to the two characters so to finally see my ship sail towards the end of the book made me so happy! It’s a friends-to-more kind of romance and it just made sense given how well they (yes, I am purposefully avoiding naming who the love interest is) worked together and how supportive they were of each other.

As I mentioned earlier, this book is all about the journey. In fact, after the first 20 percent or so, the entire book IS the journey Leah makes from her town in Georgia to Sacramento, California. The journey was so well written and SO DETAILED. I was FANGIRLING and was up until 5:00 in the morning reading the book! I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the pages and all I wanted to know was what hardship they would have to face next and how they'd overcome it. I wanted to know how many people would make it to California (because people do die and it was heartbreaking.)

This book is perfect for readers who enjoy stories of survival and adventure. It is detailed, heartbreaking and at the same time manages to fill you with so much joy. I LOVE THIS BOOK and maybe you will too!

Note that I received an advanced copy of this book for review in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Suzzie.
915 reviews163 followers
October 16, 2017
Loved it! I found it a tad slow in the beginning of the middle but it could have easily been a five star review. I am starting book two now and just ordered book three. Loving this series! I haven't read many gold rush theme books but when I can find some in the fiction category I eat them up.
Profile Image for starryeyedjen.
1,663 reviews1,231 followers
January 13, 2016
An ARC of this title was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own. This review can also be found at The Starry-Eyed Revue.

Such an incredible story! Quite different from The Girl of Fire and Thorns but still so so good. My heart was in my throat for much of the journey…when I wasn't busy feeling the pangs of thirst on behalf of the characters. Carson is equally good at bringing the feels and creating a world that's so easy to see yourself a part of. And the voice was just so perfect…I can't wait to see what the next installment brings for Lee and company.


You guys, I didn't think I could love Rae Carson's writing any more than I did after finishing the Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, but then I read Walk on Earth a Stranger. Admittedly, the last time I read a summary for this book was back in May 2013 when I added it to my TBR on Goodreads. All I remembered was that it was historical fiction focusing on the California Gold Rush. Not necessarily my kind of story, but Rae Carson penned it so I knew I'd at least be giving it the old college try. But it was so amazing and brilliant and brought back memories of playing Oregon Trail in elementary and middle school. So, of course, while I was searching for the game online, I had to take a break from writing this review and play for a bit. =)

Lee is the exact opposite of Elisa from Carson's first series, at least in the beginning, and yet I loved her tremendously. Whereas Elisa initially shrunk away from her future and duties, Lee embraces what she has to do when her world is turned upside-down. Still, there are a lot of similarities between the two protagonists, too, because when push comes to shove, both of these girls let the fire burning within them reign supreme and they get the job done. And both are harboring secrets that could mean the difference between life and death.

When I said that this story reminded me of playing Oregon Trail while reading, I wasn't kidding. There are covered wagons. Yokes of oxen to pull them. Hunting and trading and river crossings that can turn disastrous. And disease that can take out a wagon train lickety-split like. (I'm still playing the game in another tab while I'm writing this, so I can vouch for all those things. :P) But while the game was fun and somewhat entertaining, this story was sad and heartfelt and a little bit hopeful. It tugged at my heartstrings and kept me on the edge of my seat because just like with that game, you never knew what the trail would throw at you next.

Walk on Earth a Stranger isn't just about what happens on the trail, though. We get to see a little of Lee's home life before she sets out on her own -- and what put her on that course -- and there's a smidge of a romance thrown in, too. I honestly wasn't expecting much on that front, since Lee has to dress as a boy the minute she decides on this quest of hers, but it worked and it was rather sweet. But the hard-earned friendships and trials and tribulations of the trail were definitely the driving force of the story.

The book also goes a long way toward encouraging acceptance in a time where there was little to be had: of African Americans, of gays, of foreigners...even of women as equals. I loved every aspect and found it entirely too difficult to put this book aside for any length of time. Lee's story just kept calling to me, the way the Oregon Trail is calling to me as we speak, and even though I have a multitude of other things to do right now. I never once found Manifest Destiny as intriguing while learning about it in school as I did while reading this story. It's well-researched, and it felt like reading the gritty journal of one who actually traveled across the continent to get to California.

Like I mentioned, I hadn't read the summary prior to picking this one up, and I was actually kind of hoping for a stand-alone, what with all of the other series I have yet to finish. But once I got to the end, I was pretty stoked to realize that there was more of the story to come. I can't imagine the hardships Lee and her wagon train faced, but I also can't get enough of them. Also, I want so badly to see some of the characters get the comeuppance they so richly deserve.

I highly recommend this story for my fellow thirty-somethings who got to play this game while waiting for others to finish up their tests or for anyone who just loves a good historical fiction that's not afraid to get its hands dirty. I will definitely be in line for the next book in this saga.

GIF it to me straight:
Profile Image for Andrea.
347 reviews102 followers
August 26, 2016
"Now that I’m a girl, I’m treated like I’m nobody again, to be owned or herded or strung along, so helpless and awful that I must be redeemed or married off because it’s convenient for someone."

I've been looking forward to Walk on Earth a Stranger for so long. And I am happy to say it did not disappoint!

Walk on Earth a Stranger is about a girl named Leah Westfall who can sense gold. After her parents are murdered, Leah disguises herself as a boy and decides to head west to find gold and start a new life.

This book had me hooked from the first page. I was a little worried about this only because I've never been a huge fan of westerns, but Carson has written a fast-paced historical novel with some paranormal thrown in there that makes for an exciting read.

What I liked most about this book though was Leah.
"It’s a testament to my fine character that I don’t smash that Bible right into his nose."

Leah is definitely one of the most determined characters I've ever read about. She's not perfect but she's someone you can respect and even look up to. She wants to be seen as an equal, not some damsel in distress. So she decides to disguise herself as a boy because she knows nobody will take her seriously as a woman.
“I’d rather be treated with respect than treated like a lady."

Since this did take place in the 1840s, the majority of the story is Leah and her friends trying to survive the trek to California. I mean, there were no planes so... it took a while to get there. They encounter thieves, buffalo's, measles, you name it. They meet all types of people along the way, and Carson manages to portray most of them in a realistic way.

The point is this book has such an amazing concept, lots of action, a slow-burn romance, and a kick-ass heroine that all I have to say is trust me when I say you should read this.

Also, that cover is amazing.
Profile Image for Drew.
450 reviews500 followers
November 13, 2015
“Why do you spend so much time out there?”
“I don’t know.” I settle my head down onto the saddlebag. “Maybe because it’s the only time I don’t have to lie to anyone.”

This book follows Lee's journey to California during the gold rush. It's full of escapades like cows falling into rivers, frightening tales of Indians, children going missing, and Lee meeting and befriending new people.

Lee was an awesome, tough, well-rounded heroine. She flees her home and has to disguise herself as a boy so she can get a job on the trail. Lee's parents were murdered and she is heartbroken by their deaths, but she doesn't fall apart from grief as she has her friends, Jeff and Therese, to console her.

“My mama and daddy are a constant ache in me, even months later.”

Although Lee has a magical power to sense gold, don't expect an action-packed story full of suspense and chase scenes.

The pacing was much slower than most YA novels, but surprisingly, I really liked the quiet plot that built a solid foundation for the characters and setting. This isn't an action-packed fantasy, but a story of so many people following the wagon train on a long, exhausting journey in search of gold.

The writing was absolutely gorgeous. Rae Carson's stunning scenes and lovely words made it so easy to imagine the western setting and understand the characters' struggles and hardships.

“The world has exploded with wildflowers—black-eyed Susans and blue chicory and yellow mustard—and the sun lounges heavy in the sky, casting the world in a golden haze.”

This was a slower, different kind of book than you'd normally find in the young adult genre, but I thought its unique tone was wonderful.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,017 followers
October 10, 2015
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
I think it goes without saying that I loved this book, because well, the title says so. And because of that, I am just going to briefly explain why, so you can all just go read it for yourselves or something.

Leah is fabulous. See, Leah is the kind of heroine that doesn't come along often. She's smart, and strong, and she knows that society's views on women are flat out asinine. But she also knows that she must do what she has to to survive, so if she has to play the part of a boy, she will. She's resourceful like that. At the same time, she isn't all tough- she has feelings and emotions too, and she stands by her convictions. Basically, I love her, and I cannot wait for more of her story.
The other characters are so complex and well done. There are quite a few minor characters in this book, since Leah's traveling the trail with a wagon party, as was customary. I thought I'd be confused and overwhelmed with all the different people, but it was actually really easy for me to keep up with! Some were more flawed than others, but they all had backstory that made me really care. There were a few side characters who I especially had the warm fuzzies for, but I think actually including some of their names could be spoilery? So I will just let you decide for yourselves who gives you the warm fuzzies.
The romance was minimal, but it has definite potential. This is absolutely not a romance driven book. Suffice it to say there is no insta-love (win!), because Leah and Jefferson basically had more important things to deal with during most of the book. But I did enjoy him, and I am hoping to see more of him in the future.
The most epic trip ever takes place! Look, for me, The Oregon Trail basically signifies the ultimate in "road trips" (even though, fine, it isn't an actual road). To travel from one coast to the other in the mid 1800s is such an undertaking, I don't think we can even begin to comprehend the hardships. So, the fact that Rae Carson was able to make me feel like I could somewhat understand how this must have been was really quite remarkable. I remember playing the game when I was younger and thinking "I wonder what all those people felt like, what kind of emotions they had", and Rae basically brought that to life for me.
The hint of magic and the allure of gold are enticing and unique. I mean, it's gold. People would do just about anything for gold. And since Leah has a special power to find gold, it stands to reason that if someone finds out about that, she's in a heap of trouble. There are tons of kind people along Leah's journey, but tons of unscrupulous ones.
This first book in the series is a journey. There is action, yes, but there are slower parts. This did not bother me in the least, but I figured I should point it out for those of you who do enjoy a faster pacing.

Bottom Line: What's left to say? Other than thanks to Rae Carson, for writing the book that I'd dreamed about since forever.

*Copy provided by publisher for review
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,011 followers
January 30, 2016
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace:
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of ceaseless praise:
Rescued thus from sin and danger,
Purchased by the Savior’s blood,
May I walk on earth a stranger,
As a son and heir of God.

Second western I read this year. And may I tell you, this was an amazing experience. I couldn't pass comparison between two books I've read. Vengeance Road was fun, I enjoyed it, but was a little bit disappointed with the repetitiveness, that made the book very boring in the second half. I expected Walk on earth a stranger to have the same problem, 'cos traveling a lot is the conman thing this two books have, and I was afraid this book will repeat the same mistakes Vengeance road did. But nope, that never happened and I enjoyed this book even more. If I started to compare them, I would like to add, that this book is more historical fiction in some way and Vengeance Road would look better as a movie. Walk on earth a stranger was more serious and gloomy, and I am a secret pervert, because I love when MCs suffer, endure and mature through out the book.

The story is about a girl Leah, aka Lee, who can feel gold and, of course, no one except her parents know about it. So this girl is pretty lonely and has one friend Jefferson, who is half Native American and has no other friends either. When Lee's parents are murdered by her uncle, who wants Lee's powers for himself, she flees Georgia, disguises herself as a boy and decides to travel to California, where gold rush era has recently started and what better place to use her abilities. Along the way she will meet friends, she will suffer and endure (all I love about my heroes), she will loose friends and she will mature.

Nothing out here is really fine or perfect. We just have to do the best we can.

This book has a very slow pace, but it was not boring, a lot of happened on the way to "new life". The overland journey was fascinating. I am not big on history, but, of course, I read some things about gold rush and know that it was a rough time. Not every one endured the hard journey toward California, not every one survived after. Some people were under racist attack, some emigrants were attacked and vandalized. A major genocide was conducted on Native Americans who lived on that territory.
“That’s what they are,” Mr. Joyner adds. “Gypsies. Gypsies on the plains. The best thing to do would be to exterminate the whole race.”

So you see, there were a lot of issues. This book ends exactly when Lee and Co arrive to California, and we yet to know what's going to happen to them in there. The story did not end with a cliffhanger, but I am still highly intrigued by the second book.

Lee was a great narrative. I liked to be in her head. She was a strong young woman and she matured a lot through out the journey. Lee was strong when needed, and she was weak when there were no strengths to fight, to pretend, and she admitted her weaknesses. It made her a real person.

But, Lord, I’m weary. Weary of trying to be as good to Daddy as three sons, weary of working as hard as any man, weary of the other girls scorning me. And I’m weary of bearing this troubled soul, of knowing things could go very badly if someone learned about my gold-witching ways.

I consider pretending to be brave for all of two seconds, but I’m done lying. “I was afraid the whole time. Afraid I was going to be found out, afraid of the men who robbed me, afraid that I was going to be alone forever. And then once I started pretending, I was scared to let . . .”
My teeth are suddenly chattering. I cross my arms around my waist and squeeze, like something terrible will come out if I let go.

Lee is a girl disguised as a boy, but she does it only by necessity, she likes dresses, likes to be a girl, though she is very strong and can do hard labor. She also has a woman's physiology and therefore she has menstruation. Lee is traveling in a rough conditions and it was very refreshing to see, that author mentioned this problem, how women of the era solved it.

The world-building was amazing. It felt like I was really in that time, the atmosphere of that period, when people left their old lives behind and journeyed to their new lives. The path full of hopes and disappointments. But still, the smell of excitement, that when you arrive at your destination - a miracle will happen.
The descriptions of cities and ports of that time,

My first impression is of mud. It spatters off horse hooves and wagon wheels, stains the base of every building and the legs of every pair of trousers, mixes with half-melted snow to create a soup of gray and brown. The few buildings making up the town proper are painted muddy white or muddy red. Centered before the largest of these is the one bright spot: an American flag, whipping proudly from a high pole. It’s the new one, with a full thirty stars.
Surrounding the town are acres of tents and wagons, thousands of oxen and horses; even a few hasty shacks, spread over a vast, flat landscape of mud and snow. And beyond it all is a slow, muddy river, curving gently into the horizon and shimmering like gray silk in the early spring sun.

the dangers that can wait around the conner
The prairie stretches endlessly before us, an expanse of black that is gradually brightening to green before the rising sun. About half a mile away is the strangest storm cloud I’ve ever seen. It hugs the earth, a rolling mass sweeping across the horizon.
“That’s no storm,” Jefferson says.
“Buffalo!” Craven shouts. “Run back and warn everyone. They must stay in the wagons!”

it was all interesting to observe, to follow the path with MCs.

There's romance, but it is almost none exist and very subtle. But it was a great start of something beautiful, I can't wait to see how things will evolve in the next book.

All in all it was an amazing read. I don't have any complaints about the book. The historical department was realistic, the spirit of the gold rush era was masterly displayed by the author. MC was a reliable protagonist and furthermore, though we see the story through her eyes, there were a lot of other complex characters around, and every one of them had a story to tell. Rae Carson's writing was beautiful and heartfelt. I don't see any reason you shouldn't read this book. And gold rush era as it is is fascinating. If you want to follow this path with MCs - read this book and you will not be disappointed.

Profile Image for Cinda.
Author 33 books11.2k followers
January 4, 2016
Engaging mingle of fantasy and history set in Gold Rush times; I totally engaged with these characters.
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