Monday, June 30, 2014

Review: THE VANISHING SEASON by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Published: July 1st, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary/fantasy 
Publisher: HarperTeen
POV: 1st person / 3rd person
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss / HarperCollins
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

Maggie's an outsider – homeschooled, intelligent, and maybe a bit too mature for her age. But after her family moves to Door County (just in time for a serial killer to be on the loose), she finds herself being pulled into the lives of Pauline – the gorgeous, bubbly, and somewhat childish girl next door – and Liam – Pauline's creative friend, who's considered to be one of the town's stranger inhabitants. As tensions rise in the town, the three of them connect and drift apart. But, unbeknownst to them, they are all observed by a spirit who is drawn to Maggie's home. 

I started The Vanishing Season soon after finishing Anderson's Tiger Lily, so I was unsure what to expect. I knew, at the very least, that this was going to be a story with substance. This is a story that is both subtly haunting and unnerving. Sweet, sad, terrifying, romantic, and heartbreaking, The Vanishing Season cycles through these various emotions as Maggie's life unfolds and the spirit's reason for being there is revealed. Readers looking for a quiet, haunting tale about love and friendship will find The Vanishing Season to be well worth their time. 

Highlights: The mixture of the spirit's first person POV and Maggie's third person POV proved fascinating together. This a wonderfully reflective story, and I loved the emphasis on friendship and family. I thought this story would be a murder mystery, but it's more about love and loss. Anderson's writing was lovely, and captivating from start to finish. And I can just say that the cover is brilliant? Because it truly is perfect for the story. 

Lowlights: I figured out why the ghost was lingering early on (but the circumstances of how she became a ghost were a mystery to me, until the conclusion, and that was a heartbreaking surprise). 

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf (4 out of 5). The Vanishing Season is fantastic, worth owning, and has earned a spot in the royal library. I enjoyed this story very much, despite a few small issues, and would recommend this book to other readers.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Majestic Collection (1)

Sometimes I'm emailed about interesting bookish things or stumble across cool posts, but I have nowhere to share them. So, I've decided to make a digital cork board of sorts in order to effectively share links and news!

Discussions / Blog Posts

Pirate Penguin's Reads discusses how your reading taste changes over time (strangely, I had the same experience with the same novel).

Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict features the top ten unique and beautiful uses of typography on covers - and I basically want to own posters of all of them. 

Giveaways You Shouldn't Miss!

Ashley Poston (author of The Sound of Us) is celebrating the Spark imprint with an epic giveaway for a Kindle Paperwhite loaded with twelve Bloomsbury Spark titles! Hurry and enter, it ends soon!

Film and TV News

The 5th Wave film has some new casting announcements!

Also, the pilot for Delirium  aired on Hulu (watch while you can, I'm not sure how long it will be available). I had some mixed thoughts about it.

For more movie news, check out Bloggers Heart Books From Page to Screen feature!

Other Bookish Links

The movie tie-in covers for both The Maze Runner and Inside the Maze Runner: The Guide to the Glade were released (loving the novel cover)! Check out the movie trailer on YouTube.


Marissa Meyer has a new book coming out in the Lunar Chronicles series - Fairest, which tells Queen Levana's story! Fierce Reads hosted a Fairest Q&A with Marissa Meyer to let readers learn more about it. Fairest releases January 27th, 2015 - so close, yet so far!

Jodi Lynn Anderson's Tiger Lily is $1.99 for Kindle - grab it while you can, it's a fabulous book!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review: DOROTHY MUST DIE by Danielle Paige

Title: Dorothy Must Die
Author: Danielle Paige
Published: April 1st, 2014
Series: Dorothy Must Die #1
Genre: YA Fantasy / Retelling
POV: 1st person
Pages: 452
Publisher: HarperCollins
Format: Printed ARC
Source: Vine program
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf
I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?

Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.

And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.

Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

In the beginning of Dorothy Must Die, Amy Gumm is just a poor, saracastic girl from Kansas who may or may not get into fights with pregnant mean girls. But, after Amy's trailer is swept away by a tornado and lands in Oz, Amy finds the girl she used to be might not be enough to survive in this strange and twisted world. Unfortunately, Oz is no longer the place we all know from the books and movies. Whatever charm it once held has disappeared. Instead, it's been twisted into a world where magic is dying, Dorothy rules supreme with cruel power, and everyone is expected to follow Dorothy's chaotic laws - or else. And, once Amy finds herself on Dorothy's bad side, she has no choice but to team up with the Order of the Wicked in order to restore the balance in Oz. 

Paige's delightfully and wickedly twisted version of Oz is fascinating and unsettling. Amy Gumm is an excellent protagonist, mostly because I can appreciate her snark and sarcasm. Description is wonderfully done, and it was easy to envision every single setting and character. But, as much as I enjoyed this book, it suffers from first-book syndrome. There's a lot of information and preparation for the next novel, to the point where it almost seems like nothing of note actually happens. But, despite the flaws, Dorothy Must Die remains entertaining thanks to Amy's sharp snark and Oz's twisted world.

Highlights: Dorothy is the bad guy, and it's a bit twisted and strange. There's something scary about a person who seems all bubblegum on the outside but snaps at every little thing, and Dorothy doesn't disappoint as the villain. Other side characters were especially intriguing, although a few of the more fascinating ones were not used enough in the story. Everything about Danielle Paige's Oz is twisted yet familiar for anyone who knows a little (or a lot) about her source material. Amy's POV is fantastically entertaining, and I easily found myself wanting her to win in the end.

Lowlights: The story is very slow, and a lot of the action happens at the very beginning and the conclusion. I hate how the novel ended - it seemed like things were really starting to get going during the last couple chapters, and then it's all over (if you read the summary, you'll notice the tasks Amy must complete - the only problem is that Amy doesn't learn about those tasks until the very conclusion, which is incredibly frustrating as a reader). I'm hoping the sequel will be a bit more focused on Amy's tasks, now that Paige has gotten Amy's training and the info-dumping out of the way. 

Rating: The Great Hall (high 3 out of 5).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quick Thoughts On The DELIRIUM Pilot

I watched the Delirium pilot on Hulu a couple days ago. The TV show, which was rejected by Fox, is based on Lauren Oliver's Delirium trilogy. I'm a huge fan of Oliver's writing, so I had high expectations. But honestly, I can see why Fox passed on the show. 

Highlights: I liked Emma Roberts as Lena. Jeanine Mason likewise made for a great Hana - she brought the fiery personality, but kept Hana's reluctance to truly rebel. Julian Fineman's addition to the story was actually kind of interesting, although I don't think his character had too much to do. The setting isn't quite what I imagined, but I enjoyed the way everything looked. It was an interesting mix of futuristic and familiar, which works well for the story. 

Lowlights: The pilot episode is the entire first novel, with a little bit of the sequel as well. That's around 500 pages of development shoved into a limited amount of minutes, so it's understandable that quite a lot is lost. While Oliver's novel builds relationships and makes readers care about the characters, the pilot rushes everything. The conclusion is supposed to be heartbreaking (and it is in the novel), but in the pilot, there is no emotion, no grief, nothing. The pacing is too fast, and while I think Roberts and Kagasoff could potentially bring Lena and Alex to life, they couldn't make the romance believable in only one episode. Also, there are some roles that are switched / changed / lost, and I'm not sure how well that would work out in the long run. As a whole, emotion was severely lacking in the pilot, which is unfortunate since Delirium is a story about love. 

Final Thoughts: While I was underwhelmed, I wouldn't mind seeing more of the show (if only to see if there was improvement). Better yet, I'd love to see a completely redone pilot episode that fixes the problems. The source material is excellent, and in the right hands, Oliver's books could make for an interesting TV show. 

Did you watch the Delirium pilot? What are your thoughts? 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Published: May 6th, 2014
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
POV: 1st person
Pages: 449
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: printed ARC
Source: Vine program
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn't go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn't do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell.But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just... disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try... unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough.Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait... what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um...

Summer has only just begun when Emily realizes her best friend Sloane is gone. It's not unusual for Sloane to disappear, but this time things are different and Emily hasn't got a clue where she's gone or if Sloane will even be coming back. All she knows is that their epic plans for summer are over, and have been replaced by a list of things that Sloane wants Emily to do while she's away. To complete the list, Emily will have to find her courage and maybe accept a little help along the way...

I've heard quite a bit about Morgan Matson's novels, and I was pleased to find myself enjoying this story by the time I reached the conclusion. I had high expectations, and while Matson did not deliver a story as wonderful as I hoped, she did write an entertaining story filled with great, realistic characters. Once Emily begins completing the tasks and finds herself bonding more with Frank Porter and a few others, the story becomes something special. Since You've Been Gone has a slow start, but the budding friendships and romance end up making it a worthwhile read in the end.

Highlights: I highly respected Emily's willingness to put herself out there in order to complete Sloane's tasks - she pushed through the awkward moments, stepped outside of her comfort zone, had some fun, gained a new perspective, and even some new friends (which is all fantastic). The characters were wonderful (especially Frank, I quite adore him). I liked the concept too, since Sloane's list made this story into something special. As a whole, this story swept me away - fun, amusing, was everything I could hope for in a YA contemporary novel, and then some. The playlists were also fabulous, and gave me some new (and old) music to check out.

Lowlights: It took awhile to really get going. While I can relate to a wallflower of a girl, Emily's dependence on Sloane initially bothered me. I kept setting this novel aside in favor of other books, simply because I couldn't care enough to bother reading it all at once. And Sloane! I understood where she was coming from at the end, but I still disagree with the way she initially left things with Emily. The first half of the novel was a struggle, but the last half made it worthwhile. 

Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf (low 4 out of 5).

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (143): THE ORPHAN QUEEN

THE ORPHAN QUEEN by Jodi Meadows
March 10th, 2015 from Katherine Tegen Books

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

A princess spy, forbidden magic...I love fantasy novels, so this one is high on my wishlist!

What are you waiting on?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: HALF BAD by Sally Green

Title: Half Bad
Author: Sally Green
Published: March 4th, 2014
Series Half Life #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
POV: 1st person, 2nd person
Pages: 416
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Format: ARC
Source: Vine Program
Rating: The Great Hall

A stunning, magical debut. An international sensation.

In modern-day England, witches live alongside humans: White witches, who are good; Black witches, who are evil; and fifteen-year-old Nathan, who is both. Nathan’s father is the world’s most powerful and cruel Black witch, and his mother is dead. He is hunted from all sides. Trapped in a cage, beaten and handcuffed, Nathan must escape before his sixteenth birthday, at which point he will receive three gifts from his father and come into his own as a witch—or else he will die. But how can Nathan find his father when his every action is tracked, when there is no one safe to trust—not even family, not even the girl he loves?

Half Bad raises of the question of what makes a person truly evil or good, which makes for a fascinating story overall. There is quite a bit of buzz surrounding this story, and I'm sure this story will entertain many readers. I knew, from the first chapter, that Half Bad would be an intriguing survival story. And, despite a few issues, it truly was just that. Nathan's voice is easy enough to relate with, and I felt all the more sympathy for him during some of the cringeworthy events he is put through. He's genuinely struggling - despite his moody moments, Nathan isn't a bad guy. The novel starts with a bang, then backtracks to earlier years, until the POV catches up to the beginning again. I'm still uncertain as to whether or not this structure hurts or helps the story, but those beginning chapters do serve a purpose in making Nathan someone readers can (and will want to) root for. Half Bad is an interesting story with a fascinating protagonist, but it also has a few flaws.

Highlights: The writing flows nicely, making Half Bad an easy novel to read. The very beginning chapters had me hooked (that 2nd person POV was fascinating), and I like how the writing mimicked Nathan's chaotic state of mind during those chapters. The ideas presented are interesting, and I liked Green's approach to witches. 

Lowlights: I felt like not enough actually happened. In the beginning, I was hooked. But halfway through, I barely managed to force myself to read until the end. I never felt like I had a strong sense of the characters. The romance felt weak, mostly because it ended before it ever really began (it might have been better to drop the romance aspect entirely). The writing style was a bit odd - I loved the 2nd person POV beginning, but then it quickly switches POV's and style to an average 1st person POV for a majority of the novel. 

Rating: The Great Hall (3 to 3.5ish). This is a challenging novel to rate, because I did enjoy some moments while I hated others. I loved the first half, but by the time I reached the end, I didn't believe the plot had enough going for it. It was almost incredible, but not quite there for me. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (142): THE AFTERMATH

THE AFTERMATH by Jen Alexander
August 26th, 2014 from Harlequin Teen
Sometimes, I dream that I'm someone else.

A girl with dark hair who doesn't worry about hunger

or thirst or running from flesh-eaters.

In her world, those sorts of things don't exist.

Since the spring of 2036, when the world changed forever, Claudia and a small clan of survivors have roamed the streets of a very altered Nashville: polluted and desolate, except for the ever-present threat of cannibal Hoarders. Together they must undergo punishing tests of endurance and psychological challenge sometimes with devastating consequences all just to live another day.

With food and water in dwindling supply, and with danger lurking around every corner, no one can be trusted. And as her world starts to make less and less sense, Claudia begins to realize something terrifying: she is just a pawn in some sort of game, and all of her actions are being controlled from afar by a mysterious gamer. So when she meets a maddening and fascinating outsider named Declan, who claims to be a game moderator, she must decide whether to join him in exchange for protection and access to the border.

If they play the game right, they are each other's best hope for survival and a life beyond the only world Claudia's ever known: the terrifying live-action game known as The Aftermath.

The MC is a character in a live-action game? That's definitely intriguing. Very excited for this book!

What are you waiting on?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1.  The Winner's Curse (my review): So vivid and different, this book is outstanding.

2.  Cress (my review): Adventure, romance, surprises - easily one of the most entertaining stories I've read all year.

3.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before (my review): Sweet, awkward, and very fun.

4.  We Were Liars (my review): A fantastic mystery to unravel!

5.  These Broken Stars (my review): Two excellent POV's and great descriptions.

6.  Everybody Sees the Ants: A wondrously strange, but realistically honest, story. I wish I would have read it sooner, because it was outstanding and thought-provoking.

7.  City of a Thousand Dolls: Intriguing world + mystery!

8.  Dangerous Girls: This one is a pageturner!

9.  On the Fence: Sporty protagonist, sweet love interest, nice family focus, and writing that flows...a great story.

10.  Nantucket Blue: Some of the descriptions are incredible, and the romance is adorable.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review: BLEAK HOUSE by Charles Dickens

Author: Charles Dickens
Published: 2011 edition
Series: N/A
Genre: Gothic, Mystery
Pages: 1038
POV: 1st person and 3rd person, switching
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Rating: The Treasure Vault

Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A 'great Victorian novel', it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.

BLEAK HOUSE was a required text for one of my undergrad courses, and I had mixed expectations as I cracked open the colossal novel. By colossal, I mean extremely, ridiculously huge and why on earth would anyone write a novel this long? Let's face it, BLEAK HOUSE is daunting. You hold this book in your hands and you'll likely find yourself wondering why you even picked it up. Dickens does not do anything to comfort the reader as he begins with a highly critical omniscient narrator that requires readers to pay close attention (or else you'll miss quite a bit). It takes an adjustment period before you grow to appreciate those chapters.

But, after spending a few hundred pages switching between the omniscient narrator and Esther's first person point-of-view, it becomes easier to enjoy this story and the complex layers of meaning it provides to readers. Mystery, murder, romance, friendship, family, and more, BLEAK HOUSE is filled with everything you could ever hope and expect to find in a story. Despite the fact that it took some time before I started to enjoy the book, and even though I have a love / hate relationship with this story, BLEAK HOUSE surprised me in many ways and has earned a spot among my favorites. 

Highlights: Dickens excels in foreshadowing and storytelling. I imagine this will be a story that I will gain more from by rereading it again in the future. There are so many layers to this novel, which makes it an intriguing story to ponder. While this is a wonderful text to analyze, it is also a wonderful story to read for the mystery, the romance, the relationships, and the Gothic elements. Despite the many storylines, you quickly realize these characters and their stories are all interconnected, and I found myself rooting for quite a few of them. 

Lowlights: The narration, especially the omniscient narrator's voice, takes some adjustment. There is a lot happening within the text, and if you're reading at a quick pace, it can be difficult to catch every little detail.

Cover: Fantastic design, although for this edition, the birdcages do rub off on your hands when you hold the novel. It would have been nice to have some sort of finish or clear cover to keep that from happening.

Rating: The Treasure Vault. This book is a new favorite and is worthy of keeping company with the crown jewels. I'd highly recommend this novel to other readers. If I could give this book a palace of it's own, I would. (5+ out of 5)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (141): HEIR OF FIRE

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

HEIR OF FIRE (TOG#3) by Sarah J. Maas
September 2nd, 2014 from Bloomsbury

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien's only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan's Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn.

Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King's Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan's biggest threat - and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

This third novel in the Throne of Glass sequence, from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, is packed with more heart-stopping action, devastating drama and swoonsome romance, and introduces some fierce new heroines to love and hate.

I WANT THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!  After the amazingly epic Crown of Midnight, I'm extremely excited for Heir of Fire. I NEED to know what happens next, especially after that ending...

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Kindle Books

1.  Nantucket Blue: Seems like the perfect summer read!

2.  Empire of Shadows: Fantasy books are always great as beach reads.

3.  Forgive My Fins: Mermaids!

4.  Even in Paradise: Drama, tragedy, secrets, romance...I'm excited for this one.

5.  White Hot Kiss: Armentrout's books are always good for entertaining, and that's what I look for in a beach read.

Print Books

6.  Golden: Seems very summerish. Loved her debut, Moonglass (another great summer read)!

7.  In Honor: Road trip!

8.  The Bone Season: Giving it a second chance - hopefully it will grab me more this time!

9.  Second Chance Summer: This has been sitting on my shelf for too long. Plus, it has "Summer" in the title, so it's definitely one of my beach reads.

10.  The Last Song: It's been awhile since I've read this, so I think it's time for a reread!

What's one of your beach reads this summer?

Monday, June 2, 2014


Illustrator: Alexander Jansson
Published: May 27th, 2014
Genre: MG
Pages: 304
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Format: e-ARC preview
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: The Royal Library, Bottom Shelf
A collection of forty eerie, mysterious, intriguing, and very short short stories presented by the cabinet’s esteemed curators, otherwise known as acclaimed authors Stefan Bachmann, Katherine Catmull, Claire LeGrand, and Emma Trevayne. Perfect for fans of Alvin Schwartz and anyone who relishes a good creepy read-alone or read-aloud story. Features an introduction and commentary by the curators, and illustrations and decorations throughout.

The galley I downloaded from Edelweiss was a preview that included four of the total forty stories (curses!). But, it was enough to intrigue and leave me wishing for more. 

FAIRY CAKES (by Emma Trevayne)
Every year, the fairies visit in the night. While the townspeople usually leave out cakes to satisfy the fairies devasting hunger, this year, things are a bit different....This was quite a story to begin with! Trevayne builds tension nicely with this fast-paced, disturbing, and eerie tale. It's very story-focused, with hardly any focus on characters, which was different and unexpected. 3.5 out of 5

RED SHOWS AND DOLL PARTS (by Claire Legrand)
When a story begins with a girl and her beloved wooden doll, you know it's going to be interesting. Legrand does not disappoint as she presents Jackie and the very creepy Mr. Jimmy. I don't know what it is about dolls, but there's something unnerving about them, and Mr. Jimmy is easily one of the eeriest. This is one of those stories that left me wondering and pondering certain ideas, and I love stories that keep me thinking.  4 out of 5

This story, written as a transcript that tells the story of a boy and a prank gone terribly wrong, is my favorite so far. I never knew what to expect, and the reveal at the conclusion was fascinatingly eerie and strange. Even though the main characters speaking in the transcript are not named, the young boy's story evokes strong emotions and tells the reader quite a bit about him. 4.5 out of 5

MABEL MAVELIA (by Stefan Bachmann)
An odd story about a very strange garden that a girl finds once her family moves her to a new home. Mabel is thoroughly unlikable, but that's a part of the story's charm. I'm not sure if it was an intentional allusion or not, but certain aspects reminded me of the "The Yellow Wallpaper", which only added to the eerie quality of Bachmann's story. As much as I enjoyed this one, it felt like something was missing. 3.5 out of 5

In the end, I will likely check out The Cabinet of Curiosities now that it's released, so I can finally read the rest of the stories and see more of Alexander Jansson's artwork. 

Title: RUIN AND RISING Sampler
By: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 17th, 2014
Series: The Grisha #3
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: around 64 
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Format: print sampler
Source: Publisher
Rating: The Royal Library, Top Shelf
The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Highlights: Even though the sampler was only a few chapters long, Bardugo's writing style hooked me from the beginning. I love how Bardugo's novels begin in a slightly haunting fairytale fashion, before transitioning into Alina's POV. There's a lot that's happening at the beginning of Ruin and Rising, and the intensity and excitement level picks up very quickly. Since the last novel, everything has changed, and it's difficult to tell who's friend or foe to Alina. If this sampler is any indication, I have a feeling the full novel will be full of surprises, not to mention be a complete thrill to read.

Lowlights: Not enough chapters! Fortunately, the book releases on June 17th, and we can all finally figure out what happens!