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review 2017-09-09 01:24
Looking for a scary book this Halloween?
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 40 Tales Brief & Sinister - Emma Trevayne,Katherine Catmull,Stefan Bachmann,Claire Legrand

If you enjoy creepy short story collections then I think I might have found the perfect book for you. (Maybe this could be your Halloween read!) What makes this collection even more interesting is that it was compiled by 4 different children's authors. Claire Legrand, Emma Trevayne, Katherine Catmull, and Stefan Bachmann banded together to write The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister (the Internet has 36 and 40 which is thoroughly confusing even though I've read the book). This book has a little bit of everything and with the added benefit of different author's voices it is certainly never boring. There's magic, mystery, and straight up horror (just to name a few). The black and white illustrations that accompany each story are absolutely perfect (Great job, Alexander Jansson!) and were honestly one of the reasons why I picked up this book in the first place. They've laid out the narrative in a very unique way as they've styled the chapters like the different drawers and cubbies of a traditional cabinet of curiosities. The authors are the 'curators' of this unique cabinet and the stories are the background for each of the 'items' they've collected for the separate compartments. This helps to connect all of the disparate stories into one cohesive collection and keeps the pace moving. All in all, a solid collection that I might find myself drifting back to for the spooky season. 10/10 

 

 

Source: Goodreads

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2016-02-11 11:51
Mini Reviews
Sanctuary - Jennifer McKissack
Fairest - Marissa Meyer
Very Bad Things - Susan McBride
Winter Falls - Nicole Maggi
Our Lady of the Ice - Cassandra Rose Clarke
Dumplin' - Julie Murphy
Sword and Verse - Kathy MacMillan
The Radiant Road - Katherine Catmull
Some Girls Bite - Chloe Neill

Since a lot of the reviews I've been writing lately seem to be between 1-3 star books, here are some mini reviews for books I've read this year that I've loved.

 

Sanctuary - Jennifer McKissack - 5 Stars - good reads link

Beautiful beatiful book. This tells the story of a young woman returning to her childhood home after being hit by some unfortunate financial circumstances in 1940s America. Trigger warnings for a verbally abusive uncle. But with the hope of a possible romance with a new young man who comes in as a professor interested in the mansion's history and library collection. It's rather bleak and quite a sad story. Involves ghosts and an old family legend as well as a moving look at mental illness in the family. Wonderfully descriptive and very atmospheric.  

 

Fairest (Lunar Chronicles 3.5) 4 Stars 

An interesting take on how Queen Levana became who she is. One hugely fucked up girl. Given her circumstances and what is learned from her history, it's quite understandable how she became the monster she is. Initially I felt quite bad for her at the start of the novel but the more I read, the more twisted Levana's behaviour became. Totally twisted, but kind of addictive as well. I read this in a day. 

 

Very Bad Things - Susan McBride - 4 Stars - Goodreads Link

Prep school mystery with a Life Time Movie feel to it. Tells the story of a girl who finds herself dating the hottest boy in her class, (her roommate and BFF thinks its a terrible idea and makes no secret) the mean girl ex-girlfriend makes constant snotty remarks. Then an X-rated video of the boyfriend and a mystery girl turns up on line. And the girl from the video turns up dead shortly later. Not so brilliant characters, but faced paced and with some great plot twists. Even though it had an I think I've seen this in a movie somewhere feel to it - it was surprisingly unpredictable (even if it did get a bit silly at the the end). A fun read. 

 

 Winter Falls (Twin Willows #1) Nicole Maggi - 4 Stars Goodreads Link

Brilliant YA paranormal romance. I think this is one I came across whilst browning through Amazon at one point and purchased but it sat on my shelf for ages. Picked it up as a possible candidate for a reading challenge and read it in a day. Tells the story of a girl who becomes caught up in a war between two different types of shapeshifters fighting for power. Forbidden romance and of course girl discovers she's a huge part of the battle with new superpowers to learn. Excellently written and some great world building with a unique take on shapeshifters and powers. 

 

Our Lady of The Ice - Cassandra Rose Clark - 4 Stars - Goodreads Link

Scifi/Dystopia with a Noire feel to it!! This is set in a strange world in Antarctica where people live in domes. Chill factor weather wise is a huge deal and there are robots and secret cyborgs. There's a lady detective, a rich widow with a secret, androids, a crime lord, his lackey who's in love with the lady detective. Lots of different plots that twist and intertwine brilliantly. The scifi aspects involving the robots and the technology was a little hard to for me to comprehend but once I got used to the style I really enjoyed the differentness of the novel. Stand alone too, it would appear. 

 

Dumplin' - Julie Murphy - 5 Stars -Goodreads Link

Brilliant brilliant book. I loved everything about this one. I don't think I've ever identified with a character as much as I did with Willowdean Dickinson, particularly as a large plus sized person myself. If only they had had body positive books like this when I was in school.  Brilliant voice, brilliant writing. And character flaws too! Not everything is perfect and in spite of the funny bits, it was quite angsty and painful in parts. Very moving. Very good.  

 

Sword and Verse - Kathy McMillan - 5 Stars - Goodreads Link

Beautifully written fantasy. This one made me cry by the end. Tells the story of Raisa, who is a slave in a palace, who finds herself in the precarious position of Tutor in a world where written language is only for the Royals (the prince and the king) as dictated by the gods. Really fascinating mythology and creation myths. While the plot is very slow and practically non existent until well over half way through what I liked about this was seeing the more every day side of life as Raisa struggles with her position and her loyalties. There is (of course) a forbidden romance and a rebellion. Nothing that is highly different than a thousand other fantasy novels. But I did find the writing style and world building quite unique. In spite of a slow plot, and insta-love, it was a really good read. Another one that I finished in a couple of hours after getting past the first 100 pages.

 

The Radiant Road - Katherine Catmull - 5 Stars Goodreads Link 

This is one of those odd books (at least for me) that falls somewhere between middle grade and YA. The main character, Clare, is 14 years old, and while she deals with some issues in a very mature way, in other times, she behaves like a child. So its hard to say YA or older middle grade. Either way, it was a fantastic book. It involves a strange and interesting take on faeries and changlings. Clare is the guardian of a link between the two worlds. She has to protect her link from a villain who wants to destroy the fairy gates. This is one of the weirdest most convoluted books I have ever read. I barely had a clue what was going on. In spite of that, it was still brilliant. Beautifully written in an odd, almost dream like way. Fantastically original take on fae lore, fascinating world building and incredible characters. Weird but brilliant. 

 

Some Girls Bite (Chigacoland Vampires #1) Chloe Neill 5 Stars

Delightfully cheesy urban fantasy. Another one I've had on my shelves for ages. Finally started on a whim. And ended up loving it. Has everything I look for in urban fantasy - kick ass snarky heroine. BFF with a great roll that's more than just a funny side kick. Hot potential love interest. Great world building and a mystery aspect to solve as well. Dialogue was witty and on the ridiculous side, but as the novel progressed the tension built and the plot picked up. Sets up the scene wonderfully. Really looking forward to some more in this series. 

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review 2015-12-27 00:00
The Radiant Road
The Radiant Road - Katherine Catmull This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life

I have mixed feelings about this book. Young adult fantasy with a fairies? I was ready to love it and I thought it started out really strong but everything started to fizzle out for me as the book progressed. I liked the overall story but I had a lot of trouble connecting with the writing style. I really wanted to see where things were going in the story but I found that I kept checking how much I had left to read like I was eager for it to be over.

Clare and her father return to their home in Ireland after spending the past several years in the United States. Clare was born in the house as were her ancestors on her mother's side of the family. The house is unique with open windows, dirt floors, and a huge yew tree growing in the center of the home. Clare's mother died before they left the country originally so it is just her and her father. She soon starts to rediscover all of the things that her mother had taught her about the strange and finds herself pulled into the world of the fae.

I was really sucked into the story as Clare started to piece everything together but as the plot really got moving I found that the writing style overpowered the story. There were some elements of the story that could have used a little more definition such as the totem and the balance between the human and fairy worlds. I found that I was often reading passages a second time trying to figure out what I had missed. I would have liked to dig a little deeper into the world of faerie to learn about their world and get to know some of the characters better. Some very interesting characters were introduced but then were quickly gone such as the beast and the girl from the yew tree.

I did really like the underlying connection between Clare and the yew tree. Clare did seem to accept her new reality very quickly and was more than willing to try to make things better. I never developed any kind of connection with Clare and never felt truly invested in the story. I was actually quite thrilled that this story did not have a focus on romance. The conclusion to the story was well done and I felt like everything was really wrapped up quite nicely.

I would recommend this book to fantasy fans looking for a book written in more poetic style. This is the first book by Katherine Catmull that I have had a chance to read but I would definitely be open to other works by this author.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Group - Dutton Books for Young Readers via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
Meh. I didn't care for this book. I came really close to not finishing it but stayed with it until the end.
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review 2014-09-20 21:18
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 36 Tales Brief & Sinister
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 40 Tales Brief & Sinister - Stefan Bachmann,Katherine Catmull,Claire Legrand,Emma Trevayne,Alexander Jansson

This collection is quite the chilling mix of delightful and disturbing short stories. On my list of things I hate to love is, rather highly set, an abrupt ending to something that desperately needs to have a full and complete ending for my sanity. It's one of my quirks. In any case, these stories had that particular quality in spades. And it was horribly lovely.

 

In addition, I adored the set-up for this collection. It was original and lent much more to the atmosphere than the set-up(Curse my lack of a synonym!) for your average short story anthology.

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review 2014-04-23 00:00
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 40 Tales Brief & Sinister
The Cabinet of Curiosities: 40 Tales Brief & Sinister - Stefan Bachmann,Katherine Catmull,Claire Legrand,Emma Trevayne,Alexander Jansson I received a sneak peek copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love spooky middle grade stories. When I saw this, I immediately got intrigued (I mean, look at that cover!) and the contributing authors are all well known. I definitely am glad I got to peek into this book. I wish all 36 tales would've been included in the ARC, but I definitely will be buying a copy when it's released.

The main reason I loved this was because of how scary it is. I know scary isn't normally a description I use for middle grade/young adult novels. I mean, I am an adult...and I don't think I've ever really gotten genuinely creeped out by a novel like this. So when I read it late at night and got kinda jumpy, well I was delighted! I mean, what a surprise!

The stories are all very short. Id say no more than 5 or so pages each. And there are plenty of amazing and sinister illustrations too, which is always a bonus. If you're in the mood for an atmospheric book that has a bunch of scary short stories, you need to pick this one up. But, if you're buying this for a child - be warned, may give them nightmares ;)
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