Review: IN A HANDFUL OF DUST by Mindy McGinnis

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Note: This review may have light spoilers for the previous book (in that you know who made it out alive.)

Mindy McGinnis has a special talent for making me very, very nervous. When I first heard Not a Drop To Drink would have a companion novel, I scrambled to secure a copy. I was excited! I was ready! But the closer I got to reading In a Handful of Dust, the more I shied away from it. And then I reread Not a Drop to Drink and really was worried about revisiting Lynn and Lucy. Their world is scary. It’s hard and unfair and disgusting, and lots of people die. Was I truly ready to reenter that world? Would I be able to handle it? Continue Reading →


Rewind & Review (63)

Rewind & Review

Blog Posts You Might Have Missed

Double the posts this week because I didn’t have an R&R last week. Of course, I want you to pay attention to all the blog posts this week, but you should pay special attention to the Summerfall post because there’s a giveaway and the PSA post because DAVID TENNANT AND DRAGONS.

Stuff I Received

  • Mastermind: How To Think like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  • Sidekicked by John David Anderson
  • A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (all from my parents)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio (from my friend Michaela)
  • Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst (from Bloomsbury via Edelweiss)
  • The Girl of Fire & Thorns Stories by Rae Carson (from Gillian)
  • The Prey by Tom Isbell
  • How To Win at High School by Owen Matthews
  • Lies I Told by Michelle Zink (all from HarperCollins via Edelweiss)
  • Maids of Honor package o’ awesomeness: signed and personalized Maid of Secrets and Maid of Deception, “Maids of” buttons, two bookmarks, and a postcard (from the author, Jennifer McGowan)

Thanks to my parents, Michaela, and Gillian for my birthday presents and Bloomsbury, HarperCollins, and Ms. McGowan for my other GORGEOUS goodies! <3

Stuff I Bought

  • Ninth Key (Mediator #2) by Meg Cabot
  • Twilight (Mediator #6) by Meg Cabot
  • The All-New Amelia by Marissa Moss
  • Oh Boy, Amelia! by Marissa Moss
  • Amelia Works It Out by Marissa Moss
  • Luv, Amelia Luv, Nadia by Marissa Moss
  • Amelia Takes Command by Marissa Moss
  • Princess in the Spotlight by Meg Cabot
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Pierce
  • Meet Felicity by Valerie Tripp
  • Airhead by Meg Cabot

Hooray for thrift stores! I got all of that for ~$20. I also bought other books with a gift card I got for my birthday, but those won’t come in the mail til next week. You’ll just have to tune into the next R&R to see what they are. :)

What I Read

  • How To Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell audiobook – HILARIOUS. Fishlegs comes into his own! Hiccup saves the day! Alvin the Poor But Honest Farmer proves to be neither poor nor honest!
  • How To Speak Dragonese by Cressida Cowell audiobook – Still in the middle of this one but loving it just as much as the others.
  • In a Handful of Dust by Mindy McGinnis – Reviewing this one tomorrow. Loved it.
  • Winterspell by Claire Legrand – Still processing my feelings. Review to come.
  • Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch – Currently reading. Slowly.
  • Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton – DNF. Not my style. Review to come.
  • Evidence of Things Not Seen by Lindsey Lane – Very intricate for such a little book. Still processing. Review to come.
  • The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry – Currently reading. Not sure yet.

Event of the Week

It was my birthday last week YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! I didn’t have to work, which was the first time that’s happened in three years. I slept, I conquered nations (in Civilizations V), I ate good food, I read, I hung out with family—it was a good birthday. Also, my dad wins the award for best birthday Facebook status.



Audiobook PSA: How To Train Your Dragon

Seriously, pay attention, because I am about to do y’all a HUGE public service. Like audiobooks, hate audiobooks, like middle grade, hate middle grade, doesn’t matter, because I have something you need to listen to, and by gum, you will like it.

How To Train Your Dragon is an audiobook. Here’s what you need to know: Continue Reading →


Cover Love #69


Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have pushed her into a life of dreary servitude. When she discovers a secret workshop in the cellar on her sixteenth birthday—and befriends Jules, a tiny magical metal horse—Nicolette starts to imagine a new life for herself. And the timing may be perfect: There’s a technological exposition and a royal ball on the horizon. Determined to invent her own happily-ever-after, Mechanica seeks to wow the prince and eager entrepreneurs alike.

Dang, yo. Yes, the synopsis sounds reeeeally close to Cinder, but look at that cover! Gosh. My personal points of interest are as follows:

1. Pretty dress. REALLY pretty dress. I want it.

2. She’s wearing a tiara! Gotta love a tiara. Also, glass slipper!

3. I actually really love the overall art style here. I’m not well-versed in the different styles, but it’s like Cinder‘s almost-photo, almost-illustration type. (I know, fail on the description. I really know nothing.)

4. Look at the colors. Aren’t they lovely? It’s soothing and enchanted and will look beautiful on my shelf.

5. GEARS. I’m very fond of the gears on the bridge. Without them, this cover would seem like a pretty but average fantasy cover, but with the gears and other mechanical doodads, now we have a better idea of what we’re dealing with.

6. Look at the pretty (but slightly ominous) castle!

7. Man, even the font has the right mix of industrial parts and whismy. What a beaut.

Honestly, this cover is so pretty that I’d consider getting the book even if the story itself stunk—not that I think it will, but that just goes to show how much I love the cover.

Your turn! Tell me how much you love (or don’t love—gasp!) this cover.


How I Choose A Book – Then and Now

This week’s discussion is inspired by my inability to choose a book to read over the weekend. Send help.


Back in the day, long before I knew what a blog was or that I could have one of my own, my selection methods were simple. Every three weeks or so, my mom would shove us all in the family minivan and we would truck on down to the local library. Once there, I would literally walk every aisle in the Juvenile and Young Adult sections and look at every shelf. I relied on pretty spines and interesting titles to catch my eye. Once I was caught, I would check out the cover and then read the synopsis on the back or inside flap. If the book sounded interesting and seemed to avoid things I didn’t like, into the bag it went. I found some great books that way. Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Collins’ Gregor books, Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, and Nancy Springer’s Rowan Hood series were all books that caught me with their titles and spines and reeled me in with their covers and descriptions.

If I bothered to hunt down a specific book, it would be for one of two reasons—either it was a reread/continuing series book or it was from CBD. Sometimes when trolling the shelves, I would find myself in the mood for a certain book, in which case I would look it up on the computer and see if it was available. Bing bang done. Sometimes I would be in the mood for a certain book but also curious as to whether that author had ever continued the story. This is how I devoured all of the Dear America books my library branch had to offer; every time I came in, I would search for their general location and then snoop around until I found one I hadn’t read yet. And sometimes I would come prepared with my marked-up copy of Christian Book Distributors, a privately owned Christian fiction company that sends out a catalog every month or so. When we received out copy, I would sit down and read every single description of every single book. The ones I liked I marked with a circled 1 (to differentiate from the marks my mom and sisters made) and then searched for at the library. My hunts weren’t always successful, but it was a nice way for my mother to allow me access to all kinds of stories without worrying about objectionable content.

In those days, it was not uncommon for me to check out dozens of books at one time. I knew our library’s checked book maximum limit was 50 because it was a number I reached again and again. I would bring my books home, sort them into piles (kids vs. adult vs. nonfiction vs. comic collections, new vs. rereads, singles vs. series, mysteries vs. romance), and alternate between piles until all the books were either read or tossed aside.


Now my method is far less loosey-goosey. If I go to the library now, it’s to pick up an audiobook for my commute. I don’t have times to troll the aisles and find lost gems. I wish I did. Instead, my searching is done online. I scour Edelweiss catalogs and Twitter announcements. I peek at your reviews and Wishlist Wednesdays. I have naive non-blogger friends give me recommendations in the foolish hope that I’ll have time to read something just for fun. Everything I find gets dumped into my Goodreads to-read shelf, and there they sit.

My reading life is dominated by ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies). This is both good and bad. I love my ARCs. Whether digital or physical, ARCs are really just baby books, and they hold some amazing stories. Pretty much everything I’ve read and reviewed on this blog has come from an ARC. The main negative to ARCs in my opinion is the deadline. While print ARCs can technically sit forever and NetGalley Kindle ARCs never expire, Edelweiss ARCs do. And guess which I have the most of? So when I read, I organize by archive date and release date. Stories being archived the soonest get first dibs on my time, though I am willing to rearrange books that expire within a week of each other and I am quick to DNF (Did Not Finish). Digital ARCs get priority but are also more easily tossed aside. Physical ARCs take a little longer to get to but are also easier to connect with. Within both categories, I rely on my old skills and try to pick books that interest me, regardless of their archive date. If it’s a certain book’s turn to be read but I’m not feeling it, I’ll either pass it over for another story or read a certain amount of pages and then dump it.

It’s interesting to see how much I still rely on the physical aspects of a book. Though what I read when depends on chronology and deadlines, those books wouldn’t get on my list at all if I weren’t reeled in by a cool title, a pretty cover, a intriguing synopsis. Right now, all my methods are failing me. I have eight September physical ARCs to read. All of my eARCs are completed, which means I can then attack this stack in whatever order I please, and I’m scared. What if I pick the wrong one for my current mood? What if I don’t connect? They’re all so pretty! What I’ve decided to do is try something completely new. I’m going to read my remaining physical ARCs by size. My hope is that I can quickly gulp down the smaller ARCs and then will feel so pleased at my productivity that I can then slow down and luxuriate in the longer stories.

Wish me luck!

Now it’s your turn. Tell me, how do you choose what to read? Have your methods changed over the years? How and why? Is there another method you’d like to try?



As I’ve discussed before, I decline almost all promotional blasts and such that come my way. It’s not my thing, and I’m very protective of this little portion of cyberspace that I’ve carved out for myself. However, on rare occasions, I will say yes, either to promote a series that I love or to help out an author that I appreciate and trust. This is one of those times.

Rinka is a faery, passionate and powerful, determined to maintain the tenuous peace between faeries and humans.

Alban Somerhart is a human, a reluctant king trapped in an arranged marriage, desperate to prevent war.

Their love could save the kingdom of Cane . . . or shatter it forever.

In this captivating novella, prequel to the upcoming Winterspell, Claire Legrand weaves a story of magic, political intrigue, and forbidden love that sets the stage for the rise of a wicked queen and the journey of a human girl named Clara . . .

Summerfall is the prequel novella to Claire Legrand’s Nutcracker retelling, Winterspell, as you just read. The novella came out August 26th, and you can pick up an e-copy at any of these fine retailers: amazon | barnes & noble | books-a-million | ibookstore 

Winterspell isn’t out until September 30th, but you can preorder a copy in all the same places. Until then, Claire Legrand has a giveaway just for you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also follow Claire at her various social media accounts: site | blog | twitter | facebook | instagram | pinterest | goodreads (and you totally should, if only to see her absolutely adorable puppy, Odin.)


Review: JACKABY by William Ritter

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Sigh. Siggghhhhhhhhh. Sometimes after a book like this, sighing is the only thing I can do. It’s the only thing I want to do, because heaven only knows that apathetic reviews are the hardest reviews to write.

“Apathetic?” you may ask. “But Shae! Doctor Who meets Sherlock! That’s YOU!” I know. I KNOW. And, as far as comparisons go, those two really aren’t so bad. There are elements of both shows in Jackaby; unfortunately, those elements failed to coalesce into something great for me. Continue Reading →




That’s right, it’s MY BIRTHDAY!!

There is absolutely no reason whatsoever other than 1) it’s my birthday, and I’M EXCITED, 2) I wanted an excuse not to write a “real” post for today, 3) I’m narcissistic, and 4) IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND I’M EXCITED!

See you all next week! *swims in presents and cake*


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