Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Weirdville" Series by Majanka Verstraete

Weirdville Series
by Majanka Verstraete

The Weirdville series is a set of three scary chapter books for kids, all set in the town of Weirdville: The Doll Maker, House of Horrors, and Fright Train. The books can be read independently, as they feature different characters. The Weirdville series is currently on tour with Enchanted Book Promotions. The tour stops here today for an excerpt from each book and a giveaway. You can also read my review of The Doll Maker. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

The Doll Maker
(Weirdville Book 1)
by Majanka Verstraete

Derek’s little sister wants one of those creepy-looking dolls, staring at him from the strange new doll shop in town, and what his sister wants, she gets. Now they’re stuck with a doll that looks so human, it gives Derek the creeps.
When Derek tells his friends, Martin and Jamie, about the new shop with creepy human-like dolls, they want to see for themselves. That has "bad idea" written all over it, but he takes his friends there anyway.
They meet the mysterious doll maker, who reminds Derek of Dr. Frankenstein, and who brainwashes Martin into buying one of those scary dolls. Derek and Jamie push and pull Martin out of the shop, but something isn’t right with their friend. He’s shivering all over, and he has no memory of what happened in the shop.
Martin’s condition worsens every day, and Derek’s sister grows more and more obsessed with her new doll. Derek and Jamie have to find out what’s going on, and fast, because ...
... the doll maker seems linked to a bunch of mysterious disappearances, and the last thing Derek wants is his sister, or his friend, being next on the doll maker’s list.

"I want the doll!" Annie cried, seconds before she launched toward the window of the doll shop.
Derek stared at the doll shop in surprise. The tiny store stood in the middle of the block, almost hidden between two larger buildings. It had a small show window and a glass door with a sign indicating the shop was open. Above the show window hung a board saying "The Doll Maker." A thin, long crack meandered from top to bottom on the glass door and the board hung a little askew, like the doll shop had been there a while, but Derek had never seen it before, and he passed by on this street nearly every day.
Annie put her hands on the glass, gaping at one of the dolls. "Please, Mommy! Please!"
My little sister is insane, Derek thought as he shook his head. Annie cried whenever she didn't get what she wanted, and she didn't like any of the things he did. Now she's completely lost it.
The doll, resembling a young toddler of maybe three years old, with tiny eyebrows, a turned-up nose and a mouth with miniscule teeth, made Derek's hair stand on end. Its blue, vacant eyes gazed straight at him as if watching for his reaction.
Why would Annie want a creepy doll like that?

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Ten year old Derek, his mother, and his little sister Annie live in the town of Weirdville. One day they spot a new shop called The Doll Maker that seems to have sprung up overnight. Annie whines all day until her mother buys her the creepy and extremely life-like doll they saw in the window earlier that day. Why do all the kids have to have one of these dolls after they see them? Derek sets out with his best friends, Jamie and Martin, to investigate the doll shop, and they discover that something very weird indeed is going on.
The author does a great job of creating a creepy and foreboding atmosphere. The story is slightly predictable but well executed and with a twist in the tale. It is reminiscent of R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series, which the author cites as one of her influences. This book is best suited to children ages 6 to 12 who don't mind a bit of a fright.

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House of Horrors
(Weirdville Book 2)
by Majanka Verstraete

When her parents allow her to go to the fair, Jacky is over the moon. The fair is most famous for its haunted mansion, the House of Horrors, and her friend Ben can’t wait to try it out. Her best friend, Cass, is a little more reluctant, but then again, Cass has always been a chicken when it comes to getting scared.
Jacky and Cass are determined to act tough, so when Ben suggests they try out the House of Horrors, the girls tag along, even though the place gives them the chills.
As soon as the three of them enter the spooky monstrosity, the ride comes to a screeching halt, and the horror begins.
The lights fade, and a hooded figure appears and tells them they’re stuck in a twisted game of cat and mouse. He will show them their worst fears, and if the kids manage to face down those fears, they’ll have a chance of getting out of the House of Horrors alive. If they don’t, well ...
Thirty minutes to go. Thirty minutes to face their nightmares ... and the clock is ticking.

Jacky stared at the newspaper her dad clutched in his hands. He was reading the sports section, but she was more interested in the ad section turned toward her. A giant picture of a traveling fair was flaunted on the newspaper taking up half a page in a myriad of colors, a stark contrast to the grey background of the newspaper.
Mystica Fair, coming to Weirdville on May 10th-11th, the headline read. Most of the rides on the picture were too blurry to make out, but she recognized a Tilt-a-Whirl and a Ferris Wheel pictured in the background.
"Look Mom," Jacky said, pointing at the article. "There's a carnival coming to town."
Mom glanced over her shoulder to look at her. "Jacky, I'm busy," she said, focusing back on the eggs in the frying pan, as if they were somehow more important than Jacky.
That made no sense, because they were eggs, and who cared about eggs? Jacky didn't even like eggs.
But Dad did. He hadn't moved, just kept on reading the sports page as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. Jacky sighed and slumped back in her chair, giving up.
About five minutes later, Mom dumped the fried eggs on Jacky's plate. "Now, what were you saying, sweetheart?"
"There will be a carnival in town next weekend, "Jacky tried again. "Can I go?"

Featured Review
House of Horrors is my favorite Weirdville book to date. There is always the perfect amount of age appropriate scary going on, but this one I found myself holding my breath a couple times or taking a big sigh. Then I laughed at myself ... but it is a very good story about facing your own fears and finding out what Cass, Jacky and Ben will do when they are scared to death ... leave their friends behind or stay true to them.

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Fright Train
(Weirdville Book 3)
by Majanka Verstraete

Charlie’s parents drop him off at the train station so he can visit his grandma in Weirdville. It’s a cold winter evening, so when his usual train is cancelled at the last second, Charlie wishes he’d stayed home.
An hour later, shivering from the cold, he climbs onboard the next train to Weirdville, even though he’d rather not. It looks like something straight out of the nineteenth century, as if it used a time machine to arrive at the station.
His shivering doesn’t stop, for soon after Charlie boards, he realizes just how right he was to be wary of this strange train. Something is seriously wrong with all the people onboard. If only he could figure out what was going on. If only he could get off the train

Charlie bounced from his left leg onto his right leg and rubbed his arms in an effort to stay warm. He exhaled a small, white cloud. The air was stale cold as snow whirled from the grey sky. He wore a red snow jacket, an oversized hat and thick gloves, but that wasn't enough to keep him warm. He should've worn the scarf his mom had suggested to him as well, but he didn't want to be caught wearing a scarf with a Mickey Mouse pattern. The hat, a heavy black monstrosity that looked like those tall Russian winter hats, was bad enough.
He was going to stay with his grandma for the two-week Christmas holiday. At first, he'd been upset about it; the thought of being away from his parents for so long made his stomach squirm. But his parents were busy renovating the house, and it was either sleeping on the couch in the damp, chilly living room, or staying with his grandma. At least Grandma's house was always warm.
His mom had dropped him off at the station fifteen minutes before his train was due to arrive, on her way to an appointment with a gynecologist - a difficult word for a doctor who helped deliver babies.
"Guy-nick-ollie-jist." He rolled the word over his tongue, but no matter how many times he tried to say it, it still sounded weird.
She hadn't told him why she had to go right now, but he sensed it was kind of urgent. She'd kissed his forehead, pinched his cheeks, and crawled back into the car, nearly bumping her large belly into the steering wheel. Then she got out again, put her hat on his head, warned him not to take it off because it was too cold to go out without a hat, and scolded him for not wearing one in the first place. She patted his back and disappeared back in the car, and drove away without even looking back.

Featured Review
This is the 3rd installment in the Weirdville series.
When a train ride to Grandma's turns into a chilling ride for Charlie he must figure out how to help himself and the other passengers on board.
My 12 year old daughter and I read this book together and we both enjoyed it. It has just the right amount of scary to make you squirm and keep you interested but not to keep you up all night!
Each book in the series can stand alone.
I would highly recommend this series.

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About the Author
Majanka Verstraete begged her Mom to teach her how to read while she was still in kindergarten. By the time she finished fifth grade, she had read through the entire children’s section of her hometown library.
She wrote her first story when she was seven years old, and hasn’t stopped writing since. With an imagination that never sleeps, and hundreds of possible book characters screaming for her attention, writing is more than a passion for her.
She writes about all things supernatural for children of all ages. She’s tried to write contemporary novels before, but something paranormal always manages to crawl in.
Majanka is currently studying for her Master of Laws degree, and hopes one day to be able to combine her passions for law and writing. When she’s not writing, reading or studying, she likes watching The Vampire Diaries and Game of Thrones, spending time with her friends, or playing World of Warcraft.

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Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.