Review of Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard

Strange and Ever After
Something Strange and Deadly Book 3
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Number of Pages: 400
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
It has been a tumultuous time for Eleanor Fitt since life as she knew it in Philadelphia came abruptly to an end. Although the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and Daniel—have helped her survive, Eleanor has lost just about everything.

And now, Jie is missing—taken by the evil necromancer Marcus. Eleanor is determined not only to get her back but to finally end this nightmare. To do so, she must navigate the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt amid the rising Dead, her unresolved feelings for Daniel, and her volatile relationships with Joseph and Oliver, her demon. And it won’t be easy. Because Allison, her friend from Philadelphia, has tagged along, becoming strangely entangled in Eleanor’s mission.

It will take all of Eleanor’s powers of black magic, and all of Daniel’s and Joseph’s trust, to succeed. But there will be a price.

Review:
How do you continue forward when you feel like you have nothing, and no one trusts you? Eleanor has no choice but to try doing just that. Relying on instincts is never a horrible idea, as she learns perhaps too late. In order to defeat Marcus, there are many twists and turns and the cost of success is astronomical.

This book was amazing, and I quite enjoyed the ending, even though I had somewhat suspected something similar might occur. Eleanor went on quite the journey, and she grew comfortable with herself, which is all any of us can hope for in life, really.

 

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

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Review of Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

Spell Bound
Hex Hall 3
By Rachel Hawkins

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult/Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 337
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident. Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?

Review:
This book I both looked forward to and dreaded. I very much hate the end of a series, don’t you?

While Sophie did grow quite a bit throughout the series, in the end I was disappointed by what happened to some of her allies (one in particular) even though I had thought what would happen was rather obvious from the beginning.

I am quite pleased with the ending of the series, though I am sure that I, like many others, would love to see what happens to Sophie beyond the scope of the series.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree….

Review of Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins

Demonglass
Hex Hall 2
By Rachel Hawkins

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult/Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 365
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch. That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Review:
There’s nothing left for Sophie to do but take away her power. But, her father warns, it will change who you are. As she spends time getting to know her dad and understanding where she fits into the world, she has to take into consideration what is best for everyone. Loyalties are tested, and ultimately she has to decide who she believes she can trust.

Great book, just as gripping and fast paced as the first.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree….

Review of Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall
Hex Hall 1
By Rachel Hawkins

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult/Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Number of Pages: 337
Summer 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father—an elusive European warlock—only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

Review:
I’d been looking at this book for quite some time when I finally picked up a copy and I have to say I was so very glad I did.

There is so much that Sophie doesn’t know about the supernatural world. Knowing essentially nothing about both herself and her father, she is thrust into a land with people who have always known what they were. As she tries to navigate the depth of which she’d fallen into, she realizes that there might be more going on than she was warned about.

The characters are quirky and irresistible, and while Sophie’s left to figure out everything in the magical world she’s been completely kept from, you get to go on an amazing journey alongside her.

Loved this story! If you love supernatural and don’t mind some romance, this is definitely the book for you!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Rachel Hawkins (www.rachel-hawkins.com) was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her family in Alabama. To the best of her knowledge, Rachel is not a witch, though some of her former students may disagree….

Review of Beauty and the Beast by K. M. Shea

Beauty and the Beast
Timeless Fairy Tales 1
By K. M. Shea

Star Rating: 
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
Number of Pages: 272

Date Started: July 6, 2017
Date Finished: July 6, 2017 

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Once upon a time Elle made a mistake. A small miscalculation sends her through the roof of an enchanted chateau. Stranded until her broken leg mends, Elle is unwillingly forced to rely on the good will of the sour chateau owner —the cursed Prince Severin. Prince Severin—the commanding general and staunch supporter of his brother the crown prince—is cursed to look like a beast until a maiden falls in love with him. He has given up all hope of shattering the curse, and has only disdain for Elle. Unfortunately, the pair can’t seem to avoid each other thanks to the meddling of the chateau’s cursed servants. Eventually Elle’s playful manners and Severin’s hidden gentleness draw the pair together. But not all love stories can end that easily. After all, Elle is not what she seems, and Severin’s life is placed in danger when hostilities flare between his brother and the monarchs of a neighboring country. When Elle risks everything to save Severin, will he be able to forgive her for her lies?

Review:
I love that our Beast looks completely different than any other version of the story I have heard of or read. He’s unique, not entirely threatening, but definitely something that most people wouldn’t be willing to look past without the added bonus of his wealth.

The entwined bits of the original Beauty and the Beast story with Elle’s life made the story more enjoyable. I thought that her family and their life beyond the scope of the story was expertly described without actually being witnessed.

How the curse effected the servants was ingenious and intriguing. I enjoyed the one time encounter with a villager regarding the servants’ condition. Unfortunately, there were several mentions during the third part of the book that made it seem as if the curse wasn’t in effect, with smiles and the way someone’s mouth would turn mentioned.

I don’t enjoy what happens directly after the spell is broken. Severin is supposed to be intelligent, and he’s lived with this curse for years, repeating the stipulations of it to Elle, and yet doesn’t believe what it means.

To be completely honest– I don’t know what I really think of this novel. There were bits that seemed randomly thrown in, as if there needed to be one scene to describe/show something to tie everything together, though they seemed disjointed and not necessarily needed, but the overall story eventually got to where most would expect it to lead.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
K. M. Shea is a fantasy-romance author who never quite grew out of adventure books or fairy tales, and still searches closets in hopes of stumbling into Narnia. She is addicted to sweet romances, witty characters, and happy endings.

She is also extremely committed to her readers—who have set up their base camp at kmshea.com—and lives in the idyllic Midwest with her furry pet, Perfect Dog.

Review of A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard

A Darkness Strange and Lovely
Something Strange and Deadly Book 2
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Steampunk
Number of Pages: 432

Date Started: July 2, 2017
Date Finished: July 2, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
With her brother dead and her mother insane, Eleanor Fitt is alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor hears the vicious barking of hounds and sees haunting yellow eyes, she fears that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are after her.

To escape, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. But Oliver harbors a dangerous secret involving necromancy and black magic that entices Eleanor beyond words. If she can resist him, she’ll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over, and there’s a whole new evil lurking. And she is forced to make a deadly decision that will go against everything the Spirit-Hunters stand for.

In Paris, there’s a price for this darkness strange and lovely, and it may have Eleanor paying with her life.

Review:
Eleanor makes mistakes. I find it realistic that someone that had been so sheltered, treated as a lady and not taught any “manly” life skills would have issues navigating the world on her own, not knowing who to trust.

A new character comes onto the scene, Oliver, and while part of me loves him, I think that’s because I believe I know exactly how connected he was to Elijah, and believe it is only Eleanor’s youth and naivety that keep her from knowing it.

I enjoyed being introduced to new supernatural/mythological elements and not being stuck with what we’d learned in book 1. It’s an interesting contrast watching Ollie attempt to educate Eleanor versus the book approach that Joseph uses– showing that books can’t teach everything, and having someone actively help you can be beneficial in the learning process.

While others thought this novel was slow and grueling, I enjoyed the lead up to finding the Spirit-Hunters. We saw all of Eleanor’s issues laid out before her, and how she overcame them, plus, Oliver!

Can’t wait to read the third book soon!

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

Review of Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Something Strange and Deadly
Something Strange and Deadly Book 1
By Susan Dennard

Star Rating:  
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Number of Pages: 416

Date Started: June 29, 2017
Date Finished: July 2, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)
Sixteen-year-old Eleanor Fitt’s brother is missing. And when she discovers that the Dead are rising in Philadelphia and wreaking havoc throughout the city, she knows that her brother is involved.

So Eleanor enlists the help of the Spirit-Hunters. This motley crew, hired to protect the city from supernatural forces, is after the necromancer who has been reanimating corpses. Their skills can save her brother. But as Eleanor spends time with the Spirit-Hunters, and their handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. Now not only is her reputation at risk, but her very life may hang in the balance.

Review:
Steampunk meets necromancers and zombies = AMAZING. There are lots of layers in this novel, with multiple mysteries going on. Eleanor knows her brother is missing, and she needs to find her brother yet she’s stuck at home dealing with her mother and typical trivial society/family problems.

Sometimes one has to choose between the easy path and the difficult path, and what is easy is not always what is right, but it takes a lot of courage to break against the societal mold. Everyone faces this at some point, in how they dress, if they want to learn or work to become something their parents don’t approve of.

I loved the uniqueness of the characters. Each had their own personality, their own story, and we were allowed to get to know a bit of why they are the way they are. I absolutely love Jie, how different she is, and that she is willing to help Eleanor see that there are other paths to life.

There’s a great balance in this novel of home life versus trying to find her brother and having to deal with zombies.

Loved this book, and couldn’t wait to read the next, which I started as soon as this was finished.

Author Biography: (From Amazon)
Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.