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 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.

Review of Claws of Brass by Meredith Rose

Claws of Brass: a YA Theater Steampunk No
Alchemy Empire Book 2
By Meredith Rose

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, YA Fantasy, YA Steampunk, Steampunk
Number of Pages: 397

Date Started: April 11, 2017
Date Finished: April 12, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)

He saved her life…but at what cost to his own?

When Minx Mellor’s enigmatic theater director, Dietrich Wolff, rescued her from a serial killer, he never dreamed his own life would now be threatened. Dark magic is turning him into someone he doesn’t recognize, with memories that aren’t his own. From dank alleys to the Throne Room of Wynstanham Palace, Minx searches for a way to stop the magical disease. But no gadgets or dramatic performances will help this time. And the cure will bring her face to face once again with the monster that haunts her soul—
—if she can keep Dietrich alive long enough to succeed.

Review:
So much happened in this novel, and there were sure signs of a set up for a third novel, but this novel also contained its own compelling story. We know Minx’s past, but now she has to face it in the most horrible way possible. A lot of things that happened relationship wise I had somewhat expected, and didn’t find it too surprising, but there were some new relationships that I didn’t see coming.

Once I started this novel I could hardly set it down, needing to know what happened next, and if Minx would be in time to save Dietrich. Minx standing up for herself, stating she will always make her own decisions was well done, and her transformation from believing herself to be a victim to understanding she was not to blame for her past was great to see.

The introduction of conniving characters who will try to force Minx to do their bidding is a great setup for the next novel, and it makes one wonder if a potential political uprising might be seen in the future.

Quite well done, with the steampunk and magical aspects still completely seamless.


Author Biography: (From Amazon)
MEREDITH ROSE has been a literary rebel since the age of nine when she began rewriting novel endings she didn’t like. Childhood peers mocked her for using words longer than two syllables, and adults told her that she would never be able to make it as a writer–because it’s, like, not a real career.

Thoroughly undaunted, (well, maybe a little daunted at times, to be honest) over the next two decades she secretly pursued writing novels and finally sold her first book at age twenty-nine (under a different name). She went on to publish another three novels, in which the experience of rewriting stuff actually came in useful.

CHAINS OF SILVER is her first young adult novel, and she wrote it for her two teenage daughters who are also talented rebels in their own ways. The sequel, CLAWS OF BRASS, is available October 1, 2016.

When she’s not writing, Meredith goes on bookstore dates with her husband, studies Welsh, dabbles in graphic design and altered art, and reads Tumblr way too much. Bucket list items include becoming a yarn bomber, Argentine tango dancer, and an opera singer.

Review of Chains of Silver by Meredith Rose

Chains of Silver: a YA Theater Steampunk No
Alchemy Empire Book 1
By Meredith Rose

Star Rating: 
Genre: YA, YA Fantasy, YA Steampunk, Steampunk
Number of Pages: 410

Date Started: April 9, 2017
Date Finished: April 11, 2017

Synopsis: (From Amazon)

If all the world’s a stage, then I am utterly screwn…

In the high-stakes world of the theater, stage fright can seriously crank your career, so apprentice Minx Mellor hides her phobia, studying as a technomancer to create fantastic, steam-powered devices.

But when the mysterious serial killer known as The Peacock targets one of their own, Minx can hide no longer. To save the life of the woman she loves like a mother, she teams up with her sworn enemy and a dashing young director whose powerful magic wakes the nightmares she’s kept secret for years.

When disaster strikes, Minx must face the horrors of her past and find the courage to do what she vowed she’d never do again.

Even if it means risking her life as bait to trap a murderer.

Review:
I wasn’t certain I would like this book. I’ve found most steampunk to be a bit lackluster, and I’ve been certain nothing could compare to one book I read, and what I imagine in my head, yet, this book surprised me. I worried that the past Minx experienced would keep me from resonating with her, from liking her, but that was all for naught. Minx is an amazing character that grows exponentially through the book.

The steampunk elements are perfectly done, the mixture between magic and engineering well explained. There are many times that imagination is brought to life in ways that would be completely impossible in the real world, yet perfectly fitting in the world Minx is in.

The relationships are what make this book stand out, because mixed with the amazing steampunk atmosphere and traces of magic, nothing could be steamier. While originally uncertain how I’d feel about Minx and about the world, by the time I was at the end I KNEW I was going to be buying the next book as soon as I was done because I had to know more.

While this book isn’t for everyone, especially with the abuse mentioned within, I certainly found it to be a great example of what a good steampunk novel should be.


Author Biography: (From Amazon)
MEREDITH ROSE has been a literary rebel since the age of nine when she began rewriting novel endings she didn’t like. Childhood peers mocked her for using words longer than two syllables, and adults told her that she would never be able to make it as a writer–because it’s, like, not a real career.

Thoroughly undaunted, (well, maybe a little daunted at times, to be honest) over the next two decades she secretly pursued writing novels and finally sold her first book at age twenty-nine (under a different name). She went on to publish another three novels, in which the experience of rewriting stuff actually came in useful.

CHAINS OF SILVER is her first young adult novel, and she wrote it for her two teenage daughters who are also talented rebels in their own ways. The sequel, CLAWS OF BRASS, is available October 1, 2016.

When she’s not writing, Meredith goes on bookstore dates with her husband, studies Welsh, dabbles in graphic design and altered art, and reads Tumblr way too much. Bucket list items include becoming a yarn bomber, Argentine tango dancer, and an opera singer.

Review of Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Ticker
By Lisa Mantchev

Star Rating: 
Genre: Steampunk, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Young Adult
Number of Pages: 267

Date Started: December 5, 2015
Date Finished: December 8, 2015

Synopsis:(From Amazon)91RBFPPpCNL
A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.

When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.

On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings…or is the motive more sinister?

Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

Review:
This book is my first steampunk novel I have read, and I absolutely loved it!  There is mystery, crime, and the ticking away of Penny’s life.  Throughout the novel the relationships of the characters take center stage, and it is the relationships that move the plot along just as much, if not more, than the action(quite befitting of a novel about a clockwork heart).  There are hints of romance that develop but don’t detract from the story, which makes the story all the more believable.

I absolutely loved the fashion, descriptions of the fashion, and all of the neat mechanical inventions used throughout the novel.  If this is how all steampunk is, I’m glad that this book was my first taste, because I can’t wait for more!

71siuVKPRFL._UX250_Author Bio: (From Amazon)
Lisa Mantchev is a temporally-displaced Capricorn who casts her spells from an ancient tree in the Pacific Northwest. When not scribbling, she is by turns an earth elemental, English professor, actress, artist, and domestic goddess. She shares her abode with her husband, two children, and three hairy miscreant dogs.

She is best known as the author of the young adult fantasy trilogy, The Théâtre Illuminata. Published by Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan,) the series includes the Andre Norton and Mythopoeic awards-nominated EYES LIKE STARS (2009), PERCHANCE TO DREAM (2010), and SO SILVER BRIGHT (2011.) Her Kindle #1 Bestselling young adult steampunk novel, TICKER, is available from Skyscape. Her near-future young adult collaboration with Glenn Dallas, SUGAR SKULLS, is forthcoming from Skyscape.

Her adult urban fantasy collaboration with A.L. Purol, LOST ANGELES, is now available on Kindle along with its sequel, LOOSE CANON.

Her first picture book, STRICTLY NO ELEPHANTS, is now available from Paula Wiseman/S&S, to be followed by SISTER DAY! and JINX AND THE DOOM FIGHT CRIME.

Stay updated with all the fun and glitter at her author website: www.lisamantchev.com

or get your Backstage Pass by becoming a Patron: www.patreon.com/LisaMantchev


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