Thursday, January 14, 2016

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewTruthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: The Witchlands #1
Published by Tor Teen on January 5, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
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5 Stars

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

picadillyblueI contemplated writing a one sentence review for Truthwitch. Basically, I was just going to say ‘go buy the book.’  At this point it seems like that is the only coherent thing I have to say about Truthwitch.  I figured you guys might not appreciate that though so here goes nothing.

Truthwitch is your typical fantasy novel, at first.  It takes some to build up the world and it took me some time to figure out what all the words meant and how to pronounce things.  However, after that, it’s completely unique.  Susan Dennard has crafted a story full of wonderful new characters, creative abilities, and there are even clever curse words.  How can I start using ‘goat tits’ on a regular basis?

Safi and Iseult have a special relationship.  They are ‘threadsisters’ meaning they might as well be actual sisters.  They have a bond that is tested constantly but never breaks.  Safi would give up her life for Iseult and Iseult would do the same for Safi.  They couldn’t be more different though.  Safi is hot-headed and a smartass.  She was born into a powerful family but she wants nothing to do with them or her legacy.  Iseult ran from her tribe and Safi, Mathew, and Habim are her family now.  She’s quiet and methodical but she has a tendency to panic when Safi isn’t by her side.  Together, they make one great team.  They are strong apart but they are unstoppable together.  They also manage to get into a ton of trouble together.

Safi and Iseult spend much of their time on the run.  From the start of the book you know that they are in serious trouble and it only gets worse.  They have a vindictive Bloodwitch out to get them and he’s not the only one trying to find them.  They are on the run from tons of people and it’s up to the people on their getaway ship to keep them safe.  That’s not the ship crew’s only priority though.  Prince Merik, the captain of the ship they are on, as well as the Prince of Nubrevna, is out to save his people.  Safi is not his first priority and Iseult is even further down his list of people to worry about.  He’s not a bad guy, by any means, but he has a lot of worries without having to deal with Safi and Iseult.  That doesn’t mean he doesn’t come to care about the two of them though.  Let me just say, Safi and Merik have two very crazy tempers between the two of them and it makes for some explosive encounters.  Their first meeting is very memorable and they only get better from there.

The abilities that some of the characters are gifted with also help make this a completely unique book to read.  Not all people have a gift and some have gifts that are more rare than others.  Safi, for example, is  a Truthwitch.  She can tell truth from lie and she is one of the only (if not the only) Truthwitch.  Merik is a Windwitch which is more common.  Not only do the abilities differ by person but so do the powers that come with their abilities.  Some are much stronger than others.  It all depends on the person.  I look forward to finding out a lot more about the abilities of each character and exactly what they can do with those abilities.

The relationships in Truthwitch are varied and complicated.  Safi and Iseult have one of the easiest relationships of the book.  They’d do anything for each other and that’s all that matters.  Then there is Iseult and Evrane.  Evrane saves her life more than once and there is some kind of tie there that I hope will be expanded upon in future books.  Then there is Evrane and Merik.  They are family but they have a very strained relationship.  There is history there that I look forward to finding out about.  Then there is Merik and Safi.  Holy sexual tension, you guys! Like I said, they are kind of explosive and I meant that in more ways than one.  There is also Merik and his first mate, Kullen.  They have a bond very similar to Safi and Iseult’s.  They love each other like brothers and I think it hurts Merik more to see Kullen hurt than it would for him to deal with his own pain.  My heart broke for their struggles.  And don’t even get me started on how the Bloodwitch Aeduan ties into everything.  I didn’t think Susan Dennard could surprise me any more by the end of this book but she totally did.

Overall, Truthwitch has everything I could have wanted and more.  It’s a story featuring strong female and male characters, romance, magic, and secrets.  I’ll stop gushing now but guys, read this book.  Seriously.  It’s an epic start to what promises to be a unique and captivating series.

What others are saying about Truthwitch:

The Soul Sisters’ review: “You will not know what to expect with Truthwitch and when you finally dive into it and devour its words, sentences, and pages, it will blow out every expectation you have with its quickly paced and smooth story-telling, amazing, amazing characters and freaking out of this world magic-filled fight scenes, you will seriously be left begging for more.”

Vilma’s Book Blog’s review: “It’s a tale rife with magic, action, conflict and political intrigue, but at it’s core,  it’s a story of unshakeable friendship.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | Review

Strange and Ever After (Something Strange and Deadly #3) by Susan Dennard | ReviewStrange and Ever After by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #3
Published by Harper Teen on July 22, 2014
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

In the conclusion to the trilogy that Publishers Weekly called “a roaring—and addictive—gothic world,” Eleanor Fitt must control her growing power, face her feelings for Daniel, and confront the evil necromancer Marcus...all before it’s too late.

He took her brother, he took her mother, and now, Marcus has taken her good friend Jie. With more determination than ever to bring this sinister man to justice, Eleanor heads to the hot desert streets of nineteenth-century Egypt in hopes of ending this nightmare. But in addition to her increasingly tense relationships with Daniel, Joseph, and her demon, Oliver, Eleanor must also deal with her former friend, Allison, who has curiously entangled herself in Eleanor’s mission.

With the rising dead chomping at her every move and Jie’s life hanging in the balance, Eleanor is convinced that her black magic will see her through to the bitter end. But there will be a price. Though she and the Spirit Hunters have weathered every battle thus far, there will be consequences to suffer this time—the effects of which will be irreversible. And when it’s over, only some will be able to live a strange and ever after.

picadillyblueThis review is going to be extremely hard for me to write.  My feelings for Strange and Ever After are all over the place!  I loved it, I hated it, I couldn’t stop reading it.

Strange and Ever After picks up immediately after the ending of A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  Eleanor, Daniel, Joseph, and Oliver are heading to Marseille to chase down Marcus and get Jie back.  They aren’t sure what Marcus wants with Jie but they know she’s been compelled by him and the only way to break the spell is to kill Marcus.  However, Marcus is always one step ahead of them and he’s much more powerful than even Eleanor, Joseph, and Oliver combined.  Strange and Ever After takes the crew on a journey through Europe that tests their magic and their loyalties more than any of the other books.

Eleanor really bothered me in Strange and Ever After.  I loved her in Something Strange and Deadly, lost some respect for her in A Darkness Strange and Lovely and really couldn’t care less for her in Strange and Ever After.  Her magic has completely taken over her mind and she can’t even see what it’s done to her.  She cares so much about her magic that she has lost sight of her friendships and relationships.  She has pushed everyone away and she constantly blames others for it, especially Oliver.  Oliver really confused me in Strange and Ever After.  I liked him but didn’t completely trust him in A Darkness Strange and Lovely but this time around I didn’t even really like him all that much.  He had a  horrible temper and he treated Eleanor pretty badly.  Sure, sometimes she deserved it but I felt like he could have taken a different approach.  However, he did some things throughout the book that made up for that and by the end I really did like him.  Daniel really shined in Strange and Ever After. He grew so much throughout the course of the trilogy.  I can’t even put into words how amazing he was.  He was caring, smart, kind, and brave.  He has got to be one of the best love interests I’ve ever read about.

The story wasn’t quite as fast-paced as the first two books but it was definitely never boring.  Marcus had lots of surprises in store for Eleanor, Oliver, and the Spirit-Hunters.  I truly never knew what he was going to do next.  However, sometimes I was a little skeptical about how he knew to be one step ahead of them all the time.  How did he possibly know what they were going to do next when sometimes they didn’t even know what they were going to do next?

The ending completely broke me.  I’m not even kidding.  There were not enough tissues in my house for the ending of this book.  I know some readers didn’t believe the ending was completely necessary but I really don’t see how it could have worked out any other way.  I’m still torn up about the way things worked out but I can totally appreciate how great this ending was.

Overall, Strange and Ever After is a wonderful conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly series.  Susan Dennard has definitely gained a fan and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for readers next.

What others are saying about Strange and Ever After:

Lili’s Reflections’ review: “I will continue to recommend this series to anyone who wants to read it, and if you haven’t already started it yet now is the time to do so because book three is officially out! “

Scott Reads It’s review: “ SAEA is less about zombies and isn’t as Gothic as the previous novels, but it does have more poignant, heartbreaking moments and so much character development.”

Finding Bliss In Books’ review: “That aside, Strange and Ever After is an entirely satisfactory conclusion to the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy (or, as I’ve penned it, the Ke$ha zombie trilogy).”

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | Review

A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Something Strange and Deadly #2) by Susan Dennard | ReviewA Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #2
Published by Harper Teen on July 23, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 406
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Darkness has come to the City of Light...

With her brother dead and her mother on the verge of insanity, Eleanor Fitt is utterly alone. Even the Spirit-Hunters—Joseph, Jie, and the handsome Daniel—have fled to Paris. So when Eleanor begins to hear the vicious barking of hounds and see images of haunting yellow eyes, she fears the worst—that the Dead, and the necromancer Marcus, are coming for her.

To escape and search out the Spirit-Hunters, Eleanor boards a steamer bound for France. There she meets Oliver, a young man who claims to have known her brother. Though friendly, Oliver entices Eleanor with necromancy and black magic, yet as long as she can resist his powerful temptation, she'll be fine. But when she arrives in Paris, she finds that the Dead have taken over the city...and there's a whole new evil lurking. With the body count rising, Eleanor 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.

picadillyblue

A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a strong sequel to Something Strange and Deadly.  It follows the same trajectory of the first book which is to say it’s fast-paced, full of surprises, and surprisingly emotional.  It’s exactly what a sequel should be.

A Darkness Strange and Lovely picks up a few months after Something Strange and Deadly ends.  Things in Eleanor’s life are rather rough.  Her mother took the loss of Elijah harder than expected and now must remain in a mental institution.  To pay for her bills, Eleanor has had to sell almost everything they own.  When Marcus shows back up in Philadelphia it’s actually kind of a good thing because it forces Eleanor to flee to Paris to meet up with the Spirit-Hunters.  And thus the adventure begins anew!

So all the old characters are back but there are some new additions this time around.  Both the best and the worst new addition was definitely Oliver.  I loved him but I also didn’t trust him at all.  He was friendly and witty but also very secretive.  Even at the end of the book I knew he had secrets that he had yet to share.  I look forward to finding out more about him in Strange and Ever After.  It’s really difficult to tell if he’s a good guy or a bad guy.  I think the worst thing about Oliver though was what he brought out in Eleanor.  I really lost a lot of respect and liking for Eleanor in A Darkness Strange and Lovely.  She pushed people away and she blamed everyone but herself for it.  She was so consumed by her new powers that she couldn’t see how they were  beginning to control her every thought and action.  Also, Daniel, Joseph, and Jie could see what was going on and they tried to help but they kind of took the wrong approach.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all still but I think they could have handled things with Eleanor a little better.  Especially Daniel.

The romance was very hot and cold, just like in Something Strange and Deadly.  Eleanor and Daniel love each other, that’s pretty obvious from the start but what’s not so obvious is how they are going to make things work between them.  They come from very different worlds and while Eleanor is okay with that, Daniel is not.  He wants to be worthy of Eleanor and I love him even more for that.  He had tons of flaws but in my eyes he was perfect.

The plot fits surprisingly well with the first book.  I wasn’t sure how things were going to tie together but they all do in the end.  There were a lot of twists that I didn’t see coming and some that I definitely did.  However, those little things I was able to guess didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, A Darkness Strange and Lovely is a wonderful sequel that will leave readers eager to check out the third and final book, Strange and Ever After.

What others are saying about A Darkness Strange and Lovely:

The Page Sage’s review: “A Darkness Strange and Lovely met my expectations and then some.”

Romancing the Laser Pistol’s review: “ I think it I liked A Darkness Strange and Lovely because it was full of: hot kisses, zombies and old fashioned Paris balls.”

Stories and Sweeties’ review: “To you give a clear picture of my feelings for this book, I simply say this: every night, in the ridiculously wee hours of the morning, I had to tear myself away and force myself to put this down.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | Review

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard | ReviewSomething Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
Series: Something Strange and Deadly #1
Published by Harper Teen on July 24, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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4 Stars

There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia...

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor... from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

picadillyblueSomething Strange and Deadly was one of the series on my list to start and attempt to finish this year.  I’ve had Something Strange and Deadly on my shelf since before the book was published but I never got around to actually reading it until now.  The hype for this series is definitely warranted.  Something Strange and Deadly is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly addicting story.

Eleanor is an extremely feisty and smart heroine.  She is unique to heroines in YA these days but especially in heroines from her time period.  She stands out among everyone she knows and while some might consider it a bad thing, I considered it one of her best qualities.  She is not afraid to speak her mind and go after what she wants.  When her brother, Elijah, goes missing she sets out to find help from the Spirit-Hunters, certain that the necromancer tormenting Philadelphia has her brother.  The group of Spirit-Hunters are made up of the classy Joseph, the quirky Jie, and the sarcastic Daniel.  Daniel is rude, outlandish, and rather odd but that didn’t stop me from completely falling in love with him.  He lacked manners but he made up for that in other ways.  Joseph and Jie added a certain flair to the group of Spirit-Hunters and they all brought something unique to the book.  Even Clarence and Allison Wilcox were interesting additions to the story although I would have enjoyed a bit more backstory to Allison.  She came up a little short compared to everyone else.

The story is fast-paced and pulse-pounding from the very first page.  I read straight through the book in one day.  I haven’t been that captivated by a book in quite some time.  While Eleanor’s escapades weren’t entirely plausible, they were fun to read about.  Eleanor was always escaping from places to meet the Spirit-Hunters and I felt that she probably wouldn’t have gotten away with that for long in the time period she lived in.  However, that is a minor complaint of mine.

The ending completely surprised me and actually brought tears to my eyes.  Every time I thought I figured something out, a new secret would pop up and I definitely could not figure out how things were going to tie together.  I was pleased that the story tied up rather well and while it left me eager for the second book, it wasn’t a horrible cliffhanger.

Overall, Something Strange and Deadly brings something new to both the historical fiction genre as well as the horror genre.  Susan Dennard has a promising start with this debut novel.

What others are saying about Something Strange and Deadly:

Cuddlebuggery Book Blog’s review: :”Overall, this was a great read and I strongly anticipate the next one!”

A Page of Heaven’s review: “Something Strange and Deadly was a rather okay book; my feelings for it ranged from love to content to majorly annoyed.”

The Flyleaf Review’s review: “An original blend of historical, paranormal, and a slight touch of steampunk, Something Strange and Deadly is an impressive package to savor.”