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text 2014-12-15 11:45
Holiday Bingo Wrap up
Dead Beautiful - Yvonne Woon
The One - Kiera Cass
The Elite - Kiera Cass
The Stand - Stephen King
If I Should Die - Amy Plum
Alice in Zombieland - Gena Showalter
House of Ivy & Sorrow - Natalie Whipple
Sea of Shadows - Kelley Armstrong
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard

This weekend I completed the Holiday Bingo card. I did find this one a lot easier to do than the Summer Card. I sort lost enthusiasm for the last one half way through but this one I knew almost immediately what I wanted to read for each square. While my initial plans changed, I did manage to read something for every square (though two squares were books I DNFed).


Red Cover - The Elite Kiera Cass  - Review

Witches - House of Ivy and Sorrow - Natalie Whipple - Review

Black Cover - Alice in Zombieland - Gena Showalter - Review

Green Cover - Dead Beautiful - Yvonne Woon - Review

Romance - The One - Kiera Cass - Review

Set at Christmas Time - Rocky Mountain Miracle - Christine Feehan - Review

Reread - The Stand, Stephen King - read not reviewed

Set in Space - Blood Crown - Ali Cross - Review

Set on Halloween - Dark Harvest- Norman Partridge - Review

Serial Killers - Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay – Review

Snow Ice or Frost in Title – Crown of Ice – Vicki L Weavil – Review

Set in New Orleans – Black Dust Mambo – Adrian Phoenix – Review

Birds on Cover – The Dream Thieves – Maggie Stiefvater – Review

Snow on Cover – Winterkill – Kate A Boorman – Review

Fall or Winter Release – Talon – Julie Kagawa – Review

Mystery – Fiendish – Brenna Yovanoff – Review

Orange Cover – If I Should Die – Amy Plum - Review

Set During Autumn – The Shining- Stephen King – read not reviewed. (Bulk of this story takes place between the end of September and first few days of December and that was all I could come up with for this square)

Book That Was a Gift – The Fall – Bethany Griffin – Review

Steam Punk – Something Strange and Deadly – Susan Dennard – Read not reviewed

Historical – Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose) Fiona Paul – Review

Native American MC – Echo Alyson Noel - Review

Freebie Star – The 100 – Kass Morgan - Review

Horror – Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black – Read not reviewed

Creature on Cover- Sea of Shadows – Kelley Armstrong – Read not reviewed


I created a Goodreads shelf which can be seen here – each book should link to the dates read.


Favourite books of the card this time round – Dead Beautiful, House of Ivy and Sorrow, The Shining, The Stand, If I Should Die, Darkly Dreaming Dexter.

Worst books – Crown of Ice and Talon both DNFed.

Honourable mentions to The Elite and The One which were pretty awful but in spite of the stupidity of the characters I did kind of love them.

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text 2014-12-01 11:30
November Wrap Up
The Stand - Stephen King
Independent Study: The Testing, Book 2 - Joelle Charbonneau
Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
The Fall - Bethany Griffin
The Dream Thieves - Maggie Stiefvater
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard
The Shining - Stephen King
If I Should Die - Amy Plum

After a few months of very good books, I hit a bit of a slump this month. I read a total of 17 books.  4 DNFs including two 1 stars, 2 2 stars.


I did quite well with my Holiday Bingo Card


The Stand - Reread - 5 stars

Darkly Dreaming Dexter - 5 stars - Review  - Serial Killer Square

The Fall - 4 Stars - Book that was a Gift - review

The Shining - 5 Stars - Set in Autumn (the bulk of the story takes place from the end of September to the beginning of December, so for me that covers autumn and I couldn't think of anything else for this square) - read not reviewed

The Dream Thieves - 5 Stars - Birds on Cover - Review

Crown of Ice - 1 star DNF - Review - Snow, Ice or Frost in title

If I should Die - 5 Stars - Review - Orange Cover

Something Strange and Deadly - 3 star - read not reviewed - Steam Punk Square

Dark Harvest - 1 star - Review - Set on Halloween

Blood Crown - 2 Stars - Review - Set in Space

Winterkill - 2 Stars - Review: - Snow on Cover

Talon - 1 star DNF - Review - Fall or Winter Release

Fiendish - 2 Star - Review - Mystery

Black Dust Mambo - Review - Set in New Orleans


Other books I read were the second book in The Testing Trilogy - Independent Study - 3 star read not reviewed, 2 Netgalley DNFs - Flee and Out of This World.


My December plan is to finish off the Holiday Bingo Square. I have 5 Squares left and am currently reading books to fit each square

Horror - Coldest Girl in Cold Town

Historical - Clockwork Angel or Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose) whichever I finish first will cover the square

Creature on Cover - Sea of Shadows - my UK paperback has a two headed eagle on the cover

Native American MC - Echo (Soul Seekers 2) this is based on Native American mythology and almost every character is Native American or a close relation.

Freebie- My True Love Gave to Me Anthology or The 100 (which is so bad is very entertaining) whichever I finish first.


Also to finish some Netgalley books. I think I'm going to take a break from reading challenges for a while after Holiday Bingo, while the challenges are fun, I'm in the mood now for picking stuff at random that doesn't have to fit any sort of theme. I like the challenges, but having done more than a few this year, I need a break.

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review 2014-07-31 20:28
Something Strange and Deadly
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard

Steampunk and zombies! This may sound like an odd combination, but it is one that works! Petticoats and parasols mixed with steam-powered machines and pulse bombs that kill zombies? Yes, please!


The story is set in the midst of Philadelphia's high society in 1876, the time of chaperoned dates, petticoats, bustles, séances, and burgeoning technology. The Dead have risen, their numbers seemingly increasing every day. The city has hired a group of veritable misfits, The Spirit Hunters, to hunt them down and protect the city. But instead of supporting them, it seems as if they have been brought in mostly for show.


Eleanor and her mother live on the edge of high society, having fallen from favor since her father's business went south and his subsequent death. They are barely hanging on and her eldest brother has seemingly disappeared when they need him most. After receiving a letter from him, delivered by one of the Dead, Eleanor seeks out the Hunters in her desperation to find out what happened to her brother. Her choice changes her life and draws her into a mystery that she never imagined, full of intrigue, surprises, and so many twists and turns.


I loved Eleanor as a main character. In many ways, she reminded me of Arabella Holmes in Boneseeker by Brynn Chapman, which I reviewed here. Both of these characters are very different from most of the women/girls of their time, bucking social norms with their ideas and behavior. I love that rebellious quality in a female protagonist! She is loyal to her family, even to her overbearing and rather icy mother, and she has an extremely strong sense of right and wrong and she refuses to compromise herself. She hated the social classes that dictated so much of her life and yearned for the freedom to live her life how she chose.


The Spirit Hunters truly were a band of misfits in that time. They got no respect from the city leaders, whose city they were trying to save. But this never deterred them from their mission. Joseph was the leader, a black man in a less than tolerant time. Daniel was a convict with a mushy heart of gold. And then there was Jie. There is so much to say about Jie, but it is best left to be discovered!


Things to love...


--The ending. Not exactly a cliffhanger, and not exactly a HEA, it leaves it open nicely for the rest of the series!
--The characters. I loved the different kinds of characters and all of their quirkiness.


My Recommendation


The story is fast-paced and fun, full of unexpected twists and turns. The premise is unlike anything I have read before and I loved that! Steampunk and zombies! I gave it 4.6 mugs!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=10267
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review 2014-07-31 00:00
Something Strange and Deadly
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard

tl;dr - | ✭✭✭✭✩ | So, I really really enjoyed this book. The zombies, the steampunk, the characters... I loved it. It was such a fun read. I would definitely suggest others read it!

Description - Miss Eleanor Fitt is eagerly awaiting the return of her brother when the dead rise swarm to the train station. Eleanor hides away in the telegraph room, hoping to find word from her brother, when a zombie appears and leaves a letter for her - from her brother. Someone is controlling the dead and have her brother, and since her mother has no interest in anything except marrying Eleanor off to the wealthiest bachelor, Eleanor knows she must do something to bring her brother safely home. She enlists in the help of the Spirit Hunters, who are in town to protect people from the increasing zombie raids. Can she figure out who is behind the zombie attacks and save her brother? Can she deal with the maddening snarky remarks from Daniel, one of the spirit hunters? Can she convince her mother not to marry her off to some random man she has no interest in marry in? 

OH boy! This book. I read it over a month ago, and have been super bad about writing up my reviews so please bear with me as this is going to be kind of vague... I'm sorry :(


Ok. So, one thing that was fine at first but ended up bugging me was the play on her name... Miss Fitt. Misfit. Eleanor talks about how she doesn't feel like she really fits in with all the rules of propriety, that she doesn't fit in with how everyone else behaves and have similar desires. And thats cool, I love a quirky character who likes to break the mold. But at one point I felt it became a little too receptive with her feeling like a misfit and even her name says so. But it was a minor annoyance and not one that took me out of the story too much. 


But Eleanor was a wonderful character to have narrating the story. She cares so deeply for her family, which i thought was wonderful. Especially her relationship with her older brother, and how she will stop at nothing to make sure he is safe. And she's so snarky, I love it! I had to find this quote:

“Whatever mischief you're up to, I'll be there for it. Besides, someone must ensure that you behave like a lady."
I skittered to a stop. "Like a lady? Which is how exactly?" My voice was shrill. He had picked a poor moment to antagonize me.
"Biddable? Biddable!" Somehow my pitch was even screechier than before. I kicked my bottom high and dipped my chest low-a perfect display of the Grecian bend. "It it's a camel you wish to have,sir,then you are on the wrong continent!”

This part cracked me up! I loved it. I so, SO loved it. And she's just so full of snark and fire, its wonderful! I loved the banter she has with everyone. 


The supporting characters were quite wonderful as well. Clarence is one that I couldn't help but like. Joseph is wonderful, Daniel is infuriating and you can't help but fall for him. Jie is intriguing, but her representation was a little... I don't know. I don't know anything about Asian cultures in the 1800s, so I guess I don't know if the way Jie is portrayed is accurate of the time. But I loved Jie the character, I thought she was so fun. She reminded me a little bit of Vive from The Finishing School & Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger. There were just so many characters that I adore.


The story was well paced and well written. It kept me interested the entire time, and the ending... Oh boy the ending. I just can't go there because I don't want to spoil anything. But I loved it, and it sets up the rest of the series perfectly. I would definitely suggest this book, especially if you like The Dark Unwinding, stuff by Gail Carriger, and sassy female protagonists. 

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review 2014-02-04 06:54
Something Strange and Deadly - Susan Dennard
She rubbed the bald half of her head. “In China we say, ‘The girl with the full hair is not as free as the girl with the bare head.’"

“It means that as long as I still shave my hair, I’m free. See, in China, girls keep their heads bald like the boys, yeah? Then when we’re the age to become a woman, we bind our feet and grow out our hair.


If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be unconvincing. If you want terrifying zombie action, turn away now, the zombies in this book are not dangerous, they are corpses, but they're of the "first episode of Walking Dead" sort of boring, which is to say they're rotting, they're shambling, they smell REALLY, REALLY bad, but they're completely unterrifying in every way. I feel like I could walk around with a sharp stick and kill a bunch myself because they were so unconvincing as objects of abject terror.

This book is strange, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The world building is weird and incomplete. This book thinks itself a "steampunk" novel. It's not. The setting and the characters's behaviors are inconsistent. The characters themselves are two-dimensional. Flat. It was a wholly implausible book, and I'm not talking about the fact that the dead are rising in 1876 Philadelphia.

The Setting: Yawn.

1. Zombies? Oh, posh! We must attend the opera!: This book is about Eleanor Fitts (Miss Fitt, misfit...ha...ha...yeah, we fucking get it, Eleanor), a 16-year old girl living in 1876 Philadelphia, where the dead have begun rising from their grave. Her beloved older brother, Elijah, is missing.

The setting in this book is not steampunk so much as "Huh?" Yeah, sure, the zombies are rising, but it was entirely unclear whether they had, in fact, existed in the past or not, or if this is an entirely new phenomenon.

The fact that there are zombies rising up from their graves and terrorizing the whole of Philadelphia was made completely underwhelming. There was no danger in it. The zombies are called "walking dead," like the ones in the show of the same name, but with so little urgency and panic that they became completely redundant and dull. It's of the "Oh, pish, posh! Zombies again?! How completely inconvenient because they're going to ruin our tea party!" sort of catastrophe, which is to say, none at all.

I shrank back, fighting the urge to run past her through the open door. “Th-the walking corpses,” I stammered. “The ones people have been talking about. One came to the train depot, so everyone was evacuated.”
“And what of our party tonight?” Mama insisted. “What am I to do?”
“We could cancel,” I said hopefully.
She snorted. “Of course we cannot cancel. The walking Dead must have addled your brain, Eleanor. This is our first party in years.

Oh, yes, such danger. Such excitement. The dead are rising. The dead are going to eat us alive. Yippee. Oh, save us, our Lord in Heaven.

I am utterly terrified.


2. Steampunk? More like pure bunk: It is 1876 Philadelphia. That's all. There is no technology beyond that of the times. There is no elements of steampunk. There is no machinery. There is no advanced mechanical inventions. it is 1876 Philadelphia, no more, no less. The book itself presents no sense of time; I did not feel like I was immersed in the past at all. This has very much to do with the fact that the main character was so inconsistent.

3. Abracadabra!: The magic in this book is more showing, than telling. If you are going to incorporate magic into a book, I expect an explanation of how it works, I don't want vague-as-fuck phrases like "spiritual energy" thrown around without much of an explanation. There are souls, there are electric energy associated with souls. Like what? It was very inadequately explained, and I was unsatisfied with the explanation.

4. Where's Your Motherfucking Chaperone?!: Eleanor is 16. She is an upper-middle-class young woman. Her reputation is on the line. She needs to make a good marriage. SO WHY THE FUCK IS SHE WANDERING AROUND DOING WHATEVER THE FUCK SHE WANTS?! Eleanor has a mother. Her mother only has Eleanor. Why is she not keeping a closer eye on her?! She sneaks off from a tea party to look for guys. Eleanor sneaks out of the opera house (leaving her date) wearing a motherfucking BALL gown to go investigate the undead!!!

I raced through the now-empty main hall. My footsteps echoed off the marble tiles. The porters at the front doors exchanged shocked glances. I could imagine the sight I must have presented—a flushed ball of purple silk and rustling skirts. No matter. I whisked past them and flew out into the Philadelphia night.

Eleanor, the Inconsistent: Eleanor is an well-born young woman. She doesn't act like it. Eleanor behaves as if she has a stick firmly wegded up her ass in one moment, and acts like a modern woman in the next.

1. I Must Politely Tell You That I Need To Use the Toilet: *sigh* Bodily functions were simply not mentioned in the 19th century. Eleanor is gently raised. She should know that, and yet she feels the need to KEEP TELLING MEN THAT SHE NEEDS TO USE THE TOILET. (called the "necessary")

“I... I need to use the necessary. Perhaps I can meet you in the Hydraulic Annex?”
Clarence’s lips quirked up slightly. “Yes, all right. Use the water closet and then meet me in the annex.”

Aaaand yet again, to someone she hardly knows.

“I must go to the necessary,” I murmured to Clarence, but he didn’t budge.
I turned to the squat Pinkerton. “I must go to the necessary.”

2. How Dare You Speak To Me Without a Very Proper Introduction: Eleanor's manners are all over the fucking place. In one moment, she's sneaking off to meet men. In a very private place. Actually, she does that repeatedly throughout the book. In another moment, she is shocked, SHOCKED, that he dares violate etiquette by SHAKING HER HAND! Oh, my pearls!

A gentleman simply was not supposed to shake the hand of an unmarried woman without a proper, third-party introduction. I was so used to chaperoned meetings that I had acted on foolish reflex.

2. I Am A Lady, You Motherfucker: For a well-born lady, she sure curses a lot, and she's pretty free with her insults. She'll "be damned," this, he's a "bastard." Eleanor's speech may be archaic to fit the time, but she is completely inconsistent otherwise.

3. Purring Is For Kittens:

I took a weary breath, lifted my hands, and purred, “I’m truly sorry, sir.”
He wrinkled his nose. “Why are you talking like that?”
“Like what?”
“Like you’re a kitten.

What the fuck?! Since when did "purring" mean an actual purring sound when it comes to human voices? It is a figure of speech, for fuck's sakes. Yeah, I know I'm nitpicky. It's stupid little details like this that ruin a book for me.

4. Was I Supposed To Save My Brother? Oh, right. My Beloved Brother: Way to go completely fucking off track. Way to lose sight of your actual mission. Eleanor has an actual mission: She's supposed to try to find and save her best friend, her beloved older brother. Only she completely forgets about him.

I had wasted time worrying over Daniel and Clarence, playing on the croquet course, and arguing with Mama. I had neglected what was most important: Elijah.


5. Who Cares About Money, Anyway: Eleanor is selfish. She hates her mother---who is an overbbearing Mrs. Darcy sort, but who is well-intentioned.

Eleanor and her mother is about to lose their home. They are out of money. Her mother needs Eleanor to be a success so that they can keep a roof over their heads.

Eleanor doesn't seem to think that this is important at all. She thinks her mother is an idiot, she is exasperated at her practicality.

Mama ignored me. “Your father did enough damage to our family’s standing, Eleanor, when he tried to save his company. Your brother only worsened it when he ran off. Without a good reputation, you will not make a suitable match. We will be on the streets soon!”
I opened my eyes and watched her. What an empty shell of a woman she was.

The Romance: A love triangle and a romance that distracts Eleanor more than it should.

What was it about mouths that made them so fascinating? I had read of kisses (Shakespeare was fond of them in his plays), but I’d never seen one. And I’d certainly never experienced one. Did people merely touch lip to lip... or was there more to it?
Has Daniel ever kissed anyone?

There are ZOMBIES. There is a necromancer at large. Stop thinking about his fucking lips.

Overall: A rather dull, wholly inconsistent and unconving book with little sense of danger. You'd be better off reading The Walking Dead comic.

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