Review: Magic Dark and Strange

Title: Magic Dark and Strange
Author: Kelly Powell
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Bone Witch meets Sherlock Holmes in this thrilling historical fantasy about a girl with the ability to raise the dead who must delve into her city’s dangerous magical underworld to stop a series of murders.

Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.

When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.

This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them.

Review:

Catherine Daly works at a printer, setting the pages for obituaries, but at night she has a special talent. She goes to cemeteries, digs up graves, and uses her magic to allow loved ones to have a final goodbye. For every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour of her life. One day, she’s instructed to dig up an unmarked grave of a coffin maker and retrieve a special timepiece that is enchanted to bring the dead back to life, permanently. She gets help from Guy Nolan, the son of a watchmaker. However, when they open the grave, they discover a decades old body and no timepiece. The body comes back to life as a boy, close in age to Catherine. He doesn’t remember anything about his past or the timepiece. Catherine’s employer is still expecting the timepiece, so Catherine, Guy, and the new boy Owen, have to search for the timepiece before it’s too late.

I loved the dark and spooky atmosphere of this book. It was set in a fictional town that reminded me of Victorian England. There was a little magic, with the special power that Catherine had and the magical timepiece. There was lots of time spent in cemeteries which is always fun in a spooky novel.

I found some scenes a little repetitive. They returned to the cemetery a lot, which was understandable since the mystery centered around the cemetery. Some of the scenes were very similar so it felt repetitive. I figured out the secret behind what happened to the timepiece before the ending. I think it was the most logical explanation, so I was glad I got it right.

Magic Dark and Strange is a great spooky read!

What to read next:

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Have you read Magic Dark and Strange? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – June 24

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: The House of Serendipity

Title: The House of Serendipity
Author: Lucy Ivison
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Fans of Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy series and budding fashionistas everywhere will love this charming, delightful middle-grade novel about two girls with a talent for dressmaking set in 1920s London.

As Myrtle Mathers and Sylvia Cartwright know, the perfect dress can change everything. When Myrtle leaves her family’s tailoring shop to work as a lady’s maid in the grand home of the aristocratic Cartwright family, she thinks her days of sketching and stitching are over for good. That is until the spirited Sylvia Cartwright runs into a big problem–her older sister Delphine’s debutante ball is about to be ruined by a truly horrendous dress. Desperate, Sylvia calls on Myrtle to help her save the night, and a serendipitous partnership begins.

Their design for Delphine catches the eyes of all of London’s debutantes, including the prominent Agapantha Portland-Prince, who has the whole city buzzing about what she will wear to her extravagant ball. So when she practically begs Myrtle and Sylvia to dress her, the two girls make a plan: create something special for Agapantha without revealing their true identities. If the Cartwrights find out what Myrtle and Sylvia are up to, it could spell disaster for the girls’ futures.

But as it turns out, Agapantha is looking for more than just a gorgeous outfit–she needs a disguise that will help her escape high-society life forever. And for Myrtle and Sylvia, what starts out as a plan to prove their design prowess soon becomes a secret mission to defy expectations.

In this fabulous, fantastical adventure through 1920s London, author Lucy Ivison introduces a delightful new series about the magic of friendship, fashion, and being yourself. 

Review:

1920s, London: When Myrtle’s mother has to sell their tailoring shop, Myrtle is sent to be a lady’s maid at the home of the Cartwright family. There, she meets Sylvia, the young daughter of the house. Sylvia’s older sister is supposed to make her debut to society but she hates the dress that was made for her. Sylvia enlists Myrtle’s help to remake the dress so her sister likes it. When that dress is a hit in society, others want the be dressed by the same designer. Sylvia’s friend Lady Agapantha hires them to create a special look for her debut and to help her form a new identity to follow her dream. This project is almost too big for Sylvia and Myrtle, and can either make or break their designing partnership.

This story reminded me of Downton Abbey, but for a middle grade audience. Myrtle worked as a lady’s maid but she became friends with Lady Sylvia. The other workers in the palace had to remind Myrtle that she shouldn’t be too friendly with the family of the house because she was there to work for them. However, Sylvia was able to persuade Myrtle to help her with designing clothes. I kept imagining Sylvia and Myrtle as Lady Mary and Anna from Downton Abbey, if they were young girls who became friends in unlikely circumstances.

One of my favourite parts of this book was the sketches of the outfits. Since this story had so many descriptive outfits created by Myrtle and Sylvia, it was nice to see what they would have looked like. This was a great addition to this fashion themed story.

The House of Serendipity is a fun middle grade novel!

Thank you Razorbill for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

The Runaway Girls by Jacqueline Wilson

Have you read The House of Serendipity? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – June 23

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda. The expected publication date is July 13, 2021.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

We had no warning that she’d come back.

Hollow’s Edge used to be a quiet place. A private and idyllic neighborhood where neighbors dropped in on neighbors, celebrated graduation and holiday parties together, and looked out for one another. But then came the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A year and a half later, Hollow’s Edge is simmering. The residents are trapped, unable to sell their homes, confronted daily by the empty Truett house, and suffocated by their trial testimonies that implicated one of their own. Ruby Fletcher. And now, Ruby’s back.

With her conviction overturned, Ruby waltzes right back to Hollow’s Edge, and into the home she once shared with Harper Nash. Harper, five years older, has always treated Ruby like a wayward younger sister. But now she’s terrified. What possible good could come of Ruby returning to the scene of the crime? And how can she possibly turn her away, when she knows Ruby has nowhere to go?

Within days, suspicion spreads like a virus across Hollow’s Edge. It’s increasingly clear that not everyone told the truth about the night of the Truett’s murders. And when Harper begins receiving threatening notes, she realizes she has to uncover the truth before someone else becomes the killer’s next victim.

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: Sisters of the Snake (Ria and Rani #1)

Title: Sisters of the Snake (Ria and Rani #1)
Author: Sarena and Sasha Nanua
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook, paperback arc
Release Date: June 15, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A lost princess. A dark puppet master. And a race against time—before all is lost.

Princess Rani longs for a chance to escape her gilded cage and prove herself. Ria is a street urchin, stealing just to keep herself alive.

When these two lives collide, everything turns on its head: because Ria and Rani, orphan and royal, are unmistakably identical.

A deal is struck to switch places—but danger lurks in both worlds, and to save their home, thief and princess must work together. Or watch it all fall into ruin.

Deadly magic, hidden temples, and dark prophecies: Sisters of the Snake is an action-packed, immersive fantasy that will thrill fans of The Crown’s Game and The Tiger at Midnight.

Review:

Princess Rani is stuck in a palace, wishing to escape to freedom. Ria is a thief, stealing for her next meal. When Ria goes into the palace to steal some jewels on Diwali, she meets Rani, who has her face. They are long lost twins who didn’t know the other existed. Since they each have the lives that the other wants, they decide to switch places. Rani wants to search for the Bloodstone that will win her father’s war. Ria wants to find out the secret of her birth and why she was raised in an orphanage instead of with her family. Both of their worlds have hidden dangers, which they must face to save each other.

I’m an only child but I’ve always been fascinated by stories about twins. The Parent Trap was one of my favourite movies when I was a kid. The idea of seamlessly switching places with someone who looks exactly like you sounds so fun, but it comes with many problems. Ria and Rani had to get used to the new rules of their worlds when they switched places.

The concept of freedom was explored in this book. Both Ria and Rani were searching for freedom in their own ways. Ria wanted the freedom of not having to steal and having a safe place to eat and sleep. Rani wanted the freedom to travel outside of the palace and make her own rules. They saw each other as being free, yet they had to realize that both worlds have sets of rules.

Sisters of the Snake is a fun new fantasy! I can’t wait for the next book!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

Have you read Sisters of the Snake? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Book Wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Bookish Wishes because it’s That Artsy Reader Girl’s birthday! Happy Birthday! Here’s my Book Wishlist:

1. Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

2. In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

3. Seasons of the Storm by Elle Cosimano

4. Revenge of the Sluts by Natalie Walton

5. The Castle School (for Troubled Girls) by Alyssa Sheinmel

6. Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

7. The Lake by Natasha Preston

8. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

9. This is How We Fly by Anna Meriano

10. Most Likely by Sarah Watson

(All book covers from Goodreads)

What’s your list of books on your Top Ten Tuesday?

Happy Pub Day – June 22

Happy Pub Day to all of these new books!

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, Nicola Yoon

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Rising Like a Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

The Tragedy of Dane Riley by Kay Spears

Love Scenes by Bridget Morrissey

A Season of Sinister Dreams by Tracy Banghart

Witchshadow by Susan Dennard

Darling by K. Ancrum

Kind of Sort of Fine by Spencer Hall

Between You, Me, and the Honeybees by Amelia Diane Coombs

What books are you most excited for this week?

Review: Pride and Premeditation (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1)

Title: Pride and Premeditation (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1)
Author: Tirzah Price
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit. 

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

Review:

When there’s a scandalous murder in London, aspiring lawyer Elizabeth Bennet uses the opportunity to get some experience. She comes up against Fitzwilliam Darcy, a lawyer at Pemberley Associates. Lizzie wants to prove to her father that she can be a lawyer at their law firm by solving the murder and prove that Darcy’s friend Bingley is innocent. However, the case is much more complicated than Lizzie expected and puts her life in danger, with Darcy being the only one who can save her.

This is a fun twist on Pride and Prejudice. I love different retellings of this classic romance. This one was set in the late 1800s, with Lizzie aspiring to follow her father’s footsteps in their law firm. If she can’t prove herself to him, the law firm will be inherited by his cousin, Mr. Collins. Many of the themes and relationships were the same as the original story, but they had the added layer of a murder trial.

I really liked the ending of this book. All of the characters that I didn’t like in Pride and Prejudice had to face justice in this book. This was a slightly more modern take on the story, since Lizzie wanted a career as a lawyer, yet it was still historical fiction. I listened to the audiobook edition. It was really well done and easy to follow.

Pride and Premeditation is a great adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Thank you HarperTeen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Have you read Pride and Premeditation? What did you think of it?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – June 21

This blog meme is hosted by Book Date. It is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

What I just finished:

This weekend I finished Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua.

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading The House of Serendipity by Lucy Ivison.

What I’m reading next:

Next I will be reading Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson.

What are you guys reading this week? Have you read any of these books?

Jill’s Weekly Wrap-Up – June 20

Here are my reviews for the week with my ratings:

I did 7 weekly blogging memes:

How was your week? What did you guys read?