Reading Round Up – End of Summer Edition – Part Two

When I started compiling the books that I have enjoyed reading this summer, it quickly became apparent that one post would not do these books justice. Well, it might, but it would be really long. Therefore, I decided to emulate the majority of books I’ve been reading this summer by breaking up my narrative into more than one part. (This post includes affiliate links)

Maybe it the fact that this summer has been relatively cooler and rainier this year than most (with the exception of this past week which was brutally hot), or maybe it is the fact that I am already seeing ads for the return of pumpkin spice lattes. In any case, I found myself on a rather supernatural/paranormal mash-up kick in the final weeks of August.

Ella, the Slayer (Serenity House) (Volume 1)

by A. W. Exley

The flu pandemic of 1918 took millions of souls within a few short weeks. Except it wasn’t flu, and death gave them back.

What happens when you mix a retelling of a fairy-tale classic, historical fiction centered around the Spanish Flu, and throw in Zombies? Ella, the Slayer – that’s what. The term ‘mash-up’ hardly seems adequate to describe all the genres this story blends together.

Though Ella is the legitimate daughter of the lord of the manor, she serves as a chambermaid to her vain and calculating stepmother and step-sisters. If the name wasn’t enough of a giveaway, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a story of Cinderella. Except in this story, leaving a party by midnight is the least of Ella’s problems. There’s also the dead to contend with too.

I found myself stopping at odd points in the book to explain to my friends what new mash-up I’d discovered next as I turned the pages. Normally, I would consider anything that forces me out of a story as a negative, but this was one of those exceptions that prove the rule. I flew through this book.

I will say, however, that the ending was frustrating. When given the chance to tie the story off nicely as a stand-alone novel, the author chose instead to leave it open for a sequel. I don’t normally mind cliff-hangers, as I can appreciate the sales strategy behind them, but in this case, it left me questioning a character’s competence.

Even so, I still would recommend this book to people who enjoy both Jane Austen and the Walking Dead. Compared to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I found Ella to be the better story.

Dearly, Departed: A Zombie Novel (Gone with the Respiration)

By Lia Habel

Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

If mash-ups were stew, Dearly Departed’s would be Steampunk meat with bits of Zombies potatoes simmering in a YA broth. It would also include a pinch of Post-apocalyptic spice and a hint of Government Conspiracy thrown in for added flavor.

Daughter of a national hero, Nora Dearly has always found holographs of historical battles and news reports of more recent fighting at the border far more interesting than learning how to conform to her high-mannered society’s social complexities. Unfortunately for Nora, the war she’s been so fascinated by is about to come much closer to home.

Nora has barely returned from a year away at school when her home is attacked. Not being the proper New Victorian lady prone to cowering in fear, she races to defend herself, only to learn that the invaders are the undead. But not all Zombies are re-born (as it were) equal. Some still have managed to cling to their former humanity and are, in fact, a special convert unit sent to specifically to escort her back to Base-Z where Nora learns that the existence of Zombies is only one of many secrets.

I found it slightly harder to suspend disbelief with this one, though it was still entertaining enough to keep the pages turning. I enjoyed the small details scattered throughout that made it easy to imagine this future world featuring modern technology alongside parasols and petticoats. I also liked the supporting characters, particularly Nora’s best friend Pamela, who in mind opinion, actually had the more impressive character arc.

Murder Any Witch Way: A Brimstone Bay Mystery (Brimstone Bay Mysteries Book 1)

By N.M. Howell

Being a witch is hard. It’s even harder when you live in a town that doesn’t believe in witches.

Murder Any Witch Way was a different sort of mash-up. It is part Supernatural Fantasy and part Cozy Mystery. Set in the fictional New England town of Brimstone Bay and only a short drive from Boston, Murder Any Witch way features River, a journalist working at the local paper.

River likes her town, but at times finds it dull compared to New York City where she used to live. Therefore, she is overjoyed to cover an upcoming Paranormal Festival thinking it might provide a little more exciting news than the day’s birthdays or anniversaries.

She was hoping to get a feature. Instead, she finds a murder victim.

Being a journalist is what River does to pay the bills, but what River is, is a witch. Having the ability to see and interact with ghosts as well as perform magic, River has talents at her disposal that the sheriff’s office lacks. When additional bodies are discovered, River knows that it is up to her (and those like her) to solve the mystery before the killer strikes again.

This was definitely a nice book to ease myself into the Halloween spirit, even if October is still weeks again and now I can’t wait for the leaves to start changing and the air to take on the crispness of Fall. It’s somewhat predictable, but then again so are the movies Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic, and I still like those too.


20 thoughts on “Reading Round Up – End of Summer Edition – Part Two

  1. I have just finished writing a section about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic into my new book, Allie. What a coincidence. I also wrote a post about it on my new blog RobertaWrites [it is for my adult writing]. Ella attracts me because of its subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is quite the coincidence! Ella was my favorite out of the three – ending aside. Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more mash-ups, another would enter into the mix. Also I was amused that it starts with a letter from the author warning readers British Spelling is used throughout. Clearly this author has received letters.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this idea! May I copy? (I don’t know if I’ll have time to but, if I do, I’ll credit you. Also, I’ll eat chocolate and toast you with it.)

    So… I was all set to get ‘Ella’ then not so much. I mean, wow, what a mash-up. But I am limited right now on time and still have that dragon’s pile of books to read so, if it’s a series, I’ll wait. But. I did get the cute, cozy, witchy mystery. đŸ™‚ Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s understandable because that market LOVES trilogies. Bah. I’ve read a few YA in my time and about 1/4 to 1/2 could have been wrapped up in the first book. I honestly love YA but would like more stand-alone books in the age group. I think I’m not in the popular opinion there. (Did peek at the series, though, and it is intriguing. Plus…those covers! Mucha love!)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I like the series model used in the romance genre. Each book is its own stand-alone story, but they are all tied together in the same world and a minor character introduced in one book becomes the main character in the next so you still are invested in the larger tale while also getting to enjoy a satisfying ending.

        Liked by 1 person

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