I am excited to be a part of The Something Strange and Deadly Tour. For my post I was scheduled to do an author spotlight but once I read Susan's bio, I had a better idea. First, let me introduce you to Susan Dennard. Debut author of the exciting, steampunk book, Something Strange and Deadly. Here is a bit about Susan:
She is a writer turned marine biologist turned writer again. Among the traits she shares with her heroine Eleanor are a weakness for Shakespeare quotes, a healthy appetite for baked goods, and an insatiable curiosity. Sadly, Susan does not get to wear a corset or wave a parasol on a daily basis.
She lives in Germany with her French husband and Irish setter, and you can learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog, twitter, facebook, or Goodreads. Something Strange and Deadly is her debut novel.
When I read that she is an avid cookie connoisseur, I knew I had to do something about cookies. Susan loves cookies, her blog title says "Will Write For Cookies". I contacted Susan and we came up with this great post. Here is Susan on her love for cookies, her favorite types of cookies and her own recipe. I have scoured the internet and found some additional recipes to accompany all the picks on Susan's list. Just click on the links for the recipes. I promise you will be craving cookies by the end. Oh and stick around...there might just be a giveaway.....
Here is Susan on cookies:
Why do I love cookies? Let me count the ways:
1) They are so very munchable. I'm a fan of 2-bite cookies that allow me chomp through an entire sheet in ~10 minutes. You feel like you've accomplished something when you pile back 20 cookies. ;)
2) The flavor--or flavors! I love how you can toss anything sweet into the batter and it's pretty much guaranteed to still taste delicious. You want a peanut butter cup, pecan, pistachio, chocolate chip, caramel swirl cookie? You can totally have it.
For example, here's how I make my Snickerdoodle cookies just a wee bit healthier (and more filling!):
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar (for coating cookie)
2 tsp. cinnamon (for coating cookie)
Preheat oven to 350. Put your ungreased cookie sheet in the fridge to chill.
Mix butter, 1 1/2 cup sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.
Combine flours, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
Blend the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.
Chill the dough in the fridge! You need to do this to make the dough firm and workable. Just let it sit for ~10-15 min.
While you wait, make your cookie coating. Just mix the 3 tbsp. sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl.
Once your 10 minutes are up, pull out the dough, roll it in a ball, drop it in the cinnamon/sugar mixture, and coat it thoroughly.
Now drop the ball on your chilled (still ungreased) cookie sheet and make another!
Bake the cookies for ~10 minutes or until they start to "crack". The tops will kind of break apart like a crackled, desert surface. Now your cookies are baked to perfection!
Remove the cookies from the sheet immediately and enjoy!
If you have leftover dough, save it in the fridge and use it for a few more days! I like to make a big batch of dough and then cook a few fresh cookies every afternoon to deal with that midafternoon slump. ;)
Here is Susan's top favorite cookies with recipes:
won't stop eating these until they are all gone.
make a few each day. The dough is best when it's refrigerated, so it's really a win-win situation for fulfilling my daily cookie needs. ;)
have 'em fresh, I'll pop them in the microwave for a few seconds. Wow, I'm salivating just imagining the melted chocolate...
pretty terrible at making them myself--the chocolate and vanilla glaze is a little too labor intensive for me--but fortunately, the Konditerei down the street serves them everyday!
Okay now that you all are salivating for cookies...how about a giveaway! As part of her Something Strange and Deadly Tour, Susan is giving away a signed finished copy of her book Something Strange and Deadly. Fill out the rafflecopter to enter. Good luck! Now go get some cookies!a Rafflecopter giveaway
For fun here are the main characters from the novel:
Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly #1) by Susan Dennard
The year is 1876, and there’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia… Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks 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 their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
Hardcover, ebook, 400 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by HarperTeen
Four Stars: A fun debut that blends mystery, steampunk and zombies!
Eleanor waits at the telegram office desperately waiting for word from her brother, Elijah who is due home. Ringing bells sets off a panic....The dead are coming. Eleanor huddles terrified, but unwilling to leave the depot. A putrid smell assaults her senses right before she hears the sound of bone grinding upon bone, one of the corpses is outside the window. A decayed fist thrusts through the glass dropping a crumpled, foul smelling piece of paper. Then they are gone....Eleanor frantically searches through the piles of messages looking for a telegram from her brother. Nothing. She grabs the balled up bit of paper that the dead dropped. It is a note from Elijah! Her spirit buoyed with the contact, soon falter as she reads that he is not coming home. Eleanor dashes home, dismayed by the news. Her brother has been away for three years. Things are becoming dire for Eleanor and her mother. Their money is running out, and The Dead are invading Philadelphia, and now her brother is not coming home to save them. Desperate, Eleanor turns to the mysterious spirit hunters who have recently arrived in town to hopefully rid the city of these foul and unnatural creatures. Can Eleanor recover her brother?
What I Liked:
- Something Strange and Deadly was a surprisingly fun read. This debut book blends steampunk with zombies and spirits, and a mystery for an entertaining book. I especially loved the historical setting of Philadelphia in 1876. The steam punk elements are a bit subtle but still lots of fun. I also liked the inclusion of the shambling dead and the spirits.
- Eleanor is a character that ended up surprising me. She is a young lady caught in the constricting bindings of the upper class society. In the beginning, she comes off as a privileged young lady, but as the book progresses the reader learns there is more to Eleanor than meets the eye. She is far from the polished and perfect lady of the era (she longs to eat to her heart's content and even occasionally curses). She is adventurous, brave, inquisitive and determined. I loved how she was constantly defying her mother and shaking off the demands of society. I laughed at the numerous references to her being a little plump. By the end, she evolves and grows and becomes a capable young woman. I absolutely loved the way she shakes free of all the expectations, follows her heart and makes some painful decisions. At the end, the Eleanor we are left with is far different than the one we met early on.
- This book does not feature a heavy romance. Instead there is a small attraction that blooms into a relationship full of antagonism and then into something a bit more. Yet, the romance doesn't completely unfurl. I liked that the romance wasn't the main focus. It is subtle and just right. I especially liked that the romance was on slow burn, once I learned all the expectations for a young woman's conduct with men during this era. Eleanor at sixteen had never even witnessed a kiss. In the end, there are some tiny tendrils laid down for what will hopefully bloom into a full fledged romance; one that flourishes despite class and societal expectations.
- I thoroughly loved the historical setting. Ms. Dennard definitely did her research and she brings us the Philadelphia of the late nineteenth century. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book.
- Aside from Eleanor, there are some great secondary characters as well. My favorite was Jie, the Chinese girl. She broke free of her cultural demands and lives a free life. She is a stealthy fighter and just as capable as a man. It is refreshing to see a Chinese girl be something different.
And The Not So Much:
- The Dead play a prominent role in this book, but they aren't clearly defined. The Dead have been plaguing and terrorizing for some years, but the reader never receives a thorough explanation on how they all came to be. Were there numerous Necromancers throughout the world raising the corpses? Was there any means to protect the city? How did a corpse become one of The Hungry? Why weren't they cremating bodies to prevent them from rising? I needed more information on The Dead.
- The book presents a mystery, but unfortunately it is very clear early on who is behind the recent outbreaks of The Dead in Philadelphia. Even though it was obvious, I still enjoyed seeing all the pieces snap into place.
- Don't go into this one expecting to find brain munching zombies. The Dead just make random appearances and they aren't very frightening. If you are expecting this to be a scary, zombie book, it is not. I actually wished that The Dead played a bigger role.
- The pacing of this one was a bit slow in the beginning, but then once it gets going it moves at a quick pace, sometimes too quick, as details get glossed over a bit. In the end, it reaches a satisfying conclusion without a cliffhanger, but certainly leaves story lines to develop in the next book.
Something Strange and Deadly is a well written and entertaining debut novel. It marries steampunk with mysteries and zombies. It is a fast, fun race to discover the mind behind the strange and deadly occurrences that plague Philadelphia. This one is receiving a lot of buzz, and I can say that it is well worth the read.
"I'd prefer if eligible young men learned my faults after meeting me."
"For once my legs and skirts worked in concert, and I didn't trip over hems or lace. I just ran."
"Mama tugged the laces of my corset as tight as they would go. She grunted and I groaned, and we sounded like the giant hogs I'd seen at the zoo---except that, rather than play in the mud and eat to my heart's content, I was forced to sit daintily in the parlor without lunch."
"Why is it that no matter how realistic or rehearsed a lie is, it always rings false in the teller's ears?"
"Life still needed living even if there was something strange and deadly going on in Philadelphia."
"She poked at my bodice. "Why would I ever want to put this on? Squeeze my guts and deform my ribs? It's not natural."
"For all that Daniel hated me, maybe he liked me a little too."
"Women in pastel gowns shimmered under streetlamps, and their dragging skirts whispered like a symphony of moth's wings."
"I saw his soul. It sparkled like the sun on the river, and warmth washed over me. It was the smile after the storm."
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and I did not receive any compensation for this review. All quotations are taken from the ARC and they may differ from the final copy.
A big thank you to Shane at Itching for Books and Susan for allowing me to be a part of the tour.