Cover Impressions: This cover fits really well with the first in the series. The girl haThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: This cover fits really well with the first in the series. The girl has a seriously intense and chilling stare and begs the reader to ask whether she is emerging from the door or protecting what is within. While her expression is dark and menacing, her outfit is sweet and child-like, presenting a wonderful contrast. The scroll work on these covers always adds a delicate detail that adds interest.
The Gist: Alexis has spent the last few months in blissful normality. That is, until her sister Kasey is released from the mental hospital and promptly finds a group of friends who are a little too perfect. Worried that Kasey may be in over her head again, Alexis and her friend, Megan, join the Sunshine Club in order to protect her. The girls quickly learn that you never get beauty, poise and a launch up the social ladder without sacrifice.
Review: Alender really knows how to write her ghosts. First the evil doll-obsessed little girl and now a spirit that feeds on the teenage obsession to be pretty and popular. The novel starts off slowly, as each girl takes small steps towards "self-improvement" but features some truly chilling moments once the girls begin to depend on supernatural influences and to forget how they survived without them (the scene with Emily in the bathroom - HOOO BOY, that freaked me out a little).
Alexis is still a fairly unlikeable character. She mistrusts her friends and is reluctant to make any gestures of compassion and friendship towards her sister (she just got out of a mental hospital - invite her to some parties and don't make her eat lunch by herself - it is not that hard!). At one point she even asks herself when she turned into "The kind of person I claimed to hate" but doesn't appear to change her behavior. This gets worse as she begins to think and act like a teenage Stepford wife. Alexis' continued flaws did, however, allow me to see things from Lydia's point of view which may or may not play out in her favor in the final book.
Though this novel is the middle book in a series, I believe it could stand fairly well on its own. It does not suffer the same flaws as many middle books - where big secrets are rarely revealed and the plot only serves to prepare for the last novel. Here we have a real clear ending to one story, and the hint of the beginning of the next which made me want to jump right into As Dead As It Gets. Which is exactly what I am going to do as soon as the sun goes down!
Age: 13 and up Gender: Female Sex: Kissing Violence: Self harm with curling iron, hand to hand fighting, knifeplay Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None
“Rule one: Don’t be friends with ghosts.”
“I felt the oddest combination of emotions – happiness and apprehension at the same time. Like my heart inflated and then ran away and hid under the bed.”
“Look on the bright side, I told myself. It might not be ghosts. Maybe it was just drugs. Or blackmail.”...more
Cover Impressions: The colors here are beautifully muted and soft. The scrollwork adds aThis and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: The colors here are beautifully muted and soft. The scrollwork adds a delicate detail and reflects the lace curtain. The image of the little girl hiding in lace is just creepy enough to set the tone, without over-doing the "freak out" factor.
The Gist: Alexis lives in the quintessential Halloween Haunted House. She has always liked it, until her sister starts acting strangely. Suddenly the house appears much more sinister and Alexis must enlist the help of those she least expected in order to save her sister and banish the evil that surrounds her.
Review: This is my second time reading Bad Girls Don't Die. Even so, I could only read it in bed if my husband was there. Katie Alender does an excellent job of creating that delicious sense of suspense that only truly great scary stories can achieve. She is also incredibly skilled at writing scenes that begin with the easily explained and end with the truly terrifying.
The story falls on the shoulders of Alexis who is, at best, a deeply flawed character. She is usually callous and sometimes mean. She often goes out of her way to spread rumors about those who have hurt her in the past. This is not the character you root for from the beginning. This is the character that you realize has a lot of growing up to do and hope that she does. I have encountered these types of character before, but I am very pleased that in Alexis' case, all of her growing up does not occur within the first book. She continues this development and I hope by the third book in the series will have become a character I can be proud of.
Alender also does quite a good job of painting realistic relationships, between Alexis and her "arch enemy", her crush and her sister. The cheerleader is not all villain, there is no insta-love and the sisters do not bond over boys and shopping. Instead, we see these relationships grow and develop (albeit under extreme circumstances) and Alexis begins to see the value in each, especially the love for her family.
There are far too few truly creepy YA books out there. We tend to gorge ourselves on this genre in younger years, with Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark, but we seem to lose it as we get older. Thank you Katie Alender for bringing me back to those childhood moments of sneaking a flashlight into my room and reading beneath the covers.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both, though leaning a little more toward the females Sex: A kiss Violence: Attempted poisoning, death by gas, fire Inappropriate Language: None Substance Abuse: None
"Preps are like cheerleaders, only with less jumping"
"A Kasey-size shadow as way back in the darkest corner of the room, near the long-abandoned tool bench, making clanking noises as it dug through piles of discarded junk. Werewolf, my brain said. Zombie!" ...more
Needed to suspend disbelief at the fact that the police and mayor allowed kids to get involved in a murder investigation. Also had to skim some lovey,Needed to suspend disbelief at the fact that the police and mayor allowed kids to get involved in a murder investigation. Also had to skim some lovey, dovey, will they, won't they crap. BUT didn't figure out the killer within the first 2 chapters, YAY!...more
Slow and Boring. Not a big fan of the characters. Predictable. HATE when authors use "text speak" or try to incorporate products that they think teenaSlow and Boring. Not a big fan of the characters. Predictable. HATE when authors use "text speak" or try to incorporate products that they think teenagers will relate to (uggs, smashbox etc). Ending was tacked on and awkward. Author had no idea how girls think/feel/speak. If you don't understand them - don't write about them....more
I did not connect with the characters. Thomas was cold and, despite having a million questions at the beginning of the book, stopped asking ANY by theI did not connect with the characters. Thomas was cold and, despite having a million questions at the beginning of the book, stopped asking ANY by the end. The character of Chuck was clearly meant to evoke a sense of humanity, pity and rooting for the underdog (ala Piggy from Lord of the Flies), but his character is not developed enough for the reader to feel anything other than mild annoyance. When Teresa was introduced, it seemed that the author wanted to create a sense of a deep connection between the two teens, but had no idea how to accomplish this. I was also annoyed by the use of slang. Not only was it a poorly veiled attempt to avoid swearing, but they re-used the one word so often that it became reminiscent of an episode of the smurfs.
Some issues I had:
1. This book is a basic re-hashing of The Lord of the Flies premise but with a conspiracy theory thrown in and without the heart-wrenching plot and character development 2. The Grievers were ridiculous. It seemed like the author tried to take as many scary elements as possible and smash them together into one creature. BTW, did I miss a part where they explained why they were called Grievers or did they simply not do that? 3. What happened to not being able to talk about their memories after the changing? Alby tried to kill himself rather than speak then, all of a sudden, after Thomas is stung, both he and Alby can speak freely. Claiming this was part of the "Ending" being triggered is lame. 4. How exactly did Teresa trigger the ending? She was in a freaking coma. 5. I got really annoyed with everyone refusing to answer questions. They get a new recruit every month, you would think they would have prepared a tour and speech by now.
All in all, this seemed like a book written by a boy, for boys. I will recommend the series for my male junior high students, but will not continue reading it myself. ...more
Cover Impressions: Love it so much I am pretty sure this is going to be my Halloween cos This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes
Cover Impressions: Love it so much I am pretty sure this is going to be my Halloween costume. The bright spots of red in an otherwise monochromatic image are phenomenal and I love that you get this great image of Anna's house (once you finally tear your eyes away from the lady herself).
The Gist: Cas Lowood hunts ghosts. With the death of his father, he took up the family blade and is preparing himself for the ultimate battle - with his father's killer. Along the way he is intrigued by the story of Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost who died under mysterious circumstances and brutally murders anyone who dare enter her house. As Cas investigates, he finds a ghost that is far beyond anything he has faced before. With the help of his new friends, Thomas and Carmel, he tries to get to the bottom of Anna's murder and discover what makes her so special.
Review: This is actually my second time reading Anna Dressed in Blood. The first time was before I really got into blogging and so I didn't write a review. This time, I chose it as the season opener for my student book club.
I love the feeling of this book. Blake doesn't shy away from amazingly brutal scenes and it engages the reader in a way that a more censored version never could. This novel is not for the faint of heart. There are some truly gruesome and horrific scenes. One of my favorites involves the first time we meet Anna - the ghost who changes everything. There is very little lead up. We stop only for a short visual description before Anna unleashes her terrifying power. Anna walks a tightrope in between all powerful evil goddess and sympathetic character who we root for. The author has done an incredible job of letting us see all of the facets of her character.
I enjoyed watching all of the missteps as Cas develops friendships for the first time ever. I found myself smiling or laughing each time he would lament how much easier it was the deal with the dead rather than the living. The characters of Cas, Anna, and Thomas are decently well developed and interesting but I never really get a feel for Carmel. She doesn't seem to add anything significant to the plot other than playing the girl in their Scooby Doo Gang.
Anna Dressed in Blood is a veritable "This Is How You Do It" when it comes to the balance between suspense and action. Blake does a wonderful job providing enough action to keep the plot moving very quickly while also allowing for some relationship building and character development.
I am a fan - reading everything Kendare Blake writes for the rest of her life.
Age: 13 and up Gender: Both Sex: Kissing Violence: Graphic Supernatural Violence Inappropriate Language: Bastard,Shit, Fuck, Dick, Ass, Douche, Pussy, Bitch, Whore Substance Use/Abuse: Underage Drinking, Smoking Other Issues: Scary scenes - may give younger readers nightmares ...more