I don't know what kind of game Chloe Neill is playing. All I know is that she’s selling an unusually large chapter for the price of a novel. That’s ex...moreI don't know what kind of game Chloe Neill is playing. All I know is that she’s selling an unusually large chapter for the price of a novel. That’s exactly how Hexbound felt to me. Other than that, there’s really not much to tell. I had some problems with the way friendships were made in Firespell, and that continued in this book. Here's how it goes: Lily arrives to her new school, Scout approaches her, introduces herself and boldly announces that they are now best friends.
And God says: “It shall be done!”
I don’t know about you guys, but that’s how I made friends in preschool.
The best I can say about Hexbound is that I finished it. I made it through somehow. Admittedly, I laughed out loud a couple of times, but I was also rolling my eyes every time Jason changed into a werewolf. If Neill had a problem with nudity in a YA novel, why on earth has she decided to involve werewolves?!? Jason changes form every other minute, but there is no mention of clothes anywhere.
I’m still waiting for the next chapter. The first two books together were one half of a proper novel at best. So we just have to wait and see where all this is going. (less)
This is a great example of how a perfectly good idea can be ruined with lousy writing. I chose Afterlight because I was in serious need of some vampi...more This is a great example of how a perfectly good idea can be ruined with lousy writing. I chose Afterlight because I was in serious need of some vampires, and because the main character is a tattoo artist. I adore tattoos (I have three myself) and I honestly thought it would be a fun read. I was SO wrong! Elle Jasper’s writing is a slow torture – the first 50 pages of her novel are completely useless, they serve no purpose at all. Riley is drinking tea, walking her dog, describing her driving skills and taking care of her little brother. After that things start happening faster and they even get interesting for a while. But not for long.
Here’s what I found seriously annoying (among other things): - for some reason, Ms. Jasper adores the words ‘urban decay’. Everythig is urban decayed, even the pants on Phin. After the third time, it becomes ridiculous. I’m sorry, lady, but I honestly have no idea what urban decayed pants are supposed to look like. - The male protagonist’s name is Eligius Dupré (Eli). Apparently the author was so proud she came up with such a great name that she used it in full on every single page. Ok, you like the name, we get it. But there’s no need to put it in every other sentence, is there? - Describing unnecessary actions almost drove me crazy. “I pulled the Jeep over, killed the engine, threw it into first gear, and set the emergency brake, than just sat for a moment as I took in the area.” See what I mean?!
What I DID like is the music on Riley’s playlist. Same albums can be found on my iPod: Breaking Benjamin, 30 Seconds to Mars, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Metric and so on.
To conclude, if you’re not a hardcore UF and PR fan, don’t bother reading Afterlight. The story is not that bad, but Jasper’s writing is awful.
In Daimon, the short story prequel, Alex’s mother was killed by a group of Strigoi daimons, but Alex was lucky enough to escape. At the beginning of H...moreIn Daimon, the short story prequel, Alex’s mother was killed by a group of Strigoi daimons, but Alex was lucky enough to escape. At the beginning of Half-Blood, she is found by Dimitri Aiden and other Guardians Sentinels and returned to the Covenant, where she hopes to continue her education. However, the dean is none too happy with her. She has lost three years of training and he thinks she shouldn’t be allowed to rejoin her classmates. Instead, he wants to give her the elixir which will turn her into a mindless slave for the Moroi Pures. Of course, Aiden steps up and offers to train her in his free time and because of his words, Alex is given a chance to prove that she can become just as good as the others by the end of the summer.
Relationships between Pures and Half-Bloods are strictly forbidden. Alex is a half-blood, try guessing what Aiden is! If they end up together and someone finds out, nothing will happen to Aiden because he’s a Pure, but Alex will be forced into slavery and will probably have to be a servant in her stepfather’s (who also happens to be a very powerful politician) house.
I think this book was some sort of an experiment: how much can an author take from another author and avoid being sued for plagiarism?! Jennifer Armentrout crossed the line considerably if you ask me. It’s true that we are used to YA paranormal literature being formulaic, but that’s not what this is about. Armentrout wasn’t just following the usual formula - more than half of this book is flat-out stolen. Far too many characters and situations were just copied from the Vampire Academy series to Half-Blood for it to be an accident. I can't help but wonder what this woman was thinking. She had too know how obvious it'll be.
Under normal circumstances, Half-Blood would have been a solid 4-star book for me. The characters are interesting enough, the world is well built, the plot is compelling and the writing itself isn’t half bad. But I can’t bring myself to reward Armentrout’s actions. If I do, if we all do, where will it end?
There are some differences between Half-Blood and Vampire Academy, especially in the second half. But by the time I reached those parts, I was already going back and forth from depressed to angry and I just couldn’t find it within myself to care.
Vampire Academy fans should read this out of sheer curiosity. I recommend borrowing it from the library or something because buying it means encouraging other thieves authors to do the same. I really don’t want to see The Panthers of Hope Falls on some shelf next year.(less)
I was drawn to the first book of the Drake Chronicles because of its shiny cover and the intriguing title. Whenever I choose a book based on those two...moreI was drawn to the first book of the Drake Chronicles because of its shiny cover and the intriguing title. Whenever I choose a book based on those two things alone, I end up disappointed. However, My Love Lies Bleeding won me over with its amusing characters, fast pacing, hilarious moments and not a single love triangle in sight. It was a highly entertaining, feel-good story that surprised me and made me laugh and I instantly became a huge fan of the series.
Drake Chronicles revolve around a royal vampire family and their human friends. Every book focuses on a different Drake brother and is told from multiple POVs. These books are essentially young adult paranormal romances, but unlike so many PNRs, they have great plots, lots of action, a large number of well-built secondary characters and an abundance of delightful, accessible humor.
Bleeding Hearts is the fourth book of the series and it focuses on Connor Drake and Lucy’s cousin Christabel who came to live with Lucy and her parents when her mother went into rehab. Ever since Helena Drake became the queen, the family has been under constant attack from their political enemies, and of course, the blue-skinned and vicious Hel-Blar vampires. In addition, Solange is still struggling with the fact that she’s becoming a different kind of vampire, one that has never been seen before and she’s allowing herself to be influenced by some morally impaired royals as a result. Lucy keeps being pushed away for her own protection, but she fights back every single time with Nicholas as her ally. I’d missed Lucy horribly in the last two books and it was great to see things through her eyes once again. Nothing is quite the same without her stubbornness and sense of humor. Connor is not my favorite Drake, but he’s not far behind either, and after a while, even Christabel became likeable, despite her infatuation with Mr. Darcy.
I had every intention of giving this book four stars, but when I reached the last page and saw that it ends with a cliffhanger, I took one star off my rating.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who ma...moreWell, it was bound to happen sooner or later: an Aussie YA novel I didn’t enjoy at all! In fact, if not for my two wonderful readalong partners who made the experience not only bearable, but extremely fun, I would have given up after a hundred pages or so.
Ava’s parents are supposedly very liberal, and her girlfriend Chloe has an owerpowering personality. Together they’re pushing Ava into an alternative lifestyle she secretly hates. Oddly enough, all Ava wants is to wear pink and sing in a musical. She decides to move to a new school, where she plans to find a way of joining the in crowd, or Pastels, as she calls them. However, that doesn’t turn out so well for Ava. Instead of getting the role she wanted in the school musical, she ends up working with the stage crew, a group of misfits led by a boy named Sam. She ends up balancing three different lives and three different personalities, none of which are compatible with the others.
Characterization is where Wilkinson failed spectacularly. Having read A Pocketful of Eyes first, I knew that she was more than capable of creating more interesting and complex characters, which is why I have to conclude that she did this on purpose. But why? Every character in Pink is a walking stereotype: we have Ava’s intellectually snobbish girlfriend Chloe, playing the role of a lesbian feminist; Ava’s parents, so obsessed with being tolerant that they end up not tolerating anything mainstream; Alexis, the shallow blonde, perfect in everything she does; a gay friend, a secretly gay friend, a friend embarrassed by his rich parents, and in the end, Ava herself, completely devoid of personality.
Ava is one of the most self-centered, infuriating characters I’ve ever stumbled upon. The series of disastrous decisions she made in such a short period of time nearly drove me insane. Stories about personal growth by definition introduce a character that makes poor choices at the beginning, but finds a way to redeem himself/herself by the end. After one particularly bad decision, I’m afraid Ava reached the point of no redemption in my eyes.
Unfortunately, I doubt that I’ll be reading any more of Wilkinson’s novels. After reading two of them, I can honestly say that she’s not an author whose work I enjoy. (less)
First of all, let me just say that reading this as an ebook is a crime against literature and should be punis...moreEach time someone dies, a library burns.
First of all, let me just say that reading this as an ebook is a crime against literature and should be punished as such. The edition I’m holding resembles a diary with its worn cover, wonderful illustrations, little handwritten notes, blue ink and a rubber band holding it all together. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, the prettiest book I’ve ever seen. If you can’t get your hands on a paper edition, wait until you do or you’ll be robbing yourself of the most wonderful experience.
Second, I think it’s safe to say that this book isn't for everyone. The mixed reviews have already proven as much. Many of you would probably be severely irritated by this dreamlike experience. Besides, a lot of people find Lennie to be quite unlikeable and I must admit that I can see why. She makes so many horrible mistakes. She is lost, insecure, her actions can often be interpreted as selfish and she is very skilful in telling lies. If that’s all someone can see in her, there’s no reason to even try to like her. But I saw a different layer of her character, one that is confused, scared and alone and it didn’t take long for her to win me over.
I put aside for a moment the fact that I’ve turned into a total strumpet-harlot-trollop-wench-jezebel-tart-harridan-chippy-nymphet because I’ve just realized something incredible. This is it - what all the hoopla is about, what Wuthering Heights is about – it all boils down to this feeling rushing through me in this moment with Joe as our mouths refuse to part. Who knew all this time I was one kiss away from being Cathy and Juliet and Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Chatterley!?
Writing a plot summary or trying to explain The Sky Is Everywhere in any way would probably do more harm than good. If I tried to write about Lennie’s story, about her sister Bailey who died of arrhythmia while rehearsing for the role of Juliet, I’d be running the risk of making this book sound so ordinary. The Sky Is Everywhere is nothing short of extraordinary in every way that counts.
Joe… must I go there?! I’m trying to be an adult here, a serious, calm, respectable adult. But Joe can take that away in a second and turn me into a useless, gushing teenager with his joeliciousness, his musicality, his gentleness, his humor, his boldness and his Frenchness and those damn eyelashes. Bat. Bat. Bat. *swoon*
The secondary characters are just as amazing: the hippie Gram who grows flowers famous for their aphrodisiac powers, the five-times-married-five-times-divorced uncle no woman can resist and the sweet and charming brothers Fontaine. They all had a huge part in making this story so special, so unlike any other story I’ve ever read.
And Jandy Nelson, where on earth did you come from?!? Your writing is like this huge energy ball that found its place in my stomach and just exploded over and over and over again, making me cry, laugh or jump with excitement, turning me into whatever you wanted me to be at that particular moment. You had a remote control for my moods and you weren’t afraid to use it and for that you have my eternal love and respect. Yes, I had a Maggie-sized hole in my heart and yes, I thought you might fill it for a second, but instead I ended up with a Maggie-sized hole and a Jandy-sized hole right next to it. You are nobody’s replacement, lady. You are far too good for that.
I will shut up now and try to preserve some semblance of dignity.
Oh, but I forgot my favorite quote: This is our story to tell. He says it in his Ten Commandments way and it hits me that way: profoundly. You’d think for all the reading I do, I would have thought about this before, but I haven’t. I’ve never once thought about the interpretative, the storytelling aspect of life, of my life. I always felt like I was in a story, yes, but not like I was the author of it, or like I had any say in its telling whatsoever. You can tell your story any way you damn well please. It’s your solo. (less)
I’m at a loss on how to rate this book. It’s really in a league of its own. I was tempted to give five stars, but I just couldn’t do that out of respe...moreI’m at a loss on how to rate this book. It’s really in a league of its own. I was tempted to give five stars, but I just couldn’t do that out of respect for Feed, The Reapers Are the Angels, Raw Blue and other books that blew me away and changed me forever. But in all (un)seriousness: this book is five star material and it’s absolutely hilarious!
You know those comedies that don’t make the least bit of sense? The ones you watch fully aware that they are stupid, and yet you can’t help laughing your ass off? That’s sort of how this is. The story has more holes than Swiss cheese, so if you’re looking for a serious YA zombie novel, you definitely won’t find it here. In fact, this book should come with a warning on the front cover: Abandon logic all ye who enter here! But the characters were adorable and they made me laugh out loud on almost every page. That alone made it worth reading.
Kate Grable is a science geek and the student trainer. She tends to minor injuries and hands out Gatorade to the players. Her job would be a lot easier if she wasn’t taking care of the worst football team in existence. She also has to watch her crush, Aaron, get beaten every single time he plays. They hit Aaron really hard; I heard the whoosh! his lungs made when all the air was forced out. I wanted to beat the heck out of the JV guys for that, except I wouldn’t know what to do in a fist fight without a manual.
Kate soon discovers that the desperate Coach has been giving illegal shots to some of his players and that those same players are turning into zombies. She has to use all her knowledge and available weapons to prevent her brother, Aaron and her friends from becoming zombies as well.
The next time you need a few hours of pure fun, read this book! I promise you won’t be sorry. (less)
4.5 stars Wow. This was – wow! I liked Intrinsical, but Indelible was SO good! I could not put this book down.
After spending the summer in Brazil with...more4.5 stars Wow. This was – wow! I liked Intrinsical, but Indelible was SO good! I could not put this book down.
After spending the summer in Brazil with her Vovó, Yara is finally back home and reunited with Brent, Cherie and Steve. They are all hoping for a quiet senior year, a chance to get their grades in order and spend some time together, but things at Pendrell never work out quite like that. There’s a secret society determined to take advantage of Yara and Brent’s powers, an angry ghost found a way to attach itself to Yara, and on top of all that, Brent it still struggling with the consequences of last year’s events.
My favorite part of Indelible is the tender, honest relationship between Yara and Brent. I am so tired of instalove, tired of relationships based on a crooked smile and not much else. These two are equals, they complete each other in every way and even when they have problems, it’s for reasons I can actually believe. But Lani Woodland did more than just write a stable relationship – she proved that it’s entirely possible to produce a successful YA novel without resorting to love triangle clichés.
Every problem I had with Intrinsical (and really, there weren’t that many) disappeared without a trace in Indelible. Yara is now one of my favorite characters in paranormal YA. I love how she thinks things through, how she never makes stupid mistakes and always does the right thing, even when it means hurting someone she loves.
I’ve probably read more than a hundred young adult paranormal novels this year, but Indelible still found its place in my top 3. Lani Woodland did an extraordinary job of showing us and, more importantly, her fellow writers that quality still pays off.
"It was a little after midnight, and I was trying to sleep mostly out of self-defense."
My initial rating for this book was 4.5 stars. Then, while I w...more"It was a little after midnight, and I was trying to sleep mostly out of self-defense."
My initial rating for this book was 4.5 stars. Then, while I was trying to write a review (I say trying because all my attempts have been pretty unsuccessful by my standards), I just went ahead and changed it to 5. It felt like the right thing to do. I suppose it would be easy enough to start pointing out flaws, complain about this and that, compare this book to Linger and especially Shiver, but I don’t want to do any of that. Not to Forever. The truth is, even if it didn’t have as many breathtaking moments as the two books before it, I was still very happy with how it was done. Besides, Maggie Stiefvater deserved better than that. What she gave me with this trilogy cannot be measured in stars. It cannot be taken apart or put into words. I’d always believed that there’s nothing beyond language, but this time, words really are inadequate. And, my dear GoodReaders, you have no idea how much it costs me to admit it.
Maggie Stiefvater has a way of making me see beauty in the simplest things. She doesn’t create it, she just uses her words to point out what was already there and show it in a completely different light. Never before have I stopped to notice the quiet sadness in the most mundane, repetitive moments but it doesn’t surprise me at all that it was Stiefvater who pulled that particular heartstring and woke me up. And I do feel awakened, at least for now.
All these characters started as one thing, and ended up as their true selves. People keep talking about Cole and how much he’s grown in Forever, but Grace did too, just in a less obvious way. Cole found purpose, Isabel found softness, Sam found determination and Grace found completion. Honestly, what more can you ask?
"It was like I’d unfolded all my paper crane memories and found something unfamiliar printed on them. Somehow along the way, hope had been folded into one of those birds. My whole life, I had thought that my story was, again and again: Once upon a time, there was a boy, and he had to risk everything to keep what he loved. But the real story was: Once upon a time, there was a boy, and his fear ate him alive. I was done being afraid."
While rereading these books will certainly not be the same as reading them for the first time, the very fact that I will be rereading them, and probably many times at that, gives me a reason not to say goodbye right now. I can never do this book justice. I will never be able to write anything worthy of Stiefvater’s beautiful prose, so I might as well stop trying. After 1150 pages full of emotions and truth, all I can say is: Thank you. (less)
Exactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into...moreExactly a year before, the Soviets have begun moving troops over the borders into the country. Then, in August, Lithuania was officially annexed into the Soviet Union. When I complained at the dinner table, Papa yelled at me and told me to never, ever say anything derogatory about the Soviets. He sent me to my room. I didn’t say anything out loud after that. But I thought about it a lot.
Despite her father’s caution, 15-year-old Lena Vilkas, her 10-year-old brother Jonas and their mother Elena are charged as criminals and arrested in their home in Lithuania by Soviet officers. Lena’s Papa didn’t return from work the previous day and they don’t even know if he’s alive. The three of them are forced into a train car with forty-six other people, mostly women and children. Among them are Ona and her newborn baby, taken from the hospital just as soon as the umbilical cord was cut, Miss. Grybas, a perfectly harmless spinster teacher, a mean bald man, supposedly a stamp collector, Mrs. Arvydas, wife of a murdered Lithuanian officer, and her 17-year-old son Andrius, who has to pretend to be feeble-minded in order to stay with his mother. Needless to say, they are all treated like cattle.
After spending more than 8 weeks in the train car with only two buckets of water and a bucket of food a day for all of them, they arrive to a beet farm where they’re expected to work all day, most of them digging in frozen ground with hand shovels and bare hands. For months they have nothing but hunger and disease in labor camp, and just when they think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they get moved to Siberia - supposedly to build a factory, but in reality, they’re just expected to die.
Lena’s story is powerful for many reasons. Of course none of us can stay indifferent to a story about so much suffering and Ruta Sepetys chose a very smart way to tell it. Her writing is very matter of fact, her sentences are short and to the point. She allowed herself very little emotion, thus giving the reader a chance to fill in the gaps. I think it was the only way to tell such a horrendous story without overdoing it.
When I finished this book last night, I was completely grief-stricken. I thought: “What am I supposed to do now? Am I supposed to just stand up and walk around like I didn’t just take a long, hard look at the ugliest side of humanity?” For the first time in my life, I felt that my education has failed me. How is it possible that we just went around all this, barely mentioning it? We dedicated so much time to Hitler and his victims (and we should have), but we’re talking about 20 million people here! 20 million people they just omitted to tell us about. I’m not saying I was completely clueless about it all, far from it, but I was never really confronted with it. And I absolutely needed to be.
I think everyone should read Between Shades of Gray. Saying that it will help you appreciate the little things sounds like a horrible cliché, but it’s also undeniably true. Just get ready to be crushed into pieces by all the atrocities and suffering this relatively short book describes.(less)
We were completely different. Danny was tall, sweet, graceful despite legs that went on forever. I was little, moody, uncoordinated. We didn...more4.5 stars
We were completely different. Danny was tall, sweet, graceful despite legs that went on forever. I was little, moody, uncoordinated. We didn't like the same music or the same movies. He put onions and mushrooms on his pizza and never wore socks and could sleep through a pipe bomb. I survived on bananas and yogurt and always wore hats and got carsick unless I chewed gum with my headphones on. It didn't matter. I loved him.
As soon as she entered puberty, strange things started happening around Wren: flying objects and exploding light bulbs became a regular occurrence. This wasn't completely unexpected: all the women in Wren's family can do the same, but for some reason, Wren's mother refuses to talk about it or teach her how to control it. So when Wren’s boyfriend Danny dies in a car accident, Wren decides to use her power and bring him back to her. Unfortunately, Danny that rises from the grave isn’t the same easygoing Danny they buried two weeks earlier. The new Danny, angry and confused, is not nearly as harmless as Wren thought he would be. Just keeping him hidden and compliant might prove to be too big a challenge for one seventeen-year-old girl.
I enjoyed the new take on zombies. Garvey wrote: My zombie, such as he is, isn’t George Romero’s, as you probably figured out. He’s closer to the kind of zombie you might create with Haitian vodou magic, a corpse reanimated and then controlled by a sorcerer. While zombies we’re used to reading about are usually scary in a grotesque way, Danny was creepy and deeply disturbing. Every time Wren kissed him or placed her head on his silent chest, I felt the coldness of his body on my own skin and I shuddered involuntarily. He really made my skin crawl. It was easy enough to forget that he was once a warm and loving boy and that none of it was his fault.
I never even realized how thoroughly I’d connected with Wren until I caught myself siding with her even when she was obviously wrong. I don’t think I even noticed the other (living) characters, not in their own merit at least. They meant to me what they meant to Wren, and if she suddenly changed her mind about one of them, I changed my mind together with her.
The funny thing is that Wren isn’t a character I’d normally like, but that’s where Garvey’s strength lies. Create a selfless, heroic character and everyone will be crazy about him/her under any circumstances, but write a girl who is self-indulgent and careless and make me care about her - and you'll have accomplished something not many authors can.
I think that’s what every emotional reader seeks – a character he/she can connect with entirely. But Cold Kiss is also thought-provoking and original, and Amy Garvey’s marvelous writing skills add more magic to this powerful, compelling and haunting story. I will not only read whatever she decides to write next, I’ll probably preorder it as well.
Favorite quote: Love like that is what they make movies about. It's the thing you're supposed to want, the answer to every question, the song that you're supposed to sing. But love like that can be too big, too. It can be something you shouldn't be trusted to hold when you're the kind of person who drops the eggs and breaks the remote control. Love doesn’t break easily, I found. But people do. (less)
With The Golden Lily, Richelle Mead once again proved that the world she created for Rose and now Sydney is magical and alluring and that, due to that...moreWith The Golden Lily, Richelle Mead once again proved that the world she created for Rose and now Sydney is magical and alluring and that, due to that fact, she can get away with a lot. First half of The Golden Lily is essentially plotless. The reader gets to spend time with all the familiar characters, and it’s reminiscent of spending an uneventful Sunday afternoon with your friends: everyone is relaxed and happy they’re there, and the entire thing is absolutely tension-free. The second half showed signs of an actual plot – certainly an improvement over the first, or the almost plotless Bloodlines. There is a group of vampire hunters determined to kill Sonya Karp because they think she’s still a Strigoi. With Adrian’s help, Sydney uncovers a shared history between these Hunters and the Alchemists, and slowly she starts to realize how far she’s drifted away from the Alchemists’ views.
Once again, I found Sydney to be vexing and difficult to relate to. I understand her social ineptitude better than you might think, but there were times when simple logic would have allowed her to see things that she just failed to notice. It is hard to accept that a character that is, above all, described as insanely intelligent, can be so infuriatingly dense at times. There was a noticeable improvement over Bloodlines and I certainly liked her more this time, but making her seem stupid in order to further complicate the plot (or hide the fact that there is none) isn’t the way to go.
Unlike Sydney, Adrian showed radical improvement. Fear not, ladies, he is still the same old rambling alcoholic who uses too much hair products, but the hero in him is starting to shine through and it is a beautiful sight indeed.
Love triangles remain Richelle Mead’s trademark. Her ability to neglect plot, pacing and character development and focus solely on complicated relationships is quite scary. This time we have the ever-present Adrian-Dimitri-Rose (although, to be fair, it’s starting to fade), replaced by Adrian-Sydney-Brayden. Continuing from Bloodlines we have Eddie-Jill-Micah, and then, of course, to make matters even worse, Jill-Eddie-Angeline.
Although I smell yet another love triangle coming in The Indigo Spell (poor Adrian just can’t catch a break), I know I won’t be able to resist immersing myself into this world once again. Besides, I already preordered because I’m slightly OC and I need to complete the series on my shelf. As Lisa would say, being obsessive-compulsive is expensive. ;)
Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. 4.5 stars
Not many authors can scare you to death by eliciting vivid, gruesome imagery and,...moreJust your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story. 4.5 stars
Not many authors can scare you to death by eliciting vivid, gruesome imagery and, at the same time, take your breath away with sheer beauty of their prose. I never expected Kendare Blake to be one of those authors – that’s why her book took me completely by surprise. It was very different from what I thought it would be. When I choose a book based on a beautiful cover and an intriguing title (and yes, I really AM that shallow), especially one that none of my friends have read, I usually end up disappointed. Anna Dressed in Blood undoubtedly looks amazing and has a memorable title, but the most interesting part is right where it should be – between the covers.
Cassius Theseus Lowood grew up in an unconventional family. His mother is a white witch and his father was in the business of killing the dead for the second time, at least until one of the ghosts he was hunting murdered him in the most gruesome way. In Cas’s world, dead people often don’t want to leave the place where they died, especially if they were victims of a violent crime. Instead, they stay behind as monstrous echoes of their former selves – most of them seeking revenge for the horrors they experienced. When Cas’s father died, Cas inherited his duties and his powerful athame. He’s been moving all over the country and killing ghosts since he was 14 years old. But he’s never run into a ghost as powerful as Anna nor did he ever try so hard to understand what drives a dead person to murder innocent people. Anna is different in every way. She was killed in 1958. while walking to the prom in her beautiful white dress. When her throat was slit, blood covered her entirely, thus earning her the name Anna Dressed in Blood. Someone cut her throat, but that’s an understatement. Someone nearly cut her head clean off. They say she was wearing a white party dress, and when they found her, the whole thing was stained red. That’s why they call her Anna Dressed in Blood.
Ever since her murder, Anna’s been tied to the house she grew up in. Twenty seven people have tried to enter, and none of them came out alive.
Nothing is black and white in Anna's story: she is both a killer and a victim, a horrible monster and an innocent girl – and just when you think you figured her out, she turns around and does something completely unexpected! Her entire personality changes as quickly as her appearance which forces Cas to doubt every single choice he made since the beginning of his hunt.
I don’t usually watch horror movies and I always do my best to avoid horror novels, (view spoiler)[Oh, so what? I live alone and I scare easily. :D (hide spoiler)], but black witches, white witches, people trapped in walls, Voodoo, athames, ghost hunting, cursed objects, a strong male protagonist and unexpected developments made me very happy that I decided to read this book. I really hope it gets the attention it deserves. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Closer to 3.5 stars. To say that I'd been eagerly anticipating Girl of Nightmares would be an understatement of epic proportions. Anna Dressed in Bloo...moreCloser to 3.5 stars. To say that I'd been eagerly anticipating Girl of Nightmares would be an understatement of epic proportions. Anna Dressed in Blood is one of my favorite books and I simply HAD to learn Anna's fate as soon as possible. I had unreasonably high expectations, true, but for the most part, Kendare Blake came through. In the sixth row of the theater, in the third chair in, Anna winks at me. Or maybe she just blinks. I can't tell. She's missing half of her face
A lot of my questions were answered, and a lot of those answers surprised me. The world around Cas and Anna expanded in this second installment. I loved the things we discovered about Cas’s athame, his father’s life, The Order of Biodag Dubh and Cas’s role in it, parts of his life even he was blissfully unaware of until that point. I also adored that Blake was brave enough to take them all to London and Scotland – it was a bold move and one that certainly paid off.
If there’s one thing that bothered me in Girl of Nightmares, it was the same thing that bothered everyone else: not enough Girl of Nightmares! Anna was absent during most of this book, and her absence was acutely felt. What’s worse, Cas became mopey as a result, not even a shadow of his former self. Most of the time I wanted to shake him hard enough to make his teeth rattle, just to wake him up and get him angry, stubborn, whatever! Anything would have been better than whining and self-pity.
Compared to Anna Dressed in Blood, Girl of Nightmares is a quieter book that focuses more on introspection and character relationships. Aside from one particularly eerie scene (yes, I do mean the Suicide Forest), I didn’t find it nearly as frightening. There were fabulous moments, but I kept remembering those bodies stuck in walls in Anna, and everything paled in comparison. Yes, this book had its moments, it was creepy and gruesome at times, but it was never disturbing like Anna Dressed in Blood. Take this for example:
His skin is black as a struck match, cracked and oozing liquid metal heat, like he's covered by a cooling layer of lava. The eyes stand out bright white. I can't make out from this distance if they have corneas. God I hope they have corneas. I hate that creepy weird-eye shit.
Awesome, right? I wanted more of this, and less whining and moping around. Can you really blame me?
Carmel’s uncharacteristic behavior was also hard to accept. It wasn’t what she did that bothered me, it was that it wasn’t like her at all. Combined with Cas’s constant whining, her selfishness nearly drove me insane. Only Thomas remained unchanged, always polite, always reliable.
The ending, however, blew me away. It was better than I’d dared hope. In fact, the entire last part more than made up for a few earlier problems. Overall, Girl of Nightmares concludes this duology in a more-than-satisfactory way.
2.5 stars With one hundred pages and three POVs less, plus some small changes in worlbuilding, Dearly, Departed could have been an excellent novel. As...more2.5 stars With one hundred pages and three POVs less, plus some small changes in worlbuilding, Dearly, Departed could have been an excellent novel. As it is, parts of it are amazing, while other parts left me extremely frustrated, disappointed and angry.
If only Lia Habel decided against introducing five (view spoiler)[that’s right, FIVE (hide spoiler)] different POVs, one precious star in my rating would have been saved. At least two of those five contributed nothing but annoyance to the narrative. I’m sure there were far better ways of telling the same story, especially the parts concerning the villain’s actions. The two chapters told from Wolfe’s perspective felt completely out of place and they gave me the impression that the author took an easy way out. As for Pamela’s POV, it could have made a decent new installment or a spin off at some point. Having her thrown in the middle of Nora and Bram’s story made me strongly dislike her, not that she was all that likeable to begin with. If nothing else, she made a pretty good contrast to Nora’s character. While Pamela is whiny and dull, Nora is fierce and resourceful. Contrary to the world that was built for her, Nora is not a girl who will just hide behind anyone’s back. Despite her privileged upbringing and the fact that being a delicate lady is all that’s expected of her, when zombies come, she picks up the gun and starts shooting. It’s no wonder Bram fell in love with her. I fell in love with her!
My biggest problem, however, was not with all the POVs, it was with the society of New Victoria. While I found the idea of going back to (some) old values intriguing, I simply cannot believe that such a large group of women would willingly regress two hundred years from now. Passages like: St. Cyprian’s was meant to create ladies who floated when they walked, played a little piano, and were otherwise charming and unobtrusive. To that end, it was a sheltered environment. Television was forbidden and access to the Aethernet was strictly filtered. and Women were forbidden from joining the army, of course… and “It is through marriage that we can both improve our positions. I want to get out of this hole in the ground. I want to take my place within the best set again. Why do you not understand this?” made me want to cry in frustration. Regardless of the circumstances, I find it very unlikely that women would allow themselves to be treated as furniture again, especially at the end of the 22nd century.
That said, there were many good parts as well. I simply adore Nora, Bram and their undead friends. I fell in love with so many of the secondary characters and I’ll read the next installment mostly because of them. I just hope some minor changes will be made.
I should probably mention that the last part made me cry a little. Hmm. Maybe I'm just getting sappy in my old age.
She had more signum than just what was on her hands, feet and face. The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols, and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest, and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers. Gilded, head to toe. No wonder she glittered like lost treasure.
Not just a pretty cover after all. I didn’t even wait to finish Blood Rights before ordering the second and the third book from The Book Depository. I only needed to read the first 20% to know, without a doubt, that this is a series I’ll love.
Chrysabelle is not an ordinary human. Her whole body is covered in gold tattoos and at 115, she looks no more than 20 years old. She’s a comarré, a human hybrid born and bred for one sole purpose: to feed a noble vampire. A comarré’s body produces more blood than it needs, so every comarré needs to be fed from regularly or they develop hypervolemia. Their blood rights are sold to a noble and nobody else gets to feed from them as long as their Master lives. In return, vampire saliva gives the comarré super-human strength and eternal youth. But Chrysabelle is special even among her own kind. Her blood rights were sold to Lord Algernon, Dominus of the House of Tepes, for 22 million Euro, the highest price any comarré has ever achieved. She spent almost a hundred years in Algernon’s house, until one day her Master got killed by a weapon only a comarré can wield. Instead of enjoying her freedom after 100 years of servitude, Chrysabelle must leave Corvinestri and travel to Paradise City in order to try and clear her name.
Even in Paradise City, Chrysabelle has no one to turn to but Mal, the only vampire in the world who wants nothing to do with her. Mal used to be a noble vampire of great power, one of the strongest in the House of Tepes, but he became anathema after being cursed for the second time. Because of his curse, every person he sinks his fangs into must die, and those he kills end up living inside his head, haunting him forever. His body is covered with names of his victims. To avoid adding another voice to the constant noise in his head, he wants to stay as far away from Chrysabelle as possible, no matter how hungry he is or how good her blood smells to him. However, Chrysabelle offers to help him lift his curse, and that’s the only thing Mal cannot refuse.
You judge me while you have no idea what it's like. My head is never quiet. Never. You try spending just twenty-four hours without a moment's privacy and see if it doesn't make you a little crazy. I live that every day and night.
Some described Blood Rights as being halfway between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, but I have to disagree. This is urban fantasy in its purest form. Sure, we have a strong heroine and a strong hero and they DO work together, but the focus is not on will-they-won’t-they at all, at least I didn’t see it that way. The worldbuilding is far too good for paranormal romance: I loved the combination of old vampire traditions and the technology one could expect in the year 2067. Supporting characters are also fantastic. Tatiana is one of the best villains in urban fantasy as far as I’m concerned, and Mal’s companions, Fi and Doc, are so interesting that they deserve their own trilogy.
Pure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorg...morePure was deliciously dark and twisted, but to me, it just wasn’t good enough.
Three women step out – all fused – a tangle of cloth hiding their engorged middle. Parts of each face seem to be shiny and stiff as if fused with plastic. Groupies, that’s what they’re called. One of the women has sloped shoulders, a curved spine. There are many arms, some pale and freckled, the others dark.
It took me about 120 pages to really get into this book – much more than it should have, of course. I always struggle with dystopias at first, but it’s usually for two or three chapters, not more than that. The beginning was very slow, and although I understand the need to build the atmosphere, especially in a book whose main goal seems to be to shock and repulse, I felt that it should have been done gradually, or at least differently. As much as I appreciated (though not enjoyed) the descriptions of people fused with objects or other people, I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s all I would ever get. Fortunately, things started moving just a little faster after those 120 pages, but Baggott still kept pressing the “pause” button on her action scenes in order to describe every little thing her characters came across. Everyone who knows me at least a little bit knows that I’m a big fan of descriptive writing when it serves to evoke a wide palette of emotion. My problem with Pure was that it aimed to evoke only one - disgust. After a hundred pages or so, it became extremely tiresome.
The story is told from multiple points of view. Oddly enough, the one I preferred, the one I could easily identify with, was neither Pressia nor Partridge, it was Lyda, the girl Partridge sort of liked, but mostly just used to get out of the Dome. I eventually started liking Partridge too, even though that took a while, but Pressia never really came alive for me. I still have no idea who she really is and how I’m supposed to feel about her. I would have loved to know more about the creatures she made to trade them on the market, but the one thing I wanted described in detail was just mentioned once or twice in passing.
As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel isn’t the romance, the action, or even the writing – it’s social structure. You can be the most skilled writer on the planet, but if your society isn’t convincing enough, you will lose my interest before you can say ‘write a better book’. For me, this is where Baggott failed the most- I wanted to know more – more about the government on both sides (but more outside the Dome), about how it all came to be, and especially about the day when the world went to hell in a handbasket. I want to know how Partridge’s father became the most important person in the world, the only real decision maker. Where were the old governments? Who exactly pulled the strings ever since Partridge’s parents were young? Instead of focusing on endless descriptions of Groupies and Dusts, I would have liked to see at least some of those questions answered. Unfortunately, the little information I was offered wasn’t nearly believable enough.
That doesn’t mean that Pure was all bad. There were things I liked a lot, especially the fact that it managed to surprise me a few times. In a genre where predictability is accepted and even expected, Baggott somehow included quite a few twists and turns that I never saw coming. I think I would have liked Pure more if it were about a hundred pages shorter. It had its moments and I believe I will read book 2 when it comes out, but unfortunately, this one left a lot to be desired.
Favorite quote: She glances back before stepping into the alley, and she catches her grandfather looking at her the way he does sometimes – as if she’s already gone, as if he’s practicing sorrow.
I look down at the ground and close my eyes. After a moment, I open them. I see my bare toes on the road. I am here. I am not dreaming. This is me. This...moreI look down at the ground and close my eyes. After a moment, I open them. I see my bare toes on the road. I am here. I am not dreaming. This is me. This is my life. But it doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel like mine, it still feels like a dream I’m in, that I’ve been put in.
This is one of those books that will inspire a polarized reaction. Some of you will love it. Most of you will probably hate it. It’s odd in so many ways – not to everyone’s taste for sure – but here’s a small help: if you enjoyed Wake by Lisa McMann, you might enjoy As I Wake, too. I for one adore authors who are brave enough to write something completely different, especially in YA.
The most obvious thing that sets this book apart from others I’ve read recently is the writing style. It is very unusual, almost too bare at times. Parts of it read like poetry, and in those parts the author used not only words, but space as well. She often put each short sentence on a new line, thus giving her story a rhythm that is highly unusual in prose, but that makes it very easy to read.
The story is equally unusual: Ava suffers from complete memory loss, a condition the doctors attribute to a brain inflammation they somehow failed to notice. They decide she’s healthy enough to be sent home with a woman claiming to be her mother. Ava does her best to fit into her old life, but when her memories start coming back, they don’t make any sense at all. She remembers being a girl that looks like the Ava she is now, but not quite. She remembers living in a tightly controlled society, working for the State Antiterrorism Taskforce as a listener, spying on those who represent a potential threat to the government. The world she remembers is one where your every move is monitored, your every word is recorded, and you can get publicly executed for doing something as simple as falling in love, unless, of course, it’s government-approved. What’s more, she remembers the people around her, but as slightly different versions of themselves. She remembers seeing her friend Olivia clubbed to death for having an affair with another girl, but here Olivia is, alive and well and attending high school together with everyone else. Then a boy shows up, and Ava starts remembering other parts of her previous life: a forbidden love, the constant danger and running from her past.
The Ava I’m supposed to be doesn’t know her. But the Ava I am does. I am here, in this world, in this life. But I don’t think I’m from here. I don’t think I belong here. I close my eyes.
Books about memory loss seem to be very popular lately, but I do believe that Elizabeth Scott offered a story that is new and original. I’m not exactly sure what this novel is: dystopian, science fiction, a combination of both or something else entirely, but I know that I liked the end result a lot. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read this year. Besides, I finished it in no more than two hours, which I know some of you will appreciate.
Favorite quote: He is nothing to look at, and yet I can’t stop looking at him. There is something beautiful in how his face is made, how all the tiny flaws blend together into something more perfect than perfection could ever be.