Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Mike’s Review

DESCRIPTION: “Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.”

Paperback: 320 pages
Recommended Age: Older Teen
Publisher: Tor Teen; First Edition edition (July 3, 2012)

RATING 4 STARS 

I almost walked away from this one a few times… But, I kept picking it up anyway and, eventually, it was worth it.

Anna Dressed in Blood has a great premise – and that’s what kept me from giving up on it. It’s not vampires, love triangles, and teenage angst (at least not entirely.) It’s a ghost story. A really creepy ghost story at times.

The problem, at least for me, was how slow it was to take full advantage of the premise. I was almost half-way through the book before the plot itself was gripping enough to keep me turning the pages. In and of itself, that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. But, during that down time there wasn’t anything to balance out the lack of excitement. Every time it felt like it was about to kick into gear, it still managed to meander of pretty quickly.

I would really have liked to see more character depth from the beginning. More relationships. More conflict. More to keep me reading, and building the suspense, while waiting for the “ghosty” parts. Heck, I really wouldn’t have been upset to see any of the characters suffer a horrible death for the better part of half the book. That’s a problem.

As the story goes on, I never really fell for the protagonist, Cas, but there was still enough there to keep me hooked. Maybe that was the problem – the bulk of the beginning was supposed to be introducing Cas… and I just never really grew to like him during that time. At times I actually disliked him. If nothing else, how do you have a “ghost hunter” who seems so weak at times.

I normally would have rated this around three stars. But, my rule is that if I’ll pick up the next book in the series it’s worth 4. And, I just may grab the next one. Maybe. This book actually ended on a note that strongly reminded me of Demon Kissed – and that’s a great series.

***Although YA, my twelve year old will have to wait for this one… Otherwise I foresee a lot of nightmares in the near future. Just an FYI – maybe your kid is made of stronger stuff. But, I was creeped out at times, and I’m old enough to know the bogeyman isn’t under the bed.

4 star book review

Recommended for people who read YA Horror, Ghost Stories, and like a good creep-out.  Need a spooky read for Halloween?  This is it.  Anna Dressed in Blood is followed by Girl of Nightmares (release date Aug 7, 2012).

Grab Anna Dressed in Blood on Amazon now. It was only $2.99 when I grabbed it!

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Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

Redshirtsby John Scalzi

Mike’s Review

DESCRIPTION:

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship “Intrepid,” flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory. Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy belowdecks is expended on avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what thestarship “Intrepid” really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives

Print Length: 318 pages
Age: Adult Sci-Fiction
Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
Sold by: Macmillan

RATING: 2 STARS – WISHED IT WAS BETTER

I love John Scalzi… Android’s Dream, Agent to the Stars, Old Man’s War, Ghost Brigade, and more are all awesome reads.

That said, I was incredibly disappointed by Redshirts. The idea was brilliant – and it starts out with great potential. But, it quickly drifts from being a great parody into murky meta territory.

Maybe I was the problem… I couldn’t quite follow when I was supposed to be taking the story seriously. Maybe there were some transitions in there that I missed. But, I think it’s more likely that I just can’t bring myself to appreciate what Scalzi was trying to do.

If you’re just discovering Scalzi, pick up any of his older works first. You won’t be disappointed. Once you’re a fan, maybe you’ll want to give Redshirts a chance. Go into it with an open mind, no preconceived notions, and see what you think. It’s original. It’s fresh. It just wasn’t for me.

Recommended for: Sci-Fi fans, general adult fiction, and Scalzi fans.

Get REDSHIRTS now on Amazon:

Book Review: Thaw by Bryan Dunn

sci-fi indie, kindle books, cheap kindle, contemporary fiction, 3 star book reviewsThaw by Bryan Dunn

Mike’s Review

DESCRIPTION: “Arctic bush pilot Harry McNills is minding his own business and dreaming of retiring to the Caribbean–when two scientists from Cryolabs Corporation charter his plane for a scientific expedition. The beautiful young biologist Amy Tyler and her boss, the avaricious Hayden Lockwood, want to explore for freeze-tolerant organisms. Harry gets more than he bargained for when he falls for Amy and discovers an ancient terror entombed in an iceberg. A Navy team is assembled to exhume the remarkable find. But before the job is completed, something goes horribly wrong…and Harry and Amy find themselves trapped in a desperate struggle for survival.”

Print Length: 236 pages
Publisher: Bryan Dunn; 1 edition (February 28, 2011)
Recommended Age: Adult

REVIEW: 3 STARS-IT WAS OKAY

Thaw tries to take a very familiar premise and create an exciting, suspenseful, story – with mixed results. The idea of something dangerous and unknown being unwittingly freed from the ice has been done many times – from movies to television episodes to books (for example, Terminal Freeze by Lincoln Child.) But unfortunately, Thaw never escapes the feeling of a B-movie.

The broad strokes are great. However, the details of the story continually break down the reader’s ability to suspend disbelief and get lost in the book. And, anyone reading books like thiswants to suspend disbelief. You want to take the author at face value and enjoy the ride. But, in Thaw, it’s often hard to do.

In the interest of avoiding spoilers, and letting readers enjoy what’s there, I’ll skip over providing examples of the flaws that jumped out at me. If you’re a critical reader, you’re going to stumble over them easily enough. But, if you love watching made for TV movies on the sy-fy channel, and can ignore some cheesiness in your suspenseful thrillers, then you’ll have a great time with this one.

three star books, ya books 3 stars

Recommended for Sci-fi readers, general fiction, and cheap kindle reads.

Grab Thaw now on AMAZON or B&N.