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: Valkyrie Rising by Eric C. Currie

Valkyrie Rising (Warriors Wings #2) by Eric C. Currie

Mike’s Review

DESCRIPTION: Two years after the initial invasion of Hayden’s World, the newly reinforced Hayden Militia is in a state of stalemate with the remaining enemy forces but neither side is content to leave things at that.

The alien alliance has dispatched their varsity to clean up the resistance on Hayden while the USF has officially activated Task Force V, the latest and most advanced combat ships built by humans.

In the end there are some things you decide in the skies, but some can only be settled in the mud.

Print Length: 255 pages
Age: Adult Sci-Fiction
Sold By: Amazon Digital Services

RATING – 4 STARS

This is the sequel to “On Silver Wings,” and from the author of “Into the Black: Odyssey One.” If you’ve read my reviews of those, you’ll know that I’m already a big fan.

With “Valkyrie Rising” we get the return of our protagonist. Sergeant Aida is back. But, this time she’s in her element as part of a larger force. And as readers, we’re no longer just focused on the conflict evolving on a lone world, but we’re also exposed to a much larger epic. So while keeping tabs on Aida, we’re also able to see the greater story unfold where she plays but a small role. It’s a great way to keep the comforting intimacy of the characters we know, while expanding the scope of the story into something bigger – bigger conflict, bigger stakes, bigger cast, bigger!

Somehow, Currie has managed to keep each book intense, and full of conflict – but still end on a really satisfying, fulfilling note. Instead of following the “Star Wars” formula (introduce the conflict, dark episode, vindication of the good guys), he’s made each book a complete story arc. Personally, I find that a much funner and more satisfying way to read a series.

Looking forward to the next book…

4 star book review

Recommended to Sci-Fi readers.

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Book Review: Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

insurgent review, divergent 3, dystopian ya, Chicago, strong female heroineInsurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth

Marie’s Review

Description: “One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.”

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 544 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 1, 2012)

4 STARS – YOU GOTTA READ THIS!

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent triology by Veronica Roth.  You know how middle books can feel like a bridge to get to the final showdown at the end of the third book in a triology?  Insurgent wasn’t like that.  It stood on it’s own, offering the reader more insight into Tris’ world.

This wasn’t a light happy read.  There was a lot of Tris grappling with her parent’s sacrifice that lead her to be suicidal for a good chunk of the book.  It wasn’t just that she was moving through life as a fearless Dauntless/ Divergent, and the author made that very clear.  For a good portion of the book Tris had a death wish.

There is more death, deciete, and trust issues in Insurgent.  Tris’ problems are growing, partly because she can’t let go of what happened to her in the previous book (and honestly, I wouldn’t expect her to).  Her past is haunting her, altering her actions.  That compenent of the book was well executed.

I have mixed feelings about the bad guy and am interested to see what happens in the next book.  It’ll be a kick in the teeth if Jeanine was really a good guy, and no one could tell because she was heartless.  That’s my prediction.  We’ll see what happens.

I’m a little bipolar when it comes to Four and Tris’ relationship.  I don’t want to like it, but I do.  It seems like she’s screwing it up on purpose, but both of them seem to have trust issues.  While it’s annoying, it’s also more believable.  They’ve both been through a lot and I don’t think we know as much about Tobias to really get a good glimpse into his head.  I was surprised Tris allowed him to kiss her at the end.  I think I would have punched him, if he did that to me.  Major Tobias points lost.  And oddly, I’m starting to route for Peter.  I know I’m not supposed to, and I totally hated him in Divergent, but now he’s all rogue and unpredictable.  But Tobias… Tobias, you poor bastard. Tris is becoming a nutcase, and it seems like you already are.

The reason why I gave Insurgent 4 stars was because it felt like the book didn’t have a powerful climax.  We went through a lot to get to the ending, and that scene felt about as intense as the rest.  It was only the last few pages that really started to build, but the book ends.  Major shocker at the end.

Yes, Insurgent ended on a cliffhanger.  Yes, I like cliffhangers and this one was well done.  It made me a Veronica Roth fan and I can’t wait for the next book.

4 star book review

Recommended for: Hunger Games fans, dystopian fans, Shatter Me fans, readers of dystopian lit, YA survival stories.

The kindle edition of INSURGENT (Divergent #2) is on sale for $9.99 right now, which is great.  Go get it!

Related posts: Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Book Review: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth review, dystopia book review, ya dystopia review, paranormal book reviewsDIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

Marie’s Review

DESCRIPTION:

“In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.”

Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2011)

REVIEW 4 STARS–YOU GOTTA READ THIS!

In Roth’s dystopian Chicago something interesting happens – people divide into different factions based on ability.  It’s the ultimate need to fit in, but I had issues accepting the factions would occur to begin with.  The background as to why the factions occurred wasn’t compelling enough to pause believablity.  But, I looked past it because the story seemed different than a lot of what’s out there.

The other reason I gave it four stars was the ending.  I refuse to post a spoiler here, but everything lined up to be horribly romantic–but it seemed like the author chickened out at the last second and went for the crowd pleaser/ cheeser.  As an adult, it irked me, but I can see younger teens enjoying the end of the book.

Due to the violent nature of the book, I think this is better suited for older teens.  Izzy (our Pirate Princess Reviews) couldn’t stomach it.  There is some gore in scenes where kids are fighting to the death.  Kids who don’t get into a faction are factionless, and are better off dead.  And Beatrice’s faction only takes the best.  The rest are tossed out.  Or killed while trying to claw their way into the faction.

That was some of the issues I had with the factions.  I had trouble believing that people fit so squarely into one slot for so long, and that parents would willingly sever all ties with their children if they chose a different faction.  So, you know I have issues with the factions…

Looking past that, it was an excellent story.  It was adventure driven with elements of survival, trust, and a tiny bit of romance.  The story moved at a good pace.  I enjoyed Four, even though his name threw me initially.  In some scenes where they were counting (which they seemed to do a lot when jumping onto/ off of stuff) it took me a bit to figure out they were talking about him, especially if Four’s name started the sentence.  The proper name capitalization alone didn’t make it clear that it was Four the person and not four the number.

I liked how Roth wove the world that we know with what it became.  Her dystopia is barren and dry.  The sections of the city are dangerous and deserted.  This book also has bad bad guys.  They aren’t nice guys dressed up as monsters–they were actually bad people doing evil stuff.  I liked that.  It made the story more compelling.

And the heroine was kick-ass.  She stuck her neck out and risked everything.  Stuff goes to hell and she doesn’t cower and wait for someone to save her.  But she still accepts help when she needs it.  Great character.  So, you have a book full of awesomeness with some minor flaws.

INSURGENT is the second book in this trilogy and is scheduled to be released on May 1, 2012.

divergent book review

This book is recommended for older teens and adults who like survival stories.  Dystopian readers will enjoy Roth’s Chicago.  If you liked the HUNGER GAMES or SHATTER ME, you’ll like this.

PS – The Kindle edition has several formatting/ grammar issues.