Anna Dressed in Blood

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Book 1 in Anna)
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: TorTeen – Tom Doherty Associates
Release Date: August 30, 2011

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story… Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: he kills the dead. So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder 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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead – keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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.
And she, for whatever reason, spares his life.

I didn’t really like this book. Compared to the rest of the books I’ve been reading lately, this one just wasn’t up to par. Of course, I may be a little prejudiced because I don’t really like the horror genre in general. Movies, books, TV shows, whatever, if it has spookiness and grotesquely bloody scenes, I generally don’t want any part of it.

That being said, the idea of the book intrigued me, or else I never would have picked it up. I liked the idea behind it, the basic plotline, and the characters – at least Cas, his mother, Anna, Carmel, and Thomas. Those were my favorite. Cas and Anna could really be felt through the voice coming through. However, some of the reactions to bloody scenes were completely unrealistic. Teenagers are not going to be as calm as these were in such bloody and personal situations. It was kind of annoying after I as the reader was having a stronger reaction to the descriptions than any of the characters.

This, though, brings up another point. Even though it’s not something that I love to read about, the writing was exceptional. The details and descriptions, although pretty horrifying at points, were brilliantly written. Whether or not I wanted to picture the scenes in my mind, the images were so strong and the words so forceful that I had to imagine them. So, even though there were times when I wanted to puke due to the blood and death, etc., if the horror genre is your thing, then I definitely suggest you check out this book.

**Note: Due to severe violence and grotesque/gory material, as well as some profanity, I do not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 15.

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Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 48

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer every weekend. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question is:

Have you ever ended up reading a book with its last or last few pages missing? What book was it? And how did you managed to get to the end?

Actually, that’s never happened to me, and I’m very glad. However, on ebooks, I’ve had pages missing from the middle, and there’s nothing I could do about it except go back and read the physical copy. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, and that’s how it’s been for me, but it’s still annoying. I am glad, though, that I’ve never had the experience of missing out on the ending!

Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 47

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer every weekend. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question is:

Book blogging is more than just reading. Who helped you set up or run your blog? Or did you do it all yourself?

My friend Alison from Lost in Believing encouraged me to start it, but I set it up all on my own (with the exception of the fact that I use WordPress as my blogging site). I am so glad that I started!

Ripple

Title: Ripple
Author: Mandy Hubbard
Publisher: Razorbill – Penguin Group
Release Date: July 21, 2011

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims. If she succumbs, she kills. If she doesn’t the pain is unbearable. To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love – again. Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead.
Then Lexi finds herself torn. Against her better judgment, she’s opening up again, falling in love with someone new when she knows she shouldn’t. But when she’s offered the chance to finally live a normal life, she learns that the price she must pay to be free of her curse is giving him up.

I loved this book. Like Angelfire, it had been on my TBR list for awhile, but it has taken an absurdly long time for me to find it and pick it up. However, the storyline was terrific, the characters fun, crazy, and definitely realistic (aside from the supernatural creatures thing), and the love interest combined with the action kept me reading until I finished in (in less than a day). This is probably the most original take on the myth of the siren that I’ve ever read or heard of. Originally, it was the cover that made me put the book on my TBR list, and I wasn’t sure about the plot, but reading the story made me realize that the description should have hooked me right away. I loved pretty much all of it, even though, of course, there were plenty of moments when I felt conflicted about Lexi’s decisions.

As for other characters, I’ll start with Cole, the original love interest. I kind of figured how the book would end, especially after Erik showed up into the story, but I loved Cole right away. I just loved him with Lexi, and they just felt right to read about. He was so cute and adorably sweet, and there were truly heart-wrenching moments involved with them. Erik, however, kind of ticked me off the entire time, even before Lexi began to feel off about him. And then at the end, what he did? I’m glad that what happened, happened, even though I feel bad for Lexi. (Sorry that I’m talking as though these are real people, but they really did feel like they were about to come in through my front door and play out the book right in front of me. Seriously, it was that well written. The writing was real, and I loved how it was written in the present tense so that every action took place while I was reading it. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was to write it, but reading it truly made me feel like a part of the action, like the book was unfolding as I was reading, or that it was all happening for the first time while I was reading it. It’s probably one of the best written books I’ve ever read.)

Steven, through Lexi’s memories, was sweet, and I hope that in an alternate universe, he and Lexi are happy together and Cole is with Nikki or someone, and happy, too. However, his sister Sienna is another matter altogether. I wish the end with her had turned out differently. Erik really ruined that one for Lexi, but Sienna could be more forgiving, too. It made me really sad to watch the life, death, rebirth, and ultimate demise of that relationship, but not-so-secretly I’m hoping for a sequel where that gets fixed. Even though the end of this one seemed like it was pretty final. But a girl can hope!

The siren lore was a different topic than has been written about lately, and I enjoyed Hubbard’s take on it. It was something new for me, since I haven’t really read any siren books, or at least not for a very long time or that stick out in my mind. The details and descriptions really made the book come alive, too. Plus, having good cover art for a book always stays with me. This is one of my favorite covers of all time.

Basically, Mandy Hubbard is amazing, I wish I was her intern, and I can’t wait to read another one of her books!

~Yours Truly

**Note: I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13 due to some sexual references, violence, and some obscene language.

Angelfire

Title: Angelfire (Book 1 in Angelfire Trilogy)
Author: Courtney Allison Moulton
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Book – HarperCollins
Release Date: February 15, 2011

First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.
Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp.  His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries.  On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness.  Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.
Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls.  But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

This book has been on my TBR list for a long time, since before it came out two and half years ago, so I was so happy when I found it at the library! When I started reading it, I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down, and blasted through it in less than a day. Everything about it was enchanting. It was great to read a book about angels again, since I haven’t read or reviewed one of those in awhile. Moulton’s take on Nephilim, Grigori, reapers, and the Fallen was definitely intriguing, and I loved reading this lore that she has created in Ellie’s world.

The characters were also very real (despite the whole reapers-don’t-actually-exist thing), and I loved Ellie. She just seemed like a normal girl, and then all this was pretty much thrown at her, and on her birthday, of all days. I liked the whole reincarnation thing, too. Generally, angel books don’t include things like that because it’s not associated with the Christian God, Hell, or Heaven, it’s more relevant to Hinduism and gods like Vishnu or Ganesh. It was definitely a unique book, and how the lore affected Ellie was a large part of it. She was very conflicted for a long time, trying to balance it all and figure it out at the same time. I think the moments that I really felt for her the most was during the times she had to lie to her parents and trash her reputation at the same time – like when a reaper totaled her car and she had to tell her mom she ran into a herd of deer. It was really bad, and it was times like those that I really sympathized with her. Moulton did an excellent job of getting the reader into a frame of mind where he or she could really connect to the characters.

Will was great, too. I love the friendship that he and Ellie have, and even though the romantic part wasn’t until the end, and brought a whole other onslaught of conflict with it, I think that they would make a really good couple, and I can’t wait to see if (and when) it all works out for them. Will was an amazing warrior, and his protectiveness of Ellie, romantic or strictly professional, makes him a hero in my eyes. Not only does he do his job well, but he is completely selfless and just has an attractive charisma that makes the reader love him.

Also, there was no lack of action and adventure. There were plenty of reapers and that searched Ellie out to provide enough fight scenes to satisfy any guy, and the intrigue and mystery that surrounded Will and Ellie as they tried to find the Enshi and save Ellie’s soul would enrapture any reader that ventured to crack this book open. The ending was amazing – I mean, I don’t think anyone who read this book saw that coming – and I am greatly looking forward to reading the next book soon; Ellie and Will have completely drawn me in, and I can’t wait to see what befalls them next!

~Yours Truly

**Note: Due to some profanity, bloody scenes, and fatal violence, I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13.

Viva Jacquelina!

Mini-Review
Title: Viva Jacquelina! (Book 10 in Bloody Jack)
Author: L. A. Meyer
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: September 4, 2012

Can Jacky Faber ever escape trouble, even when she’s on assignment for British Intelligence? Shipped off to Portugal and Spain to spy for the Crown, Jacky becomes separated from her protectors after a heated battle with Napoleon’s forces and must make her way to Madrid on her own.
Arriving in that beautiful Spanish city hungry and exhausted, Jacky finagles a position as a model in the studio of the famous artist Francisco Goya, charming her way into the hearts of all who live there – all except for young Carmelita, a student threatened by Jacky’s charisma and easy ways. Used to making female enemies, Jacky just goes about her business: grinding pigment, assisting the great artist as he pains royalty, and even running with the bulls down the streets of Madrid. But when Carmelita’s jealousy delivers Jacky to the Spanish Inquisition, it looks as if Jacky has finally met her end.
A master at cheating death, Jacky is soon off singing and dancing her way across the continent in the company of a caravan of gypsies, relishing every adventure and hatching a plan to make her way back to her one true love.

I think that this is one of my favorite books in the series, if only because I could actually translate the Spanish parts. I loved the cultural aspects, too – it makes me grateful to my Spanish teacher that I knew what La Corrida de Toros was, as well as the traditional dress of the Majos and Majas. Her adventures in Spain do not lack for intrigue, either, as she spies and reports back to Britain through guerilla warriors, and then is captured by the Spanish Inquisition and endured so much! I thought she was done for, at several points. Just goes to show that you should never underestimate Jacky and her friends.

I loved that Jaimy was doing much better. His letters to Jacky got more and more coherent, and the old determination that was seen in previous books in his letters began to leak through again. In his return to his old self, he gained new skills, too. The Buddhists that he trained both his mind and body with definitely gave him new strength, as well as new skills. I liked his training with the Bo especially entertaining. However, this aspect of the book makes me wonder how well-suited Jaimy and Jacky will be when they finally get back together. There’s no doubt that their intentions are true, but the last time they truly spent some time together was awhile ago. Some of the things that Jaimy has said to Jacky, about staying home and being a housewife, has definitely rubbed her the wrong way in the past. It makes me curious to know – all right, I’m desperate to know – how they’re going to work it all out.

The end, though, made me really happy. I always laugh when I read from two characters point of view who are in different areas of the world, and can see how their paths are going to overlap. I just hope nothing gets in the way this time! Can’t wait for the next book to come out!

~Yours Truly

**Note: I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 13 due to violence, sexual references, and profanity (in multiple languages).

Weekend BookBlogger Hop: 46

The BookBlogger Hop is hosted by Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer every weekend. Basically, if you blog about books, answer a question provided and if you link to their post in your blog, you can add your blog to their list of participants. This week’s question is:

Were you a born bookworm or somebody got you into the habit of reading?

Kind of both – my dad taught me to read when I was four, which was before I had even entered kindergarten, and I’ve pretty much never stopped. But when I finished kindergarten, my teacher gave me a “Reader’s Award” because I was one of the best in the class, and in sixth grade my teacher had us track how many books we read in the year, and I was the second highest reader, so these events also encouraged me to keep it up. What about you? What’s your Bookworm Origin story?