Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Published: September 2011, Tor Teen
Pages: 316
Part of a Series: #1
Read For a Challenge: 2011 Debut Author's Challenge**
Teaser: "Smashing. You'll be just like those four chaps in the movie. You know the one, with the over sized marshmallow."
In a sentence or so: Cas kills dangerous ghosts, and Anna is a very dangerous ghost who has been killing anyone who enters her former abode for the past sixty years, but when they meet something is different. Cas's world turns upside down the night he doesn't kill Anna Dressed in Blood.
*Rating: 9.5/10 (-.5 point for potentially pointless sequel)
GoodReads 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. 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: 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.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.

1. YA -- Fantasy/Paranormal, Horror (Free 1 point)
2.Consistency -- The mythology that built this world was encompassing, Anna was one bad B until she met Cas and is able to explore her new level of control growing and discovering along the same timeline as Cas's growth. (1 point)
3. Flesh -- The narration by Cas is amazing in this story, with his dark humor and inquisitive nature I can't think there could be a better character to lead the way through this story. Anna's snark collides with Cas's wit in a way that makes this story unforgettable. (1 point)
4. Flow --This was my most anticipated read this year and it definitely delivered. From beginning to end it was thrilling, enthralling, captivating. I was never bored with the pacing and I was satisfied at the end. (Even though this is growing into a series this volume was good enough to stand on its own.) (1 point)
5. Character Growth -- Cas grows to remember his father as a man; not an infallible being, and be truly grateful of the people that are in his present life. He has a great journey. (1 point)
6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey -- This has all the elements of a great YA paranormal: supernatural beings and a strong set of mythologies; shocking appearances, dangers, and reveals; and all capped off with the classic coming of age -- finding self and first love. (1 point)
7. Witty Dialogue*** I was trapped by the first paragraph. Cas is witty, digging, in-your-face, and just everything I love in a narrator. (1 point)
8. Love -- The synopsis hints at the love story, and at first I was weary of a budding ghost-ghost killer star-crossed lover thing. I had no reason to worry. It turns out Anna and Cas are perfectly matched in maturity and personal development. Ms. Blake unfolds the relationship hesitantly and it paints a beautiful couple that fits the world she built. (1 point)
9. Evoke Realistic Images -- I got completely lost in this story. I wouldn't say the story is actually scary but it is creepy enough that when your in the middle of a scene you jump at any movement your peripheral vision catches. (1 point)
10. Writing/Story telling -- Right off the bat funny, witty, and strait-forward and darkness and gruesome murder -- no, for the killers. AND there are some great story drops, references to novels, myths, and movies.The kind of things that let you know the author is a bookish type and proud when you recognise the tales. (1 point)

Reread Worthy: Definitely, I loved it, but it was over so fast. It would be interesting to see if it stands the test of time.
Recommendation: Anyone who enjoys coming of age novels and isn't easily scared.

*Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter TBR*

1. Hourglass: Currently reading, 2011 Debut. I bought it because of the cover, it was my favorite cover this year. So far the story is great, too. Emerson Cole thinks shes crazy when the phantoms come to haunt her. Then her brother hires someone from Hourglass. Michael is the most beautiful man she has ever seen and he'll help her see the truth of her abilities, as long as she helps him save the world.

2. Wither: Another 2011 Debut.Genetic mutations have made fertile women a commodity. This is the story of a girl that refuses to give in to becoming property.

3. Delirium: I actually bought this because of the hype from bloggers AND because I saw one with a cover just slightly different than all the others and I had to have it.

4. Wildefire: Another 2011 Debut, this will make more than 12 for me, but I love mythology and couldn't pass this one up. Ashline finds out she's more than the only Polynesian girl in school, she's a goddess.

5. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide To NOT Reading: Inspired by a young man I know, in trying to battle his unwillingness to read I couldn't pass up this debut. I just finished it and it was hilarious, all the work the character goes through and pain he suffers to get out of reading. A lesson is to be learned here for many young people.

6. Name of the Star: Maureen Johnson is a must for me and this is about a run in with a Jack the Ripper copy-cat. Currently reading. Maureen delivers as always and this is already a top book of the year for me.

7. The Fault in Our Stars: John Green's newest novel of which he signed every pre-order. One of those is mine! Released in January.

8. Shiver: I have been reading her blog on a regular basis but have yet to read any of her books. This is is the first in a werewolf trilogy.

9. Will Grayson, Will Grayson: I've had this John Green/David Levithan collaboration.

10. Born Wicked: 2012 debut about witches.

*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top Ten Authors at MY Thanksgiving Table! *

Wow, a holiday full of good foods, free flowing wine, and glorious writers. When thinking about this I started with authors I had to have and added other favorites I though would blend in with the already established party. I also only invited those who I thought would be up for a light hearted, good time. So here is my Thanksgiving guest list.

1. Maureen Johnson -- I would love to discuss with her how thankful we are for the many types of post-it notes in the world. I love her books and her blog so she has got to be there.

2. Libba Bray -- A friend of Maureen's and another wonderful writer. Her Gemma Doyle series is extraordinary and her blog is hilarious (and a straight-forward bitch-slap in the face to anyone who pisses her off).

3. John Green -- A friend to the above and an extremely accomplished writer and Nerdfighter. Also I would love it if he brought along his whole family (brother, the wives, the parents, the baby, and even willie) for some awesome nerdfighter shenanigans.

4. Scott Westerfield  -- He's just so imaginative in his writing and he's another friend of Maureen, so I know he'll be a fun addition. Also, though I've never read her books, his wife, Justine Larbalestier, would be a very welcome addition.

5. Carrie Jones -- This woman has a shy but wonderfully friendly disposition which I got to know a bit when she chatted with me on myspace about being an author. Also she has some of the greatest book titles around.

6. Louise Rennison -- She wrote Confessions of Georgia Nickolson, she seems like the kind of person who could get the party started right.

7. Christopher Moore -- This guy is beyond funny and can talk vampires or god without losing that humor. I'm sure Christopher Moore could keep us laughing all night.

8. Stephanie Perkins -- I just love Anna and the French Kiss. And the way Ms. Perkin's describes food! I might ask her to bring something over or at least make suggestions because anyone that can me hungry when describing a grape has got to know her way around a kitchen**

9. Judy Blume -- This woman was a savior to me as a pre-teen, is an inspiration in everything she does, and, from what I've heard, she's a great dinner guest.

10. Maggie Stiefvater -- I haven't read any of her books yet but I discovered her blog during BBAW and love how genuine and wonderfully odd she is. I think she would make the perfect topper for this party.
*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

**Or at least the best take-out in town.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Ten Closet Cloggers

This week's Top Ten is Books That Have Been On My Shelf For The Longest .......But I've Never Read.* Now I am trying to get this number down by chalenging myself to read what I call "closet cloggers".** But here is a sampling of what has been justing sittting around unread for the longest*** time.

1. The Thirteenth Tale -- This premise still intrigues me, and I've heard only good things, but I keep buying pretty, new, YA books that shove it lower on the TBR pile.

2. Paint It Black -- White Oleander is one of my favorites and I just love the way Janet writes (very pretty language), but I've started this three times and never made it through 4 chapters.

3. Danse Macabre -- I bought this (and many simular books) when I thought my only path in life was to be a writer, but after a few kicks to my self esteem and the realization that work is work and not always fun no matter what you do, I never read it.

4. Eragon -- I heard such great reviews for this book written by a 19 year old because I wanted to encourage such a young author. Then I read that he got published because of his parent's connections, and I ended up hating the movie, so yeah, there it sits.

5. Paradise Lost -- The book that holds Satan's greatest line, "Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven," was a classic I just had to own, but have you seen the size of this thing??!>? Enormous tome, in verse, so it sits prettily on my shelf waiting for me, year after year.

6.The World According To Garp -- Another friend of mine recommended this author. He is her favorite and she is the woman who inspired my book obsession, so as soon as I saw a book by her fav author I scooped it up and gave it a home.... then never honored it with a reading.

7. The Host -- November 2008 I went charging through the Twilight series and eschewed all other activities. Noticing my obsession a dear friend bought me this for Christmas. Despite his effort, which I found very touching as he is not a big reader, I have yet to open this novel.

8. Chocolat -- I loved this movie and when I saw it was a book, and it was on sale, I had to have it. That's as far as the love affair has gone, unfortunitely.

9. Kafka's Metamorphasis -- I have been terrified for years of cockroaches, I thought this might help me get over it since it's about a man who wakes up a giant roach one day. It immediately skeeved me out and I never tried again.

10. Crime and Punishment -- Great Russian Literture was recommended to me by the smartest woman I know when I told her I wanted to be a writer. "Russian writer's," she told me, "will show you the way to be a great." I immediately went out and bought this, as Dostoyevsky is rated as one of the best... and never read it.

I feel so guilty after writing this, these books deserve my time, otherwise I should have never bought them.
Has anyone read any of these? (Come on make them irresitable to me again.)

*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday
**Until recently a lot of my books were literally in a closet in a box, now I have new bookshelves! : )
***I can't even remember how long

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review: I heart you, You haunt me by Lisa Schroeder

Published: January 2008, Simon Pulse
Pages: 226
Stand Alone Novel
Read for a (Personal) Challenge: Closet Cloggers
In a sentence or so: Ava's boyfriend Jackson dies and she blames herself for the loss; only he's not really lost, he is coming to visit her as a ghost.
*Rating: 5/10

Goodreads description:
Girl meets boy.
Girl loses boy.
Girl gets boy back...
...sort of.
Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she's crazy, but she knows he's here.
Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds

1. YA/Paranormal Romance/Grief -- Novel in Verse (Free 1 point)
2. There was a wonderful consistency in the timeline, and the character was mostly invariable. Despite her consistency Lisa Schroeder's writing was forgetable in her inability to be unique. (1/2 point)
3. As convincing as the world was there was nothing grabbing in this story. It was quick, unobtrusive, predictable and inconsequential. Ava as a character was believable but typical, nothing extraordinary. (1/2 point)
4. The story was based on how Ava dealt with the death, and return as a ghost, of her boyfriend Jackson. It was very short and concise. Ms. Schroeder held together the flow of time pretty well, even with a few flash backs. (1point)
5. This story is about growing through grief and letting go or not letting go. You see partial charater growth in the story. The character makes some efforts to rejoin the living but the journey is cut short by the time line. (0 point)
6. I don't see a unique point made by the author here. Anyone can write a book about death, greif and lettign go. There was no reason to read this book over any other book on grief. (0 point)
7. No witty, no funny in sad times, in fact there wasn't much in the way of dialogue at all. (0 point)
8. There is definitely love in this story. First love, never ending with a little paranormal help.  You know how about a month after a relationship ends all you can do is think about the best parts and wish it wasn't over? Now add the obsession of first love, survivor's guilt because the relationship was ended by your boyfriend's death and now he's haunting you. (1 point)
9. Lisa created a pretty convincing world, I could see through the narrators eyes very clearly. (1 point)

10. There are a couple powerful touching moments, but I attribute that to the nature of the subject. The writing is pretty bland. (0 points)

Reread worthy? No
Recommendation? That being said, if I were a little younger and hadn't learned how to deal with loss, of love or life, this story would have probably affected me more. I would recommend this as a stop gap for teenage girls that are grieving either boyfriends or first brush with a loved one dying. ALTHOUGH there are lots of books that deal with grief, there are most likely better options than I Heart You, You Haunt Me.

*Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

8 books that took me ....Out of the Comfort Zone*

I don't have many types of books that I would shy away from so I looked up a definition for this one. The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, usually without a sense of risk. So these are som stories that caused me some sort of anxiety.

Depressing/Distressing/Disturbing Tales -- These are tales that caused me to stop reading multiple times because of the images envoked.

Cut: The first book I read about addiction. It was a eye-opening, and at times painful, read. I felt everything Callie went through. Patricia McCormick did a wonderful job with this story.

White Oleander: One of my favorites but the journey through her many foster homes is not one that can be handled in one sitting. I actually stopped and read something else in the middle of this one.

Haunted: Again, this book makes me not want to be around people because of the depravitities shared in these pages.

Age of Consent: This story is creepy. It's a haunted house story, but it is not an rip-off of Amityville Horrors or The Poltrigist, it is it's own story and it is not for the faint of heart or the easily disturbed mind.

Classics: They are scary by proxy, these ancient and beloved tomes. Often they are surprisingly brilliant and take on thoughts society would frown upon. These life commentaries really hit hard.

The Jungle: Tales describing the goriest descriptions of the meat-packing industry and the realities as life as an immigrant in turn-of-the-century Chicago.

A Clockwork Orange: Vicious passtimes, insane made up slang, and unbelievable "therapy".

Out of my public comfort zone: Erotic Novels. I am a grown woman and I like to encourage women to be open about their sexuality. THOUGH I often still cower before saying in public that I am a sexual being and I'm proud of it. Because of societies archaic views of women I often fear being shunned.  Anyway here I am being honest: My name is Epiphany and I read sexy books.

Story of O: The first I dared to buy. A classic in erotic literature. It was well written but not my cup of tea being a very master-slave senerio, but pretty good.

Best Women's Erotica 2009: However this, and everything Violet Blue is involved in, is a wonderful tribute to what it is to be a proud, open, sensual woman.

*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top Ten Intense Romps*

1. Fahrenheit 451 -- Scary possibilities! Read banned books, people, collect knowledge. Do not go gently!
2. The Jungle -- America's seedy under belly.

3. Pygmalion -- The story, and even more, the prologue, is such a slap in the face to accepted society ways.

4. Awaken -- Look each other in the eyes, connection makes us human!

5. Necklace of Kisses -- Escapism coveted, a hotel of magic. If you read the Weetzie Bat series you must read this.

6. Ella Minnow Pea -- Worship language and communicate with each other, express yourself freely and fully. “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Lovely.

7. Haunted -- Survival can be scary, people can do terrifying things.

8. White Oleander -- So much humanity; mostly the dark bits and how they effect this young woman as she tumbles through life. Poignant, i believe, is the word.

9. The Perks of Being A Wallflower -- What a world we grow up in. Wonderous things to see, and dangerous falls to raise from. Experience everything.

10. Atlas Shrugged -- "It isn't fair that you get more than me because you or better, stronger, smarter, or try harder. I should get more because my faults deny me earning what you do. Pity me and give me yours, I deserve more because I am pitiful...." WHAT!?!? This book says some wonderful things about what selfishness, money, and the worth of hard work through good and bad (paraphrased above) examples. I love (most of) this book.**

11. Pourman's Library -- I'm sorry but this is the worst book I have ever read. I don't know how it got published. Convoluted disconnected drivel.

*TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

**It's a little long, some of the speeches have erroneous repetitiveness, and Ayn Rand is a fanatic. So, full disclosure, if you read it don't take every statement exactly as written.