Book Review: “Anna Dressed in Blood” by Kendare Blake (Anna #1)

What an arresting cover. Just... wow. And the color scheme continues inside the book itself, with the type done in a very attractive burgundy that's both pretty and easy to read.

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood (Click to add to your Goodreads!)

Author: Kendare Blake

Available In: Hardcover, eBook for Kindle, eBook for Nook.

Maturity Level: Mid-to-upper YA. Quite a bit of violence, blood, and gore, and one sensitive scene that directly addresses violent assault on a child. Strong language.

You May Like This Book if: you enjoy the TV shows Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer; you like a strong horror story; you’re a fan of Holly Black, Melissa Marr, or Sarah Rees Brennan’s; you enjoy paranormal investigative fiction; you’re looking for a fast-paced, evocative read.

You May NOT Like This Book if: you don’t like YA or horror; you dislike gore and violence.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

Theseus Cassio Lowood has a job to do, and it’s not the normal teenager’s occupation of bagging groceries: he hunts and kills maleficent ghosts. It’s a legacy that’s been passed down through his family for ages, and Cas is pretty okay with it. And luckily, he has his mom (who sells charms and potions that she brews up on her kitchen range), her ghost-sniffing half-Siamese cat, and a motley group of friends and informants across the world to help him out. When one of them tips him off about a ghost known (ominously) as Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas immediately finishes his current job and takes off to Thunder Bay, Ontario…. Where he just might find more than he was looking for.

Anna Dressed in Blood is by far one of my favorite books read in 2012. The pacing, characters, and concept come together to form a fast-paced read with lots of humorous/chilling/downright scary moments. Cas’ world is not all that different from ours, but the way in which it is realized is a joy to read. I absolutely ADORED Cas’ mom (particularly scenes where she was trying to sell him on different colleges based not on academic subjects/cost/career opportunities, but on the population of ghosts in the immediate vicinity) and Tybalt (warning: if you’re a cat person, there’s at least one scene in this book that will squick you out). Anna was brilliant, and the relationship she has with Cas is quite a beautiful one, a tenuous connection between a guy who purposely pushes people away and a girl who has been burned one too many times by betrayal. She’s also a badass with a conscience, which is always a plus.

Annnd the references. I almost don’t know where to start with those. There’s the obvious Supernatural connection (ESPECIALLY in that first scene with the hitch-hiking ghost), along with myriad references to Buffy, Harry Potter, Bruce Lee, The Hulk, The Matrix, and GHOSTBUSTERS (which lead to several scenes in the book that made me laugh out loud). These references could have become very heavy handed and derivative, but Blake is pretty skilled at nodding to other fandoms and then going right on to her own story.

Overall, this was a super fun read with ghosts, blood, and a kickass cast. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of horror and ghost stories, and will most certainly be rereading it as soon as I have the chance. 😀

Pros

  • Tybalt.
  • Theseus Cassio Lowood. Most awesome name ever.
  • Awesome worldbuilding.
  • Cas’ mom.
  • The romance. ❤
  • Blake obviously did her research regarding ghost stories, lore, and Wicca.

Con

  • Cas is just a little bit pretentious.
  • A lot of sentences are the same length.

Favorite Scene (s):

  • Pgs 1-10. Excellent opening that had me hooked from the beginning. It didn’t hurt that there were plenty of SPN references to excite my inner fangirl: Cas, a classic car, and a hitch-hiking ghost? Yes, yes, and YES.
  • Pg 200-205. Here’s where we find out exactly what happened to Anna, and it is absolutely CHILLING. I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut after reading it.

Favorite Line (s): “Don’t be afraid of the dark, Cas. But don’t let them tell you that everything that’s there in the dark is also there in the light. It isn’t.”~pg 132

Star Rating on Goodreads: 4.5 out of 5

Final Grade: A+. Nice read, very slick and full of references to things that I love. Solid ghost story that looks like it’s going to be continued excellently in the upcoming Girl of Nightmares , which I am eagerly awaiting.

Advertisements

Top Ten Books I Would Save if Disaster Struck

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely people over at The Broke and the Bookish.)

I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to blog this morning– I’m on a rather tight schedule for today and am also suffering from the Head Cold of Doom– but when I saw this TTT topic, I couldn’t resist jotting my list down really quick. 🙂

And the books are…

  1. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This book is a classic for me, and definitely something I’d want to be reading if there was a disaster 😀
  2. Wild Magicby Tamora Pierce. Ideally, I’d be able to save all my Pierce books, but if I had to pick just one, it would be this one.
  3. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. I love the humor in this book, and the romance, and just… pretty much everything about it.
  4. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. Best steampunk I’ve read in a while.
  5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stoneby JK Rowling. Again, I’d prefer to save all of them, but this particular copy has sentimental value.
  6. The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. I just love this book too much– from the moment Nick Ryves popped his head and his sword out from under the kitchen sink, I was hooked.
  7. Drink Slay Loveby Sarah Beth Durst. Best vampire book EVER.
  8. White Cat by Holly Black. This copy also has sentimental value– it has been signed and doodled in by Black herself!
  9. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Again, signed copy. Also, the most emotionally wrenching book I’ve ever read.
  10. My audiobook copy of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Because awesome story + Neil Gaiman’s voice= unforgettable.

What books are in  your top ten? Feel free to link me to your post or let me know in the comments!

 

~Can You Feel the Love Tonight?~ Favorite Book Pairings (Of All Time)

So, this is the first in my Love Week series of posts, and since it is Valentine’s Day and this is a mostly book-focused blog, I thought I’d go ahead and make a list of my favorite book pairings of all time. However, I wanted to do something to make these posts kind of special, so I thought, why not make a video to go along with it?

Without further ado, allow me to present : Can You Feel the Love Tonight? Favorite Book Pairings (Of All Time and In No Particular Order)

Beka Cooper and Farmer Cape (Tamora Pierce’s Mastiff): Beka and Farmer are a recently new addition to my favorite pairings list. When Farmer first showed up, I thought for sure that he and Beka would never get along, but by the time I was halfway through the book, I was rooting for them wholeheartedly, and I cheered when they finally got together. Farmer is such a sweetheart, and Beka deserves to have a lover who will a.) not crowd her and b.) still show her kindness.

Alec and Seregil (Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series): This relationship starts out a friendship, and that is something I appreciate very much. It’s two or three books before they even kiss, and another short story before they have a sexual encounter, but the slow-burning tension and tenderness between them is palpable from the beginning. Despite the later books taking a much darker turn, Alec and Seregil stay very sweet and beautiful– friends in love, and bonded for life. Me like. 🙂

Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster (John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars): And this pairing, which makes me completely incoherent 95% of the time. They are tragic, they are sweet, they are PERFECT. That is really all that needs to be said.

Daine Sarrasri and Numair Salmalin (Tamora Pierce’s Immortals series): I’ve come to the conclusion that Tamora Pierce has been almost solely responsible for raising my expectations in men. Numair was one of my first “book crushes”, and when I read Emperor Mage for the first time, I realized that there was a pretty real chance that Daine was kinda smitten with him too. As a pair, these two have a lot working against them: the age difference, the fact that Numair was a serial womanizer until he settled down with Daine, Daine having her own issues to work through. However, they manage to make it work. 🙂

Alec and Richard (Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint): This pairing is definitely my favorite of Kushner’s. The dynamic between these two is by turns amusing and heartbreaking, and this is possibly the only pairing to ever make fish romantic. 🙂

Cassel and Lila (Holly Black’s Curseworkers series): Here’s one for the angst. Cassel and Lila’s star-crossed romance is complicated by emotional manipulation, Cassel’s lost memories, and the fact that it appears they will be on opposite sides in Black Heart. I’m still holding out hope for a beautiful ending for them, though.

Jem Carstairs, Tessa Gray, and Will Herondale (Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices series): Yes, I know. This is a triangle, not a pairing. But I couldn’t resist, simply because I love them so much and — if I were pressed– I would say that the only good ending for ALL of them would be… well, being less of a triangle and more of a threesome. I sincerely doubt that will happen– this is YA after all– but a girl can dream.

Howl and Sophie (Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle and sequels): Howl and Sophie are the least romantic couple ever, but their sparring and playful romance (followed by an equally playful marriage) is dear to my heart. The movie plays up the romanticism of their story, but it’s still a lovely thing, in my eyes; they have seen the worst of one another and they love each other anyway. 🙂

What is YOUR favorite book pairing? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day! 😀

Waiting On Wednesday: Black Heart by Holly Black

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

 

Holly Black? Check. Crime and crime families? Check. Magic? Check. Tons of romance, adventure, and angst? Check, check, and check.

I’ve always had a sentimental attachment to this series–I purchased the first book during my first Alpha and had it signed and doodled in by Ms. Black herself. On the way home, I ended up stranded in an airport for a few hours due to weather and devoured the entire book while I was waiting. I pre-ordered Red Glove and read it during spring 2011, while in the midst of some serious life changes, and it was my solace during that time. This book, which I’m assuming is the final installment, comes out exactly one day after my 19th birthday, and I simply can’t wait to go back to Cassel’s world of curses and crimes one last time.

What books are you waiting on? Feel free to comment below or link back to your own blog and let me know!