Throwback Thursday Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

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Title: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Publication Date: October 17, 2011

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: 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.


I’m slowly but surely getting through my TBR list. Doesn’t help that I grabbed 6 new books from the library today…yikes. I heard this was being made into a movie so I figured I’d grab it and see what’s the what. Read the breakdown below. 

What I liked: This is the first YA book I have read with a male POV that I actually enjoyed. And when I say male POV, I mean all the way through. Usually that’s a turn off for me. I’m a brat, what can I say, but the male voice is not one that I particularly enjoy in YA. Cas’s voice kept me reading and I’m glad for that. Blake did a great job of making her M.C. accessible to all reader’s. The crack team was really what got me though. Usually, I’m not into the whole ‘everyone knows about monsters and there are no humans left,’ but I think Cas having friends made him a more likable as a character, because let’s face it, he was also kind of an ass in the beginning. His friends made him more human and added a certain voice to the book. ‘Anna Dress in Blood’ lived up to the horror. Blake is not afraid to kill, anyone. Those human friend, well, they are not all safe. 

What I didn’t like: There’s a romance and frankly it is weird. I’m not into it and I’m usually into the whole starcrossed thing. Plus, the whole thing just seemed rush. After no time Cas begins thinking of Anna all moony eyed and confuzzled. #No. I was a little disappointed that there was not more done to explore Anna’s death since that seemed like the major part of the story to me.

Overall, this was a decent book that kept me turning the page. 3/5

Throwback Thursday: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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Title: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Publication Date: May 7th 2013

Genre: Sci-fi YA

Rating: 4.5/5

Synopsis: After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.


 

Wow, two reviews in one week, this had got to be some sort of record this week. I was totally inspired to review this book after reading it because it is just that DAMN good. 

What I liked: It is actually really difficult to pick out the specific things that I like in this book, because boy is this book freaking good. There’s so many things that are done well in this book. My favorite aspect is the idea. This fluctuates between what I would call dystopian and sci-fi using the best tropes of all without falling into the cliches of either. The pacing is perfect with enough action to keep it interesting, but not so much that the reader can’t gain their footing into the story. I’m not usually someone who enjoys multi-POV stories as they can create a lot of confusion for the reader; however, the way Yancey utilizes his multi-POV is incredibly effective as it culminates in the characters meeting towards the end of the book.  The way this worked kept the reader in the know but the characters blind, eliminating confusion but keeping the story interesting. That’s really what I’ve got to say about this one, Yancey continuously keeps the story interesting. 

What I didn’t like: This is definitely a more personal didn’t like, so take it with a grain of salt and remember I have not read the sequel to this yet, but I was not happy that the guy set up as the love interest does not seem to be the actual love interest. You can’t invest me in these ideas and then leave me hanging!

Overall, super strong, super intense, and just all around super read. Be sure to pick it up this holiday season. 4.5/5

Throwback Thursday: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Title: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Genre: Paranormal YA

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: I have a curse
I have a gift I am a monster I’m more than human My touch is lethal My touch is power
I am their weapon I will fight back
Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


 

I bought this series forever ago and have lent it to dozens of people before I actually decided to pick it up and read it myself. Why you ask? No idea. Sometimes I buy things with every intention of reading them, super excited about them, and then they fall off my radar until in a fit I decide it’s time. I bought several books recently that I had been dying to read and have not even touched them, so the fact that it sometimes takes me forever to read something is in no way a testament to it being good or bad–basically I’m just fickle. Anyway, enough about me, onto the book.

 

What I liked: The story was very original. Yes, it has some typical YA tropes. Sad creepy girl, society is in the gutter, a love (?) triangle, but I found the way these cliches were explored and expanded made them original. The love triangle, well it’s not two hot guys vying for a girl. More like, two guys, both kinda shady vying for a girl who is only interested in one. I called this my stalker triangle. It’s refreshing when the female character isn’t afraid to use a gun rather than be victimized. You go girl. Speaking of our beloved triangle. Everyone is shady. I LOVE IT. I skimmed the book trying to find out who to invest my emotion in and found no easy answer, then when I read it I continued to have “he’s shady” moments. Shady stuff is happening and I don’t know what it is, which makes me all the more invested. Perhaps, my favorite part was a small one that no one but me really cares about, but yes, way for our love interest to have a kid brother. I like the tension that brings to this story. It’s not just Juliette and Adam fighting to survive, because now you have a ten year old in the mix, and ten year old’s are hard to deal with even when life/death circumstances are not involved.

What I didn’t like: The bat suit situation. Very, very corny to me. The strike out text is interesting but sometimes I felt like it slowed my reading. And frankly, Juliette is not my favorite character. Using her feminine wiles to gun Warner was awesome, so hopefully I will see more of that in the next book.

Overall, it was interesting and I’m excited to see what happens. According to one of my students I should pay close attention to the bad guy who isn’t bad. She’s dying for me to finish so we can compare notes, and frankly if an eleven year old is that invested in a series you should maybe pick it up (kids are viciously honest) 4/5

Throwback Thursday: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

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Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Publication Date: September 20, 2011

Genre: YA Fantasy

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.  Most of the chosen do.


I will be honesty. I never heard of this book until I went to NOVA Teen Book Festival and heard Rachel Hawkins talking about how much she loved it. Given that I am obsessed with Rachel Hawkins and her awesomeness, I decided to grab it. It took me months and months to start the book, since I suspected it was something I was going to be majorly into. I adore Fantasy novels. I love feeling like I’m in this new world I have to discover, yet one that strangely feels like my own. There’s just something about a good Fantasy novel that makes me want to change my name and join the cosplay scene. So, needless to say, I was excited. With that said, about half way in, my excitement diminished. This may get me burned at the stake but the book is FINE. Just FINE. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, enjoyed it well enough. Let me break it down here. 

What I liked: I enjoyed the fact that the main character was quite different than the blushing roses we generally see in YA fiction. She also wasn’t the hardened warrior we sometimes get in Fantasy. Elisa is the type of character who is aware of her flaws. Despite being this type of holy figure, she’s deeply flawed and quite naive. The way she views herself was realistic, especially since she was a young woman struggling with her weight and an obsession with using food as a comfort mechanism. I appreciated the realism in which Carson drew her. Yes, she is a member of royalty, she’s even a kind of Madonna figure, but she’s also a young girl struggling with the idea of her self worth trapped in a marriage with a man she doesn’t trust and yearning for affection. Elisa is not a wilting flower, but she’s also not a hardened warrior. I appreciated her intellect, but like how Carson foiled that with the fact that Elisa has little experience with war. Many of Elisa’s plot’s fail. There is nothing I hate more in a Fantasy novel than when the main character has all the answers and everything goes there way and realism is thrown out of the window. Yes, Elisa is smart and capable. She’s also naive. All her experience comes from books and the fact that she often miscalculates the cost of war is what makes this book enthralling.

What I didn’t like: There is a lot of religion in this book. Totally fine with me. I actually began to imagine the scene as something out of Medieval Spain. That being said, I constantly felt myself grasping for explanations. While there is religion there is also a lot of mysticism. At times I felt like Carson used religion to explain away some wholes in the plot. If I read “It is the will of God,” one more time, I was going to throw the book across the room. In a story so dependent on the intricacies of magic and religion, it felt like Carson glossed over one by shoving the other in your face. Don’t even get me started on the confusion of the ending. I’m hoping that one gets explained at some point.

Overall, I enjoyed the characters of this book. Elisa is a wonderful heroine, but I feel like her journey is detracted from by Carson who relies on religion to plug any questions. I’m going to read the next two books in the series out of sheer curiosity, but I was really hoping for something more from this one.                                                      3/5 

 

Throwback Thursday Review: Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

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Title: A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: Historical Paranormal YA

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Synopsis: In 1814, three cousins—Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope—discover their secret family lineage of witchcraft when a binding spell is broken, allowing their individual magical powers to manifest. Now, beyond the manicured gardens and ballrooms of Regency London, an alluring underworld available only to those with power is revealed to the cousins. By claiming their power, the three cousins have accidentally opened the gates to the underworld. Now ghouls, hellhounds—and most terrifying of all, the spirits of dark witches known as the Greymalkin Sisters—are hunting and killing young debutante witches for their powers. And, somehow, Emma is connected to the murders…because she keeps finding the bodies. Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed…or even worse, before their new gifts are stripped away?


 

I was first enraptured by the cover. I mean it is totally beautiful and mysterious, how could I not be drawn to it? As a huge English history fan I was excited to find it. I expected it to be a bit Steampunky with lots of debutante style romance. To an extent I was correct; however, I found the book a little more campy than I imagined, and that wasn’t necessarily a positive. Anyway, let me break this all down for you. 

What I liked: As I said, I’m a big fan of English historical drama, and this definitely had elements of that. Sure, it seemed a little modern at times, but I chalked that up to the author attempting to fit a whole secret society into an actual time setting. I thought that the author did a good job of maintaining certain aspects of the era without letting it completely overtake her story. That sounds weird, but that’s the best way I can describe it. I sort of imagined the world as a fantasy world similar to Regency England vs. actual Regency England. It worked and I don’t think the story would have worked as well in a more modern time. This book has a sweet romance at it’s center, which really tugged at my heartstrings. Sure there are some problems with our romantic leads, but instead of it being totally heartwrenching, I feel like the characters were more “I do what I want,” about the supposed obstacles. Needless to say, I didn’t come away from this book feeling like I was punched in the face. 

What I didn’t like: I felt like there were a lot of stories happening at once and I wasn’t necessarily interested in all of them. I skipped some sections, and when I start skipping sections I start feeling cheated. There is a sequel to this book that focuses on another character, so I understand why the author had all these smaller back stories, but it doesn’t mean I enjoyed them. I’m not one of those people who wants to read a sequel about a character I’m not really invested in; even if the characters I am invested in will be in said sequel.

Overall, this was a decent enough read. Didn’t leave me shouting from the rooftops one way or another 2/5

Throwback Thursday Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publication Date: September 18th, 2014

Genre: Paranormal YA

Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Synopsis: It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


It has been a crazy long time since I have done a Throwback Thursday post. Really, I have no excuse outside of the fact that it is the end of the school year and I have been crazy busy with students. For this week, I decided to go back to the start of one of my favorite series, which incidentally will be wrapping up this Fall. I discovered “The Raven Boys,” this past Winter during an epic binge and read all the currently released books. I’m pumped for the next one and also a little weary of the death of my favorite character Gansey. It’s coming. Stiefvater has already confirmed, and it’s just a heartbreaking notion. Anyway, on to the review. 

 

What I liked: I was nervous when I first picked this book up, because usually I like my YA to be chalked full of romance and this didn’t seem to be that type. That being said, I enjoyed that this is more about the story and development of characters than the usually bad boy/good girl routine. I felt like I really engaged with the entire ensemble, which was unusual for me in a group this large. I obviously have a favorite, Gansey, but I enjoyed all the boys, Blue, and her family’s stories. Outside of this, there’s a certain element of mystery surrounding the actual plot of the book. There’s a bad guy, a dead King, and at times I was generally confused as to which plot I should be watching. In the end it all tied together pretty nicely and the sub-plots actually enriched the overall arch of the story. I’m a big fan of any book that adds in elements or folklore and History as seamlessly as this one does, and I’m anxious to get to the final chapter to see where this all goes. 

What I didn’t like: Knowing that Gansey will die. The entire time I read, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop on this one, it ended up being super stressful. I couldn’t enjoy the action because I kept waiting for the moment Gansey’s life would end. Gah!

Overall, this is a great entry way into an exciting series. After reading it, I became a huge fan. 4/5

Throwback Thursday: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (The Lynburn Legacy Book #1)

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Title: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Buy Links: Amazon

Publication Date: September 10, 2013

Genre: YA Paranormal/ Romance

Rating: 3/5 

Synopsis (from ma’ head): Kami lives in a small English town that holds big secrets. Kami is an intrepid reporter type and therefore wants to uncover these secrets. Also, she speaks to a potential fake boy in her head. Boy isn’t fake and is actually a Lynburn, who are like freaky people who the town fears. Kami and the boy have a potential thing, but it’s weird living in each others minds. Also, there is murder.


So, it’s been a few weeks since I have done a Throwback Thursday post and frankly I blame many things. Mostly, I’m behind on my reading. Spring tends to get hectic for me. My students are wrapping up their school year, so tests/ projects abound. Plus, I’m doing some editing on my own work and trying to clean my apartment. Basically, things are happening. That being said, I was really excited to start this series. The author was new to me but I stumbled across her in a trip to the library and decided I needed to get on this, asap. It proved to be a slow start, but eventually the book captured me. It’s the first in a trilogy and I’m excited to continue reading. 

What I liked: I was really into the whole ‘people living in each other’s heads thing,‘ which is weird but whatever. I thought the way it was handled was actually very smart. Kami was incredibly pragmatic about the whole situation, even when Jared wanted to get her on the guilt train. (That’ll make more sense if you read the book). Either way, I liked that the author explored the idea that you can love someone and also realize that maybe being in a relationship with them is not the best decision. Granted, there are some erroneous circumstances, but still it was handled very well and I loved that. Outside of the whole mind thing, I also loved the diversity of the characters. Kami is 1/4 (?) Japanese, there is a character who comes out as a lesbian, and sorcerers! But really, it’s nice to see diverse characters done in a way where we aren’t just throwing random things in the mix. 

What I didn’t like: In the beginning, Kami irked the crap out of me. She did not seem like a real person, but more like a caricature of a person. By the end, I grew to like her but it was a rough start. Outside of that, I did not feel like enough was explained. Boom, sorcerers! Boom murder! WHERE ARE MY EXPLANATIONS. I’m assuming I get them in books 2-3, but I like explanations, they keep me coming back.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I struggled through the first half, but once action picked up I found engaged with the characters. 3/5 

Have any of you guys read this book? What are your thoughts?