Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Anna Dressed In Blood

Author: Kendare Blake
 Pages: 320
 Publisher: Tor Teen
 Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal Romance
 First Published: August 30, 2011
 First Line: “The grease-slicked hair is a dead giveaway –no pun intended.”
 Buy it from: Amazon
                   Barnes & Noble

The GIST (From Goodreads):

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 heard about "Anna Dressed in Blood" from Goodreads and I have to admit, I wasn't really interested. Paranormal books aren't really my thing; then after reading about the relationship that blooms in the book, I was a little...well, disgusted.

            After reading the book, I was a little less disgusted...a little.

            For the style, I realize I haven't read very many books in the male perspective. I think the last one was an Artemis Fowl book in high school (love that series). I had a hard time believing I was in a guy's head in this book. It must be difficult to write in another gender, so I'll give the author a little slack. Thessio, aka Cas, the main character was a little too full of himself which I think the author thinks a good looking, confident guy has to be....which I suppose can be debated. He was arrogant throughout the beginning of the novel but showed a much more vulnerable side by the end. Overall, he was good enough. I had no strong dislike or like for him. It was a lot more show than tell in his monologues; with Cas telling everything about his life or other characters in his thoughts rather than in conversation or action.The world-building was done completely in this way which I felt was a little of a cop out.

            As for the plot, I loved Cas' internal struggle over whether or not to kill Anna. I didn't know what would really happen one way or the other. Since it was a paranormal story, I expected gory scenes and boy did I get um! They were very descriptive and nauseating which I loved.  The author did a great job of describing the "dark" Anna and the things she had done. One particular scene in the basement made me actually cringe.

           Anna was also a big part of the book, obviously, and I thought she was great. She was strong, funny, vulnerable and sweet, but still dangerous. I didn't know what to expect from her. Other secondary characters were Carmel (oh so popular chick) and Thomas. Carmel was a stereotype of a popular, good looking girl (as if there are any other kinds) and Thomas the geek. They started out of static however, by the end, they were much more complicated and diverse than I expected. Blake did a nice job of giving complexity to each character.

            It took me about a week to get through the book. I know when the plot is slow when I start skipping to future pages to see what's going to happen. I did want to see I just felt it really lagged in the middle. The end picked up speed and I was satisfied with the ending.

It was a slow read. I was interested in seeing what happened but had to push myself to finish it. I don’t have anyone in particular I would recommend this to. Not sure I would pick up the next in the series-----6.5

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Shatter Me

Author: Tahereh Mafi
Pages: 338 
Publisher: HarperCollins 
Genre: Young Adult / Supernatural 
First Published: November 15, 2011 
First Line: "I've been locked up for 264 days." 
Buy it from: Amazon 
                      Barnes & Noble 
Book Trailer:

THE GIST: (from Goodreads)

           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.

             In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.


When going back over a book I just read, I like to consider my initial interest in the book.  I picked up “Shatter Me” because, well, Rogue was always my favorite X-(wo)man. Her ability to absorb the powers and, eventually, the life of people she touched always made her a really strong, yet very vulnerable figure. So when reading the synopsis on “Shatter Me,” I thought she had to be a character with obvious psychological issues, but who would be a total badass; the story would be dangerous and the romance would be forbidden, almost tantalizing in its woefulness since the two lovers could never touch. What I got was an emo not as interesting Rogue and a romance that made my eyes roll up so many times, if my mom was around to see me, she’d say my eyes would stay like that.
         Let me start with the general plot and work my way in. For the most part, the plot was about Juliette escaping "The Reestablishment." I think. Not sure. My boyfriend once gave me a book and wrote inside “For the girl who thought Cloverfield had a plot.” Clearly I don’t really need much of a typical story arch to stay interested as long as the characters were interesting or the romance was particularity dreamy. I got neither. The vibe early on that it was going to turn into a Hunger Games, with Juliette being the mascot of the revolution. It wasn’t one of those books where I HAD TO KNOW what’s going to happen!  One more chapter (1am), really one more chapter (2am)…..and so on.
          Onto my real problem with the story: I can handle a non-appealing main character. It’s interesting when you’re seeing the world through the eyes of someone you either do not understand or do not agree with. However, a character who just a sad little sack throughout the entire story just gets on my nerves. Juliette was like a little perfect pretty lump. She had a little back talk with the villain, but for the most part, just seemed to give into her fate. Also, her entire too niceness was a little unbelievable to me. Cmon! The whole world has pretty much always hated you, and you never had the want to hurt someone? I would have liked it if there was more of a struggle in Juliette to overcome her hatred of the world. Warner (the villain) clearly had no chance with this goody-goody; the suspense would have been increased if she had shown the slightest desire for a little revenge but, alas, it was not to be so.

 In terms of character clichés, that old one where the girl doesn't know how good-looking she is or she thinks she's not good looking but then everyone wants her is so played out! Especially in the young adult section. Give me a confident girl! For freaking once! There is nothing wrong with thinking you’re attractive as long as you don’t think your better than others for it. This YA novels with this cliché don't give the best message about self-esteem. Not to mention one of my biggest pet peeves in characters was also used. I know a lot of hot people, sure. But I know a hell of a lot more normal/ unattractive people. Everyone in the world cannot be hot. The main characters, secondary characters, the villain, all hot? NO. Main characters?  Okay. Villain? Fine, everyone likes a sexy villain. Almost everyone else? No. It's just not very realistic and in a setting that breaks from reality, I say keep as much as possible realistic.

Onto the other characters: Adam, the main male character, was likable and for the most part, normal. He had a great affection for his brother which I found endearing. However, a hell of a lot of his wants were wrapped around Juliette, a girl he had technically never spoken to before. How can you be in school together so long without ever talking? No group projects? I wish I had gone to that school! He leaves his little bro all alone for a girl that he isn't sure is dead or not? Ugh, your status as hot protective older brother has been revoked. 

The villain in this book is a young man named Warner. He is hot (of course) but he seems pretty interesting and I would like to learn more about him in the next book. Kenji, a secondary character, turns out to be the most mysterious one and the one I look forward to seeing him more.  

That leads me to the world building. The world created was just a little too unbelievable if it wanted to say that this is a world that could happen from our own. If there was more of a time span from when "The Reestablishment" took over, I could believe something like them trying to get rid of written language (those b*st*rds) but the world had been normal only a few years before Juliette's capture. That kind of change takes a little longer than that in my opinion.

As for the style, THIS WAS EXTREMELY JARRING. I liked the idea that she was thinking things she didn't think she should and I really did like the originality of it, but it was pretty hard to get used to. Also, why the hell shouldn’t she think bad things?!? Her own parents didn’t like her, they locked her up, and she was abused and tortured. I would be happy to have some evils thoughts…but that’s just me I guess. After a while I started to see the genius of showing Juliette's internal struggle like this and it didn't throw me as much. Still I could have done without some of the cross-outs.

Other than the cross-outs, the author has a tendency of showing actions in what I like to call word sentences. Such as “I blink. Nod. Stand up and nearly fall down." It’s like I look, I see, I nod. I turn. I sit down. It was just a little too much point blank actions and I would have liked a little more variation. Were all those actions necessary to describe? Probably not. In contrast, Juliette sometimes thought in a very poetic way that was unlike these short, clipped sentences. I would have liked to see that more throughout the book.

The romance (ahem* SEXUAL TENSION!) was very lustful, I just didn’t get love from it. The whole no one else can touch me thing was gripping; the sexuality between Adam and Juliette was amazing. I would have like their emotional relationship to be explored more however. Which leads to me wanting a little more back story on Juliette and Adam in the next books.  


            I'd read it again in a few years, not too many subtle plot points that I would have to read it before the next book. I would give it to a friend who wanted a entertaining read, not one entirely thought provoking or with a great message----6.0

BTW: Why is the girl on the cover tall, with dark eyes when Juliette is short with blue/green eyes? Why? Why? Why?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Prompt: Write What You Love, Read What You'd Write

What, to you, makes a novel good or bad?

One work trip, I finally decided to crack open my "No Plot? No Problem! A low stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days." A Christmas gift given by my understanding boyfriend one year. I had the book for a few years by then but I finally decided to give it a good ol' try when I thought I would do NaNoWriMo. Was it a coincidence that Chris Baty is also the one who started National Novel Writing Month or am I really that dense that I didn't see the connection? Maybe it didn't click that 30 days is suspiciously equal to a month...Well I'll never tell....

Anywhoo, back to the prompt- enough with the setting...which ,also, coincidentally is on the list... (see what I did there..ha ha...not really clever, ok then...)

He calls these questions "The Two Magna Cartas;" the two lists a writer should base their own writing on. Perfect for me as I'm a firm believer in writing what I would like to read. Here is the list I made (don't let the numbers fool you, they are not in order of favorite only in my mind's order of thought)

Things I like:
1. Hot main male character
Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester. Yum and You're Welcome
2. Lots of dialogue
3. Unexpected deaths of favorite characters
4. Sad Endings
5. Sarcastic Characters!!! (See Dean Winchester)
Oh! Here's another don't have to cry and beg you big baby.

6. Extremely long books (600 pages...yes please)
7. Quirky main female characters
8. More about romance than plot
9. Series
10. Based in reality in some way (for example: real setting or real situation)
11. Some kind of sex scene
12. Magic (characters or powers)
13. Love triangles
14. Characters around my age (teens to late twenties)

Things I don't like:
1. Too much character inner thought monologues
2. Everything working out too perfectly in the end (Ahem **Harry Potter** Cough)
3. Characters falling in love too fast (TWILIGHT....No fake cough needed)
4. Obvious author loves the characters too much to hurt them
5. Older people as protagonist
6. Multiple stories of interconnected characters
7. Too much philosophizing
8. Too many questions by characters that make it obvious this is how the author is world-building
9. Characters you think will get together never do
10. Main female character is thought of as hot by all guys everywhere ever....yet she doesn't see it 
Not a complete Twilight just seems to encompass a lot on this list...hmmmm

11. Too much setting description

So these are roughly the things I will love in a book (or loath) and some of the things I want a book I write to have. It would be interesting to see if all writer follow this philosophy....