Review: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publishing Information: August 15, 2013

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Gothic, Horror, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in a planned series

Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss

Recommended For: Fans of highly atmospheric and gothic novels, such as The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin, and Amber House by Kelly Moore

You stop fearing the devil when you’re holding his hand…

Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town…until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery…who makes you want to kiss back. Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.

I am a sucker for any novel described as being a gothic horror; it is one of the few things that make my eyes glaze over when dreaming of the possibilities. A lot of times it is hard for an author to match what the reader wants, especially in terms of writing horror. April Genevieve Tucholke weaves the perfect amount of horror and mystery into this paranormal novel. I was very taken by the way in which the atmosphere of the novel plays into the action of its characters, there was a perfect balance between the two and it made for a much more dramatic reading.

Let’s talk characters, Violet is strong and careful, she is more mature and responsible than a typical 17 year old as she has practically raised herself since her parents have been gone, she also misses her dead grandmother terribly and often talks to her as if she were still alive. Her brother Luke is somewhat reckless and where Violet has matured in their parent’s absence, Luke has developed a more obvious “craves attention” sort of personality. Sunshine is their neighbor, and is described as beautiful with sleepy and seductive brown eyes. If I am being honest, I didn’t like Sunshine at all, and I didn’t like the way that Violet compared herself to Sunshine constantly, though it did give the reader insight to Violet’s lack of confidence in herself. It was perhaps because of this confidence that Violet fell so fast for the gorgeous River West. River is good looking in a “vintage” way, with a gorgeous crooked smile. He is a very manipulative character, which obviously plays into the story, but I have to be honest I was a little frustrated with him and his constant evasiveness. Their relationship was pretty seductive, even though it did read somewhat like the paranormal romances we are used to. You know the kind where the girl “can’t stand” this guy and his ways yet she just can’t stop kissing him? I can’t complain though, because those kissy scenes? Oh, they were worth it.

Lot’s of people have bad stories, and if they wail and sob and tell their story to anyone who’ll listen, it’s crap. Or half crap, at least. The stuff that really hurts people, the stuff that almost breaks them…that they won’t talk about. Ever.

Though overall I adored Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, it wasn’t perfect. I didn’t really appreciate the so often seen “absent parents,” and how Luke and Violet are still in high school yet they somehow manage to learn to live on their own with no guidance or structure. I see how it was necessary to leave the parents out of the main storyline, but I would have felt better about it had Violet and Luke been a year older or perhaps been taken care of by an eccentric family member. This didn’t affect my overall impression of the novel but it was something that bothered me while reading it.

On the whole, the novel was beautiful and atmospheric, the description of Citizen Kane, the large house where Violet and Luke live was absolutely breathtaking, I found myself wanting Violet to explore more so I could learn more about what was hidden in the corners of the attic. I also particularly enjoyed the ending of the novel. Some readers are saying that they felt the ending to be rather rushed, and though I can see that in a way, I also think it was necessary for the novel to progress in this way in order to set it up for the continuation of the series. I also did not see the ending coming, I had musings, to be sure, but the revelation at the end was quite a surprise.

I highly recommend Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea to anyone looking for a descriptive and atmospheric novel. It is filled with enough mysterious and creepy elements to keep even the most jaded reader looking over their shoulder, also let’s not forget about the swoony bits as those are aplenty as well!

Review: Bloodspell by Amalie Howard

bloodspellTitle: Bloodspell

Author: Amalie Howard

Publishing Information: June 1st 2011 by Langdon Street Press

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in a planned series

Format: Hardcover, 394 pages

Source: Obtained an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Readers looking for a swoony, paranormal romance with a strong and likable heroine

Victoria Warrick has always known she was different. An outcast at school, she is no stranger to adversity. But when she receives an old journal for her seventeenth birthday, nothing prepares her for the dark secrets it holds — much less one that reveals she’s a witch with unimaginable power.

What’s more, when she meets the dazzling but enigmatic Christian Devereux, she has no idea how much her life is about to change. Enemies will hunt her. Friends will turn on her. The terrible curse that makes her blood run black will stop at nothing to control her. And Christian has a sinister secret of his own…

Without knowing whom to trust, can Victoria survive her blood’s deadly desires? Or will she lose everything, including herself?

If there is one thing that stands out in Bloodspell, it is the character development, and level of change in the characters and their relationships with one another. Though much of the novel focuses on Christian and Victoria and their FORBIDDEN romance, it also includes layered subplots that really have more to do with the history of the characters, the characters being witches and vampires, and the struggle with the powers within them as well as those who would seek to harm them because of what they are. The secondary characters in this novel don’t get as much page time as I would have liked, specifically Leto, Victoria’s familiar (yeah, he’s a cat so obviously, I love him), and some “friends” that play very integral parts in the overall story, but don’t have much detail provided to their characterization throughout the novel.

In terms of plot, Bloodspell isn’t extremely intricate. In fact, it follows some familiar tropes that readers might roll their eyes at. There is the familiar forbidden love, (teeny) love triangle issues, and there is even a vampire council of sorts who rule over all vampire matters, specifically the law that states witches and vampires can (NEVERRRR!!) unite in any sort of…union. When it is spelled out like that, this book seems like all the rest, it seems like a slightly altered version of twilight, something that can easily be moved aside for more unique novels, however, things aren’t exactly as they seem in Bloodspell. Ms. Howard goes beyond the typical tropes and adds vast layers of self discovery, intricately dark forces, and unbeatable relationships of multiple kinds.

Speaking of relationships, I’m not going to lie to you guys, one of the biggest reasons that I enjoyed this book was because of the swoons. There are a lot of them. Good ones. Ms. Howard has a knack for writing those kissy scenes, lemme tell ya. Though the relationship between Victoria and Christian is a driving force throughout the novel, there are also stellar friendships and some very moving familial relationships that sort of broke my heart a little.

To be honest, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Bloodspell. While reading, there were moments that I was worried that it was falling into a very typical paranormal romance, and as it concluded I was happy to see that that was not the case at all. I was surprised by parts at the conclusion of the novel, and extremely happy to see that the author left many things open without tying things up too neatly. As a reader I felt that things were conclusive enough that I was happy where it left off, but also intrigued to see where things can go if and when the author continues on with the series. Bloodspell held its own in a very overdone genre, I highly recommend it to those of you who enjoy paranormal romances, but are getting sick of reading the same tropes again and again.

Review: Towering by Alex Flinn

15806868Title: Towering

Author: Alex Flinn

Publishing Information: May 14, 2013 by HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult, Retellings, Fairy Tales, Fantasy

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of quick reads filled with a little bit of mystery, and a lot of insta-love
Rachel is trapped in a tower, held hostage by a woman she’s always called Mama. Her golden hair is growing rapidly, and to pass the time, she watches the snow fall and sings songs from her childhood, hoping someone, anyone, will hear her. 

Wyatt needs time to reflect or, better yet, forget about what happened to his best friend, Tyler. That’s why he’s been shipped off to the Adirondacks in the dead of winter to live with the oldest lady in town. Either that, or no one he knows ever wants to see him again.

Dani disappeared seventeen years ago without a trace, but she left behind a journal that’s never been read, not even by her overbearing mother…until now.

It’s hard to tell you how I feel about this novel because while I was reading it I really enjoyed it. However, now that I am looking back to write my review I am thinking of all of the things that I didn’t particularly enjoy. Does that ever happen to you? You read a book and you’re entertained at the moment but then looking back you find that it wasn’t a particularly good book? It’s hard to rate a book like that, but I’ll do my best.

The POV in the novel goes back and forth between Wyatt and Rachel, though much time is spent in Wyatt’s head as Rachel really doesn’t have much going on up in that tower. I liked Wyatt a lot, I found him endearing and gentle and a little bit sad. Rachel was a decent enough character as her naivete is believable due to her circumstances and her reliance on her “Mama” is necessary for her continued survival. I like Wyatt’s curiosity and strength, and I enjoyed the way Rachel took control of her own life when she felt the need, even though it did seem rather forced. However, I did not like the instalove between these two, and despite the fantastical elements that went into their meeting, it didn’t click for me and I was annoyed at how quickly and deeply they fell in love. The secondary characters in the novel were scarce and the villains fell very flat. In fact, the only time we really see the villains in depth is during the climax of the novel, and that was a disappointment as I really felt that so much more could have been done with their characterization.

My absolute favorite part of the novel was the mystery and setting. It read like one of those old school mysteries, teenage daughter goes missing, ghost starts haunting the new boy in town, mysterious singing, deep snow and wind reminiscent of the moors of Wuthering Heights. Sounds awesome, right? It really could have been, had it contained more detail and depth. On a whole, there was one interesting part that I honestly did not see coming, and there were times that I couldn’t stop thinking about the plot and even while I wasn’t reading, I was wondering what was going to happen next. I think that was the biggest disappointment for me. Once the novel climaxed, and the mystery was solved, I couldn’t help but feel let down. It wasn’t just that things were solved too quickly, though that was an issue for me, it was my disappointment in the flatness of the tale.  The BIG REVEAL happened and tied up ALL THE THINGS and Rachel saved the day (and her man) with her MAGIC and all was well!

The gist here is that before I started, and as I was reading, what I thought I was getting was an incredibly layered, detailed, and intriguing mystery. What I got was a rather typical young adult novel filled with enough magic to tie up all loose ends, and an insta-love between a troubled boy who would have a lot going for him if he hadn’t fallen so in love that he now has a live in girlfriend who doesn’t know the difference between a car and a carriage.

For those of you who are looking for a quick read to cleanse the palate in between those layered and detailed novels, give this one a go. It was enjoyable enough, but I won’t be running to read the author’s other novels any time soon.

Review: Blackwatch by Jenna Burtenshaw

Title: Blackwatch

Author: Jenna Burtenshaw

Publishing Information: April 1st 2011 by Headline

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal

Series information: Book 2 in the Wintercraft series

Format: Hardcover, 288 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans of layered characters and who appreciate a good friendship

Kate has escaped the clutches of the High Council and Silas has left Albion for the continent. But their lives are forever linked and as the veil weakens, causing Albion’s skilled to fear for everyone’s safety, Silas and Kate find themselves drawn together by the mysterious and corrupt Dalliah Grey.

Blackwatch begins with Kate on trial because she has been falsely accused of murdering one of the leaders of the Skilled. Kate learns who she truly can and cannot trust while on trial and she is disheartened to find that those she believed loyal to her, those she risked her life for, are really not as loyal to her as she believed. Kate and Edgar escape from the Skilled into the underground caverns only to be caught by the Blackwatch, the Continent’s most elite warriors. Across the sea, Silas is also being hunted by Blackwatch and it is through Silas and Kate’s blood tie that they are both captured and forced to try both Silas’s patience and Kate’s power.

This story delves deeper into the tie between Silas and Kate and the powers that Kate has inherited as one of the Skilled. One of the reasons I adored Shadowcry was because of how dark it was as a young adult novel, and Blackwatch was no different. Jenna Burtenshaw delves deeper into what the veil represents and how it affects both Kate and Silas as well as how Edgar’s role as Kate’s only confidant will affect her power over the veil. The novel also provides the reader with glimpses into past which assists the reader in understanding both how Wintercraft came to be and how easily one can be consumed by darkness.
A new character, Dalliah Grey was introduced in this novel and she was a nice addition after the absence of Da’ru, though it is still a little unclear if her motives are going to be detrimental to Kate or not. It is no question that she does not have Kate’s best interests at heart and only wants to use her to accomplish her own (less than godly) goals. The shift in POV between Kate and Silas also offers a nice addition so the reader is able to glimpse some of Silas’s inner turmoil as he starts to gain a conscience. That being said, the last few pages of the novel were probably my favorite as they really gave the reader a more solid view on the man that Silas is growing into, no word yet on the romance but one can only hope (okay, pine for.)

Like in Shadowcry, Jenna Burtenshaw uses impeccable descriptions to describe the world Silas and Kate travel through. As I was reading about the caverns underground and the city housed in them I was amazed at how vivid they were in my mind. The climax of the novel was also brilliant in my mind and I found myself feeling a range of emotions as Kate struggled with the situation she was thrown into. I am thrilled to say that my copy of the conclusion to this trilogy, Wintercraft: Legacy, just arrived yesterday and I can’t wait to find out the extent of Kate’s power and Silas’s strength.

This series comes highly recommended!

Review: Shadowcry by Jenna Burtenshaw

Title: Wintercraft

Author: Jenna Burtenshaw

Publishing Information: May 13th 2010 by Headline Book Publishing

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Paranormal

Series information: Book 1 in The Wintercraft Trilogy

Format: Hardcover, 278 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For:  For lovers of fantasy and darker young adult fiction.

Ten years ago the High Council’s wardens took Kate Winters’ parents to help with the country’s war effort. Now the wardens are back…and prisoners, including Kate’s uncle Artemis, are taken south on the terrifying Night Train. A far more dangerous enemy hunts Kate and her friend Edgar. Silas Dane — the High Council’s most feared man — recognizes Kate as one of the Skilled; a rare group of people able to see through the veil between the living and the dead. His spirit was damaged by the High Council’s experiments into the veil, and he’s convinced that Kate can undo the damage and allow him to find peace. The knowledge Kate needs lies within Wintercraft — a book thought to be hidden deep beneath the graveyard city of Fume. But the Night of Souls, when the veil between life and death is at its thinnest, is just days away and the High Council have their own sinister plans for Kate and Wintercraft. To help Artemis, Edgar and herself, Kate must honor her pact with a murderer and come face to face with the true nature of death.

In Wintercraft, we meet Kate Winter’s, a young girl living with her uncle tending to a small bookstore not realizing that she is one of the Skilled and that she is wanted by many. One day, Kate and her uncle notice hundreds of birds flying over their small town; suddenly, the birds all plummet to their death and Artemis warns Kate to hide because he knows that the birds are a sign that the wardens have come. Kate has been given little to no information on the wardens, save that they took her parents for the war so she doesn’t immediately heed his warning. Instead, the picks up one of the poor birds and finds that the bird is brought back to life with her touch. Thus begins a whirlwind adventure for Kate and her friend Edgar in which Silas Dane, the most feared man in Albion, hunts them. Silas works for the High Council but he has an agenda of his own. Silas has been given a half-life, his soul has been separated from his body and he is forever trapped in the land of the living while still keeping half of himself in the veil between the living and dead. Silas is convinced that Kate has the power to find him the peace he has been longing for and therefore does what is in his power to keep her safe while still acting as if he is loyal to the council.

I found this book while perusing on Goodreads one day and fell in love with the cover. It seemed like such a different type of story from the blurb and I am always intrigued by the “dark” young adult novels so I decided to pick it up from my local library and I am so happy that I did! I flew threw this book in an afternoon and immediately started book two.

The characters in this book are fascinating to me. Kate Winters is a strong female character but she isn’t without fault. Jenna Burtenshaw gives all of her characters many layers (okay, maybe not Da’ru) and the reader is able to appreciate the conflict Kate faces as she comes into her “power” and determines the morally “right” decision in the face of danger. Though she seems stubborn, it is in an educated way so that she doesn’t look like a child. Though the reader can still understand that Kate really is just growing into a young woman and is facing dangers that she has never fathomed. Edgar is Kate’s best friend and though he provides some comedic relief he is far from a silly character. Edgar is faithful and caring yet there are many things about him that Burtenshaw has only alluded to. Many other characters make allusions that there is more to Edgar than meets the eye and I am really intrigued to see who his character turns into. Finally, it is no surprise that Silas Dane is by far my favorite character in the novel. Though he is a foreboding and one can argue, evil, character he is still a loyal soldier who doesn’t make promises he doesn’t intend to keep and he always fulfills his debts. Like Kate and Edgar he is also extremely layered and grows into someone the reader can empathize with come the end of the book. I should probably add that he is extremely swoonworthy. He is intelligent and brooding (my favorite!) and he has a pet crow! Who wouldn’t love that in a guy? I have to add that as of right now there is no romantic plot in the story and though I may have yearned a little I really loved and appreciated the story in a different way. I hadn’t noticed how much more depth a story can have when the “I do everything for love” plotline is taken out of a novel.

The world Jenna Burtenshaw creates is richly imaginative and in a word, magical. It completely drew me in as a reader and I found myself savoring every part of the novel in a wonderful way. I recommend this book to lovers of fantasy and darker young adult fiction.

Review: Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

 

Title: Heart’s Blood

Author: Juliet Marillier

Publishing Information:  October 2nd 2009 by Tor

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 405 pages

Source: Purchased for my personal collection

Recommended For: Readers looking for a unique and gorgeous retelling of an age old tale

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitlin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.

Caitrin is a young woman running from the horrors of her household. Her father has died, her sister has married and gone and all she has left are kinsmen who are abusive to her both mentally and physically. Under their abuse Caitrin has become a ghost of the strong scribe her father taught her to be. It is a dreary, cold evening as Caitrin ventures toward Whistling Tor, a secluded village which houses secrets of its own. It is in this village that Caitrin overhears that the local chieftain is in need of a scribe who can read and translate Latin. Though the stories surrounding this chieftain and his household are enough to make any brave warrior wary, Caitrin believes this is her best hope of escaping her kinsmen who she believes will certainly come looking for her.

Caitrin makes her way up to Anluan’s home and finds that it is a curse that plagues the chieftains of the Tor. A curse that no one believed would ever be broken, until Caitrin came. Caitrin comes to love the Tor and its inhabitants and with her hope she acts as a beacon of light to those plagued by centuries of darkness.

The setting of this book was something I was very interested in. I love Juliet’s Sevenwaters series and adore that it centers on the forest, however, I was happy to find a more unusual setting and time period. Another significant change in this book was the element of magic. True, all of Marillier’s books focus on magic in some way but most center around “Other” magic, whereas Heart’s Blood is rooted in dark human sorcery. Caitrin must do her best to unravel the mysteries of the house and find a way to break the curse in order to help the friends she has come to love.

Another difference in this story is the way Caitrin must go about breaking the curse. In many of Juliet Marillier’s books the central female character must overcome certain tests usually given to her by Otherwordly beings. In this story it is a much more direct approach in which Caitrin must educate herself on the past wrongs done by the chieftain’s and arm herself with knowledge and strength in order to defeat the evil still dwelling there. Though I absolutely love reading tales regarding the “Old Ones” I also really appreciated the way this story was a tad more paranormal.

The secondary characters in this story were so fantastic I can hardly describe them. Some were rather creepy, the mysterious Muirne gave me a chills a few times as did the ethereal child who became attached to Caitrin and cried when she was left alone. Eichri and Rioghan were dependable and quite funny. Fianchu, whose name means “hound of a warrior band” was a huge, sweet and mysterious dog (think Dire Wolf) that I loved immensely. One cannot forget Magnus who was like a father to Caitrin and though very strong and dependable had an immense heart that showed throughout the novel.

As is her style, Marillier included some dark elements to the tale that really drew me in as a reader. I was invested in the characters, I felt their pain and disappointment as they did and found myself on the edge of my seat hoping for a happy ending. Reminiscent of Son of Shadows and Heir to Sevenwaters, both Anluan and Caitrin have things to learn and many ways in which they can grow. It is Caitrin’s strength that shows Anluan how to be a good chieftain and defeat the evil taking over his heart and home. Anluan helps Caitrin grow back into the woman she used to be before her father died. As many of you know, Juliet is the queen of slow burning romances. This story did not disappoint, every look and small gesture radiated with something more and as always, Marillier broke my heart a little just to put it back together.

Heart’s Blood was an obvious choice for me, Beauty and the Beast rewritten by the master Juliet Marillier was sure to be a hit in my mind. However I am always wary reading books by an author I love because my hopes are so high I fear that they will never be met. Thankfully, Juliet Marillier made my heart sing per usual. She stayed true to her path of weaving so many elements into a beautifully layered story. She creates friendships between characters (both human, Other and animal) that bring tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart.

This book comes highly recommended; it is an absolutely unique and gorgeous retelling of an age old tale. For those of you who have read this and are looking for another retelling by Juliet Marillier, check out my review of Wildwood Dancing!

Review: Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

Title: Liesl & Po

Author: Lauren Oliver

Publishing Information: October 4, 2011 by HarperCollins

Genre: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Magic

Series information: Standalone

Format: Hardcover, 313 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a sweet novel about friendship


Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice—until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.

That same night, an alchemist’s apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.

Will’s mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.

Liesl has been locked in the attic by her evil stepmother for 13 months, this was bearable until Liesl’s father died without her getting to say goodbye to him. Now the life that Liesl tolerated has been turned upside down. She doesn’t take pleasure in drawing anymore and is simply “existing” instead of “living.” One night a ghost named Po and its pet named Bundle visit Liesl. These two are not what you would think when you hear the word “ghost,” Po is neither a girl nor a boy and Bundle is neither a cat nor a dog, they simple are. Liesl forms a friendship with these two and they assist her in escaping from her stepmother’s clutches, stealing her father’s ashes and taking off to a town far away so that she can bring her father “home.” As Liesl is living this adventure there is a young boy named Will, the apprentice to an alchemist who has just created the “most powerful magic in the world.” Will has a mission to deliver this magic to someone very important but he misplaces it and there is much confusion that follows. His adventure becomes entwined with Liesl’s adventure and many other characters are thrown into the mix.

Liesl & Po was an absolutely lovely story. Lauren Oliver really has a way with words and I found myself reading parts of the story out loud to people around me because some of the lines from the novel were very thought invoking and all together beautifully written. This story centers around death, neglect and forms of abuse yet the way in which it was written really focused on the hope, love and joy of the characters presented. Some of my favorite parts are the interactions between Liesl and Po. For example, after Po comes back to Liesl with information on her father Liesl is very agitated at Po’s lack of enthusiasm, which he brushes off as him being tired…

“I’m very sorry to hear you are tired,” she said stiffly, her inside voice screaming: Tell me what you know about my dad! Tell me or I’ll kill you again! I’ll make you a double ghost!

“What does that mean? What does it mean to say you’re sorry?”

Liesl groped for words to describe it. “It means – it means what it means. It means that I feel bad. It means that I wish I could make you untired.”

Po flipped upside down and righted itself, still obviously confused. “But why should you wish anything for me?”

“It’s an expression,” Liesl said. Then she thought hard for a minute. “People need other people to feel things for them,” she said. “It gets lonely to feel things all by yourself.”

Oliver hit it right on the nose at that moment for me; misery loves company and so forth. There were many moments like this in the story, the book was well written and it provided a nice backdrop to the middle grade novel with characters so young. It is also important to note that the author wrote this novel after losing someone very close to her and she explains how the story helped her to heal. I have lost someone close to me as well and I have to say that this story shed a new whimsical light on something that cuts deep.

Though there were illustrations that made the physical book very appealing, the audio book is read by Jim Dale and from what I have heard he gives a magnificent performance. This book comes highly recommended it’s a sweet story and overall made me ineffably happy.

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood

Author: Kendare Blake

Publishing Information: August 30, 2011 by Tor

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Supernatural, Horror

Series information: Book 1 in the Anna series

Format: Hardcover, 316 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers interested in horror novels that aren’t too horrific and romance novels that aren’t too romantic

“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.”

Anna Dressed in Blood was one of the hyped debuts of 2011 and I was initially drawn to it when I saw its awesome cover. Plus I was on a horror kick after reading The Child Thief and I hoped this would live up to my expectations.

The story follows Cas, a sarcastic ghost hunter who follows a “tip” to the town in which Anna resides. Cas was a very unique character, he is following in his father’s footsteps and lives up to his father’s name by following tips around the country and hunting down ghosts to send them to wherever it is ghosts go after they are done hanging on the Earthly plane.

After some research, Cas meets Anna, who I immediately loved. This character was so twisted and layered that I felt all kinds of emotions toward her. The story was beautifully done as her history is revealed in a slow, mysterious way. She starts off as this terrifying character who is disemboweling anyone who ventures into her house and slowly, as her history is revealed, she mellows out in an almost tragic way.

Overall, this story wasn’t as horror filled as I like my novels but it was a good amount of gore for a young adult debut and definitely enough intrigue to keep me guessing and wanting more. As a side note **spoiler alert (kinda)** I HATED THE PART ABOUT THE CAT!! Out loud I literally screamed “Not the cat!!!” and it kind of made me angry because I did NOT think it was necessary! **end spoiler**

I am eagerly anticipating the second installment of this series; it is one of my most anticipated reads of 2012. I recommend this book to anyone who likes horror (that isn’t too horrifying) and a sweet love story (that isn’t too lovey).

Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

dosab

Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Publishing Information: September 27, 2011 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Series information: Book 1 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series

Format: Hardcover, 424 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Readers looking for a beautiful novel of love and redemption.

 

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.

I have been struggling with this review for days. Not because it wasn’t awesome, it totally was, but because I fear that by raving about the sheer amazingness of this book I will spoil some extremely important and mysterious plot lines. I have decided to provide the summary from Goodreads so you can get the gist of what the novel is about and then I will do my best to explain just why this book was SO SO SO good without any spoilers.

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

How good does that sound? Let me just tell you, that summary? NOT EVEN CLOSE TO HOW AWESOMELY LAYERED THIS BOOK IS!! The book starts off and you’re thinking okay so this is some supernatural love story about a “devil” and an “angel” who fall in love. Ohh if only…let’s delve right in.

First, the plot of the story was near perfect. I absolutely gave up sleep to read this book because I had actual need to find out what happened next. As I said before, it is nearly impossible for me to say what I loved about the plot without giving away too much. Just know it had politics (the good kind), hate, jealousy, rage and all forms of love. As the story progresses you see how the past and present come together and my heart was literally breaking at more than one point. I had to read the last few pages multiple times because I could feel the overwhelming feelings Karou must be feeling as she discovered the truth. At first I had a hard time with the love between the two characters because it was so instant and “I have to know her” on Akiva’s part that it paralleled so many other paranormal romance novels out there. However, as the plot unfolds you realize there are serious reasons as to why this love is so instant, and so overwhelming.

Second, the characters are so great and so layered with their pasts that intertwine and they make you love every flaw, scar and tear. Karou was this strong female character who starts off as a (somewhat) typical teenager attending art school and going on frequent errands for her adopted family who just happen to be of a secret race of Chimera. Her world is suddenly torn apart and instead of acting like an immature teenager saying boo hoo how do I handle this she takes her problems head on and finds ways to act and move toward her goal. Then there is Akiva, the Seraphim who is of course, unbelievably gorgeous while also brooding and overly dramatic. In time the reader finds out why he is so brooding and I can understand his reasoning so I can’t blame him for being that way and I still kinda love him a lot. I loved Brimstone, and the rest of Karou’s “family” and Madrigal, who I can’t say too much about, was also a very strong and near perfect character.

Finally, the brilliance in Laini Taylor’s writing is found in how lyrical her words are…

Karou right after she sees Akiva for the first time:

“Into kohl-rimmed eyes in a sun-bronzed face. Fire-colored eyes with a charge like sparks that seared a path through the air and kindles it. It gave Karou a jolt – no mere startle but a chain reaction that lashed through her body with a rush of adrenaline. Her limbs came into the lightness and power of sudden awakening, fight or flight, chemical and wild.

Who? She thought, her mind racing to catch up to the fervor in her body.

And: What?

Chapter 44:

“Snap.
Rushing, like wind through a door, and Karou was the door, and the wind was coming home, and she was also the wind.
She was all: wind and home and door.
She rushed into herself and was filled.
She let herself in and was full.
She closed again. The wind settles. It was as simple as that.

She was whole.”

Ahhhh how is it that this author can write the simplest sentence and still make me want to scream and laugh and cry?! This book was just pure awesome, I am literally recommending it to everyone that comes into my library. When they ask: “Do you have it here?” I say “Yes, but it’s checked out. Go buy it, seriously.” That is how good this book is. I hugged it when I finished, I went back and re-read random parts. I obsessed over Laini Taylor’s website and I NEED it to be time for the sequel now please!

In a nutshell: Go read this book right now, and you’re welcome.

Once upon a time, there were two moons, who were sisters.
Nitid was the goddess of tears and life, and the sky was hers.
No one worshipped Ellai but secret lovers.
 
 

Review: Fables by Bill Willingham

 

Fables

By Bill Willingham

Once upon a time, all of your fairy tales turned out to be true…

Fables is a graphic novel series created by writer Bill Willingham. The series focuses around various characters from fairy tales and folklore that have been forced out of their Homelands by The Adversary. The Fables have created their own secret community in New York City known as Fabletown. Certain Fables who are unable to blend in with human society (The Three Little Pigs, Bageera, etc.) live at “The Farm” in upstate New York.

Bill Willingham has completely re-created the characters from popular fairy tales. Snow White is Deputy Mayor of Fabletown and her prince of old is not so charming. The story arcs are diverse, ranging from murder mysteries to a political war with a surplus amount of back-story on your favorite fairy tale characters!

Let me start off by saying I am not a “graphic novel” reader. Not that there is anything wrong with reading and enjoying them, I just never had the desire to pick up a comic book and take a gander. So it was no secret that I wasn’t too excited when we were assigned to read graphic novels for my young adult literature course last semester. I struggled with my choice, finally settling for a standard Batman/Superman theme. Soon after I begrudgingly read through my comic I noticed one of my classmates (and Goodreads friend) was reading the Fables series for our assignment. Suddenly I was taken aback, fairy tales as comic books? Umm yes, please!! I immediately harassed her for all of the information she had on the Fables series and Mr. Bill Willingham and that, my friends, is the beginning of a beautiful love affair between myself and the characters of Fabletown (primarily Mr. Bigby Wolf, I won’t lie).

So, in a nutshell, drop what you are doing and go to your local library, find these graphic novels and start reading!! Seriously, go now.

Oh and for those of you reading this thinking how daft I am for finally jumping on this bandwagon that you have been riding on for years, did you know Bill Willingham has other graphic novels? How about a novel called Down the Mysterly River? Bet you didn’t…