Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake

After Cas Lowood’s father was killed while trying to eradicate a deadly ghost, Cas took over the job of ghost hunter extraordinaire. Together with his mother, they move from place to place seeking out local legends so that Cas can investigate and banish these ghosts. Easy in, easy out...right? Not this time. When Cas discovers Anna, things take a different and unexpected turn. The girl in the blood dripping dress captivates Cas in a way the dead never should.

Anna would have been a read-in-one-sitting book for me if I had not exercised a surprising amount of self control and made myself save the rest of the book for a dentist visit the next day. I loved this story and it is easily in my top five ghost stories of all time. I admire a book from a male point of view, they are entirely too rare, and the character of Cas is perfection. His running internal monologue kept me laughing and I adore how witty and full of snark he is.

For example:
“She might be the most liberal of mothers, letting her teenage son roam the night hunting down the remains of murderers, but she still doesn’t like hearing the f-bomb fall out of my mouth”.

And my personal favorite:

“Girls, on the other hand, have always come easy. I don’t know why that is, exactly. Maybe it’s the outsider vibe and a well placed brooding look. Maybe it’s something I think I see sometimes in the mirror, something that reminds me of my father. Or maybe I’m just damn easy on the eyes.”

Yeah, I’m going with well placed brooding look and damn easy on the eyes. Whatever it is, I love me some Cas Lowood and I appreciate a great ghost story.

While I enjoyed the action and the incredible scares Anna produced, I was pleasantly surprised by the more touching, poignant moments:

“She's my purpose and we're going to save each other. We're going to save everyone. And then I'm going to convince her that she's supposed to stay here. With me.”

I look forward to more of Kendare Blake’s talented story weaving. I’ll be anxiously awaiting Girl of Nightmares, Anna Dressed in Blood #2.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Butcher's Boy by Michael Robb Mathias

The thriller The Butcher’s Boy is a perfect mix of horror and mystery. It left me thinking, “I’d love to see this made into a movie”! But then I realized I would be too afraid to actually see it. While I did pinpoint the “bad guy” early on, it didn’t keep me from being on the edge of my seat the entire book. There were still plenty of twists and turns in this great story. I fell in love with Janet and Michael and I adored Lucy. I was also caught by surprise by the emotion the author evoked in me with the story of a mother’s love. For me, this book had it all: Haunted house, Ouija boards, gruesome murders, and me having to sleep with the light on. With that said, the story is a bit graphic at times and might make the easily offended somewhat uncomfortable. I personally thought it was one of the best I’ve read in a while.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies is an incredibly enjoyable read. I wanted to simultaneously laugh and cry throughout the story. This is not your usual zombie yarn. It is intriguing, thought provoking, and, well… extremely sweet. Who would have thought a zombie tale could be romantic?

R is a fascinating character and I could not help but fall in love with him. Forget what you thought you knew about the undead and give this book a read. You won’t be disappointed and if you are, you should seriously have your brains eaten by a zombie.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Passion (Fallen #3) by Lauren Kate

Time after time, Daniel and Luce are reunited only to lose each other in the most agonizing way imaginable. Luce believes if she can revisit the past, she can finally break their curse and find a way to make their love last. Daniel must chase Luce through the past and stop her before she can rewrite history and end their romance forever.

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

That is one of my favorite quotes, and that is exactly how Lauren Kate’s Passion left me. I felt as though I had traveled to the most far away and exotic places. I cannot imagine the research that went into this book with the fascinating details of time periods and places. I was captivated from the first few pages and it always feels like coming home to revisit these wonderful characters. I have always been a “Cam” girl but with Passion I understood the draw to Daniel. I felt as though I got to know him better, and my heart bleeds for him.

Passion is my favorite so far in this wonderful series. Lauren Kate blew me away with her impressive phrasing and her intoxicating details. The wait for Rapture will be a difficult one.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

In Close by Brenda Novak

Claire O’Toole hasn’t exactly had the easiest life. She’s had first hand experience at loss and heartache. Fifteen years ago, Claire’s mother, Alana, disappeared, shocking the small town of Pineview, Montana. No one ever knew if Alana had abandoned her family, or if foul play had been involved. Claire has never doubted for a moment that her mother did not, and would not ever, desert her family. Ten years ago Isaac Morgan broke Claire’s heart into little pieces. Isaac was then forced to watch Claire marry her childhood sweetheart and live her life… without him in it. Last year, when Claire’s husband David was killed in a tragic hunting accident, Claire became lost in her grief. But was it really an accident? Isaac doesn’t think so, and after a long estrangement from Claire, he knows a way he can help make up for how badly he hurt her. Isaac believes Alana’s disappearance and David’s death are somehow connected. Together, Isaac and Claire begin their own investigation, and discover more than just clues to Claire’s lost loved ones. They realize they still have feelings for each other, and that they need one another now, more than ever. But when they start uncovering answers, it’s clear that someone out there wants them to leave well enough alone, and that someone is prepared to keep those answers from coming out at any cost.

I really enjoyed this exciting and fast paced story. I especially enjoyed Isaac Morgan. Isaac is a character you don’t want to stop thinking about long after you’ve read the last page of the story. His relationship with Claire is an intense one, and as much as Claire needs Isaac’s strength and comfort…. he needs her just as much.

This book contained a lot of twists and turns. I was determined to figure out the mystery before the author’s reveal - I didn’t. I adore a suspenseful and thrilling read!

In Close is the first book I have read by Brenda Novak, but I know this: I want more. The woman knows how to write a great mystery, and she really knows how to write a love scene. I’ll be reading more by this talented author.

I received a copy of this book for review from Netgalley.

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

"Staring at the wreckage of the life we could have had, I knew it wasn't about love or Shay or the Searchers now. It was about sacrifice and redemption, loss that could have new meaning."

Before I begin my review for Wolfsbane, I want to say a few things about the incredible Andrea Cremer. If you follow her on Twitter, then you already know what a sweetheart she is. I love how gracious she is and how appreciative she is of her readers, bloggers, and reviewers. I stayed up for the midnight release of Wolfsbane and to wish the author a Happy Book Birthday. Her tweets of excitement along with her retweets from her followers were so endearing.

Wolfsbane finds Calla waking up to Searchers, chances and choices. Being in control of her own destiny is a new world for Calla - and one that threatens to tear her apart. Family, pack, enemies-turned-alliances… this story is riveting and full of Cremer’s brilliant writing style. Her descriptions are vivid and paint an incredible picture of Calla’s journey.

Wolfsbane picks up right where Nightshade left us, but for me the two books couldn’t be more different. Nightshade was our introduction to the characters and the world they live in. Wolfsbane is our guide to their history. One thing that was the same: Andrea Cremer’s ability to captivate me with her amazing story telling skills. MAD skills! There were parts of this book that I thought for sure would give me an ulcer or a heart attack… or both. My heart was pounding so hard at one point I was concerned… not enough to dare put the book down, but still. The action in this book was intense. There were battles and there were casualties.

I loved the debut of the new characters. I was surprised how quickly I became invested in all of them. Especially Connor. Charming, unbelievably funny and handsome, Connor is a perfect addition to the series.

I am Team Ren and while some have expressed concern over Ren’s participation in Wolfsbane, I will say his presence is most definitely felt. I would have thrown what we southerners refer to as a “hissy fit” and we might have had to have a Sunday-morning-come-to-Jesus-meeting with that cliffhanger, but sweet lovely woman that she is, Andrea Cremer released an excerpt of Bloodrose that you can find here:Bloodrose

Now, if only I could rate the excerpt of Bloodrose that she so generously gifted us. Oh wait. This is my review, so I can: Bloodrose gets 5 bazilliontrillion stars. She did not let us Team Ren gals down with that opening!

Is it time for Bloodrose yet? Let the countdown begin!

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Calla Tor, the alpha female of a shape-shifting wolf pack, is fated to marry Ren Laroche, his pack's alpha male, thus uniting both packs and ruling together, guarding sacred sites for the Keepers. That is, until Calla saves a beautiful human boy. Calla then begins to question everything she thought she knew. She knows she will have to make a choice. But will she follow her heart even if it means losing everything, including her own life?

I loved this book. Andrea Cremer has created an incredible female lead character in Calla. I love her clever writing style, her ingenious way of introducing characters, and the intriguing secret world of Guardians, Keepers and Searchers. Oh, and these are not cuddly, look into your eyes longingly, nuzzle your neck, snuggle with you wolves:

“Then he slowly stretched out his hand, taking a few steps forward. He bent down. When I realized what he was about to do, I snarled, snapping at his fingers. He jumped back and swore. I shifted into human form. 'You’re like a dead man walking.' I pointed an accusing finger at him. 'Don’t ever, ever try to pet a wolf. It’s just insulting.'”

(You hear that Bella Swan? Ya idgit.)

The author has given us not just one, but two incredibly sexy male love interests. Normally, it is simple to choose sides - to know exactly which guy you would prefer and who you would like to see with the heroine. Not that easy this time. One is beautiful, sweet, tender, and easy to fall for. The other is handsome, tough, arrogant, and the kind of guy you just want to … umm… You get the point.

“Here there was no pack, no master or mistress. Just me and this boy, whose touch made me ache in places promised to someone else."

This book is an action packed page turner and had my stomach in knots while waiting to see what would happen. And thanks to an amazing cliffhanger … it‘s still in knots! Fortunately, I don’t have a long wait. Wolfsbane, the sequel to Nightshade is due out July 26, which for me, can’t come fast enough.