Friday, October 31, 2014

Sloppy Seconds #10: Discussion and Giveaway: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Welcome to a very special Halloween edition of Sloppy Seconds (a monthly feature hosted by myself and Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives). Sloppy Seconds is a feature in which Teresa and I buddy re-read some of our very favorite books and then post our thoughts and feels. So sit back, relax, grab a glass of wine and some candy corn, and re-live some great reads with us!

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Published: October 17, 2011
Purchase: Amazon  |  B&N

Goodreads Summary:

"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."


**spoilers ahead**

Michele Belle
Wifey, I've got my glass of Merlot, and I'm so excited for this special Halloween edition of Sloppy Seconds! 

Teresa Mary Rose
Ohh Merlot! Very nice. I have my wine, too, and I am ready to go! This is sure to be a wonderful discussion, and I am so excited for our Halloween discussion. We could not have made a better choice than Anna Dressed In Blood

Michele Belle
Anna is the perfect choice for this time of year!!  I loved this story just as much the second time around. 

Teresa Mary Rose
Me too! It still had me hooked from page one and looking over my shoulder to make sure nobody was there. It is just the perfect blend of creepy and romance. It's so darkly beautiful. 

Michele Belle
Darkly beautiful is a great way to describe this read!  Confession time:  The first time I read this book, I was a tiny bit afraid.  Okay, maybe not so tiny. I definitely wanted to sleep with the light on.  Fine.  I definitely slept with the light on.  I don't know about you, but going into the second read knowing what to expect made it a very different experience from the first.  I was able to focus on so many other aspects of the story this time.  There are a lot of funny moments but some really poignant ones, also!  Isn't Cas a great MC?  I love reading from his point of view. I love his Dean Winchester-ness (sorry, Supernatural moment)! 

Teresa Mary Rose
You are so right! It is such a different experience the second time around. The first time you really have no clue what to expect. Is Anna good? Is she bad? Is she going to rip out Cas's insides? You spend so much time afraid that you miss out on so many wonderful moments. The second time around I was able to pick up on so much more and truly appreciate the story because I didn't spend so much of the book afraid. It was a wonderful experience. And I have to agree with you about Cas. He is a fantastic MC. His inner thoughts are wonderful. I also appreciate how different he is from other MC's and not just because he is a guy - he is just truly unique. 

Michele Belle
Exactly!  That's what makes this a perfect choice for a re-read -- it has so much to offer!  He really is unique!  This was one of my first books with a YA male MC, and I really enjoyed it. Cas just came across so very real -- I'm super impressed by how the author nailed his voice! 

Teresa Mary Rose
There is just so much to savor the second time around! 

She did nail it! He just sounds so real and not at all forced. And he is also hysterical. I found myself cracking up constantly with his inner dialogue. But I also appreciated his maturity and his sense of responsibility. He is very young to be carrying the burden he does, but he does it well. 

Okay, now I think we need to discuss our terrifying and lovely Anna. Wifey, I adore Anna, I really do. She is so so different in every single way. She is terrifying and dangerous but somehow still a great person... ghost... whatever... you know what I mean. 

Michele Belle
I love his inner dialogue, too!  He's absolutely hilarious at times.  But unfortunately a lot of his life has been pretty lonely -- at least outside of his mom, whom I think is pretty awesome. His story is a sad one; and I feel he is so brave to follow in his father's steps, and I completely understand his reasons in doing so. 

Anna.  She is terrifyingly wonderful!  I love her!  But for anyone who hasn't read the story, don't think we're implying she's dead roses and sunshine.  Nuh-uh.  Casper the Friendly Ghost she is NOT.  Some things have to happen first, and then she works her way to being that great person... ghost!  And talk about a sad story -- Anna's background will hurt your heart.  I would've wanted to hug her if not for the fact she might've ripped my face off. 

Another thing that the book really brings to light is superstitions and how every town seems to have their fair share of ghost stories.  I like the implication that many of these stories are not just tall tales but in fact stem from true events.  The small southern town that I grew up in is very historic with many beautiful antebellum homes -- several of which come with haunted pasts.  There was one in particular that scared me pantless.  Old Waverly.  Aside from reports of faces in mirrors and unexplained voices, they say when visiting the bedroom of the young girl who had passed away there, an impression would at times appear in the bed that she slept in.  I never went in the room, but now I'm really wishing Cas would check it out for me.  LOL!  Did any of the ghost stories (and there were several mentioned in this awesome book aside from Anna's story) make you think about a real life haunting where you live? 

Teresa Mary Rose
Yeah, Cas has had a very lonely life. Which is why I also love Carmel and Thomas! And I agree, his Mom is the best. It takes a special person to be okay with Cas doing what he is doing. 

Oh yeah... no.... Anna is scary and she will kill you if you are stupid enough to venture into her home. But her back story is horrible. It truly breaks my heart what she had to overcome. It really doesn't surprise me that she ended up so dark and twisted with her past. 

Gahh I got chills just reading that! We have quite a few ghost stories where I live, but there is one that is pretty famous. It is the Old Bermuda Inn and it is now a restaurant. However, it was once someone's home, and her picture still hangs in the hallway and I swear to God the eyes of that picture follow you wherever you go. The story is that the woman haunting it died of a broken heart when her husband died while away. People have claimed to see her still waiting at the window for her husband to come home and when they began renovations on the restaurant her portrait went up in flames despite there being no known cause. Doors open and close on their own and there is one light on the chandelier that never turns off even if they cut the power. Just lots of creepy stuff going on there. 

Michele Belle
Oh, Thomas.  My sweet doubting Thomas.  I LOVE him!!  Carmel was one of those characters I wasn't sure I could trust at first, but she turned out to be a really cool girl.  Love them!  Now Mike, Will, and Chase?  Not so much. 

Yes.  She will kill you.  Kill you dead.  And isn't that the thing -- she's this horrible murderess, but when you find out everything that transpired to make her that way... you can't help but feel bad for her.  Again, super impressed the author could make her so chillingly scary and yet lovable!  Kendare Blake is a genius!

Ooooo!!! Promise me that when I visit you, you will definitely NEVER TAKE ME THERE!!! OMGEEEE!  Wifey, that is just horrifying and also completely intriguing.  Another ghost story I loved hearing about but never want to check out in person.  lol  

And let's talk about the someone who may be even scarier than our dear Anna.  Now, that is one aspect of the story that scared me even the second time around.  *shudders*

Teresa Mary Rose
Thomas is such a sweetheart and I absolutely love him and want to smoosh him. Carmel had me a little worried in the beginning too, but I ended up loving her. What I loved most about her was that she was the super popular girl but not a bitch. It was such a breath of fresh air. Oh those three... they got what they deserved in my opinion. I couldn't find it in myself to feel sorry for them. I mean they brought Cas to a haunted house and threw him in there... okay even if you don't believe in Anna and want to scare him, YOU HIT HIM OVER THE HEAD WITH A BEAM... come on! And then Will... he crossed a line taking what he did from Cas... uh oh Wifey, I think you got me all worked up now lol. 

Yes! Exactly! It is amazing how Kendare balanced it all. And I loved how proud Cas was of her and her crazy super awesome 'I can kill you' abilities. 

HAHAHA but we have to go! The food is actually really good and it is a fun creepy time. When I went there as a kid I may or may not have gotten in trouble with the staff because I was checking out the attic.... 

No... I don't want to talk about him... he scares me and eats cats and I hate him... you can field this one. That attic scene makes me crazy and want to go plaster over my own attic.

Michele Belle
Yes!  He is so incredibly smooshable and squishy!  That's a great point -- even though Carmel was the "queen bee" of their school, she was very down to earth and likable. Argggggh!!!  And hit him hard enough to give him a concussion!  There was blood, for crying out loud!  Just horrible human beings.  Haha -- I thought that might get you a little ranty! Get 'em, Wifey!   However, everything happens for a reason, and that incident played a pivotal role in what happened next.  You know if Cas had just waltzed in there on his own, he would have been staring at the other half of his body from across the room.  It all just ties together so nicely.  Will's actions actually made him the most disappointing of the three.  I award him the stink eye with a side of bitch brow.

Sigh.  They face some serious obstacles, but they're just meant for each other.  You don't expect to find a sweet romance in such a ghostly setting.

You rebel, you!  You are the bravest soul!!  You make me proud and happy to stand BEHIND you in the face of danger!  Sure we'll go!  You go in and grab the food while I wait in the car with the engine running, holding my own candlelight vigil singing Jesus Loves Me until you get back.  Cause that's seriously the only way I can see that going down. *snort*

He is SO scary!  I thought back to my childhood home and the attic that is exactly like the one described.  I hope my parents are okay with me nailing that thing shut the next time I visit.  Yes, I will help you with the plaster.  No attics for us!  As frightening as those parts are, they are so exciting!  You just have no idea what's going to happen next.  I mean, you think you've heard the worst... but nope... wait for it, there's more!

Teresa Mary Rose
Exactly! Carmel ruled that school but she was a real person. Who made the rule that the popular girls are always bitches? I KNOW! There was blood and he didn't move for a while! Who does these things? I know everything worked out the way it was supposed to, but it still made me hate them all the more. Yes, Will's actions may not seem like a big deal, but they really are the worst of them all. While you are awarding him stink eyes and bitch brows I shall punch him in the face. 

That they are.... in such an odd way they are just perfect for one another. They make my heart hurt but in a good way.

Okay okay... no ghost restaurants for Wifey. We shall go to the restaurants with the delicious food where ghosts don't sit next to you while you eat.

Wifey... I have never been so happy that my room is in the basement far far away from the attic *shudders* I just know if I was on the top floor every little creek would have me running for the hills. You are so right, he gets worse and worse as it goes on. He is like a voodoo zombie on crack with a dash of spider *shudders*

Michele Belle
Yes, yes, I like this plan much better. 

If you were near that attic, you'd have to move here. That would be that.  

I love the vast array of characters in this book.  We mentioned Cas's mom, but I forgot to mention Thomas's grandfather, Morfran.  He was pretty interesting, and I'd like to know more about him.  Also, I feel there is so much more story to be told about Gideon Palmer.  I like that he's been sort of a surrogate father to Cas and he's certainly knowledgeable about all things supernatural, but I'm not really sure about him. I don't know if it's truly a bad vibe I'm getting or if I'm just suspicious of everyone at this point.  I'm anxious to learn more in the sequel.  

Now, you have read the second book, Girl of Nightmares; but I will be starting it this weekend.  Any non-spoilery heads-up you want to give me?  Will I need Kleenexes or holy water or both?

Teresa Mary Rose
Oh yes! How could we forget Morfran! He is so weird, yet interesting; and he came in handy a few times. Gideon definitely has more to him but my lips are sealed! I'm not going to give you any kinds of heads up because you will just read between the lines. I will say that it is creepy and good and I can't wait for you to know all the things! 

Michele Belle
He's definitely different, but boy was he an asset!!

You know me so well -- that's exactly what I would do.  Well, prepare yourself for the numerous texts as I learn all the things!  I'm so excited for more of this amazing story!  I think everyone should definitely give Anna a read for Halloween.  After we share our favorite quotes, what do you say we give away a copy or two to our lovely readers?

Teresa Mary Rose
That is a wonderful idea. Everyone needs to read Anna! But first... quotes!

"My gut told me that she wasn't just a story. And besides, I wanted to see her, dressed in blood."

"And maybe he's right. Maybe it is my fault. I could have found another way to Anna. But to hell with that. Mike Andover hit me across the back of the head with a plank and threw me in an abandoned house, all because I talked to his ex-girlfriend. He didn't deserve to be split down the middle, but he had a kick in the nuts coming to him at the very least."

"I'd really like to sit down on one, but the cupboards start opening and closing by themselves, drawers slamming shut and the walls starting to bleed. Slamming doors and smashing plates. Anna is acting like a common poltergeist. How embarrassing."

"We're not children, neither of us. We don't believe in fairy tales. And if we did, who would we be? Not Prince Charming and Sleeping Beauty. I slice murder victims' heads off and Anna stretches skin until it rips, she snaps bones like green branches into smaller and smaller pieces. We'd be the frickin dragon and the wicked fairy. I know that. But I still have to tell her."

"Arthur without Excalibur was still Arthur."

"The accusations make me want to be a kid again. Why isn't my mommy calling them big fat liars? The seriously, completely wrong pants-on-fire kind?"

Okay Wifey, hit me with yours?

Michele Belle
Those are great!  Here are my favorites: 

“She might be the most liberal-minded 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.” 

“I’m not going to let her road- weary eyes guilt me into anything. Before I know it, we’ll be making daisy chains in the backyard and crowning the cat the king of summer solstice.” 

“God, living people are irritating.” 

“Thanks, Dad. Just one of the many creepy pearls of wisdom you had to impart.” 

“The look is giving me some kind of hot feeling in my cheeks. Holy shit, I’m blushing.” 

“‘You look beautiful,’ I say, because it’s the first thing that pops into my stupid, empty head. I consider using my athame to cut my tongue out.” 

“‘Yes. Smashing. You’ll be just like those four chaps in the movie. You know the one, with the oversized marshmallow.’ 

You’ve got to be kidding me.” 

“I don’t know why I haven’t realized it before. I guess I never give too much thought to the living.” 

“‘It feels so separate, like I’ve touched something that’s taken the color out of me. Or maybe I’m in color now and they’re black and white.’ She turns to me. ‘We’re in on the secret, aren’t we, Cas? And it’s taking us out of the world.’ ‘That’s usually the way it works,’ I say softly.” 

“I don’t argue. The chant does seem stupid. I know magic works, I know it’s real, but I don’t know why it has to be so damn fruity sometimes.” 

“‘What are you going to fill it with?’ she asks. ‘Holy water or something?’ ‘Probably Dasani,’ Thomas replies.”

“Behind me, on the other hand, Thomas looks like an excited beagle who doesn’t know he’s being taken to the vet.” 

“What is it about the sight of your mother that makes everything fireside- warm and full of dancing Muppets?” 

“The things that your eyes see plainly and can’t forget are worse than huddled black figures left to the imagination. Imagination has a poor memory; it slinks away and goes blurry. Eyes remember for much longer.” 

“It’s just a thing; it’s not some inherently good or inherently evil artifact. It has no will of its own. I haven’t been hopping around and calling it my Precious all these years.” 

“I am not afraid. She’s with me. 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.” 

“Every one of her mom- instincts says to swaddle me up and take off. But she’s not just any mom. She’s my mom. So she sits, and gets ready to fight alongside.” 

“I hate it when they don’t have eyes. Empty sockets or cloudy eyeballs or eyes that just aren’t where they should be— I hate all of it. It freaks me out, and that pisses me off.” 

Teresa Mary Rose
Oh I love those quotes Wifey!!! There are just so many great moments to share with this one, and I loved re-reading this one with you!

Michele Belle
I loved this pick, and it was so much fun re-living this story with you!  Thank you for visiting Thunder Bay and all these wonderful characters with me!


Because this is a super special edition of Sloppy Seconds, Teresa and I are giving away two Kindle copies of Anna Dressed In Blood. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

-Giveaway is open to anyone who can accept Kindle books
-Winner will be chosen at random via Rafflecopter and contacted via email


  1. Oh Wifey I really love the way this discussion turned out and our banner is so cute lol. Anna was the perfect re-read for Halloween and I loved re-reading this one so so much! Cannot wait for our next SS.... I love this feature and I love doing it with you and clearly Halloween has made me sappy lmao.

  2. I loved this book the first time I read it and I remember being a little unsettled. I need to sit back and read it again and compare notes with you two. Have a Happy Halloween!

  3. I loved reading your guys' comments! I adore you both! And Anna was such a great pick! I want to re-read to book now!

    *hugs for you both* :D


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