Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Would you prefer to watch the video review, instead of reading it? CLICK HEREAnna

TITLE: Anna Dressed In Blood
AUTHOR: Kendare Blake

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.75)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
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.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

The Critical Points:
This book has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. I’m not really sure why I hadn’t read it before now. I’ve loved the cover since it was given to me but just never felt compelled to read it. I’m so glad that I finally did. A couple weeks ago, I was in the mood for ghost stories, which is why I started reading 20th Century Ghosts. Well, when that one left me feeling less than excited, I decided to pick up Anna Dressed In Blood which promised a ghost dressed in Blood. I was crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t be let down again.

WRITING: Kendare Blake has a very easy, fluid writing style. Anna Dressed in Blood was a fast read that left very few questions unanswered. It is full of adventure, awkward teens, death, and although it’s not a love story, that’s in there too.

STORY: Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…
Actually, there is nothing average about this story. It’s a fun coming of age Young Adult story of a teenage ghost hunter who finally finds his tribe.

CHARACTERS: Every character, at least the important ones, are fleshed out to the point where you feel like you know them. Blake has a beautiful way of bringing unlikely friends together and making it feel completely natural. You care for Cas, Thomas, and Carmel and when things don’t go their way, it hurts. Sure, there are some untimely deaths (I won’t tell you who or how), but in a ghost hunting story, there has to be… Don’t worry, she kills the right characters.

APPEARANCE: I wish I knew who designed the cover, but unfortunately it isn’t written on the copywrite page. The cover, which shows Anna standing outside of her Victorian home, is actually foreshadowing what happens in the book. It is beautiful, whimsical, and romantic and perfectly portrays the feel of the story that Blake has created.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE:
I had a hard time coming up with a favorite quote from this one. Let me explain, typically, I find my favorite quote(s) while I’m reading. Something will just hit me and I’ll love it and either highlight it or write it down. But, with Anna Dressed In Blood, I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t think about the fact that I needed to find my favorite quote. I was lost in the world Blake had created. Trust me, that’s a very good thing.

So, I had to go back… thumb through the pages to see if I could find a quote that stood out. Of course, I did.

“Until a few weeks ago, none of this was real.”

It’s a simple little quote, and seemingly means nothing without the context of what was around it. However, I like it because its true for any book of fiction you pick up. None of it is real… yet if it is written well, it feels so real. The characters feel like they have come to life on the pages and it is sad and painful when you have to let them go at the end of the story.

OK, one more favorite quote… just for fun:

“But hey, at least we’ll have this strange story to tell, love and death and blood and daddy-issues. And holy crap, I’m a psychiatrist’s wet dream.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/c_CXEXBZheQ

NEXT WEEK’S #FRIDAYREADS SELECTION: GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by KENDARE BLAKE The second (and final) book in the Anna Dressed In Blood series.

GIRL

Four by Veronica Roth

Four

TITLE: Four
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Fans of the Divergent trilogy by #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth will be thrilled by Four: A Divergent Collection, a companion volume that includes four pre-Divergent stories plus three additional scenes from Divergent, all told from Tobias’s point of view. This collection also makes a great pick for fans of the blockbuster movies who want to delve deeper into the character played by Theo James.

Readers first encountered Tobias as “Four” in Divergent. His voice is an integral part of Allegiant. Readers will find more of this charismatic character’s back story told from his own perspective in Four: A Divergent Collection. When read together, these long narrative pieces illuminate the defining moments in Tobias’s life. The first three pieces in this volume—”The Transfer,” “The Initiate,” and “The Son”—follow Tobias’s transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless, his Dauntless initiation, and the first clues that a foul plan is brewing in the leadership of two factions. The fourth story, “The Traitor,” runs parallel with the events of Divergent, giving readers a glimpse into the decisions of loyalty—and love—that Tobias makes in the weeks after he meets Tris Prior.

Also includes three additional scenes from Divergent, told from Tobias’s point of view!

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 
THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Veronica Roth takes us deep into Four’s perspective with this one, and she doesn’t disappoint.

STORY: Four, the 4th book in the Divergent Series is actually a set of novellas. What it reminded me, after the disappointment of Allegiant, is that I really enjoy Roth’s storytelling and the world she created within the Divergent Series. Seeing her world through Four’s eyes was a great way to wrap up the series and give her readers the closure we didn’t get with Allegiant.

I won’t give anything away, but I will say even if you were disappointed with Allegiant, you have to pick up Four! Give Roth another chance and read these awesome novellas. It’s a fast-paced read, I think I finished it in one night… maybe two. You won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve already read Four, what did you think? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

APPEARANCE: The cover blends well with the rest of the Divergent series books and fits the story VERY WELL! I love the imagery as well as the meeting behind the Ferris wheel.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“One thing I know: For helping me forget how awful the world is, I prefer her to alcohol.”

“Dead people can be our heroes because they can’t disappoint us later; they only improve over time, as we forget more and more about them.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant 1

TITLE: Allegiant
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that captivated millions of readers and film fans in Divergent and Insurgent. This paperback edition includes bonus content by Veronica Roth!

One choice will define you. What if your whole world was a lie? What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything? What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

Told from a riveting dual perspective, this third installment in the series follows Tris and Tobias as they battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and their selves—while facing impossible choices of courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: I have enjoyed Veronica Roth’s writing style with this series, however it changed in book 3. Books one and two were told from Tris’ point of view, which I LOVED. Book 3 however, jumps back and forth between Tris and Four… it was jarring and seemed out-of-place for the series.

STORY: I love the idea of this story and the trilogy is very good, especially books one and two. However, book three seemed repetitive, not with the other books but with itself. Jumping back and forth from Tris’ perspective and Four’s perspective led to reading the same information multiple times with a slight change in thought. It felt like Roth was pushing us toward the end of the story instead of letting us just come along for the ride.

The ending was a giveaway, I guessed it early and wasn’t to pleased. Not only because I like a good surprise, but because it seemed like the predictable choice.

I read each of the first two books in two or three sittings, but book three seemed to drag. It took me much longer, almost a full week, to read because I just didn’t feel as invested in the story. I love a good story line that pulls me into the action, character development, and relationships, but after a while of listening to Tris and Four go head to head with their back and forth love you – don’t trust you – love you – don’t trust you… I found myself disconnecting.

The last thing I will say is this… Not every story has a happy ending, and I’m ok with that, but this one builds you up to the hope and real possibility of a happy ending, just to let you down in the end.

Still, it is a good story and a must-read trilogy! If you’ve read it, I’d love to know your thoughts, so comment below and tell me what you thought of Allegiant or the whole Divergent series.

Next week, I’ll be reviewing Four, book 4 in the Divergent series.

APPEARANCE: The cover is a swirl of water… a wave. The symbolism is there… in one of Tris’ fears, but could be easily lost in the content of the book. Although appealing, I don’t know that the cover of this one connects to the story as well as the covers on books one and two.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:

“I wonder if fears ever really go away, or if they just lose their power over us.”

“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED

Check out the official movie trailers here:

https://youtu.be/0G0C-vMHcQY
https://youtu.be/2CY5TQ0K1Ls
https://youtu.be/_fLg8PsLWQ0

allegiant 2

 

Movie Information:
After the earth-shattering revelations of Insurgent, Tris must escape with Four beyond the wall that encircles Chicago, to finally discover the shocking truth of the world around them.

Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Noah Oppenheim, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage (screenplay) / Veronica Roth (novel)
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jeff Daniels

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

insurgent 1

TITLE: Insurgent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.5)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
One choice can destroy you. Veronica Roth’s second #1 New York Times bestseller continues the dystopian thrill ride that began in Divergent.

A hit with both teen and adult readers, Insurgent is the action-packed, emotional adventure that inspired the major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ansel Elgort, and Octavia Spencer.

The paperback edition includes special bonus content by Veronica Roth.

As war surges in the factions of dystopian Chicago all around her, Tris attempts to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 
THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Veronica Roth is a true YA author, and one I can stamp as mom approved. Insurgent, like Divergent has no swearing or sexual content. I think the most heated it got was a kiss or two between Tris and her boyfriend. There is a LOT of fighting and action, but nothing overtly ‘adult’ to the point where young readers couldn’t enjoy it. If this series is within their reading level, I say by all 4 books and watch them dive into the world Roth created!

STORY: I can’t say enough how much I am enjoying this series. It is a teenage coming-of-age adventure with a post-apocalyptic dystopian twist. The characters get more and more intriguing with each chapter and the dystopian world that Roth has created is scary and exciting all at once.

In the first book we watched Beatrice and the others be ‘tested’ to see which of the factions they best fit into; Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, or Amity. We watch as families are torn apart and lives are changed forever. Then, in Insurgent, we get to see how Beatrice, now known as Tris, blends with her newly claimed family, how her life changes, and how her views on the world change.

I don’t have to have a love story to enjoy a book, but I will say that the building relationship between Tris and Tobias (Four) was one I really enjoyed.

I could give you more… but, I don’t want to. I want you to read the story for yourself and tell me what you think! If you’ve already read it, please comment below and tell me what you thought. Next week, I’ll be talking about Allegiant – book 3 in the Divergent series.

APPEARANCE: I LOVE this cover! The tree, spinning in the wind, reminds me of the tree of life. Seeing as Tris is coming into herself, discovering who she is and what she believes in throughout this book; the symbolism of the tree of life is perfect.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“I am his, and he is mine, and it has been that way all along.”

“People, I have discovered, are layers and layers of secrets. You believe you know them, that you understand them, but their motives are always hidden from you, buried in their own hearts. You will never know them, but sometimes you decide to trust them.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED

Check out the official movie trailers here:

https://youtu.be/suZcGoRLXkU
https://youtu.be/UtgPdoxU-SY

Movie Information:
Insurgent 2

 

Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side.

Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, and Mark Bomback (screenplay) / Veronica Roth (novel)
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Theo James

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent 1TITLE: Divergent
AUTHOR: Veronica Roth

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4.5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
This first book in Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy is the novel the inspired the major motion picture starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet. This dystopian series set in a futuristic Chicago has captured the hearts of millions of teen and adult readers.

Perfect for fans of the Hunger Games and Maze Runner series, Divergent and its sequels, Insurgent and Allegiant, are the gripping story of a dystopian world transformed by courage, self-sacrifice, and love. Fans of the Divergent movie will find the book packed with just as much emotional depth and exhilarating action as the film, all told in beautiful, rich language.

One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

Buy it HERE on Amazon!
THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: Veronica Roth’s writing style reminds me of Suzanne Collins. She is a fast-paced story-teller who uses a lot of great descriptive language. She paints a picture in your mind without forcing the details down your throat over and over again.

STORY: Let me start by saying, I had never heard of the Divergent series when I first picked it up. I had seen a movie trailer for the first film in the series and quickly decided I needed to read the book before the movie hit the theatres. I’M GLAD I DID!

If you liked the Hunger Games or The Maze Runner, then you’ll love Divergent. Divergent is the first book in the series, and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat page after page. This YA novel is full of characters every YA reader can either relate to fall in love with. Our heroine starts out as a young, quiet, innocent girl in the Abnegation faction but quickly claims her spot as a fearless Dauntless initiate.

Roth is an excellent character builder. The reader gets to know Beatrice, and the others, as if they are our friends and family. They struggle and you struggle along with them, they get excited and as a reader you get excited too. Roth brings these characters to life.

Have you seen the movie? Me too! I have to say; the first movie did a pretty good job keeping up with the book. However, they missed some key character-building moments and friendship building moments that were prominent in the book. The effects weren’t terrible in the first movie, but because of what was missed, the later movies suffered – In my opinion.

APPEARANCE: The cover is eye-catching. The blaze of fire in a ring of fire caught my attention right away when I passed it in the bookstore. I didn’t know anything about the story at the time, but the cover drew me in!

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.”
“Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

NOT YET RECORDED

Check out the official movie trailers here:

Movie Information:
divergent movie

In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she’s Divergent and won’t fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it’s too late.

Director: Neil Burger
Writers: Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor (screenplay), Veronica Roth (novel) 
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet

I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

killerTITLE: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
AUTHOR: Dan Wells

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★★
Story: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★★★★ (5)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.
He’s spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.
He’s obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he’s written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.
Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don’t demand or expect the empathy he’s unable to offer. Perhaps that’s what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there’s something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat—and to appreciate what that difference means.
Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can’t control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
Dan Wells’s debut novel, I Am Not a Serial Killer, is the first volume of a trilogy that will keep you awake and then haunt your dreams.

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 

THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: I love Dan Wells’s writing style. He dives deep into the mind of a psychopath with this one and leaves you disgusted, intrigued, afraid, and sad. His use of description left me with a new determination that after death, I want to be cremated. There will be no embalming, no open casket, no mortician poking and prodding along my body to “make it pretty”.

STORY: We start of by being introduced to a young John Wayne Cleaver, the stories protagonist. He is the perfect combination of Michael C Hall’s characters in both Dexter (where he plays a psychopath) and Six Feet Under (where his family owns a funeral home). John Wayne Cleaver is the teenage version of Dexter. Although instead of an obsession with forensic science and blood, his obsession is serial killers. John has all the impulses of a psychopath… he feels the draw of the kill, but he doesn’t want to act on those impulses. Like Dexter, he has established strict rules to live by, rules he must follow to keep him “normal”.

The twist takes place when a “real” serial killer shows up in John’s town. Through John’s research we quickly learn that this serial killer isn’t like any of the others he has studied. Not even close. The supernatural aspect of this killer takes the story to a whole new level. I loved watching as John was discovering who he is, who the killer is, what the killer is, and how his inner struggle of wanting to know more about death and killing and also wanting to be normal effected his choices.

APPEARANCE: The simple cover, much like a young kid’s school notebook, was excellent. The cover artist did a wonderful job making it appealing to the eye and not overly crowded.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “The thing about boxes, is that you can open them up. Even though they’re completely boring on the outside, there might be something interesting inside. So while you’re saying all of these stupid, boring things, I’m imagining what it would be like to cut you open and see what you’ve got in there.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/QUn7OqNRz8U

Watch the movie trailer here:
https://youtu.be/WQBnWWWU-gU

Wake by Lisa McMann

TITLE: WAKE
AUTHOR: Lisa McMann

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….

Buy it HERE on Amazon! 
THE CRITICAL POINTS

WRITING: This is a quick read. The style is unique in that it is broken down by date and time instead of chapters. It starts when Janie is a little girl and moves quickly with large breaks in time. Then, as she gets older and starts high school the breaks in time become smaller and smaller until they are hours or minutes apart. The result leaves the reader feeling like a voyeur, peaking in on Janie’s life. It is a very effective style for this story, but I don’t think it would work in every situation.

STORY: I picked this book up at a used bookstore, with no idea what it was about. When I read the back cover, I was instantly intrigued. As an author, about six months ago, I outlined a story idea that had to do with entering other people’s dreams. So, finding a book that dealt with the same topic, although very different, was exciting.

Overall, I think the story was interesting. You can empathize with Janie, as well as the other characters. You’re emotionally invested as a reader and want to know how Janie and Cabel will get out of their crappy home life situations and where the story will take them. There is a twist… which I will not give away… but it allows you some closure. If there were a stand-alone book, it would work. However, it isn’t and I’m very excited to read book 2 (FADE) which I had to order online. Book 3 (GONE) was available at the used bookstore and I picked it up when I bought this one. So, I’ll be reading that one soon enough.

APPEARANCE: There are two covers for this book. I have the simple back cover with the floating pillow and purple text. I love the simplicity of this cover – it was the reason I picked up the book in the first place. The second cover (see above) probably wouldn’t have caught my eye. I may have missed out on this book all together.

MY FAVORITE QUOTE: “Your seat adjustor you ass. We have to pull them together. It’s a bench seat. As you can see.”

I’m not really sure why this is my favorite quote. It just made me laugh really hard when I read it. I suppose it was just the perfect line to show the true Janie and how comfortable she was in that moment. There are other lines, ones with more emotion, more sentiment, more… just more, but this one made me laugh.

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/zSrvcuhzqcc