Belinda_kisses_tnBel:

blake_Girl-of-NightmaresCover

We see Anna reaching back towards us in the black, white, and red picture of a rather daunting backdrop. It reflects the story really well.

Characters

We get to meet one of the major characters from Anna Dressed in Blood, and a new threat comes to the fore.

Favourite

Jestine, mainly because she kicked ass, and kept her word.

Least Favourite

The Order. Sometimes the hive mind isn’t the way to go.

Beginning

Months after the final scene in Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas and his friends are struggling to come to terms with how things played out.

Storyline

Cas makes moves to rectify the problem, and heads to England.

Ending

Nothing is quite what it seems.

Thoughts

I don’t know about the others, but I felt no real sense of dread. No heart stopping urgency. Perhaps this could have been rectified by covering Anna’s point of view for a part of the book.

I did like the male, female relationships and I’m glad Cas’ Mum wasn’t as pointless as some other YA parental units.

I enjoyed the story, and as a sequel it was entertaining.

Quote

“For a professional ghost killer, you sure ask a lot of numb-nut questions.” ~Morfran talking to Cas.

 

Krista McKeeth_2_tnKrista:

Blake_anna dressed in blood

Cover

Very Manga cartoon-like imagery of Anna…in hell?

Characters

Our main character, Cas and his friends Thomas and Carmel are the major roll players in this series. Cas is a ghost hunter who, with his special knife, is able to send the spirits onto other worlds. He has a strict rule of only hunting those ghosts that are dangerous to humans and can cause harm.

Favourite

Tie between Anna and Cas; they both do very selfless acts, admirable.

Least Favourite

Well there is always the villain to hate, but I didn’t really dislike any of the characters in this story.

Beginning

Cas is obsessed with where Anna might have gone since the events in the first book. She has been calling to him.

Storyline

When his schoolwork is done for the year, he convinces Thomas to travel to Ireland, to the group that made the Athame, and ask for their guidance on how to rescue Anna from Hell.

Ending

We see a much more determined Cas in this book than the first. When he really sets his heart on something, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Thoughts

I like the idea that there are these powerful weapons that are made out of a metal not available on earth. I enjoyed the fact that Cas got to do some overseas travelling in this one. It brought a lot of atmosphere to the novel. There are some dangerous moments, a lot of world building; especially with the group and the history behind the weapons they use to banish the spirits. Plus more blood than we saw in the first book with very humorous dialogue and relationships between the characters.

Quote

“She crossed over death to call me. I crossed through Hell to find her.”

Lisa-Smith_tnLisa:

kendare blakeCover

I’m actually a big fan of the covers in this duology! I think they portray the story inside very well; it’s not too scary or brutal, just a bit creepy like the story.

Characters

Overall, I thought the characters were alright. We don’t meet too many new people, just a few random characters who take smaller roles. I don’t think I want to name the only new main character we are introduced to! Why? Because he makes the story what it is, and I don’t think he is mentioned in the first book; meaning, I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you!

Least Favourite

She wasn’t my least favourite in the first book, but in Girl of Nightmares she is. Carmel was the sweetest girl in Anna Dressed in Blood but completely changed in this second instalment. I loved her so much, so I was a little disappointed to see this kind of change in her. She spent the whole first book wanting to be a part of everything. In the second book, she leaves the two boys in the dust, without truly explaining why. Obviously, she does later in the story, but after she breaks Thomas’s heart.

Favourite

This is a hard one! I have a few favorite characters including Cas, Thomas, and the new character introduced in this book who I cannot name…he’s not from Harry Potter if that’s what you’re thinking! But both of these boys are interesting! Cas with his knife and the ghost killing thing and Thomas with his witch powers!

Beginning

Girl of Nightmares takes place a month or two after Anna Dressed In Blood ends. Anna has gone, Cas can’t help his feelings towards her and misses Anna, and Thomas and Carmel are still working out their entire “relationship”; if you can call it that.

Middle

Cas can’t deny the feelings he has for Anna, and has to get her back from the other side. He seems to see her everywhere he looks, and even starts to think that he might be going crazy. He finally tells Thomas and Carmel about this, and asks them to help bring her back. While they might not believe this is possible, both agree to help Cas in any way.

Ending

Bringing back Anna turned into something WAY bigger than the three could have imagined. It affected the entire witch and ghost hunting community, and it even stretched across the world! Who knew getting back the girl you love could start an entire war?

Overall

Before I started this duology, I was told many times how creepy it was. So when I finally got around to reading Anna Dressed In Blood I was a little disappointed at first. The story wasn’t horrifying or scary. Anna wasn’t as bad as she was made out to be in all of the reviews I’d read, but, nonetheless, I enjoyed the story.

When I started reading Girl of Nightmares, I didn’t read any reviews, and decided to just jump in right after finishing Anna Dressed In Blood. Again, I enjoyed this one as well. The entire story was a crazy roller coaster ride, dragging the group from one place, and one person, to another. I was strapped in and ready for the ride! I do have to say that the ending wasn’t very satisfying, but realistic, which I liked. Obviously, I spent the whole time cheering one the three best friends, and hoped the best for them, but things don’t always end up that way.

If you haven’t picked up these books, I recommend you do. I don’t promise that Anna is absolutely terrifying, but you will experience an entirely new perspective on the paranormal!

Joelene_tnJoelene

blae-ungodlyCover

The cover was what made me buy Anna Dressed in Blood, the first book in this series. I like the second cover even more. With Anna standing on the precipice of Hell, it’s more dynamic and the colour scheme is amazing.

Characters

All of the characters that I loved in Anna Dressed in Blood are back in Girl of Nightmares. They’re still amazing, but what they’ve been through has changed them.

Favourite

Cas maybe? Or Carmel? Possibly Thomas? I don’t know. I love how the characters interact with each other more than loving each of them on their own. They’re such a good team that I couldn’t imagine how things would work without one of them.

Least Favourite

This is even harder. The easy answer would be Colin Burke; not because I hated him, but because he was a bit of a non-entity.

Beginning

Anna has sacrificed herself to save Cas and his friends. He is trying to come to terms with life without her. He might even manage it, if she wasn’t coming back to haunt him at the most inopportune times.

Storyline

When Cas becomes convinced that Anna’s soul is not at peace, but being tormented in some hellish alternate plane, he is determined to find her and bring her back. Not everyone thinks that the dead belong in the world of the living, and there are some who would enforce those convictions to the bitter end.

Ending

Bitter and sweet? At some point when reading about a romance between one person who’s living and one who’s dead, there is the realisation that however this ends, it’s not going to be rainbows and unicorns.

Thoughts

I loved the direction that Blake took Carmel’s and Thomas’s characters. They don’t stagnate and they’re not just silently there to have Cas’s back whenever he needs it. Thomas’s power has grown considerably since the first book, and he has more confidence in it – though he still manages to be awkward around the cooler kids at school. Carmel refuses to compromise her social life to support Cas and Thomas – she’s as independent as she ever was. She’s also more prone to question the things that Thomas will accept.

I wasn’t dissatisfied with the ending, but Anna came into the book far too late and played too small of a role. I liked Jestine, but I would have traded her for Anna in a fraction of a heart-beat.

Quote

There’s smoke, and wind, and screaming, and it’s impossible to tell which side it’s all coming from. I lower my voice. “Anna. What do you want me to do?”

For a second I think she’ll stonewall. She takes quaking, deep breaths and with every exhale bites down on her words. But then she looks at me, straight at me, into my eyes, and I don’t care what she said earlier. She sees me. I know she does.

“Cassio,” she whispers. “Get me out of here.”

 

Discussion Topic:

Question: Would you give up your way of life to fight against demons who cause danger to human lives?

 

 



nieman-as stars fallThis story has an innovative twist, using a bird as the glue that holds the storyline together. It works amazingly well.

A Bush-Stone Curlew is injured by a fire that kills the mother of two of our characters, and we see that scene from the bird’s point of view. The bird escapes the blaze and takes up residence in a city park near where our third main character has been replanted from her happy country life.

We then spend the book jumping between the heads of our three main characters: Robin, a self-confessed bird-nerd, Delia, a high-achieving weirdo, and Delia’s brother Seth, a drop-out who is severely affected by the death of his mother.

It’s taken me a while to process this book so that I am able to review it. I did love the book, and I want that to be in the forefront of your mind. I was, however, extremely disturbed by how realistically these teens and adults struggled through this traumatic chapter of their fictional lives.

Christie did a brilliant job of capturing emotions and giving an unflinching look at how different people cope in the face of adversity.

If you’re in the mood for something a little deeper and more serious over the summer break, I’d suggest you seek out As Stars Fall. I’m trying to think of comparisons, and the closest I can think of is the Australiana feel of Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (minus the war), and the stark, unshrinking nature of Siege by Sarah Mussi.

**Note** This book contains drug use, so be aware that it is better suited to mature readers of YA.

 

Paperback, 320 pages

Published July 1st 2014 by Pan Australia

ISBN 1743517696 (ISBN13: 9781743517697)



galley-frogsAs a follow up book to Girls Above Society: Steps to Success, Lauren has done a great job of using anecdotal stories to bring awareness to the pursuit of authentic romantic happiness.

By putting her heart on her sleeve, she’s able to let us see some of the many types of ‘frogs’ and ‘toads’ she’s come across–some of who we’ve probably met  on our own journey.

I’m not sure how I feel about the use of the term ‘prince’ to describe the ideal partner (mainly because it propagates the princess myth), but as it would be difficult to find another term that speaks to so many girls, so I understand why Lauren used this analogy.

I found the book to be insightful, and I can surely relate to a few of the toads.

By reading both books, you’ll receive plenty of food for thought. Though the books are aimed at girls; I still think guys would benefit from knowing what the girls they’re dating are striving for.

The ‘toads’ Lauren didn’t cover were those who perpetuate domestic violence, but it is an issue becoming more prevalent among couples of all ages. For more information head here… http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help

Buy KISSING FROGS from Amazon



winnacker-DefectorImposter bk 1

Tessa can touch people and absorb their DNA, and then she can change her appearance to whoever she has just ‘downloaded’. She’s been in training for two years to become a part of the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities), a secret branch of the FBI…and she’s just been given her first mission.

Her moral compass is screaming out, trying to tell her that what she’s being asked to do is wrong. But this is what she’s been trained to do, and getting on with it throws Tessa in the deep end and reveals her personal hell to the reader.

 

winnacker-imposterDefector bk 2

After surviving her first mission, Tessa is selected to be flung back into the insanity that is the life of an FEA agent. The kicker is that her best friend has been abducted and getting her back isn’t going simple.

Skeletons are being discovered in closets and things that were mostly black and white have become a disastrous muddle of grey.

This series is extremely addictive and there is something in it for everyone: suspense, romance, betrayal, political intrigue and action, action and more action… oh, and explosions. Woohoo!

Susanne’s characters feel extremely real, even though they may come with fictional added extras. Many of them have tragic back-stories and you can forgive them for the most part because they’re just working for people who gave them a better life. I love the self-realisation that occurs over these two books. The character arcs allow questions to be asked and answers to not be pretty.

If I were put in the same position as Tessa, there is no question that I wouldn’t handle it as well as she does.

Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, has given this book high praise. I agree that if fun and suspense is your thing, you should pick these books up and give them a go.

 

Imposter

Paperback, 320 pages

Published January 2nd 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books (first published May 28th 2013)

ISBN 1444916173 (ISBN13: 9781444916171)

 

Defector

Paperback, 312 pages

Published August 7th 2014 by Hodder Children’s Books (first published November 13th 2013)

ISBN 1444916181 (ISBN13: 9781444916188)



Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda compares the book and film version of Tomorrow When the World Began by John Marsden. I must say, that I (MDP), enjoyed the movie version a lot.

 

marsden-Tomorrow_When_The_War_Began_Front_CoverBook

I read this one when I was in high school and swore that I would never bother with the Tomorrow series again. English classes have a lot to answer to for killing reading passion.

Seven teenagers head bush, and on their return to civilisation they realise the enitre region has become the epicentre of an invasion of Australia. They decide to slow down the enemy and take back their town.

Back then, I didn’t have the world knowledge to visualise the imagery, and the themes went over my head. Now, however, I get it. I no longer hate the unapologetic way that Marsden brings a country town atmosphere to the setting, and the fair dinkum Aussie-ness of the characters.

Yes, the book is now dated by 20 years or more, but the struggles are still relevant. It includes themes of love, fear, and the primal urge to survive, which are timeless and give Tomorrow, When The War Began a level of relevance, regardless of the decade. An Australian teen classic!

Paperback, 304 pages

Published June 1st 2006 by Scholastic (first published 1993)

ISBN 0439829100 (ISBN13: 9780439829106)

 

Film

The film opens with Ellie recording a recount of her experiences. It then moves on to aerial shots of outback Australia with Steer by Missy Higgins adding an authentic ambience to the shot. Ellie working the property with her Dad certainly highlights the contrast between innocence and survival.

The movie has been updated from the book with the inclusion of contemporary technology such as mobile phones and videos. Filming was done across New South Wales, including places like Port Stephens and the Blue Mountains, which is exactly how I pictured it while reading.

The casting is as I imagined it, though I am not entirely sure if actor, Deniz Akdeniz, thought he should act the way he did, or if he was directed to do so. It just seemed off.

The storyline gallops along and there are no fatty bits to be trimmed. The adaption by the director, Stuart Beattie, is respectful and authentically brings the spirit of the book to life. They hit all the high points and, thank goodness, some of the more gruesome elements from the book are just a flash on the screen.

As mentioned before, the soundtrack is also pretty catchy with Jet, Wolfmother, Missy Higgins, and quite a few other great Aussie acts adding our flavour to the score.

It looks like there are plans to make the second book, The Dead of Night, next. I just hope the casting, script adaption, and location shoots can be lined up to bring the world John Marsden created to life.



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