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?

 

 



cassidy-looking for jjAlice Tully almost has a normal life. Her foster mother, Rosie, is one of the warmest people she knows. Someone who finally gets her and listens to her and tries to make things better. Someone who is finally there. Alice has a boyfriend, Frankie, who she mostly can’t believe wants her. And she has a wonderfully ordinary job waiting tables at a local café.

But all of that is about to fall apart because Alice has a past. Sooner or later it is going to catch up with her. No matter how much Rosie tries to make things right, things will never be better.

Someday soon, Alice is going to have to face the past that she has been running from. She is going to have to remember January Jones; the girl that she was six years before. The girl that killed her friend on a lonely stretch of shore by the lake that also drowned a league of cats.

Looking for JJ starts with a powerful premise that exists in shades of grey. It’s centred on some difficult questions that don’t have right or wrong answers, though everyone has opinions on the matter. When a child kills another child, who is at fault? And how long must the child pay for her crime?

Looking for JJ seems to be inspired by the James Bulger murder. The media frenzy and public interest in Alice’s past bear similarities to that of Bulger’s killers, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. Around this atmosphere hovers the question: can a person ever be free from such a violent past – and should they?

Perhaps the way people react to this novel says more about them than it does about the issue, but for my part the answer is no. Alice talks about regret. We see that her counsellors have had to push her to re-join a world that she doesn’t always think she deserves. She doesn’t think it’s fair for her to be happy.

And she’s right. She doesn’t deserve to be part of this world and it isn’t fair for her to be happy. Not because of her crime: she was ten and Cassidy’s depiction of her shows a far sweeter character than Venables or Thompson.

It also shows a character that has not given the slightest consideration to her victims after the fact. Alice’s life is not tied up in her past until the past threatens to harm her. She has never given the murder in depth thought; never considers how else she might have handled things until someone asks her. A child killing another child in anger might be forgiven. That child growing up and never deeply analysing her motives, behaviour and emotions – never even shallowly analysing the pain she caused her victim’s family and the victim – cannot be forgiven.

Therein lays the core of this novel. It will be judged based on the character and morals of the reader, not the author. And, for my part, I can’t sympathise with Alice no matter how she’s changed and how kind she is now because I can’t see any sympathy in her for the people she has hurt.

Looking for JJ certainly stirs some powerful emotions. It’s the kind of issue that everyone has an opinion on, but no one will agree on the right one. Because Alice was so determined to ignore the past there was less introspection than I would have liked, but it was a satisfying read.

 

Looking for JJ – Anne Cassidy

Point (2004)

ISBN: 9780439977173



KaleidoscopeWelcome to a world where ordinary people can be selected to undergo a transformation to superhero. Where curious teens test out an urban legend on multiple dimensions and find themselves lost in a world not their own. A world where a pill and a kiss can show you a future that may or may not come to pass.

This is just some of what you’ll encounter in Kaleidoscope. Including stories written by some of Australia’s most-loved fantasy authors, this compilation of speculative short stories will push your imagination to the limit. There are stories from Aurealis award winning author, Garth Nix, George Turner Prize winning author, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and NYT best-selling author, Sean Williams, to name just a few.

These twenty original stories explore fantastical and sci-fi worlds through a diverse YA framework. With stories featuring people with disabilities, people of colour, QUILTBAG characters, and neuro-diverse characters; Kaleidoscope is YA at its sensational best. The perspectives – while not new – are ones all too often confined to the sidelines. Here they shine. And they do so without becoming ‘issues’ tales. For the characters, their diversity is a fact of life; it isn’t brought out, dissected and analysed. The stories are way too fun to be having any of that boring stuff!

There were a few stories that were just amazing and made me want a whole novel, and not a measly short story. Tansy Rayner Roberts’ ‘Cookie Cutter Superhero’ is one of them. Funny, quirky and breath-takingly clever in its execution, it follows Joey, a girl who has been chosen as the next in line to Australia’s super-hero team. In a short space, Roberts deftly weaves a massive chunk of superhero social history into this tale, as well as commentating on world politics with regards to discrimination and finishing with a hope and a wish for the future.

‘Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell’ by E. C. Myers is another one that I really enjoyed. The slightly futuristic world of drugs that can give people glimpses of the future but change when combined with medications is different; but it’s the characters that make the story real. Rene and Sam are so well realised in the present and in their many possible futures that you really hope that they’ll manage to find a future together.

These twenty stories are a fantastic selection from some amazing authors. Most of them are fun, sweet and hopeful – though a few have darker tendencies. The only real problem here is that so many of the stories leave you wanting more.

Kaleidoscope – Alisa Krasnostein (ed.) and Julia Ross (ed.)

Twelfth Planet Press (August 5, 2014)

ISBN: 9781922101112



brennan_unmadeAurimere House has been lost and with it the boy that Kami loves, Jared Lynburn. With Robert Lynburn demanding a human sacrifice for the winter, it’s up to Kami to find a way to stop him before it’s too late.

While the town of Sorry-in-the-Vale cowers in fear, Kami and her friends search for answers from the past. Not knowing enough about sorcerers, sources or the bond between them, Kami hopes that the story of the famous source Matthew Cooper and his sorcerer Anne Lynburn will help. Her trusted friends, Angela, Rusty, Holly and Ash will stand by her; but if they’re to find the information they need, they’re going to have to go back to Aurimere.

Thus starts the final book in the Lynburn Legacy trilogy. Battle-lines are drawn, the town is caught in the middle of what promises to be an epic struggle and through it all the dread question hangs over everyone’s heads – Who will be the sacrifice?

Now, I loved Unspoken in pretty much every way. Brennan isn’t exactly plot-strong, and I’ve yet to see a compelling villain from her, but every other aspect of her writing is so brilliant that it tends to blot out any weaknesses. Untold slipped a little. The characters still sparkled like the gems that they were, the dialogue was still hilarious and snappy but the plot lacked too much. Kami was trying to pull her resources together to fight the big bad, she just wasn’t succeeding. There weren’t even the little successes that we could applaud before a larger failure – on her part at least, different story for Jared.

I figured it was just middle-book syndrome. It happens. There’s even a name for it, so I guess it happens a lot. I was expecting everything to iron itself out when it came to Unmade.

I wish I could say it did. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the worst book in the world, but it felt as though it had been force-written under a looming deadline. The ideas were there, but it was as though the book merely skimmed the surface of the important ones rather than jumping right in. The characters were more like uncut gems than the polished pieces they were in the previous books. Everything was rushed except the romance, and the romance should have been pared back a great deal.

It’s not that I don’t like Kami and Jared’s relationship. The ending of Unspoken destroyed me. I had to wait months for the next book, and to this day I think it was a vile act to treat faithful readers that way. The thing is, with Kami and Jared, less is more. I don’t need them to be spelling out their feelings for each other on every second page. Put one of them in danger and let me see how the other reacts and that’s pretty much worth all of the declarations in the world.

Ultimately Unmade felt rushed. Too much emphasis on certain things, not enough on others, as though Brennan didn’t have the time to edit it as she usually would. There were still moments that sparkled like Unspoken and the potential was there; however, Unmade just didn’t quite meet it. That said, Unspoken is still a novel that I would – and do – recommend to anyone.

 

Unmade – Sarah Rees Brennan

Simon and Schuster (September 23, 2014)

ISBN: 978857078117



de la cruz-Gates of ParadiseIt is New Year’s Eve and the world is celebrating. For Schuyler Van Alen, however, that is a luxury that she cannot afford. In her world – the world of angels and demons, Heaven and Hell, Blue Bloods and Conduits – there is no reason to celebrate; and less time. Jack Force, the boy she loves, has been missing for months and might well be dead. Even that is not something that Schuyler has time to dwell on because Lucifer is moving against those who would oppose him; and Schuyler tops that list.

She is the key to unlocking the Gate of Promise and leading her people to Paradise, if only she can figure out how. And she has to figure it out soon, or Lucifer will destroy the gate and take away the only chance she has. Luckily she is not alone. Her best friend, Oliver, is with her as always, and she has allies with the werewolves. She may also have friends who are closer to Lucifer than to her.

Gates of Paradise is the seventh and final book in the Blue Bloods series. For a series that has been running since 2006, you would expect an epic finale. And, in some ways, you get it.

Gates of Paradise brings together all of the characters that the Blue Bloods series has been built on. In their own ways, they are all working toward winning the looming final battle. Whether they are rallying their forces, trying to solve the puzzle of the key to the gate, or weakening Lucifer, each person has a part to play.

This strategic team-work coupled with the flash-backs to mistakes made in the past – or in past lives – builds a solid foundation for an epic showdown. But, for all the build-up towards it, the final battle is a disappointment. It’s an almost blink and you’ll miss it affair. This would be fine if there were few or no repercussions to the battle; but well-known characters are cut down in a casual sentence and entire clashes of powerful foes are summed up in equally few words. It feels as though de la Cruz is racing toward an invisible finish line. It’s a pity because the ideas touched on in the final scenes – love, sacrifice, weakness – are handled well; they’re just not as fleshed out as they should be.

Ultimately though, I think that fans will get what they would have wanted out of the end of this series. A final journey with the characters they have loved through previous books – Bliss, Lawson, Schuyler, Jack and Mimi Force, Kingsley and Oliver – a chance at seeing how the battle changes them and a look at how the survivors adapt to their new lives without the threat of death hanging heavy over them.

 

Gates of Paradise – Melissa de la Cruz

Atom Books (January 15, 2013)

ISBN: 9781907411502



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