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Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

A Bad Day For Voodoo

A Bad Day for Voodoo
by Jeff Strand

When your best friend is just a tiny bit psychotic, you should never actually believe him when he says, “Trust me. This is gonna be awesome.”

Of course, you probably wouldn’t believe a voodoo doll could work either. Or that it could cause someone’s leg to blow clean off with one quick prick. But I’ve seen it. It can happen.

And when there’s suddenly a doll of YOU floating around out there—a doll that could be snatched by a Rottweiler and torn to shreds, or a gang of thugs ready to torch it, or any random family of cannibals (really, do you need the danger here spelled out for you?)—well, you know that’s just gonna be a really bad day …(goodreads.com)

I received my copy of A Bad Day for Voodoo from Sourcebooks last October as part of their Halloween give-away promotion and I gave away a copy of this book and others to one lucky reader. I am sad to say that this book sat on my TBR for so long before I picked it up. I get into these comfort zone phases and I don’t want to read anything outside of that zone. This book scared me because I was pretty sure it would be Outside The Zone.

Of course now I’m in a phase where any and every book I pick up just annoys the hell out of me and I feel like everything is just so unoriginal. Does that ever happen to you? I have a plethora of books hanging around my house that are half-started and left behind because I just can’t connect with them.

Cue this book.

This book, with its ever so obvious Outside The Zone-ness and I hoped that it would be what I would need in order to actually complete a book from start to finish. And I had just come off the disappointing read of A Discover of Witches and I wanted something that wouldn’t have anything to do with silly women pining over vampires that treat them like property.

I will say this loud and clear, in bold, so you know I mean business.

I have not enjoyed a book this much in a long time. It made me laugh. A lot. Out loud. Over and over again.

I had so much fun reading this book. Sure, it’s pretty ridiculous a lot of the time but it’s hilarious the entire read through. It’s a perfect comedic horror story. If it can go wrong, it will but you will probably burst out laughing while taking the bus to work in the morning and then have to put the book away so the other passengers stop giving you dirty looks.

This book was fun and rather creepy (OMG, that house with the Basers. I was freaking out with that creepy family. *shudder*) and I laughed. I read the book over lunch breaks. I tried reading it on the bus, but public laughter aside, I still get rather bus sick so that didn’t work so well. I didn’t even want to work because I was enjoying the book so much. It gave me a nice escape from the office during a particularly brutal week both in the office and personally.

My gods, there’s even an intermission in the story and I nearly fell off the couch when I turned the page and saw that.

Jeff Strand has an amazing sense of humour and it is very obvious in the writing of this novel. He also has some creepy stuff going on in his brain since he is also a horror writer. I believe this is his first book for teens.

I really wasn’t expecting the voodoo doll to work the way it did and the first time Tyler tries out the doll on his teacher – well, the results took me by surprise and again, I laughed out loud. The book just became way more fun from there on.

I will warn you, this book is complete humour and it can get pretty corny and you have to reeeallllyyy suspend your beliefs as things happen. It doesn’t stop. There’s no moment when you think, “well, it can’t get any worse than this” because it will and you will giggle and think “Holy cow! This is all so ridiculous, but I love it!”

I don’t know why the foolishness of the book didn’t bother me. Sometimes  I find stories this far-fetched a little over the top, but maybe I just needed this much humour in my life and I have to say that Strand’s writing was really engaging. I find he writes humour very well and I think a lot of that was why I enjoyed the book so much.

So if you need a pick-me-up and you feel like reading something that will make you laugh and wonder if any of the characters will make it to the end alive – I highly recommend A Bad Day for Voodoo. 🙂

Girl of Nightmares

Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)
by Kendare Blake

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor. (goodreads.com)

Welcome to Cat Reads Halloweeny Things month! I just named it that since all of my books are deliciously eerie so far.

Since I was late to the game with Anna Dressed in Blood I thought why not treat myself to the sequel at Halloween time? So I did.

True story.

Unfortunately I didn’t find Girl of Nightmares to be as edge-of-my-seat creepy as its predecessor. That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. But that awesome feeling of ghost story, suspense that I felt with Anna just didn’t come across the pages this time around. Part of my problem was how Cas was obsessing over Anna on almost every page. Yes, I know they had a connection and he didn’t know where he sent her, but I felt that element of the story leaned a little too much towards the mainstream, paranormal YA novels out there. I’m not reading this book for a love story (although I’m ok with a love story being woven into the entire story, just not the FOCUS), I’m reading this book for suspense and chills.

I get that Anna was appearing to Cas for a reason – and not just because he was lovesick – but at times it came across as though it were because he was lovesick and still mourning her loss. I have been thinking a lot about how this could have been written to make it more suspenseful in my mind, but I can’t figure it out. So maybe I’m just too jaded to realize that this WAS suspenseful and creepy and not just an attempt to lure those Twilighters over to the YA thriller side. 😉

The other thing I didn’t care for in this book was the addition of Jestine as a character. I didn’t like her one bit. I didn’t like her personality, her reason for being there, or anything about her. I sort of thought her character was an obvious plot point just for the sake of having that plot point. (Vague and unhelpful I know, but I’m trying not to spoil too much for those of you who haven’t read this yet!) I would have been happier had Cas, Thomas and Carmel been alone in their quest.

That being said, I LOVE the (other) characters in these novels. I love the dialogue and I often laugh out loud at times. The dialogue feels natural and real, as if these were just people you’d happen to be sitting next to at a restaurant or cafe (and be totally eavesdropping on their conversations because, hello!? ghosts and nightmares and magic daggers and stuff!).

I do love the way Kendare Blake weaves a story. I love that I can be surprised by what’s around the proverbial corner because I guess I read too much and can often guess what’s going to happen in most books I read. If you want me to feel the suspense and the chills you have to be able to surprise me!

I love that this is just a two-book series. That’s ALMOST like a stand-alone! This also makes the series original and I applaud the author and publisher for this!

I love the cover art yet AGAIN! And… RED TYPEFACE! AGAIN!

 You have no idea how happy it makes me when the entire book is a full package. Or, maybe you do, if you have been following my blog for a while. You know how crazy-happy I get when there’s special binding, or coloured text or pretty illustrations along the pages. I love when the ENTIRE book is an experience. Maybe it’s the synesthesiast in me, I don’t know. I just adore when books are more than just black and white pages. 😉

So if you’re looking for a good YA novel (or two) to read through the month of October, I’d suggest you look no further than Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares because they are truly amazing books. Great writing, great characters and they’ll put you in the right kind of mood for Halloween.

Anna series

  1. Anna Dressed in Blood
  2. Girl of Nightmares

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
by Kendare Blake

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder 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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, 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, but now stained red and dripping 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.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life. (goodreads.com)

I’m not sure why I took so long to read this book. I only bought it just this year (over Christmas, I think). Part of me thought that Anna Dressed in Blood was just another run-of-the-mill YA paranormal story with a girl falling in love with a ghost. I was way wrong on all counts. First off, the protagonist isn’t even female!

I’ve been going through a bunch of things and I have been unable to get my head in the game when it comes to reading, yet once more. This has been an ongoing frustration for almost a year now. I was at least able to read a good chunk of books while I was on my 2-week holiday from work, but since then? Blah.

So I picked up Anna Dressed in Blood when I saw a post from my friend JuJu (Tales of Whimsy)’s blog about the audio book of the sequel The Girl of Nightmares. Thing is, if Juju likes a book, I know I probably will. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I started, but I was immediately distracted by the one thing that can automatically make me fall in love with a book – the text is RED(ish)!

I don’t know why I immediately love a book that has a total artistic experience to it, but I do. 🙂

As soon as I started reading this book I knew I was in for a great ride. Cas’ narration was wonderful and I was charmed by him from the moment he started telling the reader his tale. I also loved that the book was about to take place in Canada. Heh. The proud Canadian in me did a little dance when it found out Cas and his mom were moving to Thunder Bay.

The atmosphere, the story, the characters…everything was so interesting to me. I enjoyed this one thoroughly and I had gone into it thinking I wouldn’t care much one way or the other. I love book surprises!

I love that Cas’ mom knows what he does and moves all over the place to let him do what he needs to do – kill ghosts. Put them to rest so they stop hurting others. I love that Cas is normally always alone, yet ends up with a group of friends to help him and keep him safe.

I even loved Anna, whom I generally wouldn’t because I don’t like ghost relationshippy things. But Anna is different. Anna was a likable character from the start, even when she was ripping people in half.

Part of me is very curious about how the sequel to this book will go because I felt that things were nicely tied up in the end. Part of me wonders if I should read it or just leave things as is. Who am I kidding, I will read it. I wanted to order it the second I finished this book, but I held myself back. I have way too many other books to read AND I will be having some Required Reading happening very soon and I want to make sure I devote myself to that Required Reading so I don’t fail things.

Bottom line… Anna Dressed in Blood is a thriller-mystery with relationships, friendships, some wit and a lot of atmosphere. It’s one of the better books I have read this year and I am sort of sad I didn’t pick it up when it came out last year!

Also awesome? The covers for both of these books. I love them so much.

Anna series

  1. Anna Dressed in Blood
  2. Girl of Nightmares


by Melissa Marr

Three sips to mind the dead . . .

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn’t a funeral that Maylene didn’t attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.

Although she is still grieving for Maylene, Rebekkah will soon find that she has more than a funeral to attend to in Claysville, and that what awaits her may be far worse: dark secrets, a centuries-old bargain, a romance that still haunts her, and a frightening new responsibility—to stop a monster and put the dead to rest where they belong. (goodreads.com)

I’m slowly working through the last of the review books I have, since I decided to not really accept any more. Of course I did jump at the chance to review Graveminder by Melissa Marr because, hey, MELISSA MARR. I say this having still not completed the Wicked Lovely series, mind. (I have a love-hate relationship with that series, I seem to like half the books and hate the other half.) What I DO love about Melissa Marr’s storytelling is her writing, so I knew I had to try her adult novel.

The gorgeous cover of the trade edition, plus the curiosity the summary created helped me stick with the book through a somewhat slow start. I had some doubts that I wouldn’t care much about the characters or the plot when I started reading, but I am immensely glad that I kept on because – WOW! What a creepy and charming novel all wrapped up into one.

I wrote on Goodreads that Graveminder made me think of Sarah Addison Allen teaming up with Tales from the Crypt Keeper. Although the story and characters are not as epic as those Ms. Allen creates, I still got the same vibe once I was a little further into the book that I do in SAA’s novels.

There were aspects of the book that bugged me, though, especially the “romance” aspect. I was a little annoyed by Byron’s constant pining over how much he loooooooooves Rebekkah and how he’ll always be there for her, as a friend, as more, etc. But he loooooooooves her sooooooooo much. Always has and always will. Get over it already, buddy. Find another topic. I’m yawning here. It’s pretty inevitable that these two are going to end up together, so I could have done with a little less pining and a lot more explanation of this whole Undertaker and Graveminder business. I found some of the description of the Underworld place a little vague at times, too. The whole business about Rebekkah being shot and Mr. D. having some secret agenda was slightly confusing to me. I thought I’d missed something and I reread that part twice, still clueless.

What I did love though was the originality of the story. I loved that Claysville has this somewhat paranormal pact where no one dies until they hit 80 and no one can leave. I love Marr’s take on the zombie-type character, without it being a zombie. The chapters with Daisha freaked me out completely (until she became much more sentient). The horror/thriller aspect of the story was original and fresh. Sure the romance parts were predictable, but easily overlooked in my opinion because I was so enraptured by the Hungry Dead.

I have to say that I was almost completely in the dark about what was going on with the Hungry Dead, too, until a certain line had been spoken, then I was almost positive I knew what the Big Reveal would be. I was right, but it was also revealed in a twistier manner than I was expecting so it wasn’t too disappointing once I got to the end.

Overall, I think Melissa Marr’s debut into the adult literary world was a success. I was browsing through reviews on Goodreads and noticed that opinions of this novel are all over the place. I love that about a book! I’m in the middle of the love-hate group. I liked this novel a bunch, but it was slow to start and had some annoying looooooooooove issues (really, Byron, grow up, dude). I was creeped out and stayed up way past my exhaustion point where I lost vision in both eyes (when I get really sleepy my eyes dry out and blur like crazy. I was squinting so hard for the last 80 pages of the book I had a headache by the time I was done!). I am very happy to have been offered a chance to review this novel for you guys.

For those of you who might have started it and not finished it, I suggest this – try it out in October where the weather is gloomy and perfect for a creepy ghost story. Try reading it for Carl’s RIP challenge. Sometimes the right season can help you get into a story, at least I find that happens. Also remember, I found the start slow and almost gave up myself. Besides, look at that cover! I couldn’t put aside a book that looked THAT pretty! 😉


Broken (Grant County, #7)
by Karin Slaughter

A woman’s corpse is discovered in the waters of Lake Grant, and a note is found which seems to point to suicide – but Sara Linton has never been a woman to settle for obvious solutions. The principal suspect in the case has requested – desperately — to be able to speak to Sara — but when she turns up at his cell in the local police station, the suspect, Tommy Braham (whom she had known as a boy), is unable to speak to her. Tommy is dead; he has been savagely beaten, and his wrists have been cut. Scrawled in blood on the cell wall is a poignant message: ‘Not me’. Sara, personally involved now, is distrustful of Lena Adams the detective in charge, so she gets in touch with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and asks (as she has done before) for the help of Special Agent Will Trent (Karin Slaughter readers will be well aware of the intriguing relationship between these two). The duo begins to suspect that a murderer enjoys the covert protection of the close-mouthed inhabitants of Grant County, who have fashioned a skein of non-communication. But, as the Bard observed, murder will out… (goodreads.com)

Holy cow, there are 7 books in this series already? I mean, this was number 7 and I picked it up at BEA last May (signed, yay!) I didn’t realize there were so many and I didn’t realize that I only missed reading ONE of them! In fact, I have read 7 books by Slaughter because I have also read Triptych which stars Agent Will Trent, who shows up in Broken so I think it’s a side-series. There’s a name for that, right? Parallel series maybe?

Anyways, I have been suffering from the Too Many Books To Read So I Don’t Know What to Read problem lately. I have bookmarks in about 5 books right now after having started and stopped them because they weren’t what I was looking for at the time. I am a little tired of paranormal/urban fantasy stuff and I am out of folk-tale/fantasy books that I was enjoying. After about a week of restless book limbo I suddenly realized I hadn’t read Karin Slaughter’s book from BEA that I was so excited to get!

It’s been a while since I have read a Slaughter novel so I was both delighted and surprised when I recognized the characters and references to past books. Whereas each Grant County suspense is it’s own story there is a continuity with the characters that crops up. I wouldn’t say you HAD to read them in order, but you might want to in order to be less confused at to why someone hates someone else with such a passion (ie: Sara and Lena).

Unlike Iris Johansen’s Eve Duncan series, which seems to be the same story over and over, I find that Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series to be different with each story. The characters are set and there’s not an element of romance squished in the pages of the thriller. I sort of think of it closer to J. D. Robb’s In Death series, but with a lot less humour.

I wasn’t nearly as creeped out by the suspense/mystery in this story as I have been in the past. I sort of felt like Broken was more about character development than it was about the mystery so it was a little slow for me, however I couldn’t put it down I was hooked into needing to know why these people were killed and what was going on.

Reading Broken made me realize how much I missed reading Karin Slaughter’s books. Some reason in my mind I had chalked them up to being as frustrating and stale as the Iris Johansen books, but they aren’t. I shall now put book #6 on my watch list for used books because I’d like to see what I might have missed in the series. And of course I will make sure to pick up book 8 (if there is one) when it’s out in paperback.

Grant County series

  1. Blindsighted
  2. Kisscut
  3. A Faint Cold Fear
  4. Indelible
  5. Faithless
  6. Beyond Reach – have not read 🙁
  7. Broken