Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Beware of Book Review

{This Girl Reads}

For Beware of Book Review, I read and reviewed Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake: it was definitely the perfect creepy story for the occasion!

So this is it: the very last post of Haunted Week 2012. It's been a blast, guys. I hope you've enjoyed it even half as much as I have. I've loved reading all your posts and comments—you are ALL fantastic.

So thank you so much for participating and following me along on my week of horrors. I wrote up a little survey, and I'd love it if you guys could fill it out for me. It doesn't matter whether you participated on your own blog or just read a post or two: there are questions for everyone. So please check it out!
Hopefully, I'll see all of you creepy creatures back here next year for another week of haunting good fun.

Happy Halloween!

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

"I've seen most of what there is to be afraid of in this world, and to tell you the truth, the worst of them are the ones that make you afraid in the light."
Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
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.

I'm currently in that post-wonderful book stage. You probably know what that's like: it feels like your faith has been restored in all literature and YA novels and strong protagonists and plots and everything else that was lovely about the book you just read. It makes you want to go buy a ton of new books (because you obviously have legendary book-picking skills). It makes you want to secure a job as a professional reader because you can literally not think of anything more enjoyable than spending hours a day reading books.

But seriously, I love this book. I read it in two sittings—it would have been one if I hadn't decided that sleep needed to be a higher priority than the book (which was a tough decision, believe me). But enough gushing: this a book review. There will be some actual reviewing.

The pacing in this book is fantastic. One of my fatal reading flaws is that I can get terribly bored if characters get stuck in a certain situation for too long. Anna Dressed In Blood had the situation changing just often enough that I never got bored of the current objective. 

Oh my gosh: the characters. If I had have to pick a favorite—it'd be Anna. I know, you shouldn't pick the terrible haunting ghost who's an infamous murderer, but I can't help it: Anna, you're awesome. Her emotions are insanely realistic and, since I more often dislike girls in YA fiction than not, she completely surprised me by being such an awesome character. The rest of the cast was similarly wonderful—especially Cassio's mom. You rock, Cas' mom. 

I just want to rave about everything in the book—the plot and the writing and all the characters and more—but it's suffice to say that I just enjoyed pretty much every aspect of this book way too much.

If you shy away from serious cursing, that's definitely something you should consider before reading this book. Not that I'm condoning it—but as long as it's not an excessive amount (which it wasn't)—cursing doesn't bother me too much in a book. Basically, Cas occasionally says things a typical seventeen-year-old guy would say. Just a heads-up before you try this book out!

Other than that, my only (nit-picky) complaint is that I wish there'd been a little more description about the character's reactions to everything going on in the story. It's a horror book, so some horrible things are obviously going to happen—I would have liked to see a little more of the characters reacting to them. (That sounds horrible, I know, but I want my books realistically express a situation. I don't just enjoy my fictional friends' pain.)

I promised I wouldn't gush anymore. (Unless you ask. But be forewarned that my book-gushing knows no bounds.)  I recommend it to everyone and hope to get my hands on the sequel as soon as possible.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Written in the Tombstone

{This Girl Reads}

We've nearly made it to the end of Haunted Week, so it's fitting that today we'll be talking about a lot of endings. Tombstones always have an inscription; the very last words of a person. Today we'll be looking at the very last words of 5 different books. (And because I'm terrified of spoilers, I'll only be using books I've already finished!)

Wither (The Chemical Garden, #1)
1. Wither
 by Lauren DeStefano
"This time, I don't know where the light will guide us."
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)
2. The Last Olympian
 by Rick Riordan
"For once, I didn't look back."

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)
3. The Hunger Games
 by Rick Riordan
"I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dreading the moment when I will finally have to let go."
Heist Society (Heist Society, #1)
4. Heist Society
 by Ally Carter
"And yet, she knew she could be." 
City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3)
5. City of Glass
 by Rick Riordan
"She looked as the fireworks exploded in a shower of sparks—sparks that painted the clouds overhead as they fell, one by one, in streaking lines of golden fire, like angels falling from the sky."
So what are some of your favorite literary last words?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Tricked or Treated

{This Girl Reads}
[Learn more about my HAUNTED WEEK meme here.]

Sometimes you dive into a book thinking you know exactly how it's going to go—what the characters will do, where the plot will take them—but some books take you completely by surprise. You never really know what you're going to get from a book: it could be an absolute treat, but you could find yourself being tricked.

Here are five books I read that trick-or-treated me completely.

1. Unwind
 by Neal Shusterman
It's no secret that I'm a total cover-judger. If I like its cover, I'm much more likely to read a book. However, the opposite is also true. So when I decided I didn't like Unwind's cover, I dismissed it, thinking I wouldn't like it. It was only after it was highly recommended to me that I reluctantly picked it up—but I was definitely in for a treat. (And by the way, I actually like the cover now—which just proves how amazing of a book it is—it's clouding my cover skills!)

Matched (Matched, #1)2. Matched
by Ally Condie
Oh, my terrible cover-judging. You can't get much prettier than that gorgeous dress, the mesmerizing bubble, and the simplicity of the cover. Not only was I head over heels for the cover, but I'd been reading a lot of dystopian books at the time and I was completely ready to add another book to my growing list of dystopia loves. I know a lot of people adored this book, but it just wasn't my kind of read. The book was, at least for me, a trick.

For The Win3. For the Win
by Cory Doctorow
All I knew about this book, from what I had read about it online, was that it was about online gaming. Now don't get me wrong—I have nothing against gaming. But since it's not something I've ever done, I figured I'd have zero interest in a book all about it. But then I read another book by the same author, Little Brother, and fell in love with Cory Doctorow's writing. This book made the whole gaming world fascinating to me—it was a complete treat.

Everybody Sees the Ants
4. Everybody Sees The Ants
 by A.S. King
You might have heard of another of A.S. King's books—Please Ignore Vera Dietz. I'd read it and absolutely loved it, so when I  heard she had a new book coming out, I eagerly added it to the top of my TBR list. I tore through the book when I got it—and was just left wondering what happened. I know, I know, the problem was in part me psyching myself up for this amazing book, but I still feel disappointed when I compared her two novels. Everybody Sees The Ants was a definite trick for me.

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)
5. Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
A friend of mine had read Ender's Game for school and lent me a copy of the book, but I was wary about picking it up. I knew it involved aliens in some way, and even after all of the paranormal and fantasy books I've read, with the weirdest mythical creatures, I've still never been able to wrap my head around aliens. They're too unbelievable. But I did read it—and, as you can probably guess, thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a total treat of a read.

So what books surprised you when the fog cleared? Were any of your book predictions ever wrong?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: It Came From the Web

{This Girl Reads}

I know we've seen some pretty spooky things so far this week, but today you're in for a real treat. (No trick, I promise.) Today, I'm featuring five book blogs I've found recently that I just adore.

1. Get Lost In Fiction

2. A Bibliophobic

3. I Talk Books!

4. The Book Girl

5. The Selkie Reads Stories

These are just a few new favorite blogs of mine! What are some of your favorite blogs you found when creeping around on the web?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Back from the Grave

{This Girl Reads}

We're halfway through Haunted Week today! Hopefully you haven't been scared out of your skin yet, because there's much more spooky to come!

Today, I'll be resurrecting some old favorites: books I read and loved when I was younger.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler1. The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg
I knew right away that this book would make the list—I adored this book when I was little. If you haven't heard of it, it's about a sister and brother who, because of the unjustly acts they're living through (chores and minuscule allowances—how dare!) run away and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's an adorable adventure and I'd read literally dozens of times—the characters were practically friends of mine.

Frindle2. Frindle
by Andrew Clements
I think this is probably the most well-known book on my list in the little kids to MG books area—but it really was one of my favorites. And I have a story to prove it: when I was about ten, I decided I loved it so much I was going to memorize the entire book. While probably impossible, I actually memorized an entire chapter of it before giving up, and to this day, I can still recite the first two paragraphs completely from memory. 

Ella Enchanted3. Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine
I have no idea why, but out of all the books on this list, just thinking about this one makes me so nostalgic. I think it might be because it's a classic fairytale retelling—it's something pretty much all little girls adore. While I don't think I actually ever owned a copy of the book, but I checked it out from the library so many times, it was practically like the same thing. It will definitely go down in history as one of my favorite childhood novels.

4. Sideways Stories from Wayside School
by Louis Sachar
This book is absolutely ridiculous. From kids who can only read when standing on their heads to teachers and classrooms that don't actually exist, this book is just filled with the most ridiculous stories of a skyscraper school where logic is completely thrown out of the window. I loved it, and the two other books about Wayside School, just for their absolute ridiculousness in every chapter.

Letters from Camp5. Letters from Camp
by Kate Klise
It was actually hard to pick this one, because I love a lot of the books Kate Klise has written because she uses a really unique writing technique. The entirety of Letters from Camp is written in letters, postcards, camp schedules, newspaper ads, and even initials carved in trees, and they're used to help a group of kids at camp solve a huge mystery. The whole idea is so original and the book so good that it was one of my favorite books for years. 

So those are some of the many, many books I loved when I was younger that I brought back from the grave for you guys. Would you bring back any of the same ones? What books would you go grave-digging for?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Skeletons on My Bookshelf

{This Girl Reads}
[Learn more about my HAUNTED WEEK meme here.]

Today we're going to continue looking in on the frightening side of reading with Skeletons on My Bookshelf. These skeletons (or, if you prefer, books) have been there for as long as you can remember, but for the life of you they still remain unread.

I've got quite a few skeletons on my bookshelves, so I'll share a few of them with you.

1. Marked
 by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast
Confession time: I am addicted to buying secondhand books—it doesn't matter if I haven't read anything about them except for a bunch of bad reviews for it—if it's on sale for under two dollars, you can bet I'll be reaching for my wallet. This unfortunate addiction is how I came to own the first five books in the House of Night series. However, because of some reviews I've read for the first book recently, I'm a little scared to read them, so they're currently hidden on the bottom shelf of my bookcase.
13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1) 
2. Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes
 by Maureen Johnson
Now, I haven't read any books by Maureen Johnson before. (Second confession time: I never read girly contemporary books because I read a few I didn't like—and I never tried any more. I know, I know, shame on me.) But I've always loved the title of this book—it sounds so interesting. I really do want to read it eventually, but since it's kind of old, it got pushed down on my TBR list.

That Summer
3. That Summer
 by Sarah Dessen
Alright, you might want to review my second confession. (See the above paragraph.) I've read three Sarah Dessen books and I just really didn't like any of them—main characters, secondary characters, plots, anything. Still, I fell prey to my discounted book addiction (that would be my first confession of the day) and—tada—now I own another Sarah Dessen novel. And another two of her books I haven't read but don't really want to. (All these bad purchases, and I still keep going to book sales...I'll never learn.)

Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)
4. Glow
 by Amy Kathleen Ryan
Okay, I have no excuse for not reading this one yet. The only thing I know about it is that it's set in space. (You think I could have at least read the back cover.) I got a free ARC copy from one of my lovely local librarians and it's just been sitting on my shelf ever since. I think I need to read a really good space-set book (like Across the Universe, from what I've heard) to get into the whole intergalactic book feel.

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands, #1)
5. Blood Red Road
 by Moira Young
I recently won a copy of the book, which should be exciting. But as popular as it is, I think I'm going to hate it. I've heard that there's no quotation marks and purposely misspelled words, and being as I'm the one who my friends automatically come to for all proofreading of homework, I think it's safe to say that a book like this would drive me crazy—I'd be mentally making corrections the whole way through.

Do you have some skeletons of your own hidden away? Should I move any of these up on my TBR list?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Bats in Your Book Pages

{This Girl Reads}
[Learn more about my HAUNTED WEEK meme here.]

Alright everyone, it's day two! Here's a post you can really sink your fangs into: Bats in Your Book Pages. Basically, what makes you crazy when reading? What are the bats in your book pages? Here are five of mine:

1. Where are your parents?!?
Okay, authors, here's the truth: real teenagers don't run around town as they wish or date hot bad boys without telling their parents or half the other things YA characters do. They have curfews and get grounded and have their cell phones taken away because they didn't put out the trash or clean their room. Real teenagers have parents who still parent them, unlike a lot of YA teens.
2. Too. Much. Description.
I feel so guilty about this one: I don't like long descriptions. I'm not really interested in what buildings look like or what the sky or a landscape looks like at a particular moment in the story. If it's a sentence or two of descriptions that's fine, but when there are paragraphs of descriptions in a book, I'll likely find myself skimming through the pages.
3. Hotness does not count...
Here it is, guys—I'm stating it for the record: hotness should NEVER be the main reason you're interested in a guy. At the risk of being extremely clichéd, it's what's on the inside that counts.
4. What happened to your friends?
Alright, there are a lot of books where the main character has just moved to a new town, right? This character never ever talks to/about any friends/acquaintances from the town they were just living in—it's like they just appeared out of nowhere.
5. You can't love them both!
I honestly don't know how I almost made it through this list without this one... If there is one trend that should be taken from YA fiction, it's love triangles. They're alright in one or two books, but now they're in every single book that comes out. At this point, they're unrealistic, they take away from serious plot lines and they're just a heart-breaking way to add drama to a book. 
So those are a few of the bats in my belfry—err, book pages. Do you have similar bats? Do these bats not bother you as much?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Haunted Week 2012: Ghosts of Books Half-Read

{This Girl Reads}

Welcome to the first day of Haunted Week! I'll pull up a scare for you. (Oh, the terrible jokes I make...)

Today's topic: Ghosts of Books Half-Read. Now, I try to finish every book I start, but there are some I put down and I didn't pick up off the shelf ever again: they've been haunting me ever since.

So I introduce to you five of the ghosts of my reading pasts. Explore my graveyard of half-finished novels below: Enter at your own risk.

Saving June1. Saving June
 by Hannah Harrington
This is definitely my most recent read—err, half-read. My bookmark's still wedged nearly halfway through my paperback: I just don't feel like picking it up again. The book sounded amazing when I read the summary, but from the moment I started it, I didn't like the main character, Harper. I wasn't enjoying the book, so it got put to the side. Or more accurately, put onto my overstuffed bookshelves.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
 by J.K. Rowling
No, I have not read the Harry Potter series. (Please, put your wands and dangerous non-muggle items away—I mean you no harm.) Better late than never, right? The series has become my guilty pleasure reading for when I have reading time but no books to read for my blog. But I haven't had a lull in blog books for a while now, though, so my Harry Potter Book Counter is currently stuck in the middle of #3.

Juliet Immortal (Juliet Immortal, #1)
3. Juliet Immortal
 by Stacey Jay
Now this one is a bit unique: I was only a couple of chapters in, but I was loving the book. However, it was an audiobook I'd downloaded from my library, and before I finished it, the book expired. Since I don't really listen to audiobooks anyway (and also because I'm incredibly lazy) I've never gotten back on the website and downloaded it again. But I plan to! Maybe tomorrow. Or next week. Eventually.

The Pledge (The Pledge, #1)4. The Pledge
 by Kimberly Derting
Oh, insta-love. How you vanquish even the most amazing of books. Guys, I loved the prologue to this book. Really. It will go down in history as one of my all-time favorite beginnings. But lo and behold, a certain guy was introduced and, right after him, the very dreaded insta-love. Now, here might be a reason, or maybe it's justifiable in some way if you read on in the book, but Just no.

The Lost Saint (The Dark Divine, #2)5. The Lost Saint
 by Bree Despain
I didn't exactly enjoy the first book in this book's series, The Dark Divine, (see my review of book disgruntlement here) but I was hoping the sequel would blow me away with wonderfulness. I got a few chapters into it and...nope. I'm still not a fan of the books. I'm still not rooting for the main couple. And I'm still wondering why the covers have awkwardly-pale legs on them.

So now you've seen the dark side of my bookshelf—should I pick any of these up again? What half-read books are haunting you?