Book Review: The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: The Replacement
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: 2010
Publisher: Razor Bill

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate’s baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.

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I wanted to like this story, the concept is one that I haven’t seen a lot of, and the fey/changelings are something that interest me. However, I just could not get into this book at all. There are so many questions left unanswered, and everything is mysterious, nothing gets explained and all of the characters seem to know what’s going on, but there aren’t any resolutions or forward movement.

Mackie is one of the biggest problems for me. He’s vague and a bundle of walking contradictions. His changeling status makes it so he can’t handle loud noises, yet his favorite place to be is in the pit of a rock show? Or on stage with the band. He can’t touch metal, but he drinks beer from a can. The author spends so much time making him so different from everyone else, and then doubles back and breaks her own character rules. I really couldn’t get behind his voice, or his actions–or really bring myself to care what was happening to him. He’s got a crush on Tate (who is her own bundle of off putting characteristics) and yet he wants to hang out/make out/score with the hot/slutty girl of the school.

Also, can we stop with the slutty characters? You can have sexual characters, just please no slut shaming in books. It really is off putting, and shows no respect for the characters themselves. It distances me even further from this story, because this particular character was only referred to by how hot she was/how easy she was. I did like Emma–she was a character that seemed so fleshed out compared to the others. She had motivation and drive and distinction from everyone else in the story.

I’m not out to trash this book, or anyone who enjoyed it. I couldn’t get into it. There were moments that showed promise, but then something completely removed me from the story. The concept is neat, and something that we don’t see a lot of in the book world. I just wanted more from it.

Overall: pink2 Skip this. It’s frustrating and disjointed.

Book Review: Extinction Parade Volume 1 by Max Brooks


Title: The Extinction Parade Volume 1
Author/Artist: Max Brooks, Raulo Caceres
Published: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Avatar Press

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Max Brooks, the best selling Zombie writer in history, unleashes an all-new horror epic! As humans wage their losing fight versus the hordes of the subdead, a frightening realization sets in with the secretive vampire race: our food is dying off. This is the story of the vampire’s descent into all-out war with the mindless, hungry hordes of the zombie outbreak as humanity tries to survive them all! This collected edition contains the entire first chapter of Extinction Parade

Courtesy of banners04

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World War Z redefined the Zombie genre for me. Extinction Parade takes it one step further, by introducing a secondary supernatural creature: the vampire. In this volume Brooks sets up an epic battle of zombie vs. vampire and the winner maintains the right to hunt and feed on the dwindling human population. It’s a riotous bloodbath with gore and violence. The art is beautiful, and something that I’m drawn to when I’m looking for graphic novels to get into. The story line is something different and I’m interested to see where it goes in further volumes.

The aspect of vampires v. zombies is something that I’ve thought about–especially since both beings at their core are reanimated corpses. I found it fun to read and to see the differences between the two. The vampires that are portrayed in this book are what I consider traditional vampires. Strong, badass and rather nasty when it comes down to it. I am intrigued by the vampire’s caretaker and I am going to grab later volumes of this to figure out the story line that’s happening there.

Overall: pink3 Bloody, gory and violent this graphic novel throws together two of the undead supernatural creatures in a knock down drag out fight for food. It’s vampires v. zombies and the prize? Us.

Book Feature: The Hellhound Handbook by Rue Volley.


The Hellhound Handbook
This is the FOURTH book in the Hellhound Series.
This book contains TWO origin stories.

“The Long Ride to Hell”
Long ago, in a time of War, a great man ruled with an iron fist, that of Vlad the Impaler. His armies vast and his lands growing but it was not at his own hand, it was led by Dorin, The Red Dragon.
Dorin served Castle Bran and his Lord with an unwavering loyalty. His strength absolute and his armor impenetrable, except for one thing, his forbidden love for Vlad.
With war subsiding and a bright future of peace on the horizon, Lady Illona is sent to Castle Bran to bind their nation’s houses as one. As a wedding looms, Dorin finds that his love cannot be contained and it sets a series of events into motion that will seal his fate and that of the legend of Dracula, forever.

“Moriah”
Long before man existed, other beings did, that of the angels of Moriah.
Moriah was a beautiful planet on the outskirts of the Andromeda system and if it was not for war, it would have been a true heaven.
As with all things, every being fights for survival and the angels of Moriah had done just that for all of 200 years. Led by Elohim and that of El, their army of the Helios Guard defended the planets greatest resources, that of water and iron.
Once war ended they found themselves left without purpose. Elohim tries his best to ensure that the angels of Moriah will live forever, but in his desperation has he saved them, or has he doomed them all?

Every legend has a dark past…
The Hellhound saga continues in Book #4
The Hellhound Handbook

Book Four! Just .99 Amazon
Book Three! Just .99 Amazon
Book Two! Just .99 Amazon
Book One! Just .99 Amazon

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Book Review: The Outside by Laura Bickle


Title The Outside (The Hallowed Ones #2)
Author: Laura Bickle
Published: September 3rd 2013
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

The Summary:
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

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I have mixed feelings about The Outside. On one hand I really enjoyed it–when I sat back and just read it for entertainment’s sake. On the other hand I was rolling my eyes at the ‘cure’ against the vampires and the fact that even in the most basic sense it wouldn’t work. There’s just no way that the way the glowing people got their glow would work in any stretch of reality. Not to mention the positive/negative thoughts influencing the environment and in turn humanity v. vampires. My science brain was side eyeing most of this story pretty hard.

I do really love the different explorations of faith v the vampires. The Pentecostal Pastor encounter was terrifying, though the snakebite that one of the characters endures and then is healed simply by prayer? Oh, my science brain started to roll its eyes once more. The Catholic take was amazing, and really well written. I liked how Katie was exposed to different faiths, in a way affirming her own faith. Yes there is a lot of religious tones in this story, and often the reader is smacked over the head with them. But Kate is experiencing the world for the first time, and the world is going up in flames. She’s going to cling to what gives her comfort–her faith, and the Amish take on God and faith.

There’s lots of character growth. Katie grows as a person and starts to form her own world view. Alex bothered me for about 90% of this book, most of the times I found him condescending and overbearing, up to and including his want to make bend to his will in a rather serious situation. Elijah makes an appearance and his character doesn’t bother me as much this time. He too grows and changes for the better. These characters are scared, and it shows. People do rash things in drastic situations, and this is what adds realism to this story. I was happy with the way the story ended, but I found that there’s a third book coming out, so I’m interested to see where the series goes from here.

Overall pink3 If you can ignore the weird science/overblown faith and read it for enjoyments/continuation sake it’s entertaining.

Book Review: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann


Title: Cryer’s Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Published: February 8th 2011
Publisher: Simon Pulse.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a Did not finish

Summary:
Kendall loves her life in small town Cryer’s Cross, Montana, but she also longs for something more. She knows the chances of going to school in New York are small, but she’s not the type to give up easily. Even though it will mean leaving Nico, the world’s sweetest boyfriend, behind.

But when Cryer’s Cross is rocked by unspeakable tragedy, Kendall shoves her dreams aside and focuses on just one goal: help find her missing friends. Even if it means spending time with the one boy she shouldn’t get close to… the one boy who makes her question everything she feels for Nico.

Determined to help and to stay true to the boy she’s always loved, Kendall keeps up the search–and stumbles upon some frightening local history. She knows she can’t stop digging, but Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried….

picadillypink This book had some potential. A main character with OCD? Sounds interesting. Mystery and scary stuff going down in a small town? All for it. Unfortunately this book just gave me a lot of frustration and it didn’t live up to what it was promising. I couldn’t get through it. I got eight chapters in and started skimming the rest of it. The actual culprit behind the evil going on in the town, while ridiculous can work. Spirits, could essentially attach themselves to inanimate objects. However, the way people are dying is absolutely laughable. I’m really glad I got this as a library book, because I would have been really upset if I had paid for this. The tenses change non stop, and the narration tone shifts from Kendall to something else. Just not for me.

Overall: pinkdnf Bad writing, bad plot and a terrible misrepresentation of OCD. Skip this book please.

Book Review: Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick


Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Published: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Rating:  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif

The Summary:
There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don’t talk about. The murder way back in ’45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian’s parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he’s drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn’t just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they’d rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it’s no surprise that Christian isn’t exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter’s last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi’s came to town. Based on a little-known fact of the United States’ involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love

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I picked this up because of the cover and the blurb on the inside cover. I curled up with it and read it while everyone else was watching the Superbowl. It took me a little while to get into it, and then once I was fully seated in the story it jumped all over the place. In a way I felt that it was trying to emulate James Joyce’s style of stream of conscious, but it just wasn’t cutting it for me. Which made me a little sad because I love that style of writing. Things are introduced, major plot tools, only to be briefly touched on, and then not fully explained. Even when the main character taps into it–he doesn’t know what he’s doing, how he did it and so the reader gets lost along in the dark with him, and there’s no resolution or explanation to why it happens.

There’s also two different stories going on here. I think I would have liked it more if it focused on Christian’s abilities and parents, or the secondary turned primary story line of the Jews and Nazis in his small town. It felt rushed, and a bit awkwardly thrown together. I wouldn’t have finished it, but by the time I had decided to put it down, I had turned the last page. Speaking of the way this book ends is extremely frustrating to me.

Overall: pink2 Cluttered, rushed and packed with lots of information and very little resolution.

Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff


Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Published: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill

Rating:  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif

The Summary:
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

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This is another book in my neo-gothic, horror binge I guess, and it’s one that I really enjoyed. Paper Valentine was a really quick read that I easily got sucked into the story. Hannah is an interesting character who grows along the way. Something that I found interesting that Yovanoff did, is when Hannah started talking to ‘the love interest’ she changed. In a positive way. She started to stand up for herself, and move away from the circle of ‘friends’ that had fallen apart after Lillian’s death. I really liked that when the love interest was introduced and confirmed that Hannah didn’t become clingy. She actually opened up and started to change for the better.

The story itself is really interesting. I like crime stories, and those involving serial killers and the fictional element to these murders was really well thought out. They’re graphic without splattering the pages in blood–and I think that’s something that adds to the mood of this story. There are hints, while Hannah sneaks glances at the pictures of the crime scene, or the last victim that Hannah sees in person it’s shown but not glorified. The hidden twist and the killer was something that I didn’t see coming. I like that there’s more to it than “THIS GUY! THIS ONE RIGHT HERE!” It’s subtle, and doesn’t give anything away until the end.

Overall: pink4 Read this book. It’s a great subtle, well layered story with a horror and paranormal twist.

Book Review: Girl Of Nightmares by Kendare Blake


Title: Girl Of Nightmares
Author: Kendare Blake
Published: August 7, 2011
Publisher: Tor Teen

Rating:  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif  photo kasa_zpsdf6a064a.gif

The Synopsis:
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.

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Anna Dressed in Blood blew me away. I read it in one sitting, and it kept me up all night, with visions of creepy things lurking in the corner of my bedroom. Girl of Nightmares on the other hand, took me a little longer to get into. I’m not sure exactly why, but it dragged for me until about the midway point. I really loved Cas’ character in the first book, but in the second there’s a shift, and it’s more than just losing the woman he loves. However, the secondary characters, grew a bit more. One of them pulls something really stupid though, and I really felt bad for Thomas.

For me the book really picked up gear in the last half. The introduction of another character however, really set my teeth on edge. She’s just Cas 2.0, and she flaunts it every chance she gets. I did like the ending, I thought it wrapped the book duet nicely. I want to read more of Kendra’s books, because I really enjoy her writing. Girl of Nightmares just didn’t do it for me.

Overall pink3 Pace is a bit sporadic, and the characters are a bit different than in the first novel, but still an enjoyable read.

Book Review: A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness


Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd.
Published: September 27, 2011 by Walker Press.

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The Summary:
The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

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This book left me an absolute mess. I was crying, sprawled out on the floor clutching the book, while my dog looked on upset as to why his owner was petting a book. This story is heartbreaking, I knew what was coming but by the time it happened I was already emotionally drained. The story is intense, the narrative weaving beautifully with a second narrative (Conor and the monster’s). Ness writes emotions well, taking the reader along with the feelings of absolute desperation, and want for something more. I’ve been in a situation close to Conor’s and I can identify so much with the feeling of being invisible, and then the panic when you’re not invisible. The want for punishment, someone to notice you’re not doing what you’re supposed to—the maddening, crushing feeling of everyone giving you a pass because you’ve got some serious stuff going on.

A Monster Calls is a haunting story, the imagery that goes alongside it just adds to the story. It’s a fairy tale for the modern age and shows both the fantastical elements of the genre and the not-so-discussed consequences and dark side of the magical world. Fantasy and reality blend, and there are real life situations that parallel stories that were handed down for ages. This book is heavy, and painful, but there’s a glimmer of hope at the end, something shiny and bright for Conor to hold on to, and capture when the darkness fully passes.

Final Recommendation: pink4 Read this. Read this and have the tissues at the ready.

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.

Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Tom Doherty
Rating:  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif  photo kasa_zps3bb337c2.gif

The Summary:
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.

The Review:
I actually picked up the sequel to this book first, while I was taking a break at a write in, and wandering around the library. I’ve had Anna Dressed in Blood on my to read list for a while, after being drawn in by the cover. I just hadn’t picked it up. After realizing the book I held in my hands was the sequel, I put a hold in for Anna Dressed in Blood and went on my way. I picked it up from the library yesterday, started reading it yesterday, got about halfway through, went out with a friend and talked about the book to her for a good half hour (mainly about how it was creeping me out), came home at 12:15 am and finished it off.

I loved this book. It was well written, I fell for all of the characters, the relationships were organic and nicely developed. The reason why I didn’t give this was five stars was the pacing. It wasn’t until the last couple of chapters that we find out that Anna isn’t the only major big bad playing in the game, and I would have liked a few more hints, a few more bumps in the night if you will, about the other entity that had found it’s way into Cas’ life. And speaking of the major big bad, while Anna is the titular character and the more influential big bad, I consider the thing that’s hunting Cas to be a little more terrifying–it’s really well done. An interesting take on a voodoo magic/practitioner. I like the tie in to something that happened in Cas’ past and I like the way the first book ended. It’s not so much a cliff-hanger, but a way that’s open to a second book.

Cas is a character that I can support. He’s sarcastic without being a brat, he’s smart but at the same time he still needs the help of the supporting cast who he comes to like and think of as friends. I really liked the slow shift to a somewhat normal life he got a chance to have while at Thunder Bay. Yes, he’s still hunting ghosts, and his life is in danger, but he makes friends–two in particular who really serve to better his character. I’m really looking forward to getting into the second book.

Let’s talk more about YA horror! This is the first book I’ve read in the horror sub-genre. Have you read it? I’ve got a couple other books sitting upstairs, but I’d love some more recommendations!