Readers: February 27th: Apologies for the scattered posting that's about to come during the next week or so. University has just started and I have a lot of work to do to get on top of things (and ahead!). Thanks for your patience, as always.

Publishers: I promise I'm not abandoning the lovely review copies you've sent!
I'm getting through them and the reviews will come eventually!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

All Hail The Mail! (14)

All Hail The Mail will be posted weekly to showcase the books I've received for review!

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Yes, this is one of those awesome two-books-in-one sort of things. I've been meaning to start this series for so long and I'm very excited that I finally have the chance! WITHOUT having to wait until June for the 2nd book! *squees* Lucky me. I think I'll start this after my current read!

Altered by Jennifer Rush
This is another book I've been dying to read. GIVE ME THOSE FOUR COOL GUYS. Beautiful Brodie sent me this for my birthday. I would totally show you the card too but I wouldn't want you all to die from cuteness overload.

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
PEERRRRFECTION. If there were any flaws, too bad, I didn't see them. Blinded by my love for Sydney and Adrian. *incoherent mumbling* THE ENDING!!

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter
I've read a few mixed things about this but I'm hoping it follows the trend and is my favourite of the lot since the books have been getting better! Let's end this series on a high note. *fingers crossed* This is my favourite Aussie cover of the series, by the way!

Thanks to Hachette, Brodie, Penguin and Harlequin for the fabulous books!

What was in your mailbox this week?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review: Spark by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Spark
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Series: Elemental #2
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: September 26th 2012
Source: Publisher for review

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally. Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can't. Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he's not doing it. And no one seems to believe him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Because Layne has a few secrets of her own...

After I fell in love with Gabriel in the first book of the Elemental series, I was ecstatic when I discovered that Spark would be focusing on the hottest Merrick of the bunch. While Storm was entertainment in it's purest form as we're first introduced to the world and characters, Spark takes on a much darker tone as we delve into Gabriel's mind; a word of warning, it's frightening in there. Luckily for him, he's got a nice girl to keep him distracted and boy was this romance incredible! As spellbinding as you would imagine it to be, Spark is an absolute must-read!

Gabriel Merrick. Gabe. Gabe. Gabe. Gabe. Gabe. How can you not love this gorgeous, witty bad-boy? In the previous book, he was perceived as someone who was easy-going and didn't have things too tough. He seemed to have his life under control and wasn't lacking much at all. After reading Spark…… I can say that we were all terribly wrong. The main issue that's explored within this novel is Gabriel's relationship with his family and how he sees himself. Although it wasn't obvious until now, he's the black sheep of the family, the brother who's always expected to make mistakes and do the wrong thing. Further and further, he and his brothers drift apart, especially him and his twin, Nick. Kemmerer will have you clutching at your heart with this book. The amount of sympathy and frustration I felt at the unfairness of EVERYTHING was indescribable. Gabriel's such a good person with a big, vulnerable heart who didn't deserve a single bit of hurt he was smacked in the face with. What makes it harder as a reader is that many of the conflicts could have been avoided and were caused by a lack of good communication, whether it be Gabriel's unwillingness to explain himself (because he couldn't believe that he even had to) or his brothers' complete lack of faith in him! You can expect this sequel to be full of angst, which just builds and builds. I'm a total wimp with these things but I got through it. Somehow. I'm still recovering, I think.

While Spark doesn't go much into the Elementals/Guides storyline that was set up in the first book, there is some development in the way of Gabriel's powers. Although as a pure Elemental his powers are strong, there are still limitations with what he can do; while he can manipulate fire with great precision, he can't create it himself. In his attempts to remedy this, he causes a fire or two and winds up going into a few house fires too! This allows him to save people and gain more control, but it also brings a lot of heat onto him from his family and the police. Someone else is starting these fires with an unknown agenda and it's not a good thing for him to be at the scene of every crime. I will say though, that the bromance which formed between him and Hunter as a result of these rescues was great. BEST FRIENDS FOREVER?

Now you've all been waiting to hear about it…the romance. Firstly, I have to say that Layne Forrest is one of the coolest people ever. Her character was so refreshing amongst the stream of "average-nothing-special" YA girls we're used to seeing who have no reason to be suddenly noticed by the hot guy. She's smart, conservative, horse-loving and…a social outcast. Even though she's been rejected by her mother for not being perfect, ignored by her father and ostracised from her peers for being "weird", she stands by what she believes in and even has a kind heart to boot. The first time she and Gabriel's not friendly but you just know that the romance will be unbelievably good. Layne does the sweetest thing in the history of sweet things and I still go into mushy mode when I think about it. It's no wonder that Gabe couldn't help but fall for her eventually! She understands him and doesn't confine him to being a good-for-nothing guy like everyone else. Their road to happiness isn't easy in the slightest, what with both of their secrets, but wow. Amazing. Layne's deaf brother, Simon, and her secret, which I won't spoil, made their relationship unique and gave Gabriel many opportunities to make us SWOON.

I want to see the Merrick family back together as one so badly, and with the developments at the end of this book, I think they're on their way. I'm looking forward to seeing how the Elementals/Guides plot plays out in Spirit, and it should be interesting with the switch to Hunter's POV. We won't be seeing the Merricks from an insider's perspective anymore but I've always loved Hunter so I don't mind at all! Kemmerer has really stepped it up and taken this series to another level with Spark. I can't wait to see what she offers up next.

Find Brigid on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her website.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

All Hail The Mail! (13)

All Hail The Mail will be posted weekly to showcase the books I've received for review! 

Everbound by Brodi Ashton
I’m expecting amazing things from this book! I don’t know what it’ll be like after the way Everneath ended but I trust Brodi not to lead me astray!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
I read this the other day - COMPLETELY LOVED IT. The plot and characters were just perfect. I need Cress NOW!

Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
I’ve heard great things about this book and I’m ready for some serious Kat/Hale ;)

Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
I loved the first book and have been waiting for this one! Fingers crossed this sequel doesn’t disappoint!

Siege by Sarah Mussi
Interesting storyline….kids locked inside a school taken hostage by other armed students? I like it. But I may wait to see what everyone else thinks about it first...

The Eternity Cure by Julia Kagawa
I received an eARC of this and wanted to dig in immediately but I’ll keep it aside for now until I get through some more recent review copies...

Hysteria by Megan Miranda
I’m worried this will turn out like Fracture - good concept, bad execution. Has anyone read this yet?

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
I wasn’t feeling this novel from the synopsis and it’s received quite a few mixed/negative reviews… Worth reading?

Hidden by Marianne Curley
I love the sound of this! Sheltered girl suddenly turns brilliantly angelic? HELL YES. I’m just hoping that there isn’t insta-love in this. Praying to the heavens!

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce
I’m scared. I’m an absolute wimp when it comes to these stories! I’m not going to read any reviews beforehand because I don’t want to know whether the ending is good or bittersweet/sad.

Kill Order by James Dashner
I still haven’t started this series but I do have the other books waiting on my shelf. I can't wait!

Fearless by Cornella Funkenge
Gorgeous cover, but a strange story from a series I haven’t read before...

Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Penguin, Hachette, Harlequin, Bloomsbury and Scholastic for the review copies!

What did you receive this week?

Leave me your comments and mailbox links!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Review: Legacy by C.J. Daugherty

Title: Legacy
Author: C.J Daugherty
Series: Night School #2
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: January 17th 2013
Source: Publisher for review

In the last year, Allie's survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It's the one place she's felt she belongs. And the fact that it's brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn't hurt...But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could've imagined. The students, and faculty, are under threat and Allie's family - from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother - are at the centre of the storm. Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart...

Night School was easily one of my favourite reads of 2012, and although Legacy isn't quite as good, I still found myself loving it. Daugherty's writing is addictive as always, and you'll pass a large handful of hours reading this without even realising it. Upon starting, I immediately connected with the characters I loved so much again and it was like the year-long wait never existed. 

When Allie Sheridan went back to London for the holidays, she didn't expect to be chased down by a group of Nathaniel's agents, or to be returning to Cimmeria Academy early to help repair fire damages caused by her brother, Christopher. At first, things seem to be going well. Allie and Carter are super adorable and sexy, and there's some funny awkward tiptoeing around Sylvain, since he saved her life post-rape attempt. Unfortunately, our smiles don't last for long as things quickly spiral out of control. The secrets, misunderstandings and total lack of communication are monumental in Legacy. As much as I love Allie and Carter, I don't know whether to bury my head in the sand in defeat or to run away screaming.

In this sequel, the plot thickens as Nathaniel's motives are explained, and as he takes bigger risks in order to get what he desires, the students at Cimmeria are put in unpredictable danger. As a result, Allie is admitted into Night School where the focus is now on self defence and they soon learn that there's a traitor amongst them. One of the members of Night School or staff is Nathaniel's inside spy and so the Night School students are forced to interview another member assigned to them in search of any inconsistencies, with lying leading to expulsion. It sounds simple enough....BUT OF COURSE NOT, THIS IS FICTION!

This leads us to the dirty, frustrating mess that is Allie and Carter's relationship. Not too far into Legacy, Carter transforms into an overprotective, controlling jerk who completely forbids Allie from seeing Sylvain. They can't be friends or even acquaintances. With Sylvain's past behaviour, I understand his concern but this was too much and clearly NOT just about her safety at all. Carter, come here so I can slap the stupid out of you! Unfortunately for us and Allie, everything snowballs from there. Allie's put in difficult situations with horrible timing, and absolutely nothing works out for her, with Carter or her non-Night School friends! My heart was an ugly little mess by the end of this novel. I feel so much for her, even though at times I felt she needed to be slapped too. Everything that happened with Allie was either wrong or unfair and it was horrible! #AngstWimp

As a character, I really did like Allie (for the most part). She does well in Night School, albeit with a shaky start, and tries her best to solve all of the mysteries around her while dodging Gabe who seems to be popping up everywhere. The small clues combined with the subtle foreshadowing and my halfway-there theories have me curious and desperately awaiting the next book. Legacy seems to pose more questions than answers, and I was a little let down that the plot development wasn't huge. I was hoping for a bit more to happen, for a few more answers to come our way, but sadly it looks like that'll have to wait for book three.

Despite all of the heartache Daugherty made me feel, she still managed to keep me laughing with her well-placed moments of wit and humour, and her captivating story will keep you wanting to know what will happen next. Legacy gives us more insight into some of the characters, especially Carter, while making us distrust others. This novel feels somewhat unresolved because of the sheer amount of unanswered questions, but filled with intrigue and dangerous charm, Legacy is an entertaining sequel which will hopefully pave the way to an explosive third book. I have no idea how things will end and I'm honestly a little afraid after these latest developments!

Have you read this series? What did you think?

Find C.J. on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy Legacy from Amazon, The Book Depository and Booktopia.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday & Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Romances

It's been almost a year since I've done a non-mailbox meme!
Remember to leave a comment below and/or a link for me to visit your blog! :)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

I'm loving Scarlet by Marissa Meyer more than I thought possible. All of these characters need to jump into my pocket RIGHT NOW, especially Carswell Thorne. This guy has kept me laughing and smiling throughout. I have no words for how much I adore him!

"They're starting a press conference, to talk about you. Thought you wouldn't want to miss"-Thorne fanned himself, swooning-"his heavenly, chocolate-brown eyes, and perfectly tousled hair, and-"

Gah, I am NOT equipped to handle this level of cuteness. Almost finished and I'm still not immune to Thorne's teasing and joking around. *faints*

What's your teaser this week?

~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~

This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I can't believe this. The week I decide to get back to memes and this tricky topic comes up! *sighs* My luck, honestly. As always, in no particular order:

Adrian and Sydney - Bloodlines
Everyone's talking about how brilliant the romance is in The Indigo Spell and I AM READY. I've been waiting for this for YEARS ever since I fell in love with Adrian in Frostbite. Let him get the girl, will you, Richelle?! Oh, these two polar opposites are perfection together. Sydney, stop resisting!

Perry and Aria - Under the Never Sky
This couple will never get old and there probably won't be a day when I won't melt at the memory of Aria nursing Perry back to health or them fighting when they first met… If only Aria could mind-talk with Perry like she can with Roar!

Noah and Echo - Pushing the Limits
Their romance was so intense! I loved the delicious slow burn between them and I'm an absolute sucker for "damaged" characters who help heal each other...

Daemon and Katy - Lux
Undeniably one of the sexiest couples in YA. I just read Opal and I've fallen in love with these two a hundred times more. The banter, the UST, the sweetness... How much more can my heart take?

Jace and Clary - The Mortal Instruments
If I had to choose...THIS IS MY FAVOURITE ROMANCE. Jace…I just… Do I even need to explain myself? I mean, really. JACE. Enough said, right? All of that drama they had in the beginning was so worth it! I hope City of Heavenly Fire doesn't disappoint in the romance department; it's the last book! Can we also have our old Jace back, please?

Brendan and Emma - Spellbound
Just about everyone around them is envious of their relationship and for good reason! They get along so well and everything comes naturally to them. Eternal soul mates, anyone? (And can I purchase a Brendan somewhere...?)

Dimitri and Rose - Vampire Academy
The original golden couple who found themselves with millions and millions of fans. Again, no words need to be said. Everyone knows why they're so special! (If you haven't met them yet, you should be ashamed of yourself!)

Harlin and Charlotte - A Need So Beautiful
While their relationship is quite understated because it existed before the series began, I think they're insanely sweet together. You can't help but feel at ease with them and Harlin's proven that he'll love her forever. Do I hear 'aww's in the distance?

Noah and Mara - Mara Dyer
Oh, these two. *giggles* Forever making us fan ourselves! I love how supportive and trusting they are of each other. There aren't any wishy washy feelings or silly problems between them. They're just a great, solid couple.

Ren and Kelsey - The Tiger Saga
I just had to put this on the list. A human/tiger romance? Come on. Who doesn't like something a little different? There is a love triangle with Kishan but at the end of the day, Ren's the one!

I'm feeling guilty (nothing new) about leaving so many other great romances out!
What do you think of this lot?

Which are your top ten favourite romances?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Review: Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Title: Through the Ever Night
Author: Veronica Rossi
Series: Under the Never Sky #2
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: January 8th 2013
Source: Publisher for review

Aria has struggled to build a life for herself outside Reverie. It hasn't be easy adjusting to life in the wilderness but that struggle has been worth it with Perry by her side. But Perry has other challenges. His people are looking to him for answers. Answers about what happened to his nephew and what's happening to their world. And they don't trust the priviledged Aria, one of the enemy, in their midst. Soon he'll be forced to chose between the tribe that looks to him for leadership and the girl that looks to him for love.

As breathtaking as the first book of this addictive series, Through The Ever Night sees Rossi taking us on an intense adventure where her characters blossom and fully come into their own. While Perry must gain the trust and support of the Tides as their new Blood Lord, Aria and Roar take off together in search of the location of Still Blue. With Consul Hess's threats and the vicious Aether storms raging stronger than ever, destroying everything in their path, it's imperative that they find the safe haven before it's all too late.

After months of being apart, Perry and Aria are finally reunited, but their time together is sadly short-lived. Aria must leave to find Sable, Blood Lord of the Horns, for information about Still Blue, and Roar accompanies her knowing that Perry has his own important duties to attend to. Ever since he took over from his brother, Perry's tried to do right by his tribe but has failed to prove himself in their eyes. As he struggles with the lack of food, increase in Aether storms and vulnerable village, the people question his authority and believe he's too young and inexperienced to be a good Blood Lord, but by the end of the book, Perry has grown by leaps and bounds. He becomes a leader who can look after his people and command their respect like Vale once did. I was so proud of him! These tribe folk were STUBBORN and so he truly had to earn every ounce of their trust.

Aria was an amazing heroine. She's always been strong and likeable, but she's adapted to the Outside like a fish to water. No longer is she a delicate Dweller (not that she truly was to begin with), but someone who'll do whatever it takes to protect those around her. Unfortunately, others don't see it that way. To them, she's just a Mole. In the short time that she's at the Tides, she's treated harshly and gains acceptance from very few, but to her credit, it doesn't stop her from trying and I think it made Perry love her even more! Being separated, their romance was far from perfect (let's not mention that annoying little Kirra witch, shall we?) but I know things will be just fine in that camp. We see the terrible prejudice that exists between the Dwellers and Outsiders, but I'm looking forward to seeing this gap be bridged in the future!

Along with the fantastic character development which made me love them all the more, the relationships received the same treatment. The one I loved the most was absolutely between Aria and Roar. Their bond was so refreshing and uplifting, fun and loving at the same time in a completely platonic way. I adore the way they protect each other and have such a strong relationship without it crossing over into more, despite what others may think! After Liv ran away and disappeared to avoid marrying Sable, Roar's been missing a piece of himself even with Aria offering her shoulder to lean on. His yearning for his soul mate yanked at my heartstrings and I felt every little bit of confusion and sorrow that he did when it came to her. The poor thing probably had it the toughest out of all of them. I demand a group hug for him now!

While the Outsiders are racing against the clock to dodge the Aether, the Dwellers surprisingly are too. Slowly but surely, the once perfect Reverie is being destroyed, which is why Soren's father is so desperate to find Still Blue. After Soren reveals his plans to go Outside, a deal is made so that Aria will help him if he gives her information, and what they discover about the Consul's plans is horrifying, yet very exciting plot-wise. I didn't expect to like their friendship at all, but I'm really hoping to see more of it in the next book! Rossi loves turning enemies into friends, doesn't she?

Through the Ever Night was a thrilling read that didn't disappoint in the action department. Full of mystery, anticipation and possibly fatal situations, the plot only intensifies from Under the Never Sky and this sequel certainly isn't that boring bridging book we all loathe. In this second instalment, every character had their own personal issues to deal with but still had the time to help others. What a sight it was to see. I have such a warm place in my heart for these guys and I'm so looking forward to seeing how things progress in Into the Still Blue. Things are finally in place and everything's been leading up to this, so I'm expecting the best book yet!

Of course I prefer the American cover (HELLO PERRY!) but the Australian one is gorgeous too. What do you think? I'm very excited to see what they come up with for Into the Still Blue!!

Find Veronica on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her blog.
Buy Through The Ever Night from Amazon, The Book Depository, Booktopia and Barnes & Noble.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Rise by Andrea Cremer

Title: Rise
Author: Andrea Cremer
Series: Nightshade Prequel #2
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: January 8th 2013
Source: Publisher for review

Everything Conatus stands for is at risk. Hoping to gather enough resistance to save their order, Ember and Barrow attempt a desperate escape. But fate offers little mercy. When their mission is exposed, the  couple face relentless pursuit by the supernatural horrors that act on the commands of Eira’s ally: the mysterious Bosque Mar. A shocking revelation forces Ember out of hiding, sending her back into the heart of dark magic at Tearmunn keep, where she must convince her old friend Alistair of her love or face dire consequences. Ember’s deception offers the only chance for the resistance to succeed, but what she discovers in the shadows beneath the keep will shatter her world and bring about the Witches’ War.

Although I failed to feel the urgency to continue reading until the last quarter of the novel, when the pace and intensity finally increased, Rise was still far better than Rift. Despite the slow and sometimes lacklustre read, I'm really glad I finished it because this is, mind-bogglingly, a great prequel series.

Rise begins where Rift left off as Ember and Barrow flee from Tearmunn, which has now been overrun by Eira and Bosque Mar. Alistair is their loyal solider and is still delusional in thinking that Ember returns his affections. While I wasn't glued to the book and desperate to continue reading, hence I was easily distracted and took an entire week to finish it, the plot was actually interesting and far better than that of Rift. We're exposed to the darkest parts of this world and finally Eira's actions are part of a bigger picture. Luckily for me, the annoyance I felt towards her in Rift wasn't present while reading this novel. Perhaps it was because we read from Alistair's perspective more than hers, but no matter, I'm very grateful. Alistair was terribly misguided and on such a wrong path that I felt like checking to see if his manhood was still in tact. Until he gets over Ember, he's a lovesick pup who wants approval and will do whatever he's told, especially if it means it'll get him Ember. The antagonists were a great part of this novel, however, and I enjoyed seeing the evil plans they conjured up throughout.

This time around, I felt that Ember wasn't as gung-ho warrior as she was in Rift, and was a little disappointed that she had somewhat reverted back to a 'girl' mentally, despite the things she said otherwise. I enjoyed the romance between her and Barrow and was pleased that it didn't dominate the story at all. The character development honestly wasn't the best - I don't think anyone grew significantly or let us know more about themselves - but I enjoyed having such a large and diverse group to pull from anyway, even though their roles were minor and undeveloped.

Within this book, there are loyal followers, rebels, traitors and moles. Both sides have their own agendas and ideas about how things should be run, and it's all a tense wait to see who will come out on top. Will the rebels against Bosque succeed in banishing the evil beings or is he already prepared with something much more sinister? Now this part, I loved. I was addicted by the end of the novel and it's here that I realised how great this prequel truly was. It wasn't until the end that I realised that the things we were learning were directly related to the original Nightshade series. Some were intended to be revealed at the end, but some were just so slow to register in my mind (cue facepalm). This last minute revelation hit me all at once, rather than naturally a hundred pages earlier, so my mind was a little blown and fangirl excited by that time. FEELINGS OVERLOAD.

This prequel series is probably one of the best in terms of explaining the origins of things within the original series. While the story and characters certainly don't compare to those such as in The Infernal Devices, I enjoyed the insight I got from it and seeing how everything fit together. But as epic as the ending was, I'm left feeling a little empty because it was so open ended, and not in a good way where we can happily imagine things ourselves. Many threads are left loose and untied, and I still have questions! Basically, I have no idea what every character is up to. Are all the villains alive? How will Eira, Alistair and Bosque proceed? Did his plan work? What about the other members of the order? What about Ember and Barrow?! I'm just lost. I guess we have a very vague idea about some things with the knowledge we have from the Nightshade series, but I'm not entirely impressed with the lack of a proper ending here... An extra page, or paragraph even, would've done the trick!

Was I the only numbnut reading this novel? I cannot believe I didn't realise _____ ("spoiler") the minute the idea was introduced. HELLO LISA. THIS IS A PREQUEL SERIES. *groans* Wow. If I had plainly stated what it was that I missed, rather than "_____", you would be on your knees laughing. I can't believe this LOL.

Find Andrea on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Series: Anna #1
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Published: July 5th 2012
Source: Publisher for review

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.

After everyone yelled and screeched about how wonderful this novel was, I finally read it and immediately understood the hype. There's no denying that Kendare Blake has created a magnificent group of characters who undoubtedly take this book from great to absolutely amazing. Furthermore, its eerie setting and the bloodcurdling murders will surely have you darting your eyes around the room throughout the night! This fabulous horror mystery will keep you on your toes and guessing till the very end, and it's an outstanding debut that I won't hesitate to read again.

Being a past Supernatural fanatic, Anna Dressed in Blood struck all the right chords with me. From the moment Theseus Cassio Lowood stepped out wielding his weapons to take down a crazed ghost hitchhiker, I was taken. Making his first kill at fourteen under the guidance of his now deceased father, Cas has moved on to be a professional supernatural hunter, having been to twelve high schools over the past three years. Currently, he's living with his Wiccan mother in Thunder Bay, Ontario for his next kill - Anna Dressed in Blood.

Much like Dean Winchester, Cas is a smooth talker. He pulls the gossip-centre queen bees of every school into his clutches and utilises any other resources he can find. He's always worked alone too…until now. As much as he tries to fend them off, Cas finds himself with a pair of willing helpers - the queen bee, Carmel, and the strange outsider/telepathic, Thomas. The three couldn't be more different and yet they share amazing chemistry as a group. Anna Dressed in Blood is unexpectedly funny and full of wit, which perfectly balances out the action and drama. Although they represent the stereotypes of high schoolers, Blake's characters certainly don't behave within the boundaries of their 'type'. They show us sides to them that we, and they, don't anticipate and it's exciting to wait for what they'll do next. As soon as I became invested in these characters, I was extremely nervous knowing that Cas would eventually have to move on and leave them all behind. You just can't do that to us, Kendare….. YOU CAN'T BREAK UP THIS GROUP!

Anna Korlov is the girl who was suspiciously murdered back in 1958, and she's now the most vicious ghost you can come across. Strangely enough, everyone but Cas who walks through the doors of her house gets killed, and he's therefore the only one who can save her. With his help, we slowly learn about her past and feel the same curiosity and sympathy for her that he does. She's not truly evil, you see, but stuck with a terrible compulsion to harm others in a blinding and uncontrollable fit of rage. Cas and Anna's relationship was definitely unique. I always went into this book anticipating a romance but had no idea how it would work. He's a human, she's a ghost. He's a protector, she's a killer. I didn't think it was possible but their bond manifested very naturally and in such a believable way! Anna is completely aware of what she's (unwillingly) doing and it only makes Cas more desperate to save her, but there are darker forces at work here that won't let him win so easily...

Now that's all I can say without ruining the delicious plot. Anna Dressed in Blood moves at a great pace and is full of complications that you'll have fun uncovering and solving. Blake executes action scenes flawlessly and knows just how to create the perfect mystery. We're always kept guessing about who is good or evil, who is behind a particular kill and how or if things will work out in the end. The individual character development and romances in this novel are unforgettable and enhanced by the great storytelling. Everything about this book was perfect, I tell you. Let me just go and fangirl somewhere now...after I sulk about the huge, horrible cliffhanger.

"Would you rather be a Trojan or a tiger?"
"What kind of a question is that? Do we have any jam?"
"Strawberry or something called Saskatoon, which looks like blueberry."
I make a sour face. "I'll take the strawberry."
"You should live dangerously. Try the Saskatoon."
"I live dangerously enough. Now what's this about condoms or tigers?"
MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY. Gosh, how can you not love this guy?

I know. I'm so late to the party, especially since this was published in Australia a whole year later than in America! Was the second book amazing? I still have to get to it!

Find Kendare on Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, her website and blog.
Buy Anna Dressed in Blood from Amazon, The Book Depository, Booktopia and Barnes & Noble.
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