Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Rating: 2 stars

Series: Anna #1

The cover was beautiful and creepy. The title was intriguing. And the book left a lot to be desired. It felt like a bad rip off of Supernatural because Cas was raised in a family where he was intended to hunt ghosts and other supernatural creatures. It also reminded me of The Vampire Diaries in the sense that a bunch of teenage kids ran around solving all kinds of supernatural problems with virtually no supervision from their parents.

The world building was horrible. Nothing was ever really explained. What was special about Cas’s bloodline? Why was his bloodline attached to the knife? Why does he hunt ghosts? Why didn’t Anna kill Cas? I just read the whole book and I don’t have a clue. By the end of the book I was left with way more questions than answers about how the world works, but I do not intend on reading more in the series to find out.

None of the characters had any emotional depth. The plot was decent, but it didn’t matter since I didn’t care about the fate of any of the characters. A few characters were killed, and the friends of the victims barely had a response. They were briefly shocked and moved on like it never happened. None of the characters had any personality. Absolutely nothing distinguished one character from the next with the exception of Anna.

Cas was a weak main character. It was mentioned that he was a professional ghost hunter. Supposedly he had experience, but he stumbled through this book like an idiot. He made numerous mistakes some of which lead to other people’s deaths. He didn’t do actual research to find anything out about the ghosts he was hunting. He preferred to get the local gossip, which didn’t make sense to me. Both are useful but having actual facts helps too. Aside from that he wasn’t likeable. He thought he was better than everyone else. He didn’t even have respect for his mother who lugged his ass all over North America for him to hunt.

First person POV was used to tell the story, and it was poorly done. The word I was used too much especially in the first third of the book. Sometimes the situations could have been described in ways other than I saw, I felt, etc. The writing felt like it was done by an amateur. I’m not big on lengthy descriptions, but they were practically nonexistent. At least getting a brief description of the characters is nice, but the only character whose looks were described at any length were Anna’s.

The horror was missing from this horror novel. Some gruesome deaths happened but were glossed over. Nothing about this was even remotely cringe worthy. The evil spirits lurking around this town weren’t scary. Unfortunately romance was thrown into the mix, but it just happened out of nowhere without explanation. Nothing sexual happened, but after a few brief interactions these two characters realized it was love. It definitely wasn’t the worst novel I’ve ever read but far from the best either.

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Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Series: The Black Jewels #1

I enjoyed this immensely. It’s a very dark world. For the most part women who are witches rule this world. Queens are in charge. The men are powerful but have to be loyal to their queen. When the men don’t choose to be loyal, the queens use a special torture device called the ring of obedience to coerce the men into doing their bidding. The queens that have been in charge for hundreds of years are bad. Their only concerns are their own self serving purposes. There is a prophecy that a good queen will come along and replace the bad ones.

The world building was okay. Enough info was given that I understood what was going on. Sometimes things would be mentioned but I would be left wanting to know more. It was briefly mentioned that witches were supposed to be connected with the Earth but hadn’t been for a long time. There was no explanation about why that was a bad thing. How did that really affect the Earth and the witches? That type of thing happened a few times. It would have bothered me more if the world building had been incomplete to the degree that nothing in the story made sense.

This is told from multiple points of view. Some were more interesting than others. My favorite character was Daemon. He had a side which he didn’t show often where he could be sweet and caring. Other times he was an incredible bad ass. He could be extremely cruel, but he was only being cruel to people who treated others poorly.

Although this book had its faults, I would highly recommend it. It’s not an action packed book. Much of it is just conversations between various characters. Also anyone who reads this has to be okay with reading about sexual abuse. There are not a lot of sex scenes but a lot of abusive sex and sometimes incest is alluded to.

Shadows Before the Sun by Kelly Gay

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

Series: Charlie Madigan #4

The setting for part of the story was in another world, so the book didn’t focus on all of the usual characters as much as normal. It all worked out very well though. This was my favorite installment in the series. Another reason this one felt a little different was that Charlie had accepted her situation and her feelings for Hank. It was great to see her determined to get what she wanted instead of torn apart with indecision.

One character who played a much smaller role in the other books had a big role in this. Alessandra (a.k.a. Sandra) is the oracle. She and Charlie have to work together to achieve a goal. She was a character I didn’t particularly like before, but she was surprisingly fun.

Although Hank didn’t get as much page time as usual, some small parts were from his perspective. I really enjoyed getting a little glimpse into his POV, and it was necessary to the plot since he and Charlie were not together for a good portion of it. Also lot more was learned about his family and his world.

All of the big issues were wrapped up since this is the last book before the publisher cancelled the series. There were several things left unexplained, which definitely leaves room for more books. Leander was a new character who was very mysterious. It was hard to tell if his long term plans would help or hurt Charlie. I’m keeping fingers crossed that the fifth book will be self published next year so some of these things will be explained.

The Hour of Dust and Ashes by Kelly Gay

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Charlie Madigan #3

A lot things happened in this book. Bryn and the other ash victims are still being randomly controlled. Sometimes the beings controlling them are leading them to their deaths. It’s up to Charlie to figure out a way to save them. She does figure out a way with some help, but it may kill her to try to save everyone else.

The romantic tension was increasing between Charlie and Hank. She was finally able to admit that she has feelings for him. Hank finally explained his past. He told Charlie about why he left his homeland and why he will be in deep trouble for leaving.

There was an unexpected turn of events with the Rex/Will storyline. I was very happy but shocked at the way things turned out. Luckily Rex will be around. He is an entertaining character who lightens the mood.

This ended with a cliffhanger. I’m anxious to start the next one to see how things turn out. Unfortunately the next one is the last in the series, and I don’t want to say good by to these characters yet.

The Darkest Edge of Dawn by Kelly Gay

Rating: 4 stars

Series: Charlie Madigan #2

Dead bodies are piling up, and Charlie and Hank have to stop whoever is doing it. The murders could cause some serious problems amongst the different factions of people. This case ties in closely with the events in The Better Part of Darkness, but saying much more would give too much away.

Charlie is dealing with problems at home. She’s still learning how to cope with her own powers, which are physically draining her. Her preteen daughter is acting out as expected for her age. They’ve adopted a pet hellhound who for all Charlie knows could turn on them at any time. On top of it all, she’s living with Rex who is inhabiting her ex-hubby’s body, and she hasn’t broken the news to her daughter about what really happened to her dad.

I liked this one better than the first. The beginning was a little slow, but after that I was hooked. Hank was more prominently featured but not as much as I would like. He’s definitely an alpha but not the overbearing type. The relationship between Charlie and Hank began to evolve into something more.

One issue I have with Charlie is that she is resistant to getting close to anyone. She has several good, reliable people in her life, but she often wants to keep problems to herself. I’d like her be in a romantic relationship, but I’d be willing to settle for a close friendship.

I can’t wait to read the next one and see how all of the issues that were left hanging are resolved.

Phoenix Holt by Gabriella Lepore

Rating: 3 stars

Sophie and her twin brothers, Sam and Todd, had recently lost their grandfather who was their caretaker since their parents died when they were young. Their grandfather was estranged from the rest of his family. His sister, the last remaining relative of the children’s, offered to take them in. Quickly after arriving at their aunt’s, they realize there is a lot they don’t know about their family history. The children are sent to a strange school where secrets start to unravel. Sophie meets an unusual boy, Jaxon, who has more ties to her family than she could have imagined.

The quality of the writing in this was excellent especially for a self published novel. If I hadn’t known better I wouldn’t have assumed this was self published. Overall I enjoyed the story. It was a quick, easy read. The best part of the story was Jaxon. I was drawn to him from the first encounter. His background and relationship with Sophie were the most intriguing parts of the book.

The downside of the story was that the family secret was easy to figure out. There was not enough build up to keep me in suspense. The children adapted to their new surroundings too quickly and easily. They didn’t grieve much for their grandfather or their old lives, which seemed odd. This was a YA novel, so maybe I was expecting more depth to the story than I should have.