Tag Archives: Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

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

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered 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. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, 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, now stained red and dripping with 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.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2016, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 7, 2016
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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One of the exciting things about being a book blogger is being able to read review copies before a book or series is published. There are a few drawbacks to ARCs (advanced reader copies) sometimes and I had a huge upset while reading THREE DARK CROWNS in the sense that I didn’t realize it was a series until I finished the book… BY finishing the book and finding a cliffhanger. Book info doesn’t always get updated right away and I started reading THREE DARK CROWNS before realizing it was a series.

Aside from the “surprise” of a series, the book definitely had a feel like things were taking a long time to go anywhere. Looking back, I can see where this would be a natural part of a series opener BUT I also felt like I shouldn’t have been so disconnected, even without that knowledge. I was so excited for something dark and sinister, magical and mysterious, and THREE DARK CROWNS really missed the mark on a lot of those things for me. With a concept of three sister queens pitted against each other and only one surviving, I was expecting a lot more darkness and a lot more intrigue. I was actually rather interested in the beginning. The book has this overall eerie, misty, inky feeling that you get when you watch creepy movies. I really picked up on the darker vibe, especially in the Poisoner chapters, but I did want a little bit more of it from the other two sisters as well. It was towards the middle of the book where I started to feel like things really weren’t going anywhere and I felt like even being the first in a series, it could have been a little better-structured.

The story just didn’t quite feel exciting. The sisters are separate (alternating but still third-person POVs) so there’s not much crossover with their story and once they do meet, things seem to bob around and not really flow. I almost felt like I was missing chapters the way things jumped around. The romances felt really rushed, unfinished, and one was plain unnecessary (in this book) and I just didn’t like it at all. The characters were also very hard to keep track of, with each girl having maids and priestesses and aunts and mothers and townspeople… it was just a LOT of names and with some people even described so similarly, it was hard to remember the name with the proper association to each queen, much less who they actually were.

I also was kind of disappointed in the concept of each ability, maybe because I didn’t see how the other sisters stood a chance against an elemental. If you’re trying to kill each other, poison just seems like too easy of a thing to avoid. And I don’t really know what the Naturalist powers can do since they’re not really explained too much (not as much as the others). But despite all that, I actually liked Katharine (the Poisoner) and Arsinoe (the Naturalist) the best. I loved their stories and their settings the most and their relationships really expanded in the best ways. Maybe I also liked them better because they were the underdogs, with Elemental sister Mirabella being the favorite and highly doted upon.

Overall, I just didn’t feel anything blending in THREE DARK CROWNS. The story lines for each sister felt like three very separate stories, even when they all converged. The only way they really felt connected was the basic concept that they’d have to go head-to-head eventually. I really wanted more twists and just didn’t feel that dark, twistiness that I really wanted. UNTIL the very last sentence. (I actually said WHOA. And then the book ended.) So will I read the next book? Maybe. Probably? I love where the ending was heading but as of right now, I don’t feel the draw to read more. I guess we’ll see when it comes out how I feel.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Katharine // Character obsessions: Poisons, proving herself, first loves.
I was hoping for Katharine to be a bit darker… But I also understand why she wasn’t! Katharine was the Poisoner queen but she also was still struggling to come into her powers. She kind of seemed like she was on the sweeter side and and was trying to be “bad”!
Arsinoe // Character obsessions: Nature, finding her familiar, best friends.
Arsinoe was the Naturalist queen and I really enjoyed her chapters! I loved her best friend but I also found these chapters difficult because the best friend really took the spotlight with more power and the love interest so that kind of put Arsinoe in the background for me.
Mirabella // Character obsessions: Elemental magic, freedom.
Mirabella was actually my least favorite queen. I felt like they praised her so much that I wanted to root for the underdogs more — and she also ended up being sort of sweet. I was wishing for the book to be dark and sinister so I shied away from the “sweet” of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Family feuds. The battle between sisters was interesting! I was wondering how it would all play out and since it’s a series, it’s still not over! I’m curious to see how it goes.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness! It’s Three DARK Crowns! Let’s get some serious darkness up in here!!!

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one while I struggled with some structure and pacing. I feel like maybe if I had known it was a series that might have helped… But I think I still would have found parts to be slow either way. It was literally one of my most-anticipated reads of the year and those are always hard when they’re a bit of a let down!

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BOOKS LIKE THREE DARK CROWNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORYSPINNER

Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) – Kendare Blake

Antigoddess (Goddess War #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 10, 2013 by Macmillan
Genres: Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 25, 2013
Related Posts: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1), Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

Old Gods never die… Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god.  These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning.  Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out.  Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath. The Goddess War is about to begin.

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I actually feel like I’ve been getting a bit burned out on mythology retellings lately because I really just haven’t been able to connect with them, but ANTIGODDESS seemed to turn that trend around! I think I finally figured out that the thing I wasn’t connecting with on other mythology retellings was the fact that the old worlds of the gods and the modern day worlds weren’t meshing well together for me. What I loved about Kendare Blake’s gods is how well they actually DO fit in the modern world and how much personality they really have!

Thinking back on all of the mythology retellings I’ve read, I feel like there are two ways they can go: Gods pop up in modern times out of nowhere from ancient times OR gods have been on Earth this whole time and are now technically thousands of years old and still look like teens (because let’s face it, we’re reading YA and they’re gods. Of COURSE they’ll keep the young adult look). ANTIGODDESS falls in the latter with gods like Athena, Hermes, Apollo, and more roaming the Earth since the ancient times. The best part about them is that yes, they are ancient, but they’re also VERY modern at the same time. Modern clothes, modern slang, very modern language… And modern sarcasm. I was lucky enough to be on the ANTIGODDESS blog tour and hosted Kendare for a guest post on the humor in her books — It was one of the things that attracted me so much to ANTIGODDESS — and it was wonderful how that sense of humor and sarcasm really helped build real characters for me. Each character really came to life for me, making the book so easy to get into.

I loved how the ancient world and the modern world really blended. If there was a grudge from 2000 years ago, you better believe that god is still holding a grudge now… and has been all this time. Personality traits stick for all those years. Romances are revisited. I felt like I got a real sense of history. I’m starting to realize that I connected more with ANTIGODDESS because we get chapters from Cassandra’s POV AND Athena’s. Instead of tell, tell, tell to Cassandra what happened and why things are the way they are, we get to see Athena’s life. I think this was a big case for “Show, Don’t Tell” — something I somehow didn’t realize until I sat down to really think about it and write my review — but it totally makes sense. For the retellings I’ve read so far, the POV is usually from the character who is finding out about the gods, not who IS a god, so they get a lot of information from other sources. It was really nice to have that background from the main character instead of having to learn everything from someone else and be told as information versus getting that as a piece of a character’s history. I definitely felt more involved!

I also really liked the story that was going on in this book. It was interesting to see the gods losing their power versus a human interacting with the all-powerful gods of Olympus. It was definitely and interesting twist and I loved figuring out the mystery of why they were dying and how it was even possible. I mentioned the characters before, but I’ll say it again — they really felt real with all of their flaws, the sarcasm, the humor. I was actually more of an Athena fan than a Cassandra fan, just because I’m a sucker for banter and the gods totally killed it. Plus, OH HI Odysseus. Who knew Odysseus was so attractive? Be still my demigod-loving heart!

Even if you’re burned out on mythology for the time being, ANTIGODDESS is still a fun retelling and blending of the old and new and totally worth picking up! I’m so glad I was on the blog tour to push me to read it when I was once hesitant about another mythology retelling. I had a blast reading it and I absolutely love Kendare’s characters!

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Cassandra // Character Obsessions: Psychic abilities, the future, Aidan.
Cassandra actually wasn’t my favorite just because she was a little too… Goody-goody for me. She wasn’t ALL goody-goody, but there was just that sense of her personality. Aidan was her protector and she was kind of a damsel. Unaware and vulnerable. I think I just connected with Athena’s personality way more!
Athena // Character Obsessions: Feathers, fighting, reason.  
Athena was pretty badass. I loved how she was wise (obvs. It’s Athena… And she’s also thousands of years old) and she was a take-charge kind of girl (or… thousands of years old woman. Erm… god). I really loved her personality overall and she was definitely my kind of character! The banter between her and other characters (usually Hermes) had me laughing out loud and really connecting with her.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Mythology. Just when I was about to kick it to the curb, Kendare Blake showed me that mythology retellings, when done well, are extremely enjoyable!
Left Me Wanting More: Hmm, I’m actually not sure what. There was a tiny bit of something that kept me from really being wowed, but I can’t really put my finger on it.

Addiction Rating
Read It!

I’m not sure if this is a full-on “BUY” recommendation, but if you come across it somewhere, it’s definitely worth the read and I do recommend it!

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BOOKS LIKE ANTIGODDESS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          Everbound          The Red Pyramid

Antigoddess Blog Tour: Guest Post from Kendare Blake

Welcome to the blog tour for ANTIGODDESS by KENDARE BLAKE!

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A huge thanks to Book Nerd Tours and Kendare Blake for making this blog tour happen!
And don’t miss the other stops of the Antigoddess Blog Tour!

Welcome to the ANTIGODDESS blog tour! I’m so excited to be a tour host today with author Kendare Blake stopping by for a guest post! Before I start with the tour stop, here’s a little more info about ANTIGODDESS to get yourself acquainted with the book:

AntigoddessTitle: Antigoddess (The Goddess Wars #1)
Author: Kendare Blake
Released: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Tor Teen

Old Gods never die…
Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health.
Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. 
These days, Cassandra doesn’t involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn’t even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. 
Because Hera, the queen of the gods, has aligned herself with other of the ancient Olympians, who are killing off rivals in an attempt to prolong their own lives. But these anti-gods have become corrupted in their desperation to survive, horrific caricatures of their former glory. Athena will need every advantage she can get, because immortals don’t just flicker out. 
Every one of them dies in their own way. Some choke on feathers. Others become monsters. All of them rage against their last breath.
The Goddess War is about to begin.” — From Goodreads

        

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

kbKendare Blake is an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents. You know, that old chestnut. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Ithaca College and a Master’s degree in Writing from Middlesex University in London. She brakes for animals, the largest of which was a deer, which sadly didn’t make it, and the smallest of which was a mouse, which did, but it took forever. Amongst her likes are Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis.

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GUEST POST FROM KENDARE BLAKE

I’m so excited to be hosting author Kendare Blake for a guest post as my stop on the ANTIGODDESS blog tour! Today, Kendare is talking about “The Importance of Being Humorous”!

The Importance of Being Humorous: I love that you have a lot of humor and sarcasm in your books! I love laughing out loud and really loving a character’s humorous side. Is that something that comes naturally with a character? Do you plan the amount of humor to include in a book? Do you ever cut some humor to keep a darker tone overall? 

Kendare: It absolutely comes naturally. I didn’t think there would be much humor at all in Antigoddess, except perhaps the ironic kind. But then Hermes showed up. Irrepressible Hermes. And he managed to sneak it in, even in the most dire of situations. I don’t think this sort of thing can be planned, or forced. The character has to show up and speak naturally. Not all of them are going to be funny. Not everyone is funny. Everyone is funny sometimes, and to varying degrees, and so it goes with characters.

I’ve never written a scene and thought, “whoa, I need to lighten this up.” In fact, the scenes that are dialogue heavy are almost never changed. Because how can I change them? That’s what the characters said. It feels like rewriting history if I take the words out of their mouths and turn them around.

This sounds hokey I know, but characters are real people. They have their own histories and motivations, so when they speak, I never have to put the words in their mouths. This made it particularly difficult for ANTIGODDESS, being aware of the characters’ histories and motivations and knowing that many readers wouldn’t be. It was tough to walk that line, let them do their thing, and then keep it understandable through exposition and inference. But I hope I did okay!

A BIG BIG BIG thanks to Kendare Blake!! I am so pleased to have had her stop by for a guest post! The humor and sarcasm in ANTIGODDESS were honestly some of my favorite things. I’m so happy to hear Kendare talk about it because how she explains it is exactly how it feels — these characters FEEL like real people and their dialogue really makes it that way.

Keep a lookout for my review of ANTIGODDESS, coming soon! I really enjoyed it and I’m doubly pleased to be on the ANTIGODDESS blog tour!

And before you go, don’t forget to enter the giveaway!! Enter for your chance to win a copy of the book!

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