Cake and Godstars || Dreams of Gods and Monsters Review

Initial Thoughts:

*sobs* This was a love-hate. I love-hate myself for love-hating the last book of what I found as a terribly beautiful trilogy. And it was SO GOOD. Up until I got around 200 pages of story that got thrown in there just to make people SUFFER. So I’m crying inside here. I can’t help it, because I really wanted to love this book more. Ugh. Maybe I’ll be able to say better things once I’ve thought about it a bit.

I LOVE LIRAZ POV THO?


DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS

by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown & Company, April 2014
YA fantasy, romance, supernatural
Rated: 3.5 / 5 cookies

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

An epic war and an epic alliance

**Note: Here be spoilers of the previous two books.

Make no mistake, I think Laini Taylor is a godstar in her own right. I admire her writing, and I will recommend this trilogy over and over again, even with my frustrations in Dreams of Gods and Monsters. In DoGaM, we get the conclusion to a war between angels and demons and for the most part, a resolution to all the shipping that’s been happening since book one (I’m looking at YOU, Akiva and Karou!). Joram, the seraphim Emperor, is dead, as is Thiago, the chimaera Warlord. To continue the charade, Ziri poses as Thiago with the help of Karou and her close friends. Meanwhile, on the seraph’s side, Akiva leads his contingent of Misbegotten against a more formidable foe: his uncle, the deformed and cruel Jael. Without the idea of working together, both armies–Misbegotten and chimaera–are doomed to fail. But slowly and slowly, Akiva and Karou’s dreams of peace and cohabitation become a reality.

But not without a bit of struggle and a ton of butthurt feelings.

Always. XD

Like Taylor’s previous two books, there is a slow-burn story in the making, and while at this rate I would normally object the pacing–because I mean, come on, between the first book and the second, can we get to the action already?–I didn’t mind so much because Taylor is just such a lovely wordsmith. It doesn’t work as greatly in this book as it did in the previous two, but I appreciated it nonetheless, and I found that she fleshed out the other characters so well.

Liraz felt…guilty.

It was not her favorite feeling. Her favorite feeling was the absence of feeling; anything else led to turmoil…

She hadn’t felt their magic drill its sick ache through her for the entire time that they’d been encamped here. And that was why she was angry. Because they weren’t giving her a reason to be angry.

Feelings. Were. Stupid.

I loved Liraz’s development. And I absolutely loved that she gets a bit more POV in this book. Ever since Haz in the second book (OH GOD I STILL CRY INSIDE FOR THAT), Liraz has gone through a roller coaster ride in emotional turmoil. Yes, Akiva has, too, but Liraz took longer to persuade to make nice with the demons. But when it comes down to it, Liraz is a stalwart and loyal ally and I would never want to be on the receiving end of her anger.

Laughter and helpless grins, a swift breaking down of barriers. No one could hold out long against Haz. Her own gift, she thought with an inward shudder, was very different, and unwelcome in the future they were trying to build. All she was good at was killing.

She’s also badass. Like…seriously. So badass.

…Another moment, and they might have kissed.

But Ellai was a fickle patroness and had failed them–spectacularly–before. Karou didn’t believe in gods anymore, and when the door crashed open, there were only Liraz and the Wolf to blame for it.

“Well,” Liraz said, her voice as dry as the rest of her was not. “At least you still have your clothes on.”

And hilarious in her own dry humor. And yeah. Okay. I totally just threw in as many Liraz quotes I could find. Because I fangirl her.

“We haven’t been introduced. Not really.”

I also fangirl the fact that Liraz follows in the whole “demon-loving” route that her brother Akiva had undergone. In this case, there’s a recurring exchange between Ziri and Liraz that made me giggle like a schoolgirl because they are just. So. Damn. ADORABLE. Even near the end I was hoping things would work out.

“It might turn us both into Japanese men.” She squinted at him. “Would you still love me if I were a Japanese man?”

“Of course,” said Mik, without missing a beat.

Also, more Zuzana and Mik antics. They’re always a hoot and a half and a welcome cool breeze amidst all the warring and hating on each other.

So with all of this awesomeness, what went wrong?

To be honest, this story did not need to be 600 pages. Everything could have wrapped up nicely in 300, with the end of Jael and his Dominion, with the combination and alliance pulling through in victory. IT WAS FEASIBLE, YOU GUYS.

But nope. NOOOOPE. Deus ex machina happened, and an entirely new story got thrown in by the last 200-300 pages.

Several new characters got introduced, and yes, it helped build the world around them, and honestly, if I wasn’t already so invested in the characters in the previous books, I might have liked Eliza and Scarab. But as is, I found that I was skimming through most of Eliza’s chapters and rolling my eyes with the whole Stelian plotline. It could have been a completely different book, and a spinoff to the trilogy. The ending became super-anticlimactic to me, because most of the resolution was finished 100 pages or so before the damn epilogue. And I will say I didn’t read the epilogue. Not for a while. Because I knew if I read it, I would probably have chucked the book across the room or something, and I wouldn’t want to do that because I loved the first two books and the first 300 pages of DoGaM so much. So. Much.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! I would still recommend this book, for Liraz and Ziri and Zuzana and Mik. For Akiva, who’s still pretty awesome, even in his broody, angry form. And for Karou, who’s still got a lot of resurrecting ahead of her.


Have you read this book (and this trilogy)? What did you think?

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A Hierarchy of Sixth Senses || The Bone Season Review

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Initial Response: 

Hngrrsrrdhhhggghgh. Okay, Ms. Shannon. You win. I laughed and rolled my eyes and everything, but that didn’t seem to stop me from going “WAIT NO. DON’T STOP THE STORY NOW.” Damn this series.

THE BONE SEASON

by Samantha Shannon
Bloomsbury, August 2013
YA science fiction, fantasy, dystopia
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

boneseasonThe year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.

It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.

First let me tell you about how I had avoided this book for a good few years because reasons.

A) It was overhyped. I’d heard about this book from so many sources, yet when I started browsing the reviews, there were some pretty scathing reviews that practically tore the material apart. Not that this would have stopped me from reading anything (critics should never really be the deciding matter if the book itself interests you), but it certainly gave me pause, because hype-fail, you guys.

B) I wasn’t really feeling like reading another UK-based book. At the time, I’d already read the first book of Shades of LondonThe Friday Society, several of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and The Golden Compass, which practically was a book based in Oxford. Not to mention the television shows I’ve been following that’s based in the UK. So as an Anglophile, I was pretty Anglo-tired.

THAT SAID, I saw this on one of my TBTBSantee’s wishlists, and decided if I was going to read at least one book that I’d send to my TBTBSantee, it was going to be The Bone Season.

This was a good decision on my part.

What I Loved

clairvoyance

The order of unnaturalness. The first thing I saw when I opened the book was a two-page categorization of voyants. Look at all those fancy names for divining! There were so many “mancies” that I was slightly surprised “somnomancer” wasn’t on the list. I mean, it makes absolute sense to be able to tap into the aether through the process of sleeping and dreaming, right? If there’s a dreamwalker, there has to be a dreamgiver. THERE HAS TO BE.

(Oh boy, did I just call a part of the plot? I’m letting y’all know that I totally did.)

But seriously, you guys. I love it when magical systems are charted out. I appreciate how much work authors put into doing it, and let me tell you right now, it’s a general bitch to do. I should know, I’ve tried it many times, and for the most part, I’m still trying. Is hard work.

The key was in the door when I arrived. I turned it and stepped quietly onto the flagstones.

Not quietly enough. The second I crossed the threshold, my keeper was on his feet. His eyes blazed.

“Where have you been?”

I kept a tenuous mental guard up. “Outside.”

“You were told to return here if the siren sounded.”

“I thought you meant to Magdalen, not this exact room. You should be more specific.”

Paige, you sassy Irish girl, you. Never mind that Paige has been enslaved, put under the scrutiny of super-powered non-human entities, and given the limited option of dancing to the Rephaim’s grueling, tortuous tune or dying gruesomely in the hands of the Emim. She still has time to be insolent to her own effing keeper. I mean, how much more sassy can you get?

“I’m sure the angels are sorry.”

“They despise her.”

“You don’t say.”

“I do.” He was clearly amused by my disdain. “We have only been speaking for two minutes, Paige. Try not to waste all your sarcasm in one breath.”

I wanted to kill him. As it happened, I couldn’t.

The fact that Warden can sass back is just as fantastic. Actually, Warden reminds me of a few characters I ended up liking at the end of the story, albeit he keeps the feisty female a captive in his home. Don’t be surprised that this pretty Rephaim man with yellow eyes (OH COME ON, GUYS. YOU KNOW I LIKE GOLDEN-EYED MALES) turns out to be a not-so-evil-guy.

Welcome to No Man’s Land. Your test is simple, return to Sheol I in as little time as possible. You have no food, no water, and no map. Use your gift. Trust your instincts.

And do me this honor: survive the night. I’m sure you would rather not be rescued.

Good luck.

Alright, okay, maybe that was pretty diabolical on his part. But considering the other Rephaim, Warden’s the best support system Paige can have in Sheol I. (Not to mention, at least he’s not a jackass like Jax…).

Anyway, if I was going to put Arcturus Mesarthim in my boy-crushometer (I really should have one of those…just saying), I’d put him somewhere above Sarkan from Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and a great deal below Valek from Maria V. Snyder’s Poison Study.

Very little hijinks happens. But it so happens, yes it do. Honestly, Warden’s interactions with Paige are some of my favorite dialogues in the book, so again, don’t be surprised if hijinks happen. Don’t, however, hold your breath, because for the most part, the book doesn’t focus on any romance. Most of it was pretty subtle up until a certain point, where the way was made pretty clear who Paige was holding a candle for. I thought this was a good move. I liked that the romance doesn’t overpower the rest of the book, and that it gradually got built up to a somewhat steamy, um, okay, so no explosions just yet. But I’m expecting one in the later books, yes I am!

“The mind of an amaurotic is like water…But a clairvoyant mind is more like oil, richer in every way. And like oil and water, they can never truly mix…”

Something occurred to me. “If voyant minds are like oil”–I weighed my words–“what are your minds like?”…

“Fire.”

IF THAT IS NOT INDICATION OF HIJINKS, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS. *cough*

Love/Hate Relationships

“We all know their false names.”

“And what might those be?”

“The White Binder, the Red Vision, the Black Diamond, the Pale Dreamer, the Martyred Muse, the Chained Fury, and the Silent Bell.”

The Seven Seals and Jaxon Hall. I admit, I didn’t see the particular appeal of being a part of this crew. I know the gangs are pretty much where clairvoyants go to hide from the government, but I always thought Jax took his mime-lording too far. Paige has this hero-worship complex with Jax–and in some ways, with Nick–that I wasn’t a big fan of. I hope at some point she eventually does make a break from the gang, though I will say that I’m fascinated by what each of the Seven Seals can do. The little that I’d seen in the book piqued my interest in that matter. And I will say this about Jax, he does have a flair about him.

What I Didn’t Like

A lot of the story revolves around two things: Paige’s involvement with the Seven Seals and her present situation in Sheol I. There’s a lot of back-and-forth from present and past in the narrative, and I admit at times it got cumbersome. There was already too much information being thrown at the reader, so I could have done with a little less of that and more of the actual plot.

Overall info-dumping and worldbuilding. Occasionally I did feel that Paige was unnecessarily “derped” out for the benefit of the reader. The first few chapters certainly lent to that belief, because there was just so much information being thrown in. There was the whole mess with the Scion conglomeration, then there was the deal with the voyants and oxygen bars and mime-lords. That was just the first few chapters, too, because soon after, BAM, we get hit with even more terms and politics, what with the Rephaim and Emim and Sheol I being thrown into the picture.

That silly glossary. On top of that, there were several words used for the same type of voyant that were explained within the parameters of the novel, so I didn’t see why there was a need for a list at the back. I’ve never been a big fan of glossaries at the end of the books; I rarely turn to them to look up a word, considering this just distracts me from the story. Then, of course, none of the terms for the different types of voyants are defined in the back, which I thought would have been the more important appendix to have. Personally, I thought it was much more important to know what the hell an extispicist or a macharomancer is than to know what a Buzzer or dollymop was (I swear dollymop was used only once and somehow it made its way to the back of the book…WHY?!).

4 out of 5 cookies! I will have to pick up the next book, though I do understand this is to be a seven-book series. I’m still not sure why, unless Ms. Shannon is going to drag out the conflict and romance (oh god, I really hope not…I really, really hope not).

This book counts as #1 for the Flights of Fantasy Reading Challenge and #1 for the Food and Fiction Reading Challenge (which I will make a separate post about once I actually put pictures up…the snowstorm I got this weekend kind of made it impossible to go out and get ingredients, lol!).


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Have you read this book? What did you think?

Hooch and Jazz Babies || The Diviners Review

diviners-review

Initial Thoughts: 

A 1920s romp in supernatural New York City, with an ensemble of uniquely gifted characters. Seriously. This is my kind of book.


THE DIVINERS

by Libba Bray
Little, Brown Books, 2013
YA paranormal, historical fantasy
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

divinersDo you believe there are ghosts and demons and Diviners among us?

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City–and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfurl in the city that never sleeps. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened…

I meant to read this book for October, because Halloween-ness and supernatural murder mysteries. But I may have gotten distracted somewhere along the line and only just managed to finish the book a few days after Halloween. Oops? Anyway, doesn’t matter, because I enjoyed my journey in the least?

What I Loved

“Oh, law, law, law,” Blind Bill said, patting his chest. “Ain’t that the way of the world, now? Good luck turns bad. Bad luck turns good. Just a big rolling craps game played between this world and the next, and we the dice getting tossed around. You go on home now, Mr. Campbell. Get you some rest. Live to fight another day. Plenty of time for regrettin’. Go out and have you some good times while you still young.”

The Roaring Twenties. The time period itself already had this book going for it, and you could tell Bray did her research on the ’20s, because whenever I read the descriptions in her book, I felt like I was being transported into the middle of the scene. I was sitting at the Hotsy Totsy Club listening to the jazz and sipping on some hooch or sitting on the piano while Henry DuBois played his catchy jingles. It was lovely, and the best part is that Bray added much of what made the time period alive: the good stuff and the bad stuff as well.

The monsters are real. It’s really disturbing how a bunch of the societies and cults in the ’20s are based off of real people. I think I was more horrified over the old-fashioned, backwards thinking that some of the people in the book had as opposed to the actual supernatural murders happening (though admittedly, those were super-gruesome, too). At some point, the stuff in Brethren pretty much just made me want to chuck the book out, or, you know, yell at stupid people. Because I got emotional like that.

Me every time someone from the cults opened their mouths.

Me every time someone from the cults opened their mouths.

The Diviners themselves. Can I just say how many awesome super-powered teens there are running around in New York City? Like, seriously, I don’t think I disliked any of the Diviners that were mentioned in the book. Henry was adorable, Theta is loooooove, and Memphis. Memphis’ storyline kind of became my favorite, and I totally dig his romance with another Diviner. There were even more minor characters that were mentioned (for instance, a Chinese girl in a restaurant) that I really wanted to know about.

The Pentacle Killer plot. Just…yikes. I admit I mostly read the book in the cover of morning light, because trying to read the thing at night was a little creepy. Especially with the Naughty John scenes. Those get super-scary really quickly. There was one point where I sat on the couch getting really anxious over whether one of my favorite characters would die or not, and eventually I had to stop right beforehand because I didn’t want to know quite yet. YEAH, I GOT TO POINTS OF HYPERVENTILATION, DAMMIT.

The overarching story. Aside from the Pentacle Killer plot (which was the main story), there were a lot of storylines that were leading up to some kind of catastrophic event in the near future. I want to know more, and it sucked that we only got glimpses of it in The Diviners. Like, give me MORE please?

Love/Hate Relationships

A pair of Blue Noses on the next bench glared their disapproval at Evie’s knee-length dress. Evie decided to give them a real show. She hiked her skirt and, humming jauntily, rolled down her stockings, exposing her legs. It had the desired effect on the Blue Noses, who moved down the platform, clucking about the “disgrace of the young.” She would not miss this place.

Evie O’Neill. What to say about Evie. Evie’s a hoot and a half, but sometimes she is over-the-top. She knows she’s over-the-top. She does it on purpose, because she likes the attention. Which could make her a polarizing character, because honestly, somebody who tries to hog the limelight gets really tedious to read about, and I will admit that at times, I had to roll my eyes with Evie. By the end, I liked her better when she was focused more on the Pentacle Killer case than when she was striving for the dramatic. Maybe in the next book she’s less of a highlight and someone else will get to be the main attraction, because as much as I actually like Evie, I think I could only handle her in small doses.

There are a ton of characters. Not gonna lie, I adored the characters, and honestly, I would have loved to have seen more character stories highlighted in the book. But I also felt like trying to include that many characters–and subplots (most of which weren’t even resolved)–slowed the story down a bit. There was an entire scene with Mabel and her pro-political parents that didn’t really add to any other plot than her own. It might not have helped that Mabel is probably my least favorite of the secondary characters, but hey, there had to be ONE person, right?

What I Didn’t Like

“Hey,” the cabbie yelled. “How’s about a tip?”

“You bet-ski,” Evie said, heading toward the old Victorian mansion, her long silk scarf trailing behind her. “Don’t kiss strange men in Penn Station.”

That random romantic turning point. Honestly, I didn’t think Sam Lloyd was going to get very far with Evie, even if he is a smooth-talking–and certainly attractive (according to several descriptive accounts)–lad. But there was a development between Evie and another that left me scratching my head. It just sort of happened with Evie, really. One minute she shares a Ferris wheel ride with the guy and suddenly she’s thinking about wanting to snog him. I mean, I suppose it fits with Evie’s character, because she does seem like a fly-on-the-moment type of person, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Honestly, I could have been fine if she hadn’t hooked up with anyone.

4 out of 5 cookies! I read the book jacket summary for Lair of Dreams and it looks like a Henry-centric book! (Well, Henry and the Chinese girl I’d mentioned wanting to know about.) Would totally pick up the next one.


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Did you read this book? What did you think?

Review: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger

If somebody told me a couple years back that it’s possible that a magic system with a basis in alcohol can exist, I would have nodded, smiled, and then dismissed the prospect into the same closet I keep my imaginary friends. Then I found Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge on NetGalley, and after reading the teaser, I thought: “Huh. You know what, it could work!”

cocktails


LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE

by Paul Krueger
Quirk Books, June 2016
Urban fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies
provided by NetGalley

lastcallCollege grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

Gifly Thoughts

To be honest, one of the first things that grabbed my attention regarding this book was its unfinalized cover. It was pretty much an overlook of a bar in dark orange lighting. I can see why it was ultimately changed, because had I not read the book jacket summary, I wouldn’t have pegged the book for an urban fantasy. That bit is kind of important to grasp, because Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge is an urban fantasy.

And in all fairness, I like the change from dark orange to a more ominous, supernatural-y green. I like that there’s an Asian character in the cover (because the main character is Chinese, and heaven forbid they whitewash the cover), and I like that there’s the mysterious glow of the cocktail in her hand. It definitely fits the contents of the book better.

Cover aside, I was a bit tentative over starting this book because it was marketed as new adult. So far, my encounters with new adult covers and premises kind of just make me cringe and walk the other way. That said, it was probably a good idea that I mostly avoided new adult stuff, because while I did adore my college years and while I have gone through a similar rocky “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” patch post-college, I’m not very interested in reliving them vicariously through story protagonists (a few exceptions notwithstanding–like Fangirl).

Enter Bailey. A relatively smart cookie, she’s a fictional (though the real life truth isn’t far off) testament that an Ivy League education doesn’t necessarily bring you a barrel of success on the get-go. Sure, the resources are easier to tap into, and Bailey Chen is nothing if not a hard-working girl from a hardworking Chinese family. She pretty much is set to succeed. Except she doesn’t. Not at first.

God, no. This was how it ended, not with a bang but with a minimum-wage job and a heap of student debt. Bailey cringed, and with all her dizzied, nauseated might, she mustered up one stupid, single, and probably final thought:

Fuck. That. Shit.

And she kicked. Hard.

That said, she’s got pluck. For a tiny Asian girl, that says everything, and I warmed to Bailey like the magical cocktails in her system (haha, yeah, I went there). Sure she had her fair share of problems and drama, and often I sighed at the stupid things she said out of anger, but on some level, she does find herself to be justified in a few of them.

But let’s get away from the characters for a moment to look at the magic system: mixology.

“You’re sober, which is synonymous with useless, so if you want to help, come back with something in your system. I’ll cover you.”

cocktails1

This book’s major appeal to me was definitely in the magic system of cocktail-mixing. As a cocktail enthusiast (which should not be equalized to “perpetual drunk” because…well, just because!), I could appreciate the intricate skill it takes to make a perfectly mixed drink. When done right and in the proper ratio, it does have a magical “feel” to it. So when Krueger tried to tie mixology to the pseudo-science that is alchemy, I was completely sold on the matter, albeit my initial misgivings of several years back.

“So what does a mai tai do?” she asked to fill the silence. From skimming the The Devil’s Water Dictionary, she knew that rum drinks produced elemental effects, but she couldn’t remember the specifics for mai tais.

He grinned. “Let’s hope I won’t have to show off. But if I do, well, you’re in for fireworks.”

“So it’s fire?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But it’s fire.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You didn’t need to. It’s fine.”

He sighed. “You done?”

She nodded. But to herself, she repeated: fire.

cocktails2

On top of the story, almost each chapter was followed by a particular cocktail recipe, as illustrated in the fictional The Devil’s Water Dictionary. While I did find the excerpts distracting by the end of the book, I actually loved reading them. Obviously, the historical writeups are fictional at length, but it was still interesting to read through each ingredient–and it just made making a corresponding cocktail much easier to do! (Case in point, my “Food and Fandom” accompaniment below.)

The final reason for the mai tai’s prevalence was eloquently summed up at the 1970 National Symposium of the Cupbearers Court by the Chicago bartender Robert Whelan: “Fire is cool.”

Can I just get a copy of The Devil’s Water Dictionary, please? That would be fabulous.

But anyway, let’s get back to the characters and their dialogue. Sometimes the dialogue made me cringe, to be honest. Bailey’s interactions with Jess and the startup company Jess represented drove me up the wall, mostly because I felt my IQ go down a bit with their exchange in conversation. You’d think this wouldn’t be the case, but it was, and I got to respecting the presence of the “Alechemists” (har har, I thought this was funny) much more in that regard. I mean, come on, Bucket was a hoot-and-a-half, but so was Zane in some degree. Also, I pretty much imagine this happening whenever there’s a bartending scene at the Nightshade Lounge:

cocktails3

Totally my image of Bucket and Zane.

But with women bartenders as well. Because, you know, feminism and all.

Perfect martini anyone?

“But,” Zane said with gravitas, “there’s one big missing piece that no one’s been able to crack in more than three hundred years: the secret of the Long Island Iced Tea.”

Bailey laughed into her coffee.

Even though I still couldn’t take the whole Long Island Iced Tea thing seriously. I’m in Bailey’s court here as well. I pretty much burst into laughter when Zane went into his Long Island Iced Tea spiel.

But then again, I kind of lost it with Zane because he’s just such a big NERD.

Zane had swapped his usual suit for a black tuxedo. He’d paired it with a long red-lined cape, a black top hat, and a white domino mask. He twirled a rose in his fingers like a wand.

“I’m not a magician,” Zane said with a flare of annoyance. “I’m Tuxedo–never mind. What’re you doing here?”

Case in point. I just cannot with dudes dressing up as Tuxedo Mask. CANNOT.

So did I enjoy the book? You bet I did. It was fun, it was an easy read, and while there was a degree of danger and suspense and drama in the book, it was still a lighthearted romp into the bartending life of Chicago’s best demon-slayers.

I’d totally read a sequel if there is ever going to be one. Just saying.

4 out of 5 cookies! Now excuse me. I’ve got a cocktail to make.


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The Screwdriver

And though the abilities granted by the proper preparation of other libations may require years of steady practice to master, drinkers of the screwdriver have found that hitting things very hard in the face until they die is rather straightforward.

screwdriver

The Alechemists used this drink quite a few times in the book, and it’s pretty much the first one Bailey makes that becomes the turning point between her being a barback and an official bartender, a member of the Cupbearers Court. The screwdriver is also easy to make in a home kitchen. Which is why I pretty much did one. I’m a vodka girl, I like orange and citrusy cocktails, and I had the ingredients right there! (Ironically, I didn’t have orange juice at the time, so I actually had to run to the store to get some. But nevermind that tiny detail! I eventually did get orange juice!)

I can see why this is the go-to cocktail, because it packs a punch with the barest of ingredients. It’s literally just a tall glass filled with ice, one-third vodka, and orange juice. That’s pretty much it. And the magical effects? Super strength!

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

I’m fresh off a Nightmare Before Christmas viewing, so mostly I found myself wanting to start this review with “This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Halloween Halloween!” And then cue Jack Skellington coming up in style.

But this post is about a book. A ghost book.

Still, I couldn’t have asked for better timing, it being Halloween and all.


ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

by Kendare Blake
Tor Teen, 2011
YA paranormal fantasy
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookiehalfrating / 5 cookies

annadressedbloodCas 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.

What I Loved

Eye-catching cover. I’d seen Blake’s Girl of Nightmares first (the second and final book of the Anna duology), and loved the cover of that. Then I saw Anna Dressed in Blood and thought it was so much cooler. And admittedly a bit creepier, considering we don’t see Anna’s face, and for all I know, she could be totally ratchet behind all that hair. Like, The Grudge ratchet. Doesn’t turn out that way, but you never know.

That tagline made me giggle. It seriously went like this:

Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story…

Granted, it’s not the best tagline ever, and it probably could be said about a bunch of other wonderful books, but this is coming from what I thought was a horror book, about a crazy ghost out for vengeance and a ghost hunter who eventually thinks the ghost has gone far enough. Then Cas starts getting the feels for Anna and all shit gets surreal. Much like the tagline.

Liking the primary ghost antagonist way too much. Well, admittedly I liked her the minute she showed up. And when she does show up, I always feel like saying, “Anna. Anna Dressed in Blood. Anna, you’re dripping, honey, don’t ruin the floors!” She’s a frightening sight, to be sure, and the fact that she can render a human being positively limbless makes her even more intimidating. Fortunately, she’s limited to her quaint Victorian house in Ontario, which is far north and away from my quaint little house in Jersey. Granted, I’m pretty sure we have a bannik in our bathtub, but that’s a whole other matter entirely.

Imagining Cas as Dean from Supernatural. Cas isn’t very good at being humble-braggy, to be honest. There’s a point in the book where he contemplates the possibilities as to why girls are easier for him to talk to, and one of his bulletpoints included the fact that he might be easy on the eyes. I’m actually surprised nobody pegged him for “that guy in Supernatural“, especially when there was so much allusion to Ghostbusters and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Still, since I don’t really know how Theseus Cassio looks like (and what a name, by the way!), I’m totally imagining him as Dean.

Love/Hate Relationships

The seemingly two-dimensional characters. Besides Cas and Anna, I didn’t really warm up to the characters up until the last fifty pages or so. Thomas still seemed like a hanger-on throughout the book, and only near the end he finds his footing. Same thing with Carmel. Cas’ mom and surrogate father-figure also played quite a bit of a role in Cas’ life, but I always found their involvements incomplete, Gideon especially. But like I said, I did wind up liking the characters near the end. Maybe because all the annoying ones kind of just…get killed off. Ho hum.

What I Didn’t Like

I expected to be scared, not grossed out. There was some comparison between this book and Rin Chupeco’s The Girl from the Well, and I think comparing the two books has little merits. For one, the style and tone are completely different. Yes, there’s a murdered girl involved. Yes, these girls totally deserve exacting vengeance on the wicked. No, Anna and Okiku are not the same kind of girl. Which is a good thing in some respects. All the same, The Girl from the Well–which I’d reviewed previously–brought on an amount of scary that I felt was lacking in Anna Dressed in Blood. True, the descriptions of mangled bodies and bloody corpses were horrifying in every respect, but it was horrifying in a cringe-worthy way, not a “afraid to go near a window in case long, slender arms grab you through the glass” kind of horrifying. There was ultimately one instance where I’d gotten nervous (and just a bit scared) for the characters–but that had nothing to do with Anna and all to do with the things that go bump in the attic.

That dialogue, though. I don’t think I could quote anything of what the characters said to each other. They weren’t very interesting, to be honest. I rather liked the visual descriptions being given to everything. Cas himself was a good and entertaining narrator. When the characters broke out into dialogue, though, it was kind of underwhelming to have to trudge through their conversations. Even Anna’s mother had uninteresting things to say.

3.5 out of 5 cookies! I did enjoy the book. It shined in its fast pace and description. Anna Korlov herself was a star ghost, both terrifying and beautiful and every bit as ghosty as the next.


 

annadressedblood-carmel