Book Review – ‘Girl of Nightmares’ by Kendare Blake

Move over Buffy – this slayer is giving you a serious run for your money…

Girl of Nightmares Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Horror , Paranormal, Romance

No. of pages: 332

From Goodreads:

It’s been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can’t move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they’re right, but in Cas’s eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he’s seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he’s asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong…these aren’t just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn’t know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it’s time for him to return the favor.
Page border by Casey Carlisle

After thoroughly enjoying Anna Dressed in Blood, I could not wait to get my hands on Girl of Nightmares, and while it did not disappoint, this second novel wasn’t quite as excellent as its predecessor. I say this because we don’t get as much of Cas and Anna, or the dark comedy. There is still plenty of action and mystery, and Anna-angst to satisfy. I was also expecting a one-two punch with the climax – Anna Dressed in Blood had a double whammy towards its end, and Girl of Nightmares did not deliver this.

I wanted more of Anna. More of her interacting in the real world. It felt a lot like New Moon in the Twilight Saga, where Edward was a voice in Bella’s head for the majority of the novel. I loved how we left stereotypes behind in this installment, already deconstructed in Anna Dressed in Blood, we uncovered more about the cast of characters…

Cas was a workhorse, juggling school, relationships and the supernatural. Given the light tone of the book, and fast pace, Cas was always busy and preoccupied. I would have like to have seen him lose it a bit more over Anna, build the drama. But that’s my personal preference and not a judgement on the book.

This book felt more about the supporting cast (that I like to call the Scooby Gang). We get to see more of their strengths and weaknesses and how they are all connected. Where Anna Dressed in Blood was more ironic, Girl of Nightmares is more sympathetic.

Girl of Nightmares Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

The story however was brilliantly woven and wrapped up nicely at the conclusion; but leaving it with the hint that another novel in the Anna/Cas universe a possibility.

Kendare Blake’s writing style captures a masculine narrative expertly, and is engaging enough to read this in one sitting/weekend if you choose to do so. I spread it out a bit longer, knowing this was an end to the duology. The pacing was better than the debut and built steadily, where I didn’t quite know what was going on in the first book (which ultimately meant more surprises). Again the storyline is fairly predictable, but so many unexpected twists thrown in resulting in a totally captivating novel.

Overall reaction: Oh glorious words written on the pages!

Girl of Nightmares Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

Girl of Nightmares Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Rebel Belle

Rebel Belle Book Review by Casey CarlisleFrom Goodreads:

Harper Price, peerless Southern Belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favourite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him – and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

Page border by Casey Carlisle


I thoroughly enjoyed Rebel Belle – it took me back to the days of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, however wasn’t as punchy (pun intended). The subject matter is great, as is the mythology, but the characters felt a little underdeveloped and cheesy for me.

Harper as a bad-ass heroine, is at first, a great premise, being a superficial girly-girl. Her character goes through some development in this novel, but it did not ring true for me. There was something missing. It felt like the reader (and Harper) were being led through the story and didn’t let her organically grow and choose her path through the plot. If you have read Anna Dressed on Blood by Kendare Blake, it is similar, but isn’t executed in a better fashion.

Rebel Belle Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

There is some witty dialogue, but wasn’t laugh-out-loud for me, but does keep your interest and drive the story forward. Much of this book is cliché, however it redeems itself on pure unadulterated entertainment. It’s fun, simple and tells an interesting story. The heroine is a little different to the plethora of normal-girl-turned-chosen-one. Harper is a mean girl who lucked into her predicament.

The love interest of David Stark – though annoying at times – he’s such a big nerd – and that worked for me. I lurve geeky, nerdy guys!

Rebel Belle Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

There is a great amount of predictability with Rebel Belle, it very much mirrors an after-school special. Thankfully the pace moves quickly and we don’t get bogged down with insignificant or longwinded narration. I will say the style felt a little abrupt and immature, and I would have liked to have seen some information left out for the reader to discover to create more interest.

I’d recommend Rebel Belle for a great, light quick read – perfect for a girls night in…

Rebel Belle Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle

   Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Shatter Me

Shatter Me Book CoverFrom Goodreads:

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I’m more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

This book has been the hardest one to finish this year so far. Which was totally unexpected given the reviews from fellow BookTubers and friends. The main reason behind my difficulty in progress through the novel was due to the fact that I could not relate to Juliette, the protagonist. That, and the occasional crossed out words of her retracted inner thoughts. They were distracting and pulled me from the story.

Now the premise of the book was great, held copious amounts of promise, but the way in which Juliette dealt with her dilemma had me squirming. She came across as erratic, weak and slightly out of touch with reality. Which is understandable given the predicament she found herself in, but lacked the realism… and ultimately lead to a superficial feeling in the developing character arc when she began too find her confidence and strength.

The story didn’t pick up until the last quarter – when the action and pace matched my enthusiasm – and from then on was totally engrossed.

Upon finishing the novel I really felt you could have whittled out half of it’s content and it would have been a way better book. And it urks me that given so many of my peers rave about this book and the series that something major has slipped past me. Even in an attempted re-read I still hold true to my conviction and have to agree that this it the worst book on my reading list for 2014 to date. I will, however, go on to read the second book in the series at a later date and hope for it to not suffer the same damning review. Given that the slow preamble of her origins has already been told and left it open in the middle of a build up to some great action scenes, it should by far surpass ‘Shatter Me’s’ score…

Shatter Me Banner

My favourite Character has to be Adam – steadfast in his resolve, a quality I always adore in the ‘knight-in-shining-armour types. Plus he didn’t feel the need to compensate for moments when he was weak and added credibility to his character. I really would have abandoned the story completely if it weren’t for Adam and his compassion and resolve.

Warner, the antagonist, however, followed the same doomed path as Juliette… the first three quarters of the novel I was literally rolling my eyes at how two dimensional and stereotypical he felt. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had grown a moustache and curled the ends with a maniacal laugh as he tied Juliette to the train tracks. Though in that last quarter of the story we caught a glimpse of something else – a sincerity and a righteous point of view that suddenly sparked my interest. It certainly adds to the potential for the sequel.

Tahereh Mafi’s writing style is quite readable, and I enjoyed her short expressionistic lexicon on the whole, but those crossed out words subtracted from my experience. So did some of her stuccoed sentences used in moments of stress; it gave me the feeling of someone speaking slowly and simply as if you had difficulty in understanding in what they were trying to say.

Shatter Me Quote 01

The storytelling device of Juilette’s power is a fantastic one – a concept that had me picking up the book in the first place. I like the way it is handled in the novel too, yet so much unexplored, and so much too convenient in the novel. I’m really hoping Tahereh has worked out the bugs and really starts to play with Juliette’s power in the sequels. I’m still having difficulty in understanding the world of the novel though, it is sort of dystopian, and wasn’t explained convincingly enough for me to buy into it. I feel that you either have to do a bang on job of setting the scene, or hit the ground running and leave it as a mystery of how it all came to be – unfortunately ‘Shatter Me’ did neither for me.

There are some great quotes – as I mentioned before Tahereh has moments of truly beautiful writing. I also loved the symbolism of the bird used throughout the first novel and how it is woven expertly within the story. All in all it wasn’t a terrible book, but difficult for me to get into.

Shatter Me Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle  

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – Anna Dressed in Blood

ImageA hellacious little book which is more surprising than scary…

From Goodreads:

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.

I passed over this title a number of times in my collection, its first impression did little to excite me. Even after the first few pages, I just about put it down – the language and set up of the storyline felt cliché and overused. Quite possibly it took a beat for the author to warm up to her subject, because after that, I was gripped.

Kendare Blake has written a fun and captivating novel. Macabre – check! Horror- some, but definitely not scary. Suspense – not overly, but expertly kept the tension going right to the last page. Her writing style is pleasant making Anna Dressed in Blood an ultimately entertaining and easy read.

I was a little annoyed in the first few chapters at the repetition of “Anna Dressed in Blood,” like some sort of ominous omen. It destroyed the reverie of the book and instead had me rolling my eyes – reminding me of those ‘80’s horror flicks with the compare staring down the lens using a radio voice in attempts to make us shiver.

ImageTold through Theseus Cassio Lowood’s point of view, who goes by Cas, a young male ghost hunter who travels from town to town eliminating restless spirits before they can add more hapless victims to their body count. He is a likable and sensible young man, and had me cheering for him in no time. His fixation with Anna Korlov, a powerful ghost came off a little weird, but I found I loved the dynamic. Kendare introduces most of the characters as fitting into a overdone stereotype, but then systematically destroys it leaving the cast as interesting and ultimately entertaining.

Granted the characters didn’t face that much difficulty outside of the storyline, abandoning the potential for the novel to become much darker through increasing the problems and anxiety they faced. The addition of parental (and grand-parental) involvement also had me cheering, adding credibility to the plight of Cas and Anna.

I was aware of the author’s voice at some points – inadvertently using language in an effort to sound like a teen. Plus I felt like she let circumstances explained off to easily. With so many unexplained deaths in the backstory, it felt a little too convenient. I felt raising the difficulty for Cas would have added some much needed suspense and intrigue.

Although being able to predict the direction of the book, I was unable to foresee the events which took it there, delighting me with surprises chapter after chapter. It also had the added benefit of having a double climax: just when you think the story is over and things are wrapping up Kendare reveals another set of problems. I know some readers are not a fan of this, but I welcome any break from traditional story telling. With a follow up novel, Girl of Nightmares, I am expecting much more and have already added in my reading pile.

Anna Dressed in Blood is not a horror, not a paranormal thriller, and not a romance, but elements of all three.


It was announced recently that Anna Dressed in Blood in currently under development for a screen adaptation by Stephenie Meyer’s company Fickle Fish, and I’m really excited in anticipation to see how it unravels on the big screen. What elements will they keep, will it be terrifying, or dark and comedic (along the lines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer) because it could certainly work either way. Needless to say I will be keeping an eye out for a trailer sometime next year.


*photos used from and respectivelyImage

© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.