Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood is easily one of my favorite reads so far this year. It was recommended to me by Felicity Disco, who was right on the money. This book finds Cas Lowood hunting ghosts, as his dad did before he died. His mom moves from town to town with Cas whenever he finishes another job. He's only a teenager, about to graduate High School, if he ever stays in one place long enough, but since his dad died taking on a ghost, Cas has been determined to do the job. And he's always been able to do it alone, with his mom doing whatever she can do to help patch him up afterwards.

When Cas hears about Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost who has been killing anyone who enters the boarding house where she lived, he's intrigued. When Cas and his mom set off to face this new ghost, Cas is sure that he'll be done in a few days, weeks at the most. That's before he ends up in the house against his will and Anna doesn't kill him though she clearly could. That's before everything he knew about what he does and why it's a good thing, starts to come into question. That's before he starts to care about the people in his classes, and the town as things spin out of his control.

I loved that Cas's mother is an active part of the book's plot and Cas's life, and that she is willing to do anything she can to help. Cas is still the one that has to actually confront the ghosts, but she's there, and she worries, and she's his mom. After reading several YA books where the parents were absent, I found this refreshing. I also enjoyed watching Cas start to engage, when he clearly had good reasons to resist. Watching him make friends and grow connections for the first time was wonderful. And can I just say, I really liked Carmel. You'll understand if you read it. I'll also note that the book is beautiful. The ink is maroon and it added to the mood as I read.

One quick note, this book is bloody. There's a reason that Anna is described as Dressed in Blood. It is fairly literal. I didn't have much of a problem with it, but I did decide it was worth a warning. All of the violence and blood did seem to be plot relevant.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve

Ziska's great-grandparents were Jewish, which means that in 1938, so is she as far as the Nazi party is concerned. On the eve of World War II, Ziska's mother seizes the chance to get Ziska out of Germany. Ziska goes to England on one of the kindertransports that had been arranged to take Jewish children to foster families in England. There she finds herself living with a Jewish family and becoming Francis. She has to deal with the living in London during the war and worrying about her friends and family that she left behind in Germany while questioning who she is, what she believes, and where she belongs. I found this to be a very interesting coming of age story and a new view of the English home front in a Jewish community.

MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertshe

MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche covers Rachel Bertsche's year long quest to find a new local BFF. After having been in Chicago for a year, and not developing a new local best friend to compliment the collection of long term best friends that were now long distance, she decided that something had to change. In a leap of faith and determination, she decides to commit to 52 friend dates in a year. What follows is an wonderful trip through not only the stories of the people she meets when she makes the determination to make the first move, but a survey of the research that has been done on who becomes friends, what are good things to look for in friends, and what roles friends play in people's lives. My favorite part was the insight into why we need friends.

One of the other things I enjoyed is the variety of examples of how to meet people who are potential friends in the book. Great insight that I've used both for myself and to friends who are also looking to build friendships closer to them as well. In a society that seems to be increasingly mobile, the willingness to go out and find friends when they don't just appear is important. MWF seeking BFF gives encouragement and ideas for how to get started.

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.