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What Jia’s Been Reading, Early October

I think I might be getting my reading groove back. But I also think that has something to do with my choosing appropriate books for the reason. There’s a definitely a pattern here — give me the creepy, the bloody, the supernatural.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. A very different sort of YA paranormal. It has all the familiar elements: a female protagonist with a mysterious heritage, a hot supernatural guy after her, and lots of mystery. But the execution makes a world of difference. This novel had a great feel and tone to it, and I loved the prose. (Full review here.)

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. Talk about an evocative title! I loved it, and the title alone made me want to find this book. It’s about Cas, who comes from a long line of ghost killers. Not exorcists — they don’t really banish ghosts so much as kill them (a second time). Cas has drifted from place to place, chasing ghosts. In some ways, it’s been an extended training session to prepare for hunting down the ghost that killed his dad. I liked how Cas’s latest target, the titular ghost Anna Dressed in Blood, rocks his world and upsets his equilibrium — introducing other people into his world and making him care about why Anna is the kind of ghost she is being two of them. This is a creepy book, a violent book, and a dark book, but at its heart, it’s a strange sort of love story. I hear there’s a sequel so I’m looking forward to it.

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The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet. This is actually a DNF but since I made it 40% of the way through the book (plus a quick skim of the ending when I realized I wouldn’t be able to stomach any more of the narrative), I feel comfortable including it here. I originally picked this up because I wanted a fantasy (which this is) that was different (and it is). It’s a well-written novel that’s compelling but it’s far too dark, somber, and grim for me. It features horrible people doing horrible things to other horrible people. It also features horrible people twisting and warping naive girls into horrible people through extremely abusive methods and as I get older, I just find myself unable to finish these kinds of books. Maybe I’ll come back to it some day but while I’m in the mood for dark books, this isn’t quite what I had in mind or need right now.

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Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen. After the depressing grind that my previous selection was, I needed a pick me up so I chose this. Exactly what I needed, plus I recently finished Bright Young Things so the events of the first book were fresh in my mind. What I like best about these books are the great relationships between the female characters and the fact that they are allowed to be fully realized, complicated people in all their ugly glory. They do good things, they do bad things. They have their highs and they also make huge mistakes. These are books where the story focuses on the heroines and their relationships with the world. I like that quite a bit. (Full review here.)

Currently I’m reading Cast in Ruin by Michelle Sagara. This is taking me longer than I expected — been busy with the job and such — but I’m hoping to have this (and a couple more books too) finished by the end of the month.

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So what have you all been reading? Read any of these? Has your reading list matched the season or do you not like creepy, dark books? Discuss.

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!


  1. Cara Ellison
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 11:14:16

    I read Abandoned, a free ebook (on Amazon) that is the prequel to Amanda Stevens’ Graveyard Queen series. It was very good – very creepy, scary and lush with ghosts, a psychiatric hospital, and the mystery of a dead woman who died at the hospital. I was all over it. I haven’t yet bought The Restorer (the first in the series), but I plan to. It might be worth looking into if you’re still up for creepy, dark stories.

  2. Jia
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 11:30:24

    @Cara Ellison: Oh! I think I might have that one on my Kindle somewhere. I’ll have to check. I read The Restorer earlier this year and liked it quite a bit. (I reviewed it here.) Definitely creepy. I keep meaning to check out Amanda Stevens’s backlist because I’ve liked two out of the two books I’ve read by her.

  3. Estara
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 13:43:14

    Wohoo! Cast in Ruin! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ^^.

  4. DS
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 14:24:37

    @Jia: I picked up Restorer after reading your review and I’ve found it very frustrating. Bits of it are excellent. Spooky, interesting and better than average writing. But about half way through the narrator has just done something that is classically TSTL, In fact I can’t understand (knowing what she has told us about this character up to this point) why she did it. I’m going to read on to see if the author has fooled me with this.

    I usually spend a week or so every other year in and around Charleston SC and this feels right from a tourist’s pov.

  5. M.E. Anders
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 14:56:13

    I just finished reading Blankets, by Craig Thompson – my first graphic novel. It was exquisite.

    I might take a peek at The Pattern Scars, as I’m doing some research about those topics.

    Thanks, Jia!

  6. MarieC
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 15:19:04

    Anna Dressed in Blood sounds awesome,with a gorgeous cover! will you be reviewing it?

    I have Laini Taylor’s book but haven’t started it yet; I keep getting sidetracked. :o(

  7. Jia
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 11:22:47

    @Estara: I hit the 30% mark and the book’s starting to speed up for me (finally), so hopefully I finish it by the end of the weekend!

    @M.E. Anders: The Pattern Scars is very compelling reading & what I read was well-executed. I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Maybe some other time!

    @MarieC: I wasn’t planning on reviewing Anna Dressed in Blood since it’s been out for a few months already. But if there’s a lull in my review queue, I’ll toss it in! Maybe during the holidays.

  8. MaryK
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 17:52:53

    If you can’t put a DNF book in a “what I’ve been reading” post, I’m not sure where you can put it. A blank, Books I Didn’t Read post? (In other words, we want to know what you’ve been reading and we don’t care about reviewing “rules.” :) )

    I can’t do creepy. I get too emotionally involved in stories to comfortably read about disturbing things. I do like dark but I hesitate to claim it since I’m never sure how other people define it.

    I need to check out the Daughter of Smoke & Bone review. I’m behind, as you can see.

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