Audiobook Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Audio Review

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Audio CoverTitle: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Author: Holly Black

Narrator: Christine Lakin

Length: 12 hrs 6 mins

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: September 3rd, 2013

Interest: Student interest

Source: Purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

Audio Review: I’ve never listened to an audiobook narrated by Christine Lakin but I will again. Her voice is easy to listen to and I love how she so easily changes her accent to fit characters like Gavriel. I chose to listen to the audio because I really didn’t know if I’d like the book. I’ve found that it’s easier to try reading books I’m hesitant to read by listening to the audio. One of my seniors mentioned a love of vampire books on her interests survey which is what drove me to give The Coldest Girl in Coldtown a try. Anyway, this audiobook is on the longer side but it’s definitely worth a listen. At certain points throughout the audio–often at pivotal moments–different types of music play, which I didn’t think was really necessary, but I did appreciate it. This audiobook made cleaning, cooking, and driving much easier to get through. One quirk I need to mention is that I wasn’t expecting the switch in time periods/place. That threw me as I was listening, but I know it wouldn’t have been an issue had I been reading the book traditionally.

Book Review: I’m so happy to have finally found a Holly Black novel that I enjoyed! I was doubly hesitant to read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I didn’t liked Holly Black’s Doll Bones or White Cat and I’m over vampire books. Tana’s story is addicting, creepy, and bloody. I’m not into horror, either, but I was engrossed in this book!

I just ordered a copy of The Coldest Girl in Coldtown because I know many of my students will want to read this once I tell them about it. I have quite a few horror and mystery fans, although not as many vampire fans, but regardless I know they’ll enjoy it. I’m going to recommend this to my Anna Dressed in Blood fans because even though there isn’t as much humor in Tana’s story, there’s plenty of gore and action to keep them interested.

When it comes to characters, I really enjoyed Tana and Gavriel. Gavriel is the perfect mix of mysterious and alluring. Tana is independent and strong-willed. I loved the interactions between the two characters and honestly couldn’t decide if I wanted them to be together or not. I wasn’t sure if I wanted Tana to go cold and/or become a vampire or continue on as an unaffected human. I kept wondering what would happen to her because it seemed like she would need to go one way or another to make her story work. I’ll let you find out what happens to Tana and if anything develops between her and Gavriel 🙂

Coldtown’s setting reminds me of a post-apocalyptic world. It’s run down, dismal, and dangerous. Holly Black did a great job describing and developing it. If there’s a second book I’ll be happy to read it and learn more about Coldtown, but the ending as it is now is satisfying.

If you’re looking for a vampire story without sparkly vampires then I recommend picking up The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

Review: Game by Barry Lyga

GameTitle: Game

Author: Barry Lyga

Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers

Release Date: April 16th, 2013

Interest: Series / Author

Source: ARC received from the publisher

Summary (From Goodreads): I Hunt Killers introduced the world to Jasper (Jazz) Dent, the son of the world’s most infamous serial killer.

When a desperate New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help with a new case, Jazz can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force running scared with no leads. So Jazz and his girlfriend Connie hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.

Meanwhile, Jazz’s dad Billy is watching…and waiting.

I need to start off by saying that I enjoyed Game even more than I enjoyed I Hunt KillersBarry Lyga has done an excellent job building Jazz’s character and creating an intense and thoroughly enjoyable story.  It’s still gory like I Hunt Killers, so be prepared.

What I liked about Game by Barry Lyga:

  • The mystery and thrill.  The third person narrative switches from Jazz to other characters, but the best is when it focuses on the killer.  I love it when murder mysteries switch to this perspective because it adds an extra amount of intensity and creepiness.
  • Connie.  I enjoyed her character in I Hunt Killers, but I love how much more we get to know her in Game.  She’s smart and witty and really balances Jazz.  And her bigger role in this book adds so much more to the plot.
  • The pacing.  I took my time reading Game because I was enjoying it so much and I started it so far before the release date, but the pacing makes it a fast read.  I usually had to force myself to put it down.  There’s twist after twist in this story, which made it so much fun to read.
  • New characters.  I don’t want to give too much away, but an added character midway through the story kept me on my toes.  I kept second-guessing my thoughts about this character and if there was more to this person than I originally thought.
  • The ending.  What. A. Cliffhanger!  Can I have the third book now please?

What I disliked about Game:

  • There isn’t anything I disliked about Game 🙂

Review: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake Anna Dressed in Blood

316 pp.  Tor Teen  2011

Source: Finished copy received from the publisher

Interest: 2011 Debut Author

Summary (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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: 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.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

Horror novels and horror movies aren’t my thing.  I love suspense and thrillers, but all the gore and nastiness of the horror genre freaks me out.  Despite all of that, I was excited when Kendare Blake signed up to be interviewed by my students because I know many of them enjoy horror novels and movies.  I passed a couple copies around for them to read prior to the interview, and was happy to hear so many rave reviews from my students.  They couldn’t stop talking about this debut which really grabbed my interest.  Honestly, I was getting a little jealous that I couldn’t read one of my own copies!  On Friday, one of the boys who borrowed Anna Dressed in Blood, returned it after school and told me it’s the best book he’s ever read.  That did it for me.  It was the end of the day, so no other students could claim my copy.

Anna Dressed in Blood is gripping and edgy.  It’s full of humor and a little bit of romance.  And of course, there’s gore.  Kendare Blake, however, balances all of these aspects perfectly.  Cas Lowood has a gruesome job that I would never want to be involved with.  Killing ghosts isn’t pretty or neat-n-tidy.  Considering I’m someone who doesn’t like horror, I was nervous about whether I’d like this book.  Yes, the details of the ghost killing and such is gross, but it’s not overdone with needless detail and extra amounts of blood.  Plus, Cas has an excellent witty attitude and sense of humor, which is usually incorporated to break the tension.  I also appreciate that the gore isn’t on every page; it’s evenly balanced and paced throughout the novel.  The romance in the novel builds slowly which I appreciate because it isn’t the primary focus of the plot.  The humor and romance mixed well with the mystery and suspense, which is why I couldn’t put this book down.  The story just keeps moving which had me completely engrossed.  There are plenty of scary scenes, but a scene towards the end with Cas and his mom was probably the creepiest.

The cast of characters in Anna Dressed in Blood really takes the novel to another level.  Cas is wonderfully sarcastic, but he’s also one who keeps to himself.  Avoiding the living isn’t as easy in Thunder Bay because he meets Thomas and Carmel, who won’t leave his side and stop helping him.  I wasn’t expecting characters like these to be included in the story, but I enjoyed them.  They bring out a different side of Cas which makes him more dynamic.  Anna, of course, really steals the show.  She’s beyond scary, but there’s something more to her which I’ll let you figure out when you read the novel.  Let me just say I have  soft spot for Anna, even if that sounds crazy.

Anna Dressed in Blood is unlike any other novel I’ve read; it really brought me out of my comfort zone.  I can’t wait to finally have the opportunity myself to rave about this book in my classes!

Students Want to Know: Kendare Blake

I’m happy to post this interview between Kendare Blake and my students, I only wish that I’d get the chance to read Anna Dressed in Blood.  My students holding the interview read Kendare’s book first and have been raving about it.  Courtney very excitedly told me that I HAVE to read this book.  The problem?  Now that Courtney and Christian have been talking about Anna Dressed in Blood, I can’t get my hands on either of my copies.  They’re hogging it!  ** Which I’m very happy about 🙂 **

Summary of Anna Dressed in Blood (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. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: 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.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.

** Kendare’s Website **
** Kendare’s Blog **

Christian:

  • Where did you come up with the idea of the athame?
    When Cas showed up in my head, he had a knife in his hand. I knew he had to kill stuff, and I knew he was a very physical guy, so a knife seemed like the only way to go. But I didn’t want to just call it a knife. So I called it an athame. Which is a witch’s knife, or dagger.
  • What made you want to write?
    Well, I read a lot. I think it all came from that. I lived a lot of stories in my head, and I guess my brain just got used to it. Now there are stories in my head most of the time. I’m a freak like that.
  • Are any of the places in the book real?
    Yes! Glad you asked. Thunder Bay, Ontario is a real place. Morfran’s antique shop (and his antique shop dwelling Labrador) is based on a bunch of different antique shops in the area, and also one in Michigan. Kakabeka Falls, where they have the party at the beginning of the book, is real, and so are a lot of the ghost stories they tell.

Courtney:

  • Are you going to write a sequel? PLEASE!
    Of course! But I think just one. It’s called GIRL OF NIGHTMARES and it’s coming out next year. I hope you like it!
  • Did you have to research the “obeahman” power, or did you make it all up?
    Obeah is a real thing. I researched it as much as I could. But there really is an air of mystery around it. Obeah guards its secrets. And yes, whatever didn’t quite work for me, I tweaked.
  • Do you personally believe in ghosts?
    Sure. Why not? You can’t really prove that they DON’T exist. I guess you could say that I believe in them and don’t believe in them in equal measure. I’d love to have a ghost story happen to me though. I should start hanging out in more haunted places.
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