Thursday, August 30, 2012

Follow Friday

Do we really need a preface? Anyway, Feature and Follow is by Paranjunkee and Alison Can Read and is all about blog love.

Q: Best Cover? What is the best cover of a book that you’ve read and didn’t like?

A: Oh, easy peasy. Masque of Red Death by Bethany Griffin. I loved the cover, but I didn't like the book. I couldn't connect with any of the characters, and finally just abandoned it somewhere near the end. I don't even want to know how it ended, or if there is a new book in the series. It wasn't sucky writing or a sucky plot, it just completely failed to make any kind of impact on me.
What are your picks? Leave your links, let's share some follower love :)

Quick Tales: Our Darling + SO MUCH PRETTY!

Quick Tales are just what they imply: Quick Tales. Flash Fiction. Magic in less than 500 words.
This time, we're talking supernatural inspired jewelry as well- from Bloodmilk!
First the story, my darlings, and then the pretty begins!

You can buy this here

After the funeral we give out little pendants as keepsakes.
Some of the attendees gasp and some others weep, but most are enthralled by the delicate beauty of cold iron. The men clasp it in their palms and remark that it is icy as the hand of Death; the ladies shed tears on the arabesque pattern and declare the simple inscription beautiful.
To those who ask, I say, “John made them himself; he’s been shut up in his workshop since our daughter died.”
They swoon and gasp when I say that, as if there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a father choosing to mourn by casting designs in dark metal.
The next morning there is a man at the door with the Our Darling pendant, claiming he’d seen a ghost. More of them walk up the carpet of snow to knock at our door: ladies who’d felt a cold finger upon their throats or the chill of a ghost brushing their arms; men who’d seen a fleeting wraith or heard a disembodied voice protesting at her split ethereality.
John puts a box outside our front door, titled “Leave your haunted pendant here!” and checks it twice every day for new deposits.
He wants to collect all the pendants so he can melt them and resurrect our daughter as one giant Our Darling pendant.
I tell him she’d rather be a diamond ring.
             (C) Varsha Dinesh

So- still with me? Then let's talk about Bloodmilk.  The first I hear about them is from Erin Morgenstern's Blog. Their tagline is "Supernatural Jewelry for Surrealist Darlings" so obviously, I'm all curious. I head over to Etsy, and find this awesome banner
And then, of course, I stumble across the Our Darling ring and just HAVE to write a story. There's so much gothic about Bloodmilk, it's exactly the kind of jewelry I'd kill to have. Here's just a few samples, so you know I'm not just barking up a random tree, but I suggest you check out the Etsy shop- it's totally, absolutely worth it, since the owner does these BPAL like write-ups that are an ABSOLUTE pleasure to read.

Ah, it's been guilty pleasure overload, searching through the shop. You can also read the owner's blog here at 
I'll leave you with one more image from Bloodmilk, a personal favorite:

This one, called a l'amour fou sterling cocktail ring, is based on the surrealist term "l'amour fou," coined by Andre Breton, a term that I once used to make a wallpaper- which has since been lost in the internet ocean. (There's a story there, isn't there? A sweet old creation, lost in the internet ocean.)

l'amour fou, means (probably to your delight) Mad Love. Crazy, obsessive, exhilarating, inspiring, dangerous, dark, compulsive love. Like the way travellers fall for cunning leannen sidhe on dark faery paths.

Have a good weekend.
Peace out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Girl of Nightmares (Anna Dressed in Blood 2) :Review

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.


The sequel to Anna Dressed In Blood. A male protagonist wielding a powerful knife, with a slightly caustic voice and wedded to a job that could skin him alive any time. A female protagonist dressed in blood, her soul darkened by a curse, yet sweet and curious. 

There was no choice for me but to return to this series.

Girl of Nightmares is as fun as Anna Dressed In Blood, with an ending that I totally, absolutely respected Blake for having the guts to put own in a YA book. It is an ending that deviates from the candy hued happily ever afters of YA lit, but let's get to the ending later.

At the end of ADIB, Anna and the evil Obeahman dude perishes in a pit and is "triple lindied" into Hell, to quote Supernatural (which the series sometimes seems eerily similar to) And at the beginning of Girl of Nightmares, Cas (a.k.a cross of Sam and Dean Winchester) is slowly losing it. He sees Anna everywhere, in a multitude of horrifying scenarios, being tortured by the Obeahman. This serves for some pretty scary stuff early on, but these are only cookies. The chocolate brownies show up later.

Before he can be carted off to a therapist, though, he manages to kind of convince trusty Thomas and Carmel (read Ron and prettier Hermione), the second and third partners in his odd ghost busting little trio, that Anna needs to be let out, somehow. How he manages to open a gateway into hell with the help of a shady yet underdeveloped creepy Order forms the rest of the story, occasionally interspersed with character drama. The chocolate brownies are nearly all concentrated into the last half, trust me.

Although I liked Girl of Nightmares, I guess it might be already apparent from the subtle sarcasm that I didn't love it. Not like ADIB. Girl of Nightmares seemed to borrow so much from shows I've already seen and books I've already read. I could write a whole review on how it borrows from Supernatural (especially the hell, hallucination stuff and Cas's " I can't leave this job " attitude), sometimes the Grudge (creepy girl in white with crazy stick out joints), and the Order stuff is just unoriginal, it's nothing really new. Even the spooky ghosties seem like old friends that I'm revisiting.

I liked the book because of Cas, he's a fun narrator. There's some nice, dark humor. There's some angst. At the end of the book, there's a cool climax in Hell with some Priori Incantatem kind of thing. There's an amazing, mature ending that is never seen much in YA. 


I wish there had been more of Cas's mother (coz I kind of love her), more about the Order, and I wish that the new character Jestine simply didn't annoy the heck out of me. Even Anna seemed not wholly the Anna I loved, maybe it's because she's in Hell, but could it have been done better? 

Mostly, I just missed the atmosphere of ADIB. Sorely.

Nekro pulls off another crazy awesome cover, full marks for that. But this book, sadly, deserves maybe 3.5 stars, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two Books, One Review, New Decisions

It's been a while, right?! Phew, just back from exams and the epiphany that I'm not writing as much as I want to- it's been kind of difficult here.
Thanks to the iPad I am now reading more than ever, but as you guys see, the blog posts have been dwindling. The sliding thingy is not sliding anymore. I am not the goddess of commenting anymore. The reason for this unexplained MIA is very simple: there is this little part of me that's nagging at me to stop with the procrastination and just get on with writing what I want to write. What I want to write is some bloody gorgeous fantasy, something new and shiny and lovely. And I've got plenty of new, shiny, lovely ideas- just not the time to write them down. So I gotta let my reviewing take a back seat and get around to doing what I love doing: which is to WRITE. 
and that's by 

I started Wishful Thinking as a blog to put my stories on, but somewhere along the way the reviewing/author interviewing/art talk took over. Now, since I'm letting my reviews take a back seat, I will be writing a lot more flash fiction and random stuff, and WT is not the blog for that. You guys followed me for a reason, the reason is WT and its review-y quality, and I'm not gonna change that. SO I MADE A NEW BLOG.
It's called Accidental Dreaming. It's over here.  It's gonna have lots and lots of magicky, fun, fairy-dusted stories. It's gonna do two major writing memes: Sunday Scribblings and Carry On Tuesday. It's gonna talk about all the awesome stuff that I discover accidentally (I accidentally discover a lot of pretty amazingness on the internet) and there's going to be more about short stories. (I love short stories, sometimes more than novels) If you guys want to follow me, just click the link, and click on a post. 
Hey, join me. It'll be fun.

To honor AD, I'm going to share two short story collections that I read recently. Both are fantasy, both are great in their own way.

First up, Lips Touch, Three Times by Laini Taylor.

I'm a fan of Laini Taylor- I really am. I love her artiness and her wordcraft. I think her books are terrific and drool over all the pretty she has in her house (you guys check out, there really is a lot of pretty there) I didn't read Lips Touch till now because I knew it was illustrated, and I wanted the whole experience, which e-books can't really give. And man, was it worth the wait.

There are three stories in Lips Touch- Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, and Hatchling, of which Hatchling was my favorite (and longest). Goblin Fruit is inspired by Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market, incidentally one of my favorite poems. Spicy Little Curses is set in the time of the British Raj, in a lush and wondrous cusp-of-the-century India (yes, India! This Indian girl is happy!) and Hatchling is a glorious, soft and breathtaking take on Zoroastrianism.

Goblin Fruit has an "urgent, unkissed, wishful" girl as its protagonist, a girl hungering for love so much that her
"soul leaned halfway out of her body, like a shirt untucked." (Quoting from memory here) Kizzy is a dreamy, perfect protagonist to the story that doesn't quite have a happy ending. Her exchanges with her friends are very relatable- I remember having similar conversations with my two best friends- and there is an urgency to the whole tale, a domino-waiting-to-fall kind of urgency, and in its urgency and passion is its loveliness. It's the most YA of this lot, and thus the most stereotypical, but still it's really, really pretty and I'm willing to forgive the YA-ness of it. 

(How many times did I use "pretty" in this post? I should stop.)

Spicy Little Curses had an odd version of the Hindu concept of hell- odd to a Hindu, that is. But again, it is the characters that shine through the pages more than the plot. The British Raj is depicted as both a glorious and a stifling period, and I applaud Laini Taylor for doing a version of India that an Indian can actually love without feeling the need to roll her eyes. If only other authors were like you.

And finally, Hatchling. Almost a fairytale, but so much more. I loved this story, perhaps because of its ties to Zoroastrianism (I've seen one of the temples and will never forget the practices and mythology) or perhaps because of the well-plotted story. 

Of course, illustrations by Jim di Bartolo helps. (Gah, they're gorgeous. I'm so jealous.)

The second book is Changelings and Other Stories by Leah Cypress (free on Smashwords!!)

Leah Cypress's book begins on a very different note from Laini Taylor's. Laini's lush, lyrical prose is contrasted with Leah's stark, elegant, short sentences. 
There are seven stories in this, and they are all short.

Changelings is the first one. It's elegant and mysterious, with a poignant narrator. I didn't see the twist coming, and I won't remember this as the greatest of short stories, but it sucked me in with its fairy tale quality.

Then there is Silent Blade. This one, I will remember. Because it was so short, yet the idea came across so well. A girl is waiting for her brother to come home to assassinate his family. There's a stark poetry in the idea. There's a gorgeous tale in the book.

The third story, Temple of Stone, stuck out like a sore thumb. Something was wrong with this one. There were priestesses and a magical stone, and then there was a girl who could hear the stone humming, and then there was a dragon. Um. What?

Shalott's Inn, of course, deals with Arthurian mythology. Specifically, Sir Lancelot shows up at an inn at the edge of Fairie, and meets a starry-eyed girl who's more something-else than human. I liked the writing in this one.

After two more stories- Quests Inc. about a company that deals in Quests and a wise-guy unicorn, and another about a girl who could see people dying at the places where they died (Dead Silent, it was called, and this one was quite fascinating) we get to the last tale- Fair Trade- which has a unique narrative. A one-sided, conversational narrative that was very different and definitely fun. I could feel the coldness of the Fairie paths, the quiet darkness of the changeling girl, the madness and desperation of the narrator.

All in all, a very different set of tales from what is currently in the market.

I continue to adore YA, and these two books are kind of the reason why. There's beauty in conformity, but there's AWESOMENESS in being a little different from the flow. 
See you soon.


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Images used in this blog are either digital art created by the author or free photographs. Reviews and views expressed on this site are strictly personal. Text by Varsha Dinesh is copyrighted under Creative Commons.