Missing Person, by Patrick Modiano

Missing Person, by Patrick Modiano
Ten years ago, amnesiac Guy Rowland hired a private investigator to figure out who he was and where he came from. Soon afterwards, the PI gave Guy a new identity and a job as the PI’s assistant, saying that sometimes it’s best not to remember who you are. But now that his good friend and employer has retired, Guy again begins his search for identity. 

Reading this book made me understand why Modiano won the Nobel Prize in literature. The prose was almost poetic, and the imagery was gripping. For instance, he found a drained, emotionally dying clue to his past in a run-down bar. The whole chapter was filled with coffin and morgue imagery, complete with an “embalmed man” who observed everything, no matter how stimulating, without blinking an eye. All of Modiano’s chapters were set up in this way – with vivid imagery fitting the clue that he had found – though the imagery was always dark and mysterious. 

Unsurprising for a book about amnesia, the over-arching theme of the story was identity. Who am I? Does my past change who I am? These questions are explored as Guy’s own vision of who he is transforms as he gets more clues. We can only wonder at the end if he’s really found his real self, or if he’s just adopted the identity of a man who fits the person Guy wants to be. 

I definitely urge you to read Missing Person. I hope I find the time to read more Modiano in the future. 


My Life as a White Trash Zombie, by Diana Rowland

My Life as a White Trash Zombie, by Diana Rowland, narrated by Allison McLemore

This book was a huge surprise to me. I was told it was fantastic – funny, fun, good plot – but I didn’t really believe. I mean, there are so many zombie books out there, right? But it really was hilarious and fun. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Angel Crawford is a down-on-her-luck, pill-popping, high school drop-out who can’t hold down a job and is being dragged down by her alcoholic father and deadbeat boyfriend. One day, she wakes up in a hospital – told that she overdosed and was found naked on the side of the road. Humiliated, she is about to return home when she gets a mysterious note telling her to drink a mysterious power-shake each day, and that she now has a job picking up and helping autopsy dead bodies. She’s told she must keep this job for at least a month, or she’s going to prison for parole violation. Angel is terrified of prison, so she begrudgingly starts her new job. 

Strangely, she realizes that she desperately wants to eat the brains of the bodies she’s been autopsying – and she thinks it must be some weird side-effect of the OD…maybe she’s just going crazy. But then hints begin to turn up that she’s been zombified. Proving to be more intelligent than she thought, Angel begins to investigate who zombified her, sent her the mysterious notes, and who, in God’s sake, is the serial murderer who’s beheading all his victims?

Like I said, it was really funny. I loved Angel’s character, and the mystery kept me listening even when I should have been doing other things. Angel really developed during this book – changing from an self-hating loser to an almost self-confident, poised, intelligent woman. (There’s still some room left for “refinement” in the next books, of course.) Much to my surprise and gratification, this was a very character-driven book. I will definitely pick up more from this series. 

This book gets 4.5 stars for humor, characterization, and mystery.

Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake

After listening to the audio version of Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake (and disliking the narrator), I decided to pick up an old-fashioned copy its sequel Girl of Nightmares

Cass Lowood has now become used to life in Thunder Bay. He’s finished a school year in the same school for the first time in years. He has friends: the beautiful and popular Carmel Jones and nerdy voodoo teenage witch Thomas Sabin. The three have tried to move on from the devastating events in Anna Dressed in Blood. They’ve been going to school by day and killing ghosts by night. But when Anna starts haunting Cass, he becomes obsessed with saving her from whatever hell she is suffering. His quest to save her drives a wedge between him and his friends, and leads him across the ocean to follow ominous clues sent by anonymous people.


I enjoyed Girl of Nightmares even more than Anna Dressed in Blood. I began the book with an attachment to all the characters, and was genuinely concerned about Anna’s fate. Cass, Carmel, and Thomas begin to develop more rounded personalities in this book – showing sides of themselves that weren’t obvious in the first book. Girl of Nightmares had a good mixture of action and intrigue, which kept me turning the pages. I’m hoping there will be another book coming up soon. 

4 stars for fluffy YA fun

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake; narrated by August Ross
Anna Dressed in Blood, Book 1

Cas Lowood has always worked alone on his quest to dispatch murderous ghosts and discover the demon who killed his father. Imagine his annoyance when he moves to Thunder Bay to kill the intensely horrific ghost Anna Dressed in Blood and he accidentally picks up a couple of teenaged tag-a-longs. When he attempts to dispatch Anna, he discovers that she’s unlike any ghost he’s ever fought before. She’s frightening and mesmerizing in her power. Cas digs deeper into Anna’s story and begins, for once, to see a ghost as an unwilling victim rather than simply a supernatural murderess.


Initially, I picked up this book because of the fantastic cover art (Yup! I’m one of those people). Turns out Anna Dressed in Blood was a really good choice if you’re a fan of teen horror. I hadn’t read a good ghost story in a long time, and this one was quite refreshing. The characters were easy to like, and the mystery kept the book interesting. This book was fun and quick. 

Unfortunately, I listened to the audiobook rather than reading the book. I don’t recommend this course. Ross annoyed me with his too-clear annunciations, his pauses, and his slow reading. It ruined the rhythm of the narrative, and made the dialog fall flat. There were several times I wanted to give up on the book just because the narration was annoying me. But I couldn’t do it because I was enjoying the story too much.

4 snowflakes for fluffy YA fun

This post is for R. I. P. X @TheEstellaSociety and the 2015 Halloween Reading Challenge @ReadingEverySeason. It is also for #Diversiverse, @BookLust, which is all about reading books by people of a variety of ethnic/racial backgrounds, so I will provide tell you a little about the author, Kendare Blake

Kendare Blake


Kendare Blake was born in Seoul, Korea and was adopted by her American parents when she was very young. She writes dark fantasy including, but not limited to: The Girl of Nightmares series and The Goddess War series (beginning with Antigoddess). 

After enjoying The Girl of Nightmares series so much, I’ll probably be picking up Antigoddess sometime soon. 

Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs

Written by Jacqueline Winspear, Narrated by Rita Barrington

Reason for Reading: Real Life book club

Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery / Women’s Fiction

Review
Maisie Dobbs is disappointed when her first case as a PI is to investigate a potential infidelity; however, things get a little more interesting when her investigation brings to light a suspicious death in a home for soldiers injured in WWI. But investigating the home turns out to be more dangerous than she’d thought. 

This book was WAY outside my box. I generally don’t read women’s fiction or books that have a feminist leaning – though sometimes I enjoy such books. So this mystery wasn’t for me. The mystery part of the story was very light – she investigated a potential infidelity at the beginning, and at the end she investigated a suspicious home for injured soldiers. The middle half of the book was all Maisie’s background and character development, which I found off-topic and a bit contrived. Maisie is one of those WWI women who did absolutely everything the stereotypical WWI literary woman does. She got caught up in the feminist movement (somewhat), was educated beyond her class and gender, lied about her age so she could be a nurse in France, etc. etc. It’s like Winspear took a list of WWI woman stereotypes and checked them all off. Thus, I felt absolutely no empathy for Maisie’s character because she felt so fake to me. The little touch of mystery at the beginning and the end wasn’t enough to save the book. 

I can see that many readers would love this book – if you like women PI’s, especially of the historical variety, then this is probably a good book for you. The series IS popular. It just wasn’t for me. *shrug*

Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake

 Anna Dressed in Blood

Written by Kendare Blake, Narrated by August Ross

Reason for Reading: I wanted to check off category 12 in Reading Outside the Box

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance / Horror

Review
Cas Lowood has always worked alone on his quest to dispatch murderous ghosts and discover the demon who killed his father. But when he moves to Thunder Bay everything changes – first, he has an explainable fascination with Anna, the ghost he’s come to kill; second, he accidentally picks up a team of teenagers who insist on tagging along as he rids the world of Anna’s horror. And Cas isn’t quite sure he wants to kill Anna anymore…

I picked this book up because of the fascinating cover art. (Yup! I’m one of those people.) I’m glad the cover was so awesome, because I enjoyed the book. Yes, it was sort of a copy of the TV show Supernatural, but that’s ok. Every story has its origins in another story, right? This book was fun and quick – I enjoyed the mystery and characters. If you like teen ghost stories, this would be a good book to pick up. But I recommend you pick up the physical book and not the audio book. Ross annoyed me with his too-clear annunciations, his pauses, and his slow reading. It ruined the rhythm of the narrative, and made the dialog fall flat. There were several times I wanted to give up on the book just because the narration was annoying me – and I generally am pretty laid back about audio books.  

The Aviary, by Kathleen O’Dell

The Aviary, by Kathleen O’Dell

Reason for Reading: Real life book club

Review
Clara Dooley has lived her whole life in the decrepit Glendoveer mansion, where her mother is the care-taker of the elderly Mrs Glendoveer. Clara’s mother keeps her hidden away from the outside world, claiming that Clara’s health is fragile. At 12, Clara has come to an age where she wants to test her boundaries –  and just such an opportunity arrives when her elderly patron passes away, a new girl moves into the neighborhood, and the birds in the aviary begin to speak to her. With her new friend, Clara must discover the secrets of the Glendoveer mansion, and decide whether the birds are friends or foes.

This was a cute little ghost story / mystery for children (probably girls) ages 9-12. It used the basic adults-don’t-want-to-share-secrets format, while keeping the adults likable and intelligent. The two little girls were adorable and fun. And the birds, once they started developing characters, were a very interesting twist. I found this book an engaging and quick read. Highly recommended for lovers of middle-grade ghost stories / mysteries.