Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

paper valentine

Yovanoff’s book covers always grab my attention. Paper Valentine is no exception.

A while back I read The Replacement, which is set around Halloween. By complete coincidence, I read Paper Valentine over Valentine’s Day. I found both books to have some similarities:

-Sibling relationships (Ariel is a big part of the story—Hannah is very protective of her younger sister)

-Underlying message— No one is perfect. We have to learn to be happy in our own skin and not care what others think.

-Stand alone title. Not a series!

-Genre-hard to classify. It includes a mix of different elements: romance, paranormal, mystery, thriller.

While the storyline centres on the murders, it is also a book about a girl coping with her best friend’s death. Although never referred to as ‘anorexia’, it is clear that Lillian died from the eating disorder. How Hannah describes the appearance of Lillian’s ghost and the smell of her breath is truly disturbing. Hannah’s guilt is prominent throughout, and only in the end can she finally let go.

I thought Hannah made an interesting main protagonist. She loves putting her own spin on her clothes and aims to stand out from the rest of the crowd.  Although she feels guilty for her role (or lack thereof) in Lillian’s death, she puts on a smile and pretends she’s happy. I liked how her love interest, Finny challenges her to be real and accept those emotions.

Although I didn’t see the end twist coming, I figured by the number of pages left that something was around the corner. However, I had big questions surrounding the killer’s motive. Why kill young girls? To demonstrate power? For a thrill? It’s a HUGE leap from shoplifting to murder. I didn’t get it. I also didn’t quite grasp the reason for all the dead birds and the constant mentioning of heat. I definitely thought it was so sort of eerie foreshadowing.

Overall, I think Yovanoff did a great job at weaving together an interesting murder mystery. The book tackled plenty of issues to keep readers hooked and guessing. The Ouija boards and séances really upped the creepy factor.

 

 

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met…a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

unspoken

For some reason, I didn’t connect with this book.  There’s nothing that I disliked about it, it’s just nothing really stood out to me. I read it last week, and already it’s a little forgettable.  That being said, I know tons of readers that would completely disagree with me so I urge you to give it a shot!

Here’s what I did like:

-the character of Kami. She had all the personality traits that I like: smart, brave, vulnerable and strong.  For example, in reference to her relationships-“She did not want to drown in what was between them and lose control, or lose who she was (p.323)”

-pacing and plot- keeps readers guessing. Lots of action/suspense.

-dark atmosphere

-well developed secondary characters

-interesting silhouette cover art

-inclusion of girl friendships

-Book set up. I loved the table of contents at the beginning, highlighting the parts/chapters.  The novel is divided into six parts, and includes quotes by Robert Frost, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and others.  The quotes helped to set up the tone of the section.

Personally, I like my books to have some sort of resolution at the end. I think readers that were emotionally invested will be very unsatisfied and perhaps a little angry with the ending provided.  Readers will have to wait for the sequel ‘Untold’ to get the conclusion they crave.

Bookit Review: Ruby Red (Ruby Red Trilogy #1) by Kerstin Gier translated by Anthea Bell

Yay! My guest blogger, BookIt returns with a review of Ruby Red. Enjoy!

Ruby Red is the first book of a popular German trilogy that has been recently translated and getting great reviews. The first two books Ruby Red, and Sapphire Blue are available in English, and the last book Emerald Green will hopefully be released in English later this year.

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From Goodreads:

Gwyneth Shepherd’s sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon–the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Gwyneth comes from a family of time travellers, in which the time traveller gene is passed down each generation to one female. They are then burdened with the mysterious responsibility of helping to complete a secret mission under the guidance and control of a secret society known as the Guardians. Right from the beginning you can tell that it will be the inexperienced and funny 16 year old Gywenth, and not her perfect and snotty cousin Charlotte that will end up with the gene. Although, predicable for the reader, it leads to a fantastic storyline in which you can’t help but root for the heroine as she learns the ropes of this new and exciting world in which she has been destined to play a crucial role.

I loved so many things book. Set in Britain, the British translator Anthea Bell, did a fantastic job of ensuring that the humor and language was authentic to the storyline. I even wondered if she helped to improve the original text.  Check out this link from Publisher Weekly in which she answers questions about translating metaphors, puns, jokes etc.

Overall,  if you are looking for an exciting time travel adventure with a splash of romance that will make you laugh you should pick up Ruby Red. I will say that it is light, sparse of agonising drama, with more of an end of middle school feel and thus could be recommended for the younger readers of teen fiction.

Overall it was a 4 out of 5 book for me.

Happy reading,

Bookit

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