Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey

From Goodreads: Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

I have read every book that Alyxandra Harvey has written and I have enjoyed them all. I wondered how it would read coming out of the world of the Drake Vampires and into a Victorian ghost story. Harvey has a certain snarkytacular style that I adore, and I was afraid it would be lost in Victorian mannerisms.

Violet was full of snark and feminism and was a fabulous character to follow through a ghostly murder mystery. She stands proud as her mother pulls sham after sham on the peerage and only starts to truly lose it when she begins to exhibit symptoms of actually being able to see and communicate with ghosts. Her mother must never know else she would add Violet to her charade for more theatrical effect.

When her mother is exposed for the charlatan she is, Violet loses her only chance to marry out of the shamble of her home life. Just as things seem to be broken for good another of her mother’s scandals opens a door for Violet’s escape. However there is still the matter of the ghosts, and what they want from her.

This book is so amazingly creepy, well written and just fabulous to read. Everyone will love the time period, the theatrics of the seance and Violet’s quest to truly find herself.

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Review: Haven by Kristi Cook

Goodreads: One month into her junior year, sixteen-year-old Violet McKenna transfers to the Winterhaven School in New York’s Hudson Valley, inexplicably drawn to the boarding school with high hopes. Leaving Atlanta behind, she’s looking forward to a fresh start–a new school, and new classmates who will not know her deepest, darkest secret, the one she’s tried to hide all her life: strange, foreboding visions of the future.

But Winterhaven has secrets of its own, secrets that run far deeper than Violet’s. Everyone there–every student, every teacher–has psychic abilities, ‘gifts and talents,’ they like to call them. Once the initial shock of discovery wears off, Violet realizes that the school is a safe haven for people like her. Soon, Violet has a new circle of friends, a new life, and maybe even a boyfriend–Aidan Gray, perhaps the smartest, hottest guy at Winterhaven.

Only there’s more to Aidan than meets the eye–much, much more. And once she learns the horrible truth, there’s no turning back from her destiny. Their destiny. Together, Violet and Aidan must face a common enemy–if only they can do so without destroying each other first.

I read the first half of Haven and admittedly thought the book was going nowhere. I disliked the main character and her decisions and her needy behavior. Then I had an epiphany. Pam you are thirty-one years old. How did you act around boys when you were sixteen? Immediately my outlook on this book changed.

I still am not enamored by the first half of the book, the school at Winterhaven is interesting enough but I wanted to hear more about Violet’s friends and her life at Winterhaven. I felt that important events in the book were glossed over. Why make a big deal about Violet going to Atlanta to never have one scene with her in Atlanta, or talk more than once about her old BFF who is in Atlanta but coming to NY and never have the two meet?

That being said the second half of the book picks up shedding some of my original trepidation’s about Haven. The lore was tight and I appreciated getting a better view of what Violet’s purpose was and why she and Aiden were able to communicate telepathically. The danger element was fun too and the character that double-crossed the pair was one I wouldn’t have expected. I will be reading book two to see how the story progresses now that the new lore has been introduced.

I think teenagers will love this novel, my book club teens have. Sure you can say it is cliche, cliche, cliche but let’s be honest here, it’s full of all my favorites. I recommend this book to fans of Wings, Twilight, and House of Night.

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Review: Vampire Crush by A. M. Robinson

From Goodreads: First, six mysteriously pale new students show up at Sophie McGee’s high school. Then, Sophie’s childhood nemesis James reappears, still displaying a knack for making Sophie’s blood boil. When Sophie finds out that James has a connection to the new students, she decides to investigate…never expecting her life will quickly begin to resemble a campy horror movie, complete with budding crushes and bloodthirsty villains.

Perfect for fans of the Vampire Kisses and Vladmir Tod series, A. M. Robinson’s debut novel sparkles with action, intrigue, irresistible wit, and sizzling romance.

Vampire Crush started out very strong for me. I marked several passages in the beginning of the book and was laughing out loud from the dialogue written into the main character. I adored Sophie and her modern Nancy Drew charm but alas the book fell flat as around the middle I felt that the action wasn’t coming as fast as it should.

This book is the anti-Twilight. Sophie doesn’t want anything to do with Mr. Tall Dark and Dead or any of his friends who just show up at her school and seem to genuinely like Michigan. However she knows there is something weird about them and as the competition for school newspaper editor comes to a head she has to have this story.

Sophie was a great character and had a lot of depth. The side characters mostly fell flat and seemed to be there for stereotypical dialogue purposes only. I am going to quote three of my favorite passages from the ARC form which may change when the final printed copy is available.

Sophie on the first day of school:

As for the building itself, nothing has changed since last May: it could still double as a penitentiary, albeit a penitentiary with a lot of jail spirit and a streamer budget.

Sophie on choosing a seat at an assembly:

The seat happens to be next to Neal Garret, who’s nice enough in an “I went to space camp this summer” way, but who brings his hamster to school at least once per year. The way he’s murmuring to the left pocket of his khakis right now makes me think that today is that day.

Marisabel (one of the vamps) on reading Twilight:

Marisabel just shrugs, rolling on her back to stare up at an open copy of Twilight. Her long brown hair cascades over the edge. It sways as she shakes her head back and forth.
“This is not right at all,” she says. “Edward is dreamy, though. Maybe you could get some tips.”

So all in all this was a fun read and a great start for what I am assuming is to be a trilogy.

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from Hicklebee’s in ARC form.

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Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her “power” to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.

Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he’s claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.

Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay’s intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she’s falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

If I had to sum this review up in one word, that word would be ‘refreshing’. It was pretty awesome to read a new YA that implements a creative writing style and a very interesting plot and story line. I was sent this book last year from HarperTeen, and I devoured it in one day of reading and the story and characters have stuck with me all this while.

With the imminent release I today pre-ordered my hard copy to have on my shelf. The cover art is gorgeous, there is no person, place or thing there to distract me. I got to know the characters in the book in my own way. Kimberly gives you a basis to go on and your imagination can take you on the rest of the journey.

The two main characters Violet, and Jay are so fun. Through-out the book you are practically mentally screaming at them “HE LIKES YOU VIOLET” or “SHE LIKES YOU JAY”. Violet grew up a bit traumatized from finding a body of a girl her age in the woods when she was a small child. Her family and friends looked the other way as she went into the woods behind her house hearing echos of animals and bringing them home to bury properly.

Violet can also sense an echo on the murderer. Most people have some sort of echo attached to them, the more violent the death they caused (I assume even running over a squirrel would mark you) the louder the echo becomes. So when girls start going missing, Violet takes it upon herself to find the killer by looking for their fresh and distinct echos.

The book is fast paced, very fun, as I said refreshing. If you like mysteries, a little fun romance, and a good YA read then I urge you to pick this up.

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