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    THE WINDOW by Amelia Brunskill Blog Tour Review

    I am so thrilled to be a part of the tour for Amelia Brunskill’s debut, THE WINDOW, which releases next week. This is such an incredible book and so, so, so much more than a mystery.

    If you’d like to know a bit more about what I thought, my review follows further below. If you’d like to know more about THE WINDOW or Author Amelia Brunskill, keep scrolling for details about them both and links to find them online.


    About THE WINDOW

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    Title: THE WINDOW
    Author: Amelia Brunskill
    Release date: April 3, 2018
    Publisher: Delacorte Press
    Pages: 352
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

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    Description…

    Secrets have a way of getting out. . . .

    Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside–it’s hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

    Or so Jess thought.

    After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess’s life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn’t add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?

    Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it’s a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.

    Because Anna wasn’t the only one with secrets.

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    NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


    The Review

    THE WINDOW is so much more than a mystery, though it is is quite the intriguing one. It’s a compelling and moving story about identity, about relationships, about sisters, about friendship, and about secrets and the dangers in keeping them. It is a highly addictive, perfectly paced read that will keep you captivated, with a main character who is different and interesting and determined and instantly likable.

    Jess Cutter thought she knew everything about her identical twin sister Anna. But she didn’t know her sister was sneaking out at night. She didn’t know who her sister was dressing up for. She didn’t know exactly when Anna started keeping secrets.

    But she did know her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. She did know that people weren’t telling her everything about what happened that night or what they knew about Anna. She did know enough about her sister to know that something else was going on.

    And whatever it took, she was going to find out the truth.

    With a diverse pool of potential suspects, several clues for Jess to find or miss, revealing teases from Anna herself, a number of people who appear to know more than they are letting on, and quite a few possibilities as to what, how, and why, Author Amelia Brunskill has made her story suspenseful and riveting. But she didn’t stop there.

    She created a character in Jess who isn’t your typical sleuth. She isn’t curious or nosy. Her aversion toward connecting or interacting with people makes her an unlikely detective/heroine. It is her desire to problem-solve, to make things make sense, and her need to understand her sister that drive her and ultimately solve the puzzle.

    THE WINDOW is as much a drama as it is a mystery. It is tragic and sad and heartbreaking. It has moments that are uplifting and empowering and hopeful. It is a story that’s just so easy to fall into, get hooked, get lost in, and fall in love with. It’s a phenomenal debut and a read that will not easily be forgotten.

    The Rating

    Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


    About the Author

    Amelia Brunskill was born in Melbourne, Australia, but she grew up mostly in Washington state where she picked a lot of blackberries, read a lot of books and failed to properly appreciate the epic beauty of the mountains and the Pacific ocean. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and art from the University of Washington and her master’s in information studies from the University of Texas at Austin. She now lives in Chicago, where she eats as much Thai food as possible and works as a librarian.The Window is her debut novel.

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    MISSING Blog Tour Review

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    Title: MISSING
    Author: Kelley Armstrong
    Release date: April 18, 2017
    Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
    Pages: 384
    Formats: Hardcover, eBook

    Read an EXCERPT

    Description…

    Fans of Jennifer Donnelly will flock to the new romantic thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Kelley Armstrong.

    The only thing Winter Crane likes about Reeve’s End is that soon she’ll leave it. Like her best friend did. Like her sister did. Like most of the teens born in town have done. There’s nothing for them there but abandoned mines and empty futures. They’re better off taking a chance elsewhere.

    What Winter will miss is the woods. Her only refuge. At least it was. Until the day she found Lennon left for dead, bleeding in a tree.

    But now Lennon is gone too. And he has Winter questioning what she once thought was true. What if nobody left at all? What if they’re all missing?

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    NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


    The Review

    MISSING is a chilling, suspense-filled, and nail-biting read that will not only keep you guessing, but will have you looking over your shoulder and jumping at every sound until the mystery is solved. With a quick pace, strong characters, an action-packed plot full of shocks and surprises, it will immediately grab hold and won’t let you go until the story’s end.

    Everyone leaves Reeve’s End, and Winter Crane can’t wait until she’s one of those statistics. Once she finishes school she’ll be able to escape, like her friend Edie and her sister Cady did. She already knows what she wants to do with her life – go to college, go to med school. Until then, she just needs to bide her time and avoid her father as much as possible.

    But when she discovers a boy who is beaten and unconscious, she can’t bring herself leave him and hope that the sheriff’s office will do their job. If the pack of wild dogs roaming free in the woods don’t get him, his attacker might come back to finish what he started.

    She knows helping him could be a risk. But she is a capable hunter. She knows these woods. And if he isn’t actually a victim, between her hunting knife, switchblade, and bow and arrows, she should be able to fend him off.

    She just never imagined that her one act of kindness would get her caught up in solving a mystery that goes beyond what happened to the injured boy, one that makes her a target, and one that jeopardizes her chance at ever leaving Reeve’s End.

    Kelley Armstrong penned a story that is exciting and terrifying and unexpected. She created a strong, clever, daring, and persistent heroine in Winter and she partnered her with Jude, a boy who is calculating, dangerous, and secretive. The mystery is complex. The story tension-filled. And the outcome unpredictable. All of which make for a gripping and electrifying read.

    Those who prefer their thrillers spine-tingling, their puzzles not instantly solvable, their criminals cunning, manipulative, and malevolent, their crime solvers fierce, determined, and relentless, and their crimes on the darker side, will absolutely love Kelley Armstrong’s MISSING.

    The Rating


    About Kelley Armstrong

    Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers’ dismay. Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

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    RYAR Review: MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr

    Previously published on ReadingYA.rocks


    ABOUT THE BOOK


    MADE FOR YOU by Melissa Marr
    Published by HarperCollins on September 16, 2014
    Genres: Mystery, Thriller
    Provided by: Author
    Rating: 4 stars

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    This book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

    DESCRIPTION

    Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?

    When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

    For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.


    REVIEW


    Melissa Marr’s MADE FOR YOU is an exciting and page-turning thriller. The story is dark and chilling, the killer is creepy and disturbing, and the mystery will keep you guessing. Told from multiple points of view, including the killer’s perspective, the author keeps things interesting by letting events unfold through more than just her main character Eva’s viewpoint.

    The stage is quickly set when Eva Tilling is nearly killed by an unidentified stalker known only as Judge. What at first seems like a hit and run turns out to be the first in a series of murders which are revealed to be connected to Eva. While the killer’s motivation is his obsession with Eva, he claims he is following the Lord’s plan. And as his need to deliver his message to Eva grows so does the danger to Eva and her friends.

    MADE FOR YOU adds an interesting twist to the typical mystery novel with Eva’s ability to foresee people’s deaths following her near-death “accident.” Not only does it make for a more suspenseful read, it gives the protagonist a way to catch the killer. And as it’s an unpredictable ability, and one that is not easily believable, it creates tension in the story for both characters and readers.

    I was quite surprised by the level of creepiness in this read. I did not expect the murders to be as shocking and horrifying as they were. I did not expect to learn what I learned about the killer’s “inspiration” for what he did. And I did not expect there to be a religious element to this story. The author went well beyond the standard boundaries in YA to craft her spine-tingling tale.

    I’m not the biggest fan of stories with “God made me do it” reasons for violence, but even with that as the driving force for the killer’s actions I found MADE FOR YOU to be a well-plotted, gripping and thoroughly entertaining read. And while I may have guessed who Judge was from the moment he was introduced, there was still some doubt and there were still plenty of questions needing answers to keep me engaged.

    From its small-town Southern setting with its restrictive set of rules as regards its social hierarchy, to its somewhat diverse group of characters who feel bound by those rules, to the main character’s psychic ability that let’s her see people’s deaths, to the fanatical, obsessive, creepy stalker turned murderer, MADE FOR YOU is a captivating, if unsettling, mystery.

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    RYAR Review: GET EVEN by Gretchen McNeil

    Previously published on ReadingYA.rocks


    ABOUT THE BOOK


    GET EVEN by Gretchen McNeil
    Series: Don’t Get Mad #1
    Published by Balzer + Bray on September 16, 2014
    Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
    Provided by: Publisher
    Rating: 5 stars

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    This book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

    DESCRIPTION

    The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

    Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

    When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.


    REVIEW


    GET EVEN is a fantastic start to this new series by Author Gretchen McNeil. It has everything you could want in a mystery – the storyline is riveting, it has a number of interesting characters of whom many are potential suspects, the answer to “whodunit” is not obvious and neither are the motives.

    What starts off as a story of a group of four girls – Bree, Kitty, Margot and Olivia – seeking justice for those who have been wronged, turns into quite the page-turner as a murder makes their secret organization the prime suspect. Remaining hidden is imperative, but when doubts set in and loyalty turns to mistrust each girl is left to wonder whether protecting themselves is more important than protecting the group.

    Initially I was skeptical about enjoying a mystery with multiple POVs. I was worried I wouldn’t connect to each of the characters and that the story would get muddled as it switched between each girl’s perspective. But my fears were quickly put to rest as the transitions were fluid, easy to follow and kept me not only engaged with the story but eager to find out what was going on with every one of the characters.

    Each of the girls has a personality and history that makes them unique individuals. Bree is bold and rebellious and looking for attention. Kitty is an over-achiever, a worrier and a leader. Margot is shy, lacks self-confidence, but is incredibly smart. Olivia is pretty, popular, and a talented actress. All four girls have things in their past that they’re not proud of. All four girls have reasons to distrust one another. But in order for their group, DGM, to succeed they’ll have to stick together. And given certain secrets that come to light, it won’t be easy.

    GET EVEN is an incredibly entertaining and totally addictive read. With a lightning-fast pace, a mystery readers will be anxious to solve and an ending that will leave them desperate for the next installment, Gretchen McNeil delivers an absolute must read first book in a series that is sure to be filled with surprises, unexpected twists and turns, suspicious characters and four girls who aren’t willing to just get mad.

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    Review: The Dead and Buried

    The Dead and Buried

    THE DEAD AND BURIED by Kim Harrington was released in the U.S. on January 1, 2013 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in both formats at AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE.

    Published by Point, an imprint of Scholastic, the print edition is 304 pages.

    ***

    Goodreads description:

    A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

    Jade loves the house she’s just moved into with her family. She doesn’t even mind being the new girl at the high school: It’s a fresh start, and there’s that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . . But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things. Jade’s little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade’s jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn’t.

    Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house is haunted. Haunted by a ghost who’s seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade’s school — until her untimely death last year. It’s up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets. But is one of them a murderer?

    ***

    Kim Harrington delivers yet another exciting, suspenseful and fun to read mystery in THE DEAD AND BURIED. With plenty of suspects to keep readers guessing, a vengeful ghost to give them chills and a touch of romance to make them smile, this story of murder, mean girls and a haunted house will keep the pages turning.

    For years Jade Kelley wanted to leave the small, isolated town and the old, drafty home she grew up in. Her wish was finally coming true and she was excited. Even though it meant starting her senior year of high school somewhere new and that she’d only be there for a year before heading off to college.

    But the new house her father and stepmother bought was perfect. She couldn’t have been happier.

    Until the kids at school started whispering behind her back. Until she started to notice that the things in her room weren’t always where she left them. Until her little brother Colby mentioned seeing a girl in his room that no one else could see. Until she started to feel an unexplainable chill in the air.

    And until she discovered the reason why her family could afford such a beautiful home in such a nice neighborhood.

    Author Kim Harrington did a fantastic job in creating this mystery. She managed to cast suspicion on a number of characters. She revealed enough to allow readers to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. She made the main character’s sleuthing efforts believable. And she even included a love story which added angst and heartache to this suspense-filled tale.

    Jade is a likable and clever, loyal and protective heroine. She is someone who forms her own opinions and doesn’t allow others to make up her mind for her. She is independent and isn’t afraid to be exactly who she is. But she’s not so different as to be unrelatable. She’s still shy around the kids at her new school, nervous and angry and hurt by her father, and frightened by what’s going on in her picture perfect home.

    With a few twists and turns, a couple of spine-tingling moments, a mystery that will leave room for doubt as to whodunit and a cast of characters that are fun to get to know, THE DEAD AND BURIED is an incredibly entertaining, at times chilling, tension-filled and captivating read.

    Reviewer gives this book…

    5

    On a personal note…

    I am a huge fan of mystery stories. And I’m an even bigger fan of Kim Harrington’s writing. Put the two together and I’m in love.

    I was a little nervous about meeting a new character, as I loved the author’s CLARITY series and the characters in that series. But Jade was such a likable and relatable character for me. She had a maturity to her which seemed appropriate for someone who lost her mother at a young age and took on such a protective role of her younger brother, Colby.

    More than that, though, I loved that she chose her own path, didn’t ditch her less than popular friend just because she could have and didn’t instantly label someone as guilty because someone told her they were.

    I loved that she fought hard against the love triangle that seemed insistent on forming even though she didn’t want it to. And I loved that she was inquisitive and not just because she had to be.

    My favorite parts, however – aside from all things Donovan, of course – were the peeks into Kayla Sloane’s diary. With each peek another part to the puzzle was revealed. Sometimes it was a small part, but it gave the most insight into just what may have happened.

    And while I adored Jade, I can’t say the same for Kayla. Now that girl was seriously messed up. She was power-hungry, malicious and downright evil at times. She may not have deserved what happened to her, but what she did to Jade and Colby made me think that maybe she did.

    I was totally caught up in the mystery even though I knew exactly who did it from the moment I first “met” the character who did it. Not that it was in any way easy or obvious. But this is the third mystery I’ve read by this author. The fact that it took three books for me to be this quick on the uptake is a testament to the author’s skill at crafting her mysteries.

    And it was so much fun to be proven right, to follow along as Jade tried to figure things out. All the while being bullied by a certain angry ghost, being pursued by a boy she wasn’t really interested in and being put on an emotional roller coaster by a boy she was.

    I absolutely loved this story and its characters, especially Jade, Colby, Robot Girl and the Cute Boy and with the possible exceptions of the Fruity-Smelling Girl and Perfect Boy. And no, I don’t plan on revealing who they are. And yes, I love the nicknames.

    This was such a fun read that had it all – a mystery, mean girls, swoon-worthy boys, and a haunted house. And you can bet that I did get a chill or two. Especially when that one thing happened with Colby. And then it happened again.

    Favorite passage…

    I have a few passages that I love, but as they are all slightly spoiler-y and would definitely take away from the surprise factor, I won’t include them here. There’s also this one quote about secrets that resonates.

    But I thought I’d include one that made me smile instead. And no, I won’t reveal just who Jade’s speaking to or just what her answer is.

    There were only a few inches between us now and I felt each one. He leaned in and whispered in my ear, “So it’s okay if I do this?”

    He kissed my earlobe, then his lips trailed down my neck, then back up to my cheek. He stopped at my lips, and I realized he was waiting for a response.

     

    Source: This review is based on a printed ARC I received from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

     

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    Review: Perception

    Perception by Kim Harrington will be released in the U.S. on March 1, 2012 in hardcover format. It is currently available to pre-order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

    Published by Point, an imprint of Scholastic, the print edition is 288 pages.

    Perception is the sequel to Clarity by author Kim Harrington.

    ***

    Goodreads description:

    When you can see things others can’t, what do you do when someone’s watching you?

    Everybody knows about Clarity “Clare” Fern. She’s the psychic girl in school, the one who can place her hands on something and see hidden visions from the past.

    Only Clare would rather not be a celebrity. She prefers hanging back, observing. Her gift is not a game to her.

    But then someone starts playing with her head . . . and heart. Messages and gifts from a secret admirer crop up everywhere Clare turns. Could they be from Gabriel, the gorgeous boy who gets Clare’s pulse racing? Or from Justin, Clare’s hopeful ex-boyfriend who’d do anything to win her back?

    One thing is certain. Clare needs to solve this mystery, and soon. Because the messages are becoming sinister, and a girl in town has suddenly disappeared.

    ***

    Things have finally started to quiet down for Clarity Fern after the events that took place over the summer landed her in the spotlight. While she was happy not to be called the town “freak” anymore, by almost everyone, she preferred not to be the center of attention.

    But not everything has returned to normal. Brooke and Kendra, two of the Barbie Brigade that used to torment her, now treat her like she’s their new best friend. Her brother Perry is no longer the outgoing, social, flirty and fun older brother he used to be. And it seems she has a secret admirer.

    When notes and flowers begin to show up at school and at home, Clare is flattered. Since she hasn’t been able to choose between Justin, her ex, and Gabriel, a very tempting possibility, she assumes it’s one of them.

    But she starts to grow concerned when it feels as if she’s being watched and followed. Even though she thinks she’s probably imagining things, she isn’t so quick to disregard what she’s feeling, because as a psychic her intuition is almost never wrong.

    Someone is behind all of it. She just has to find out who. And if that wasn’t enough of a mystery for her to solve, it appears that a girl has gone missing. Someone she may be able to help find using her abilities.

    Things don’t seem to stay quiet in Eastport for long. And Clare just can’t stay out of danger. At least she can count on Tiffany to be her same cruel, tormenting, back-stabbing and completely normal self.

    ***

    Perception is an immensely entertaining story, a captivating mystery and a thoroughly enjoyable one-sit-read. This incredibly fast-paced sequel, with characters that are exciting and either lovable, detestable or somewhere in between, is utterly engaging and has such an easy flow.

    The story returns readers to Eastport and picks up shortly after the events in Clarity ended. Clarity “Clare” Fern has started her Junior year in high school and is attempting to once again fade into the background. But not everyone is willing to let that happen.

    With a secret admirer who may be more stalker than admirer and a missing girl who may have simply just run away or could already be dead, Clare has two pretty big mysteries to solve. All the while still trying to decide whether to forgive Justin or to take a chance on Gabriel.

    As the mystery deepens and the danger to Clare becomes more real, she’ll have to rely on more than just her psychic abilities to find answers and she’ll have to put her trust in someone. She just hopes it’s the right someone.

    Author Kim Harrington has followed up her debut novel with a sequel that is just as charming, just as exciting and just as suspenseful. Her main character, Clare Fern is every bit as strong as she was, perhaps even stronger because of all she’s been through, and if possible, even more likable.

    She is smart, kind and compassionate. And it is her interest in solving the mystery and her willingness to help, even when helping could put her at risk, that make her such an endearing character.

    While some of the other characters from the first book aren’t as prominent in this second book in the series, new characters are added to the mix that are just as engaging, intriguing or suspicion-inducing, giving readers more characters to question, doubt and mistrust, and giving this series room to grow.

    As the story progresses, the pace escalates and the tension continues to build, all leading up to a dramatic finish in which all is revealed.

    Perception is an absolutely delightful story and a must read for those looking for a quick and fun mystery with a paranormal twist, an abundance of enticing characters and an ending that won’t leave off at the edge of a cliff.

    Reviewer gives this book…

    On a personal note:

    I absolutely love this sequel. I loved Clarity and I love Perception just as much. It was such an adorable, fun and super quick read. Just as I knew it would be. I really hope there is a third book planned in this series because I already miss Clare, Gabriel, Perry, Starla and even Justin.

    For the record, I do not miss Tiffany.

    Clare Fern is an easy to love heroine – one of my favorites. She’s sweet, clever, caring and understanding. But she’s not a total pushover. And she has this awesome ability – retrocognitive psychometry – which she wants to use to help others rather than as some party trick or way to make money.

    I loved getting back into the world, seeing my favorite characters again, meeting new ones and being challenged to solve the mysteries. While I had that “aha” moment and was able to figure out whodunit right away, I was still captivated by the story and it was totally fun to see Clare try to puzzle things out.

    Once again the author did an amazing job making almost all the characters seem suspicious. And while one stood out to me, I could just as easily have been wrong, like I was when I read Clarity. And before I end up letting something slip, I’ll stop talking about the mystery.

    But for the same reason, it’s also impossible to talk about the characters without giving something away. Any of them. Old or new. There were a few new and interesting characters in this series, but I can’t say whether I liked them or not without spoiling the mystery. And I can’t say whether or not I was happy to see certain old characters again, because that would be spoiler-y, too.

    Though, I suppose I can say that there were characters I loved, characters I wanted to love, characters who gave me the heebie-jeebies, characters I really hoped weren’t guilty and characters I really hoped were.

    And I can’t not talk about the love triangle. I absolutely love the love triangle in this book. While it wasn’t the main focus of the story, it was always there in the background. Neither boy was an obvious choice. And Clare’s decision wasn’t a guaranteed one. Which made me very, very nervous.

    While I had my favorite, I had no idea if he would be Clare’s pick or even if she’d choose either boy. This was one mystery that kept me in the dark for the entire book. And I mean the entire book. No early answers to that question.

    As with the first book, the mysteries were solved and everything was wrapped up pretty nicely in the end. I am just keeping fingers and toes crossed that there will be many more books to come in this series. I would be totally happy to devour them all.

    ***

    I had a couple of passages I loved, but only one favorite:

    Gabriel studied me for a moment. “You don’t realize it, do you?”

    I blinked, twice. “Realize what?”

    “What makes you different makes you beautiful.”

    My breath caught in my throat.

    Book trailer for the Clarity novels:

    This review is based on an ARC I received from the publisher, Scholastic, in exchange for my honest opinion.

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    Review: Haunting Violet

    Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey was released in the U.S. on June 21, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

    Published by Walker Children’s Books, a division of Bloomsbury, the print edition is  352 pages.

    Goodreads description:

    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?

    ***

    Rowena Wentworth didn’t drown. She was murdered. And until her killer is revealed and admits their guilt, her spirit will not rest. And as a restless spirit she is angry and she fears for her sister Tabitha’s safety. She wants justice.

    So when she sees someone who possesses the gift of sight, she is determined to make them solve her murder and she will not leave them alone until they do.

    Violet Willoughby never wanted to follow in her mother Celeste’s footsteps – someone who claimed to have the ability to connect with the spirit world. But she knew her mother was a fraud, that she only sought the profit and attention that being a medium afforded. She was well aware of all her mother’s tricks. And she knew that spirits didn’t really exist.

    But when her mother is invited to Rosefield by Lord Jasper to perform a séance, Violet quickly learns just how wrong she’s been. That there really are such things as spirits. That she can see them. And that if she doesn’t figure out who Rowena’s killer is, she might never be left alone.

    Because a sixteen-year-old girl with psychic abilities is no match for an angry spirit dead-set on finding her executioner.

    ***

    Haunting Violet is a bewitching and utterly delightful murder mystery with a twist set in the Victorian Era. It is a clever, fun and incredibly entertaining story that will keep readers guessing as to the identity of the killer and why they committed this crime.

    The story has all the right elements to make up the perfect murder mystery. There are a number of characters who are behaving suspiciously, with hidden motives and many secrets they do not want revealed. There is a reluctant but capable “detective” and a charming and lovable “sidekick.” And it has an ideal setting – a large manor in the English countryside where the guilty party can easily remain hidden amongst the crowds.

    But there is more to Haunting Violet than just a mystery. A whole new dimension is added to the story with the supernatural element and Violet’s ability to communicate with Rowena and other pleasant and not so pleasant spirits.

    Violet and Elizabeth make a charming crime-solving duo. And with a love story developing in the background, Haunting Violet is an extremely engaging book.

    Alyxandra Harvey’s ability to craft an enchanting story extends beyond the realm of the vampire in Haunting Violet, her novel that is part mystery, part ghost story and part love story. And she has created a group of characters that are incredibly entertaining and simply delightful to get to know.

    Haunting Violet is not only a must read for fans of historical young adult fiction or supernatural murder mysteries, but for readers who enjoy a captivating, well-written story told from the main character’s perspective who is a very likable albeit reluctant heroine.

    Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

    On a personal note:

    When I read the description for Haunting Violet I had no idea that it took place in Victorian England. It was revealed rather quickly, however, when I opened the book and saw “1865” on the first page.

    Victorian Era and historical fiction are not genres that I typically seek out or enjoy, but I’ve been a huge fan of the author’s Drake chronicles since the very first book. Plus, the idea of a ghostly murder mystery sounded like it would be quite entertaining. So, I decided to give it a chance.

    And I’m so glad I did. I absolutely loved this book. Author Alyxandra Harvey’s writing was just as captivating as it was in her other books. Even more so. She really brought the story and characters to life and this story was much more richly developed than her vampire series, perhaps because it is a murder mystery.

    Violet is utterly adorable. She is a slightly modern girl stuck in this stuffy and rather boring era of corsets and manners and etiquette. She has a mind of her own, and even though she appears somewhat to fit in with polite society she is much less constrained by their rules. How boring can she be when her mother is a fraudulent medium who has Violet participating in her deceptive schemes?

    That Rowena Wentworth is one pain in the backside spirit. But I suppose I wouldn’t be too thrilled if I was murdered and no one knew it. It was fun to try and figure out “whodunit.” I took my guess pretty early on and was glad I was not wrong. But there were a number of suspicious characters that were great contenders to be the murderer, which kept me engrossed until the puzzle was solved.

    Elizabeth is probably my favorite character. She is so nice and sweet and funny. And she is just so incredibly enthusiastic, quick to forgive, always ready to sneak a sweet treat and always manages to find a handsome boy to swoon over.

    She and Violet made the perfect duo to try and solve the mystery behind Rowena’s death.

    And then there is the love story. It is definitely worthy of a few sighs. It is ever so gently woven into the story, not taking anything away from the main focus which is the murder mystery. In fact, it adds to the story and makes Violet even more likable because of it.

    I’m so happy that I did not judge this book by its genre. The story was incredibly engaging, Violet and Elizabeth were absolutely endearing, the supernatural element made the story both chilling and exciting and the love story was the icing on the cake.

    I have no idea if this will be a series, but I would be completely thrilled to find out that there are more books planned for Violet, Elizabeth, Colin and Lord Jasper. With all the spirits wandering around Rosefield and all of London, there are bound to be a few more mysteries for Violet to solve.

    ***

    To download an excerpt of the first chapter from the publisher, CLICK HERE.

    Book trailer for Haunting Violet:

    Author Alyxandra Harvey discusses Haunting Violet:

    ***

    This review is based on an ARC of the UK edition I won in a contest on the publisher’s Facebook page.

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