Thursday, July 14, 2011

Haunting Violet

Author: Alyxandra Harvey
Pages: 344,
Published: June 2011, Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Paranormal/Historical fiction/Mystery
Cover Score: A
Overall Grade:

As the daughter of a scam-artist "medium", Violet Willoughby naturally doesn't believe in ghosts. But when she is forced to accompany her mother to the wealthy Lord Jasper's country estate to conduct seances, she is forced to reconsider her views on the spiritualist world. There, Violet encounters a frightening vision she can't ignore: the ghost of a young girl, seeking justice from beyond. Thrust into the center of an unsolved murder admidst the highest echelon of Victorian society, Violet must discover the mystery behind this girl's violent death before her twin sister suffers the same fate. The only person Violet can trust with her secret is her mother's assistant Colin...but will she be able to accept her new talent and prevent another murder without risking her own chances for a future with the one she truly loves?

My thoughts: I had a tough time getting into the first few chapters of Haunting Violet, but once I had reached the tenth page or so, this haunting, beautifully written, fast-paced, and easy to understand romance/Victorian mystery/paranormal delight flew by.
I fell in love with Ms. Harvey's Drake Chronicles, so I was thrilled when I heard that she was writing a new book that went in a different direction. All in all, I was pleased with Haunting Violet--equal parts high-class Victorian-era glamour, swoon-worthy romance, and murder mystery, one thing made itself very clear throughout the novel: Ms. Harvey did her research! Each detail that made the book so lifelike and clear was perfectly on-key with the time period: the clothes, the mannerisms, the dialogue, the descriptions of the country manor and gardens.
Although the plot was pretty much that of your average paranormal novel, these details and the Victorian English setting took the book to another level. The plot moved quickly and fluidly, and I loved the realistic relationship between Colin and Violet (you could just feel the social tension), the mystery and glamour of the seances, the strained relationship between Violet and her fraudulent mother, and the chilling murder that Violet had to solve before time ran out.
Interesting, unique, and beautifully, realistically written, Haunting Violet will please both avid paranormal readers and fans of historical fiction.

Must-Read! Check it Out! Don't Bother

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monthly Mailbox: June

June was a pretty quiet month for actual blogging (ahem, school finals and vacation/blogging hiatus). However, my mailbox was full when I got home from a trip to Spain!

Just for fun:
  • The Lovely Shoes by Susan Shreve
  • Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt (And Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell) by Crickett Rumley
  • The Magnolia League by Katie Crouch
  • Haunting Violet (for a Bloomsbury book tour) by Alyxandra Harvey (thank you to Kate Lied)
  • To Catch a Prince by Gillian McKnight
  • Sirenz by Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman
When I came home from Spain, I found this box of books waiting for me from Random House!:

  • Sons of Liberty: Death and Taxes by Alexander & Joseph Lagos
  • Amen, L.A. by Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld
  • Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore
  • Starstruck by Cyn Balog
  • The Other Countess by Eve Edwards
  • The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt
  • Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
  • Wildcat Fireflies by Amber Kizer
  • Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler
These are going to be so much fun to read, I've got a lot of reviewing ahead of me! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Save the Date

Author: Tamara Summers
Pages: 314
Published: HarperTeen, 2008
Genre: Romance/Comedy
Cover Score: D
Overall Grade: A

17 year old Jakarta (aka Jack) is sick of being a bridesmaid. With two out of five older sisters already married, she's had her fair share of Bridezilla catfights, lacy gowns, pre-nuptial stress, flowery wedding showers, and drama. Not to mention her "wedding curse"--every time she brings a boyfriend to a wedding, it ends the relationship and disaster ensues. However, two of her older sisters are planning summer weddings, which means that Jack is back to making place settings and sampling cake flavors. However, the drama of the weddings might be bearable, what with the company of the wedding planner's attractive son, Leo...Will he be able to break her curse?

My thoughts: I took this book on vacation with me, and was expecting a light, breezy beach read. However, Save the Date blew past my expectations. Don't let the cheesy book cover fool you: Save the Date is a hilarious, honest, and quick summertime read that is not all whirlwind romance and fluff.
The best thing about this novel, to me, was Jack's narration. She was frank and funny, and completely unlike the stereotypical protagonist of a romance novel. She was sarcastic and often ridiculed her sister's following of cheesy traditions, much to their disapproval. I loved the relationship between the sisters: the drama with flower-child Victoria and crazy, artistic Paris planning their own, very different weddings added comic relief. I often found myself laughing out loud at their antics! I also liked the romance between Jack and Leo, as it didn't consume the whole storyline. The book was also about family and sisterhood, not just romance.
As well, the "wedding curse" was a unique addition to the storyline. It was interesting to see Jack trying to push aside her feelings for Leo in order to save her sister's weddings.
Overall, if you're looking for a funny, light, and well-written book that you'll get sucked in to, definitely check out Save the Date. Will the weddings be disastrous? Or is the Wedding Curse over?