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Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) – Adriana MatherTitle: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: October 3, 2017 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Ghosts
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 16, 2017
Related Posts: How to Hang a Witch

The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous "ship of dreams"--a story made all the more fascinating because the author's own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family's connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she'd find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she's been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam's waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

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I really, really enjoyed HOW TO HANG A WITCH from Adriana Mather last year so I was so ready to pick up HAUNTING THE DEEP when I heard of its release! I started reading it close to Halloween, being that HOW TO HANG A WITCH was the perfect Halloween read. HAUNTING THE DEEP didn’t quite have the same vibe for me and it was still enjoyable, but I also felt like it was lacking quite a bit.

I felt like all of the work to incorporate the witch story line was kind of lost. There was still magic involved but HAUNTING THE DEEP was focused more on a ghostly plane versus a ghost being involved in a witchy story. Sam’s interactions with the Titanic and its passengers stretched the imagination a little bit more and moved from what I guess I’d call “believable magic” to a point where it was a bit too far-fetched for me. I also wasn’t as big of a fan of the Titanic concept as I was the connection to the Salem Witch trials.

What is very cool is that Adriana Mather writes these books in connection to her own family  history. Her relatives have some serious American historical roots and their actual involvement in the Salem Witch Trials and the Titanic inspired her writing for these books! It’s really neat to know that she has a personal connection to the stories.

The long triangle from the first book really kind of bothered me but I’m not feeling as bothered by it anymore. I’m still team Human versus team Ghost (the ghost thing is… weird?) but I guess we’ll see where things go! I like the connection but I wish it wasn’t like, a full-on romance thing here.

When it comes down to it, I just really missed the witchiness of the first book and especially reading it around Halloween, that’s just what I really wanted. I’m definitely going to read more from Adriana Mather because I can’t wait to see what else she’s writing about (she has a LOT of sweet family history) and I love the personal author’s notes at the end of these books to explain a lot of that too! I didn’t really connect with HAUNTING THE DEEP like I had hoped but I’m definitely in for the long haul with these books! addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The Titanic. I hadn’t really given much thought to the Titanic outside of the movie, but it was actually really neat to get some more history about it in this book!
Left Me Wanting More: Witches. I just looooved that Craft meets Hocus Pocus vibe from the first book and it was really missing here, being about something totally different haha! It was just so much fun, though.

Addiction Rating
Check it out

Lots of fans of HOW TO HANG A WITCH seemed to enjoy this one and even reviewed that they enjoyed it better than the first, with improvements in writing and plot. For me, I was totally hung up on my witchy vibes. It was still enjoyable but I just wasn’t connected. I think totally worth checking out if you read the first (please read the first book first)!

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BOOKS LIKE HAUNTING THE DEEP

          

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: October 17, 2011 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Ghosts, Horror, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 30, 2017
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1)

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas's life.

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I actually tried to read this book, oh about four or five years ago, and decided it was too scary because I hate reading ghost stories but so many people had talked about the book that I had wanted to give it a try. I figured now that I’m braver and decided to read it NOT in the dark, NOT home alone, and NOT in a very old apartment that it would take away some of the fear factor and really… it’s not a scary book at all. ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD has some gory and creepy moments but it’s more about the story of Anna and how she came to be, Cas and his family, and the friendships that form, rather than the fear.

The book was fun but it didn’t really pull me in. I liked Cas and enjoyed his point of view but the plot just didn’t quite work for me, which seems to be kind of a pattern with Kendare Blake’s books for me. I didn’t really care about the ending and didn’t really like where the story went. I felt like it would have been a better stand-alone, making this more about Cas and Anna’s story rather than Cas’s family and his history (for once I don’t want character backstory!). Even though there were a lot of things leading up to the conclusion, it still seemed to veer off in a different direction and just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the book.

It was a fun read but I don’t think I’ll pick up the second book. I’m glad I “faced my fears” and tried it again because it really wasn’t scary at all! I had just put myself in a spooky place when I first tried to read it and barely made it anywhere because I freaked myself out with a spooky setting, so I’m really glad I attempted this book again. I feel silly for being scared before but I guess I concocted the perfect storm for a fear factor the first time around!

The audiobook narrator was also very meh. He had breaths and pauses in weird places (the middle of sentences) and didn’t have very good accents at all. Anna’s Finnish accent was more Russian and no one had a Canadian accent or even a hint of one despite the fact that the book took place in Canada. I mean, all Canadians don’t have to have a strong, pronounced accent but I do notice the vowel changes a lot with my own Canadian friends so I guess I expected the same here. His voices for the other guys were like, no one’s voice ever in real life, and the girls were overdone and stereotypical, so that didn’t enhance my reading experience like some audiobook narrators can do.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ghost stories?! I can handle ghosts in books as long as it’s not in a scary capacity. I tend to freak myself out when reading scary ghost books but I’ve read quite a few books where ghosts appear in a less threatening capacity. Anna got a little creepy in this book but Cas’s interaction with her calmed it down.
Left Me Wanting More: Focus. I felt like the focus strayed, which is silly considering that was the end point all along… So I guess I was looking for the “twist” of the end to play a bigger role in the rest of the book so it didn’t feel like we were talking about two different things.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD was a quick and fun Halloween-time read. It didn’t impress me a lot but I had a good time reading it and while it was middle-of-the-road for me, I’m still glad I read it. I probably won’t read the second book, especially the way that it ended, so I can’t really recommend it but others enjoyed it a lot!

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BOOKS LIKE ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD

          

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana Mather

How to Hang a Witch – Adriana MatherTitle: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group, Listening Library
Source: ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 2, 2016
Related Posts: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.
Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

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** This is a spoiler-free review EXCEPT for the last paragraph about the romance in the book. It’s a very minor spoiler (and some may not even consider it a spoiler) BUT if you don’t wish to know any details, avert your eyes at the end! ** 

I first heard of HOW TO HANG A WITCH at ALA this past January and was instantly attracted to the “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch. When I saw an audio review copy from Listening Library, I knew I wanted to read it soon and I quickly dove into the audiobook. I was surprised to find out that the author, Adriana Mather, narrates it herself! It was such a fun experience overall and I really enjoyed the entire vibe of the book.

The “Mean Girls meets Salem Witch Trials” pitch is pretty spot on. I was actually reminded a lot of The Craft as far as the Mean Girls aspect went with Sam having several conflicts with The Descendants, a group of classmates who are actual descendants of the families involved in the Salem Witch trials and who may or may not dabble in actual witchcraft. They dress in all black and are generally surly bunch and this totally reminded me of the movie The Craft! (And I loved it.) I also totally picked up a Hocus Pocus vibe with Sam moving to Salem from the city and being the new kid in school. She meets a boy, has a crush, communicates with spirits, and gets involved with witches. Not to mention the whole thing takes place during the fall and I was just totally pining for autumn and Halloweentime! My only regret about reading this book when I did is that it wasn’t fall already! I absolutely loved the overall feel of the book — movie vibes included — and really enjoyed how it was a contemporary take on the witches without being historical fiction or total fantasy world. It had that perfect modern feel that fit so well with the book’s overall tone.

The plot kept me hooked and entertained from start to finish. There were a lot of interesting twists and like your average book, some were predictable and some totally weren’t. I liked that the past played a really strong part in the present and there are so many ways that Sam’s current situation is intertwined with the actual history of the Salem Witch trials. Some twists really surprised me and I had a long-standing theory for a couple things that were happening that turned out to be incorrect, which I actually love because I think it’s great when an author can surprise or mislead me to keep a big reveal for the ending! There were a couple spots that got a little confusing or convoluted with some extra details that didn’t end up playing a part in the book but those details also kept me on the trail of something that turned out to be a red herring and maintained the element of surprise, so I guess that was good in one way!

The really, really neat thing about HOW TO HANG A WITCH is Adriana Mather’s actual, real-life relation to the Mather family of the Salem Witch Trials. She really is a direct descendant and there’s a neat author’s note that I listened to at the end explaining a long and rather important family history in which her ancestors played big roles in some major historical events. I thought it was really neat how she used her own family connection to create this story! Obviously some historical elements were changed to tweaked to accommodate a young adult novel as well as creating into a modern work of fiction, but there are a lot of general concepts and even some specific facts relating to the Salem Witch Trials and the Mather family specifically that are totally true! With Adriana Mather’s narration of the audiobook as well, it was just really neat to see so many specific elements of involvement in the production of her book and it felt like such a personal touch and connection.

(Possible spoiler paragraph) The one thing about the book that I really had a hang-up with was the romance. I was really accepting of everything — witches, ghosts, paranormal activity, a gang of descendants — up until this romance thing took a turn. It started out sweet with Sam and neighbor boy Jaxon slowly starting to develop a little bit of a romance but then Sam’s involvement with Elijah, the ghost that follows her around, starts to become romantic. And then you lost me. I can handle fond feelings for the ghost-boy but Sam wanted to actually start like… dating him. Sweetie. You realize he’s a ghost, right? Sam has the ability to physically interact with him and it’s pretty consistent  but things get weird when you start kissing ghosts of boys who have been dead for hundreds of years. Thankfully, that resolved itself but why throw in a love triangle angle with a ghost? That was my one big turn-off.

HOW TO HANG A WITCH was an overall fun and enjoyable read! I just really dug the whole vibe of the book, from The Craft and Hocus Pocus feel to the contemporary take to the sarcasm and snark, the book really just fit with me! Some readers will probably be anticipating a little more depth because for all of its history, it did still feel on the lighter side but I personally really liked that about it. I really enjoyed the levity while still digging into actual history (with a little bit of creative licensing) and having a book that was easy to breeze through and kept me entertained! I think this is a really fun fall read and should definitely be on your reading lists this autumn if you love reading spooky or seasonal reads before/around Halloween!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Yes, I used a gif in my status update. Look at those skills! (ha) 

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Sam // Character obsessions: Her father’s health, being a loner, solving mysteries.
Sam was a fun character for me! I loved her sass and snark and with Adriana Mather’s voice narrating the audiobook, she kind of reminded me of the middle sister Mandy in Last Man Standing… Except not dumb haha. (That’s what her voice reminded me of!) I liked how she grew Elijah // Character obsessions: Protecting, watching, seriousness.
I had kind of a love-hate relationship with Elijah. I kind of liked his presence but I also got annoyed by it. I enjoyed how he interacted with Sam but I also really disliked it at times. I’m still on the fence about him but I’m glad things wrapped up the way that they did at the end of the book!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Modern History. I really liked that the history was so involved in a contemporary setting. It was fun to see witches but in a contemporary fashion and still have that Salem Witch Trials connection!
Left Me Wanting More: Platonic relationships. The romance aspects of the book felt a little forced. I think this is a book that could have done really well with little or zero romance at all! Instead there was a little too much and things got a bit carried away.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was just a really fun book from start to finish. If you’re into The Craft or Hocus Pocus, I totally recommend it because I had friends who picked up on those vibes as well! It’s a fun fall read and one I’ll be recommending come Halloweentime!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE HOW TO HANG A WITCH

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    possess

Life After Theft – Aprilynne Pike

Life After Theft – Aprilynne PikeTitle: Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike
Publishing Info: April 30, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Ghosts, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 4, 2013

    Moving to a new high school sucks. Especially a rich-kid private school. With uniforms. But nothing is worse than finding out the first girl you meet is dead. And a klepto.
No one can see or hear Kimberlee except Jeff, so--in hopes of bringing an end to the snarkiest haunting in history--he agrees to help her complete her "unfinished business." But when the enmity between Kimberlee and Jeff's new crush, Sera, manages to continue posthumously, Jeff wonders if he's made the right choice.
Clash meets sass in this uproarious modern-day retelling of Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel.

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So, LIFE AFTER THEFT is a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I was kind of surprised to hear! Then again, I don’t really know much of anything about The Scarlet Pimpernel so I’m not really sure why I was so surprised… I guess just because it seems like an uncommon choice.

My first reaction after finishing was 1) that I really liked seeing a male POV and 2) it was a quick read and an interesting story. Did it wow me? Did it knock me off my feet? Meh… No. But LIFE AFTER THEFT was still enjoyable the whole way through and it was a quick and easy read.

One thing I love about male POVs in YA (especially when it’s a female author writing a male POV, in my opinion) is that they always seem to be so snarky and witty — maybe it’s so they have that edge that a female MC might not? Personally, I love that snark and that was kind of how LIFE AFTER THEFT started off. Throughout the whole book, though, I think I was just hoping for more. Our main character Jeff was actually a nice guy (that was kind of the purpose of the whole book) so what started off as snarky and sarcastic didn’t really carry through the whole book like I wanted it to!

I enjoyed the characters but didn’t end up falling in love with any of them. Jeff is a good guy in a tough situation (I do NOT envy his ability to see a ghost), Kimberlee is stuck between two worlds, Sera has a past, and Khail does as well… They were all perfectly good characters but no one really stuck out for me to say, “YES, I really liked Character X.”

There are a lot of really nice “life lesson” situations in this book and we see a lot of coming-of-age experiences and life-changing situations (divorce, moving, death, love, drugs, alcohol, sex). Besides the life lessons at the end of the book (of course we know they’re going to learn something from all of this!), the life-changings situations didn’t take over the whole book, which I was happy for. There were plenty of serious topics being addressed and floating around this whole ghost situation, but I still felt like the book had an overall happy & light feel. The only thing that bothered me really was 1) an instance of…. I wouldn’t call it insta-love because it wasn’t. More like “We’ve-known-each-other-for-a-month-love” which is still too insta-lovey for me!

  

      (Actually, I could totally see Jeff being a Ted Mosby-type character…)

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Jeff: Jeff is a good guy. No, really. He’s a truly good person! His decision to help out Kimberlee’s ghost really is the entire book, so go, Jeff for being so nice! I was actually hoping for a tiny bit more sarcasm & snark and less “good guy” from him (just since that was the immediate feeling I got from the first few pages), but turns out he’s kind of a Ted Mosby. Not a bad thing, but just not what I was expecting/hoping for! He was extremely noble and that was really admirable to see! Kimberlee: Kimberlee (NOT Kim) is a totally different story. She…. had some issues when she was alive. Mainly legit kleptomania and not just stealing for kicks. She was NOT a nice person when she was alive and she spends a lot of her… haunting time trying to figure out how to redeem herself so she can move on. Sera: Sera was okay for me. I know we were really supposed to like her in the end but I was just always kind of lukewarm towards her. Maybe I should blame Kimberlee for that! Khail: For some reason he just felt forced into the book for me, which really doesn’t make sense because he actually becomes a big part of the plot. I just never fell into step with his character and he never felt natural for me.

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Borrow it

LIFE AFTER THEFT was really cute and very entertaining but it wasn’t something I might go out of my way for again. I wouldn’t say pass it up but didn’t quite bump it up on my TBR either.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE LIFE AFTER THEFT

     The Raven Boys          Paper Valentine

Paper Valentine – Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine – Brenna YovanoffTitle: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Publishing Info: January 8, 2013 by Penguin
Genres: Ghosts, Mystery/Thriller, Paranormal, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 1, 2013

    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.

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This is one of the times I get upset with a book synopsis — It didn’t give away any spoilers or anything (which is the reason I generally avoid reading the summaries), but when it says that Lillian is pushing Hannah to investigate the murders, I wouldn’t really say that it was Lillian’s idea one way or the other. Lillian is almost like Hannah’s stream of consciousness in PAPER VALNETINE and I’d say that although she’s a character unto herself, she plays out the dialogue that Hannah would probably be having with herself it Lillian wasn’t there. To me, I felt like Lillian was an outlet for Hannah to feel okay looking deeper into the details of the murders and sneaking peeks at the crime scene photos because Lillian was there and Lillian was always getting into that kind of stuff. Not a huge deal, but it just bothered me a little bit — That could also just be my interpretation but it almost makes it seem like Hannah really had to be convinced to start investigating and I think it was a little part of her all along; Lillian was just kind of the nod of approval and the little bit of encouragement that she needed.

Okay, now that I’m past that…. I really enjoyed the book! I thought the mystery of the murders was really nicely done and I found myself jumping from one person to the next, wondering if they were the person behind the gruesome murders. Surprisingly, I really liked the involvement of the ghosts and how they really carried the plot and became an integral part of the story. I am totally and completely terrified of seeing ghosts for some reason and whenever I read books or watch movies about ghosts, I’m usually scared for days — PAPER VALENTINE didn’t leave me with a creepy ghost feeling though. Yes, they were brutal and pretty creepy at times, but there was also almost an air of normalcy that Hannah was communicating with them – Probably because of Lillian’s constant presence and although I’m sure she made a very chilling ghost to look at, when others started popping up, I knew it was to be helpful and not harmful.

The romance. Hmmmm. I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Somehow I never really got on board with Finny. I couldn’t picture him with bleach blonde hair despite his description, I think mainly just because the name Finny created an image in my head that didn’t look like the character so that was a mental battle in my head, trying to make him look like he was described. Anyway… It wasn’t the fact that he was a “delinquent” or that he was missing his pinky finger… Maybe it was just the quiet nature of his character and somehow it just didn’t come across to me as genuine like for Hannah. I think it was also the constant underlying suspicions of every single other character in the book – and even a little from Hannah — that made me not want to trust him. I just didn’t find myself rooting for the two of them to really get together.

To sum it up, it was a really great read — Definitely creepy and a bit morbid but in a way that kept me flipping pages, excited to know how the book was going to end. I really liked Hannah as the main character and it was a totally different kind of dynamic between her and her family/friends than the usual happy-go-lucky YA novel. If you’re ready for a little darker of a story, I’d definitely recommend it!

character_breakdown1Hannah: I really enjoyed Hannah as a main character. She was different than I expected her to be. I almost felt like without Lillian, she was still trying to figure herself out, that she was missing a piece of herself, so that made it really interesting to see how she started to readjust in her group of friends, in her relationships, and in her family dynamic as well. She was definitely a different kind of character and I actually found myself feeling emotional about her – Like I was really sorry for her loss and Lillian being there as a constant reminder wasn’t helping. I did see her slowly change throughout the book and I really liked how the book ended and how we closed the story with Hannah coming out a little bit more confident after the whole ordeal.
Finny: Ehhhh somehow I just didn’t get the romance between Finny and Hannah. I think it was his quiet nature that kind of kept me on the outside and I didn’t really get to know his character enough. All of the accusations of him being a suspicious character from all of Hannah’s family and friends didn’t help either!
Lillian: For some reason as creepy and unstable as Lillian’s character – or ghost of a character I guess – is, I think she may have been one of my favorites. She was kind of the all-seeing character in the book and poked and propped Hannah to see things she wasn’t seeing or to make her question herself or to encourage her to do things. She really moved the plot along and even though her physical presence on Earth was missing, her constant presence around Hannah made her an extremely important part of the book. Even being deceased, even her character showed a little growth. It was a very interesting aspect of the story and I liked what she brought to it. 

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Read it!

This book was really interesting. I loved the combination of mystery/thriller and paranormal with the ghostly sort of haunting.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE PAPER VALENTINE