Thursday, April 11, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff


Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Goodreads
Rating: Gorgeous writing, ghosts, and serial killers collide for a story that'll creep the heck out of you with its eerie mood and somehow lift your heart at the same time.

Paper Valentine

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 is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.


The cover: I'm obsessed with silhouette covers and this cover in particular. I love the intricacies of the cutout and how equally sweet and sinister the girl is, even with her delicate ponytail and profile. It suits the feel of the book and the main character perfectly.

The book: Do you ever read a book where you're just so in love with the prose that you kind of feel sick with envy and happiness, and the plot could kind of go anywhere and you'd be happy with it, because you'd be able to continue reading this author's words? I feel that way about Tahereh Mafi, and now I feel that way about Yovanoff. There's a whimsical almost-poetry to her descriptions and the details she chooses to include. Like, it's all sparkly and lilting on the surface, but there's this dark grittiness underneath. That perfectly sums up Paper Valentine, a beautiful, engaging, horrifically disturbing novel about the many layers a person can be hiding, for good or for bad.

Strange things are afoot in the city of Ludlow, where Hannah Wagner lives. And by strange, I mean, horrible. Hannah's best friend Lillian, who died after a long battle with anorexia, now haunts her day and night, and there's a serial killer murdering middle school girls. Plus Hannah's friends are all really awful people and she may or may not be inordinately interesting with the dangerous and very much off-limits Finny Boone, a huge, delectable pile of YA swoon. I loved being in Hannah's head and hearing the unique way her thoughts form. When I talk about liking characters with layers, I mean Hannah. She wears vintage dresses that she sews herself, and ribbons in her hair, and Alice in Wonderland charm bracelets. She does crafts and smiles a lot and always has something whimsical to say. But there's so much more to her, things she doesn't want others to see and things she even keeps from herself.

I'm a lot like Hannah, but even those who aren't can find themselves in that, I think. And in Lillian, the self-destructive dead girl, and Finny, the absurdly attractive, silent, gentle, shy, awkward, and completely misunderstood guy. All these characters are continually, deliberately seen a certain way that doesn't at all line up with what's inside.

As for the mystery of who's murdering all these teenage girls, it's so freaking creepy.  The killer was both a total surprise to me and an "Of COURSE!", which is exactly what you want. I love murder mysteries, and this one definitely isn't for the faint of heart. Yovanoff doesn't spare any of the gruesome details.She's determined to thrust you right into the ugliness of the situation, not in a graphic way, but emotionally. It's not as unpleasant as it sounds, really. I felt wiser and sadder and happier by the end of this book. Hannah deals with so much in this book. Death. Friendship. Loss. Peer pressure. Finding herself without the dominant, bossy Lillian, and becoming the strong person who is kind of a mix of both of them. And somehow, Yovanoff managed to tie that journey in with Hannah catching a serial killer with her dead best friend.

There's also the relationship Hannah has with her little sister, Ariel. I always love reading about family relationships in YA, and this one was no different. Ariel's a plucky, vibrant kid, and it's obvious she and Hannah care about each other. It added another great dimension to this book. And lasty, Finny. I can't say much without getting spoilery, but...Finny. Yes. Please. At first blush he seems like a stereotype, and I had my insta-love sensors going at full-blast, but everything between them was perfectly understandable. Everything that happened before and during and after made perfect sense. Let me say that the big finale was without a doubt the best part. Don't get stopped by a possibly slow beginning.

Enter to win a signed copy of Paper Valentine! US/CA ONLY.

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29 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I loved this book so much. I cried so hard at the end because it affected me on such a personal level. The murder stuff was SO creepy. And the writing was beautiful. I could go on forever about how much I love this book.

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    1. I was blown away by the writing. I would just stare at certain sentences in awe. I really didn't expect to love this book as much as I did.

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  2. I am SO happy to hear how much you enjoyed it. I personally love all of Brenna's books and this one was no exception. The story was brought together beautifully and the writing was just amazing.

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    1. Oh... I'd definitely come back as a ghost. ;) And I doubt I would have the guts to track down a serial killer on my own. Unless it was very personal. lol

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  3. I just picked this one up at the library and after reading you amazing review I'm so glad that it's one of the few that I decided to actually pick up! It sounds so good! And as for your question, I think I'd like to come back as a ghost who hunts down serial killers. I mean you're already dead and what serial killer is expecting that?

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  4. Wow, I've never realized how much I judge a book by it's cover before, because that is absolutely gorgeous! :) You make an interesting case, and it's been decided: Paper Valentine is being placed in my "To-Read" lists as we speak.

    As for the questions, I'd like to think that my extensive training within the pages of Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie novels would prepare me for some kind of sleuthing... though in the process of tracking down the killer, I may just end up a ghost myself. In which case, I will haunt that crazy person, which is just as good.

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  5. I checked this one out from the library but didn't get to it before I had to return it. I think I'd end up a ghost if I started hunting a killer but I'd give it a try.

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  6. Oh man I would love to hunt down serial killers! I am so fascinated by them and it would be cool to hunt them down!

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  7. The cover of Paper Valentine caught my eye when it first came out, but this is the first I've heard about it having beautiful prose. Yay! I love the juxtaposition of a killer story (har har) and lyrical writing. Thanks! :)

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  8. I would want to come back as a ghost. Also I don't think I have the guts to hunt down a seriel killer, learning about them has always interested me though.

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  9. I'm gonna go with no and no. I would just want a peaceful life followed by a peaceful afterlife.

    mestith at gmail dot com

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  10. This book is definitely one that I am interested in. As for the questions I would not want to come back as a ghost and I don't think I'd be able to hunt a serial killer. I think it would be cool to be able to but I could not.

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  11. I don't think I would come back as a ghost (if I did I would probably haunt people lol) and I don't think I would hunt down serial killers-

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  12. I'm really excited for this book! I don't think I'd like to come back as a ghost, but it would depend on what my ghost life would consist of (if I couldn't communicate with anyone at all, I definitely couldn't do it!). And while I'd like to say I'd have the guts to track down a serial killer, the best I could see myself doing would be helping the police in their search, safe on the sidelines ;)

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  13. I would most definitely want to come back as a ghost. Can you imagine all the fun and pranks you could pull on people? Would I have the guts to hunt down a serial killer? Oh yea. I'd be all over it.

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  14. Hm...... probably want to come back as a ghost because I don't think I would be much help in tracking down a serial killer. ^^

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  15. I don't think I would want to come back as a ghost. I mean, move on already right? :-)

    Thanks!!!
    Christina @ Ensconced in YA

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  16. Love the cover!!As for ghost or hunter...Uhmmm, probably as to hunt killers! Thank you for the giveaway:)

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  17. No, not really! I think being a ghost is a really lonely existence. And I am not one for that. :D

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  18. I think I'd rather hunt down the killer! I love some mystery~ looking forward on reading this! Thanks for the chance!

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  19. How about a serial killer hunting ghost? If I have to pick one, then ghost and hopefully the type that is able to hold things. I am not brave enough nor skilled in any way to be able to hunt down serial killers.
    By the way, I'd pick this book JUST for that cover and title. WOW. It oozes good to me.

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  20. I am very curious about this one, and completely drawn in by that gorgeous cover! I really meant to read this before, but still haven't managed to. Hopefully, it happens soon, as it sounds like I'm going to love her writing.

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  21. I have the guts to hunt down a serial killer!!! ... the ghost is powerless ... it only said buuu .. and sometime more ajajaj
    the author is one of my favorite ... is awesome ...
    thanks for the giveaway
    almendra in the rafflecopter

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  22. I would not have the guts to hunt down a serial killer.
    I mean sometimes, I'd like to think that I could. But honestly, I'm bad under pressure.

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  23. I wouldn't want to come back as a ghost. Not being able to have any interaction with those that I love, but having to see their faces everyday? Not being able to touch them, hug them, kiss them? No way Jose. And I do think that I could hunt down a serial killer. I am a good shot, and if there was a serial killer threatening my family or friends, I would have no problem going after them, and making sure they can't hurt the people that I love. Or anyone else for that matter.

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  24. Hehehe if I did come back as a ghost I would probably just freak people out :P Thanks for the amazing giveaway!

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  25. Hmmm... I don't think I'd like to come back as a ghost. And as for the serial killer, I'd like to think that I'd have enough guts to hunt one down, but I probably wouldn't.

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  26. Definitely a ghost, it would be more fun to haunt people than hunt them down

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  27. Yeeesssssss I just bought this and am vair, vair excite.

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