Hello readers! Tonight, I have the pleasure of being a Novel Publicity Blog Tour host for Jennifer Walkup’s new YA paranormal novel, Second Verse, from Luminis Books. This book was completely different from the last book I reviewed for Novel Publicity, despite the fact that they’re both enjoyable mysteries with ghosts that I happened to read around Halloween. A spooky coincidence, but the tone, characters, etc. had nothing in common. Whereas AWS was more of a meditative, lyrical piece, Second Verse was a fun, thrilling, engaging page-turner that kept me guessing till the end. Read on for more info about the book, my review, and prizes! 🙂
[Disclaimer: As with all my book reviews for Novel Publicity Blog Tours, I was provided with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.]
About the book: Can love last more than a lifetime? Can Murder? Bad things come in threes. In Shady Springs, that includes murder.
Lange Crawford’s move to Shady Springs, Pennsylvania, lands her a group of awesome friends, a major crush on songwriter Vaughn, and life in a haunted, 200-year-old farmhouse. It also brings The Hunt: an infamous murder mystery festival where students solve a fake, gruesome murder scheme during the week of Halloween. Well, supposedly fake.
Weeks before The Hunt, Lange and her friends hold a séance in the farmhouse’s eerie barn. When a voice rushes through, whispering haunting words that only she and Vaughn can hear, Lange realizes it’s begging for help. The mysterious voice leads Lange and Vaughn to uncover letters and photos left behind by a murdered girl, Ginny, and they become obsessed with her story and the horrifying threats that led to her murder.
But someone doesn’t like their snooping, and Lange and Vaughn begin receiving the same threats that Ginny once did. The mysterious words from the barn become crucial to figuring out Ginny’s past and discovering how their own past is connected to hers. They must work fast to uncover the truth or risk finding out if history really does repeat itself.
My review guidelines: As you know from my first Novel Publicity review, I HATE spoilers as a reader, so as a reviewer, I avoid them as best as possible. As a writer and an editor, I put a lot of value on the language itself used to tell a tale. A 10/10 review for me will be one with an amazing plot, characters I love, and enchanting writing. I can’t get lost in a book without falling under the spell of its words–and the spell will be ineffectual without a great plot to fall into.
With that said, please enjoy my review.
This novel lay more within my usual young-adult genre preference than my last couple of reviews, although the murder theme might have caused me not to pick this one up on my own. However, like so many of the Novel Publicity books I’ve reviewed, I’m so glad they introduced me to one I might not have read otherwise! This book was exciting and intriguing without trying too hard–perfect for its genre.
I would classify this as a young-adult paranormal thriller. It wasn’t gruesome or scare-your-pants-off frightening enough to be horror, which was a relief to me, as you know I’m somewhat of a chicken with horror novels. I also appreciated how the romance wove in with the plot in a relevant non-dominant way. I think this book would appeal to anyone who likes fun supernatural thrillers, especially those who are fans of young-adult literature.
The world: I bought into this world right away. The primary setting is modern-day, with glimpses into the past. Walkup describes the house where the narrator lives so beautifully and intricately that I felt like I was right there with her–an eerie feeling, considering it’s also the setting where other characters transcend time and other dimensions. The first few pages are a little gory (which almost scared me off), but only in the theoretical way of teenagers trying to scare each other. After that, any violence is justified and not overdone. This book pulled me in and made me experience this world first-hand in a way I’ve seen few others accomplish–well-done. The ghost scenes were amazing–so chilling and convincing that I got goosebumps. I felt like I actually benefited as a writer from reading Walkup’s perfect execution of those scenes. It’s hard to choose between “the world” and “the characters” as to which was my favorite.
The characters: These characters were immediately lovable. Lange, the main character, was a Strong Female Character through-and-through, though Walkup gave her room to grow into this over the course of the novel. Her wit and sass were tempered with vulnerability of her past demons and her big heart. Vaughn, the male lead, was perfect in his imperfection: a brooding musician just quirky enough not to be a stereotype. As I mentioned earlier, the love story didn’t overpower the main plot, but it intertwined with it in a realistic way that moved both plot and relationship forward. I never felt weighed down by sappiness, yet it was just sweet enough–a balance, I know as an author, that is difficult to accomplish. The secondary characters were charming in their own ways, too, though none shone as brightly as the main two–a fact I’m OK with, as a reader. Too much would be distracting.
The plot: The plot was intriguing and engaging. I thought the pace was pretty good, which isn’t always the case with a mystery. I think more of the thrills came later in the novel, but it made sense for the author to focus more on character development with foreshadowing in the beginning. It was definitely a page-turner, but I’m not sure how this would fare on a reread. However, it was good enough that I would be willing to pick it up again in the future and test it out. 🙂
The language: The language was snappy and quick-moving, descriptive and clear. It didn’t try too hard to be “cool” or scary, and at no point did it distract with over-description. I did think it could have been more complex; however, I understand the author’s choice in wanting to keep the pace clipping without weighing it down with sweeping lyricism and weighty insights about the meaning of life. I would describe the language as “fun,” and it was certainly appropriate and appealing for the targeted audience.
Review: 8/10. An absolute thrill-ride! I look forward to reading more from this author–maybe even a sequel!
About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Second Verse by Jennifer Walkup, or an autographed copy of its tour mate, The Field by Tracy Richardson. Here’s what you need to do…
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest
- Leave a comment on my blog
That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Luminis Duo tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!
About the author: When Jennifer Walkup isn’t writing or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and young sons, listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, and coming up with costume ideas for Halloween. She’s obsessed with good coffee and new recipes and likes broccoli on her pizza, flowers in her hair, flip-flops on her feet, and the number 13. A member of SCBWI, Jennifer also serves as fiction editor for The Meadowland Review and teaches creative writing at The Writers Circle. Second Verse is her first novel. Connect with Jennifer on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads.
Luminis Books was launched in January, 2010 by husband and wife team Tracy Richardson and Chris Katsaropoulos with a mission to publish thought-provoking literary fiction for children and adults. We publish what we love: Meaningful Books That Entertain. Our award-winning books engage and inform readers and explore a wide range of topics from love and relationships, teen sexual assault and homelessness to string theory, consciousness, and the Universal Energy Field. Luminis Books is a proudly independent publisher located in Carmel, IN. Learn more at www.luminisbooks.com.
Learn more about Second Verse‘s tour mate HERE.
I hope you enjoyed the review! Join me later this week, possibly tomorrow, for another bookish edition of “Top Ten [sometimes] Tuesday”!