This year, we’re opening up the floor to our readers too, so if you’ve read our monthly pick, don’t be shy! Link your review in the comment section to be entered into a giveaway at the end of the year.
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.
Lyn: Alright, I really know how to pick them. There were some good things about Paper Valentine, but it should have been Paper Collage, because this book was all over the place.
Bekka: Totally agree. There were a lot of different components to this book, and each would have worked well separately, but to me, they just never came together until the very end.
Lyn: It was like three ingredients that usually work well in other dishes came together to create a sticky mess.
Kara: Yeah, you all pretty much nailed it. I found the entire first half boring as SHIT. I almost fell asleep more than once. And then it picked up and I got interested, but the ending annoyed the shit out of me too because it was so formulaic and basic, and I just expected more.
Pixie: I’m with you all on that. Funny how my first experience reading it, I thought I enjoyed it more, but this time around it was just dull with nothing really much there for me.
Lyn: Dull is a buzz word here. I liked the romance, but the book focused way too much time on the romance between the two of them. The entire mystery was just a joke. It was the most non-sequitur mystery I have ever read. Just….why was the clue left? Deus ex machina clues happening here, and there was no motive for the murders, just some weak as water excuse and drive. I seriously thought I missed something.
Bekka: You would think that with a 15 page monologue from the villain, you’d have a clearer, mor interesting motive, but nope.
Kara: Yeah, I pretty much found it all very hard to believe. The person that ended up being the murderer, like why? They were hardly in the book and it was just so hard for me to suspend disbelief there. Just, none of it worked for me.
Pixie: That early 90s style didn’t work for me.
Bekka: The resolution didn’t work for me because the author went into excruciating detail about the most monotonous things – how many descriptions of twee sundresses does one book really need? – and should have thought more about her plot instead.
Lyn: The sad thing is, this book really would have worked better as a contemporary and it would have made a really cute book. The mystery was smushed into the storyline like play-doh in a roll of cookies. It didn’t mesh, and it really weakened the story. I agree, Bekka, there was more time devoted to quirky clothing than the reason why young girls were dead. Like, what?
Kara: What a mess. I will say that I didn’t mind her writing. Yeah, it was a bit much in places, but some authors just REALLY bother me with the way they write, and hers was basic and vague (not enough clarity) in places but I followed it well enough. I think I MIGHT try one more book of hers, it would just depend on what the plot was.
Lyn: The vagueness of some of the scenes was bothersome. The MC would sometimes stand there with inner monologue when someone asks her a question, then the scene just continues. Like everyone kept just moving on. I really felt highly uncomfortable in Hannah’s head. Also, some of the scenes didn’t line up, like when Hannah met the aunt. There is a girl standing there, bleeding, and the aunt tries to make small talk and ask her in for lemonade? Like….wasn’t she bleeding EVERYWHERE?? Why didn’t this come up?
Bekka: Hannah was fucking WEIRD. She ignored everyone who talked to her, even when they asked her direct questions. She would TALK TO LILLIAN but ignore actual live people standing next to her. Her lack of interaction with the world around her made the already-weird romance even more ridiculous for me. She never talked! And then he just kissed her out of nowhere! What? What?
Lyn: I thought I was the only one who caught this. I kept waiting for someone to act hurt or weird or confused, but everyone just accepted that she would stand there like a street lamp and life just kept going on and on. There should have been some sort of constant reaction from others when someone just keeps standing there, staring at you with nothing to say.
Pixie: I say you’re not the only one. Her character annoyed me. But I liked the general ideas of a “ghost” and the mystery. I just didn’t like that it was all together. Like it was said earlier, it would’ve been a great contemporary probably, but I think there were too many elements. I’d read more and see how this author works out.
Kara: Yeah, I guess BECAUSE the book was all over the place, I was expecting the ending to be really OUT THERE too. But it wasn’t. Like Pixie said, it was something out of a 90s Fear Street novel with the antagonist giving us a ridiculous monologue at the end about why he did it and everything. BLECH.
Bekka: OMG the monologue at the end. I mean, at least Hannah was kind of steering it so she could buy time, but I don’t buy that he would just divulge everything, knowing that someone was on their way to catch him. If Ariel hadn’t run away, and it was JUST the two of them, it would have been more believable. But as it stands, if he really wanted to get the job done before the police arrived, he would have just done it.
Kara: Agreed. I found it ridiculous. And that was the part that was hard for me to believe. You wouldn’t wait to kill someone and let them keep talking when you knew the cops were on the way. You would either finish the job and flee, or just FLEE. Ugh.
Pixie: Yep. Completely unbelievable, in my opinion.
Lyn: I kept waiting for the twirling mustache, then Hannah is tied to some railroad tracks.
Kara: LOL! So what is everyone’s final rating? I’m giving it a 2. Weird, because I had it as a 3, I think, but I always end up lowering or raising accordingly after talking it through with you guys.
Pixie: Lol, Lyn! 2.5 for me. I did like some of the things, and I’m wanting to try more of the author’s work later because the writing was good.
Bekka: 2 for me as well.
Lyn: 2.5, because I did get interested in the romance from time to time.