Review: Dead and Breakfast by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Dead and Breakfast Book Cover Dead and Breakfast
Kimberly G. Giarratano

Despite living in Key West his whole life, 18-year-old Liam Breyer is a skeptic of the supernatural until a vengeful spirit, murdered fifty years ago, nearly drowns him in a swimming pool. Luckily help arrives in the form of pretty — albeit homesick — ghost whisperer Autumn Abernathy, whose newly-divorced mom has dragged her to the island to live and work at the Cayo Hueso, a haunted bed and breakfast.

Although they initially mistrust each other, Autumn and Liam team up to solve the decades-old mystery. But on an island where every third resident is a ghost, dealing with an unstable spirit has deadly consequences. If Liam and Autumn don’t unmask the killer soon, they’re likely to become Key West’s latest haunted attraction.

Review:

(Actual rating: 2.5 stars)

A free ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Dead and Breakfast, I confess to feeling a little underwhelmed. The novel started off strong, with intergenerational drama and a vengeful, violent ghost, but it was ultimately undermined by instalove, lackluster characters, and a way too convenient ending.

For the first several chapters, Dead and Breakfast does well. The action begins when Autumn Abernathy, one of the novel’s two protagonists, relocates to Key West with her divorcee mother to manage the Cayo Hueso Bed and Breakfast. Autumn, who has always been able to see and communicate with ghosts, soon discovers that the Cayo is inhabited by the spirit of a young Hispanic girl murdered in the 1950s.

The Cayo’s spooky resident isn’t your friendly Caspar-like ghost – she’s out for blood, and she’s fixated on Liam Breyer, the cute young handyman who does odd jobs around the bed and breakfast. Autumn and Liam join forces to try to resolve the ghost’s unfinished business before she ends up harming them and/or destroying the Cayo.

Dead and Breakfast will feel pretty familiar to those who’ve read Giarratano’s other works to date, which also focus on girls who can speak to ghosts and must try to discover how they died. One thing that differentiates this book from the others, though, is that the ghost in question is a badass. She’s not content to sit back and wait while Autumn investigates; she takes matters into her own hands in whatever ways she can, and she isn’t afraid to possess people or cause them harm. An aggressive, pissed off, violent ghost was a nice way for Giarratano to change things up.

Another thing I enjoyed about Dead and Breakfast was the setting. After reading this book, I’m dying to take a trip to Key West. The atmosphere, food, music, and culture seem like a lot of fun, and I’d love to attend a street festival, take a midnight ghost tour, or eat seafood from a roadside stand. I will say, though – for a book that’s set in one of the most haunted cities in America, featuring a B&B whose main attraction is supposed to be its spooky tenants, I expected to see a lot more ghosts than I did. There were only two, and that was kind of disappointing.

One of my biggest complaints about Dead and Breakfast was the romance. I didn’t mind the attraction that formed between Autumn and Liam, but the depth of it wasn’t realistic. I found it hard to believe that they’d developed such an all-consuming relationship in such a short time, falling so deeply in love that they were willing to sacrifice their goals and drastically alter their life plans. It felt out of character and majorly detracted from the book. Certain interactions felt melodramatic, too, like [START SPOILER]Liam’s drinking and his temper tantrum about Autumn leaving for college[END SPOILER].

This, plus the fact that the book wrapped up far too neatly (it was super unrealistic and didn’t do justice to the story or the characters) prevented me from being able to give Dead and Breakfast as high a rating as I originally anticipated. That said, I still have high hopes for the next Cayo Hueso Mystery book. Maybe I’ll get more of those ghosts I wanted as the series continues!

Review: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall Book Cover The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall
Katie Alender

In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…

Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.

But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.

And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.

Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.

But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.

From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

Review:

Even though I’m a gigantic wimp, I’ve always had a fascination with old abandoned buildings. There’s something mournful and nostalgic about the faded glory of a deserted old hotel or once-stately mansion, especially when the house holds reminders of the lives previously lived there: dishes still set on a dining room table, toys scattered on a nursery floor, paperwork strewn across a desk in a study. I love the weighty sense of history and anticipation, as if the long-dead inhabitants could stroll through the parlor at any moment.

It’s no surprise, then, that The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall is right up my alley, as the action takes place in the king of all abandoned buildings: an old mental hospital.

Delia Piven and her family arrive at The Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females after Delia inherits the property from her great-great-aunt. It doesn’t take long for Delia to get the sense that the old sanatorium isn’t just eerie – it’s haunted. This suspicion is confirmed when a dark force in the house murders Delia and she returns as a ghost, joining a bevy of other spirits trapped in the asylum.

What I Liked:

The Perspective: I wasn’t expecting The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall to be written from a ghost’s point of view, but this tactic worked quite well. I was engrossed by Delia’s struggle to cope with the bitterness and grief of losing her life and all the people in it, since they can no longer see, hear, or even sense her. Delia goes from having an entire world at her fingertips to being trapped within the confines of the Piven Institute, as well as by the limits of her ghostly abilities.

Speaking of these abilities, I really enjoyed the insider look at the ghost experience. Delia must learn the trick of walking through walls and manifesting enough to grasp onto objects. She also learns that ghosts aren’t invulnerable and can be disfigured and torn apart by other spirits and phantoms, which means Delia must exercise caution even in death. Another interesting tidbit is that Delia experiences weird time slips. There’s one creepy yet poignant scene in the book where Delia sits gazing forlornly out the window while turning the crank of a music box. She turns and turns and turns the crank, losing herself in the melody, and when a noise finally rouses her from her trance she finds two and a half years have passed.

The Atmosphere: The Piven Institute is exactly the kind of creepy place that gets me wriggling with excitement. I found myself both terrified by the asylum and wishing I could explore it. In broad daylight, that is. With an army of priests and exorcists by my side.

All the spooky accoutrements are accounted for: padded rooms, patient wards with worn leather restraints on the beds, a therapy room furnished with an electroshock chair, and a processing hall still littered with the suitcases and former belongings of the girls who checked in and never checked out. There are desperate messages scratched into the floorboards, eerie melodies played by a ghostly music box, and a multitude of spirits lurking in the rooms where they died, often in terrible ways.

The Piven Sisters: Delia’s attitude, spunk, and modern turns of phrase are a refreshing and amusing contrast to the dark parts of this book. She talks to the living people who occasionally wander into the sanatorium, even though they can’t hear her. For example, there’s a point when one character is about to go down into the super-scary basement, and Delia chides, “Oh, come on[…]. Don’t go down there! Have you never seen a horror movie?”

Another great character is Janie, Delia’s little sister. She starts the novel as a pesky pre-teen, but by the end she’s grown into a strong, brave young woman who I really admired.

What I Didn’t Like:

All Characters Besides Delia and Janie: I was disappointed by how flat and one-dimensional many of the characters are in The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, and I was even more disappointed that Alender didn’t introduce a wider assortment of ghosts. I was rabid with curiosity about the spirits with whom Delia shared the asylum: Who were they? What did they look like? How did they die? I got a little of this, but not nearly enough. It was a big missed opportunity on Alender’s part.

The Plot: I like the pieces that make up this novel but think the book could have used a stronger center for those pieces to revolve around. The premise is that there’s some dark power at work in the house, and until Delia uncovers and defeats this power, it’s going to keep preying on troubled girls. There doesn’t seem to be much of a plot arc, though. A lot of the book involves Delia just hanging around being ghostly and biding her time until she’s forced into action. Even the ending, where the source of the dark power is revealed, felt a little anticlimactic.

Despite my criticisms, I had a good time reading The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. The setting alone is worth giving this book a go, and Janie and Delia’s characters simply add to the story. I recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of a scare this Halloween.

Review: The Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue Book Cover The Lady in Blue
Kimberly G. Giarratano

The Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Review:

(Actual rating: 3.5 stars)

There’s something about a good ghost story that’s impossible to resist. We’ve all listened to a friend spin a spooky tale as we sat entranced with goosebumps on our arms and pleasant shivers down our spine. We’ve all recited the rhyme about Lizzie Borden and her axe, or chanted the “Bloody Mary” mantra in a darkened room, waiting with bated breath for her spirit to come shrieking through the bathroom mirror. For better or worse, there’s something alluring about mysterious, tragic stories that makes you want to know more.

In Kimberly G. Giarratano’s fictional town of Ash, the ghost story of choice is that of the Lady in Blue, a teenage girl who died on her prom night, supposedly murdered by her lover. Little do the town’s residents know that the Lady in Blue is more than a legend – her ghost really does haunt the town, and will continue to do so until she either brings her killer to justice…or fades into oblivion.

Criminology student Liz Bloom is one of the only people in town who can see the Lady’s ghost, and she’s determined to help the Lady track down her murderer so that she can finally find peace and move on. With Liz’s assistance, the Lady slowly begins to piece together the events leading up to her death.

Back in the 1950s, before her murder, the Lady in Blue’s name was Lana Bloom, and she was the darling of Ash. Gorgeous, popular, and beloved by all, Lana led a charmed life – or so it seemed. In reality, the pressure to be perfect – the obedient daughter, the doting girlfriend, the beautiful prom queen – left no room for Lana to be herself. Every time she tried to voice an opinion or forge her own path, someone stepped forward to push her back towards the “acceptable” route. And eventually, one of those someones killed her.

My favorite aspect of The Lady in Blue, hands down, was the authentic 1950s feel. The pages are peppered with slang like “necking” and “skedaddle” and nicknames such as “kitten” and “dollface.” When reading a scene in a beauty parlor or a description of a housewife retrieving her cigarettes from a decorative case, I felt like I had actually stepped back in time. Giarratano does a great job of portraying the social norms of the era, subtly but clearly demonstrating how different the world was just 60 years ago. For the first time, it really struck me how limited options were for women back then, how trapped they were by cultural expectations. It was a time in which no one batted an eye at teenagers getting married right out of high school, a time when young women were expected to dream of nothing more than being a dutiful wife and mother, when it was normal for girls to not know how to drive a car. This book made me infinitely grateful to be alive today and not in the 50s, poodle skirts and malt shops aside.

Something else that I really enjoyed was Giarratano’s writing. She has a smooth, pleasant style that is lovely without being showy or distracting. Her use of similes and other literary devices are spot-on, too. Here a couple of my favorite examples:

“I might’ve been a Bloom by name, but unlike the plants in my yard, I couldn’t flourish here. My mother, whether she meant to be or not, was like a black canvas laid down to smother the weeds.”

And:

“I heard Henry say, ‘You caught the best-looking girl in town’ as if I were a prized trout ready to mount to the wall.”

Now, on to the one part of the story that didn’t quite work for me: the romance. I like to fall in love along with the characters in the books I’m reading, and that just didn’t happen here. This is largely due to the fact that the romance develops much too quickly. When Lana meets Andrew, a soldier who seems to appreciate and understand her more than her own family and friends, it makes sense that she’s intrigued. What doesn’t make sense, though, is how quickly she becomes comfortable with him, comfortable enough to not find it weird that he’s always turning up wherever she is, lurking in her backyard or at the house where she’s babysitting. Lana barely knows Andrew, yet she instantly feels a connection with him and can’t stop thinking about him. It didn’t ring true to me, and this was the main reason I couldn’t give the book a full 4 stars.

In fairness, The Lady in Blue is a novella rather than a full-length novel, which doesn’t provide as much page time for a meaningful, believable relationship to develop. Still, I really would have liked to have gotten to know Andrew more, to fall for him the way I fell for Danny in Grunge Gods and Graveyards, Giarratano’s debut novel.

Even though I wasn’t loving the romance in The Lady in Blue, I do still recommend it to anyone looking for a quick, interesting read with beautiful writing and a charming protagonist. I think it would be especially good for those who are interested in mysteries or ghost stories but are looking for subject matter that’s not too heavy or dark.

A free ARC of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Click here to read my interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano and enter for a chance to win a copy of The Lady in Blue!

The Lady in Blue: Giveaway and Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Around this time last year, I participated in a blog tour for Grunge Gods and Graveyards, Kimberly G. Giarratano’s debut novel about a girl being haunted by the ghost of her high school crush while trying to solve the mystery of his murder. The book features solid writing, a tragically romantic love story, and a swoon-worthy male lead, but it was a relatively minor character that really sucked me into the book. This character, known as the Lady in Blue, was the spirit of a girl who’d been killed in the 1950s on the way to her senior prom and had been haunting her hometown ever since. Although the Lady in Blue didn’t get a ton of page time, I found her fascinating and wished I could have learned more about her backstory.

And then, lo and behold, I got an email several months later from Kimberly. She gave me beautiful, wonderful, spectacular news: she had written a spin-off of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, and it was all about the life – and death – of my favorite ghostly prom queen.

Kimberly is here with us today to introduce this new book, talk about plans for her next series, and discuss all things ghostly. She’s also giving away an electronic copy of The Lady in Blue to one lucky reader, so make sure to sign up for a chance to win at the end of this post!

About The Lady in Blue

Book cover for The Lady in Blue by Kimberly G. GiarratanoThe Lady in Blue stole a car and fled Ash.
Out on Devlin Road she emerged from a crash.
She wandered the woods with her head dripping blood.
Then drowned in the river in water and mud.

All her life criminology student Liz Bloom has heard this rhyme, meant to scare young campers. When she’s about to take on her first cold case, Liz learns the eerie song is about her great aunt Lana. Liz isn’t big on studying, but she does have one advantage most criminologists don’t — she can speak to the dead.

In 1955, Lana Bloom was an eighteen-year-old beauty with Hollywood dreams who fell in love with a stranger. When Lana died in a bloody car crash, all signs pointed to the mysterious man who was never seen again.

As Lana unravels the details surrounding her last week of life, the tale she weaves for Liz is one of desire, betrayal, and murder. But if Lana can’t identify her killer, not only will a murderer escape punishment, but her ghostly form will cease to exist. And Liz will have failed the most important assignment of all – family.

Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Welcome to Angela’s Library, Kimberly! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What would you like readers to know about you?

As to be expected, I love to travel and go on haunted city tours where I walk around the city and hear ghost stories. I’ve done these tours in Rome, Italy and Key West. I want to go to Gettysburg and do this, but I can’t take my kids – they’re too little to scare. I also love cemeteries and graveyards. When I was a kid, and someone died, my grandma would take me on a tour of the cemetery and tell me about my relatives who were buried there. I always found it so interesting. There’s so much history in cemeteries. I’m always fascinated about the people who are buried there. What were their lives like? How did they live? Where are their descendants? Do they visit? I’m always thinking of story narratives.

Summarize The Lady in Blue in one sentence.

A beautiful 18-year old ghost recounts her murder in an effort to uncover her killer.

Book cover for Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. GiarratanoThe Lady in Blue is a spin-off of your debut novel Grunge Gods and Graveyards. What made you decide to return to the fictional town of Ash to tell the story of its long-time resident ghost?

I had always intended to write the Lady in Blue’s story because there was no way I was going to be able to fit her narrative into Grunge Gods’ story arc. Also, Lana’s history is interesting because of the time period in which she lived – the 1950s. In addition, readers were asking me to expand on her story. I felt like I couldn’t NOT write this book. To me, the series wasn’t complete until I told Lana’s story.

Everyone reading this post has probably heard at least one ghost story told around a campfire, whispered in the dark at a slumber party, or circulated as part of local legend. In your opinion, what is it that makes ghost stories so pervasive and appealing?

I think everyone likes to be haunted. There’s something to be said about the dead not being done with us.

If you were able to see and talk with ghosts, who would you want to be haunted by and why?

I actually think about this often. I want to be visited by my dad’s paternal grandmother. She died an old woman, but she was an interesting figure. She survived pogroms in the Ukraine. She emigrated through Ellis Island. She lived in tenements in the Lower East Side. Her husband disappeared off the face of the earth – he may have been a bootlegger. I want to interview her and find out about who she was. There’s so much history in my family and I know none of it.

The Lady in Blue is set in the 1950s, with each chapter named after a song from that decade. The same is true in Grunge Gods and Graveyards as well, but with songs from the ’90s instead. What role has music played in your life and why is it important to you?

I’m a teenager of the 1990s, so in that sense, alternative music represents my youth. For me, listening to a Tori Amos song makes me feel like I’m 17 again and reminds me of the person I used to be. I think I read somewhere that your music tastes are formed in your teenage years – which makes sense. I still listen to Radiohead, Tori Amos, and U2, but I’m more inclined to listen to the olders albums from my teenage years, rather than the new stuff.

One of my favorite things about The Lady in Blue is its authentic 50s vibe; the vocabulary, clothing, and social norms in the book paint such a clear and fascinating picture of what it would have been like to live in the 1950s. How much research did you have to do to bring this era to life on the page?

I don’t know if I can quantify the amount of research I did, but I did a lot of work. I read books set in the 50s and I purchased an actual text written in the 50s for teenagers. I bought a book that was all about 1950s clothing. I also crowd-sourced my Facebook friends. Often, I’d jump on Facebook and ask people to name cigarettes their parents smoked. My friend, Georgene, gave me a detailed description of a 1950s movie theater. My dad described how to drive a stick shift for a 1950s car. My author friend, Elizabeth, read my manuscript and clarified some 1950s expressions. For some reason, I have a fascination with the 50s and it’s nice to be able to talk to people who lived in that time period – they’re my primary resources.

Do you have a favorite 50s saying or slang word? If so, what is it?

I don’t have a favorite slang word, but I did learn the expression, “don’t have a cow,” originated in the 50s and not on The Simpsons, like I thought it did.

In addition to writing, you also review books for School Library Journal and BookPage. Have you read anything recently that you highly recommend?

I reviewed Under the Painted Sky by Stacey Lee several months ago for BookPage and I really enjoyed it. Set in 1849, a Chinese-American girl and a runaway slave, who are fleeing the law, meet a trio of friendly cowboys. It’s a feel-good read and the author does an amazing job of making the reader fall in love with the characters. I also read an ARC of Lauren DeStefano’s middle grade book, A Curious Tale of In-Between, which was spooky, ghostly, and all those things I love. If you want a fun, page-turning YA mystery, I suggest Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor. If you love historical YA mysteries, I loved Dianne K. Salerni’s The Caged Graves. And if you want beautifully written, compelling historical fiction, read The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett. *I used to be a librarian; so offering up book recommendations is in my DNA.

What can you tell us about your next writing project? Can we look forward to more mysteries / ghost stories in the works?

YES! My next YA mystery, Dead and Breakfast, will be out this fall. Two seventeen-year-olds must solve a sixty-year-old murder before a malevolent ghost destroys a family-owned bed and breakfast. It’s set in Key West, Florida, which is one of ten most haunted cities in America. If anyone wants to be notified when the book is released, feel free to sign up for my reader club: http://eepurl.com/bn21-X.

Dead and Breakfast is the first of a three-book series. I’m hoping the entire series will be out in summer 2016. Then I’m embarking on a new series, which is a mash-up of Veronica Mars and My So-Called Life. I hope to release the first book in late 2016.

Thanks so much for visiting with us today, Kimberly! We hope to see you back again soon!

About Kimberly G. Giarratano

KimPhoto of Grunge Gods and Graveyards author Kimberly G. Giarratanoberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

You can visit her blog at kimberlyggiarratano.com or tweet her @KGGiarratano.

Giveaway

Kimberly has generously offered to give away an e-book copy of The Lady in Blue! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win. This contest is open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check back later this week to read my review of The Lady in Blue!

Blog Tour and Review: Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. Giarratano

Grunge Gods and Graveyards Book Cover Grunge Gods and Graveyards
Kimberly G. Giarratano

Parted by death. Tethered by love.

Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Review

When I was a kid, I used to like hanging out in graveyards (I was a weird child – what can I say?). I would spend hours walking up and down the the rows, reading the tombstones and wondering about the people buried there. Thinking about those people and the lives they’d left behind always gave me a feeling of wistfulness; how could someone be there one day and gone the next? What business had they left unfinished? Who was remembering and missing them?

 These are some of the questions that Giarratano focuses on in Grunge Gods and Graveyards. The book tells the story of Lainey Bloom and Danny Obregon, two teenagers whose burgeoning romance is abruptly cut short when Danny is killed in a hit and run accident. After the accident, vicious rumors spread through the town, painting Danny as an arsonist and Lainey as an obsessed, love-crazed girl who literally chased Danny into the path of an oncoming car. When Danny’s restless spirit returns to Ash seeking closure, Lainey determines to help him get to the bottom of the events surrounding his death, hoping to clear both of their names and help Danny get the closure he needs to cross over and be at peace.

Grunge Gods and Graveyards can be classified as a mystery novel, but I was much more interested in watching the interactions between Lainey and Danny than I was in the whodunnit aspect. One of the tragedies of Danny’s untimely death is that he died just as he and Lainey had decided to give their relationship a shot. Their romance ended before it could truly begin, before they could discover what they might have been together.

After Danny’s ghost returns, he and Lainey attempt to pick up where they left off. As you can imagine, though, it’s no easy task to carry on a relationship where one party is alive and the other is deceased. For one thing, Lainey can’t confide in anyone, can’t talk about Danny (or to him when they’re in public) without people thinking she’s crazy. Danny wants more for Lainey than a life of isolation with no one but a ghost for company, but Lainey can’t imagine going on without him.

In addition to their emotional challenges, Danny and Lainey also have physical obstacles to their relationship. Danny hasn’t quite mastered his ghostly abilities, meaning that he and Lainey usually can’t touch one another. When they are able to touch, though, look out – these scenes are hot enough to make you sizzle!

Danny is easily the highlight of this novel. I loved everything about his character, with the exception of his poor taste in dating bitchy Wynter Woods prior to hooking up with Lainey. He seems so real, not just in the sense that his character is believable (though that is the case), but in the sense that he seems like a genuine, caring, laid-back guy who’s easy to be around and who will always make you smile.  I also appreciate that Danny stands out from the host of other popular kings-of-high-school in YA literature. He’s a musician, not a jock, and he’s Mexican, which sets him apart from the rest of his white-bread town.

As much as I enjoyed Danny’s character, I felt there were some inconsistencies in the characterization of some of the book’s other players. For example, Lainey’s father bounces back and forth between sympathetic father and ruthless dictator, and her best friend abruptly switches from Most Understanding Friend in the World to Cold, Unforgiving Jerk in the span of a few pages.

I also was a little skeptical of the number of antagonists in the novel. Just about everyone in Lainey’s life, from her family and friends to her classmates and the entire administration of her high school, seems to be conspiring against her. I understand people being turned off by her erratic behavior, but it was a bit implausible for the entire community to be out to get her.

Still, don’t let this turn you off from the book. Giarratano’s smooth writing style and Danny and Lainey’s charmingly bittersweet love story more than make up from any rough spots. Grunge Gods and Graveyards is definitely worth a read!

A free copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Add to Goodreads 

Grunge Gods and Graveyards is available for purchase at: AmazonBarnes & NobleGoogle Play, iBooks, and Kobo.

About the AuthorPhoto of Grunge Gods and Graveyards author Kimberly G. Giarratano

Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

You can visit her blog at kimberlyggiarratano.com or tweet her @KGGiarratano.

Visit Other Stops on the Grunge Gods and Graveyards Tour:

7/7 ZigZag Timeline

7/10 The Caffeinated Diva

7/10 Big Al’s Books & Pals

7/12 Cubicle Blindness Book Reviews

7/14 The Gal in the Blue Mask

7/15 The Gal in the Blue Mask

7/16 Big Al’s Books & Pals

7/16 Pandora’s Books

7/17 Laurie’s Thoughts & Reviews

7/17 The Story Goes…

7/18 Observation Desk

7/20 Mama’s Reading Break

7/20 Elizabeth Corrigan, Author

7/20  The IndieView

7/21 The Story Goes…

7/22 Book Lovers Life

7/23 Wag the Fox

7/25 Manuscripts Burn

7/25 KBoards