#BookReview: GHOST GIFTS by Laura Spinella

All Aubrey Ellis wants is a normal life, one that doesn’t include desperate pleas from the dead. Her remarkable gift may help others rest in peace, but it also made for an unsettling childhood and destroyed her marriage. Finally content as the real estate writer for a local newspaper, Aubrey keeps her extraordinary ability hidden—until she is unexpectedly assigned the story of a decades-old murder.

Rocked by the discovery of a young woman’s skeletal remains, the New England town of Surrey wants answers. Hard-nosed investigative reporter Levi St John is determined to get them. Aubrey has no choice but to get involved, even at the terrifying risk of stirring spirits connected to a dead woman’s demise and piquing her new reporting partner’s suspicions.

As Aubrey and Levi delve further into the mystery, secrets are revealed and passion ignites. It seems that Aubrey’s ghost gifts are poised to deliver everything but a normal life.

Published: March 1, 2016

Amazon / Amazon UK

 

My Review:

Unique, realistic characters are a strong selling point for me, and this book excels in that respect. I loved Aubrey. The book opens with her as a child, and I immediately connected with her; not because of any similarities with my own childhood, but because I truly felt what she was going through. We soon jump ahead to Aubrey in adulthood, and the emotional connection stays strong throughout the remainder of the book.

The dead were part of Aubrey’s life, but purposely seeking out a murdered girl crossed every boundary she’d managed to construct.

I loved Aubrey’s ghost visits. Each ghost has a different personality and agenda. Aubrey’s ambivalence in regards to her gift is handled well. She seems to be straddling two different worlds, with some people who love and support her and others who have bullied her into silence. This is an issue that resonates outside of the supernatural, fictional world, highlighting the difficulty in finding acceptance when you don’t quite fit the expected norm.

She’d gone on to say, “Aubrey, be aware. Not every entity is about positive messages and closure.”

The romance aspect, for me, is handled perfectly. It’s a slow burn that evolves along the way, allowing the rest of the story room to grow.

The subtle gesture made Aubrey’s breath shake, a flutter rising from deep inside, something complicated and sweet.

The one minor issue I had came with the flashbacks, both with the victim and with Levi. Overall, these were long passages that took me out of the immediacy of the present story. I understand why the author chose to include these, and they certainly are fascinating stories on their own, but focusing so much on the pasts of two different characters has the disadvantage of taking focus away from the main character and the story at hand.

In the time it took to blink, Levi put away his lighter and his life, fading into his all-business persona.

Aubrey is a memorable character that I enjoyed spending time with. While I know this isn’t the start of a series, I’m holding out hope that she’ll have another story to tell us sometime in the future.

 

Thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Great review, Darcia! You do such a great job with sharing the book without giving anything away. I also love how you pull out great quotes!

    I felt the same way about the flashbacks. I just didn’t feel they were necessary, and I’m not usually a reader/writer against flashbacks. My major issue was that I figured out the “whodunit” the first time I met the character, even though there were no glaring clues. It said to me that this is whom the writer has decided is guilty, so this is whom it shall be. But…maybe that’s just because I read and write so many mysteries. I thought the paranormal was excellent. Very believable, which, of course, I love.

    • Thank you, Carmen!

      As for the ‘whodunit’, I also thought the clues were a bit too obvious. But I have a difficult time judging this quality, because, like you, I write within this genre. I find myself thinking of that aspect of a story in terms of how I might write it and/or what clues I’d leave for readers. So I tend to avoid comment on that because I’m never sure if it’s as obvious for the reader who doesn’t also write mystery/suspense. When I do comment, it’s because the whodunit is either blatantly obvious or took me by complete surprise. (The latter being a rarity, which is the downfall of being a writer. Sometimes I wish I could read like a reader, not a writer!)

      • I say that to myself almost every time I read… I guess it’s like a Professional Football player…it’s not a game anymore. In the last year, I found myself reading more and more chick lit, and I couldn’t understand why, since my favorite genre is romantic suspense. Then it hit me… I don’t write chick lit, so I can’t analyze it the way I would my own genre. It also makes me want to get back to my writing quickly. LOL! Like you, though, I’m a member of Kindle Firsts, and Amazon sent me Ghost Gifts. I’m glad they did. It was an enjoyable read. 🙂