TLC Tour: Graveminder


Melissa Marr

William Morrow Paperbacks

352 pages

Rebekkah Barrow  is living alone on the west coast, but she has always felt ties to her old town of Claysville.  She left there years ago after the death of her stepsister but she still returns from time to time to visit her grandmother Maylene.  She finds that she must return home spur of the moment once she receives word that Maylene has died suddenly.  What awaits her there sounds like stuff of dreams . . . or nightmares.

Rebekkah must confront her old love interest Byron, who works with his father William as the only undertakers in town.  Byron knows that Maylene has been murdered, but none of the town officials seem too concerned about it, and he’s unsure of how to break the news to Rebekkah, who has enough on her plate as it is. Add to that some strange traditions that have been taking place around Claysville regarding the city’s dead, and you’ve got quite a strange concoction.

I suppose I should throw out my negatives before I move onto the positives.  For one, I absolutely hated the love affair between Rebekkah and Byron.  It seemed contrived and juvenile.  It’s made obvious from the word go that both Rebekkah and Byron have strong feelings for one another.  Byron is very vocal about this fact and pleads with Rebekkah to open up to him.  But Rebekkah refuses.  And so it goes.  Again and again and again.  It just seemed so drawn out and I didn’t really connect with either character, so in the end I was bored with the twosome.

I also thought that Graveminder started out a bit slow.  The plot didn’t grab my attention till well over the 100 page mark.  Instead, it just seemed amateurish, possibly in part due to the love affair of Rebekkah and Byron. The rest of the characters also seemed very two dimensional and I often had issues with trying to figure out each one.  Take Charles for example.  By the end of the book, I was still unsure of exactly who he was and how he got where he was.  That just may be me being dense, but I kept wondering when everything was going to be fully explained.

That being said, I do think that Marr had a great story to tell.  Graveminder is not without flaws, but the story was so interesting that I did begin to enjoy it.  I could see this becoming a fun series because now that I know the back story, it would be fun to see where Rebekkah and Byron end up (although I could do without a focus on their love life!).

Melissa’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, January 17th: Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, January 17th: The Road to Here

Wednesday, January 18th: Raging Bibliomania

Thursday, January 19th: Wordsmithonia

Friday, January 20th: Lesa’s Book Critiques

Tuesday, January 24th: Jenny Loves to Read

Wednesday, January 25th: Life in Review

Thursday, January 26th: Reviews by Lola

Tuesday, January 31st: Elle Lit.

Wednesday, February 1st: The Scarlet Letter

Thursday, February 2nd: Savvy Verse & Wit

TBD: Books Like Breathing


TLC Book Tour: Night Swim

Night Swim
Jessica Keener
Fiction Std
284 pages

I am an absolute sucker for coming of age novels. I’m not sure why that is exactly. I suppose I’m one of those pathetic souls that remembers my high school years as “the good old days”. I can’t imagine going back at this point in my life, but damn was it a blast while it lasted. So anyway, my point is that I am rarely disappointed with novels in this vein.

Sarah Kunitz is growing up in Boston decades ago. Her world is completely different than what I experienced during my formative years. Her daily ensemble consisted of a matching skirt and sweater set with knee socks and the cliques in the school caused a great divide. Sarah, a Jew, is classified along with the other teenagers of her faith, with the Italian kids causing problems and picking on their Jewish counterparts.

Sarah is not buffered my a strong home life. Her father is a literary professor and seems to be disconnected from his four children. Meanwhile, Sarah’s mother is a train wreck. Her passion was violin playing, which is no longer attainable due to her arthritis and, according to her, her children. Now she self medicates with alcohol and pills, which culminates in crashing her car into a local river after a cocktail party at their home.

As Night Swim went on, I realized that, despite the cultural differences between Sarah’s high school years and mine, I could still empathize with her situation and relate to what she went through. Despite her young age, Sarah was a logical thinker who seemed older than her years. At the same time, she still had a vulnerability that was overtly realistic.

I have to admit I can be nervous to read debut authors at times, because you’re flying blind. I had no idea what to expect and the last thing I wanted was for this novel to flop. Luckily, I need not have worried. I thought Keener had a fresh voice and Sarah’s character was one that resonated with me, which was unexpected.

About the Author, Jessica Keener:
Jessica Keener has been listed in The Pushcart Prize under “Outstanding Writers.” Her fiction has appeared most recently in:Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Night Train, and Wilderness House Literary Review. A recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist’s Grant Program, and second prize in fiction from Redbook magazine, her feature articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, Design New England, O, The Oprah Magazine and other national publications. Night Swim is her first novel. Visit her website:, and find her on Facebook and Twitter.