Tuesday 12 August 2014

Blog Tour Review/Giveaway - Not Quite Dead

Huge thank you to Xpresso Reads for allowing me to host this Blog Tour.

Note Quite Dead
Author: Lyla Payne
Series: A Lowcountry Ghost Story #1
Genres: Paranormal, Mystery, Contemporary | New Adult, Adult
Release Date: 1st April 2014
Publishers: Createspace
Source: Review Copy - Xpresso Book Tours
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
A broken engagement sends Graciela Harper crawling back to Heron Creek with her tail between her legs, but finds the sleepy little town too changed to set her life right. Not even her budding drinking problem can obscure her Gramps’s failing health, or erase the mental picture of her first love happily married to her childhood best friend. To top it all off, she’s having a heck of time convincing the town’s dashing young mayor of her unfit-for-dating status.

When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience, Graciela has to confront something else she never expected - being certifiably nuts at twenty-five years old. Her brand new "I don’t give a crap" attitude makes it easy to dismiss the mysterious threats that seem to be tied to her search for more information on the long dead pirate, but when her family becomes a target, Gracie knows she needs to find out why the ghost insists on being a constant, reeking companion.

If Graciela can put aside her prejudice against people without a pulse, she may discover that Anne Bonny’s problems are intricately linked with her own. The past harbors answers could help the cantankerous spirit find closure, but she is, after all, already dead. If Graciela doesn't move fast, she might find herself doing the haunting, instead of the other way around.

Not Quite Dead is definitely a book that had me asking a lot of questions and I don't just mean throughout and about the novel itself. I found myself asking how on earth this book could make coherent sense when there is so much involved, how can the writing which is written in a really, quite wonderful style, follow the pace and feel of a dark atmospheric novel since it's done so delicately and how on earth did I go from lacking a connection to these characters to being fully immersed and relatable to them. I've never read anything by Payne before, but I sure do regret leaving it until now to try.

I'd say one of the most difficult problems during reading was that I hadn't recapped myself with the synopsis beforehand. I essentially went in blind which for some books really isn't too bad a thing, but Not Quite Dead definitely isn't the type of book you want to go in blind with. For starters, during the first few chapters, defining what the book actually was was difficult; a contemporary mystery normal with some paranormal pirates thrown into the mix, it sounds pretty insane, yet after a short amount of time, it actually becomes more and more realistic to the point where I found myself doing something I haven't done in over a year. A read this book through a readers eyes, not a reviewers. Payne clearly has a talent through this because I find it extremely difficult to turn off my reviewer's brain and while I did take notes and criticise the novel, I found myself enjoying those parts of the novel that in places seemed a little predictable or cliche, or those areas that could been a little less wishy washy and a tad more structured and well built alongside the features and characters that I found lovely and well developed. Settling into Not Quite Dead is a must, but once you're settled, that's where things get interesting.

While I did enjoy the use of paranormal and ghosts and the whole plot-line centred around it, I think I most enjoyed the contemporary aspects to the story much more. Covered tough subjects such as domestic abuse and depression are something many authors attempt to cover well but sometimes fall at, I myself can be quite judgemental on stories including depression since I suffer from it myself, but Payne really delved well into this feature and in the end, it's on the things that had me relating to Grace so much. I may not have been engaged to a cheating fiancee, but I do know a thing or two about hitting rock bottom and I thought her no prisoners attitude was the perfect example of putting herself back together. Grace may have been a little vain in areas and convinced that any man that asked to 'catch up' was hitting on her, but these are the features I can dismiss because the development and strength she has a charcater went through and gained was just lovely to watch. I felt both the domestic abuse and depression features were discussed well and shown in the right light without glorying them in any way shape or form and that only complimented the contemporary feel. I also enjoyed the touch of family and close neighbourhoods that were included and I feel that while Payne chose the 'no parents' route, she developed a wonderful relationship between Grace and her grandfather which really reminded me of my own family relationships and hit a few soft spots.

There's something about this novel that had me continuing to read when I couldn't for the life of me place what it was, yet the further into the story I delved, the closer I became to the characters and the romance and the deeper I found myself getting, the more the little issues fizzled away and gave me a nice reading experience. Some people will adore this novel, others will seriously dislike it, but personally, I quite enjoyed; it was a nice pleasant read with just enough mystery to keep me intrigued, enough paranormal aspects to keep it from being entirely realistic and enough real life issues to make it relatable. Will I continue with the series? I think it's quite possible that I will look into it yes, I'm intrigued by the story of Anne Bonny and her family and that cliffhanger ending really does tempt you, so I'm going to keep my eyes and ears pierced for the future.

About Lyla Payne

Lyla Payne has been publishing New Adult romance novels for a little over a year, starting with Broken at Love and continuing with the rest of the Whitman University series. She loves telling stories, discovering the little reasons people fall in love, and uncovering hidden truths in the world around us - past and present. In her spare time she cuddles her two dogs, pretends to enjoy exercising so that she can eat as much Chipotle as she wants, and harbors a deep and abiding hope that Zac Efron likes older women. She loves reading, of course, along with movies, traveling, and Irish whiskey. Lyla's hard at work, ALWAYS, and hopes to bring you more Whitman University antics and at least one more Lowcountry ghost tale before the end of the year.

If you're a fan of Young Adult fiction- science fiction or otherwise - please check out her work that's published under the name Trisha Leigh.

You can find Lyla at:

The Giveaway!

Win a copy of Not Quite Dead, $10 Amazon Gift Card and Swag.
US/Canada Only (Sorry UK readers..)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I enjoyed your thoughtful review of Not Quite Dead.

  2. You raise an interesting point here about liking the elements of the story that AREN'T the genre it's written in. I'm reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer right now, and I really like the elements of mental illness more than the paranormal stuff, which is interesting. I haven't read that much New Adult so I'm a bit iffy on it, but it sounds like an interesting read.

    1. What is The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer like? Is it scary or just psychologically confusing because I've considered it but never made the jump really, but the fact you like the mental illness issues is a great sign, more books need that feature! This is definitely not your typical NA contemporary, far from it.

  3. I want to read this so bad! Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  4. Ha I go blind in books like, almost every single time. Sometimes this works out for the better though but other books are like this and I find myself lost. I'm glad that it didn't take long for you to get into the story though it sounds like a really well-done and super unique read! And not reading with a reviewers eyes happens less and less for me I love it when that happens! Great review, hun!

    1. It's really lovely to just find yourself reading again, not with a critical eye as much and being able to rate on enjoyment rather than actual literary issues instead, and Not Quite Dead was a nice read, I'll definitely look out for the sequel on Xpresso Book Tours if the author comes back to you! :)

  5. I once won a copy of this book through a giveaway, I haven't read it yet though. Sounds like it is worth the read. I like some mystery in my books now and then, although what initialy attracted me to this book was this line in the blurb: "When the ghost of 18th century lady pirate Anne Bonny starts insisting on a near daily audience". It sounds fun, original and msyterious!


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