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Alex McKenna #1

Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths

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For Alex McKenna, high school is just a distraction from the love of his life, Margaret, with whom he can't wait to spend more time once they get to college.

In many respects, Alex is just an average seventeen-year-old boy...except for the fact he's a transgender medium born from a long line of Strega witches, possessing the ability to communicate with ghosts.

With the help of Margaret and his talented Strega great-grandmother, Alex will learn how to strengthen his abilities. The dead need Alex to help them reconcile issues they left behind—and he finds that he needs them, too. As his abilities multiply, assisting the dead becomes an outlet to channel his new energy, giving him the strength to come to terms with who he is as a transgender male, and how far he will choose to go.

Kindle Edition

First published September 24, 2019

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About the author

Vicki-Ann Bush

23 books223 followers
Originally from New York, Vicki-Ann currently reside in Nevada. Writing Young Adult paranormal, she finds her inspiration from events that have been in her life for as long as she can remember.

Inheriting her sensitivity to the supernatural from her family, they continue to be an endless source of vision.

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Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Lauren Stoolfire.
3,557 reviews259 followers
February 27, 2020
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths by Vicki-Ann Bush is a hidden gem. I honestly have no idea why this isn't more love. It's everything I never really knew how much I needed in my life. If you're looking for a unique YA LGBT+ Urban Fantasy featuring a medium who can communicate with ghosts who comes from a long line of Strega witches and also happens to be trans guy. The dead need Alex's help to resolve past issues, his grandmother is helping him to further strengthen his expanding abilities, all while trying to navigate his normal life to top everything off. If that doesn't sound cool, I don't know what would. I'm hoping that we'll get to more of Alex and his world in the future.
Profile Image for K.S. Marsden.
Author 19 books718 followers
October 16, 2020
Alex has always been able to see ghosts, and is drawn to help them cross over. He may be out of his depth, when an evil spirit threatens everyone.

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

We follow Alex who, on top of the usual stresses of being a teenager, can also see ghosts, and is pre-op trans. Luckily he has the support of his family, his best friend Margaret, and the occasional helpful spirit.
Alex comes from a family of Strega witches, and he is going to be especially powerful.

I found it a little disorientating at first, as it drops you into the middle of Alex's story, and I did wonder if I'd missed an earlier book. Alex and Margaret are already an established team, who research and solve ghost problems.
I got into it real quick, though, as Alex and Margaret focus on a new danger that's very close to home.

I really like how much Alex's family is involved, and the Italian flare they bring to everything.
This book isn't just about Alex going solo as the "chosen one"; his mum, gran, little brother and extended family are all very real characters. They all have a part to play in helping Alex, not least of all, trying to curb his impulse to follow his instincts into danger, and to listen to his more experienced relatives.

I think this is the first book I've read with a trans main character, and I really like how Alex was portrayed.
The LGBTQ is woven subtly into the plot, and totally enhances it. I thought it was all done respectably, and made me curious about Alex's journey.

The not so good.
I personally found a good chunk of the middle section quite slow and repetitive.
Alex and Margaret have a lot of the facts and suspects quite early on, and it felt like they were repeating their investigations to come to the same conclusions.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to the next part in the series.
Profile Image for Sandra.
Author 4 books47 followers
August 13, 2019
Alex Mckenna & The Geranium Deaths is a story packed with adventure, mystery, the occult, and love. Alex is the teenage boy eager to finish his senior year in high school and be free to follow the path of his choosing. But a series of gruesome murders in his neighborhood, disrupts his ordinary existence bringing forth a hidden power that makes Alex unique: he is an empath and can see and talk to the dead- a power passed on for generation through his mother’s side of the family. But Alex's uniqueness goes beyond his gift that allows him to see and feel what others can't. He has the ability to see deep within himself and understand who he really is and not only accept it, but take action: Alex is a transgender teen going through the transformation to achieve his sexual identity.
Beyond the well-crafted story and excellent writing, what drew me the most was the love surrounding Alex. The acceptance of who he is in soul and who he will soon become in body is the core of the novel. This is a story of love and family, and of unadulterated human essence.
I was given an advanced readers copy of the novel in exchange of an honest review.
Profile Image for Becky Price.
644 reviews42 followers
March 5, 2021
I personally love books, shows, etc., about people who can see, talk to, and help the dead. I couldn't wait to read this book. While I really connected with our MC, Alex, and was super intrigued by the plot and subplots of this book I could only identify one giant flaw. The audio narrator. I know if I would have physically read this book I would have loved it a lot more, thus why I am bumping up my original 3.5 rating to a 4. On Audible I will be giving this book 3 stars. While I enjoyed his tone of voice, I felt like he didn't emote the other characters well. I didn't like his voice for the females, little brother, or elderly people in the book. I also felt like he read the book to me instead of performed the book for me. Lack-luster is the best way I can describe it. If you're going to read this book, do yourself a favor and read it physically.

I reviewed this book in a reading vlog: https://youtu.be/kqIcXqxaisw

*The audiobook was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for S.C. Alban.
Author 5 books27 followers
September 24, 2019
There is so much I like about this book. I love the paranormal aspect. Ghosts, witches (and they're Strega!!), demon spirits, I love them all, so I was really into the whole premise of this book; a psychic teen with witchy powers communicates with the dead and saves lives. How can you go wrong?

But what really sets this book apart is the main character, Alex. Alex is a teen, but he's also a trans male, and I do believe this is the first time I've read a YA book in which the trans aspect of the MC is secondary. I love how the book handles Alex as a typical teen high schooler, just trying to make it by, doing his homework, hanging with his girlfriend, and, oh by the way, killing some evil spirits. The trans part of Alex is sprinkled in very organically, like it's no biggie (just like how it should be in real life). Alex's character is treated as a typical boy, because he IS a typical boy, who just also happens to be trans. And that's what makes this book so special in my opinion.

Also, there was some kick butt paranormal stuff, too.

**I signed up to receive an ARC from the publisher. I am choosing to leave a review.**
Profile Image for Soph Barker.
Author 57 books44 followers
February 21, 2020
A fun read, despite some small dissapointments.

The most interesting part is the way the main character, Alex, and the fact that he is a trans boy, is handled, in a natural and almost casual way. It is not explicitly mentioned, which is good. It is what it is.

The thing that struck me as the least realistic (and yes, I mean it despiste the fact that Alex and his family have paranormal habilities) is that being a fourth generation Italian he still uses the language casually. Americans are a bit crazy about heritage.

Beside this silliness, I found it entertaining, the plot being complicated and with a lot of twists and turns but not so much as to get the reader lost in it. I would have liked a bit more of reflection on everyone's feelings, and some moments of the story felt very rushed, but I think that's just the type of book it is.

All in all, fun and light, as espected for a page-turner.
Profile Image for KateMarie.
Author 26 books6 followers
September 30, 2019
Ms. Bush takes on more than just ghosts, murder, and mystery in this book. The well written story reminds everyone that the one thing we want out of life, no matter our personal journey, is to be loved and accepted. By focusing on the action and emotional impact, she helps the reader transition into Alex's world. Life isn't perfect for any of us, but keeping secrets really doesn't help. It's better to have the courage to be true to yourself and support others than worry about an image. In the end, the truth always comes out.
Profile Image for Vicki-Ann Bush.
Author 23 books223 followers
October 28, 2020
So it's been a year since Alex found his voice and with the upcoming release of the second book, I thought it would be fun to revisit The Geranium Deaths with an excerpt. I hope you enjoy this snipit into Alex's world.
Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths
Boom! Boom! Boom!
He swiftly pivoted in a clockwise motion, scanning the room. Nothing. Above his head, heavy footsteps sounded. Someone, or something, was walking around the second story.
He hesitated for a moment. “This could be a trick the spirit is playing to get me to leave the circle,” Alex murmured to himself.
Once again, he heard the rustling of steps from above, but this time, it was followed by the flush of the toilet. Because it was an old house, when someone used the water upstairs, you could hear the swoosh in the pipes downstairs.
Damn. His worst fear was materializing. He leaped out of the circle and raced up the stairs. Standing in the hallway was his little brother.
“What the hell are you doing home?” Alex was light-headed with anxiety.
“Why are you yelling at me?” Wilby whimpered.
“I’m not. I’m sorry. But you are supposed to be at school.” “Yeah. Well, so are you,” Wilby replied in a snarky tone.
Well, the kid has a point, thought Alex.

“I needed to pick up some things I forgot. And you?” Alex peered down the stairs.
“I threw up in the car on the way to school. Mom’s gonna come back after her meeting. She tried to text you, but you didn’t answer. She tried Margaret, too.”
“Mom texted Margaret?” “Yeah.”
Alex panicked. “Damn! Shit!” Alex panicked. “Alex, what’s wrong?” Wilby widened his eyes. “I need to get you out of here.”
Alex heard pounding on the front door.
“Hello? Alex! Wilby! Open the door,” Margaret shouted.
Alex grabbed Wilby’s hand and flew down the stairs with his little brother in tow. He reached for the knob of the front door and felt a cold chill raise the hairs on the back of his neck. He glanced down at his arms—goosebumps.
“Crap,” he muttered.
As he opened the front door, Margaret pushed through.
“What the hell is going on? Your mom texted me and said you weren’t answering. What are you doing home?” She was irritated.
“I need you to leave now. Take Wilby and go, wherever. But get the hell out of the house,” Alex commanded.
“What have you done?” Margaret crossed her arms. “Just go. I’ll explain later.”
“No. I’m not leaving you. Wilby, go wait in my car.” Margaret handed the keys to the boy.
“Listen to me, the both of you. You’re gonna put all of us in danger. I’m not sure I can protect you. Hell, I’m not sure I can protect me.”

Alex reached for the knob to open the front door, but it slipped through his fingers as the door slammed shut.
“Oh no.” Alex grabbed his little brother and Margaret and ran for the salt circle. “Remember, whatever you do, do not look at it. You hear me? Just keep your attention on me.”
When they got to the kitchen, Alex was horrified. The circle had been demolished. There was salt all over the floor, and the room was like an icebox. Furiously, he scanned the space—nothing. His goosebumps told him otherwise. Then it hit him. Slowly, he tilted his head up and, hovering with its back to the ceiling, was the malevolent spirit.
Alex yanked them both toward the back door, but when he tried to open it, the door wouldn’t budge. He swung around, leading them into the den. He strained in an attempt to open the window. It was sealed as if it had been nailed shut. They ran through the living room and up the stairs, the cold chasing at their heels.
The first bedroom they tried was Wilby’s. On the street side of his window stood the large pine tree. They could easily climb down from there. But like the window in the den, it was sealed shut. Room to room, they tried everyone until they ran out of windows. Margaret tugged on Alex, yanking him toward the door to the attic. There was a small window they could probably fit through, but before Alex could reach for the knob, the door opened.
He quickly realized the attic was exactly where it wanted him to be. No attic.
They fled downstairs, slipping on the icy residue left behind by their enemy. Clutching the banister, Alex stopped himself from knocking Margaret right over the railing. He desperately ran to the kitchen, wracking his brain for a plan to get them to safety. The basement was not the ideal place to go, but they had run out of

options, and it was the complete opposite of where the thing wanted him.
Alex crossed his fingers and reached for the knob—the door opened. Moving aside to let Margaret and Wilby through, he gasped. Wilby was gone. The spirit was no more than ten feet away, watching them with an evil grin of enjoyment on its distorted face. Lime green eyes glowed, illuminating the dark circles under the beast’s lower lids, creeping like a fungus over its cheek bones. Pasty gray flesh, riddled with red sores, infected the rest of the killer’s identity—leaving no resemblance to human form.
At least Alex knew it didn’t have Wilby.
He shoved Margaret through the door frame and followed on her heels. When they reached the basement, Margaret shouted out Wilby’s name. Alex put his index finger to his lips. She nodded. He pointed toward the boiler room, and they slipped past the unfinished pine door to the dark room.
They huddled together behind the furnace in the basement, and Alex hoped the heat coming from the unit would be enough to throw the beast off their trail. Alex held Margaret close with a firm hand pressing her head into his shoulder. He couldn’t understand why, but for whatever reason, the rules didn’t apply to him. He had stared into its malevolent black eyes and nothing. The only lasting effect on him (other than a moment of paralyzing fear) was complete exhaustion. But Margaret wasn’t like him, or others in his family. The tighter he held Margaret, the more worried he was about Wilby. His little brother was somewhere else in the house. He knew he was smart, but this thing was stronger than anything else they had encountered in the past. Systematically, his mind envisioned every room in the house, searching for a way out.

Peering his head out from behind the hot metal tank, Alex was careful not to touch it. He made the mistake a few years back of carelessly brushing up against it while moving some boxes for his mom. The scar on his right arm left a reminder never to do that again.
The damp, musty smell and the pipes hanging below the ceiling gave the room an ominous air. It was dark in every corner except for a sliver of light emanating from the single, ground-level window. He hated the basement—especially the furnace room. It was the part of the basement that wasn’t finished, and he felt like he stepped into a glimmer of hell every time he was in it. He could sense the thing was still lurking in the shadows, but he had no real fix on it—just the goosebumps that were standing at attention, coating his arms. He eased back behind the tank again. His plan seemed to have worked for the moment, but it also limited their options. It was only a temporary reprieve from the chase, and now he needed to come up with a solid way to find Wilby and escape.
“I think I know how we can get out of the house.” Alex kept his voice low. “But you’re gonna have to trust me.”
Profile Image for  CCAM&GZM.
310 reviews91 followers
November 15, 2021
Alex seems to be a regular seventeen boy, but in reality, he is “the next generation” of a powerful line of witches of whom duties are to help blocked souls to cross over to the light and stop the evil ones from harming the alive and dead alike. With the help of his family and (girl)friend he also appears to deal with a more personal issue.

The story of Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths starts quickly without delays, the background information being inserted here and there where and when necessary. Interlaced within dreams and reality, the past and present events offer new pieces to complete a ghostly puzzle. A puzzle that does not form a clear image as the face of the culprit is not easy to be seen. The danger is lurking and looming in the shadows, keeping the heroes and readers alert if not prepared for what is to come next. The author nicely dosed the gore intensifying the emotions as it sits well when fighting evil. The confrontation scenes are dynamic and visual without unnecessary delays or tricks.

The characters are nice, they and their dialogues are plausible and efficient. Vicki Ann-Bush has succeeded to make the reader feels that in a world in which everything is wanted to be changed, understanding the value of a (traditional) family and community is important.

The rhythm is good, the pages fly quickly. Maybe, in the first part, the traditional culinary mentions, albeit interesting (yummy!), hinder the pace a little. Also, I think that Alex’s gender transition does not have any relevance for the story or the character as the reader would expect from the blurb. It does not influence his decisions or his personality, there is no evolution of the character from this point of view. He is a boy from the first page to the last. Or maybe that is what matters.

Keeping short, Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths was a pleasant read and I’m confident that many YA readers will like the danger and challenges that Alex’s special abilities bring. I’m curious now about what Vicki-Ann Bush prepared for us in the next two volumes.


Profile Image for Mike P.
15 reviews1 follower
February 28, 2020
Neither YA nor supernatural books are typically my thing, rare exceptions aside, but I wanted to read this due to the trans lead character. Alex is a compelling character, and his trans identity is rendered with integrity and subtlety. The story itself did not suspend my disbelief, but it nonetheless had depth and was skillfully executed. I think fans of otherworldly and LGBT YA books will be well-served here.
October 5, 2019
As someone from Italian culture and also part of the LGBTQ community, this book is an utter delight. It’s genuinely a great YA read with all the elements of the paranormal and family history that I crave. With a subtle but poignant nod to character’s transgender life, it breeds awareness without otherness and while it’s part of the story, it’s not THE story. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Cobwebby Eldritch Reading Reindeer .
5,124 reviews271 followers
September 23, 2019
A really enjoyable and fascinating YA Paranormal Mystery, strongly grounded in family, tradition, heritage, and Italian culture (and cuisine). The story also interweaves local heritage and family ties, and some terribly spooky and horrifying elements--both paranormal and human evil. Quite a compelling and fascinating read, eliciting empathy for the characters throughout.
Profile Image for Lauren Jones.
416 reviews11 followers
July 23, 2020
Having the gift of sight would probably be helpful, but would it be scary? Imagine you are sleeping and you suddenly wake up to find a ghost sitting on your bed or standing over you, just waiting for you to open your eyes. That would be pretty terrifying for some. For others, it might be entertaining. Who knows. In this world filled with paranormal activity, Alex McKenna is the lead character and Bush has added a little bit of spice to his character. He sees ghosts! Who doesn’t love that?

Alex lives with his mom and his younger brother. His mom’s family has the gift of sight, the ability to see into the spirit world, but Alex frets that his brother won’t possess the gift since he hasn’t yet shown any signs. His grandmother helps where she can, but things are starting to fall on Alex’s shoulders now seeing as his mom tries to avoid the sight. All he wants to do is help them. When a dead body with a frozen head is found in his small town, he knows immediately that he has to become involved. This is definitely not natural. He enlists the help of his best friend, Margaret, and his mom. Getting his mom involved would only be possible if he gave her no ultimatum; he knows she seems them too, but she can’t hide from it. Looking into as much research as possible, it slowly leads them to the past…which happens to have a great deal to do with the house that he lives in. His beloved home once had a wicked past, filled with hate, that he never saw it? How is that possible? When another body is found the same way, Alex knows he is just barely scratching the surface and needs to find something fast. As if on queue, his grandmother reveals a pattern between murders. The killings seem to occur every six days leading up to Halloween. Wicked! Knowing a timeline helps, so Alex sets out to find as many answers as he possibly can before its too late and another death is on their hands. What awaits him, Margaret, and his mom is nothing more than the insatiable lust for revenge. Who’s revenge is the question? And once they’ve invited it in, how will they survive?

Bush has an interesting take on this YA Paranormal story. She’s included some mystery, suspense and a bit of a romance. From the narration, it is a bit hard to tell whether the story has been written well, as the narrator stumbles over a few words and repeats himself a few times throughout. These errors are few and far between, and should not hinder enjoyment of the story. Rothenberg does show his skill in his ability to captivate his audience by drawing personalities into the characters that Bush has created with his voice. His narration is entertaining and suits the story quite well. The pace appears to be well kept and steady during voice relay, while the tone of story switches back and forth between a light and more serious setting in the appropriate places. If you are interested in reading YA Paranormal, supernatural mysteries, and suspense, you may want to pick this one up.

An audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a four-star rating to Alex McKenna & the Geranium Deaths by Vicki-Ann Bush.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,745 reviews36 followers
July 31, 2020
This was a fun YA urban fantasy. Alex and Margaret were fun main characters to follow around. I really liked Alex. He’s well grounded and comfortable with his witchy skills that let him communicate with the dead. For a YA novel, this story did an amazing job of avoiding teen angst (something that usually turns me off YA). I loved that Alex and Margaret have regular teen challenges, like school and a little bullying, but then they also have this passion to help spirits move on and protect the living from evil ghosts.

Alex is a lot of good things, and he also happens to be transgender. It’s great to see that he’s Alex first, ghost hunter second, and transgender third. While that label does carry through everything he does, the focus of this story is on how he handles this old murder mystery and recent deaths. He handles it all very well, making a few mistakes which can be allowed for because of his age and limited experience.

There’s a smidge of romance in this story but it doesn’t distract from the larger plot (yay!). Margaret is far more than a romantic interest too. She’s got her own set of skills and her own problems at home. She and Alex work very well together, saving and protecting each other in turns.

The ending did feel very rushed. It was over and I was left waiting for another chapter when I heard the final one-liner from Audible signaling the end of the book. Over all, it was fun and charming. I would like to see Alex and Margaret on further adventures. 4.5/5 stars.

The Narration: Marcus Rothenberg had a great voice for Alex. He’s sounds like a teen on the verge of manhood. I also liked his various female voices for the ladies (Margaret, Alex’s mom, granma, and a few others). All characters had distinct voices. I liked his old man voice for the 95 year old. However, his voice for little kid brother (Weebelow? Weatherby? Warwick?) sounded more like a 30 year old with a head cold. So little kid voices could use some work. On the technical side, there were a few sentences that were repeated here and there. Other wise, the recording was good. 4.5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Vicki-Ann Bush. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
1 review15 followers
October 19, 2020
Vicki-Ann Bush

Reviewer: Cynthia Ley (10/2020)


Alex McKenna is a young man living a normal life with extraordinary gifts and circumstances. He attends high school, has a wonderful girlfriend, a close family and many friends, some of whom aren’t walking the earth in mortal form anymore. Alex has the know, the gift that allows him to see and communicate with ghosts and the ephemeral. A gift given to him through his bloodline.

Even his neighborhood is great. Except for the deaths. The ones that come in a sequence, then end. And somehow, Alex’s house is involved. A simple house on Geranium Avenue, where the horrors began.

An intriguing and well written paranormal mystery, Alex McKenna and the Geranium Deaths is peopled with rich and wholly believable characters whose lives are portrayed as very normal for them despite and perhaps because of their extraordinary talents. There are none of the usual cliches here. Instead, there are loving and supportive relationships which make the reader want to get to know these people even more.

And the paranormal that is so much a part of Alex’s world? As with the living, there are light and dark aspects, given to love, to sadness, to revenge, to forgiveness, to hope.

Alex McKenna and the Geranium Deaths is ultimately a story of acceptance and choice. I’m glad I chose to read this very rewarding book.
Profile Image for Teresa.
981 reviews13 followers
July 10, 2020
Alex McKenna is a transgender teen with the gift of being able to see and interact with ghosts. He is also a member of a family of Strega witches. Alex and his family try to cross over deceased spirits who are causing problems in the living world. This time the case hits very close to home. His own house. People are dying of no apperant reason but the weird part is when they are found their head is frozen. it is up to Alex, his family, and his best friend Margaret to figure out who the spirit is and stop them before the body count goes up even higher. And hopefully Alex will not become a tally mark on the body count.

This is my first book by Vicki-Ann Bush and it could be considered YA if not for all of the language used in the book. I enjoyed this book. I loved the way Alex uses his gift and his detective skills to search out the spirits. I think my favorite character hsis. Alex's mom she is great. Marcus Rothenberg does a awesome job narrating. he kept my attntion and really made this book come alive.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Vicki-Ann Bush. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

Profile Image for Angela.
317 reviews
July 11, 2020
I received this as an audiobook to read for free in exchange for my honest review. Thank you to The Parliament House for giving me access.

A transgender medium?! Yes please!! I went into this not thinking I would enjoy it (I am a total "judge a book by its cover" person). Vicki-Ann Bush created a story that I definitely need more of. Having a character that is transgender and going through treatment for change, all while in a fantasy world, this is something more authors need to incorporate into their writing. I'm sorry, contemporaries are not for me.

The actual story line was amazing as well, there was a Ghost Whisperer vibe to it (a favorite that I love to binge watch).

Why do I give it 4 stars if I loved it? It would have been perfect if the narration was read by someone with an Italian accent.
1 review
November 11, 2020
This was one of my favorite audio books.. The narrator was most amazing in his delivery..I enjoyed every moment of it. Omg this book keeps you on the edge of your seat. I couldn't wait for the next chapter. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful captivating book.. Thank you for this wonderful experience in listening to an amazing wonderful narration. I believe the narrator kept me interested he changed voices for different characters and spoke italian as if he were Italian.. I cant wait for the next book and to hear the same narrator. I'm anxiously awaiting what will happen next.
Profile Image for Wren Handman.
Author 15 books40 followers
January 4, 2020
What a great read! It's so nice to see a young adult book where the protagonist isn't hiding their identity from everyone in their life. Having it all out in the open really changes the nature of the supernatural and how the main character interacts with his friends and family, and that was great to see.

Plot really carries you along, and I loved the end.
Profile Image for Temple Kinyon.
Author 1 book4 followers
September 6, 2020
What an incredible story! I dove into Alex McKenna's story because I know Vicki-Ann Bush is a talented writer. But once I started, I was sucked into the multi-layered story. I enjoy paranormal, so she hits it out of the ballpark in that aspect. This is the first time I read YA featuring a trans main character. I loved how Alex's character evolved, but it wasn't overpowering. It was a completely enjoyable and believable way to tell Alex's story. I recommend this book to anyone YA and older to read. It's thrilling, exciting, educational, and one heck of a story!
Profile Image for Jenna Rideout.
655 reviews54 followers
November 18, 2020
I received a complimentary review copy of Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths in exchange for an honest review from the author Vicki-Ann Bush via Silver Dagger Book Tours as part of my participation in the blog tour for this title. Thank you to both Vicki-Ann Bush and Silver Dagger for this opportunity! This has not swayed my opinion on the book. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.

Alex McKenna & The Geranium Deaths is a unique YA Paranormal Fantasy unlike any other I've ever read. Not only is Alex a medium helping ghosts move on, but he's also trans and it's no big deal. Seriously! I love seeing so many trans characters and other LGBTQIA representation and issues in fiction lately, but this is the first trans main character I've come across in a YA novel who just happens to be trans in addition to everything else. It comes up when such things would naturally come up, and otherwise, it isn't mentioned. Alex is Alex.

I love the fact that rather than Alex's abilities being some random thing that cropped up in him, it's part of his family heritage (Strega witches) and we get to see him learning how to cope with his lot and do his supernatural job better with the help of his grandmother. I love it that none of the things that make Alex unique, be it his trans identity, his paranormal abilities, or anything else are rejected or seen as problems by the important people in Alex's life. Alex has a great support network who loves and accepts him and just wants him to be the best he can be.

Alex's repeated use of the Italian language threw me off a little, though. I feel like when you present an "average American teen" with a twist and then make them speak Italian, you're either going to end up with a pretentious New Yorker whose family hasn't let him forget The Old Country or just some annoying brat who likes spaghetti and mob movies a little too much. Alex isn't either of these cookie-cutter archetypes nor is he a genuine immigrant or immigrant's son (he's fourth-generation,) and he's growing up in modern-day USA where you're unlikely to learn any language other than English fluently unless you really pay attention in Spanish class. I'm fourth-generation (give or take one depending on the branch) and I've only just pushed my grasp of Norwegian beyond a few phrases and a Christmas carol with intentional self-guided study in my thirties. Even in families where the grandparents or great grandparents were the immigrants and held on to their language, the grandkids and great-grandkids speak the language they use in school. I suppose one could argue keeping the language alive here was more important in this family because of the inherited paranormal situation, but normally when that stuff is handled in languages other than the local language it's handled in Latin.

With considerations like that aside, this novel is full of ghostly mystery and intrigue that will keep you on the edge of your seat! There's murder afoot (or was? Ghost and all, you know) and the mystery element to this book is quite compelling. I love the way Vicki-Ann Bush writes, just in general. Her prose is captivating, not so detailed as to be called flowery and not so plain as to neglect world-building or create scenes full of talking heads. I'm aware that this has become a series, and I would definitely be interested in reading the later books. I'll definitely be filing this in my "recommend to x" folder for both YA Fantasy lovers and those looking for LGBTQIA novels.

I read this title for a blog tour! To read the rest of the post and gain easy access to the rest of the tour, visit: https://www.westveilpublishing.com/?p...
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