Synopsis

The whole town of Halvertson, North Carolina is in mourning. Local hero and the towns’ favourite football star Jimmy Hawkins is missing. No one has seen him in days. Well almost no one. Keira Nolan has but she knows no one will believe her that she has been visited by Jimmy Hawkins – in ghost form.

Or worse – they will believe her and think she has something to do with his murder.

Review

As far as YA fiction goes This Is Your Afterlife deals with some pretty dark subject matters. Murder, obsession, psychotic episodes but it does so in a way that is not too intense. There are some genuinely warm and comedic moments in this book that make it quite an enjoyable read. If I had to liken it to anything I would say that this is like the film Ghost meets TV’s Ghost Whisperer but for a younger audience.

The clever and playful banter between Keira and Jimmy was entertaining; you didn’t get the impression that Jimmy was dead. They bickered like brother and sister and their constant jocular discourse helped the flow of the novel.

The relationship that Keira and Jimmy’s brother Dan had was also quite sweet. They had to learn to trust each other again and through uncomfortable circumstances. Barneveld managed to keep this believable considering that the overall theme of death could have potentially overshadowed any bourgeoning relationship; she was very sensitive to theme of loss and played down the relationship extremely well.

This Is Your Afterlife deal with emotions that we all feel after losing someone close to us; that intense desire to have one more moment with them. It is a comfort to see someone writing about the possibility of that in a believable way. Well done Vanessa Barneveld.

You can follow Vanessa Barneveld (@Vanessab73) on Twitter.

This Is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld is available now.

This is your Afterlife

Synopsis

Penny Porter is a quiet girl, she blends into the background and she likes things that way. She has no intention of being the lead in the school play or the most popular girl in school. She just wants to get by. Unfortunately for Penny, life gets in the way.

Penny becomes an internet sensation when a video is posted on Facebook of her falling over and flashing her comfortable but worn thin unicorn pants to the whole school. Penny is mortified and vents the only way she knows how to – through her secret identity as Girl Online, her anonymous online profile.

Rather than going back to school she is whisked away to help her parents organise a wedding in New York. The Big Apple – with the help of her new friend Noah – makes her see the big picture. However, will Penny’s life be the same after this adventure?

Review

Ok, it would be impossible to talk about Girl Online without mentioning the recent “ghost writer” scandal surrounding its publication. The use of Zoe Suggs online identity has assured that the book has sold a ridiculous amount since its release. Whilst I am one for supporting authors’ integrity I have to pose the following question – do we all really believe that Beyonce sits in a lab and creates her own brand of perfume? Or that ~David Beckham actually designs his own brand of sports shoes? No, didn’t think so. However, the brands of “Beyonce” and “David Beckham” do sell products. This is pretty much what has happened in this case. So Zoella had some help or a ghost writer, it is not like this hasn’t happened throughout history.

So with that now being aired onto my review of Girl Online – it is actually a pretty good, easy YA read. It is the kind of novel that deals with issues that teenagers go through i.e. losing friends, falling in love and the dangers of the internet. All of which are hot topics surrounding youths today.

You cannot help but like protagonist Penny. She is clumsy, insecure (but not in a needy way) but comfortable with who she is. She doesn’t want the lime light, she wants a nice comfortable easy life and when she has her several misadventures you cringe for her. When all of the embarrassing things happened to Penny I instantly had flashbacks to my awkward and mortifying teenage days; if I had read a book like this back then I probably would have handled them a lot better myself.

The grand storyline of falling in love with a celebrity seems implausible in our much media saturated society, however, I personally read books to suspend my disbelief so I can forgive that faux pas – plus, who of us hasn’t had the dream that we fall in love with a rock star?

Online Girl is an entertaining 300+ page distraction from life. It isn’t going to change your world like some of the contemporary teen fiction but it might just brighten up your day…whoever the author may be.

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg is available now

 

Synopsis

It is early in the 20th Century and the times are changing. For Hazel Louise Mull-Dare the changes are having a massive impact. She was there the day that Emily Davison was knocked down by a horse at the Epsom Derby and from that moment on she becomes obsessed with the rights and wrongs of the world.

Having lived an extremely sheltered life, Hazel – the daughter of a gentleman – looks at the world with wide eyed optimism and ends up landing herself in a spot of bother when she befriends the wrong sort of girl. Her life is further awash with turmoil when her father loses all of their money (and potentially their social status through gambling. It is these outside factors (among plenty of others) that force Hazel Louise Mull-Dare to grow up and to take stock of what is really happening in the world.

Review

Hazel is the second book that I have read by Julie Hearn and I have to say I liked it more than Rowan the Strange. It pains me to say that because I really enjoyed Rowan the Strange; as did the KS3 students that I read it with two years ago. Once again, Hearn has come up trumps. She has a brilliant ability to create believable and likeable historical fiction for children.

What is marvellous about Hearn’s style is that she uses history and the social changes to mirror the protagonist. In this case, the protagonist Hazel is growing up and becoming a young woman in a time when women were coming into their own. They were fighting for the vote and trying to gain independence; Hazel’s life has been so very sheltered that she gains independence through knowledge. As she learns the secrets of her family, the truth about so-called “friends” and the realities of what is expected of young women she becomes more and more incensed to have control.

It is this sort of fiction that is vital for young adults. Exposing young adults to fiction with a factual base is key to peaking curiosity and helping them realise the “what” and “when” of how modern day society was created and the sacrifices that people made; in this particular case, the fight for votes by the Suffragettes.

Hazel by Julie Hearn is available now.

 

Ho ho ho holy potatoes bloglets,

Can you believe we are but ten days away from Christmas? What is even more fun for me is that I have only five days left in work. Oh yes, I need this holiday more than I can even express and I fully intend on reading my novelty reindeer socks off!

This week has been a good book week; not only reading wise but reviewing wise and book receiving wise. There has been a lot of book wisdom this week.

So here are the books that have been reviewed:

It Happened on Broadway: An Oral History of the Great White Way by Myrna Katz Fromer and Harvey Fromer

Half Bad by Sally Green

Melt by Selene Castrovilla

Half Lies by Sally Green

Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

So I’m feeling pretty good about the amount I have reviewed this week.

Next week’s reviews are looking good. So far I have the following books scheduled for review:

Hazel by Julie Hearn

Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

This is Your Afterlife by Vanessa Barneveld

A New York Christmas by Melissa Hill

This week I received the following books from publishing companies:

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

Now That I Have Found You by Ciara Geraghty

Alice and the Fly by James Rice

So I cannot wait to get myself immersed in these books. They smell so good.However, this week I have chosen to read the following books:

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Strange Girls and Ordinary Women by Morgan McCarthy

Trouble by Non Pratt

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

So it should be a good week. I hope you are all having a great time and getting through some yummy books.

Much love,

L x

Synopsis

Assuming that her boyfriend Ben was about to propose, Juliet was more than surprised when she found evidence of his philandering ways. Rather than sit and sulk she decided to take up a lucrative festive job offer to work one last time as a chef at country estate Thornton Hall before going home to America to retrain to become a psychologist.

However, Christmas madness is rife at Thornton Hall and Juliet must control herself around her randy boss Jasper and the head chef Edward; whom she has secretly harboured a crush on for a very long time.

Review

Ok, this is difficult for me. Christmas at Thornton Hall is a really well written book. The storylines are entertaining, intriguing even and the characters are well developed and very distinguishable. In fact, the whole story is well thought out and is a very accurate representation of what I personally believe life in a huge country manor is like. I just didn’t warm to this book like I do with other stories.

Take, for example, the protagonist Juliet. She was understandably upset by Ben’s cheating but she just couldn’t seem to make a decision over which man she wanted to be with. I found that frustrating. In each chapter she felt strongly for a different man in the cast. Her flightiness wasn’t appealing when as a reader I want to identify with the heroine.

Whilst I understand the need for all the plot twists – and which I admit they were executed well – it was hard at times to keep plot threads in order. I felt that this book was meant to be a romantic comedy not a mystery novel.

I think the real indicator for me as to whether or not I enjoyed a book or not is how quickly or (in this case) slowly I devour the story and it took me a very long time to Christmas at Thornton Hall. It just didn’t hook me the way I expected it too.

Overall, as I say Christmas at Thornton Hall is written well and on paper it has everything you need – intricate plot, handsome male heroes, happy endings – it just wasn’t for me.

Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman is available now.

Christmas at Thornton Hall