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

Title: Half Lies

Author: Sally Green

Pages: 61 pages

Synopsis

The prequel to Sally Green’s Half Bad. Michele, Gabriel and their father are on the run. They are running from a perceived danger and more importantly, from their sadness. Gabriel and Michele’s mother was killed by her lover. In an act of revenge her lover was also killed.

Life on the lam isn’t easy for Michele. She hates being unsettled and never being able to put down roots yet when her father decides to stay outside Tampa in Florida Michele is suspicious. Her worries are quickly allayed when she finds herself making friends and dare she dream it….falling in love.

Review

Told in diary format, Half Lies tells the story of Gabriel through the perspective of his younger sister Michele. We met Gabriel in Half Bad when he is sent to help Nathan. What is promising is that if Green has felt it is important to give this character a back story that we may see more of him in the sequel Half Wild which will be released in 2015.

Though this was a short story it was chock full of information. What was also advantageous was that being told from the persepective of a teenage girl offered a flip from Nathan’s story. It gave a new angle but also showed that he isn’t the only one being persecuted for his half lack/half white status. It also adds an interesting juxtaposition of older generation of witches with their traditions and hatred and a younger generation who are influenced by them – either in a negative (Aiden) or positive (Sam) way.

Half Lies is the sort of story that you want about individual secondary or tertiary characters. As the main novel is not necessarily focused on them you never really get a clear insight into them; what makes them tick or how they really feel about things. In a series like the Half Bad series you need this information, you want this information and Sally Green gives it to you in spades.

I, for one, cannot wait for Half Wild which will be released in 2015.

Half Lies by Sally Green is available now.

Half Lies

Synopsis

Nathan has always been different. Firstly, he is a witch living in a world full of humans. He feels distinctly different. Things at home aren’t much better. His older sister Jessica hates him and does everything she can to be cruel.

You see, Nathan is different from his family too. He is a half breed born into a family of pure white witches. Nathan is part black and white witch. His father, Marcus is a black witch and no one will let him forget that.

Review

I’m a fan of Young Adult fiction. At 31 that may seem a little strange but for me it is almost as if there is something unforgiving about it. Ironically, it is aimed at an audience who are, by nature, unsure of themselves and coming into their own as people yet the books targeted at them hold no bars in their delivery. Half Bad is one such book…and it is fantastic.

Fantasy is not a genre that I am well versed in. The few I have read I have enjoyed, however, fantasy books do not tend to be my first choice. Half Bad is appealing because of the nature of the story. Nathan is trying to find out who he is yet he is constantly coming up against forces greater than he is. He feels trapped and every chance to escape is stymie by someone who believes they know better than he does. You become so very frustrated for him.

On a deeper level, the book is about prejudice. Nathan has been judged his whole life because of who his father is. Just by living, Nathan is held accountable for his father’s sins which admittedly are plentiful. This burden is the albatross round Nathan’s neck. It is even more of an issue because of the Witches Council’s involvement. They fear Nathan, they think he will become like his father. It is because of this that they are determined to control him.

What I really liked about Sally Green’s novel is that she did not hold back one little bit. She described the torture that Nathan was put through with almost graphic realism. You cannot help but empathise with him. If compassion is the one thing that her young audience take from this novel then she has done a great thing.

Half Bad by Sally Green is available now.

 

Synopsis

The Song girls have always been close. After the death of their mother Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty have had to work together to be strong; not only for each other but for their father too. So when Margot flies 4000 miles away to study in St Andrews University in Scotland, middle child Lara Jean finds that the majority of the responsibility falls heavy upon her shoulders.

It is difficult enough being the responsible one but Lara Jean has to deal with her burgeoning feelings for her sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh; a boy who she once loved but stopped herself from thinking about due to Margot liking him too. However, when a box of love letters that Lara Jean has written somehow get sent to all the boys that she has had feelings for before her whole world is turned upside down.

Review

Initially I wasn’t really feeling this book. I felt that it was paced at warp speed and the short scenes felt a bit choppy to me. However, I think this could have been because of the sweeping narrative of the book that I had previously read was still playing in my mind. This is not a fault of Jenny Han’s but just because it was such a sudden shift. I needed t readjust.

As I got further into the story I actually began to see the pacing as one of the books main attributes. Life is like that when you are young and in love. Everything goes fast, one drama after another that lose significance as the weeks go on. It was actually a clever stylistic trick employed by the writer.

As for the Song girls, they were so easy to like and what I thought was so special about Lara Jean is that she was the balance between the two surrounding sisters. She had the heart of Margot and the playfulness of Kitty and it was s lovely to see her develop and take on the role as older sister as opposed to middle child.

What was also rather lovely about the story is that it didn’t make grand sweeping gestures. It was the simple things that were important such as the little notes passed back and forth between Lara Jean and Peter or how they slowly got to know one another. Lara Jean came across as a young insecure teenager. She wasn’t whiney or gauche which you can sometimes find in YA fiction. She was still growing and developing.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a sweet innocent book that has the ability to remind us just what it is like to be in the first throws of teenage lust; a gloriously wretched feeling. Jenny Han has done herself proud.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is available now.

*             Special thanks to Sophia at Scholastic for sending me a copy for review.

 

Synopsis

The Song girls have always been close. After the death of their mother Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty have had to work together to be strong; not only for each other but for their father too. So when Margot flies 4000 miles away to study in St Andrews University in Scotland, middle child Lara Jean finds that the majority of the responsibility falls heavy upon her shoulders.

It is difficult enough being the responsible one but Lara Jean has to deal with her burgeoning feelings for her sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh; a boy who she once loved but stopped herself from thinking about due to Margot liking him too. However, when a box of love letters that Lara Jean has written somehow get sent to all the boys that she has had feelings for before her whole world is turned upside down.

Review

Initially I wasn’t really feeling this book. I felt that it was paced at warp speed and the short scenes felt a bit choppy to me. However, I think this could have been because of the sweeping narrative of the book that I had previously read was still playing in my mind. This is not a fault of Jenny Han’s but just because it was such a sudden shift. I needed t readjust.

As I got further into the story I actually began to see the pacing as one of the books main attributes. Life is like that when you are young and in love. Everything goes fast, one drama after another that lose significance as the weeks go on. It was actually a clever stylistic trick employed by the writer.

As for the Song girls, they were so easy to like and what I thought was so special about Lara Jean is that she was the balance between the two surrounding sisters. She had the heart of Margot and the playfulness of Kitty and it was s lovely to see her develop and take on the role as older sister as opposed to middle child.

What was also rather lovely about the story is that it didn’t make grand sweeping gestures. It was the simple things that were important such as the little notes passed back and forth between Lara Jean and Peter or how they slowly got to know one another. Lara Jean came across as a young insecure teenager. She wasn’t whiney or gauche which you can sometimes find in YA fiction. She was still growing and developing.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a sweet innocent book that has the ability to remind us just what it is like to be in the first throws of teenage lust; a gloriously wretched feeling. Jenny Han has done herself proud.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is available now.

*             Special thanks to Sophia at Scholastic for sending me a copy for review.