Tag Archives: death

Graphic Novel Review: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Published 2011 by First Second books.

9615347Goodreads Synopsis: Anya could really use a friend. But her new BFF isn’t kidding about the “Forever” part.
Of all the things Anya expected to find at the bottom of an old well, a new friend was not one of them. Especially not a new friend who’s been dead for a century.
Falling down a well is bad enough, but Anya’s normal life might actually be worse. She’s embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and she’s pretty much given up on fitting in at school. A new friend—even a ghost—is just what she needs.
Or so she thinks. Spooky, sardonic, and secretly sincere, Anya’s Ghost is a wonderfully entertaining début from author/artist Vera Brosgol.

My Review: Anya’s Ghost was such a brilliant graphic novel! It caught my eye in the library earlier in the month, and I’d read a couple of great things online. I couldn’t wait any longer to read it… Whilst in the middle of loads of titles, I picked it up. Once I had, it was hard to put down! It’s original, compelling, and has some of the most beautiful illustrations.

I wasn’t expecting so much from the 200 page story. It deals with an insecure teenage girl who doesn’t quite fit in, paranormal murder mysteries, and above all friendship… it’s all blended together to make a really emotional and addictive story! I guess I do read a lot of paranormal books… but none that deal with friendship as opposed to a romance story which is more often seen. This story made for a really fresh look on things. And it quickly turns from heart-warming to sinister and terrifying… I really wasn’t expecting the plot twists!

Anya was a very relatable character; she’s a teenager under exam pressure, finding it hard to fit in with anyone in school, struggling to maintain a friendship with the one girl who hangs around with her. It was easy to understand her and I grew really attached to Anya! She develops so much through the book, as she discovers certain things about people in her life and begins to make different and life-changing decisions. Anya’s ghost, Emily, also develops a lot in a really unpredictable way. She’s a really complex and unpredictable character. I didn’t see the ending for the story coming.

The artwork is absolutely beautiful. The style of drawing is simple and cartoon-y, but it really just… went with the story. I loved it. I was really absorbed in the drawings, and I found myself going back over pages after I’d finished just to admire some of the panels! The colour scheme is really pretty, all dark shades of grey and purple.

Overall, I’d really highly recommend Anya’s Ghost to anyone, whether you’re a reader of graphic novels or not! The story was really complex and riveting, with some unpredictable twists that leave readers in a daze. Vera Brosgol has created some very memorable characters that I was left thinking about long after the last page. It was breathtaking, and probably one of the best débuts I’ve read in a while!

My Rating:

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I borrowed a copy of Anya’s Ghost from my local library.

Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead might actually be the best book I’ve read this year: and I don’t think I can even do the book justice. About a week ago, I picked the book up again, and I reread it. I’m in the middle of my second or third reread now… It’s just amazing, and you can tell it’s a pretty special book, because I don’t think I’ve gone back to reread a book so quickly.

Published 1st May 2014 by Hot Key Books.

20703051Goodreads Synopsis: It begins as an assignment for English class: write a letter to a dead person – any dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain – he died young, and so did Laurel’s sister May – so maybe he’ll understand a bit of what Laurel is going through. Soon Laurel is writing letters to lots of dead people – Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Amelia Earhart… it’s like she can’t stop. And she’d certainly never dream of handing them in to her teacher. She writes about what it’s like going to a new high school, meeting new friends, falling in love for the first time – and how her family has shattered since May died.

But much as Laurel might find writing the letters cathartic, she can’t keep real life out forever. The ghosts of her past won’t be contained between the lines of a page, and she will have to come to terms with growing up, the agony of losing a beloved sister, and the realisation that only you can shape your destiny.

My Review: Love Letters to the Dead completely blew me away. It’s nothing less than an absolutely stunning début novel- there aren’t actually many words that can do this story justice, I think. It was emotional, captivating, and beautifully written.

Love Letters to the Dead is written entirely in what the title suggests. Protagonist Laurel is starting a new chapter of her life, and at the same time, is still grieving for her sister, May. She pours her riveting, moving life story, and everything that she can’t say to anyone else, into letters to Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, and Judy Garland, to name a few people. Each and every letter is heart-wrenchingly powerful, and I found tears welling up reading most of them. Ava Dellaira has a fresh, gripping writing voice. It’s going to captivate anyone who reads this, I’m sure!

The romance in this book was heartbreaking, and heart-warming at points. It was beautifully told. Laurel’s relationships with characters in this book was mesmerising. I can’t say who she falls for, but I will say that the love story was a roller coaster and I couldn’t close the book. What touched me the most, though, was the story between two supporting characters. It deserved its own book; it was really unforgettable and emotional.

We get to know Laurel’s sister, May, really well over the course of the story. It’s quite hard to describe how I felt about May, but she is an unforgettable character. Her bond with Laurel is so memorable and unlike anything I’ve ever read about. Laurel is such a strong protagonist, because as the story progresses, we find out that she’s been through a lot more than we thought she had, and each new event shocked me so much. I felt really close to Laurel, and I loved her personality that really shone through in all of her letters. She’s a new favourite contemporary protagonist, and I really miss reading about her now that I’ve finished the book.

Overall, Love Letters to the Dead was an absolutely amazing début. I was a little apprehensive about starting it because I wasn’t sure how I’d find it… but there was no need to be. Love Letters to the Dead captivated me; Ava Delliara’s story captured me from the beginning and didn’t let me go until the very last page. All of the characters are so well fleshed out and memorable. I completely agree with what Steven Chbosky’s said on the front cover of the book: Ava Dellaira is a bold new literary voice. I’m really hoping to read more from her soon and I can tell Love Letters to the Dead is going to be a book I reread over and over again. It was mesmerising.

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Love Letters to the Dead form the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts. 

Book Review: Bird by Crystal Chan

Published 30th January 2014 by Tamarind books (A Random House imprint).

13260749Goodreads Synopsis: ‘Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John. His name was John until Grandpa said he looked more like a Bird with the way he kept jumping off things, and the name stuck. Bird’s thick, black hair poked out in every direction, just like the head feathers of the blackbirds, Grandpa said, and he bet that one day Bird would fly like one too. Grandpa kept talking like that, and no one paid him much notice until Bird jumped off a cliff, the cliff at the edge of the tallgrass prairie, the cliff that dropped a good couple hundred feet to a dried-up riverbed below. From that day on, Grandpa never spoke another word. Not one. 
The day that Bird tried to fly, the grown-ups were out looking for him – all of them except Mom and Granny. That’s because that very day, I was born.’

Twelve-year-old Jewel never knew her brother, but all her life she has lived in his shadow. Then one night, on her birthday, she finds a mysterious boy sitting in her oak tree. His name is John. And he changes everything.

My Review: Bird is a beautiful book…. there aren’t actually many words to describe it properly and do it justice. It’s a poignant tale about love and loss, and I think it’s going to captivate anybody who reads it.

The story’s completely riveting: Literally right from the first page, where the reader finds out that Jewel was born the day her brother jumped from a cliff, and that their grandfather’s never spoken a word, since. Crystal Chan’s writing is so good, I honestly did have tears in my eyes from the beginning. Chan’s captured the voice of a twelve year old flawlessly. I was sucked right into the story of Jewel, and the complicated relationship with her grandfather and the friendship growing between her and John- a boy who’s staying in the town, who has the same name as her brother.

The plot is flawless- there’s no other way to describe it! Every event was completely unpredictable, and Crystal Chan can make you laugh or cry with every page. The plot is very character driven, exploring the ups and downs of a torn apart family, and focusing on the impact of Jewel’s new friend on her grandfather. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The plot twists are all emotional and shocking, especially the big one about John, Jewel’s friend. I was completely blown away, and I couldn’t stop reading.

Jewel is a character that any reader can instantly fall in love with: She’s so well developed and realistic, and her voice just captured me, and didn’t let me go until the very last page. Her narration is really captivating and she’s probably now one of my favourite contemporary fiction characters. John’s also such good protagonist. Chan made me really mixed on him at points, with those plot twists… but he’s the kind of character you can’t not love!

Overall, Bird is amazing, and a book that I’ll be recommending to everybody I know, regardless of what kind of books they like. The central character were so three dimensional and loveable, I really wanted to read more about them after finishing… I’m pretty sure I’ll be rereading this book! The plot weaves themes of superstition into themes of love and loss, and it’s just beautiful. Bird is moving; more emotional than most books I’ve read this year, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough!

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Bird form the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

The Memory Game (Buddy Read with Charli!)

Charli, who runs the fantastic TO ANOTHER WORLD book blog, buddy read this short novel with me a couple of weeks ago! We both really loved it, as it was a really heartbreaking and beautiful book. This review was meant to be up yesterday, but due to my general un-organisation is WASN’T ): So it’s here now… ;D You can click on Charli’s blog button below for her review! (Yes I am obsessed with hyper-linking stuff. It’s cool okay.)

To Another World

by Sharon Sant, self-published on the Amazon Store.

The Memory GameGoodreads Synopsis: ‘If there is a hell, I think maybe this is it.’ 

Weeks after fifteen-year-old David is killed by a speeding driver, he’s still hanging around and he doesn’t know why. The only person who can see and hear him is the girl he spent his schooldays bullying. 

Bethany is the most hated girl at school. She hides away, alone with her secrets until, one day, the ghost of a boy killed in a hit-and-run starts to haunt her. 

Together, they find that the end is only the beginning…

My Review: Wow. Seriously, wow. I was not expecting such a hard-hitting, beautiful story from a pretty short book! As Charli said- it definitely packed a punch, for a book under 200 pages!

I’ve never read a book by Sharon Sant before (I know! So many good reviews!) so I thought her latest short novel would be a great introduction to her writing, for me. I loved it so much! The pretty cover, and the mysterious synopsis drew me in, and upon starting it I really didn’t want to stop! I read this over a few days with Charli, and at a lot of points I was without my kindle. Which really sucked, because this book was so addictive!

The beginning is one you have to read over twice. What happened? Wait, he’s died- we’re only on the first page! David’s looking at his own body, and he’s a ghost. How? Why? It reminded me a lot of More Than This- by Patrick Ness, because the boy’s dead within the first chapter (They’re very different books, though!). Sharon Sant has used clever narrative hooks to keep the audience reading- they definitely worked! Lots of different twists in the story opened up brand new questions for me. All of them were answered… except for one! The one that wasn’t answered was one of the things I wanted to know the most: Who hit Dylan with their car whilst he was on his paper run- and was that related to the book somehow? It bugged me a little bit that I didn’t get to know this… however, the est of the emotional story most definitely made up for it.

Dylan’s a character you can love and hate. At first, you feel sympathetic for him; because he’s just been killed, and he can’t say sorry to his mum, and his friend has betrayed him after his death. Then, you want to hit him a bit, because he bullied Bethany, the second Protagonist of the novel. Then… you want to hug him (Though, that wouldn’t work, your hands would go straight through him…) because he’s formed a strong friendship with Bethany, and I can’t exactly talk about this much without spoiling it, but Sharon Sant is evil because she makes you love the two of them, but they can’t even hold hands because he’s a ghost. That was so, so sad. I loved David overall, though, and he made a really great main protagonist!

Bethany was an equally amazing main character. Whilst I had guessed why she was so protective of herself from quite early on, it was really heart-breaking to read on as her sad background unfolded throughout the plot. It tied in really well with David’s death and ghostly-reappearance… and the twist at the end was so shocking, so unpredictable, I was left in a bit of a shock at the ending!

The ending was really beautiful. I didn’t want the story to end, because I was enjoying it so much. When it did… I was in a bit of a whoa mode. I had to read over the last few paragraphs a good few times, in order to let the final parts of the book sink in. Sharon’s writing is really beautiful: I could visualize that ending so well- it was perfect.

Overall, The Memory Game was a really exhilarating read! It’s so original, and paced really well. Sharon’s writing brings the book and the characters to life: I wish the characters were real… I want to give Bethany a huge hug and David, too. Despite a couple of small things, the plot was very well written; complex, and had so much amazing-ness packed into it for a relatively short read. I’d really recommend this to fans of contemporary dramas, or supernatural thrillers! It’s a riveting read!

My Rating: 

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I purchased a copy of THE MEMORY GAME from the Amazon Kindle Store.

 

Lockwood & Co.

By Jonathan Stroud, published by Random House.

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Another five star review for my Halloween Reads! Yay! This one’s nothing like ZOM-B, which I reviewed earlier… it’s more for the fans of the paranormal who want a terrifying read to curl up with.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co., #1)Goodreads Synopsis: When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

My Review: Thanks very much, Stroud. You had me tossing and turning all night thinking about ghosts, rushing up stairs in case there were ghosts that might haunt them (no really.), and made me a MASSIVE fangirl. I’ve given it a while to write this review, so I can let it sink in a bit. No review I could write could do this enough justice… it was just simply amazing. Stroud has created a unique, imaginative world in which ghosts roam freely. They haunt so many houses- they’ve turned into some kind of infection spreading throughout England. So, agencies have sprouted up around the country, too, and Lockwood & Co. is that one with the bad reputation and the low-ish income. Luckily, with the arrival of Lucy, things begin to get a lot more exciting for them, because they’ve discovered their biggest case yet.

Despite this book being set in the modern world, for some reason I imagined it all Victorian, and I have no idea why. Maybe it was because there weren’t that many technology references? Maybe it was because Mr Lockwood reminded me a bit of Will from the Infernal Devices- cocky, arrogant, mysterious, and just loveable. Either way, I loved the future that Jonathan Stroud has crafted! It’s eerie, and quite terrifying for a Children’s book. It’s just brilliant- a rich dose of paranormal horror that will send shivers up your spine and grip you like a vice.

Lucy was a fabulous main character. The story was structured in a unique way- starting with an event that sparked their biggest mystery- then zooming back in time to build up Lucy’s back-story, then zooming ahead of time again to carry on with the book. Maybe I didn’t make that sound great… but it’s genius. I got to know Lucy so well! He accomplices, Mr Lockwood and George were also both loveable and brilliant leading characters, that I really want to read more about.

Lockwood & Co. is so gripping, also because of the writing. Jonathan Stroud’s writing is just immaculate, to say the least! His descriptions were beautiful, and the dialogue witty, mostly, to give the rather grim book an upbeat, feel-good essence. The writing drew me into Stroud’s novel so effectively that I found the book hard to put down- devouring the book in about three sittings!

Overall, Lockwood & Co. was an amazing novel. I haven’t read any ghost story as brilliant for a while! The plot was gripping, and full of ghosts and spectres that’ll keep you awake at night. One word to describe the story? Addictive. That’s what this story was! It held onto me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I had read (and re-read) the last chapter. I can’t recommend this enough to fans of the ghoulish and ghost stories. I think I’ve now got to go and hunt down Stroud’s other series, and then impatiently wait for the next book. Bring on the sequel!

My Rating:

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I purchased a copy of Lockwood & Co. from a local bookstore, but also received it on Netgalley- In no way at all did that affect my thoughts.

Drummer Girl

By Bridget Tyler, published by Templar Books.

Goodreads synopsis: It was supposed to be the summer of her life. Instead, 17-year-old Lucy finds her best friend Harper shot dead in an LA swimming pool. How did it come to this? Lucy Gosling is the drummer in Crush, a rock band formed by five London schoolgirls that has just won the UK semi-final of an international talent contest. But when the band lands in Hollywood for the big final, things are not quite as they seem. The band’s lead singer, Harper, has just one thing on her mind- to win back her bad-news ex-boyfriend. Lucy must decide whether she’s playing to Harper’s tune, or setting the rhythm for the rest of the band…

My review: Since I had found out about this read, at a bloggers lunch, I had been itching to read it. Thanks to the lovely people at Templar, I got the chance to! I already loved it from the synopsis, and was totally sucked into the story from the first page. I really loved how it began with the scene of Harper’s murder, because that added an element of suspense, before the first real chapter had even begun. I think the beginning was a bit too quick for me, though. The five girls formed a band, then about twenty pages later they were already on their way to L.A. I would’ve liked it if the pace could’ve slowed down a little then, because  I was pretty interested in the reality show the band Crush were in, and wanted to know more about it. Apart from that, the plot was absolutely brilliant. Many characters were introduced when the girls arrived in L.A., which was a bit overwhelming at first, but then that really made me think. It got me guessing throughout at who the murder could possibly be- most people had reasons to dislike Harper, so the outcome was totally unpredictable!

The plot and story also dealt with some very serious, and common themes in teenage life- such as self-image issues and love. They were dealt with very well in the book, and there was definitely a clear message about one band member’s self-image problems, which was, I think, very important to the story and added some very realistic drama.

I really liked the protagonist, Lucy- the Drummer Girl of the band. You could tell she was trying to keep everything together in the band whose members were growing apart, and I adored her determination and the fact that she never gave up. I also really loved the sudden rebel growing inside her- as she ran off to L.A. without permission from her parents, to try to win Project Next– the band show. It was interesting to see how she developed and grew apart from her parents throughout the novel, and then to join back up with them at the end, after the murder.

Speaking of the murder, HARPER! She was such an intriguing character. I didn’t really like her at all. She had her good things, but the bad points about her covered up those. It really added a conflict between her and Lucy during the story, as certain reasons behind Harper’s sudden interest in going on Project Next came to light. I only really grew to like her a bit more just before her murder, unfortunately! It was very interesting to see her true emotions come through right before her death. It made her tragic death even sadder and much more tear-jerking.

Overall, Drummer Girl was a really thrilling read. It was dramatic, fast paced, and had an constant element of suspicion throughout which kept me guessing at the murderer. Although the murder did not actually take place until very near the end, unlike I had expected, the story was still very action-packed and unpredictable. I loved all of it- what an amazing debut! he author really has a great talent, and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future!

I received Drummer Girl from the publisher, in exchange for a review.

Kite Spirit

By Sita Brahmachari, published by Macmillan.

Kite Spirit

Kite and Dawn are best friends, and totally inseparable. Kite and Dawn share everything with each other… or so Kite thought. On the eve of their first GCSE exam, Dawn takes her own life, and Kite’s world shatters. Kite’s dad, Seth, takes Kite to the Lake District to give Kite space to grieve and cry for her lost friend, whilst he delves into his family history.  Soon, Kite meets a boy, who seems to understand her pain. Can Kite get help from Garth, this understanding, kind boy, and learn how to say goodbye to Dawn?

 

I absolutely loved Kite Spirit! It was emotional, heartbreaking and truthful  and I couldn’t stop reading it. The plot was really great, and beautifully written. I loved the main backdrop for the book, the Lake District- I really enjoyed the authors vivid descriptions. There was a tie-in with the afterlife while Kite was in the Lake District, a little, with the Owls (I won’t explain anymore, because I might drop some spoilers!), and I really liked reading about that and how it drew Kite closer to Garth and his grandmother.

  I really loved the character of Kite- Sit Brahmachari has managed to convey so much of her emotions, through a third-person narrative. I really understood Kite, and loved her unique personality so much. She was a really strong protagonist, overall. Her ending to the story was just perfect! It really showed how Kite had changed after the events of the book and that she had said goodbye to Dawn.

I liked how Kite and Dawn’s relationship with each other in the past was clearly illustrated for the reader with frequent flashbacks, and memories. The really showed me what Dawn was like, and gave me clues as to why Dawn might have committed suicide. Dawn’s situation pre-death was very understandable, and the outcome very shocking.

Overall, Kite Spirit was totally amazing, and flawless, in my opinion. It brought tears to my eyes multiple times, but that just shows what an emotional ride this book was. The characters were three-dimensional and realistic, and the setting was really great. I think this book was a great introduction for me to Sita Brahmachari’s award-winning writing- I can’t wait to soon read Artichoke Hearts, Jasmine Skies, and any more from Sita in the future!