Tag Archives: grief

Book Review: Lost Stars by Lisa Selin Davis

Related posts: Blog Tour: Lisa Selin Davis on the novels that inspired her

Published 16th October 2016 by Hot Key Books.

31328363Goodreads Synopsis: In the aftermath of her older sister’s death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister’s friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie – a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet – is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn’t even like, even though she’s desperate for a boyfriend.
Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat – boy poison.
Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister’s death, about her own family’s past, and about herself…as well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet – and no small help from Lou Reed – Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

My Review: First things first – I read this book at the wrong time. It was a really great story, and I did enjoy it very much, but I stupidly started reading it as my mock exams started. It took me nearly a month to find the time to finish it! So, maybe, I would have loved it even more if I had read the book in one go: it’s definitely a book you can get completely immersed in.

What I loved the most about Lost Stars was the characters. They were so wonderful and real-feeling. They’re still in my head, long after I put the book down. I quite liked Carrie and how complex her character was – the story is centred around her anger issues, and how her mother’s absence has played into it. I did tear up a little at the resolution.

The gang of teenagers Carrie hangs out with were my favourite. I loved how Selin Davis takes the time to explore Soo, who I could’ve read a whole book about! The love story… I didn’t enjoy so much. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m just really cynical.

Another aspect of the book I adored was the setting. Selin Davis’ debut is such a fantastic trip back to a few decades. I love books set in the 70s-90s – the atmosphere is just so great and nostalgic even if I’m a millennial. I loved all of the pop culture references, and the frequent mentions of iconic songs. It just made the book.

I do think I would’ve been able to enjoy Lost Stars even more if I’d read it at a better time, but I also think it has quite a few similarities to books that were already favourites of mine. It seemed very much in the same vein as Perks of Being a Wallflower and Love Letters to the Dead, in terms of the atmosphere and the similar topics of grief. It reminded me of those books a lot in places, but that’s not to say it’s not really original and compelling itself. I’m sure fans of those two books would adore Lost Stars.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable book and quite a fantastic debut novel. Lisa Selin Davis is definitely an author to look out for – I would love to read more from her in the future. Lost Stars intertwines grief, hope and love into a really thought-provoking and poignant story. I’d definitely recommend it to contemporary fans!

My Rating:

three and a half

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

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.