Blog Tour Review: Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

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Blurb:

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fq1tj9

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eOQqg4

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brides-and-bouquets-at-cedarwood-lodge-rebecca-raisin/1124085231;jsessionid=937A4B68C1C02AE2433A994A91C0BFE5.prodny_store02-atgap05?ean=9781474058421

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rebecca_Raisin_Brides_and_Bouquets_At_Cedarwood_Lo?id=tGKoDAAAQBAJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31423832-brides-and-bouquets-at-cedarwood-lodge

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My Rating: 5/5

Review: I read the first part of this series and was looking forward to reading the rest of of the series and finding out what happened to Clio and the lodge.  While the first part introduced the characters the second part, for me, got more into the story and it whizzed along really nicely. Clio is finishing the organising of her bridal expo and hoping to entice lots of brides to book their weddings at the lodge and to use the local businesses for their flowers, cakes, etc.  The characters were well-written and realistic and I was whizzing through the pages wanting to find out what happened next and see how it turned out for the people involved. 

While you need to read the first part to really understand the background to this part of the story this is a brilliant read and very appropriate for this time of year with snow and Christmas decorations everywhere. I really enjoyed this part and can’t wait for the next one to come out which I will be reading the minute I get my hands on it!

 

 

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Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6915386.Rebecca_Raisin

Tour Schedule: http://tours.readingromance.com/2016/10/brides-and-bouquets-by-rebecca-raisin.html

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Blog Tour: Review of The Exiled by Kati Heikkapelto

So this is going to be a review with a difference for two reasons. First is this is the first book I have read by this author and the first set in the countries covered in the book.  The second reason is that I haven’t actually finished reading the book yet. (Sorry!)  University work and a placement have meant that I’ve been overwhelmed by information during the day recently and the last thing I’ve wanted to do at night is read anything.  So while I have started the book and can review what I’ve read so far I won’t be rating it until I have finished it, despite this I do have some feedback from what I have read so you can definitely get a flavour of the book from my review.

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Blurb:

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees.
Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?
Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My thoughts so far:

As I’ve already said this is the first book I’ve read by this writer and from what I’ve read so far I doubt it will be the last.  This is not the first Anna Fekete book  but there is enough background given that I haven’t felt that I am missing any essential information about her.  I started reading wondering what I had agreed to read, between the book being originally written in a different language and the way it is written I was finding it both quite strange and completely gripping.

There’s something about books that have been initially written in a non-English language that makes the writing (once translated) quite different from those that were written in English and therefore don’t require translation for an English speaking market.  I can’t explain what this difference is but if you read this book or anything similar you should be able to see it for yourself.  For me that difference makes the books quite mesmerising, the way they are written (both this and The Bird Tribunal) is quite distinctive and I really like it.  The authors seem to focus on areas that other authors don’t, for instance there is a lot of description of the area, trees, feelings of air moving, nearby sounds, etc but these are done in such a way that makes them very clear but without the book being overly descriptive and wordy, not something that many authors can achieve.

This book has that descriptive writing and it adds so much to the story without getting in the way.  We follow Anna who has returned home for a summer holiday and then decides to investigate when her handbag is stolen and she is unsatisfied with the police investigation.  For anyone who does not know, Anna is a police investigator in Finland (where she lives) so the idea of her investigating in her home town is not as far-fetched as it may sound.  We get to see her conflicted thoughts as to whether she should investigate or just leave things especially as she gets her bag back missing only a few items.  There is a lot of pressure on her to drop her inquiries but something nags at her and suggests she should continue.  This conflict is well-written and mirrors my own so far. I can understand why she wants to investigate and I want the same answers she does but at the same time I am concerned that her continued investigation could be a bad idea.

It’s clear that this is a recently written book because it already has made mention of refugees fleeing Syria and other countries and we get to see the impact that has on the people in the town and how welcoming they are (or not).  There is also conflict and disagreement over the perception of Roma gypsies between Anna and others in the town.  This conflict is proving particularly interesting to me because the perception of gypsy/travellers in the UK is something that was covered on my course a few weeks ago so it’s interesting to see how it is tackled by an author from a different country and what the assumptions and prejudices are in other countries.

So far this book has proved most intriguing and is one of those books you get sucked into when you start reading.  Time disappears while you follow Anna and agonise over her decisions with her.  I’m disappointed that I haven’t been able to finish this book in time for the blog tour but it will definitely be finished soon as there is no way I can leave it and not know what happens to Anna, the investigation and all the other interesting characters that have appeared so far.

 

 

Author bio: Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland. She wrote her first stories

at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes. Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyväskylä.  The subject of her final  thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went on to work as a special
needs teacher for immigrant children. Today Kati is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist. Her books, The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into 16 languages and both were shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the
UK.
The Defenceless won Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key. She lives and writes in her 200 year old farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland. In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushroom s, and gardens. During long, dark winter months she chops wood to heat her house, shovels snow and skis.

Guest post by Nathan Barham author of Alora’s Tear.

There are always going to be books that I would love to read but don’t have the time for and sadly this is one of them.  I do, however, have a fascinating guest post from the author on left-handedness, a subject I find interesting as my brother is the only one in my family to also be left-handed. So, read on and learn a little about growing up as a left-handed person…….

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Blurb

Alora’s Tear, Volume I: Fragments

There is no magic in Vladvir…

Tucked away in a quiet valley, the community of Tolarenz offers a refuge and safe haven for its people, keeping persecution at bay. One young citizen—Askon son of Teral—is destined to lead them, but first he must leave them behind: one final mission, in service of the king.

In the north, leering nightmare creatures known as the Norill gather. Their armor is bone and skin; their weapons are black and crude and cold. They strike in the night, allies to the darkness. It is to them Askon marches, his men a bulwark against the threat.

For there is no magic in Vladvir.

What Askon finds when he arrives seems impossible: smoke and fire, death and defeat, and all around a suffocating sense of dread. The Norill seek something they call ‘the Stone of Mountain,’ but in the half-remembered stories from Askon’s childhood, it was always ‘Alora’s Tear’: a gem with powers great and terrible. A gem that cannot exist.

Unless there is magic in Vladvir…

Buy Links

Barham Ink: http://www.barhamink.com/buy-the-book/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/nathan-barham/id900944782/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nathan-Barham/e/B00MV6R2SE/

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22Nathan%20Barham%22?Ntk=P_key_Contributor_List&Ns=P_Sales_Rank&Ntx=mode+matchall

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/search?query=Nathan%20Barham&fcsearchfield=Author

The trilogy is complete and all three books are available to purchase:

Volume II, The Elf and the Arrow

Volume III, The Voice like Water

 

Guest post – on left-handedness

I’m left handed. Some of my earliest memories and some of the earliest found footage from back in the days of my grandfather’s over-the-shoulder VHS camera has me happily scrawling away with my left while an adult, well intentioned of course, gently removes the crayon or pencil and correctively replaces it in my right.

On the tape, my little brows furrow and scrunch, confounded again, and my mother sounds offscreen: “I think he’s left handed.”

After another few fruitless seconds as the writing instrument taker attempts to assist in scratching out my name, crayon in my right hand, my hand in theirs, they give up and turn to talk to offscreen mom. I immediately switch hands and finish the name. It’s not pretty, but it’s done, and I’m fairly young in the video.

Over the years, I’ve heard it all: wrong handed, backwards handed, southpaw, leftie, the devil’s hand. It’s not offensive, and I don’t take offense because seriously, there are people with actual problems in the world which arise from unchangeable differences, but it’s my difference, the way that I’m just not quite like everybody else.

So what does this have to do with Alora’s Tear? You don’t have to get far to discover that the main character, Askon, has left handedness as one of his many unchangeable differences from other characters in the world of Vladvir (he’s also a half-elf with heterochromia iridis, among other things). It’s a factor that effects more than just whether or not he smudges the ink (he doesn’t) when he writes, but how his silverware is placed at the table, where his cup lands naturally while eating, his decision making process in battle strategy, and of course the moment to moment action of a good old fashioned sword fight.

The most interesting of these, I find, is the decision making process. “Always go left,” Askon tells a friend at one point. It’s a theory I used to solve mazes in old school videogames. If you simply always go left, following the wall, you’ll eventually brute-force the entire track of the maze, allowing a method for retrieving all the treasure, even if you’re lucky and find the exit early.

One of the reasons I chose this method for Askon’s process is nostalgia, and the other is that it’s effective in an environment designed to reward players, to make them feel clever, but that it falls down if the maze is intentionally complex (all it has to do is have a crossing path before one must alter the rule). Soon, if the designer is truly trying to confuse the navigator, the number of “Have I been here before?” points grows too large to recall or separate from each other, and he or she becomes hopelessly lost.

It is this fault, and Askon’s utter confidence in his strategy that make its inclusion interesting. He has a reason to be confident, as a combination of luck and the general effectiveness of the strategy not just for mazes, but of left-side dominant opponents being at least off putting to right handed people and downright surprising in cases where such a choice simply isn’t made (in swordplay, for instance, where common knowledge often defies these advantages).

Askon, were he right handed, loses a bit of mystery, a bit of surprise, a bit of individuality, of rebelliousness, defiance even, and a chance for his false confidence (which he doesn’t know is false) to fail him.

What would be the fun in that?

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Bio

Nathan spends most of his working days with the students of Genesee Junior-Senior High School in Genesee, Idaho. Whether it’s essay structure, a classic literary work, or the occasional impromptu dance routine, he strives to keep students interested in the fun and the fundamentals of the English language.

When he’s not teaching, he wears a number of hats, though the one that says “Dad” is the most careworn and cherished (it says “Husband” on the back). It hangs on a hook in a house where music is a constant and all the computers say “Apple” somewhere on their aluminium facades. From time to time it is said that he ventures into the mysterious realm called outside, though the occasion is rare and almost exclusively upon request by son or daughter.

Author Links

Website: barhamink.com

Tumblr: natebarham.com

Twitter: twitter.com/natebarham

Facebook:  facebook.com/BarhamInk

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: The Dress by Jane L. Rosen

Update – I have amended yesterday’s review in light of new information.

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Blurb:

Legend has it that every season there is one dress.

The dress that can make your career

The dress to ignite a spark with that special someone

The dress to utterly transform your life

For Felicia, who has been in love with her boss for 20 years; for Natalie who has sworn off men since her ex dumped her – for them and for others, life is about to change.

And all because of their brush with the dress of the season, the perfect little black number that everyone wants to get their hands on…

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My Rating:  3.5/5

Update: For some reason when I read the book I thought there was more than one copy of the dress that was being worn by different people, turns out I was wrong and it is actually the same dress that everyone wears.  There are different sizes mentioned and the dress goes in and out of Bloomingdale’s a few times and I think that is what caused my misunderstanding but hopefully this update has clarified things. Apologies for any confusion or misleading information.

Review:  I liked the premise of this book, that wearing one dress even for a short time could make things happen that will change your life forever.  It starts off, unsurprisingly, by introducing us to this amazing dress, the person who made it and the model wearing it as it is discovered by those who will turn it into the dress, the dress of the season.  After this we are introduced, one by one to the people who are affected by this dress and we get to see the effect it has on their lives and how it changes them.

Other than the dress itself affecting different people’s lives I didn’t really feel there was much connection between the people who wore it which meant that I got less depth of character and insight into the characters lives than I would have liked.  Perhaps less women wearing it might have made a difference, I don’t know but because of the lack of depth I didn’t really feel anything for any of the characters other than Felicia and Arthur.  For some reason those two stood out amongst the rest and I loved reading their story.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good book, it’s a light and easy read and definitely what I would call escapism as it spirits you along from one person to the next.  We get a glimpse into each persons life and the effect the dress has on them before we move onto someone else and they find the dress and experience it for themselves.  The people affected by the dress are definitely a diverse bunch and it has humour and some life lessons in parts.  For me though it was a little lacking, hence the rating, a bit more background and detail and I would have rated it higher but, it’s definitely an enjoyable way to spend a lazy afternoon when you want to be whisked away to New York and to believe that one item of clothing really can change your life.

Many thanks to the published for letting me have a copy to review.

 

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Author bio: Jane L. Rosen is an author, screenwriter and Huffington Post contributor. She lives in New York City and Fire Island with her husband and three daughters. She often takes inspiration from the city she lives in and the people she shares it with. In addition to her writing she has spent time in television and event production and is the co-founder of a gifting app called ItsAllGravy.com.

Blog Tour Review of Locking Up Santa by Nikki LeClair

Having read and reviewed the first book in the Haunting Me series here I was thrilled to be able to review the second book as well and just in time for Christmas too!

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Blurb:

It’s the Christmas season, and seven months since Phoebe Mercer’s life dramatically changed. She went from being an overworked legal assistant, to a CEO of a popular beauty company. She moved from the bustling big city, to a quaint seaside town. She’s gone from living with a fiancé, to living with a ghost. Yet, it seems she can’t get a grip on her new life, whether it’s getting used to being a public figure, having a Chief Operating Official who hates her, or a ghost who is just too passionate. As if things can’t get any worse, Phoebe’s friend and mentor is arrested for a horrible crime many think they were capable of committing. Except for Phoebe, and her  ghost.  As Phoebe races to prove her mentors innocence, and stop the company from sinking, she must deal with a face from her past that throws her in a disarray of emotion, an unwanted visitor, and old friends who seem to have abandoned her.

Buy the Book:

AmazonUS
AmazonUK

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My Rating: 4/5

Review: Like the first book I enjoyed this one and managed to read it in one day which is quite a feat for me considering I’ve struggled to get into reading anything recently.  I don’t know whether it was because I’m having trouble with books at the moment or whether it was the book itself but I didn’t find this one as funny as the first one.  It had a lot more serious moments in it with the arrest of Phoebe’s mentor Henry who is behaving quite strangely towards the prospect of going to jail, the struggles with the launch of a new Lavish Looks product and various confusions and misunderstandings between Phoebe and her friends and family and the constant presence of Edie, the ghost.  This is still a fairly light and easy read and, like the first book, has characters that irritated me which I think is partly what kept me reading.

As things have moved on some for Phoebe since the first book this one is in a new setting with quite a few new characters to get to know, some to like and some to dislike immensely (I’m looking at you Vanessa!) but as with the first book these elements kept me reading, wanting to find out if they would change, if they would get caught out or whether they would remain as nasty and oily as they were at the beginning.  Having said that the person who annoyed me the most was Phoebe.  I know she’s had a lot of changes to deal with in her life and suddenly becoming the CEO of a multi-million dollar company would scare even the toughest of people but she was beyond scatty and I spent a good chunk of the book irritated with her and wondering if she would grow a backbone and stand up for herself, Henry and the company.  I’m not going to say what happens but I will say that having finished the book I am now looking forward to the next in the series, especially given the cliff-hanger ending!

There is enough background information in the book that you may be able to read this one without having read the first but I personally wouldn’t recommend it.  I think this is one of those series that will have to be read from book one, but then you’ll have more fun and understanding of everything that way so why not, plus you get to watch the character development progress and I, for one, like that in a series.

While this is a Christmas book in that it features mentions of Santa and Christmas parties it actually ends before the big day itself so is a book that can be read during the festive season or whenever you want. However, I would suggest getting cosy somewhere warm and making sure you have enough snack, drinks, etc for a few hours because once you start this book you won’t be moving for quite some time!

Now, all I need is to find out when the next book is out and impatiently wait for it………

 

 

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Bio:

Nikki LeClair lives in Canada with her loving husband and their two rambunctious children. When she isn’t ordering her children to behave or begging her Border Terrier to listen to her, she sits behind her lap-top plotting out the next adventure of her new characters. She’s a fan of a good glass of Pinot Noir, and can’t live without her favorite Tea blends.

She enjoys hearing from readers and fans of her work. You can find her on twitter at @NikkiL_Books, and on her Facebook Fanpage Nikki LeClair

Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas by Darcie Boleyn

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Summary:

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

Release Date: 7th November 2016

Publisher: Canelo

Format: ebook

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32731802-a-very-merry-manhattan-christmas

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Merry-Manhattan-Christmas-ebook/dp/B01LD9RQWG

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My Rating: 4/5

Review:  Even though I’ve never been to New York I love the city and books featuring it or ones that are set there so when this blog tour popped up in my emails I couldn’t resist.  This is the story of Lucie and Dale who have been friends forever but nothing more, or so they want to believe.  They had one summer after they left school when they took their relationship further but then Lucie went to university and it was never spoken of again.  However, despite this blip, they remain the best of friends so when Lucie is invited to her friend Petra’s wedding in New York Dale agrees to go with her.  He goes partly because if he doesn’t she might get on the wrong plane or get lost in the city and partly, because Christmas with all its celebrations and festive joy is a time of year that Lucie hates.

I enjoyed this story.  It was quite obvious how much Lucie and Dale cared about each other even though they tried to deny it.  Even with the denial of their feelings this was not a straight-forward story, there were family misunderstandings that grew out of proportion (as these things do) and mistakes made by both Lucie and Dale that could have damaged their relationship.

Despite enjoying the story though I had two problems with it, one was that I didn’t get a lot of depth from either main character and as such wasn’t getting excited or annoyed with them as I would usually do while reading and the other is that there wasn’t enough of New York in the story for me. For all that it is in the title they don’t spend as much time there as I was expecting them to, though this point is more a fault of my expectations than the actual book itself.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I wonder if perhaps her writing style just isn’t for me as the story is good, it really is, it just didn’t grab me as much as I thought it would. 

If you’re looking for a Christmas story with joy and festive cheer, snow and some quintessential New York experiences then this is definitely worth a look. Probably best read on a day when your Christmas decorations are on (all twinkling and cosy looking) and you have nothing else to do but snuggle up on the sofa and read this with a mug of hot chocolate, cream and marshmallows!
 

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Author information: Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Author Links

Blog: https://darcieboleyn.wordpress.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/darcieboleyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Darcie-Boleyn

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darcieboleynauthor/

Review of Minty and Guest Post from Christina Banach

As someone who has experienced the sudden loss of someone close I know how shocking and life-changing it can be. I also know how hard it is for others to know what to say and that it is subject that is not talked about as much as it should be, especially considering the fact that it will affect us all at some point in our lives.  That is why, today, I am delighted to have an amazing guest post about loss and hope from the lovely Christina Banach, author of Minty, my review of which is below.

 

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Blurb:  Fourteen-year old twins Minty and Jess are inseparable. Maybe they bicker now and then, even crave a bit of space once in a while. But they have a connection. Unbreakable. Steadfast. Nothing can tear them apart. Until a family trip to the coast puts their bond in jeopardy. As Minty tries to rescue her dog from drowning she ends up fighting for her life. Will Minty survive? If she doesn’t, how will Jess cope without her? Only the stormy sea has the answer.

Guest post: on loss and hope.

Many years ago when I was a young teacher, a boy arrived in my classroom before the start of the school day, desperate to talk to me. It was evident that something was troubling him and when I asked what was wrong he told me that his grandad had died during the night. Being very close to his grandfather, the boy was completely distraught that their bond had been shattered. He questioned why his granddad had died and why he never got the chance to say a proper goodbye to him. He asked me if I believed in life after death and whether his grandad’s spirit might live on in some way – whether he would see him again.

Although I thought of myself as someone who could say the right thing at the right time to my students, I knew that nothing I could offer this boy was of any real comfort for at that point in my life I’d had very little personal experience of bereavement. I remember searching through the school library for a book that might help him make sense of what had happened. It took me a while to find one that might appeal to him. It struck me then how few children’s books there were that dealt with the loss of a loved one, and how difficult it was to talk about the subject of death with a young person, and to offer meaningful solace.

Fast-forward over three decades to another boy and another school. By now my novel, Minty, had been published so I was there for an author visit. As my book is a ghost story, told from the point of view of the ghost, I began my talk by asking the students if anyone believed in spirits and the afterlife. A sea of hands went up, one of which belonged to a boy who then went on to tell me that he’d seen the ghost of his late grandfather. From his demeanor, I could see that this lad was desperate to tell me more so I made a mental note to chat with him at the end of my event, which I duly did. As we conversed I was transported back to that poignant conversation many years before, and when I signed his copy of Minty for him I truly hoped that he would find something within its pages that would ease his pain.

On the drive home, I thought about both boys, separated by time but unified by a common experience. I was struck by how things had changed in terms of the availability of suitable fiction to help such young people understand, process and deal with death and bereavement, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss, Annabel Pitcher’s My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece, and my own book, Minty, to name only a few.

It also made me wonder if that early morning chat with my pupil all those years ago might have prompted me to write Minty; whether the memory of his deep grief at his grandfather’s demise, and my feelings of helplessness at his plight, had lodged themselves in the recesses of my brain just waiting for the spark to set them free. Whether in the intervening years I had been subconsciously working out a way to help such grieving youngsters by writing a book that could help them explore their feelings and offer them some solace.

Perhaps I’ll never know the answer to my questions. What I do know, however, is that something did indeed spark the idea for my book: my own very personal experiences of bereavement and a rather unusual series of occurrences. Allow me to explain:

Some years ago, in the middle of the night, I thought I sensed my late father’s presence: the self-same aroma of flour and sugar that used to linger on his overalls when he worked as a baker-confectioner during my early childhood. Although Dad had died the previous November, this wasn’t the first time that I’d detected this distinctive scent around my house. The question was, why? Was my father trying to contact me – to tell me something? These thoughts ran through my mind as, unable to get back to sleep, I sat in the sunroom. Then, just as the sun rose, I heard my dog panting and put out my hand to stroke her. Until it struck me – how could it be my pet? She’d died the month before. That’s when Minty came to me: the tale of a teenage girl to whom the unimaginable happens. The story of twin sisters, Minty and Jess, whose unbreakable bond is challenged in the most heart-breaking way. A story about love, loss and family and the possibility of an afterlife. But, above all, a story about hope.

I’ll never forget that early morning classroom and that poor boy’s raw grief. I shall always regret my inability to truly ease his pain. Whatever my reasons for writing Minty I hope that in some small way my book might help anyone who has had to endure the loss of someone they dearly love. That it might bring light into their dark days and even allow them to express their feelings at what has happened to them.
My Rating: 4/5

Review: I had some trouble writing this review and only a small part of that was down to the fact that I’m not the target audience for this book. This is not the first YA book I’ve read but it is the first that deals with this subject. 

Minty is a refreshingly realistic and honest look at how death and grief can affect people. This subject is not discussed anywhere near as much as it should be, and even less so with those under 18 so this book is a good way of raising the subject and letting people know that there is more than one way to deal with loss and grief. Minty is essentially a ghost story but not a spooky one. The story is told from Minty’s perspective so we get to see how she deals with the realities of being dead as well as watching how her family, especially her twin sister Jess, deals with having lost her. The confusion, lack of understanding and hollowness that can accompany a sudden loss are dealt with sensitively but not minimised. The effects that Minty’s loss has on the family are clear and that clarity is important in letting readers understand that these feelings are all perfectly normal. 

The telling of the story from Minty’s perspective allows us to see everything but also allows us a unique view into how someone who has died might feel were they to remain in the presence of their family and friends. Whether you believe in life after death or not it is an intriguing idea and makes you think ‘what if…..’.  Ultimately this is a story that should be read by anyone interested in grief and loss whether they have experienced it or not. It could be equally helpful to those who have lost someone and those who haven’t to aid the understanding of both sides of the experience.

 

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Author bio: Christina Banach is a former head teacher who lives in Scotland with her husband and their two rescue dogs.

Minty, a YA/Crossover novel, is Christina’s debut. It was selected as a Scottish Book Trust Teen’s Book of the Month for December, shortlisted for the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award and nominated for the Cybils.

She is currently working on her next book, a contemporary mystery set in the Scottish Highlands.

www.christinabanach.com

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