Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker | Book Review

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker | Book ReviewAshes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker
Series: Ashes #1
Publisher/Year: Katherine Tegan- December 2013
Genres: Paranormal YA, Supernatural YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: Small Town Sinners, Unbreak My Heart, Violet on the Runway series, Lovestruck Summer
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

book synopsis Callie dies in a tragic accident and finds herself in the afterlife which is not at all what she pictured. She’s stuck in a realm called the Prism which is where one goes after they die and before they go to heaven. The point of being at the Prism is that you learn to move on and let go of your former life and help the loved ones you left behind to heal and be at peace. Her guide Thatcher helps her to deal with her feelings and tries to help her learn about the Prism and the whole haunting process on earth. She struggles to see her dad, best friend and boyfriend in so much pain and she has a hard time letting go. Soon she meets some ghosts who are angry and have not yet moved yet and they will do whatever they can to stay on Earth. The things they tell Callie conflict with what Thatcher has told her and she struggles with letting go and moving on or trying to cling to her old life.

good books to read I’m familiar with the author’s contemporary novels, though I haven’t read them, and my interest was certainly piqued to learn she was writing something a bit more supernatural. The premise seemed interesting to me because I’m fascinated by “after life” kind of stories so I picked it up when I was in a pretty bad reading slump. My feeling overall was that it was an “okay” to “good” book but it was perfect to get me out of my reading slump because it’s so out of what I normally read. I read it all in one day and just COULD NOT STOP. It’s hard to explain because I know that it sucked me in but it wasn’t necessarily because it completely blew me away. I’ll break it down:

Things I enjoyed

 + the world building: I was very fascinated by Melissa’s version of the afterlife. After you die, you kind of hang in this balance and you are supposed to “haunt” your loved ones to help them move on and then you move on yourself. The way Melissa wrote the afterlife just completely set the mood and I enjoyed learning how the “moving on” process went and how things work in the Prism. We learn everything through Callie’s guide, Thatcher, and it really started to get interesting when some characters emerged who DIDN’T move on and started telling Callie conflicting things from what Thatcher was telling her. I kept wanting to figure out the truth and see if Thatcher was keeping things from her about the whole process.

+ Callie’s own moving on story: Callie’s death actually became more devastating to me as she went and haunted her old life. The scene with her dad really choked me up. Even though Callie was a bit much to handle for me personally, I did cut her some slack because of the fact she’s dead and has to watch her old life  — especially when she starts to find out something about someone close to her. I enjoyed watching her try to grapple with the fact that she’s in this afterlife and decide what to do with the information she’s presented with. Her emotions were very strong and I couldn’t even imagine having to watch your loved ones mourn you and feel so connected to your life. It got even more complicated when she starts hanging out with some of rebel type ghosts because we watch her struggle with the idea of moving on or staying like that forever so she can be “a part” of her old life still in a way and not let go of it. ALSO, part of the story was that Callie seems to have more energy and be a bit “special” comparatively to the others. THAT was pretty interesting and I was dying to find out why.

+ how the ending sets up for book 2: MAN. Game changer kind of ending and I think the story has the ability to be super interesting because THINGS.

Things that were MEH

+ the pacing: While I was interested in the worldbuilding personally, it was just very uneven. It was pretty slow moving in the beginning, which I don’t even mind, but it seemed like the end just because VERY break neck. All of this info came at us and all of these things happened and there was just so much. Wish it had been a little more even. I was intrigued from the beginning so I was committed but it definitely had pacing issues.

+ Callie: I couldn’t figure that girl out. It was hard to get a sense of who she was before and all I knew of her was what we got to know in her time of grief when she was dead. I didn’t feel like she was all that developed for my taste and I really didn’t like connect with her. I think her confusion and grief over dying stood out to me and leapt off the page but that’s about it. Something was off with her voice but I couldn’t even begin to try and explain that. I also found her very naive in ways to an almost unbelievable point. I mean, CLEARLY there was something different with her and she just shrugged it off.

+ The ending: As much as I said I LIKED it up there because of the potential it brought with it, I totally had an inkling about it and thought it was maybe a bit predictable.

book reviewsAshes to Ashes was the sort of book I needed to get me out of my rut because it was a different kind of read for me being paranormal. I read it all in one day because I was fascinated by this version of the afterlife and thought the mood of the afterlife and Callie’s grieving was written really well. However, there were things that definitely detracted from the story like pacing and Callie herself in ways. I wouldn’t say this is a MUST READ but I found it to be an entertaining read. I’ll be reading the conclusion to this duet for sure though!

short book review

Ashes to Ashes Melissa C Walker

for-fans-of-book
afterlife stories, books like Touching The Surface & The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg, paranormal/supernatural books

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? If you read it, what did you think? Did you find the setup of the afterlife interesting? Did you guess the ending? Any predictions for book 2? Have any of you read any of Melissa Walker’s contemporary novels and do you think I’d like them?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

 

Book Review: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans

10861195Book Title/Author: Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans
Publisher/Release Date
: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – January 15, 2013
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Paranormal (hard to say because I thought it would be way more science fiction-y than it was but there are paranormal elements)
Series: Yes. It’s book 1 of The Memory Chronicles
Other Books From Author: None — it’s her debut!

Amazon| Goodreads | @lenoreva |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear! And full disclosure: Lenore is a fellow blogger and friend but I have written my full and honest opinion of the book that has not been swayed by my relationship with author.

When Felicia dies, she finds herself in Level 2 — an afterlife that isn’t quite disconnected from the living but isn’t quite the “next life.”  She and the others in her chamber spend their day plugged into computers where they have access to view all their old memories or the memories of others by way of a very elaborate system of credits. When a girl in Felicia’s chamber suddenly vanishes and a very dark piece of her past enters the chamber, a chamber that nobody on the outside had ever come in, and tells her there is an uprising and rebellion happening against those running the show in Level 2. Felicia isn’t sure whether or not she can trust this mysterious guy, Julian, from her past but her curiosity about what lies outside her chamber, and Julian’s promise to reunite her with somebody important, just might be the push she needs to follow him and align with the rebellion that is taking place.

Truly, Level 2 was one of the most unique and refreshing books I’ve read in a while!  I loved the concept from the start — dying and then your sort of afterlife consists of this “in-between” place where you have access to all your old memories to revisit and there is a credit system wherein your memories can be loaned out and you can borrow other peoples memories. It was interesting to think about which memories I would never want to relive and which ones I’d find myself watching over and over again. I kept thinking about which sorts of memories I’d want to borrow from other people — probably some good travel memories, memories of reading books so I could experience those and probably all sorts of lovely dovey memories because in the afterlife I’m sure I’d still be a sap like that.  So, obviously, I was instantly intrigued from page one as to what Level 2 was and why Felicia was there.

It was just unlike anything I’ve ever read before! The world-building was fantastic! I loved learning how things worked and could picture the pods and the rooms so easily– although I will be honest that at first it was A LOT of information to absorb. But the world is intricate and well built and I loved the pace at which we learned more about what Level 2 is right alongside Felicia as she learns from Julian that there is way more to Level 2 than she knows. I know I couldn’t stop turning the pages just anticipating what the deal with Level 2 was and why there was a rebellion and WHO controlled it. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

I loved, loved loved how the story builds through Felicia’s access to her memories and we get to learn more about her through these memories of her life that she chooses to access and through her response to them. More of the pieces start to come together through these memories  and I loved trying to figure out what the deal was with Julian and why he got her in trouble in the past. Lenore moves you seamlessly through the past and the present and I loved that because sometimes flashbacks can be troublesome.  I’d say that the first part of the novel really is less ACTION and more memories and introducing you to the world and then from there there is more movement outside of the chambers and plot twists to boot!

I found myself really attune to  the emotions of this novel.  I felt such a deep sense of sadness at points, I felt anger, the pain of betrayal, longing for what was  lost, the tension, etc. Through the memories we are able to experience the sweetness of how Felicia and Neil fell in love, the shame  and guilt Felicia had for the mistakes she made that hurt her best friend when Julian was in the picture, the intensity Felicia felt when reliving her death, etc. Felicia isn’t perfect and she isn’t always likeable but she felt SO real and well fleshed out and I really enjoyed her perspective.

Up until the end, Level 2 and I were were moving in the right direction and I was thoroughly enjoying it. And then the big climax came and I found myself thoroughly confused. Like I honestly re-read it and still couldn’t really figure out what happened. I don’t know if it changed in the final copy, which I plan to buy so I can re-read, but I felt like we are moving along at a certain pace and then the ending came and there was this flurry of THINGS happening really fast and I just couldn’t keep up or picture what was going on. Remember in cartoons when a scuffle or something would happen and all you would see is a whirlwind of dust and occasionally a splintered chair would fly out or we’d see a pot or pan come outside the dust and then after the dust settles we see a disheveled character with bumps and bruises or something wearing a dress or something. I don’t know if I explained that well but THAT’S how I felt. I have NO idea what was going on there behind the “dust” when the action was happening, but would  catch one or two things, but then when it ended I guess I knew technically WHAT happened but everything was very hazy leading up to it. I really don’t get what happened.

EDIT: I meant to add this in my review but forgot initially. I will let you know that there ARE a lot of religious aspects to this novel. I didn’t personally find this got in the way but others I spoke to did. Just a warning!

Level 2 was a really strong debut — refreshing and unique with great characterization and an intricately built, imaginative world. The presentation of information through the past memories and the present was evenly handled and made for a great page-turner that was a blend of a contemporary novel, science fiction and a paranormal-y sort of afterlife. There were perfectly placed plot twists and revelations and I can honestly say I never knew what to expect from the time I cracked open the book until the very climatic end. I will say that towards the end things sped up and the final scene is a complete blur to me because I have no idea what happened as it happened at break-neck speed for me but that wouldn’t deter me from recommending this! Can’t wait for Level 3 because there is still SO much more to learn and I need to  know what happens to Felicia!

For Fans  Of: unique afterlife stories, YA science fiction/paranormal with a contemporary balance via flashbacks, great worldbuilding

Level-2-Lenore-Appelhans

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? Were your thoughts similar to mine or different? Did anyone else have a hard time knowing what was going on in that least scene?  And did anyone else have some serious thinking about which memories you’d never ever want to relive again? And which ones you’d keep replaying over and over again? I pretty much would never want to experience my mother’s death or funeral ever again. On the less serious side, I would not want to relive a breakup or the time I had toilet paper stuck in my pants and flapping behind me as a tween. I’d love to relive some great dates, first kisses, my travels to Europe, sweet moments with my niece, my wedding day and some really fun moments with friends. I have a feeling I’d probably analyze some “what went wrong moments’ in my life. lol

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