Review: The Ghosts of Heaven – Marcus Sedgwick

IMG_3500 IMG_3501 When I received this novel the first thing that struck me was the beautiful cover art. The artwork reflects the central idea of the spiral that Sedgwick based this novel on. The book is split up into four parts which can be read in any order. I read it in the order that Sedgwick laid out. The first quarter is set in the stone age. It focuses on a girl who wishes to learn the magic of her people. This quarter is unique as it is written in the form of poetry. In the second quarter Anna is accused of being a witch. The chapters in this quarter are short, making it easy to read. A delirious poet watches the seas in the third quarter. Set in an insane asylum, this quarter is possibly my favourite. I loved the characters of both Dexter and Verity. I liked that each chapter is labeled by a date. This made it easy to follow the sequence of the story. The final quarter is set far into the future, as Keir Bowman is woken up for his twelve hours. Every ten years Keir is woken up for his waking time. This time he wakes up to strange circumstances and events that should not have happened. I really enjoyed this fantastic novel from the award winning Marcus Segewick. All four storylines were compelling and captivating. I would recommend this novel to readers between the age of twelve and eighteen.

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Review: Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie – Jeff Norton

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On Adam Meltzer’s twelfth birthday he’s stung by a killer bee. Three months later he wakes up in his coffin as a zombie. After clawing his way up to the surface he returns home to his family, giving them the fright of their lives. Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie tells the story of Adam trying to fit back into his school and not draw attention to himself, which proves difficult for him to do.

When I picked up this novel I could not put it back down. It was compelling and full of action, making it hard to stop reading. It was easy to read, meaning that it is ideal for it’s target audience of nine year olds and above.

Norton’s style is humorous and I was smiling from the start. Adam is a very likable and amusing character. I found myself laughing out loud at some parts in the novel.

I loved how the novel teaches younger readers about issues such as OCD. Adam’s OCD is explained in a way that was funny but didn’t mock his condition.

I think that Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is the perfect novel for younger fans of zombie stories. I would definitely recommend it to young readers.

Interview: Siobhan Davis, author of True Calling

Last week I reviewed True Calling by Siobhan Davis. She kindly agreed to answer some questions about her novel and her writing in general.

 

When did you start to write and why?

I have been writing fiction on and off for years, in between juggling a busy job and crazy family life. My fulltime job involves a lot of writing and editing/proof reading so I’m quite a prolific writer of corporate communications. I am a member of award-winning best-selling author Carmel Harrington’s writers group, ‘Imagine Write Inspire’ and we all encourage each other with our writing ambitions. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember and I had harbored a dream of writing a novel for years, because I was always dreaming up stories in my head. I actually wrote True Calling back in 2010 and then got distracted with work and life in general, and it sat gathering dust in a drawer. It was only this year that I felt the time was right to release it.

 

What were your inspirations for True Calling?

It all started with a dream. Just not my own! I got hooked on Twilight in 2009 and was fascinated to hear how Stephenie Meyer felt compelled to write the series on the basis of the now-infamous dream. Dreams have always captivated me and I started thinking a lot about their meaning and whether our dreams have the power to change our lives (not just metaphorically speaking).

I wondered a lot about her ‘meadow dream’; probably more than was normal. Who sent her that dream? And why? And did someone (or something) plant that seed knowing full well that it would lead her on a path to a significant life-altering experience? And what are dreams anyway? A malfunction of our brain? An unconscious message from our inner selves? A medium for receiving messages from others? My thoughts jumbled around like this for weeks, and my idea started to grow from this silent analysis and developed from there.

  

How long did True Calling take you to write?

The whole process took approximately a year, but I was writing it while I was working full-time so I only had a few hours a day to focus on it. If I’d been solely dedicated and focused on writing, I think it would have taken half that amount of time.

 

Do you have any plans for future novels?

Most definitely! After I’m done with the True Calling series there are three other stories in particular that are calling out to me. One is another sci-fi, the second is a contemporary drama/romance and the third is a historical fiction piece, based around Irish History that is something I have longed to write as I have a Degree in History and a love of the past.

 

What is your schedule like when you write?

As I mentioned previously I have to write around my fulltime job and in between ferrying my sons to various football matches, cleaning, shopping etc. I try to write two hours every night and squeeze in three or four hours on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m a very disciplined person in general so my issue is actually forcing myself to stop writing most of the time! 

When I was writing True Calling I knew largely how the story was going to pan-out so I roughly plotted the book, chapter by chapter, and stuck to this 70% of the time. The other 30% was where the story took off in tangents I hadn’t expected and I just let it flow, to see where it would take me. I keep a notepad in my bag at all times so I can jot down ideas as they occur to me, often this can happen quite randomly – while I am in the supermarket queue, waiting at the doctors, standing freezing at the side of the football field and most frequently in the middle of the night when I’m asleep and have a light-bulb moment!

 

Which perspective did you enjoy writing more – Ariana’s or Zane’s?

(Caution – spoiler alert!)

That’s a difficult question to answer as I enjoyed writing both their perspectives, but for different reasons. I think as a female I found it easier to relate to Ariana’s POV and to really get inside her head to understand her thoughts and emotions. I wrote her parts first and then went back to fill-in Zane’s; I felt it was important to write it like this so I could ensure the timeline synced. When I came to write Zane’s part I was actually really excited because while writing Ariana’s story I constantly thought about him: what he was going through back on Earth and how he was reacting to the things he witnessed. So I absolutely adored Zane’s story and his voice was clearer and more consistent than I expected it to be. Consequently I have a real soft spot for Zane and that’s one of my favorite parts of the book.

 

 

Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

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Hayley Kincain and her father have been on the road for the past five years. When her fathers PTSD reaches a critical point they return to the town where he grew up so that Hayley can go to school. Hayley isn’t ready to settle down into a normal life, until she meets Finn, a boy who sees the world the same way as Hayley and helps her to deal with the challenges in her life.

The Impossible Knife of Memory is a poignant novel dealing with the issues of PTSD and settling down in a new town. I enjoyed this novel and found it hard to put it down once I started reading.

Hayley was an incredibly strong character. From the very start of the novel I could see that she was going to be an independent and headstrong character. She takes care of her father who has returned from Iraq with several injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The chapters in The Impossible Knife of Memory are short, most being two to three pages in length. I really liked this layout, as it made the story move faster. I found it hard to limit myself to just reading one or two chapters, because they were so short. 

This novel is perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult and Stephen Chbosky. This story is honest and heartbreaking, while showing the road to healing.