This is a superb debut novel from Julia Lund. I only discovered this writer and fellow blogger by way of one of the comments she left on a mutual friend’s blog. Her blog, http://julialundauthor.wordpress.com, provides a delightful insight into her writing and art, and some fascinating biog info. Equally delightful in a medium where, inevitably, it’s impossible not to sometimes be overwhelmed by self-promotion, she also takes the time to engage with her readers, offering detailed comment and advice where appropriate, and praise where merited.
This is a book I would highly recommend, not just for its entertainment and storytelling value, but for any aspiring writer, the dialogue is some the very best I’ve read, and indeed, learned from…
Strong As Death, by Julia Lund (Available in eBook via amazon kindle)
‘Strong as Death’ is the beautifully written story of young love and the obstacles it must overcome. Anyone who remembers the pain and joys of their first lover will feel an affinity with this beautiful tale, mixed with memories of those awkward first moments, and then the thrill of realising that your heart’s desire might just be feeling the same way!
Its central character, Minnie Shilling, is like many other seventeen year old girls: shy, modest, sometimes a little awkward, and painfully unaware of her own beauty, especially when she thinks of her glamorous and confident best friend, Dee. But alongside that, she’s also incredibly talented, so talented that it’s destined to bring her as much trouble as it does joy. Add to the mix the arrival of a dashing young man and you have all the ingredients of a seemingly joyous ‘happy ever after tale’ of an enduring first love, but like all great love stories, things are never quite that simple…
Needless to say, just when everything seems perfect, life gets in the way, or in this case, something beyond ‘life’; Minnie slowly comes to realise there are forces at work that seek to harness her talents in ways that she cannot begin to imagine, and the only way they can do that is from those dark places that lie beyond this life.
My only slight concern whilst reading this book was perhaps the second chapter, where there is a sudden and unexpected change of character and setting, which at the time I thought was perhaps just a little bit ‘too much, too soon’ for the reader to take in, but after that, the transitions between Minnie’s regular life and the those of the world that might await her, were both smooth and well-timed; I would add at this point, having read the book in full, that this minor issue was nowhere near sufficient to make me hesitate for one moment in giving this book a thoroughly well-deserved five star rating.
Written in the first person, the author is able to infuse such life and depth into Minnie that it’s impossible not to feel that you really know her. What’s more impressive though is the way all the secondary characters are also brought to life by way of the amazingly authentic and clever dialogue; even characters who we only hear of in passing but never actually meet, take on a life of their own. Equally impressive is the author’s use of imagery: as well as being refreshingly witty and original, it also seems in perfect sync with Minnie’s character and how you imagine she would think of the world about her.
This is a superb debut novel of the young adult genre that was truly touching in the way it finally and unexpectedly brought together its many different layers, exceeding all my expectations, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough…
This debut novel comes from fellow blogger, Jacqueline Smith (http://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com), with whom I’ve shared several interesting comments. As well as some excellent and very funny posts, you’ll also find some great photography there too. On another note, I’ve finally taken the trouble to start adding an actual book cover to my book reviews (can’t think why I never did this in the past), and have updated all my previous book reviews accordingly.
(Available in both print & via Amazon Kindle, and all other e-book formats)
The idea of being able to see and talk to ghosts is not a new one, but the way it manifests itself here most certainly is. This is a book that really hits the ground running. In the opening chapters the reader is introduced to the four main characters; Michael, who much to his own despair at times, can see and talk to ghosts, his two new neighbours, Kate and her brother Gavin, who both appear to be having problems of their own with the departed, and lastly, celebrity paranormal investigator, Luke, for whom ghosts are both his profession and a life-long interest. There are also a host other characters, namely the ghosts, one of whom is Michael’s friendly and often annoying flatmate.
The depth of characterization is as good as I’ve read in a very long time, and equally impressive is the crisp, sharp dialogue, the style of which reminds me very much of Hemmingway. Without giving too much away, there are some clever twists that effortlessly drive the story forward as Michael tries to use his largely unwanted ‘gift’ to help Kate and Gavin, as well as the slowly unfolding romance between Michael and Kate. Adding to the mix is the charismatic TV celebrity, Luke, with his expert knowledge of ghosts and the paranormal. But this is no simple story of some ‘medium’ trying to help a girl he ‘likes,’ to exorcise a few unwanted spirits; that Jacqueline Smith has skilfully provided all the hints and clues for all the twists and turns the take place, ensures that nothing ever feels contrived or laboured, instead leaving the reader thinking, ‘Ahh..I’d never have guessed that’, or, ‘wow, I never saw that coming,’ as all the pieces slowly fall into place to produce a truly thrilling and unexpected ending.
This is an ‘absolutely must read’ for all fans of the young adult and paranormal genres, as well as anyone who simply enjoys a great ghost story.