December 24, 2017

#BookReview: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by @CynthiaHand



About the Book:
On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .







Reviewed By: Jessica P. 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Recommended Age: Young Adult
Genre: Retelling
How I Acquired this book: Publisher
Time it took to read: 7H 6M 26S 
Overall rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads | Amazon
About the Author: Cynthia Hand grew up in southeast Idaho, just outside the town of Idaho Falls. From as far back as she can remember, she loved books and reading, and wrote her first short story (about a fairy being born in a tulip) when she was around six years old—pretty much as soon as she could write. Her second grade teacher, Mrs. Widdison, told Cynthia that she’d be an author some day, and Cynthia believed her. She kept writing stories all through grade school, most of them wildly fantastical musings on supernatural beings or creatures, none of which ever won the annual short story competition where the writer got to meet Kenneth Thomasma,the author of one of Cynthia’s favorite books, Naya Nuki. Cynthia learned early on that if you wanted to win the writing contest, you should write stories about that time your parents got their car stuck in the snow on the side of a mountain just before dark. You should not write about a group of unicorns fighting to take over an island from an alien invasion. Cynthia kept writing about unicorns anyway.

In middle school and high school, she and her friends formed a writing group that wrote fan fiction about their favorite novels and movies. Each person in the group invented a new character in the decided-upon world (they wrote about Elfquest, Vampire Hunter D, X-Men, Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series, Anne McCafferty's Pern series, Star Wars, and SeaQuest (anyone remember SeaQuest?) and wrote exclusively from that character’s point of view, sharing their writing as they went, collectively shaping what happened to these characters. Early on Cynthia was appointed the “editor” of their work, meaning that she collected it all, typed it, and edited it. She loved and possibly abused her power with the red pen.  

In middle school and high school Cynthia also, on top of all the fan-fic writing, took piano lessons, danced tap and ballet, raced on the Kelly Canyon ski team, acted or teched in every school play and several plays for the community theater, sang in the school choir, took AP classes, and somehow managed to find time to eat and sleep enough to stay alive. There was a period during her junior year when she arrived at school at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until around 10 p.m., five days a week. She took the words insanely busy to a whole new level.  

Cynthia went to college at the College of Idaho, where she majored in English (because she still loved to read, dangit) with a pre-law emphasis. She kept writing, as a hobby, she told everybody (especially her dad, who wanted her to have a solid, well-paying job) but focused on classes in constitutional law and international politics. She kept this up until the beginning of her senior year, when one day, neck deep in the law section of the library, she had this thought: I don’t want to be a lawyer. I want to be a writer. So she broke the news to her parents and her advisers, who were all dismayed but tried to be understanding (especially her dad), and started to work on applying to M.F.A. programs in creative writing. Cynthia was lucky enough to get on the wait list of Boise State University.

At Boise State, Cynthia was determined to become a “serious writer,” to the point where she cut up pictures of her favorite literary authors (Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Alice Walker, Jane Smiley, Harper Lee, Tobias Wolff, Andre Dubus, Rick Bass, Joyce Carol Oates and many others) and taped them to the edges of her computer screen, so that she’d be reminded of greatness every time she sat down to write. No pressure or anything. It was in Boise that Cynthia fell head over heels in love with literary fiction, which she wrote exclusively for the next nine years, and with teaching. Just when she thought she was finally figuring out how to be a writer, she got kicked out (okay, not kicked out, she graduated with an M.F.A. in fiction writing). She wanted to keep studying, so she applied for Ph.D.s around the country, settling eventually on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In Nebraska, three hugely important things happened: Cynthia met her future husband, the writer and poet John Struloeff, she published her first short story, which she submitted to try to impress John Struloeff, and she connected with her agent.

Fast forward five years. Cynthia and John have married, graduated with their Ph.D.s, and had a son named Will. John landed a fantastic job as the director of the Creative Writing department at Pepperdine University, where Cynthia also had the pleasure of teaching one or two classes a semester. She has settled into “real life,” but something is missing: writing. She’s just not feeling it. This goes on for a couple years until one fateful night, the night that Unearthly first started stirring in her mind.  

It's been a wild ride since then. . .



Noteworthy experiences while reading this book: Just wow I just finished this one and I am just so blown away! If you think you know this story you are so wrong and you won't believe where this ends!

Check out author's other books? YES
Recommend this book? YES!!!!!

Notes and Opinions:  When I started this book I knew I was going to love it. Cynthia Hand has been a fav author of mine since I read her Angel series (which I still need to finish, book two is a killer man! 😂 )  This one is about a girl who fails to listen to the ghosts and well she DIES! And she has to play Ghost of Christmas Past.  This one I thought was going to be a clean cut story where this girl gets reformed and grows a heart and although some of what I thought did play out it didn't play out in the way I thought it was going to.  This one had a great pace and some surprises that I just didn't see coming at all!  I was happy where the story lead and the ending was mind-blowing and so satisfying! It goes to show you how even little things your life is connected to others around you even strangers on the street.  And that the choices you make can have a bigger set of consequences than you could ever imagine.

The characters in this one are ones that I could see popping up in another book. Since this is all about reforming people are in a sense mean and hateful. I could see a full series of them dealing with different people. I think it would be very interesting to see what else this author could do.

If you are still looking for a book to read this holiday (yup its Christmas Eve, See what I did there!!). I would totally check this one out it was stellar and I couldn't put it down!

Go Into This One Knowing: So much more than a retelling, Twists, No cliffhanger, Romance  









 Disclaimer: "All opinions are 100% honest and my own."  Thanks to Goodreads and Amazon for the book cover, about the book, and author information. Buying via these links allows my site to get a % of the sale at no cost to you. This money gets used to buy items for giveaways. 

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