Two YA Ghost Novels

image flikr creative commons via photopin

image flikr creative commons via photopin

Review: Two YA Ghost Novels

Yep, today we’re going to do a little comparison of two young adult ghost novels that I read for Erin’s Book Challenge.

They are: Ruined by Paula Morris

Ruined (Ruined, #1)

and Minty by Christina Banach


Both of these ghost novels explore a kind of sisterhood that transcends death.

What they’re about:

In Ruined, Rebecca’s father suddenly dispatches her to New Orleans to live with an “aunt” she barely knows. Used to diverse, bustling New York City, Rebecca is unprepared for the viciousness she encounters in the elite prep school she now attends. Though cautioned never to enter the historic cemetery down the street, Rebecca find her only true friend. Unfortunately that friend is a 19th century ghost. Together, Rebecca and her ghost friend Lisette try to decipher the curse that keeps her tethered to the cemetery.

Minty is the eponymous narrator of this novel and the twin of Jess. They live in present-day Scotland but love everything to do with ancient Rome and have twin dogs named Remus and Romulus. While trying to rescue a dog who is being swept out to sea, one of the twins drowns. The novel is her attempt after death to contact and console her sister. The ghost twin is befriended by a troubled teen who died decades earlier and teaches her the physics of ghostdom.

What I thought:

I really liked Ruined and prefer it of these two ghost novels. The friendship between Rebecca and Lisette is tender. Rebecca’s romantic interest is mysterious and brooding, just the way teens like. The curse is well done and provides the reader insight into New Orleans race relations of the past that unfortunately still resonate with the New Orleans of the present. I learned some things not contained in the history books of my youth.

In Minty, modern teens will relate to the slang (though some of it will ring distinctly Scottish to American ears) and the contemporary feel of the novel. I did find, however, that Minty was too one-note (Do you like my cool new word? I just learned it), contained too many of the same soul-searching questions over and over. I believe the author could have cut 25 pages of internal dialogue to the betterment of the novel. When i read Minty, I flashed on The Lovely Bones, which also features a dead teen trying to connect with her family but is more complex. One difference is that The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is women’s fiction whereas Minty is young adult. Readers of Minty will probably enjoy Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, another young adult ghost novel.

At any rate, if you’re looking for a ghost novel with a sister-type bond, you will enjoy both Ruined and Minty. And if you’re looking for more ghost novel recommendations, I hope you’ll check out 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die.

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in # 2

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

Greetings Readers!

It’s time for a check-in on my reading progress for Erin’s Book Challenge that runs July 1 to October 31.

Here’s what I’ve read since last time:

Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter


For the five word title category, I enjoyed revisiting the lives of Morris and Lewis in Death Is Now My Neighbor as they investigate a murder on the Oxford campus with professorial connections. The lives of scholarly educators are perhaps darker than we think!

Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters


I read Tomb of the Golden Bird for the category “a place I’ve always wanted to visit.” For me, that place was the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. When I first became interested in writing, I wrote a very bad story (I was eight years old at the time) about two explorers who get lost, meet, then fall instantly in love in a pharaoh’s tomb. Okay, gag me now.

A pharaoh’s tomb promised magic and mystery. Later, when I lived in London and visited the British Museum, I lost some of that dreamy-eyed wonder and became, in fact, a little creeped out by the entire floor dedicated to Egyptian artifacts, mummies, and sarcophagi. No, I wasn’t creeped out by the mummies, which I found fascinating. But I found myself wondering why these beautiful, precious items were in England rather than in Egypt. I’m going to be a little perverse here and even wonder how the tomb’s inhabitants would view excavation. What if they really needed those things in the afterlife?

Tomb of the Golden Bird details Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. I remember going to the exhibition in San Francisco in 1979, waiting in a tent for my group number to be called. What an amazing array of art and craft was there! Author Elizabeth Peters does a good job of including historical facts and information about the artifacts. For instance, I had no idea that Howard Carter and company were suspected of underhanded dealings and even some possible thefts. In addition, Peters gives the reader a real sense of day-to-day life as well as the cultural shift beginning in the 1920’s with new freedoms for women and the rising influence of the Egyptian nationalist movement.

The novel itself was less successful. The series characters were not allowed to be involved in excavation, so all their activities were peripheral as well as confusing and a little boring. The characters were running to and fro chasing documents and looking for conspiracies–much of it, in the end, coming to nothing.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


At first, I couldn’t figure out why this was in the music category. But after reading, I understand. There are many instances of music setting the mood in this book. Playlists also take prominence and really bring the reader back to the era of playlist themes and burning CD’s as gifts. I remember my kids doing this in high school. Creating a playlist was a big part of a birthday celebration.

I loved this movie, and I love the book, too. The protagonist is completely endearing as he struggles to navigate the treacherous and confusing waters of high school. One complaint: The author does use the verb to cry a bit too much. A writing teacher once said to me, “Don’t make your characters cry; instead, make your reader cry.” That quibble aside, I highly recommend both book and movie.

Here’s what’s in the hopper for next time:

1. Reading during my work break Night Film by Marisha Pessl

2. Reading at bedtime Ruined by Paula Morris

3. Listening to True Detectives by Jonathan Kellerman (this one is not part of the challenge)

Anyone else doing a book challenge right now? Do tell! I’d love to hear.

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

There can never be too many books!

There can never be too many books!

Erin’s Book Challenge Check-in

Greetings Readers!

It’s time for a check-in on my reading progress for Erin’s Book Challenge that runs July 1 to October 31. Here’s what I’ve read so far.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness in the “Book into Movie” Category.


Finished this in one night. A Monster Calls was an incredible and thought-provoking coming of age novel exploring a teen’s struggle with his mother’s life-threatening illness. I could see this used in a high school psych course. Not for the faint of heart, however.

Here is the trailer for A Monster Calls. What do you think? To me, the monster of the movie trailer looks more like a friendly giant than the menacing id of Ness’s novel. I remember when A Bridge to Terabithia was turned into a movie. A similar thing happened. The movie focused on the fantasy creatures and special effects, which were only peripheral aspects of Paterson’s soulful coming of age novel.

In the “Blue Cover” category, The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty


I had a wonderful time spending time with this lovelorn hypnotist and her quest for marriage and family, complicated by her new boyfriend’s struggles with a stalker. There were laugh out loud moments interspersed with all the joys and setbacks of new love. I even learned some stuff about hypnotism therapy. This protagonist is definitely not the amateur sister-in-law of Matheson’s Stir of Echoes.

Moriarty is now one of my favorite authors in the Women’s Fiction genre. My other favorite books of hers are What Alice Forgot (very funny) and Big Little Lies (a must-read for every parent and teacher).

What’s next for me in Erin’s book challenge:

1. Started listening to Tomb of the Golden Bird by Elizabeth Peters

2. Reading during my work break Night Film by Marisha Pessl

3. Reading at bedtime Death Is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

Anyone else doing a book challenge right now? Do tell! I’d love to hear.


Writerly Wednesday with Tasha

image flickr creative commons via photopin

image flickr creative commons via photopin

Writerly Wednesday with Tasha Duncan-Drake

Today I’m having a hanging out with the incomparable Tasha Duncan-Drake, prolific author and co-founder of Wittegenpress. She graciously hosted me for a joint discussion on a Korean ghost film called Tale of Two Sisters from Director Kim Jee-woon.

I first met Tasha through Blogging A to Z when we were happy to discover we both loved ghost film and fiction. I had a great time doing Blogging A to Z this year and met interesting people. I recommend joining up next year if you’re a blogger.

Anyhow, please hop on over to Tasha’s blog to see what we have to say about the ghostly Tale of Two Sisters (and, naturally, while you’re there, you’ll want to sign up for Tasha’s Thinkings.)