Monthly Archives: April 2021
About the Book
When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?
Life can be brutal
Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack knew it
Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.
So did I
Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.
Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?
But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.
Looking back, I think I did . . .
Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.
‘Beautifully written and superbly constructed, Anderson pulls you onto a chilling footpath of love and loss and keeps you there until you’ve read every last word’ Ruta Sepetys, bestselling author of Between Shades of Grey
About the Author
Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.
What I Thought
First up this book could do with one heck of a trigger warning. There wasn’t one in the ARC so I don’t know if there is one in the finished copy.
TW for suicide, addiction, violence, murder.
This book gets straight into the dark stuff and it keeps on piling although there are periods of quiet respite. It is a gritty depiction of the uglier sides of life and it feels authentic in its rawness. I can see this one winning prizes!
Each chapter starts off with Ava’s voice, speaking from the end of the story, adding weight to our foreboding, as an example the end of her part in chapter two says ‘We knew each other nine days.’
The rest of the chapters are close third person, mainly from Jack’s POV but also from the antagonist and a cop.
The three children, teenagers Jack and Ava, and Jack’s younger brother Matty are definitely victims of their circumstances – all born into families that mean they do not have a head start at life. Two quotes that struck me were:
“He lay in the dark and the blue, and he wished for a more beautiful world than there was.”
“You can’t just tell people they’re the master of their fate and let them believe it. They’ll think they’ve done something wrong their entire life.”
Those reflect how much this book makes your heart bleed for these characters. But they do find beauty in each other and it’s their relationships – the tender love between the brothers, the youngest looking to the eldest for protection; and the blossoming feelings between Ava and Jack. There is a hint of instant attraction between them but it is the kindness they show each other that has you rooting for this pair of starcrossed lovers. There are definite echoes of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in their tale, which swaps Verona for Idaho.
The wintery snowy landscape adds to the atmosphere of the story – with the constrast between its barrenness and beauty reflecting the characters’ experiences.
Anderson’s prose is beautiful. This book has a very lyrical feel which plays against the brutality in the story.
This book will shatter you. According to goodreads a book two is planned and some healing is definitely needed. I’m certainly not ready to let these characters go.
Thanks you to @TheWriteReads and the publisher for the gifted ARC for the purposes of an honest review. I have to admit preferring the cover of the ARC as I think it better reflects the story inside. Below are the UK and US finished covers.
About the Book
Mina is staying with her sister in New Orleans for Fang Fest 1995. She’s thrilled to land a job in a horror movie mansion, reconnecting with her sister while they scare the tourists. When Mina stumbles upon a body at work, she’s dragged into a murder investigation. Someone is replicating New Orleans’ darkest myths, and Mina must discover the truth before she becomes the latest victim.
About the Author
Amy McCaw is a YA writer and blogger. She’s the author of Mina and the Undead, a YA murder mystery set in 1995 New Orleans.
Her main interests are books, movies and the macabre, and her debut novel has elements of all of these. If Amy’s not at a book event or reading, she can usually be found scribbling away in her writing room, surrounded by movie memorabilia and an out-of-control signed books collection. Unsurprisingly, she’s a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and has gone to conventions to meet James Marsters more times than she cares to admit.
Amy also loves travelling and has a particular affinity for America. She’s visited 29 states, 13 Man Vs Food restaurants and many bookish locations, including the cities where Twilight, Interview with a Vampire and Vampire Diaries were set.
If you want to talk with Amy about books or 90s movies, you can find her on Twitter.
Twitter – @yaundermyskin
Blog – www.yaundermyskin.co.uk
Website – http://www.amymccaw.co.uk
Represented by: Sandra Sawicka
What I Thought
All I had to hear was vampires and the 90s and I was so here for this book. One of the books I remember loving from my teens was The Secret Vampire by LJ Ross so I definitely channelled my past teenager when settling down to read this.
As someone who has always been fascinated by the idea of, but never actually made it to New Orleans, I loved the fact that this is where it was set. We get to see it through Mina’s tourist eyes as well as via the people she is visiting who have been there a while.
I love the fact that at its core this is a story about two sisters who have been estranged and I enjoyed the dynamic between Mina and Libby.
It has a strong cast of supporting characters with Della, Jared, Lucas and Mansion of the Macabre boss Thandie each providing a valuable contribution to the story.
There was a good game of spot the influence to play but the fact that it was set in the 90s made it feel relevant rather than gimmicky. Some of my favourites, Buffy, Lost Boys and Interview with a Vampire make an appearance and I’m sure there is lots I’ll have missed that demand a second read through.
During the first read you will be busy trying to find the clues to the unfolding mystery. Who, or what, is killing people in the style of New Orleans myths and will Mina or one of her new friends be next? There’s also a familial mystery to solve too and the two overlap in surprising ways.
I was slightly sad that the myth with the vampires and the convent didn’t lead to shoehorning the ‘Show him your/you’re cross’ joke.
This is a gentle introduction to horror with enough pace and tension to keep you racing through but not too much blood and gore to make you need to put the book in the fridge.
At the launch event where author Amy was interviewed by YA horror author Dawn Kurtagich, Amy did say she has more of Mina’s story to tell. So do me a favour and now it’s out go get yourself a copy.
A huge thanks to uclan publishing and Amy for the gifted e-copy for the purposes of an honest review. I picked my print copy up from my local bookshop yesterday and I love the VHS look of it. Cover design by Becky Chilcott, and yes I did try to remove the ‘label’ on the back 🤦♀️😂.
Do check out what the rest of #TeamMina thought by following the hashtag and go and take the character quiz on Amy’s website to find out which character you’d be. I think we should fangs Katherine Korr who perfectly sums the book up in the quote below.