The Ghosts of Heaven - Marcus Sedgwick


People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is. 

It's here! THE LAST BOOK of the YA Book Prize shortlist. Number 10. And wow is the last one a roller coaster ride!



Usually, I copy the plot summary from Goodreads in this part but today I'm not going to, because there is no plot summary for this book (or not one that I would be happy to post). 

The Ghosts of Heaven is basically a collection of four short stories that can be read in any order you want (I read it 2-4-3-1) and that are all extremely different yet still linked together. The central theme is the spiral, hence that gorgeous cover, and what the spiral signifies for different people at different times. There are historical stories and futuristic stories and we follow everyone from mourning fathers to young confused girls. Each story is a roller coaster on its own and put together it's even crazier.

Eery feeling

I've never read a book by Marcus Sedgwick before, but I have heard amazing things about his writing and based on this book, I must agree. All of these stories are extremely unsettling but it's hard to pinpoint why exactly. They're not Say Her Name kind of stories, but they leave you feeling eery and lost and confused and just.... weird. Really weird.

And I think that's because Marcus is such an amazing writer. He drops little hints here and there that unsettle you a little bit, but it's the combination of all those things, and his amazing characters, that make you feel so completely freaked out by the end of the stories. I mostly had this feeling after the fourth story, which was totally non-relatable in topic, yet spoke to me on a really deep level and I'm just amazed at how he managed to do that.


Because the four stories are so incredibly different, there's something for everyone in this book. I personally didn't care much for the characters in story one and two, but I loved the characters in story three and four. And just like me, other readers will have their preferences and opinions about it. 

Which is exactly why this such a great read! There's literally something for everyone and because not all stories read like YA stories per se, even adult readers will enjoy this book. I would also like to see a person read this book and not get crazy unsettled. I dare you.


This book is a solid four out of five for me. I really appreciate the creativity that went into a book like this - it's unlike anything I've ever read. Story four might be my favourite 'short story' ever, but some of the others didn't quite do it for me, so I can't give this book a five. However, if you want to read a completely innovative YA book that will make you question your own life, do pick this up - it is amazing.

Trouble - Non Pratt

RATING: ★★★★

People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is. 

Trouble by Non Pratt is the 9th book I’ve read of the YA book Prize shortlist and let me tell you - they definitely left some of the best until last.



In this dazzling debut novel, a pregnant teen learns the meaning of friendship—from the boy who pretends to be her baby’s father.

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.

Dual perspective

It seems like the British writers are big on giving their readers more than one perspective. Just like Lobsters, Salvage and Goose, Trouble follows the perspective of two very different characters. Hannah is an insecure teenage girl who is desperate to feel loved - which eventually leads to some pretty controversial decisions she makes. Aaron is new in town and wants to fit in, but he’s not sure where exactly he wants to find in. So both teenagers are looking for their place in the world, like most teens are, but both go about it in very different ways.

The strength of this particular book is that the perspectives are both done so successfully. I must admit that I cringed a bit when I read the back of this book - it sounded very 16 & Pregnant and I wasn’t sure how that was going to translate in a great book. But, it’s not 16 & Pregnant at all. It’s realistic. Raw. Both voices are so real that you can’t help but relate with both of them. It might be harder for boys to relate to Hannah’s pregnancy struggles, but I think it’s important they try. And for girls, Aaron is very very easy to relate to - he might be a guy but I definitely had some of the same struggles when I was a teenager.

Educational theme

I don’t want to bore on about the pregnancy theme, but I think it’s important. With all the talk about teens and censorship, what should we do about a teenage pregnancy book? 

In my opinion, everyone should read this book because of the way it handles the theme. It doesn’t promote teenage pregnancy, Hannah is pretty damn upset she’s pregnant and things definitely don’t go according to her plan, but it also doesn’t condemn it. At no point is Hannah judged by the author or does he come across as “slutty”. I think this is the strength of a British author like Non Pratt, who is more free compared to American authors, to discuss such a controversial themes in such a realistic way. Getting pregnant was a shit decision and it has a major impact of Hannah’s life, but she also becomes a mother and has a beautiful baby growing inside of her and I love the moments the book just focusses on that fact and lets Hannah enjoy the beauty of it. 

Non Pratt can WRITE.

And that’s what’s so great about Non Pratt’s writing - it combines the serious theme with small beautiful moments. It’s not all serious, or all fluff, but there are definitely moments of both in the book. She handled the theme in a wonderful non-preachy way and that’s a great talent.

Added to that, you just fly through the book! The writing is so captivating that you can’t stop reading the story at any point. I finished the book in one day and I’m sure I’m not the only one.


So no surprise, this is another 5 star book for me. Trouble didn’t impact me as much as Only Ever Yours did, but I still really loved reading this book. It has a great message and it’s honestly just a wonderful read. If you want something gritty, but with fluffy moments, then pick up Trouble and you will not be disappointed at all.

Find out about the other 8 YA Book Prize books I reviewed!

Goose - Dawn O'Porter

RATING: ★☆☆☆

People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is. 

I reached a point in the YA Book Prize shortlist where I honestly didn't know which book was going to win. So many of the books I've read have been amazing in so many different ways. 

This week, I discovered one book that I think should absolutely not win the YA Book Prize. I always try to be a fair, critical yet nice reviewer, but Goose by Dawn O'Porter makes that kinda hard to do. Spoiler alert: I didn't like anything about this book.



It's a year and a half on from Paper Aeroplanes, and Renée is now living with her Aunty Jo. They even have geese, and Renée likes to sit and watch them, wondering if she'll ever find 'the One' - someone who will love her no matter what, and be there for her no matter how bad things get. She and Flo are in their final year at school, and they've got some tough choices to make - like will they go to university? And if so where - and will they go together? Renée's usual ambivalence on the matter shocks Flo, who had assumed they'd continue as they were, the best and closest of friends, forever. She feels as though she needs Renée's support more than ever, so when a handsome young boy enters Flo's life, she finds herself powerfully drawn to his kindness, and his faith. Renée and Flo's friendship will soon be tested in a way neither of them could have expected - and if Paper Aeroplanes was a book about finding friendship, Goose is the novel that explores whether it's possible to keep hold of it.

Flo and Renée

Now I have to start off by saying that I've never read Paper Aeroplanes so if I'm misinterpreting things because I missed book one in the series, then please do let me know.

On to the book though - as you can tell from the summary it is a dual perspective between Flo and Renée. Both are 17, ready to graduate and so called smart girls, yet both have the voices of 14 year olds. 

Their narrative reads incredibly immature. It's the way an adult talks about a teenager when they're talking about how dumb they are. They have no depth, they have no intelligence and they constantly make dumb decisions. They're 17. They're human. They're not dumb. They deserve a way better voice.

Flo gets dragged into this bible group, even though she'd never been religious before, and suddenly goes from a zero to a hundred with her believes. Now I don't think that that can't happen, however I think it's safe to assume Flo would be a bit more critical - think things through. She's not 12 anymore.

Renée goes on an opposite journey - one that involves a guy who is THE BIGGEST PRICK ever. Does she care? Sort of. Does she still sleep with him? Yes, because obviously 17 year olds have no back bone? (I'm trying to think what the author was thinking when writing this story) It makes Renée extremely annoying, because as a reader you just can't understand why she sleeps with the guy. It's okay if you want her to make bad decision, but explain it to us.

Show, show, show

And about that explaining.... While Renée's decision is never explained, everything else in the book is. Constantly. The whole time. Tell. Tell. Tell. There's barely any action and we just get told SO much unnecessary background information. Okay, both girls have lost a parent - we know that, we get told that 20 times. But show it to the reader! Show us how that influences their personality; show us why that's the reason they make the decisions that they do. Don't just tell us how hard it was for them, show us.

I literally skipped page after page with background information that was either not relevant, a repetition of stuff I already knew, or so badly told (the clichés in this book, my god) that I couldn't read it. Pages. 

The writing in this book just wasn't my cup of tea. The telling was the biggest thing I hated, but I also though the dialogue was unnatural and then you have unrealistic girls? I really can't say much positive about the writing skills about Dawn O'Porter.


Unsurprisingly, this book is one out of five for me. I don't want to give zeros, because I understand how hard it is to write a book and I respect everyone who has done the work, but I can't think of a single thing I liked about this book. I don't understand how it got nominated for the YA Book Prize. I just.. I don't know. I think this is the harshest review I've ever given a book, but I have to stay true to myself and just can't give it anymore.

Want to read how I'm usually a way nicer reviewer? Check out these reviews!

Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill


People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is. 

Only Ever Yours is not a fun read. It's not going to leave you warm and fuzzy. You're honestly not really going to like any of the characters. You'll relate to them though. And you'll hate that you do.

Only Ever Yours is a book unlike any I've read before and I think most people haven't read a book like this. It's painfully confrontational about society and about being a girl in our society and that makes it the most important book I've read in the last few years.



In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .

Freida and Isabel

Only Ever Yours is is the story of Freida, Isabel and their last year in high school. Freida is the main narrator and I most admit that I honestly hated her at the beginning. She says and does things that are completely typically teenager-y and she's the most unloyal friend you could have. If you share those sentiments at the beginning of the book, I just want to tell you to stick with it. She doesn't change, but you change when reading about her world. 

Only Ever Yours is Impossible to Review

The trouble with reviewing this book is that it's hard to pinpoint one thing that makes it so powerful to read. It's a combination of amazing writing, great world-building and a female character cast that represents every teenage girl out there. It just ticks all the boxes and this review is so short, because I think it's a book you need to read without too much knowledge about it. The ending also leaves you feeling all type of ways and any small spoiler of that would take away the shock effect you will feel. I threw this book on the floor after I finished it because I was just so "NOW WHAT? WHY? WHAT?" and that makes the reading experience so perfect. Don't ruin it for yourself by reading too much about the plot, just start - it's a quick read.


Yes, this is already the end of my shortest, and yet hardest to write, review ever. I really REALLY want to discuss some things with readers, but I can only do that with people who have read the book. If you have, please find me on social media and rant / rave with me about all the different elements in the book. This is a five star book for me and I promise that if you pick it up you'll understand why and why I didn't want to spoil even the tiniest thing for any reader. Be surprised by the book and yourself and let it change the way you look at things.

Liked this review? Find the other YA Book Prize reviews!

Finding A Voice : Friendship is a Two-Way Street - Kim Hood

RATING: ★★★.5

People who live in the UK might have heard about the YA Book Prize: it's an award for the best UK young adult book and the winner will be announced in March. However, there is already a shortlist with 10 of the best UK YA books of 2014. Up until March, I will read each of these books (one a week) and post a review - I'm reading the books in the same order as the YA Book Prize twitter account is. 

If one thing has been proven by the YA Book Prize shortlist, it is that there is no lack of diversity in UK YA. There have been horror stories, love stories and mythological stories and Find A Voice by Kim Hood is the journey of finding a voice (duh!) for two people who don't fit the teenage standards at all.



Jo could never have guessed that the friendship she so desperately craves would come in the shape of a severely disabled boy. He can’t even speak. Maybe it is because he can’t speak that she finds herself telling him how difficult it is living with her eccentric, mentally fragile mother.

Behind Chris’ lopsided grin and gigantic blue wheelchair is a real person — with a sense of humour, a tremendous stubborn streak and a secret he has kept from everyone.

For a while it seems life may actually get better. But as Jo finds out just how terrible life is for Chris, and as her own life spirals out of control, she becomes desperate to change things for both of them. In a dramatic turn of events, Jo makes a decision that could end in tragedy.

This is the story of how an unusual friendship unlocks the words that neither knew they had.

Jo : drama queen

I must admit that I find it really difficult to discuss this book. I finished it in one go, which is a good sign since it means I loved it so much. But on the other hand, I also read it so fast because it was just really easy to read. I know that I'm not the young adult age anymore and maybe it has to do with that, but I lacked a bit of depth in the book.

Jo is a great girl and narrator and the reader really roots for her. I was, until the end of the story, when she suddenly does something so stupid and so drastic that it just didn't make sense to me. It seemed out of character and it's my little pet peeve to hate on inconsistent characters. I immediately lost all sympathy for her.

She was just a bit too dramatic for me and though I understand her difficult background (she has a mentally unstable mother), I don't see the need for many of her actions. I admire her journey to finding her voice, but it would have been nice if she was less drastic and whiney about it in the process.

Chris : The Real Hero

Chris on the other hand was one of my favourite characters ever - even though he can't talk or do much. He has such a kind heart and I really wanted him to find his voice, or at least a way to express what he was thinking. The strength of Chris as a character is that he isn't a narrator and we don't even have dialogue with him, but Kim Hood shows us enough of his life and who he is to make us fall in love with him. 

It's so important that there is diversity in YA and showing a disabled person as a real person is amazing. I think it will really help teenagers to start treating disabled people like they are just normal people you can be friends with. I applaud Kim Hood for tackling such a challenge subject in such an easy read.

However, I wish I would have had more depth about the disability. Because the whole story is narrated by Jo, who has (albeit common) preconceptions about disability, I don't feel we learned enough about Chris. Jo does make a journey into understand Chris better, but the whole ending is so fairy tale that the lessons that are learned are kinda lost.


I'll give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars (yes, I'm doing half again). I didn't personally love it, but I think the topic is so so important that these kind of books should be encouraged. I think it's really one of those books that you should pick up yourself and read so you can decide if you love it or not. Even if you don't, like me, you'll still learn from it.

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