Tag: YA

Sunday Series Review: The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Series by Paige McKenzie

Today the Sunday Series Review is back: Again, in time for Halloween, today Kim reviews The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Series by Paige McKenzie!

Books in the Series:
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
March 24, 2015
296 Pages

Something freaky’s going on with Sunshine’s new house… there’s the chill that wraps itself around her bones, the giggling she can hear in the dead of night, and then the strange shadows that lurk in her photographs. But the more weird stuff that happens, the less her mom believes her. Sunshine’s always had a quirky affiliation with the past, but this time, history is getting much too close for comfort…

If there is something, or someone, haunting her house, what do they want? And what will they do if Sunshine can’t help them?

As things become more frightening and dangerous, and the giggles she hears turn to sobs and screams, Sunshine has no choice but to accept what she is, face the test before her and save her mother from a fate worse than death.

The first in a frighteningly good new series based on the popular YouTube sensation The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Network, created by Paige McKenzie.

The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
March 1, 2016
296 Pages

Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing, she recently discovered—with the help of her would-be boyfriend, Nolan—that she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife. Now, Sunshine’s powers are awakening and she feels spirits everywhere—intense and sometimes overwhelming.

Eager to get her supernatural abilities under control, Sunshine agrees to begin training with her mentor, her estranged father Aidan. He takes her to an abandoned compound deep in the Mexican jungle. But what she learns there about her powers, and her family history, turns out to be more terrifying than Sunshine could have imagined. Can anything—Aidan’s experiments, her friendship with another luiseach named Lucio, even Nolan’s research—prepare Sunshine to face the frightening woman who haunts her dreams, and to finally learn the truth about the rift that threatens the future of the luiseach and all of humankind?

The stakes grow ever higher in this sequel to The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, revealing that Sunshine has to protect more than her own friends and family—she may be the key to saving the entire human race.

The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl
April 4, 2017
322 Pages

Sunshine Griffith can communicate with ghosts. Even more amazing—to herself; her boyfriend, Nolan; and her adoptive mom, Kat—she’s recently learned she’s a luiseach, one of an ancient race of creatures who have lived among humans for centuries, protecting them from dark spirits and helping them move on to the afterlife.

Having survived an abyss full of demons, Sunshine Griffith must figure out who—or what—has been organizing the forces of darkness against her. Do they want to destroy her and the rest of the endangered luiseach? Do they want to take over the world? Nolan has figured out that Sunshine’s death would trigger a calamitous event, so not only does she have to stay alive for herself, but for the fate of civilization. It’s not just the demons who want Sunshine dead, though. Her biological mother, Helena, is back. And what is Helena’s history with the mysterious man in black?

Fortunately for Sunshine, she has a lot of people (and ghosts) to help her stop the darkness: Nolan, her father and mentor Aidan, her mom Kat, Victoria, Lucio, Anna, and Ashley—whose handsome new crush, Sebastian, seems hauntingly familiar. But time may be running out as an unexpected event unleashes a fierce war between the luiseach and the demon army. In the midst of the fiery battle, Sunshine will learn a shocking truth about herself and what sort of sacrifice is required to save the world.

Kim’s Rating of the Series: 4 Stars

Kim’s Review of the Series:

I bought The Haunting of Sunshine Girl two years ago during my creepy book stage. I read it and loved it. Unfortunately, the first two times I read it, once when I first bought it and again when I bought The Awakening of Sunshine Girl, I easily forgot it because I skimmed it. Thankfully I have matured in my reading and, as they say, third time’s the charm! I really love this series!

Sunshine is one of those rare, mature teens who fits in better with adults than she does with kids her own age. The one teen she does get along with best is Nolan, who is also a mature teen. And what’s really nice about this series is that its not full of teenage drama. Yes, Sunshine’s relationship with Nolan and later with Lucio gets a little complicated, but never does it get annoying. I love how she considers her mom to be her best friend, aside from her actual teenage best friend, Ashley. All I could think was, “oh good, I’m not the only one who has Mom as her best friend!” And strangely enough, Ashley became one of my favorite characters by the end of the series! She is the typical, boy-crazy, shallow teenager, but she’s so funny and loveable and cute that I started liking her very quickly!

The story is unique and not just a rehash of every other YA book out there. Sure, there are some similarities, but nothing too obvious. Considering that this series is considered fantasy, it’s actually very realistic. Overall, McKenzie did a great job of writing a continuous, fascinating story with great characters and interesting settings. This series is perfect for middle and high schoolers, not too much language and not too scary. A great series!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US:

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

Amazon UK:
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl
The Awakening of Sunshine Girl
The Sacrifice of Sunshine Girl

Wait Till Helen Comes

Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Published:  November 2, 1987
184 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Beware of Helen…

Heather is such a whiny little brat. Always getting Michael and me into trouble. But since our mother married her father, we’re stuck with her…our “poor stepsister” who lost her real mother in a mysterious fire.

But now something terrible has happened. Heather has found a new friend, out in the graveyard behind our home — a girl named Helen who died with her family in a mysterious fire over a hundred years ago. Now her ghost returns to lure children into the pond…to drown! I don’t want to believe in ghosts, but I’ve followed Heather into the graveyard and watch her talk to Helen. And I’m terrified. Not for myself, but for Heather…

Kim’s Review:

This was the first book by Mary Downing Hahn that I read. I was looking for scary, ghost stories and this one was perfect! After I finished this book, I worked my way through most of her other books. I very much enjoyed this story, but I gave it 4 stars because of Heather. Unfortunately, I doubt she could be changed much because her awfulness is what makes Helen believable. I just don’t understand how any parent could allow their child to act the way that she does.

I think we’ve already established that I’m not a very compassionate person. I don’t have much patience for self-pity, or for the excuses people use to shift responsibility for their lives. Yes, Heather saw her mother die in a fire and I get that that would be a traumatic thing for a kid. But, why the heck was she not taken to a therapist?? Spoiling a kid is never the right course, no matter what the situation! Ok, other than that, I love this book! I always go back to it when I’m looking for a creepy read. Hahn did a great job of entwining history and ghosts. Molly is a great protagonist, she’s very believable and I couldn’t help but sympathize with her. It’s also safe for younger readers. I absolutely recommend this to anyone looking for a scary, ghost story.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Blog Tour: Till it Stops Beating

Today I share my review on the blog tour for Till it Stops Beating by Hannah R. Goodman.  This one was published on July 5th!

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab).

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

Author: Hannah R. Goodman
Published: July 5th, 2018
216 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read:
September 28-October 6, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 3.5 stars

Jessica’s Review:

I did not realize this was book four in The Maddie Chronicles when I started it. The first three in the series are:

My Sister’s Wedding
My Summer Vacation
Fear of Falling

When I found out it was the fourth then things made sense: I felt I was ‘missing’ pieces of information during the first part of the novel. I would advise you to read the others in the series before reading Till it Stops Beating.

OK, now that that is over…..

Till it Stops Beating  is a coming of age novel for Maddie.  She is transitioning from childhood to adulthood and along the way faces some difficult issues, among them anxiety and cancer. Hannah also deals with heartbreak in relationships, family issues and of course: jelly doughnuts. The first few chapters had me craving doughnuts!

Goodman did a good job capturing a teen dealing with anxiety and an unknown future that makes up one’s senior year of high school, which really is a year of change and big decisions. Then in addition to all of that, she has to deal with a relative’s cancer diagnosis and that unknown can be heartbreaking

I enjoyed the second part immensely; I felt I really got to know Maddie through the road trip she took with friends. 

You will laugh and might tear up reading this one. The ending is a pleasant one with hope for the future. And the title just gives you all the feelings once you have finished the novel!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author:

Often referred to as “the teenage whisperer”, Hannah R. Goodman’s twenty-year career working with teenagers includes the titles teacher, tutor, coach, and, more recently, mental health counselor. Hannah has written essays about mental health for various online publications. Her work has appeared on MindBodyGreenOC87 Recovery Diaries,  Zencare.co, and The Mighty. Though she has previously earned the title author with her first three books, the last was released in 2009 and all were self-published. This time around, indie publisher Black Rose Writing released her novel Till It Stops Beating this summer.

Hannah’s  first YA novel, My Sister’s Wedding, won the first place award for The Writer’s Digest International Self-Publishing Contest, 2004, children’s book division. She published the follow-up, My Summer Vacation, in May 2006, which went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. The third Maddie book, Fear of Falling, was released in the fall of 2009 and was praised by teachers and readers for tackling subjects like homophobia and coming out. She’s published young adult short stories on Amazon’s Shorts, in an anthology entitled Bound Is The Bewitching Lilith, and in the journal Balancing The Tides. She also has written columns for The Jewish Voice & Herald. Recent, previous projects include Sucker Literary, which features emerging YA authors and All The Way YA, a group blog of writers telling the real deal about writing and publishing YA fiction. 

Hannah is a member of  ARIA  (Association of Rhode Island Authors) as well as a graduate of Pine Manor College’s Solstice Program in Creative Writing where she earned an MFA in Writing For Young People. She resides in Bristol, RI with her husband, two daughters, and black and white cat named Zoe.

Contact Hannah:
Twitter @hannahrgoodman
Amazon Author Central