Double Reviews: Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair & A Place Like This

March 1, 2017 by Jenna | 3 stars, 4 stars, Books, Double Reviews, Reviews

Double Reviews: Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair & A Place Like ThisLove, Ghosts & Nose Hair by Steven Herrick
Published by University of Queensland Press on January 3rd 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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A special reissue of a bestselling Australian classic from award-winning author Steven Herrick.Jack is an everyday sixteen-year-old boy. He’s obsessed with Annabel, sport and nose hair. He’s also obsessed with a ghost …

There’s a ghost in our house
in a red evening dress,
black stockings
and Mum’s slingback shoes.
Her hair whispers
over white shoulders
as she dances through the rooms.

A bittersweet comedy about the infinite promise of first love and the everlasting sorrow of grief, Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.

Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair is an Australian young adult book that is written entirely in verse. It’s short but sweet and packs quite an emotional punch, despite it having quite a simplistic story. The book focuses on family and grief, which are two of my favourite themes to read about.

While the story may seem a little bit slice of life, at the heart of it lies an impactful story about grief and how people deal with loss. The main character Jack is 16 and lives with his father and his older sister in the Blue Mountains after losing his mother to cancer 7 years ago. Her loss still haunts him and he spends a lot of his time communicating with ‘the ghost’ who is the mother he has lost. At the same time, Jack is having his first venture into love with a girl from his high school, Annabel.

My favourite thing about this book is the way that it was written. I love reading books that are written in verse and, while I admit that I don’t always really understand poetry or verse, there’s something very magical about a story that is able to be told in such an impactful way with so few words. Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair is a simple story and it’s difficult to see what it’s about at the start but the words will draw you in and the themes of the story become apparent quite quickly. I thought it was an interesting portrayal of grief and loss that didn’t involve lots of gut-wrenching and devastating moments. Instead, it was understated but still effective in communicating the grief that a family goes through when they experience a loss of a family member. What I also enjoyed was the fact that the book was written not only from Jack’s perspective, but also from the perspective of his sister, Desiree, his father, and Annabel. It gave a really well-rounded picture of grief and how different people deal with it differently. My only real criticism is that I wish the book was a bit longer. I would’ve liked to have seen it developed a little bit further and at a slower pace.

I loved Jack as a character. Sometimes it can be hard to get a sense of what a character is like when everything is written in verse, but I got a great image of Jack. He’s just your everyday teenage boy who’s just discovering love and trying to move on from a tragic loss. He’s a writer and wants to publish a successful book in the future, and it was just really hard not to love him. I also really enjoyed getting to know the other characters. There were quite a few pages or poems written from the perspective of the other characters and this allowed us not only to get to know them but also to learn more about Jack from their perspective.

Overall, I really enjoyed Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair. It was simple but impactful and the cast of characters were extremely likable. I really loved the themes of family and grief but wished the book had been a little bit longer.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Thank you to University of Queensland Press for providing a review copy of the book.

 

Double Reviews: Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair & A Place Like ThisA Place Like This by Steven Herrick
Published by University of Queensland Press on January 3rd 2017
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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Jack and Annabel have been dating for two years. With high school over they’re about to start university – until Jack decides to chuck it all in.

I think you and Annabel should get out of here
as fast as possible.Have a year doing anything
you want. My going-away present is enough money
to buy a car – a cheap old one, okay? You’ll have to
work somewhere to buy the petrol, and to keep going.
But go.

No destination in mind, Jack and Annabel leave town and discover themselves in a place they never knew existed.

A Place Like This is a continuation of Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair but can be read as a standalone. It takes place two years after Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair and follows Jack and Annabel, as well as a cast of new characters. The book is also written in verse and contains multiple perspectives, and I enjoyed it even more than I did Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair.

In this book, Jack and Annabel have finished high school and are going on a year-long adventure together with a car and a limited amount of money. However, not long after they leave, they run out of petrol and are forced to work on an apple farm for George, who lives alone with his three kids. Jack and Annabel work and live on the farm and get to know the kids, including Emma who is pregnant. Just like in Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair, I loved the family themes running through this book. It was explored in a much different way to the previous book but was just as impactful. I also enjoyed the coming-of-age aspects of the book and loved seeing the characters come to terms with what they needed in life.

Even though the book follows Jack and Annabel’s journey, for me, the book was all about Emma. I absolutely loved her story and connected with her the most in this book. I found it to be emotional and I loved the way that she made peace with what happened to her and what it means for her future. It was really nice to be able to see her character develop and grow as the story progressed and I loved the impact that the other characters had on her. As always, I really enjoyed Jack’s character. He wasn’t the same 16 year old boy as he was in Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair but he was just as likable. It was great to be able to see a more mature side to him.

I loved A Place Like This because of the themes of the book and how they were explored.  The characterisation was fantastic and I connected with each and everyone one of the characters. It’s a superb story that I would recommend to anyone looking for something short and quick to read.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thank you to University of Queensland Press for providing a review copy of the book.

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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. You can usually find me binge reading series, fangirling with fellow readers, devouring pastries, or binge watching Netflix shows. You can find me on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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6 responses to “Double Reviews: Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair & A Place Like This

    • I hope you do get a chance to pick them up! They definitely surprised me and I wasn't expecting to enjoy them as much as I did.

  1. I’m not sure I’m ready to read a book in verse in English. I don’t know, but so far I wasn’t grabbed by any quotes in reviews, and wasn’t tempted to pick up a verse story. Maybe the reason is that English is not my first language, because I love Russian poetry. On the side note the cover Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair doesn’t look like contemporary romance written in verse at all.

    I like when the author incorporates family themes in their book, so I’m on the fence. A Place Like This sounds more appealing to me. I especially intrigued by Emma. Wonderful review, Jenna!
    Ksenia recently posted…Review plan? – You don’t need it!My Profile

    • Hahaha I didn't know what to expect from the cover and title of that book either but I can assure you that it really is a contemporary romance :D. I completely understand what you mean about not feeling ready to read in verse yet. I'd definitely recommend giving it a go anyway because I find that free verse is usually not too difficult to understand. I'd highly recommend Sarah Crossan! She's one of my favourites.

    • I haven't actually read any Ellen Hopkins yet but I will definitely look into some of her books. I'm going to a 'writing in verse' event next week where Sarah Crossan is the guest, so I'm super excited to hear her speak about verse and what some of her favourites are!