How to Experience Death for Beginners
Casey Darling can enter the minds of people when they die. After receiving romantic advances from the enigmatic new guy at school, a serial killer invades her small town. Local police grow suspicious as she appears at crime scenes, but an FBI agent believes in her psychic powers. Will Casey fall in love or help take down a psychopath? Maybe both.[Trigger Warning: This book contains situations of self-harm and stalking.]

How to Experience Death for Beginners Details

TitleHow to Experience Death for Beginners
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 14th, 2019
PublisherCharlie's Port-FRINGE
ISBN-139780692035375
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBT

How to Experience Death for Beginners Review

  • Kat Dietrich
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsHow to Experience Death for Beginners by Jessica Branton is Paranormal Mystery aimed at the YA crowd.First, let me thank Edelweiss, Rebecca Kelley at Mind Buck Media for requesting my review, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.My Synopsis: A serial killer is loose in the small town of Cartersville, Alabama. No one is safe from his knife. The police call in the FBI, but there is no real progress. T 3.5 starsHow to Experience Death for Beginners by Jessica Branton is Paranormal Mystery aimed at the YA crowd.First, let me thank Edelweiss, Rebecca Kelley at Mind Buck Media for requesting my review, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.My Synopsis: A serial killer is loose in the small town of Cartersville, Alabama. No one is safe from his knife. The police call in the FBI, but there is no real progress. Their main suspect may be their only hope in finding the real killer.Casey Darling is not your average 17 year old. She has a secret that she has not revealed to anyone, not even her twin sister Christina. Casey enters the mind of a person as they are dying. She sees their joys and their regrets. The first person she ever saw die was her father. Now she is seeing all the victims of the serial killer in her home town. When it hits close to home, she finally opens up to a few of her friends.Casey and her friends seem to be the targets of this killer, but Casey plans to hunt him instead. She is going to have some unexpected help.My Opinions: While aimed at a totally different generation, I am always up for a good story. This was very entertaining. I remembered what it was like to be young and falling in love, and having a good group of friends. And that is really what the book is about. Friendship, young love, and dealing with your fears and insecurities. The author also dealt with some rather mature subjects like abuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. She handled these quite well.While the writing seemed a bit choppy, and some of the descriptions were a little theatrical, after a while the story took over and I ignored the issues.For a debut novel from a very young author, it shows promise, and I am sure the YA crowd will love it. For a more complete review of this book and others, please visit my blog: http://katlovesbooksblog.wordpress.com/
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  • Melanie (mells_view)
    January 1, 1970
    This is a good YA Paranormal lite with some thriller aspects. Casey is a clairvoyant who feels pretty much alone in her world. She hides her “curse” from almost everyone. The ones knowing being her mother and her sister. Who have both been closed off and different in their own ways since she first experienced her “curse”.In this book we mostly follow Casey navigating her power or “curse” as she feels. It’s like a paranormal coming of age with some surprising and dangerous aspects thrown in along This is a good YA Paranormal lite with some thriller aspects. Casey is a clairvoyant who feels pretty much alone in her world. She hides her “curse” from almost everyone. The ones knowing being her mother and her sister. Who have both been closed off and different in their own ways since she first experienced her “curse”.In this book we mostly follow Casey navigating her power or “curse” as she feels. It’s like a paranormal coming of age with some surprising and dangerous aspects thrown in along the way.I think this is a good read for YOUNGER YA readers. If you’re in the 16-19 reader range this may read too young. This readers like a mature middle grade to me. There’s a touch of a romance, but it is more to the heroine’s story and how she is about opening up and choosing her friend circle.All in all this is a good read. I’d probably purchase it for my 13 year old cousin, and I know she’d enjoy the suspense and the paranormal bits.*ARC digital download from Edelweiss*
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)Our clairvoyant main character encounters someone in her life who engages in self-harm and while her concern for him results in her wanting to help, all she really does it make him promise not to do it again. I thought this portrayal both of his and her reactions were poorly written for teens. Our MC looks at the act of self harm, but not the causes and doesn't really encourage he (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)Our clairvoyant main character encounters someone in her life who engages in self-harm and while her concern for him results in her wanting to help, all she really does it make him promise not to do it again. I thought this portrayal both of his and her reactions were poorly written for teens. Our MC looks at the act of self harm, but not the causes and doesn't really encourage help through therapy. Not only does promising not to harm oneself again not solve the problem, it is portrayed like this connection can help this character not harm himself again. I felt like it bordered on the idea that love can solve this problem and I think that could be a dangerous message for teens to read about.Besides this, the other elements in the book were not fabulous. There wasn't anything terribly wrong with them, I just didn't really enjoy them because this conflict is brought up somewhat early within the book. There are many twists and turns, so it certainly was more of a mystery book. Additionally towards the end there is a layer of paranormal, but it just wasn't enough for me.
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  • Yvonne (It's All About Books)
    January 1, 1970
    Finished reading: January 26th 2019 "I experienced death when I was seven years old. Ten years later, I found myself wondering if I would ever stop." *** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! *** (view spoiler)[When I first heard about How To Experience Death For Beginners, I was immediately intrigued. A YA mystery with a paranormal angle? Yes please! I had really high hopes for this one, but sadly I cannot say those expecta Finished reading: January 26th 2019 "I experienced death when I was seven years old. Ten years later, I found myself wondering if I would ever stop." *** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! *** (view spoiler)[When I first heard about How To Experience Death For Beginners, I was immediately intrigued. A YA mystery with a paranormal angle? Yes please! I had really high hopes for this one, but sadly I cannot say those expectations were met. While the writing in general reads easily enough and the pace reads quite fast, I found myself struggle with the plot. Or should I say plot holes. The premise itself is fascinating, but I don't think the execution is all that great... The plot is kind of all over the place and between plot holes and lack of credibility not the easiest foundation to build the story on. This brings me to the many many high school cliches, cliche gay best friend and the way cutting is handled in one of the principal characters. This all left me with a bad taste in my mouth and was a turn off for this story. The main characters themselves were also quite cliche, bland and lacked fleshing out. I also felt they read a bit young for high school seniors. The idea behind the paranormal aspect and so-called powers is fascinating, but lacked developing more since this is basically the book's strongest feature and would have made it stand out from other stories. Instead, I didn't find it credible how the paranormal was handled nor how others react to it... A shame, because the premise had all the signs of turning into an extraordinary story. Instead, we get a cliche high school drama with a bunch of cliches as main characters and a serial killer and paranormal powers both pushed into the background. One of those stories where the priorities were set wrong? Maybe. But the fact is that sadly How To Experience Death For Beginners didn't hit the mark for me.When Casey and her twin sister lose their father in a car accident when they are seven, their lives change forever... And not only in the most conventional way. Ever since seeing those final moments of her father, Casey somehow can enter the minds of people just before they die. She has isolated herself for years trying to protect herself and keep her from harm, but she might not have a choice when a serial killer makes her small town his hunting ground. And this situation might escalate faster than she would think...I can't deny that the idea behind this story is fascinating and shows a lot of promise, but I don't think the execution lived up to expectations. The paranormal element of How To Experience Death For Beginners, by far the most interesting aspect of this story, lacked development for me as instead we get an uncomfortable mix of different and sometimes cliche elements that fail to combine into a coherent plot. The lack of credibility, the main characters, the way difficult topics were handled... Sadly this story just didn't work for me. (hide spoiler)] P.S. Find more of my reviews here.
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  • Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    The following review contains no spoilers! :)I started reading Jessica Branton's debut novel How To Experience Death for Beginners with no idea what the story was to be about, or where it might be headed, but I was pleasantly surprised with the direction it did take. Branton gives us a charming cast of teens living in small town Georgia and is careful to let each character define themselves by their own action (and inaction) rather than entirely letting Casey alone shape our perceptions of the r The following review contains no spoilers! :)I started reading Jessica Branton's debut novel How To Experience Death for Beginners with no idea what the story was to be about, or where it might be headed, but I was pleasantly surprised with the direction it did take. Branton gives us a charming cast of teens living in small town Georgia and is careful to let each character define themselves by their own action (and inaction) rather than entirely letting Casey alone shape our perceptions of the rest of the cast.Branton does not shy away from sensitive issues like mental health and self-harm and deals with them in a way that does not pathologize either of them--which is so, so important to have in YA fiction, and when Casey experiences the deaths of other characters, we get very poignant vignettes that reflect all of the joy and sorrow of the human experience, of the brightest moments that changed lives forever, and of regret for things left undone, unsaid. I found that even in the midst of a novel about murder and survival, Branton is quite conscious about the sanctity of human life.Though the pacing is a little choppy at first, by the end of part one, I was utterly hooked and devoured the remainder of the novel in an afternoon. I was on the edge of my seat as Branton threw twist after twist at me and managed to neatly turn several tropes on their heads so that I couldn't quite be sure what would happen next. I'm looking forward to Branton's sophomore novel in the years coming!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I was provided an ARC of this book by the publisher, which is the only reason I'm writing this review. I don't usually write reviews for books I didn't enjoy. The promotional materials that accompanied this novel boasted that the book was written by the author when she was 14 years old, and boy howdy, does this book read like it was written by a 14-year-old. Despite the witty title, intriguing description, and professional cover art, the book is chock full of flat characters, dull dialogue, gram I was provided an ARC of this book by the publisher, which is the only reason I'm writing this review. I don't usually write reviews for books I didn't enjoy. The promotional materials that accompanied this novel boasted that the book was written by the author when she was 14 years old, and boy howdy, does this book read like it was written by a 14-year-old. Despite the witty title, intriguing description, and professional cover art, the book is chock full of flat characters, dull dialogue, grammatically incorrect sentences, and every cliche a teenage writer would think to copy from other, more experienced writers. As teenagers, we're trying out this writing thing, mimicking our favorite authors and finding our voices. This is why nothing written by my 14-year-old self will ever see the light of day.I guess completing this book was an amazing accomplishment for a 14-year-old, but the fact is that, if the author wanted to publish it now that she's an adult, she should have rewritten it and had it professionally edited. Not everything we write is good enough to be published.
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  • allieereads
    January 1, 1970
    review originally posted on my blog / allieereads.com2.5 stars out of 5.How to Experience Death for Beginners is a debut YA thriller which focuses on the psychic power of Casey Darling who is gifted (or cursed?) with the ability to witness and experience the deaths of those around her. When Casey begins to experience the horrifying and grisly deaths of people within her community, all murdered by the same person, she begins to suspect the existence of a serial killer. What follows is a disturbin review originally posted on my blog / allieereads.com2.5 stars out of 5.How to Experience Death for Beginners is a debut YA thriller which focuses on the psychic power of Casey Darling who is gifted (or cursed?) with the ability to witness and experience the deaths of those around her. When Casey begins to experience the horrifying and grisly deaths of people within her community, all murdered by the same person, she begins to suspect the existence of a serial killer. What follows is a disturbing set of events which result in the local detectives in suspecting Casey for having a hand in the murders. Casey, alongside her twin sister Christina, her maybe-crush Cameron and bestie Danny, take on the chilling case of finding the killer and proving Casey is innocent.This novel was promoted to me as one that was written by the author as a young 14-year-old. Unfortunately, you can tell.The premise of How To Experience Death for Beginners is inherently creative and I was very excited to read it. Psychic powers, a murder mystery and a romance?! Sign me up! But although it was an original plotline that could have been an amazing novel, I felt somewhat underwhelmed whilst reading it. As this section is one that is more focused on the story itself and writing, I’ll limit the discussion of characters as much as I can.Let’s begin with the actual plot.As I said before, the premise was promising but the execution could have used some more work. And by work, I mean editing and re-writing of characters, narrative and language. The plot itself I could vibe with, but it didn’t flow in a natural way. The best way I could describe it is that there was a sense of the chaotic. Minor plot points would randomly jump out of nowhere in a bid to add points of contention for the protagonist to get through or attempt to add ‘depth’ to her character. I felt as if the author didn’t quite know the route that the story was going to take, and hence the chaotic feeling when reading this novel.The psychic/clairvoyance/supernatural abilities aspect of the storyline had such great potential. Again, it was quite a creative and original take on the usual cliche that we see in YA regarding supernatural abilities. However, the writing and explanation of said abilities became extremely confusing and contradictory. For example, when considering Casey’s psychic abilities, in the beginning, and briefly reiterated throughout the novel, she claims that her abilities to see someone’s death are in relation to how well she knows someone. This is why she doesn’t open herself up to people. But then, she would have a vision of a random grandmother dying in her hospital bed that she’s never met. It just didn’t make sense at all and was extremely contradictory to the overall ‘canon’ of the novel.The plot surrounding the serial killer and murders needed to have slightly more effort into making it more believable. I feel as though the intention of the novel was for the Casey and her gang to be like a psychic version of Nancy Drew & Squad – trying to find a killer themselves. But, instead, it comes across as completely immature with Casey and her friends doing the most thoughtless things which frustrate the reader in how idiotic their actions are. For instance, there’s a serial killer murdering people in the woods, the police and the mayor have instituted a county-wide curfew, what do you think they did? Went into a cave in the woods where ‘no one would find them to tell them off’.It was so frustrating and they did this countless times.I’m not even going to talk about how Casey hid evidence in a bid to ‘maintain her innocence’.Really.Really.As an overall, I found the characters to be significantly two-dimensional. I wasn’t able to emotionally connect with any of them and it really hindered my ability to enjoy the experience of the story.The main protagonist, Casey Darling, I found to be quite an unlikeable character. The fact that she has flaws is not the issue here, I love my characters as real and raw as possible. My issue with Casey is that I found her to be the epitome of every female YA romance protagonist ever, in that, she made ridiculous decisions, complained about literally anything and everything, was extremely disrespectful to her sister (and her mother, but there are reasons) and did not understand the impact of her actions or decisions on anyone other than herself. I understand that Casey’s characterisation is meant to come across as a headstrong and independent young woman, but the execution of her character belies this.However, the main issue I had with the writing of Casey’s character is her attitude towards mental health and the mental health representation within the novel. Casey’s sister, Christina, and Casey’s ‘romantic interest’, Cameron, both battle mental health disorders, and this aspect of both characters are used as minor plot points.Christina has selective mutism, a result of the trauma of losing her and Casey’s father. Now, selective mutism isn’t so much as ‘choosing’ when you want to speak or not. It’s in connection with a severe anxiety disorder as a result of situations that makes individuals feel unsafe, or insecure or extremely anxious. Individuals who have selective mutism then utilise the ability to control their voice as a coping mechanism to this feeling of being completely overwhelmed and overstimulated. As points of contention, Casey mocks Christina’s mutism and implores her ‘just to talk’, when it’s so much more than that.If Christina was written authentically, her character should have been undergoing treatment in the form of behaviour therapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist. It surprised me that, even though Casey and the mother know of Christina’s selective mutism and how crippling it is for her day-to-day life, there’s no support for her.Cameron’s character was one that I disliked and felt added really nothing to the overall narrative. Cameron suffers from self-harming and Casey finds out through a vision, which is confusing in itself. But the way the author and thus, Casey, deal with Cameron’s disorder is just to tell him to stop by making him promise not to self-harm anymore. This is what I mean when I said before that How To Experience Death For Beginners should have been edited a bit more vigorously as this is extremely problematic. Self-harm is typically a sign of a deeper mental health disorder, such as anxiety, depression, etc. It also requires a treatment plan by a psychologist.I.E. people don’t just stop because someone else tells them to. It’s like if someone told me to just ‘don’t worry about it’ or ‘stop being so anxious’, my anxiety doesn’t work like that and neither does self-harm.Cameron as a character reminded me of what I thought was cute back when I was in high school. I found him to be an extremely pushy character who didn’t listen. Various times Casey told Cameron that she wasn’t ready nor looking at being ‘more than friends’. But Cameron just kept on hanging on creepily in the background, complaining that he wanted more friends but then trying to pressure Casey to be more. Added to that, I disliked how there were times when Casey would either say no to being together or just needing space, and it would be implied that Cameron would self-harm because of Casey’s actions. Then, Cameron’s grandmother and Cameron himself talk of how ‘happy’ Cameron is now that he has Casey in his life and how because of her ‘he’ll get better‘.As I’ve said before, let’s not romanticise mental illness. You can’t magically get better when you’ve been suffering for so long. Additionally, women aren’t rehabilitation centres for men, as that viral tweet has preached. I just found it uncomfortable and problematic.If you enjoy the works of Jennifer Niven and even maybe Stephanie Perkins, you may enjoy How To Experience Death for Beginners by Jessica Branton. A creative and original premise, though lacklustre, showcases the imaginative mind of Branton and one that I will be looking forward to reading in the future. I give How To Experience Death for Beginners a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
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  • Cathrina
    January 1, 1970
    I was intrigued with the synopsis but I felt that there is something missing. This book has a lot of potential.
  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    Now I don't like scary movies or even most thrillers, but I read this with "screenplay" running through my thoughts and the unedited version showing at the back of my mind. Although I fell it was slightly simplified to reflect that, I really enjoyed this, liked the characters, and though the idea was sound. It says she has several more novels in the works, I look froward to them ;)
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  • Alexandra Nae
    January 1, 1970
    Got a DRC of this book from Edelweiss! I saw the synopsis and I was really intrigued.Reading this was frustrating for me. Don't get me wrong, I found the synopsis very interesting, and the story, despite being easy to predict, was also entertaining at the very least. What frustrated me is the execution of the story. The plot was all over the place and the writing style didn't communicate with me as a reader in any way. The characters were not gripping, they didn't pull the story forward for me. Got a DRC of this book from Edelweiss! I saw the synopsis and I was really intrigued.Reading this was frustrating for me. Don't get me wrong, I found the synopsis very interesting, and the story, despite being easy to predict, was also entertaining at the very least. What frustrated me is the execution of the story. The plot was all over the place and the writing style didn't communicate with me as a reader in any way. The characters were not gripping, they didn't pull the story forward for me. There were also scenes where the characters did things that are unrealistic and confusing, and I feel like the protagonist and the love interest didn't have any chemistry. I also think this book should come with certain trigger warnings for the readers. In conclusion, I truly think the idea of this book had great potential. Unfortunately, the execution was lacking.
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  • Claire
    January 1, 1970
    I got an advanced review copy for my granddaughter and could not believe how good this book was. I do not read this genre, but I used to read adult thrillers and this was better than some of those. Definitely recommend for kids in high school. Very scary.
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  • Jessica Brown
    January 1, 1970
    Written by the author when they were a teenager, I was fully prepared for it to be mediocre. But this book is incredibly well written for her age. The story is captivating, funny, heartbreaking, suspenseful and relevant, and the characters are well fleshed out and interesting. There’s a lot of realllyyy good quotable moments such as ‘I will not stand for this!’ ‘Then sit down.’The book handles some sensitive topics, like self-harm, mental health, loss, and even homophobia in the Deep South reall Written by the author when they were a teenager, I was fully prepared for it to be mediocre. But this book is incredibly well written for her age. The story is captivating, funny, heartbreaking, suspenseful and relevant, and the characters are well fleshed out and interesting. There’s a lot of realllyyy good quotable moments such as ‘I will not stand for this!’ ‘Then sit down.’The book handles some sensitive topics, like self-harm, mental health, loss, and even homophobia in the Deep South really thoughtfully and carefully for a teenage author. I could tell that she must have some experience dealing with all of these topics. There’s definitely room for improvement now in how some situations were handled, but as teenage characters written by a teenage author, I found the scenes very believable. The main drawback of the book is the overuse of descriptors at times, and some dialogue between characters that sounds much more formal and emotionally aware than most teenagers would be. However I’m willing to overlook that as inexperience. I was very impressed and captivated by this book. I was actually screaming out loud to myself at the really exciting parts. I hope to see more complex and well written work from this author in the future.
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  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.This book could have definitely used another proof or two (or 20); there's grammar mistakes all over the place. It's kind of a hot mess, and not in a good way. There's just not enough substance to sustain it (or, to be completely honest, my attention). Also, naming three of your protagonists with names that begin with 'C' was kind of a mistake. Definitely could not keep them all straight.
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  • Liz (Quirky Cat)
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2 stars I received a copy of How to Experience Death for Beginners in exchange for a fair and honest review. Jessica Branton is one of those authors where you just can’t help but be impressed by her age. She wrote How to Experience Death for Beginners when she was fourteen, though the novel is only getting published now. How to Experience Death for Beginners follows a teenager named Casey. Like many teenagers she frequently feels overwhelmed with everything going on in her life. Unlike most 3 1/2 stars I received a copy of How to Experience Death for Beginners in exchange for a fair and honest review. Jessica Branton is one of those authors where you just can’t help but be impressed by her age. She wrote How to Experience Death for Beginners when she was fourteen, though the novel is only getting published now. How to Experience Death for Beginners follows a teenager named Casey. Like many teenagers she frequently feels overwhelmed with everything going on in her life. Unlike most teenagers though, Casey has a gift, though I imagine it really feels more like a curse. Casey can experience the death of those around her. They don’t have to be particularly close – just being somebody she knew in passing or being physically nearby at the time of the death is enough to set off her sight. This novel is all about Casey’s growing acceptance of the gift/curse she has. The novel is one part paranormal mystery and one part coming of age story. There’s a healthy dose of teen romance thrown in as well, and a disturbing killer to boot (which must be especially awful for Casey). (view spoiler)[ Warnings: You’d probably imagine that for a concept like this that there would be a lot of graphic deaths involved. While there’s never any doubt about Casey experiencing a death, on the whole, the details are mercifully brief. However, one of the characters in How to Experience Death For Beginners is a cutter. The scenes aren’t graphic, but the injuries, blood, and techniques used for hiding the injuries do come up a lot. How to Experience Death for Beginners was an interesting read and experience, no pun intended. It wasn’t like anything I’ve read before, which lately that feels like it’s becoming more and more of a challenge. I’m sure others feel the same way. The core concept of this novel was something I’d never seen before. A clairvoyant whose experiences truly do feel more like a curse than a gift. And all because her gifts are linked to death. I can’t imagine how that would be especially upsetting as a child and young adult. Having to go through formative years with that knowledge…it would be a challenge, to put it lightly. Casey’s character is a bit rough, but that feels right, in a way. She’s emotionally traumatized and scarred, so naturally, she’s done everything possible to close herself off from the world. Her friends are sometimes cute and endearing, and a shockingly good support system. I want to give Jessica Branton credit for having written this novel when she was only fourteen. I couldn’t have done that. Heck, I still couldn’t do that now. It takes a lot of determination to actually sit down and write a complete novel. I’ve seen many many people give up during the process, so I always like reminding myself of the time and effort it takes. Still, there were parts of this novel that were a little rough around the edges. Part of it was the writing. Part of it was the reactions to situations. Such as Casey’s friends reactions to her news, or Casey’s reactions to the self-harmer in her life. I understand completely that she had no knowledge of the depth of the issues that go alongside self-harm, so I’m willing to overlook a lot of missteps that came up with how she handled that whole situation. But it took some effort, I’ll be honest (I blame my background in psychology for that, sorry!). As far as debut novels go, this was an interesting one. I can see why it caught the attention of her publishers, and honestly do look forward to seeing what she comes out with next. My only hope would be that the next novel received a bit more polish. (hide spoiler)]For more reviews, check out Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks
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  • Ruthsic
    January 1, 1970
    Warnings: self-harm and suicide attempts, mention of domestic abuse, description of automobile accidents, physical assault, homophobiaHow to Experience Death for Beginners was a different novel than I had imagined based on the blurb. It is, as promised, a mystery with a serial killer element, but it is more about a teen girl coming to a greater understanding of her clairvoyant powers. Casey can see and experience the moment when a person is dying, and since a decade, she has seen every kind of d Warnings: self-harm and suicide attempts, mention of domestic abuse, description of automobile accidents, physical assault, homophobiaHow to Experience Death for Beginners was a different novel than I had imagined based on the blurb. It is, as promised, a mystery with a serial killer element, but it is more about a teen girl coming to a greater understanding of her clairvoyant powers. Casey can see and experience the moment when a person is dying, and since a decade, she has seen every kind of death around her, some of them familiar people, some not. Because of that, she is basically has closed herself off to letting people in, and only keeps a small group of friends at school. However, a new guy who is overtly friendly comes into town and her school, and this coincides with a string of murders that happen where she sees only the sharp blue eyes of the killer. I liked some aspects of the book, like the mystery itself and the red herrings set up. It also gave that atmosphere, you know, of a small town rocked with murder. Additionally, the supernatural aspect was interesting, and as the book went on, there were intriguing additions to it. Casey's and Danny's friendship was a good part of the book, primarily because I was afraid it would turn into some sort of romantic-love-triangle (in both ways) but it didn't. Casey's reservations about people, particularly the aspects of her power that dictate why she doesn't befriend easily was also explained well. The dialogue writing has its cheesy moments and cliche lines, but holds up somewhat well for most of the book, but the flow of scenes could have been better. However, a major flaw that I found with the book is that it raises topics and plot threads that it doesn't resolve well. The murder thing was concluded well enough, but there were so many other things going on which I initially thought would enrich the plot but fizzled out when the murder mystery took precedence towards the ending, and was wrapped off as if solving the murder just magically solved those issues, too. Cameron's self-harm habit was, first of all, not given its proper due; I also felt that the times he did that was leaning a bit too hard on the stereotype people have that it is done for attention. Never is it mentioned that therapy is on the table, even though his grandmother discusses his situation with Casey. Also, are we to assume that because the catalyst was removed, he just didn't feel the urge anymore? (Keep in mind, the reasons he gives to Casey don't match up) Also, another thread it dropped was that of her sister, and her kinda going dark with that book towards the end. It was just left, and in the final chapter it is like she is all happy and well. Which also subtly ~kinda~ presented it like the two characters with mental health issues are now sort of okay because they are in happy relationships? I was also not happy with Danny being written as an 'aww all this this murder is ruining my fun', particularly when he was the only queer character and who also faces a random homophobic incident (that serves to establish another red herring) that no adults intervene in? Also, 'all adults are useless' is a trope that needs to die in contemporary mysteries, by the way. Overall - I liked the concept and the central storyline, but there were some plot arcs that felt underutilized and rep that felt problematic. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Charlie's Port-FRINGE, via Edelweiss.
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  • CR
    January 1, 1970
    This young adult novel about a girl named Casey who is is cursed with being a clairvoyant. Although I did enjoy this one I think that it would have made more sense for this one to be classified as a middle-grade novel vs. ya. It does touch on subjects such as abuse and suicide and I do have to say that the author did well with these topics. I think that the main character should have gone one step further than just telling the other character to promise not to do it again. Suicide and self-harm This young adult novel about a girl named Casey who is is cursed with being a clairvoyant. Although I did enjoy this one I think that it would have made more sense for this one to be classified as a middle-grade novel vs. ya. It does touch on subjects such as abuse and suicide and I do have to say that the author did well with these topics. I think that the main character should have gone one step further than just telling the other character to promise not to do it again. Suicide and self-harm is one of the leading causes of death in this age group. So having her go to a teacher or counselor would have been a better idea. And I still say that the writing in this one was more suited to younger/beginning ya and higher middle grade. The romance in this one was very cute and in the end, this one was a story of friendship and finding yourself. As for the powers in this one, I felt like they could have been better researched but other than it was ok. Just not as integrated into the story as it could have been. I think this one will appeal to younger readers but with the aspects of the self-harm I worry that they will not get the right idea about those topics.
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  • Avery (Book Deviant)
    January 1, 1970
    I tried to read this book, but I just really couldn't stand it. It was a very stereotypical YA read, and the amount of stereotypes it feel into was just too much to deal with. ("I let go a breath I didn't know I was holding" was said twice within 3 pages...) I really couldn't stand the protagonist, and the love interest was also not well developed--he was just shoved in and you were basically told "he's the love interest". The "experiencing death" visions were not explained at all either, and yo I tried to read this book, but I just really couldn't stand it. It was a very stereotypical YA read, and the amount of stereotypes it feel into was just too much to deal with. ("I let go a breath I didn't know I was holding" was said twice within 3 pages...) I really couldn't stand the protagonist, and the love interest was also not well developed--he was just shoved in and you were basically told "he's the love interest". The "experiencing death" visions were not explained at all either, and you were only told aspects of it when it was convenient or when the author realized you needed specific information that you didn't already have.I will also mention that this book needed a MAJOR trigger warning for self harm and suicidal thoughts. The lines that were directed towards this suicidal character were also harmful. "I have too many problems to deal with this person." is basically what the novel said.I would like to thank Charlie Port Press for sending me a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Susan Mesler-Evans
    January 1, 1970
    NOTE: This book has not yet been released. I was given an advance reading copy by MindBuck Media in exchange for an honest review. This book will be out February 14, 2019. If you wish to send me an ARC, check out this page.I really thought I would love this book. If you follow my reviews, then you know that I am all about thrillers and mysteries, and come on -- just look at that title! Unfortunately, though, this book was kind of a mess. The characters were unlikable and the mystery wasn't well- NOTE: This book has not yet been released. I was given an advance reading copy by MindBuck Media in exchange for an honest review. This book will be out February 14, 2019. If you wish to send me an ARC, check out this page.I really thought I would love this book. If you follow my reviews, then you know that I am all about thrillers and mysteries, and come on -- just look at that title! Unfortunately, though, this book was kind of a mess. The characters were unlikable and the mystery wasn't well-executed. Overall, the basic setup is good, but there are so many factors weighing it down. (And, honestly, when I found out the now-adult author was fourteen years old when she wrote this book... Let's just say that explains a lot.)Click here to read the full review.
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  • Susan W
    January 1, 1970
    The YA crowd will love this. High schoolers in a small town and there is a killer on the loose. Casey has long been able to feel the last moments of the victims life, their joys, sorrows and regrets, which she has kept hidden from her friends and family. When sorrow gets too close to home, the police become interested in her, and life begins to spiral out of control. Thank you edelweiss for the advance copy.
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  • ♥ Kym
    January 1, 1970
    Looking at the blurb I thought the heroine possess #girlpower (figuratively), a badass, a lady boss who is the answer to all the unresolved cases of police enforcement, but then it’s not. I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Edelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest book review. I picked this book thinking it’s a romcom but when I get to read it, it’s actually dark and talks about a lot of death. The author was able to portray how flashbacks work – Looking at the blurb I thought the heroine possess #girlpower (figuratively), a badass, a lady boss who is the answer to all the unresolved cases of police enforcement, but then it’s not. I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book from Edelweiss+ and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest book review. I picked this book thinking it’s a romcom but when I get to read it, it’s actually dark and talks about a lot of death. The author was able to portray how flashbacks work – from happy thoughts to what went wrong, then comes the bad moments and last is regrets. It’s what have struck me, the flashbacks.A lot has happened and it’s messed up. It’s poorly written in a way you would thought the characters are in middle school, whereas they’re already high school seniors. The narration is told by Casey from her point of view so I expected the words or phrases used are matured or senior-level. It was difficult to read because of the format and style. The dialogues are written in one sentence separated only by quotation marks. You would think that it is a monologue, that Casey is talking to herself 🤣 when really it’s 2-3 of the characters talking. It’s so frustrating that I had to reread every paragraph. Seriously, check it here! and tell me if I'm wrong or what. Click image below to read full review!
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  • Donna Huber
    January 1, 1970
    I probably would have loved this story when I was a teenager, but as an adult I thought there was too much angst. I would have liked the plot to have been more focused, streamlined. The characters were interesting. Full review soon.
  • Ryley (Ryley Reads)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm not entirely sure what I expected when I picked this book up, but I'm not sure it was what I got. I know that sounds vague, and it is, but hear me out.Thanks so much to Mindbuck Media and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-ARC for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.**Please be aware of TRIGGER WARNINGS for cutting, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts as well as domestic abuse in this book. I will try to avoid discussing them in this review but please proceed with caution if I'm not entirely sure what I expected when I picked this book up, but I'm not sure it was what I got. I know that sounds vague, and it is, but hear me out.Thanks so much to Mindbuck Media and Edelweiss for providing me with an e-ARC for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.**Please be aware of TRIGGER WARNINGS for cutting, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts as well as domestic abuse in this book. I will try to avoid discussing them in this review but please proceed with caution if any of these triggers affect you.**This story follows Casey, a teen who can enter the minds of people as they die and see their lives - including their greatest regrets. Ever since her father died ten years ago, Casey has been coping with her ability and taking care of her twin sister while their mother is barely capable of making ends meet. When Cameron, a mysterious boy from California shows up at her school, Casey is suspicious - she has never liked getting close to new people. Then her small Georgian town suddenly falls prey to a serial killer, Casey becomes the sole witness to the murders. But will the police believe her? And does Cameron's sudden appearance have anything to the murders?I think the basis of this story has some good bones, but I think there are definitely some aspects that need work. The characters were a little flat to me and while we only had to deal with Casey's third-person POV, I felt like I barely knew anything about her, let alone the others. I enjoyed the dynamic between Casey and her best friend Danny but his being bisexual felt a little shoe-horned into the storyline. There was some chemistry between Cameron and Casey at the beginning but I felt like it fizzled out toward the end when things started to focus more on the murderer.There were points in the story where I felt like I had missed a part of the story. Specifically, with the reasoning for Casey's ability, I felt like we got a two-second explanation that was not at all fleshed out and were told to accept it and move on. I understand why it was done that way because of previous events, but I still don't know if I believe or even understand why she has the abilities she does. Even smaller things, like Cameron's guilt and self-harm, seemed like they were barely explained and we as the reader are just supposed to accept that and keep reading.Ultimately, I think what happened here was Branton was too ambitious with the scope of the book. She wanted to write a fast-paced thriller and a deeply-emotionally involved contemporary in the same book and it just doesn't work. In the end, both aspects suffered.Overall, this book might work for younger audiences who are enthralled by the small-town serial killer vibe, but for me, it was a miss.
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  • Kayla Whitter
    January 1, 1970
    *Original review posted at apaperarrow.com (I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are totally my own.)Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about someone with a superpowerTW: Serial killer, light goreJessica Branton was only 14 when she wrote How To Experience Death for Beginners, and for a 14 year old, the book is strong. However after somewhere around 10 years, I would have presumed meticulous editing would have taken place to update the novel. *Original review posted at apaperarrow.com (I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are totally my own.)Popsugar 2019 Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about someone with a superpowerTW: Serial killer, light goreJessica Branton was only 14 when she wrote How To Experience Death for Beginners, and for a 14 year old, the book is strong. However after somewhere around 10 years, I would have presumed meticulous editing would have taken place to update the novel. The plot is fantastic. I actually really enjoyed the story itself. The reveal is just slightly twisty and a bit too early in the book for my liking, but high-quality nonetheless. But the writing seems like the writing of a 14 year old - impressive for its age, but scattered, underwhelming, inconsistent, and juvenile. I love YA stories and this has the potential to be great, but publishing a book written at 14 as a 20-something should include some kind of update, not necessarily to the storyline (again, I enjoyed the actual story very much), but to the writing, to the dialogue. The inconsistencies and scattered story made the plot difficult to follow at times and I would flip several pages back to see if I missed something and in most cases, I hadn’t. But let’s hop into the plot really quick. The story follows 17 year old Casey, who at 7, witnesses her father’s death through his eyes as a vision. Those visions continue to happen throughout the next 10 years, not only for close friends and family, but geographically close folks. So when a serial killer shows up in the small Georgia town Casey lives in, the visions become increasingly more violent until Casey herself becomes a suspect. See? Great plot. YA crime thriller with some supernatural powers thrown in? Yes, please. Another appeal is the real small-town that’s fairly close and familiar to me, which was a truly fun connection. "This lying game was twisted and dangerous." - Jessica Branton, How to Experience Death for BeginnersAnd even though there is teenage love central to the plot, it doesn’t overrun the story but kind of ties it all together. Plus, there’s an LGBTQIA+ character, which is always appealing. Overall, I was disappointed with the book for the reasons listed above. I just felt the super young writing was not quite right for this YA thriller, the inconsistencies and scatteredness were too common throughout the novel, and the dialogue was rough to get through. There were a couple of small plot holes and answers left unanswered, and the character development was really lacking for most of the characters. I’d truly love to read an updated version of this book that’s a combo of teenage Branton and adult Branton to bring together such an exciting plot with a more consistent form of storytelling.
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  • Kerri
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 27%TRIGGER WARNING FOR ON PAGE SELF HARMI typically give books about 25% to hook me, and while the premise of this book definitely still intrigues me should it be done well, this rendition unfortunately did not deliver.I was shocked at how young the writing sounded until I found out that the author wrote this book at 14 years old. While totally commendable to write a book at 14, it should've gotten a huge re-write prior to publication. A 14 year old writing a 17 year old just made everyth DNF at 27%TRIGGER WARNING FOR ON PAGE SELF HARMI typically give books about 25% to hook me, and while the premise of this book definitely still intrigues me should it be done well, this rendition unfortunately did not deliver.I was shocked at how young the writing sounded until I found out that the author wrote this book at 14 years old. While totally commendable to write a book at 14, it should've gotten a huge re-write prior to publication. A 14 year old writing a 17 year old just made everything seem very juvenile, to my 23 year old self. The benefit of having older authors write young characters is that they themselves were once that age. Unfortunately, a younger author writing an older character just makes the character seem very immature for her age.I did appreciate some of the diversity representation we got, but also felt like it wasn't done very carefully. We have the sassy bi best friend, who is a bit of a stereotype. We have a character with Select Mutism, which I can't really speak on bc I have no experience or history with it. But the one that really got me was the self-harm. I appreciated the trigger in the synopsis, but still found that the cutting was handled in a bit of a slapdash way. It's just brought up and is almost treated as a character trait than a real symptom of mental illness. From looking at other reviews, it appears that it does not get better, and as someone with a history of self harm, I won't continue to read something potentially triggering, for my own health. I truly wanted to love this book, as it has everything I love: paranormal, mystery, thriller, a soft boi love interest. But alas, the writing was too immature for me to truly connect to the story. Should a rewrite be done or the premise handled in a different way, I would love to read it. But as it stands, it's a no from me, dawg.
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  • Becky Price
    January 1, 1970
    I had SO many problems with this book. My biggest problem with the book was that I felt like it helps perpetuate that idea that unhealthy relationships are ok. We also have quite a few characters who are dealing with some mental health struggles and this book never mentions getting them the help they need. I felt like all the issues were glossed over and just accepted as the norm when these characters needed help. I feel like the author had a pretty big opportunity to smash negative stereotypes I had SO many problems with this book. My biggest problem with the book was that I felt like it helps perpetuate that idea that unhealthy relationships are ok. We also have quite a few characters who are dealing with some mental health struggles and this book never mentions getting them the help they need. I felt like all the issues were glossed over and just accepted as the norm when these characters needed help. I feel like the author had a pretty big opportunity to smash negative stereotypes about mental health issues, show that there is help out there, and to help say that unhealthy relationships are not ok and she totally failed. I also felt the character development was very poor. Our characters were supposed to be 17, but acted MUCH younger. I understand the author was 14 when she wrote this, but this book needed some SERIOUS revising and I am shocked and appalled that the publishers would let an ARC go out in this condition.
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