Strong As Death – Book Review

This is a superb debut novel from Julia Lund. I only discovered this writer and fellow blogger by way of one of the comments she left on a mutual friend’s blog. Her blog, http://julialundauthor.wordpress.com, provides a delightful insight into her writing and art, and some fascinating biog info. Equally delightful in a medium where, inevitably, it’s impossible not to sometimes be overwhelmed by self-promotion, she also takes the time to engage with her readers, offering detailed comment and advice where appropriate, and praise where merited.

This is a book I would highly recommend, not just for its entertainment and storytelling value, but for any aspiring writer, the dialogue is some the very best I’ve read, and indeed, learned from…

 

Strong As Death, by Julia Lund (Available in eBook via amazon kindle)

 

julia3‘Strong as Death’ is the beautifully written story of young love and the obstacles it must overcome. Anyone who remembers the pain and joys of their first lover will feel an affinity with this beautiful tale, mixed with memories of those awkward first moments, and then the thrill of realising that your heart’s desire might just be feeling the same way!

Its central character, Minnie Shilling, is like many other seventeen year old girls: shy, modest, sometimes a little awkward, and painfully unaware of her own beauty, especially when she thinks of her glamorous and confident best friend, Dee. But alongside that, she’s also incredibly talented, so talented that it’s destined to bring her as much trouble as it does joy. Add to the mix the arrival of a dashing young man and you have all the ingredients of a seemingly joyous ‘happy ever after tale’ of an enduring first love, but like all great love stories, things are never quite that simple…

Needless to say, just when everything seems perfect, life gets in the way, or in this case, something beyond ‘life’; Minnie slowly comes to realise there are forces at work that seek to harness her talents in ways that she cannot begin to imagine, and the only way they can do that is from those dark places that lie beyond this life.

My only slight concern whilst reading this book was perhaps the second chapter, where there is a sudden and unexpected change of character and setting, which at the time I thought was perhaps just a little bit ‘too much, too soon’ for the reader to take in, but after that, the transitions between Minnie’s regular life and the those of the world that might await her, were both smooth and well-timed; I would add at this point, having read the book in full, that this minor issue was nowhere near sufficient to make me hesitate for one moment in giving this book a thoroughly well-deserved five star rating.

Written in the first person, the author is able to infuse such life and depth into Minnie that it’s impossible not to feel that you really know her. What’s more impressive though is the way all the secondary characters are also brought to life by way of the amazingly authentic and clever dialogue; even characters who we only hear of in passing but never actually meet, take on a life of their own. Equally impressive is the author’s use of imagery: as well as being refreshingly witty and original, it also seems in perfect sync with Minnie’s character and how you imagine she would think of the world about her.

This is a superb debut novel of the young adult genre that was truly touching in the way it finally and unexpectedly brought together its many different layers, exceeding all my expectations, and one that I cannot recommend highly enough…

 

About echoesofthepen

Middle aged man, aspiring writer and author, one grown up son and young grand son, currently working in the rail industry but actively working to develop a writing career.

Posted on April 22, 2014, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Hi Paul. Told you I’d get back. During the A to Z I’m taking on average two days to catch up with the 17 blogs I’m following in the challenge, and then I take about three days to catch up with the ‘regular’ blogs I’m following.
    My review on Julia’s book was shorter than yours, but I think we’re on the same wavelength with regard to our findings and the praise due to her. It really is a good read.
    We all need support and you’re doing a great job in many directions. It will all come back at you when that anthology hits the road, but fortunately you realise it’s a marathon – not a sprint.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks again Tom. I was a bit more fortunate that not actually doing the challenge this year, I was only following/supporting a few of you during it. so it a bit less time consuming for me.

      Regarding Julia, yes it was a great book, but another reason I was willing to put in the effort on this occasion was also because she kind of does the same thing with others, i.e. she takes the time and trouble to leave meaningful comments and support etc.Unfortunately that kind of made me feel a bit guilty at mentioning my little concern about the 2nd chapter, but from her writing, it’s obvious enough she’d prefer and appreciate a totally honest review.

      Regarding my own first book, believe it or not, I’ve got more than enough material to to publish already, but I’ve taken some of your advice in taking time out to properly and thoroughly edit and proof read it all first – I just wish I wasn’t so horrified at all the errors and the bits I think can be improved upon. I don’t think I’ll be doing any more writing and posting ‘as is’ so to speak from now on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like how honest, yet compassionate your reviews are, Paul. You reviewed my book and that’s how we met, and I’m so glad we did.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a lovely thing to say. It’s the occasional comment like this that really does make my day and reminds me just how enjoyable writing is. Thank you.

      To be honest, I only really reviewed your book initially because I thought your writing was very interesting, and would be something different for me to read; getting to know you better since then has been a huge bonus, and my review has been returned in kind many times over with all your support and encouragement, not to mention opening my eyes up on how to use other social media to help and support other writers in turn.
      And thanks for taking time out from your busy AtoZ challenge schedule to drop by…

      Best wishes, and good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge,
      Paul…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Should be in my collection of “to read.” Thanks, Paul, for bringing it to my awareness. (By the way, I have not been receiving notifications for your posts. I used to and then they stopped coming and I thought you haven’t been posting lately. But now I see that you’ve been posting. I have to review my settings.) Good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this review – I’ll definitely look for Julia’s book on Amazon. It sounds great!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great review, thanks. A valuable addition to my TBR list.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for such an encouraging, glowing review, Paul. I can’t tell you how much it means to receive positive feedback, particularly when (as you know from reading bits of my blog) there have been those who haven’t always been supportive in the past … I guess that when we decide to fly in the face of nae-sayers, it’s a scary journey we undertake. But to have the encouragement of those who believe in you (I am so blessed to have my fantastic husband and children on my side, as well as a couple of unmatchable friends) is invaluable. To then find such generous strangers willing to spend their precious time and energy giving support is a wonderful gift to receive. Again, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the best ways to spend ‘precious time’ is engrossed in a really good book, and your book was most certainly that! And I know what you mean about lack of encouragement, I’ve had my fair share of that in the past, but hey, you’re the one whose written a great book that will be around for a lot longer then any of the nae-sayers and whatever they’ve said.

      As for being a stranger, I’ll come and introduce myself at your first ‘Best Seller’ book signing…

      Best wishes as always,
      Paul…

      Like

      • I like the way you dream. Do they sometimes come true?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that’s a big question!

          Well, some of them have, and some are starting to:

          I have a wonderful son whose grown into to a fine young man.

          I have the cutest most adorable four old grandson in the world (yes, I know, I’m probably biased on that one),

          Being a granddad, far from making me feel old, I’m loving every minute of it – what greater fun and joy than reading bedtime stories to a little one (as a mum I’m sure that needs no explanation).

          I’m almost within striking distance of fulfilling some of my writing ambitions in publishing something of my own later this year, not to mention starting to get a bit of nice, indeed lovely feedback, making me believe that I might actually have something to offer that people will enjoy.

          Seeing so many other writers following their dreams and ambitions, actually doing something to make them come true (yourself included), watching their initial efforts grow more successful, and thinking I might have played perhaps just a tiny part in that.

          I could go indefinitely but I’ll stop for now. I know from reading your own blog there was a bit of negativity from other people to begin with, but from what else I’ve read, many of your dreams have already come true.. wonderful children, family, and supportive friends, and now this marvellous book you’ve written. I’ve no doubt there’s many more to follow…

          Sorry for going on for so long, I’m in one of those happy sort of ‘rambling on’ moods today.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Don’t apologise for having a happy, rambly day! Sounds good to me! I’m having one of those hard-to-keep-my-eyes-open days today; could it be I’m spending too long in front of a screen editing? Time for a break, I think.

            And yes, you’re right about dreams; whatever I may or may not ‘achieve’, I’m on the same page as you when it comes to the very best ‘dreams’. My son is happy in his life and has just bought his first house; my daughter is learning lots and is ‘giving back’ working in a township in Cape Town at the moment, and my lovely husband couldn’t be more supportive of my writing (gives him time for his hobbies too!). If it never gets better than this, it’s enough.

            P.S. My daughter’s blog, if you want a peek (no compulsion; you already read so many!). She’s just uploaded a video of herself riding an ostrich!!!: http://bethgoestoafrica.wordpress.com/

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds like a good read — thanks for sharing your review! This will go on my list of books to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I follow Julia’s blog. She writes very poignant stories. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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