October 10, 2018

After Always Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway


After Always
Author: Barbara J. Hancock
Genre: YA Mystery/Suspense/Paranormal
Release Date: October 1, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen


Lydia’s life felt like it ended when Tristan died. Sure, they had their problems and he could be a little…intense at times. But he’d promised to love her forever… 

When her parents propose a summer across the country with a music teacher who runs an inn, Lydia agrees. But it’s different from what she expected. There’s a presence there she can’t quite reconcile—and it feels like it’s hunting her. It seems Tristan’s promise followed her…and may have graver consequences than she could have known.

Then there’s Michael Malone, the one light spot in an otherwise dark existence. Lydia can’t help but be drawn to him, and as they try to uncover the evil plaguing the inn, they grow closer. But guilt over Tristan’s death still consumes her. Can she and Michael uncover what evil lurks in the inn before it takes another victim?
After Always is a great new young adult paranormal thriller that readers are going to want to pick up. The description doesn't really make it sound paranormal, but it definitely is. I was happily surprised by the huge supernatural aspect and it definitely made my reading experience better. I don't do spoilers, so I can't go into the plot very much without giving anything away, but the main character, Lydia, goes up against some nasty ghosts who are out to claim people's souls and bodies. Awesomely creepy, in my opinion. On another level, Lydia is dealing with the death of her boyfriend Tristan. It's ripped her apart and she's become numb - a hollow shell of herself basically. But we find out throughout the story that her relationship with Tristan wasn't as perfect as she'd like to remember and things were actually pretty bad and she was always scared - of him, of upsetting or disappointing him, of him hurting her one way or another. So there's two different levels of the plot happening that the author nicely ties together to have them blend into a seamless story line.

I really liked Lydia as the main character. I found her very realistic and easy to identify with right from the beginning. I loved watching her find herself again - her sense of self, her strength, determination, and willpower - and changing for the better. The book is told from the first person point of view, from Lydia's perspective - which I'm so happy the author chose to do. The first person is by far my favorite style of writing because the reader gets to really connect with the narrator in ways other perspectives don't allow. I love getting to know the main character on a deeper level - their thoughts, feelings, memories, hopes and dreams, fears, and everything in between. It makes them so much more relatable and helps me really get into their story. Which is exactly the case with this book - I felt like I was right alongside Lydia as everything happened. I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting in a matter of a few hours. I didn't want to stop reading because I needed to know what happened next.

I have to mention the romance in the book because it's a little different than most novels. Lydia has just lost her boyfriend and is deeply mourning and filled with grief. Enter Michael who is basically the opposite of Tristan (which we learn wasn't exactly the greatest guy to begin with) and we see their relationship start as friends and co-workers and then grow into something more. It was really sweet and I was definitely rooting for them the entire time. Normally I don't like a lot of romance in books that aren't specifically about that topic because it tends to overshadow the main story line and take over the book when it's not supposed to be the center of things. That wasn't the case here and I'm so happy that the author found the balance between having the romance between Lydia and Michael be a large part of the story but not taking over the super creepy main plot. Definitely recommended for fans of YA, contemporary, paranormal, supernatural, fantasy, and romance.

Barbara J. Hancock lives in a cabin in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with her many rescued pets and the guy who lured her into the wilderness with promises of lots of peace and quiet for writing. To this day, the Appalachian wildwood is the best gift she’s ever been given. Her favorite pastime (besides animal rescue) is bringing darkly romantic stories to life by firefly light.


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