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Ashes to Ashes Hardcover – December 23, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Ashes Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—On the night 16-year-old Callie McPhee hopes to take the next step in her physical relationship with her boyfriend, she dies in a tragic car accident. Instead of going to heaven, she is stuck in the Prism, "the celestial plane between Earth and the next dimension," where all ghosts stay to help their living loved ones accept their deaths and move on. However, Callie isn't like other ghosts. She remembers everything from her life and is full of an energy that her fellow spirits lack. She attracts the attention of ghosts who are determined to stay on Earth—no matter the cost to the living. Callie struggles with her attraction to her Ghost Guide, Thatcher, and tries to bring peace to her loved ones. Walker's vivid imagery paints a rich picture of Charleston, South Carolina, as well as the Prism, where Callie must return between her stints on Earth. The secondary characters have distinct personalities and histories. Hand this supernatural romance to fans of self-discovery novels.—Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL

From Booklist

Ten years ago, Callie’s mother died and the loss still pains her. But her current life in Charleston includes loyal best friend Carson, loving boyfriend Nick, and an undemonstrative but adoring father. On her sixteenth birthday, her father gives her a BMW convertible, and later that day, on her way to meet Nick, Callie is involved in a terrible accident. She wakes up in a different reality called the Prism, which is not heaven but a place where the recently dead can come to grips with what has happened. Her handsome spiritual guide, Thatcher, teaches her how to “haunt” her loved ones, bringing them a degree of peace and acceptance. Callie finds herself torn between wanting to return to her mortal life and staying with Thatcher, a caring and troubled soul himself. Walker infuses standard romance with larger issues of mortality, afterlife, forgiveness, and morality, lending an unexpected depth to what starts as a fairly predictable love triangle. The surprise ending may leave some readers feeling tricked, but the full and swift-paced plot, imaginative vision of an afterlife, and cozy romance will help compensate. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (December 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062077341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062077349
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,445,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
While I had high hopes for this novel, especially with its claim to be a mix of the novel If I Stay and the movie Ghost, I felt like Ashes to Ashes moved much too slowly for me. Likewise, I didn’t really feel any connections with the characters. Callie dies before we really get to know her, or her friends, for that matter, and once she’s dead, she behaves very much as you would expect a young child to behave when told they can’t have something. She throws some tantrums and goes off and does whatever she wants, pushing caution to the wind, over and over again.

In truth, I spent much of the novel highly annoyed with Callie because she continues to make the same stupid mistake while ignoring not only her inner conscious, but also her guide, Thatcher. The fact that Thatcher continually keeps Callie in the dark, refusing to supply answers or clarification, did little to put him in my good graces, either. Instead, he only frustrated me because there seems to be a disconnect and readers don’t know why. And, instead of answers, the same scene plays out many a time, nearly lulling me to sleep: Callie messes up and is really sorry. Thatcher is angry; he tells her not to do it again without really giving any concrete reasons why. They make up. Then, Callie does it again and is really sorry…. By the third time this sequence occurred, I was ready to put the book aside. I just felt like nothing was truly happening in the novel; I had no connections with anyone, and we rarely saw Callie attempting to comfort anyone still left on earth—the aspect I really wanted to see.

And then? Walker surprised me with her quick and fast ending—one I wasn’t expecting but that, in retrospect, makes sense.
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By Katie on December 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought the book was great. Granted, I really like all of Melissa Walker's books. Ashes to Ashes is definitely different from the other books I have read by her, mostly because of the paranormal story line. It's a good ghost story with an interesting take on death and haunting. But it still has a lot of real world drama that you can relate to. And she always writes a really good love story. They aren't always neat and tidy. They aren't always what they seem. They don't always end the way you want them to. Likewise, her books don't necessarily tie up all the loose ends, and they seem all the more real for it.

Warning: the ending was a little bit of a cliffhanger. It's great that I am still thinking about it, but I hope that there will be a sequel.
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Format: Hardcover
Sixteen-year-old Callie McPhee has no idea that her carefree and thrill-seeking life is about to change. When tragedy strikes, Callie is immediately transported to an unfamiliar place, and while grappling with her senses, she is caught unaware by Thatcher, a handsome young man, who welcomes her to the Prism. It takes a while for her to grasp the fact that she is no longer among the living. She is a ghost and quite unlike any that Thatcher has encountered, since the majority of ghosts that enter the Prism are void of emotional attachment to their previous lives. Callie is quite the opposite, and desperately desiring to reconnect with her earthly loved ones because she realizes for the first time that she should have spent quality time with them instead of indulging in her quick thrills.

Undeterred by her strong yearning to return to earth, Thatcher perseveres in preparing her to merge with Solus, the final resting place for souls. Her preparation requires the proper use of haunting - an unobtrusive and unhurried method to help the living experience peaceful release of their departed loved ones. Callie, however, is bored to death (if that is even possible for ghosts!) by this method. She would rather follow a quicker and more direct route, which Thatcher says is dangerous because it disrupts the natural order of souls. Callie is neither aware of just how dangerous this direct route is and where it could lead, nor that Thatcher is protecting her from evil that is seeking to overtake her.

Unconvinced of Thatcher's haunting technique, let alone this whole concept of Solus, which means totally disconnecting with the earth, Callie befriends Reena and her small entourage, who teach her how to be more involved in earthly activity by making more direct connections with her loved ones.
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Format: Kindle Edition
On occasion, I enjoy a good ghost story from the ghost's point of view. Since Ashes to Ashes was compared to Ghost (one of the best movies out there, in my opinion) in some versions of the synopsis, I became excited about reading Callie's story. However, the story was completely predictable and about 150 pages too long.

The world-building in Ashes to Ashes was the most interesting aspect of the novel. I have always been fascinated by everyone's different interpretations of the afterlife, and I liked learning about Prism. It was like a less artsy version of Heaven from the movie What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams (another favorite). Prism is more like Limbo than Heaven, and the spirits stay there to finish their hauntings before they can move on to Solus (Heaven). Each new spirit/ghost had a Guide to take them through the process and that's how Thatcher and Callie are thrown together.

I was about a third of the way into the book, and I knew where the story was going. Well, I had guessed (correctly) about what was going on with Lee and Reena. I knew the secret behind Callie's special snowflake powers without a shadow of doubt. I broke my cardinal rule of reading and skipped to the last chapter of the book. Sure enough, it was EXACTLY as I expected.

To be fair, I flipped through the middle third of the book that I had skipped, but I didn't really find anything that I needed. I already liked Callie well enough to have been able to read what I had, but I never really connected with her. (If it's not there before 100 pages in, it's not coming.) Thatcher really did not interest me because broody, standoffish male protagonists make me tired. The "villains" were even too vanilla for my tastes.
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