The House on Benefit Street
Fun, heart-warming novel!
The House on Benefit Street is a laugh out-loud, heartwarming mystery novel that you'll recommend to your friends. As the main character, Angie, navigates her new life, filled with changes of every kind, readers will instantly connect with her. She’s relatable, she's someone you know. The supporting cast is equally as fun to read about. Instantly, you will feel a part of this world and read to the very end to see where everyone winds up.
I found "The House on Benefit Street" at the 2d annual New England Crime Bake, where author Donna Montalbano was on a panel. My interest piqued, I bought a copy and thoroughly enjoyed it. The main character is the house itself, and I want it myself. The protagonist is newly widowed and making major, unexpected, changes in her life. Against all odds and advice, she buys an old house in Providence. Only after she moves in does she discover that an unsolved crime was committed there. Page-turning writing, great sense of place, people I'd like to have lunch with. The occasional chuckle doesn't hurt. Recommended for mystery fans who can do without the blood-and-guts.
Reviewed by M. Jeanne Bracken
is there Love After Death?
A Sweet Escape...
Have you ever thought there was more to this world than what is perceived? This paranormal tale beautifully describes a realm that is unseen to the living. A realm that is inhabited by lost souls seeking their final destination and frequently visited by curious - but unique - members of the living that can spiritually transport themselves outside of their physical bodies into "Someplace Else." Between the pages a story is told through the eyes of two main characters.
The first, Lejeune. A sixteen year old semi-rebellious teen that considers herself a floater; not popular, not unpopular, just someone that can adapt and fit in anywhere she goes. Many may consider her weird with her bold makeup and questionable choice of clothing, but underneath it all she longs for stability.
Then there's Joe; a rebel in his own way who couldn't fully appreciate his privileged lifestyle because he was too busy trying to impress his ungrateful and judgmental friends.
The two cross paths when Lejeune literally has an out of body experience - spiritually stepping outside of her physical body - into a hidden realm. That's when their story begins.
Montalbano did an excellent job at describing not only the scenery of the world she created, but the emotions of each character. Bringing out so many raw emotions that kept me furiously turning the pages. I was so engulfed in Lejeune's and Joe's story, feeling each of their emotions as though I were experiencing them myself. That is truly a craft only a talented writer can evoke.
The story mixed reality and fantasy so wonderfully while keeping a certain believability to the plot. Although at times, I felt it was hard to keep up with the constant switching between POV's; the depth it added to the characters made it worth while.
I would recommend this story to everyone. It was beautifully written and creatively executed. Someplace Else is definitely a must read for all lovers of the paranormal looking for their next great read.
October, 2015 Amazon.com, Goodreads
author of The Oleah Chronicles: Truth
True Page Turner
This was my 1st time reading a YA book... And I have to say I really enjoyed it! You obviously do not have to be a young adult to love this story. The main female character is a cool, smart, funny non-conformist and the main male character (love interest) is just such a guy! Tough but sweet and protective. The written imagery and descriptions of this place- Someplace Else- are amazing! The supernatural focus in the book is really fascinating. It makes you think, thats for sure. And it opens your mind to a whole new perception of life, death, and in-between. There are definite points of creepy, spooky, and scary too! And if you're from NJ- then you will definitely enjoy the main backdrop which is the mysterious Pine Barrens. The story itself truly made me laugh out loud, cry like a baby, and rub goosebumps off my arms. And of course I couldn't help rooting for young love. Great book!
B.B., Barnes and Noble, September 19, 2015
Someplace Else and the power of love...
A haunting tale with twists, turns, heart, and soul, Someplace Else is truly a love story. Donna Montalbano masterfully captures the beauty and pain of first love. The characters feel like people we know. People we remember. The people we used to be. The people we wish we were. Working our way through this highly-engaging novel, readers float between a comfortably familiar world and one that is magical, mysterious. A place that just might sneak into your dreams at night. Don’t surprised if you find yourself going back to this novel as soon as you finish it, hoping to stay a part of the story and follow their journey.
September 2015, Kobo Books
“Someplace Else: Is there Love after Death?” by Donna Montalbano is a young adult paranormal romance novel that successfully pushes the boundaries of imagination and realism with intense creativity.
At its core, this is a love story with depth, integrity, and heartfelt ups-and-downs that would be familiar to young lovers (and those of us who still remember our own all-consuming, end-of-the-world emotional rollercoasters). But author Donna Montalbano takes the story far beyond the familiar, mixing in inventive twists and turns in a breathtaking journey across the boundaries of life and death, time and place, good and evil, and of light and darkness.
The author demonstrates an uncanny ability to make this paranormal tale feel normal and believable, especially through the hero/heroine's authentic voices: for example: “If you live on Earth, you don’t know Dark. The closest I ever came to dark before this, was when I was about nine, and my parents took me to Alcatraz. They put you in one of the solitary cells, and then they turn off the lights. […] Well, this place made that place look like Times Square. This dark was not merely an absence of light…it was an absence of everything familiar and good. And this was where I had voluntarily exiled myself.”
In summary, “Someplace Else: Is there Love after Death?” by Donna Montalbano is a unique and captivating novel that’s both familiar and striking, populated with credible characters who take readers along on a daring exploration of love, courage, and the dark secrets that await just beyond the illusive frontiers of time and place. Take the leap into “Someplace Else” – you won’t regret it!
REVIEWED BY: AVRAHAM AZRIELI
Avraham Azrieli is the author of "The Jerusalem Inception" and other novels. His website is: www.AzrieliBooks.com
A real gem for YA romance readers.
I met Donna Montalbano through her radio show on WOON in Rhode Island and was surprised to see that she'd put out this book for YA readers. I have nothing but respect for YA writers. They must get inside the head of young adult readers and be able to make the empathic leap over to their consciousness and their linguistic nuances without sounding like a clichéd old person trying to sound "hip". Happily Donna does this wonderfully. Not only were the voices of her changing narrators authentically young, they were unique and complex enough to be completely distinguishable. I love that she tackles some difficult subject territory that begs for criticism from certain corners. Good for her because you know that young adult readers think about these issues ALL THE TIME. Is there life after death? Where do we "go" when we die? Are some people able to transport into a spirit realm and return to their bodies? Who among us can do this? Donna's primary characters are sympathetic without being goody goody. They are "normal" teens without being shallow and utterly narcissistic. Likewise the adult characters have complexity and genuine depth even though they are revealed to the reader primarily through the eyes of their children. I enjoyed every page of this YA romance and I applaud Donna for writing a meaningful novel filled to the brim with images from an imagination that will certainly entertain its target audience.
Reviewed by Corie S., July 15, 2015