Author: L. B. Anne

Narrator: Alaura Howery

Length: 2 hours 56 minutes

Series: Sheena Meyer Series, Book 1

Publisher: Laurie Best

Released: June 12, 2020

Genre: Middle Grade; Christian Fiction

This story is a captivating blend of Christian science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. For 11-14-year-old listeners who enjoy books such as A Wrinkle In Time.

“Do you believe in angels?”

Sheena Meyer is the girl that brings an extra sandwich to school each day just in case someone doesn’t have lunch. She’s also the girl that questions and investigates everything, driving her parents and teachers nuts. She spends most days waiting for some grand event to happen and change her life. But this isn’t what she had in mind.

The Murk is coming for her because of a gift she doesn’t know she has.

Nine years ago an angel appeared in front of select kids all over the world. In Michigan, it appeared in a willow tree in front of a four-year-old little girl. She’s the only child that saw it, the one with the gift. Sheena is now thirteen and has since forgotten what she saw. But things change when her father is in a terrible accident, and she witnesses a supernatural being save him.

“I saw what you did. Come back!”

An elderly man, the arrival of a peculiar new kid at school, and mysterious text messages will change everything Sheena has ever believed in, sweeping her out of a humdrum, teenage existence, and setting in motion what one little girl’s destiny can mean to the world.

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L. B. Anne is the author of the Lolo and Winkle, Sheena Meyer, Curly Girl Adventures, and the soon to be released Everfall book series. She writes diverse chapter books geared toward six to fourteen-year-old readers (depending on the series). She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), a guest speaker; presenting at libraries and schools nationwide, a mentor, and a mental health advocate. L. B. Anne resides on the Gulf Coast of Florida with her husband. When she is not inventing new obstacles for her diverse characters to overcome, you can find her reading, playing bass guitar, running on the beach, or downing a mocha iced coffee at a local cafe while dreaming of being your favorite author.

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A flash of light broke my focus. I looked from my dad’s face, up above him, to the ceiling. My knees buckled, and I stumbled to the side and back a couple steps into the chair by the door. My mom caught me. “Breathe, Sheena, breathe. Maybe I should take her out.” The doctor asked me something, but I couldn’t nod or speak. I wanted to, but that lump in my throat grew and cut off my air supply. My mom looked back at my dad, but she didn’t have the reaction I had. Why not? Over my dad stood a being. I didn’t know what else to call it. It was white, but not like the color white–kind of translucent with a glow like a blue current ran through it. I watched as it waved a huge hand over my dad’s head, passing right through it. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My dad blinked. “Look,” I finally yelled, shocked I’d actually spoken that time. My dad’s eyes slowly opened. “Jonas, I’m here,” my mom said as she ran to his bedside and held his hand. “Jonas, can you hear me?” My dad tried to nod. Why is she ignoring the thing behind him looking down at them? The being backed away–like backing through the wall, and as he did so, he began to disappear. “Wait!”

Are you into the paranormal? By paranormal, do you believe in angels? Do you like a good mystery involving the paranormal? If you could see angels, would everyone think you were crazy? All of these concepts are touched lightly with this story. Anne provides her readers with some insight into the realm of angels with this middle-grade story. Those who can see are few and far between, but the ones that have this gift are in extreme danger.

At only a little over one hundred pages, young readers are immersed into a world where only a handful of individuals are capable of seeing angels. Sheena, a thirteen-year-old girl is one of those individuals. When her father gets into a near fatal accident, Sheena sees an angel healing him in the hospital. Unable to come to terms with what she’s seen, an elderly man helps her learn about what she has just experienced. She also meets a new girl at school right around her first sighting who seems to be an obvious character to the reader, but Sheena never catches on to her. At least, not in the first installment anyway. She does learn that she is in danger though. Since she can see these angels, blessed with the gift at the early age of four, she now has to evade the Murk. With the help of her friends, can she overcome such unprecedented obstacles?

The Girl Who Looked Beyond the Stars is the first book in in the Sheena Meyer series. Anne introduces her main characters and gives the reader a thorough description of each. They are well-developed, but there is also a lot of information packed into such a short story. Short stories are very fickle; they can either be a hit or a miss. In this case, there is so much information that the reader is given at such a rapid pace. These stories are often great for a younger audience because they tend to overlook more holes in the story, but not so great for an adult audience. This story could have greatly benefited from a little bit more depth and does leave out several aspects which could have been more embellished on. Maybe if Anne combines some of her installments together or puts more emphasis on the scenes, this will eliminate the feeling of unsatisfactory storytelling. The author definitely has some pull with the cover design for this book. It is bright, alluring, and showcases a girl who may be able to do or see the unforeseen. It is an attraction and sure to catch young reader’s eyes! Howery provides a good narration of the story, really getting into the young female persona, sometimes overtly so. There were a few hiccups, but overall, the vocals were clear and emotionally charged. We wouldn’t recommend this story to a young or mature adult audience; this may not get too much traction since the story feels too rushed. It would be better suited for a middle schooler or teenager who will enjoy this style of writing and narration a little more. If you are a reader of paranormal mysteries, you may enjoy reading this first installment.

The audiobook was provided to Turning Another Page by Audiobookworm Promotions and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a three-star rating for The Girl Who Looked Beyond the Stars by L.B. Anne.

Author Interview

  1. Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing? Not at all. I wanted to tell a story that I thought would take middle grade readers on an exciting adventure. I didn’t consider The Girl Who Looked Beyond the Stars becoming an audiobook until a student at an author visit let me know how much he enjoyed audiobooks. 
  2. How did you select your narrator? I wanted someone that could tell the story with the voice of a thirteen year old. She had to be capable of bringing the drama or excitement that was necessary for the scenes.
  3. How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? Alaura was amazing. I think because of her background with voiceovers for anime, she knew exactly what I wanted. I didn’t have to do much, other than proof each chapter upon completion. The only pronunciation tip I had to give was with the city of Muskegon and the name Haleigha. I was born in Muskegon, so I didn’t realize that not everyone would know how to pronounce it. 
  4. Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? I always add a touch of real life in all of my books. The Girl Who Looked Beyond the Stars takes place in the city I was born in, and in the school I attended in eighth grade. As crazy as it sounds, the part about Sheena seeing something in their willow tree actually happened. My grandmother often told a story of me seeing something, but I was too young to explain what it was. I’m not a spooky person, but I thought it would be great to build upon. There are different aspects of the story that also touch on my faith as a Christian.
  5. How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing? I am a full-time writer. I take days off when I need to, or I switch between the projects I’m working on. If I’m writing a sad or depressing story, I may have to switch to one of my funnier projects for a couple of days, just to get me out of that headspace. 
  6. Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? I’m just starting to get into audiobooks. I started listening to stories on the NPR station in my car when I was on the road a lot. That built up my interest in audiobooks.
  7. Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?  Maybe the final chapter. I was floored when I heard it. All that I could say was, “Wow!”
  8. What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? Audiobooks are not at all cheating or inferior to reading. It’s like two different paths that end at the same destination. With the right narrator, you experience the book on a whole new level. It may cause you to understand a scene better, or the feelings associated with it. 
  9. Do you have any tips for authors going through the process of turning their books into audiobooks? The most important thing is the right narrator. Take your time and listen to every audition. Make sure you give them a script that can really show off their skills, with multiple emotions and characters.
  10. What’s next for you? The second audiobook of this series, The Girl Who Spoke to the Wind, is now in production and may be completed by the time this tour begins. The Sheena Meyer series fans have spoken. They’ve sent tons of emails asking that I not end the series, so I am working on the fourth book, The Girl Who Became A Warrior. You’re the first to know the new title.

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