Book Review: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson

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The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson tells the story of Dino, whose family owns a funeral home. His ex-best friend, July has recently died, however, when he is saying goodbye to her, she rises from the dead. Soon, they both have to navigate the challenge of repairing their friendship, while July has to come to turns with what it means to be the undead (but not a zombie). There is also the problem of the fact that death has been put on hold for the time being and July thinks she’s the cause.

I loved this book, it was heartwarming and sweet while also including humour. It is a novel about friendship, about letting go and the inevitably of life and death.

This novel has a really interesting concept. Most novels about the undead are stories about zombies, but in this book, July is just a girl who happens to be dead and decomposing, other than that she’s a typical teenage girl. I also liked how Hutchinson has included some thought provoking questions about what would happen if the world stopped functioning in a life or death cycle and the consequences this would have because this is not something that I previously considered or thought about much and it is important to acknowledge.

I really enjoyed Hutchinson’s writing style and thought that it flowed really nicely. It made me engage more with the characters and be more invested in the story.

I loved the characters in this novel. They were so funny and engaging while also being thoughtful and considerate about their actions. Both Dino and July gave thought to the effects that their actions would have on the world which was intriguing and was wise beyond their years. However, they were still very believable teenage characters. I also thought Dino and his boyfriend were adorable and I would love to see more of how their relationship developed once Dino became more secure in himself.

The representation in the novel was also great. Dino is gay and his boyfriend, Rafi is trans and their identities are never the focus of the story and they do have a happy ending. This type of representation is always important in novels in general but especially in Young Adult novels.

Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a heartfelt book about friendship and the importance of living life to the fullest.

The Past and Other Things that Should Stay Buried by Shaun David Hutchinson will be released by SimonPulse on February 19th 2019. 

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Book Review: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Good Omens tells the story of the impending apocalypse and Crowley and Aziraphale, an angel and a demon who unintentionally interfere with Armageddon going as planned. Because…. they may have misplaced the Antichrist, who was set to bring about Earth’s destruction.

I loved this book and found it hilarious from start to finish. I very rarely laugh out loud when reading books no matter how funny they are but this book was an exception. There were so many funny lines that I am amazed Gaiman and Pratchett were able to come up with but they worked so well within the story.

I loved the characters in the story, especially Crowley and Aziraphale, who are such a great team, even though neither of them would probably want to admit that. All of the others characters were so well-written and interesting as well and I found myself constantly wondering where the plot was going.

I also loved the writing style and found that it flowed really nicely in relation to the story. It felt conversational and I really enjoyed that.

Overall, I loved this book and will definitely be re-reading it. I also cannot wait for the TV Show (I saw the first episode of the TV Show as part of a survey that I did and I can say that David Tennant and Michael Sheen are perfect for their roles).

I highly recommend this book!

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is available now from HarperTorch.

Book Review: Miao Shan: The Awakening by G.A.M. Morris

Miao Shan: The Awakening by G.A.M. Morris tells the story of Chow Lei (Miao Shan), a young girl adept in the Black Tiger School of Kung Fu who is asked to train at the Shaolin Temple. Once she has trained there, she leaves and takes revenge on the society responsible for the death of her parents and grandparents.

I was asked to review this book by the author and it was billed to me as a dark fantasy influenced by Chinese mythology. I love Fantasy novels and increasing East Asian representation in literature is always important.

I found the plot really interesting and it definitely kept me invested in finding out what was going to happen next in the life of Chow Lei (Miao Shan).

I did really like the moral grey area which exists in Chow Lei (Miao Shan)’s character. She does horrible things but it’s all in the name of seeking justice.

I also felt that the subject matter would have been better dealt with by an ownvoices writer although I do hope that the author consulted East Asian beta/sensitivity readers in his writing process.

I recommend reading it for the plot but the characterization would benefit from an improvement and I felt that the novel was far too unnecessarily violent.

Miao Shan: The Awakening by G.A.M. Morris is available on January 15th 2019.

Blog Tour: The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume II by Collins Hemingway

THE MARRIAGE OF MISS JANE AUSTEN VOL. II

BY COLLINS HEMINGWAY

Publication Date: August 8, 2016

eBook & Paperback; 332 Pages

ISBN-13: 978-1535444958

 

 

Jane Austen Lived a Quiet, Single Life-Or Did She?

Tradition holds that Jane Austen lived a proper, contemplative, unmarried life. But what if she wed a man as passionate and intelligent as she-and the marriage remained secret for 200 years?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen resolves the biggest mystery of Austen’s life-the “lost years” of her twenties-of which historians know virtually nothing.

• Why the enduring rumors of a lost love or tragic affair?

• Why, afterward, did the vivacious Austen prematurely put on “the cap of middle age” and close off any thoughts of finding love?

• Why, after her death, did her beloved sister destroy her letters and journals?

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy answers these questions through a riveting love affair based on the history of the times and the details of Austen’s own life.

AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

Praise for The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Series

“A skillful portrayal of an early nineteenth-century literary icon takes this historical romance on an imaginative journey of the soul. … The adventure of a true romantic partnership and all the excitement that the nineteenth century had to offer. … [The] novel invites you to linger, to savor, and to enjoy. … Makes for wonderful reading. … A Jane that lives and breathes on the page.”—Claire Foster, Foreword Reviews, 4 stars

“Hemingway captures the energy of the times, while also writing with the irony and sly humor of Austen herself. … A strikingly real Jane Austen fully engaged in the turbulent times. … She is a living, breathing presence. … [He] displays a notable ability to recreate time and place. … A lively, compelling read, [a] sobering but moving conclusion.” —Blueink Starred Review

“An enjoyable novel in an imaginative, well-researched series. … A well-researched work of historical fiction … [with] sweet moments and intriguing historical insights. … An incredibly moving portrait of a woman facing loss and love.” —Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Whether his subject is literature, history, or science, Collins Hemingway has a passion for the art of creative investigation. For him, the most compelling fiction deeply explores the heart and soul of its characters, while also engaging them in the complex and often dangerous world in which they have a stake. He wants to explore all that goes into people’s lives and everything that makes tThe hem complete though fallible human beings. His fiction is shaped by the language of the heart and an abiding regard for courage in the face of adversity.

As a nonfiction book author, Hemingway has worked alongside some of the world’s thought leaders on topics as diverse as corporate culture and ethics; the Internet and mobile technology; the ins and outs of the retail trade; and the cognitive potential of the brain. Best known for the #1 best-selling book on business and technology, Business @ the Speed of Thought, which he coauthored with Bill Gates, he has earned a reputation for tackling challenging subjects with clarity and insight, writing for the nontechnical but intelligent reader.

Hemingway has published shorter nonfiction on topics including computer technology, medicine, and aviation, and he has written award-winning journalism.

Published books include The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, Business @ the Speed of Thought, with Bill Gates, Built for Growth, with Arthur Rubinfeld, What Happy Companies Know, with Dan Baker and Cathy Greenberg, Maximum Brainpower, with Shlomo Breznitz, and The Fifth Wave, with Robert Marcus.

Hemingway lives in Bend, Oregon, with his wife, Wendy. Together they have three adult sons and three granddaughters. He supports the Oregon Community Foundation and other civic organizations engaged in conservation and social services in Central Oregon.

For more information please visit Collins Hemingway’s website and blog. You can also find him on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 14

Review at Coffee and Ink

Wednesday, January 16

Review & Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Thursday, January 17

Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 18

Review at Rainy Day Reviews

Monday, January 21

Feature at Donna’s Book Blog

Tuesday, January 22

Excerpt at T’s Stuff

Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, January 23

Review & Guest Post at To Read, Or Not to Read

Friday, January 25

Review at View from the Birdhouse

Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Monday, January 28

Review at For the Sake of Good Taste

Tuesday, January 29

Guest Post at Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Wednesday, January 30

Review at Library of Clean Reads

Friday, February 1

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Saturday, February 2

Review at Jorie Loves a Story

Sunday, February 3

Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Monday, February 4

Review at Amy’s Booket List

Tuesday, February 5

Review at Maiden of the Pages

Wednesday, February 6

Feature at The Lit Bitch

Interview at Bookish Rantings

Thursday, February 7

Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, February 8

Review at Book Reviews from Canada

Saturday, February 9

Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

– Giveaway is open to US only.

– Only one entry per household.

– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Book Review: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barrow

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr tells the story of Ella Black, a schoolgirl from Kent, who is whisked without warning from her normal life to travel to Brazil with her parents. But Ella has a secret: she has a dark alter-ego named Bella who makes her have terrible thoughts and when she gets to Brazil she soon discovers that nothing in her life is what it seems.

I loved this book. I found it suspenseful and engaging and could not wait to find out how it ended. There was a building sense of fear and dread related to how each chapter began with “__ days until she dies” and I literally gasped when I read the major plot twist near the end.

I enjoyed Barr’s writing style and felt that it flowed really nicely, pulling me into the story. The gentleness of this flow seemed to lull the reader into a false sense of security, when everything in Ella’s life was going well (when she met Christian and got a job in the English school) and I feel that Barr did that intentionally in order to take the reader by surprise and it works so well.

I also appreciated the element of the nature versus nurture debate which was incorporated into the story and shows how each of these concepts can shape a person’s sense of self. I liked how near the end of the book, it is revealed that what was believed to be Ella’s nature for most of the book was her nurture all along.

One critique I have of the novel is that I feel there could have been better representation in the novel. I feel that Barr missed an opportunity to include mental illness representation in her novel in relation to Ella’s repression of herself and her alter ego, Bella. I also wish there had been stronger and more lasting LGBT+ representation throughout the novel instead of Jack, Ella’s fake boyfriend/best friend who is gay only being included in the beginning of the novel.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a engaging, fast-paced, suspenseful novel with plot twists that take the reader by surprise.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr will be released on February 12th 2019 by Penguin.

Book Review: The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf follows Melati as she desperately tries to find her mother during the race riots in Malaysia in 1969.

This is a very difficult book to read due to the subject matter but it is so important and powerful and I cannot recommend it enough.

I appreciated the historical and factual aspect of this novel and feel that everyone should read it to learn about this horrifying and tragic event. I think it is a sad fact that I had not heard of these events prior to reading this novel and it is not covered in most history classes. Considering the amount of lives lost and affected by these events, it is something that we should all acknowledge and remember.

I really liked Alkaf’s writing style and found that the story flowed really well. It allowed the events to be more impactful when they happened. I also enjoyed how complex Alkaf’s characters were; they were all fighting their own battles in different ways and had their own internal conflicts.

The novel also covers several difficult topics in addition to the race riots and has great mental illness representation. Melati (although undiagnosed) very clearly has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety and this is stated by the author in the author’s note at the beginning of the book. Melati is also Muslim. Additionally, the book is ownvoices as Hanna Alkaf is Malaysian.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in educating themselves about a lesser known tragic part of Malaysian culture which is beautifully written with complex characters.

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf will be released on February 5th 2019 by Salaam Reads.

Book Review: The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan tells the story of Rukhsana, a Muslim Bengali lesbian whose parents discover her kissing her girlfriend. The aftermath results in an unexpected trip to Dhaka where Rukhsana’s parents attempt to force her into a marriage with a Bengali man. Rukhsana has to figure out how to remain true to herself when her family is doing everything to prevent that.

Khan has written a beautiful novel which explores the collision and clash of culture and values in America and Bangladesh. It is a novel which explores the effects of homophobia and the beauty of acceptance.

I loved the characters in this novel. Rukhsana was wonderfully independent and headstrong. I really felt all of the emotions and anxiety and fear which she experienced when trying to travel back to Seattle and that is a testament to Khan’s excellent writing. I also enjoyed the perspectives of Ariana, Rukhsana’s girlfriend and friends, Rachel and Jen and could understand their initial (although misguided) reactions to Rukhsana disappearing from all forms of communication while in Dhaka. I was also delighted with the allies that appeared in the most unlikely of places (Irfan and Sohail) and my heart broke several times in relation to Sohail’s storyline.

I loved how the story provided insight into the culture and traditions of Bangladesh while also allowing for the opportunity for characters to change their perspectives and opinions.

The representation in this novel is fantastic as well as Rukhsana is a Muslim lesbian character and Sohail is a gay Bangladeshi man. The relationship between Rukhsana and her girlfriend, Ariana was sweet but also complex and we need more sapphic love stories like this.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a diverse sapphic love story which explores the nuances of homophobia in Bangladeshi culture.

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan will be released by Scholastic Press on January 29th 2019.