Recommended: if you think you’re interested For folks who read the premise and think they’ll like it, for a very singular dive into one person and issue
Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.
Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.
And Sam picks up the phone.
In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.
For such a normal-length book, this felt like it flew by. In this case… that’s not exactly a good thing (or a bad thing). This book sets out to tell the story of Julie’s guilt and grief over Sam’s death, and that’s exactly what it tells. The weird thing is that it’s also the only thing that it tells. This book has a very tight focus on the issue it aims to address. While, again, that’s not a bad thing, it was strange in that it ended up reading more like short story for me since there was only one thread to the plot.
Recommended: eh, I guess Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions…. Expected Release: April 6, 2021
Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.
What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.
Verdict: What a disappointment. It was exhausting. It took a long time to actually get going, and then concluded in a sort of underwhelming hurry.
Recommended:Not really Not recommended because the story was hard to keep track of, too many character changes (and this from a girl who handled all of George RR Martin with no problem), a slow story, and not much that really adds to the lore
Summary: Struggling to shoulder the crushing weight of leadership, King Anduin entrusts the void elf and High Exarch Turalyon to uncover Sylvanas’s whereabouts. The various factions of the Horde form a council, leaving the mantle of warchief to rest. But the threats are numerous, and the distrust runs too deep. When the council is derailed by a failed assassination attempt on Talanji—the Zandalari queen and a key ally—Thrall and the rest of the Horde leaders are forced into action. They empower the young troll shaman Zekhan with a critical mission to aid Talanji and help uncover the rising threat against her. Meanwhile, Nathanos Blightcaller and Sira Moonwarden have been tasked by the Dark Lady with a terrifying gambit: to kill the troll loa of death himself, Bwonsamdi. As Zekhan and Talanji work to save Bwonsamdi, their journey will be a key turning point in bolstering the Horde against the coming darkness and finding themselves along the way. Failure to save their allies and the trickster god will surely doom them—but through success, they may rediscover what makes the Horde strong.
Thoughts: What do I love about this book? The Horde perspectives. I am roped into playing primarily Alliance because my S.O. and the guild tend to lean that way, but my heart is with the Horde. So getting to read about Zekhan made me melt because he’s so cute and sweet!
But, then, the problems start. Because I only get maybe fifteen total pages from his perspective? And the rest are a neck-breaking whiplash of variety. There were WAY too many character perspectives in here!!!! Look, I can handle a nonlinear story, I can handle a lot of character changes, but it just did not work in this book.
I’m flying through this book even though I only started it yesterday. I took a chance outside my usual, and I am being rewarded for it! Thank you Josie Jaffrey for the delight of May Day!
Why did I start reading it?
This book actually just published today! I received an ARC from the author, and although it’s not my typical genre, I was intrigued. And I am so glad I gave it a shot, because I’m loving it! It’s a sexy vampire detective on a murder mystery, and it is so much more than that little description makes it sound. 😍
I’d never have thought that laughing in bed was a good thing, but here she is in my arms, and I’m so happy that I can feel the joy bubbling up into my throat, so happy that the force of my kisses is shaped by my smile.
He’s rich and powerful, which is a bad place for any man to start, but he’s also arrogant and elitist, which makes him a particularly wanky breed of wanker.
He’s an imposing man, over six-feet tall with dark skin and darker eyes. We don’t ask about his past, but I’m pretty sure it’s dark too.
Recommended: sure For a look at spiritual beliefs and the way a life looks lived by them, a story of grief and how a family works through it, a light mystery thrown in
Summary: An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding. Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean’s world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.
Thoughts: I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of this book, like the many discussions of beliefs and life after death. I’m not particularly spiritual myself, but this was an accessible and interesting look into Inuit beliefs. Bean seems a bit wise beyond her years, but she does struggle. She feels lost too and is just doing her best.
We were like those people you sometimes see at a restaurant who look like they have absolutely nothing to say to one another, and you wonder why they bother staying together. In our case, it was blood and grief.
Recommended: YEEESSSS For a fantastic representation of how a little goes a long way, for a dark story that also makes me laugh out loud, for characters who are a lot broken but you still like them anyway
Summary: On earth there are bad people, and then there are REALLY BAD people. If you’re one of the latter, you don’t just get sent to Hell, you get sent to Hell and get assigned a job collecting the souls of some of the worst people on Earth. Such is the career path of a young woman named Scarlet, who dies and is delivered down to the fiery underworld only to find herself in an entry level position as…The Grim Reaper!
Thoughts: I stumbled upon this comic recently and I am so glad I did! ‘Scarlet’ is the worst kind of sinner, and delays her eternity of damnation by becoming a grim reaper. But she’s got a quota to fill — one sinner killed per day. Things get hairy quick, though, when a rogue detective happens to find her immediately after she slices up her first kill. Mutual suspicion is had.
I absolutely adore the art style. It’s almost entirely in black, gray, and red, and it’s stunning. It fits the story so well, and you might be surprised by how much drama the scheme adds to it. Plus when we get a surprise pop of brights or pastels, it’s a dramatic punch in the face that lets you know something is seriously different. Beyond that, it’s just raw and gritty and scary in that unsettling way. Multitudes of eyeballs usually are. And you know what? A story about the grim reaper and killing sinners really should be a bit unsettling.
Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum Good, not mind blowing. As the author says, more than just a dead mom book. Read this from 3:38am to 7:42am because I couldn’t sleep. Just call me Ethan.
Recommended: sure For a quick cute read, for those who can suspend disbelief and pretend the world is a nice place, for a fairly predictable and straightforward story, for those who can tolerate a plot that sometimes makes you roll your eyes at the MCs ability to misinterpret obvious things
Summary: It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help? In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Thoughts: The primary strength of this book was in the connections created between characters and the portrayal of grief from Jessie. She’s thrown into a crazy situation when around two years after her mother’s death, her father abruptly announces he’s remarried a rich LA lady, and they’re going to move out to California to live with her. Cue Jessie’s entrance into a creme de la creme private school for the rich and glamorous, as well as a bizzaro world of her new “family” in a house that’s more like a museum.
Jessie’s grief stays with her through the story, as a constant point of reflection and pain and growth for her. The author in a note at the end states that this is very personal for her, as she lost her own mother at 14. Because of that painful personal experience, the portrayal in the story of grief — Jessie’s, her father’s, and even her new stepmother & stepbrother’s — are consistent and painfully believable.
Recommended: Yes! For anyone who will die or knows someone who will eventually die, for people curious about everything and anything, for my favorite mix of science and humor
Summary: In Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?, Doughty blends her mortician’s knowledge of the body and the intriguing history behind common misconceptions about corpses to offer factual, hilarious, and candid answers to thirty-five distinctive questions posed by her youngest fans. In her inimitable voice, Doughty details lore and science of what happens to, and inside, our bodies after we die. Why do corpses groan? What causes bodies to turn colors during decomposition? Can you donate blood from an embalming post-mortem? Readers will learn the best soil for mummifying your body, whether you can preserve your best friend’s skull as a keepsake, and what happens when you die on a plane. Beautifully illustrated by Dianné Ruz, Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? shows us that death is science and art, and only by asking questions can we begin to embrace it.
Thoughts: You know what, I just made this 5 stars instead of 4 because, as far as I know, nothing so approachable and clear has been put out there before. At least not in such a well-known and effective way! (FYI I totally gave this my vote for Goodreads’ Choice this year!)
Funny. Honest. Accessible. Smart. For me, a huge part of enjoying this was how funny Caitlin made it. She took death from being a terrifying and heartbreaking ordeal, to – let’s say – giving it some life, and making it less scary by making it more understandable.
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast-Forward Friday to drool over books that I’m waiting on to come out! I first saw The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi a month or two ago, and it has been at the top of my list to grab for a late-year read for 2019. I have a feeling it’ll be a great one to devour for anyone who’s working on finishing a reading goal before the end of the year! ^.^
Expected Release: December 3rd, 2019 — coming up soon now!!
Why wait on this one?
This promises many dark things. It begins with death, mourning tribes, and the goddess of Death herself. Where it goes from there, I can’t wait to see, but it seems like it will maintain a twisted atmosphere throughout. It can be difficult to write darkly dramatic stories without becoming over-the-top gory or too stretched to believe, but when well done, they seriously blow me away.