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review 2020-01-25 17:40
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
The Ghost Bride: A Novel - Yangsze Choo

This is set in Malaya in 1893 and is narrated by Li Lan, the sheltered daughter of a now bankrupt but still fairly respectable family. She would normally be expected to marry, but her father, grief-stricken after smallpox killed his wife when Li Lan was very young, withdrew from the world and began taking opium. Her family doesn't know a lot of eligible and respectable young men that she might marry.

Even so, becoming a ghost bride is not something she'd willingly do, so she's horrified when her father brings home news that the wealthy Lim family would like her to marry their recently deceased heir, Lim Tian Ching. Li Lan refuses, but that doesn't stop Lim Tian Ching from entering her dreams and trying to change her mind. Meanwhile, Li Lan pines for handsome Tian Bai, the man she learns she was originally arranged to marry if Lim Tian Ching hadn't died and her family situation hadn't changed.

I've had this on my TBR for ages, but I don't know if I'd ever have gotten around to reading it if it weren't for the new Netflix adaptation. I saw the trailer, thought it looked amazing, and decided I wanted to read the book first. The author had mentioned on Twitter that the adaptation would be a bit different, and now that I've read the book and have rewatched the trailer, I can definitely see what she was talking about. In this case, I think the changes might have been for the better, and I'm very much looking forward to watching the show.

It's weird: technically, all the things I most liked about the book didn't show up until later, but I actually liked Li Lan more, and was more intrigued by the story, in the first half. Li Lan's position as an outsider to the Lim family, and a sheltered girl who'd never even been permitted to leave her home without someone accompanying her and taking care of her, gave whatever was going on with the Lim family an extra air of mystery. I wanted to know what had really happened to Lim Tian Ching, and what his family was hiding with their smiles and vast amounts of money and influence.

One of my favorite things about the book was its depiction of the afterlife, particularly the Plains of the Dead. The rules for how everything worked, and the way the world of the dead overlapped with the world of the living, were fascinating. The messed up family politics became even more interesting after Li Lan entered the Plains of the Dead and found out that there was a lot more going on than she realized.

That said, I feel like Li Lan was the wrong character for Choo to focus on. Maybe it would have helped if other characters had also been narrators, or if the book had occasionally switched to a third person narrator. Li Lan, unfortunately, was on the outskirts of pretty much every interesting storyline - the situation with the Lim family, the corruption investigation in the afterlife, the story of her mother. This worked well at first but became more and more annoying as the story progressed. If readers had to follow any one character, I'd have preferred it to be Er Lang. His investigation had to have been more interesting than Li Lan's mooning over Tian Bai, occasional anxiety that she wouldn't be able to get back into her body, and work as a servant in the afterlife.

Li Lan struck me as shallow. As sheltered as she was, I could understand her becoming starry eyed over Tian Bai, a handsome guy who was nice to her, but the extent to which she longed for him seemed excessive considering she barely knew the guy. She'd spoken to him maybe three or four times before deciding that she was in love with him. Romance-wise, things only got worse from there. A love triangle was introduced near the end of the book, involving a character who didn't even have a speaking role until almost halfway through.

Again, Li Lan

fell for the guy she barely knew anything about (although at least she'd spoken to him more than she'd spoken to Tian Bai when she decided that she was in love with him). I mean, he told her that his family would be worse than the Lims, and she didn't know him and his family dynamics well enough to know whether he'd leave her at his family's mercy or fully support her and stand by her side during whatever objections his family had. Then there was what her decision would do to her own family. What would happen to Amah if Li Lan's father's opium addiction killed him? And would she really be able to keep tabs on her family as much as she thought she would? And surely someone like the guy she chose would have other better options than Li Lan? It wasn't like he knew Li Lan much better than she knew him.

(spoiler show)

Even though I wasn't wild about this by the time I reached its ending, I'm still very much looking forward to the show. I think the Plains of the Dead are going to look amazing on-screen, and some of the changes made to the storyline may smooth over or erase my biggest issues with the book.



A "Notes" section on ghost marriages, Chinese notions of the afterlife, Malaya, straits-born Chinese, Malay spelling, Chinese dialects, and Chinese names (as well as the meanings of a few names in the book).


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2019-03-15 16:16
Friday Featured Spotlight

The Green Room Chronicles

Naughty paranormal fun!


Source: imavoraciousreader.blogspot.com/2019/03/friday-featured-spotlight-green-room.html
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review 2018-12-19 00:22
I guess Jughead is preferable to being called Forsythe Pendleton
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale - Francesco Francavilla,Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Afterlife with Archie: Escape From Riverdale (issues 1-5) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was mentioned briefly in my review of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Vol 1 as it was created by the same author AND both books exist in the same twisted universe. Where Sabrina dwells in a world governed by dark magic and witches that do Satan's bidding Archie and his friends are living in a different kind of hell on earth. For those familiar with the comic strip featuring Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead you're accustomed to 1950s nostalgia vibes of burgers at the diner and lovelorn glances across the football field. There's that in this iteration and a whole lot more. Aguirre-Sacasa must have tapped into that same dark vein that Stephen King has plumbed for years because Riverdale's residents are being plagued by the walking dead. I'M TALKING ZOMBIES, YA'LL. It all begins with Jughead's dog becoming infected and passing it to him through a bite until it spreads like an epidemic. (Remember the movie 28 Days Later?) Things come to a head at the school dance where of course Betty and Veronica are vying for Archie's attention so they don't immediately get that something is terribly wrong with their ol' pal Jughead. [A/N: I don't remember them being so catty but in this story they're doing anything and everything to catch this boy's attention even if they have to demean themselves to do it. It's actually pretty horrible how they treat each other and how absolutely ridiculous they make themselves. The boy ain't that great, ya know?] Things quickly devolved from there and it's a race against time as they and a few of their classmates try to find a place free of the undead creatures. It ends on a cliffhanger and volume two is in the works to be published next year so now is the time to get a head-start. Zombie and horror fans will delight in this series (as well as CAoS). For me it's a pretty solid 9/10 with a deduction for sexist/misogynistic depiction of female leads.


Jughead isn't that good at makeup, ya'll. [Source: Vulture]


What's Up Next: Star Trek Destiny #3: Lost Souls by David Mack


What I'm Currently Reading: Elfquest Archives: Volume 2 by Wendy & Richard Pini

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-10-19 11:40
REVIEW BY ANGI - The Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah M. Lynn
The Afterlife of Walter Augustus - Hannah M. Lynn

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity. 

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.


Source: archaeolibrarian.wixsite.com/website/single-post/2018/10/10/The-Afterlife-of-Walter-Augustus-by-Hannah-M-Lynn
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text 2018-09-11 01:09
Halloween Bingo - Ghost Stories
The Afterlife of Holly Chase - Cynthia Hand

As a retelling of A Christmas Carol, this story has the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future visit the main character, Holly Chase, right at the start of the book. When they fail to convince Holly to change her ways, she dies and becomes the new Ghost of Christmas Past. I'm using it for the Ghost Stories square.



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