The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

33142013The Things We Learn When We’re Dead
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Humor
Publication Date: January 26, 2017
Summary:
With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.
On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?
At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33142013-the-things-we-learn-when-we-re-dead?ac=1&from_search=true


Hey bookies! I was asked to review a new book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead by Charlie Laidlaw. This was a quick read that had me trying to puzzle together the events in our main character’s life to see what lead her to being in HVN. Lorna is a soon to be lawyer on the cusp of a solid career when she’s struck by a car. After that, things get, well, weird. Turn out, Lorna didn’t survive that collision and now she’s figuring out what the afterlife is all about. Turns out it’s NOTHING like she expected.

Lorna has a lot of time to remember the significant events in  her life – vacations with her family, her first love, good times with her best friend Suze – but it’s the final week of her life that she can’t seem to work out. Which is too bad, because it looks like that’s the key to figuring out what she’s supposed to be doing next.

This was a slow, quirky book. I thought the characters were the best parts. Lorna isn’t very happy when she’s alive, but she did seem like a real, well drawn character. The employees at the Happy Mart – great name, BTW – all seemed real too. I felt like it took a little too long to get to the end, but I’m glad I had a chance to read it. And I love the rocket on the cover! So cool.

You can win a copy of this book right now!

Giveaway: 2 Print Copies of TTWLWWD Signed by Author
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Top 10 Tuesday – New YA

It’s Tuesday and I thought I would do a list of 10 new or new-ish YA books I’m looking forward to reading. I don’t read as much YA as a lot of bloggers do, but I do like some, so here goes!

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The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo. This sounds like a fun book with an #ownvoices author and diverse characters. It’s not available until May, but the reviews are really positive, so I think this one will be worth reading.

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Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis. Again, a YA contemporary with #ownvoices representation. I was sold on this because the description, a girl moving in with an estranged parent into a religious household. This one also releases in May.

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Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. I love the cover on this one! I follow this author on Twitter and this story of a Pakistani girl forced into servitude sounds really compelling. I think this one will get a lot of attention. Out in May.

A Blade So Black by L L McKinney. This one has been getting a lot of buzz, not all of it positive, because of some controversial statements by author about race. However, I’m intrigued enough by the idea of Alice in Wonderland as a POC that I’m willing to wait until the September release and then decide for myself.

Veins of Gold by Charlie N. Holmberg. This one comes out in July, and it sounds like a Western fairy tale kind of thing. I like this author enough to put this on my list right away, without waiting for reviews.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw. Finally we come to a book that is actually available now! A stand alone book about three sisters who are witches and some creepy stuff going on. Reviews are good and it sounds like a cool setting.

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron. Unlike the others, this one is the final book in a series that I’ve already read and enjoyed. Set in a future or parallel world where dragons live among humans and basically rule the world, I really hope this wraps up all the conflicts and has a satisfying ending. Also available now, but I haven’t downloaded it yet.

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton. I am a sucker for Shakespeare retelling and this one sounds promising. Add magic in, give the sisters more of a personality than in the play, and then a creepy poison ritual (according to the book description) and it’s no surprise that this goes onto my list.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson. This one came out last month and the reviews are a little mixed, but I think it sounds interesting enough that I want to give it a try. I haven’t read all the descriptions, because everyone says it’s better to just jump in with this one, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young. A Viking- inspired story with a female MC. How cool is that? She’s fierce, and she’s angry, and there’s an girl holding an ax on the cover! OK, shallow maybe, but I’m still going to read it.

And one more, because I’m excited about this one and I just barely heard it was coming out!

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Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved Uprooted, and it sounds like this one is set in the same world, although with different characters. I can’t tell for sure, but it sounds like there’s a Jewish MC, which you don’t see a lot (like ever?) in fantasy, and I think that’s really cool. But even if I’m wrong, I can’t wait to read it. But I have to, because it’s not out until July.

Wow, I’m kind of surprised that I was able to come up with 10 books for this list; I was afraid I would only have 4 or 5. But it looks like I will have plenty of YA to keep me happy, not to mention all the hundreds of other books on my list and the books I have piled up literally in every room of my house. What new books are you looking forward to reading? Let me know! Happy reading!

Standalone Sunday – Trapped

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I  received this book free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Title: The Scent of Rain ☔

Author: Anne Montgomery

Rose lives in a very strict home. Not like you might expect, but much, much worse. Every aspect of their lives is ruled by what the Prophet wants. He expects complete obedience. Rose didn’t question this when she was young, but she’s beginning to have doubts. Why haven’t they heard from her brothers? Why did the school close? Why do they have to take vitamins ever day? And why is it so bad to think for yourself?

Adan is on the run. His family is gone and he has no one but himself. Now he’s been taken in by a Good Samaritan. He’s got a few questions of his own. Like who can he trust? What’s the story with the weird town? And who is this girl he sees running?

This is a compelling story about a little town in Arizona and the local Flds church. I am Lds, but the difference between my church and this one, which is based on extensive research by the author, is truly sobering. I am free to leave my church at any time without consequences. But when Rose tries to leave, her life is in great danger. It’s a good thing she has a few allies.

Local handyman Trak has grown up next door to the church and he’s too used to it to even notice. Cps case worker Brooke is new and she’s appalled. As soon as she arrives, she’s treated like a pariah. But when Rose and Adan meet, everything in the quiet town is turned upside down.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but like the author said, in some ways, I’m well qualified to review this. I live next door, so to speak, to the Flds Church. I know all the news stories about them. And I do appreciate the careful distinction the author made between the Lds Church to which I belong and the Flds Church. I liked the book and I was really drawn into the story.

I do want to give a Trigger Warning for this book. There are hints of sexual abuse, so be prepared.

Unlocking the Past

Title: On Little Wings

Author: Regina Sirois

I’d whispered the entire thing. Every detail that fit into words. It sounded so much more civilized when I whispered it, when I turned down the volume of the fear and disgust. But horrible things whispered are still horrible.

Jennifer’s family is turned upside down when she discovers a photograph of a young girl – a girl who looks surprisingly like Jennifer. The trouble – the picture is 20 years old. Her mom has lied about her past. She’s not an only child. She has a sister. Jennifer wants to meet this aunt, get to know her, but her mother wants Jennifer to leave it alone. After some negotiations, Jennifer heads to Maine to discover her family’s past and along the way, discover herself.

I heard a little about this YA book, enough to add it to my list and then forget about it. But when I found it free on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did. I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA. Most of what I read is fantasy, so this was a change of pace for me, but it turned out to be a good one.

The story kind of struck home for me. My mom also had a sister she didn’t talk about. Her sister wasn’t a secret or anything, but it was still a big shock when this woman called from out of the blue saying, “Hi, I’m your aunt.” I already had an aunt, and I knew this woman was not her. I guess I experienced this story from the other side.

Our relationship was still distant and things didn’t turn out quite the way they did for Jennifer, but I still felt it was worth getting to know something about this stranger who was my relative. Now my mom and my aunt have both passed away and I can only guess at what their relationship used to be.

I recommend this one to anyone who likes contemporary YA. There is some romance, but that wasn’t what stuck with me about the book. What I liked was the main character herself and her journey to figure out who she was and where she belonged. 3.5 stars/5

Review: London Road

Title: London Road, Linked Stories Volume 1

Author: Tessa Smith McGovern

Setting: London, present day

Theme: second chances, family, mental health, love

This little book starts with Janice, recently released from prison for manslaughter with no plans and no friends. She’s heard vaguely about a boarding house that will take in people like her, so she heads that way. It turn out to be a lucky break.

All these stories are short, each focusing on just one person, and just little glimpses into one day of the life of the residents of the London Road boarding house. But together, those glimpses add up to a complex picture. I quite liked this book and I would love to read more by this author.