There’s Not Dead and Then There’s Not-Dead (The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried)

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Published: 2019

On Goodreads

Scarlet Reader

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My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

Rated N for not-dead people not dying because of unsettled teen drama.

 

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino is used to spending time around dead bodies. His family runs a funeral home, so death is the family business. In all the time he’s helped out though, he’s never had a dead body talk back to him, until now.

Dino’s ex-best friend July died suddenly, but when she awakens screaming, there’s a lot of confusion. She’s not really alive, but not really either. Even stranger, nobody else is dying either. It seems like death has come to a standstill. While Dino and July work together to figure out why this happened, they also confront why their friendship ended in the ugly way it did. As they do, they discover a lot more than they expected, changing what they knew and understood about each other.

 

This book was phenomenal. Spectacularly written. If ever you wondered or wished to get that closure and moment to say goodbye before losing someone then here you go. Just the right amount of wit, humor, honesty, and selfishness. This wasn’t just a paranormal YA with zombies. There were no zombies actually. In fact, it was just a lot of not-dead. The POVS alternated between Dino and July. They’re both so different, but I was hooked on them. I related to Dino the most because I’m not very good at being courageous. For others, yes. For myself, no. Their dynamic is off the wall and I can see how they were best friends, yet it surprises me because of how different they are. My bookworm senses went wild with this story. I laughed, I swooned, I was shocked, and I got my dose of the paranormal.

Scarlet Reader

giphy

The not-dead gave way to some real themes and subjects today. Personally, since I don’t know what to call something like this I’m going with para-realism because it was just that. While Dino struggled to be confident, something I think a lot of people can’t relate to, there was also his struggle to try and figure out who he is. That is so difficult, and the fact that he was feeling that kind of pressure at sixteen…wow. It’s also a reminder that no one’s perfect and no one has it figured out and THAT’S OKAY.

The Scarlet Reader

Tenor

The LGBTQ of this made my stomach swim. Dino and Rafi literally ooze adorableness with the way they care so much for each other. I couldn’t get enough of this couple. This relationship not only showed those cutesy aspects but the other angles as well: the worry, and insecurity. The way they actually talked through their issues and recognized their worth and worried over whether or not they were good enough. That’s it, guys, This. Right here. Major fucking goals!

Thanks for the Trouble

My Art Forest

Overall

A heck of a good time filled with real-talk, unexpected advice that is hella useful and wisdom that seriously blew my mind. Love and Death may be the primary subjects here, but there is so much else in-between all of that. This story resonated with me deeply and I seriously recommend it. However, if you’re looking for some crazy Paranormal with the end of the world vibes, this isn’t for you. This is a book of friendship, trying to handle life, and being not-dead. Some say this is bizarre, but I think this is just what we need.

 

Quotables:

“That’s the family you were born into. We’re the family you chose.” (Rafi to Dino, p. 4)

“Love’s only gross when you’re not in it.” (Delilah to Dino, p. 13)

“We don’t get to control how people feel. The only thing we get to control is how we feel…” (Rafi, p. 127)

“Friendship with someone you love isn’t a consolation prize.” (Rafi, p. 127)

“Funerals are our last opportunity to show the world how much we cared about the person who died.” (Dino, p. 159)

“Humor can shine a light on truths that make us uncomfortable, and we all know how painful facing the truth is, but that humor doesn’t have to come from another person or group’s pain.” (Dino to July, p. 205)

“Some people deal with breakups by watching sappy movies and crying it out; I deal by watching crappy horror movies and rooting for the killers.” (Rafi to Dino, p. 234)

“Don’t ever apologize for being happy, Dino. Not to me. Not to anyone.” (July to Dino, p. 241)

“Love isn’t obvious until you’re in it. It’s not a punch in the face that leaves you reeling, Love is gradual and sneaky. It grows like weeds between the cracks of a hundred average moments.” (July, p. 243)

 

 

More to come soon…                                                                                                

  -K.

 

P.S. Song today? Ironic by Alanis Morissette.

 

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Another Car Crash (Evercrossed – A Book Review)

Evercrossed (Kissed by An Angel #4)
Author: Elizabeth Chandler
Published: 2011

On Goodreads

Scarlet Reader

Scarlet Reader

My Rating: Full bolt Half bolt

Rated M for meeeeehhhhh, I thought we were moving on.

 

First love never dies.

A year has passed since Tristan has passed on after helping his true love, Ivy. A year since he died. While he’s moved on to the afterlife, Ivy has moved on with Will. The two of them plus Beth have taken summer jobs at a bed and breakfast in Cape Cod. They hope to take this summer and forget the horrific events that happened. Sip lemonade and relax down by the beach. Good times, right?

It was, until Ivy died in a car accident.

Tristan thought his work was done, but he brings her back and everything changes. After waking up in the hospital, all she can think about is what she’s lost. While there, she meets, Guy, someone who also survived a near death experience and suffers amnesia. Though, she begins to get close to him, her friends begin to worry that he’s not what he seems.

Ivy can’t help it. Her memories of the past reignite her heartache, but can love be enough to save her this time?

 

Kissed by an Angel

Kissed by an Angel

Review here

 

So I really liked the start of this. It was quite promising in fact. Ivy seemed happy. Will is a great guy that I kind of wish I had. Beth is still quirky cute. And new characters! I’m winning!

 

And then I got confused. See, I pay attention to detail and as one of those, I got stumped. Time seemed to leap a great deal, but not really. A year right? That’s what I was told. A year has passed for Ivy since everything. Now, Kissed by an Angel was released in 1998. When I read the three-in-one book, I didn’t get any feeling that cell phones were uber popular. Now, here, Evercrossed, technology has jumped pretty far that apps and GPS are common. My brain was beffuddled quite quickly and it took me out of the book a bit. The connection between the time jumps don’t connect because I don’t imagine technology jumped that fast.

cringe - giphy

I hate to say it, but that alone really deterred my interest in this story. Keeping aligned with the timeline is very important to me.

I didn’t admire that yet another car crash is what put everything in motion. It just made everything feel replayed and boring. I went through that during the first run around, let’s move forward!

I must say, Ivy’s mom wins the away for being the character I can’t stand the most this month too. The way she comes across really grossed me out. She wants to buy Ivy ‘pretty’ things? That’s actually how it’s phrased. ‘Pretty’, as if what her daughter wears isn’t. As if she doesn’t pay attention to anything her daughter wants. It disturbed me something fierce.

I wish this book brought something fresh. After the way that Kissed by an Angel ended, I figured it would now head into something new, more deadly, magical, and breath-taking. This just turned out to feel like the same old same.

 

Overall

I’m sorry. I couldn’t get into this. It was all over the place and it actually doesn’t line up enough with its predecessor. The transition was pretty non-existent as well. I thought it would continue on with something even more in depth on the magic of angels. This more came off as a massive pile-up on fire. I was incredibly sad.

 

More to come soon…

  -K.

 

P.S. Song today? Dirty Little Secret by The All-American Rejects.

 

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Fall From Grace (Kissed by an Angel – A Book Review)

Kissed by an Angel (#1-3)
Author: Elizabeth Chandler
Published: 1998

On Goodreads

Kissed by an Angel

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt Half bolt

25/25

 

A love beyond life…a danger beyond doubt.

After a tragic car accident that killed her boyfriend, Tristan, Ivy is barely hanging on. She can’t seem to move on and her belief in angels is gone. She doesn’t understand why she is alive and he is not. They had a love that was meant to be and now she’s empty. Her new stepbrother Gabriel is there to pick up the pieces, and maybe more…

But when Tristan comes back as an angel he struggles to reach out to Ivy. She’s lost. She can’t feel his presence at all. Through her friends, he hopes to make contact with her. It’s imperative that he does because her life is in danger. He’s learned that the car accident wasn’t an accident at all. Somebody tried to kill Ivy and they still want her dead.

Tristan will do whatever it takes to protect Ivy, even let her go and move on without him. First, he’s going to find out who killed him.

 

This book marks 25 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution. I’m a sucker for a sweet story with a side of forever and love. It’s a guilty pleasure. And it’s even better if there’s that element that makes it complicated. You know, like death.

           

Like The Vampire Diaries, this book hales from the 90s. I could actually see this becoming a show sometime. It’s got all of the plotlines to become addicting.

Lose your love.

Do anything to get it back.

Lose it again.

Move on.

Realize it’s all you ever needed.

Then, finale, after all of the pain and sorrow and hell you put everyone else through so you didn’t have to be alone in it, you two end up together forever…probably dead.

Let’s be honest, we thrive of that high-octane drama of betrayal and love and longing that twists the heart. We cling to our seats for it because it makes us feel.

I don’t know about anyone else who’s read this, but I got Elena Gilbert vibes. She and Ivy could be best friends in their brooding and mooning over their loves. The romance between Ivy and Tristan is certainly one of those forever kinds and definitely beyond the grave types.

Ivy was so broken hearted and I had a great appreciation for seeing her try to work through it. It didn’t just pass by like it was nothing. The heartache was deep. It was very realistic. And though it was realistic, it also dragged the story out a bit too much, coming off too repetitive at times. I was forced to do a dreadful thing. Skim in some places. Ick.

Scarlet Reader - Kissed by an Angel

Tristan, her great, true love, was such a heartbreaker (as in my heart broke for him) and a goofball. Totally sweet and everything you’d hope for in a good boy. The kind that hold the door open for you and lets you have his hoodie when you’re cold. Yup, that guy. Swoon, girls. He’s a keeper. And he’s now dead, so it’s also super freaking tragic.

Scarlet Reader - Kissed by an Angel

The side characters were an array of likes and dislikes. If I had to pick one that really grinded me up, it was Suzanne. She’s one of Ivy’s best friends and she acted like a real…argh! She got so jealous and petty about Gabriel, the creep, because that’s who she decided to get moony over. I got so fed up with her that I wanted to reach into the pages and smack her. Kudos on provoking that out of me. There’s one of those characters in every book.

This is a setting that we all know. High school. Home. Very simple and to the point. Very teen drama perfection. And don’t worry about the money because every family in this book was well off! It was the high school romance that we all know lasts forever that was important.

Sorry, dashed a bit of sarcasm in there. That romance is easy to get swept up in. The setting of the story just came out bland and the character interactions didn’t do well in coming out more important. In fact. It felt as if the setting wasn’t important at all, throwing the story off balance. It was just splashed in there like it was no big deal, which was strange since Ivy’s mother getting married led to a whole change of scenery and that’s a big deal. It all came across bland.

Scarlet Reader - GiferThe style is what I call classic. It’s longing and reminds me of CW shows. The drama is sky high. You get all of that ooey-gooey and heartbreak as well as a crap ton of frustration. This is also where ships began. I can just imagine how people would argue about who Tristan should be with and who Ivy should be with. And the OTPs, oh my.

The way chapters or books would end at weird place threw me off though. It felt as if they’d cut off in random spots like—Oh! This is as good a place as any! Buuuut, uh, no because instead of feeling the cliffhanger that I’m sure was intended, I felt confused. Some parts just moved too fast for me to get a handle on. It left me reeling and trying figure out—Wait, what happened? How? When? Huh?

I will say this. I got shocked a few times. There weren’t shock around every corner, but I got stunned good a few times! Like, whoa.

 

Overall

This was a sweet and tender book, well all three in the one. LOL. I can’t say I have a desperation to finish the series. I’m not clinging to dear life. But they were nice. I have the fourth one and look forward to reading it. In the end, when it comes down to finishing it, if I come across the final book then yay! if not then I’m not feeling too bad about it.

 

Quotables:

“One day she’d have the nerve to say it, all of the words out loud.”(Kissed by an Angel, p. 2)

“Your problem is that you take it all too seriously, Ivy. Romance is a game, just a game.”(Kissed by an Angel, p. 65)

“Ivy realized for the first time that the more you love, the more you hurt. What was worse, you hurt for him as well as yourself.” (Kissed by an Angel, p. 114)

“Life goes on, and you’ve got to get on with it!” (The Power of Love, p. 112)

 

 More to come soon…

  -K.

 

P.S. Song today? Sweet Creature by Harry Styles.

 

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Mind Over Phobias…and Curses (A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – A Book Review)

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Published: 2017

On Goodreads

Semi Definitive List of worst Nightmares - The Scarlet Reader

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

A family.

A curse.

A greatest fear.

Esther’s family has been haunted by a curse. See, each family member dies from their fear. Dad is agoraphobic. Mom is terrified of bad luck. And her twin cannot be in the dark. All of this leads to Esther living an interesting life.Esther is searching for hers and has an ever-growing list of phobias that might be what she’s cursed with.

When Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, a boy she used to know, she is left stranded at a bus stop. He took everything down to the fruit roll-up and that list of possible fears. They make a strange pair, but Jonah is determined to help Esther through her list. Turns out, she may be afraid of the one thing she didn’t even think about. Love.

This book started out curious and intriguing and snowballed into me loving it a LOT. This was upbeat, yet personally heavy. An incredibly unique story not only about fears and approaching fear, but also dealing with anxiety and other mental illnesses. This book made them so vivid real. For people who don’t fully understand what it’s like, they’ll get a close up

Scarlet Reader - Perfect

There are so many more phobias than I have ever thought about. (Here’s a site where you can have a look for yourself-here.)My best friend has countless. I love her to pieces and always ALWAYS support her and encourage her that it’s okay. It’s no joke to make fun of a person who has them whether they are rational or not. They give people some serious anxiety. I always try to help her work on them, but it’s easier said than done. Mostly, I try be the comic relief. It’s not dumb or ridiculous. I worry about her, but I know she’s a toughie. There are just some things that affect us. I have a fear of spiders sometimes, but that’s because they think I’m a jungle gym. My fight with the dark is worse than an on again off again relationship. More than anything, failure and the thought that I am greatly unneeded, are what often haunts me. By unneeded I don’t mean being a needy human. No, I mean that I have no purpose on this planet and am useless. These fears and matched anxieties are ones I am working on overcoming every day. We should all work on overcoming our fears. Oh, and heights. Heights are tricky because I’m not afraid of climbing them. It’s the idea of falling from them. And I certainly WON’T divulge on my clown fear. They eat people, people! *shivers*

The characters were phenomenal. Seriously. BRAVA. complex, diverse, and opposite of each other. Esther was extremely awesome. From being determined to face her fears even though some of them are pretty scary to dressing up as inspiring characters, both real and fiction, she was brave, strong, and human. Whether she realized it or not, people were drawn to her. Jonah Smallwood, for example. Funny and kind, he was the hot sauce on her ice cream. Sounds gross, but trust me, it’s so GOOD! So spicy and sweet. A fantastic combination if there ever was one. He supports her with no cruelty or frustration or impatience that could be normally received from somebody who doesn’t have any understanding of what it’s like to feel an uncontrollable amount of fear that just squeezes tightly around you like a boa constrictor, taking the air right out of you. He’s even kind to her whole family, not judging or distancing himself just because they have their beliefs with their phobias. I completely melted.

Dead of Winter

The style of story was buoyant, like floating in an air balloon, or so I imagine-the balloon part. All floaty, though there’s that bit of nervousness because all you’re in is a human-sized picnic basket with a massive balloon and a blazing torch keeping it up. So, a little nerve-shaking. But, the view is impeccable. Completely breathtaking and totally worth it. This book is definitely breathtaking. Invigorating even, but I can relate to it so much. The rule-breaking, risk-taking, and life-changing moments were unbelievable. Lighthearted, yet intense and heartbreaking. Just magical with so many emotions so perfectly placed and written.

The ending left me with my jaw on the floor. While the exploration of mental illness was quite serious, I was still left shocked because there was a twist! I was guessing on and off throughout the book about Esther’s serious need to face-off with Death and by the end I was breathless. I had to read it twice. I can’t give too much away, but I was stunned.

mindblown

Overall

Tackling a real world issue in a light of bravery and determination. This wasn’t about love conquering all. It was about overcoming an all-consuming struggle. It encourages understanding for those who face not only fears, but actual illnesses that most people don’t believe

Quotables:

“God, so basic. I can’t decide what would be more tragic, dying at seventeen, or having the most cliché funeral ever.” (Esther, p. 9)

“Fears can’t become full-blown phobias if you avoid them, and phobias can’t kill you if you don’t have them.” (Esther, p. 60)

“Tolkien knew a lot of stuff, but he knew nothing about the dark souls of moths. No way a moth would’ve helped Gandalf. Least believable part of Middle-earth.” (Esther, p. 94)

“Murals were a well-known-gateway drug to feelings, and she couldn’t have any of that.” (Esther, p. 101)

“Depression was a real sneaky asshole.” (Esther, p. 147)

“Love was a trap, a sticky trap of molasses meant to bind two people together. It was a thing that couldn’t be escaped, a weight that people strapped to their own legs before they waded into the water and wondered why they drowned.” (Esther, p. 268)

“Everyone we let into our lives has the power to hurt us. Sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t, but that’s not a reflection of us, or our strength. Loving someone who hurts you doesn’t make you weak.” (Eugene, p.315)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Lucky Day in Hell by Eel.

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Giant Lizards Are Fun (A Book Review – The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove)

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove
Author: Christopher Moore
Published: 1999

Lust Lizard - Fantastic Finction

Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

 

Possibly holding Spoilers

The people of Pine Cove, California start going wild when the local therapist, Valerie, takes her clients off of their medication and puts them on placebos after the death of one of her clients. To add to it, an ancient lizard off the coast moves in, causing all sorts of hilarious havoc, and he’s the size of, oh say, a double wide trailer. Hard to miss, yet nobody sees him. And then there’s Molly, the town celebrity and the town crazy. She’d done a couple of those warrior babe movies. Theophilus, the constable tries to get to the source of the strange happenings around town, such as the gas station blowing up, but it’s not easy when you have to worry about the town celebrity running around in her warrior babe costume and swinging a sword, yelling about the double-wide next door that ate that kid.

This book is a riot and a half of laughter and fun. A giant lizard, naked cult people and Molly the warrior babe. This work of fiction blows comedy right out of the water as does so many of Christopher Moore’s others works such as Fool and Serpent of Venice. With this book I am always thinking of the Murphy’s Law: if it can get worse, it will get worse, except in this case: if it can get funnier, it will get funnier. I never read funny until I picked up this book.

More to come soon…

K.

P.S. Today’s song? Absolutely (Story of a Girl) by Nine Days.