Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

104379That Summer by Sarah Dessen

Published January 1st 1996

 

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

 

 

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A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve only read two of Sarah Dessen’s other books so I can’t really rank That Summer but it wasn’t my favorite of the her books I’ve read.
I did really like That Summer though. It was a little slow at first but it’s such a quick, fun read.
I liked the main character, Haven, and I felt really bad for her. She had a lot of difficult things going on in her life that she had to overcome. I couldn’t really find Haven relatable at this point in my life because she’s like 6 years younger than I am but if I had read this book when I was 15-17, I probably would have liked it a lot more.
Overall, I did enjoy That Summer but it wasn’t my favorite Dessen book. It didn’t have a lot of romance and I appreciated how it was more about Haven than her finding a boy. It did have an old school YA vibe, which was kind of fun.
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Recommendation Friday

RecommendationFriday

This week I’ll be recommending one of my favorite non-fiction books. A book will rarely make me laugh out loud but this book had me laughing pretty hard at times. It has an amazing narrative that offers an honest, much needed voice in literature.

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One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

With a clear eye and biting wit, Scaachi Koul explores the absurdity of a life steeped in misery. And through these intimate, wise and laugh-out-loud funny dispatches, a portrait of a bright new literary voice emerges.

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I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I loved it from the very first page and I never wanted to put it down. I thought it was incredibly funny and a few of the stories Scaachi told had me laughing out loud.
There was also a good deal of serious stories about Scaachi’s experiences as an Indian women with immigrant parents. I really appreciate the opportunity to read about Scaachi’s perspective and for her voice to be heard.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is very unique and sincere. It’s one of the best books I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pick up a non-fiction read.

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Blog Tour: The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

30969271The Shadow Sister (The Seven Sisters #3) by Lucinda Riley

Expected publication: April 25th 2017 by Atria Books

Travel through the lush English countryside and explore the magnificent estates of the British aristocracy in this next spellbinding love story in The Seven Sisters series by #1 internationally bestselling author Lucinda Riley.

Star D’Aplièse is at a crossroads in her life after the sudden death of her beloved father—the elusive billionaire, affectionately called Pa Salt by his six daughters, all adopted from across the four corners of the world. He has left each of them a clue to her true heritage, and Star nervously decides to follow hers, which leads her to an antiquarian bookshop in London, and the start of a whole new world.

A hundred years earlier, headstrong and independent Flora MacNichol vows she will never marry. She is happy and secure in her home in England’s picturesque Lake District—just a stone’s throw away from the residence of her childhood idol, Beatrix Potter—when machinations lead her to London, and the home of one of Edwardian society’s most notorious society hostesses, Alice Keppel. Flora is torn between passionate love and her duty to her family, but finds herself a pawn in a larger game. That is, until a meeting with a mysterious gentleman unveils the answers that Flora has been searching for her whole life…

As Star learns more of Flora’s incredible journey, she too goes on a voyage of discovery, finally stepping out of the shadow of her sister and opening herself up to the possibility of love.

The Shadow Sister is the third in the sweeping Seven Sisters series, “soaked in glamour and romance” (Daily Mail) and perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and the novels of Kate Morton.

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I was sent an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Even though this is the third installment, I heard it could be read on its own so that’s what I did. That being said, I definitely want to go back and read the first two books.

I enjoyed this book so much! It was so incredibly well written. It almost read like a film in an odd (yet wonderful) way. It was descriptive without getting caught up in the details and making the story drag.
I really loved the setting. This is one of my favorite historical fictions that I’ve read.
I wasn’t a big fan of the main character, Star, but I thought she had some really great character development. It wasn’t a massive change but it was really well written development.

Overall, this is such a fun read and I really enjoyed it. It’s amazingly well written and I can’t wait to go back to read the first two books. If you’re looking for a historical fiction, I definitely recommend picking this book up.

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Order The Shadow Sister:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

IndieBound

Blio

Google

Kobo

TELEVISION SERIES

The Seven Sisters series has been optioned to be adapted for television by Raffaella de Laurentiis’s company Raffaella Productions. Daughter of legendary filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis, Raffaella has worked as a producer and studio executive in film and television for decades, including well-known projects like Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Forbidden Kingdom starring Jackie Chan, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Dragonheart and its sequels.

About the author

Lucinda Riley

Lucinda Riley is the #1 internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including The Seven Sisters and The Storm Sister. Her books have sold more than eight million copies in thirty four languages. Lucinda lives with her husband and four children on the North Norfolk coast in England and West Cork, Ireland. Visit her online at LucindaRiley.com

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Blog Tour: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis + Giveaway

25314447Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis

Published April 11th 2017

Khosa is Given to the Sea, a girl born to be fed to the water, her flesh preventing a wave like the one that destroyed the Kingdom of Stille in days of old. But before she’s allowed to dance – an uncontrollable twitching of the limbs that will carry her to the shore in a frenzy – she must produce an heir. Yet the thought of human touch sends shudders down her spine that not even the sound of the tide can match.

Vincent is third in line to inherit his throne, royalty in a kingdom where the old linger and the young inherit only boredom. When Khosa arrives without an heir he knows his father will ensure she fulfills her duty, at whatever cost. Torn between protecting the throne he will someday fill, and the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is at odds with his heart.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race whose dwindling magic grows weaker as the island country fades. Animals cease to bear young, creatures of the sea take to the land, and the Pietra – fierce fighters who destroyed the Indiri a generation before – are now marching from their stony shores for the twin’s adopted homeland, Stille.

Witt leads the Pietra, their army the only family he has ever known. The stone shores harbor a secret, a growing threat that will envelop the entire land – and he will conquer every speck of soil to ensure the survival of his people.

The tides are turning in Stille, where royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the rising sea calls for its Given.

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Review

I was sent an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I’m a huge fan of Mindy McGinnis’ and her books will always be on my auto-buy list. I was super excited to read Given to the Sea and I might have had my expectations a little high.
Given to the Sea is a lot different from her other books and I can’t quite place my finger on what it is that was so different. The writing was oddly different from her other books so maybe that’s what was throwing me off.
I did really love the concept of this book. I think the world building was a little lacking but I thought the concept was wonderful.
The characters are all different from each other. I liked being able to see different perspectives and I think the distinct perspectives helped fill in the gaps of the world building.
I did feel fairly disconnected from the characters through out the book and I wished I had been more emotionally invested in them.

Overall, I did enjoy this book even though it’s not my favorite from Mindy. I really liked the concept but I thought the world building could have been better. I think I’ll be rereading this book very soon to see if maybe it just wasn’t just a weird mood I was in when I read this book. If you’re looking for a YA fantasy read, I think Given to the Sea is worth checking out.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) of five (5) copies of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (ARV: $17.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 3, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 24, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 26, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

5351825About Mindy McGinnis

Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning author and assistant teen librarian who lives in Ohio. She graduated from Otterbein University with a degree in English Literature and Religion, and sees nothing wrong with owning nine cats. Two dogs balance things out nicely.

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Review: Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

26836918Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan

Publication: April 18th 2017

The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy’s sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.

Tom Grendel lives a quiet life—writing in his notebooks, mowing lawns for his elderly neighbors, and pining for Willow, a girl next door who rejects the “manic-pixie-dream” label. But when Willow’s brother, Rex (the bro-iest bro ever to don a jockstrap), starts throwing wild parties, the idyllic senior citizens’ community where they live is transformed into a war zone. Tom is rightfully pissed—his dad is an Iraq vet, and the noise from the parties triggers his PTSD—so he comes up with a plan to end the parties for good. But of course, it’s not that simple.

One retaliation leads to another, and things quickly escalate out of control, driving Tom and Willow apart, even as the parties continue unabated. Add to that an angsty existential crisis born of selectively reading his sister’s Philosophy 101 coursework, a botched break-in at an artisanal pig farm, and ten years of unresolved baggage stemming from his mother’s death…and the question isn’t so much whether Tom Grendel will win the day and get the girl, but whether he’ll survive intact.

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This was such a refreshing read. The narrative was really wonderful and the characters really made this book special.
Grendel’s Guide to Love and War started off great. Even from the first few pages, I really loved it. I don’t often find books that made me laugh out loud but Grendel’s Guide did. The first or second chapter had me laughing like crazy.
The main character, Tom Grendel, was so well written and such a wonderful person. His father is a veteran and suffers from PTSD and Tom was so willing to take care of him. This book had realistic family dynamics and I really appreciated that.

Overall, this was a great read. I loved the characters and the representation of PTSD. It’s very well written and the plot was really fun.

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Review: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

33609175The Edge of the Abyss (The Abyss Surrounds Us #2)
by Emily Skrutskie

Publication: April 18th 2017

Three weeks have passed since Cassandra Leung pledged her allegiance to ruthless pirate-queen Santa Elena and set free Bao, the sea monster Reckoner she’d been forced to train. The days as a pirate trainee are long and grueling, but it’s not the physical pain that Cas dreads most. It’s being forced to work with Swift, the pirate girl who broke her heart. But Cas has even bigger problems when she discovers Boa is not the only a monster swimming free. Other Reckoners illegally sold to pirates have escaped their captors and are taking the NeoPacific by storm, attacking ships at random and ruining the ocean ecosystem. As a Reckoner trainer, Cas might be the only one who can stop them. But how can she take up arms against the creatures she used to care for and protect? Will Cas embrace the murky morals that life as a pirate brings or perish in the dark waters of the NeoPacific?

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As much as I enjoyed this book, I didn’t know until I was 40% into it that it was a sequel. Totally my fault but I’m surprised how much I liked this book considering I haven’t read the first book.

I loved the concept of this book so much. The concept of this book is without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever read. I love pirates so this book was right up my alley and I loved the fantastical creatures in this book as well. This reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean, which is one of my favorite film franchises, and if you enjoy PotC, I’d highly recommend this The Edge of the Abyss (but don’t be like me, you should read the first book before reading book two).
I was actually pretty invested in Cas and Swift’s relationship and I think their relationship is one of the best written that I’ve ever read about.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I’m excited to go read the first book. I loved the concept so, so much. If you’re looking for a really exciting and fun LBGTQ fantasy series, I’d definitely recommend The Abyss Surrounds Us series.

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Review: The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

29939046The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

Published April 18th 2017

A stunning debut novel about corrupt government agencies and terrifying conspiracies using the latest developments in science, technology, and oceanography

In a breathtaking debut drawing on complex science and recently discovered deep-sea biology, Kent Lester has married fast-paced narrative and cutting-edge, reality-based science to produce an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

A seemingly random murder off the Honduran coast leads scientist Dan Clifford to a massive corporate conspiracy. Illegal, automated, undersea operations have unwittingly awakened a primordial organism that turns host organisms into neurotoxin factories, wreaking havoc with aquatic life and the nearby human population. This maleficence threatens to trigger a worldwide outbreak that could end in human extinction, the Seventh Sun of ancient myth.

When the CDC and the full resources of the U.S. biological threats team fail to uncover the source of the devastation, Dan and a brilliant marine biologist, Rachel Sullivan, must plumb the deeps and face an unimaginable, ancient horror in the murky depths. It’s up to them to stop this terror before a determined multi-national corporation unleashes death on an unsuspecting world.

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A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of the most entertaining, well written books I’ve read in a long time.
The Seventh Sun is a little slow at times because of the set up that went into the plot and concept but it wasn’t boring at all. This book was such a fun adventure and so unexpectedly great.
I loved the writing style and all the thought that went into this story. It was clear that the author put a lot of time and effort into creating the plot, which I loved so much. It was complex without being confusing and incredibly well written.
I was never able to become fully emotionally invested in the characters but I still really liked them. I really enjoyed reading from the main character’s perspective.

Overall, The Seventh Sun was a great read. I can’t stress enough how entertaining I found this book to be. I read it in just a couple of days because I never wanted to put it down.

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Interview with Kent Lester, author of The Seventh Sun

We’re so excited to bring you an interview with Kent Lester, author of the epic thriller The Seventh Sun! A big thanks to Kent and Forge Books!

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The Seventh Sun by Kent Lester

A stunning debut novel about corrupt government agencies and terrifying conspiracies using the latest developments in science, technology, and oceanography

In a breathtaking debut drawing on complex science and recently discovered deep-sea biology, Kent Lester has married fast-paced narrative and cutting-edge, reality-based science to produce an edge-of-the-seat thriller.

A seemingly random murder off the Honduran coast leads scientist Dan Clifford to a massive corporate conspiracy. Illegal, automated, undersea operations have unwittingly awakened a primordial organism that turns host organisms into neurotoxin factories, wreaking havoc with aquatic life and the nearby human population. This maleficence threatens to trigger a worldwide outbreak that could end in human extinction, the Seventh Sun of ancient myth.

When the CDC and the full resources of the U.S. biological threats team fail to uncover the source of the devastation, Dan and a brilliant marine biologist, Rachel Sullivan, must plumb the deeps and face an unimaginable, ancient horror in the murky depths. It’s up to them to stop this terror before a determined multi-national corporation unleashes death on an unsuspecting world.

Published April 18th 2017 by Forge Books

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What inspired you to write The Seventh Sun?
Kent: I went on a scuba diving vacation to the island of Guanaja, Honduras many years ago. It was one of my favorite trips and I found the island to be an idyllic paradise. The local Payan Indians and the people at the scuba resort were extremely friendly. At the time, there were no roads on the island. Everyone traveled about on boats. The main settlement, Bonacca Town, was literally built on stilts over the water. It felt like the Caribbean version of Venice. Life was simple, fun, and beautiful, and I loved it. I vowed to return there in the future for more scuba adventure.

Then tragedy struck. In the late nineties, Hurricane Mitch traveled directly over Guanaja and sat there for three days. The entire island was destroyed. Every single tree and bush was denuded. I was devastated, thinking about all the friends I had made on the island and what their lives must be like after the hurricane. This got me thinking about the nature of tragedy, and how it always seems to be so unanticipated. This led me to read about Black Swan Events, those sudden surprising developments that come out of nowhere to turn our lives upside down.

Then I realized that all our modern tragedies were black swans — 9/11, the Asian tsunami, the Great Recession, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, the Chilean earthquake, the Ebola outbreak, Fukushima – they all seemed to catch the experts by surprise because we, as a society, are totally unprepared for the unimaginable. Can we prepare better? Imagine the unimaginable, ahead of time? Can we predict our demise before it’s too late?

That seemed like a great theme for a thriller, and the idea for The Seventh Sun was born.

Government agencies and conspiracies play a big part in The Seventh Sun. Do you have any favorite conspiracies?
LOL. I’m not sure I’d call them my “favorite” conspiracies! That’s sort of like asking “what’s your favorite way to die?” That said, I believe that there are real conspiracies in the world, but not in the way we imagine them in fiction. A lot of conspiracies happen because a bunch of people share similar goals and behavior, so they act alike in similar situations. Their shared tendencies creates the illusion of conspiracy. But the result of the illusion is no different from the reality.

During the Super Bowl, toilets flush around the world when commercials are aired. Is this a willing conspiracy? No, but the effect is the same. Millions of people are programmed to behave in similar ways, so you get “collusion by action” even though nobody sat down and decided to conspire.

I think we see that a lot in the corporate world. Everyone’s out for profit and power, so several entities can behave as if there’s a conspiracy, even though the participants are unaware of each other’s actions. That is a key component of The Seventh Sun: that conspiracies can emerge naturally without one’s express knowledge.

What was the hardest part of writing The Seventh Sun?
Wow! It was all tough. But if I had to focus on one thing, I’d say taking a complex subject and theme, and making it compelling and exciting. Early on, I probably focused too much on the scientific enlightenment I was experiencing while researching the story. But my wife, Penny, kept me centered, thankfully. She kept asking me, “are you writing a textbook, or a novel?” I soon realized that the REAL story was about how the characters coped with the unknown, how we all try to make sense of the nonsensical. So the real journey of the story focuses on Dan Clifford and Rachel Sullivan, two characters who have suffered through their own black swan events. They use their prior experience to deal with the world-shattering events that take place in the story. From that point on, the story became far more gripping, since the readers could experience events through eyes of the main characters.

What makes Dan Clifford such a special character?
I think Dan Clifford is an ordinary guy who gets thrust into an extraordinary circumstance and has to rise to the occasion. We can see Dan growing as a person and as a hero throughout the progression of events. Dan is a prediction scientist. Because of his own childhood tragedy, he desires to predict and prevent black swan events before they happen. I think he begins to realize that you can’t reliably predict the future. It’s what you do when faced with the unimaginable, that defines one’s character and heroism.

What was the hardest scene to write in The Seventh Sun?
The romantic scenes for sure! I tell people that my romantic scenes improved immensely when I shortened them to one paragraph or less. J Actually they’re a bit longer than that, but romantic scenes are just as awkward to write as they are to experience in real life. Love scenes make geeks of us all. But as the reader will discover, there’s a huge secret in Rachel Sullivan’s life that makes the romance between Dan and Rachel poignant and gut-wrenching.

Having a background in biology and oceanography, did the science in The Seventh Sun come naturally to you?
That was probably the easiest part for me. I love to increase my knowledge of how the world really works, and there’s a lot of profound stuff that is revealed in this story about the nature of life, something I hope readers will enjoy.

What can readers expect when they pick up The Seventh Sun?
They should expect a rip-roaring adventure with a lot of technology, action, scuba diving, ocean life, conspiracies, biology, cool technology, and some compelling romance. It’s a good “beach read.” But if readers stop there, they’ll miss most of the hidden messages lurking under the surface like an iceberg. I love stories that surprise and enlighten, as well as entertain. For the diligent reader there is a lot of hidden information, and I’m proud of the ending especially, because it catches the reader off guard, just like any good black swan should.

What do you hope readers take away from The Seventh Sun?
That the “truth” of life is fascinating, surprising, and takes mental insight to understand. We have to exercise our minds and hearts if we really want to decipher how the universe really works.

If you could describe The Seventh Sun in one word, what would it be?
Can I cheat with a hyphen? “thought-provoking”

Kent LesterAbout Kent Lester

Author of the upcoming thriller, The Seventh Sun, to be published by Macmillan-Forge on April 18, 2017.

Current non-fiction author of The Complete Guide to Contracting Your Home, 5th edition, with over 350,000 copies in print.

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Cover reveal: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

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In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

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Expected publication: September 5th

Review: One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

30658435One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul

Published March 7th 2017

For readers of Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson and Roxane Gay, a debut collection of fierce and funny essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the irreverent, hilarious cultural observer and incomparable rising star, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

With a clear eye and biting wit, Scaachi Koul explores the absurdity of a life steeped in misery. And through these intimate, wise and laugh-out-loud funny dispatches, a portrait of a bright new literary voice emerges.

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I’m so glad I picked this book up.
I don’t read a lot of non-fiction but this is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I loved it from the very first page and I never wanted to put it down. I thought it was incredibly funny and a few of the stories Scaachi told had me laughing out loud.
There was also a good deal of serious stories about Scaachi’s experiences as an Indian women with immigrant parents. I really appreciate the opportunity to read about Scaachi’s perspective and for her voice to be heard.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter is very unique and sincere. It’s one of the best books I’ve read and I absolutely loved it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pick up a non-fiction read.

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