Vaginal Fantasy Book Club discussion

The Ghost Bride
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June 2017: Ghost Bride > MAIN: The Ghost Bride Discussion *SPOILERS*

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Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 918 comments Mod
Veronica has picked The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo for June's main. Use this thread to discuss the book. This is a stand-alone novel.
"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim's handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Jillian I have been wanting a reason to re-read this one!

Malaraa | 335 comments Yay! This was fun, I'll also be happily re-reading! :)

message 4: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen I literally just finished this book. I came here to update my list, saw notifications from this group, and found out this was the book for the month. crazy.

message 5: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Marae I picked this one up today and I'm super excited to start it!! Glad to hear you guys have enjoyed it!

message 6: by Danni (last edited Jun 08, 2017 11:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Danni (squigglyelf) | 17 comments Just finished! Do I have to tag spoilers? Spoilers below!

I was originally concerned that I wouldn't enjoy it as much because I'm unfamiliar with the culture and traditions, but that totally wasn't the case. It was a good read. It felt like the total opposite of the book from last month, haha. Most of the stuff I was unfamiliar with was explained in the book and everything else was either mentioned in the notes section of the back or a quick google away.

The only kind of complaint that I have (and it's not really a complaint, more like my personal preference) is that the romance in the book felt kind of ... superficial. I like my romances to have more interaction between the characters involved, I guess.

Li Lan was super into Tian Bi from almost the moment that she saw him, and that's what it felt like the main focus was for so long, then like a flip of a switch, suddenly she was all about Er Lang. Although Li Lan is only 18 at the end of the book (I think I read that, I can't find the page right now), and I knew some 18 year old girls who were in love with someone one week then insisted that they were deeply in love with someone else a week later, so I suppose that makes sense. Honestly, when I was 18, if an attractive Dragon-Man offered to take me away I'd have totally accepted anyways, so I can't judge.

The other thing is that the murder felt kind of unresolved. We know who the murder was, and why, but ... she was free at the end of the book? Whether or not she meant to do it, it was still a murder. What happened with Madam Lim? She tried to murder THREE PEOPLE and all it says is "they contemplated sending her to a madhouse though it would reflect badly on them".

Regardless! Good book, I'm glad I read it. It doesn't seem like something I would have picked up on my own.

Stephanie Hiddleston (stephaniehiddleston) | 15 comments Seriously, whoever wrote that synopsis has not read the book at all. I am 250 pages in and it's a complete different book than the synopsis would lead you to expect.
I do love it, though.

Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 918 comments Mod
Danni wrote: "Do I have to tag spoilers?"

Nope. *Spoilers* warning is in the title.

Hazwan Shamsul | 2 comments Seeing as Er Lang is a dragon-man, would it fulfill Felicia's lizard-man fantasy?

Alexis (anniebanannie312) | 11 comments oh man I loved this one. I do agree that it seems a little odd she all of a sudden likes Er Lang, but even then I wasn't mad at it.

Seretyx | 6 comments I really enjoyed this too but the change in focus from Tian Bai to Er Lang was really jarring. Maybe watching Tian Bai make out with her body while it was occupied by Fan was just too much?

I've got to say some of my fav bits in this book was when she was describing the food - the laksa especially :-D

Amber Lee Andrews I just finished The Ghost Bride. Honestly, I found Li Lan a bit frustrating. She seemed to jump to conclusions without any logical explanation, and then became more emotionally invested in her (usually false) assumptions than she was ever emotionally invested in any of her relationships. I also felt a bit flung about as a reader, as I felt expected to flow with her assumptions as passively and deeply as she did, meanwhile I'm literally just sitting here thinking "How is it again that you've just randomly decided the HORRIBLE Second Wife is your relative??" every single page. She seemed to lack any strongly held beliefs of her own, instead jumping headlong into whatever story the newest person with a grudge threw at her, choosing to believe their bitter stories over her own experiences with someone to trust their character. It was definitely an interesting read, albeit a bit of a hollow one. The jump from Tian Bai to Er Lang was honestly not that surprising to me, it seemed to fit well with Li Lan's fickle lack of conviction throughout.
I did, however, enjoy the Chinese folklore throughout. I admit it isn't a culture I'm deeply familiar with, except on the surface, and I enjoyed the look at the historical culture and traditions, and absolutely loved the depth of the descriptions of food, herbs, clothing and the detail in the author's notes.

Aditi | 2 comments I really enjoyed the setting and the book in general! I've heard a bit about Malaysia and it was nice to have a book set in Asia!
I think the transition from Tian Bai to Er Lang made sense. Li Lan's character was a bit fickle and I felt Er Lang and her had more meaningful interactions. Tian Bai couldn't even tell she was a different person...
I thought she and Er Lang had an interesting dynamic during the Plains of the Dead and she seemed more open and honest with him.
I thought the ending was rather sudden and quick though. She didn't spend much time actually going through the conflict. It just suggests what she wants to do.... I wasn't particularly fond of that..

Heather | 175 comments There are parts of it I really loved- the world, the characters overall. The story felt like it wasn't moving for a long time and then seemed to glaze over more interesting parts in order to go back to the slow meandering about. I wasn't disappointed with the choice at the end, just how short and jarring it was.

message 15: by Aimee (new) - rated it 1 star

Aimee Finally got a copy from the library. Will hopefully get around to reading it this weekend

Ashleigh | 108 comments I'm at about 60% in and a bit lost with all this Spirit world rules and the plot and such. I really enjoyed the first 25% but not so much after we enter the spirit world.

message 17: by Kate (new)

Kate Laird (princesskate) | 32 comments I'm trying to get through this but halting the story to explain a word's meaning or go into a long description of a holiday or custom is making it a little hard to read. I've enjoyed Asian historical fiction before but none seemed as "educational" as this one.

message 18: by Stacy (new) - added it

Stacy (stacyrasberry) | 12 comments I finished the book last night. For me it was kind of hard to get through. It seemed to move really slow most of the time. No sexy times at all! I was a bit disappointed in that. The idea of the story is really interesting, and I like the idea of how you burn things to give those objects to those in the afterlife. I'm not sure if that's a Chinese culture thing (I'm sorry I know very little about that culture).

Li Lan was your typical "i'm a virgin and know nothing and please save me" type of girl, and she got irritating after a while. I really liked Er Lang, and after finding out he was a dragon, I liked him even more! I'm a bit obsessed with The other characters were ok, no one really peaked my interest. Overall it was kind of a ho-hum book for me.

Rachel Benoit (theliteraryluminary) | 23 comments Danni wrote: "Just finished! Do I have to tag spoilers? Spoilers below!

I was originally concerned that I wouldn't enjoy it as much because I'm unfamiliar with the culture and traditions, but that totally wasn..."

Haha! If an attractive dragon man offered to take me as a bride when I was 18, I would also have answered with a resounding yes!

I finished this book yesterday--I was a bit disappointed because it looked more exciting than it was. I also thought it was fairly slow moving. I felt like the character development was lacking, especially the romantic connections, but I did still enjoy it. There were some unexpected turns and I felt like it ended fairly strong. I wish we had spend less time in the Plains of the Dead and expanded some of the events at the end.

I listed to the audiobook, which was narrated by the author. I love her voice!

message 20: by Jessica (last edited Jun 15, 2017 08:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica (j-boo) | 182 comments I really liked this one!

At the beginning of the book I was thinking it would be a 4 star read for me, then in middle it was looking more like 3, but toward the end it was like a 5 - so as you can, I settled on a 4.

It was an interesting story that I didn't find predictable at all, it surprised me at a few turns. I like Tian Bai a lot and enjoyed their little crush, but once Li Lan entered the afterlife and he was out of the picture it was hard to care much about him anymore. I began to feel disappointed in the "romance" aspect - so I was pleasantly surprised when she started developing feelings for Er Lang. Their interactions were really amusing. There may not have been sexy times beyond just making out, but I was INTO it and totally digging the chemistry there!

I honestly would have been satisfied if Li Lian chose to have a long married life with Tian Bai first, then rejoin Er Lang after everyone else she knew had aged and died, but then her reasoning at the end made sense to me too - it would be kind of a dick move to marry Tian Bai and spend your life with him, all the while knowing that you'll move on to your other lover after he dies. He deserves someone who's just into him alone.

Rules for the afterlife and human ghosts and the Plains of the Dead and the courts of hell, etc etc, did confuse me a bit. But overall I thought the setting was wonderful and it was nice to read something with a cultural flair different to what we're used to seeing. I was compelled to look up some of the sites mentioned in the book, like Bukit China with all the graves on the hillside, because it was such intriguing imagery in these pages.

This is definitely my favorite main Vaginal Fantasy pick since I joined back with Rosemary and Rue!

message 21: by Aimee (new) - rated it 1 star

Aimee Stacy wrote: "I finished the book last night. For me it was kind of hard to get through. It seemed to move really slow most of the time. No sexy times at all! I was a bit disappointed in that. The idea of the st..."


Jessica (j-boo) | 182 comments Oh, and for anyone who wants to read more supernatural stories set in Malaysia, you might check out The Complete Check Your Luck Agency. I read this a while ago, and although I didn't love it, it was still pretty alright. It features some of the same paranormal creatures we briefly read about in The Ghost Bride, plus many others.

Here is the review I wrote up when I read it:

This wasn't bad, but in the end it failed to excite me.

There's an interesting premise here, about an agency who investigates cases of "bad luck" to see if the cause is paranormal in nature, or just a jealous relative or plain old fraud. The protagonist, a fairly likable character named Ursula, at first denies the existence of the supernatural world, before eventually admitting to herself that she in fact has an affinity for the arcane herself. She can see the spirit world, can even communicate with ghosts better than many other practitioners of the art. In the face of unnatural enemies, and enemies who use unnatural means for their own gain, she learns to hone her new craft. All of this is set against the backdrop of a colorful part of the world I was not very familiar with before.

This sounds like the making of an intriguing story. Unfortunately, it kind of fell flat for me. None of the ghost stories really spooked me or thrilled me, the romantic interest did not make me swoon. Nothing in particular was bad, by any means, but I found myself reading on just for the sake of finishing it.

My favorite parts would probably be learning about the staples of southeast Asian ghost stories, and the specter of Simon Oakland. Simon was definitely my favorite character of the bunch.

Ashleigh | 108 comments Finished the book .. felt like the book started off strongly - I was reeled in and enjoying myself .. but that pretty much deteriorated at about a third of the way in and I started to grow bored. None of the characters were connecting with me and I was a bit confused by the plot. Basically ended up being a three star because although at times the story picked up overall "meh"

*spoilers below *

Er Lang I found a bit confusing and annoying .. why did he leave her in the well so long? Why was he then so cocky?
Also I'm not sure if I missed something, but why, in the last line of the book does Li Lan say she's going to tell Er Lang that she always thought he was a monster ?

message 24: by Aimee (new) - rated it 1 star

Aimee I agree with Ashleigh's review...I enjoyed the first half but officially gave up when the other ghost inhabited Li's body.

message 25: by Jessica (last edited Jun 16, 2017 07:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica (j-boo) | 182 comments Ashleigh wrote: "Finished the book .. felt like the book started off strongly - I was reeled in and enjoying myself .. but that pretty much deteriorated at about a third of the way in and I started to grow bored. N..."

Li Lan refused to call for Er Lang at first, preferring to try to save herself. Once she realized being trapped at the bottom of a well was one situation she couldn't really help herself out of, she called for him and he showed up.

And he was always kind of cocky, but I think a lot of times he did it to get a rise out of her. She would yell at him before realizing he was teasing her, then would feel amused by the whole ridiculous scenario, which they kept finding themselves in. At the end that's how she sums up their relationship: "Laughter and quarrels."

The monster thing, I don't know, I think the author just thought sounded like a good line. She points out the irony that Li Lan balked at the idea of marrying a ghost, but she wishes to be Er Lang's bride even though she always knew he wasn't quite human either and was hiding something beneath his hat.

Ashleigh | 108 comments Ah thanks Jessica that makes sense - I thought I'd missed a moment where there'd been some discussion about Er Lang being a monster or something.
Also for some reason I'd been under the impression Li Lan had been calling him for hours and he'd been a bit of a jerk! I did a bit too much stopping and starting with reading for my own good there I think, that definitely improves my impression of him

Becca Clark | 1 comments I just finish this book and really enjoyed it. I agree that there wasn't much romance and no sexy bits. But still a very enjoyable read. I didn't find the change to Er Lang that jarring. He was more exciting and I'm glad she went with him in the end.

RubySoho | 12 comments I was really excited to read this book because I love the Chinese afterlife, but for some reason this book fell flat for me. I thought it was predictable and lacked a spark. I think part of the problem was the focus on marrying well to save the family and the social customs pertaining to women reminded me of Jane Austin, but without the humor. I didn’t dislike the book I just thought it was, meh. I did enjoy the personal growth of Li Lan, though. In the beginning, she was an extremely sheltered, naïve young woman and by the end of the book she was becoming her own person seeking out further adventures. This was the authors first book and I would read her next book. I think a lot of the problems I had with the story were first book problems and they will probably be worked out with further books.

Sandra (whatlovelybooks) | 0 comments What bugged me was that we didn't get to see creepy Lim Tian Ching get punished! The whole mystery of who the Lim's were bribing seemed to be resolved off stage, which bothered me.

I did love all the food descriptions, this author could good ol' George RR Martin a run for his money.

Melissa (veruna) | 213 comments I found this book to be rather dull. The descriptions fell flat. The characters are one dimensional and mostly whiny. There was nothing for me to really hold on to that keeps the story moving. Li Lan is absurd and flits from man to man in such a stereotypical virgin love trope but without a good raunchy sex scene to make her less of a twit. The side story about bribery in the afterlife was more intriguing, but almost all of it occurred off page, so you couldn't follow and enjoy it.

message 31: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex I actually had to DNF this book. I didn't hate it by any means but for some reason I just couldn't make myself pick the book up. I just found myself longing to read other books on my shelf. Did anyone else find themselves in a similar situation? I don't know what bugged me about it. I just didn't care much about the main characters or the story. Disappointing for me because I really wanted to expand my reading- I've been really noticing the lack of diversity in my books.

message 32: by Gary (last edited Jun 20, 2017 05:55AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary There are big differences, of course, but I can't help but be reminded of Raise the Red Lantern when going through this one. At least, the introduction and the plot hook in the broad sense, along with the "politics" of the marital house all evoke that image in my head. I haven't read Wives and Concubines by Su Tong upon which that film is based, but I'm getting a similar sense of it in where it comes to the mannered sense of culture.

I'm only a bit into this one (Ch 4) and I'm wondering if there are going to be a lot of social culture clash issues, or if it's going to be more strictly Chinese. So far, it reads like the latter. The British Empire is an omnipresence, but it seems to be more referential so far. It would be interesting to see how the Chinese ghost marriage thing interacts with the British attitudes/mores. In that sense, I'm getting a weird connection to The Lover and the film adaptation of that book. It's more of an insider-insider thing in this book rather than insider-outsider conflict, of course, but it seems like it would be a waste to set it in Malaysia rather than mainland China and not work up the culture clash(es) of the setting.

Bonnie | 24 comments Extremely enjoyable read! Loved it!

message 34: by Christy (new)

Christy Schaffer | 3 comments I'm having troubling finishing this one too. I came in here to see if it was worth forcing myself to finish it or at least skimming to a more interesting part. The overt explanations of customs and objects was getting to me. I prefer when those differences are more indirectly explained, or the non-English word just printed in italics. I'm more likely to research it on my own that way. Having things defined in text doesn't give me a reason to look them up and feel like the text is dragging.

Mel (booksandsundry) (booksandsundry) I attended a panel 2 weeks ago about whitewashing and learnt that italicising of other cultures' words in texted is considered "othering" of their culture and very much frowned upon by the people writing about their cultures. They reported having to do battle with publishers and editors to stop it. I'm not sure what the best answer is here, but I did appreciate that this book respected that preference.

Mel (booksandsundry) (booksandsundry) Meanwhile I loved this book and burned through it in 2 days. I found the ending a little unsatisfying, especially from the romantic angle, but as a whole found the cultural exploration and plot interesting. I'd still highly recommend it to others.

message 37: by Gary (last edited Jun 23, 2017 08:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary I don't know why, but I wasn't expecting this thing to go Ghostbusters quite so fast. I guess I took the title to be more of a cultural reference ( than a literal description of the protagonist. I got my leisure-time reading brain all ready for some East/West culture compare/contrast, so even when she was in her dreams with Ghosty McGhostface, I didn't think it'd go full Neil Gaiman Unseen/Adjacent Reality on me. But then suddenly Chinese Whoopi Goldberg was all, "You in danger, Li Lan-girl" and boom, we're in the Spirit World with hungry ghosts and ox-headed dudes.

Li Lan does seem to go with her Girlfriend in a Coma ghost-not-ghost status pretty quickly. There's a thing I call the meta-suspension of disbelief, which is that the character has to be able to accept the reality of the world with which they are presented, but the audience also has to accept that the character accepts that belief, and I stumbled a bit over that transition. She does struggle here and there with the particulars of the situation, but she doesn't have an initial freak out, which I think would be my first reaction to finding out (for certain, not just because some old lady told me so) that the dead "live" and there's a whole range of spirits watching me eat, and sleep, and wash my ass when I take a shower without me knowing. LL is more, "So, I follow this thread here to my sexy, still-corporeal wannabe boyfriend? Hokay! Off we go! Derp-da-derp-derp-derp...." [In Chinese]

Question for the ladies: Is Tian Bai hot?

I ask because watch repair as foreplay never struck me as all that effective as panty pealer. Sure, it works for Jon Osterman in The Watchmen but he's blue and omnipotent and has abs. "Without these two cogs, the watch won't work at all..." doesn't really seem like the kind of thing that screams, "Oh, take me now!"

Opinions may vary.

Sean Lookielook Sandulak (seansandulak) | 918 comments Mod
Did anyone else listen to the audiobook? It's read by the author who does a wonderful job with it, but I found it difficult to follow if I was doing anything even remotely distracting. Perhaps that's just due to my own Western bias/ear. I also found the writing style to be very proper and formal. While that may be fitting to the character, it was a little off-putting to me personally.

Rachel Benoit (theliteraryluminary) | 23 comments Sean wrote: "Did anyone else listen to the audiobook? It's read by the author who does a wonderful job with it, but I found it difficult to follow if I was doing anything even remotely distracting. Perhaps that..."

I listened to the audiobook and loved the author's voice! But I agree, the book lost my interest midway through. This seems to be an issue everyone had though, I don't think it was the way it was read. I just feel like the plot development wasn't quite right.

message 40: by Margaret (last edited Jun 23, 2017 04:05AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Margaret Kearney (makeralfish) Loved learning about Malaysia and some of its history but the romance was a bit lacking for me. I preferred Er Lang over Tian Bai. Would have liked more with him.He was interesting although a bit rude.

Was this a translated book? As people above have mentioned, the writing style was a bit formal at points and reminded me of books I've read that I know were translated from another language.

Am I the only one who got some Spirited Away vibes once Li Lan crossed into the Plains and with what Er Lang really was?

I would have liked some more information about the Lim Tian Ching/corruption of the Courts situation and maybe a bit of a further chapter about Li Lan and Er Langs life together.

message 41: by Mary Helen (new)

Mary Helen (malenag) | 2 comments Interesting and would like to learn more as well.

Melani Christy wrote: "I'm having troubling finishing this one too. I came in here to see if it was worth forcing myself to finish it or at least skimming to a more interesting part. The overt explanations of customs and..."

I did manage to finish it and I agree, I found the explinations rather clunky. I actually liked that non-english words weren't in italics, but I didn't need them explained either and found the explinations to be detrimental to my enjoyment. It was an ok novel, and I think that Choo shows promise. I'm likely to check out her second novel as most of my issues with the book were with the writing and that can be improved with practice.

retro (retrooo) Having been spoiled about Er Lang (my own fault!), I was expecting the dragon (age) reveal to be a bit more... draconic. Kind of disappointed that he just went full-on Drogon once and then he was back to his old bamboo hat-wearing self.

I didn't really feel the romance between Li Lan and either dude, to be honest. She falls for Tian Bai because he's hot and plays music and tinkers with clocks (and also he's the only man her age she appears to know). She falls for Er Lang because he's there to save her and he apparently looks like an Abercrombie model (complete with washboard abs!). Both relationships felt shallow from her perspective as well as theirs and I didn't really buy that marrying either was a great idea.

The world building was interesting, though there were some long stretches of the book where nothing really happened and Li Lan pretty much just moved from point A to point B while lamenting being a ghost. Which got a bit old.

Sandra (whatlovelybooks) | 0 comments Gary wrote: " But then suddenly Chinese Whoopi Goldberg was all, "You in danger, Li Lan-girl" and boom, we're in the Spirit World with hungry ghosts and ox-headed dudes."

This made me laugh so hard, thank you.

Jillian Sandra wrote: "Gary wrote: " But then suddenly Chinese Whoopi Goldberg was all, "You in danger, Li Lan-girl" and boom, we're in the Spirit World with hungry ghosts and ox-headed dudes."

This made me laugh so har..."


Jillian I have read this book several times over the last few years, both in print and listening to the audiobook, and I just love what a rare, strange gem it is. I find it really interesting that so many folks lost interest, which is just a cool reminder about how many different kinds of readers there are. I actually enjoy books that get a little lost in themselves and can languish in details, though I totally recognize they're not for everyone. The crafting and imagining that went into the spirit world were just spectacular, for me, especially as I read that the author took some liberties and built on what's known to create her own ideas about what the afterlife might look like.

I also really enjoyed Li Lan as a narrator, and I felt like I did see her shed some of that naivete and learn to recognize what she really wants - by the end of the book, she's far from the petulant child stuffing her face over Mahjong.

And I unabashedly crush on Er Lang. I felt like there was a really lovely balance between Li Lan's feelings for him and her feelings for Tian Bai. With the latter, it's what she thinks love ought to feel like and look like, and with the former, it's the friendship and intimacy that comes with being honest, and occasionally in conflict.

message 47: by Gary (last edited Jun 23, 2017 09:19AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gary Sandra wrote: "Gary wrote: " But then suddenly Chinese Whoopi Goldberg was all, "You in danger, Li Lan-girl" and boom, we're in the Spirit World with hungry ghosts and ox-headed dudes."

This made me laugh so hard, thank you."

You're welcome. I live to amuse.

Another thing that I think is interesting about this book (so far, I'm only about halfway through) is that a lot of it reads like the author watches the same Discovery channel programs I do. That is, there is a lot of expository information like the way Western clocks allowed for the calculation of longitude that struck me as interesting, if somewhat extraneous, and maybe just a hint of the author wanting to show her readers that she did her research, thank you very much!

Reading that section was very much like re-watching Lost at Sea: The Search for Longitude on PBS, so I actually had the thought, "Yeah, I watch documentaries too, Mz. Choo...." during that scene. There are a few sequences like this. Her narrative about the history of the Manchu conquering China and enforcing sumptuary laws requiring the population to shave their heads/wear a queue and put on different fashions, for instance, read to me like she had a History of China primer open on her lap while she was typing. "'My father told me...' let's see, is it M-A-N-C-H-E-W or M-E-N-C-H-U? Oh, I'll look up later...."

For the most part, she handles her exposition well, though upon occasion it reads to me like the author's voice more than the narrator's, particularly when she is relating these kinds of historical footnotes—that are not footnotes because they're in the text. At this point, I'm thinking there could be an interesting drinking game (an opium smoking game?) in listening to the audiobook with a bunch of people for situations where she starts off with "My father once told me..." or "In my father's library..." and when the narrative goes Learning Channel everybody has to do a shot/smoke a bowl.

The other thing that fascinates me about reading this book right now is the rise of Asian culture in Western literature over the past couple of decades. Japan was "the next big thing" for a lot of my lifetime as watches got smaller and they started putting computers in everything from washing machines to toys for toddlers. Businessmen would pretend that reading A Book of Five Rings: The Classic Guide to Strategy was work related, and they'd study "Japanese business practices" as if the Japanese had some sort of handle on business that they could emulate rather than their just taking advantage of a range of demographic and geographic issues.

These days, China is "the next big thing" and probably will be for another 20-30 years or so when, I suspect, India will be "the next big thing" for a generation or three. So, you've got parents in Los Angeles suburbs hiring nannies who speak Mandarin in order to raise bilingual children under the presumption that they'll have an economic advantage over their sad little mono-lingual playmates, or pandas doing kung-fu in kids' movies rather than clownish cowboys shooting strangely harmless revolvers or angry ducks with speech impediments getting abused by sly rabbits.

It looks like China is going to be the largest economy in the world in a few years, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, and Westerners are getting ready for the idea in little spoonfuls of ideas from the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry is realizing that 1.3 billion Chinese means 2.6 billion eyeballs they get on their products, and are making things that are more Chinese-friendly or, at least, Chinese-neutral, so they can exploit that market.

The last thing I'll mention regarding that particular aspect of the shift in the entertainment industry is this:

How great would Scarlett Johansson be as the lead character? Huh? Huh? Watcha think? Like, awesomely great or just totally great?

The "casting" for this one should be interesting....

Charlie (nocranberry) | 45 comments Despite everything I'm about to say, I really enjoyed reading this book. I'm having a bit of a hard time and it was the perfect quick read to take my mind off of life, and I found the world building, superstitions and afterlife stuff really interesting. It immediately got my attention by starting out like a kind of Shanghai Hamlet with the ghosts and the family plotting, however I found the conclusion to it all to be really lacking. I also think the main character was a bit too passive. She kept just going along with what bigger people told her to do and, as a result, found herself constantly in over her head and in need of rescue. I also found the shift to Err Lang to be a bit out of the blue, mainly because I never felt his attraction to Li Lan. But, to bring it back to the point, despite all of this I still really enjoyed reading the book.

message 49: by Aimee (new) - rated it 1 star

Aimee Gary wrote: "I don't know why, but I wasn't expecting this thing to go Ghostbusters quite so fast. I guess I took the title to be more of a cultural reference ("


message 50: by J.P. (new) - rated it 2 stars

J.P. Nicks | 1 comments I feel like I'm one of the few who loved Er Lang. I was turned off of this book for about the first 75% because Li Lan's attraction to Tian Bai seemed to come out of nowhere. I didn't understand her obsession with him. Her attraction to Er Lang was at least something developed over time. In general though, I found Li Lan very annoying. She was constantly whining about something. I also never understood what was so bad about being a ghost wife. She and her family would have come into wealth and she wouldn't have had to deal with a man around her 24/7. Like... eventually bad things about the Lim family came out. But it seemed like a pretty sweet deal for the first half of the book.

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