#5OnMyTBR: Blue Covers

Hello Mondays, welcome back to #5OnMyTBR, a meme created by the wonderful E @ The Local Bee Hunter’s Nook. This bookish meme gets us to dig even further into our TBRs by simply posting about five books on our TBR! You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. You can find the full list of prompts (past and future) at the end of this post!

This week’s prompt is: Blue Covers

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Goodreads Monday – Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.

Wooh, it’s been a hot minute since I did one of these but I’m glad to be back with it!
This week’s featured book is Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw. This is a standalone (I think) Young Adult Fantasy that was released towards the end of last year and it currently has a 3.82 rating on Goodreads!

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The Plus One Pact Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for The Plus One Pact by Portia Macintosh. Thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour and to Boldwood Books and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Plus One Pact
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Release Date: 21 May 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Panda Rating:

What if your plus one could be the one…?
Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end. But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone.  So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…? 

A brand new romantic comedy from bestseller Portia MacIntosh, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley, Sophie Ranald and Mhairi McFarlane.

Buy a copy: Amazon (US)

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Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve been you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

This Sunday I spent a good chunk of the day reading The Wrongful Death which is Book III in The Great Devil War series. Although there are some bits that I’m not enjoying so much, mostly an awkward pre-pubescent romance that seems a little forced. I honestly wish the ‘relationship’ between two characters was platonic as I think it’d be more believable. Still, I’m really enjoying Andersen’s imagination of hell. The more I read the series the more I wonder what inspired and continues to inspire Andersen to bring this hellish world to life. It’s so interesting but also obviously very dark (even the humour).

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

The Wrong Death is volume 3 of The Great Devil War series.

What are you currently reading?

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Review: The Ruins by Scott Smith

Note: I wrote this review in October 2018 but since this Top 5 Saturday was about plants/flowers on the book covers, I decided to share my review for this book (I honestly thought I’d already shared it before)!

Goodreads: The Ruins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:


Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

*minor spoilers ahead*

We all know how much of a chicken I am, so while I did enjoy reading it, I know this isn’t something that I’ll be reading again! I’m writing this review directly after finishing it so I think I’m still feeling the lingering effects of the horror and nausea that were my constant companions for at least a good 50% of the book. I still find myself looking around in paranoia for any cracks in the wall and I’m keeping my feet lifted and well away from dark spaces, such as the one under my bed. Ya know, just in case there’s a killer plant/tree with acidic sap in its vines that will grab my legs and pull me under there to devour me.

I wanted to sprint through this book but the level of detail just wouldn’t let me. I would find myself trying to skim ahead but worried that I’d miss some important detail and so I’d force myself to slow down. I thought the pace at the start was good but towards the latter half of the book, as there was less “action” involved, the pace slowed down considerably. I also didn’t particularly latch on to any of the characters. I don’t know if it was intentional as the characters were on a beach holiday but I found that the characters were either extremes of passive and lazy or neurotic and overthinking and it didn’t make it easy to lend any sympathy. Although several times I did question how I’d react if I were in their shoes… Would I be the complainer? The proactive leader? The joker or the drunk? Or would I be the quiet one that decides that enough is enough and “get things over with” as quickly as possible? What would be my instinctive reaction?

While Scott Smith writes in a very simple and straightforward way, I found that sometimes his writing was unnecessarily detailed, to the point where I found myself really fighting not to skip ahead. I understand that Smith was trying to expand on the characters’ thoughts and how they were coping with their situation – the thoughts, rationalisations and emotions of a human facing imminent death (but being in denial about it) – but I feel that if much of this content was taken out, the story would still flow and you wouldn’t miss out on any crucial details. I have to admit that when we got to the end and still got no further information about this killer thing – how did it get there and how long has it been there? where did it come from? how many people had it killed? – I felt frustrated. Almost like I was robbed of this information with no chance of ever learning more. But I guess maybe that’s the appeal of these horrors?

I am personally not the biggest fan of horrors. I read this as a way to get into the “Spooky/Horror October” that many monthly reading challenges have centered on this month. I don’t dislike the genre but I just have a very, very overactive imagination that does not do me any favors when I’m trying to sleep at night. So although I don’t read them that often, I guess this book was filled with everything you’d expect from a horror – including plenty of blood and gore. I know that I’ll be imagining the scenes that played out in my head for at least days to come… Will I read another horror after this? Nope! Will I (eventually) read another Scott Smith book? Probably, yes.

Have you read The Ruins or is it on your TBR?

Top 5 Saturday: Books with Plant/Flower Covers!

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: books about plants/flowers (can be on the cover, in title or plot)!

I’ve only ever read one book that’s about plants specifically and it was a horror novel that left me feeling extremely uncomfortable being around any vine-y plants for quite some time! Thanks to The Ruins for that nightmare!

I think having flowers and leaves on covers has been a big trend in recent years as I’ve seen my fair share of them. I’m admittedly a sucker for these kinds of covers though! They’re eye-catching, bold and colourful but also sometimes just really appealing in their simplicity. That said, I don’t think any of these are actually about plants/flowers, so this is going to be an appreciation post for books on my TBR with plants/flowers on the cover!

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First Lines Friday – 22 May

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“My parents didn’t seem the sort of people who would end up killing someone. Everyone would say that – except the boy who died, who isn’t saying anything. He carried his story with him off the edges of the earth, like the others who died along the way. This story, my story, belongs to them too.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 22 May”

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Goodreads: Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
Panda Rating:

(Review posted from 2018)

From the bestselling author of The Lost City of Z, soon to be a major film starring Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller and Robert Pattison, comes a true-life murder story which became one of the newly-created FBI’s first major homicide investigations.

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, they rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. Her relatives were shot and poisoned. And this was just the beginning, as more and more members of the tribe began to die under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

As the death toll climbed, the FBI took up the case. It was one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations and the bureau badly bungled it. In desperation, its young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to unravel the mystery. Together with the Osage he and his undercover team began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

“Today our hearts are divided between two worlds. We are strong and courageous, learning to walk in these two worlds, hanging on to the threads of our culture and traditions as we live in a predominantly non-Indian society. Our history, our culture, our heart, and our home will always be stretching our legs across the plains, singing songs in the morning light, and placing our feet down with the ever beating heart of the drum. We walk in two worlds.”

I’ve said it countless times before but I’ll say it again: I’m not usually a nonfiction reader. I always have trouble getting hooked into the flow and most of the time I lose interest after 35-50% or it takes me forever (read: months or years) to finish a book. BUT that wasn’t the case with this one.

This book sucked me in from the start – big props to David Grann and his writing! I don’t know what to say about this book though. It’s… appalling and fascinating? It is a chilling and despondent portrayal of a very dark side of humanity. Reading the history of the prejudices carried out against the Indians left me feeling incredulous. I know it’s not an isolated history and it still goes on today, but I guess reading about the full extent of the injustices done and the perpetrators’ attitude of absolute right and entitlement to do so… Really brings back the time age-old question: who really are the savages here?

That said, this book is also a testament to the strength and perseverance of a peoples – to come through that Reign of Terror, although even generations after the time, not unscathed. I can’t even begin to imagine how it would be like to know that justice will never be seen for the family that was lost in such sickening and brutal ways.

Although I’m not in any way connected to America or this American history, it’s still sad to know that this dark period is not something that’s taught to younger generations – “lest we forget”. It’s so important to not forget this history.

Have you read Killers of the Flower Moon or is it on your TBR?

Animal Crossing New Horizons Book Tag!

We all knew this day was coming right? Animal Crossing New Horizons has… Taken my life and turned it upside down in the most addictively soothing and relaxing way 🤣 We know I’ve been obsessed with it ever since it came out and I’ve not read nearly half as much because I’ve basically spent all those free hours playing 🐼

By the way, if you wanna visit, just add me! Friend code: SW-4593-0344-8127

But anyway, back to the tag at hand… I stumbled across it on Beth’s blog and we know that nobody has to tag me to do this one! This tag was created by Angharad and Becky at Two Book Thieves. Now without further ado, let’s get to it 😍

Past Villager:

Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

This was actually a tough prompt to answer because my mind was blanking hard, but after a while I thought of Elizabeth Wakefield of the Sweet Valley Twins — the shy, smart, and bookish sister. I admired her a lot growing up and I think she was the first character that made me feel it was okay to be smart and bookish, and that being ‘popular’ isn’t the end all of your young life 😂 Sounds lame but it’s true!


Blather’s blatherings:

RECOMMEND A HISTORICAL FICTION BOOK THAT YOU THINK EVERYBODY SHOULD READ

I’ve mentioned this book over and over, time and again on here but I feel like The Shadow of the Wind is still such an underrated read. We all know I’m not big on magical realism either but everything in this book was just… *chefs kiss!* It was nothing like I expected but I loved every minute of it!


Celeste’s wish:

what is a future book release you wish you could read now?

Right now I’m super keen to read Unravel the Dusk, the final book in The Blood of Stars duology 😍 I read Spin the Dawn in January and absolutely loved it. I signed up for the blog tour with The FFBC for the sequel convinced that I wouldn’t get in on it but… I did and I’m so freaking excited!!!


TIMMY & TOMMY:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SIBLING RELATIONSHIP IN A BOOK?

The first one that came to mind was the sister-ship between Nishat and Priti in The Henna Wars. I loved it — it wasn’t perfect but it was so real and relatable! Their sibling banter was on point and it reminded me a lot of my own interactions with my sister 😊 Their support and love for each other was so clear to see and it was really heartwarming.


THE EASTER BUNNY:

A POPULAR BOOK CHARACTER THAT YOU’RE NOT A BIG FAN OF

Unpopular opinion time! Please don’t hate me… But the first character that came to mind was Alex from Red, White and Royal Blue. I’m truly sorry that I didn’t love him… He just really grated on my nerves and in the end I only wanted more Henry time! He really should’ve had a POV…


NOOK’S LOANS:

AN AUTHOR YOU’D GIVE ALL YOUR MONEY TO

I can really only choose one? Because I can’t. I’m going to choose two (whatcha gonna do about it): Jay Kristoff and V.E. Schwab. This answer will surprise no one LOL I think they’re the only authors whose books I have special (and multiple) editions of! I love their stories and their characters always worm their way into my heart, plus they just do morally grey characters so well.


THE SISTERS ABLE:

what is your favourite fictional family (found or otherwise)?

Oh man, I think we know by now that I’m a total sucker for a great fictional family, found or otherwise. But I have to shout one of my favourite fictional families is the Knightley family (especially the brothers!) from Meghan Quinn’s Getting Lucky series. They’re all hilarious and I love their love and support for each other! Honestly, just give me all the great family dynamics because I’m all for it 😍


It’s a C+:

what is a trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?

There are only a few tropes that I really dislike but the love triangle trope is really just not my jam and I think people need to stop writing about it. Kidding! But no, I really don’t like that trope. No matter how well it’s handled, I feel like someone always gets hurt. Plus, I usually can’t take the angsty feels! 🙈


the wandering camel:

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK SET IN A LAND FAR AWAY FROM YOURS?

I can’t not go for The Simple Wild for this one! I mean, first of all, I couldn’t pick a further real life location from Bali than Alaska, which I have a slightly low-key obsession with. With the already beautiful landscape and majestic setting, we have fabulous character growth and an absolutely delicious enemies-to-lovers romance that had me swooning for days 😍


what would dodos do?:

a fiction land you wish you could fly away to at any moment

I’m going to choose the great wide galaxy of Saga. I mean, it’s crazy messed up but also immensely cool. Most importantly though, I don’t think I’d die within the first five minutes of setting foot anywhere in this galaxy, which is obviously always very important to consider!


And that was the Animal Crossing New Horizons tag, friends. I’m not tagging anyone specific for this but if you’re keen to give it a go, then go ahead and have fun! 😉

Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Goodreads: Sourdough
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

(Review posted from 2018)

Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.


When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?

If Vietnamese pho’s healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater—and they do—then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, thin-sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted.

I really enjoyed this book! Sourdough is full of quirky and endearing characters and situations that make you laugh and fill your mind with wonder. It also made me insanely hungry (2020 edit: reading that quote above already has me salivating!) and brought to life a craving for sourdough – although I’m sure the loaf that I dug into is nothing like the legendary Mazg one (unfortunately). What I liked about this book is that you can take it as lightly as you want to, but if you want to give it a bit more thought, there’s also some meat for you to chew on. It doesn’t go into very fine details, which I didn’t mind because in a book like this, you can easily over-describe situations, events and processes until you bore your reader to death. Robin Sloan definitely doesn’t do that!

I have come to believe that food is history of the deepest kind. Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and injustice—and does so more vividly than any other artifact, any other medium.

Lois, the main character, is so full of life and energy. I could really relate to her thoughts in terms of wondering at being a part of something more; something significant and important. I think that’s what we all go through in our 20s, 30s (and well, some even longer), especially as we finish university and start looking for a job and try to find more meaning in our lives. To find that purpose and to chase after what makes us tick – what gives us life. Lois is so passionate and just dives into situations that come at her – which is the complete opposite of me and probably why I find people who can do that so admirable. That energy of hers was palpable and as I read the book, I happily soaked up her enthusiasm for everything that she was doing. It made me think about what I’m currently doing and whether I am just living in my own version of “General Dexterity”? It’s a big Maybe.

Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.

Of course, there’s also some magical realism sprinkled throughout the book, especially as you come towards the end when you’re kind of doused in it all at once. As someone who is very picky when it comes to magical realism, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it but I absolutely loved it! It’s another element of Robin Sloan’s writing that I loved because it’s not entirely out of place or unbelievable in stories where the characters and events are so full of quirkyness.

I read someone’s comment about his books that summarised them in a really simple but accurate way – just as Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was about a secret society for book lovers, Sourdough is about a secret society for food lovers. And who doesn’t love food (and books and secret societies)?! After reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoy the way Robin Sloan writes and he has got a fan in me! Can’t wait to read more from him 🙂

Have you read Sourdough or is it on your TBR?