Book Review: The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

Note: This review was originally written on 27 December 2020 right after I finished reading the book! Special thanks to the author for sending me a physical copy and I’m sorry for taking so long to read it but now that I have I’m so glad I finally did!

The Existence of Amy
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Panda Rating:


Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

TL;DR: This was a fast and fairly easy read thanks to Riva’s no frills writing, and it paints a very realistic and often relatable picture of what it’s like to live with debilitating mental illness. Your heart will break for Amy but you will also root for her success. There’s not exactly a ‘happy ever after’ but it is very much a hopeful one. I would recommend this to everyone but especially to those looking for a book about mental health!

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Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Inside Voices by Sarah Davis

I’m back with another blog tour today with Rachel’s Random Resources for Inside Voices by Sarah Davis. Thanks to Rachel for organising this tour, and to the author for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.

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

Goodreads: Inside Voices
Publisher: Darkstroke Books
Release Date: 23 June 2020
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Fiction
Panda Rating:

The mind is a strange beast…extraordinary, unpredictable, protective.

Penny Osborn’s mind is no exception. In High School, Penny witnessed a massacre and lost her father to the same killers. She had seen it unfold before it happened, in a premonition, but could not prevent it.

A college research project at the edge of the Arctic is her chance for a new beginning. Struggling with PTSD, Penny’s therapy includes running, dogs, and guitars. Yet her fresh start is plagued by new premonitions, dark and foreboding, that coincide with a rising number of murders in the community. Her visions are vague, offering little to identify the killer.

When confronted with an orphaned polar bear cub, Penny risks everything to save its life. The deepening mystery of the murdered women, coupled with the exhaustive duties of caring for the small cub, draw her closer to her friend, Noah, and further from her sister.

Fearful for the serial killer’s next target, Penny discovers where her physical abilities can help her. Will letting go of the past lead to healing? And can she stop the murders? 

BUY NOW: Amazon (US)

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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?

eARC Review: To Kill A Mocking Girl (A Bookbinding Mystery #1) by Harper Kincaid

Goodreads: To Kill A Mocking Girl (A Bookbinding Mystery #1)
Publish date: 12 May 2020
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Panda Rating:

Bookbinder Quinn finds herself in trouble when her ex’s fiance turns up dead and if she’s not careful, her days might be numbered in this debut perfect for fans of Kate Carlisle and Eva Gates.

Quinn Victoria Caine is back in her quirky town of Vienna, Virginia, starting her new life as a bookbinder in her family-owned, charm-for-days bookshop, Prose & Scones. With her trusty German Shephard RBG-‘Ruff Barker’ Ginsburg by her side, what can go wrong? Okay, sure, bumping into her ex, Scott, or her former high school nemesis, Tricia, is a drag. It certainly doesn’t help they have acquired the new hobby of shoving their recent engagement in her face every chance they get. But that doesn’t mean Quinn wanted to find Tricia dead in the road. So why does half the town think she may have done it?

Quinn is determined to find Tricia’s killer, even if it means partnering with her cousin-turned-nun, Sister Daria, and Detective Aiden Harrington, her older brother’s too-movie-star-handsome-for-his-own good, best friend. They believe she’s innocent, but of course that doesn’t influence the police, who peg her as their prime suspect. Or, at least until she’s poisoned.

But there is no way Quinn is going to stop now. Vienna is her town and-for better or worse-Tricia was one of their own. Someone may have killed the mocking girl, but no one’s going to stop the notorious QVC.

This is my first cozy mystery and I’m wondering why I’ve never read one of these before because what didn’t I like about it?! Right now I’m coming up blank because I enjoyed every single moment of this fast-paced murder mystery set in the small close-knit community of Vienna, Virginia. I can’t believe this is Kincaid’s first cosy mystery because she had me reeled in from the first page! Is it too early to be chanting for more when this book hasn’t even been published yet?

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Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Goodreads: Words in Deep Blue
Genre: YA Contemporary, YA Romance
Panda Rating:

This is a love story.
It’s the story of Howling Books, where readers write letters to strangers, to lovers, to poets.
It’s the story of Henry Jones and Rachel Sweetie. They were best friends once, before Rachel moved to the sea
Now, she’s back, working at the bookstore, grieving for her brother Cal and looking for the future in the books people love, and the words they leave behind

So wow, I really wasn’t ready for my feels to be completely shattered reading this book. I was a quietly blubbering hot mess by the time I reached the end! I’m not even sure what I can say other than I absolutely loved it. This one reached right into my heart and gave it a big ‘ole squeeze and basically screamed at me to FEEL THINGS.

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Review: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1) by Lyssa Kay Adams

Goodreads: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Panda Rating:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife. 

I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for quite a while now and have been excited to read it ever since I first heard about it. There’s a lot of hype around this book and while I did have some issues with it, overall I’m glad to say that this second-chance romance lived up to the hype for me!

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Review: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2) by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Panda Rating:

It started with a lie. A night of blurred lines between a teacher and a student. I wasn’t her student, yet it was the single most defining night of my life.

I’ve never been the man she thinks I am.
Most people have no idea about the life I’ve lived or the words that ring true when it comes to me—still waters run deep. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a coed on the TGU campus who knows otherwise…because I’ve never corrected them.

The clock is ticking down, it’s Fourth and Inches with the ball inside the one-yard line and the focus is on me, The Guy on the Left. I’ve never felt like a football god, inside I’m…just Troy.

It’s time to set the record straight.
For my son, I‘ll find the strength.
In her eyes, I’m determined to gain redemption.
I will have them both, even if I have to take my eye off the ball.

YOU GUYS!!! I didn’t think I could love a character in The Underdogs series more than Theo… BUT I WAS WRONG!!! And who would’ve thought it’d be TROY to win me over?! Ugh, mY HEART, Kate Stewart!

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Review: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1) by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Panda Rating:

Strike One – My mother named me Theodore after her favorite chipmunk.
Not cool, Mom.
I‘ve spent most of my life answering to Teddy, because I couldn’t make Theo work. Except for here. College. The place where all bets are off, and I’ve managed to redeem myself.


There’s only one problem, my new roommate, Troy, is football royalty and looks like he stepped off the set of an Abercrombie shoot.
Doesn’t matter, I cook a mean breakfast for his panty parade, and we get along well.
And anyway, this year I got the girl. And she’s perfect.
That’s right. Theodore Houseman, former band geek, now marching band rock star has finally landed the girl of his dreams. Everything is perfect.

That is, until Troy takes a good look at her.
I’m not going down without a fight. As a matter of fact, I’m not going down at all. As glorious as these days may be for my all-star roommate, Laney is my end game.
I may not know much about play strategy, but I’ve been the good guy my whole life. I’ve been listening and I know exactly what women want. Framed in a picture standing next to me, Troy may seem like Mr. Perfect, but he’s underestimating the guy on the right.

Spoiler alert: In this story, the underdog is going to win.

Brace yourselves for another gushing review friends because I LOVED EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE of this book! The itch to read this has steadily built since last week, so I finally caved and of course I have zero regrets. There were a few moments towards the end that frustrated me and made me angry because wow, talk about being very intense and out of character, but I can’t honestly say that it affected my overall enjoyment of this book. I literally devoured this in the span of a few hours and it was by far the best way to spend a Sunday cozied up under the covers while the rain poured steadily outside!

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Vengeful (Villains #2) by V.E. Schwab – #BookReview

Goodreads: Vengeful (Villains #2)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

Magneto and Professor X. Superman and Lex Luthor. Victor Vale and Eli Ever. Sydney and Serena Clarke. Great partnerships, now soured on the vine.

But Marcella Riggins needs no one. Flush from her brush with death, she’s finally gained the control she’s always sought—and will use her new-found power to bring the city of Merit to its knees. She’ll do whatever it takes, collecting her own sidekicks, and leveraging the two most infamous EOs, Victor Vale and Eli Ever, against each other.

With Marcella’s rise, new enmities create opportunity–and the stage of Merit City will once again be set for a final, terrible reckoning.

Holy heck. What can I even say?! I loved Vicious but I’m surprised to say that I might love Vengeful even more?! I just finished reading it earlier today (when I wrote this on Saturday) so my thoughts are still a jumbled mess but I’m going to at least try writing something semi-coherent. Also, sorry but there will be spoilers for Vicious as this picks up after that!

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Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – #BookReview

Goodreads: Love Lettering
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid…

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late…

Oh my heart… I can’t even with this book and how it’s made me feel!!! I knew I was going to enjoy this but I didn’t think that I’d fall so hard and fast (after a slightly rocky start) for Meg and Reid, and their love story. Swoonsh, indeed! I literally just finished this book two minutes ago (when I reviewed this on Monday…) and my heart is still soaring and I don’t know if I’ll be able to write a coherent review but I’m going to try anyway!

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