Blog Tour Review: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for asking me to take part in it!

Thanks to NetGalley, Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads: In the Neighborhood of True
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: 07 July 2020 (PBK pub)
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Own Voices
Panda Rating:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

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The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones Review and Favourite Quotes

Thanks to NetGalley, Wattpad Books and author Daven McQueen for providing the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Release date: 16 June 2020
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:



It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.

Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | IndieBound

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

“It is also, first and foremost, a story about race. It’s a story about the struggle that it was and is to be black in America. And because that is a hard thing, this story deals heavily with racism in the attitudes and languages of certain characters.”

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The Silence of Bones Review and Favourite Quotes

Thanks to NetGalley, Feiwel & Friends, and author June Hur for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Silence of Bones
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: 21 April 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:



I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.


1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.

As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder. But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly.

June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Google Books

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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits Blog Tour: Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for the re-release of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami. A big shout out to Kelly from Algonquin for asking me to be part of this blog tour! I’m chuffed to have been given the opportunity to read something that’s well out of my usual reads and comfort zone, but I’m so glad I gave this a go! Special thanks to Algonquin Books and the author for providing me a copy of her book as part of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 14 April 2020 (re-release)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Panda Rating:

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco. As four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain, author Laila Lalami asks, What has driven them to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? There’s Murad, a gentle, unemployed man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife in hope of securing work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future. Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a gripping book about what propels people to risk their lives in search of a better future. 

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They Went Left Blog Tour: Review and Favourite Quotes

Hello, friends! I’m back with another The Fantastic Flying Book Club blog tour today and this time it’s for They Went Left by Monica Hesse! Every time I get picked to be part of any FFBC blog tour I die a little bit inside out of pure happiness because it’s always such a privilege 🥰 Huge thanks to FFBC for organising these amazing tours and to the authors as well for making the eARCs available to us.

Be sure to click on the banner above to see the other bloggers on tour! 😊

They Went Left
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: 07 April 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, WWII

Panda Rating:



Germany, 1945. The soldiers who liberated the Gross-Rosen concentration camp said the war was over, but nothing feels over to eighteen-year-old Zofia Lederman. Her body has barely begun to heal; her mind feels broken. And her life is completely shattered: Three years ago, she and her younger brother, Abek, were the only members of their family to be sent to the right, away from the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Everyone else–her parents, her grandmother, radiant Aunt Maja–they went left.

Zofia’s last words to her brother were a promise: Abek to Zofia, A to Z. When I find you again, we will fill our alphabet. Now her journey to fulfill that vow takes her through Poland and Germany, and into a displaced persons camp where everyone she meets is trying to piece together a future from a painful past: Miriam, desperately searching for the twin she was separated from after they survived medical experimentation. Breine, a former heiress, who now longs only for a simple wedding with her new fiancé. And Josef, who guards his past behind a wall of secrets, and is beautiful and strange and magnetic all at once. But the deeper Zofia digs, the more impossible her search seems. How can she find one boy in a sea of the missing? In the rubble of a broken continent, Zofia must delve into a mystery whose answers could break her–or help her rebuild her world.

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Book Depository | Google Books

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The Mountains Sing Blog Tour: Book Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for the beautifully written The Mountains Sing. Special thanks to Kelly at Algonquin Books for asking me to be part of this blog tour! I was beyond pleasantly surprised to be asked (I mean, all I could think of was “Me?! Are you sure you have the right reader/blogger?!” 😂 ) and I’m very happy to have been given the opportunity, especially for such a wonderful read!

Goodreads: The Mountains Sing
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 17 March 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Panda Rating:

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

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Nils: The Tree of Life by Jerome Hamon – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Nils: The Tree of Life
Publish date: 11 February 2020
Publisher: Magnetic Press/Diamond Book Distributors
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Panda Rating:

A dystopic Nordic fantasy world, where spirits of light are the key to life, but seemingly have abandoned the world. Young Nils and his father set out to discover why the ground has grown infertile, heading north where the drought seems worse to find the cause. Far along the way, they find signs of fresh and vibrant life, caretaken by these little light spirits. But before they know it, a large metal creature arrives and attacks the creatures, apparently hunting and gathering them.

From out of the woods, a woman attacks the creature, bringing it to its knees… apparently the plant was bait for the spirits, which in turn were bait for the metal creature, which serves the high-tech Cyan Nation. This huntress, named Alba, takes Nils and his father into their tribe, where the battle between the shamanistic people and the Cyan Nation is paramount, a battle over the protection vs exploitation of the light spirits power…

Meanwhile, three goddesses watch these events, lamenting the fact that man had abandoned all belief in their power long ago. They watch but do not intervene, despite the fact that the spirits are being harvested en masse by the Cyan Nation, wreaking ruin on the world outside their city. Realizing that this conflict will in one way or another change the very fabric of this world, they slowly begin to intervene…

As they continue their travels, Nils has a dream (seeded by one of the goddesses) about the World Tree, Yggdrasil, which is being consumed by a metal plague. He knows he must now find and save the tree, and in the process, save the world. But the high council of the Cyan Nation would have otherwise…

Having been separated in their quest, Nils’s father finds himself a guest of the Cyan Prince, where he learns that they do indeed understand the power of the spirits, which they call Ethernum, serving as the power source for their technological advancement. More sinister than that, however, is the fact that they’ve used the Ethernum as a means of near-eternal longevity, having wiped out all competitors to their power and resource long ago. And now, they believe they have unlocked the secrets for using the Ethernum to revive the dead…

And for the goddesses, that is a step too far. They intervene, but in the process find one of themselves surprisingly captured by the Cyan royalty… and then killed. The remaining two goddesses are torn by this affront. One vows to wipe mankind off the planet for good, while the other goes to help Nils save the Life Tree.

High fantasy adventure combining science-fiction with pseudo-spiritual magic, posing dramatic examinations of man vs nature, life vs death, fact vs faith, and man’s desire to play god.

This was an interesting graphic novel that had a fascinating mix of Nordic mythology and fantasy elements that shared a story about a dying earth due to corruption, exploitation of resources, and the troubled Goddesses that are affected by the effects of human greed and technological advancement.

I enjoyed how Nils started but as more elements of the story were introduced I became confused with the direction it was going but also the erratic flow of scenes towards the middle and end. There were many scene jumps that made the climax feel disjointed and since there was a lot of action in these parts, it only left me feeling confused with everything that was going on. I did go back to re-read scenes in case I missed anything but I still didn’t get the clarity I was looking for. I had plenty of questions about the whole world and the characters in it — Nils, the goddesses, the Cyan nation and how it came to be, and Alba’s tribe of women hunters and how they survived. I wish that these elements were better explained so that we could have a better understanding of the story. There was also some romantic notions that were hinted at between one of the goddesses towards Nils which seemed unnecessary and didn’t make me feel more sympathetic towards her fight to save him and human kind. It honestly creeped me out a little bit lol…

That said, the artwork is simply stunning and it’s what made me want to continue reading despite not fully understanding what was going on in the storyline. The color palette was well chosen and really reflected the ‘cold tundra’/Nordic feel alongside dying nature and technologically advanced city vibes that the story presented. The details were wonderful and I loved the distinctive look of all the different characters. There were some illustrations, particularly to do with nature and the spirits, that really gave me Princess Mononoke / Miyazaki vibes and I loved it!

While Nils had an interesting and promising premise it unfortunately didn’t follow through for me. The artwork was beautiful and I’d love to see more graphic novels illustrated by this artist however, I wish that the storyline had been more clear and easy to follow/understand!

Thanks to NetGalley and Magnetic Press/Diamond Books Distributor for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This graphic novel is out 11 February 2020.
Have you read Nils: The Tree of Life or is it on your TBR?

Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo
Publish date: 11 April 2017
Publisher: UDON Entertainment
Genre: Graphic Novel, Classic Literature
Panda Rating:

A Conspiracy and a miscarriage of justice turn the gentle Edmond Dantès into an implacable agent of fate: The Count of Monte Cristo . Obsessed by vengeance and empowered by providence, the Count avenges himself on whose who have wronged him – but is this justice, or is this hubris? In the end, does even the Count know? Alexandre Dumas’ skillful narrative combines intrigue, betrayal, and triumphant revenge into a powerful conflict between good and evil. Now this exciting saga, rich and diverse, takes on an entirely new life in this Manga Classics adaptation!

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic that I’ve been meaning to read but have always been too intimidated to actually pick up, so when I saw this manga I immediately jumped on it! Surprisingly I realised I knew very little of the story when I started reading it and since I haven’t read the novel I also can’t attest to how well the manga actually adopts the classic. I do however know that it’s a fairly chunky text and I have no doubt that it has some very complex plot lines and in-depth character studies. Based on that, I think that the adaptors did an amazing job in condensing everything into a more simplified text. It took me a couple of hours to read this 400 page manga while I’m sure it’d probably take me one month+ to finish the original!

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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Immortalists
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

“Our language is our strength.
Thoughts have wings.”

It was difficult for me to write this review so apologies if it’s more nonsensical blabber than anything. I really enjoyed this touching novel about family and death. It sounds morose and it certainly isn’t the most fast paced storytelling, but as the story dove deeper into each characters’ life, I found that I couldn’t put the book down and very quickly sped through the pages. The Immortalists is a family saga that explores faith and the idea of destiny/fate. It asks readers the timeless question: if you could learn when/how you die, would you do it?

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Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine – #BookReview

Goodreads: Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Dystopia, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fantasy,
Panda Rating:

Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time. In 48 AD, a fire set by the troops of Julius Caesar destroyed much of the Great Library of Alexandria. It was the first of several disasters that resulted in the destruction of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient world. But what if the fire had been stopped? What would the Library have become? Fast forward: the Great Library is now a separate country, protected by its own standing army. It has grown into a vast power, with unquestioned and unrivalled supremacy. Jess Brightwell, seventeen and very smart, with a gift for mechanical engineering, has been sent into the Great Library as a spy for his criminal family. Magical spells and riots abound in this epic new YA series.

How could my interest not be piqued after reading this blurb? Caine presents such a fascinating retold history wherein The Great Library of Alexandria is the most powerful entity in the world and knowledge is highly regulated. I admit to having a difficult time getting into the story initially. The pacing was slow and I found myself getting lost in the details of this alternate world, but I kept on reading because I was hoping that it would pick up and I wasn’t disappointed!

“There are three parts to learning: information, knowledge and wisdom, A mere accumulation of information is not knowledge, and a treasure of knowledge is not in itself, wisdom.”

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