Blog Tour Review: Pighearted by Alex Perry

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Pighearted by Alex Perry. Special thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

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

Goodreads: Pighearted
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 26 October 2021
Genre: Middle-Grade Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Charlotte’s Web meets My Sister’s Keeper in this charming story told from the alternating perspectives of a boy with a fatal heart condition and the pig with the heart that could save his life.

Jeremiah’s heart skips a beat before his first soccer game, but it’s not nerves. It’s the first sign of a heart attack. He knows he needs to go to the hospital, but he’s determined to score a goal. Charging after the ball, he refuses to stop…even if his heart does.

J6 is a pig and the only one of his five brothers who survived the research lab. Though he’s never left his cell, he thinks of himself as a therapy pig, a scholar, and a bodyguard. But when the lab sends him to live with Jeremiah’s family, there’s one new title he’s desperate to have: brother.

At first, Jeremiah thinks his parents took in J6 to cheer him up. But before long, he begins to suspect there’s more to his new curly-tailed companion than meets the eye. When the truth is revealed, Jeremiah and J6 must protect each other at all costs—even if their lives depend on it.

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Book Spotlight: How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino, translated by Bruno Navasky

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello, friends! Today I’m shining a book spotlight on How Do You Live? by Genazburo Yoshino. This book is the first English translation of the Japanese classic and it has a foreword by Neil Gaiman! It has also inspired the world-famous director: Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is the genius behind some of my all-time favourites from Ghibli Studio (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc.), so of course I’m interested in seeing what inspired the man! 😍

Goodreads: How Do You Live?
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: 26 October 2021
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction, Japanese Literature

Anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book, in English for the first time.
First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film.


How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.

This first-ever English-language translation of a Japanese classic about finding one’s place in a world both infinitely large and unimaginably small is perfect for readers of philosophical fiction like The Alchemist and The Little Prince, as well as Miyazaki fans eager to understand one of his most important influences.

Buy a copy:

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Blog Tour Review: The Secret Garden on 81st Street by Ivy Noelle Weir

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Retelling of the Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir. Special thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

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

Goodreads: The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Retelling of the Secret Garden
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 19 October 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

The Secret Garden with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, this full-color graphic novel moves Mary Lennox to a New York City brownstone, where she and her very first group of friends restore an abandoned rooftop garden…and her uncle’s heart.

Mary Lennox is a loner living in Silicon Valley. With her parents always working, video game and tech become her main source of entertainment and “friends.” When her parents pass away in a tragic accident, she moves to New York City to live with her uncle who she barely knows, and to her surprise, keeps a gadget free home. Looking for comfort in this strange, new reality, Mary discovers an abandoned rooftop garden and an even bigger secret…her cousin who suffers from anxiety. With the help of her new friends, Colin and Dickon, Mary works to restore the garden to its former glory while also learning to grieve, build real friendships, and grow.

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ARC Review: The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

Special thanks to Feiwel & Friends for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Magical Imperfect
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: 15 June 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don’t know how to help him. His friends have given up on him.

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he’s at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much.

As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia’s condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Ultimately, while I might not recommend this for its disability rep, I appreciated the historical context and the representation of cultures and the immigrant perspective This was very different from what I expected after reading the blurb but I was pleasantly surprised by the nostalgic vibes it gave me. This did read a bit on the younger side of MG for me but I do think that it would be suitable and enjoyable for MG readers across all ages, even older readers such as myself.

This was a very different middle-grade read compared to what I normally pick up in this genre. It’s historical fiction but also has aspects of magical realism that leant the story an even more whimsical atmosphere. It’s written in verse and though the prose is simple and without unnecessary flair, it was also evocative and I could easily picture the neighbourhood form in front of my eyes. The community was diverse and there was a sense of camaraderie between all the neighbours that made the pages feel full of warmth and joy.

While I expected a touching story about the friendship between two young misfits, and we got that, it also went beyond that and there were many elements to the plot and setting that I didn’t expect to find—from religious to historical and cultural, and I was see it in a MG. I was intrigued by the late 80s setting in San Francisco and by the historical event that occurred during the time period of the story. What I found most refreshing though was seeing the Filipino representation in a historical setting and I was pleasantly surprised to read about the immigrant journey to America from a different (non-Western) perspective! Etan’s Jewish and Maia’s Filipina cultural heritage also played important roles in their story and as I grew up in the Philippines, I found reading about Maia’s family—her Lola and the food!—was comforting and made me a little nostalgic, too.

I found the friendship between Maia and Etan to be very sweet and full of youthful optimism and joy. As their bond grows closer, Etan finds the strength in his own voice again. Maia also finds joy in being able to have someone her age who doesn’t see her as “The Creature” but can look beyond her eczema to the loving, precocious and vibrant little girl she is. I really loved her sass and confidence, as well as her connection to nature and the trees surrounding her home.

Another aspect that I thought was interesting was the representation of Maia and Etan’s disabilities—severe eczema and selective mutism, respectively. I’ve never read a book with these disabilities represented (whether it be adult, YA or MG) so I found it interesting to read about and have it be part of these characters. However, what disappointed me was the use of the magical healing clay as a “cure” for these disabilities to make Maia and Etan ‘normal happy kids’. It made it seem like people with disabilities are not ‘normal’ and that you need to look and act like others to be happy. Yes, Maia wasn’t 100% ‘cured’ but the message is still the same and it’s not one that I would want any person to read and believe that they’re less than because they have a disability or live with chronic illness. The topic of mental health was also explored a bit through Etan’s mother but I wish it was done in more depth as it impacted Etan and his family so greatly.

Even though I didn’t end up loving it as much as I thought I would, it was still a quick, engaging and easy read. I loved the diversity and the historical context and in the future I’d be interested in seeing what else Baron has written.

Have you read The Magical Imperfect or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway: Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen

I’m so excited to be back with a blog tour with Xpresso Tours for Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the other bloggers on tour!
Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEWAY (US/CAN) at the end of my post!

Goodreads: Breathing Underwater
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publish Date: 31 March 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Olivia is on the road trip of her dreams, with her trusty camera and her big sister Ruth by her side. Three years ago, before their family moved from California to Tennessee, Olivia and Ruth buried a time capsule on their favorite beach. Now, they’re taking an RV back across the country to uncover the memories they left behind. But Ruth’s depression has been getting worse, so Olivia has created a plan to help her remember how life used to be: a makeshift scavenger hunt across the country, like pirates hunting for treasure, taking pictures and making memories along the way.

All she wants is to take the picture that makes her sister smile. But what if things can never go back to how they used to be? What if they never find the treasure they’re seeking? Through all the questions, loving her sister, not changing her, is all Olivia can do—and maybe it’s enough.

BUY NOW: Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

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Blog Tour Review: The Death of Honor by Lyra Thorsson

I’m back with another blog tour today and this time it’s for The Death of Honor by Lyra Thorsson. Special thanks to Heather Fitt from Overview Media for asking me to be part of this blog tour and to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Death of Honor (Honor Trilogy #1)
Published: 12 January 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

All Rebecca wants in life is to sail through space in her ship—is that too much to ask? The moment she lays eyes on her old military buddy Jonathan, Rebecca knew there was no running away from her duties. With her best friend, sometimes with benefits, Nik, she desired to return home to the Nreff Nation, one of the four government powers of the systems, to serve on one last mission.

However, the problem with returning is that they all are wanted for treason. It wasn’t their fault, however, as they had been framed by their old admiral, Sebastien Wilde. Fortunately, succeeding in this mission might give them a clean slate, as they are to find evidence of Wilde’s involvement in the illegal human experimentation ring that goes against the Treaty Of World Equality and Rights (T.O.W.E.R.).

Rebecca and Nik agree to the mission, hoping to earn a more peaceful life, however Rebecca hides a dark secret: she was once closer to Sebastien than any of them ever realized, and the evidence incriminating him might also implicate her.

Now Rebecca has a choice: turn her back on her comrades and run for her life, or face her sins in order to prevent an all-out war.

CW/TW: This book contains sexual content, violence, drug abuse, and physical, sexual, and mental abuse.

BUY NOW: Amazon US | Amazon UK | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

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ARC Review: The Crowns of Croswald by D.E. Night

Thanks to the team at Stories Untold for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Crowns of Croswald (The Croswald Series #1)
Publisher: Stories Untold
Publication Date: 21 July 2017
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(2 pandas)

Ivy Lovely is 16 and she has no idea who she is—or what her powers could be. When she crosses a magical boundary, she discovers a whole new world of enchantment and mystery. Making friends that will last a lifetime—and save her life—she steps into her own abilities and discovers more about her hidden past, magical blood, and the power of Croswald’s mystical stones. But all is not well: a dark history and an evil Queen threatens all that is good. Will Ivy’s bravery and wit be enough?

Curious and whimsical, both shy and brave, Ivy is a hero that connects with readers of all ages. For those who wished that Narnia, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland could go on forever, Croswald opens a whole new world of magic. Recommended as a read-aloud for families and a first middle-grade fantasy read, The Crowns of Croswald is a four-part series that will carry readers to a whimsical world that they won’t want to leave. 

I really wanted to love this story. I wanted to love it so much that although I struggled to read it over a period of 2 months, I still persisted in the hopes that it would get better or something about it would click for me. I’m really sad to say that it never happened and it was with a great resounding sigh of relief that I finally came to the last page of this book. I feel terrible leaving a low rating, especially when the author’s team reached out for me to read it, but I did receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and an honest review I shall give it. It does seem that I’m very much in the minority with my feelings though so perhaps this just really wasn’t for me!

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ARC Graphic Novel Review: The Grémillet Sisters by Giovanni Di Gregorio, Alessandro Barbucci

Thanks to NetGalley and Europe Comics for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads: Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters #1)
Publish date: 15 July 2020
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
Panda Rating:

Being sisters is never easy. But when you’re as different as Sarah, Cassiopeia, and Lucille, it’s even harder! The first is haunted by recurring dreams, the second lives with her head in the clouds, and the last spends most of her time with her cat. Then one day they discover a mysterious photo of their mother pregnant. Where was it taken, and who is the baby? And most importantly, why was this photo hidden away in the depths of the attic? To find out, they’ll have to venture into the tangled forest of the Grémillet family secrets!

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Blog Tour Review: The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Hi friends! I’m so excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for The Beast and The Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips. Special thanks to Netgalley and Egmont Publishing for the eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour here.

Goodreads: The Beast and the Bethany
Publisher: Egmont Publishing
Published: 01 October 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:

The most exciting new children’s book of 2020 and a modern classic in the making. The Beast and the Bethany has all the classic macabre humour of Roald Dahl with the warmth and charm of Despicable Me, finished off with a gleeful bite of Little Shop of Horrors! This book should be on every little monster’s birthday and Christmas list.

Ebenezer Tweezer is a youthful 511-year-old. He keeps a beast in the attic of his mansion, who he feeds all manner of things (including performing monkeys, his pet cat and the occasional cactus) and in return the beast vomits out presents for Ebenezer, as well as potions which keep him young and beautiful. But the beast grows ever greedier, and soon only a nice, juicy child will do. So when Ebenezer encounters orphan Bethany, it seems like (everlasting) life will go on as normal. But Bethany is not your average orphan . . .

BUY NOW: Amazon

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Blog Tour Review: The Ship of Shadows by Maria Kuzniar

Hey, hey friends! I’m so excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for The Ship of Shadows. This was such a fun and fast-paced read and I’m so glad this was put on my radar because of this tour 😍 Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour over here.

Super big thanks to Dave for organising these tours and to NetGalley and Puffin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! Let’s get to it…

Goodreads: The Ship of Shadows
Publisher: Puffin Books
Published: 16 July 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.

But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.

Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find

Buy a copy: Amazon

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