Blog Tour Review: Passport by Sophia Glock

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

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Passport
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 16 November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Young Sophia has lived in so many different countries, she can barely keep count. Stationed now with her family in Central America because of her parents’ work, Sophia feels displaced as an American living abroad, when she has hardly spent any of her life in America.

Everything changes when she reads a letter she was never meant to see and uncovers her parents’ secret. They are not who they say they are. They are working for the CIA. As Sophia tries to make sense of this news, and the web of lies surrounding her, she begins to question everything. The impact that this has on Sophia’s emerging sense of self and understanding of the world makes for a page-turning exploration of lies and double lives.

In the hands of this extraordinary graphic storyteller, this astonishing true story bursts to life.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Passport by Sophia Glock”

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark. 

Ever since picking up Neverwhere two years ago, Gaiman quickly climbed to the top of my favorite authors list. So when I picked this up and really struggled to get into it, I felt just a little bit disappointed. But then I saw it on Audible as narrated by Gaiman himself, and with a credit to spare, decided to try it out—after all, who wouldn’t love to have him read to them? His voice is so soothing! If you tried or try to read this and can’t seem to get into it, I’d highly recommend giving the audiobook a chance. But with that said, this was truly one of the stranger and more horrifying tales that I’ve read and while it was…an interesting journey, it’s safe to say that it’s not my favourite book by Gaiman.

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

Continue reading “The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – #BookReview”

#UltimateBlogTour: The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen – #BookReview

I’m back with another #UltimateBlogTour post with the @WriteReads gang and this time it’s for the fast-paced YA fantasy: The Devil’s Apprentice written by Danish author Kenneth B. Andersen. The blog tour runs until 15 December so don’t forget to check out the other reviews for the first book in this exciting series!

Goodreads: The Devil’s Apprentice
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

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Book Review: Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Goodreads: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
Publisher: One World
Publication Date: 26 March 2019
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

This is such an important and relevant read for everything that’s happening in today’s society. Perhaps despite the more globalised world we live in, society has become even more fractured and I think one of the greatest examples can be seen with what’s happened and is happening in America (or at least, it’s what I’m constantly bombarded with on my social platforms. I thought Mira Jacob did a great job exploring the experience of immigrants and what it means to be a POC in America in this wonderfully told memoir through (often) tough but heartfelt conversations with her son, friends, and family. Although I’m not a POC living in America, I was still able to relate to some of the experiences that she shared because I did live in the Western hemisphere for several years and I think these experiences are something all POC go through, even if not to the same extreme. That said, I found it a very educational and eye-opening read.

Continue reading “Book Review: Good Talk by Mira Jacob”

Probably the Best Kiss in the World by Pernille Hughes – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Probably the Best Kiss in the World
Publish date: 12 April 2019
Publisher: Harper Impulse and Killer Reads
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Panda Rating:

Jen Attison likes her life Just So. But being fished out of a canal in Copenhagen by her knickers is definitely NOT on her to do list. From cinnamon swirls to a spontaneous night of laughter and fireworks, Jen’s city break with the girls takes a turn for the unexpected because of her gorgeous, mystery rescuer. Back home, Jen faces a choice. A surprise proposal from her boyfriend, ‘boring’ Robert has offered Jen the safety net she always thought she wanted. But with the memories of her Danish adventure proving hard to forget, maybe it’s time for Jen to stop listening to her head and start following her heart…

I’m on the fence with how I feel about this one because there were obviously things that I really enjoyed but also things I strongly disliked, and I”m not sure which one is winning my feelings right now. I’m ngl, the cover is what had me picking this book up because the colors are fun and the design is super cute. It gives me cozy vibes and to an extent that does match with the contents of the book. I also love the title!  The story and the romance wasn’t anything new, and wasn’t entirely unpredictable, but I liked the setting and the general storyline. Minor spoiler alert for the content ahead as there’s a part of the storyline that I’m just never going to get on board with and that’s cheating. But first, let’s start with what I liked.

Likes:

I really enjoyed the banter between Jen and Yacob and their meet-cute was, well, cute. I thought they were good together and I really wish that the story of how they met was different. I think the side characters really stole the show for me. Lydia, the MC’s sister was a daredevil and go-getter who didn’t let her disability hold her back in anyway. She was feisty and full of humour and I kind of wished that the story was about her. Alice and Max were also great supporting characters and their shop sounded really cool. It would also be remiss of me to not mention the hot Danish man! Yacob was honestly the perfect package — smart, handsome, compassionate, and caring. I love how he was so supportive of Jen’s passion and always encouraged her to never give up. Can has Yacob in my life, plz? Another thing I loved was loved Jen’s passion — The Passion. Jen’s enthusiasm and love for brewing and beer shone strongly through the words of the text and it was wonderful to experience. I can absolutely relate because reading is something I’m super passionate about and when you really love something, it shines through. I’m glad she stood up for what she loved to do and didn’t give it up (for a man no less!) and I enjoyed that she didn’t let the fact that she was one of the few women who brew, stop her from winning. Go girl!

Dislikes:

Cheating. As someone who has been cheated on, I don’t support characters who do this for whatever reason and it’s always gonna be a turn off, and it’s enough to make books lose stars. Despite knowing that it would be wrong and claiming that she isn’t a cheater, the MC went and did it anyway. I personally thought she had absolutely no good reason to do what she did and it was inexcusable. She had every out, especially with everyone telling her the fiancé shouldn’t be her fiancé, and because even her subconscious was rebelling against the engagement! I just wish she would’ve been honest. Admittedly, I also wasn’t the biggest fan of Jen, especially at the start. She was obstinate and overbearing, especially with her sister and especially when it came to beer. It’s one thing to have an opinion but it’s another to be as rude with it as she was.

Although the story wasn’t what I expected, especially the beer part, I’m glad that I did read it. Parts of it were cute, but overall, it wasn’t anything new to me or the romance genre. I wish that there wasn’t any cheating but, oh well. One thing I do know is that now I want to drink all the craft beers I can get my hands on!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available in stores!
Have you read Probably the Best Kiss in the World? What’d you think of it?

Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

A Random Act of Kindness by Sophie Jenkins – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: A Random Act of Kindness
Publish date: 13 June 2019
Publisher: Avon Books UK
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Chick Lit
Panda Rating:

It only takes a moment, to change a life for ever…
Fern is too busy making sure other people feel good about themselves to give much thought to her own happiness. But somehow, without her noticing, life has run away from her. Suddenly, Fern realises her vintage clothes business is struggling, and the casual relationship she’d always thought she was happy in doesn’t look so appealing. But sometimes, karma really does come through. And when Fern goes out of her way to help 85-year-old Dinah, little does she realise their new friendship will change her life. Dinah may have troubles in her past, but she’s lived and loved to the full. Can Dinah show Fern that even the smallest acts of kindness can make the world a better place?

This was a fairly easy, fast and fluffy read. It’s a heartwarming romance about finding yourself, learning to stand on your own two feet, letting go of fears and opening up your heart. It was an enjoyable, sometimes funny read that left me feeling content when I finished it.

I liked Fern’s character and her passion for fashion (specifically her vintage wear). She’s very focused on making other people happy by finding them the perfect fit to ‘lift’ them as she’s a strong believer that how you dress yourself can change how you think and feel. However, she faces a lot of insecurities and really puts herself down mostly because of her parents (particularly her mother who, frankly, was really awful). While she was very tolerant and understanding of her mother who treated her so badly, I do wish that Fern had the strength to stand up for herself.

I wish that we got to learn more about David. As Fern’s love interest, I felt he fell a bit flat. We don’t really get to know him other than he’s quirky, quite serious and maybe even boring, and that he’s got model handsome good looks. I liked his character but wished that he was given more dimension.

There are a lot of characters and I sometimes felt myself getting confused at how they were being introduced and how they’d suddenly appear in Fern’s life, however, I ended up really looking the eclectic bunch and I think Jenkins did a good job of including characters of all ages, genders and sexualities. For the most part everyone was also friendly, maybe sometimes almost perfectly so, but it really added to the ‘feel-good’ quality of the story. I also really enjoyed how the fashion was mixed into the story, although it was difficult for me to picture the clothes because I’m not that big on fashion; so I will say if you’re not interested in the stuff, it might not be for you.

[MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD]

One thing that I didn’t particularly understand was why we got Kim’s POV instead of Dinah’s. I understand that Fern really made a big impact on Kim’s life and that he was the reason the big show happened at the end. However, it felt a little bit random to me because so much of the story revolved around Dinah and Fern. I liked how everyone came together and became friends because of Fern, however, I felt a little unsure about Kim’s chapters and (sorry but) I didn’t feel it really added a whole lot to the story. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is now available in stores!
Have you read A Random Act of Kindness? What’d you think of it?

Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come
Publish date: 28 May 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
Rating:

An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way.
What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Writer Jessica Pan intends to find out. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges (talk to strangers, perform stand-up comedy, host a dinner party, travel alone, make friends on the road, and much, much worse) to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver.

Non Fiction is a genre that I don’t normally pick, not because I don’t want to read them, but most of the time I struggle to find something to catch and hold my attention. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come was my first NF read of the year and I absolutely loved this book! I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to finish it and I’m sorry that I didn’t get to it even sooner; although I’m convinced that I picked it up when I really needed it most. I’ve already recommended it to countless friends who’ve mentioned something in passing and my brain would ping back to things mentioned in this book. It’s not a self-help book but it’s filled with such relatable experiences. Not only that but it was just downright hilarious! I don’t think there was one chapter in which I didn’t laugh my ass off at least once (seriously). With a title like that, how can you resist wanting to pick it up right?

We follow Jessica Pan, a shin-trovert (shy introvert) who faces a bit of a ‘midlife crisis’ after moving to the UK and struggling with her increasingly introverted life and inability to make meaningful or even non-meaningful connections with people. After confronting a health-scare with a member of her family, she decides to embark on a one-year journey doing extroverted things that would make all introverted people want to curl up in a corner and cry about. Things like stand-up comedy, public speaking, improv, and *shudder* striking up conversations with strangers. What follows is a personal and hilarious recounting of all her experiences and what she took away from living life as an extrovert for a year.

This book brought me great comfort at a time when I was feeling such debilitating anxiety and stress due to an event in my life that required me to speak in front of close to 100 people, followed by networking with all those people who just witnessed me most likely make a fool of myself. Public speaking is still insanely uncool but when I came across Pan’s own experience with it in this book, I found myself completely awed and enamored by her courage to get up on that stage to face one of everyone’s greatest fears. It wasn’t smooth sailing, and to be honest, my actions at the time mirrored hers in the book 100% (i.e. pushing off making my presentation until the very last minute due to intense fear). But it made me want to steel myself and plunge forward just like her. Obviously, it wasn’t as simple as wanting to do it, but the fact that she, someone who I saw big parts of myself reflected in, could do it, then I could too, right?

There’s no greater comfort in knowing that there are others out there who experience the same fears, and feelings of loneliness, as well as anxiety about what to do with it. Like Pan all my friends are scattered across the globe and since moving to where I am now and entering my 30s, I’ve noticed it has become progressively harder to make friends. Or even to just meet people in general. While I couldn’t see myself doing half of the things she did, I liked the insight that she gave through her experiences. I think at the end of the day, it’s not really about realizing being extroverted or introverted is better than the other, but knowing that putting yourself out there, even when you really don’t feel like it, can often times lead to really great, and sometimes even life changing things.

This was such a fantastic read and I know that I’ll always want to keep it on my shelf so that I can go back to it whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by my increasing need to introvert. This book was written in a very conversational tone so that none of the moments felt dull and it kind of felt like just chatting to a friend. I’d highly recommend it!

Thanks to NetGalley, Jessica Pan and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come? Did you love it? Hate it? Feel ‘meh’ about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!