ARC Review: A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for the gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: A People’s History of Heaven
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: 19 March 2019
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbreakable bond.

When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.

Elegant, poetic, and vibrant, A People’s History of Heaven takes a clear-eyed look at adversity and geography and dazzles in its depiction of love and female friendship.

TL;DR: A People’s History of Heaven is a beautifully crafted literary debut full of so much heart! With her lyrical prose and vivid descriptions of everyday life, it was as if Mathangi Subramanian reached through the pages of this novel and pulled me right into Heaven itself. This is a story about the strong and proud women that live in Heaven—the grandmothers, the mothers, and the daughters, who do whatever it takes to survive the hardships of not only living in a slum but being part of an oppressive patriarchal society that was not designed for women and girls to succeed.

Continue reading “ARC Review: A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian”

Goodreads Monday – How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! 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.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox. It’s a Young Adult Contemporary that came out in 2019 and has an average rating of 4.02 with over 3k ratings and just under 1k reviews.

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Book Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Goodreads: Before the Coffee Gets Cold
Publisher: Picador
Published: 19 September 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Magical Realism

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold…

TL;DR: A well-paced character driven story where the magical fits the mundane to perfection! Before the Coffee Gets Cold asks us if you would travel to the past knowing nothing would change in the present and if you could, who would you choose to meet, maybe for one last time? The four stories we follow wonderfully intertwine to create one moving story about love, loss, grief and hope. This was a short and quick read that packed quite an emotional punch and unsurprisingly, as a mood reader, made me teary eyed! It was equally heartbreaking and heartwarming and I would definitely recommend it.

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ARC Review: Shadow Frost by Coco Ma

Special thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Shadow Frost (Shadow Frost #1)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publish Date: 01 October 2019
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(2.5 pandas)

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.


When Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria and heir to the throne, discovers that she may hold the key to defeating the mysterious demon terrorizing her kingdom, she vows not to rest until the beast is slain. With the help of her friends and the powers she wields — though has yet to fully understand — Asterin sets out to complete a single task. The task that countless, trained soldiers have failed.

To kill it.

But as they hunt for the demon, they unearth a plot to assassinate the Princess herself instead. Asterin and her companions begin to wonder how much of their lives have been lies, especially when they realize that the center of the web of deceit might very well be themselves. With no one else to turn to, they are forced to decide just how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they have ever known.

That is, of course… if the demon doesn’t get to them first.

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Shadow Frost is a book that younger me would’ve devoured and unquestionably loved but older me is feeling quite conflicted about it. Coco Ma has created a vast world with interesting deity lore, an elemental magic system and a huge cast of characters. That said, the world building was haphazard, the pacing was choppy, and the characters were fairly one-dimensional. I think this book suffered from trying to do too much at one time and it uses a lot of very typical YA tropes about royal families, their bodyguards and friends. There’s a nice found family element which I always love but ultimately, this didn’t work out so well for me.

Before kicking off my review, I have to say that I am impressed by the fact that Coco Ma wrote this when she was 15! I can’t fathom writing something like this now let alone when I was a teenager, so major props to her for creating this intriguing world of magic!


I’m quite conflicted about this book because while I think there were interesting elements as well as characters that I did like, I felt that the story was bogged down by trying to include too much at once. It seemed like the author was trying to cram in as much as possible to cover a lot of bases and unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. The story itself was also nothing new to the genre and didn’t bring anything so unique for it to stand out from the crowd.

Coco Ma presents a vast world with many neighbouring nations, intriguing lore of the gods/goddesses, and an elemental magic system involving the use of stones to channel the magic that resides within a person. People also belonged under certain houses that correlated with patron gods/goddesses but I can’t say exactly how it works because it was unclear to me. The world-building is patchy at best with lots of info-dumping across the story. There were inconsistencies in descriptions, items and language, that made me question whether this was set in a modern or historical period and I’m still not quite sure which it is. This made it difficult for me to picture the settings and sadly, it also affected how I pictured the characters in that, aside from one or two that had their appearance literally shoved in your face, the rest were kind of non-descript.

The writing itself wasn’t bad rather it was the inconsistent pacing that made it hard for me to focus and made this, quite honestly, a bit of a slog to read… The beginning is slow until about 30% and then they’re (very) suddenly off on a quest to find the demon and the pace builds up, only for it to slow down again for a large portion of the story until the action starts up at the end. There’s really not a lot that happens here and I had to push myself to not DNF this.

The characters were all quite typical of YA fantasies that follow the ruling royals, their bodyguards and friends. They’re not 100% cookie-cutter but they are quite one-dimensional and I didn’t form strong attachments to (m)any of them. That said, there is a pretty large cast and surprisingly, we also get almost all of their POVs and it was… A lot! I didn’t expect there to be so many viewpoints and those POVs often changed within chapters, which got pretty confusing at times, especially when there was little to distinguish them from each other. They were fairly angsty teenagers who focused on baffling things during inappropriate times and often made illogical and rash decisions with weak justifications. I didn’t particularly like Asterin, our ‘chosen one’ princess who was good at everything and who everyone loved. She was spoiled, self-absorbed, selfish and quite frankly, a bad friend. The characters who intrigued me the most were Rose and Harry, and though we got their POVs, I would’ve definitely loved to see more from them compared to the others. Again, I feel like if there were fewer POVs, there would’ve been room to give the characters more depth and space for us to care more about them. There are also several romantic pairings and because I didn’t really care for the characters, I wasn’t invested in any of the ships and found some of them to be cringeworthy (no matter how accurate, I don’t think using ‘brat’ as a term of endearment for the person you “love” is attractive, especially when you’re the person it’s being said to).

With all that said, I did become more intrigued by the end. The plot does become intensely dramatic and over the top but I wanted answers and I have more questions than I did at the start. There is also a certain character arc that surprised me and I’m curious to see how the new dynamic affects the friendships and the story. Will I pick up the next book though? I know this is something that younger me would’ve devoured without questions and would’ve (most probably) absolutely adored! But while I am curious now, I’m not sure it’s enough for me to want to read on.

Have you read Shadow Frost or is it on your TBR?

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

Goodreads: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)
Publisher: Berkley
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 by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs #2)
Publisher: KLS Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

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 by Kate Stewart

Goodreads: The Guy on the Right (The Underdogs #1)
Publisher: KLS Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

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!

Continue reading “Review: The Guy on the Right by Kate Stewart”

Jack Janson and the Storm Caller by Andrew Marsh Blog Tour – #BookReview

This year is definitely the year of the blog tours for me as I’m back with another one for you and this time it’s for Jack Janson & the Storm Caller. Special thanks to Heather Fitt from Overview Media for asking me to be part of this blog tour and to author Andrew Marsh for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review! Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers on tour.

Goodreads: Jack Janson & the Storm Caller
Published: 05 August 2019
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Jack Janson is nearly fourteen, an only child living with his parents who hate him almost as much as they hate each other. The only good things about his life are the girl next door, Sarah-Jane Farmer, whom he adores, and his Granny Jean in Cornwall who he spends the summer holidays with.

His gran is cool but she has been hiding a HUGE secret. As her health fails, she decides to share the secret with Jack.
Gran leads Jack to a cave.
“Boom Tom tum” a loud voice echoes and a rock opens up to reveal a young giant called Winfred Storm Caller. Gran has been looking after the friendly giant since pirates killed his mother, but she now needs Jack to care for Winfred.
Sarah-Jane arrives to help and they uncover The Book Of Lore hidden in the cave.

What magic does it possess?
Have they found a way to get Winfred home to his own lands?
Are Sarah-Jane and Jack brave enough to use the book to save Granny Jean’s life?

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Continue reading “Jack Janson and the Storm Caller by Andrew Marsh Blog Tour – #BookReview”

Goodreads Monday – A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

It’s the first Goodreads Monday of 2020, friends! 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.

This week’s book is A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian. I haven’t heard much about this book on the blogosphere/book community but Algonquin approached me to read/review it and it sounds so good, I immediately said yes! This contemporary fiction has a 4.04 star average with 518 ratings and 161 reviews.

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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!

Continue reading “Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – #BookReview”