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.

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ARC Review: The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse

Special thanks to JABerwocky Literary Agency, Inc. for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Hand of the Sun King (Pact and Pattern #1)
Publisher: JABerwocky Literary Agency, Inc.
Published: 05 August 2021
Genre: Adult Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves . . .

TL;DR: My review turned into an essay because I had so much to say about this book and still, it does not do it justice. Safe to say that I enjoyed the heck out of this fantasy and I’m still surprised that it’s J.T. Greathouse’s debut novel?! Please, give me more! This is such a stunning fantasy and deserves so much more attention. If you’re a fan of wonderful prose, intricate world-building, fascinating magic, and messy characters that you can’t help but root for, I would highly recommend you check this one out!

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ARC Review: The Bastard’s Betrayal by Katee Robert

Huge thanks to Katee Robert for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Bastard’s Betrayal (Scandalous Scions #1)
Publisher: Trinks and Tales LLC
Published: 25 August 2021
Genre: Mafia Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

She thought it was love.

Rose Romanov is a mafia princess, and everything that entails. Violently over-protective parents. A giant extended family, all ready to kill anyone who looks at her wrong. Learning to run a business that isn’t exactly on the right side of the law. So, naturally, when she meets a nice guy who isn’t in the life, she falls hard… Right up until the she discovers her new boyfriend isn’t a civilian at all.

But he betrayed her.

When Dante Verducci was sent on an undercover mission to evaluate the Romanov family for weakness, he never expected to have an instant connection with their unlikely heir. There’s something fierce and feral about Rose that calls to him. They’re alike, even if they’re both lying to each other during the months they date. Before he could figure out a new plan, Rose finds out who he really is, dumps him, and immediately enters an engagement with the heir of a rival family. Yeah, no, that’s not going to work for Dante.

Now he’ll do anything to reclaim her. Even go to war.

CW/TW: Murder, assault, kidnapping, explicit sex, dubious consent, Parental death (drug overdose, historical, off-page)

TL;DR: The Bastard’s Betrayal was a fun and steamy start to a new mafia series. Rose is a bad ass mafia queen and I loved her take charge, don’t-mess-with-this attitude, but I also loved how her softer side came out around Dante. Dante was a whipped hero and I loved how much he loved Rose! 😂 These two had sizzling hot chemistry and those steamy scenes were fire hot! I can’t wait for the next book in the Scandalous Scions series 😍

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ARC Review: Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Thanks to Park Row for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Never Saw Me Coming
Publisher: Park Row
Published: 08 October 2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Meet Chloe Sevre. She’s a freshman honor student, a leggings-wearing hot girl next door, who also happens to be a psychopath. Her hobbies include yogalates, frat parties, and plotting to kill Will Bachman, a childhood friend who grievously wronged her.

Chloe is one of seven students at her DC-based college who are part of an unusual clinical study for psychopaths—students like herself who lack empathy and can’t comprehend emotions like fear or guilt. The study, led by a renowned psychologist, requires them to wear smart watches that track their moods and movements.

When one of the students in the study is found murdered in the psychology building, a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins, and Chloe goes from hunter to prey. As she races to identify the killer and put her own plan into action, she’ll be forced to decide if she can trust any of her fellow psychopaths—and everybody knows you should never trust a psychopath.

TL;DR: Never Saw Me Coming was an entertaining, thrilling and fast-paced murder mystery! I enjoyed following the three main character perspectives and thought that they were unique as they’ve all been diagnosed as psychopaths. While I’m sure we’re not meant to find these characters likeable, I still found myself rooting for them to survive and solve the mystery? 😂 From a ‘social’ perspective it was also really interesting to see their interactions, how they viewed each other and the people around them as well!

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ARC Review: Intolerable by Darcy Burke

Special thanks to Zealous Quill Press for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Intolerable (The Phoenix Club #3)
Publisher: Zealous Quill Press
Published: 19 October 2021
Genre: Historical/Regency Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Every three years, like clockwork, Ruark Hannigan, Earl of Wexford loses his heart. Alas, he promised his father he wouldn’t marry until the age of thirty so that he’d be certain in his choice. When his best friend’s sister needs him to pose as a potential suitor to garner attention on the Marriage Mart, he’s the perfect candidate—if only he hadn’t kissed her in secret.

Lady Cassandra Westbrook can’t forget the incident between her and Wexford, and she’s having a devil of a time focusing on finding a husband. The fact that her father intimidates every gentleman has made her quest intolerable, and her two brothers who could help are proving completely worthless. But if she doesn’t settle on someone, her father will arrange an “acceptable” marriage by the end of the Season.

Finally, Cassandra has a chance at courtship, but, frustratingly, it’s not with the impulsive and irresistible Irishman her father detests and she desires. However, when Ruark sees the woman he passionately wants—despite his better judgment—swept into the arms of another man, the prospect of losing her becomes intolerable.

TL;DR: Intolerable was another very enjoyable addition to the Phoenix Club series! I was excited for Cass and Ruark’s story after we see a brief interaction between them in the previous book and I wasn’t disappointed by this forbidden older brother’s best friend romance! 😍 This was a sweet (although sometimes frustrating) love story between two tender-hearted characters. There was cheeky banter, sizzling chemistry and side characters you will also come to love!

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ARC Review: Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi

Special thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Once More Upon a Time
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Published: 05 October 2021
Genre: Romance Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Once upon a dream, there was a prince named Ambrose
and a princess named Imelda who loved each other…
But alas, no more.
“What a witch takes, a witch does not give back!”
their friends and family warn.
They resign themselves to this loveless fate…
A year and a day pass.
And then their story truly begins…

Embark on a perilous journey with Imelda and Ambrose as they brave magical landscapes and enchanted creatures on their quest to reclaim their heart’s desire… But first they must remember what that is..

This was another wonderful (and super fast) buddy read with Julie @ One Book More! 😍 Chokshi is an author I’ve been meaning to check out for a while now and this small taste has convinced me I’ll enjoy her work!


TL;DR: Once More Upon a Time was a great novella that has great fairytale vibes! Despite being so short, it feels like a fully formed story with a fantastical setting, a journey full of magical creatures and adventure, and a good dose of romance. This has a sweet HEA that brings the story around full circle and I loved it! 😍

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Book Review: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous

Goodreads: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Published: 01 June 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Coming-of-Age

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Sunny Song’s Big Summer Goals:
1) Make Rafael Kim my boyfriend (finally!)
2) Hit 100K followers (almost there…)
3) Have the best last summer of high school ever


Not on Sunny’s list: accidentally filming a PG-13 cooking video that goes viral (#browniegate). Extremely not on her list: being shipped off to a digital detox farm camp in Iowa (IOWA??) for a whole month. She’s traded in her WiFi connection for a butter churn, and if she wants any shot at growing her social media platform this summer, she’ll need to find a way back online.

But between some unexpected friendships and an alarmingly cute farm boy, Sunny might be surprised by the connections she makes when she’s forced to disconnect.

I won a copy of this book in a Giveaway hosted by the author. I buddy it with my fellow winner Julie @ One Book More and it was so much fun. 😍 I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future!


TL;DR: Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous is a comedic and realistic coming-of-age story about growing up in the age fo a social media as a mid-level influencer and I thought it was an entertaining and entirely too relatable read! I have a feeling anyone who’s been on social media, no matter what age, will relate to Sunny and the kids at this camp in one way or another! Sunny was an interesting character who experiences such great growth and I loved the hopeful end-of-summer vibes the story concluded with. #TeamSunny for the win!

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Book Review: The Darkest Temptation by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!
Check out my review for The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)!

Goodreads: The Darkest Temptation (Made #3)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 10 December 2020
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

A fortune teller once told Mila she’d find a man who would take her breath away. She refrained from telling her it would be literally while Mila ran for her life.

Having always done what is expected of her, Mila dresses the part, only dates college boys with exemplary backgrounds, and doesn’t ask questions. Not about her papa’s absences or his refusal to let her set foot in her birthplace—Russia. Suffocated by the rules and unanswered questions, Mila does what she’s always wanted to. She boards a plane to Moscow.

She never expected to fall for a man on the way. One with unexplained wealth, tattoos on his hands, and secrets in his eyes. But it doesn’t take long for his caress to become a rough grasp muffling her screams.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Unfortunately, a Russian winter is the coldest of them all, and Mila soon learns the only way to escape intact is to do the impossible and thaw her captor’s heart.

TL;DR: This third book in the Made series was definitely the darkest of them all. While I did get on board with the romance and loved their connection, there were things that happened which made me pretty uncomfortable and situations do get dicey—it is a mafia romance though so you should expect it! Mila and Ronan were sunshine and killer grump opposites attract enemies-to-lovers and it was intense, and once again, the sexual tension slays!

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Book Review: The Maddest Obsession by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!

Goodreads: The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 13 April 2019
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

She fears the dark.
He rules it.

Her dresses are too tight, her heels too tall. She laughs too loudly, eats without decorum, and mixes up most sayings in the book. Little do most know it’s just a sparkly disguise, there to hide one panic attack at a time. Nobody can crack Gianna’s facade . . . no one anyway, until he comes along.

Most see a paragon of morality; a special agent upholding the law. In the New York underworld, others know him as a hustler, a killer, his nature as cold as the heart of ice in his chest. Christian Allister has always followed the life plan he’d envisioned in his youth, beneath the harsh lights of a frigid, damp cell. With a proclivity for order and the number three, he’s never been tempted to veer off course. But perhaps one should never say never . . .

One winter night and their lives intertwine. She hates him—his stone-cold demeanor, his arrogance and too-perceptive eye—but over the years, even as their games consist of insulting each other’s looks and intelligence, she begins to live to play with him.

Nowhere in Christian’s plans had he ever prepared for Gianna. She’s chaos embodied, not his type, and married, but none of that can stop his eyes from following her wherever she goes. All along, she doesn’t even know that she’s his—his frustration, his fascination.
His maddest obsession.

TL;DR: I’m a big fan of this series and this book was even better than the first but it is also much darker as our H/H have experienced a lot of trauma and abuse in their childhood. Gianna and Christian have scorchingly hot chemistry and a playfully antagonistic relationship full of sexual tension and banter and they’re one of my new favourite couples!

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Book Review: The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori

Goodreads: The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 20 June 2018
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

She’s a romantic at heart, living in the most unromantic of worlds . . . Nicknamed Sweet Abelli for her docile nature, Elena smiles on cue and has a charming response for everything. She’s the favored daughter, the perfect mafia principessa . . . or was. Now, all she can see in the mirror’s reflection is blood staining her hands like crimson paint.

They say first impressions are everything . . .

In the murky waters of New York’s underworld, Elena’s sister is arranged to marry Nicolas Russo. A Made Man, a boss, a cheat—even measured against mafia standards. His reputation stretches far and wide and is darker than his black suits and ties. After his and Elena’s first encounter ends with an accidental glare on her part, she realizes he’s just as rude as he is handsome.

She doesn’t like the man or anything he stands for, though that doesn’t stop her heart from pattering like rain against glass when he’s near, nor the shiver that ghosts down her spine at the sound of his voice.
And he’s always near. Telling her what to do. Making her feel hotter than any future brother-in-law should. Elena may be the Sweet Abelli on the outside, but she’s beginning to learn she has a taste for the darkness, for rough hands, cigarettes, and whiskey-colored eyes. Having already escaped one scandal, however, she can hardly afford to be swept up in another.

Besides, even if he were hers, everyone knows you don’t fall in love with a Made Man . . . right?

This is a standalone forbidden romance.

TL;DR: The intense chemistry and slightly antagonistic relationship between Elena and Nicolas made for a delightful slow burn and extra steamy romance! This was character driven and it was easy to like both characters although they are morally grey and some of the more ‘mafia moments’ did make me cringe (just a bit)! The sexual tension was absolutely off-the-charts and so freaking good—I’m looking forward to continuing with the series!

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