Blog Tour Review: Crushing by Sophie Burrows

🥳 Happy Pub Day to Crushing! 🥳

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me to be on the blog tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Crushing
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: 11 January 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

She’s lonely and searching for a connection. He’s lonely and afraid to reach out.
Life in the big city means being surrounded by connections—making them, missing them, and longing for them. But is finding someone else really the answer to their problems?

Crushing, the stunning debut graphic novel from Sophie Burrows, is a story told in silence; a story without words but bursting with meaning; a story about loneliness and love.

Achingly beautiful, quietly defiant, and full of subtle wit and wisdom, Crushing is a unique meditation on the human condition in the twenty-first century, and a timely examination of young adult life in an age of isolation
.

buy a copy

Sophie Burrows is an award winning British writer, illustrator and comics creator. Inspired by the everyday, she loves to tell stories which explore themes of human behaviour, mental health and relationships. In 2019 she graduated from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration course at Cambridge School of Art, and subsequently won Student Illustrator of the Year 2019 at the V&A Illustration Awards.

Her first picture book as writer/illustrator, Ig Pig and Og Frog! was released in 2020, and her debut graphic novel, Crushing , publishes in 2021. Alongside her illustration, Sophie is also an associate lecturer and teaches on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Sophie lives and works in London with her partner Daniel. Besides drawing, she also loves to cook, and enjoys being creative in the kitchen. She is an avid music lover, and often spends her spare time watching live music and going to festivals. 

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TL;DR: Crushing is a graphic novel that I think will resonate with many of us because we’ve all felt loneliness and do feel lonely, especially since the pandemic. The artwork was simple, beautiful and vibrant with pops of red amidst the black and white, and the style complemented the quietness of the story very well. There was no plot but we follow the lives of our two protagonists as they navigate their everyday situations, searching for opportunities and connections, and it was simply so relatable. There may not be a happy ever after just yet but it’s certainly a hopeful new beginning! 🥰

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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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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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Book Spotlight: The Archer by Shruti Swamy

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

Hello, friends! I’m happy to shine a spotlight today on The Archer by Shruti Swamy.

“This is a singular work, a story of a dancer, and of a hungry self seated at the table of womanness and desire and art, told with unparalleled originality and elegance. Swamy writes with a thrilling clarity of vision that wakes the sleepwalker right into joyful consciousness. Every word is intimate, honest, ecstatic—utterly alive. I will hold this novel close, and return to it for companionship, for instruction, and for pure pleasure. I love and treasure this book.”

—Meng Jin, author of Little Gods

Goodreads: The Archer
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: 07 September 2021
Genre: Literary Cultural Fiction

As a child, Vidya exists to serve her family, watch over her younger brother, and make sense of a motherless world. One day she catches sight of a class where the students are learning Kathak, a precise, dazzling form of dance that requires the utmost discipline and focus. Kathak quickly becomes the organizing principle of Vidya’s life, even as she leaves home for college, falls in love with her best friend, and battles demands on her time, her future, and her body. Can Vidya give herself over to her art and also be a wife in Bombay’s carefully delineated society? Can she shed the legacy of her own imperfect, unknowable mother? Must she, herself, also become a mother?

Intensely lyrical and deeply sensual, with writing as rhythmically mesmerizing as Kathak itself, The Archer is about the transformative power of art and the possibilities that love can open when we’re ready.

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Blog Tour Review: Silence Is a Sense by Layla AlAmmar

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me to be on the blog tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Silence Is a Sense
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 16 March 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

A young woman sits in her apartment in an unnamed English city, absorbed in watching the small dramas of her assorted neighbors through their windows across the way. Traumatized into muteness after a long, devastating trip from war-torn Syria to the UK, she believes that she wants to sink deeper into isolation, moving between memories of her absent boyfriend and family and her homeland, dreams, and reality. At the same time, she begins writing for a magazine under the pseudonym “the Voiceless,” trying to explain the refugee experience without sensationalizing it—or revealing anything about herself.

Gradually, as the boundaries of her world expand—as she ventures to the neighborhood corner store, to a gathering at a nearby mosque, and to the bookstore and laundromat, and as an anti-Muslim hate crime shatters the members of a nearby mosque—she has to make a choice: Will she remain a voiceless observer, or become an active participant in her own life and in a community that, despite her best efforts, is quickly becoming her own?

TL;DR: March 15 marked ten years since the start of the Syrian war. Millions of people have been become refugees and internally displaced and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. These are numbers that are so LARGE that it’s impossible to comprehend. What is it like for people to literally watch their nation crumble right before their eyes? To have to choose between leaving and living or staying and (very possibly) dying? As stated in an interview, through this book, AlAmmar set out to ‘dispel the abstractions’ of the literal crumbling of a nation and to ground the magnitude of such devastation and loss through a personal narrative and she does an INCREDIBLE job. Poetically written, thought-provoking and emotionally explosive, this isn’t an easy read at all but my gosh is it absolutely worth it! This will undoubtedly be one of the most impactful books I read in 2021 and I highly recommend it.

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Blog Tour Review: At the Edge of the Haight by Katherine Seligman

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me to be on the blog tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: At the Edge of the Haight
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 19 January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(actual 2.75 pandas)

Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. She knows whom to trust, where to eat, when to move locations, and how to take care of her dog. It’s the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys’ parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw. As adults pressure her to give up her secrets and reunite with her own family before she meets a similar fate, Maddy must decide whether she wants to stay lost or be found. Against the backdrop of a radically changing San Francisco, a city which embraces a booming tech economy while struggling to maintain its culture of tolerance, At the Edge of the Haight follows the lives of those who depend on makeshift homes and communities.

As judge Hillary Jordan says, “This book pulled me deep into a world I knew little about, bringing the struggles of its young, homeless inhabitants—the kind of people we avoid eye contact with on the street—to vivid, poignant life. The novel demands that you take a close look. If you knew, could you still ignore, fear, or condemn them? And knowing, how can you ever forget?”

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Blog Tour Review: The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me to be on tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Fortunate Ones
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 05 January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?
 
But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?
 
The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

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Goodreads Monday – The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

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 The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington. This is a literary fiction that is set to be published in January 2021 and currently has a 4.0 rating on Goodreads with 32 reviews. So very early days!

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First Impressions Spotlight: Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

So it turns out that I noted my date incorrectly for this Algonquin tour and I didn’t bother to recheck it like I usually do because it’s been so busy… and I feel terrible about it! 😰 I have read 30% of the book though so this will be a “First Impressions” review but I will follow it up with a full review ASAP!

Thanks to Algonquin Books and NetGalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Big Girl, Small Town
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 01 December 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Irish Literature

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from her neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up during the Troubles. She lives a quiet life caring for her alcoholic mother, working in the local chip shop, and watching the regular customers come and go. She wears the same clothes each day (overalls, too small), has the same dinner each night (fish and chips, microwaved at home after her shift ends), and binge-watches old DVDs of the same show (Dallas, best show on TV) from the comfort of her bed. But underneath Majella’s seemingly ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. When Majella’s seemingly mundane existence is upended by the death of her granny, she comes to realize there may be more to life than the gossips of Aghybogey, the pub, and the chip shop. In fact, there just may be a whole big world outside her small town. 

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Blog Tour Review: His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

I’m back with another Algonquin blog tour and this time it’s for this gem of a debut: His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie. Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Goodreads: His Only Wife
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 01 September 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, African Literature
Panda Rating:

Afi Tekple is a young seamstress whose life is narrowing rapidly. She lives in a small town in Ghana with her widowed mother, spending much of her time in her uncle Pious’s house with his many wives and children. Then one day she is offered a life-changing opportunity—a proposal of marriage from the wealthy family of Elikem Ganyo, a man she doesn’t truly know. She acquiesces, but soon realizes that Elikem is not quite the catch he seemed. He sends a stand-in to his own wedding, and only weeks after Afi is married and installed in a plush apartment in the capital city of Accra does she meet her new husband. It turns out that he is in love with another woman, whom his family disapproves of; Afi is supposed to win him back on their behalf. But it is Accra that eventually wins Afi’s heart and gives her a life of independence that she never could have imagined for herself.

A brilliant scholar and a fierce advocate for women’s rights, author Peace Adzo Medie infuses her debut novel with intelligence and humor. For readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Candice Carty-Williams, His Only Wife is the story of an indomitable and relatable heroine that illuminates what it means to be a woman in a rapidly changing world.

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