First Lines Friday – 12 March

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead. “It still didn’t help him much, my love,” she told me. But I saw her do it all the same. That’s how I knew she was magic.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 12 March”

ARC Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Death of Vivek Oji
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 20 August 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

TL;DR: This was an incredible and heartbreaking story about the complexities of love, sexual and gender identity, and self-acceptance in a society that doesn’t accept or acknowledge your existence. It’s about loss, grief, fear and secrets. It’s a stunningly written book that I would highly recommend, although I will say it might not be for everyone as it does involve taboo relationships (sexually explicit) that some readers might find uncomfortable or disturbing. There are still months left to go in 2021, but so far, this is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year!

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi”

Book Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Goodreads: Take A Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2)
Publisher: Avon
Published: 23 June 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Yes. Yes. YAAAAAS to this book!!! Oh my lordy lordy. MY FEELS. The swooning. I just… THE FEELS! If you love the fake dating trope, witty banter that will have you simultaneously swooning and cracking up, smart AF badass bisexual heroines, super soft hopeless romantic heroes, crackling chemistry and intensely steamy scenes: don’t sleep on this one. Talia Hibbert really brings it all with this romance I’m so here for it!

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Book Blitz: Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

🥳 Happy Book Birthday to Maya and the Rising Dark! 🥳

I’m delighted to be taking part in a book blitz with TBR & Beyond Tours for Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron. This middle grade fantasy was pitched as Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson and seriously, how good does that sound?! Plus, this cover is just love!

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

Goodreads: Maya and the Rising Dark
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: 22 September 2020
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

BUY NOW: Amazon (US) | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

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Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get A Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:


Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorbike.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written out step-by-step guidelines. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job: Redford ‘Red’ Morgan. With tattoos and a motorbike, Red is the perfect helper in her mission to rebel, but as they spend more time together, Chloe realises there’s much more to him than his tough exterior implies. Soon she’s left wanting more from him than she ever expected . . . maybe there’s more to life than her list ever imagined?

Continue reading “Review: Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert”

First Lines Friday – 21 August

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 21 August”

Blog Tour Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

I’m so honoured and excited to share my review today as part of the book blog tour for The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed. Special thanks to Shivani at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for reaching out and asking if I’d like to be part of their tour for this incredible book. Thanks to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Goodreads: The Black Kids
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 04 August 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Panda Rating:

Perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, this unforgettable coming-of-age debut novel explores issues of race, class, and violence through the eyes of a wealthy black teenager whose family gets caught in the vortex of the 1992 Rodney King Riots.

Los Angeles, 1992
Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Buy: Publisher | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Book Depository

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed”

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones Review and Favourite Quotes

Thanks to NetGalley, Wattpad Books and author Daven McQueen for providing the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Release date: 16 June 2020
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:



It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance.

Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | IndieBound

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

“It is also, first and foremost, a story about race. It’s a story about the struggle that it was and is to be black in America. And because that is a hard thing, this story deals heavily with racism in the attitudes and languages of certain characters.”

Continue reading “The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones Review and Favourite Quotes”

#TopTenTuesday: Summer Vibes

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books that Give Off Summer Vibes (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

Prompts to do with seasons are always a bit tough for me since I live in the tropics and it’s basically summer the year round 😂 But I can get on board with the idea of summer! Thinking of books that give off summer vibes obviously means a lot of cover judging, right? I mean, what catches my eye when I think of summer vibes are bright and vivid splashes of colour leaning towards pinks, yellows and blues. Maybe some flowers, palm trees, beaches (this is sounding cliche, isn’t it? LOL)… In terms of the plot, I think lighter and maybe even shorter reads would do the trick. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with more serious topics being discussed of course but just thinking of that blazing sun slowing down my brain waves definitely has me thinking the lighter the better!

So after a little bit of digging through my TBR and this slightly long-winded post introduction 😂 I’ve come up with this list of 10 books on my TBR that give off summer vibes:

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#5OnMyTBR: LGBTQ+ Main Character

Hello Mondays, welcome back to #5OnMyTBR, a meme created by the wonderful E @ The Local Bee Hunter’s Nook. This bookish meme gets us to dig even further into our TBRs by simply posting about five books on our TBR! You can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. You can find the full list of prompts (past and future) at the end of this post!

This week’s prompt is: LGBTQ+ Main Characters

Continue reading “#5OnMyTBR: LGBTQ+ Main Character”