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:


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!

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ARC Review: Ever After Always by Chloe Liese

Special thanks to Chloe Liese for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Ever After Always (Bergman Brothers #3)
Publication date: 12 January 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:



Buckle up for an emotional journey of hijinks, heartache, and a hot slow-burn in this marriage-in-crisis romance about going the distance to make love last.

Aiden
I’ve spent twelve years loving Freya Bergman and twelve lifetimes won’t be enough to give her everything she deserves. She’s my passionate, tender-hearted wife, my best friend, and all I want is to make her happy. But the one thing that will make her happiest is the one thing I’m not sure I can give her: a baby. With the pressure of providing and planning for a family, my anxiety’s at an all-time high, and I find myself pulling away, terrified to tell my wife how I’m struggling. But when Freya kicks me out, I realize that pulling back has turned into pushing too far. Now it’s the fight of a lifetime to save our marriage.

Freya
I love my cautious, hard-working husband. He’s my partner and best friend, the person I know I can count on most. Until one day I realize the man I married is nowhere to be found. Now Aiden is quiet and withdrawn, and as the months wear on, the pain of our growing distance becomes too much.  As if weathering marriage counseling wasn’t enough, we’re thrown together for an island getaway to celebrate my parents’ many years of perfect marriage while ours is on the brink of collapse. Despite my meddling siblings and a week in each other’s constant company, this trip somehow gets us working through the trouble in paradise. I just can’t help worrying, when we leave paradise and return to the real world, will trouble find us again?

GET YOUR COPY: Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

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

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#TopTenTuesday: Favourite 2020 Reads!

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Favourite Books of 2020.

I can’t believe that it’s already time to make this list because wow, what a year 2020 has been, eh? I mean, we all know what kind of year it was and although not all of us had the worst one, I think the general mood of 2020 has been pretty despondent. I’m definitely not expecting things to magically turn around in 2021 but I am hoping that it’ll at least be marginally better than this one (I’m keeping my expectations low though so that I might be pleasantly surprised)! 😂

That said, it was a pretty great year for books/reading and I’m sure many of you will agree! Although it actually wasn’t my best year, I did get to some pretty fantastic titles that I’m sure will stick with me for a while to come. Unsurprisingly, I’m notoriously bad at picking ‘favourites’ so this list was a bit of a struggle 😂 It took me way too long to narrow it down and definitely don’t be surprised by the few honorary mentions at the end! I’m really keen to see what 2021 brings in terms of reading and I’m hoping that I’ll get to even more of my backlist because let’s face it, it gets bigger with each year that passes! Now without further ado, here are my favourites for the year…

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Book Review: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
Genre: Non Fiction, True Crime
Panda Rating:


In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at The Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company’s value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley.

This review was written on 19 December right after I finished reading it!


First of all, wow. WowwowwowwowWOW.
Second, I’ve only ever read one non-fiction that I devoured so quickly and I think I read this one even faster!
Third, JUST. WOW!

I really don’t know how to write this review right now because (clearly) I’m still a little shook. My brain keeps asking: did I just read a science fiction thriller or did this actually happen? I honestly can’t remember the last time I swore so much and so loudly while reading–there was a lot of “WTF, GTFO, and are you forking serious” going on during this read but I just couldn’t help myself! 😂 I had no intention of finishing the book today when I picked it up and decided to purchase the audiobook, but this was 100% unputdownable. I do think the audiobook is what helped me get through this so quickly though and I would definitely recommend it (I listened on 2x speed)!

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#TopTenTuesday: Books I’m Thankful for in 2020!

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Thanksgiving/I’m Thankful for… Freebie!

When I saw the prompt for this week I wasn’t really sure that I was feeling it, plus, we also don’t celebrate Turkey Day but I let the prompt simmer for a while and then decided I’d just share ten books I’m thankful for (sorry for the unoriginal idea lol)!

We all know what a hellacious year 2020 has been, more so for some than others, and all the ways that has impacted various aspects of our lives including reading. So I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the ten books that I am especially thankful to have read this year! Whether it’s because they brought me joy and gave me all the heartwarming feels, or it took me out of the nightmarish reality that we’re all living in, or it just really helped me process emotions and was a cathartic read (intended or otherwise)! Basically, these books helped me to keep going this year and I’m very thankful for them! Picking only ten from the 100+ books I’ve read is going to be tough AF but let’s see what I come up with! Maybe I’ll include some honorary mentions 😂

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ARC Review: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

🎈 Happy pub day to The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life! 🎈

Thanks to NetGalley and Second Story Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life
Publisher: Second Story Press
Publication date: 22 September 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Panda Rating:


Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

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

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#TopTenTuesday: Middle Grade Reads for a Younger Me!

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 for My Younger Self (these could be books you wish you had read as a child, books younger you could have really learned something from, books that meshed with your hobbies/interests, books that could have helped you go through events/changes in your life, etc.)

Over the last couple of days I’ve been thinking a lot about the middle grade fantasies that I’ve read and that I still really want to read, and these thoughts fit so well with this week’s prompt, so I was quite excited to dive right in. Then I realised that I actually have more MG reads on my TBR than ones I’ve read so this week I’ve split the post into read and unread books, but they’re all books that I think my younger middle-school self would’ve very much enjoyed reading!

READ

Nevermoor Series
The Ship of Shadows
Malamander
Wonder
The Tea Dragon Society


UNREAD

Other Words for Home
Race to the Sun
The Unadoptables
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
Wonderscape

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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?

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ARC Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: 17 March 2020
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Panda Rating:


A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

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

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#TopTenTuesday: Books that Should Be Adapted into Netflix Shows/Movies

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 should be adapted into Netflix shows/movies (submitted by Nushu @ Not A Prima Donna Girl).

I always see a lot of people commenting about how they always think about what books should be made into shows or movies but I actually don’t ever think about it? Well, not never but not often and usually not until I’m asked! 😂 But once I started thinking about it I realised there are quite a few I’d love to see as either. Although whether I’d actually watch them or not would be a totally different thing because just like with all the books waiting to be read on my physical/digital shelves (look at me calling myself out), I have a long as list of shows/movies that need to be watched, too. I mean, eventually… Right? 😅

Sadie: I think this would be such an awesome show! Especially with the podcast and mystery elements plus the different timelines and perspectives. I would love to see it come to life on the screen!

The Kiss Quotient + The Bride Test: I can actually see this playing out as a really awesome show where the romances are playing out around the same time and it makes my little Asian heart so happy! Pls can has this in life?

The Lunar Chronicles: This would be such a fun high-stakes adventure sci-fi show. I could see it all happening as one big show like GoT and it would be awesome 😍

One of Us is Lying: This was a fun mystery/thriller that was set in high school and gave me some serious Breakfast Club + How to Get Away with Murder vibes. I think it’d be a great show or movie!

Neverwhere: This is my favourite Gaiman book and American Gods comes in a close second. I haven’t seen the American Gods show yet but I’d love for this one to also be made into a show!

We Were Liars: This is a book that has really mixed reviews and although I actually (somehow) predicted what was actually happening with our MC, it still managed to emotionally shake me. I really think this would make a great short show!

The Simple Wild: I loved this book so much. I want to experience the Alaska that they do and I would love love love to see Calla and Jonah (*swoon*), their banter and love come to life!

Red, White and Royal Blue: I came through with the unpopular opinion for this book because while I did enjoy it, I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did. That said, I think it’d be a really awesome show and I could definitely see it being a huge hit!

The Flatshare: I absolutely loved the fuzzy feelings this book gave me and I think it would do as good a job as a movie. Just think how cute and sweet it would be seeing these two lovelies on screen 🥰

Daisy Jones and the Six: This is cheating a bit because it’s already being made into a movie (not by Netflix) but I’m so excited for it, it can’t not be on this list 😂 I think I want this to happen mostly so I can finally hear the music.

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