ARC Review: Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune

Special thanks to NetGalley and Tor Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This was a buddy read with the wonderful Leslie @ Books are the New Black and I’m so glad we read it together! We sped through the book in less than two days and we both laughed, cried and surprisingly, also had the same thoughts and feelings about the ending! Definitely a fun one to read together 😊


Goodreads: Under the Whispering Door
Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: 21 September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Light Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy. 

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

TL;DR: TJ Klune has such a knack for writing books that are cosy and feel like warm hugs while also being able to shatter your feelings, and this book delivered all of that in spades! I had some long and loud laughs but it also tore at my feelings and had me ugly crying for… a good chunk of that ending. Safe to say, this was quite the emotional journey but I honestly didn’t expect it’d be anything different! If you enjoy Klune’s charming writing, witty humour, and endearing characters, then I have no doubt that you will enjoy this book. I want more of Hugo, Wallace, Mei, Nelson, Apollo and Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats, please!

CW/TW: Death of a parent, death of a child, suicide, murder (stabbing), car accident


“We live and we breathe. We die, and we still feel like breathing. It’s not always the big deaths either. There are little deaths, because that’s what grief is.”

Considering that The House in the Cerulean Sea was my favourite read of 2020, I went into this book with fairly high expectations and anticipation. This was a real slow-burn of a story but with it’s simple and compelling writing, it was still a relatively quick and easy read. There were moments when the writing did more “telling” than “showing”, which made it feel a bit clunky and detached at times, but the story is infused with TJ Klune’s witty and humorous charm, and I loved it!

Fitting with the pace, I felt this was more of a ‘quiet’ story—it’s not flashy but it’s full of heart and it creeps up on you with a grounding sort of comfort. I wouldn’t necessarily say this was uplifting either but it does explore worthwhile topics like death, loss and grief, and poses questions such as what does it mean to be alive, what constitutes a well-lived/fulfilled life and how to cope with death. The story has platitudes aplenty about living your best life, being kind to others and being the best person that you can be, and I have to admit that there was little subtlety in the telling. But while I don’t think it introduced anything new or groundbreaking to the discussion I personally had no problem with that and still managed to thoroughly enjoy the story for the cheesiness it does bring.

“She brightened. “Oh, and I’m your Reaper, here to take you where you belong.” And then, as if the moment wasn’t strange enough, she made jazz hands. ‘Ta da.'”

What made my enjoyment of this story so full however was the amazing cast of characters that Klune brings to life. They are quirky and endearing and they wormed their way into my heart so quickly! I took some notes while reading and 90% of them were variations of: “OMG STAHP I LOVE THESE CHARACTERS SO MUCH!!!” (I’m not even kidding lol.) The found family trope is one of my all-time favourites and there is big found family energy in this that makes it so easy to feel invested in these characters and their stories. Wallace, Hugo, Mei, Nelson and the adorkably clumsy ghost-doggo, Apollo, tugged so hard on my emotional strings. They had me laughing and crying and all I wanted was to hang out at the tea shop and be friends with them.

“We’re here to make sure they see that life isn’t always about living. There are many parts to it, and that it continues on, even after death. It’s beautiful, even when it hurts.”

Hugo was such a soft, empathetic cinnamon roll who lived for tea and to do his best to help those who’ve passed to cross over. Mei is a reaper who brings souls to Hugo and I loved her so much from the moment we meet her. She’s loud and hilarious and so full of life that it just beams off the pages! Much like Wallace, Nelson and Apollo are ghosts and semi-permanent residents of Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats. Nelson is Hugo’s grandfather and I loved this man so freaking much! He was fun-loving, mischievous and delightfully cheeky, as many endearing grandfatherly characters are. Being so big-hearted, generous and patient made all the characters complete opposites of Wallace, but in finding himself surrounded by them, it was great to see him come to the realisation that being kind and selfless reaps greater rewards than being cold and cruel, and that perhaps being surrounded by love and warmth is better than having everything and still, nothing. The romance between Wallace and Hugo was also heart-achingly sweet. It’s a slow burn that grows steadily from wary strangers, to steady friendship and builds up to a great love. Their inability to interact normally created a feeling of such bittersweet longing and oh, my. They were easy to ship!

“If this is a way station, if this is just one stop on a journey, you’re the better part of it.”

Although the plot was predictable and it was clear where the story was heading, I was still a little disappointed that it ended the way it did. I know a lot of people will love it and I probably would’ve too had I read this a few years ago because who doesn’t want that well-rounded happy ever after? However, I felt that it was just too neat and simple (idealistic even?) and in a way I felt that it even took away some of the story’s power. But did it stop me from being completely emotionally devastated? No. Was I still quietly ugly crying into my pillow at 2AM and wondering how I could make it all hurt less? Yes! Did it still leave me wanting moremoremore of these characters and other stories from the Charon’s Crossing Tea and Treats shop? Abso-freaking-lutely!

Have you read Under the Whispering Door or is it on your TBR?

Blog Tour Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Hello, hello friends! I’m so excited to be back with another blog tour with @TheWriteReads gang! Today I’m sharing a review for a book that looks all cute and fluffy on the outside but takes a step beyond that on the inside: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. Don’t forget to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to Penguin for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Instructions for Dancing
Publisher: Penguin
Publish Date: 01 June 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.

Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.

When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.

For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.

But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?

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Book Review: Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Goodreads: Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1)
Publisher: Tordotcom
Published: 18 June 2019
Genre: Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads. When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past—both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

What did I just read? This was WAY too short and I didn’t want it to end! I don’t often read novellas or short stories because I have a very hard time connecting to them and most of the time I feel like before the story has even begun it’s already ended. Emily Tesh managed to make me really care about this story that’s a little over 100 pages and I’m amazed! I have a feeling that this book will continue to grow on me the longer that I think about it and I love books that do that ❤️ I don’t even know how to adequately describe how wonderful this short story is. It’s so full of heart and emotion and it’s a perfectly dark fairytale story set in the woods! Not to mention that cover? *chefs kiss!*

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Blog Tour Review: Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney

Hey friends! I’m excited to be back for another tour with @TheWriteReads for Bad Habits by Flynn Meaney. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to Penguin & Netgalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Bad Habits
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 11 February 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Hilarious, bold, sparky and surprising, this is the funniest feminist book you’ll read all year.

Alex is a rebel from the tip of her purple faux-hawk to the toes of her biker boots. She’s tried everything she can think of to get expelled from her strict Catholic boarding school. Nothing has worked so far – but now, Alex has a new plan. Tired of the sexism she sees in every corner of St Mary’s, Alex decides to stage the school’s first ever production of The Vagina Monologues. Which is going to be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary’s can even bear to say the word ‘vagina’ out loud . . .

BUY NOW: Book Depository | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)
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Blog Tour Review: White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton

Hey friends! I’m excited to be back for another tour with @ TheWriteReads for White Trash Warlock by David R. Slayton. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to the author for the gifted copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: White Trash Warlock (The Adam Binder Novels #1)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Published: 13 October 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead. It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart. The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it.

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Blog Tour Review: Steel & Stone by Kate Haley

I’m back with another blog tour with The Storytellers on Tour for Stone & Steel (The War of the North Saga #1) by Kate Haley. Thanks to the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review!

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

Goodreads: Stone & Steel (The War of the North #1) Publication Date: 06 May 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Epic Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Ten years. Thousands dead. No memories.

The amnesia was supposed to be a good thing. Other soldiers bask in its freedom. Except for Elvac it doesn’t feel right. When he returns from his first year at war he can’t shake the niggling sensation that something is missing. His life has been turned upside down, yet he can’t remember being gone. The only proof of his time away are the scars, and the haunting dreams of fire.


With the help of his friends, Elvac begins to regain his lost memories, and with them uncover the truth of his missing year, and what the Church of Sunne is really doing with their War of the North…

BUY NOW: Amazon (US)

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Blog Tour Review: I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

Hello, friends! Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan. Thanks to the TBR & Beyond team for having me on tour and to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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

Goodreads: I Hope You’re Listening
Publisher: AW Teen
Publication Date: 06 October 2020
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Panda Rating:

EVERY MISSING PERSON HAS A STORY.

In her small town, seventeen-year-old Delia “Dee” Skinner is known as the girl who wasn’t taken. Ten years ago she witnessed the abduction of her best friend, Sibby. And though she told the police everything she remembered, it wasn’t enough. Sibby was never seen again.

At night, Dee deals with her guilt by becoming someone else: the Seeker, the voice behind the popular true crime podcast Radio Silent, which features missing persons cases and works with online sleuths to solve them. Nobody knows Dee’s the Seeker, and she plans to keep it that way.

When another little girl in town goes missing, and the case is linked to Sibby’s disappearance, Dee has a chance to get answers with the help of her virtual detectives and the intriguing new girl at school. But how much of her own story is she willing to reveal in order to uncover the truth?

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

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Tour the World in 30 Books Tour: Wicked As You Wish

Tour the World in 30 Books is a blog tour hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den in support of her local public library’s Diverse Book Drive. The CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.

I’ve been so excited to take part in this awesome tour! It’s such a wonderful way to visit other countries and learn about other cultures without having to leave the comfort of your home. I’m so happy to support a wonderful friend and librarian in promoting diverse reads in her small-town library. Be sure to check out the other wonderful posts and bloggers on tour—trust, you don’t want to miss out on seeing their awesome content! 😉

Today I’ll be talking about the book Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco. You can also check out my og review for the book! I was a little unsure about how I wanted to do this post and to be honest, I’m still not 100% sure about it but I’m rolling with it and seeing where it takes me. I thought I’d share five reasons why you should read WAYW, but I’m also going to share a short reflection about reading this book, and I’ll be sharing a recipe for a Filipino dish that is one of my all-time favourite foods. What better (and more delicious) way is there to connect to a culture than through food? I hope you enjoy it!

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Blog Tour Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

Hi friends! I’m so excited to be back for another @WriteReads blog tour for May Day by Josie Jaffrey. Special thanks to the author for the copy in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour here.

Goodreads: May Day (Seekers #1)
Publisher: Silver Sun Books
Published: 09 July 2020
Genre: Paranormal Mystery
Panda Rating:

If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one.

It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake.
When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does.
To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die.
Body bags on standby.

May Day is the first book in Josie Jaffrey’s Seekers series, an urban fantasy series set in Oxford, England.

BUY NOW: Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

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Book Spotlight: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

I’m delighted to be sharing a book spotlight today for The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen. Thanks to the TBR & Beyond Tours team for organising and including me in this blog tour!

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

Goodreads: The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life
Publisher: Second Story Press
Publish Date: 22 September 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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. 

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