#WWWWednesday: 12 August

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last Wednesday I managed to finish 3.5 books (the .5 because I DNF’d one and so I won’t include that here). One of my goals for a while now is to allow myself to DNF and not feel guilty about it and although it’s really slow going, I think I’m doing a pretty good job this year since I’ve already allowed myself to DNF three books. Slow and steady, right?

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt ★★★★½
I was pleasantly surprised by With or Without You especially because it’s the kind of book that I’d normally find myself disliking–not because it’s poorly written but because the characters are so flawed and I find it hard to connect to stories when I dislike characters. That (obviously) didn’t happen here though. This was a very bittersweet and deeply emotional book about love, loyalty, the choices we make in life and ultimately, about growth, change and finding yourself. Read my review!

A House is A Body by Shruti Swamy ★★★☆☆
I struggle with the way short stories are usually written but I continue to read them in the hopes I’ll find my “one” collection. While I enjoyed some of these stories, most of them mainly confused me and that impacted by overall view. Swamy’s writing is wonderful and she does an amazing job writing stories rooted in both fantasy and reality! I recommend it if you like diverse and fantastical short stories. Read my review!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed ★★★★★
Although I initially struggled to connect with Ashley, I was able to empathise with her as I read on. She’s still a very unlikeable character but her growth in this book was so well done and I felt so proud of her in the end! This was a heavy book. It angered me, frustrated me, made me despair but I commend Hammonds Reed for ending this book in such a hopeful way. Although everything wasn’t okay, you felt like eventually, we’re going to get there. Read my review!

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Blog Tour Review: A House is a Body by Shruti Swamy

Today I’m back with another Algonquin book tour for A House is A Body by Shruti Swamy. Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This book is out 11 August 2020!

Goodreads: A House is a Body
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 11 August 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories
Panda Rating:

In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. In “Earthly Pleasures,” Radika, a young painter living alone in San Francisco, begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy and the sense of a new beginning. In the title story, an exhausted mother watches, distracted and paralyzed, as a California wildfire approaches her home. With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories of A House Is a Body travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

Buy: Amazon (US)

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Blog Tour Review: With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt

I’m back with another Algonquin blog tour and this time it’s for With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt. Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Goodreads: With or Without You
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 04 August 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction
Panda Rating:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

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Top 5 Saturday: Books I Need to Finish!

We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is actually: books I’d give a second chance.

But as we know by now I don’t normally DNF books for a number of reasons but mostly guilt. Most of the time I power through that baddie and just “get it over with” (which also doesn’t sound great), but that’s also a longer discussion for another time! So since I don’t have (m)any DNFs to choose from, I decided to dig deep into memory banks and recall the books that I have put to the side but am determined to (eventually) finish!

As a mood reader, it can be pretty tough to stick to a book when my mood is swinging wildly all over the place. It doesn’t happen often because most of the time I settle into a book/story and I end up really enjoying the read and my moods quickly “calm down”… But when my moods are particularly erratic, I usually end up jumping through at least 5-10 books until I find one I can handle (this is making me sound insane, right? Lol). Most of these were put down because my mood just wouldn’t comply and I ended up repeatedly re-reading passages until I decided it’s not for now. Without any more waffling, here we go:

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Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits Blog Tour: Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for the re-release of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami. A big shout out to Kelly from Algonquin for asking me to be part of this blog tour! I’m chuffed to have been given the opportunity to read something that’s well out of my usual reads and comfort zone, but I’m so glad I gave this a go! Special thanks to Algonquin Books and the author for providing me a copy of her book as part of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 14 April 2020 (re-release)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Cultural Fiction
Panda Rating:

Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits evokes the grit and enduring grace that is modern Morocco. As four Moroccans illegally cross the Strait of Gibraltar in an inflatable boat headed for Spain, author Laila Lalami asks, What has driven them to risk their lives? And will the rewards prove to be worth the danger? There’s Murad, a gentle, unemployed man who’s been reduced to hustling tourists around Tangier; Halima, who’s fleeing her drunken husband and the slums of Casablanca; Aziz, who must leave behind his devoted wife in hope of securing work in Spain; and Faten, a student and religious fanatic whose faith is at odds with an influential man determined to destroy her future. Sensitively written with beauty and boldness, this is a gripping book about what propels people to risk their lives in search of a better future. 

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February Reading Challenge Update

Can someone tell me where February went? At times it went insanely slowly (probably due to being sick early on) but then as the weeks passed it went in a blink! What a month… Unfortunately as it was quite busy I didn’t manage to do so well on my challenges? There was a little progress but I’m hoping March will be better!

ARC Apocalypse

I managed to read six ARCs and I’m pretty good with that progress! Yes, most of them were for blog tours but I’m glad I had that as motivation to keep reading them. I thought a few were just okay but I really enjoyed some of these and can’t wait for everyone to read them!

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Down the TBR Hole – 14

My guilt has kicked in and told me that I can’t keep avoiding another culling of my ridiculous TBR forever, so here I am. Back again with a list of books from my Goodreads TBR that is now a whopping 1,072 books (don’t judge me, I added more books to my TBR since last week)! I thought I’d make it clear again that just because it’s on my Goodreads TBR doesn’t actually mean I own copies of the book (that’d be way ridiculous even for me)! Let’s see what we can get rid of today, eh?

Down the TBR Hole is a weekly book meme created by the wonderful Lia @ Lost in a Story that attempts to organize our ridiculously long Goodreads TBR list by choosing either to keep or eliminate the books we’ve saved on there. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go

Verdict: Keep

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Down the TBR Hole – 13

My guilt has kicked in and told me that I can’t keep avoiding another culling of my ridiculous TBR forever, so here I am. Back again with a list of books from my Goodreads TBR that is now a whopping 1,073 books! I thought I’d make it clear again that just because it’s on my Goodreads TBR doesn’t actually mean I own copies of the book (that’d be way ridiculous even for me)! Let’s see what we can get rid of today, eh?

Down the TBR Hole is a weekly book meme created by the wonderful Lia @ Lost in a Story that attempts to organize our ridiculously long Goodreads TBR list by choosing either to keep or eliminate the books we’ve saved on there. Here’s how it works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go

Verdict: Keep

Continue reading “Down the TBR Hole – 13”

January Reading Challenge Update

Yes, I know I’m late to update. Life has been happening and in typical panda fashion, I also started to slack off a little with recording my reads on my challenge spreadsheet! Oops? Thankfully there’s the Goodreads Reading Challenge which has helped me to recall what books I’ve read over the last month and what challenges they’d fit under! So let’s take a look at how I’ve been doing for the *many* challenges that I decided to participate in this year…

I’ve been using many of the same books I’ve read to fulfil the prompts in different challenges and I think that’s OK although sometimes it feels like “I’m cheating” although I know that’s just the nay-sayers I’ve encountered whose voices are ringing in my ears 😂

ARC Apocalypse

I managed to read four ARCs in January and while that’s not a whole lot (at least compared to others) it’s more than I thought I’d read last month, so I’m happy there’s some progress, no matter how small!

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#WWWWednesday: 29 January

Welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Well, finally my “just finished reading” pile is looking a little bit more lively than earlier on in the month and lookie! That’s three e-ARCs done and dusted 🥳 I’ve been whining a lot about how sick I’ve been lately but being cooped up in the hotel room meant I was able to read more than I expected to!

The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman ★★★★☆
This conclusion went in a direction that I didn’t expect but it was wholly satisfying! I wish that the original characters, Citra and Rowan, got way more face-time than they did in this conclusion, but I did appreciate the new POVs that we’re introduced to. I was particularly fond of Jericho! All the pressing questions were answered and Shusterman ends it in such a way that short spin-offs can be made in the future! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan ★★★★½
The Count of Monte Cristo is one heckuva intimidating tome but after reading this manga classic I’m very eager to pick up the original novel! King & Chan did an amazing job at condensing a complex story into a 400-page manga, while still retaining the essence of the story and presenting it in a clear and logical order. Would highly recommend reading this if you’re intimidated by the original! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) Bitter Falls (Stillhouse Lake #4) by Rachel Caine ★★★½
Bitter Falls was a fast-paced and action-packed story full of what we’ve come to expect from Caine in this series — there’s family drama, an intriguing mystery, lots of killing, explosions and near-death experiences, and a somewhat happy ending. This was an enjoyable continuation of the Stillhouse Lake series but after reading this, I think my time with Gwen and her familia has run its course. The continuing over-the-top drama seems just a little too unbelievable for me now. Check out my full review here.

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim ★★★★½
Why did I wait so long to read this one? I don’t know but I was definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed it! While it wasn’t perfect there was certainly a lot to love (imo). I didn’t think I would get so attached to Maia and Edan but I really did and I was a solid shipper! What I did want was a better understanding of the magic though. Also, I’m gutted that I didn’t double check the release date for book two because now I must suffer waiting until July?! Check out my full review here.

(e-ARC) How to Build A Heart by Maria Padian ★★★★☆
The more I let this book sink in I realise I enjoyed it more than I didn’t. Does that sound weird? Maybe. I had some issues with the MC, Izzy, and how one of the main friendships was treated and while I wasn’t 100% pleased with the resolution of that conflict I also recognise that her character experiences satisfying growth by the end. She made questionable decisions but she’s also a teenager and I know I wasn’t immune to making more than my fair share of those! I thought the cultural representation was well done and was the most enjoyable aspect of the story for me. Padian delivers a sincere and well-written coming of age story full of family, friendships, finding yourself and learning where your heart belongs. Review coming very soon!

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