Blog Tour Review: Passport by Sophia Glock

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Passport by Sophia Glock. Special thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Passport
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 16 November 2021
Genre: Graphic Novel, Memoir, Non-Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Young Sophia has lived in so many different countries, she can barely keep count. Stationed now with her family in Central America because of her parents’ work, Sophia feels displaced as an American living abroad, when she has hardly spent any of her life in America.

Everything changes when she reads a letter she was never meant to see and uncovers her parents’ secret. They are not who they say they are. They are working for the CIA. As Sophia tries to make sense of this news, and the web of lies surrounding her, she begins to question everything. The impact that this has on Sophia’s emerging sense of self and understanding of the world makes for a page-turning exploration of lies and double lives.

In the hands of this extraordinary graphic storyteller, this astonishing true story bursts to life.

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Goodreads Monday – A Short History of Falling: Everything I Observed About Love Whilst Dying by Joe Hammond

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 A Short History of Falling: Everything I Observed About Love Whilst Dying by Joe Hammond. This is non-fiction that was published in 2019.

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Goodreads Monday – Educated by Tara Westover

It’s the first Goodreads Monday of 2020, friends! 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.

This week’s book is Educated by Tara Westover. This book was all over bookstagram and the book community has hyped it up extremely. Plus I absolutely love this cover (another illustrated cover but it’s also the small details that I love)! 😍 It has a very high 4.48 average with 535k+ ratings and 52k+ reviews.

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Goodreads Monday – 26 August

We’re back with another Goodreads Monday, a weekly meme started by @Lauren’s Page Turners that 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’re feeling it!

The random number generator landed on book #310 so this week’s book is: A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss and Survival by Melissa Fleming! I added this back in April 2018, so it’s been on my list for a while…

Doaa and her family leave war-torn Syria for Egypt where the climate is becoming politically unstable and increasingly dangerous. She meets and falls in love with Bassem, a former Free Syrian Army fighter and together they decide to leave behind the hardship and harassment they face in Egypt to flee for Europe, joining the ranks of the thousands of refugees who make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded and run-down ships to seek asylum overseas and begin a new life. After four days at sea, their boat is sunk by another boat filled with angry men shouting threats and insults. With no land in sight and surrounded by bloated, floating corpses, Doaa is adrift with a child’s inflatable water ring around her waist, while two little girls cling to her neck. Doaa must stay alive for them. She must not lose strength. She must not lose hope.

Why do I want to read it?

I honestly don’t remember when or how I came across this book. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that I’m not shy in mentioning that I struggle with NF and I don’t read it often. I do like the *idea* of reading NF and so I’m not opposed to adding them to my TBR list whenever I stumble across one that I think I’ll like. Melissa Fleming is Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Whenever I think about the refugee crisis, it always breaks my heart. I cannot imagine the fear and desperation people must face to choose to leave their home and move to a completely different country and continent, just to find safety and live a better life. This sounds like a moving read, but I have heard some mixed reviews, particularly about the writing. I don’t know if I’ll get to this anytime soon, but I think I will keep it on my TBR!

Have you read A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea? Or is it on your TBR too? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat books!

#TopTenTuesday (Freebie): Books from A Genre I Want to Read More of…

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: a freebie! You’d think this would be easy, right? But it actually took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted to post. I was tossing up a few topics that sounded fun, including some older TTT posts from when I hadn’t started blogging yet (there are tons!) but after some deliberating, I settled on: books from one genre that I’d like to read more of. It’s not the most exciting topic but I’ve been feeling a bit low on inspiration lately (see: severe sleep deprivation due to sleep issues). Every year I tell myself that I’m going to read more non-fiction and while I do make some effort, meaning I add a few non-fiction books to my shelves, I still end up only reading one or two at the most. It’s not that I don’t like NF, but I always find that unless it’s written in a very compelling fiction-esque way, my attention will waver faster than you can say go. But here are ten books that I’d love to pick up (soon?) from this genre that always eludes me 🙂

Side note: You’re very quickly going to see a pattern develop on my list today because I love true crime. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be true crime. There’s just something about these wickedly disturbing people and the horrifying things they do that compels to read all about it. I just want to know everything (pls don’t judge me. I’m not a creepy sociopath or serial killer, I promise).

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
This has been on my wishlist for forever and I finally got my hands on it a few weeks ago. I really hope that I don’t let this one languish too long on my shelf. 🙈

The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy: The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule
This is another one that has been on my wishlist for ages. Ted Bundy is terrifying but I’m just so curious to know more about how he functioned. Ann Rule was his close friend. I can’t even imagine what it’d feel like to realize that someone close to you is a serial killer. *shudders*

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Edward Douglas & Mark Olshaker
Criminal Minds featuring the BAU of the FBI is one of my all time favorite shows EVER. I find criminal profiling incredibly fascinating. Fun fact: I thought I wanted to be a criminal behaviour specialist when I majored in Behavioural Studies for my BA. Criminal Behaviour was my fave class!

Columbine by Dave Cullen
As far as I recall, this was the first time I’d heard of shootings in American schools and it was unfathomable to me that a massacre could occur in high school to kids my own age. It will never get easier to hear about these things. There’s a lot of praise for this book, so I’m looking forward to learning more about what happened that day.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
I actually started this on audiobook but there was a lot of information to take in. I felt I needed to have the physical book to follow along to so I put it aside. It’s tragic that McNamara never got to see what came of her years of work, but I’m glad that her husband, Patton Oswalt, saw it through.

The Lost City of Z: A Legendary British Explorer’s Deadly Quest to Uncover the Secrets of the Amazon by David Grann
I read my first David Grann book last year, Killers of the Flower Moon, and I shocked myself with how quickly I devoured it. I finished it in one day! Grann’s writing is the perfect example of NF that reads like fiction and I was completely hooked. Of course I had to add this to my shelf right away!

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
Call me ignorant, but I’d never heard of The Curies’ use of radium in the products until I (somehow) stumbled across this book title earlier this year. It’s absolutely shocking and vile that they denied the nasty side effects of RADIUM on their workers. I’m so curious to know more about what happened.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
I’d seen this a lot in the bookstores when it came out but it never occurred to me to pick it up. Of course now that it’s no longer readily available in book stores here, I want it desperately. I heard it’s not only very funny (I mean, look at that cover) but it also gets very real about depression.

Becoming by Michelle Obama
I actually have this on audiobook but I’m really bad with audiobooks. So I’m waiting for my physical copy to come in (which I coincidentally just bought this morning as it was on sale)! There’s no way I’m not reading this one. I’m very excited. Michelle Obama is so inspiring!

Educated by Tara Westover
So I’ve actually been seeing a few mixed reviews about this book now that the incredible hype surrounding it has died down a little. People are saying it’s not authentic? Westover’s background is world’s away from what I’m familiar with, and her journey sounds very inspiring, so I’m looking forward to finally reading it (hopefully this year)!

Have you read any of these non-fiction books? What’d you think of them? So curious to know what others have come up with for their TTT freebie this week! Don’t forget to leave your link in the comments below so I can swing by your page and we can have a chat!

Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come
Publish date: 28 May 2019
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
Rating:

An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way.
What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Writer Jessica Pan intends to find out. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges (talk to strangers, perform stand-up comedy, host a dinner party, travel alone, make friends on the road, and much, much worse) to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver.

Non Fiction is a genre that I don’t normally pick, not because I don’t want to read them, but most of the time I struggle to find something to catch and hold my attention. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come was my first NF read of the year and I absolutely loved this book! I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to finish it and I’m sorry that I didn’t get to it even sooner; although I’m convinced that I picked it up when I really needed it most. I’ve already recommended it to countless friends who’ve mentioned something in passing and my brain would ping back to things mentioned in this book. It’s not a self-help book but it’s filled with such relatable experiences. Not only that but it was just downright hilarious! I don’t think there was one chapter in which I didn’t laugh my ass off at least once (seriously). With a title like that, how can you resist wanting to pick it up right?

We follow Jessica Pan, a shin-trovert (shy introvert) who faces a bit of a ‘midlife crisis’ after moving to the UK and struggling with her increasingly introverted life and inability to make meaningful or even non-meaningful connections with people. After confronting a health-scare with a member of her family, she decides to embark on a one-year journey doing extroverted things that would make all introverted people want to curl up in a corner and cry about. Things like stand-up comedy, public speaking, improv, and *shudder* striking up conversations with strangers. What follows is a personal and hilarious recounting of all her experiences and what she took away from living life as an extrovert for a year.

This book brought me great comfort at a time when I was feeling such debilitating anxiety and stress due to an event in my life that required me to speak in front of close to 100 people, followed by networking with all those people who just witnessed me most likely make a fool of myself. Public speaking is still insanely uncool but when I came across Pan’s own experience with it in this book, I found myself completely awed and enamored by her courage to get up on that stage to face one of everyone’s greatest fears. It wasn’t smooth sailing, and to be honest, my actions at the time mirrored hers in the book 100% (i.e. pushing off making my presentation until the very last minute due to intense fear). But it made me want to steel myself and plunge forward just like her. Obviously, it wasn’t as simple as wanting to do it, but the fact that she, someone who I saw big parts of myself reflected in, could do it, then I could too, right?

There’s no greater comfort in knowing that there are others out there who experience the same fears, and feelings of loneliness, as well as anxiety about what to do with it. Like Pan all my friends are scattered across the globe and since moving to where I am now and entering my 30s, I’ve noticed it has become progressively harder to make friends. Or even to just meet people in general. While I couldn’t see myself doing half of the things she did, I liked the insight that she gave through her experiences. I think at the end of the day, it’s not really about realizing being extroverted or introverted is better than the other, but knowing that putting yourself out there, even when you really don’t feel like it, can often times lead to really great, and sometimes even life changing things.

This was such a fantastic read and I know that I’ll always want to keep it on my shelf so that I can go back to it whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed by my increasing need to introvert. This book was written in a very conversational tone so that none of the moments felt dull and it kind of felt like just chatting to a friend. I’d highly recommend it!

Thanks to NetGalley, Jessica Pan and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come? Did you love it? Hate it? Feel ‘meh’ about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Book Review: Hunger by Roxane Gay

Goodreads: Hunger
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Feminism
Rating: ★★★★★

@dinipandareads

At the start of every year, I always say to myself that this is going to be the year you read more Non-Fiction. I think I’ve been saying this for the past three years now and the most I manage to read is still about 1-2 NF books. It’s not that I don’t like NF, I just have a wildly wandering mind, and the writing needs to flow like fiction in order for it to keep my attention. I honestly have nothing against NF and I honestly wish that it wasn’t so difficult for me to focus, but my mind is definitely less keen on “facts and figures” and more on using my imagination. Hunger was my first NF for 2019 and I swear, if all NF could be this immersive, I would likely never stop reading it.

From the bestselling author of Bad Feminist: a searingly honest memoir of food, weight, self-image, and learning how to feed your hunger while taking care of yourself. In her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself. With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world 

“This is a memoir of (my) body because, more often than not, stories of bodies like mine are ignored or dismissed or derided. They think they know the why of my body. They do not.”

Since I finished reading this, there hasn’t been a day that goes by when it doesn’t pop up in my mind–whether it’s an errant thought about it or something more poignant that Roxane Gay wrote that’s currently being reflected in my life. I don’t know how to put into words how much I loved this book. It felt as if Gay reached into my head and plucked out one thought after another, put all those thoughts on paper and turned it into this incredibly painful but beautifully bold memoir. I don’t know if any review that I write for this book will do it justice, but I will do my best to share my thoughts on it.

Trigger/Content Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape (described on page), Eating Disorders, Abuse (sexual, mental and physical)

In Hunger, Roxane Gay writes and shares a painfully raw memoir of her body. She recounts a sexual assault that happened when she was a child, and how she ultimately turned to food as a way to cope by building this barrier between herself and the world. This has resulted in the “wildly undisciplined” and “unruly” body that she lives in today. With brutal honesty, she shares her experiences with body image and her life as a “super morbidly obese” woman living in a world that values small bodies. She talks about how the bigger you are, the more your body becomes a “commodity” that everyone owns and can freely comment and give opinions on. She is unapologetic about her intimate and turbulent relationship with food and how it has become a comfort and a crutch.

“In yet another commercial, Oprah somberly says, “Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be.” This is a popular notion, the idea that the fat among us are carrying a thin woman inside. Each time I see this particular commercial, I think, I ate that thin woman and she was delicious but unsatisfying. And then I think about how fucked up it is to promote this idea that our truest selves are thin women hiding in our fat bodies like imposters, usurpers, illegitimates.”

Although I know my own situation is in many ways not comparable to Gay’s, her struggles with body image and hunger (not just for food), is something I relate to so very much. I think that her experience with body image and societal expectations is something that so many women and men can relate to. While I know I’m sure everyone’s experiences varies to different degrees, I think that many of us have felt the pressure and the difficulties of living up to it. What I appreciate the most about this memoir is how raw and honest Gay is about her experiences and thoughts. She really doesn’t censor anything, and while this sometimes makes what she has to say uncomfortable to read/hear, it’s also very much the truth. She doesn’t share anything with an ulterior motive, she’s not trying to squeeze any particular emotion from you and she’s not asking for your sympathy, she’s simply telling her story as it is. But she does make you think about things that you may take for granted every day — the things that you don’t think twice about, but for someone who lives in a bigger body doesn’t stop thinking about.

“To be clear, the fat acceptance movement is important, affirming, and profoundly necessary, but I also believe that part of fat acceptance is accepting that some of us struggle with body image and haven’t reached a place of peace and unconditional self-acceptance.”

If there’s anything to critique is that at a certain point the chapters got a little repetitive. I would read certain sections or chapters and realize that I had just read this, although it was worded slightly differently, in the previous chapter(s). I wondered if that was done intentionally, but I read that she essentially copy/pasted some of her Tumblr posts to formulate this book, so perhaps it was just overlooked in editing. There were also chapters in the latter half of the book that I felt were so full of anger and blame (towards society and others) and I didn’t agree with them, as they seemed a bit hypocritical. I saw them as the author releasing pent up rage and resentment, more than adding anything constructive to her narration. But again, this is her memoir and who am I to judge what she has to say about her life? That said, I didn’t find that these points detracted from my enjoyment of the book, and neither did it take any power away from her story.

I bought the paperback of Hunger while in transit at the airport, but started reading it as an Audiobook that I purchased on a whim (and I’m so glad that I did!). Following along with the audio, listening to Roxane Gay narrate her story, made me feel even more intimately connected with her, compared to if I had just read it. Listening to her speak is really like listening to a friend! Her writing is personable and moving, and she tells her story in such a straightforward, matter-of-fact way that makes it all the more powerful, in my opinion. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever made as many notes for quotes in any other book, as I did with this one. If you look at my copy, I’ve marked sticky notes on perhaps 85% of the pages; it’s honestly like a transcript of my mind!

This is a solid five star read that has undoubtedly worked its way onto my list of all-time-favorite books; I certainly won’t be forgetting it any time soon. Of course, I highly recommend this one (if it isn’t obvious yet)!

Have you read Hunger or another book by Roxane Gay? Do you plan to or is it just not for you? Let me know in the comments below and let’s chat books!