Review: Always Only You by Chloe Liese

Thanks to author Chloe Liese for providing the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Always Only You (Bergman Brothers #2)
Publication date: 04 August 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance

Panda Rating:



Ren
The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is. I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie
I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about. Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

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

Continue reading “Review: Always Only You by Chloe Liese”

Blog Tour Review: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for asking me to take part in it!

Thanks to NetGalley, Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads: In the Neighborhood of True
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: 07 July 2020 (PBK pub)
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Own Voices
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.

Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton”

#5OnMyTBR: Colours of the Rainbow Covers!

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: Rainbow (on the cover, made from covers… be creative!) ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Continue reading “#5OnMyTBR: Colours of the Rainbow Covers!”

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”

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Note: This review was originally posted on my Goodreads in January 2019.

Goodreads: Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire #1)
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Panda Rating:


Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most demeaning. This year, there’s a ninth. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

2020 note: I was super excited to read this book because there was a helluva lot to be excited for and so I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t love it more. I know it’s a super unpopular opinion because everyone adored this book. So, JFYI, there’s an unpopular opinion coming right up! 😅 Also, soz it’s a bit of a chunky review!


I’m kind of torn on how I feel about this one. I was super excited to start reading it and while I did enjoy it— especially the world that the author created—I think the story just fell a bit flat for me. I’m feeling disappointed because I wanted to enjoy it so much more than I did. That said, with her debut, Natasha Ngan presents a wild fantasy that is not only rich in detail, but has a diverse and representative cast of characters and a very open narrative on sexuality and on sensitive issues such as abuse. There is action, politics, coverage of social issues such as discrimination and poverty, and there is also a blooming f/f romance. TW: violence and sexual abuse.

“We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable.

And there is a fire catching among us.”

We follow 17-year-old Lei as she is forcibly taken from her village to become an unprecedented ninth Paper Girl, where on her journey she discovers unexpected friendships and her first love, while also navigating the dark and harrowing experiences that come with being forced to be a consort to the Demon King.

Ngan stated that she wanted to tell a story that has diverse representation, one that more young readers can relate to, and I think she did a wonderful job delivering on that. Even though I’m not “young” anymore (lol), I thoroughly enjoyed reading a YA story that was so heavily influenced by Asian, specifically Chinese-Malaysian cultures, which also have many similarities to my own Indonesian culture. I found it refreshing to read a YA fantasy where I recognized words from my own native tongue and other familiar references from Asia in the text. I found that the cultural influences added an extra special element to the world building, which Ngan creates with a wonderfully bizarre fusion of human and animal forms, mixed with the rich spiritual beliefs and ritualistic practices from Asian cultures. Ngan’s writing offers such rich and vivid imagery that breathes life, not only into the characters, but into the surroundings, making it easy to picture exactly what’s being painted.

This was also the case when we encounter the ‘darker’ scenes in the story that involve abuse (sexual and physical). Although there was a CW/TW at the start, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a YA novel that’s as explicitly dark as this. If you’re okay with confronting and reading about these topics, then this book is suitable for you. Though I think that because Ngan is so open about it in her writing, it provides a good platform where young readers can gain an understanding, engage in discussions and explore these difficult issues in private or in safe spaces such as book clubs. Not only that, but I think the openness allows people to gain a sense of empowerment from the main character Lei—who ultimately chooses to not let what has happened to her define her life.

While Lei’s character was admirable in how she dealt with her situation, I have to admit that I didn’t really connect with her—which I think is perhaps the main reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I expected to. Yes, she’s undoubtedly brave for having stood up to the Demon King, but I also felt that (ironically) her character was a little helpless and lacked strength. Her emotions and actions were so dependent on other characters pulling her through and what I found really frustrating was that she would dive into these situations without any forethought into how it would affect others; especially if she failed, which she did almost every time. I know this is YA, and really, Ngan does a great job in capturing the internal coming-of-age struggles of a teenage girl and an even better job at capturing the struggles of a young woman discovering her sexuality. However, Lei’s character just didn’t latch on to me. In many ways, I see Lei as being so far from the typical ‘fierce, strong, warrior, self-saving heroine’ that YA fantasy is full of and this is definitely not a bad thing but for some reason she just didn’t work for me…

It was unfortunate that the majority of the Paper Girls and other characters experience little to no growth, save for one other Paper Girl, Aoki, who goes through just as much change as Lei. It was actually quite painful (in the best way) to see how Aoki’s character develops, especially in relation to Lei’s, and I can see her playing a much bigger and potentially more sinister role in the upcoming book(s). The next one is meant to come out towards the end of 2019 and Ngan will apparently make an announcement about the upcoming book’s title very soon. I personally hope that how I feel about Lei’s character improves or changes in the next book and that the pace of the story picks up a little bit. I felt the pacing was a bit slow for me at times and the climax I was anticipating towards the end, also didn’t hit that ‘satisfying’ spot for me.

But it really wasn’t all negative for me—even though maybe this review might make it seem so. I did enjoy this book, just not as much as I hoped to. That won’t stop me from picking up the next one though! I look forward to diving back into Ikhara and seeing where the story takes us next 🙂

Have you read Girls of Paper and Fire or is it on your TBR?

First Lines Friday – 29 May

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:

“As seems to be the custom, bad news comes with the afternoon mail: the news that his granddaughter was rejected from her top-choice college, then a call to jury duty. Today, though, it is much worse.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 29 May”

The Disney Parks Book Tag!

Ah, Disney. Who doesn’t love Disney and the Disney parks? It’s been a freaking long ass time since I went to one of the parks but it’s definitely on my bucket list to go back and experience it as an ‘adult’! A few years ago I discovered some childhood photos taken at Disney (world or land I can’t be sure) and well, while you can’t say much about my fashion sense (coz clearly I didn’t have any and neither did my brother), you can definitely tell these were happy times!

But back to this tag… I was tagged to do the Disney Parks Book Tag by the wonderful Kay @ Hammock of Books and awesome Brittany @ Perfectly Tolerablego check out both their blogs because they have great content and they’re lovely people to follow so you won’t regret it! Thanks for tags, lovelies and I’m sorry its taken so long for me to get around to doing this tag. First up, the rules!

The Rules

☆ Mention the creator and link back to original post [Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight]
☆ Thank the blogger who tagged you [done above!]
☆ Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
☆ Tag 5+ friends
☆ Feel free to copy the heading graphics

Oof, it took me a hot minute to recall a title set along the river but this heart-stopping thriller certainly ticks that box! I’m still amazed by Caine’s writing versatility 😍 Wolfhunter River is book three in the Stillhouse Lake series — which is crazy and absolutely thrilling!


You guys… I’m kind of shook because scouring the dark corners of mind (and Goodreads), I’ve realised that… I haven’t read (m)any ‘swashbuckling high seas adventures’… Wot wot?! Can it be true? It sadly is. Many of them adventures are still on TBR though! For now, I’m leaving you with A Gathering of Shadows because there’s certainly some swashbuckling in this favourite series of mine!


Ooh, just looking at this cover again already covers me in mad goosebumps and makes me wanna cry! But I have to give a shout out to Rules for Vanishing because even I, most Ultimate of Chickens™️, managed to read this and loved it! Ugh, this book was drowning in eerie vibes.


Surprisingly absolutely no one, the Illuminae Files absolutely takes the cake for this one! Ugh, I love this series so much 💞 Kristoff and Kaufman can take all of my monies!


Ugh, Where the Crawdads Sing was just beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I loved Kya and the lyrical descriptions of the marsh lands and of nature swept me away to an enchanting but also dangerous world that I’d love to one day see IRL.

I feel like I also have to give an honorary shout out to The Natchez Burning Trilogy for this prompt. This trilogy is one of my all-time favourite thriller/court drama and is just *chefs kiss*!


A Curse So Dark and Lonely was of course the first book I thought of. There’s no Beauty & the Beast (retelling) without that eerie and beautiful enchanted castle!


The Trials of Morrigan Crow, book one of the Nevermoor series, was an utterly enchanting and whimsical read! There were fantastical adventures, magical and terrifying creatures, and otherworldly settings. This was an absolute treat to read! 💞


Okay, I’m cheating a little bit with The Mountains Sing. There is some trekking through mountains but that’s not what the whole book is about. It is an absolutely stunning, heartbreaking and hopeful read though and I would highly recommend this debut for those interested in own voices reads!


I haven’t read very many Spanish inspired fantasy books (I could also be totally wrong because my memory very often fails me) so Incendiary was a refreshingly set fantasy world with a cool magic system that I can’t wait to learn more about in the next book!


Another non-surprise here with Aurora Rising (this is totally a space opera, right?)! This book was a fabulously crazy, fast-paced space adventure that was full of all the things! Seriously, just read it.

I’m tagging:

Becky | Ali | Leah | Evelyn | Katie

No pressure to do this if tags aren’t your thing. Also, even if I haven’t tagged you here, feel free to go for gold if you want to do this one and link back to me so I can check out your answers too 😍

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve been you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

This Sunday I spent a good chunk of the day reading The Wrongful Death which is Book III in The Great Devil War series. Although there are some bits that I’m not enjoying so much, mostly an awkward pre-pubescent romance that seems a little forced. I honestly wish the ‘relationship’ between two characters was platonic as I think it’d be more believable. Still, I’m really enjoying Andersen’s imagination of hell. The more I read the series the more I wonder what inspired and continues to inspire Andersen to bring this hellish world to life. It’s so interesting but also obviously very dark (even the humour).

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

The Wrong Death is volume 3 of The Great Devil War series.

What are you currently reading?

Continue reading “Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp”

Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve been you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

This Sunday I spent part of the day in bed with The Die of Death which is book II of The Great Devil War by Kenneth B. Andersen. It’s nice to be back with Philip after book one — I feel in ways that he has grown a lot although time didn’t pass in the real world when he was in hell. I’m looking forward to learning more about Mortimer (Death) and seeing what happens next!

Philip’s adventures as the Devil’s apprentice have changed him—in a good way. Although he misses his friends in Hell, he has made new friends in life.
But when the future of the underworld is threatened once again, Philip’s help is needed. Death’s Die has been stolen and immortality is spreading across the globe.
Philip throws himself into the search—and discovers a horrible truth about his own life along the way.

The Die of Death is volume 2 in The Great Devil War-series and winner of the ORLA-Award.

The Great Devil War-series is a humorous and gripping tale about good and evil, filled with biblical and historical characters, such as Judas, Goliath, and Pontius Pilate, as well as modern figures such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and many more.

The Great Devil War-series is a Danish bestseller, topping library and school reading lists among teens and young adults. The books have been published in more than ten countries and have won numerous awards. 

What are you currently reading?

Continue reading “Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp”

The Henna Wars Blog Tour: Review and Favourite Quotes

Hi, friends! I’m so excited to be back with another The Fantastic Flying Book Club tour post today for The Henna Wars by Adiba Jagirdar! I really can’t believe I got picked for this blog tour because it’s a hot one that’s on a lot of TBRs, so I died a little bit inside out of pure happiness because it’s such a privilege to be chosen 🥰 Huge thanks to the FFBC for organising these amazing tours and to the authors for making the eARCs available to us.

Be sure to click on the banner above to see the other bloggers on tour! 😊

The Henna Wars
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Release date: 12 May 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+

Panda Rating:



When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Amazon (US) | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

Continue reading “The Henna Wars Blog Tour: Review and Favourite Quotes”