Blog Tour Review: Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen

Hello, friends! It’s my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Soul of the Deep by Natasha Bowen, the second and final book in the Skin of the Sea duology and I’m excited to share my thoughts and favourite quotes with you today!

Thanks to Random House 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 fantastic bloggers on tour!

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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 spent your time curled up reading in bed with or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’ll be spending my Sunday evening in bed reading Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto. I’ve been waiting for a long time see a story with Indonesian characters based in Indonesia written by an Indonesian author and HERE SHE IS. I’m so pumped to dive into this one especially since I’m in Bali right now too. 😉

📖 SYNOPSIS

An outrageous, laugh-out-loud YA rom-com about a girl who’s whisked from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia to get back to her roots and finds herself fake-dating the son of one of the wealthiest families there, from the author of Dial A for Aunties.

After Sharlot Citra’s mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked away from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia. It’ll be exactly what they both need. Or so her mother thinks.

When George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father (who is obsessed with American celebrities) fears he no longer understands how to get through to his son, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

To ensure that their children find the right kind of romantic partner, Sharlot’s mother and George’s father do what any good parent would do: they strike up a conversation online, pretending to be their children.

When the kids find out about their parents’ actions, they’re horrified. Not even a trip to one of the most romantic places on earth could possibly make Sharlot and George fall for each other. But as the layers peel back and the person they thought they knew from online is revealed, the truth becomes more complicated. As unlikely as it may seem, did their parents manage to find their true match after all?

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The Encanto Book Tag!

Hi, hello, friends! I’m super excited to be sharing my answers for The Encanto Book Tag today! I was tagged by Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog about a month ago and I’ve been eager to do the tag ever since. Thanks so much for the tag, friend! 💜 I was admittedly a little late to hop aboard the Encanto train because I’m just slow with watching literally everything but once I did, there was no looking back. I LOVED IT! The story and soundtrack are fabulous and you know, I’m listening to the music right now as I prep this post. 😉 On that note, let’s get to it…

This tag was originally created by Anshula @ Passport to Eden.

The Family Madrigal

Name a book that explores multiple family generations

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I think I read this back in 2017 after coming across it in the bookstore and being totally captivated by the stunning cover. Although the details are fuzzy now (and nope, I haven’t seen the series yet), I remember speeding through it and being unable to put it down. I distinctly remember thinking “if all multi-generational fiction was this captivating, I would gobble them all up immediately!”

📖 SYNOPSIS

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant — and that her lover is married — she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters — strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis — survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

Waiting On A Miracle

What is a book you enjoyed but took longer than expected to finish?

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

I really enjoyed this book. I haven’t written my review yet but rated it 4.5 stars because the world-building was captivating, the characters were compelling and I loved how unique the magic and folklore of the story are. However, it took me a really long time to read this—much longer than I anticipated it would take and I kind of frustrated myself while reading it! 😂 It’s definitely a ‘me’ thing, not ‘the book’ thing!

📖 SYNOPSIS

One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess searching for her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of powerful magic – but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one of several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to attend Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, as long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides. But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled…

Surface Pressure

Name a character who has to do it all

Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

I had a bit of a tough time thinking of a character who has to do it all but the first one that came to mind was Nura. She has to save the kids and the hotel and free the djinn uncle and the enslaved djinn from forced labour. Although she had some support from the humans and a couple reluctant djinn by the end, she had to figure it all out on her own!

📖 SYNOPSIS

Aru Shah and the End of Time meets Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away in this mesmerizing portal fantasy that takes readers into the little-known world of Jinn.

Nura longs for the simple pleasure of many things—to wear a beautiful red dupatta or to bite into a sweet gulab. But with her mom hard at work in a run-down sweatshop and three younger siblings to feed, Nura must spend her days earning money by mica mining. But it’s not just the extra rupees in her pocket Nura is after. Local rumor says there’s buried treasure in the mine, and Nura knows that finding it could change the course of her family’s life forever.

Her plan backfires when the mines collapse and four kids, including her best friend, Faisal, are claimed dead. Nura refuses to believe it and shovels her way through the dirt hoping to find him. Instead, she finds herself at the entrance to a strange world of purple skies and pink seas—a portal to the opulent realm of jinn, inhabited by the trickster creatures from her mother’s cautionary tales. Yet they aren’t nearly as treacherous as her mother made them out to be, because Nura is invited to a luxury jinn hotel, where she’s given everything she could ever imagine and more.

But there’s a dark truth lurking beneath all that glitter and gold, and when Nura crosses the owner’s son and is banished to the working quarters, she realizes she isn’t the only human who’s ended up in the hotel’s clutches. Faisal and the other missing children are there, too, and if Nura can’t find a way to help them all escape, they’ll be bound to work for the hotel forever.

We Don’t Talk About Bruno

Talk about a book you don’t talk about

The Hand of the Sun King by J.T. Greathouse

I don’t know why I don’t talk about this more but I ended up writing a whole freaking essay trying to capture my thoughts. It’s probably one of the most detailed reviews I’ve ever written! 😂 This is a coming-of-age story about a young man who is torn between two worlds/cultures. It’s not fast-paced but the writing is poetic, the world-building vivid, and I was totally invested in Alder’s journey as he tries to understand where he fits in this world where his two halves exist in opposition. This book deserves more hype!

📖 SYNOPSIS

My name is Wen Alder. My name is Foolish Cur.

All my life, I have been torn between two legacies: that of my father, whose roots trace back to the right hand of the Emperor. That of my mother’s family, who reject the oppressive Empire and embrace the resistance.

I can choose between them – between protecting my family, or protecting my people – or I can search out a better path . . . a magical path, filled with secrets, unbound by Empire or resistance, which could shake my world to its very foundation.

But my search for freedom will entangle me in a war between the gods themselves…

What Else Can I Do?

Name a book you thought would be light and fluffy but hit emotionally

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi

I ultimately had mixed feelings about this book cos I went in expecting one thing and got something else completely. This was pitched as a rom-com so, naturally, I expected light and fluffy but this was much more serious than the cover and marketing led on! This is a rich and diverse coming-of-age story that delves into darker and more serious themes and I’m glad I read it but I defo would’ve appreciated this heads-up with proper marketing!

📖 SYNOPSIS

Two exes must revisit their past after their siblings start dating in this rom-com perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon and Morgan Matson. A Parade Best YA of the Year!

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close–to keep her family together. But when Amira announces that she’s dating someone, Kiran’s world is turned upside down.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend. Maybe a new love will give Faisal a new lease on life, and Deen can stop feeling guilty for the reason that Faisal needs a do-over in the first place.

When the families meet, Deen and Kiran find themselves face to face. Again. Three years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated in secret. Until Deen ghosted Kiran.

And now, after discovering hints of Faisal’s shady past, Kiran will stop at nothing to find answers. Deen just wants his brother to be happy–and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Kiran from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

Dos Oruguitas

Characters who make you believe in soulmates

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

This was one of those grand love stories that hit me in the feels in a big way! They met as messy AF teens and subsequently spent the next 15 years living separate non-orbiting lives as authors who communicated their love for each other through stories. No spoilers but UGH, the way my heart squeezed in my chest reading about these lovers. I rooted for them so hard as adults!

📖 SYNOPSIS

Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget, and seven days to get it all back again…

Eva Mercy is a single mother and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up unexpectedly in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but also the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry – or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.

Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect – but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered…

With its keen observations of creative life in America today, as well as the joys and complications of being a mother and a daughter, Seven Days in June is a hilarious, romantic, and sexy-as-hell story of two writers discovering their second chance at love.

All Of You

Name a book that features rebuilding relationships

Silence Is A Sense by Layla AlAmmar

In this book, our unnamed narrator is a Syrian refugee who’s living deep in solitary silence and caged by her mind full of trauma and fear. The author captures the progression of her mental journey as she works through her trauama and the stages of grief while simultaneously focusing on the rebuilding of her relationships with the people in her surrounding community. A heartbreaking but important read!

📖 SYNOPSIS

A profound and life-affirming debut about migration, trauma, and the healing power of community.

A young woman sits in her apartment in an unnamed English city, absorbed in watching the small dramas of her assorted neighbors through their windows across the way. Traumatized into muteness after a long, devastating trip from war-torn Syria to the UK, she believes that she wants to sink deeper into isolation, moving between memories of her absent boyfriend and family and her homeland, dreams, and reality. At the same time, she begins writing for a magazine under the pseudonym “the Voiceless,” trying to explain the refugee experience without sensationalizing it—or revealing anything about herself.

Gradually, as the boundaries of her world expand—as she ventures to the neighborhood corner store, to a gathering at a nearby mosque, and to the bookstore and laundromat, and as an anti-Muslim hate crime shatters the members of a nearby mosque—she has to make a choice: Will she remain a voiceless observer, or become an active participant in her own life and in a community that, despite her best efforts, is quickly becoming her own?

With brilliant, poetic prose that captures all the fragments of this character’s life, and making use of fragments of text from Tweets and emails to the narrator’s own articles, journals, and fiction, Silence Is a Sense explores what it means to be a refugee and to need asylum, and how fundamental human connection is to survival.

Columbia, Mi Encanta

Name a book that left you immersed in culture

The Mountains Sing by Nguyên Phan Quê Mai

This was a multi-generational story about a Vietnamese family and it takes us through the years with a strong focus on the Vietnam War. The author immerses us in this family’s life and in the Vietnamese culture and with the beautiful atmospheric writing it wasn’t hard to picture the bustle of life in the countryside and city, and all the traditions involved.

📖 SYNOPSIS

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

I’m tagging…

Kaya / Julie / Yolanda / Kerri / YOU!

That’s it for the Encanto Book Tag! Are you a fan of Encanto too and have you read any of these books?

Book Review: Juniper Hill by Devney Perry

Juniper Hill (The Edens #2)
Published: 11 January 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Memphis Ward arrives in Quincy, Montana, on the fifth worst day of her life. She needs a shower. She needs a snack. She needs some sanity. Because moving across the country with her newborn baby is by far the craziest thing she’s ever done.

But maybe it takes a little crazy to build a good life. If putting the past behind her requires a thousand miles and a new town, she’ll do it if it means a better future for her son. Even if it requires setting aside the glamour of her former life. Even if it requires working as a housekeeper at The Eloise Inn and living in an apartment above a garage.

It’s there, on the fifth worst day of her life, that she meets the handsomest man she’s ever laid eyes on. Knox Eden is a beautiful, sinful dream, a chef and her temporary landlord. With his sharp, stubbled jaw and tattooed arms, he’s raw and rugged and everything she’s never had—and never will. Because after the first worst day of her life, Memphis learned a good life requires giving up on her dreams too. And a man like Knox Eden will only ever be a dream.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Child kidnapping, infidelity (not between MCs)

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ARC Review: In a Jam by Kate Canterbary

✨ HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO IN A JAM! ✨

Hi friends, I’m so excited to share my review for In a Jam by Kate Canterbary today! When I learned that I was approved for an ARC of In a Jam I literally squealed because I am a big fan of Canterbary’s romances and I’m so happy to say that this one didn’t disappoint!

Special thanks to the author for providing a digital ARC via Grey’s Promo in exchange for an honest review!

In a Jam
Pub Date:
20 September 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 stars)

📖 SYNOPSIS

When Shay Zucconi’s step-grandmother died, she left Shay a tulip farm—under two conditions.

First, Shay has to move home to the small town of Friendship, Rhode Island. Second—and most problematic since her fiancé just called off the wedding—Shay must be married within one year.

Marriage is the last thing in the world Shay wants but she’ll do anything to save the only real home she’s ever known.

Noah Barden loved Shay Zucconi back in high school. Not that he ever told her. He was too shy, too awkward, too painfully uncool to ask out the beautiful, popular girl.

A lifetime later, Noah is a single dad to his niece and has his hands full running the family business. That old crush is the farthest thing from his mind.

Until Shay returns to their hometown.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

absentee parent(s), brief mention of parent death, brief mention of parent chronic illness, mention of incarceration, mention of temporary foster care placement, reference to teenage teasing/bullying (not detailed, not explicit), brief incidence of fat-shaming, living with a neurodivergent child

📚 BUY A COPY
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Book Review: The Belle and the Beard by Kate Canterbary

Goodreads: The Belle and the Beard (The Santillian Triplets #3)
Publisher: Vesper Press
Published: 23 April 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Jasper-Anne Cleary’s guide to salvaging your life when you find yourself publicly humiliated, out of work, and unemployable at 35—not to mention newly single:

1. Run away. Seriously, there’s no shame in disappearing. Go to that rustic old cottage your aunt left you. Look out for the colony of bats and the leaky roof. Oh, and the barrel-chested neighbor with shoulders like the broad side of a barn. Definitely look out for him.
2. Stop wallowing and stay busy. It doesn’t matter whether you know how to bake or fix things around the house. Do it anyway. Dust off your southern hospitality and feed that burly, bearded neighbor some pecan pie.
3. Meet new people. Chat up the grumpy man-bear, pretend to be his girlfriend when his mother puts you two on the spot, agree to go as his date to a big family party. Don’t worry—it’s only temporary.
4. Cry it out. Screwing up your life entitles you to wine, broody-moody music, and uninterrupted sobbing.
5. Get over it all by getting under someone. Count on your fake boyfriend to deliver some very real action between the sheets.
6. Move on. The disappearing act, the cottage, the faux beau—none of it can last forever.

Linden Santillian’s guide to surviving the invasion when a hell-in-heels campaign strategist moves in next door:

1. Do not engage. There is no good reason you should chop her wood, haul her boxes, or pick her apples.
2. Do not accept gifts, especially not the homemade ones. Disconnect the doorbell, toss your phone over a bridge, hide in the basement if you must, but do not eat her pie.
3. Do not introduce her to your friends and family. They’ll favor her over you and never let you forget it.
4. Do not intervene when she’s crying on the back porch. Ignore every desire to fix the entire world for her. By no means should you take her into your arms and memorize her peach-sweet curves.
5. Do not take her to bed, even if it’s just to get her out of your system.
6. Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with her.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Sexism, slut-shaming recounted, alcohol consumption, drug use mentioned, pregnancy & childbirth mentioned, grief & loss depiction, recounted death of an aunt and death of a father from suicide recounted

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