Book Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas
Publisher: Sceptre
Pub Date (Original): 17 August 2004
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

Six interlocking lives – one amazing adventure. In a narrative that circles the globe and reaches from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas erases the boundaries of time, genre and language to offer an enthralling vision of humanity’s will to power, and where it will lead us.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Slavery, infidelity, drug use, crude humour, racism, attempted murder, violence, blood/gore, mutilation, suicide, rape (graphic on-page, off-page)

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Book Review: Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Pub Date: 5 July 2022
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

📖 SYNOPSIS

On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn’t heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won’t protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.

In this exhilarating novel two friends—often in love, but never lovers—come together as creative partners in the world of video game design, where success brings them fame, joy, tragedy, duplicity, and, ultimately, a kind of immortality.

⚠️ CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS

Childhood cancer, suicide (graphic, on-page), student-teacher relationship, abuse, sexism, racism, parental death, car accident, workplace shooting

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ARC Review: A People’s History of Heaven by Mathangi Subramanian

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for the gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: A People’s History of Heaven
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Published: 19 March 2019
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Heaven is a thirty-year-old slum hidden between brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings and technology incubators in contemporary Bangalore. In this tight-knit community, five girls on the cusp of womanhood-a politically driven graffiti artist; a transgender Christian convert; a blind girl who loves to dance; and the queer daughter of a hijabi union leader-forge an unbreakable bond.

When the local government threatens to demolish their tin shacks in order to build a shopping mall, the girls and their mothers refuse to be erased. Together they wage war on the bulldozers sent to bury their homes, and, ultimately, on the city that wishes that families like them would remain hidden forever.

Elegant, poetic, and vibrant, A People’s History of Heaven takes a clear-eyed look at adversity and geography and dazzles in its depiction of love and female friendship.

TL;DR: A People’s History of Heaven is a beautifully crafted literary debut full of so much heart! With her lyrical prose and vivid descriptions of everyday life, it was as if Mathangi Subramanian reached through the pages of this novel and pulled me right into Heaven itself. This is a story about the strong and proud women that live in Heaven—the grandmothers, the mothers, and the daughters, who do whatever it takes to survive the hardships of not only living in a slum but being part of an oppressive patriarchal society that was not designed for women and girls to succeed.

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Book Spotlight: How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino, translated by Bruno Navasky

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello, friends! Today I’m shining a book spotlight on How Do You Live? by Genazburo Yoshino. This book is the first English translation of the Japanese classic and it has a foreword by Neil Gaiman! It has also inspired the world-famous director: Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki is the genius behind some of my all-time favourites from Ghibli Studio (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, etc.), so of course I’m interested in seeing what inspired the man! 😍

Goodreads: How Do You Live?
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: 26 October 2021
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction, Japanese Literature

Anime master Hayao Miyazaki’s favorite childhood book, in English for the first time.
First published in 1937, Genzaburō Yoshino’s How Do You Live? has long been acknowledged in Japan as a crossover classic for young readers. Academy Award–winning animator Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle) has called it his favorite childhood book and announced plans to emerge from retirement to make it the basis of a final film.


How Do You Live? is narrated in two voices. The first belongs to Copper, fifteen, who after the death of his father must confront inevitable and enormous change, including his own betrayal of his best friend. In between episodes of Copper’s emerging story, his uncle writes to him in a journal, sharing knowledge and offering advice on life’s big questions as Copper begins to encounter them. Over the course of the story, Copper, like his namesake Copernicus, looks to the stars, and uses his discoveries about the heavens, earth, and human nature to answer the question of how he will live.

This first-ever English-language translation of a Japanese classic about finding one’s place in a world both infinitely large and unimaginably small is perfect for readers of philosophical fiction like The Alchemist and The Little Prince, as well as Miyazaki fans eager to understand one of his most important influences.

Buy a copy:

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#FirstLinesFriday: 08 October 2021

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:

“It was the exploding unicorn that finally broke him.
Until she accidentally brained the most eminent pastry chef in London with a projectile hoof, Sylvie Fairchild had been casually speculating whether—like her ill-fated unicorn cake—Dominic De Vere also contained a hidden robotic mechanism.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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#FirstLinesFriday: 10 September 2021

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:

“For a time Vidya had not had a mother or a brother, she only had the idea of a mother and a brother: they were imaginary but real in the same way god was. For a time she had not a mother but an aunt and not a brother but two cousins who lived with her in the one room flat she shared with her father.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

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Book Spotlight: The Archer by Shruti Swamy

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review 😊

Hello, friends! I’m happy to shine a spotlight today on The Archer by Shruti Swamy.

“This is a singular work, a story of a dancer, and of a hungry self seated at the table of womanness and desire and art, told with unparalleled originality and elegance. Swamy writes with a thrilling clarity of vision that wakes the sleepwalker right into joyful consciousness. Every word is intimate, honest, ecstatic—utterly alive. I will hold this novel close, and return to it for companionship, for instruction, and for pure pleasure. I love and treasure this book.”

—Meng Jin, author of Little Gods

Goodreads: The Archer
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publish Date: 07 September 2021
Genre: Literary Cultural Fiction

As a child, Vidya exists to serve her family, watch over her younger brother, and make sense of a motherless world. One day she catches sight of a class where the students are learning Kathak, a precise, dazzling form of dance that requires the utmost discipline and focus. Kathak quickly becomes the organizing principle of Vidya’s life, even as she leaves home for college, falls in love with her best friend, and battles demands on her time, her future, and her body. Can Vidya give herself over to her art and also be a wife in Bombay’s carefully delineated society? Can she shed the legacy of her own imperfect, unknowable mother? Must she, herself, also become a mother?

Intensely lyrical and deeply sensual, with writing as rhythmically mesmerizing as Kathak itself, The Archer is about the transformative power of art and the possibilities that love can open when we’re ready.

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Blog Tour Review: Silence Is a Sense by Layla AlAmmar

Special thanks to Algonquin Books for inviting me to be on the blog tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Silence Is a Sense
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: 16 March 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

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?

TL;DR: March 15 marked ten years since the start of the Syrian war. Millions of people have been become refugees and internally displaced and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives. These are numbers that are so LARGE that it’s impossible to comprehend. What is it like for people to literally watch their nation crumble right before their eyes? To have to choose between leaving and living or staying and (very possibly) dying? As stated in an interview, through this book, AlAmmar set out to ‘dispel the abstractions’ of the literal crumbling of a nation and to ground the magnitude of such devastation and loss through a personal narrative and she does an INCREDIBLE job. Poetically written, thought-provoking and emotionally explosive, this isn’t an easy read at all but my gosh is it absolutely worth it! This will undoubtedly be one of the most impactful books I read in 2021 and I highly recommend it.

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First Lines Friday – 12 March

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:

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead. “It still didn’t help him much, my love,” she told me. But I saw her do it all the same. That’s how I knew she was magic.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

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Goodreads Monday – The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

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 The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. This is a literary historical fiction with elements of magical realism and is Yanagihara’s debut back in 2014.

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