Book Review: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha – A Graphic Memoir about Immigration, Strict Gender Norms, and Forging Friendships Through Comics and Art

almost american girl robin ha book review the quiet pond

Blurb:

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.

Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

Joce’s review:

Almost American Girl provides an intimate look at the author’s journey through immigrating from South Korea to Huntsville, Alabama, in the USA, very suddenly after her mother tells her she has met a man and is going to marry him. Robin Ha invites the readers into her adolescence through this graphic memoir which allows them to see such a full range of emotions: anger towards her mother, anxiety at attending school, sorrow and intense frustration at trying to fit in when she doesn’t understand her peers and is bullied, and a flood of relief when she finds a first glimmer of connection during her comics drawing class.

Read More »

Book Review: Go Deep by Rilzy Adams – I Need to Lay Down

Go Deep. Rilzy Adams.

Summary:

It was all supposed to be so simple.

Navaya Howard is an erotic writer in a rut. Her readers are fed up of her stale plots and Navaya can’t blame them. She’s been celibate for over a year and a half since finding her now ex-boyfriend’s side chick’s positive pregnancy test on her bathroom counter. How can she write steamy romances if she can barely remember which body parts go into the other?

Navaya enlists the help of her best friend, Xander, to revive the inspiration that used to have her sitting comfortably at the top of her game. What happens when the sex hits deeper than either of them expected and the tender emotions can no longer be denied?

Navaya and Xander’s arrangement has gone far deeper than intended.
Will their friendship and their hearts survive the fall?

Joce’s review:

Thank you so much to Sil @ thebookvoyagers for the recommendation!

Go Deep is a novella that zooms in on my favorite meta trope: a writer or author who needs inspiration and their journey to do so. Bonus points here, I like my romances EXTREMELY sexy and this completely delivered. It may only be around 150 pages, but Rilzy Adams had me thinking about her characters, and her characters TOGETHER, for a good while longer. When I saw Sil talking about how amazing this book is, I truly had no idea quite how long I’d be thinking about it for (Read: I finished two weeks ago and still think about it daily).

Read More »

[Blog Tour] Book Review: Lobizona by Romina Garber – Drop Everything and Read This. Like, Now.

Lobizona by Romina Garber. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle wearing a pajama hat.
Blurb:

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Joce’s review:
Lobizona_BlogTourBanner_Use before 8.4 (1)

Lobizona is easily one of my favorite books of the year. It is rare to find a book with such a huge scope that is crafted in a vibrant, mysterious magical world, but also has dire and necessary commentary about our contemporary society. Romina Garber has truly done it all.

Read More »

Book Review: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee – A Celebration of K-Pop, Body Positivity, and Untangling Complex Asian Parent-Child Relationships

I'll Be The One, Lyla Lee. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle wearing a pajama hat.

Blurb:

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

Joce’s review:

I’ll Be the One follows Skye Shin’s journey through auditioning for the K-Pop reality TV competition called You’re My Shining Star as a fat, bisexual, Korean teenage girl, while dealing with a potential romance with a co-star, and her complex relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Lyla Lee celebrates fatness, bisexuality, and some fierce work and talent through her construction of Skye’s character.

Read More »

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Lauren Ho, Author of Last Tang Standing; On Her Experiences of Being a Chinese-Malaysian Woman and Humorous Asian Reads

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month. Author Interview with Lauren Ho, author of Last Tang Standing, on her experiences of being a chinese-malaysian woman, and humorous asian reads.

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

If you know me, you know I am always on the hunt for Crazy Rich Asians readalikes. While I can give some criticisms to CRA, including some issues with the representation of South Asians and mental health in the third novel (not Colin Khoo’s depression because WE STAN A STRONG FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN MEN!), it was one of the first book series I ever saw myself in. Now, moving into my late 20s, I also look for plucky heroines navigating the same life stage as myself. Enough about me though, let me tell you about the amazing book I just read…

Read More »