Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Mariko Turk, Author of The Other Side of Perfect – On Race in the Dance Industry, Injury Recovery, and Finding Yourself Again

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Mariko Turk, Author of The Other Side of Perfect - On Race in the Dance Industry, Injury Recovery, and Finding Yourself Again

Our Friend is Here! is 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.

Our Friend is Here: Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of May, where Asian and Pasifika authors are invited to celebrate being Asian and Pasifika work and literature! Find the introduction post for Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month here.

The Other Side of Perfect is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I was delighted to confirm my suspicions that it is also one of my favorite books of 2021. This novel takes us through Alina Keeler, aspiring career ballerina, and her heartbreaking recovery after a career-ending injury. Throughout her recovery, she confronts the systemic racism she experiences in the dance industry, her relationship with her family, and her resentment. She also tries out for the high school musical as a way to stay connected to performing, which allows to explore another side of herself, and perhaps a certain student she develops interest in.

Read More »

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Nicole Glover; On Blending Genres, Incorporating Systemic Issues in Fantastical Mysteries, and Sailor Moon

Our Friend is Here! is 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.

I am beyond thrilled that I had the honor of interviewing Nicole Glover, the author of The Conductors, released earlier this year, and the upcoming The Undertakers, the second installment in the Murder and Magic series. Thank goodness we aren’t going to have to wait very long between the release dates of the first and second books, because they are truly unlike any other novels I have ever read. They blend fantasy and magic-wielding characters with mystery and history, and The Conductors centers around murders that the police force has either covered up, mismanaged, or won’t touch – of course, because of many systemic factors.

Read More »

Book Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – A Heartfelt and Fun Coming-of-Age about Friendship, Fatness, and Falling in Love

Blurb:

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

Cuddle's review:

Charlie Vega is such a lovable heroine to follow for all 352 pages of her journey, and I was left wanting a sequel (or more!), just to see how she’s doing. Throughout her story, she struggles with her single mother’s obsession with dieting and being thin, following the passing of her father. Fortunately, she has her best friend Amelia, but that comes with the caveat that she seems to be perfect and that she comes second to Amelia all the time, including a couple especially heartbreaking moments. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega centers around her trying to navigate the dating world and friendships in high school, and approaching prom.

Read More »

Book Review: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers – A Must-Read, Unrelentingly Authentic and Lyrical Novel

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Blurb:

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

Cuddle's review:

Honey Girl is one of the most impeccable books I have ever read. In the span of less than 300 pages (293 to be exact), Morgan Rogers covers a massive breadth of experiences in the life of Dr. Grace Porter, a recent PhD graduate in astronomy navigating the job industry post-graduation. Grace finds herself adrift in a world that has systemically barricaded her from an equitable chance at jobs that she is more than qualified for and she finds herself lonely and defeated. The book opens with her waking up, having married a woman she hardly knows in Vegas, and the blurb on the dust jacket led me to believe that this would be a fun pre-destined marriage contemporary novel, but in these pages lay one of the most magnificent coming of age stories.

Read More »

Book Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert – The Greatest Sunshine and Grump Romance that Defeats Autistic Stereotypes and Is Hot AF

Act Your A
Blurb:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Cuddle's review:

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the third and final book in the Brown Sisters series (and you can read them in any order; they are companion novels!). The story opens with a dreaded ultimatum. Eve’s parents tell her that after another job that she has given up on, this time disastrously with some doves she needed to set free at a wedding she was planning, she must prove herself with one last hurrah at adulting and holding down a job independently. She comes across a quaint bed and breakfast in Skybriar where she applies to trial a job with her new boss, Jacob, the B&B’s owner.

Read More »