The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory – Slow Burn Romance Done Right

Text: The Proposal, Jasmine Guillory. Background images: An illustration of the profile of a dark-skinned woman with natural hair, wearing glasses facing the right, and the profile of a brown-skinned man wearing a blue cap, facing the left.
Blurb:

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part—they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up—in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Joce’s review:

I have always loved reading romance novels, and in early 2018, I read THE WEDDING DATE by Jasmine Guillory and instantly fell in love. However, I am notoriously bad at only reading the first book in a series and then completely abandoning the rest of the series (or in this case, I guess the companion novels), so I made a conscious effort to forge on. So here I am, reading THE PROPOSAL five months after it was published! (Oy.)

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Exit West by Mohsim Hamid – A Profound Story about the Refugee Experience, Displacement, and Fabulistic Doors

Text: EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid. Image: Yellow, stained, and fraying wallpaper on a wall, with a door into a European street with blue skies.
Blurb:

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

My review:

I had heard so much about Exit West; heard about how brilliant it was, how thoughtful, and how deep, and I have to say — I absolutely agree with all its praises. It follows Nadia and Saeed, two characters who live in an unnamed Middle-Eastern country (though the author has alluded that the city is based on his home in Pakistan), and how they escape the violence and instability of their country by escaping through a mysterious door that has appeared across the world. Transported to a new place, Nadia and Saeed grapple with losing their home and trying to make a new one. And thus, Hamid has elegantly written a profound and moving story about emigration, the refugee experience, and the relationships we have with others.

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Soft on Soft by Em Ali – The, Indeed, Very Soft Story between Two Queer Fat Girls in Love

Hm, you haven’t seen Xiaolong in awhile.

Although you have been visiting the Pond frequently, Xiaolong always seemed so busy and the both of you never had the opportunity to talk. You hope, in your visit today, that you will get to see her and talk to her.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing a purple flower hat, holding a soft pillow and a book 'Soft on Soft' to her chest.And so, when you pass through the magical boundary and enter the Pond, you hear the familiar scampering of feet and the familiar call of ‘friend!’ Indeed, when you turn around to the sound of her voice, Xiaolong stands before you, holding a pillow and a book in her hand.

“Friend! I’m so glad that I got the chance to see you today. I’ve been so busy and I missed you. I’m sorry we haven’t had the chance to talk much, but I made sure to make time for you today!”

You smile, and tell her that it was good to see her. You ask her what she is doing today, and what book she is holding in her hand.

“Oh yes!” she exclaims. “I had a feeling you were coming today, so I brought you this fluffy pillow. I highly recommend cuddling this pillow while I tell you about this very lovely book that will make you want to cuddle things.”

That sounds like such a comforting book! Once you and Xiaolong settle at your favourite spot at the Pond, her fluffy and soft pillow on your lap, she holds the book out to you. “So, this book is called Soft on Soft…

TEXT: Soft on Soft, Em Ali. IMAGE: a white and pink cup, with steam rising above the text. Bottom right corner: Xiaolong the pink axolotl with an upside down flower hat at the center of a stamp, with the text "Review by CW, The Quiet Pond" around it.
Summary:

June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.

But with messy feelings getting in a way of an early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn’t hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June’s anxiety to bearable levels.

June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she’d go for love.

But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?

Contemporary romance where one homebody and one extrovert make one hell of a love story.

My review:

I was provided a copy of this novella by my lovely friend and the author themself. This does not influence my review in any way, and my opinions are my own.

Listen, Soft on Soft is indeed, very soft, and that’s what makes it such a gorgeous gem of a book. It’s a short and sweet novella, and follows two fat queer women – June, a Persian cat-loving homebody, and Selena, an extroverted Black model and actress – and the slow-burn love that blossoms and grows between them.Read More »

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – Gods, Monsters, Monster Hunters, and a Wickedly Awesome Adventure Across the Dinétah

Text: TRAIL OF LIGHTNING, The Sixth World, by Rebecca Roanhorse. Image: A Native-American woman holding a shotgun in one hand and a knife in the other, standing on top of a car and looking away from the camera. Lightning strikes down the image. On the top-right corner, a stamp with Xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing an upside down purple hat, with the text "REVIEWED BY CW, THE QUIET POND"
Summary:

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

My review:

Edit (11 Feb 2019): After publishing this review, I was made aware of this article that addresses the issues of Trail of Lightning. I highly recommend reading this, as it addresses some of the issues regarding representation and appropriation within the book.

It’s not often that I use ‘cool’ to describe a book; ‘brilliant’ and ‘wonderful’ seem to be my go-to adjectives, but ‘cool’? Cool is now a word I want to exclusively use to describe Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. Trail of Lightning is a Native-American inspired urban fantasy that takes place in the Navajo reservation following a post-climate-apocalypse. Enter Maggie, a gifted monster hunter who lives in this new world, and her journey across the reservation to uncover the mystery of a brutal monster and the truths she won’t face about her past.

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BLOG TOUR: The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf – A Malay Teen Searches For Her Mother During the Malaysian 1969 Riots (Book Review & Author Interview)

White block reads 'The Weight of Our Sky, Hanna Alkaf, South-east Asian Blog Tour. January 28th - February 8th 2019. On the right is an image of a Malay female teen wearing a blue pinafore over a white tshirt on a moped, driven by a Chinese male teen wearing a white shirt and black slacks, with fire and smoke in the background.

“Friend, friend, friend!”

Xiaolong scurries to you, a bounce in her step and a big smile on her face. “I have some wonderful plans for your visit today!”

You crouch down so you can see her better, and ask her about her plans.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing an upside down flower hat, holding a staff and gesturing to a floating book, The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf.

“Okay, first!” She raises her staff, magicks a book from midair, and gestures to the book. “This book! It only just released, friend! And it’s such a good book. I couldn’t put it down! I just wanted to keep reading and reading and reading, and then, when I finished it, Gen told me that it was time for dinner.” She shakes her head. “I also learned a lot, friend. I had no idea about the historical events that this book talks about, and I… I learned a lot. And I think it’s really important that I tell you about this book.”

Once you find a comfier spot by the Pond, you settle down and ask Xiaolong about this important book.

“So,” she says, holding the cover out for you to see. “This book is called The Weight of Our Sky…

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