Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month – An Interview with Natalia Sylvester, Author of Running; On Writing Vulnerability and Growth and Latinx Familial Dynamics

Our Friend is Here! Latinx Heritage Month - An Interview with Natalia Sylvester, Author of Running; On Writing Vulnerability and Growth and Latinx Familial Dynamics. Illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, gesturing widely to Natalia as an alpaca wearing a wavy hoodie.

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.

Our Friend is Here: Latinx Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where between September 15th and October 15th, Latinx authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Latinx and Latinx books. Find the introduction post for Latinx Heritage Month at The Quiet Pond here.

Have you ever read a book where, within the first few chapters, you knew that it’d be your new favourite book? That was how I felt when I read Running by Natalia Sylvester. I was blown away and amazed by how tightly all the different themes and ideas of the book were interwoven – and that’s why I knew that I absolutely had to invite Natalia Sylvester to the Pond so I could discuss with her how awesome and thoughtful her book was and her thought processes behind writing Running!

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[Blog Tour] Book Review + Fanart: Iron Heart by Nina Varela – Everything I Hoped For in a Sequel

Summary:

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill… but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era… and the ultimate change of heart.

Skye’s review:

Oh this book wrecked me, friends.

Sequels are tricky to do right — I’ve read one too many disappointing follow-up books in my time — but I’m delighted to report that this book was everything I had hoped for in a sequel to one of my favorite books of 2019. Reading this book felt like diving headfirst into a half-forgotten world that grew ever-familiar by the page, felt like a rush of warmth. By the end of the book, I’d fallen fully in love with Nina’s writing once again, as well as the characters that struggled and fought and loved within the pages of the story. I’m very excited to share this review with you all today, as well as a short fanart comic I made of my absolute favorite quote from the book!

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Book Review: Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko – An Illuminating and Riveting West African-Inspired Fantasy That Will Sweep You Off Your Feet, Blow Your Mind, and Leave You in Awe

review_raybearer

Blurb:

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

CW’s Review:

I feel incredibly out of depth writing this book review. I mean, I spent a solid twenty minutes trying to come up with a book review title that would adequately and succinctly describe the beautiful mess of feelings that I have for Raybearer. There are many, many, many reasons why I think Raybearer is fantastic – and I’ll do my best to articulate them well, because, wow, I feel so much for this book. In the fewest words possible, I genuinely think that Raybearer may be my ‘the fantasy of the year’.

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Book Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert – A Warm Yet Sharp ‘All in One Day’ Love Story that Takes Place on Election Day

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert. Tagline: Make it count.

Blurb:

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?

Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight. Only problem? Duke can’t vote.

When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right.

And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote. They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.

CW’s Review:

I don’t know how Brandy Colbert does it. I don’t know she deftly balances a story that is both incredibly warm and soft but also incisive in its discourse in activism and privilege. After reading The Voting Booth, I came away with these warm and fuzzies because the love story is such a treasure and a delight but I also loved how it made me think, reflect, and feel deeply about the Black experiences portrayed in the story.

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Book Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong – A Brutal Yet Tender Retelling of Romeo and Juliet Like You’ve Never Read Before

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong.

Blurb:

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

CW’s Review:

I was given an ARC of this book by the author; this does not influence my opinions outlined in this book review.

How do you even begin to write a review for one of your most anticipated reads of 2020 that didn’t just exceed your expectations, but its story stabbed you in the heart, sucked the lifeforce and tears out of you, and made you ache and feel horror all at once – and by the end you wanted to thank Chloe for it?

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