Book Review: Loveboat Reunion by Abigail Hing Wen – A Story of Redemption, Reparenting, and Understanding

Blurb:

This companion novel to Abigail Hing Wen’s New York Times bestselling debut, Loveboat, Taipei, follows two fan favorite characters—Sophie and Xavier—as they reconnect and write their own futures on a wild, unexpected Loveboat reunion.

Sophie Ha and Xavier Yeh have what some would call a tumultuous past.

It’s a classic tale of girl-meets-boy, boy-meets-other-girl, heart-gets-broken, revenge-is-plotted, everything-blows-up. Spectacularly.

At least they’re friends now. They’ve left the drama behind them back in Taipei—at their summer program, Loveboat—forever.

Now fall is here, and it’s time to focus on what really matters. Sophie is determined to be the best student Dartmouth’s ever had. Forget finding the right guy to make her dreams come true—Sophie is going to make her future happen for herself. Xavier, on the other hand, just wants to stay under his overbearing father’s radar, collect his trust fund when he turns eighteen, and concentrate on what makes him happy, for the first time ever.

But the world doesn’t seem to want Sophie and Xavier to succeed. Sophie’s college professor thinks her first major project is “too feminine.” Xavier’s father gives him an ultimatum: finish high school or be cut off from his inheritance.

Then Sophie and Xavier find themselves on a wild, nonstop Loveboat reunion, each trying to resist the chemistry that originally led to them to combust. As they grow closer, they hatch a plan to take control of their own futures. Step one? Break all the rules.

Cuddle's review:

Loveboat, Taipei was an absolute force that was published at the beginning of 2020, and I distinctly remember reading it right as we heard about COVID. One of the reasons I remember it so distinctly is because Ever’s story was so intense, and I never wanted to put the book down. If you don’t remember, Loveboat, Taipei chronicles the summer when Ever Wong was 18, and was sent to Taiwan to attend a program for teens to learn Mandarin, but little did they know that it would lead to one of the most tumultuous seasons of her life. Abigail Hing Wen included portrayal of topics such as the incredible pressure that some Asian and Asian-American parents put on their children by comparing their achievements to other childrens’, and the feelings of inadequacy that can result. But most of all, it was an incredible roller coaster of a book that I wouldn’t soon forget.

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Book Review: Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie – Questioning, Identity, and Friendship Coalesce in this Tender Queer Coming-of-Age Contemporary

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie. Reviewed by CW, The QUiet Pond.
Blurb:

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If young adult contemporary isn’t your stomping ground, I am begging for you to make an exception and make Ophelia After All one of your to-read books of 2022. A joy from start to finish, this exceptional coming-of-age story follows biracial Cuban-Irish teen Ophelia who must navigate identity, change and friendship at the sunset of high school.

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Five Reasons to Read: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – A Sweeping Xianxia Fantasy Inspired by the Chang’e Legend

Blurb:

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Inspired by the Chang’e legend, or the goddess of the Moon, Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a romantic fantasy adventure that will transport readers to a world where immortals reign, dragons and monsters dwell, and high-stake battles between realms take place. At the center of it all is a girl’s years-long quest to free her mother, Chang’e, from exile and her sentence on the moon, and the many tribulations and challenges that she endures and overcome as she fights for her mother’s freedom.

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Book Recommendations: 6 Amazing K-Pop Books that Will Light [You] Up Like Dynamite

Book Recommendations: 6 Amazing K-Pop Books that Will Light [You] Up Like Dynamite

In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!

Years and years ago, I loved K-Pop. I remember having to explain to my friends that, yes! I can enjoy music that isn’t in English! and listening to Girls Generation, Super Junior, Shinee, EXO, and 2NE1. One of my fondest memories in Biology was sitting with my friends in the back learning about DNA, and our teacher talking about base pairing rules. Pointing to the board, she said, “if there was C, C, C, C, then it’ll pair with G[ee], G[ee], G[ee], G[ee]”, which made us collapse into a fit of giggles.

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Five Reasons to Read: Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass – Set in Tobago, a Stunning YA Romance about Love, Second Chances, and Change

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass. Tagline: First Love. Second Chance. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass is the kind of book that feels like a love letter to Tobago, all the loves that we’ve lost and found, and also to teen girls who are scared of wanting something more for themselves. I loved this gorgeous novel; loved how the story transported me right to Reyna’s seaside resort, the Plumeria, where the story predominantly takes place.

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