Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Laura Pohl, Author of The Grimrose Girls; On Her Fairytales Retelling, Centering Friendships, and Brazilian Media Recommendations!

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: Latine Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond between September 15 – October 15, where we invite Latine authors to celebrate being Latine and Latine books! Find the introduction post for Latine Heritage Month here.

With the explosion of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels in the early 2010s, I struggled to connect with these stories in which people who looked like me and my friends never seemed to survive the apocalypse. I was ready to put my fascination and love for dystopia and post-apocalyptic stories to bed – until last year, I read one of my favourite YA post-apocalyptic novels of all time: The Last 8 by Laura Pohl. Finally! I thought, a post-apocalyptic novel that’s brilliantly told, exciting, with a cast of queer teens of colour who actually look like me and my friends! From there on, I vowed that I’d read whatever Laura Pohl wrote.

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Meredith Ireland, Author of The Jasmine Project; On Writing an Adoptee-Centered Story and the Journey of Becoming Who You Want to Be

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.

If you love the sound of a The Bachelorette-inspired YA romantic comedy about a Korean American adoptee whose family set her up with three boys to show her that she’s worth more than her cheating boyfriend, then friends – you really have to read The Jasmine Project. I’ve been in the mood for a funny and heartwarming book about love, and The Jasmine Project hit all the right spots (and if you’re curious, I had the privilege of sharing the first two chapters of The Jasmine Project last week)!

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Book Review: Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura – Disaster Queers, Chaotic Romances, and a Hilarious yet Astute Subversion of the Fake Dating Trope

Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Suguira. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

I have enjoyed every single book written by Misa Sugiura, and I’m delighted to share that Love and Other Natural Disasters is no different. In fact, I think Love and Other Natural Disasters is my favourite book by Misa Sugiura yet. Not only is it so much fun (and if you listen to the audiobook narrated by Katharine Chen, then you will have even more fun, I promise!), but Love and Other Natural Disasters brings so much self-awareness to the fake-dating romance trope that I just wanted to climb to the closest highest mountain and scream, “YES!” Because finally! A romantic comedy that captures the joy and delight of summer romance, told with a completely self-aware narrative that will make you think, and laugh, and then think again.

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Book Review: It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi – An Exes-to-Enemies Rom-Com about Flawed Desi Teens, Messy Relationships, and Protecting Those You Love

It All Comes Back to you by
Synopsis:

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close. Then out of the blue, Amira announces that she’s dating someone and might move cross-country with him. Kiran is thrown.

Deen Malik is thrilled that his older brother, Faisal, has found a great girlfriend, even if it’s getting serious quickly. Maybe now their parents’ focus will shift off Deen, who feels intense pressure to be the perfect son.

When Deen and Kiran come fact to face, they silently agree to keep their past a secret. Four years ago–before Amira and Faisal met–Kiran and Deen dated. But Deen ghosted Kiran with no explanation. Kiran will stop at nothing to find out what happened, and Deen will do anything, even if it means sabotaging his brother’s relationship, to keep her from reaching the truth. Though the chemistry between Kiran and Deen is undeniable, can either of them take down their walls?

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

It All Comes Back to You is nothing like what I expected – and I’m glad for it. For what I thought was a fluffy and sweet romance, It All Comes Back to You is, what I’d more accurately describe, a romantic comedy with drama and coming-of-age elements centering two very flawed desi Muslim teens. It is messy at times, and delightfully so, making It All Comes Back to You such a memorable story and a wonderful addition to young adult fiction. 

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Book Review: Off the Record by Camryn Garrett – Exposing Sexual Violence In Vein of the #MeToo Movement, and a Heartfelt Portrayal of Being a Black Fat Teen

Synopsis:

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

If you know me, then you will know that one of my favourite books of all time is Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett, a story about a Black teen living with HIV+ and how she navigates first love. From there, I vowed that I would read any book by Camryn – and knew that I would love whatever she wrote. It came to no surprise to me, then, that her sophomore novel, Off the Record, would effortlessly find its place in my top reads of 2021. I adore this book with my whole heart, and it is a timely, relevant, and searing piece of contemporary fiction that pays a victim-centered tribute to the power of necessity of the #MeToo movement that started in 2006 with Tarana Burke and re-emerged with force in 2017.

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