Book Review: In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu – A Transcendent Bio-Cyberpunk Novella of Queer Asian-Influenced Stories that Explore and Reclaim Diaspora, Identity, and Gender

Synopsis:

The city of Ora uses a complex living network called the Gleaming to surveil its inhabitants and maintain harmony. Anima is one of the cloistered extrasensory humans tasked with watching over Ora’s citizens. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from all harm.

All that changes when a mysterious visitor enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around the world, with a story attached to each item. As Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—æ never before imagined to exist, æ finds ærself asking a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

If I had to describe In the Watchful City in a word, it would be ‘transcendent’. In the Watchful City is unlike anything I have read before; this novella pushes the boundaries of science-fiction/fantasy, highlighting that there are no limits or restraints in meaningful storytelling that interweaves themes of diaspora, power, gender, and transformation. The power of In the Watchful City is that it feels – and perhaps is – a story that feels so deeply and unapologetically personal.

Read More »

Book Review: How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland – A Lyrical and Vulnerable Story about Complicated Families and a Celebration of Self-Love and the Beauty of the Universe

how moon fuentez fell in love with the universe raquel vasquez gilland
Synopsis:

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

I was provided an eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe is a masterpiece and it wrecked me, ruined me, destroyed me. Moon Fuentez understood me in a way that very few books ever have and, for that, it has now made a home in my heart forever. If Moon Fuentez was a person, I would want to cry and give her a big hug – and I imagine she would give me the most delightful, squishiest cuddle back.

Read More »

Book Review: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen – A Sapphic Hate-to-Love YA Contemporary Romance with the Perfect Amount of Angst and Fake Dating

Synopsis:

After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.

Their bumpy start only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages.

Cuddle's review:

She Drives Me Crazy opens with our protagonist Scottie Zajac having a rough go of it. She is a basketball player for her high school in her small town of Grandma Earl, Georgia and has played a terrible game against her ex-girlfriend Tally, who she still loves, and who has transferred schools to rival Candlewick. Then, amidst her distress, she is involved in a car accident in the parking lot and the other party is her sworn enemy, beautiful and popular Irene, who once played a mean prank on her at a party.

Read More »

Book Review: Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach – A Sharp and Funny Feminist Contemporary that Explores Unlikeable Characters, Double-Standards and Feminism

Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

I was provided an eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

When asked for feminist contemporary fiction recommendations, I always seem to draw a blank. When I think about feminist young-adult fiction, I think the likes of Moxie. Though Moxie is a relevant and important piece of fiction in the ways that it engaged young readers into thinking and exploring sexism, I also wondered how Moxie, a book about a young white feminist who fights the patriarchy in small town Texas,is relevant to me – an Asian woman.

Read More »

Book Review: A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee – A Spirited Sapphic Asian Retelling of Treasure Island about the Thrills of Adventure, the Legacy of Piracy, and Finding Yourself at Sea

A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island remix by c.b. lee. reviewed by cw at the quiet pond.
Synopsis:

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd business woman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her only memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports — that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

I was provided an eARC of this book from the author. This does not influence my opinion in any way.

One of the best feelings in the world is reading a book that you were excited for, a book that you were anxiously anticipating, and then to discover that it was better than you could have ever imagined. A Clash of Steel was that book for me. Though loving A Clash of Steel should have come as no surprise – I have, after all, read and loved every single book that C.B. Lee has ever written – I was blown away by A Clash of Steel, its spirit, and its delightful sense of adventure.

Read More »