Book Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan – A Glorious and Brutal Queer Epic about Ambitious Desires, Fighting Fate and Ascension of Power

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-
Blurb:

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

I was given an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Upon finishing She Who Became the Sun, I gently placed my e-reader down, laid down on the ground, and just let gravity and the implications of the story’s ending bear its crushing weight upon me. What a book, She Who Became the Sun is. I cannot adequately express my pleasure over the fact that She Who Became the Sun was one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021 and, in its phenomenal storytelling and unforgettable characters, delivered, and more.

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Book Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean – A Warm and Hilarious Love Letter to All the Asian Kids Who Dreamed of Being Royalty

Tokyo Ever Afte
Blurb:

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

I was provided an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review by the book’s publicist.

When I was a young child watching The Princess Diaries and witnessed Mia Thermopolis, an otherwise ordinary American teenager, become the princess of Genovia, this sparked a childish dream and fantasy: what if I was a secret princess too? Of course, as I grew up, I knew that I wasn’t, but it was fun to dream. I suppose this dream slept dormant within me, because by the time I finished reading the second chapter of Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, I felt like I was experiencing my wish fulfilment fantasy.

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Book Review: Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa – A Vulnerable and Warmly Funny Story about First Love, Coming Out, and Loving Oneself

Blurb:

A poignant, funny, openhearted novel about coming out, first love, and being your one and only best and true self.

Julián Luna has a plan for his life: Graduate. Get into UCLA. And have the chance to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas, and the suffocating expectations of others that have forced Jules into an inauthentic life.

Then in one reckless moment, with one impulsive tweet, his plans for a low-key nine months are thrown—literally—out the closet. The downside: the whole world knows, and Jules has to prepare for rejection. The upside: Jules now has the opportunity to be his real self.

Then Mat, a cute, empathetic Twitter crush from Los Angeles, slides into Jules’s DMs. Jules can tell him anything. Mat makes the world seem conquerable. But when Jules’s fears about coming out come true, the person he needs most is fifteen hundred miles away. Jules has to face them alone.

Jules accidentally propelled himself into the life he’s always dreamed of. And now that he’s in control of it, what he does next is up to him.

I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Somewhere, sometime, a queer teen will read Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun, hold this story close to their chest, the story finding a home in their heart. What an illuminating and poignant book Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun is; a book that deftly balances the softness and joy of first love and steadfast friendship but also the sharp and painful edges of heteronormativity and anti-gay prejudice. Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun is soft, beautiful, triumphant, painful, heart-aching, and bittersweet – and I suppose it’s a little like life, isn’t it?

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Book Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert – The Greatest Sunshine and Grump Romance that Defeats Autistic Stereotypes and Is Hot AF

Act Your A
Blurb:

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong. So she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

Cuddle's review:

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the third and final book in the Brown Sisters series (and you can read them in any order; they are companion novels!). The story opens with a dreaded ultimatum. Eve’s parents tell her that after another job that she has given up on, this time disastrously with some doves she needed to set free at a wedding she was planning, she must prove herself with one last hurrah at adulting and holding down a job independently. She comes across a quaint bed and breakfast in Skybriar where she applies to trial a job with her new boss, Jacob, the B&B’s owner.

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Book Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé – A Stunning and Thrilling Descent into Dark Academia, Race, and Class

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.
Blurb:

When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.

Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.

As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?

I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I finished reading Ace of Spades, I was overcome with a very unfamiliar feeling: I wanted to go back to the very first page and read it cover to cover again. I wanted to relive the descension of horror this book takes you through. I wanted to experience the terror and fear that this book instils with its incredible twist and turns. And, knowing what I know now, I wanted to feel that absolute dread of knowing what was coming, because how this story devolves and leads to was thrilling and so satisfyingly brilliant. I am in awe of Ace of Spades, and it is one of the most phenomenal debuts that I have ever read.

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