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: 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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Book Review: Fools in Love edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos – A Fresh and Diverse Anthology for Lovers of Tropey Romance Stories

Fools in Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos. Contributors: Rebecca Barrow, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, Julian Winters. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.

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

I love romance tropes. I love the emotional beats of the stories, I love all the expectations that come with tropes and readying myself for the inevitable ‘ah!’ moment where the trope blooms into something wonderful and exciting, and I love the inevitability of it all. So when I saw that Fools in Love, edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos, was an anthology dedicated entirely to reimaginings of romance tropes? Count me in!

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Five Reasons to Read: Danny Chung Sums It Up by Maisie Chan – Maths and Art Collide in this Sweet Story about Grandmothers, Language Barriers, and Kindness

Danny Chung Sums It Up by Maisie Chan, illustrated by Natelle Quek. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond
Synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Danny’s life is turned upside down when his Chinese grandmother comes to live with his family in England. Things get worse when Danny finds out he’ll have to share his room with her, and she took the top bunk!

At first, Danny is frustrated that he can’t communicate with her because she doesn’t speak English—and because he’s on the verge of failing math and Nai Nai was actually a math champion back in the day. It just feels like he and his grandmother have nothing in common. His parents insist that Danny help out, so when he’s left to look after Nai Nai, he leaves her at the bingo hall for the day to get her off his back. But he soon discovers that not everyone there is as welcoming as he expected . . .

Through the universal languages of math and art, Danny realizes he has more in common with his Nai Nai than he first thought.

One of my favourite things about middle-grade stories is how they explore the close relationships that we have with people, especially with our friends and family. Siblings are different now, friendships are changing, and even the character themselves are growing up too. So, what about a story about a young Chinese-British boy who has to suddenly become roommates with a grandmother he’s never met before and that he doesn’t understand?

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