Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay – A Timely and Unforgettable Story about the Phillipine Drug War, Privilege, and Hope

Book review: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. 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:

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

CW’s Review:

When some of my favourite Filipino bloggers hyped up this book and sung its praises, I was intrigued. When JM hosted the blog tour for Patron Saints of Nothing, and I read the powerful and personal book reviews by Filipino bloggers, I knew that Patron Saints of Nothing would be the kind of book that you just could not miss. And if there is any book that I want you to pick up based on my, and many other amazing Filipino bloggers’ recommendations (I’ve linked a bunch of reviews that you must read at the end of this review!), you should read Patron Saints of Nothing.

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Five Reasons To Read: A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai – A Wholesome Story About Matchmaking, Desi Identity, and Friendship

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai.

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

CW’s review:

When I learned about A Match Made in Mehendi earlier this year, learned that it was about an Indian-American teen and that the story would be about matchmaking and love? I knew I had to read it. And after reading a string of fantastic diverse young-adult contemporaries, I’ve unofficially dubbed this year as ‘The Year of Diverse YA Contemporaries’ – and A Match Made in Mehendi is perhaps the hidden gem in YA contemporary.

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Five Reasons To Read: With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo – A Heart-Warming Story About Being a Teenager, a Mother and the Magic of Food

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo.

Blurb:

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness.

Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

CW’s review:

When the world tells you that Elizabeth Acevedo, author of the stunning and revolutionary novel-in-verse The Poet X, has written another book called With the Fire on High and that it is as incredible as her first book? You read it – because not only is With the Fire on High indisputably fantastic but, if you read it, you will definitely thank yourself for it later.

Told with Acevedo’s heart-warming and soulful prose, With the Fire on High follows Emoni, an Afro-Puerto-Rican teen and mother, and how she wrestles with being a mum, being a teen, daring to follow her dreams to become a culinary chef, and the weight of responsibilities to be and do all of the above at once.

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The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim – Perhaps The Best Book About Mental Illness, Asian Identity, and Family That I’ve Read – Ever

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim. 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:

Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

CW’s review:

I received an ARC of the book from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book.

Take note of this review’s title: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim is one of the best books that explore mental illness that I have ever read – ever. Take note, because I absolutely mean it and I think everyone should read this book. The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling follows Hong Kong-Chinese-Australian teen Anna, who spends a lot of her time wrangling her younger siblings and making sure they are ready for school, helping at her father’s Chinese restaurant, and trying to be a teenager herself while her mother who stays in bed for weeks at a time. Don’t be fooled by this book’s bright and soft cover – though The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling has its sweet moments about teenagehood and first love, it also has some confronting and candid explorations of mental illness within Asian communities and its impact on family.

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The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory – Reinventing the “Strong Woman” Trope in Romance

“Hey, friends!” Cuddle excitedly waved Xiaolong and Amina over to her reading rock, and they ambled over.

“I wonder what Cuddle has in store for us today,” wondered Xiaolong.

“Maybe it’s that delicious soup again! Remember when she made that? Mmm…” replied Amina.

When they arrived, Cuddle said, “I am reading the greatest book. It’s reminding me of one of my favorite movies a little, you know, Pride and Prejudice! ‘

Cuddle the otter, holding up a Pride and Prejudice DVD.With that, Cuddle promptly turned around, with her little brown tail sticking straight up into the air as she rummaged around in her collection, throwing knick knacks this way and that behind her, as if emptying Mary Poppins’ bag. She suddenly emerged head upright, with her paw aloft, waving a beige DVD back and forth triumphantly.

Xiaolong rolled her eyes, though she had a smile on her face that lended affection.

“Cuddle, if I have to see Matthew McFayden in the rain in that dang wet white shirt ONE MORE TIME…”

The Wedding Party. Jasmine Guillory. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle, the otter wearing a pajama hat.

Blurb:

Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

  1. Alexa is their best friend
  2. They hate each other

After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don’t fall in love.

Joce’s review:

Jasmine Guillory. Give me all her books. Give them to me now! After reading and loving THE PROPOSAL, I was highly anticipating the next companion novel in the series, called THE WEDDING PARTY – big thank you to Chelsea at Chelsea Dolling Reads for sending me this beautiful book.

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