Five Reasons to Read: A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow – A Cautionary Tale of Wishes Made from Loss, with Carribean Folklore and Vengeful Mermaids

A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow. Reviewed by CW, The QUiet Pond.
Blurb:

Ever since her mother’s death, Kela feels every bit as broken as the shards of glass, known as “mermaid’s tears,” that sparkle on the beaches of St. Rita. But when she discovers a different kind of treasure, she accidentally summons an actual mermaid—the wrathful Ophidia.

Ophidia makes Kela a bargain: her ancient comb, in exchange for a wish. And though Kela knows that what she wants most is her mother back, a wish that big will exact a dangerous price…

Young readers looking for a book with storytelling that pulls them right in and a unique voice will love A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow. Set in the Carribean, the story follows a young girl Kela, still reeling from the loss of her mother. When she discovers a magical comb and is granted a wish by a mermaid to bring her mother back, little does she know that her wish will set off a chain of unfortunate events.

Read More »

Five Reasons to Read: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan – A Sweeping Xianxia Fantasy Inspired by the Chang’e Legend

Blurb:

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Inspired by the Chang’e legend, or the goddess of the Moon, Daughter of the Moon Goddess is a romantic fantasy adventure that will transport readers to a world where immortals reign, dragons and monsters dwell, and high-stake battles between realms take place. At the center of it all is a girl’s years-long quest to free her mother, Chang’e, from exile and her sentence on the moon, and the many tribulations and challenges that she endures and overcome as she fights for her mother’s freedom.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

Five Reasons to Read: Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith – A Critical Yet Joyous Reimagining of Peter Pan that Centers Indigenous Perspectives

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Tagline: Lily and Wendy are taking their story back. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

In this modern take of the popular classic Peter Pan, award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek) brilliantly shifts the focus from the boy who won’t grow up to Native American Lily and English Wendy—stepsisters who must face both dangers and wonders to find their way back to the family they love.

Stepsisters Lily and Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage—to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

One of the biggest reasons why I love a good retelling of a classic is how the retelling reimagines the story from a modern perspective. Classics, though beloved for good reason, aren’t always perfect and oftentimes carry with them archaic and harmful perspectives that reflects the times in which it is written.

Read More »

Five Reasons to Read: Falling Into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku – An Exciting Portal Fantasy that Celebrates Māori Mythology, Māoritanga, and Siblinghood

Synopsis:

It seems like an ordinary day when Tui and Kae, sixteen-year-old twins, get home from school – until they find their mother, Maia, has disappeared and a swirling vortex has opened up in her room. They are sucked into this portal and dragged down to Rarohenga, the Māori Underworld, a shadowy place of infinite dark levels, changing landscapes and untrustworthy characters. Maia has been kidnapped by their estranged father, Tema, enchanted to forget who she really is and hidden somewhere here. Tui and Kae have to find a way through this maze, outwit the shady characters they meet, break the spell on their mother, and escape to the World of Light before the Goddess of Shadows or Tema holds them in Rarohenga forever.

Growing up and living in Aotearoa (New Zealand), it’s not often I get the pleasure of reading a book where I get to see the slang and reo that I grew up immersed and references to Kiwiana reflected on the page. I mean, how often do we get to see a sibling call their sibling ‘an egg’, something that all kids growing up Aotearoa have definitely called each other at some point? Or, how often do I get to see the flora, fauna, and all things that feel quintessential to Aotearoa – ruru, huia, glow worms, Rotorua hot pools – mentioned casually yet endearingly in a story?

So, when I read Falling into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku, I had such a wonderful time. I loved that this story felt so familiar to me and felt like a piece of my home. Just as importantly, I had so much fun reading this gem, and I cannot wait to share with you all my five reasons of why you should pick up this taonga.

Read More »