Book Review: A Thousand Steps Into Night by Traci Chee – Here She Is; the Feminist Japanese-Inspired Fantasy Adventure Story of My Dreams

Blurb:

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.

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

For years I’ve been searching for a book that captures the spirit and feel of my favourite film of all time, Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke. Friends also looking for such a book, you would be delighted to know that I have finally found such a book: A Thousand Steps into Night by Traci Chee, a young adult Japanese-inspired dark feminist fantasy that follows a young girl named Miuko who is cursed by a demon and is forced on a journey to reverse the curse – before the curse takes over – and become human once more.

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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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Book Review: You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen – Black Muslim Teens Find Their Voice and Power in this Empowering and Hopeful Contemporary

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

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

When I finished reading You Truly Assumed, I thought to myself: this is it; this is the book that is going to take the world by storm come 2022. And if you have been waiting for a story that explores the experiences of being Black, Muslim and teenage girls, that illuminates how the intersections of those identities can hold so much strength, difference and hope, then your wait ends with You Truly Assumed. This book is brilliance and power in book form, and I am so excited for everyone to read it come February 2022.  

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Book Review: Tidesong by Wendy Xu – An Enchanting Slice-of-Life Graphic Novel about Water Witches, Water Dragons, and the Magic of Sharing Our Feelings

Tidesong by Wendy
Synopsis:

Sophie is a young witch whose mother and grandmother pressure her to attend the Royal Magic Academy—the best magic school in the realm—even though her magic is shaky at best. To train for her entrance exams, Sophie is sent to relatives she’s never met.

Cousin Sage and Great-Aunt Lan seem more interested in giving Sophie chores than in teaching her magic. Frustrated, Sophie attempts magic on her own, but the spell goes wrong, and she accidentally entangles her magic with the magic of a young water dragon named Lir.

Lir is trapped on land and can’t remember where he came from. Even so, he’s everything Sophie isn’t—beloved by Sophie’s family and skilled at magic. With his help, Sophie might just ace her entrance exams, but that means standing in the way of Lir’s attempts to regain his memories. Sophie knows what she’s doing is wrong, but without Lir’s help, can she prove herself?

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

If you are a fan of Studio Ghibli films, especially Kiki’s Delivery Service or Whisper of the Heart (which are two of my personal favourites), then I think you are going to love Tidesong by Wendy Xu. With its gentle narrative, tender and heartfelt messages, and gorgeous art, this gorgeous middle-grade graphic novel now has a place in my heart forever. Not only did I adore this book with my whole being, Tidesong is the kind of book that will resonate with so many readers, especially those of us who often struggle with the pressures that we place on ourselves.

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Book Review: The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland – A Comforting and Resonant Coming-of-Age Rom-Com about the Journey of Self-Love

The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new.

But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project.

The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart.

But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.

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

When I think of The Jasmine Project, I think of soda bubbles on your tongue on a hot summer’s day, a mug of your favourite drink in your hand while snuggled up under a fort of blankets, and surprise cupcakes from a loved one just because. In other words, when I think of The Jasmine Project, I think about a story that is so delightfully light-hearted, comforting, and a balm to the soul. Suffice to say, I adored The Jasmine Project and it was the adorable coming-of-age romantic comedy that I needed.

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