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: After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang – A Quiet Fantasy About the Climate, Queer Love, and Having Hope in A World You Cannot Save

A banner featuring the cover of After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang. A blue dragon encircles the title. In the corner is an icon that reads: "Reviewed by Skye, The Quiet Pond".
Summary:

Dragons were fire and terror to the Western world, but in the East they brought life-giving rain…

Now, no longer hailed as gods and struggling in the overheated pollution of Beijing, only the Eastern dragons survive. As drought plagues the aquatic creatures, a mysterious disease—shaolong, or “burnt lung”—afflicts the city’s human inhabitants.

Jaded college student Xiang Kaifei scours Beijing streets for abandoned dragons, distracting himself from his diagnosis. Elijah Ahmed, a biracial American medical researcher, is drawn to Beijing by the memory of his grandmother and her death by shaolong. Interest in Beijing’s dragons leads Kai and Eli into an unlikely partnership. With the resources of Kai’s dragon rescue and Eli’s immunology research, can the pair find a cure for shaolong and safety for the dragons? Eli and Kai must confront old ghosts and hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons they love.

After the Dragons is a tender story, for readers interested in the effects of climate change on environments and people, but who don’t want a grim, hopeless read. Beautiful and challenging, focused on hope and care, this novel navigates the nuances of changing culture in a changing world.

Skye's Review:

If you, like me, think the world is in sore need of more quiet slice-of-life fantasy stories about ordinary people, I have just the recommendation for you today. Set in the near-future of a hazy alternate Beijing, Cynthia Zhang’s After the Dragons is a lovely urban fantasy novella about saving stray dragons, queer romance, and what it means to have hope in a world you cannot save on your own.

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Mariko Turk, Author of The Other Side of Perfect – On Race in the Dance Industry, Injury Recovery, and Finding Yourself Again

Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Mariko Turk, Author of The Other Side of Perfect - On Race in the Dance Industry, Injury Recovery, and Finding Yourself Again

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of May, where Asian and Pasifika authors are invited to celebrate being Asian and Pasifika work and literature! Find the introduction post for Asian and Pasifika Heritage Month here.

The Other Side of Perfect is one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and I was delighted to confirm my suspicions that it is also one of my favorite books of 2021. This novel takes us through Alina Keeler, aspiring career ballerina, and her heartbreaking recovery after a career-ending injury. Throughout her recovery, she confronts the systemic racism she experiences in the dance industry, her relationship with her family, and her resentment. She also tries out for the high school musical as a way to stay connected to performing, which allows to explore another side of herself, and perhaps a certain student she develops interest in.

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Black History Month – An Interview with Daven McQueen, Author of The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones; On Historical Fiction, Friendships, and Biracial Identities

Black History Month – An Interview with Daven McQueen, Author of The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones; On Historical Fiction, Friendships, and Biracial Identities

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Our Friend is Here: Black History Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond during the month of February, where Black authors are invited to celebrate being Black and Black books! Find the introduction post for Black History Month here.

Young adult books that center on friendships have my whole heart. I love seeing characters fall in love and discover the joy and heartbreak and beauty of romantic love for the first time, especially those falling in love are teens of colour. But, I also do love the occasional book that centers entirely on a friendship, such as Piecing Me Together and The Black Veins. And if you are like me and are craving stories about friendships too, then you are in for a treat: because we have a friend visiting us today for Black History Month who wrote a book entirely on friendships.

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Exclusive Cover Reveal + Interview: The Keeper of Night, An OwnVoices Biracial YA Historical Fantasy Set in 1890’s Japan, by Kylie Lee Baker

Guess what, friends? We at The Quiet Pond are delighted to be sharing with you all the exclusive cover reveal for The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, a YA historical fantasy about a girl who is part-Reaper and part-Shinigami soul collector who seeks to find her destiny and prove her worth to the Goddess of Death. Does that sound awesome and like you need the book right now? Then you are going to love its gorgeous cover.

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