Our Friend is Here! An Interview with Michelle Quach, Author of Not Here to Be Liked; On Her Feminist Debut, “Unlikeable” Characters, and Challenging Expectations

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.

If you are looking for your next feminist read that is as funny as it is complex with characters feel real and relatable, then I would kindly like to nudge you in the direction of Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach, a young adult feminist contemporary romance that releases in September. When I read Not Here to Be Liked earlier this year, I thought to myself: finally; finally a feminist contemporary that I can relate to, that tackles head-on the intersectionality and complexity of feminism in its most human and down-to-earth form. Suffice to say, I fell in love with this book’s witty and sharp humour and how it openly and vulnerably lays out the messiness of feminism, high school politics, and love.

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Book Review: Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach – A Sharp and Funny Feminist Contemporary that Explores Unlikeable Characters, Double-Standards and Feminism

Not Here to be Liked by Michelle Quach. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

I was provided an eARC of the book in exchange for an honest review.

When asked for feminist contemporary fiction recommendations, I always seem to draw a blank. When I think about feminist young-adult fiction, I think the likes of Moxie. Though Moxie is a relevant and important piece of fiction in the ways that it engaged young readers into thinking and exploring sexism, I also wondered how Moxie, a book about a young white feminist who fights the patriarchy in small town Texas,is relevant to me – an Asian woman.

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Book Review: A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee – A Spirited Sapphic Asian Retelling of Treasure Island about the Thrills of Adventure, the Legacy of Piracy, and Finding Yourself at Sea

A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island remix by c.b. lee. reviewed by cw at the quiet pond.
Synopsis:

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd business woman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her only memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports — that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

I was provided an eARC of this book from the author. This does not influence my opinion in any way.

One of the best feelings in the world is reading a book that you were excited for, a book that you were anxiously anticipating, and then to discover that it was better than you could have ever imagined. A Clash of Steel was that book for me. Though loving A Clash of Steel should have come as no surprise – I have, after all, read and loved every single book that C.B. Lee has ever written – I was blown away by A Clash of Steel, its spirit, and its delightful sense of adventure.

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with June C.L. Tan, Author of Jade Fire Gold – On the Trope of the Chosen One, Cultural Inspiration, and Asian Media Recommendations

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.

When I first saw the cover reveal for Jade Fire Gold on Twitter, I gasped. I grew up watching Chinese wuxia dramas with my mother (who was very much the source of my early C-drama obsession as a kid), and the cover art instantly transported me back to those 6 PM childhood evenings spent in front of the television set, rapt with long-running story arcs of whatever was airing at the time. Like a lot of diaspora kids, my upbringing featured a steady hybrid diet of both Asian and Western media: the evening C-dramas were interspersed with Japanese anime, nighttime Disney movies, and American cartoons.

This unique mix of influences is precisely what makes Jade Fire Gold‘s twin ‘comps’ of wuxia meets Avatar: The Last Airbender so potent for me too; it’s genuinely so heartening to see more books being published today that reflect the huge varieties of media that marginalized readers are growing up with. It is thus my greatest honor today to be sharing a little interview we had with June C.L. Tan about her upcoming book, the inspirations behind it, and her writer journey so far!

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Book Review: A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong – A Vibrant Graphic Novel about the Struggles of Being a Teen, the Friendships That Hold Us Up and Basketball

A map to the sun by Sloane Leong.
Synopsis:

One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their highschool. With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

Sloane Leong’s evocative storytelling about the lives of these young women is an ode to the dynamic nature of friendship.

I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review by the author; this does not impact or influence my opinion.

I genuinely cannot remember the last time I read something in one sitting. I struggle a lot with focusing on one task for extended periods of time; even with novellas or short works of fiction that I can easily finish in an hour, it’ll probably take me more than a few sittings to finish it. With A Map to the Sun though, I read it all in one sitting, engrossed by its vibrant and beautiful pages and hopelessly compelled by the graphic novel’s cast of flawed and imperfect teenage girls. That, for me, is a testament to how wonderful I thought this graphic novel was.

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