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: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk – K-Beauty and K-Pop Come Head-to-Head in this Delightful Rivals-to-Lovers YA Rom-Com

Synopsis:

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

Reading Made in Korea felt like a balm to the soul. There is something so satisfying about reading a romantic contemporary that just hits all the good spots: great storytelling, a rivals-to-lovers romance that I absolutely adored and rooted for, a cast of characters that were all flawed yet earnestly human, and nestled in between a tender story about ambition, identity, and acceptance from family.

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Book Review: Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury – A Dark and Compelling Urban Fantasy About Witches, Family, the Price of Magic, and Love

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Synopsis:

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything. 

‘Woah’ was the word that escaped my mouth when I finished this. Because holy smokes, Blood Like Magic is truly unlike any book that I have read before. With its fascinating take on a not-so-distant futurism blended with witches, a story that explores how far you would go to save your family, the price we pay for love, and the looming question of ‘if you had to sacrifice your first love to save your family, would you?’, Blood Like Magic is undeniably compelling and fascinating. I had such a wonderful time with this book, and I’m excited to share with you all my thoughts on this book.

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Book Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean – A Warm and Hilarious Love Letter to All the Asian Kids Who Dreamed of Being Royalty

Tokyo Ever Afte
Synopsis:

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?

I was provided an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review by the book’s publicist.

When I was a young child watching The Princess Diaries and witnessed Mia Thermopolis, an otherwise ordinary American teenager, become the princess of Genovia, this sparked a childish dream and fantasy: what if I was a secret princess too? Of course, as I grew up, I knew that I wasn’t, but it was fun to dream. I suppose this dream slept dormant within me, because by the time I finished reading the second chapter of Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean, I felt like I was experiencing my wish fulfilment fantasy.

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