Book Review: You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao – An Evocative and Vulnerable Story about Grief, Connection, and Moving On

Blurb:

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

I was provided an uncorrected bound manuscript from the author. My honest opinions in this book review reflect this version and may be different to the final version of the book.

It’s been two months since I finished You’ve Reached Sam, and it’s a book that has stayed with me since. I think about this book almost every other day. You’ve Reached Sam is a story that confronts grief in its most intense and most painful. And yet, though I was a sobbing, snotty mess by the end of the book, its tender and genuine portrayal of love in its most pure form was also unexpectedly healing.

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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
Blurb:

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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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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Let’s Go on a Pond-cation: An Eva Evergreen-Inspired Virtual Vacation through Japan with Julie Abe and Xiaolong!

Let's Go on a Pond-cation! Let's travel with Julie Abe. An Eva Evergreen-inspired virtual vacation though japan with julie abe and xiaolong.

Today is a very special and exciting day, friends! I have the spectacular Julie Abe, author of Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch visiting us at the Pond for our very first Let’s Go on a Pond-cation guest feature, where we explore the real places that have inspired fictional places and worlds!

During Asian Heritage Month in May, I had the absolute pleasure of Julie visiting us to talk about her recently released middle-grade debut and the Japanese influences in Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical WitchIn Julie visit’s today, we’re doing something pretty unique and fun that we have never done before: instead of staying in the Pond, we’re going on an adventure! Julie is going to talk a little bit more about the adventure you are going on today, so without further ado, a big welcome to Julie Abe!

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Book Review: Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe – A Charming Witchy Middle-Grade about the Magic of Doing Your Best Against All Odds

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe.
Blurb:

Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic…

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen years old. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it’s a simple enough test:

ONE: Help your town, do good all around.
TWO: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon.
THREE: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands on the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she’s worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her “semi-magical fixes” repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva’s bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.

CW’s Review:

If you think the cover for Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch is delightful, wait ‘til you read its story. Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch is a stellar debut, filled with empowering messages for readers of all ages (but especially for younger readers!), an imaginative story filled with sweets and friendships and overcoming, and a memorable heroine who you won’t help but adore.

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