[Blog Tour] Book Review: Lobizona by Romina Garber – Drop Everything and Read This. Like, Now.

Lobizona by Romina Garber. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle wearing a pajama hat.
Blurb:

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Joce’s review:
Lobizona_BlogTourBanner_Use before 8.4 (1)

Lobizona is easily one of my favorite books of the year. It is rare to find a book with such a huge scope that is crafted in a vibrant, mysterious magical world, but also has dire and necessary commentary about our contemporary society. Romina Garber has truly done it all.

Read More »

Book Review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – A Dark, Twisting Gothic Horror of Decay, Decadence & Eerie Family Secrets

mexican gothic

Summary:

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Skye’s review:

This is the first true horror book I have ever read.

Growing up, I never truly understood why people consumed horror media. Why would anyone voluntarily choose to feel scared instead of entertained? What point is there to feeding the paranoia of being alone in the dark? (It certainly didn’t help that the brand of East-Southeast Asian horror I was raised on tended heavily towards ghosts and apparitions, and still disproportionately frightens me to this day!)

But in recent years, I’ve found myself gravitating towards weird stories with spookier elements, and ended up developing a particular fondness for gothic horror. There’s something absolutely alluring about the morbid, almost pleasurable terror of a gothic novel, wrapped underneath layers of decadence, aesthetics, and decay. After massively enjoying House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig last year, I began seeking out books and other media that could give me the same sense of dread and catharsis that Sorrows gave me a taste of. I eventually found solace in Emily Carroll’s horror comics and the podcast The Magnus Archives, which all built a foundation for my instant attraction to the premise of Mexican Gothic.

And friend, if you are also fascinated by haunted houses and the macabre, in a tension that builds and builds until the threads of the story come loose in a brilliant, repulsive reveal… Then this book was written for you too.

Read More »

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition – An Interview with Aiden Thomas, Author of Cemetery Boys; On Writing A Love Letter to Their Community and Writing an Unapologetic Latinx, Gay, and Trans Story

Our Friend is Here! Pride Month Edition.  Author Interview with Aiden Thomas  On Writing A Love Letter to Their Community and Writing an Unapologetic Latinx, Gay, and Trans Story. An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms spread out wide like she is showing off someone, with  Aiden as a golden retriever wearing a red snapback, an Adidas t-shirt, and a silver pendant.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Our Friend is Hereis 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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

One of the joys of being a reader is getting the opportunity to read so many stories that are different and unique from one another. In particular, reading queer books, by and about queer authors, is often a validating experience to me – because the more queer stories I read, the more it reifies the fact that there is no singular queer experience and that what ‘being queer means’ looks different for everyone.Read More »

Book Review: Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – An Escapist and Resonant “Slice of Life” Story

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi. Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

Joce’s review:

Permanent Record is a novel that takes its time. It acknowledges the reverberation of unresolved parental marital issues that trickles down into parenting styles, in minute and nuanced ways. It’s not a book that spelled everything out for me, but that’s the way I like things: kind of like a slice of life manga or anime. It’s a snippet into these people’s lives as opposed to A Story with exact plot points where you can see the outline, and the perfect novel for a hazy rainy day.

Read More »

Book Analysis: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera – Examining its Fantastic Socio-Political Themes; A Metaphor for Classism, Institutional Control, and the American Dream

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera, analysed by CW, The Quiet Pond

Today’s post is in vein of something that I don’t do often (but wish I did more): a book analysis! Typically, I review books for The Quiet Pond but my analyses in book reviews are generally superficial and more orientated towards my thoughts about a book. However, I had the chance to read Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera and finished it last week.

What stuck out to me while reading Dealing in Dreams was that the themes were fantastic – and really resonated with me. When I started book reviewing in 2015, my main motivation for book reviewing was to engage with books on a sociologically and critical level and write analyses about what I’ve read. Though my motivations for book reviewing have now changed – I write book reviews because I want to promote inclusive literature – there are times where I read a book that resonates with me and engages with me on a critical and sociological level. The last time I did a book analysis, it was for Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – a book that I found very engaging, layered, and made me want to analyse it for fun. (Whether it’s a good analysis is beside the question, but I did have fun doing it!)

Dealing in Dreams unexpectedly engaged me – I was prepared for a fun and gritty dystopian book about Latinx girls surviving a desolate landscape. I did forget, though, that dystopia often have social discourse – and there was certainly discourse in Dealing in Dreams. Moreover, I feel pretty compelled to write about it, because Dealing in Dreams captures the themes that I loved learning about when I was in studying Sociology way back when. Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited to write this analysis today.

Read More »