Soft on Soft by Em Ali – The, Indeed, Very Soft Story between Two Queer Fat Girls in Love

Hm, you haven’t seen Xiaolong in awhile.

Although you have been visiting the Pond frequently, Xiaolong always seemed so busy and the both of you never had the opportunity to talk. You hope, in your visit today, that you will get to see her and talk to her.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing a purple flower hat, holding a soft pillow and a book 'Soft on Soft' to her chest.And so, when you pass through the magical boundary and enter the Pond, you hear the familiar scampering of feet and the familiar call of ‘friend!’ Indeed, when you turn around to the sound of her voice, Xiaolong stands before you, holding a pillow and a book in her hand.

“Friend! I’m so glad that I got the chance to see you today. I’ve been so busy and I missed you. I’m sorry we haven’t had the chance to talk much, but I made sure to make time for you today!”

You smile, and tell her that it was good to see her. You ask her what she is doing today, and what book she is holding in her hand.

“Oh yes!” she exclaims. “I had a feeling you were coming today, so I brought you this fluffy pillow. I highly recommend cuddling this pillow while I tell you about this very lovely book that will make you want to cuddle things.”

That sounds like such a comforting book! Once you and Xiaolong settle at your favourite spot at the Pond, her fluffy and soft pillow on your lap, she holds the book out to you. “So, this book is called Soft on Soft…

TEXT: Soft on Soft, Em Ali. IMAGE: a white and pink cup, with steam rising above the text. Bottom right corner: Xiaolong the pink axolotl with an upside down flower hat at the center of a stamp, with the text "Review by CW, The Quiet Pond" around it.
Summary:

June Bana might post nearly daily makeup looks that gain thousands of likes but Real Life June has built a wall behind which she exists with her two cats.

But with messy feelings getting in a way of an early hermit life, June begins to realize that she wants more. She wants model/actress, Sunshine Reincarnated Selena Clarke. It doesn’t hurt that Selena is amazing with cats and quiets down June’s anxiety to bearable levels.

June is given the choice of facing her anxieties about relationships to gain not only a girlfriend but also a better understanding of how far she’d go for love.

But would she take it? Would she leave her comfort zone for something softer?

Contemporary romance where one homebody and one extrovert make one hell of a love story.

My review:

I was provided a copy of this novella by my lovely friend and the author themself. This does not influence my review in any way, and my opinions are my own.

Listen, Soft on Soft is indeed, very soft, and that’s what makes it such a gorgeous gem of a book. It’s a short and sweet novella, and follows two fat queer women – June, a Persian cat-loving homebody, and Selena, an extroverted Black model and actress – and the slow-burn love that blossoms and grows between them.Read More »

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – A heartfelt and charming story about a teen’s journey to Iran, mental illness, and family

TEXT: Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram. IMAGE: Two boys, one on the left with faded hair and wearing a leather jacket and one on the right with short curly hair wearing a beanie, overlooking Iran. On the top-right, a stamp of Xiaolong the pink axolotl, with the text: REVIEW BY CW, THE QUIET POND.

Summary:

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

My review:

Darius the Great Is Not Okay might have made me weep openly on the bus, but it was also an effortless favourite. I adored this book; adored it for its wonderful and genuine explorations of biracial identity, our bonds with people, and living with mental illness. This character-driven story tells of Darius; a Persian-American teen who follows his family to Iran to visit family that he has only ever met through Skype. There, he navigates unfamiliar familial landscapes, meets the enigmatic and charming Sohrab, and discovers what it means to be Darius and Dariush.

Read More »