Book Review: Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud – A Joyous Love Letter to Teens with Strict Parents, Forging Your Own Path and Happiness, and Haitian Culture

Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Simone Thibodeaux’s life is sealed in a boy-proof container.

Her strict Haitian immigrant parents enforce no-dating rules and curfews, and send Simone to an all-girls school. As for prom? Simone is allowed to go on one condition: her parents will select her date (a boy from a nice Haitian immigrant family, obviously).

Simone is desperate to avoid the humiliation of the set up — especially since she’s crushing on a boy she knows her parents wouldn’t approve of. With senior year coming to a close, Simone makes a decision. She and her fellow late-bloomer friends will create a Senior Year Bucket List of all the things they haven’t had a chance to do. On the list: kissing a boy, sneaking out of the house, skipping class (gasp!), and, oh yeah — choosing your own prom date.

But as the list takes on a life of its own, things get more complicated than Simone expected. She’ll have to discover which rules are worth breaking, and which will save her from heartbreak.

I have remembered every time I have felt seen by a book, where it felt like the book was a mirror into my life. I picked up Simone Breaks All the Rules because it sounded delightful – a teen rebels against her strict parents’ plan to set her up with a prom date of their choosing and decides to reclaim her senior year by doing all the things that she’s always wanted to do: kiss a boy, sneak out, skip class, and yes! choose her own prom date. Turns out, I did indeed get the delightful book that I had wanted – but I also got more. I also got a book that really understands what it’s like to live with strict parents. I felt seen by this book and I’ll love this book forever more for it.

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Book Review­: Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins – A Top-Tier Celebrity Fake-Dating Romance that is Fluffy as it is Sweet and Sensitive

Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Fake boyfriend. Real heartbreak?

Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star…until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating—it could end her career.

Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy—not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William—and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?

Reading Like a Love Song felt like a big warm hug. I think I spent most of my time reading this book grinning from ear to ear. It was just so delightful, fun, and fluffy – the perfect balm for any bad or heavy day – and I can confidently say that this will be a romance that I will recommend for years to come.

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Book Review: The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova – A Splendid and Enchanting Character-Driven Latine Fantasy about Family and the Consequences

Synopsis:

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.

I was provided an Audiobook Listening Copy by Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.

A few years ago, I read a brilliant witch-themed anthology called Toil & Trouble edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe. Though the anthology is filled with gems of witchy stories from a feminist lens, a story that stuck out to me was a story called Divine are the Stars, about a girl who returns home to visit her dying grandmother. By chance, years later, I decided to pick up The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova – because an adult fantasy about family and mystery and magic? I was immediately intrigued.

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Five Reasons to Read: Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez – A Stunning Testament to the Strength of Girls and Women and One Girl’s Passion for Fútbol

Synopsis:

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

One of the most powerful things that a book can do is pull you into a world that you have never known and take you on a journey where you live the highs and lows through the eyes of another person. For instance, I’ve never been a fútbol (soccer) person and never ‘understood’ the hype. But then, I read Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez, a phenomenal YA contemporary that just pulled me right into its unforgettable story and, even though I’ve long since finished it, I still feel its hold on me. Through the eyes of Camila, known as La Furia on the field, I came to understand her passion for fútbol and the love someone can have for the sport.

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Book Review: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera – Funny and Thoughtful, a Story about Square Dancing, Friendship, and Fighting For What We Believe In – But At What Cost?

Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba Higuera. Reviewed by CW.
Synopsis:

Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She’s also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy…like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much…like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Who seasons.

Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she’s not gonna let that slide.

I read Lupe Wong Won’t Dance on a sunny weekend morning – and I cannot think of a better time of the day and week to have read this delightful and funny book. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance has a simple premise, but underneath the seemingly straightforward story is also an emotional and heartfelt story about friendship, the echoes of grief, and how, sometimes, we lose sight of how our actions affect people because of our own ambitions.

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