Five Reasons to Read: A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow – A Cautionary Tale of Wishes Made from Loss, with Carribean Folklore and Vengeful Mermaids

A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow. Reviewed by CW, The QUiet Pond.
Blurb:

Ever since her mother’s death, Kela feels every bit as broken as the shards of glass, known as “mermaid’s tears,” that sparkle on the beaches of St. Rita. But when she discovers a different kind of treasure, she accidentally summons an actual mermaid—the wrathful Ophidia.

Ophidia makes Kela a bargain: her ancient comb, in exchange for a wish. And though Kela knows that what she wants most is her mother back, a wish that big will exact a dangerous price…

Young readers looking for a book with storytelling that pulls them right in and a unique voice will love A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow. Set in the Carribean, the story follows a young girl Kela, still reeling from the loss of her mother. When she discovers a magical comb and is granted a wish by a mermaid to bring her mother back, little does she know that her wish will set off a chain of unfortunate events.

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Book Review: Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie – Questioning, Identity, and Friendship Coalesce in this Tender Queer Coming-of-Age Contemporary

Ophelia After All by Racquel Marie. Reviewed by CW, The QUiet Pond.
Blurb:

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If young adult contemporary isn’t your stomping ground, I am begging for you to make an exception and make Ophelia After All one of your to-read books of 2022. A joy from start to finish, this exceptional coming-of-age story follows biracial Cuban-Irish teen Ophelia who must navigate identity, change and friendship at the sunset of high school.

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Book Review: Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi – Intense, Harrowing, and Critical; A SF Vision of the Future with an Anti-Gentrification Lens

Synopsis:

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What does a future in which the wealthy have left Earth to colonise space look like? What are the stories of those who are left behind on Earth, now a desolate wasteland wrecked by climate change, radiation poisoning, pollution, and gentrification? Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi sets out to answer these questions, told and explored through a kaleidoscope of harrowing yet insightful perspectives and vignettes.

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Five Reasons to Read: Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass – Set in Tobago, a Stunning YA Romance about Love, Second Chances, and Change

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass. Tagline: First Love. Second Chance. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass is the kind of book that feels like a love letter to Tobago, all the loves that we’ve lost and found, and also to teen girls who are scared of wanting something more for themselves. I loved this gorgeous novel; loved how the story transported me right to Reyna’s seaside resort, the Plumeria, where the story predominantly takes place.

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Five Reasons to Read: Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith – A Critical Yet Joyous Reimagining of Peter Pan that Centers Indigenous Perspectives

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Tagline: Lily and Wendy are taking their story back. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

In this modern take of the popular classic Peter Pan, award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek) brilliantly shifts the focus from the boy who won’t grow up to Native American Lily and English Wendy—stepsisters who must face both dangers and wonders to find their way back to the family they love.

Stepsisters Lily and Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage—to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland.

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan.

One of the biggest reasons why I love a good retelling of a classic is how the retelling reimagines the story from a modern perspective. Classics, though beloved for good reason, aren’t always perfect and oftentimes carry with them archaic and harmful perspectives that reflects the times in which it is written.

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