Book Review: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha – A Graphic Memoir about Immigration, Strict Gender Norms, and Forging Friendships Through Comics and Art

almost american girl robin ha book review the quiet pond

Blurb:

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated.

Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

Joce’s review:

Almost American Girl provides an intimate look at the author’s journey through immigrating from South Korea to Huntsville, Alabama, in the USA, very suddenly after her mother tells her she has met a man and is going to marry him. Robin Ha invites the readers into her adolescence through this graphic memoir which allows them to see such a full range of emotions: anger towards her mother, anxiety at attending school, sorrow and intense frustration at trying to fit in when she doesn’t understand her peers and is bullied, and a flood of relief when she finds a first glimmer of connection during her comics drawing class.

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Book Review: Go Deep by Rilzy Adams – I Need to Lay Down

Go Deep. Rilzy Adams.

Summary:

It was all supposed to be so simple.

Navaya Howard is an erotic writer in a rut. Her readers are fed up of her stale plots and Navaya can’t blame them. She’s been celibate for over a year and a half since finding her now ex-boyfriend’s side chick’s positive pregnancy test on her bathroom counter. How can she write steamy romances if she can barely remember which body parts go into the other?

Navaya enlists the help of her best friend, Xander, to revive the inspiration that used to have her sitting comfortably at the top of her game. What happens when the sex hits deeper than either of them expected and the tender emotions can no longer be denied?

Navaya and Xander’s arrangement has gone far deeper than intended.
Will their friendship and their hearts survive the fall?

Joce’s review:

Thank you so much to Sil @ thebookvoyagers for the recommendation!

Go Deep is a novella that zooms in on my favorite meta trope: a writer or author who needs inspiration and their journey to do so. Bonus points here, I like my romances EXTREMELY sexy and this completely delivered. It may only be around 150 pages, but Rilzy Adams had me thinking about her characters, and her characters TOGETHER, for a good while longer. When I saw Sil talking about how amazing this book is, I truly had no idea quite how long I’d be thinking about it for (Read: I finished two weeks ago and still think about it daily).

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[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.

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Book Review: The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar – A Soft Yet Powerful YA Contemporary Featuring an F/F Romance that Battles Discrimination and Celebrates the Art of Henna

The Henna Wars, by Adiba Jaigirdar. Reviewed by Joce, (at) The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Joce’s review:

When CW told me that we were going to have Adiba Jaigirdar visiting the Pond, I was overjoyed because I am just so… moved by The Henna Wars. It is a young adult contemporary novel featuring an F/F romance, and also has its roots firmly planted in destroying homophobia, racism, bullying, and cultural appropriation. After I was done reading, I sat on the couch filled with warm, fuzzy feelings, but also feeling empowered to get this book in the hands of younger readers everywhere.

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Book Review: Forbidden Promises by Synithia Williams – One of the Best Romances I’ve Ever Read

forbiddenpromises.jpg

Blurb:

What do you do when you want the one person you can never have?

Get in and get out. That was India Robidoux’s plan for this family visit. But when her brother needs her help with his high-profile political campaign, India has no choice but to stay and face the one man she’s been running from for years—Travis, her sister’s ex-husband. One hot summer night when Travis was still free, they celebrated her birthday with whiskey and an unforgettable kiss. The memory is as strong as ever—and so are the feelings she’s tried so hard to forget.

Travis Strickland owes everything to the Robidoux family. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for them—his divorce could never change that. Still, he has one regret. Impulsive and passionate, India always understood him better than anyone else. And the longer they work together on the campaign, the more torn he is. Coming between her and her sister is out of the question. But how can he let love pass him by a second time?

Joce’s review:

It comes as no surprise that I love romance novels. However, one of the most difficult tropes to execute is the forbidden love trope, and I’m so happy to say that Forbidden Promises, the first novel in the Jackson Falls series, is a rare gem in Synithia Williams’s execution of this trope. The cover (and the people on it) is beautiful, which is indicative of the true beauty of the content inside, from the suspenseful plot points, to the complexity of the family relationships and each character’s coping with trauma, to the happily ever after which felt like the first gulp of cold Gatorade after a long marathon.

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