Our Friend is Here!is 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.
A little over a year ago, I had dinner with Chloe Gong and the friend who connected us when Chloe was back home in Aotearoa (New Zealand). At the time, These Violent Delights hadn’t released yet and we yarned about books, upcoming debut life, and all the other things that friends talk about over pasta and ice cream. Then, I told Chloe that, one day when she comes back home, we’d go out and celebrate all of her successes. Because of how the world is right now, travel is hard – and I don’t think we’ll get the chance to celebrate in-person for awhile longer. But, even though Chloe can’t visit me in Aotearoa, she can, however, visit me at the Pond – which brings us to this truly exciting and wonderful post today.
In case you’re new to the Pond’s book recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has come up with their latest costume, they will always recommend a few books that inspired them!
We have had the immense fortune of having some really great enemies/rivals-to-lovers books in the last year, so I thought to myself: why not write a book recommendation book collating all the wonderful books we have read that have these two satisfying tropes?
NOTE: The blurb below contains spoilers to These Violent Delights.
The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.
After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.
Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.
Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.
I was provided an early copy of the book by the author. This has not influenced my opinions of the book. This book review is based on the early copy, and may differ from the final version.
When I was a few chapters away from finishing Our Violent Ends, I swear, and I say this without hyperbole: I think my feelings actually shut down. I was stressed, I was so tense that I had to get up and pace while reading, and I was literally sweating. By the end, I was a numb and absolutely wrecked mess – but I was also, funnily, a satisfied mess.
Whatever 2020 looked like for you, and wherever you find yourself at the wee dawn of this new year, I hope you’ve found some warmth and comfort in the little places in your life. It’s been a terrible few months all around, so I hope (and Sprout hopes!) that you’ve been treating yourself gently too.
Amidst a lot of personal turbulence in the past year (between online college and some bad mental health days), fiction was a constant that I returned to over and over again whenever I needed grounding—the stories I experienced were both escape portals and anchors in my day-to-day life. It is perhaps no surprise that I ended up reading double the amount of books I set out to read in my 2020 Goodreads goal; the achievement feels a little bittersweet, but it’s a victory nonetheless! It brings me a lot of joy today to be rounding up all of my favorite books that I read this strange, strange year, and I hope they bring you some solace too.
What a year 2020 has been. I’m actively resisting the urge to talk and reflect on 2020 as a year, because I am sure that there will be an overabundance of thinkpieces. But all I’ll say that – it’s been a tough year, friends, and I’m so proud and glad that we all made it through together.
With books though, I think this has been one of my favourite reading years. 2017 was my last favourite reading year – that was the year where I made the conscious decision to diversify my reading choices, and I discovered so many wonderful stories. Though the years after were also good, I think 2020 was the year where I just read a series of phenomenal books that now live in a tender place in my heart and memory.