Book Review: In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu – A Transcendent Bio-Cyberpunk Novella of Queer Asian-Influenced Stories that Explore and Reclaim Diaspora, Identity, and Gender

Synopsis:

The city of Ora uses a complex living network called the Gleaming to surveil its inhabitants and maintain harmony. Anima is one of the cloistered extrasensory humans tasked with watching over Ora’s citizens. Although ær world is restricted to what æ can see and experience through the Gleaming, Anima takes pride and comfort in keeping Ora safe from all harm.

All that changes when a mysterious visitor enters the city carrying a cabinet of curiosities from around the world, with a story attached to each item. As Anima’s world expands beyond the borders of Ora to places—and possibilities—æ never before imagined to exist, æ finds ærself asking a question that throws into doubt ær entire purpose: What good is a city if it can’t protect its people?

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

If I had to describe In the Watchful City in a word, it would be ‘transcendent’. In the Watchful City is unlike anything I have read before; this novella pushes the boundaries of science-fiction/fantasy, highlighting that there are no limits or restraints in meaningful storytelling that interweaves themes of diaspora, power, gender, and transformation. The power of In the Watchful City is that it feels – and perhaps is – a story that feels so deeply and unapologetically personal.

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Book Recommendations: Pride Month Edition – 10 Books with Trans, Non-Binary and Genderqueer Rep to Read During Pride Month!

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

A warm welcome back to the Pond, friends! We’re back with yet another book recommendation post and I’m so excited to share today’s list of books that you can all read during Pride – and beyond Pride Month!

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Our Friend is Here! An Interview with S. Qiouyi Lu, Author of In the Watchful City – On Exploring Diaspora Experiences, Interrogating Gender Constructs and Bio-Cyberpunk

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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

Have you ever read a book that challenged everything you thought you knew of a genre, and then single-handled reinvigorated your love for science-fiction? That’s how I felt after reading In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu, a stunning and evocative novella that explores diaspora and gender with several stories embedded within its wider story. Friends, I don’t say this lightly: if S., the author of In the Watchful City, is the future of science-fiction and fantasy? Then we’re in wonderful hands and we should all be very excited.

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Book Review: It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland – A Charming and Heartfelt YA about an All-Queer Teen Pop Group, How Friendships Change, and A Love Letter to Fandoms

It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland
Synopsis:

Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph used to think their friendship was unbreakable. After all, they’ve been though a lot together, including the astronomical rise of Moonlight Overthrow, the world-famous queer pop band they formed in middle school, never expecting to headline anything bigger than the county fair.

But after a sudden falling out leads to the dissolution of the teens’ band, their friendship, and Eva and Celeste’s starry-eyed romance, nothing is the same. Gina and Celeste step further into the spotlight, Steph disappears completely, and Eva, heartbroken, takes refuge as a songwriter and secret online fangirl…of her own band. That is, until a storm devastates their hometown, bringing the four ex-best-friends back together. As they prepare for one last show, they’ll discover whether growing up always means growing apart.

Stories about friendship have a special place in my heart. As a younger person growing up, going through changes in life and seeing the people who I thought would be in my life forever slowly drift away and no longer exist in the landscape of my life was such a tough thing. Likewise though, I also had friends who changed with me, grew up with me (even if we became different people), and there were even some people where I grew apart from them, only to eventually come together. So when It Goes Like This was pitched to me, about an all-queer teen pop group who fall out following their breakup, but come together one last time and have to traverse the uncertain territory of reuniting? I was immediately intrigued – and, unsurprisingly, I fell in love with this gorgeous, heartfelt book.

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Book Review: Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve – An Affirming and Personal Debut about Coming Out and Coming into the Person You Were Meant to Be

Between Perf
Synopsis:

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self? 

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

When I finished Between Perfect and Real in one sitting, I think I just held this book to my chest and whispered to myself: this book is going to save lives. What a stunning, earnest, and affirming book Between Perfect and Real is. I loved this book whole-heartedly, and it is a fantastic addition to young adult trans literature that speaks to its vulnerable yet powerful personal truth.

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