The Pond Book News #23 – “Journey to the West”-inspired Fantasies, Esteemed Authors, and Exciting Releases!

issue #23

Welcome to Issue #23!

The trees are whispering…

Friends, welcomeSprout the sparrow, doing a curtsy with their eyes closed and a smile on their face. Their cape swooshes in the wind with their arm extended in their curtsy. to another exciting week of The Pond Book News! Every Sunday, The Quiet Pond brings you a fresh issue of book news to catch you up on the week’s lineup of diverse book releases, cover reveals, book news, and sometimes more! We also feature three incredible people in the book community every week, to highlight the important work that readers do in celebrating the books they love. Onward to the news!

Book Releases This Week [January 19th – January 25th]

The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The fate of the heavens is at stake in this hilarious and highly-anticipated sequel to the The Epic Crush of Genie Lo.

Genie Lo thought she was busy protecting the Bay Area from demons. But now, as a Heaven- appointed Guardian, even the well-being of demons is her responsibility—and their numbers are multiplying. Guanyin and Quentin are doing their best to help; but what they really need is for the Jade Emperor to get off his butt and deal with the crisis. While he’s AWOL, Genie nominates Guanyin to fill in his shoes, unaware that the role will go to the god who can defeat a mysterious threat to the supernatural order. Along with a few other contenders for the throne, including a former enemy, Genie and her friends embark on a Heavenly quest to an in-between world. But when faced with true danger, the group realizes that what will save the universe this time is sacrifice, not strength.

Come one, come all! Genie Lo’s saga finally continues in this much-anticipated sequel to The Epic Crush—and about time too, since it’s been three years since the first book was released! This is one of CW and Xiaolong’s absolute favourite books, and I’ve heard that it does brilliant justice to Genie’s story, too!

Releases on January 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

43520622Del has had a crush on Kiera Westing since kindergarten. And now, during their junior year, she’s finally available. So when Kiera volunteers for an opportunity at their church, Del’s right behind her. Though he quickly realizes he’s inadvertently signed up for a Purity Pledge.

His dad thinks his wires are crossed, and his best friend, Qwan, doesn’t believe any girl is worth the long game. But Del’s not about to lose his dream girl, and that’s where fellow pledger Jameer comes in. He can put in the good word. In exchange, Del just has to get answers to the Pledgers’ questions…about sex ed.

With other boys circling Kiera like sharks, Del needs to make his move fast. But as he plots and plans, he neglects to ask the most important question: What does Kiera want? He can’t think about that too much, though, because once he gets the girl, it’ll all sort itself out. Right?

This thoughtful ownvoices Black contemporary explores toxic masculinity through a budding teenage romance, exploring how women are treated as “prizes” to be won or chased after, and I can’t imagine a more relevant topic for a book to be tackling today. The cover for this is also so, so good! I adore the bright colors and illustrations, and the font choices are also stellar. Very intrigued by this!

Releases on January 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


What I Carry by Jennifer Longo

45697191Growing up in foster care, Muir has lived in many houses. And if she’s learned one thing, it is to Pack. Light.
Carry only what fits in a suitcase.
Toothbrush? Yes.
Socks? Yes.
Emotional attachment to friends? foster families? a boyfriend? Nope!
There’s no room for any additional baggage.
Muir has just one year left before she ages out of the system. One year before she’s free. One year to avoid anything–or anyone–that could get in her way.

Then she meets Francine. And Kira. And Sean.

And everything changes.

Another contemporary tackling important social issues on the list! The protagonist of What I Carry grew up in the foster care system, and the book explores her learning how to trust again in her latest foster home after shutting herself off from forming relationships with other people. Which, YES? This sounds like a perfect recipe for the waterworks, and I’m excited to check this out if I can get my hands on it!

Releases on January 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Spellhacker by M.K. England

36501255. sy475 In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource. Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.

Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.

But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.

No pressure.

I’ve heard so many good things about this book: that it’s queer (with sapphic, bisexual, and non-binary rep), funny, quirky, anti-capitalist, all set in what looks to be a really unique fantasy universe with advanced technology. This all sounds like a wild adventure already, and I hope it lives up to the expectations of readers looking forward to this book!

Releases on January 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

45045129Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Tweet Cute is set to be a contemporary romance debut filled with pop culture and meme references, complex family feels, and just sheer fun from the first page till the last. The setup of falling in love through Twitter wars is certainly a novel one indeed, and this book has had so many good reviews from advanced readers already that I’m sure it’s going to be a smash hit for fans of adorable tales of romance!

Releases on January 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Book News

Cover Reveal: Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Teashop by Roselle Lim

Awww I love this! Roselle Lim’s books now henceforth have a track record of being wonderful and whimsical, I’m declaring it. I still really need to get myself a copy of her previous book, but I’m so glad to see her covers get so much love!


Cover Reveal: Girl Giant and the Monkey King by Van Hoang

HOW COOL is the illustration for this cover??? My soft Chinese heart is singing for joy. This is a Vietnamese MG inspired by Journey to the West, comped to authors like Roshani Chokshi and Rick Riordan—and hello, I needed this, like, yesterday. I love all the golden motifs in the cover, too! Illustrated covers are saving my life in 2020, and I am beyond thankful for all the sparkle they’ve added to my days.


Cover Reveal: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

With this cover, we’re taking a left turn to spoopyville! Book snake makes a reappearance at last, but this time with sharp fangs that look right at home in this creepy cover. This book is set to be filled with witches, troubled demons, and dark, dark magic, making it a perfect add to your potential Halloween TBRs later on in the year!


Cover Reveal: The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker by Lauren James

Look at how shiny this book cover is! I’m a natural sucker for “dying is just the beginning” books, so I’m super interested in this already. I have a lot of love for the composition of this cover too—how the windows are seemingly placed against nothing and everything at the same time. Eerie, and super atmospheric! Can’t wait for this!


Cover Reveal: The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

Julian Winters is such a beloved author in the community, and this cover reveal is just stellar. I love how warm this book cover is, and how much it just screams “SUMMER” in bold and bright all-capital letters! The blurb of the book promises 90’s alt-rock music, dream jobs at used bookshops, and a sweet coming-of-age story, and I can’t wait to see it out in the world come August this year.


Book Announcement: Caster by Elsie Chapman is getting a sequel!

Rejoice, Caster fans! We’re getting a sequel! With more magic, gang politics, and battles in store, Fall 2020 is going to be an important season for readers who enjoyed Elsie Chapman’s previous book in the series. Hopefully this new book lives up to the expectations and precedence that the first book has set too!


Book Announcement: A YA novel in verse about an invisible Hoodoo girl, a Navajo boy, and road trips by Amber McBride

I’ve said this many times in previous Book News posts, but I’ll say it again: we really don’t get enough ownvoices Native fiction in publishing! This book is already shaping up to be one of my most anticipated releases of 2021, especially since it’s a novel in verse as well—and I’m so excited to learn more about this as we go through the year!


Book Announcement: A West-African inspired fantasy by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

love stories about erased and suppressed histories, both for the narrative potential and for how important the stories end up becoming for the communities that have been marginalised through the selective recording of actual events that happened. This looks super intriguing already, and I can’t wait to learn more about it!


Book Announcement: A forthcoming contemporary from Jasper Sanchez about the transmasculine son of a congressman who runs for class president

Aww yeah! More trans protagonists! Red White & Royal Blue and The West Wing are two such brilliant comps, and I can think of people I know for whom this book is going to hit all the right nerdy niches already. This is going to be such an important story, and I hope that it finds its way to readers that need this story in their lives!


Book Announcement: An upcoming Indian f/f fantasy filled with betrayal and forbidden magic by Tasha Suri!

OH MY, what is this, more sapphic fantasies by beloved authors? It seems like the universe is finally answering my prayers at last. Needless to say, I am SUPER duper hyped for this, and I’m more than elated to be able to add one more book to my 2021’s most anticipated list!


Book Community Spotlight

Book blogger: Mish at Chasing Faerytales

Mish’s blog is beautiful, and I remember spending an afternoon just marveling at her old blog layout before I even properly joined the blogging community. Perusing Mish’s blog back then made me feel such awe of how professional book blogging could be, even as a hobby, and her content has only gotten better and more polished since! A great place to start if you’re new to her blog is her very good collaborative post interviewing queer POC readers about explicit representation in books, which is such an important post to this day. If you’d like to get to know Mish as a person and reader a little better, you can also check out her 2019 recap post, where she details her favorite books, movies, and life highlights from the last year!

Follow Mish on her blog, Twitter, and Goodreads!


Bookstagrammer: Bezi at beingabookwyrm

View this post on Instagram

🎉🎉 WOOHOO WE HIT 5K!!! 🎉🎉 i’m so beyond thankful for this platform and this community that has made space for me to share the books and issues i’m passionate about ❤️ i don’t have anything special to share to celebrate this time — i still have one more paper to finish for finals — but here’s a fun holiday picture in front of my parents’ mini Christmas tree ☺️ we decided a few years ago that full size Christmas trees weren’t necessary to get in the spirit of the season 🤣. . . (side note: anyone else self-conscious about how they hold books in pictures? i realized i do this claw type thing because i‘m trying to balance the book 😬). . . one last update: i’ll be posting another #readethiopian challenge in a few weeks [edit: on January 12!!!], with a list of some suggested books/authors like BENEATH THE LION’S GAZE if you haven’t already read that for the last challenge! but feel free to be on the lookout ahead of time for ethiopian authors so you can join in with books that might not be on the list!! the first challenge was such a success and i was so happy to see the support around the novels i shared 🙌🏾. . . . #blackbookstagram #blackgirlmagic #blackgirlsread #wellreadblackgirl #meetthebookstagrammer #bookstagram #blackbookwyrmreads

A post shared by Bezi // Black Bookwyrm Reads (@beingabookwyrm) on

Bezi’s bookstagram feed is a joy to behold. All the books featured are so effortlessly diverseI love how many new books I learn about just by scrolling through her profile. And the aesthetic is so beautiful and light, too! I’m particularly fond of how she matches book covers with pretty background patterns, and the bright colors that flow through all her photos. Bezi is also a contributor for the Reading Women podcast, where the Pond’s Cuddle and Joce work as well!

Follow Bezi on her bookstagram, Twitter, or find her work at Reading Women!


Booktuber: Mariam at Mariam Reads Sometimes

Mariam is a budding booktuber, and her videos are just chill and fun to watch! They make me feel like I’m catching up with an old friend, which is a vibe I adore. I love that we also have a shared fondness for Percy Jackson, too—I see you, fellow demigod 👀 Check out her ownvoices, non-spoilery review of We Hunt the Flame (which, as someone who was gifted the beautiful hardcover of, I am now excited to read!) and if you’re looking for a longer video to snuggle up in bed with, cup of warm beverage in hand, you can check out her rankings of every book she read in 2019!

Follow Mariam on her booktube channel, Twitter, and Goodreads!

4 thoughts on “The Pond Book News #23 – “Journey to the West”-inspired Fantasies, Esteemed Authors, and Exciting Releases!

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