The Pond Book News #57 – A Week of Adventures: Biracial Witches, Sapphic Cyberpunk & Orisha Godlings

Welcome to Issue #57!

The trees are whispering…Sprout 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.

Friends, welcome 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! This week Xiaolong and Sprout are excited to be teaming up to bring you another week of book news! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases This Week [September 20th – September 26th]

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso

Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worse as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and unimaginable horrors – creatures from the dark, mad dragons and men with hearts hungry for power.

To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen and everything she could never be.

The price for failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.

Xiaolong: The sequel to The Wolf of Oren-Yaro is finally here! I’ve heard incredible things about this series, also known as ‘Chronicles of the Bitch Queen’, and it’s a series that promises a character-driven fantasy, Filipino-influenced worldbuilding, political intrigue, and, of course, a compelling female lead! I can’t wait to dive into this.

Releases on September 24. Add this book to Goodreads!


The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Xiaolong: The sequel to the beloved The Gilded Wolves is finally here! If you haven’t read the first book, imagine: a cast of loveable, flawed, and different characters; a dark yet glamorous historical setting with fantastical elements; a heist and hunt for powerful artefacts; and discourse on colonialism. I can’t wait to read this sequel!

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite edited by by Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

Xiaolong: If you know me, then you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of anthologies. So, you can bet that I’m definitely excited Vampires Never Get Old, which is an entire YA anthology about vampires! Yes please! I’m also thrilled for the line-up of authors; I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Xiaolong: Not only is Miss Meteor written by two incredible authors known for their powerful prose but Miss Meteor sounds like an absolute delight. Two queer Latinx girls, front and center, being who they are and showing the world that beauty. I can’t wait to read this.

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

Jamal’s best friend, Q, doesn’t know he’s about to die… again.

He also doesn’t know that Jamal tried to save his life, rescuing him from drowning only to watch Q die later in the hospital. Even more complicated, Jamal and Q haven’t been best friends in two years—not since Jamal’s parents died in a car accident, leaving him and his sister to carry on without them. Grief swallowed Jamal whole, and he blamed Q for causing the accident.

But what if Jamal could have a second chance? An impossible chance that would grant him the opportunity to say goodbye to his best friend? A new health-care technology allows Q to be reanimated—brought back to life like the old Q again. But there’s a catch: Q will only reanimate for a short time before he dies… forever.

Jamal is determined to make things right with Q, but grief is hard to shake. And he can’t tell Q why he’s suddenly trying to be friends with him again. Because Q has no idea that he died, and Q’s mom is not about to let anyone ruin the miracle by telling him. How can Jamal fix his friendship with Q if he can’t tell him the truth?

Sprout: From the author of Opposite of Always comes this really fascinating YA contemporary about grief, friendship, and moving on. The idea of having to make up with a dead friend without being able to tell them that they’re dead is full of so much story potential, and I’m very interested in seeing how this plays out!

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

Sprout: Oh, this looks so interesting! This premise with a boy running off to Rome after coming out to his conservative Muslim family sounds like such an adventure. The author is so well-beloved in the book community, and he calls this book “edgy, messy, and all-around explosive”, and I’m excited for this genuine, heartfelt travelogue of a book!

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

Sprout: This lovely MG fantasy was unfortunately delayed a little due to the state of the world, but it’s finally here! The premise of Maya being a godling (Orisha demigod!) is literally everything I ever wanted in a middle-grade fantasy book, and I’m sure this story will be so much fun!

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!


Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

“Ada” means first daughter, means oldest girl, means pressure. “Ada” means you are expected to do a lot of things because the honor of this family rests on your back.

When Ada leaves home for her freshman year at a Historically Black College, it’s the first time she’s ever been so far from her family—and the first time that she’s been able to make her own choices and to seek her place in this new world. As she stumbles deeper into the world of dance and explores her sexuality, she also begins to wrestle with her past—her mother’s struggle with addiction, her Nigerian father’s attempts to make a home for her. Ultimately, Ada discovers she needs to brush off the destiny others have chosen for her and claim full ownership of her body and her future.

Sprout: This is a novel-in-verse about a Black girl’s relationship with her body, which feels like such an important and rarely-explored premise?! I mean, the opening line of that blurb already hits so hard. I know I will be scrambling to pick this up once it releases, and I really hope you’ll join me, friend!

Releases on September 22. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Sprout: So, yeah. This cover exists. And none of us are alive anymore because we’ve all been slain irrevocably by the sheer magnificence that is this illustration. I mean the intimacy of the sisters. The golden light refracting off and scattering through the foam on the waves. The amount of care that went into the rendering… Joan He is two for two so far on the list of god-tier book covers, and. Whew. I have to go recover from gazing at this again.


Cover Reveal: Sound: A Comics Anthology, edited by Charis Loke and Budjette Tan

Sprout: Ah, hello, friends! This is a bit of a special entry this week, because I have a comic story featured in this indie Southeast Asian anthology! This has been very much a labor of love between me and my friend Zhen (who illustrated!) for nearly a year in the making now, and I gasped the first time I saw this beautiful cover. It is due to release later in October, and you can find more details here on the publisher’s page!


Cover Reveal: Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Sprout: Friends, I saw sapphic cyberpunk by an author of color, and I was immediately sold on this book. And then I read the blurb. Star-crossed lovers working on opposite sides of a war? Even though they share a common goal of taking down a tyrannical ruler? FRIENDS. Coupled with this absolute stunner of a cover, I’m sure this is a book that is not to be missed!


Cover Reveal: Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud

Sprout: Awww I love the sweet yet cheeky look of the protagonist on this cover! And I love that she’s Haitian-American too! The premise of this book reminds me a little of Loveboat, Taipei in its defiance against strict parental rules (especially ones surrounding romance!), and I hope this finds a loyal audience just like it did as well!


Cover Reveal: Speak for Yourself by Lana Wood Johnson

Sprout: Heck yes to more fat rep in YA contemporaries! The main character suffers from migraines too, which is such an important representation for teens! I know friends myself who have them periodically, and this will go a long way in helping people to understand the condition. And we love seeing ambitious teen girls in STEM and coding too!


Cover Reveal: Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Sprout: This sounds like such a good book, friends! It’s a novel-in-verse about a misfit Sudanese-American Muslim girl, and… peek that blurb from Elizabeth Acevedo on the cover. 👀 I’m so very intrigued by this, and always so happy to put new novels-in-verse on my TBR!


Cover Reveal: Rea and the Blood of Nectar by Payal Doshi

Sprout: I truly have a soft spot for illustrated middle-grade covers, I really do. And this story set in Darjeeling, India about missing twin brothers and magical portal worlds sounds positively full of whimsy and charm, and I’m so excited for it to be out in the world next year!


Cover Reveal: It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

Sprout: Oh I love how vibrant this cover is friends! The cool tones with pops of fluorescent yellow work so well together, and I love the loose hand-lettered title embedded in the stars! This is a contemporary about four queer teens, the band they form together, and the bonds they share. All in all a perfect recipe for a heartwarming coming-of-age tale, and I cannot wait to see it!


Cover Reveal: The Great Destroyers by Caroline Tung Richmond

Sprout: This book is pitched as “The Hunger Games meets Pacific Rim, set in the 1960s Cold War” with the mecha pilot protagonist “drawn into a deadly political plot with the very stake of freedom at its center”, which sounds so high stakes and intriguing!


Cover Reveal: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Suzanne Park

Sprout: The premise of this contemporary romance is like, laugh-out-loud funny, friends — a girl is sent to a “digital detox” camp at a farm to unplug from the internet for the summer, while she tries desperately to find a way to stay online to achieve all her pre-planned goals. This reminds me a little of the anime Silver Spoon (which I adore), and I’m definitely interested in what kind of shenanigans the protagonist gets up to!


Book Announcement: A witchy YA debut featuring a biracial protagonist by Aislinn Brophy

Xiaolong: You know what? I love witches. Give me all the witch stories – especially if they are witches of colour. This sounds like an interesting blend of contemporary school life and magical school, and I’m curious to see what decisions and the path that the main character will take. What a fascinating hook for a story!


Book Announcement: A death tournament YA fantasy duology by Christine Lynn Herman and Amanda Foody

Xiaolong: From the editor at Tor, All of Us Villains is about: ‘Their story is a brutal one: a death tournament that takes place in the long shadows cast by legacy. It’s survival-of-the-richest, where the wealth is measured in magick. Foody and Herman wield sharp critiques of power, inheritance, and the culture of competition.’ I can’t get over how cool this book sounds! I am so so curious and excited to read this.


Book Announcement: An MG fantasy graphic novel duology about a mermaid, a firebird, and a witch by Vivian Zhou

Xiaolong: When I saw this book announcement, I felt my heart skip a beat – because how cool does Vivian’s graphic novel sound?! First, it’s middle-grade, so I’m automatically on board. Second, a fantasy middle-grade with a mermaid, firebird, and a witch! And it’s going to be in graphic novel form – which means we’re going to see Vivian’s gorgeous illustrations. I cannot wait.


Book Announcement: An ownvoices trans teen athlete tale forthcoming from Schuyler Bailar

Xiaolong: When I saw this news, I was EXCITED. I was a huge fan of Schuyler’s short story in the Fresh Ink anthology so when I saw that Schuyler now has a middle-grade novel about a trans boy? And it’s about swimming too? I was more than delighted. I’m really looking forward to reading this next year.


Book Announcement: A queer Jewish YA hate-to-love romance forthcoming from Jake Maia Arlow

Xiaolong: This sounds adorable! I love seeing more queer girls in stories, and Winter Break sounds like so much fun, especially since it’ll be set during Christmas (and I just, have such a soft spot for Christmas movies) and it’ll be a love story too!


Book Announcement: A middle-grade anthology celebrating Black lives, Black creativity, and Black resistance

Xiaolong: I’ve said it before but I’ll never tire of saying it again: I absolutely love anthologies and I have such a soft spot for middle-grade anthologies. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Recognize: Honoring Black Life, especially because of the fantastic line-up and that it’ll be celebrating Blackness by Black authors.


Book Announcement: A young adult Mexican fairytale magical rom-com

Xiaolong: Author of The Storm Runner series, Jen Cervantes, is giving us a young adult rom-com – and it’s going to have Mexican fairytales and magic! I love the pitch of this: (1) sisters! (2) righting fate? (3) magic! This story sounds so unique and fascinating, and I cannot wait to read it for myself come 2021.


Book Announcement: A young adult contemporary about sisterhood and living in blended family

Xiaolong: From the announcement: Sara Goodman at Wednesday Books has bought three books in the Charm City Heights series by Paula Chase. The YA contemporary books, a Gen Z Parent Trap story, follow twin sisters from different backgrounds who face the pressures of achieving at their radically ambitious high school while learning to live within their newly blended family. How cool does this sound? I’m a huge fan of books that explores sisterhood and family life, so this sounds like my jam!


From Page to Screen: A Song of Wraiths and Ruins is getting adapted for TV!

Xiaolong: I’m a huge huge huge fan of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and I’m over the moon that Roseanne is going to have her wonderful debut fantasy possibly adapted! I’d love to see a fantasy television show for younger readers that feature a magical Black princess?! The idea of it makes me so happy; I can’t wait!

2 thoughts on “The Pond Book News #57 – A Week of Adventures: Biracial Witches, Sapphic Cyberpunk & Orisha Godlings

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