The Pond Book News #58 – These Asian Stories: Folklore Fantasies, Queer Retellings, & Sweet Romcoms

Welcome to Issue #58!

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.The trees are whispering…

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! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases [September 27th – October 3rd]

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone

Vernell LaQuan Banks and Justyce McAllister grew up a block apart in the Southwest Atlanta neighborhood of Wynwood Heights. Years later, though, Justyce walks the illustrious halls of Yale University . . . and Quan sits behind bars at the Fulton Regional Youth Detention Center.

Through a series of flashbacks, vignettes, and letters to Justyce–the protagonist of Dear Martin–Quan’s story takes form. Troubles at home and misunderstandings at school give rise to police encounters and tough decisions. But then there’s a dead cop and a weapon with Quan’s prints on it. What leads a bright kid down a road to a murder charge? Not even Quan is sure.

Nic Stone is once again giving us absolutely everything with this sequel to Dear Martin — the premise of this release sounds all at once heartbreaking, compelling, and critically essential. I hope this book finds the readers who need it!

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

Talin is a Striker, a member of an elite fighting force that stands as the last defense for the only free nation in the world: Mara.

A refugee, Talin knows firsthand the horrors of the Federation, a world-dominating war machine responsible for destroying nation after nation with its terrifying army of mutant beasts known only as Ghosts.

But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there’s more to him than meets the eye. Is he a spy from the Federation? What secrets is he hiding?

Only one thing is clear: Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers for the only homeland she has left… with or without the boy who might just be the weapon to save—or destroy—them all.

Marie Lu is going back to her sci-fi roots with this book! Legend and Warcross are such cornerstone books in the YA community, and I’m certain whatever adventures she has in store for us in this book will be thrilling and relevant, especially since the blurb already hints at revolution against corrupt governments. I cannot wait to read this!

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Burning Roses by S.L. Huang

Rosa, also known as Red Riding Hood, is done with wolves and woods.

Hou Yi the Archer is tired, and knows she’s past her prime.

They would both rather just be retired, but that’s not what the world has ready for them.

When deadly sunbirds begin to ravage the countryside, threatening everything they’ve both grown to love, the two must join forces. Now blessed and burdened with the hindsight of middle age, they begin a quest that’s a reckoning of sacrifices made and mistakes mourned, of choices and family and the quest for immortality.

This sapphic fantasy novella drawn from fairytales and Chinese folklore has been extremely high on my “anticipated” pile for months, and I’m so stoked to finally be able to read it! The premise of two middle-aged heroes as protagonists is also so, so compelling too — I am HERE for badass old ladies saving the day.

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Ties that Tether by Jane Igharo

When a Nigerian woman falls for a man she knows will break her mother’s heart, she must choose between love and her family.

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture even after emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping–forcing–her to stay well within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere’s Nigerian heritage.

Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

Oof, this ownvoices Nigerian romance feels painfully relatable already. I know friends personally who have had parents skeptical about them dating partners of different ethnicities than their own, on top of this added layer of a promise to a dead father? The angst and conflict is radiating off the book already, and I hope it lives up to all its expectations!

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman’s body. She was called Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her grandmother; a visiting aunt arrives with snakes in her belly; a brother tests the possibility of flight. All the while, Daughter is falling for Ben, a neighborhood girl with strange powers of her own. As the two young lovers translate the grandmother’s letters, Daughter begins to understand that each woman in her family embodies a myth–and that she will have to bring her family’s secrets to light in order to change their destiny.

Ahhhh this Taiwanese-American novel about myths and families has been so long-awaited! I’m so enamored with inter-generational stories, especially ones that follow different women and explore themes of migration and trauma. The fact that this has fabulist elements is also such a compelling hook! I’m so excited to finally be able to start looking for this in stores.

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Pepper’s Rules for Secret Sleuthing by Briana McDonald

Rule One: Your loyalty is to the case.

Amateur detective Pepper Blouse has always held true to this rule, even if it meant pushing people away. But when the results of Pepper’s latest case cost her any hope of the girl she likes returning her feelings, she decides that maybe she should lay low for a while.

That is, until her Great Aunt Florence passes away under mysterious circumstances. And even though her dad insists there’s nothing to investigate, Pepper can’t just ignore rule fourteen: Trust your gut.

But there’s nothing in the rulebook that could’ve prepared her for the family secrets her investigation uncovers.

Maybe it’s time to stop playing by the rules.

Friends, look at this adorable sapphic MG! I LOVE LOVE LOVE middle-grade detective stories, and this book feels like it was made for my taste in contemporary MG. I absolutely adore the charming cover too. Very very excited to pick this one up!

Releases on September 29. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Ah, we love the rare moments when we get to link back to our own posts in these round-ups. ICYMI, CW and Xiaolong recently revealed the cover to Tashie’s upcoming YA contemporary Counting Down With You RIGHT HERE at the Pond! Please go check out the post and show the book all your love and support. ❤

Cover Reveal: The Chosen & The Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Oh. Oh. This cover is… so full of yearning. The soft gaze, the lightness of the petals in contrast with the dark gloves and cigarette… Oh. I was already very much looking forward to this queer, Asian retelling of The Great Gatsby (even though I know next to nothing about the original text), but this gorgeous, gorgeous cover may have just sealed the deal for me. I love this so much.

Cover Reveal: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard

Friends, I love this cover. The fire illustration works so well in the composition, and the hints of Vietnamese architecture within the sleeve of the princess make my heart sing. I’m always so here for more Southeast Asian speculative fiction, and I’m definitely looking forward to add this one to my TBR closer to the release date!

Cover Reveal: The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw

This book’s premise reads, “When a group of former crooks reunites for a rescue mission, they’ll need to battle a fierce AI and overcome their own differences if they hope to succeed” which sounds so dang cool??? Cassandra Khaw is a Malaysian short fiction writer whose work I’ve been really meaning to check out, and I’m so thrilled to see more local talent in mainstream SFF!

Cover Reveal: Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler

Look at the adorable cover of this upcoming sapphic YA contemporary! I’ve been so excited for this book ever since the premise was announced: a girl who finally gets her dream guy, but whose world is turned upside down when the girl she had a romantic summer with transfers to her school? This is peak chaotic bisexual energy, and I am so here for it.

Cover Reveal: Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

Ciara Smyth previously wrote The Falling in Love Montage which released earlier this year, and it’s so exciting to see this new project coming up in the pipeline! The idea of a girl getting into inexplicable hijinks for as solutions to her clients’ “problems” while also finding a blossoming romance along the way sounds perfect for a fun, light-hearted read. Definitely keeping this one on my radar!

Book Announcement: A BIPOC-centered witchy fantasy in New Orleans by Marti Dumas

Lighthearted fantasy! Friend, when I read that phrase, let me tell you my heart soared. I love literally everything about this pitch — a girl accidentally unleashing magic via her YouTube makeup tutorials, witches, and a mysterious “charm school” for teen girls? Absolutely sign me the heck up! I already know that this is going to be one of my most anticipated books of 2022, and I hope you’ll join me in adding this to our various towering TBRs!

Book Announcement: Katie Zhao’s near-future MG with VR battle royales and issues in gaming

Katie Zhao is back with more absolute stunners of book premises! This story about VR and the social issues inherent in gaming culture feels searingly relevant, endlessly fun, and I’m so?? excited about the concept of a digital tournament-based book following a Chinese-American protagonist? I’m so highly looking forward to this!

Book Announcement: A 1959 historical YA fantasy about biracial twin sisters, ghosts, and death by Kelly McWilliams

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MIRROR GIRLS, a YA historical fantasy set in Jim Crow Georgia, is the story of mixed-race twin sisters—one light enough to pass and another obviously Black—who are separated at birth after the murder of their parents. They reunite as teenagers to solve the mystery of their separation, and to confront the deeply haunted past of a town in rural Georgia. 🌴 I’m so honored to be working with LBYR again, and especially my amazing editor, @alvinaling. 🌴 I consider this one an #ownvoices story, because my family represents the kind of color spectrum that society refuses to accept—even to this day. I remember the very first time an adult insisted to me that it was impossible for my brother and I to be full-blood relations (I was a child). I also remember the most recent time a woman refused to believe I could possibly be Black—this confrontation occurred only three months ago, and it’s just as painful as it ever was. (Swipe through for pictures of my brother and me). 🌴 Like many mixed-race kids, I’m passionate about standing up for our right to exist and identify how we feel we must—as well as our right to be considered family, despite our different skin tones. There are more mixed-race families than ever, and I hope MIRROR GIRLS contributes to our visibility by representing some of our unique sorrows and joys. Plus, there are TWO extremely haunted houses!!! 🌴 🌴 🌴 #Biracialwomen #mixedracecouples #mixedraceproblems #amwritingya #amwritinghistoricalfiction #amwritingyahistorical #biblio #booknews #publishersweekly #littlebrownyoungreaders #thenovl #hachette #hauntedhousebooks #yaauthorsofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #thepastispresent #amplifyblackvoices🤟🏻🤟🏼🤟🏽🤟🏾 #amplifyblackvoices #blackstoriesmatter #passing #representationmatters

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This author’s book Agnes at the End of the World is still sitting on my kindle, patiently waiting for me to (finally) start reading it, and she’s already here with another incredible looking book. 😭 I’m so excited to read about these twin sisters solving the mystery of their parents’ death, especially from an ownvoices biracial author too!

Book Announcement: A YA novel-in-verse about first loves, mental health, and community activism by Mariama J. Lockington

This heartfelt YA-in-verse about a Black bisexual girl who develops agoraphobia before her junior year sounds like such an vital story for teens also struggling through mental illness through adolescence, and I’m so glad it’s going to be published in the world to comfort the readers who need it. I’m also very soft for novels-in-verse in general, and cannot wait to pick this up!

Book Announcement: Climate crisis anxiety and queer girls collide in Rory Power’s forthcoming icy thriller

Omg, I need this? I still have yet to check out any of Rory Power’s books but honestly the vibes of all of them are just immaculate. Look at this! Ex-girlfriends and climate anxiety, family secrets and icy research institutes? This sounds absolutely thrilling already, and I am bursting with anticipation to read it in 2021!

Book Announcement: An anthology of bands, shenanigans, and music by Eric Smith and Lauren Gibaldi

Oh heck yeah, we love an anthology with interconnected stories! This music-filled YA surrounding a battle of the bands following several different perspectives sounds like sheer fun, and I’m so interested to see more news about it down the line!

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