The Pond Book News #61 – Soft Contemporary Week: Romance & A Tale of Two Anthologies

Welcome to Issue #61!

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! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases This Week [October 18th – October 24th]

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate The Magic of Reading & Writing YA, edited by Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma

Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.

This fantastic and long-awaited anthology is finally releasing today! Foreshadow is a wonderful showcase of young adult short stories as well as essays on craft. Look forward to our blog tour review of Foreshadow later this week!

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight… 

Oh my goodness! This book sounds absolutely phenomenal – a nonbinary artist married to their profession who gets caught in a revolution, and takes place in a world inspired by Korea under Japanese occupation. This sounds like it’s mecha meets folktale, and I cannot be more thrilled to hear that this book exists and will be available to read this week!

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Rebel Sisters by Tochi Onyebuchi

It’s been five years since the Biafran War ended. Ify is now nineteen and living where she’s always dreamed–the Space Colonies. She is a respected, high-ranking medical officer and has dedicated her life to helping refugees like herself rebuild in the Colonies.

Back in the still devastated Nigeria, Uzo, a young synth, is helping an aid worker, Xifeng, recover images and details of the war held in the technology of destroyed androids. Uzo, Xifeng, and the rest of their team are working to preserve memories of the many lives lost, despite the government’s best efforts to eradicate any signs that the war ever happened.

Though they are working toward common goals of helping those who suffered, Ify and Uzo are worlds apart. But when a mysterious virus breaks out among the children in the Space Colonies, their paths collide. Ify makes it her mission to figure out what’s causing the deadly disease. And doing so means going back to the corrupt homeland she thought she’d left behind forever.

The sequel to War Girls continues the science-fiction dystopia set in distant-future Nigeria, ravaged by heavy radiation. It’s a story that follows two sisters who fight in a war, to fight for peace and justice. The sequel is finally here and I can’t wait to read them both!

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Together Apart, an anthology by several authors

A collection of original contemporary love stories set during life in lockdown by some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Erin Craig “delivers” on a story about a new girl in town and the cute pizza delivery boy, Auriane Desombre captures our hearts with teens communicating through window signs, and Bill Konigsberg takes us along on daily walks with every step bringing us closer to love. There’s flirting and romance from Rachael Lippincott, a tale of a determined girl with a mask-making business from Erin Hahn, and a music-inspired love connection from Sajni Patel. Brittney Morris turns enemies to lovers with the help of a balcony herb garden, Jennifer Yen writes an unconventional romance that s read tarts outside a hospital, and Natasha Preston’s teens discover each other–and their love story–in a storybook oak tree.

Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting, TOGETHER, APART is a collection of finding love in unexpected places during an unprecedented time… each with the one thing we all want: a guaranteed happy ending.

As many of you will know, I love anthologies and am a huge advocate for them, so I’m really excited to read Together, Apart. Romantic short stories are my absolute favourite, so I can’t wait to read the stories that explore the different experiences of being in lockdown – but also possibly finding joy and love nonetheless.

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten

Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic. But there’s nothing exotic about it to Clara. She loves eating ripe mangos off the ground, running outside in the rain with her Papa during rainy season, and going to her secret hideout with Gaynah–even though lately she’s not acting like a best friend.

The only thing out of the ordinary for Clara is that something happened to her memory that made her forget everything that happened last summer after a hurricane hit. Sometimes things come back to her in drips like a tap that hasn’t been turned off properly. Other times her Mama fills in the blanks…only she knows those aren’t her memories and it is hard feeling like she is not like everybody else.

But this summer is going to be different for Clara. Everyone is buzzing with excitement over a new girl in the village who is not like other visitors. She is about to make big waves on the island–and give Clara a summer she won’t forget.

Ah, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since its cover reveal all the way back in February this year! And honestly what I said about this book back then: “This is a story about a girl whose family and community have been affected by a hurricane, and whose memory is missing pieces after the disaster. I am so incredibly intrigued already, and really, really want to read this!” still holds very true today.

Releases on October 20. Add this book to Goodreads!

Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston

Cerys is safe in the kingdom of Aloriya.

Here there are no droughts, disease, or famine, and peace is everlasting. It has been this way for hundreds of years, since the first king made a bargain with the Lady who ruled the forest that borders the kingdom. But as Aloriya prospered, the woods grew dark, cursed, and forbidden. Cerys knows this all too well: when she was young, she barely escaped as the woods killed her friends and her mother. Now Cerys carries a small bit of the curse—the magic—in her blood, a reminder of the day she lost everything. The most danger she faces now, as a gardener’s daughter, is the annoying fox who stalks the royal gardens and won’t leave her alone.

As a new queen is crowned, however, things long hidden in the woods descend on the kingdom itself. Cerys is forced on the run, her only companions the small fox from the garden, a strange and powerful bear, and the magic in her veins. It’s up to her to find the legendary Lady of the Wilds and beg for a way to save her home. But the road is darker and more dangerous than she knows, and as secrets from the past are uncovered amid the teeth and roots of the forest, it’s going to take everything she has just to survive. 

Ashley Poston’s YA fantasy standalone is finally here! If you love the idea of plant magic, fox companions, and faery tales, then Among the Beasts and Briars will be up your alley. This sounds like such a quaint and wonderful fantasy, and I can’t wait to read it.

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

God Storm by Coco Ma

In the kingdom of Axaria, a darkness has fallen. After defeating the evil mother who summoned an immortal demon to kill her, newly coronated Queen Asterin Faelenhart should have every reason to celebrate. Her kingdom is safe, forbidden magic eradicated, and her friends are alive. Except Asterin’s triumph has come at a devastating cost – forced to choose between a lifelong friend and true love, she’s lost both. But the shadows in Axaria have begun to stir once again, and no one is more starved for vengeance than Asterin….

Yet it soon becomes clear that the shadows plaguing her kingdom are just the beginning. Another realm coexists with the mortal world – the beautiful, nightmarish Immortal Realm ruled by the wicked God of Shadow, King Eoin. When their paths entwine, Asterin realizes that Eoin possesses exactly what – and who – she seeks most. And the fates of all those that she holds dear – Orion, her missing Guardian; Luna, the friend she could not save; Harry, the demon who saved them all; and Quinlan, her beloved broken prince – ultimately rest in the god’s hands.

But in a world of magic, not everyone is always as they seem. When shocking discoveries threaten everything and everyone Asterin has sworn her life to protect, she won’t be the only person forced to make a choice…a choice that will change the mortal world forever.

And maybe even destroy it.

The sequel to Shadow Frost is finally here! A story about royals wielding elemental powers fighting against an immortal demon annihilating a kingdom, this sequel is about the aftermath of the battle, and the stakes are as high as ever. This sounds like such an exciting high fantasy trilogy and I can’t wait to dive in.

Releases on October 20th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson

From New York best-selling author Leah Johnson comes another gorgeous Black queer book called Rise to the Sun about two girls at a music festival! The cover announcement was recently announced and I love seeing two queer Black girls front and center. This book sounds delightful and I can’t wait to read this.

Illustration: Alexis Franklin | Design: Stephanie Yang

Cover Reveal: All Kinds of Other by James Sie

Look at this gorgeous cover and that beautiful colour palette! The story sounds fantastic too – about two boys – one cis, one trans – who fall in love and find the courage to stand up to their fears. All Kinds of Other sounds wonderful and I’m looking forward to May 2021.

Illustration: Anke Gladnick | Design: David Curtis

Cover Reveal: The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

For one, I love this book cover. Illustrated book covers are my absolute weakness, but I’m also loving the Indian influences as well. The Marvelous Mirza Girls sounds brilliant too – about an Indian-American teen who, following the passing of her aunt, follows her mother to New Delhi, where she meets a boy who helps her find her voice. That is, until a family scandal erupts and calls their relationship into question. This book sounds so good – I can’t wait.

Illustration: Samya Arif | Design: David DeWitt

Cover Reveal: An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi

We are getting another book from Tahereh Mafi and the cover reveal is here! Admittedly, I haven’t had the chance to read Tahereh Mafi’s YA contemporary books – like A Very Large Expanse at Sea – but reading the blurb for An Emotion of Great Delight, which is about a Muslim teen and her family during post-9/11, makes me want to start

Illustration: Rik Lee | Design: Rodrigo Corral

Cover Reveal: The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

I love this book cover! I feel like this is an example of a book cover with minimal yet detailed illustration done right. YA contemporaries have a special place in my heart and I just. I love the sound of The Right Side of Reckless, about two teens who, apparently, by all accounts should not be together but cannot help but be drawn to one another.

Illustration: Noa Denmon | Design: Gigi Lau

Cover Reveal: The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Look at this sweet cover! I hadn’t heard of this book before, but now I’m looking forward to its release. It’s a part-historical fiction, part-magical story, in which a 13-year old Chinese heroine reimagines folk hero Paul Bunyan as a Chinese heroine while working in the Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885. How cool does The Legend of Auntie Po sound?! (Super cool!)

Illustration and Design: Shing Yin Khor (the author!)

Cover Reveal: The Unpopular Vote by Jasper Sanchez

What a gorgeous cover! I love that The (Un)popular Vote book cover has an interesting and fun art style that we don’t often see in book covers. About a trans boy who learned everything politics from his father (who still pretends that he still has a daughter), who goes into the running for student body president – despite no one really knowing who he is! – and maybe falls in love as well. This sounds like a brilliant book – and has been compared to Red, White, and Royal Blue and this is definitely a book I’ll be keeping my eye on.

Illustration: Max Wittert | Design: David DeWitt

Cover Reveal: The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Moody (and GORGEOUS) book cover! Queer science-fiction! Gays in space! A sentient spaceship! I cannot get over the book cover for The Darkness Outside Us, friends, and I’m ecstatic about the story. I cannot wait to meet Ambrose and Kodiak.

Illustration: Sarah Maxwell | Design: TBA

Cover Reveal: If You, Then Me by Yvonne Woon

I love the degree of detail in the book cover for If You, Then Me – and I also love that it’s a techy romantic contemporary – and kinda reminds me of You Got Mail? Also, I’m so fascinated by how this story will explore or integrate artificial intelligence?! I’m excited to read this come July next year – I think it’ll be a good one.

Illustration: Julia Yellow | Design: Molly Fehr

Book Announcement: Lori M. Lee has a Hmong mythology-inspired fantasy forthcoming from Rick Riordan presents!

Lori M. Lee has been giving us some wonderful Hmong stories – she has short stories in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Color Outside the Lines, and her Forest of Souls book is inspired by Hmong shamanism! – and I’m delighted, DELIGHTED, that we’re going to be getting a RRP story from her. Pahua and the Soul Stealer is going to be a middle-grade book inspired by Hmong mythology about a young shaman warrior!

Book Announcement: Of ancient gods, South American culture, and queer girls saving the world: Gabriela Romero Lacruz’s debut epic fantasy is set to dazzle

I genuinely do not see enough Venuzuelan stories, so the fact that we will be getting an Venuzuelan epic fantasy is fantastic news! The Sun and the Void sounds positively spectacular and epic indeed. This comes out in 2022 – which makes me so sad because the wait! will be so long! – but I’ll be keeping my eye out for this book!

Book Announcement: A queer epic fantasy inspired by Chinese classic, Water Margin

Water Margin is a classic Chinese novel and is considered to be one of the ‘Four Great Classical Novels’ in Chinese literature, and we’re going to be getting a queer epic wuxia fantasy inspired by it! The Water Outlaws will follow a group of bandit women and genderqueer martial artists, and the author has likened the story to Robin Hood. How cool is that?

Book Announcement: An alternate reality YA and an exploration of the juvenile justice system by Jenn Baker

Woah – read that blurb, friends, because Forgive Me Not sounds absolutely intense. Beyond the blurb, there doesn’t seem to be much information about this book at the moment – other than the fact that it’s releasing in 2022 – but the fact that I spent 20 minutes trying to find any hint of what we can expect of this book is a testament that, I think, this is going to be a phenomenal and searing book.

Book Announcement: A forthcoming MG sci-fi about science-y Black girls and alien bugs by K. Tempest Bradford

This book sounds adorable! I love SFF middle-grade, and the idea of this book sounds so wholesome and lovely. I can’t wait to see how Ruby and her friends get this alien back home.

Book Announcement:

A queer graphic novel from Jennifer Dugan, the author who gave us Hot Dog Girl! And it’s queer and witchy and magical too?! I’m excited to read this – and if Kit Seaton’s amazing portfolio is any indication, I think this will be a gorgeous and spectacular story and graphic novel.

Book Announcement: A historical YA set in Germany following two queer girls by Nita Tyndall

I love the sound of this book already – a queer historical! girls falling in love! during the swingjugend (a group of swing and jazz lovers in Germany)! who also opposed Nazism! I love me a good queer romance, but I also love me a good queer romance set in the context of resistance. 2022 could not come sooner.

From Page to Screen: Ibi Zoboi’s Pride is headed to HBO!

I legitimately screamed when I heard this news! If you haven’t read Pride by Ibi Zoboi – a Black retelling of Pride and Prejudice that explores gentrification and class differences – then now you have a good reason to read it before the HBO adaptation releases.

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