Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Book Recommendations for September’s Prompt: Mental Illness Awareness!

book recommendations: asian books about mental illness

Hello friends, and welcome back to the Pond! It is the beginning of September, which means that we are now in our ninth month of the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge! (Where does time go?)

In case you haven’t heard, myself and three brilliant book bloggers (Lily, Shealea, and Vicky) are hosting the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge (or YARC!), a year-long reading challenge dedicated to reading Asian literature by Asian authors.

Our September prompt is one that is both exciting and important: mental health awareness.

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Author Interview: On Worldbuilding and African Identity; A Discussion With Rena Barron, Author of YA West African Fantasy, KINGDOM OF SOULS

interview with rena barron, author of kingdom of souls

Last you spoke to Xiaolong, she said that it was important – absolutely, vitally, incredibly important – that you stop by the Pond today. “We have a really important visitor and she is my newest friend so you have to meet her!”

And so, today, you’re here on your way to the Pond, finding yourself pretty excited to meet Xiaolong’s newest friend.

Rena Barron as a cheetah with dark brown locs (hair) with golden beads.When you arrive, you find Xiaolong sitting at her favourite spot by the water, and sitting next to her is the most elegant and regal cheetah you’ve ever seen.

You call out a hello to Xiaolong, and the two look up at you. Xiaolong gives you her usual enthusiastic wave – she’s happy to see you! – and the cheetah gives you a shy smile.

“Friend!” Xiaolong greets. She gestures for you to come closer. “Come meet my new friend! This is Rena! She is the author of Kingdom of Souls and I invited her here today because I wanted to ask her all about her new book!”

Kingdom of Souls? How exciting! And so you sit down next to Xiaolong, ready to listen and learn about Rena’s new book.

Hello friends, and welcome back to the Pond! 💛

Xiaolong the axolotl, gesturing with her arm up, holding onto a copy of Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron.There is a significant dearth of stories about Black characters by Black authors, and there is a distinct lack of fantasies featuring and centering on Black characters and African culture. Therefore, you could imagine how excited I was to hear that Kingdom of Souls, a YA West-African fantasy, was announced. And when the cover was announced? I think I gasped when I saw it for the first time. A Black woman front and center in the cover! Sitting on a throne that is unapologetically African and Afro-futurist! My excitement amplified tenfold.

Today, I have the honour and privilege of having Rena Barron join Xiaolong and I at the Pond today! Read More »

Guest Feature: Exploring Queer Identity & Faith – The Authors of KEEP FAITH Talk About What Their Stories Mean To Them

Keep Faith: A Queer Anthology banner, with Xiaolong the axolotl reading Keep Faith.

Xiaolong may be taking a little break from all her magical duties at the Pond, but you do occasionally like to visit her at the Pond and sit next to her for some quiet reading time.

But today, it doesn’t look like ‘quiet reading time’ is going to happen. Rather, the Pond feels very loud.

You hear laughter and the soft buzz of camaraderie by the Pond. As you approach, you see that the Pond is filled with a lot of Xiaolong’s visiting friends! There’s an octopus in the Pond itself, an intersex flag in eir’s arms, a gray and white narwhal sipping some boba while chatting to a gray tabby wearing a black and white shirt, and a beautiful and terrifying gumiho who stares at you as you enter. And over there, by Xiaolong’s favourite reading spot, is a mer-cat laughing with a little hijabi duckling and an ice-blue fox while a shiba inu dances, little bells tinkling at their ankles. And off to your left is a brown eagle owl reading their book, while a toucan preens its feathers, and a pink dolphin and and pink otter swim carefree in the Pond.

xl keep faith.png“Hi friend!” Xiaolong is at your feet, smiling at you. “I invited some of my friends to come visit the Pond because a book they created with writing-magic releases today!”

Created a book together? That sounds so wholesome! You ask her about this book and her friends.

She gives you a big grin. “Why don’t I introduce you to them?”

Friends, The Quiet Pond may still be on hiatus, but when I found out about the Keep Faith anthology, I knew that I wanted to feature this anthology and its incredible authors. So I emailed Gabriela, the editor of Keep Faith, and we invited all of the writers to be visitors at The Quiet Pond.

Therefore, I am so incredibly excited to be featuring Keep Faith edited by Gabriela Martins today. We have fourteen friends visiting the Pond today, and I could not be more excited to share with you a little bit more about the stories in Keep Faith and what the stories mean to them. Read More »

Xiaolong and Friends are Going To Take a Break! [Hiatus]

Today, Xiaolong is sitting by the water, her head stuck in a big book. She seems to be so engrossed in whatever she’s reading that she doesn’t notice you approach – which is so unlike her!

You sit down at a comfortable distance away from her – you know that some people don’t like to be interrupted when they are reading! – and decide to take in the sights and smells and sounds of The Quiet Pond.

Finally, Xiaolong takes the leaf by her side and inserts it in between the book’s pages. “Hello friend,” she says, closing the book gently. “I got really into my book and didn’t notice that you had arrived! Sorry, friend.”

You smile and ask how she is. To be honest, Xiaolong doesn’t quite look like her perky self – her gills are a little droopy, she doesn’t have that bouncy energy that you usually notice right away, and her eyes don’t have their usual mischievous glimmer.

“I’m okay, friend!” says Xiaolong, who gives you a big grin. “Well, actually.” Her smile falters a little bit. “I’m a little behind on everything. The Quiet Pond may be quiet but it’s also a lot of work, and sometimes I get a little stretched thin.” She gives you a small smile. “I suppose I am burning out.”

You listen, nodding along to what she’s saying. What about a break? you ask.

Xiaolong tilts her head. “But… I can’t take breaks! I have so much to do at the Pond and everyone is depending on me!”

You smile. You understand how that feels. You tell Xiaolong that she isn’t alone in feeling this way, but even super-axolotls and Keepers of the Ponds need a rest too, especially if they are burned out.

Xiaolong considers this for a moment. “I think I needed to hear that,” says Xiaolong. She gets a little teary, realising how tired she is. “I think I need to take a break.”

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, friends! Welcome back to the Pond.

As you may have guessed from your talk with Xiaolong, The Quiet Pond is going to be taking a little bit of a break. Running The Quiet Pond has been such a pleasure – but it’s also been a big task that can get pretty draining sometimes! Read More »

The Quiet Pond is Looking for Another Co-Blogger! We Want You and Your Magic!

The Pond Wants You: We're looking for another co-blogger.

It’s the day after the last book news, and you see Xiaolong setting up ‘The Pond Book News’ stall again.

“Hi friend!” she greets, giving you a big energetic wave with her small arms. “The newest issue of The Pond Book News isn’t quite ready yet. You have to come tomorrow!”

You shake your head, and tell her that you aren’t here for the news. Rather, you’re visiting today to check up on Xiaolong and how she’s going.

“Oh.” Your question gives her pause. “Well, to be honest friend, I’m hoping you can help me.” She comes around from the book news stall, and leads you by the Pond to your favourite spot. “Friend, I know I asked you before, but do you know any other magical beings who might want to call the Pond a home? I’m happy for Stella now that she’s off on her new adventures, but I’m hoping we could find another friend to fill her in.”

You think for a moment. You’re not quite sure. But, like last time, you feel determined to help Xiaolong out again. It’s time to find the Pond’s newest friend!

Hello, dear friends! Welcome back to the Pond!

Have you ever felt like you wanted to be part of The Quiet Pond? Do you want to contribute to the Pond to make it a magical, warm, and inclusive space? If you thought ‘yes!’ and ‘yes!’ to both questions, then we want you!

As Xiaolong said, The Quiet Pond is looking for another co-blogger! If you’re interested in joining The Quiet Pond, read on! ✨

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