Your time at the Pond today begins with gentle rain.
A soft evening patter accompanies you as you sit next to Sprout’s stump, your reads for the day sprawled out in front of you. The blushing sky illuminates the forest in a warm rush of golden light. As you bask in the scenery, Sprout emerges from their stump holding two cups of tea, and the air around you immediately smells of summer berries.
“This is berry hibiscus tea, friend!” Sprout informs you. “I grew the ingredients myself. Gen was a big help, but the Pond magic has made starting my own little garden here so easy.”
You accept the tea, letting the warm sweetness suffuse your insides. It’s a curious picture—the aroma of the tea, this scenery, the glow of Sprout’s little sapling. A comfortable silence settles between the both of you as you take to your books once more.
As you both finish your tea, Sprout looks up from their book and says, “You know, friend, I never imagined I’d find a home here when I first arrived, when Xiaolong first reached out to me for help.” Their eyes are wistful. “At first, I wasn’t even sure if I belonged here, since I read so very little compared to the other Pond residents. Sometimes I just get so caught up with everything else that reading doesn’t come as naturally to me as it used to.”
You reach out a hand to comfort the sparrow, to reassure them that they do indeed have a place at the Pond. Sprout takes your hand gratefully. “But it’s because of everyone’s kindness here that I’ve learned to forgive myself for taking things slow as well! Reading is like a garden too. Even one seed planted is a seed that can grow into flowers and fruit, even if it takes time! And they make great ingredients for tea, too.”
Bringing their book over, Sprout hops closer to you. “I also have you to thank for this lesson, friend, for helping me feel at home here! Now, let me tell you about some of my favorite stories that I did manage to read this year…”
Hello, friends! Welcome to the last of our Top Reads of 2019 posts, wherein I finally get my thoughts coherent enough to gush about my own favorite reads of the year. As you might’ve gleaned from Sprout’s story, I didn’t manage to read as much as I would’ve liked this year—I had an ambitious reading goal of 50, but so far only managed 29—and I’m learning to be okay with that! It’s a big reason of why I tweeted this last month too:
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Friends! Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year?
2019 has been such a wonderful year of reading and diverse books. I’ve had the privilege and joy to read a myriad of brilliant diverse books this year, and I think it is only fitting if I followed what I did last year and celebrated my favourite reads of 2019!
This year, I read a total of 86 books – I’m still determined to hit my goal of reading 90 books! – but it was a fantastic year nonetheless.
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I hope your stomachs are hungry for some delicious food and some food adventure stories today, friends! As part of my contribution for the blog tour for Hungry Hearts, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline T. Richmond, I present to you my very own food crawl where I found and ate the food mentioned in Hungry Hearts!
If you haven’t heard, Hungry Hearts is a new young-adult anthology that contains 13 books about food, love, and identity. There’s a strong emphasis on culture and relationships in this anthology, so if that sounds like up your (food!) alley, then I wholeheartedly recommend it. Personally, I absolutely loved this anthology and had so much fun reading all the diverse and brilliant stories. For the curious, you can find my review of Hungry Hearts here.
All of you know that I love reading. But, if there’s one thing that I love more than reading, it is food. Not only does food make me happy and gives my life meaning and colour, food is really important to me as well. As an adventurous foodie, doing this food crawl for Hungry Hearts was a great way for me to merge my love for reading, my love for Hungry Hearts, and my love for food! (How often do you get the chance to have your very own food crawl to celebrate an incredible book’s release?) And thus, I embarked on several food adventures and journeyed around my city to find the food featured in Hungry Hearts.
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If you follow me on Twitter, then you should know how much I love Color Outside the Lines, an YA anthology about interracial relationships that I was beyond excited for. As much as I’d love to share the review I’ve written for Color Outside the Lines with you all right now – it’s over 2000 words, whoops – the book releases in November 2019, which is nine months away. Rather than keep in all my excitement to myself, I decided to list sixteen reasons why you should read this gem of an anthology.
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Welcome back, friends! I hope you all have had a lovely week and that you are ready for my final post of The Pond’s Most Anticipated Reads series for 2019!
A goal of mine for 2019, and something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, is to do more to support self-published and indie books. As someone who was initially invested in mainstream books, I genuinely did not know that self-published books were a thing and I was naive to the challenges that all authors went through, especially authors who self-publish. I’ve had the pleasure of reading some spectacular self-published books in the past (shout out to Soft on Soft!), and I now know and strongly believe that self-published books and their authors deserve all the love and support.
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