Moonstruck, Volume 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle – Cute But Somewhat Confusing

Text: Moonstruck by Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle. Image: A brown girl with dark brown natural hair and a light brown skin with blonde hair, sitting across from each other.

Blurb:

In the little college town of Blitheton, fantasy creatures live cozy, normal lives right alongside humans, and werewolf barista Julie strives to be the most normal of all. But all heck breaks loose when she and her new girlfriend Selena go on a disastrous first date that ends with a magician casting a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late!

Joce’s review:

The first volume of MOONSTRUCK is divided into five different issues, focusing on the main character, Julie, who is a werewolf and plus-sized Latinx woman. She is in a relationship with Selena, who is a werewolf and Black woman. Julie is a barista at the Black Cat Cafe in a small college town where she works with her best friend Chet. Chet’s gender identity is never explicitly stated, but they use they/them pronouns, and at one point, a male character and Chet show romantic interest in one another. Throughout the story, we meet different creatures, animals, and spirits who live in Blitheton, including Dorian the magician, whose magic show Julie and Selena go to for their first date and who casts a spell on Chet.

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Thank You, But Please Don’t Call Me ‘Talented’

Text: Thank you, but don't call me 'talented'. Image: Illustration of Gen the turtle (left), watching Amina the hedgehog (right) pouring tea from a teapot into a teacup.

Hello friends. No pond friends today, though I thought I’d draw Amina and Gen together because this is going to be an art and discussion post. 🥰

Before I begin, I want to make it very clear that I have appreciated every single compliment and praise that I have ever received about my art. I am acutely aware that the support that I receive from everyone in this community has inspired and motivated me to continue my art, and has been integral to my growth and exposure as a small artist.

No matter their content, I understand that compliments and praise come from a good place and mean no ill intent. Therefore, if you have ever expressed your support for my work, liked my work, retweeted my work, shared my work – thank you. Please, please know that I appreciate you, appreciate your support, and am grateful.

On Praising ‘Talent’ and What ‘Talent’ Means

“You’re so talented!”

“I wish I had your talent!”

Friends, let’s talk about the word ‘talented’ and how we use it to praise an artist’s work.

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Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – A Brilliant Asian Fantasy That Explores Trauma, Loss & Oppressive Systems [An Analysis?]

Text: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan.

Blurb:

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.

But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

CW’s review:

Girls of Paper and Fire was on everyone’s most anticipated book releases in 2018, and the book is now an effortless favourite among many readers – with good reason. Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire is a young-adult fantasy, set in Ikhara, a world inspired by Malaysian culture. It follows Lei, a girl of the lowest caste who is taken from her home to become a Paper Girl: one of eight girls chosen to serve the King. Despite the opulence and privileges afforded to Paper Girls, Lei refuses to accept the injustices enacted by the Demon King and refuses that her future as Paper Girl is her ultimate fate. Thus, she does the unthinkable: she falls in love. This is a provocative, heavy, emotional, and brilliant story about trauma, autonomy, assault, and oppression.

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The Pond News! Issue #3 – A Great Week of Diverse YA Contemporaries & Cover Reveals

Image: Stella the dragonfly, wearing a newsy cap, behind a stand that says, 'The Pond Book News'. Text: The Pond Book News. Issue 03: A great week of diverse YA contemporary reads and cover reveals.

Welcome to Issue #3!

stella 7Hello, everyone! This weekend, June started which means it’s Pride month! Happy pride month to the beautiful and diverse LGBTQIA+ Community! I hope this month and all months go great for you and your friends and family! ❤

It’s that wonderful time of the week where Xiaolong and I put together an issue of book news just for you! I’ve been reading the lovely comments you lovelies left last week and they’re so lovely and make me so happy! Thank you so much! Last week we had some really amazing releases and I can’t wait to share all the beautiful books coming out this week!

❤ Stella

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Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Book Recommendations for June’s Prompt: Pride!

Text: Book recommendations, queer Asian characters. Image: Varian the toad, wearing a rainbow skirt and holding a rainbow flag over their head, smiling.

Today is the first day of June! And you know what that means: it’s the first day of Pride! 🏳️‍🌈

You visit the Pond, feeling a lot of emotions today. You decide to visit Varian the Toadshifter – they’ll know exactly what you need.

An illustration of Varian the toad, wearing a rainbow skirt and holding a big rainbow flag about their head, smiling. They wear a sash that says, #YARC, with an aromantic and asexual pin.When you find Varian, they are wearing their rainbow skirt (the one that they wore a few months ago when you first met them!) and they’re holding a really big rainbow flag.

“Happy Pride, friend!” they greet, jumping over to you while waving their big rainbow flag. They sense how you are feeling, and they give you a smile in solidarity. “I understand, my friend. Pride can bring out a lot of feelings – some are positive and joyful, some may be feeling like they are not enough, and some may feel like they don’t belong. But the thing is, friend, you and the others who feel like they are not enough or feel like they don’t belong? They are enough. And they do belong.”

Image: Varian pointing to a pin attached to their sash; the pins are of the aromantic and asexual flag.They point to the pins stuck to their sash. “I’m wearing these pins in solidarity of my asexual and aromantic friends out there. Pride month is for all queer friends, and all I want is for my queer friends, especially asexual and aromantic friends, to feel joy and love.”

They settle down by the Pond, and gesture for you to join them by the water. “Today, I want to share with you some books that you can read! Xiaolong is still helping out with the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, so she asked me to recommend some books with queer Asian characters to you!”

This sounds delightful! And you’re always looking for more books to read. You tuck in, set yourself down next to Varian, and listen to the books they have to recommend.

Hello friends! Welcome to June and our sixth month of the Year of the Asian reading challenge!

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.

Now that it’s June (I… can’t believe it’s June already?) it’s time for a new prompt to help you find some reads! This month’s prompt is PRIDE, just in time for Pride Month where we celebrate all our queer friends. Therefore, for June, our recommendations are centered around novels with queer and Asian main characters. This month, read a book in which the main character is queer, whether it is stated outright or mentioned more subtly.Read More »