Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Sangu Mandanna, Author of A Spark of White Fire; On Retelling Mahābhārata, Free Will versus Fate, and the Stories Behind Her Books

Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month. Author Interview with Sangu Mandanna; author of A Spark of White Fire, on retelling mahabharata, free will versus fate, and the stores behind her books. illustration of xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if showing off something, with sangu as a deer wearing a green jumper and brown pants, waving whole holding a Nintendo Switch.

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

One of the best things that a reader can do for themselves is to read with curiosity and openness. When I started to diversify my reading and explore books by Asian authors that portrayed experiences outside my own, I was blown away by the beauty and wonder of their stories. In particular, I started to fall in love with retellings of Asian folklore and mythology. My first introduction to Asian mythology in young adult literature was A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, which only made me crave even more retellings.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – Krisha, Book Blogger & Dancer, Recommends Her Favourite South Asian Books!

Our Friend is HEre! Asian Heritage Month edition. book recommendtions with krisha. book blogger at bookathon and dancer; krisha recommends her favourite south asian books! illustration of xiaolong the axolotl, with her arms out wide as if she is showing off something, with krisha as a blue panda, holding a book and striking a pose with ghungroos at her ankles

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

One of my biggest hopes is that Asian Heritage Month – or, whenever we talk about Asian identity and Asian books – will shift to be more inclusive, welcoming, and thoughtful of Asian identities, such as South-East Asia, South Asia, West Asia, and Central Asia. I want Asian Heritage Month to be a time where all Asians feel a sense of community and solidarity, a time where they can celebrate each others’ Asian identities and carve a space where all Asians are included and celebrated.

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Book Review: A Spark Of White Fire By Sangu Mandanna – Inspired By Mahabharata, A Lost Princess, Divine Intervention; Stunning From Start To Finish

TEXT: A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna. Background depicts a galaxy, with a cluster of white stars that form the shape of a crown, and spaceship flies across the screen.
Blurb:

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

My review:

Discovering new favourite books can sometimes feel like finally releasing a long breath – you’ve been waiting for it, you feel like life has returned to you, and you feel invigorated. The relief and satisfaction of discovering and reading A Spark of White Fire cannot be described by words. It is a science-fiction space opera, inspired by the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata, and follows a lost princess who infiltrates the circles of those who stole her family’s crown, only to realise that they may not be as wicked as she once believed. I’m in awe, friends. A Spark of White Fire is thoroughly brilliant, and I hope my book review will convince you to pick up this new YA SF gem.

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Year of the Asian Reading Challenge – Book Recommendations for February’s Prompt: Tropes!

Varian the green toad wearing a panda onesie, holding a red cup of tea. Text underneaht: BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: Year of the Asian reading challenge; February Prompt: Tropes!

It’s the first day of the month, and Varian has sent you a special invitation to join them at the Pond today. You remember the last time you had tea with them, and they had made their first costume (a rainbow!) and how they shared their favourite diverse anthologies with you. Could they possibly have a new costume?

Varian the toad wearing a panda costume, holding onto a red cup with tea.When you finally find Varian by their favourite rock, they aren’t a toad anymore. In fact, they’re now a big and white panda, and they’re sipping at, what smells like, a strong brew of jasmine tea.

“Friend!” they exclaim when they see you, and they do a small twirl. “What do you think? I finished it last night!”

You tell them that they look marvellous, and that they have definitely improved since the last costume; the fabric looks more aligned and the stitching much cleaner. Your kind comment gets a little blush out of Varian and they muster a thank you.

This is for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge that Xiaolong is helping out with,” they explain. “I thought it would be fun to participate, and I am aiming to be a panda. Xiaolong has been thinking of what books to read, and so I thought I would share my knowledge and recommend a few to you.”

Oh, this is wonderful! If you’re not mistaken, the month of February is all about tropes, so Varian’s recommendations are timely. You settle yourself down comfortably, and ask what recommendations they have today.

Greetings friends, and welcome to February and our second month of the Year of the Asian reading challenge!

Today’s post is something I’m really excited to share with you all. If you haven’t heard already, myself and three other spectacular book bloggers (Lily, Shealea, and Vicky) are hosting the Year of the Asian Challenge (or YARC, for short!) a year-long reading challenge dedicated entirely to reading Asian literature by Asian authors. As part of YARC, I have the privilege of sharing with you all my book recommendations for this month’s prompts: tropes!

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