[Blog Tour] Book Review + Fanart: Iron Heart by Nina Varela – Everything I Hoped For in a Sequel

Summary:

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill… but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era… and the ultimate change of heart.

Skye’s review:

Oh this book wrecked me, friends.

Sequels are tricky to do right — I’ve read one too many disappointing follow-up books in my time — but I’m delighted to report that this book was everything I had hoped for in a sequel to one of my favorite books of 2019. Reading this book felt like diving headfirst into a half-forgotten world that grew ever-familiar by the page, felt like a rush of warmth. By the end of the book, I’d fallen fully in love with Nina’s writing once again, as well as the characters that struggled and fought and loved within the pages of the story. I’m very excited to share this review with you all today, as well as a short fanart comic I made of my absolute favorite quote from the book!

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Book Recommendations: Pride Month Edition – 23 Books with Sapphic & F/F Rep To Brighten Your Reading During Pride Month!

Book Recommendations: Pride Month Edition – 23 Books with Sapphic & F/F Rep To Brighten Your Reading During Pride Month! Illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl and Varian the toad holding the inclusive intersectional pride flags.

An illustration of Xiaolong the axolotl, waving her hand and winking at you while holding up a flag with the inclusive Pride flag - horizontal stripes of black, brown, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.Our Friend is Here! is 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.

Pride Month is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where during the month of June, queer authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being queer, queer books, and their experiences of being a queer reader. Find the introduction post for Pride Month at The Quiet Pond here.

For Pride Month this year, I decided to put together the biggest and most ambitious book recommendation post ever. Not only would I recommend queer books for Pride Month, I’d consciously recommend queer books written by and about queer and/or disabled people of colour — the books that people often complain they can’t find, even though they are being talked about, are being hyped, are being loved, were always here.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar, Author of The Henna Wars; On The Intersections of Queer & Muslim Identity, and Cultural Appreciation versus Appropriation

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month Edition. Author Interview with Adiba Jaigirdar, author of The Henna Wars; on the intersections of queer and muslim identity, and cultural appropriation and appreciation. illustration shows xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if she is showing off something, with adiba has a hijabi duckling wearing a red backpack, waving at you.

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’.)

When Adiba reached out to me and invited me to participate in her virtual launch for The Henna Wars, I was over the moon. I’ve been buzzing with excitement for Adiba’s debut, The Henna Wars and I’m delighted that it releases today. Although I couldn’t contribute by hosting a live chat, I knew I absolutely had to invite Adiba to the Pond again following her previous visit alongside the contributing authors of the Keep Faith anthology!

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Book Recommendations: YA Science-Fiction/Fantasy With F/F Romances!

Book Recommendations: Young Adult SFF with F/F Romances. Images: Varian the toad wearing a shirt that reads 'Master Mischief was right about the cheese'

Welcome back to the Pond, friends! I hope you are all reading some wonderful books and are ready to add more to your to-read list today!

In case you’re new to the Pond’s recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has shown you their latest costume, they will always recommend a book that inspired that costume.

We have been blessed with more books that more sapphic representation lately, and I’m excited to share even more with you all today. I thought I would spice up today’s book recommendation post by recommending you all books that not only have f/f representation, but are also science-fiction/fantasy stories as well. Reading stories about queer girls always makes my heart happier, and I hope you all can add some of these books to your to-read lists!

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Book Review: 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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