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.
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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This modern, groundbreaking YA anthology explores the complexity and beauty of interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships where differences are front and center.
When people ask me what this anthology is about, I’m often tempted to give them the complicated answer: it’s about race, and about how being different from the person you love can matter but how it can also not matter, and it’s about Chinese pirate ghosts, black girl vigilantes, colonial India, a flower festival, a garden of poisons, and so, so much else. Honestly, though? I think the answer’s much simpler than that. Color outside the Lines is a collection of stories about young, fierce, brilliantly hopeful people in love.—Sangu Mandanna, editor of Color outside the Lines
A few years ago, I talked about how I craved a good story about interracial relationships beyond a superficial portrayal. I wanted a story that examined the ups and downs of being in an interracial relationship, to illustrate the complexities and the challenges and the dynamics and the unexpected joys and challenges of being in an interracial relationship. Such a book would have held my whole heart with its words, as I craved to see my experiences of being in an interracial relationship depicted in a story. Thus, when I saw that Eric Smith, one of the contributing authors to the anthology, announced that Sangu Mandanna was editing the Color Outside the Lines anthology, I was over the moon; I was thrilled beyond words.
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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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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.
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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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?
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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