The Pond Book News #50 (!!!) – August Arrives Like a Lion: an Abundant Week of Diverse Book News

issue 50

Welcome to Issue #50!

The trees are whispering…

Friends, welcomeSprout the sparrow, doing a curtsy with their eyes closed and a smile on their face. Their cape swooshes in the wind with their arm extended in their curtsy. to another exciting week of The Pond Book News! Every Sunday, The Quiet Pond brings you a fresh issue of book news to catch you up on the week’s lineup of diverse book releases, cover reveals, book news, and sometimes more! We’re still working on our Book Community Spotlight feature too, and we really appreciate everyone’s patience as we work on getting it where we want to be. Now onward to the news!

Book Releases This Week [August 2nd – August 8th]

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.

Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris?

The long-awaited sequel to Somaiya Daud’s Mirage is dropping this week! The amount of emotional reactions I’ve seen from early readers certainly makes me… cautiously excited to get into the series, and I hope this book is everything that fans of the series are hoping for!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.

But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive… before they are both lost to the darkness.

This brilliant Malaysian MG about familiar spirits and toxic friendships finally releases this week, and I am excited to be able to push this into the hands of my unsuspecting friends >:) I had the honor of reading an early copy of this book, and let me assure you—if you’re a fan of lush writing, spooky atmospheres, and ghostly adventures— you will want this on your TBR. Also keep a look out here for something we’re planning to do to celebrate release day, maybe. 👀

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right…

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.

I’ve been waiting so long for this book! I absolutely adored Tehlor Kay Mejia’s We Set the Dark on Fire (my fiery revolutionary sapphics <3) and I simply cannot wait to dive into this adventurous MG about the Mexican folktale.

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before she turns thirteen years old. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it’s a simple enough test:

ONE: Help your town, do good all around.
TWO: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon.
THREE: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands on the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she’s worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her “semi-magical fixes” repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva’s bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.

Here’s a witch that I already know is going to steal my heart! I have been anxiously awaiting the release date of this adorable, whimsical book ever since its stunning cover reveal, and I’m thrilled to finally get to welcome it to the world this week! Us here at the Pond may also have a cauldron of something brewing to commemorate its release, so be sure to keep your eyes trained on the magic here at the Pond. 👀

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Lobizona by Romina Garber

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

This brilliant novel is finally coming to us! I’ve been so excited to read this that I don’t even have the words to tell you how much joy this brings me. Luckily, Joce and Cuddle have reviewed this book here on the Pond too, and you can go read their (five-star) thoughts about this queer, magical Latinx read!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

It’s been three years since ICE raids and phone calls from Mexico and an ill-fated walk across the Sonoran. Three years since Sia Martinez’s mom disappeared. Sia wants to move on, but it’s hard in her tiny Arizona town where people refer to her mom’s deportation as “an unfortunate incident.”

Sia knows that her mom must be dead, but every new moon Sia drives into the desert and lights San Anthony and la Guadalupe candles to guide her mom home.

Then one night, under a million stars, Sia’s life and the world as we know it cracks wide open. Because a blue-lit spacecraft crashes in front of Sia’s car…and it’s carrying her mom, who’s very much alive.

As Sia races to save her mom from armed-quite-possibly-alien soldiers, she uncovers secrets as profound as they are dangerous in this stunning and inventive exploration of first love, family, immigration, and our vast, limitless universe.

And speaking of Latinx excellence, this book also looks like such an adventure! I recently read the author’s interview with Fadwa over on Word Wonders, and I especially loved what she talked about with regards to the book’s unique blend of sci-fi and magical realism! I’m so excited to start looking for a copy of this in stores come this Tuesday. ❤

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood

Danyal Jilani doesn’t lack confidence. He may not be the smartest guy in the room, but he’s funny, gorgeous, and going to make a great chef one day. His father doesn’t approve of his career choice, but that hardly matters. What does matter is the opinion of Danyal’s longtime crush, the perfect-in-all-ways Kaval, and her family, who consider him a less than ideal arranged marriage prospect.

When Danyal gets selected for Renaissance Man–a school-wide academic championship–it’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone he’s smarter than they think. He recruits the brilliant, totally-uninterested-in-him Bisma to help with the competition, but the more time Danyal spends with her… the more he learns from her… the more he cooks for her… the more he realizes that happiness may be staring him right in his pretty face.

This Indian-American YA romcom looks so loveable and funny! A (self-proclaimed) pretty boy chef-in-training looking to impress his crush, but slowly falling for the girl he recruits to improve his image? That’s the stuff of a good, good love story, my friends.

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon

Liliana Cruz is a hitting a wall—or rather, walls.

There’s the wall her mom has put up ever since Liliana’s dad left—again.

There’s the wall that delineates Liliana’s diverse inner-city Boston neighborhood from Westburg, the wealthy—and white—suburban high school she’s just been accepted into.

And there’s the wall Liliana creates within herself, because to survive at Westburg, she can’t just lighten up, she has to whiten up.

So what if she changes her name? So what if she changes the way she talks? So what if she’s seeing her neighborhood in a different way? But then light is shed on some hard truths: It isn’t that her father doesn’t want to come home—he can’t… and her whole family is in jeopardy. And when racial tensions at school reach a fever pitch, the walls that divide feel insurmountable.

But a wall isn’t always a barrier. It can be a foundation for something better. And Liliana must choose: Use this foundation as a platform to speak her truth, or risk crumbling under its weight.

This book looks absolutely searing. I’m always on the lookout for books that explore how POC teens try to fit in with the wider world around them by trying to feign proximity to whiteness, and I know this is going to be a relatable read for me too. Excited to dig into this!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park

Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with its share of challenges. Namely, an insufferable CEO and a team that consists of mostly male co-workers who make the term “misogyny” pale in comparison to their obnoxious comments. Then there’s the infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—MBA intern Nolan MacKenzie, a.k.a. “the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss”.

Just when Melody thinks she’s made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes on a dime. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, Melody’s “joke” is her studio’s most high-profile project—and Melody’s running the show.

When Nolan is appointed a key member of her team, Melody’s sure he’ll be useless. But as they grow closer, she sees he’s smart and sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he’s her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it’s time to pump the brakes even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up and find a man. But she’s here to work—and nothing more. All she has to do is resist the wild thoughts coursing through her mind whenever Nolan is near. Easy… or so she thinks.

With her pet project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a social media trolling scandal that could end her career. She suspects one of her co-workers is behind the sabotage and is determined to find out who betrayed her. Could the man she’s falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and love?

Whew, what a premise! I’m glad to see contemporary books tackling misogyny in video games, especially from the perspective of a headstrong woman of color looking to make it in the industry! This looks like it’s going to a poignant and important read, and I’m excited for it to find its way to readers that will love it!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

Los Angeles, 1992

Ashley Bennett and her friends are living the charmed life. It’s the end of senior year and they’re spending more time at the beach than in the classroom. They can already feel the sunny days and endless possibilities of summer.

Everything changes one afternoon in April, when four LAPD officers are acquitted after beating a black man named Rodney King half to death. Suddenly, Ashley’s not just one of the girls. She’s one of the black kids.

As violent protests engulf LA and the city burns, Ashley tries to continue on as if life were normal. Even as her self-destructive sister gets dangerously involved in the riots. Even as the model black family façade her wealthy and prominent parents have built starts to crumble. Even as her best friends help spread a rumor that could completely derail the future of her classmate and fellow black kid, LaShawn Johnson.

With her world splintering around her, Ashley, along with the rest of LA, is left to question who is the us? And who is the them?

Oh this premise is so interesting! A YA exploring the respectability politics of being Black in America set against a critical point in history from the perspective of a wealthy Black teenager sounds timely, and also absolutely riveting. I’m definitely adding this to my TBR, and I hope that you will too!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

Every year on St. Walpurga’s Eve, Caldella’s Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.

Lina Kirk is convinced her brother is going to be taken this year. To save him, she enlists the help of Thomas Lin, the boy she secretly loves, and the only person to ever escape from the palace. But they draw the queen’s attention, and Thomas is chosen as the sacrifice.

Queen Eva watched her sister die to save the boy she loved. Now as queen, she won’t make the same mistake. She’s willing to sacrifice anyone if it means saving herself and her city.

When Lina offers herself to the queen in exchange for Thomas’s freedom, the two girls await the full moon together. But Lina is not at all what Eva expected, and the queen is nothing like Lina envisioned. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella’s streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

Oh I love this dark, witchy premise! This queer novel promises magical worldbuilding, lush, ethereal writing, and an-apparently-malevolent tide that threatens to sink the tiny island that the story is set on, so I’m very excited for this! That cover is just aces too.

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim

Become enamored with the splendor of Paris in this heartwarming and delightful story about writing one’s own destiny and finding love along the way.

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes—or misfortunes—in tea leaves.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

The day before her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa accidentally sees her own fate: death by traffic accident. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.

I’ve heard so many good things about this book—namely that it’s a TERRIBLE idea to read this on an empty stomach because of all of its delectable food descriptions ✨ Roselle Lim has carved out such a name for herself writing these culturally-driven romances filled with whimsy and a feast for both the soft-hearted and foodies alike, and we love to see it!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

A Map to the Sun by Sloane Leong

One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.

Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their highschool. With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.

This graphic novel looks so dang good! I love stories that follow a group of misfit kids trying to find purpose in a common goal, and I’m always here to support books by QPOC authors! The art looks so cool too!

Releases on August 4th. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: Amina’s Song by Hena Khan

Hurrah for this lovely sequel to Amina’s Voice! It’s no secret that Xiaolong absolutely adores the first book, and we absolutely cannot wait to see where Hena Khan takes Amina next! This cover is going to look SO good paired together with Amina’s Voice too!

Cover Reveal: Together, Apart, an anthology by popular YA authors!

Oh this looks so dang cute! I didn’t expect there to be an anthology about life in lockdown this soon, especially not with this stellar lineup with authors! I’m so curious how it’ll turn out, and will definitely keep it in my radar!

Book Announcement: Vampire hunting meets shapeshifting vampires/fireflies in Roseanne A. Brown’s upcoming Ghanian-inspired MG from Riordan presents!

Um, friends, how brilliant does this pitch sound already?! Vampires that shapeshift into fireflies, and badass kid vampire hunters? We absolutely stan! Honestly every single book that Riordan Presents has acquired so far has patently failed to disappoint, and I’m so unbelievably hyped for this!

Book Announcement: Bethany C. Morrow’s forthcoming novel about a Black girl, a white adopted family, and… murder 👀

Oh hello. 👀 This premise is so interesting and spooky already! Any book comp’d to Get Out is set to be an absolutely thrilling ride, and Bethany C. Morrow has a real knack for getting readers into the headspace of her protagonists, so I’m really excited for this!

Book Announcement: Diverse MG fantasy graphic novel about adventuring and monstrous aunts forthcoming from Reimena Yee

Reimena Yee’s comics and stories are absolute delights to devour, and I’m so eager to read this! I love love love this whimsical premise, and the fact that the character designs were based on Neopets? What a bucket of nostalgia! Absolutely sign me up.

Book Announcement: 1970’s noir novel about a missing woman and Mexico City by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The universe is blessing us with another Silvia Moreno-Garcia novel! I so admire her range and ability to write all these fascinating stories that are so different from each other: from Gods of Jade and Shadow to Mexican Gothic (which I recently reviewed here too!) to this historical noir. Very excited to hear more about this in the near future!

Book Announcement: Debut YA contemporary about Asian stereotypes and parental expectations by Joanna Ho

Oh, this book’s topics are so timely and evergreen. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for kidlit books that explore parental expectations in Asian families, as well as racism and stereotypes. This looks like it’s going to be a very important novel in the community already, and I’m already counting down the days until release date!

Book Announcement: A magical realism MG with shapeshifting storytellers by Alexnadra V. Méndez

This looks so cool and adorable!!! I actually don’t know if I’ve ever read a magical realism MG before, so I’m definitely interested in reading this! I love how creative and diverse ownvoices books have been lately, especially from debut authors!

Book Announcement: An ownvoices Lebanese American YA fantasy by Cristin Bishara

This premise sounds so COOL! I absolutely love stories that transport teens to hidden, magical worlds thrumming with magic from deities and larger forces, and this looks like it’s going to tick all the boxes already. 2021 is going to be such a treat!

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