The Pond Book News #56 – Diverse Stories From Around the World: A Very Busy Week in Books

Welcome to Issue #56!

The trees are whispering…Xiaolong the axolotl, closing her eyes like she is listening, and holding a pen and paper.

Friends, welcome 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! This week Xiaolong and Sprout are excited to be teaming up to bring you a massive week of book news! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases This Week [September 13th – September 19th]

Three Keys by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang thinks she’s going to have the best year ever.

She and her parents are the proud owners of the Calivista Motel, Mia gets to run the front desk with her best friend, Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing! But as it turns out, sixth grade is no picnic…
1. Mia’s new teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great.
2. The motel is struggling, and Mia has to answer to the Calivista’s many, many worried investors.
3. A new immigration law is looming and if it passes, it will threaten everything—and everyone—in Mia’s life.

It’s a roller coaster of challenges, and Mia needs all of her determination to hang on tight. But if anyone can find the key to getting through turbulent times, it’s Mia Tang! 

Xiaolong: Front Desk remains to be one of the best middle-grade books I’ve ever read – with its excellent and honest portrayal of struggling as an immigrant paired with its tender take on family and community. I never thought we’d see a sequel, but if Kelly Yang thinks Mia needs a sequel, then I want to read more Mia! I can’t wait for this and have no doubt it’ll be delightful.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. His (former) best friend knows to expect his family’s mafia-style interrogation when Henry’s actually allowed to hang out at her house. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself!

But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure everrr… hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever.

Xiaolong: I’ve had the pleasure of reading Fly on the Wall already and I loved it! If you loved Pie in the Sky, then rest assured that Fly on the Wall holds up. A heartfelt and genuine exploration of helicopter parents, finding independence, and how families show love in different ways – Fly on the Wall will make you laugh, will be so much fun to read, and may make you cry too.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.

Sprout: Heck yeah, I’m so excited for this book! I’ve heard so, so many good things about it from early readers, and I’m stoked for this uniquely Black girl magic brand of magic and secret societies on a high school campus.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Watch Over Me by Nina Lacour

Mila is used to being alone. Maybe that’s why she said yes to the opportunity: living in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.

But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.

Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a job and a place to stay at a farm on an isolated part of the Northern California Coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home, a real home. The farm is a refuge, but also haunted by the past traumas its young residents have come to escape. And Mila’s own terrible memories are starting to rise to the surface.

Sprout: I am a self-professed stan of Nina Lacour’s tender sapphic books, and I’m thrilled that her newest story has a spooky element to it. GAY GHOSTS, you guys!! There are honestly no freaking words for how much I’m buzzing with anticipation just thinking about this.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

Lora wants to stay a kid forever, and she’ll do anything to make that happen… including befriending Alexa, the ghost who haunts her house. A middle-grade graphic novel about growing up that’s perfect for fans of Ghosts and Making Friends . Growing up sounds terrible. No one has time to do anything fun, or play outside, or use their imagination. Everything is suddenly so serious. People are more interested in their looks and what others think about them than having fun adventures. Who wants that? Not Lora. After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own. A tea party with a twist leaves Lora to re-discovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house — and Lora’s old imaginary friend! Lora and Alexa are thrilled to meet kindred spirits and they become best friends… but unfortunately, not everything can last forever.

Sprout: The long-awaited release day of this delightful graphic novel! I previously interviewed Reimena here at the Pond about the themes of coming-of-age in this book, as well as a little about her process of making comics in general! Friends, Xiaolong told me she teared up reading this book. I promise it’s that good.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Grown by Tiffany Jackson

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

Sprout: A YA thriller centered around a Black girl music artist? One that explores the dark side of the entertainment industry and toxic power dynamics???? SAY NO MORE, this has already been added WAY UP my TBR. So excited to start looking out for this book!

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy…

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

Sprout: It’s no secret that we here at the Pond freaking adore retellings, and this Afro-Latinx, magical realism reimagining of Orpheus and Eurydice is absolutely no exception. I can already tell that this book is going to tug on my heartstrings so hard, and I, for one, cannot wait to be wrecked.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Sprout: Um, this book is set in a desert where stories are real and living and alive, and just by this premise I want to read the book already. I know Xiaolong loved the author’s previous book Anger is a Gift, which makes me so excited for this new sapphic story!

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Sprout: This sports-centered YA contemporary looks like it’s going to be such an empowering read for young girls everywhere, especially the kids who want to pursue passions they aren’t allowed to because of arbitrary identity markers they can’t control. Very intrigued to read this!

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall

There are two things that Corinne Parker knows to be true: that she is in love with Maggie Bailey, the captain of the rival high school’s cross-country team and her secret girlfriend of a year, and that she isn’t ready for anyone to know she’s bisexual.

But then Maggie dies, and Corinne quickly learns that the only thing worse than losing Maggie is being left heartbroken over a relationship no one knows existed. And to make things even more complicated, the only person she can turn to is Elissa — Maggie’s ex and the single person who understands how Corinne is feeling.

As Corinne struggles to make sense of her grief and what she truly wants out of life, she begins to have feelings for the last person she should fall for. But to move forward after losing Maggie, Corinne will have to learn to be honest with the people in her life… starting with herself.

Sprout: This beautiful sapphic contemporary is finally, finally coming out this week, and not a day too soon! I’m always so soft for books that tackle grief as part of a teen’s coming-of-age, and I know this book is going to be both heart-wrenching and healing already.

Releases on September 15. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book Announcements

Cover Reveal: Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova

Xiaolong: Zoraida Cordova is a gift and I am so thrilled for her that Illusionary now has a gorgeous book cover! A fantasy based on the Spanish -Inquisition-era, contains court intrigue, and explores the colonialism, Illusionary sounds like an exciting sequel – and I can’t wait to read it!

Cover Reveal: The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore

Xiaolong: A friend of mine has already read this book, and they said that The Mirror Season has one of the most searing, heart-breaking yet healing books they’ve ever read. And I believe it. The Mirror Season is a story about trauma and healing, told with magical realism. This cover is utterly and deservingly gorgeous and I look forward to reading this.

Cover Reveal: Last Gate of the Emperor by Kwame Mbalia and Prince Joel Makonnen

Sprout: Um, an Afrofuturist, Ethiopian-inspired YA about an augmented-reality video game, co-written by the Kwame Mbalia? HELLO??? This looks ENTIRELY my sort of story, and I’m so unbelievably excited already?? Dang, you guys! 2021 is going to be such a good year for diverse releases!

Cover Reveal: Black Boy Out of Time by Hari Ziyad

Sprout: Oh the imagery in this cover is absolutely stunning. And, my friends, check out this write-up of it in the article: “In Black Boy Out of Time, Ziyad reflects on the long-term impacts of assimilating into a more normative society, how that relates to the history of policing in the U.S., and how it left them with little understanding of who they were.” This is going to be a memoir to remember, for sure.

Cover Reveal: In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland

Xiaolong: Look at this gorgeous cover! I’m a big fan of book covers that combine photography and illustration, so I’m loving the cover for In the Ravenous Dark. I’m looking forward to this book about a pansexual(!!) bloodmage, rebellion, and found family!

Cover Reveal: Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Xiaolong: We’re getting a new book from Becky Albertalli and the cover is here! I’m loving the premise, especially since it’s queer and it’s friends-to-lovers – which is absolutely my kind of jam.

Book Announcement: Mary H.K. Choi’s adult debut about family and fame

Xiaolong: How about this awesome news? Fans of Mary K. Choi’s phenomenal debut, Emergency Contact, and her wonderful sophomore, Permanent Record, should be thrilled to hear that we’re getting an adult book next! I’m a big fan of intergenerational stories and the themes explored in them, so I’m definitely looking forward to this.

Book Announcement: Magic meets technology in adult fantasy debut from Zabé Ellor

Xiaolong: Zabé, who is also the author of May The Best Man Win, is giving us an adult fantasy next! I love the sound of it too – magic blending with technology! more dragons! necromancers!? and totally queer. This sounds like a phenomenal book. Can it be 2022 now?

Book Announcement: A Black Picture Book about Dreams and the Moon

Xiaolong: I’ve been reading a lot of picture books lately, and this sounds amazing. Just from the pitch alone, I can already feel the heart and tenderness of this book, and I can’t wait to read the story and behold the beautiful illustrations come 2022!

Book Announcement: A Latinx historical YA about Prince, dancing, and romance by Vanessa Torres

Sprout: Ahhh YES! I love YA novels that revolve around dance! That this is also about family, romance and ambitions is truly the cherry on the cake here. I cannot wait for this!

Book Announcement: Nina Lacour’s adult fiction debut about two star-crossed sapphic women

Sprout: It’s a good, good week to be a Nina Lacour fan this week, with the book release and this amazing book announcement all within a few days! Needless to say, I am so unbelievably excited for her adult debut (a star-crossed sapphic romance across California!!!), and I’m already counting down the days.

Book Announcement: Kosoko Jackson’s YA SFF about racism, police brutality, with a queer Black protagonist

Sprout: Oh this science-fiction(?) YA from Kosoko Jackson sounds so cool! Very much here for queer Black boys in speculative settings, and the strife-filled premise here already promises high stakes and important messages. Definitely keeping this on my radar!

Book Announcement: A magical New Orleans comes alive in Chris Clarkson’s forthcoming YA contemporary

Sprout: Oh I love this a lot! I still have yet to pick up All Boys Aren’t Blue yet (the line for it at the library is bonkers, I tell you), but this looks so heartfelt and poignant already, with discussions about so many complex and important issues!

Book Announcement: A fun MG apocalypse novel by Justin A. Reynolds

Sprout: Hahahahaha, I got such a kick out of this premise, and I hope you did too, friend! This MG looks wonderfully hilarious and like such an adventure already, I can’t wait to see where it goes!

Book Announcement: A coming-of-age, queer YA novel between two boys in California by James Sie

Sprout: This forthcoming YA novel features two protagonists — one cis and one trans! I really truly love that we’re getting more trans narratives in YA and children’s literature; I can’t wait to hear more news about this one!

Book Announcement: Fake dating and Latinx pop stars collide in Gabriela Martins’ forthcoming YA romance!

Sprout: AHH this book premise sounds so cute! I’m so ready to dive into the life of a Latina teen pop star, my tween years spent watching shows like Camp Rock and Hannah Montana have prepared me exactly for this moment, HAHA.

From Page to Screen: Marie Lu’s Warcross is Getting a TV Adaptation!

Xiaolong: Rejoice, Marie Lu fans! Warcross, the YA gaming-inspired book is getting a TV series and we cannot be more excited! Now I’m already thinking about what Emika (and her beautiful rainbow hair!!) and Hideo will look like. Ahhhhh I can’t wait!

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