The Pond Book News #60 – Infused with Magic: Peter Pan Retellings, Bio-Cyberpunk Cities & Indian Princesses

Welcome to Issue #60!

The trees are whispering…Sprout 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.

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! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases [October 11th – October 17th]

The Fallen Hero by Katie Zhao

Faryn Liu thought she was the Heaven Breaker, a warrior destined to wield the all-powerful spear Fenghuang, command dragons, and defeat demons. But a conniving goddess was manipulating her all along…and her beloved younger brother, Alex, has betrayed her and taken over as the Heaven Breaker instead. Alex never forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts, and now he wants to wipe out both the demons and most of humanity.

Determined to prevent a war and bring Alex back to her side, Faryn and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She learns that one weapon can stand against Fenghuang–the Ruyi Jingu Bang. Only problem? It belongs to an infamous trickster, the Monkey King.

Faryn sets off on a daring quest to convince the Monkey King to join forces with her, one that will take her to new places–including Diyu, otherwise known as the Underworld–where she’ll run into new dangers and more than one familiar face. Can she complete her mission and save the brother she loves, no matter the cost?

The anticipated sequel to the well-loved The Dragon Warrior is finally here! ICYMI, CW posted a lovely review of the book a few days ago, in which she calls the book “exciting, adventurous and with plenty of emotional depth that explores what it means to be a hero”! And if that doesn’t get you excited about the book, I don’t know what will!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Storm the Earth by Rebecca Kim Wells

Maren’s world was shattered when her girlfriend, Kaia, was abducted by the Aurati. After a daring rescue, they’ve finally been reunited, but Maren’s life is still in pieces: Kaia seems more like a stranger than the lover Maren knew back home; Naava, the mother of all dragons, has retreated into seclusion to recover from her wounds, leaving Maren at a loss on how to set the rest of the dragons free; and worst of all, her friend Sev has been captured by the emperor’s Talons.

As a prisoner of Zefed, Sev finds himself entangled in a treacherous game of court politics. With more people joining the rebellion, whispers of a rogue dragon mistress spreading, and escape seeming less likely with each passing day, Sev knows that it won’t be long before the emperor decides to make an example of him. If he’s to survive, he’ll have to strike first—or hope Maren reaches him in time.

With the final battle for Zefed looming, Maren must set aside her fears, draw upon all she’s learned about her dragon-touched abilities, and face her destiny once and for all. But when the fighting is over and the smoke clears, who will be left standing?

Man, everytime I look at this cover I’m reminded of just how much I like it all over again: especially the orange background and the way the protagonist looks like she’s lying in wait. And hello, sapphic Asians in a fantasy with dragons? This is absolutely everything, and I need to pick up the first book!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Tiến loves his family and his friends…but Tiến has a secret he’s been keeping from them, and it might change everything.

Real life isn’t a fairytale.

But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?

Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?

I have been highly anticipating this graphic novel for months, and I’m overjoyed to see that it’s finally making its debut this week! My heart will always, always have a soft spot for books exploring queer Southeast Asian identity, especially in graphic novel form! I’m definitely finding a way to pick this up as soon as it releases.

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Come On In edited by Adi Alsaid

This exceptional and powerful anthology explores the joys, heartbreaks and triumphs of immigration, with stories by bestselling and beloved YA authors who are themselves immigrants and the children of immigrants.


From some of the most exciting bestselling and up-and-coming YA authors writing today…journey from Ecuador to New York City and Argentina to Utah, from Australia to Harlem and India to New Jersey, from Fiji, America, Mexico and more… Come On In.

With characters who face random traffic stops, TSA detention, customs anxiety, and the daunting and inspiring journey to new lands, who camp with their extended families, dance at weddings, keep diaries, teach ESL, give up their rooms for displaced family, decide their own answer to the question “where are you from?” and so much more, Come On In illuminates fifteen of the myriad facets of the immigrant experience.

An anthology about the immigrant experience sounds perfectly tailor-made to illuminate not-often-told stories of struggle and separation, and to tug on the heartstrings. I am so grateful that kids growing up now will have this book to find themselves in, and I hope that this will be a source of comfort for anyone who needs it!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

This book by the accomplished Rebecca Roanhorse has been the hot topic of the season; what a joy to know that it’s finally releasing this week! I am so intrigued by this celestial-themed speculative novel, and to find out the magical stories the author has in store for us here!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Seventeen-year-old Chloe had a plan: work hard, get good grades, and attend a top-tier college. But after she collapses during cross-country practice and is told that she needs a new heart, all her careful preparations are laid to waste.

Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do now is grab her surfboard and hit the waves—which is strange, because she wasn’t interested in surfing before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good-looking.)

And that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize.

Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing?

As she searches for answers, and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew—about life, death, love, identity, and the true nature of reality. 

I love this premise so much. There’s so much intrigue and mystery here surrounding the donated heart, and nothing gets me hooked on a contemporary premise like a bit of heartache and coming-of-age. I’m so very excited to start looking for this in stores this week!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

Rinn Olivera is finally going to tell her longtime crush AJ that she’s in love with him.

Daniella Korres writes poetry for her own account, but nobody knows it’s her.

Imogen Azar is just trying to make it through the day.

When Rinn, Daniella, and Imogen clock into work at Wild Nights Bookstore on the first day of summer, they’re expecting the hours to drift by the way they always do. Instead, they have to deal with the news that the bookstore is closing. Before the day is out, there’ll be shaved heads, a diva author, and a very large shipment of Air Jordans to contend with.

And it will take all three of them working together if they have any chance to save Wild Nights Bookstore.

This contemporary that follows how three teens find their lives interweaving because of a bookstore they work at that’s being threatened to close down sounds so fascinating, and I’m definitely interested in picking this up! The dynamic between this trio is going to be fun for sure, and I’m always fond of watching reluctant friendships blossom!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald

Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all.

But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years.

When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back… and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people—no matter what it takes.

This book has been pitched as “the chaos lesbian fantasy book with tons of blood”, and I am fully onboard. I need this book so very badly, and I’m so intrigued by the universe where all the water in the kingdom is made by a single person using magic—what a premise!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Shadow War by Lindsay Smith

World War II is raging, and five teens are looking to make a mark. Daniel and Rebeka seek revenge against the Nazis who slaughtered their family; Simone is determined to fight back against the oppressors who ruined her life and corrupted her girlfriend; Phillip aims to prove that he’s better than his worst mistakes; and Liam is searching for a way to control the portal to the shadow world he’s uncovered, and the monsters that live within it—before the Nazi regime can do the same. When the five meet, and begrudgingly team up, in the forests of Germany, none of them knows what their future might hold.

As they race against time, war, and enemies from both this world and another, Liam, Daniel, Rebeka, Phillip, and Simone know that all they can count on is their own determination and will to survive. With their world turned upside down, and the shadow realm looming ominously large—and threateningly close—the course of history and the very fate of humanity rest in their hands. Still, the most important question remains: Will they be able to save it?

This is a historical YA fantasy set during Word War II written by a Jewish author with a dash of shadow magic, which is such a wild premise, and I love it. Four queer teens using a portal to a dark dimension to take down Nazis is exactly what the fantasy genre was made for, and the tension in the story already sounds so palpable!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be. 

Friends, Alix E. Harrow is truly one of my favorite authors at this point, and this book has been on my TBR for so long now that I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve gazed lovingly at this cover while waiting to read the story. I’m so glad that the wait ends this week, and I can dive fully into the magical word of witching and revolutions that the author has created!

Releases on October 13. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: XOXO by Axie Oh

This cover… is breathtaking. I love the warm hues, the tender look the characters are sharing during the golden hour of a city where enduring tradition meets modernity, and how the architecture framing them reflects the city’s personality… I love everything about this cover, and I could honestly wax poetic about it forever and still never be done. Be sure to add heartwarming romance to your TBR!

Illustration: Zipcy | Design: Jessie Gang

Cover Reveal: A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Rosanne A. Brown

If you didn’t suck in a gasp beholding the beauty of this cover, what are you doing here?! This cover fully stole my heart, and I’m so pleased to see how well it matches with the cover of the first book in the series. These will look so good side by side on shelves! I still have yet to pick up A Song of Wraiths and Ruins, but judging by what everyone else has said already, I’m going to be in for a heck of a ride!

Art & Photography: Tawny Chatmon | Design: Jessie Gang

Cover Reveal: Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

One of the greatest joys of working on this column is, without a doubt, when I get to witness absolutely stunning pieces of speculative art like this that are going to accompany epic stories by BIPOC authors. This specific book is a fantasy series set in a universe inspired by pre-colonial West Africa, with mythical magic, oppressed histories, and skin-changing warriors, and I am hooked. Absolutely sign me up.

Illustration: Dan Dos Santos | Design: Lauren Panepinto

Cover Reveal: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

This cover has been floating around the internet for a while, but it’s official! Look at this beautiful, beautiful fat girl on the cover! As a fat Southeast Asian girl myself, this cover fills me with so much comfort and so much joy. I cannot wait to dig into this book once it releases!

Illustration: Ericka Lugo

Cover Reveal: Darling by K. Ancrum

YAY, I truly, truly love this dazzling cover! It looks like a movie poster! And to know that the design studio that worked on this actually set a whole rose on fire to get this shot makes my chaotic heart so full. I am incredibly hyped to read this queer, diverse retelling of Peter Pan, and honestly I’m just counting down the days to release date at this point.

Design: Thereis Studio

Cover Reveal: The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim, Paolo Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Two very highly anticipated books! I mean, personally, anyway, but I’m sure a lot of us here can share in this sentiment. I am overwhelmingly excited for The Last Fallen Star — I have been anxiously awaiting this cover reveal ever since it was announced, and I’m so glad to see that it’s just as vibrant and dreamy as I hoped it would be! I also really have to pick up Paola Santiago, especially since the sequel takes place in a spooky forest???? ENTIRELY my kind of story!

Illustration: Vivienne To, Vanessa Morales | TBA, Jamie Alloy

Cover Reveal: Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ah, our second Peter Pan retelling this week! I’m so freaking excited that we’re getting BIPOC takes on the story, especially since Darling is by a Black author, and Neversea now is by an Indigenous author! The linked article also has a very fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the process of cover design (the designer is also a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation like the author) that I highly recommend checking out too!

Illustration: Floyd Cooper | Design: Catherine San Juan

Cover Reveal: Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

This is the pitch for the book: when an enthusiastic list maker is blackmailed into facing her worst fears or risk having all her secrets in her treasured journal exposed, she teams up with the last person who had her journal to trace down the blackmailer before her journal goes public. And friends, this sounds like such a good time. This was also comp’d to both To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest, both super well-loved books in the community!

Illustration: Mlle Belamour | Design: Molly Fehr

Cover Reveal: The Chariot at Dusk by Swati Teerdhala

Rejoice, friends, the final book in this Indian-inspired fantasy trilogy is here! I’ve heard so many good things about The Tiger at Midnight, and I hope this last entry to the series is everything that readers have hoped for and more. ❤

Illustration: David Curtis | Design: Michael Marsicano

Cover Reveal: Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

This wonderful middle-grade novel in verse is about a young Pakistani girl whose family moves to the United States, and I’m looking forward to it very much! I love all the little cultural details that are depicted here on the hijab, and how warm this cover is. If you’re curious about the design process behind the evocative cover, check out this insightful interview with the artist and designer from the author herself!

Illustration: Soumbal Qureshi | Design: Molly Fehr

Cover Reveal: The Shape of Thunder by Jasmine Warga

It’s no secret that we here at the Pond adore Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home, so to hear that she has more books up and coming makes my whole week! I am anticipating this moving story about the trauma of gun violence, time travel, and heartfelt friendship so very, very much.

Illustration: Dion MBD | Design: Alice Wang

Cover Reveal: Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

I love how evocative this cover is! The blue and orange color scheme is great, and I love the birds flying above the girl’s head. This book is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a seaside resort in Tobago, following a girl who feels stuck and the famous DJ musician who shows up at her family-run resort, and the sparks that fly from there — which sounds like the most mesmerising romance!

Illustration: Kingsley Nebechi | Design: Jessie Gang | Art Direction: Alison Donalty

Cover Reveal: Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua

YES, I love love love this cover! The duality! The symmetry! The braids coming together to form a snake! This cover really took the concept of twins and contrasts here and ran with it, and I will forever be grateful that it brought us this masterpiece. AND ALSO: this book is basically The Princess and the Pauper but with Indian twin sisters, friends! I am so hyped!

Illustration: Fatima Baig | Design: Chris Kwon

Cover Reveal: Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

We’re being blessed with another Ellen Oh book! I really love the warmth being depicted here, even though the protagonist is clearly going through a lot — the Korean temple in the mist and the sunflowers growing in the field beneath them do so much to set the mood. This is a book I’m definitely looking to pick up come release, and I hope you’ll join me!

Illustration: Alex Cho | Design: Joel Tippie

Cover Reveal: Rising Like A Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

This cover is beautiful. I love how this matches with the first cover of the series and builds on it: how the girl is looking to the side now in contemplation rather than sneakily at the viewer. And also the use of Indian designs and motifs in the shapes framing the girl is also great too!

Design: Elizabeth H. Clark

Book Announcement: A bio-cyberpunk novella about diaspora and surveillance by S. Qiouyi Lu

TOR truly has the best SFF novellas in the game, especially ones written by authors of color. This premise is absolutely stunning, and the fact that it pulls inspiration from already existing technology in this world to build a city in which citizens are put under surveillance is both chilling and foreboding. I really cannot wait to see more of this when we get closer to release!

Book Announcement: An all-star anthology by Kwame Mbalia about the joys of Black boyhood

Hooray for the official announcement! This has been floating around for a while when the submissions call went up a few months ago, but to see the line-up like this in full makes my heart so warm. Best of luck to any of our readers who might be submitting as well! All our fingers at the Pond are crossed for you!

Book Announcement: A contemporary debut following two estranged sisters in the wake of an anti-Asian hate crime by XiXi Tian

This book sounds so interesting, and absolutely crucial in the current social climate. And honestly, what an evocative title already — This Place is Still Beautiful signals to me that this is going to be a poignant, heartbreaking, and immensely healing book, and I truly eagerly await to be wrecked.

Book Announcement: The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim is becoming a trilogy!

A full trilogy about Korean-American witches, friends! Oh be still, my heart. I’ve already talked at length about how excited I am for this book already, and to hear that we get a whole series about these characters and this world fills me with so much joy!

Book Announcement: A middle-grade series about the healing power of horses by Yamile Saied Méndez

Horse girls!!! I love it! I feel like a younger me would have absolutely loved the heck out of this series, and I’m so eager to hear more about it — especially since this also focuses on the access of horses to underprivileged communities, which is a topic that I also recently learned more about as well!

Book Announcement: Kristina Forest’s upcoming YA contemporary following two Black teenagers in a romantic dramedy

Honestly, this premise had me onboard at “hopeless romantic meets cynic”, aka one of my absolute favorite romance dynamics — and the fact that this is an ownvoices Black-centered book? Incredible. I’ve heard good things about the author’s previous romance Now That I’ve Found You, which makes me even more excited to hear more about this book!

Book Announcement: A queer middle-grade contemporary about found family and intersectional identity forthcoming from A.J. Sass

This intersectional middle-grade contemporary sounds incredible! I love books that explore how different marginalisations affect and interplay with each other when we have complex identities, and I’m so glad that kids are getting these books growing up now to help them navigate the world too!

Book Announcement: Maya Prasad’s forthcoming YA debut following four Desi sisters on an island inn

Ahhh this book announcement makes me so excited! The concept of the story taking place on a family island inn throughout the four seasons is such a wonderful premise to start on, and I’m so excited to see more ownvoices Indian characters in YA contemporary romance!

From Page to Screen: Sal and Gabi come to life once more on Disney Channel!!!

WHAT. This news came entirely out of left field and full-on whacked me with so much joy! Disney Channel was such a formative and important part of my childhood, and I have so many fond memories of all the shows I used to watch on this channel, and I’m so freaking glad that so many kids will be introduced to the world of Sal and Gabi through this potential show!

One thought on “The Pond Book News #60 – Infused with Magic: Peter Pan Retellings, Bio-Cyberpunk Cities & Indian Princesses

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