Monthly Archives: January 2020

Pondathon Sign-Up Post and TBR

Pondathon: The Quiet Pond's story-driven readathon. Image: Two swords with vines wrapped around it frame the words 'Pondathon', with three little forest sprites sitting on top. One forest sprite has a leaf on its head, the middle has twigs for horns, and the right has a mushroom on its head.

What is the Pondathon?

The Pondathon is a co-operative and story-driven readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. The aim of the Pondathon is to read books and collect points to protect the friends over at The Quiet Pond from the encroaching malevolent forces that threaten our friends in the forest.

Have fun participating in the Pondathon readathon by joining one of five teams, each with a unique way to collect points and signing up! You can also follow the story of the Pondathon as it unfolds, and participants can also complete ‘side quests’ during the readathon to collect extra points. The readathon takes place from January 24th 2020 to March 7th 2020. More information about the readathon can be found here.

Information about Joining the Pondathon

  1. To join the Pondathon, simply sign up anytime between January 18th 2020 to March 5th 2020.
  2. Choose a team, create your own animal character for the Pondathon and create a character card!
  3. Create a blog post, bookstagram post, booktube video, Twitter thread, or whatever medium you wish, with ‘#Pondathon’ in the title or your tweet. Share the character you have created and your character card!
  4. Link back to this post so that others can find this readathon and join in.

Share your updates on your blog/bookstagram/booktube and social media. You are more than welcome to tag @thequietpond or @artfromafriend on Twitter or Instagram in all your updates! We’d love to see all of the beautiful and awesome characters that you create!

My Pond Character

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My Pond Character is Cyrus, an orange fox with round glasses who can usually be found carrying a book. They are a warrior of the word. They believe words have power and must be wielded carefully and responsibly. Verbal spells, spoken and written, are a critical part of their arsenal of weapons. They also bear a trusty staff that they use to focus their magic. Cyrus will be joining Team Xiaolong.

team xiaolong full


My Pondathon TBR

 

I don’t have my entire TBR planned  for the entire duration of the readathon, but this is tentatively what I’ll be reading for the next two and a half-ish weeks. It’s a combination of newer eARCs, backlist eARCs (many from 2017 *sweats*) and my physical TBR (which I already posted a sort-of complete list of for #StartOnYourShelfAthon…I say sort-of because I’ve since acquired more books oops).

  1. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
  2. Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz
  3. The Last 8 by Laura Pohl
  4. The First 7 by Laura Pohl
  5. This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda
  6. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
  7. Woven in Moonlight Isabel Ibañez
  8. The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante
  9. Bluecrowne by Kate Milford
  10. The Thief Knot by Kate Milford
  11. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi
  12. War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
  13. A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano
  14. A Sprinkle of Spirits by Anna Meriano
  15. A Mixture of Mischief by Anna Meriano
  16. Diamond City by Francesca Flores
  17. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
  18. Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
  19. Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
  20. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
  21. Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller
  22. Water in May Ismée Miel Williams
  23. Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
  24. Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden
  25. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
  26. Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li
  27. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
  28. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  29. Where the Stars Rise edited by Lucas K. Law & Derwin Mak
  30. Meet Cute edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Huntley Fitzpatrick, Nina LaCour, Emery Lord, Katharine McGee, Kass Morgan, Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi
  31. The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
  32. We Hunt the Flame by Hasfah Faizal
  33. This Train is Being Held by Ismée Miel Williams
  34. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

[Blog Tour] Review for Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee

Today I’m excited to be part of the blog tour for Mindy Kim and Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee (with illustrations by Dung Ho), the first in a new chapter book series focusing on a Korean American girl. The book and its sequel, Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade, will be released on January 14th by Aladdin Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).

Synopsis:

Fresh Off the Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this first novel in an adorable new chapter book series about Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl who is starting a snack business!

Mindy Kim just wants three things:
1. A puppy!
2. To fit in at her new school
3. For her dad to be happy again

But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy!

When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for—and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?

I loved this book. It’s super adorable and I found various aspects of it very relatable. One thing I shared with Mindy was being the new kid who moved from one state to another (I moved twice when I was a kid) and the struggles of navigating and adapting in a new social environment. Another was being the lone or minority Asian kid. Unlike Mindy, I was fortunate not to have the “ew, what’s that” lunch experience (I bought lunch from school for most of my school years), but thankfully the microaggression gets subverted and things makes a turn for the better in the story.

The second aspect was Mindy’s family situation. Her mother recently passed away from illness, and she and her dad have to adjust to the loss and the change. I lost my mom to leukemia in 2016, so I empathized with Mindy and her family’s grief. Although her mom is no longer around, Mindy still has her dad, and I loved how close and loving their relationship is. They communicate openly with each other and support each other through their rough patches, and it reminded me of my own bond with my dad.

Another theme in the book is friendship. Mindy manages to make a friend named Sally, and things look bright until a messy incident comes between them. When I was a kid, I had a friendship that went sour and never recovered, and sometimes I still find myself regretting it, so I think it’s important to teach kids conflict resolution, which the story does. It emphasizes the importance of making amends and the power of a sincere apology, which was nice.

The story wraps up with a happy and somewhat open ending that leaves room for more to come. I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.

About the Author:

Lyla Lee Credit CJ Lee

LYLA LEE is a writer of many things. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying psychology and cinematic arts at USC, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching, watching Korean dramas and other TV shows, and eating all kinds of good food. Visit her online at lylaleebooks.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @literarylyla.

 

About the Illustrator:
DUNG HO was born and raised in Hue, Vietnam, where she studied graphic design at the Hue University College of Arts. After graduating, she worked in the design and advertising industries before discovering a great passion for illustration and picture books and becoming a freelance illustrator. Currently, she lives and works in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Ho draws inspiration from nature and the interaction between people and nature and especially loves to draw children. When not drawing, she enjoys cooking and watching movies. Visit her online at dungho.me and on Instagram @dunghanhho.

Don’t miss the rest of the tour:

MINDY KIM AND THE YUMMY SEAWEED BUSINESS BLOG TOUR

Monday, 1/6: YA Book Nerd

Tuesday, 1/7: MG Book Village

Wednesday, 1/8: The Subversive Table

Thursday, 1/9: Jean’s Little Library

Friday, 1/10: READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA

Monday 1/13: Daddy Mojo

Tuesday, 1/14: Books, Movies, Reviews. Oh my

Wednesday, 1/15: Cracking the Cover

Thursday, 1/16: YA Books Central

Friday, 1/17: Bicultural Mama

Announcement and Sign-Up Post for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

I meant to join this reading challenge last year but never got around to signing up for it, so this year I am actually Doing the Thing. This reading challenge is hosted by CW (blog: The Quiet Pond, Twitter: @artfromafriend), Lily (blog: Sprinkles of Dreams, Twitter: @sprnklsofdreams), Shealea (blog: Shut Up Shealea, Twitter: @bookshelfbitch), and Vicky (blog: Vicky Who Reads, Twitter: @vickycbooks). You can find the sign-up and detailed information page here.

Basically the reading challenge encourages everyone to read books by Asian authors year-round throughout 2020. You set a goal for a number of books you want to read and earn a badge featuring an Asian animal for hitting certain targets. I’ve decided to be ambitious and aim for the highest tier, 50+ books, which makes my goal the Bengali tiger:

badge_tiger

This post will serve as the place where I update which books I’ve read and link any reviews I write for the books I read for the challenge.

As a matter of fact, I’ve already read a few books by Asian authors this year, so I have a list already. Here’s my list:

  1. I’m Ok by Patti Kim
  2. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
  3. The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden (The Vanderbeekers #2) by Karina Yan Glaser
  4. Aru Shah and the Song of Death (The Pandava Series #2) by Roshani Chokshi
  5. Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee
  6. The Descent of Monsters by JY Yang
  7. The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang
  8. The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
  9. Game of Stars by Sayantani DasGupta
  10. Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim
  11. The Long Ride by Marina Budhos
  12. Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca
  13. The Iron Will of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
  14. The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy
  15. Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
  16. Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa
  17. After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay
  18. Checked by Cynthia Kadohata
  19. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
  20. This Light Between Us by Andrew Fukuda
  21. This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
  22. Spirit Hunters: The Island of Monsters by Ellen Oh
  23. Girl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi
  24. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
  25. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
  26. Fake It Till You Break It by Jenn P. Nguyen
  27. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
  28. Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li
  29. I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
  30. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  31. Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee
  32. Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Derwin Mak and Lucas K. Law
  33. We Hunt the Flame by Hasfah Faizal
  34. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  35. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
  36. Turtles Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario
  37. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
  38. b, Book, and Me by Kim Sagwa
  39. Internment by Samira Ahmed
  40. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
  41. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
  42. Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
  43. Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon
  44. The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
  45. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
  46. Cilla Lee-Jenkins: The Epic Story by Susan Tan
  47. Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun
  48. Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
  49. I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
  50. The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
  51. The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
  52. The Beautiful by Renee Adhieh
  53. Anna K by Jenny Lee
  54. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
  55. The Twelve by Cindy Lin
  56. Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani
  57. Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer J. Chow
  58. The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi
  59. Silverworld by Diana Abu-Jaber
  60. Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
  61. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
  62. House Rules by Ruby Lang
  63. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
  64. Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das
  65. A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
  66. Malice by Pintip Dunn
  67. Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

Current Badges Earned: Philippine Tarsier (1-10 books), Indian Cobra (11-20 books), Malayan Tapir (21-30 books), Giant Panda (31-40 books), Asian Elephant (41-50 books), Bengali Tiger (50+ books)

Review for More to the Story by Hena Khan

I really enjoyed Hena Khan’s middle grade debut Amina’s Voice (review here), so I’m happy that Simon & Schuster offered me a copy of More to the Story to read and review.

More to the Story

Synopsis:

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

My Review:

More to the Story is an endearing story about a Muslim Pakistani American girl, Jameela, who’s struggling to deal with several stressful changes and situations in her life. It touches on multiple themes and manages to balance a number of subplots well and resolve them with a pitch-perfect ending.

First among the issues touched on in the story is Jameela’s father leaving the family to work a job far away. Life as a middle schooler can be tough enough as it is without one of your parents being across the globe. Although modern technology allows long-distance communication, it’s definitely not the same as having your parent by your side on a day-to-day basis. I found this particular struggle of Jameela’s relatable because when I was a teen, my dad had to take a job that forced him to relocate over a thousand miles away, and I missed him terribly. Like Jameela, I have a close relationship with my dad, so I found their dynamic touching.

Another central theme in the story was sibling dynamics. Jameela is a middle child, with an older sister and two younger sisters. I’m also a middle child, with one older sister, and one younger sister. Her relationships with her siblings don’t look anything like mine, but it was still interesting to see how they played out. This story emphasized how, even if you envy them or find them annoying at times, your siblings are your family, and you can’t help but love and care about them.

The third theme I want to talk about is friendship. In the story, Jameela meets and befriends the nephew of a family friend, a British Pakistani boy named Ali who has just moved to the U.S. I liked the way their friendship was developed, with Ali gradually opening up to Jameela, who has a genuine desire to understand him better and help him with the troubles he’s dealing with on his own. I also appreciated the exploration of consent and boundaries and ethical journalism when Ali and his experiences became a tentative topic/subject for Jameela’s school newspaper article.

Next is the subplot on Bisma, Jameela’s younger sister, who develops a tumor. Cancer is terrifying. I know this firsthand from when my mom got leukemia. Despite the fear and uncertainty, Jameela is able to cope with support from her family and takes it upon herself to be as supportive of an older sister as possible. I was several years older than Jameela when my mom was diagnosed, but I found myself admiring and envying her bravery and resilience in the face of everything, and I really wanted to give her a hug to let her know she’s not alone in experiencing such a scary situation.

Another topic that came up in the story was anger management. Jameela is a passionate person who feels things intensely, and sometimes that manifests as anger, which can have destructive consequences. The story is explicit about addressing this issue, which made me appreciate it even more. I feel like if I’d had a book like this when I was younger, I wouldn’t have struggled so much with anger as a teen, something that definitely negatively impacted my relationships with my peers.

Last, but not least, I loved that this book showed a teen pursuing a creative passion and having it taken seriously. A lot of times people downplay kids’ hobbies and interests as things that are fleeting or pointless, so it was heartening to read a story where a young teen character does what she loves and is supported in that endeavor by her parents and other adults. It’s my hope that young readers of this book will feel encouraged follow their dreams, be it journalism or art or science, and carry their passion into the future with them.

All in all, this was a heartwarming read that’s perfect for anyone who loves stories about family, sisterhood, and love in all its manifestations.