Category Archives: Listicle

Most Anticipated MG/YA Releases of September and October

So September and October are a gift because there are so many great kidlit titles coming out from authors of color. Here’s a [far from exhaustive] list of ones I’ve had on my radar! I’ve had the privilege of reading many of these already (16 out of 24, which is 2/3), and I can tell you that they are amazing. 🙂

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Sep. 5th) – Young Adult, SFF, Gay Puerto Rican (#ownvoices) and Bisexual Cuban American MCs, M/M romance

  • 2 boys who are going to die meet and bond over the course of about 24 hours

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (Sep. 12th) – Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Indian/Bengali American MCs (#ownvoices), Biracial Black/Bengali MC

  • 5 women spanning 3 generations of a Bengali family in the U.S. negotiate their multicultural identities

Shadowhouse Fall (Shadowshaper #2) by Daniel Jose Older – Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Afro-Latina Puerto Rican MC

  • Supernatural and real world forces of evil threaten the lives and community of Sierra Santiago, who will do anything to protect her own

Warcross by Marie Lu (Sep. 12th) – Young Adult, Science Fiction, Chinese American MC, #ownvoices

  • A gamer girl/bounty hunter hacks her way into the world’s biggest virtual reality game tournament and is hired to track down a suspicious figure lurking in the game

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh (Sep. 15th) – Young Adult, Science Fiction/Dystopian, Korean MC, #ownvoices

  • A boy who has risen in the military of a future Korea is drafted into a special weapons project that turns girls into war machines and starts to fall for his charge

Rise of the Jumbies (The Jumbies #2) by Tracey Baptiste (Sep. 19th)- Middle Grade, Fantasy, Black Trinidadian MC, #ownvoices

  • Corinne La Mer makes a dangerous journey across the Atlantic to find a way to save the missing children of her island home

One Dark Throne (Three Dark Crowns #2) by Kendare Blake (Sept. 19th) – Young Adult, Fantasy

  • The deadly race for the throne has begun, the last sister standing wins.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore (Sep. 19th) – Middle Grade, Contemporary, #ownvoices Black MC, secondary Black Autistic character

  • Following his brother’s gang-related Death, a boy struggles to cope and avoid the gang life and finds solace in building Lego creations at the community center.

The Way to Bea by Kat Yeh (Sep. 19th) – Middle Grade, Contemporary, #ownvoices Taiwanese American MC, secondary Autistic character

  • One summer away has upended Bea’s life and friendships, forcing her to make new ones and develop confidence in being herself.

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman (Sep. 26th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Biracial white/Japanese American MC, Social Anxiety rep, #ownvoices

  • An anxious aspiring artist flees her abusive home with an old friend-turned-crush and embarks on a journey that will transform her.

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar (Oct. 2nd) – Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, Indian MC, #ownvoices

  • A girl is swept up in the freedom movement of India through her mother’s participation and becomes involved herself in radical change.

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch #2) by Nnedi Okorafor (Oct. 3rd) – Middle Grade/Young Adult, Fantasy, Nigerian American MC, #ownvoices

  • A girl and her friends develop their powers as Leopard people to face down and vanquish a threat to humanity.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore (Oct. 3rd) – Young Adult, Magical Realism, Bisexual Latina/Mexican American MC, #ownvoices

  • The Nomeolvides sisters are blessed and cursed. Flowers flow from their hands, but their love makes those they love disappear. A mysterious boy who emerges from their garden estate may be the key to unlocking the secrets of the past and even breaking the curse.

Seize Today (Forget Tomorrow #3) by Pintip Dunn (Oct. 3rd) – Young Adult, Science Fiction/Dystopian

  • The conclusion to a series about a girl who foresees her own future in which she kills her sister and must work to stop herself.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (Oct 3rd) – Young Adult, Contemporary/Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Indian American MC, #ownvoices

  • An Indian American girl connects with her heritage through a magical pashmina that transports her to India.

Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2) by C.B. Lee (Oct. 5th) – Young Adult, SFF, Black trans boy MC

  • Bells becomes a fugitive due to a coverup by the Heroes’ League and has to take down a corrupt government while applying to college and working up the courage to confess his feelings to his best friend.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (Oct. 10th) – Young Adult, Fantasy/Retelling, Chinese MC

  • Xifeng has a great destiny awaiting her, but her path to becoming Empress of Feng Lu requires her to embrace the darkness within her.

Dear Martin by Nic Stone (Oct. 17th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Black MC, #ownvoices

  • A Black teen processes his feelings about antiblack racism through a journal dialogue with Martin Luther King Jr. and becomes the center of a media storm when he and his friend become victims of police brutality.

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo (Oct. 17th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Queer Chinese American MC, #ownvoices

  • Jess harbors a crush on her best friend Angie and through Angie, is drawn into a wealthy but seedy social circle with dangers they cannot escape unscathed.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. SĂĄnchez (Oct. 17th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Mexican American MC, #ownvoices

  • After her sister’s death, a girl feels alone and pressured to take her sister’s place, only to discover that her sister may not have been as perfect as she seemed.

Like Water by Rebecca Podos (Oct. 17th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Besexual Latina MC, Secondary qenderqueer character

  • A small-town girl falls for someone who brings to the surface secrets she’s been trying to suppress.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Oct. 24th) – Young Adult, Contemporary/Thriller, Novel-in-Verse, Black MC, #ownvoices

  • His brother is dead, and he’ll make the killer pay, but as he goes down the elevator, someone new appears who is connected to his brother, and he may not make it to the bottom.

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani (Oct. 24th) – Young Adult, Contemporary, Black Christian MC, #ownvoices

  • A girl navigates her budding sexuality in an ultra-religious environment that treats sex as forbidden and dirty.

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (Oct. 31st) – Young Adult, Nigerian-inspired Fantasy, Black MC, #ownvoices

  • Sin-eaters practice magic to rid people of their guilty feelings but pay the price in a being permanently marked and a short life-span. Taj is called to eat the sin of a royal and is forced to fight against an evil that threatens his entire home.

Most Anticipated 2017 & 2018 Anthologies

I love anthologies because it’s a great way to collect a bunch of talent in one place and also because you can create anthologies that focus on diverse stories and marginalized authors. Here are some anthologies coming out in 2017 and 2018 that I’m looking forward to. Some of these are explicitly for diverse stories, and others have a significant number of marginalized authors involved. Hopefully you will find something here for your TBR. 🙂

Where the Stars Rise

Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak (October 8th, 2017)

Where the Stars Rise is an indie science fiction and fantasy anthology featuring stories that are set in Asia or draw from Asian cultures. Almost all the authors are Asian, and the majority of these are #ownvoices stories. You can find the full Table of Contents with the story titles and authors on Laksa Media’s page.

Three Sides of a Heart

Three Sides of a Heart: Stories about Love Triangles, edited by Natalie C. Parker (December 19th, 2017)

Love triangles are among the most hated trope in YA, so this may not be for everyone, but if you don’t mind a bit of love rivalry and messiness, then this anthology may be for you. Authors of Color in this anthology: Brandy Colbert, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Justina Ireland, Lamar Giles

Meet Cute

Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet, edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout (January 2nd, 2018)

This anthology features YA short stories of two characters meeting and falling in love. The cover is really cute and promises good things. Authors of Color in this anthology: Dhonielle Clayton, Nina La Cour, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi. Other marginalized authors in this anthology: Julie Murphy, Meredith Russo.

The Radical Element

The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, & Other Dauntless Girls, edited by Jessica Spotswood (March 13th, 2018)

This is a follow-up of sorts to A Tyranny of Petticoats, an anthology that released in 2016. It contains a bunch of historical fiction YA short stories focusing on girls whose voices and contributions were sidelined in history. Authors of color in this anthology: Sara Farizan, Meg Medina, Stacey Lee, Dhonielle Clayton, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sarvenaz Tash.

Power and Magic Immortal Souls

Immortal Souls (The Next Queer Witch Comics Anthology), edited by Joamette Gil (March 2018), cover illustrated pictured above by Stephanie Son

If you haven’t heard of Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology, you should check it out. It features comics from women and non-binary creators of color. Immortal Souls is the second in the queer witch comics series and is currently fundraising on Kickstarter.

Lift Off, edited by Lamar Giles (summer 2018)

We Need Diverse Books is behind this diverse YA anthology (as well as Flying Lessons, the diverse middle grade anthology from early 2017), which features stories by various nonwhite authors, including: Melissa d.e la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon Flake, Eric Gansworth, Malinda Lo, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Gene Luen Yang, Nicola Yoon, and others.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman (2018)

This YA anthology is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018! It is a collection of short stories by Asian authors reimagining East, Southeast, and South Asian mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. Authors in this anthology: Elsie Chapman, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Alexander Chee, Aliette de Bodard, Cindy Pon, Alyssa Wong, Sona Charaipotra, Aisha Saeed, Lori M. Lee, Shveta Thakrar, Preeti Chhibber, E.C. Myers, Rahul Kanakia.

Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction (Uncanny Magazine Special Issue), edited by Dominik Parisien, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Judith Tarr, S. Qiouyi Lu, Nicolette Barischoff

For those who are unfamiliar with Uncanny Magazine, they publish science fiction and fantasy prose and poetry as well as nonfiction essays. This special issue focuses on disabled writers and will feature contributions from: Rachel Swirsky, Nisi Shawl, William Alexander, Fran Wilde, Mishell Baker, Alice Wong, Bogi Takåcs, Rose Lemberg, Khairani Barokka, and more. The Kickstarter campaign has reached its baseline goal and is fundraising for stretch goals.

Toil & Trouble, edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood (fall 2018)

This YA anthology features feminist stories of witchcraft. Authors in this anthology: Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Cordova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Karuna Riazi, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Tristina Wright, and Brenna Yovanoff.

Most Anticipated Books for July-August

These are mostly MG/YA with a few non-kidlit titles mixed in!

July

Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn (July 4th) – NA, Fantasy, Contemporary

  • kickass Chinese American superheroine
  • demon-fighting
  • friendship
  • romance

Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence (July 11th) – MG/Early reader, Contemporary

  • Japanese American MC
  • food and family traditions

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited by Ameriie (July 11th) – YA, Fantasy, Anthology

  • collaboration between Booktubers and authors
  • really, really want to read Cindy Pon’s “Beautiful Venom,” a Medusa retelling in a Chinese-inspired world

Monstress Vol. 2 by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda – Fantasy, Steampunk/Alternate History, Graphic Novel

  • gorgeous art
  • alternate Asia

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana (July 18th) – YA, Fantasy

  • Based on Alexander the Great’s invasion of India
  • a princess turned refugee
  • female friendships
  • a magical library

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh (July 25th) – MG, Fantasy

  • biracial Korean American MC
  • a haunted house
  • sibling bonds

August

Solo by Kwame Alexander (August 1st) – YA, Contemporary

  • Black MC
  • Music and jazz
  • Father-son relationship
  • A trip to Ghana

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (August 8th) – YA, Contemporary

  • Black Jewish and bisexual MC
  • F/F couple
  • sibling relationship and mental illness rep (MC’s brother is bipolar)

The Authentics (August 8th) – YA, Contemporary

  • Iranian Muslim American MC
  • Cliques and rivalry
  • Sweet Sixteen party
  • Discovering family history

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (August 8th) – YA, Fantasy

  • Super kickass Chinese American MC
  • Tall girl/short boy dynamic, I ship it
  • Contemporary take on The Monkey King
  • Juggling demon-fighting and academics (how)

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez (August 22nd) – MG, Contemporary

  • Mexican American MC
  • The new girl experience
  • A band of misfits
  • Zine inserts (I have the ARC and they’re Legit scans of zine pages created by the author)
  • “Always Be Yourself”

Starswept by Mary Fan – YA, Science Fiction

  • Chinese violist MC
  • telepathic aliens
  • music school
  • romance and political intrigue

 

The 228 Massacre: A Brief History and Book List

It’s been 70 years since February 28th, 1947, a day that marked the beginning of a very dark and bloody era of Taiwanese history. For those who don’t know, Taiwan has a very complicated history involving multiple waves of colonization. Taiwan was home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years. (The indigenous Taiwanese are Austronesian and have linguistic and genetic relations with the indigenous people Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Madagascar and Oceania.) In the 17th century, the Spanish and Dutch established bases on Taiwan for a time, followed by Ming Dynasty loyalists under Koxinga after the fall of the Ming Empire. The earliest waves of colonists came from southeastern China, mostly the Hokkien-speaking Hoklo people from the Fujian province and some Hakka people, who eventually became the majority due to many indigenous people’s intermarriage and/or assimilation into Han communities and society. The Qing Dynasty claimed Taiwan despite never fully controlling the island and after the second Sino-Japanese War, ceded Taiwan to Japan. From 1895 until 1945, Japan governed Taiwan and touted it as their model colony.

Following Japan’s surrender in World War II, Taiwan was ceded to “back” to China. At the time, China was still under the rule of the Chinese Nationalist Party (a.k.a. the KMT, from “Kuomintang”) and was referred to as the Republic of China (present-day China is known as the People’s Republic of China, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP). The KMT installed a government in Taiwan that soon drew resentment from Taiwanese people due to its rampant corruption. On February 27th, 1947, a scuffle between a woman selling contraband cigarettes and a KMT soldier resulted in the soldier hitting the woman on the head with his pistol. In the ensuing chaos, another official fired a shot into the crowd, killing a bystander.

This event sparked protests and riots starting on February 28th that resulted in violent crackdowns from the KMT. Starting in 1949, the KMT instituted martial law on the island that lasted 38 years (until 1987), which is the second longest period of martial law after Syria’s (1963-2011). During the period from 1947 to 1987, otherwise known as the White Terror, anyone suspected of being against the KMT in words, ideologies, or actions was persecuted, tortured, murdered, or spirited away, never to be seen again. The persecution even crossed the Pacific Ocean to the United States, including the murder of Henry Liu. The total estimate for people who died ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 and remains a topic of debate.

Until the lifting of martial law, nobody spoke of what happened. The truth was dangerous, and it was heavy. In recent decades, a formal apology was issued by former President Lee Teng-hui, and a museum and memorial park were created and dedicated to memorialize 228 and the White Terror. However, some of the people involved in perpetrating the killing and persecution (e.g. government officials and soldiers) are still alive and have never been held accountable for their crimes. Until today, documents related to 228 were classified, thus impeding transitional justice. Without justice, there cannot be peace for the dead and the wronged. That is why it’s important to keep telling this story over and over and remembering the injustices that were committed.

That’s why I’ve created this book list for people who want to learn more about Taiwanese history, politics, and 228/The White Terror. The list includes four nonfiction titles and four fiction titles. The hyperlinks in the above paragraphs are for various Internet articles and sites.

Nonfiction

wealth-ribbonWealth Ribbon: Taiwan Bound, America Bound by brenda Lin

This autobiographical essay collection explores the author’s transnational identity as a Taiwanese American whose life has been split between countries. It tells the stories of three generations of her family, from her grandparents’ generation to her own.

my-fight-for-a-new-taiwanMy Fight for a New Taiwan: One Woman’s Journey from Prison to Power by Annette Hsiu-Lien Lu

This is the autobiography of Taiwan’s former Vice President from 2001 to 2008. She came from humble origins but eventually became an activist and leader of feminist and pro-democracy movements in Taiwan during the late 20th century.

maritime-taiwanMaritime Taiwan: Historical Encounters with the East and the West by Shih-Shan Henry Tsai

This book maps out the complex history of Taiwan and the various powers that claimed and influenced it throughout the past few centuries.

taiwans-struggleTaiwan’s Struggle: Voices of the Taiwanese edited by Shyu-tu Lee and Jack F. Williams

In this essay anthology, “leading Taiwanese figures consider the country’s history, politics, society, economy, identity, and future prospects. The volume provides a forum for a diversity of local voices, who are rarely heard in the power struggle between China and the United States over Taiwan’s future. Reflecting the deep ethnic and political differences that are essential to understanding Taiwan today, this work provides a nuanced introduction to its role in international politics.”

Fiction

miahMiah by Julia Lin

This collection of interrelated short stories traces the lives of generations of a Taiwanese Canadian family, from the time of Japanese occupation of Taiwan, to the White Terror under the Kuomintang government, to modern Taiwan and Canada.

the-228-legacyThe 228 Legacy by Jennifer J. Chow*

In this historical fiction novel set in the 1980s, three generations of an all-female, working-class Taiwanese American family struggle with their own secrets: grandmother Silk has breast cancer, daughter and single mother Lisa has lost her job, and granddaughter Abbey deals with bullying at school. When Grandma Silk’s connection to a shocking historical event in Taiwan comes to light, the family is forced to reconnect and support one another through their struggles.

the-third-sonThe Third Son by Julie Wu

Growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo is the ill-favored third son of a Taiwanese politician. By chance, an air strike brings him into contact with Yoshiko, whose kindness and loving family bring hope and light to Saburo’s world. Years later, Yoshiko reappears in his live but at the side of his arrogant and boorish older brother. In order to make something of himself and win Yoshiko’s respect, Saburo pushes the boundaries of what is possible and winds up on the frontier of America’s space program.

green-islandGreen Island by Shawna Yang Ryan (review at hyperlink)

Told through the perspective of an unnamed first generation Taiwanese American woman, Green Island chronicles the life of the main character from her birth on March 1st, 1947, the day after the infamous 228 Massacre, to the year 2003, marked by the SARS outbreak, intertwining her personal, family history with the political history of Taiwan.

*Jennifer J. Chow is a Chinese American author married to a Taiwanese American. I’ve read the book and as far as I can remember, the facts checked out with the exception of a minor anachronism (regarding the year bubble tea was invented, ha).

Asian Reads: Grandparents Edition

While white American culture focuses a lot on the nuclear family, in many Asian households, it’s not uncommon for three or more generations to live together. Because of this, I decided to put together this list of books that at some level explore relationships between the main characters and one or more of their grandparents. These are all middle grade titles. If you know of any YA titles, feel free to drop a comment. I’ve linked my reviews where applicable.

millicent-min-girl-geniusMillicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee – Chinese American MC

Millicent Min is a genius who is taking college classes at age twelve, and while that has its advantages, the downside is the struggle to make friends. In an effort to get her to lead a more normal life for a girl of her age, her parents sign her up for a volley ball class. Through this class, she meets and befriends Emily, but fearing that her nerdiness will be a turn-off, Millie decides to hide her genius status from Emily. In the meantime, she’s tutoring Stanford Wong, and between the two of them, they have their work cut out for them keeping secrets from Emily.

the-garden-of-my-imaanThe Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia – Muslim Indian American MC

Aliya has a lot of problems typical for a fifth grader: she wants to fit in, she worries about being popular enough for student council, she has a crush on a cute boy who will probably never notice her, and she’s loaded with homework assignments that she’s not too excited about completing. Unfortunately, on top of that, she faces Islamophobia from people around her, even though she’s not even very strict about observing certain Islamic traditions and has never really emphasized that aspect of her identity. Then, a new girl, Marwa, arrives. She’s Muslim and Moroccan and wears the hijab, which makes her a prime target for bullying. Aliya can choose to avoid association with her, or maybe Marwa has something to teach her about being true to oneself.

ticket-to-indiaTicket to India by N.H. Senzai – Muslim Indian and Pakistani American MC

Maya flies from the U.S. to Pakistan to attend the funeral for her grandfather. There, she finds out that her family has roots in India through her grandmother, who moved to Pakistan after Partition. In order to complete her grandfather’s final rites, her grandmother wishes to seek out an old family heirloom that was left behind in India. Maya sets off for India with her grandmother and older sister to hunt for this family treasure in a race against time, but unexpected complications result in her tackling the search completely on her own.

the-turtle-of-omanThe Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye – Muslim Omani MC

Aref’s home is Oman, where his house and cat and friends are, where his beloved grandfather, Sidi, lives. He loves it there, and he does not want to leave it behind to move to Michigan, a place so foreign and far away for him. With Sidi’s help, however, he begins to see his upcoming journey in a new light.

clara-lee-and-the-apple-pie-dreamClara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream by Jenny Han – Korean American MC

Meet Clara Lee.
Likes: her best friends, her grandpa, her little sister (when she’s not being annoying, which is almost always), candy necklaces, and the Apple Blossom Festival.

Dislikes: her little sister (when she’s being annoying, which is almost always), her mom’s yucky fish soup, and bad dreams (even though Grandpa says they mean good luck).

After a bad dream, Clara Lee has a whole day of good luck. But when her luck changes, she upsets her friends and family. Will Clara Lee have good luck again in time to try out for the Little Miss Apple Pie pageant? (from Goodreads)

 

Common Cover Theme Thursday: Arches

After buying and reading several books by South Asian authors (specifically Indian and Pakistani), it became apparent that the arch is a common motif. It’s definitely eye-catching, though maybe a bit overused? In the case of A Torch Against the Night, it’s more incidental than a deliberate evocation of an aesthetic associated with South Asia.

climbing-the-stairs

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman – YA, historical fiction

Set against the background of India’s independence movement, Climbing the Stairs tells the story of Vidya, who has ambitions to attend university. Her move to her grandfather’s house means living by their restrictive rules where the men and women are segregated in the household. However, she breaks the rules by spending her days in the second-floor library and comes to know Raman, who lives in the house as well and nurtures and respects her intellectual curiosity. Then her brother does the unthinkable, and her world is turned upside down.

s

Song of the Cuckoo Bird by Amulya Malladi – Literary fiction, historical fiction

Spanning decades from the mid 20th century to the early 200s, this book begins when Kokila is engaged at a young age to a stranger. Given the chance, she decides to back out of the marriage and remain at the local ashram (monastery) instead. This decision sets the course for the rest of her life living among a complex family of women who share in their statuses as outcasts. Note: The story is set in a Telugu-speaking area in India. (Trigger/content warnings noted in my review linked above)

the-palace-of-illusions

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Literary fiction, retelling

This one is still on my TBR. It’s a retelling of the Mahabharata, which is one of the two major Sanskrit epics, the other being the Ramayana. In this retelling, the story is narrated from the perspective of Panchaali, who has five husbands, the Pandavas brothers, who are out to reclaim a birthright that was stolen from them. Aside from telling a tale of war and strife, it explores Panchaali’s relationship with her mother-in-law, a complicated friendship, and her secret attraction to a man who is forbidden.

a-torch-against-the-night

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir – YA, fantasy

In this second installment to An Ember in the Ashes, Laia and Elias are on the run together and on a quest to free Laia’s brother from the highest security prison of the Martial Empire. With pursuers on their heel and a near-impossible mission before them, it will take all of their strength and their wits to prevail. (Notes: Author is Muslim Pakistani American; some of the cultures/fantasy elements in the book are based on Middle Eastern/North African cultures)

written-in-the-stars

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed – YA, contemporary

Naila’s parents have given her a lot of freedom to do as she wants, but the one thing they are adamant about is that she cannot date. When they find out that she has been seeing Saif in secret, they respond by hauling her off to Pakistan, supposedly to get her to reconnect with their heritage. Soon, Naila realizes what her parents intend for her–an arranged marriage to a stranger–and finds herself trapped and desperate to escape.

My Most Anticipated Sequels and Cover Reveals of 2017

So I already made two different anticipated 2017 release posts (YA, MG), but I wanted to make a post dedicated to the sequels being released this year that I’m looking forward to since I’m definitely a big series reader. In addition, I wanted to gush about which book releases whose cover reveals I’m looking forward to seeing, whether because the previous books in the series are gorgeous and have set the bar high or because the premise creates possibilities for breathtaking visuals.

Note: As usual, I’ve linked my reviews for prequels I’ve read and the rest are links to Goodreads.

the-ship-beyond-timeThe Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig (out Feb. 28th) – YA, fantasy

So The Girl from Everywhere captivated me with its diverse cast, headstrong protagonist, and lush portrayal of 19th century Hawaii. Apparently, some trollspeople felt the diversity was unrealistic, to which I say, you have a magical pirate ship that can literally travel to any time and any place, including fictional ones, and you’re expecting everyone to be cis, straight, white, abled, etc.? That speaks more to the limits of people’s imaginations than anything else. I, for one, am eager to see where Nix and the Temptation’s diverse crew’s adventures take them next in this sequel. I already pre-ordered the book, so I’m just sitting here waiting for it to drop into my mailbox. Also, for U.S. and Canada folks, there’s a pre-order giveaway for a pin shaped like the Temptation, a map of New York City, and a TSBT bookmark, so hop on that if you like bookish goodies. I have mine already. 😀

a-crown-of-wishesA Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi (out Mar. 28th) – YA, fantasy

So, I actually have the eARC for this book, so I’ll probably read it before it’s even released. I read the first book prior to starting my blog, so it’s still sitting on my immensely long backlog of books to review. If you had told me that one of my favorite characters would be a talking, carnivorous horse before I went into The Star-Touched Queen, I would’ve looked at you funny, but that’s what happened. The Star-Touched Queen is a beautifully written and romantic tale steeped in Hindu lore that explores the nature of destiny and whether there is room for agency when the threads of fate command your life. It was full of surprising twists, and the ending really got me, in a good way. A Crown of Wishes focuses on a different but related set of characters from TSTQ, specifically Maya’s sister Gauri and her dealings with Vikram, who is mentioned in TSTQ, as they set aside their enmity as rival monarchs and attempt to win a dangerous, high-stakes contest where the prize is the granting of a wish (and you know what they say, be careful what you wish for).

I also really love the covers for this series. They really capture the feeling of the books perfectly, in my opinion.

always-and-forever-lara-jeanAlways and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han (out May 2nd) – YA, contemporary

I got To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before signed/personalized by Jenny Han at the Texas Teen Book Festival in 2015, which is also the year that I read TATBILB and P.S. I Still Love You. The main character, Lara Jean Song (technically her last name is Covey, but because of the Song sisters thing, I like using Song) drew me in for a number of reasons, among them her position as a middle child between two sisters and an Asian American. Some people have criticized her character as being too innocent and naive, but those aspects of her are in fact what make her relatable to me. My parents never really gave me The Talk; I read about what sex was in an encyclopedia, and then my high school friends had to bring me up to speed with various Teenage Things. I was very innocent at Lara Jean’s age, and being the second child meant that I didn’t have the same sense of responsibility and independence as my older sister, as was the case with Lara Jean and Margot.

Anyway, once I found out that there was going to be a third book about Lara Jean, I was so thrilled because I’d been hoping for more. I’m really excited to see how her character further matures as she prepares to go off to college, and I’m wondering how her relationships with the people around her change.

Also, another thing I love about this series is the cover photos. They were custom-shot for the the series, and they feature someone of the correct race/ethnicity (biracial white/Korean American), and it’s the same model throughout. After suffering through so many terrible, lazy, or straight-up whitewashed covers for books with Asian protagonists, the covers for this series were a Gift. Seriously. Also, for those who are curious, the model is Helen Chin. You can find her on Instagram here.

dove-alightDove Alight (The Dove Chronicles #3) by Karen Bao (out May 23rd) – YA, science fiction

This third book in the Dove Chronicles brings the series to a close. I just read and reviewed the first book, Dove Arising, recently, and I’m ready to dive into the second book once I’m done with all eight of the books I’m partway through. The Dove Chronicles are a diverse science fiction series with a Chinese [American] protagonist living in a colony on the Moon whose personal mission to better her family’s circumstances becomes political when she’s exposed to the dark side of the government. If you’re looking for diverse YA scifi, try this one out.

Heroine Worship (Heroine Complex #2) by Sarah Kuhn (out July 4th) – NA, SFF

I still need to review Heroine Complex, but it was one of my favorite books of 2016. In this series, we get not one, but THREE Asian American heroines. Book 1 was about Evie Tanaka, biracial Japanese American with quarter-life crisis, discovering her powers and stepping into the spotlight, out of the shadow of her best friend, the local superheroine and media darling Aveda Jupiter. In this second book, Aveda Jupiter, real name Annie Chang (Chinese American), is the protagonist. I’m curious to see how my perspective on her character will change now that she’s the viewpoint character because she came off as a huge drama queen in the first book from Evie’s point of view. She was competent at the ass-kicking business but a bit much to deal with on a interpersonal level.

The Speaker (The Sea of Ink and Gold #2) by Traci Chee (out Sep. 12th) – YA, science fiction

Despite being from the Big 5, I feel like The Reader was underhyped compared to other YA fantasy series. Apparently, people who read The Reader were polarized into loved-it or hated-it camps, and obviously I’m in the Loved It! camp. I thought the premise and the plotting was extremely original, and the characters won me over, especially Sefia and Archer and their cute but deep bond. The Big Reveal at the end was mind-blowing, and now I’m curious as to how Sefia and Archer are doing in the aftermath of everything that has happened (Narrator voice: there was A Lot that Happened).

The Reader is another example of a cover illustration that I love. The colors, the gold lines, the book motif, the Asian girl front and center, just stunning. I’m really hoping they use the same cover artist for The Speaker and Book 3, and I can’t wait to see how those cover illustrations turn out. *fingers crossed* The illustrator for The Reader is Yohey Horishita, a Japanese artist based in NYC. There’s a peek at the original artwork here. (Also, it warms my heart when they have Asian artists do the cover art for books with Asian MCs by Asian authors.)

Shadowhouse Fall (Shadowshaper #2) by Daniel JosĂ© Older (out Sep. 12th) – YA, fantasy

Another sequel to a book I’ve read but not yet reviewed, oops. I talked a bit about Shadowshaper in my Favorite Books of 2016 post, but long story short, it’s urban fantasy that’s by, about, and for black and brown POC that blends the supernatural with the realistic. It uses art (visual art, music, etc.) as the basis of magic and also spares none in its critiques of cultural appropriation, colorism, and so on. The author has explicitly stated that Shadowhouse Fall is a protest novel, and it’s going to be more magical and more political than its predecessor, which has me begging for the release date to come sooner.

Also, the cover for Book 1 was breathtaking, so I’m expecting Book 2’s cover to be more of the same.

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (out Sep. 26th) – YA, fantasy

I actually won a pre-order of this book through a giveaway, and up until then I hadn’t known about its existence, but I’m glad I found it. It’s a fantasy story based on Nigerian culture, set in a world where guilty emotions manifest a physical form, known as sin-beasts, and special people, the aki, are trained to eat the sin-beasts in order to get rid of them. Talk about creepy but amazing, right? There aren’t nearly enough Black boy protagonists in YA or in fantasy, so this is a welcome addition.

Needless to say, if they don’t put a Black boy on the cover, I’m going to be extremely disappointed because as many have pointed out, there are so few stories about Black boys that don’t involve heavy real-life issues of systemic violence like police brutality and racial profiling. They deserve to see themselves in stories that are magical.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie Dao (out Oct. 10th) – YA, fantasy

Now, here is the first debut book on this list. If you’re following me on Twitter you probably already know how pumped I am for this book. It’s a retelling of the story of the Evil Queen from Snow White that’s based on Chinese folklore. I mean just read the blurb. If that’s any indication, it’s going to be a Tale of Epic Proportions. If you’re still not over The Young Elites coming to an end and want a new diverse villain story, check this out.

I’m really hoping that the cover features a Chinese girl front and center looking magical and badass. I hope it’s colorful and poster-worthy. I hope it knocks the socks off the other fantasy books coming out this year that feature more of the usual white girl fare. (Not even sorry.)

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Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) by Tara Sim (out Nov. 7th) – YA, fantasy

Timekeeper was one of my favorite reads of 2016, and now we finally have a title for the sequel! As I mentioned in my post on Supporting Characters Who Need Their Own Book(s), this second installment will take place in India, which means the author will get to flex some of her #ownvoices muscles. While I love Danny and Colton, I’m really, really hoping to see stuff from Daphne’s point of view as a biracial Indian girl visiting and experiencing her family’s homeland. I think that would mean a lot to multiracial and/or diaspora readers who feel estranged from their heritage.

Based on the cover of the first book, it seems like they’ve opted for object-focused illustrations, so I’m expecting something in a similar vein for the cover of Book 2, hopefully as bold, textured, and atmospheric as the first.

Circle Unbroken (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida CĂłrdova (out in November) – YA, fantasy

There has been so much buzz about Labyrinth Lost and its bi Latina protagonist in my circles that I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read it yet. However, I have made steps toward remedying that, and I now own a copy of the book. It is on my TBR, and hopefully I will get to it in March, after I get through my Black History Month TBR. Labyrinth Lost tells the story of Alex, whose attempt to rid herself of the magic that runs in her family of brujas (witches) backfires.

The cover for Labyrinth Lost is quite eye-catching and memorable, so I have high hopes for the sequel to deliver on that front.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (out fall/winter 2017) – YA, fantasy

Another debut novel! The description for this book is very 0 to 100: a Chinese American teen girl is worried about the usual high school problems like standardized tests and college apps when suddenly she discovers she can break the Gates of Heaven with her fists. Damn. I need this book yesterday.

If they don’t feature a Chinese American girl for the cover illustration being badass (and breaking things?) I am going to flip a few tables.

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword (Peasprout Chen #1) by Henry Lien (out fall 2017) – MG, fantasy

This one is a middle grade debut. The author has previously released various short stories, and this is his first full-length novel. It’s the first book in a fantasy series featuring a girl who competes in a [fictional] sport called Wu Liu, combining the “wu” from æ­ŠèĄ“/wushu (martial arts) and the “liu” from æșœć†°/liubing (ice skating) to give you martial arts on ice! Honestly, given the success of Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi in the 90s all the way up to today’s Karen Chen, Nathan Chen, and several other Asian American top figure skaters, an Asian American ice skating story is long overdue.

(The author is Taiwanese and Chen is the most common Taiwanese last name, so I’m high-key hoping the MC is Taiwanese.)

Also the cover photo potential! You can get a taste of the aesthetic it entails from the bibliography page of the author’s website.

Not Your Villain (Not Your Sidekick #2) by C.B. Lee (out summer 2017) – YA, SFF

Bells from Not Your Sidekick would have been on my Supporting Characters Who Need Their Own Book(s) list, except I don’t even need to ask for it because he is already getting his own book! Bells is a trans boy, and he’s a Black Creole of Color. In Not Your Villain, he takes center stage in trying to fighting corruption among the superhero league while surviving high school and working up the courage to tell his best friend Emma that he’s in love with her.

The cover for Not Your Sidekick had a distinct style and texture, and the book included interior chapter header illustrations by the same artist. I’m hoping that pattern continues since the first book had featured Jess looking at once mundane in her dress but also heroic in her posture and expression, striking a balance between down-to-earth and larger-than-life. If we have a Bells version of that same aesthetic, my bookish heart will be happy.


And after skimming through this list, it is very apparent that I’m biased toward fantasy. Or maybe there are just more fantasy series?

February TBR and Book List: #ReadYourResistance and Black History Month

I decided a while back to do some mini themed reading challenges in 2017 that I create for myself in order to make it easier to pick what to read next out of a few hundred titles on my TBR. These challenges follow various history, heritage, and awareness months in the U.S. Though this decision predates and wasn’t inspired by #ReadYourResistance, it ties in neatly with that hashtag, which symbolizes a commitment to reading books by marginalized voices to challenge the dominant narratives that dehumanize them and to fight the increase in persecution of marginalized people under Trump’s regime.

February is Black History Month, so most of my TBR will be books by Black authors. Aside from the books I want to read for the month of February, I’m also listing January and February releases by Black authors, some already released books by Black authors on my 2017 TBR that I won’t get to in February, and books featuring Black characters (mostly #ownvoices) that are coming out later this year. And lastly, I’ll list a few February releases by non-black authors that I’m looking forward to.

(Note: Release dates are U.S. release dates.)

Books by Black Authors I Plan to Read in February

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Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

This book is a sort-of Snow White retelling that tackles the complex issue of mixed race identity and “passing” for white, with critical attention to racialized beauty standards. I’d already seen it here and there, and when Barnes & Noble was selling a copy at a reduced price a few months ago, I snatched it up. I’ve heard that there is some problematic content, so I’ll be on the lookout for that so I can discuss it in my review.

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

I was first introduced to her through two different TED talks, one on feminism, the other on the “danger of a single story” and stereotyping. I read We Should All Be Feminists about a year or two ago and have been meaning to read the rest of her work. Americanah shall be that first step toward that goal. It’s a story of race, romance, and immigration that spans three continents, Africa (Lagos, Nigeria), North America, and Europe (London, England).

All of Nnedi Okorafor’s books, aside from Akata Witch, which I read in December last year.

She writes both YA and adult SFF and has won multiple awards (the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Awards, among others) for her books. She’s Nigerian (Igbo) American and draws on her Nigerian heritage and West African cultures for her work.

  •  Zahrah the Windseeker – YA, fantasy, in the kingdom of Ooni, those born with the dadalocks are feared for their powers. Zahrah is one such person, and when her friend Dari is endangered, she is forced to confront the things that make her different
  • The Shadow Speaker – YA, science fiction, in 2070 Niger, a young woman seeks revenge for her father’s murder and finds herself on a trans-Saharan quest to save her people from a force that threatens to annihilate them all
  • Binti – Science fiction, when Binti becomes the first of her people to be accepted at the prestigious Oomza, the best university in the galaxy, she must leave her family and travel among people who neither understand nor respect her culture
  • Binti: Home (Sequel to Binti)
  • Kabu-Kabu – Anthology, SFF, a collection of short stories that take you to far-flung places of magic, adventure, and danger
  • Who Fears Death – Science fiction, as a biracial child of rape, Onyesonwu (“Who Fears Death?”) faces prejudice wherever she goes. However, she has great powers and an even greater destiny
  • The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death #2)
  • Lagoon – Science fiction – after a large object crashes into the sea on the coast of Lagos, Nigeria, three people from different walks of life must work together to save the country they love

All of N.K. Jemisin’s books.

Also a multi-award-winning author (the Hugo and the Locus). She has three different adult SFF series so far.

The Inheritance Trilogy:

  1. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – Yeine Darr hails from the north, and when her mother dies, she is summoned to the city of Sky, ruled by the Arameri family and named an heir to the king. However, her ascendance isn’t a given, and she must compete for the throne with many cousins.
  2. The Broken Kingdoms
  3. The Kingdom of Gods

The Dreamblood Duology:

  1. The Killing Moon – In the city of Gujaareh, the Gatherers maintain order by harnessing the power of sleeping minds to heal and kill those deemed corrupt. Peace reigns until Ehiru, the most famous of these Gatherers, realizes that someone is killing innocents in the name of the Goddess.
  2. The Shadowed Sun

The Broken Earth Trilogy:

  1. The Fifth Season – Chaos has struck in just one day. An empire falls, a continent rends in two, spewing ash to blacken the sky, and in a small town, a woman named Essun loses her son to murder and her daughter to kidnapping at the hands of her own husband. Resources are scarce, everyone is fighting for their survival, and Essun will do anything to save her daughter, even if it means breaking the world itself.
  2. The Obelisk Gate
  3. Book 3 is not out yet, but it’s called The Stone Sky and is releasing later this year on August 17th!

Two books by Octavia Butler.

Octavia Butler is one of the most well-known Black women in science fiction. Her books are considered classics by some and overlooked by many because of racism/misogynoir, of course. Here are my two picks:

  • Kindred – Described as a “combination of slave memoir, fantasy, and historical fiction,” this book is about an African American woman who travels backward in time in order to save her own ancestor.
  • Parable of the Sower Given the current state of affairs in U.S. politics, it feels appropriate for me to read a dystopian novel by a Black woman.

Parable of the Sower is the #DSFFBookClub (Diverse Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club, hosted by Naz at Read Diverse Books) pick for February, so if you want to read and participate in a discussion at the end of the month, definitely join us. 😀

January Releases and February Releases by Black Authors

  • Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson – MG, historical fiction, a fictionalized account of the Emmett Till case through the perspective of a young black girl in Jim Crow era Mississippi
  • Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson – YA, contemporary, tackles systemic racism in the American justice system through the story of a Black teen girl in the foster care system who allegedly murdered a baby (note: I’ve seen reviews/comments from diverse book bloggers about problematic content re: homophobia, rape apologism, anti-Indian racism, etc., so be careful if you are planning to read this)
  • The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley – MG, contemporary, three kids, Elvin, Jin, and Alex, work together to solve the mystery of what happened to Elvin’s grandfather, only to stumble on priceless artworks that might just save their neighborhood from gentrification by a wealthy politician
  • Piecing Me Together by RenĂ©e Watson (out Feb. 14th) – YA, contemporary, addresses the intersections of racism, classism, sexism, sizeism/fatphobia and more through the story of a Black girl who attends an elite, mostly white school
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi (out Feb. 14th) – YA, contemporary, focuses on a Haitian American immigrant girl trying to fit in and her mother’s undocumented immigration experience
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (out Feb. 28th) – YA, contemporary, a novel inspired by Black Lives Matter that addresses police brutality and systemic antiblack racism through the story of a girl who witnesses an unarmed friend’s fatal shooting at the hands of police

Later 2017 Releases by Black Authors

  • One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson (out June 6th; Black author) – MG, magical realism, the story of a Senegalese boy dealing with the difficulty of keeping his family together and honoring a promise to his deceased father after he and his sisters are orphaned
  • Solo by Kwame Alexander (out July 25th; Black Author) – YA, contemporary, a novel-in-verse about a Black teen whose father is a famous musician with an addiction problem as he explores family secrets and forbidden love
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (out Aug. 8th; Black author) – YA, contemporary, a Black Jewish girl moves back home to L.A., helps her brother with his bipolar disorder, and falls in love with the same girl he loves
  • Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (out Sep. 26th; Nigerian American author) – YA, fantasy, a debut novel featuring a talented young sin-eater who is called upon to eat the sin-beast of a royal, only to find himself caught in a web of political intrigue that puts the life of the princess he loves at stake
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone (out Oct. 17th; Black author) – YA, contemporary, a incisive story about police brutality from the perspective of a Black teen whose status at the top of his elite prep school doesn’t prevent him from being racially profiled
  • My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi (release date TBA; Haitian American author) – MG, historical fiction, a young Black scifi geek girl tries to find a place to belong in the 80s hip-hop explosion in Harlem
  • Akata Warrior (Sequel to Akata Witch) by Nnedi Okorafor (release date TBA; Nigerian American author) – MG/YA, fantasy, no blurb yet, but I’m sure Sunny and her friends return for another juju-filled adventure

Already Released Books by Black Authors I’d Like to Read in 2017

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – MG, memoir, novel-in-verse, tells the story of the author’s experience growing up as a Black girl in the Civil Rights era of the 60s and 70s and the joy she found in words and writing
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert – YA, contemporary, a story of a Black ballerina that addresses heavy topics like eating disorders and child sexual abuse
  • The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds – YA, contemporary, a young Black teen deals with the loss of his mother and his absent father’s alcoholism while working at a funeral home and meets a girl who gives him hope
  • This Side of Home by RenĂ©e Watson – YA, contemporary, identical twins Nikki and Maya start to diverge when they go off to attend college at a historically black college and develop different opinions on the importance of home and their ethnicity and culture
  • Endangered by Lamar Giles – YA, contemporary, a Black teen runs an anonymous blog on her high school’s scandals and ends up drawn into a deadly game by someone who threatens to expose her identity
  • Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin – YA, contemporary, a Haitian American girl struggles to live a normal life and change her situation for the better after her abusive father is taken away
  • All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds – YA, contemporary, a Black teen, Rashad, is beaten by the police for supposedly stealing when he didn’t, a white teen, Quinn, witnesses it, and when the incident becomes national news and the center of a debate on police brutality and systemic racism, all of a sudden Quinn’s silence is no longer just a personal choice
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – MG, contemporary, this novel-in-verse tells the tale of twins Josh and Jordan as they play basketball and learn lessons about life both on and off the court
  • Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid – YA, contemporary, interracial romance (Black girl, Korean boy), when Drea’s parents disappear, her perfect girl facade as junior class valedictorian begins to crumble and she finds herself in the company of delinquents from her school who share more in common with her than one might expect

Nonfiction Books About Black Women

  • Redefining Realness by Janet Mock: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More – in this memoir, Janet Mock, a Black trans woman activist, talks about her transition and the struggles to live her life as her authentic self
  • Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland – in her memoir, ballet prodigy Misty Copeland recounts her path from living in a motel room to becoming a successful professional dancer and the first Black principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – in this historical biography, Margot Lee Shetterly tells the stories of four extraordinary Black women (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden), who worked at NASA during the height of the Space Race and an era of segregation and Jim Crow laws and made monumental contributions to their field
  • Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles – Gymnastics champion and Olympian Simone Biles shares the story of her journey to becoming a gymnast with the help of faith and family
  • Black Girl Dangerous on Race, Queerness, Class and Gender by Mia Mckenzie – in this honest, humorous, and accessible essay anthology, popular blogger and activist Mia McKenzie shares stories about intersectionality, identity, activism, and allyship from the perspective of a queer Black woman

Some Highly Anticipated February Book Releases by Non-Black Authors

  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (out Feb. 7th; Korean American author) – YA, fantasy, An atmospheric retelling that chronicles the life of a girl after she trades her life to save her sister’s and binds herself to the Goblin King in marriage
  • Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (out Feb. 7th; Filipina American author) – YA, SFF, an intergalactic adventure of political intrigue, war, and vengeance that brings together two people from very different walks of life, one a princess, the other a war refugee turned superstar
  • The Education of Margot Sanchez (out Feb. 21st; Puerto Rican author) – YA, contemporary, a Puerto Rican girl in the Bronx learns a lesson about privilege and gentrification when she gets into trouble borrowing her dad’s credit card
  • The Ship Beyond Time (Sequel to The Girl from Everywhere) by Heidi Heilig (out Feb. 28th; biracial white/Chinese American author) – YA, fantasy, Nix and the diverse crew of the Temptation are back for another time-traveling adventure

Supporting Characters Who Need Their Own Book(s)

A common phenomenon that happens in a publishing industry that is skewed toward cis straight white people is that so often the representation marginalized folks get is table scraps in the form of side characters. Not only are they marginalized by society, they’re often marginalized by the fictional narratives they exist in. For this reason, I wanted to round up some side/supporting characters who I wished had books/stories of their own where they take center stage. For most, I’ve included either fanart or a picture I’ve picked as a fancast representing how I’d imagine the character. If you click on the fanart/fancasts you’ll see a description of the model’s background or artist credits where applicable.

Note: I couldn’t think of any side characters with disabilities that I could include in this, but if I think of any later on, I’ll add them.

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Hannah from The Inside of Out by Jenn Marie Thorne – YA, contemporary

I definitely bought this book because of the queer Asian girl on the cover. The story is told from the perspective of a cishet white girl who’s Hannah’s best friend, and it does explore a lot of the common pitfalls of allyship, but unfortunately Hannah took a backseat to the main character’s Good Intentions. Because of that, I want a book about Hannah’s side of things, about her experience as a biracial, Vietnamese American lesbian.

Risha from Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee – YA, science fiction, thriller

The main character of Zeroboxer is Carr, who’s a professional zero-gravity prizefighter and ethnically mixed/ambiguous as is common for scifi protagonists since they’re supposed to represent the end result of the “melting pot.” Risha is his brandhelm, or marketing and public relations manager, and girlfriend. She is half-Martian and of Asian descent (in an interview, the author mentioned that much of the Martian colonies was populated by descendants of people from Asian countries affected by overpopulation, so I imagine her as being a mix of Indian and Chinese) and feels like she doesn’t belong with either Terrans or Martians. Unfortunately, she comes off as kind of an accessory to Carr’s character and is largely seen through the male gaze. She’s intelligent and graceful and I wish I knew more of her perspective as someone with a hybrid identity, an experience I relate to a lot as an Asian American.

Nara from The Prophecy Trilogy/The Dragon King Chronicles by Ellen Oh – YA, fantasy

Nara was one of my favorite supporting characters from the Prophecy trilogy. She’s a fox demon whose greatest desire is to experience being human. I wanted to know more about her background and her adventures after the events of the series, whether she had any luck finding love or companionship. (I emailed the author about the lack of queer rep in the series except for one minor character who was heavily implied to be gay, and she told me that Nara’s character was supposed to be a lesbian, but that was edited out because she was on a tight deadline didn’t want to risk getting Nara’s representation wrong, so I’m 100% headcanoning her as queer.)

Zhen Ni from Serpentine and Sacrifice by Cindy Pon – YA, fantasy

Zhen Ni, the MC Skybright’s mistress and best friend, is a lesbian and I wanted to see more of her relationship with Lan and other girls. She’s a supporting character in the first book and then a viewpoint character in the second. SPOILER (highlight to see): She ends up with someone at the end of the series but there’s very little about the details of her relationship and how she got into it, just a brief summary of it as she tells it to Skybright. She also raises an adoptive daughter who’s a demon, and I wanted to know more about her mothering adventures. END SPOILER

Raffaele Laurent Bessette from The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu – YA, fantasy

My favorite gorgeous queer guy. I want to know more about his relationship with (and sadly, one-sided love for) Enzo prior to the events of The Young Elites and what he’s up to after the events of The Midnight Star. Raffaele is a sex worker, and while his clients include men and women, the author’s out-of-text comments seem to point to him being gay. I originally read him as bi though, maybe because I really want bi rep. (On a related note: I was disappointed by the way sex work was treated by the narrative in The Young Elites. During a conversation between Adelina and Raffaele, it was said that nobody would ever choose to be a sex worker, which erases the agency of sex workers who aren’t trafficked/coerced into the work. I want more narratives that are nuanced and center sex workers and portray the diversity of experiences they have.)

Whit Wu from The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee – YA, contemporary, magical realism

Stacey Lee took a departure from her established pattern by not featuring a Chinese American protagonist in The Secret of a Heart Note. However, one of the supporting characters is the handsome and talented Asian (most likely Chinese or Taiwanese based on the last name) American soccer player, Whit Wu. It was mentioned during the narrative that Court, Mim’s crush, got a magazine cover shoot because he looked more “all-American,” i.e. white, even though Whit is the more skilled player between them. I really want more stories about Asian Americans playing sports and kicking ass and the struggles they face because of stereotypes. A fictional Jeremy Lin, you might say.

Daphne Richards from Timekeeper by Tara Sim – YA, steampunk/alternate historical fiction, fantasy

Although the main character of Timekeeper is white, there is a supporting character who, like the author herself, is biracial white and Indian and white-passing. That would be Daphne, who is an extremely competent clock mechanic and a total badass who rides around on a motorbike flouting society’s rules about how women should dress and act. Since the story is mostly told from Danny’s point of view, we don’t get to see much of Daphne’s inner world as a WOC. However, the second book of the trilogy, Chainbreaker (coming later this year!), will be set in India, so I’m hoping Daphne will be there and play a larger role in the events.

Bucket from Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger – NA, urban fantasy

As I mentioned in my review, Last Call has a very diverse cast across the board. Bucket is a trans guy who befriends the protagonist Bailey, and he already transitioned prior to the events of the book, so his storyline isn’t about transitioning. There is one scene where he discloses to Bailey that he’s trans, and it’s written in a way that’s hilarious but not at the expense of trans people. It was probably one of my favorite scenes in the book. Bucket is very much a comedic relief type character, but I’m sure he has his inner demons somewhere, and it would be cool to learn more about how he got into the demon-fighting business. Also, he works at a gay bar, so delving more into that setting as it relates to the story would be a bonus.

Asian Reads: Asian Boy Love Interest in YA Edition

So this post was inspired by a Twitter thread I made about Noteworthy and the general lack of Asian boy love interests in contemporary YA. Thus, I’m doing a roundup of YA books with Asian boy love interests that I know of. I’m not including any books that have racist or fetishizing elements (so Eleanor & Park is out, not even sorry). I’m also excluding books that take place in Asia as it’s more or less a given that the love interest will be Asian. My primary focus is Asian boys in diaspora where the environment is majority white and Asian boys are not seen as attractive.

If you have any books to add, leave the title and author in the comments and I will add them to the list. My list is all U.S. books, so if you have any U.K., Canada, Australia, etc. books, submit them please! I couldn’t find any with Southeast Asian boys either, so if you know of one, drop a comment.

Note: Books are listed in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Links are to my reviews of the books. The ethnicity of the Asian boy love interest is indicated next to the title and author.

tiny-pretty-thingsTiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton – Korean American

Gigi, Bette, and June are three girls at a competitive ballet academy in Manhattan. Gigi dances despite a health problem that could ruin her. Bette struggles to live up to and surpass her legacy older sister. June hides an eating disorder and vows to take the lead spot to prove herself to her mother. With the stakes so high, the girls are willing to do anything to get to the top.

north-of-beautifulNorth of Beautiful by Justina Chen – Chinese American adoptee

Tess was born with a port-wine stain on her face that draws stares and looks of pity from people. She’s desperate to get out of her small town, away from her controlling father. A chance encounter brings cute goth boy Jacob into her life, and suddenly she’s on a different path than expected.

adaptationAdaptation and Inheritance by Malinda Lo – Chinese American

Reese and her debate team partner David wake up from a car accident, miraculously healed. All across the country, birds are falling from the sky, and people in hazmat suits are collecting them for some unknown purpose. Then, she meets the mysterious Amber Gray and discovers a shocking truth.

the-girl-from-everywhereThe Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig – Persian

Nix has spent her entire life aboard The Temptation, a ship that can travel through time and space, to real and fictional locations like, as long as there is a map for it. Her father captains this ship, and he is obsessed with finding a map for 1868 Honolulu, so he can reunite with Nix’s mother before she died. This quest takes them through danger and adventure, and if it is successful, it could potentially erase Nix from existence. (I realize this is sort-of-not-really contemporary but they do travel to 2016 so I’m counting it.)

born-confusedBorn Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – Indian American

From Goodreads: Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well — until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web . Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue.

enter_title_final_revealEnter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia – Indian American

Reshma Kapoor, top ranked student of Alexander Graham Bell High School, will to get into Stanford. Not “wants to,” but “will.” Because she is willing to do anything to make it happen, even if it means bending or breaking the rules, and then some. For her “hook” to make herself stand out among the competition, she decides to write a young adult novel about a fictional version of herself. But the real Reshma Kapoor is a study nerd, without the appeal to the mainstream YA market. To make herself into the perfect YA protagonist, Reshma sets out to do “normal” teenage things and create a plot and character arc for herself. Unfortunately for her, things don’t always go as planned.

when-the-moon-was-oursWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – Pakistani American trans boy

From Goodreads: To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

when-dimple-met-rishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (coming May 30th) – Indian American

From Goodreads: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

the-foldThe Fold by An Na – Korean American

When Joyce falls for school hottie John Ford Kang, she becomes obsessed with her appearance. She’s constantly compared to her older sister Helen, who is beautiful without trying. Then, her aunt offers her a gift: plastic surgery to get the coveted “double eye fold” that East Asians consider prettier. Joyce must decide whether this change is what she truly wants, or whether she can define her beauty on her own terms.

noteworthyNoteworthy by Riley Redgate (coming May 2nd) – Japanese American

Jordan Sun is a scholarship student at the elite fine arts school, Kensington, and she’s desperate to get a role that will prove that she’s good enough to her parents. When her audition for the fall musical flops because her vocal range and texture aren’t “feminine” enough, she resorts to desperate measures: cross-dress as a guy and audition for the elite all-male a cappella group, the Sharpshooters, for a shot at the prestigious tour that will elevate her from nobody to the cream of the crop. It’s only for three months, so it can’t go wrong, can it?

written-in-the-starsWritten in the Stars by Aisha Saeed – Pakistani American

Naila tries to please her parents, who give her considerable freedom in many ways. However, she breaks one of their strict rules about dating and boys by falling for Saif. When her parents find out that she has been dating him in secret, they decide to take her to Pakistan to “reconnect” with their roots. Unfortunately, their plans for Naila also involve forcing her to marry a man she doesn’t know. Alone and desperate, Naila must find a way to escape this nightmare.

My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma (coming in 2017) – Indian American

From Goodreads: Metha, Bollywood film groupie, has a dilemma: her boyfriend breaks up with her one week before senior year and instead of running the Princeton, NJ student film festival with him, she has to compete against him for the spot. What’s worse is he realized hooking up with Jenny Dickens was a mistake and he wants Winnie back. Dev Khanna, indie film savant, could be her solution. He helps her focus on what’s important and makes her feel amazing in that terrifying, not-in-control way. At first, the plan to get her festival chair spot back and spend time with Dev seems to be working
until Winnie falls in love with the one guy who just may be the perfect hero she’s been waiting for. In a story where high school has more drama than the Indian film industry, one Bolly-junkie finds herself in a classic love triangle gone wrong. With a little bit of help from fate, her drunk grandmother, and dream sequences featuring Shah Rukh Khan himself, Winnie learn that embracing Bollywood romance IRL may be the key to a happily ever after.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – Korean American

Daniel is a dreamer on his way to a Yale interview that he doesn’t actually care about to please his Korean parents. Natasha is a science geek who is about to be deported to a Jamaica she barely remembers. The lives of these two teens who appear to have nothing in common collide, and both are changed in ways they never would have imagined during the course of a single day.