Review for The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker

Summary: Frances has many ideas for making fabulous dresses but no outlet to express her creativity. Through a stroke of good luck, she secures a job as a secret seamstress to Prince Sebastian. The prince wears the dresses Frances designs while going by the name of Lady Crystallia and quickly becomes a fashion icon in Paris, garnering recognition for Frances’ designs. Over time, the two become good friends and develop romantic feelings for one another. However, their happiness is threatened when they are pulled in different directions, Frances by her ambitions to work in a position where her name is known to the public, and Sebastian by their filial duty to marry as the royal heir.

Review:

When I first heard about the idea for this graphic novel and saw preliminary design sketches on Tumblr a few years ago, I was so impatient for it to be released. Now I’ve finally read it! If you saw my Goodreads review, it was basically me crying about my love for this book. Initial impressions aside, I have conflicting feelings about the book that I’ll elaborate on below.

The Good/Great:

The plot made for a great coming-of-age story, with the characters’ desires and growth at the forefront. I’ll admit I’m biased in being drawn to and loving the story because Sebastian is trans (there weren’t specific labels mentioned in the book, but genderqueer and trans femme seem to fit the best from what I gathered) and there are so few trans characters in YA. Watching Sebastian transition and become comfortable presenting as a girl was super heartwarming for me as a trans and genderqueer person. Frances’ arc in developing her creative/artistic talent was likewise relatable to me as someone who writes and draws and wants to be a published author. Jen Wang’s art style is a combination of cute and elegant and really makes the whole experience a visual treat.

The Not-So-Good:

It partially follows the template of a typical trans acceptance narrative. While Frances and Sebastian’s manservant have no problem accepting and respecting Sebastian’s gender from the beginning, the same can’t be said for other characters. Sebastian being closeted and fearful of rejection and disgust from their parents as well as the public drives the primary conflict in the story. This isn’t automatically bad, but it’s part of a broader trend of cis authors putting trans characters through some rough situations that aren’t always handled very well in execution.

TW: outing of a trans character

There is a scene where Sebastian is publicly outed by another character who pulls off their wig while they are presenting as a girl, which results in a confrontation involving the king and queen that is pretty emotionally devastating. My issue with this scene is that forcibly outing characters, especially as a humiliating spectacle, is really overused for dramatic effect by cis authors, who may not realize how hurtful the experience can be for trans readers. It happens so much that I am desperate for more stories where trans characters are able to come out on their own terms.

Conclusion: While the the characters are endearing, the art is lovely, the ending is a happy one all around, and the overall message is hopeful for trans/non-binary people, trans/non-binary readers who choose to pick this up should take care while reading in the second half since the outing/confrontation scene is potentially triggering.

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Time Bubble Tag

I found this tag through Wendy @ What the Log Has to Say and it was created by The Book Loving Pharmacist.

Here’s the premise of the tag: Picture this, you’ve encountered a bubble or portal which, if you step through, can manipulate the time inside. With this, you can read all the books you want and when you step out of the bubble, no time has passed in the real world. You can finally make time for all those books you’ve been ignoring. So, now that you’ve stepped through the time bubble, answer the following questions:

  • What book(s) (or audiobook) have you been meaning to read for a long time but haven’t gotten around to reading:

There are a bunch of backlist titles that I’ve had on my TBR for well over a year that I really need to read. Here are a few series by Asian authors that I’ve been meaning to read.

Gates of Thread and Stone and The Infinite by Lori M. Lee

Dualed and Divided by Elsie Chapman

Born Confused and Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier

  • A book you’ve been meaning to reread but haven’t:

His Dark Materials Omnibus

I want to reread His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman since The Book of Dust came out last year, and it’s been a really long time since I’ve reread the series. I own the omnibus edition pictured above.

  • A book from a genre you don’t normally read but have been meaning to try and give it a chance:

Jade City

Jade City by Fonda Lee. I want to read more adult fantasy since I’ve mostly stuck to YA. I’ve read and enjoyed Fonda Lee’s YA books, so I’m hoping Jade City will be my thing.

  • A series you’ve been wanting to read but haven’t because of how long it is:

crown-of-stars

The Crown of Stars series by Kate Elliott. Each individual volume is massive and there are seven books total. 😰

  • A book you wish you could go back in time and read for the first time:

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. The way everything falls into place as the plot progresses is so beautifully done that I wish I could go back to experience that suspense for the first time again.

  • Book recommendation you’ve been putting off:

Coffee Boy, Peter Darling, and Caroline’s Heart by Austin Chant. I think it’s because they’re ebooks and I’m terrible about reading the ebooks I have.

March and April 2018 MG/YA Releases by POC/Indigenous Authors

Disclaimer: These are all of the ones I know of, not all of the ones that exist! Also if I’m wrong about any of the descriptions/categorizations feel free to drop a comment. Detailed synopses can be found by clicking the hyperlinks in the titles, which redirect to the books’ Goodreads pages. 🙂


  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (March 6th) – YA, Contemporary, Novel-in-Verse, Afro-Latina Dominican(?) MC, Own Voices
  • Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi (March 6th) – YA, Nigerian-inspired Fantasy, Black MC, Own Voices
  • The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller (March 6th) – MG, Contemporary, biracial Korean American MC, Own Voices
  • The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (March 6th) – MG, Historical Fiction, Multifaith Muslim/Hindu Indian MC, Own Voices
  • The Sky at Our Feet by Nadia Hashimi (March 6th) – MG, Contemporary, Afghan American MC, Own Voices
  • After the Shot Drops by Randy Ribay (March 6th) – YA, Contemporary, MCs of Color (one Black, one biracial but exact ethnicity I’m not sure of)
  • The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (March 6th) – YA, Contemporary, Black MC with Anxiety (Own Voices for both?), Korean American Adoptee MC, Queer White MC
  • Lies That Bind (Anastasia Phoenix #2) by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (March 6) – YA, Mystery/Thriller
  • Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi (March 6th) – YA, Dystopian
  • The Final Six by Alexandra Monir (March 6th) – YA, Science Fiction
  • Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones (March 13th) – YA, Contemporary, Gay Indigenous MC (author is Cree/Métis), Own Voices
  • Like Vanessa by Tami Charles (March 13th) – MG, Historical Fiction, Black MC, Own Voices
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (March 20th) – YA, Contemporary Fabulism, Biracial White/Taiwanese American MC (Own Voices for Taiwanese but not biracial)
  • Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman (March 20th) – YA, Fabulism, Biracial White/Chinese MC (Own Voices for Chinese but not biracial rep)
  • Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (March 20th) – YA, Contemporary, Black MC, Own Voices
  • The Heart Forger (The Bone Witch #2) by Rin Chupeco (March 20th) – YA, Fantasy, Secondary World POC MC
  • The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (March 27th) – MG, Mystery, Black MCs, Own Voices
  • Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (March 27th) – MG, Contemporary Fantasy/Horror, Queer Black MC in the Virgin Islands, F/F Romance, Own Voices
  • The Place Between Breaths by An Na (March 27th) – YA, Contemporary, Korean American MC, Own Voices
  • Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is a Classic (Cilla Lee-Jenkins #2) by Susan Tan (March 27th) – MG, Contemporary, Biracial White/Chinese American MC, Own Voices
  • Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi (March 27th) – YA, Contemporary, Korean American MC, Own Voices
  • Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava #1) by Roshani Chokshi (March 27th) – MG, Fantasy, Indian American MC, Own Voices
  • Damselfly by Chandra Prasad (March 27th) – YA, Contemporary, Biracial White/Indian American MC, Own Voices
  • Love Double Dutch by Doreen Spicer-Donnelly (April 3rd) – MG, Contemporary, Black MC, Own Voices
  • Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl (Jasmine Toguchi #3) by Debbi Michiko Florence (April 3rd) – MG, Contemporary, Japanese American MC, Own Voices
  • Rebound (Prequel to The Crossover) by Kwame Alexander (April 3rd) – MG, Contemporary, Novel-in-Verse, Black MC, Own Voices
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (April 3rd) – YA, Historical Fantasy/Alternate History, Black MC, Own Voices
  • Isle of Blood and Stone (Isle of Blood and Stone #1) by Makiia Lucier (April 10th) – YA, Fantasy
  • Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert (April 10th) – YA, Contemporary, Gay Chinese American MC (Own Voices for Chinese American rep)
  • You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly (April 10th) – MG, Contemporary, MCs of Color(?)
  • Sunny (Track #3) by Jason Reynolds (April 10th) – MG, Contemporary, Black MC, Own Voices
  • The Lost Kids (Never Ever #2) by Sara Saedi – YA, Fantasy
  • Running Through Sprinklers by Michelle Kim (April 17th) – MG, Contemporary, Biracial white/Korean MC, Own Voices
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (April 17th) – MG, Fiction, Black MC, Own Voices
  • Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn (April 18th) – MG, Contemporary, Korean Canadian MC, Own Voices
  • Inferno (Talon #5) by Julie Kagawa (April 24th) – YA, Fantasy
  • Trouble Never Sleeps (Trouble is a Friend of Mine #3) by Stephanie Tromly (April 24th) – YA, Contemporary

And that’s the end! I do roundup posts like this bimonthly (I started in July 2017, skipped November-December 2017 due to lack of time/smaller volume of releases), so check back in late April/early May for the May and June releases. 🙂

These posts take a lot of time and effort on my part, and I’m not paid by anyone for the labor. If you have a little money to spare, you can donate to my ko-fi: www.ko-fi.com/theshenners.

January and February 2018 MG/YA Releases by POC

I don’t about the rest of y’all, but I am so ready for 2017 to be over, not only because it’s been a hell year but also because 2018 has so many great kidlit releases in store for us. If you would like to greet the new year by being hit in the face by a bunch of awesome middle grade and young adult books, you’ve come to the right place. Below I’ve compiled a list of 28 MG/YA books by POC and anthologies including POC that are releasing in January and February. (Special thanks to Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks for making me aware of King Geordi the Great. Her Ultimate Guide to Diverse YA Books Releasing 2018: January – June includes diverse books of all kinds and is an excellent reference.) Note: Links redirect to Goodreads. 🙂

  • Meet Cute edited by Jennifer L. Armetrout (January 2nd) – YA anthology – authors of color included: Dhonielle Clayton, Nina LaCour, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi
  • Someone to Love by Melissa De La Cruz (January 2nd) – YA, Contemporary, biracial Mexican American MC
  • Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) by Tara Sim (January 2nd) – YA, Fantasy/Steampunk, Queer MC and biracial Indian MC, own voices
  • Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith (January 2nd) – MG, Superhero, Black MC, own voices
  • A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi (January 23rd) – YA, Contemporary, Syrian refugee MC
  • Markswoman (Asiana #1) by Rati Mehrotra (January 23rd) – YA(?), Asian-inspired Fantasy, Secondary world Asian MC
  • I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan (January 25th) – YA, Contemporary, Muslim Pakistani MC, own voices
  • The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos (February 1st) – YA, Contemporary, MC of color (race/ethnicity unknown)
  • Shadowsong (Wintersong #2) by S. Jae-Jones (February 6th) – YA, Fantasy, Bipolar MC (own voices)
  • American Panda by Gloria Chao (February 6th) – YA, Contemporary, Taiwanese American MC, ownvoices
  • Checked by Cynthia Kadohata (February 6th) – MG, Contemporary
  • Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi (February 6th) – YA, Contemporary, Iranian American MC, own voices
  • The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (February 6th) – YA, Fantasy, Black MC, own voices
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (February 13th) – YA, Historical Fiction, Graphic Novel
  • Prettyboy Must Die by Kimberly Reid (February 13th) – YA, Contemporary/Thriller, Black MC, own voices
  • Blood of a Thousand Stars (Empress of a Thousand Skies #2) by Rhoda Belleza (February 20th) – YA, Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda (February 20th) – YA, Science Fiction/Horror, Latina MC, own voices
  • A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena (February 27th) – YA, Contemporary, Indian MC, own voices
  • The Serpent’s Secret (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #1) by Sayantani DasGupta (February 27th) – MG, Fantasy, Bengali MC, own voices
  • All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages edited by Saundra Mitchell (February 27th) – YA anthology, authors of color included: Malinda Lo, Anna-Marie McLemore, Nilah Magruder, Alex Sanchez, Sara Farizan, Tehlor Kay Mejia
  • Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock (February 27th) – YA nonfiction anthology – authors of color included: Atia Abawi, Renée Ahdieh, Howard Bryant, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, I.W. Gregorio, Marie Lu, Jason Reynolds, Aisha Saeed, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Nicola Yoon

To support my work, you can donate to my ko-fi: www.ko-fi.com/theshenners. I also have a Patreon that you can pledge to: www.patreon.com/theshenners.

Review for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Note: My review is based on the ARC I received in exchange for an honest review.

My Summary: Xifeng’s aunt, the witch Guma, has raised her for a great destiny. She is chosen by a god to rise to the throne of Empress of Feng Lu. However, ambition has its price, and Xifeng must make some tough decisions as she grapples with a dark power growing inside her.

Review:

I don’t consider myself a huge fan of villain stories in general, but this one definitely left an impression on me. Xifeng’s complexity as a character won me over. They say a villain is the hero of their own story, and that is definitely true for Xifeng. The early stages of her journey are not far off from a hero’s journey, but the choices she makes ultimately cements her role as a villain.

Xifeng starts out as an underdog of sorts, mistreated by her aunt with her only consolation being the promise of a grand future. Her struggle to break free from Guma’s grip is one most would sympathize with. However, even after Xifeng leaves behind Guma physically, her psyche still carries that history with her, thus shaping her later developments.

The romantic subplot was refreshing to me because Wei’s role as a love interest departs from the usual narrative in that he becomes and obstacle to Xifeng’s goal rather than the goal she aspires to. Though they have a long history together, and Xifeng genuinely cares for Wei, the futures they each imagine tug them in different directions, creating tension. This conflict struck me as being very true to real life and the kind of challenges that couples face when weighing individual interests against the benefits of being together.

Another key player in Xifeng’s complex psychological landscape is the figure of the current Empress of Feng Lu, who is at once a rival/obstacle to her goal but also a source of comfort and maternal affection. Though Xifeng puts on a show of good graces for the Empress as a ruse of harmlessness/benevolence, there is also a note of genuine emotional attachment that makes it difficult for her to view her relationship with the Empress in black and white terms and treat the Empress as completely disposable.

One of the things that really lent itself to Xifeng’s character arc is the power of internalized misogyny. Growing up with constant reinforcement that her physical appearance and beauty determine her worth, she is beholden to her fear of losing that, thus driving her to draw on her dark powers. The question of how much you’re willing to do in the quest to attain an ideal of beauty is salient in our world. In my view, Xifeng’s cunning, ambition, and perseverance make her a “strong female character” of sorts, but her choice to weaponize and play into oppressive beauty standards for women in order to achieve her goals makes her a villain or anti-heroine rather than a traditional heroine.

I guess what made the book for me as a retelling was the filling in of major gaps in the original Snow White story and the twists on the familiar figures from the original tale. The Evil Queen appears out of nowhere and has little purpose except to function as an antagonist, so building up her background and her ascent to power satisfied that curiosity of she is at the core besides an archetypal Bad Guy. It also created a great setup for the other half of the story (book 2), which centers on Snow White’s character and chronicles Xifeng’s fall from grace, so to speak.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for an antiheroine to rival Adelina in The Young Elites, Xifeng is your girl. Highly recommended for fantasy and retelling fans.

Book Blogger Memory Challenge

Found this tag/meme through Wendy at What the Log Had to Say.

The rules are very easy: Answer the questions before you read my answers!

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.
Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.
Q3: Name a book about a character called George.
Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.
Q5: Name a book set in Australia.
Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.
Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.
Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.
Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title.
Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.

To challenge myself further, I decided I would only do diverse books for this challenge.

Q1: Name a book written by an author called Michael.

Racial Formations in the United States

A1: Racial Formations by Michael Omi and Howard Winant

For those who don’t know, I got one of my degrees in Asian American studies, which draws a lot on critical race theory. Racial Formations is foundational text about the social construction of race that gets referenced a lot in ethnic studies courses, so I ended up purchasing the full text of the 2nd edition a few years ago.

Q2: Name a book with a dragon on the cover.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

A2: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

This book is hands down one of my favorite middle grade books because it’s so magical, full of stories within stories. It also draws on a lot of Chinese folklore and mythology, so some of the stories and figures were familiar to me. However, Grace Lin manages to put her own spin on them, so they’re not trite even as someone who grew up with them.

Q3: Name a book about a character called George.

george

A3: George by Alex Gino is the only one I can think of, and technically that’s the character’s birth name. Her chosen name is Melissa.

If you’re looking for middle grade featuring a trans character by a trans author, this book is my go-to rec. It weaves a story about a trans girl coming out with her working toward a goal of playing Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web in her class’s play.

Q4: Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name

A4: Rain is Not My Indian Name by Cynthia Leitich Smith

I’ve known Cynthia Leitich Smith’s name for years, but I didn’t know she was a Native author until recently. Rain Is Not My Indian Name is one of her books that is on my TBR.

Q5: Name a book set in Australia.

lucy-and-linh

A5: Lucy and Linh (Aus title: Laurinda) by Alice Pung

I’ll admit I haven’t read much Australian YA, and Lucy and Linh was my first #LoveOzYA book I read, and if you’ve read my review, you’ll know I absolutely loved it. It is highly satirical and touches on race, class, and gender through the story of a Chinese-Vietnamese girl from a impoverished, working class background who ends up attending an all-girl private school on a scholarship.

Q6: Name a book with the name of a month in the title.

The November Girl

A6: The November Girl by Lydia Kang

This is one of my most anticipated books of the fall season. It’s fantasy and features a turbulent encounter/romance between a half-human girl who’s the daughter of Lake Superior and a biracial Black Korean boy fleeing an abusive home situation.

Q7: Name a book with a knife on the cover.

warrior-book-cover

A7: Warrior by Ellen Oh

Warrior is the second book in the Korean-inspired Prophecy series (my series review here), which follows the high-stakes quest of Kang Kira, a warrior whose mission is to save her kingdom from invasion.

Q8: Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.

One Dark Throne

A8: One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

I thought One Dark Throne would be the conclusion to the series, but it turns out there are four books total in the series. *yells* I read the ARC a while back and it was Intense.

Q9: Name a book with a eponymous title.

zahrah-the-windseeker

A9: Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

Since this book is on the older side, it’s not very well known among the community, but it is so good and everyone should read it. I reviewed it here.

Q10: Name a book turned into a movie.

Crazy Rich Asians

A10: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

I just read this book recently, and it was everything the title promised. I found it to be hilarious but incisive in its critique of the corrupting power of wealth.

Seven Deadly Sins Tag

Capture.PNGI got this from Weezie but don’t know who created it. If you know (or if it’s you!) let me know so I can give proper credit!

1. Greed. What’s your most inexpensive book? Your most expensive?

I think my most inexpensive book in terms of % of list price I bought it for is my signed hardcover of Malinda Lo’s Adaptation. I got it for 3 or 4 USD at The Last Bookstore in LA. My most expensive is an out of print reference book on 5000 years of Chinese clothing. It was published in 1987 and the cheapest I could find it online was $80 so I paid the price knowing that it would be a good investment since I wrote a lot of dynastic Chinese-inspired stories.

2. Wrath. What author do you have a love/hate relationship with.

My problematic white fave, Tamora Pierce. I grew up reading her books and own all of them (pictured above) and love them, but in retrospect I see a lot of flaws in her racial rep, among other things, and she’s said/done some messy things on social media so I’m like 😬😬😬.

3. Gluttony. What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

The Will of the Empress

The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce. It’s the 9th book in her Emelan books (after the Circle of Magic and The Circle Opens quartets). It tells the story of the four members of the Circle at 18 years old as they are rebuilding their friendship after years of separation and coming into themselves as adults while navigating the insidious court of a ruthless empress. Tamora Pierce’s magical characters and worldbuilding never fail to enthrall me and this book is one of my absolute favorites.

4. Sloth. What book have you neglected due to laziness?

six-of-crows

Uh, Six of Crows? I keep waiting for an opportunity to finish it and then putting it off 😅

5. Pride. What book do you talk about a lot in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

Uh, I don’t do this but there were one would probably be one of my academic texts in linguistics or something.

6. Lust. What attributes do you find attractive in characters? (The original question said “male characters,” but that’s heteronormative, so change how you want.)

Ability to charm people just by being themselves. I am awkward as fuck. Also I like thief characters because of their cleverness and eye for details. Pictured above are three books featuring thieves as main characters, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, an dMask of Shadows by Linsey Miller.

7. Envy. What book would you most like to receive as a gift right now?

That’s a good question, but what books don’t I have??? LOL.

Okay, ARCs of American Panda and The Astonishing Color of After since they’re my most anticipated 2018 releases, and they’re by Taiwanese American authors. 😭😭😭

I tag anyone who wants to do this tag. 😀

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. Sánchez (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.

#TheReadingQuest TBR

If you haven’t seen #TheReadingQuest reading challenge floating around Twitter, then you’re missing out! The theme, concept, and graphics for this challenge are all amazing, and I’m excited to be participating for the next month. This challenge is hosted by Aentee @ Read at Midnight and the graphics are by CW @ Read Think Ponder. You can find out more about the challenge here, but basically you pick one of the four character classes and follow a quest that is a series of reading prompts tailored to your character class.

I am playing as a Rogue, and here’s my character card:

Rogue The Reading Quest

Here is the reading quest board. My path is the bottom row going from the bottom right corner to the bottom left.

reading-quest-board1

Here are my picks for each prompt:

The Absolutely True DiaryA Banned Book: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Thanks to Google, I found out that this book was banned at a high school in Texas near me. I am super late to the party on this one, but now that I have a signed copy I grabbed from Barnes & Noble, I’m ready to finally experience this highly acclaimed #ownvoices book about a Spokane Indian boy.

The Disappearance of Ember Crow

A Book Cover with a Partially Obscured Face: The Disappearance of Ember Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Ever since I finished The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, I’ve been meaning to continue the series, and here’s my chance to knock it off my TBR.

Fire Boy.jpg

A Book with <500 Ratings on Goodreads: Fire Boy by Sami Shah. Aimal @ Bookshelves and Paperbacks recommended this book, and I’ve had the ebook for a while but haven’t gotten around to it.

perfect-liars

A Book Published by a Small Press: Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid. This book features a Black girl who’s valedictorian of her school, and the love interest is Asian, specifically Korean American, if I recall correctly.

adaptation

A Book with a One Word Title: Adaptation by Malinda Lo. I’ve literally had this book for over a year and haven’t read it, and I’m long overdue to read it.

I don’t know how far I’ll get doing the other quests, but this is my tentative TBR for all of the other character and side quests outside of the Rogue’s path. 🙂

  • The first book of a series: Songs of Insurrection by JC Kang
  • A book with a verb in its title: POC Destroy Fantasy, edited by Daniel José Older
  • A book with a weapon on its cover: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
  • A book with a red cover: Elements: Fire A Comic Anthology by Creators of Color Edited by Taneka Stotts
  • A book that has a TV/movie adaptation: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  • A book set in a different world: The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
  • Potions: a book concocted by 2+ authors: This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
  • Multiplayer: buddy read a book: ?
  • Grind: a Book with 500+ pages: Shadowcaster by Cinda Williams Chima
  • A fairy tale retelling: ?
  • A book based on mythology: The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • Time Warp: A book set in the past or the future: Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford
  • Open World: read whatever you want: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
  • Respawn: read a book you previously did not finish: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  • A book cover with striking typography: Paris Pan Takes the Dare by Cynthea Liu
  • A book that contains magic: The Speaker by Traci Chee
  • Expansion: Read a companion novel or short story: Death & Night by Roshani Chokshi
  • Mini-Game: Read a graphic novel, novella, or poem collection: The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang
  • Animal Companion: Book referencing an animal in the title: The Foretelling of Georgie Spider by Ambelin Kwaymullina
  • A book translated from another language: Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara, translated by Cathy Hirano

Book Playlist: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

genie lo cover

Okay, so this is my second book playlist (the first being for Want by Cindy Pon), and I’m happy to introduce y’all to these songs that I feel represent some aspect of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee. It was hard to find songs with the themes/feelings I needed, but I definitely got the perfect “theme song” for Genie. Below is the track list (song titles link to YouTube) along with translations where appropriate and commentary. Enjoy!

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo album tracks

1. 終極三國 – 曾沛慈+東城衛 (K.O.3anGuo – Pets Tseng+Dong Cheng Wei)

(3anGuo=SanGuo=Three Kingdoms from Chinese history)

This has exactly the right feel for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. It’s the theme song for a Taiwanese drama where students face down supernatural forces. The following lyrics (translated by me) were perfect for Genie:

Until the final moment, I refuse to back down
Even if the battle rages for days, hope is still in sight

Until the final moment, I refuse to back down
Even tears scattering can’t blur my vision

Sinister forces are clamoring, hunting me down to provoke me into duels
My battle prowess soars – don’t think you can escape

After I shed my uniform jacket, I’ll let you make ten moves first
[Otherwise] I’m afraid you’ll be laughed at – KO’d in one punch

2. Destiny – Infinite

I chose this song by my favorite kpop band Infinite to represent Quentin’s feelings toward Genie, specifically (spoiler alert, highlight text to read) his feelings as the Monkey King losing his beloved Ruyi Jingubang. (end spoiler) Lyrics of note (translation credit: pop!gasa):

Don’t leave, don’t turn around, I can’t let you go like this
Even if you leave me like this, you can’t escape me
Cause you are my destiny
Don’t turn around and leave me, don’t brush me off, don’t avoid me
You are my destiny

3. Run Around – Jasan Radford

90s throwback, anyone? (God, I’m old.) This song is from the English dub of Digimon 02, and I chose it for the frenetic feelings it invokes. It’s a song that goes well with Genie and Quentin’s scramble to fight demons all over the Bay Area. The lyrics are self-explanatory and can be found in the description of the YouTube video linked. ^o^

4. 天下大亂 – 蘇慧倫 (Chaos – Tarcy Su)

This song is the opening theme to the Taiwanese drama adaptation of Mulan from 1999 featuring Anita Yuen as Mulan (one of my favorite Mulan adaptations tbh). The title is an idiom that literally means “big mess under the heavens,” so I took artistic liberty and translated it as “Chaos.” The theme of the song is of a woman taking control of a messy situation, thus making it perfect for Genie. Lyrics of note (translated by me):

The Heavens can’t fix it
My fate is mine to settle

The Heavens are broken, the world is broken
Everything, everywhere is unhinged

5. Borders – Amber Liu

This last song is by Amber Liu, a Taiwanese American who’s a part of the popular kpop girl group f(x). She wrote it from a very personal place, and the theme is about breaking free of expectations and standards that hold us back, whether it’s the policing of gender expression (Amber is known for rocking an androgynous look in an industry where female idols are supposed to be ultra-feminine), stereotypes, or stigmas. I thought it was an appropriate song for Genie since she struggles to feel like she’s any good when faced with the dehumanizing experience of applying to competitive top colleges where you are measured against a checklist of traits and accomplishments. The chorus is a good message to keep in your heart during these tough times:

’Cause mom said I’d be crossing borders
Never be afraid even when you’re cornered
Stand up straight, fight your way
Fight your way, fight your way