Category Archives: Meme

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 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.


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 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 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 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.

Common Cover Theme Thursday: The Dark Silhouettes

So I wanted to do my own book meme that showcases smaller subsets of all the different books that I’ve read or want to read. Thus, I came up with the idea to do a weekly round-up for books with similar themes and motifs in their cover illustrations. The alliteration in the title is a bonus. Of course, most of mine will be Asian lit, but I’ll include other diverse titles as well.

If you want to do this meme, go ahead! The only rules are: 1) feature diverse books and 2) credit me/link to this post. 🙂


 The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi – Young Adult, Contemporary, #ownvoices

Set against the political turmoil of present-day Afghanistan, this book is a story of forbidden love between two young people from different ethnic groups and different social classes. Fatima is a Hazara girl from a farming family; Samiullah is the son of the landowners who oversee the Hazara farmers. When they fall in love, they must fight against their families, their cultures, and the Taliban in order to be together.


Dove Arising by Karen Bao – Young Adult, Science Fiction, #ownvoices

Phaet Theta is used to keeping her head down and doing her work tending plants in Greenhouse 22 of the colony on the Moon where she lives. When her mother is arrested, she enlists in the Militia to keep her younger siblings out of the Shelter. But her straightforward plan to save her siblings and free her mother unravels when she learns information about the government that changes everything. (The protagonist is of Chinese descent.)


One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi – Middle Grade, Contemporary, #ownvoices

At her aunt’s insistence, Afghan preteen Obayda becomes a bacha posh, a girl who lives as a boy, with all its privileges and freedoms. It’s a confusing and lonely experience for her until she meets another bacha posh, Rahima, and befriends her. But their freedoms won’t last forever, so they must find a way to hold onto them.


Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai – Middle Grade, Contemporary, #ownvoices

Mai is a California girl and doesn’t care too much about her Vietnamese heritage. When summer vacation comes, she is dragged by her family to Vietnam to help her grandmother find out what happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. At the beginning, Mai is desperate to leave, but slowly, she comes to appreciate Vietnam and the importance of her grandmother’s quest.


Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – Young Adult, Historical Fiction, #ownvoices

Chinese American Samantha Young is on the run from the law for killing in self-defense. She hopes to catch up to a westward-bound caravan that her father’s friend is traveling with. Her only ally is an escaped slave, Annamae, and they are forced to dress up as boys as a disguise. During their journey they encounter friends and enemies alike, and the threat of being caught follows them. They walk a dangerous path, but with their wits and the help of friends, they may just survive.


In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner – Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, #ownvoices

Raami is seven years old when her father brings news of the civil war that topples her family from their seat of privilege and stability and forces them to flee the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. The next four years of her life are a fight for survival. The only remnants of her past are the legends and poems from her father. Based on the author’s own experiences, this book is a tale of resilience and hope.


The Third Son by Julie Wu – Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, #ownvoices

Born under Japanese rule of Taiwan, Saburo is the third son, the least important child, but he is smart and ambitious. He falls for the sweet Yoshiko at a young age through a chance encounter, and is galled to see her by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival when they meet again years later. Determined to make something of himself and win Yoshiko’s favor, he studies hard and eventually finds himself in America working on projects for the space program.