Category Archives: Tag

Harley in the Sky Circus Book Tag

This book tag was created by Jemma at Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them and is part of the promo for the upcoming release Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman (out March 10th), whose debut, Starfish, I loved (review here)

RingMaster – What book introduced you to your favorite genre?
My favorite genre is fantasy and honestly, I cannot remember the very first fantasy book I read. I know I started reading Harry Potter circa second grade, but JKR is dead to me, so I guess if I want to pick something else that holds a lot of nostalgia and is one of the earliest fantasy series I read, it’s the Unicorn Chronicles by Bruce Coville. My fourth grade teacher read the first book, Into the Land of the Unicorns, out loud to my class, and I fell in love with it. I still remember waiting years and years for the series to finish. The first book was published in 1994 and the second in 1997, before I was introduced to the series (sometime during 2002-2003), but the third book didn’t come out until 2008 and the fourth/final one in 2010, so I waited like 8 years, which amounted to almost half my lifetime at the time of the final book’s release. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for someone who started the series when the first book was just published.

Acrobatics – A fast-paced read.
Charlie Hernandez & the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo is a fast-paced middle grade fantasy book based on Latinx/Hispanic folklore. I read it plus the sequel, Charlie Hernandez & the Castle of Bones last month and had a blast. I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about it even in lists of Latinx kidlit, but I highly recommend it for fantasy action/adventure lovers.

Clowns – A book that made you laugh.
Aru Shah and the Song of Death, the sequel to Aru Shah and the End of Time, by Roshani Chokshi, had some pretty funny jokes/moments in it.

Knife thrower – A book that had you on the edge of your seat.
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal was super intense and suspenseful. It’s a YA novel about contemporary race relations told from two points of view, following a Black girl and a white girl who are forced to become allies as they try to make their way out of a fight at a football game and a local street protest that transform into a full-blown riot in their city.

Tightrope Walker – A book you just couldn’t put down.
Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa, sequel to Shadow of the Fox. There’s a super high stakes quest in a race against time and I desperately needed to know how everything was going to play out. Dying to read book 3 right now.

Ventriloquist – A book with a great twist.
Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim has a number of twists. It’s a genderbent take on The Count of Monte Cristo, with a brown girl protagonist who tries to get revenge on the people who sold her into indentured servitude, except there’s some complications with her being attracted to the son of the man who supposedly ruined her life and several people not being who they appear to be, among other things.

Magician – A book with a magic system you love.
The Reader by Traci Chee. I raved about this book back when I reviewed it in 2016, and the trilogy has become one of my all-time favorite fantasy series. I mean, how much better can it get than reading and books being literal magic? I liked how reading wasn’t just restricted to words on paper but also reading in the sense of perceiving the world around you, so there were multiple ways to “read” and manipulate the world with magic.

Static Trapeze – Best or Worst Cliffhanger.
Infinity Son by Adam Silvera. I can’t say what happens because it’s a spoiler, obviously, but holy shit you cannot just leave us dangling there after That happened. *cue keyboard smash*

And that’s the end of the tag. I tag whomever wants to do this

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:


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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. 😀

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Uh, I have no idea who created this tag and it’s been around for a while and nobody tagged me, as far as I know, but oh well, I AM DOING IT!


As y’all may already know, I’m a huge SFF fan, and this year Asian SFF YA has been absolutely spectacular! I’ve reviewed Want, A Crown of Wishes, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo already, but I still need to write and post reviews for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Warcross. I’ll be honest and say Want and Warcross are my favorite books by Cindy Pon and Marie Lu, respectively. They are so immersive and intense and exhilarating. All of these were five-star reads for me, and I’m so excited for other people to read and hopefully fall in love with them! 🙂


It’s a tie! Rise of the Jumbies is the sequel to The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, and Shadowhouse Fall is the sequel to Shadowshaper. I have yet to review any of these, but I really need to. I read these two sequels for Caribbean American Heritage Month, which was this past month. Rise of the Jumbies is set in Trinidad and also Ghana (with an epic cross-Atlantic journey in between), and Sierra, the heroine of Shadowhouse Fall, is Puerto Rican. Both series incorporate Caribbean lore, and they are filled with suspense, family bonds, friendship, and journeys of self-discovery. I adore these covers so much.


I’m not sure what counts as new, but among the books released in the past two months, there are quite a few I’m eager to read:

One Shadow on the Wall tells the story of a boy in Senegal who has lost his father and must support himself and his family. Crossing Ebenezer Creek is based on a historical event during the Civil War era of U.S. history and features a recently-freed Black girl trying to forge a new life and future for herself. I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a contemporary romantic comedy in which a studious Korean American girl attempts to use Korean drama tropes to win the heart of her crush.


HAHA as if I could pick just one or even three. I need to section these off:

YA Sequels

  • The Speaker by Traci Chee (The Sea of Ink and Gold #2, September 12th)
  • Not Your Villain by C.B. Lee (Sidekick Squad #2, October 5th)
  • Chainbreaker by Tara Sim (Timekeeper Trilogy #2, November 7th)

If you haven’t read my rave reviews for the prequels to these books, you can go find out why I love them so much. The short version: The Reader (my review) is one of the most creative fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time, interweaving four different storylines and featuring a fascinating magic system in which the act of reading is a literal kind of magic. Not Your Sidekick (my review) is a fresh take on superheroes in a futuristic American West combined with a cute f/f romance. Timekeeper (my review) is set in an alternate England where clocks literally control the flow of time; in this world, our hero investigates a series of clock malfunctions with a sinister source while falling in love with an adorable and mysterious clock spirit.


I wasn’t joking when I said I love SFF! Beasts Made of Night is a Nigerian-inspired fantasy story that centers on a young man who is a magic user responsible for vanquishing the sin-beasts that form from people’s guilt as he navigates a deadly political conspiracy. Rebel Seoul takes place in near future Korea and stars a boy turned soldier who is recruited for a special project involving giant killing machines and forced to decide where his loyalty lies. The Library of Fates is based on the historical invasion of India by Alexander the Great and features a princess and servant on the run, in search of the Library of All Things, which may have the key to changing one’s fate.

YA Contemporary

Starfish is about a biracial Japanese American girl who deals with social anxiety while away from home and finds the courage to pursue the career of her dreams as an artist. You Bring the Distant Near tells the stories of three generations women in an Indian/Bengali immigrant family as they grow into their American identity. A Line in the Dark features a queer Chinese American girl who gets sucked into an elite social circle that is filled with secrets and danger.

MG Fantasy

More fantasy! Spirit Hunters stars a biracial Korean American girl who discovers her new house is haunted and has to save her brother from malevolent spirits. Akata Warrior is the sequel to Akata Witch (my review), a fantasy story starring four Nigerian American/Nigerian teens exploring their magic and working together to face down powerful foes. Whichwood is a companion to Furthermore and is a Persian-inspired story about a girl who washes the bodies of the dead and whose hair and hands are turning silver.


Okay so as far as 2017 book covers go, a few have disappointed me:

All of these were in my most anticipated cover reveals post but fell short of my expectations based on their synopses. Specifically, I was hoping that they would feature POC prominently, and they all failed to do that.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was probably the biggest letdown out of all of them. The symbolism of the apple blossom isn’t apparent because most people have no idea what an apple blossom looks like and wouldn’t be able to identify it on sight, the font is really tacky, the repeating yin-yang symbols is also kitschy and the only real indicator that the book is based on East Asian cultures, and in general I just wish it had more detail and texture to it. My mental aesthetic for Xifeng and FOTL was Fan Bingbing starring in the Chinese historical drama, The Empress of China, and I was totally hoping for something similar to the images below.

What disappointed me about the Warcross cover was the color scheme: it wasn’t dark enough for the feel of the story, in my opinion. And, to state the painfully obvious, it’s literally just the title in a slightly upgraded version of 2007 MS Word Art. Verdict: should have hired Jason Chan, who did the cover art for Want and Heroine Complex and Heroine Worship.

As for Beasts Made of Night…I was hoping for a Black boy to be on the cover looking fierce and magical, but instead we got animal silhouettes. It’s not terrible, but I wanted something with more texture that really takes up space.

The conclusion: PenguinTeen needs to invest in better cover art. They are horribly underselling their best SFF titles by POC with mediocre covers.

A Line in the Dark gives you the dark and creepy vibes from the synopsis but is once again very vague, and I’m willing to bet the hand model they used for that photo wasn’t even Asian. Like why is it so hard to just put a queer Chinese American girl on the cover?

Okay, I’ll stop ranting about cover art now and talk about actual stories that disappointed me. There were only two, actually.

One was the middle grade book Stir It Up!, which I reviewed earlier this year. As I mentioned in my review, it didn’t have the level of detail and substance I was hoping for in a book centered on Indo-Caribbean cuisine that had so much potential. The other book was The Takedown by Corrie Wang. The premise sounded very interesting, and I was cautiously optimistic despite the fact that it was written by a white author (the main character is biracial Chinese American), but when I actually got to scoping it out at the bookstore, I found the main character really annoying, plus it was lowkey racist and sexist, among other things. Good thing I didn’t buy it.



Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn

I was looking forward to reading this book because it features a Thai American protagonist, the 2nd one in contemporary YA that I know of and the first in years. There was some hype going for me. Then I actually read it, and I was completely blown away. My Goodreads review says it all:

“I didn’t intend for my review to be a haiku but the universe had the syllable count planted in my subconscious somehow so here you go:
holy fucking shit
what the hell did I just read
I need to lie down”

Also, my Twitter mini-thread:


F.C. Yee and Julie C. Dao tie! I was lucky enough to get ARCs of their books and loved their debuts so much and am dying for the sequels to FOTL and Genie Lo. *cries*



Well, I don’t really crush on YA characters much because of the age gap, but if he were my age, Jason Zhou from Want?


Genie Lo! The tall angry kickass Asian girl that I’ve always wanted in YA.



It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura

Okay, it’s fairly rare for a book to actually, literally make me cry, but this book actually did that. It was over a very emotional mother-daughter moment that really struck a chord with me, and I guess the biggest factors that contributed to that was a) the protagonist is [East] Asian American like me, and b) I lost my own mom last year so I’m still really sensitive to stuff relating to moms. If you want to read my thoughts about the Latinx rep (the love interest is Mexican American), I wrote a brief review about it on GR, but as I’m not Latinx, I don’t feel comfortable actually recommending this book to people since it was called out a few months back by a sensitivity reader for bad rep, and I don’t know to what extent that stuff was fixed/edited for the final version.



Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan

Okay, this was one of my favorite middle grade books of the year because it was really cute and fun but also creative about turning certain racist microaggressions against biracial Asian people on their head. You can read my full review here.


…I don’t think I’ve seen any? Oops.


Probably my review for Want since it’s such a personally satisfying read because of the Taiwanese rep.



The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

It has such gorgeous cover art! It extends onto the back as well, and there’s a Chinese character on the cover under the jacket; it’s the word for the main character’s name, Jing. You can see it in my bookstagram post:

I also really loved the story, which I reviewed here.


There are only a million and one, but here are some diverse releases from the first half of this year that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet:

Midnight Without a Moon is based on true historical events relating to the murder of Emmett Till in the mid-20th Century, told through the perspective of a young black girl. Stef Soto, Taco Queen tells the story of a girl who wants to escape the shadow of her family-run taco truck until that very livelihood is threatened, and she become it’s greatest champion. The Harlem Charade follows three kids of color in Harlem as they investigate one of them’s missing grandfather and stumble upon an insidious plot to gentrify their neighborhood. Piecing Me Together tackles the intersections of race, gender, and class for a Black teen girl who attends a mostly-white private school, where she’s identified as “at-risk.” Wintersong is an atmospheric retelling of the story of Labyrinth, in which a girl who loves to compose music becomes the bride of the Goblin King, her creative muse, in order to save her sister. Empress of a Thousand Skies is an epic space opera in which a princess and a former refugee have to join together to help reclaim the throne and save the galaxy. History Is All You Left Me tells the story of a teen struggling with the death of his ex and his own debilitating OCD, and his ex’s boyfriend is the only one who understands his pain. The Foretelling of Georgie Spider is the third and final book in The Tribe series by Indigenous author Ambelin Kwamullina; the series takes place in a dystopian future where people who manifest powers are Illegal and must survive in secret on the fringes of society or be detained by the state. I read the first book last year (my review) and loved it, so books 2 and 3 are waiting for me.

HEY, you made it to the end, yay you! I tag everyone who wants to do this tag. ^o^

The Pokemon GO Book Tag

Tag created by Aentee @ Read At Midnight.

This looks like so much fun! Links are to my reviews, except in the case of upcoming releases, where the links are to the Goodreads pages for the books. 🙂

I’m not sure I can pinpoint one? But my fourth grade teacher read to our class regularly to promote reading, and the books that really stayed with me were Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville and Holes by Louis Sachar.

His Dark Materials.jpg

The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but the characters stayed with me for a long time after reading the series. I’m still not over that ending. 😥 I own the omnibus edition pictured above.

I feel like this encompasses a lot of super popular fantasy series that are by/about cishet white women, not to mention Problematic(TM) on various levels: Throne of Glass, A Court of Thrones and Roses, Red Queen, The Lunar Chronicles, Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Mortal Instruments and spin-offs (I read the first 3 books of TMI and lost track and never looked back tbh), etc.

I’d rather read diverse fantasy series, especially ones that are underexposed.


Hmm, I guess I’ll say Prophecy by Ellen Oh, which is the first book a historical fantasy trilogy set in a Korean-inspired alternate world. It has the standard fantasy fare: a prophecy, a chosen one, a quest for magical objects, a dragon, etc. I loved its portrayal of family bonds and friendship.

Crown of Stars.jpg

The Crown of Stars series by Kate Elliott. I bought the books a while ago and they’re sitting on my shelf, I just haven’t gotten around to them. Each book is like 800 pages and there are 7 books, so they’re longer than even the Harry Potter series, page-count-wise.

Way too many, I’m up reading all the time…Oh, I know.


Green Island by Shawna Yang Ryan. I was up until around 4 am reading it, oops. It’s one of the best fictional representations of 20th Century Taiwanese history that I’ve ever read, and it was an emotional experience for me because of my family’s connection to that history.

The Reader full spread.jpg

Sefia and Archer from The Reader by Traci Chee. I liked that their relationship was developed from the ground up and had real substance to it beyond superficial attraction. I gushed about them a bit more in my review (see the hyperlink).

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. It’s fantasy with f/f romance and political intrigue and a murder mystery thrown in.
I feel like very few of the diverse series I’ve read have any spin-offs. I’d love for Grace Lin to write more books in the Pacy Lin series since those are among the few middle grade books with Taiwanese American representation. 🙂
I’m usually pretty good at gauging which books I’ll like or dislike so I’m rarely “pleasantly surprised” by anything. I guess I’ll say The Dove Chronicles by Karen Bao. The average rating on Amazon for the first book, Dove Arising, was about 3-3.5 stars, so I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as I found it to be. I have the second book waiting to be read, and the third comes out this year.
I’ve already read the first two books, but the remaining two An Ember in the Ashes books by Sabaa Tahir. I enjoyed the first book, liked the second more than the first, but I found some problematic things that I’m planning to address once I reread it closely. Side note: The author recently came out in defense of Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth, despite the criticism from Black and Indigenous folks who were the ones affected by the racist tropes in the book, so I have reservations about continuing to read her work. If I do I’m probably getting the books secondhand.
Harry Potter boxed set.jpg Not sure if it counts as a collector’s edition, but the new U.S. paperback boxed set of Harry Potter. I love the new cover illustrations and the Hogwarts castle montage that runs across the spines of all seven books. However, I don’t like buying big/long books in paperback because their spines get messed up easily. I guess if I bought them just to keep and not to read it wouldn’t be an issue. My sister owns the original 1st edition hardcovers, though (except book 1, which we have the 10th anniversary edition of), so I’d have to buy two sets of HP for myself.
FoaTL motif.png
No cover photo yet, but this an image from Julie’s website aesthetic/layout.
I’ve been raving about it on Twitter, but Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao, which is the first in a duology called Rise of the Empress, and set to release on October 10th. There’s a dearth of #ownvoices Asian fantasy, Asian fantasy written by Asian/diverse authors, and non-#ownvoices Asian fantasy that’s written well without falling into a racist garbage fire hellhole (See: The Lunar Chronicles, Stormdancer, Soundless, and basically every Asian fantasy written by a white author ever). The primary culture depicted in FoaTL is Chinese, but there are multiple Asian cultures represented within the story/series, and as far as my knowledge goes, they’re are treated as separate/distinct cultures, not thrown into a horrible mish-mash of Asian cultures that prioritizes East Asian cultures while ignoring the history of imperialism by East Asian nations in the region. The author is Vietnamese and not Chinese, but she hired multiple sensitivity readers, so I’m far more inclined to trust that the culture is treated respectfully. *fingers crossed*
Cindy Pon because she writes #ownvoices Chinese and Taiwanese SFF which is like my number one priority as far as reading goes. You can find my reviews of her first four books, which are Chinese-inspired historical fantasy, here and here. Her fifth book, Want, is coming out this summer and one of my most anticipated releases of 2017 because it’s set in Taiwan. 😀

I’m 99.99% sure this is not the final cover image, but it’s what’s on Goodreads right now.

Malinda Lo’s A Line in the Dark, which is coming out October 17th this year. She’d mentioned working on a new book around two years ago (I think?), in a different genre from her previous books, which are SFF. Once the word came that it would be a mystery YA with an Asian American protagonist, my excitement grew by leaps and bounds because there aren’t many Asian characters in the mystery genre, and I’m always eager for more Asian American protagonists in contemporary YA. And of course, because it’s Malinda Lo, we’re gonna get queer girls. 🙂

The Rapid Fire Book Tag

Going to answer some bookish questions about myself. Not tagging anyone in particular, feel free to do it if you want to. 😀 Tag created by Booktuber GirlReading, original video can be found here.

The Rapid Fire Book Tag

eBooks or physical books?

Physical because I love to sniff and pet books. 😀

Paperback or hardback?

I tend to buy paperbacks for the lower price, but ever since I discovered pre-order swag I’ve been buying a lot more hardcovers oops.

Online or in-store book shopping?

Online is convenient and I’m kind of lazy. But on the other hand, it’s relaxing to just wander around a bookstore browsing titles and being able to feel the books.

Trilogies or series?

It doesn’t matter to me. If the books hold my interest, I’ll keep reading no matter how long the series lasts.

Heroes or villains?

Villains can be interesting but in the end I prefer heroes because I’m a social justice activist, so obviously I want good to prevail. 🙂

A book you want everyone to read?

Hmm, I’d probably go with Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. It’s such a magical tale that weaves together so many story threads, and the illustrations (done by the author herself) are gorgeous. Below is most of the jacket illustration.where-the-mountain-meets-the-moon-full-dragon

Recommend an underrated book.

the-ghost-brideThe Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. It wasn’t marketed as YA, perhaps because the protagonist is eighteen, which makes her an “adult” based on U.S. legal standards, but the story is fairly YA-esque in my opinion. It’s an #ownvoices fantasy novel set in colonial Malaya (modern-day Malaysia) in 1893, written by a fourth generation Malaysian-Chinese author. It focuses on the story of a girl who is asked to be a ghost bride (a bride to a dead man who did not get to wed during his life) and is then drawn into the Chinese afterlife, where secrets and danger lurk.

The last book you finished?s

Song of the Cuckoo Bird by Amulya Malladi. It’s a bittersweet historical fiction novel that spans decades and tells the stories of a family of women who are outcasts in society for various reasons. It’s a very emotionally honest book, with complex, flawed characters. But not for everyone. I talk about why in my review.

Used books, yes or no?

Yes. There are Used – Like New/Very Good books I get through Amazon because they’re cheaper or out of print. And then there are used books I buy at used bookstores, which are a great place to scour for old and/or obscure books by Asian authors. I prefer new books, but I won’t say no to a good used one.

Top three favorite genre?

  1. Fantasy – I love magic and alternate universes and fantasy creatures and deities and so on.
  2. Diverse contemporary YA – I’ll admit I’m partial to stories about 2nd gen kids because their experiences are so relatable to me.
  3. Literary fiction with intergenerational narratives – That’s a very specific category, but it’s what I’m drawn to because so much of my culture is structured around family and heritage and roots, so I love reading about threads that link generations of families together. I get really emotionally invested in family relationships, much more than I do in romantic ones.

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?

That little strip you tear off a package/envelope to open it, lol.

Borrow or buy?

Buy. I’m a book dragon, I hoard books. ;D

Characters or plot?

Both. But in general, character-driven stories with not as much plot are better than stories with plot but characters I don’t really care about.

Long or short book?

Depends. 300-400 pages is a decent length for me. 500+ had better be a very good and very involved/complex story because otherwise…nope.

Long or short chapters?

Short ones, I guess. Feels like there are more pauses to take a mental break. More places I can stop reading for the day/time being.

Name the first three books you think of.

first-testFirst Test (Protector of the Small #1) by Tamora Pierce – The first book in a series that’s among my all-time favorites. A girl enters the training for knighthood, the first since a few centuries ago. She fights against sexism and always defends the underdog. A very feminist series that empowers women of diverse backgrounds.

hawksongHawksong (The Kiesha’ra #1) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes – Not a very diverse book or series in terms of characters overall, but the author is queer. It features shapeshifters, political intrigue, and romance. There is a queer/lesbian MC in the fourth book, Wolfcry.

the-red-chamberThe Red Chamber by Pauline A. Chen – An English-language retelling of one of the four great classics of Chinese literature, Dream of the Red Chamber, a story of elite socialites and political intrigue set in Qing China, with a large cast of characters and complex relationships between them all. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my TBR. I have vague memories of the drama adaptation that my mom watched when I was very young.

Books that make you laugh or cry?

I think…books that make me cry…I laugh at a lot of things whereas crying at things is relatively unusual for me. It means I’m empathizing deeply enough with the characters to feel pain and sadness on their behalf…

Our world or fictional worlds?

Can’t we have both? Like an AU that’s connected to our world through portals or whatever?

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?

I like pretty covers but I read books with ugly ones and don’t think books are worse for having an ugly cover or better when the cover is pretty. That said, I’d rather have a pretty cover for a book I love.

Audiobooks: yes or no?

No. I’m bad at processing information through sound, so I’d get distracted very easily and miss most of what’s being said. >.>

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?

Depends. Some books can fit into a movie, others would be better off being TV series so you can get all the details and subplots.

A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book?

Unpopular opinion: The Lord of the Rings. I tried to read The Hobbit and I really could not get through it. It was so dry. I don’t feel much guilt though because it’s super white and cisheteronormative. *shrug*

Series or standalone?

I’m definitely a series person. Maybe because I’m always greedy for more about the characters I love?

The Diverse Books Tag

So I found this tag through Naz, who runs Read Diverse Books, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of the books I’ve read and want to read. I’m doubling up and doing both a book I’ve read and a book I want to read for each category, where possible.

The Rules

  1. Credit the original creator, Read Diverse Books.
  2. The Diverse Books Tag is a bit like a scavenger hunt. I will task you to find a book that fits a specific criteria and you will have to show us a book you have read or want to read.
  3. If you can’t think of a book that fits the specific category, then I encourage you to go look for one.A quick Google search will provide you with many books that will fit the bill. (Also, Goodreads lists are your friends.) Find one you are genuinely interested in reading and move on to the next category.

Everyone can do this tag, even people who don’t own or haven’t read any books that fit the descriptions below. So there’s no excuse! The purpose of the tag is to promote the kinds of books that may not get a lot of attention in the book blogging community.

Check out the master post, where I compile the hundreds of book recommendations provided by bloggers who have done the Diverse Books Tag. Click here.

Find a book starring a lesbian character.

A Book I’ve Read:

Huntress by Malinda Lo


Set in an alternate universe that blends East Asian (mostly Chinese) and Western elements, Huntress is about two girls, Kaede and Taisin, who are sent on a quest to find the Fairy Queen to figure out what is causing the unnatural disturbances in their kingdom. It’s the prequel to Ash (a bisexual Cinderella retelling), but you don’t need to read Ash first to understand Huntress.

A Book I Want to Read:

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan


I’ve had this book on my TBR forever, and I finally bought it earlier this week. It’s a story about Leila, and Iranian American, and her crush on a new student, Saskia. She decides to take risks for the sake of Saskia that  complicate her relationships with her friends and family. It’s so hard to find books about LGBTQ POC, especially #ownvoices books, so I was happy to find out that this book exists.

Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.

A Book I’ve Read:

The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi


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.

A Book I Want to Read:

Ticket to India by N.H. Senzai


This book was on my wishlist for a long time, and when it was finally released in paperback in November, I bought it. I’m probably waiting until after I finish my 25 books for #DiversityDecBingo to read it.

This  book  its  about a girl named Maya. She  assumes  her family  is from Pakistan,  only to find out from  her  grandmother  that her family has roots  in India.  As  she journeys across India in search of a family treasure,  she discovers  more about her hidden heritage and  the effects of  Partition  on  her people.

Find a book set in Latin America.

It was hard to find one I’ve read before for this category. This is one I really need to work on for my diverse reading quest. But anyway, here are the books!

A Book I’ve Read:

City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende


Most people know Isabel Allende through her literary fiction, but I was first introduced to her through her fantasy YA trilogy, which starts with City in the Beasts. It takes place in the Amazon rain forest and is about the adventures of Alex Cold and Nadia Santos during Alex’s grandmother’s journalistic trip to document the existence of a fabled creature called The Beast.

It’s been years and years since I’ve read this book, so I can’t vouch for the representation of indigenous people in the book. Also, I might consider re-reading it in the original Spanish to practice my rusty Spanish literacy skills.

A Book I Want to Read:

Uprooting Community: Japanese Mexicans, World War II, and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands by Selfa A.  Chew


This is a nonfiction  book,  an academic  one,  actually.  My  friend who  is  third generation Chinese-Mexican  American  gave it to me as a gift because their mother, who’s a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, wrote it, and they know I’m an ethnic studies nerd. A lot of people don’t realize that  Asian  Latinx people  exist.  They do,  and this book explores the devastating impact of  anti-Japanese  sentiment  on  Japanese Mexicans  during World  War II.

Find a book about a person with a disability.

This is a category that I’ve read few books from, unfortunately. I’m trying to remedy that.

A  Book  I’ve  Read:

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman


Just read  this  yesterday,  and  I’ll be reviewing  it shortly.  It’s a novel-in-verse  that tells the story of Veda,  an  Indian girl whose passion  is for dancing  the traditional Bharatanatyam.  After she  gets in an  accident  that results in her  right leg being amputated  below the  knee,  she must find a way  to cope  and relearn the skills  that once came  easily to her.

A  Book I  Want  to  Read:

Challenger  Deep  by Neal  Shusterman

Challenger Deep.jpg

I’ve read a lot of Neal Shusterman’s work in the past, so when I found out that he wrote a book about mental illness based on his son’s experience with schizophrenia, I put it on my TBR. The book chronicles the story of Caden Bosch, who is in high school but spends a large amount of his time immersed in a world of his mind’s fabrication. It’s illustrated by Brendan Shusterman, Neal Shusterman’s son, which adds an additional visual element to the narrative.

Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.

A  Book  I’ve  Read:

Silver  Phoenix  by Cindy Pon


This  was one of the first #ownvoices  Asian fantasy YA  novels I’ve read. It is set in an alternate universe inspired by historical China. I wrote a review for it here.

A  Book I  Want  to  Read:

The  Grace  of  Kings by  Ken Liu


I’ve had  this on  my TBR  for a while.  It’s probably going to be my first foray  into  adult speculative  fiction.  It’s the first book in a  fantasy  epic  that  supposedly reads  like an wuxia novel. Having grown up on wuxia dramas, this is totally my type of story.

Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.

Honestly, I cannot remember reading any books set in Africa besides required reading for school (Heart of Darkness and Cry, the Beloved Country) or books about Egypt written by white people (e.g. the Children of the Lamp series by P.B. Kerr), so it’s high time that I start filling in that gap. Here are two book I’d like to read.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


I’ve read Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists, so I know her writing/speech is very eloquent, and I’ve been meaning to read her other works, especially Americanah and this book. It is a historical fiction novel that focuses on the personal struggles and political turmoil of eastern Nigeria in the 60s.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor


I actually own several books by Nnedi Okorafor, but my TBR list is so long that I’ve never really gotten around to reading them yet, though I’m about to break that by reading Akata Witch for #DiversityDecBingo. Who Fears Death is about the spiritual journey of a young woman in post-apocalyptic Saharan Africa and an exploration of gender and oppression.

Find a book written by an Indigenous or Native author.

This is also a category that I have little to no experience with. I’m putting down three books I’d like to read.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie


Given how well-known this book is, I feel obligated to read it. It focuses on a boy named Junior who moves to an all-white school from the Spokane Indian Reservation.

Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith


I’m a sucker for animal-related and shape-shifter stories. The main character, Clyde, is a were-possum, and other characters are also were-somethings (were-cat, were-armadillo, etc.). Super cool concept, right? Also, the story takes place in Austin, Texas, the city where I spent the last five years of my life, so reading a book that takes place there will be fun. This book is the first in a trilogy, so I expect to read all three eventually.

Voices from the Mountain: Taiwanese Aboriginal Literature by  Hulusman Vava (Author), Auvini Kadresengan (Author), Badai (Author), and Prof. Shu-hwa Shirley Wu (Translator)


So if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m Taiwanese. I’m really interested in the politics and history of Taiwan. Unfortunately, Taiwan’s indigenous population is marginalized in Taiwanese society much like Native Americans are in the U.S. As a non-indigenous Taiwanese, I feel that it’s very important to listen to and uplift the voices of Taiwan’s indigenous people. This collection of short stories seems like a good way to increase my awareness of indigenous cultures and issues.

Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).

A Book I’ve Read:

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman


This book is a historical fiction novel set in India during World War II, when India was still under British rule. The main character, Vidya, is a teenage girl with ambitions to go to college. However, she’s forced to move into her grandfather’s house, where they are conservative and segregate the women’s and men’s quarters. Vidya breaks the rules by going to the second-floor library, where she meets Raman, who treats her as an equal and fosters her intellectual growth. However, her life becomes complicated when her brother makes a decision regarding the ongoing war. It’s a touching book about self discovery, friendship, romance, family, and politics.

A Book I Want to Read:

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.jpg

This one’s a middle grade novel. It features eleven-year-old Dini’s move to India from the U.S. Dini loves Bollywood, but her family isn’t moving to Bombay, they’re moving to an obscure place, Swapnagiri. However, it turns out that this town is home to interesting things, including, it seems, Dini’s favorite Bollywood star.

Aside from liking middle grade fiction a lot in general, I was curious about this book because it has a character who likes Bollywood. My knowledge of Bollywood is pretty small: I know Shah Rukh Khan is a Thing, and I’ve watched clips of/analyzed some Bollywood movies featuring Indian American characters for my Asian American Media Cultures class, and that’s about it. So I think it would be fun to learn a thing or two about Bollywood through a fictional book.

Find a book with a biracial protagonist.

A Book I’ve Read:

Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung


Although the main character, Vincent Wu, is biracial, white and Asian (his ethnicity is never explicitly mentioned in the book, but Wu is a Chinese and Korean last name, though the Korean version is typically spelled Woo), the book isn’t about his race or ethnicity. It’s a superhero story with a genderbending twist. Vincent is one of Captain Stupendous’s biggest fans. When Captain Stupendous is injured in a fight involving professor Mayhem, he ends up collaborating with his crush, Polly Winnicott-Lee (who is mixed white and Korean) to help save his city.

A Book I Want to Read:

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton


This book caught my eye because it features a biracial girl who is mixed Black and Japanese. I have only read one other book that I can think of with a protagonist who’s mixed Black and Asian, and it’s Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. The vast majority of mixed Asian characters are mixed with white, and I wish there was more representation of those who are mixed with Latinx or Black or Native heritage. When I read the synopsis of Full Cicada Moon, I found out that it’s a historical fiction novel-in-verse set during the age of the Space Race, and the main character, Mimi, is an aspiring astronaut. I was a space nerd as a kid (and majored in aerospace engineering), so this felt like the perfect story for me.

Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.

A Book I’ve Read:

For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu


This is the first and only book I’ve read with an Asian trans character as the protagonist. The main character, Peter, is a Chinese Canadian trans girl. The book focuses on her journey to grow into herself. I first read it a while ago, and I’ve forgotten a lot of the details, so I’d like to reread it to do a thorough review of its trans representation. The author is a cis Chinese Canadian woman.

A Book I Want to Read:

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin


I need more books with genderfluid representation. This is one of the few I can find. Riley’s gender fluctuates between boy and girl, but they’re not out yet, especially because their father is running for re-election in conservative Orange County. Riley starts an anonymous blog about their life as a gender fluid teenager to vent, but the blog goes viral, and they face the threat of being outed.

Congratulations on making it to the end of this post! I’m tagging everyone who read this. If you’ve already done the tag, feel free to drop a link to your post in the comments. Otherwise, go do this tag, and come back and share your link. 🙂