Book Recs for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!
Hi all! I know that this blog is supposed to veer more toward my journey as an author, but I figure reading good books lands solidly in the realm of being a good author. After all, if we’re not reading widely then we’re missing out on the chance to be inspired by all the amazing stories out there!
So, since May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I thought I’d give some recommendations for Asian American and Pacific American authors that I’ve been really into lately!
First, I’ll shamelessly push my Youtube video on the same subject that I made last year! I talk about books like REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh, THE GAUNTLET by Karuna Riazi, THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig and many more!
I’m so excited about the cover reveal for REBEL SEOUL by Axie Oh! I was inspired to make a video of some of my favorite Asian Authors in Middle Grade(MG) and Young Adult(YA)!
Now, I will list some more/new authors that I wasn’t able to get to in this video! (also, this will probably find it’s way into another vlog because I can’t help stealing my own ideas from myself across all mediums)
THE GHOST BRIDE by Yangsze Choo
Kat’s Thoughts: A beautifully haunting portrait of a time and place in history that we never really hear about. Through the practice of ghost brides we learn about a culture that is on the brink of change and a girl who doesn’t quite fit in. I’d also recommend checking out the audiobook, Yangsze Choo narrates it and it’s SO well done!
Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.
Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.
After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.
PROPHECY by Ellen Oh
Kat’s Thoughts: This was the first Young Adult Fantasy where I saw an amazingly proud, well-developed Korean main character. She was strong and flawed and dynamic and so authentic in how she perceived her place in her culture. I loved this adventure with all my heart.
Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…
Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.
Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.
THE IMMORTAL RULES by Julie Kagawa
Kat’s Thoughts: I was honestly done with vampires and then Julie Kagawa pulled me back in! By combining dystopian with vampire lore she made a new landscape for her story. Plus she included a Japanese main character that I absolutely loved.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.
Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for again.
EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO by F.C. Yee
Kat’s Thoughts: This is such an imaginative retelling of the Chinese epic tale, Monkey: Journey to the West. It’s got great humor and a really kick-butt herione that reminds me of Buffy. So I was in already with that!
Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.
But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.
Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.
THE READER by Traci Chee
Kat’s Thoughts: I am SO jealous of how clever Traci Chee is! She was able to create this unconventional formatted story and make me second guess everything I thought I knew the whole time! Plus she includes diversity so seamlessly with no need to explain or give reasons. It just is and I adore that in a fantasy.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed. With no time to lose, and the unexpected help of swashbuckling pirates and an enigmatic stranger, Sefia sets out on a dangerous journey to rescue her aunt, using the book as her guide. In the end, she discovers what the book had been trying to tell her all along: Nothing is as it seems, and the end of her story is only the beginning.
THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by Emily X.R. Pan
Kat’s Thoughts: A beautiful and heartbreaking story about a girl’s journey to find her late mother and her path to reconnect with family, a past love, and herself. Be prepared to cry!
Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
THE SERPENT’S SECRET by Sayantani DasGupta
Kat’s Thoughts: Great world-building, spunky main character, and wonderful incorporation of Indian Mythology!
MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMONSLAYER
(But she doesn’t know it yet.)
On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish later that day and a rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories—like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess—and a wealth of secrets about her origin they’ve kept hidden.
To complicate matters, two crushworthy Indian princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’re here to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and slay demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld (who may or may not want to kill her) and the rakkhosh queen (who definitely does) in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…
MY ANTICIPATED UPCOMING RELEASES!
A THOUSAND BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS by Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman
Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.
expected pub: June 26 2018
Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.
Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.
A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.
From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.
FOR A MUSE OF FIRE by Heidi Heilig
expected pub: sept 25 2018
A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from the acclaimed Heidi Heilig blends traditional storytelling with ephemera for a lush, page-turning tale of escape and rebellion. For a Muse of Fire will captivate fans of Sabaa Tahir, Leigh Bardugo, and Renée Ahdieh.
Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.
GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan
expected pub: Nov 6 2018
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
THE GIRL KING by Mimi Yu
expected pub: Jan 8 2019
Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this sweeping tale of ambition, sacrifice and betrayal for readers of Sabaa Tahir and Alwyn Hamilton.
All hail the Girl King.
Sisters Lu and Min have always understood their places as princesses of the Empire. Lu knows she is destined to become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while Min is resigned to a life in her shadow. Then their father declares their male cousin Set the heir instead—a betrayal that sends the sisters down two very different paths.
Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu goes on the run. She needs an ally—and an army—if she is to succeed. Her quest leads her to Nokhai, the last surviving wolf shapeshifter. Nok wants to keep his identity secret, but finds himself forced into an uneasy alliance with the girl whose family killed everyone he ever loved…
Alone in the volatile court, Min’s hidden power awakens—a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign…or allow Min to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could turn out to be each other.
DRAGON PEARL by Yoon Ha Lee
expected pub: Jan 15 2019
Rick Riordan Presents Yoon Ha Lee’s space opera about thirteen-year-old Min, who comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her.
To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds. When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.
Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.
This sci-fi adventure with the underpinnings of Korean mythology will transport you to a world far beyond your imagination.
RUMOR GAME by Sona Charaipotra
Expected pub: 2019
A contemporary YA that follows three troubled young women as a high school rumor begins to spiral out of control with dangerous consequences, and only one girl has the power to set things right. But will she even want to?
WHEN ASHISH MET SWEETIE by Sandhya Menon
Expected pub: 2019
a companion novel to her NYT bestselling When Dimple Met Rishi, told in dual perspectives, following the brother of the first book’s protagonist as he humorously navigates love and identity in the wake of a crushing breakup and a fat athlete who wants to prove to herself that she’s more than just her dress size.
DESCENDANT OF THE CRANE by Joan He
expected pub: 2019
Eliza Swift at Albert Whitman has acquired Joan He’s Descendant of the Crane, a debut YA fantasy novel pitched as a Chinese-inspired Game of Thrones. In a world where magic is forbidden, a young princess searches for her father’s assassin, but must fight against the intrigue and suspicion that besets her own court.
INTERNMENT by Samira Ahmed
expected pub: 2019
About a near future in the United States where Muslim Americans are forced into an internment camp, and a seventeen-year-old must fight against Islamophobia, oppression, and complicit silence.
THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT by Swati Teerdhala
expected pub: 2019
Esha hates the soldiers of the Blood Fort, especially the ruthless General Hotha. Determined to avenge her family after the royal coup, she becomes the legendary rebel spy known as the Viper. Her goal? Kill General Hotha and topple the Pretender King from his blood-soaked throne.
Kunal is the sole nephew of General Hotha, who put him on the path of a soldier eleven years ago, expecting him to follow in his footsteps. It’s a path of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to the Pretender King which Kunal has no choice but to follow.
When Esha’s mission puts her in Kunal’s crosshairs, she expects to fight for her life. Instead, his unexpected kindness gives her opportunity to complete her mission.
Except that the General is already dead and the Viper’s been framed for the assassination. A game is already in play — but who’s moving the pieces?
Through desert towns and lush jungles, Kunal and Esha play a cat and mouse game. Beliefs are thrown into question. Choices must be made. And both the soldier and the rebel must decide— loyalty to their old lives or to a love that’s made them dream of new ones.
THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME by Nafiza Azad
expected pub: 2019
Set in a city along the Silk Road that has become a refuge for those of all faiths, the YA fantasy is about a young woman with mysterious origins and two clans of powerful djinn who threaten to destroy her peace, and the unlikely alliances she’ll make to survive.
Are there any Asian American or Pacific American books you’re looking forward to?