Posted in Books

YA Books for AAPI Heritage Month

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

I’m (almost) back! Today marked my last AP exam of the year (had four exams this week…hhhgh…), so now that I have most of the big tests out of the way, I can start getting back on a more frequent blogging schedule. Of course, I’m not *quite* done with the school year just yet, but the only finals I have left are for my easy classes, so I don’t think there’s anything terribly strenuous on the immediate horizon. 🙂

But I wanted to make this post because here in the U.S., the month of May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month! So for the occasion, I decided to compile some of my favorite #OwnVoices AAPI YA novels of all genres. As always, it’s essential to diversify your reading pool 365 days a year, but especially with the tragic hate crimes and harmful stigmas surrounding AAPI people in the U.S. and elsewhere, it’s especially important to uplift AAPI voices.

So let’s begin, shall we?

Aapi Aapi Month GIF - Aapi AapiMonth AapiHeritageMonth - Discover & Share  GIFs

YA BOOKS FOR AAPI HERITAGE MONTH

Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire (Girls of Paper and Fire Series #1) by Natasha  Ngan, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRES: High fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, but I’ll never forget the impact it had on me. Raw, unapologetic, and resonant, Ngan builds such a rich world, unforgettable characters, and a plot that kept me at the edge of my seat. The sequel was a disappointment, unfortunately, but I think I’ll stick it out for book 3.

This Time Will Be Different – Misa Sugiura

Amazon.com: This Time Will Be Different eBook: Sugiura, Misa: Kindle Store

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For anyone who seeks to make change in their community, this one’s a must-read! A beautiful story of family, history, and everyday resistance.

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Love Hate & Other Filters - Social Justice Books

GENRES: Fiction, contemporary, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

After reading two of her books and a short story, I can now say that Samira Ahmed might just be a new favorite author of mine! She never misses, and her debut is no exception; a raw and beautiful tale of love, family, and fighting back against bigotry.

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

GENRES: Historical fiction, fantasy, retellings (Romeo and Juliet), romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I tried (and failed) to set my expectations at a reasonable level after all the hype this one got, but I must say, this one is worth a good portion of it! A fresh and original spin on Romeo and Juliet set against the background of 1920’s Shanghai, complete with warring gangs and strange monsters.

Warcross – Marie Lu

Amazon.com: Warcross (9780399547966): Lu, Marie: Books

GENRES: Science fiction, romance, dystopia

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Marie Lu’s one of my favorite authors, and it was hard to pick just one of her books for this post, but I ended up on this one because a) it was my first exposure to her AMAZING writing and b) I don’t talk about it an awful lot, so why not give it some more love?

Besides that gorgeous cover, there’s something for everybody here: futuristic Tokyo, a clever and lovable heroine, mysteries within competitive video games, and secret plots.

Almost American Girl – Robin Ha

Amazon.com: Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir (9780062685094): Ha,  Robin, Ha, Robin: Books

GENRES: Graphic novels, autobiography

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

GAAAH, this one’s beautiful! This one’s an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel, centering around the author’s experience as a Korean immigrant to the U.S. and the transformative power of art and comics.

Ash – Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

GENRES: Retellings (Cinderella), fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Amid the bountiful Cinderella retellings out there, this one truly stands out, with lush writing reminiscent of the narration of Pan’s Labyrinth and classic fairytales, and a warm and resonant sapphic romance. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a retelling worth reading!

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi

Amazon.com: The Gilded Wolves: A Novel (The Gilded Wolves, 1)  (9781250144546): Chokshi, Roshani: Books

GENRES: Fantasy, historical fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you’re a fan of Six of Crows, I AM ONCE AGAIN ASKING YOU TO DROP WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING AND READ THIS BOOK. Lovable and authentic characters, a complex world and system of magic, heists for famed artifacts, and political intrigue – this one has it all.

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – Julie C. Dao

Amazon.com: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress Book 1)  eBook: Dao, Julie C.: Kindle Store

GENRES: Retellings, high fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you love antiheroes, corruption arcs, or stories from the perspective of the villain, than this book is for you! Rich, dark and compelling, this is a must-read duology for any YA fantasy fan!

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He

Descendant of the Crane (9780807515518): He, Joan: Books - Amazon.com

GENRES: High fantasy, mystery

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I know I never stop blabbing about this one, but this is a prime example of genre-bending done right: a stunning blend of fantasy and murder mystery! I’m so surprised that more people haven’t read this one, I highly recommend it if you haven’t. (And I can’t wait for The Ones We’re Meant to Find! It looks amazing, but I can’t find it at my library…[impatient screeching])

The Henna Wars – Adiba Jaigirdar

The Henna Wars — Adiba Jaigirdar

GENRES: Fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and I’m so glad to say that it delivered! A diverse, sapphic enemies-to-lovers romance with important discussions about cultural appropriation, the immigrant experience, and sexuality.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by AAPI authors?

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Today’s song:

Ok I think I can officially forgive her for MASSEDUCTION because THERE IS NOT A BAD SONG ON THIS ALBUM! Expect a review soonish…

That’s it for this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/13/21) – These Violent Delights

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A bit of good news before I begin; for one, I got the SAT over with today! I actually feel fairly confident on the math portion, for once. And this afternoon, I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! I’ll be getting dose 2 in a few weeks, and I’m so relieved.

Anyway, this book has been on my radar for a while, what with it generating mountains of hype before and after its November 2020 release. It finally came to the library recently, and I’m so glad I got to read it! Not 100% worth the hype, but a truly inventive retelling.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) – Chloe Gong

My library copy ft. a cool filter and one of my bookshelves

Shanghai, 1926. A war between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers is brewing, and a gruesome illness and rumors of monsters run amok in the city. Caught in the middle are Juliette Cai, heiress of the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, her ex-lover and sworn enemy. As members of both gangs fall ill to the gory malady, they must set aside their pasts and work together before they fall prey to it.

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TW/CW: graphic violence, body horror, abuse, gruesome descriptions of illness, substance abuse, blood

The hype made my expectations for this one pretty high, but I’m glad to say that These Violent Delights lived up to a good portion of it! Not a perfect novel, but one I enjoyed a whole lot.

First off, can we give a round of applause to Chloe Gong for putting such an inventive twist on Romeo & Juliet? I LOVED the setting, first off; it’s both a time period and a place that don’t usually turn up in YA, and the descriptions made me feel as through I was walking in Juliette’s footsteps. The discussions of racism and colonialism gave another layer of darkness to the setting as well, which made it feel a lot more authentic, especially when we saw it through Juliette’s eyes. The gang rivalry set the perfect scene for an R&J retelling, and a lot of the related scenes gave me some slight Fargo (Year 4) vibes, which is always a resounding YES in my book. And to top all that wondrousness off, supernatural vibes! The fantasy element of the plague and the monster in the river were woven in seamlessly with the historical setting, making for a world that felt lush and wonderfully fleshed-out.

As for the characters, Juliette was probably my favorite; she had a refreshing amount of agency, and she was full of drive and wit. I didn’t like Roma quite as much, but his backstory seamlessly fed into his character and made him feel more authentic. And I LOVE LOVE LOVED Benedikt and Marshall! They had such lovely chemistry, and Benedikt especially (my favorite behind Juliette) had such distinct qualities that truly set them apart in this story. It was also loads of fun to make connections back to Shakespeare’s original work, although…I had one problem: Tyler. I get it that he was supposed to be the Tybalt-surrogate, but…Tyler doesn’t seem like a 1920’s name at all. I get it that most of the Chinese characters in the novel had Westernized names, and I get that Tyler and Tybalt are very similar, but when I think of the name “Tyler,” I think more of 1990’s-2010’s, not 1920’s. I looked it up, and it seems like it was a fairly uncommon name at the time, but I could suspend my disbelief a little bit.

My other problem with the novel was with a certain aspect of the writing. For the most part, it was stellar; like I said, lush descriptions, gripping action, amazing prose. Thing is, there were a lot of metaphors that got stretched out far beyond their use. If some of the metaphors remained at one sentence, it would’ve been fine. However, some of them got dragged out to…entire paragraphs, which…mmm, nope, not my cup of tea. [gets out a pair of gardening shears to trim the purple prose down] Lots of drama in the writing department, but it fit with the story, for the most part. It was a lot to handle sometimes, but given…well, everything about the plot, I can see the point of most of it.

All in all, a high-stakes, high-drama retelling of Romeo and Juliet full of action and authenticity. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

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These Violent Delights is Chloe Gong’s debut novel, and is the first novel in the These Violent Delights duology. Its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is slated for release in November 2021.

Today’s song:

NEW DANNY ELFMAN ALBUM IN JUNE THIS IS NOT A DRILL

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!