Happy 2020, everyone!! 💫
I hope you’re all having a wonderful new year already!
I have the honor and pleasure to present to you the book recommendations for the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge—hosted by CW @ The Quiet Pond, Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads, Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea, and me—for the first month of this year, and they are all about
l o v e.
I’m also very excited to be continuing my project, Sprinkles of Diversity, in which I feature fellow book bloggers on my blog—for this post each of them picked a book they love, and it was so wonderful to read all their little love letters to them.
Additionally, I have the honor of including book recommendations from authors I absolutely adore in this blog post—a special thank you to each of them for contributing to my blog post with their own favorite books! ❤
The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo
“Love has a way of finding you.”
This book charmed me. Do you ever finish reading a book, and realize that you’re sitting there with a smile on your face, warmth pooling in your chest, and feeling entirely … content with life? Because that’s what The Way You Make Me Feel … made me feel. (Forgive me for this awful pun.)
This coming-of-age tale features friendship, family, romance, and all that you’d expect from a young adult contemporary to have you completely smitten by the end of it.
Loveboat, Taipei (Loveboat, Taipei, #1) by Abigail Hing Wen
~ Release date: January 7, 2020 ~
“I couldn’t be more excited for the release of Loveboat, Taipei because I truly love it with my entire heart. The Taiwanese-rep, the heart-wrenching love triangle, and the super fun and exciting plot make this story easily one of my favorites of all-time!
Loveboat, Taipei follows the story of Ever Wong at an educational summer academy in Taipei notoriously known as Loveboat for its lack of adult supervision, beginning a summer filled with friendship, romance, and adventure.” — Tiffany @ Read by Tiffany
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
“Angie Kim masterfully delivers a thrilling courtroom drama with her stunning debut, Miracle Creek. A complex study on justice, immigrant identity, and the challenges that come with parenting special needs children; the novel does not shy away from the gritty, dark reality of life.
Miracle Creek offers an exceptionally realistic cast of characters who are all connected through lies, secrets, and unquestionable grief. Angie Kim does not spare her reader’s feelings and wraps the story up with an explosive ending that makes the book impossible to forget.” — May @ My 1st Chapter
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat
~ Release date: March 24, 2020 ~
“I was lucky enough to be able to read this book in advance, and I adored it beyond words! A Wish in the Dark follows a fugitive boy and a warrior girl in the Thai-inspired fantasy world of Chattana and explores themes of privilege and justice, in an enrapturing tale based on Les Miserables.
As a Thai person, it meant the world for me to see Thai representation in fantasy, especially for the Middle Grade audience who will get to see themselves in a way I didn’t. The entire time I was reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about how flawless the whole book felt to me—I was in love with the characters, I was completely and utterly engrossed in the story, and I reveled in Soontornvat’s beautiful yet simple writing.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough, and I truly hope you pick it up when it releases in March!” — May @ Forever and Everly
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
“Some days you don’t want to save the world. Some days you just want to sit down with a hot cup of tea and sink into a story about the mundane lives of witches and werewolves, into very pretty art illustrating some heart-warming character arcs.
Mooncakes is an adorable graphic novel with solid story beats and effortlessly diverse representation—the main character wears a hearing aid, the love interest is nonbinary, and both are Chinese-American—and I loved that it was a quieter story about home and finding love.
There aren’t any grand quests or sprawling magical systems here, which allows the character stories to shine through. Simple works when the love and care put into a comic is this abundant. Also, cute queer grandmas!” — skye 🌿
The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch, #1) by Rin Chupeco
“Among all the books I’ve ever read, The Bone Witch is closest to my heart. At a time when I fell into my worst YA fantasy reading slump, it was the book that introduced me to Asian and Asian-inspired fantasies and effectively brought me back to reading my favorite genre. Kind of like how Tea accidentally brought her brother back from the dead.
With its masterful storytelling and phenomenal world-building, The Bone Witch revived my love for fantasy and fueled my determination to actively support Asian authors.” — Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea
Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1) by Tasha Suri
“Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri was one of those reads that had me unmoving from my room for hours as I raced to finish it in one sitting, heart palpitations going haywire the whole time.
This is a book about systemic oppression and generational trauma—how you inherit both simply for being born a certain way. It’s about identity and sticking true to who you are even when the world wants you to believe you’re monster. And at the heart of it all, it’s about freedom and humanity—what is true freedom in a world where it doesn’t seem to exist?
Tasha Suri weaves the answers to all of these questions into a poetic tale with all the force of a desert storm that will leave you breathless and gasping in its aftermath.” — Shri @ sun and chai
Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
“Our Wayward Fate touched my heart. The ways Ali suffers from self-erasing her identity, her differences, deeply resonated with some of my own experiences growing up. When you laugh, because you think the feeling in your throat will go away, and instead the lump grows larger and more difficult to stomach. How comments make you uncomfortable without knowing the words to voice how.
The racism Ali and Chase experience in this book was never as overt as what I experienced growing up, and our experiences are different as I’m a Chinese American adoptee, but I felt deeply seen in some of Ali’s experiences.” — Lili @ Utopia State of Mind
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1) by Fonda Lee
“It’s hard to use words to express how amazing Jade City is when it’s basically everything!! in a book!!!
Its intricacy is everywhere from the way that the world is constructed to the complexity of the characters!l.
Guys, the hype is real and accurate (and Fonda Lee is a god).
Also, I’m terrified of the next book.” — Ju @ Paper Blots
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso
“K.S. Villoso’s debut explores what it means to be a Filipino woman in a high fantasy setting. This book urges its readers to examine their own definition of a “strong female character” and look at the trope from a different culture’s perspective.”
— Kate @ Your Tita Kate
The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
recommended by Chloe Gong, author of These Violent Delights (Simon Teen, fall 2020)
“I remember reading this entire book in one sitting, and then flipping right back to the start as soon as I finished so I could read it again and take in the gorgeous writing more slowly.
With an India-inspired fantasy setting/culture and one of my favorite protagonists ever, the story is simultaneously gripping yet leisurely, beautiful yet purposeful.
Also there’s a talking horse, and I love her.”
A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy, #1) by Sangu Mandanna
recommended by Natasha Ngan, NYT bestselling author of the Girls of Paper and Fire series
“I love Mandanna’s sparky heroine Esme, who is beautifully complex, as is the journey we travel with her on.
Esme discovers her family and works to carve out her complicated place within it, but things are never straightforward in Mandanna’s dark, political world, and there are plenty of heartbreaking twists that had me gasping and both cheering on and crying for Esme.
Add in witty banter with a sentient spaceship and grumpy gods, and what more could you ask for?”
Rebel Seoul (Rebel Seoul, #1) by Axie Oh
recommended by Andrea Tang, author of Rebelwing (Penguin, spring 2020)
“Axie Oh’s Rebel Seoul is probably the closest you’ll ever come to experiencing both classic mecha anime and a full stop K-drama binge watch without once touching a TV screen.
Axie employs a brilliant knack for somehow capturing the cultural and visual nuances of both genres in plain old beautifully written word. Everyone knows that I, for completely unbiased and impersonal reasons (*cough*), love me some giant robots, but Rebel Seoul is so much more than that.
If you love all things streamable on Crunchyroll, this book will feel like coming home; if not, it’s a well-crafted gateway to an addictively good time!”
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
recommended by Tashie Bhuiyan, author of Counting Down With You (Harper Collins, 2021)
“A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is one of my favorite standalone novels of all time.
It’s such an important story that discusses Islamophobia post-9/11 and provides insight to what many Muslims have experienced/still experience, not only in terms of prejudice but in respect to their daily lives. At the same time, the heart of this story lies in the gentle romance between Shirin and Ocean and I can’t get enough of either of them. I always understood why these characters were making the decisions they did, and every single scene one of their scenes felt so raw and honest.
I felt every part of this book in my heart and I honestly can’t recommend it enough.”
Which Asian book(s) do you love?
Any books in this post that you’ve read, or are planning to read?
Have you joined #YARC2020? 💗