Good morning, amigos!!! I hope you’ve all been having a great start to your week! Today I’ll be doing an update on all my bookish and not so bookish goals that I made at the start of the year. I’ll also be sharing what I’ve read for the 4 reading challenges that I’m doing.
To be honest, I’m pretty surprised with how well I did in some aspects, and of course, not so surprised that I failed in others. Lol, let’s get started!
I am not Asian, however, this reading challenge sounds like a great way to diversify my reading. YARC is all about boosting Asian authors and Asian books, so I’m super excited to try it out this year!
My goal is to reach the Indian Cobra level, which is 11-20 books. All credit goes to Lily who drew all the amazing badges!!
Who knows, maybe I’ll pass it or maybe I won’t. Either way, I hope this helps me read a lot of diverse books.
So, I’ve decided to make a TBR for this or else, I will never bother myself later with looking for Asian books or Asian authors. I know. It’s horrible, and it’s partly the reason why I didn’t do anything with the two reading challenges that I joined last year.
I’m going to start out with a TBR of 10 books, and use the monthly recommendation lists from Lily and the other co-hosts to pick the second 10 books later.
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in LA, following two families—one Korean-American, one African-American—grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime
In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. Protests and vigils are being staged all over the city. It’s in this dangerous tinderbox that two families must finally confront their pasts.
Grace Park lives a sheltered existence: living at home with her Korean-immigrant parents, working at the family pharmacy, and trying her best to understand why her sister Miriam hasn’t spoken to their mother in years. The chasm in her family is growing wider by the day and Grace is desperate for reconciliation, and frustrated by the feeling that her sister and parents are shielding her from the true cause of the falling out.
Shawn Matthews is dealing with a fractured family of his own. His sister, Ava, was murdered as a teenager back in 1991, and this new shooting is bringing up painful memories. Plus, his cousin Ray is just released from prison and needs to reconnect with their family after so many years away. While Shawn is trying his best to keep his demons at bay, he’s not sure Ray can do the same.
When another shocking crime hits LA, the Parks and the Matthewses collide in ways they never could have expected. After decades of loss, violence, and injustice, tensions come to a head and force a reckoning that could clear the air or lead to more violence.
Zafira is the Hunter, braving the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those who defy his autocratic father, the sultan. She must hide her identity. He mustn’t display compassion. But when both embark on a quest to uncover a lost magic artifact, Zafira and Nasir encounter an ancient evil long thought destroyed—and discover that the prize they seek may be even more dangerous than any of their enemies. In We Free the Stars, Zafira and Nasir must conquer the darkness around—and inside of—them.
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.
She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.
Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.
When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.
Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…
Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.
Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.
But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.
Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.
How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.
A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.
But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.
That’s it for today friends! I hope you enjoyed reading this and maybe added one or two of these to your TBR! They all sound and look amazing!!
Are you taking part in #YARC2020? What’s your favorite Asian book, or book by an Asian author? What reading challenges are you doing this year? Any book recommendations you’d like to share? Chat with me in the comments below!!
Hello to all my amazing friends! It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday!! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme originally created by The Broke and The Bookish, and is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Hello to all my amazing friends!
Today’s topic is: Most anticipated releases for the second half of 2019
I’m so excited for all these books and I can’t wait to check out all the books you all are excited for you!
Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao – Publication date: November 19th
Are you anticipating any of these books as well? What are some of your favorite books of 2019 so far? What books are you anticipating? Let’s chat in the comments below! (Be sure to link to your TTT’s!)
Welcome everyone! Today, I want to talk about a very sensitive yet important issue in the world of Young Adult books: diversity and representation. This is very sensitive and has been the subject of many controversies in the YA community. I’ll also be venting my anger about what I’m dubbing, ‘Americanism’. It means people seeing everything through an American POV.
Recently, there has been a progressive movement to diversify the world of literature. To change the narrative that we all grew up reading about (or at least that I did). To represent the diverse group of readers who read books. To change the stories and to include the true nature of this world’s population.
To change racism.
To include other voices, those of Asians, Africans, Europeans (from countries that aren’t predominantly English) and people who aren’t ‘Western’.
To show the reality of this world, not just show what ‘the Westerners’ want us to show.
Let’s take a quick dive into history.
Books, especially classics, in general were written by white men, back in the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th century. Why? Because women weren’t really educated at the time, therefore they didn’t read these stories. Other men read these stories. And even those women who began to slowly change this idea, who broke from formation and wrote books, they sometimes wrote them under male pen names. Why? Because what man in his right mind would read a book written by a woman in the 18th century?
Take Charlotte Bronte and her sisters for instance. They published their poems under the pen names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Why? Because no one would take them seriously if they published as women.
Thankfully, that has changed.
And now, the bookish community’s focus is to integrate minorities, POC, the LGBT community, and to fight all the prejudices by creating literature that accepts this and makes it all okay.
But there’s a problem.
You say: What problem? We’re changing things for the better! We’re creating characters who are Black, characters who are gay, characters who aren’t skinny and pretty, but curvy and beautiful. More women are authors – actually, it’s relatively hard to find male authors in YA. Things are getting better J, what are you yapping about?
This is all great. This is amazing. But there is this still small part of us that is human. There is this small part of us that is still resisting, still fighting this change, even if we want it or not.
We have this issue in YA where a certain group takes offense when an author who isn’t from that group writes a book about that group.
If a white person, or maybe even a half white-half black person, were to write a book with a black main character, the black community would go through hell and back to attack this author for not writing about what they know and can relate to. For writing about a black person when they aren’t one.
Yet, these very same people, will come back tomorrow to complain that there aren’t enough YA books with black MC’s. Yesterday, they attacked someone who tried to change this, yet today they complain that there isn’t enough.
It is very very wrong. Why? Because we all sit and attack others for writing about something that we, personally, don’t think they should write about it. We don’t think that they should write about Asian characters because they aren’t Asian. We don’t think that they should talk about depression and anxiety because they haven’t suffered from it. We don’t think they’ve suffered true racism, so they can’t write a book that talks about it.
Do we live in their shoes? Have we experienced life like they have? We visit their profile, and see a white person, or a person who isn’t gay, or a person who isn’t physically or mentally suffering from an illness and then see that they wrote a book with a black main character, or a gay character, or a person who suffers from a physical or mental illness and we go through the roof in anger and frustration that this ‘imposter’ has dared to pretend to be us. But, we don’t know the whole story. We haven’t seen what they did, who they spoke to, how they came to write this book.
We haven’t seen their mothers who they had to sit with in the middle of the night while she suffered from suicidal thoughts.
We haven’t seen the brother who was paralyzed from his youth and depended on them through-out their lives.
We haven’t seen them comforting their friends who are black and have been called racial slurs and humiliated because of their race.
We haven’t seen them taking care of their bi-polar wives/husbands and autistic children.
We see a white person, or a not gay person, or a not physically or mentally ill person, who wrote about these issues, and we decide that there must be something wrong with it because of that. That it isn’t going to be authentic, or it will be racist, or anti-gay, or degrading/making fun of physically and mentally ill people. All because the author doesn’t look like it.
Looks can be very deceiving.
And who are we, anyway, to judge?
Another issue that angers me: When Americans think that they are the only ones in the world.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend anyone, I really don’t. I am American, and I am not out to attack or hurt anyone who is American. But I feel like this must be addressed and I hope, that if you’re American, that you understand and agree (or we agree to disagree) with me that this must be spoken about and addressed.
I’m going to share with you guys a story. An author wrote a book set in a fantasy land that was going to deal with slavery. After severe backlash by Twitter influencers, the author pulled the book from publication. Now, 3 months later, she has decided that she will publish this book anyway in November of this year.
I’m pretty sure this story is very familiar. It was one of the hottest controversies on YA twitter and had a lot of opinions from both sides.
This young debut author, is Amélie Wen Zhao.
But what happened? Why did YA Twitter attack her?
They attacked her because certain influential twitter users said she was racist in her book. Her book, which is based on Ms. Zhao’s cultural perspective, is said to have been racist because a character, who is presumed to be black, died to let the white main character live. They were also offended because they didn’t believe that the slavery was portrayed ‘correctly’.
My first issue with this: this character is presumed to be black because she was described as being “bronze” and “tan”. And she also is described as having “aqua marine eyes” and “ocean blue eyes”. It is extremely rare for an African or Black person to have blue eyes, especially when they have no Caucasian ancestry. Have you ever seen or met a black or an African person with blue eyes? Enlighten me, because I’m black, and I haven’t.
Second issue. This isn’t about America’s slavery past. It’s about the author’s cultural perspective on an issue in her home country. Slavery didn’t only exist in America, folks. I know, a shocker!!!! It existed and still exists in other parts of the world. The book is about slavery, not about American slavery, not about America’s history. It’s about slavery in Asia, from the point of view of a person of color.
This also upsets me. The fact that African/Black Americans instantly get defensive and angry, and instantly assume that this is supposed to be about them. It isn’t. Racism exists in other parts of the world. Racism can even be against white people too! It’s not just about you. Books about slavery and racism aren’t just about YOU or your race, it’s about all people who face racism and who are enslaved around the world.
Third of all. This is fiction. I’m probably going to get slammed for this, but I don’t care. It. Is. FICTION. Words that aren’t history, words that are from someone’s imagination and creativity. A story that is even fantasy for that matter. Fiction is according to Wikipedia:
any narrative that is derived from the imagination—in other words, not based strictly on history or fact.
So why are we getting all riled up? Why are we attacking and destroying an author’s dreams and career before it even starts because of fiction? Because of a select few who thought it was racist? A select few who almost deprived the rest of the YA community from deciding for themselves whether or not it is?
This doesn’t mean that the author should be racist. It means that she can choose what she wants to do with certain characters, and portray what she knows however she wants. We shouldn’t make ourselves sick over something that isn’t true. We can’t decide what we want authors to write because everyone has the right to express whatever they want. However, we can be a better person and not drag them through the mud and call them names and be petty. We can give constructive criticism to let the authors know what we think is wrong with their book. We don’t have to announce to the world and humiliate an author because we found a part problematic. I’m going off track here, but I had to point that out.
Back to the main point. Nothing is just about you, America. It’s about other countries, other worlds. They exist and we need to start opening our minds and accepting this. We can’t just have American characters who are black, or LGBT, or people of color. We need British, Romanian, North Korean, Thai, Somali, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, Argentinean, and every last nationality to be a part of this diverse step forward. We need to stop thinking of everything in our own American POV. We need to open our eyes and see that there is a world out there that is different, that isn’t just us.
I’m so sick and angry and tired of this. A debut author who was probably very excited to release her book for us to read took this book away, because some people were quick to judge and take offense. A book that is supposed to touch on the fact that the author has experienced racism, the fact that she has been branded as an “Other” and a book that is supposed to fight this in it’s own way. A book that’s supposed to fight racism in other parts of the world, not just in America.
The author has asked that no one defend her, and I’m not trying to, even though it may seem like I am. I’m trying to show that this isn’t about Americans only. That racism isn’t only about black people. It’s about the rest of the world, too. Because everyone quickly assumed that this was supposed to be something about racism or anti-blackness, or America’s history with slavery, they attacked it, and destroyed it. But it wasn’t about America. And until a few days ago, we would have never known what this was truly about.
That was much longer than I ever intended for it to be, but I’m so glad that I got to share and vent my frustrations and anger regarding these issues.
Let’s discuss: What do you guys think about representation and diversity in books? Did you hear about the controversy surrounding Ms. Zhao’s novel? What did you think about it? Am I the only one who feels like books and bookish opinions are too “American-centered”? Let’s discuss in the comments below!