Category Archives: young adult fiction

AAPI Heritage Month Post 14

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Ah, it’s the last day of May and officially the last day of Asian American Pacific Islander Month. I managed to post for almost half of it. Again, apologies for not being able to post daily while I was on deadline. I hope that I’ve introduced some new books to you and that you will be buying and reading AAPI books throughout the years, not just during AAPI Heritage Month. It is my greatest pleasure to bring these books to your attention.

Today’s recommended read is a graphic novel by the amazingly talented Gene Luen Yang.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

From the publisher: In his latest graphic novel, Dragon HoopsNew York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches.

Gene understands stories―comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins.

But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it’s all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

Buy the book here: bookshop.org

There are many great AAPI books out there and more coming your way. This is good news! I haven’t been able to keep up with all the books (also good news). Here are a select handful I hope to buy/read in the near future – there are many more on my list. Please share in the comments any AAPI books you recommend! Thank you!

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American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Lift by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

The Dragon Egg Princess by Ellen Oh

 

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 9

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Happy book birthday to Kelly Yang’s debut YA novel, Parachutes! I read this novel as an ARC and was absolutely mesmerized by Dani and Claire as they were faced with making decisions about their lives and futures. Intense and powerful!

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Katherine Tegan Books/2020

From the publisher: Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California.

Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. But Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately.

As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever.

Buy the book: bookshop.org

 

 

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 6

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Today’s featured book is a YA novel I read as an ARC and will be published on September 1st. This is a book I want everyone to read.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

HMH Books for Young Readers

September 1, 2020

From the publisher: From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

What I think: These powerful interconnected stories of incarceration during WWII told by Nisei youth will wrap around your heart like barbed wire. With deft touches of humor, heart, pathos, and anger, We Are Not Free by the talented Traci Chee is the best Japanese American incarceration novel I’ve read. I loved this book that epitomized gaman and will be buying a copy for everyone in my family.

I fell in love with each of these 14 characters, and I know you will, too.

Pre-order the book here.

AAPI Heritage Month Post 4

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I’m three days away from my deadline – and yet, I’m still happily reading AAPI books. Here are some recent favorite swoony AAPI YA novels I’ve read:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

From the publisher: It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

From the publisher: Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

From the publisher: Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

From the publisher: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

 

Stay tuned for more AAPI Kid Lit reads recommendations!

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 31

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Today is the last day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I’ve had fun sharing all of the AAPI books that I want to read. Please know that there are MORE than these 31 that I want to read, but these are the 31 I’m committing to read over the summer (and beyond I suspect). I will continue to support and read as many AAPI books as I can! I also want to give a shout out to all the AAPI authors who paved the way for the rest of us, and to the many IPOC authors who are part of this incredible community. Thank you!

Book 31 that I want to read is SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW by Maurene Goo. I loved her previous novels, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL and I BELIEVE IN A THIING CALLED LOVE. These YA novels are exactly the kind of stories I adore and so I suspect I will love her newest as well!

From the publisher:
Sparks fly between a K pop starlet and a tabloid reporter in this heartwarming rom-com from Maurene Goo.

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love–and finding yourself along the way.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 30

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We are winding down here – day 30 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the 30th AAPI book I want to read is one that just came to my attention recently via a tweet.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – the cover is striking and the title definitely caught my attention. Coming to you in June!

From the publisher:

Liang Anlei wants a life of glory and revenge

As a warrior who protects her village from shadow spirits, Anlei has never been beyond the borders of her town. All of that changes the day the viceroy and his fleet of mechanical dragons arrives. It’s the protection her village is desperate for, but it will only be given in exchange for Anlei’s hand in marriage. Torn between wanting to protect her village and her own freedom, Anlei is forced to make a sacrifice.

The day before her wedding, she encounters Tai, a young thief who is also trying to save his people. Tempted by his quest and the thrill of glory it promises, the two embark on an epic journey to the Courts of Hell to discover where the shadow spirits come from. But the secret of their existence isn’t so easily solved.

Amid dark experiments and battles on magic-fueled airships, Anlei must summon the courage to be the hero; to live the life she has always dreamed of.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 28

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It’s day 28 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m wishing a happy book birthday to the 28th AAPI book that I want to read!

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn has been on my TBR list ever since I heard about her book months ago. And then I received the ARC at the Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference! This book is near the top of my pile and I’m excited to get to read it this summer when I finally have time to read! I was thrilled to discover that she has also written a superhero book starring an Asian American! Here is an interesting conversation between her and another Asian fantasy author on Angry Asian Man’s blog.

From the publisher:

Kimi Nakamura loves a good fashion statement.

She’s obsessed with transforming everyday ephemera into Kimi Originals: bold outfits that make her and her friends feel like the Ultimate versions of themselves. But her mother disapproves, and when they get into an explosive fight, Kimi’s entire future seems on the verge of falling apart. So when a surprise letter comes in the mail from Kimi’s estranged grandparents, inviting her to Kyoto for spring break, she seizes the opportunity to get away from the disaster of her life.

When she arrives in Japan, she’s met with a culture both familiar and completely foreign to her. She loses herself in the city’s outdoor markets, art installations, and cherry blossom festival – and meets Akira, a cute aspiring med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. And what begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

In I Love You So Mochi, author Sarah Kuhn has penned a delightfully sweet and irrepressibly funny novel that will make you squee at the cute, cringe at the awkward, and show that sometimes you have to lose yourself in something you love to find your Ultimate self.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 -27

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Day 27 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the 27th AAPI book I want to read is by an author I’ve long admired for her body of work.

Forward Me Back to You by Mitali Perkins follows her critically acclaimed novel You Bring The Distant Near, a multigenerational story about love and family. I know without a doubt that Mitali’s newest book will be heart-felt, engrossing, and full of amazing characters.

From the publisher:

Katina King is the reigning teen jiu-jitsu champion of Northern California, but she’s having trouble fighting off the secrets in her past.

Robin Thornton was adopted from an orphanage in Kolkata, India and is reluctant to take on his future. Since he knows nothing about his past, how is he supposed to figure out what comes next?

Robin and Kat meet in the most unlikely of places ― a summer service trip to India to work with survivors of human trafficking. As bonds blossom between the travel-mates, Robin and Kat discover the healing superpowers of friendship.

At turns heart-wrenching, beautiful, and buoyant, Mitali Perkins’s new novel explores the ripple effects of violence ― across borders and generations ― and how small acts of heroism can break the cycle.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 26

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Day 26 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I’m realizing I’m running out of day to post all the fabulous AAPI books that I want to read! Know that if I don’t mention a book in these 31 days, it’s either that I’ve already read it or I ran out of days!

Book 26 is

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao. Her debut YA novel American Panda had me laughing through tears. And Wall Street Journal calls this new book “weepingly funny” – I so can’t wait to read this when it comes out in October!

From the publisher:

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, Ah-lee, 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.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 24

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We’re winding down here with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today’s book is by an author I fell in love with over the course of reading her previous three novels – and I am super excited that she has a fourth coming out!

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee comes out on August 13, and the author is running a pre-order campaign, so check it out here! I loved her previous books, Outrun the Moon, The Secret of a Heart Note, and Under A Painted Sky so if you haven’t read those yet,  you can read them now before The Downstairs Girl.

From the publisher:

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.