Mini-Reviews, Volume 4

A while back I was really into webtoons, and before that I read mostly manga; though I currently read mostly traditional novels, I remain interested in more visual forms of storytelling. So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to check out these diverse works, many of them by #ownvoices creators!

I received these comics as digital review copies from the publisher, Queerwebcomic; all opinions expressed are my own and honest.

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[Blog Tour] Review + Quote Graphics: Jade War by Fonda Lee | Spoiler-Free

In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

Continue reading “[Blog Tour] Review + Quote Graphics: Jade War by Fonda Lee | Spoiler-Free”

[Blog Tour] Review + Playlist: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Continue reading “[Blog Tour] Review + Playlist: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim”

Mini-Reviews, Volume 3

Catching up on all my reviews for Asian Lit Bingo is a much bigger undertaking than I had anticipated and is in fact a continuing process, though I don’t regret reading any of these books — regardless of how much I enjoyed the overall story experience, I learned a lot about different Asian and hyphenated-Asian (i.e., Asian-American, Asian-Australian, etc.) experiences different from my own. Each set of characters has unique struggles and dreams, illustrating the importance of diversity in publishing and of giving #ownvoices authors the opportunity to tell their stories as no one else can.

Without further ado, here are some books with Asian main characters, written by Asian authors, which have stuck with me and which I think more people should check out for themselves.

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REVIEW: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway and received a free copy from Random House Publishing Group for review purposes. This does not affect my rating or opinions of the book.

Summary: “Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the country into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers — her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and of course, love.

How brown is too brown?
Can Indians be racist?
What does real love between really different people look like?

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation — and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

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REVIEW: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Summary: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

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REVIEW: Saga of the Forgotten Warrior #1 & #2 by Larry Correia | Spoiler-Free!

Summary: After the War of the Gods, the demons were cast out and fell to the world. Mankind was nearly eradicated by the seemingly unstoppable beasts, until the gods sent the great hero, Ramrowan, to save them. He united the tribes, gave them magic, and drove the demons into the sea. Ever since the land has belonged to man and the oceans have remained an uncrossable hell, leaving the continent of Lok isolated. It was prophesized that someday the demons would return, and only the descendants of Ramrowan would be able to defeat them. They became the first kings, and all men served those who were their only hope for survival.

As centuries passed the descendants of the great hero grew in number and power. They became tyrannical and cruel, and their religion nothing but an excuse for greed. Gods and demons became myth and legend, and the people no longer believed. The castes created to serve the Sons of Ramrowan rose up and destroyed their rulers. All religion was banned and replaced by a code of unflinching law. The surviving royalty and their priests were made casteless, condemned to live as untouchables, and the Age of Law began.

Ashok Vadal has been chosen by a powerful ancient weapon to be its bearer. He is a Protector, the elite militant order of roving law enforcers. No one is more merciless in rooting out those who secretly practice the old ways. Everything is black or white, good or evil, until he discovers his entire life is a fraud. Ashok isn’t who he thinks he is, and when he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the consequences lead to rebellion, war — and destruction.

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REVIEW: Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

I received a review copy of this book through Edelweiss. This does not affect my rating or opinions.

Summary: Daphne Maritch doesn’t quite know what to make of the heavily annotated high school yearbook she inherits from her mother, who held this relic dear. Too dear. The late June Winter Maritch was the teacher to whom the class of ’68 had dedicated its yearbook, and in turn she went on to attend every reunion, scribbling notes and observations after each one — not always charitably — and noting who overstepped boundaries of many kinds.

In a fit of decluttering (the yearbook did not, Daphne concluded, “spark joy”), she discards it when she moves to a small New York City apartment. But when it’s found in the recycling bin by a busybody neighbor/documentary filmmaker, the yearbook’s mysteries — not to mention her own family’s — take on a whole new urgency, and Daphne finds herself entangled in a series of events both poignant and absurd.

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