#AsianLitBingo 2019

Happy May Day, all! I’m super excited to reveal that I will be a host for LitCelebrAsian’s #AsianLitBingo this month. This is a month-long reading challenge that encourages readers to support Asian authors, especially #ownvoices books.

For those who may not be aware, May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in the United States. Here is some background on the challenge from LitCelebrAsian:

In publishing, there are power dynamics in play that marginalize Asian authors, especially those who write Asian characters and draw from their heritage for their writing. In the context of publishing in countries where white people are the majority/dominant group, diaspora Asians in those countries have a hard time breaking into publishing.

In a more global context, Asian writers in Asia have a hard to reaching a wider market beyond regional publishing due to their perceived foreignness, plus a general lack of infrastructure for translations for those that don’t write in English (and many do write in English). There are also double standards in the industry that facilitate publication for white authors writing Asian[-inspired] characters/settings/stories while Asian writers who write from the place of a cultural insider are often told their stories are “too Asian” or “not Asian enough.” For this reason, we feel it is especially important to highlight #ownvoices Asian stories, where the authors share the heritage of the characters they write about.

Here is the bingo board, I will be completing the middle row 🙂

Now for the good stuff: the books I will be reading. You can see my sad attempt at a bookstagram at the top of this post and here are some more deets:

Science Fiction/Fantasy with Asian Main Character: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

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.

Historical Fiction with Asian Main Character: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women’s rights. 

Free Space: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Retelling with Asian Main Character: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries. Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate. 

Contemporary with Asian Main Character: A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.” But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

BLOG TOUR: Chicken Girl, Heather Smith (March 5, 2019)

Hate to admit it, folks, but it’s been a pretty slow reading year. Not many books have caught my attention or if they, I’ve felt relatively let down by it. When I agreed to be a part of the blog tour for CHICKEN GIRL by Heather Smith back in November, I knew that this was just one of those books that was going to be up my alley. And from the very first page, Poppy and her new friends stole my heart.

The 411: Poppy used to be an optimist. But after a photo of her dressed as Rosie the Riveter is mocked online, she’s having trouble seeing the good in the world. As a result, Poppy trades her beloved vintage clothes for a feathered chicken costume and accepts a job as an anonymous sign waver outside a restaurant. There, Poppy meets six-year-old girl Miracle, who helps Poppy see beyond her own pain, opening her eyes to the people around her: Cam, her twin brother, who is adjusting to life as an openly gay teen; Buck, a charming photographer with a cute British accent and a not-so-cute mean-streak; and Lewis a teen caring for an ailing parent, while struggling to reach the final stages of his gender transition. As the summer unfolds, Poppy stops glorifying the past and starts focusing on the present. But just as she comes to terms with the fact that there is good and bad in everyone, she is tested by a deep betrayal.

(my attempt at taking an artsy-bookstagram photo)

My Rambles: There is so much wonderful representation in this book that it’s hard to even cover it all. And Poppy is a heroine all teen girls (all females, really) need to read about at least once in their life. I especially connected with Poppy’s body issues and insecurities. Another character I appreciated was Cam, who used to be a jocky-sports guy before coming out and now has become a more flamboyant version of himself. Poppy feels this isn’t who Cam truly is and wants him to be himself. His jocky self. A complete 180 from the stories we usually get about gay males. When Poppy first talks to Lewis and finds out about his gender transition, she’s isn’t eloquent. She says the wrong thing. And Lewis understandably calls her out and helps her understand. The interaction is refreshing and doesn’t point fingers and they both learn from the situation. This is something our world is in desperate need of today. CHICKEN GIRL is a short book, only a little over 200 pages and surprisingly isn’t one that I just flew through. For the best reason. You know those times when you’re watching a movie or tv show and you’re cringing because it’s just that relatable? This was me the entire time reading this book. Poppy feels like a real person whose life you are watching on camera. It almost feels intrusive how much I related to this character.

MY RATING:  ✰✰✰.5

Thank you Penguin Teen Canada for including me on this tour and for providing my galley.