Ever since I started focusing on pursuing professional authorship, I haven’t been to the library to get books for pleasure, and thus haven’t had a proper Library Loot segment since then (the last one went live at the end of May!). Sure I’ve gotten stacks upon ridiculous stacks of stuff for research purposes, but very little to no added treats for personal enjoyment. Then a couple of days ago, I had to go in to pick up two holds that were all for my own imaginative delight, and then promptly came home with seven more additions to that stack. I feel fucking fantastic about it too!
I talked about this briefly in my book review for The Gauntlet, but recently I’ve been training my mind to read young adult and middle-grade novels from the lens for which they’re intended. If I go into an MG story with the brain and expectations that I would for adult literature, then disappointment shall be ever imminent. I think taking the time to train our brains to function or perceive things that don’t come to us naturally can be the most challenging of tasks, yet they’re also the most rewarding more often than not. When I combined this newfound practise with my passion for diverse young adult narratives, particularly in the #OwnVoices Asian lit. realm, my phalanges became quite sticky with anticipation at the libs.
There are nine total books here. One of them is a re-read in anticipation of the sequel that shall be releasing relatively soon, but the rest are titles I have never read before. You may recognise a couple of them as I have checked them out before, but unfortunately did not get a chance to read them before having to return them. I kept all the snippets very succinct, so if you’d like more information on them, check out their linked GR pages!
Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdul-Fatteh – An #OwnVoices Palestinian middle-grade story about a girl who seeks the healing powers of soil from Jerusalem to help her ailing grandmother. However, there is a wall that now separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem due to ongoing conflicts that prevents her from getting what she needs. In order to save her grandmother, she’s willing to do whatever she must to get that soil!
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi – An #OwnVoices Middle-Eastern middle-grade novel about a boy named Tareq who witnesses his entire life ripped apart by war. In order to survive, his family becomes refugees on the run where they journey from Syria to Turkey and then finally to Greece.
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He – An #OwnVoices Chinese-American young adult fantasy story about a young woman who is tossed in the chaotic world of power and politics when her father, the king, is murdered. Blinded by the need for vengeance, she turns to a unique magician—a treasonable act punishable by death—and a brilliant investigator who’s also a criminal, in order to find her father’s killer and obtain her revenge.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – An #OwnVoices Indian young adult contemporary romance about Rishi Patel and Dimple Shah, who happen to be attending the same summer programme for web developers. Seeing this as an early opportunity, their parents decide to go ahead and give them a nudge towards one another with the ultimate goal of setting them up for marriage.
From Twinkle with Love by Sandhya Menon – An #OwnVoices Indian young adult contemporary romance about an aspiring filmmaker who gets a chance to get closer to her long-time crush when his twin brother asks to do a collaboration project with her for an upcoming film festival. However, the more she gets to know the dorky twin, the more conflicted she becomes with her romantic loyalties.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi – An #OwnVoices Islamic young adult contemporary story taking place one year after 9/11, it revolves around a teenager named Shirin who constantly faces an array of Islamophobia due to her race and appearance. Her way of dealing is break-dancing with her brother. Then she comes across a dude who, for the first time in her life, genuinely seems to want to get to know her as a person, forcing Shirin to confront her fears and the emotional walls she’s built up.
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee – An #OwnVoices Chinese young adult urban fantasy novel about a girl named Genie Lo who is trying to find her way into Harvard while surviving life in the Bay Area suburbs. Then one day Hellspawn from Chinese folklore takes siege of her hometown, and her life changes drastically. Teaming up with the strange new transfer kid, Quentin Sun, Genie must learn how to defeat these demons with the special powers that Quentin guarantees are within Genie.
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir – An #OwnVoices South Asian-Islamic young adult fantasy story that is the third instalment in the An Ember in the Ashes quartet. A synopsis shall not be provided to avoid spoilers. You can check out the series here.
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – An #OwnVoices Japanese young adult fantasy about half-kitsune, half-human girl named Yumeko who’s always tried to hide her yōkai nature. Then one day her entire family is slaughtered, and her home is burnt to the ground forcing her to flee with a great treasure. Pursued by a myriad of demons and a stranger named Kage who desires the treasure for personal reasons, Yumeko will need unlikely allies and a penchant for surviving in order to rein in the chaos and protect the realm from destruction.
From this list, the most surprising title for me personally is A Reaper at the Gates. When I originally read the first two novels in the series, I did so through the eyes of an adult fantasy reader, which may have been a huge mistake. I ended up not liking those books with a fierce passion. While I still question the romance (a love square type of gig was happening in the second novel, what even), I would like to go back and re-read An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night because I feel I will have a newfound appreciation for them as books specifically crafted with young adult readers in mind. Thus, I’m hoping it will make me far more excited and invested in the series. I will say this much though: the political intrigue in the quartet goes high-octane in book two and I’m fucking addicted to that bit!
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is a re-read for me. My first time with it was in ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) form, and I didn’t love it like other people. However, I was also a super newbie to book reviewing and blogging, and just recently finding my passion for reading again after many years. I wasn’t as open-minded about trying out genres outside of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I’m ready for round two as a much more evolved bibliophile with a fiery zeal of Asian narratives.
Shadow of the Fox is a book I’ve checked out a few times but have always had to take it back due to being on hold and my not getting to it in a timely fashion. This time, though, I really hope to consume it before it needs to fly back to the library shelves. I mean, it’s Japanese fantasy for goodness sake; my drug of choice for life.
What do you think of this haul? Are there books listed here that you have read, or are interested in reading? Please, come chat with me in the comments! Also let me know which books you’d like a review for, and I’ll try to prioritise those when I begin reading.