Weekend Reads: Chinese YA Fiction & Adult Islamic Fantasy

Today is Saturday. What type of sorcery is this? Yesterday was Tuesday, wasn’t it? Not only that, July will be over in a little over a week! The months in 2020 have been so ridiculously long ever since March, so to have a set of four weeks that have blown by supremely fast like a Winter wind is somewhat mind-boggling to me.

Anyhoo, my week overall has been relatively great, particularly where my reading is concerned as I’ve finished about four to five books this week and it has felt really comforting to know that even with my hectic ADHD tantrums, I can still accomplish things that I enjoy. I also began focused therapy sessions for my anxiety and my shishō has arrived to kick my arse back into shape, which in hindsight is something to be both happy and terrified of. I hope the good vibes keep on coming on, if I can be a bit cliché for a second.

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My reading goal is to finally wrap up my favourite epic fantasy series ever, The Daevabad Trilogy and also to sink myself into one of my most-anticipated young adult fiction books for the year, Parachutes by Kelly Yang. I chatted about it briefly in a gushy upcoming releases of 2020 post. The #OwnVoices reviews I’ve read of it have had phenomenal things to say, which has only made me more eager to check it out.

If you see something you like, click their titles to travel to their respective GoodReads pages.

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The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

I have gushed about this series quite vehemently ever since I read through the first instalment, The City of Brass, a few months ago. It’s such a phenomenal feat of world-building and complex exploration of political oppression and intrigue that I just can’t get enough of it. It also introduced me to two of my favourite bookish characters in existence, Darayavahoush and Nahri.

I won’t provide a synopsis for it to avoid serial spoilers, but you can check out my review for The City of Brass and The Kingdom of Copper, the first two books respectively, if you’d like to learn more.

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

This #OwnVoices Chinese young adult novel is a #MeToo story, and I have been anticipating it ever since I heard about it way back in February. Now that it’s finally out in the world, I was able to pick up my library copy of it last week and I can’t wait to start it this weekend. I feel like it will be a good break from all the hefty fantasy stuff and shall also help me get back into reading literature again.

It’s about teenagers who are known as “parachutes,” or teens that are dropped off to live in private homes during their studies in the US while their wealthy families stay in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d become a parachute, but when her family plucks her from Shanghai and drops her in California, she feels totally lost. The only positive is that she’s caught the eye of the most eligible parachute at the school, Jay. Dani De La Cruz is pissed that her mother rented out a room to Claire. She’s a debate star who’s working her arse off to compete with privileged kids that buy their way into college. Her perfect plan starts to unravel when her debate coach begins private lessons. As the two girls navigate their own unique hot messes, they eventually crash into one another, which shall change their lives for good.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

I’ve been eyeing this series (Twisted Tales) for a while but have always been on the fence about it. There’s a part of me that thinks it’s going to be some kind of awful fan fiction type rip-off (which I do tend to adore to bits if done well, I won’t lie), but then there’s this other part that is super intrigued by a dark rendition of Disney classics that I loved as a kid. So, I figured trying out the first one to taste it a bit couldn’t hurt.

The story is a re-telling of Aladdin, but changes things up a bit with Aladdin never getting the lamp and the events following suit becoming darker and more twisted than the original tale.

I have read the first forty to fifty pages so far, and it’s decent for what it is. So far, it’s almost exactly like the film, although I don’t like how the author describes the round dome roofs of Islamic Arab architecture (onion domes). It’s just so offensive to read as a Muslim. Plus, her descriptive words are painfully repetitive, showing that the book could have used some serious edits before publication.

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If I need something to break up all of the novel reading fun, then I have a couple of manga titles that I will turn to in times of a refresher. They are serials that I’ve been wanting to read during my bed-resting shenanigans and include The Promised Neverland, a seinen sci-fi title, and Inuyashiki, a seinen body horror series. I have the first four volumes of the latter and it looks really brilliant.

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8 thoughts on “Weekend Reads: Chinese YA Fiction & Adult Islamic Fantasy

  1. I’ve been wanting to read the Daevabad trilogy for SO LONG but I put it off cause I didn’t want it to be one of those book series where I don’t get the conclusion for years. I think I’m gonna have to pick it up now though

  2. The term “onion dome” would make me think more of an old Russian church, but I’ve never seen it used to refer to either before. Modern takes on old 1001 Nights stories sound like an interesting idea, though. Maybe going straight to the much older sources instead of the Disneyfied versions would work better.

    • Visually I can understand why she’d use “onion dome” but from a cultural and literary standpoint… I would have gone with something that’s more respectful. But that’s just me.

      • I think you’re right about that, especially if it’s not written from a complete outsider’s perspective just seeing these buildings for the first time, which I guess it wouldn’t in Aladdin’s case.

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