Happy new year, chums! I honestly can’t believe it, but most of us survived through the hell that was 2020, which at times felt it would never ever end. Yet here we are in the start of 2021 and I’m feeling a level disbelief I didn’t think was possible. For those who weren’t so fortunate, I pray that they’ve found peace and that their spirits may rest in calm and comfort.
With the paranoia of wondering what the last month of 2020 would toss into our lives before hitting that finish line, I was not able to read nearly as many books as I had hoped to. Even so, I did find some amazing gems in what small stack that I did manage to complete, and I shall celebrate the heck out of that feat.
If you see something that catches your fancy, feel free to click their titles to visit their respective GoodReads pages. Any relative reviews shall be linked at the end of the snippets. A couple of these don’t quite have live reviews yet, but they will be hitting the blogspace in the coming week or two!
These four volumes are some of my favourites in the whole series thus far. The fight between Itachi and Sasuke is so damn good. Then there is the major character death that occurs in a different part of the universe that obliterates feels, especially if the specific cast member was beloved. I’ll admit that they aren’t my favourite, but I respect their influence on another person quite a lot, so seeing them die in such a gloriously epic yet devastating fashion impacted me emotionally in ways I wasn’t prepared for. Suffice to say, I’m loving my investment in the Naruto manga with all my heart so far. I don’t have any reviews up for this arc, but I shall share a discussion on Itachi versus Sasuke in the coming week(s).
This own-voices Chinese picture book is about a young girl who has three wishes for Christmas: to sing in the choir at school, to have a Christmas tree in her home, and to find some semblance of belonging in the world around her. I loved this 32-page book so much. Even though it’s for children, it really packs a punch with regard to being an immigrant and/or a diaspora living in a place that constantly treats you like an outsider because of how you look or how you speak. It can be bittersweet at-times to read about the awful experiences that Ming has, yet it’s also uplifting and inspiring in ways that warmed me down to my bones. This should be compulsory holiday reading for all kids.
An own-voices Chinese young adult fantasy novel that is a reimagining of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet taking place in 1920s Shanghai, the story revolves around two rival gangs that may have to find a way to work together when their city starts being targeted by the malicious influences of the Western world (simplification). I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did as this is one of the most hyped books for the second half of 2020. As someone who usually steers very clear of hyped things, the premise hooked me and I couldn’t resist it. Shakespeare is a big writing inspiration to me and the cultural twist, along with the time period, was way too compelling to pass up. I’m glad that I gave it a shot as These Violent Delights is one of the best young adult books I’ve ever read, with a prose that’s surely going to satiate event he most hardcore of adult fantasy readers. Check out my full review here.
A young adult anthology of science-fiction and fantasy works by diverse writers with fifteen own-voices tales, this collection—and collections like these—are the reason that I keep reading and writing short fiction. Packed with an abundance of heart and authenticity, there is a tale here for just about every type of reader and I devoured it with immense pleasure. There is so much originality here with rich cultures and Queer experiences to transport the reader into marvellously inclusive universes of imagination and splendour. If you’re someone who enjoys science-fiction, fantasy, and speculative fictions, then this is a collection you shan’t want to miss out on. Check out my five reasons for reading this if you need more motivation.
This own-voices Japanese collection of ten translated short stories by some incredible authors celebrates the strangeness and multi-facetted nature of Japan’s most bustling city, Tokyo. From tales about a shapeshifter trying to find their place in the city, to a wife obsessed with picnics, and much more, each eccentric tale brings new light into what it means to live in Tokyo and how large the city is with respect to identities, the people that are drawn to it, and the tiny secrets tucked away in corners you never realised existed. A full review for this shall be up within a week or so, however, in the meantime if you’re searching for a way to dip into some translated fiction, I recommend this short collection to you!
An own-voices Chinese-American middle-grade novel about a young woman and her brother who’ve been exiled from the Jade Society of warriors due to their family’s past transgressions. However, when San Francisco’s Chinatown is attacked by evil spirits and the young girl stands up to fight, she kicks off a series of events she never thought imaginable, including the quest to save the deities from each other before the world falls apart. At its core, this story is about being an outsider and the challenges of trying to fit in and find one’s path in life when everyone is always telling you what you can and cannot do. It’s a story for immigrant kids and diaspora alike as there is so much to unpack about ostracization within cultural communities as well as what the outsiders push onto us. It’s also a tale of friendship, family, and loss. There’s tons of adventure, magic, wit and humour, and energetic action to keep you entertained! A full review for this title shall go up in a week or so.
That does it for my favourite books from December. For January, I plan on diving into my list of adult fantasy serials that I want to tackle this year, as well as starting up a couple of the manga serials that are on my 2021 TBR. I’ll chat more about reading goals in a future post as I’m pretty excited about them. However, until then, I wish you all a gentle and kind 2021 with much more hope and positivity and opportunity than its predecessor. Much love to you. Happy reading.