10 WOC Reads in June 2018

june releases done

 

1.A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, eds.

1000 beginnings

June 26th 2018 by Greenwillow Books

“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.” (GR)

 

2.Minecraft: The Crash: (The Second Official Minecraft Novel) by Tracey Baptiste

minecraft

July 12th 2018 by Cornerstone Digital

“Bianca Cooper, a normal sixteen-year-old student, escapes into the world of Minecraft after getting into a terrible car accident. Soon, however, she realizes that she is trapped inside the game, none of the rules are working like they should, and the in-game characters who have been attacking her resemble figures from her real life. She must unravel the mysteries of this new world: why did she end up here? Who are the menacing figures who’ve been following her? Is any of this real, and if it is, how does she get home?” (GR)

 

3.The Secrets Between Us (Between Us #2) by Thrity Umrigar

secrets between

June 26th 2018 by Harper

“Bhima, the unforgettable main character of Thrity Umrigar’s beloved national bestseller The Space Between Us, returns in this triumphant sequel—a poignant and compelling novel in which the former servant struggles against the circumstances of class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India.” (GR)

 

4.A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

a place for

June 12th 2018 by SJP for Hogarth

“A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding–a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son’s estrangement–the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children, and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.” (GR)

 

5.The Terrible by Yrsa Daley-Ward

terrible

June 5th 2018 by Penguin Books

“Through emotional snapshots that span from her adolescence through her early twenties, each brought to life in Yrsa’s signature style of open white spaces and stirring, singular lines, The Terrible evokes the pain and thrill of girlhood, as well as what it means to discover the fear and power that come with being a woman. With a sharp eye and a rare talent for mining the beauty and the sorrow in the everyday, Yrsa recounts her remarkable life: growing up as one of the only black children in a poor, white, working class town; navigating the extreme Christianity of her family; inquiring after her paternity; moving through phases of addiction and sexual encounters; and ultimately finding her place in her family and in life.” (GR)

 

6.Black Panther: Long Live the King #1-6 by Nnedi Okorafor, Andre Araujo (Illustrations), Mario Del Pennino (Illustrations), Tana Ford (Illustrations)

black panther

June 5th 2018 by Marvel

“HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN! As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again – but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda. As the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake!” (GR) – First time in print!

 

7.Sick: A Memoir by Porochista Khakpour

sick

June 5th 2018 by Harper Perennial

“For as long as writer Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn’t know why. All of her trips to the ER and her daily anguish, pain, and lethargy only ever resulted in one question: How could any one person be this sick? Several drug addictions, three major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. Sick is Khakpour’s arduous, emotional journey—as a woman, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems—through the chronic illness that perpetually left her a victim of anxiety, living a life stymied by an unknown condition.” (GR)

 

8.Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse

trail of

June 26th 2018 by Saga Press

“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.” (GR)

 

9.Amla Mater by Devi Menon

mala mater

June 15th 2018 by Yali Publishing

“In her tiny flat in East London, as Mili waits for her baby to arrive, little things remind her of her life in India—-the scent of jasmine flowers, a heavy downpour, a late-night cup of coffee, an amla or gooseberry–and she is overcome with a deep desire to recreate the flavors of her childhood. Can a jar of amla pickle help her travel back to that safe haven she once called home?” (GR) – Read my review here!

 

10.Feminist Freedom Warriors by Chandra Talpede Mohanty, Linda Carty, eds.

feminist freedom

 June 12th 2018 by Haymarket Books

“Started as a digital archive project, Feminist Freedom Warriors tells the stories of women of color from the Global South, weaving together cross-generational histories of feminist activism across national borders. These engaging interviews with sister comrades such as Angela Davis, Margo Okazawa-Rey, Himani Bannerji, and more will inform, inspire, and activate the imagination to explore what a just world might look like. Each woman’s story illustrates their lifelong commitment to challenging oppressive practices and forming solidarities across borders to transform unjust structures around the globe. The book features interviews with activists from movements spanning the last seven decades in the United States, India, Mexico, Palestine, Nigeria, South Africa, and beyond.” (GR)

 

*****

What’s on your tbr for June? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett

hollywood homicide

How cool is this cover!?

Summary:

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

I adore a good mystery, it’s really my favorite genre, but I don’t read it all the time since it’s also often a very white genre. So, I’m thrilled to have found another book for my #DiverseDetectives shelf! I’m working on putting a list together on my blog, as a resource.

The amateur sleuth in Hollywood Homicide is the retired Black actress Dayna Anderson. Trying to keep her parents from losing their house, she decides to solve a local hit-and-run case for the reward money.

The main character is really the biggest draw for me, even though I can’t relate at all to her fascination with shopping and such, but she really came alive. Being worried about bills and taking care of her parents and being close with her friends made her a likeable heroine. That and Dayna is just super fun, her running commentary is hilarious. I had a great time reading about her somewhat disastrous start to sleuthing, accusing people left and right, but eventually figuring things out. It took me till nearly the end to figure out whodunnit, so the mystery was set up well.

The story is not just set in Hollywood, it also reads like a detective show. I think the author also wrote for tv, and it shows in the style and pacing. So someone should really get on this! And please add a Dayna voice-over!

Did you know Hollywood Homicide recently won an Agatha award? The first time a woman of color writer has won in ages and it’ so wonderful a Black mystery writer won! Also, I’m happy that this is going to be a series now, with book two, Hollywood Ending, coming out August 8th.

Thinking of reviving the #DiverseDetectives challenge, but not sure anyone would be all that into it? 😕

 

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

*****

Are you a mystery fan? Who’s your favorite sleuth?

#AsianLitBingo TBR

asianlitbingo-banner2

It’s Asian American Heritage Month in the US and so it’s time again for #AsianLitBingo! It’s a challenge created by Shenwei, celebrating Asian literatures and cultures and it’s going on through all of May. Read all the details over at Lit CelebrAsian.

Books that count towards the bingo:

  • Fiction books should have an Asian main character (can be one of several main characters) and be by an Asian author to qualify. It does not have to be #ownvoices, but reading #ownvoices books is strongly encouraged!
  • Nonfiction books should be by an Asian author with a focus on Asian people, whether it’s a[n] [auto]biography, history book, essay collection, etc. A nonfiction book can count for prompts other than the nonfiction square provided that it that focuses on a person/group that corresponds to that prompt (e.g. an autobiography of a Asian trans woman could count for either the nonfiction category or the LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC category).
  • The free space is for any book with an Asian main character by an Asian author.

 

asian-lit-bingo-2018-

I picked the vertical row on the left, trying to change it up every year, as I know 5 books are usually all I can manage. But I’m happy this challenge is happening again, maybe I’ll mamage an extra read. My tbr isn’t carved in stone yet, but these 5 sounded pretty good to me:

East Asian MC

9780803739260_NearlyGone_JKT.indd

A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo

 

LGBTQIAP+ Asian MC

waiting on a bright moon

Waiting On A Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang

 

SFF with Asian MC

poppy war

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

 

Graphic Novel with Asian MC

sun dragons song

Sun Dragon’s Song by Joyce Chng, Kim Miranda

South East Asian MC

land of forgotten girls

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

*****

What are your reading plans for May? Let me know in the comments!

10 WOC Releases in May 2018

woc releases may 2018

Happy May! Hope it’ll be a good one for you! My reading plans will be pretty much focused on #AsianLitBingo and #RamadanReadathon this month, but we’ll see how the reading goes. Do you have any plans for May? I’ve got 10 new WOC releases for you, again, so hang on to your wallets 😀 All links go to goodreads by the way.

 

1)Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay

not that bad

Harper Perennial: May 1, 2018

“In this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest.” (GR)

 

2)The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

poppy war

Harper Voyager: May 1, 2018

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard- the most elite military school in Nikan- was even more surprising. But surprises aren’t always good. (GR)

 

3)Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes

monsoon mansion

Little A: May 1, 2018

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been. (GR)

 

4)Meet Behind Mars by Renee Simms

meet behind mars

Wayne State University Press: May 1, 2018

In many of her stories, Simms exposes her own interest in issues concerning time and space. For example, in “Rebel Airplanes,” an L.A. engineer works by day on city sewers and by night on R-C planes that she yearns to launch into the cosmos. The character-driven stories in Meet Behind Mars offer beautiful insight into the emotional lives of caretakers, auto workers, dancers, and pawn shop employees. In “High Country,” a frustrated would-be novelist considers ditching her family in the middle of the desert. In “Dive,” an adoptee returns to her adoptive home, still haunted by histories she does not know. Simms writes from the voice of women and girls who struggle under structural oppression and draws from the storytelling tradition best represented by writers like Edward P. Jones, whose characters have experiences that are specific to black Americans living in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. (GR)

 

5)Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston 

barracoon

Amistad: May 8, 2018

A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God which brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of the last known survivor of the Atlantic slave trade—illegally smuggled from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States. (GR)

 

6)The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah 

the hundred well

Cassava Republic: May 8, 2018

Aminah lives an idyllic life until she is brutally separated from her home and forced on a journey that turns her from a daydreamer into a resilient woman. Wurche, the willful daughter of a chief, is desperate to play an important role in her father’s court. These two women’s lives converge as infighting among Wurche’s people threatens the region, during the height of the slave trade at the end of the 19th century. (GR)

 

7)My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma 

my so called

Crown BFYR: May 15, 2018

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted. (GR)

 

8)Well That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist by Franchesca Ramsey

well that escalated

Grand Central Publishing: May 22, 2018

Franchesca Ramsey didn’t set out to be an activist. Or a comedian. Or a commentator on identity, race, and culture, really. But then her YouTube video “What White Girls Say. . . to Black Girls” went viral. Twelve million views viral. Faced with an avalanche of media requests, fan letters, and hate mail, she had two choices: Jump in and make her voice heard or step back and let others frame the conversation. After a crash course in social justice and more than a few foot-in-mouth moments, she realized she had a unique talent and passion for breaking down injustice in America in ways that could make people listen and engage. (GR)

 

9)MEM by Bethany C. Morrow

mem

The Unnamed Press: May 22, 2018

Set in the glittering art deco world of a century ago, MEM makes one slight alteration to history: a scientist in Montreal discovers a method allowing people to have their memories extracted from their minds, whole and complete. The Mems exist as mirror-images of their source ― zombie-like creatures destined to experience that singular memory over and over, until they expire in the cavernous Vault where they are kept. And then there is Dolores Extract #1, the first Mem capable of creating her own memories. An ageless beauty shrouded in mystery, she is allowed to live on her own, and create her own existence, until one day she is summoned back to the Vault. (GR)

 

10)Cross Fire by Fonda Lee

cross fire

Scholastic Press: May 29, 2018

“Earth’s century of peace as a colony of an alien race has been shattered. As the alien-run government navigates peace talks with the human terrorist group Sapience, Donovan tries to put his life back together and return to his duty as a member of the security forces. But a new order comes from the alien home planet: withdraw. Earth has proven too costly and unstable to maintain as a colony, so the aliens, along with a small selection of humans, begin to make plans to leave. As word of the withdrawal spreads through the galaxy, suddenly Earth becomes vulnerable to a takeover from other aliens races. Aliens who do not seek to live in harmony with humans, but will ravage and destroy the planet.” (GR)

*****

What’s on your May tbr? Any new releases you’re excited for?

Review: Amla Mater by Devi Menon

mala mater

“In the stillness of autumn, I feel I can almost hear someone hum ‘Lokame tharavadu (the world is my home)….’

In her tiny flat in East London, as Mili waits for her baby to arrive, little things remind her of her life in India—-the scent of jasmine flowers, a heavy downpour, a late-night cup of coffee, an amla or gooseberry–and she is overcome with a deep desire to recreate the flavors of her childhood. Can a jar of amla pickle help her travel back to that safe haven she once called home?” (goodreads)

*****

Amla Mater is a graphic novel about identity, migration, and the meaning of home through food culture. Through smells and flavors, the very act of making gooseberry pickle, we join Mili in remembering her childhood in Kerala with best friend Maya. We learn that the amla tree is a constant theme through Mili’s life: It’s at the heart of the games she plays, offers a place in the shade under which to read, provides the gooseberries for Maya’s grandmother to make her pickle.

Amla pic

There is such a heavy sense of nostalgia and the meaning of home that is evoked through smells and sounds. I’m sure all of us have something that brings back memories of home so vividly. For me it’s the smell of my dad’s spicy scrambled eggs, a Sunday family tradition, and sitting at the table for hours eating and chatting (to the confusion of white German friends and family who by this time had already finished whole biking tours and like saved the world 😀 ).

And surprisingly, the reduced black-and-white artwork works really well, as it does not distract from the sensory goodness evoked by Mili’s memories of amla. I also found the images created in this style with its light strokes utterly charming.

Amla Mater emphasizes the importance of food culture in the migration experience. Food and not just its consumption, but its preparation as well are heavily tied to identity and Menon takes us on Mili’s journey – not just geographically from India to London-  but also her coming of age from being a young Indian girl to an immigrant in London. I think readers from South India will find a lot of cultural references and nods to enjoy. I probably missed many, but really enjoyed Mili’s story and now I’m hungry for amla pickle!

Mark your calendars: Amla Mater comes out June 15th from Yali Books! GR

Disclaimer: I received a free e-galley of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

 

Other thoughts:

Vishy’s Blog

Review: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

blog tour lisa ko

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Polly, goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.
With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left with no one to care for him. He is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind. (goodreads)

***

The Leavers is Lisa Ko’s debut novel, a tale about belonging, transracial adoption and the Asian-American diaspora. Told from several points-of-view and in unchronological arrangement, the novel presents its themes of disconnection and fractured identity and relationships in form as well. The Leavers lends itself to an immersive reading in few sittings, but it is not overly complicated to follow the story despite the structure.

At eleven years-old, Chinese-American Deming Guo is left behind when his mother Peilan/ Polly doesn’t come home from work one day. Adopted by a white couple, Deming is ripped from his home in New York and everything he knows, and moved to privileged, white suburbia. Taking even his name from Deming, the Wilkinsons call him Daniel instead, trying to make him their all-American boy, completely cut-off from his Chinese identity. The Wilkinsons stand in for so many educated, middle-class white people, utterly clueless in the way they enact racial trauma upon children of color. Deming struggles to live up to their expectations but also knows it isn’t where he belongs. In this white liberal culture between color blindness and exoticization, he’s subjected to a constant Othering.

Struggling to belong, Deming is shown as somewhat floating through life, struggling but in college and with a gambling addiction, unable to connect and form roots anywhere. It is only surrounded by music that he is present and connected. Composing his own melodies, he creates a language of his own, in which he feels at home and that is able to express exactly what he feels. Of course, the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

It is only near the end of the story that we as readers find out what happened to Peilan. I suppose this might be called a spoiler but let me assure you that it is issues of capitalism, the nation-state and citizenship which come between mother and son.

I found The Leavers to be a beautifully written, sweeping tale of a Chinese immigrant experience in contemporary America and absolutely recommend it. Ko’s novel has rightly been awarded the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for socially engaged fiction.

 

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

Other thoughts:

Biblio Nyan

Review: All The Women In My Family Sing

all the women

All The Women In My Family Sing: Women Write the World – Essays On Equality, Justice, and Freedom by Deborah Santana, ed. GR
Nothing But The Truth Publishing
Pub. date: January 30th, 2018

 

Edited by Deborah Santana, All the Women in My Family Sing is an anthology by and about women of color. In 69 short essays and poems the contributors bear witness to the woman of color experience. The collection is subdivided into 8 different but connected foci: identity, home, work, justice, family, beauty, illness and travel, each being a point of departure on which to reflect questions of race, gender and sexuality. The anthology features a diverse range of women of color: Black women, trans women, Asian women, biracial women, Chicana women, queer women, indigenous women.

Here are some of my favorite contributions: Shyla Margaret Machanda’s reflections on being biracial resonated with me a lot. Being mixed, a certain shade of Brown, fielding “but what are you?” questions, but also not being connected to one’s ancestors’ culture. Then there’s Mila Jam’s essay on her transgender journey, being an artist and how being successful helped with being accepted. Blaire Topash-Caldwell writes on the projects of reclaiming indigenous space and Porochista Khakpour shares the difficulties and experiences of traveling with chronic illness and under the Muslim ban. Samina Ali reminds us that women’s pain is rarely taken seriously, our symptoms brushed off and of the dangerous and lasting consequences of this.

Reading this anthology was such an amazing experience! I’ve never felt so validated, connecting with these women’s similar experiences and learning about where theirs differed. This is why I focus on women of color and it makes me so happy to see this project come to fruition. All the Women In My Family gave me that rare feeling that, as Khakpour writes, “someone, anyone, close enough, might voice a reality somewhere even remotely close to your own” (87). I read through it slowly, trying not to rush and determined to savor each contribution. Sadly, at some point I did come upon the last page, but I also know that I will treasure this book and keep it on my nightstand, knowing that whenever I need it, there will be wisdom and solidarity waiting for me.

Make sure to follow Nothing But The Truth Publishing, who brought us this gem, that has been completely produced by women of color, including publishing, editing, process management, book cover design, and promotions. And finally, remember to check out the author bio at the end of each essay, which will often lead you to more amazing works! I can’t wait to explore!

 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.