December TBR

I can hardly believe it’s December already. Where did the year go? There are about a hundred books that I wish I’d read this year, and I’ve only got another four weeks left. I’m prioritising books for my reading challenges and book club in December, so there’s a few retellings and Asian-authored books for YARC.

Currently Reading

Wonderland edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane

This is a short story anthology inspired by Alice in Wonderland. I’m about half way through, and, like most anthologies, there’s a lot of variation. So far M. R. Carey’s short story stands out the most.

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

I was really sucked into this because the world building sounded cool – a world literally torn in half by goddesses, leaving one half in eternal darkness, and the other in eternal sun. It sounds similar to Stain by A. G. Howard in that respect, but I know this one has a lot more focus on the effects it would have on the climate. This one is also inspired by Assyrian/Mesopotamian mythology.

To Start in December

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The Weight of a Soul by Elizabeth Tammi📚💕

All I really know about this is that it features Norse mythology, and a girl trying to save her sister. I want to cross off a square on my bingo card for my Retellings Reading Challenge, and this fits the criteria.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden 📚

All year I’ve been lucky enough to be able to read anything I want to read. This is probably the only book I’m going into without much enthusiasm. I want to cross off the ‘Russian Folklore’ square on my Retelling Reading Challenge bingo card, so I chose this. I hear it’s good though.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin💕🏮📚

Earlier this year I read Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal, and I quite enjoyed it. I figure you can never read too many Pride and Prejudice retellings, so here I am. Planning to read another one. (As an aside, I hear there are at least two retellings coming in the New Year – one from Mary’s perspective, and one from Charlotte Lucas’)

Winterspell by Claire Legrand📚

This is a retelling of the Nutcracker and seems like a perfect Christmas read (without being too Christmas-y). It was chosen as one of the two books for my book club this month. I really enjoyed Sawkill Girls, so I’m hoping for some of the same dark vibes and amazing writing.

The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco 💕🏮

This is the third and final instalment in The Bone Witch trilogy. I’ve been putting this off all year because I’m scared I’ll be disappointed. I should really try to do a quick re-read of the first two books because I’ve forgotten a lot of details, but I’m not sure I’m going to have the time.

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Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery

This is the fourth book in the Anne of Green Gables series, and in this book Anne has taken a new job as principal of a boarding school. I’m trying to get into reading classics, so I thought I’d start my journey by reading a series that I’m already familiar with (from the 1980s TV movies.) I think I made a good choice because I’m already up to book 4.

#Spookathon TBR

October 14-20

Read a Thriller

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

YA Horror Mystery Thriller

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Read a book with red on the cover

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

YA Fantasy

A dark standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory.

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Read a book with a spooky word in the Title

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney 📚

YA Historical SFF

When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings… and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death.. .and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out. Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire.

Read a book with a spooky setting: The Silent Companions

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The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell

Historical gothic horror mystery

Some doors are locked for a reason …

Newly married, newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband’s crumbling country estate, The Bridge.

With her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie only has her husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. For inside her new home lies a locked room, and beyond that door lies a two-hundred-year-old diary and a deeply unsettling painted wooden figure – a Silent Companion – that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself …

 

Read something you wouldn’t normally read: Wakenhyrst

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Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Historical gothic horror mystery

“Something has been let loose…”

In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.

When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.

Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.

Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free by the bestselling author of Dark Matter and Thin Air. Wakenhyrst is an outstanding new piece of story-telling, a tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It is a masterwork in the modern gothic tradition that ranges from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Neil Gaiman and Sarah Perry.

The Literary Grand Tour of the World|| TBR

I’m participating in a three month long reading challenge wherein I will attempt to read books set in as many different countries as possible. Even I think I’m crazy to attempt this on top of two other year-long reading challenges, but here we are. This isn’t my complete TBR, but it’s a start. The number in brackets is how many points each read is worth.

Argentina (3): The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Afghanistan (5): A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

Arab Emirates (5): Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

France (2): The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

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Iceland (3): Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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India (2): The Widows Of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Ireland (2): All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Israel (3): The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

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Korea (2): The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim

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Nigeria (3): David Mogo Godhunter bu Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Russia (2): The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Sweden (3): The Kingdom Of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal

United States of America (1+1): The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (extra point for marginalised main character)

Hocus Pocus Readathon TBR

I’m planning to participate in two readathons during October in hopes that I may actually read more. The first is Hocus Pocus Readathon, which runs from October 1-13. There are three teams you can join with different challenges. I’ve chosen to join Team Sanderson Sisters. For more information you can head to the Twitter account in this link.

Potions, Spells and Enchantments: Read a book with a witchy main character:

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

YA Fantasy

I was chosen by the Deos. Even gods make mistakes.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo she can’t trust, but who may be Alex’s only chance at saving her family.

The Sanderson Sisters have risen: Read a book with a female protagonist:

The Diviners by Libba Bray

YA Historical Paranormal Mystery

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

The magic book is calling you: Read a book that is spellbindingly atmospheric:

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig 📚💕

YA Fantasy

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

The Burning Rain of Death! Read a book that frightens you:

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The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

Historical gothic mystery

‘Ladies and gentlemen, the darkness is complete.’

It is the winter of 1893, and in London the snow is falling.

It is falling as Gideon Bliss seeks shelter in a Soho church, where he finds Angie Tatton lying before the altar. His one-time love is at death’s door, murmuring about brightness and black air, and about those she calls the Spiriters. In the morning she is gone.

The snow is falling as a seamstress climbs onto a ledge above Mayfair, a mysterious message stitched into her own skin. It is falling as she steadies herself and closes her eyes.

It is falling, too, as her employer, Lord Strythe, vanishes into the night, watched by Octavia Hillingdon, a restless society columnist who longs to uncover a story of real importance.

She and Gideon will soon be drawn into the same mystery, each desperate to save Angie and find out the truth about Lord Strythe. Their paths will cross as the darkness gathers, and will lead them at last to what lies hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

Master Satan in pleased with you: Read a book with a powerful villain:

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The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

YA Fantasy

Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

Take down those kids: Read the group book:

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Watch Hocus Pocus!

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September TBR

I’m usually terrible at sticking to TBRs, but I managed to do pretty well last month during #RetellingAThon, so I thought I’d give it another go.

Key:

📚 Retelling Reading Challenge

🏮 Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

💕 2019 Releases

First up I have one book I’m currently reading from last month that I’d like to finish.

The Queens of Innis Lear By Tessa Gratton 📚

Fantasy

676 Pages

A kingdom at risk, a crown divided, a family drenched in blood.

The erratic decisions of a prophecy-obsessed king have drained Innis Lear of its wild magic, leaving behind a trail of barren crops and despondent subjects. Enemy nations circle the once-bountiful isle, sensing its growing vulnerability, hungry to control the ideal port for all trade routes.

The king’s three daughters—battle-hungry Gaela, master manipulator Reagan, and restrained, starblessed Elia—know the realm’s only chance of resurrection is to crown a new sovereign, proving a strong hand can resurrect magic and defend itself. But their father will not choose an heir until the longest night of the year, when prophecies align and a poison ritual can be enacted.

Refusing to leave their future in the hands of blind faith, the daughters of Innis Lear prepare for war—but regardless of who wins the crown, the shores of Innis will weep the blood of a house divided.

Next I’ve got some more retellings for my Retelling Reading Challenge, and a few books for #YARC:

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez 📚

YA Fantasy

448 Pages

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden 📚

Historical Fantasy

323 Pages

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer 📚

YA Fantasy

453 Pages

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland—the infamous Queen of Hearts—she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Cadaver and Queen by Alisa Kwitney 📚

YA Historical SFF

320 Pages

When Lizzie Lavenza enrolled at Ingold as its first female medical student, she knew she wouldn’t have an easy time. From class demands to being an outsider among her male cohorts, she’ll have to go above and beyond to prove herself. So when she stumbles across what appears to be a faulty Bio-mechanical–one of the mechanized cadavers created to service the school–she jumps at the chance to fix it and get ahead in the program.

Only this Bio-mechanical isn’t like the others. Where they are usually empty-minded and perfectly obedient, this one seems to have thoughts, feelings… and self-awareness.

Soon Lizzie realizes that it is Victor Frankenstein–a former student who died under mysterious circumstances. Victor, it seems, still has a spark of human intelligence inside him, along with memories of things he discovered before his untimely death.. .and a suspicion that he was murdered to keep that information from getting out. Suddenly Lizzie finds herself intertwined in dark secrets and sabotage that put her life, and the lives of Victor and their friends, in danger. But Lizzie’s determined to succeed–even if that means fighting an enemy who threatens the entire British Empire.

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave 📚💕

YA Fantasy

400 Pages

Gothic, intoxicating, feminist, darkly provoking and deeply romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim 📚💕🏮

YA Fantasy

392 Pages

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

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.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee 🏮💕

YA Historical Fiction

304 Pages

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

The Shadowglass (The Bone Witch Trilogy #3) by Rin Chupeco 🏮💕

YA Fantasy

449 Pages

It’s my policy not to ruin books by sharing the synopses for sequels with unsuspecting victims, so if you want to see aforementioned synopsis, click the link.

Finally I plan to read a few books outside my normal reading range:

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

MG Fantasy

228 Pages

Forbidden to leave her island, Isabella Riosse dreams of the faraway lands her father once mapped.

When her closest friend disappears into the island’s Forgotten Territories, she volunteers to guide the search. As a cartographer’s daughter, she’s equipped with elaborate ink maps and knowledge of the stars, and is eager to navigate the island’s forgotten heart.

But the world beyond the walls is a monster-filled wasteland – and beneath the dry rivers and smoking mountains, a legendary fire demon is stirring from its sleep. Soon, following her map, her heart and an ancient myth, Isabella discovers the true end of her journey: to save the island itself.

 

The Au Pair by Emma Rous

Mystery Thriller

360 Pages

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her

Retelling-A-Thon TBR

Since I’m participating in the 2019 Retelling Reading Challenge, it only made sense to participate in this readathon.

It is co-hosted by Tay and Missy @ Frayed Books, Umairah @ Sereadipity, Jennifer @ Bibliolater, and Harker @ The Hermit Librarian. It runs all month, from August 1-31.

I’ve chosen to join the Fairytale team in week 3 led by Umairah, although I wish I could join them all! Anyway, here’s my TBR!

retelling-a-thon-week-3-prompts

Under the Sea: Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

Sweet Dreams: Kingdom of Ash and Briars by Hannah West

Beware the Wolf: The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Let Down Your Hair: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Guess My Name: Beyond the Briar (short story collection)

If the Shoe Fits: Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Icy Heart: Robbergirl by S. T. Gibson

June TBR

I’m primarily dedicating the month of June to catching up on my 2019 releases, of which there are many. I only anticipate getting through about 5 of them, because I’m awful at keeping to a TBR. Still, we’ll see how it goes.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own.

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Robin of Locksley is dead.

Maid Marian doesn’t know how she’ll go on, but the people of Locksley town, persecuted by the Sheriff of Nottingham, need a protector. And the dreadful Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff’s right hand, wishes to step into Robin’s shoes as Lord of Locksley andMarian’s fiancé.

Who is there to stop them?

Marian never meant to tread in Robin’s footsteps—never intended to stand as a beacon of hope to those awaiting his triumphant return. But with a sweep of his green cloak and the flash of her sword, Marian makes the choice to become her own hero: Robin Hood.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holy trilogy.

The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran

When empires clash,
a Princess, a Knight, and an Assassin
embark on the quest of a lifetime

During the time of the Crusades, an unlikely trio—a Christian princess, her affianced prince, and a Muslim assassin—embarks on a quest to the court of the most fearsome warrior the world has ever known, Genghis Khan.

A rousing tale of adventure and romance about three young people who must grapple with fundamental issues of loyalty, friendship, faith, honor, and courage against the backdrop of conflicts that still resonate today.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

The Binding by Bridget Collins

Imagine you could erase grief.
Imagine you could remove pain.
Imagine you could hide the darkest, most horrifying secret.
Forever.

Young Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a strange letter arrives summoning him away from his family. He is to begin an apprenticeship as a Bookbinder—a vocation that arouses fear, superstition, and prejudice among their small community but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

For as long as he can recall, Emmett has been drawn to books, even though they are strictly forbidden. Bookbinding is a sacred calling, Seredith informs her new apprentice, and he is a binder born. Under the old woman’s watchful eye, Emmett learns to hand-craft the elegant leather-bound volumes. Within each one they will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, a binder can help. If there’s something you need to erase, they can assist. Within the pages of the books they create, secrets are concealed and the past is locked away. In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, rows upon rows of books are meticulously stored.

But while Seredith is an artisan, there are others of their kind, avaricious and amoral tradesman who use their talents for dark ends—and just as Emmett begins to settle into his new circumstances, he makes an astonishing discovery: one of the books has his name on it. Soon, everything he thought he understood about his life will be dramatically rewritten.

The Bone Charmer by Breeana Shields

In Saskia’s world, bones are the source of all power. They tell the future, reveal the past, and expose secrets in the present. Each village has a designated seer who performs readings for the townsfolk, and in Midwood, the Bone Charmer is Saskia’s mother.

On the day of her kenning—a special bone reading that determines the apprenticeships of all seventeen-year-olds—Saskia’s worst fears come true. She receives an assignment to train as a Bone Charmer, like her mother, and even worse, a match-making reading that pairs her with Bram—a boy who has suspicious tattoos that hint of violence.

Saskia knows her mother saw multiple paths for her, yet chose one she knew Saskia wouldn’t want. Their argument leads to a fracture in one of the bones. Broken bones are always bad luck, but this particular set of bones have been infused with extra magic, and so the break has devastating consequences—Saskia’s future has split as well. Now she will live her two potential paths simultaneously. Only one future can survive. And Saskia’s life is in danger in both.

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

 

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

Ramadan Readathon TBR

This is my second year participating in Ramadan Readathon and I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to support Muslim authors in a more visible way. This year I’m attempting the bingo card, and I hope to complete the pillar of Hajj or the pillar of Shahada (see image below). You can find the Announcement and Sign Up page by following this link, or their official Twitter page here.

ramadan-readathon-bingo

Here’s my TBR:

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Non Western Setting: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

Science Fiction/Fantasy

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line. Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground.

When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen.

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Adult Fiction: The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Fantasy

The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, are at the boiling point of a power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince. In the midst of this brewing rebellion a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. It is up to a handful of heroes to learn the truth behind these killings:

Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, “the last real ghul hunter in the great city of Dhamsawaat,” just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame’s family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter’s path.

Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla’s young assistant, is a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety. But even as Raseed’s sword is tested by ghuls and manjackals, his soul is tested when he and Adoulla cross paths with the tribeswoman Zamia.

Zamia Badawi, Protector of the Band, has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the lion-shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man’s title. She lives only to avenge her father’s death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father’s killer. Until she meets Raseed.

When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince’s brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time—and struggle against their own misgivings—to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn Dhamsawaat, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

Free Space/ Historical Fiction: The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

YA Fantasy

Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population — except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.

But when one of the most potent of the Ifrit dies, Fatima is changed in ways she cannot fathom, ways that scare even those who love her. Oud in hand, Fatima is drawn into the intrigues of the maharajah and his sister, the affairs of Zulfikar and the djinn, and the dangers of a magical battlefield.

Nafiza Azad weaves an immersive tale of magic and the importance of names; fiercely independent women; and, perhaps most importantly, the work for harmony within a city of a thousand cultures and cadences.

Involves a Journey/Multiple Points of View: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

YA Fantasy

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

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No Romance/ Recommended to me: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

YA Fantasy

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

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Free Space: Fire Boy by Sami Shah

Fantasy/Horror

From Sami Shah comes Fire Boy, the first of a two-part urban fantasy set in modern-day Pakistan, where djinns roam the street alongside corrupt cops, hustling beggars, and creatures from the darkest corners of Islamic mythology.

Growing up in Karachi isn’t easy. Wahid has a lot on his mind: the girl he likes, mostly, but also choosing a good university and finding time to play Dungeons and Dragons. Oh, and the fact that he can see djinns, other-worldly creatures made of a smokeless and scorching fire. After a horrific car accident kills his best friend and djinns steal his girlfriend’s soul, Wahid vows to find out why. Fortunately, he has help in finding the djinns that tried to kill him. Unfortunately, that help is from the darkest of all spirits, the Devil himself …

Fire Boy is filled with supernatural entities and high-paced action, but it also gives the reader a vivid insight into life in Pakistan.

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Non-Fiction: Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamin Ansary

We in the west share a common narrative of world history. But our story largely omits a whole civilization whose citizens shared an entirely different narrative for a thousand years.In Destiny Disrupted, Tamim Ansary tells the rich story of world history as the Islamic world saw it, from the time of Mohammed to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and beyond. He clarifies why our civilizations grew up oblivious to each other, what happened when they intersected, and how the Islamic world was affected by its slow recognition that Europe—a place it long perceived as primitive and disorganized—had somehow hijacked destiny.

Let’s Chat!

What are your favourite books by Muslim authors? Have you read any of the books on my TBR? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments below!

Asian Readathon TBR

I’m so excited for this because I have so so many books that are perfect for this readathon! Asian Readathon runs the entire month of May and is dedicated to reading books written by Asian authors, and books that celebrate Asian characters. You can find the announcement here, and the official Twitter page here, and finally you can find a master list of books by Asian authors here.

The Challenges are as follows:

  1. Read any book by an Asian author.
  2. Read a graphic novel featuring an Asian character or written/drawn by an Asian author (manga, manhua, manhwa, and comics count).
  3. Read a book featuring an intersectional Asian character or written by an intersectional Asian identity (i.e. queer, mixed, disabled, neurodiverse, etc).
  4. Read a book by Asian author that was originally written in their native language (translated books and graphic novels count).
  5. Read the group book: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh, which will be covered in the live show on Saturday, May 25 at 6pm EST on readwithcindy’s channel.

The twist:

  • You can combine challenges and read in any order; however, EACH book you read should feature a character or author of a different Asian ethnicity. This is to encourage cultural diversity.

Vietnamese: Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao🇻🇳

This is a retelling of the rise of the evil queen from Cinderella in an Asian setting. I like villain backstories, so I’m excited to read this.

Chinese: Want by Cindy Pon🇨🇳

Set in future Taipei, this is the story of a group of friends fighting corruption in a world destroyed by pollution.

Chinese: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He🇨🇳

Set in a Chinese inspired world, Descendant of the Crane is full of twisty court politics, but at its core it is a murder mystery, and about a daughter trying to find her father’s killer.

Chinese: The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang🇨🇳

I DNF’d this book last year, but decided to give it another go after reading a blog post by the author. It’s based on the events of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Nanjing Massacre, told in a fantasy setting.

Filipino: The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco🇵🇭

The third and final instalment of The Bone Witch series, The Shadow Glass continues Tea’s story. Full of vengeance and magic and monsters, this series is quickly becoming one of my favourites. I’m almost scared to find out how it ends.

Indian: Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra🇮🇳

Markswoman is basically about an elite warrior in the Order of Kali who pledges to protect the people of Asiana, but is torn by her desire to avenge her murdered family.

Indian: A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna🇮🇳

This is pegged as an outer space retelling of the Maharabhata. What’s not to love?

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Indian: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri🇮🇳

This is a Mughal India inspired fantasy featuring a nobleman’s daughter in whose blood flows the magic of the nomadic Amrithi people. When her powers draw the attention of the Emperor’s mystics, she must resist their cruel plan, or risk waking vengeful gods.

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Pakistani: A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir🇵🇰

The third in the Ember in the Ashes series, I’ve been avoiding this book for well over six months. I was trying to wait for the final book to come out before reading it, but I don’t think I can wait any longer.

Pakistani: Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal 🇵🇰

This is a Pride and Prejudice retelling in Pakistan. Enough said.

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Singaporean: The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang🇸🇬

This has rebellion, prophecy and siblings choosing different paths that take them further away from each other.

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Japanese: The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide🇯🇵

This is a pretty slim novel which I’d probably describe as a slice-of-life meditation on the transient nature of life featuring a young couple, their neighbours, and a stray cat.

Japanese: Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi 🇯🇵

Kojiki is set in modern Japan, but explores the unseen world of spirits and monsters.

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Korean: Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee🇰🇷

Conservation of Shadows is a collection of short stories blending mythology and futuristic technology. Apparently it explores themes ranging from colonisation to the role of art to suicide.

Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

I know this is a bit late in the year, but I thought I’d give this reading challenge a whirl. I’m already signed up for 2019 Retellings Reading Challenge, but I have quite a few Asian authored books on my TBR so it only made sense to give this one a go. It runs from 1 January to midnight on 31 December 2019, and the only requirement is to read books by Asian authors. The organisation and dedication the co-hosts have put into this are phenomenal, and I’d like to personally thank them all. You can find the original announcement and sign up post here, and you can follow them on Twitter here.

 

Overall Challenge

There are 6 levels, and I’m aiming to read 31-40 books, so my badge will be this cute-as Giant Panda!

1elMPic

TBR

My TBR for this is soooo long, so I’ll just include my top 10

  1. The Shadow Glass by Rin Chupeco 🇵🇭
  2. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao🇻🇳
  3. Want by Cindy Pon🇨🇳
  4. Descendant of the Crane by Joan He🇨🇳
  5. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri🇮🇳
  6. Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra🇮🇳
  7. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir🇵🇰
  8. The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang🇸🇬
  9. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang🇨🇳
  10. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni🇮🇳

 

Progress Tracker

I’ll be posting a monthly on my blog to keep track of my progress. I’ll update this post, as well as doing a separate wrap up post, so be sure to check them out!

Let’s Chat!

Are you participating in any Reading Challenges this year? Do you enjoy year long challenges, or do you prefer shorter readathons? What are some of your favourite Asian authored books? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Progress so far (Yes it’s dismal)

  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi🇮🇳🇵🇭 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew 🇹🇭 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard🇻🇳 ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco 🇵🇭⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco 🇵🇭⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee🇰🇷 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal 🇵🇰 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Want by Cindy Pon ⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao 🇻🇳
  • The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad 🇫🇯