Katie, Bookseller and Coordinator
Favorite Genres: Asian and Asian American stories, both fiction and non-fiction; middle grade, especially stories that involve animals, Disney, or different cultures; YA, particularly cute romance and fantasy with world building based on other cultures/mythology; LGBTQ+ romance; books about etymology; anything by Jodi Picoult
Favorite Authors: Jodi Picoult, Elizabeth Lim, Sarah Dessen, Marguerite Henry, John Green, Joel Abernathy, Alexis Hall
Minor Feelings is a collection of essays that is at once an autobiography and a scathing cultural critique. I would be unsurprised to find it taught in Asian American Studies or Sociology classes in the near future. Hong's writing is unapologetic as she works through topics such as racial self-hatred, the model minority myth, and feeling of indebtedness towards activists of generations past.
Chen's debut collection of stories explores the lives of the average Chinese citizen, those living across China as well as abroad. In my favorite story, “New Fruit,” a village is introduced to a fruit that improves everyone's moods and inspires sudden acts of kindness. But fruit comes and goes with the seasons, and the villagers are lost without it. This collection is perfect for anyone who enjoys short stories that hit upon big questions.
Alexis Hall writes some of the most relatable characters I've found in LGBTQ+ fiction. Luc isn't the perfect protagonist because of his lack of flaws, but rather because of them. Luc's flaws certainly translate into his narration, and getting to know Oliver through his perspective is a treat. This is the perfect book for someone craving a lighthearted romance that will at times make you laugh out loud.
Asian Americans are becoming increasingly visible, between popular movies starring Asian American actors and resistance against the "model minority" stereotype. In Interior Chinatown, Charles Yu shows us how toxic and detrimental it is to be boiled down to a simple stereotype. Both hopeful and depressingly realistic, this book presents a story about race from a perspective that is still fairly uncommonly heard.
If you've watched Ali's Netflix specials, how have you not read this book yet? In classic Ali fashion, the humor is raunchy, and among the laughter you'll find invaluable tips. For example, if your Asian restaurant doesn't look like it's going to give you food poisoning, you're not in the right place. This book had me laughing in public like a crazy person, and I guarantee you're going to want to share it with all of the women in your life!
This is a love story. But don't just take it at face value, because it's not the love story that you're expecting. Although the main characters are straight, both are female, and the men play a surprisingly small role throughout the story. The story is cute, but be ready with the tissues! Though it won't be winning any literary awards, if you want a quick, light read, definitely give this book a try!
If you're looking for a lighthearted, quick read, look no further! 21 Truths About Love is a cute story written entirely in lists. I appreciated how relatable the narrator was throughout the story, and was surprised by how strong his voice and personality remained throughout the story without relying on the traditional prose format. So if you want a laugh (or two or twenty), definitely don't pass on this book!
Whether you're an adoptee, the parent, family member, or friend of an adoptee, or have ever wondered what it feels like to grow up as a transracial adoptee, this is a great place to start. Many of the worries, fears, and the positive thoughts Nicole writes about are echoes of conversations I have had with other adoptees, and I enjoyed her openness in regards to what is often such an emotionally charged and personal topic.
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane explores some of the complexities and emotions surrounding international adoption. Told from the point of view of a mother who must abandon her child, this book is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming. In my opinion, See also does a great job getting at some of the complex emotions my fellow adoptees feel toward family and the sense of wanting to belong.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors, because she always does an exceptional job exploring contemporary moral issues. In this book, she looks at racism and challenges the reader’s knowledge and understanding of both sides of the spectrum. As usual, Small Great Things gives fair treatment to both sides; while sometimes infuriating, it’s also great because it truly lets us readers make our own judgments.
This is a touching story about family and how people don't have to be related to you by blood to be family. Add in some magic, a YouTuber best friend, and a petting zoo of animals, and you get a great balance between the serious and lighthearted moments. Bonus, the author is a Colorado native, and constantly references Colorado places!
I have already recommended this book to basically all my friends and family, and everyone has loved it. Thirteen Doorways tells the story of Frankie, a not-really orphan who, along with her siblings, lives in an orphanage. Placing your child into an orphanage due to poverty was apparently a fairly common practice back in the early 1900s, which lent to the realism of this story. Add in a compelling narrator who just happens to be a ghost, and how could you possibly put this book down?
This was my first novel by Marie Lu, and boy was I impressed! The story focuses on Nannerl Mozart, elder sister of the famous Wolfgang Mozart. Both are only children, but gifted musicians and composers. Nannerl's deepest wish is to be remembered, and the beautiful fairy prince Hyacinth promises to fulfill her wish in exchange for her help in reclaiming his kingdom. Thus begins Nannerl's journey. I thought the story was compelling and the prose was gorgeous, lending itself to the ethereal, magical feeling underlying the whole story.
Pong was born in a prison. He becomes a wanted boy when he escapes, and finds himself protected by a kind older monk. Since the Great Fire burned Chattana to the ground, all energy comes from the magical orbs created by the Governor. However, the Governoris not as generous as he seems, and Pong will have to use all his courage and the help of his newfound friends to stop the Governor from using his power to hurt others.
Halle Levitt is marginally famous for her blog pairing YA book reviews with cupcakes. Afraid that her success might be influenced by her famous parents or book industry titan grandmother, Halle creates her blog as Kels, who has a life of her own. Drama ensues when Halle moves to live with her grandfather, and finds herself face-to-face with Nash, Kels's best friend. Falling in love with Nash is possibly inevitable, but slightly problematic, since he's already in love with Kels. Did I mention he doesn't know that Halle and Kels are the same person?
The Magic Fish is a story told in three parts. One part is about Tiâãen, a young teen who is trying to find the words to come out to his immigrant parents. One part is about Tiâãen's mother, and the events leading to her immigration to the US. The third part, my personal favorite, is a collection of fairy tales shared between Tiâãen and his mother, their shared language as she works to improve her English. I thought Nguyen did an amazing job weaving the three parts of this story, and the emotion is undeniable.
This book is perfect for the reader who loves magic, adventures, and most importantly, dragons! I highly recommend this title for anyone who is looking for something a little more difficult than most early readers, but is not quite ready to commit to longer middle readers. While slightly less quirky and more modern than Roald Dahl, I think fans will be pleased with this pick. Also, don't miss The Dragon Thief, which picks up right where Dragons in a Bag leaves off!
This was my first Nicola Yoon book, and it did not disappoint! Whether a hopeless romantic or a total skeptic, readers will sympathize with Evie Thomas, an ex-romantic who isn't sure she believes in true love following her parents' divorce. As a hopeless romantic myself, I had so much fun watching Evie fall in love with love again, with the help of feisty dance instructor Fifi and the book Instructions for Dancing, which brings her the perfect touch of magic.
Love and Olives is a book about heartbreak and forgiveness moonlighting as the perfect summer beach read. When Olive (Liv) is forcibly sent to Santorini for a few weeks to help her father film a documentary about Atlantis, she is a bit guarded and skeptical. Her father did abandon her when she was eight to continue his search for Atlantis, after all. Luckily, Theo is there to provide an emotional buffer between Liv and her father. Theo, who has amazing eyelashes and is full of totally invasive questions. But Liv already has a boyfriend back home, so absolutely nothing will happen, regardless of the beautiful Greek island backdrop or Theo's gorgeous smile.
XOXO perfectly captures the magic of Korean dramas, K-pop, and the wonderful things about living in South Korea, all in one novel. The whole time I could picture the story playing out like a Kdrama, and like binge watching a whole show, I had to read the whole book in one sitting! I highly recommend XOXO to anyone interested in Korean pop culture, and anyone who wants to learn what it's like visiting/living in Korea, because Axie Oh captured it perfectly (well, maybe aside from the whole dating a pop star part).