Today I’m back on my Asian author support brand!
Earlier I asked for kinds of books that you’re looking for so I could do personalized book recommendations, and I decided to make this list only books by Asian authors. I’m always wanting to support Asian authors, and especially right now!
There were lots of prompts I couldn’t get to, so I’ll be doing a part 2 (open to any authors). Since I felt bad about not doing all of them, I decided to do both a recommendation and an upcoming release, if I could find one! Of course, disclaimer that I haven’t actually read them so I can’t personally recommend them—but definitely put them on your TBRs!!
If you’d like to ask for a(nother) book recommendation for part 2, feel free to comment or use this. And of course, if you’d like to support Asian people beyond supporting their creative work, consider donating to one of these organizations.
Content warnings for books I’ve read are at the end of the post for readability!
Recommendation: This hasn’t come out yet, but I just read Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating and I loved it! I will say that I wanted more cute fake dating scenes before the mutual pining angst started, but it overall was such a cute book (and I enjoyed it more than the author’s debut!).
Upcoming release: Even though my recommendation was already an upcoming release, there are even more fake dating books coming out this year! Love and Other Natural Disasters and Counting Down with You both look like they are going to be amazing and so much fun to read.
MORALLY GREY GIRLS
Recommendation: While I sometimes wanted it to get darker, Girl, Serpent, Thorn has a really excellent morally grey MC trying to figure out what it means to be a monster vs a human after being dehumanized her whole life.
Upcoming release: Apparently there are not only morally grey girls but a whole cast of morally grey characters in general in The Keeper of the Night! And as a morally grey girl lover, that makes me super excited for it. The mention of soul collecting and a Goddess of Death too has me Looking.
SAPPHIC ENEMIES TO LOVERS
Recommendation: I was not big-brained enough to comprehend what was going on in this book, but the gradual change from enemy spies to lovers was done exceptionally well in This is How You Lose the Time War. It’s short and told through letters, which works so much better than you think it would.
Upcoming release: One of my most anticipated releases is The Jasmine Throne, which features not only lesbian enemies to lovers, but morally grey Indian lesbian enemies to lovers!!!
MY FAVORITE FANTASIES
Recommendation: One of my favorite fantasies I always recommend is A Wish in the Dark. It’s a flawless Thai MG fantasy inspired by Les Mis, with the perfect balance between social issues and hope and friendship! It will always mean the world to me, and it would mean everything if you picked it up!!
Upcoming release: I’ve already read it (which is why it’s under “my favorites”…) but She Who Became the Sun should absolutely be on your TBRs if it’s not already!! It’s a historical fantasy retelling the rise of the emperor of the Ming dynasty, and it is glorious in its gorgeous writing and character work.
CHILDHOOD FRIENDS TO LOVERS (ESP. QUEER)
Recommendation: No one’s doing it like Kyoshi and Rangi in The Rise of Kyoshi… childhood friends turned bodyguard+Avatar turned lovers!! This book has many wonderful gay scenes and is also a great exploration of power and corruption overall. (Totally don’t have to be familiar with ATLA to read it!)
Recommendation: Maybe it’s a bit cruel of me to recommend this one since the found family may or may not be, uh, a little broken at certain points, but The Gilded Wolves instantly came to mind. I love the way their group is written and the found family trope is explore (and their banter is A+).
Upcoming release: I was already unbelievably excited by A Clash of Steel (sapphic Asians! retelling of white classic! pretty cover!), but then I found out that it also includes not only found family but queer found family. So… safe to say that I am even MORE excited to read this book now!
Recommendation: This one could be considered more mystery than thriller, but The Best Lies is woefully underloved and I wish more people read it! It’s told in dual timelines as the characters piece together everything leading up to someone’s murder, with a focus on a toxic friendship.
Upcoming release: Both the thriller and dark academia genre are dominated by white people, but How We Fall Apart is the Asian American dark academia thriller of our dreams!!!
URBAN FANTASY & SLOW BURN
Recommendation: I haven’t read many urban fantasies (especially by Asian authors), so this might not be a perfect fit. But if you like comics, you might be interested in Buuza!! It’s an ongoing webcomic, so I’m not 100% sure if there’ll be a romance, but there does seem to be one building up, veeery slowly.
SAPPHIC FANTASY (SECONDARY ROMANCE)
Recommendation: The Bone Shard Daughter is PERFECT for this prompt! The sapphic relationship is already established and is not part of the main plot (there are 5 POV characters, and the relationship is not with any of the 2 central ones of the 5), but it’s still so sweet and complex. The entire book as a whole is excellent too!
Upcoming release: I don’t know too much about the romance in Black Water Sister, but it doesn’t seem to be part of the main plot! This is a contemporary fantasy set in Malaysia with gods and spirits with a lesbian MC and it looks SO good.
Recommendation: Short but sweet, The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a perfect mix of politics, history, and the power of women. Might not work perfectly because it’s less “active” (it’s history being told rather than history actually happening) but great for a quick read!
Upcoming release: Does royalty count for political…? If so, The Ivory Key is a fantasy I’m highly anticipating! It’s about estranged royal siblings who have to work together to prevent war from breaking out after magic runs out. I always want to see more siblings in fantasy so I’m especially excited for this!
CHARACTERS ON THE ASEXUAL SPECTRUM
Recommendation: A beautifully written book with ace-spec rep I always recommend is Summer Bird Blue. The MC is questioning throughout the book, which I think can be very validating to read!
Upcoming release: I have two books for this! First is Fragile Monsters, which came out just yesterday, taking place from WW2 to current times in Malaysia. But someone also asked specifically for YA, so a YA release I’m looking forward to is Travelers Along the Way. It’s releasing in 2022 and doesn’t have a cover yet, but it’s a Robin Hood retelling in Jerusalem featuring “ragtag band of misfits”!!
DARK FANTASY W/ LARGE CAST (ESP. MORALLY GREY)
Recommendation: I think Jade City is actually the perfect fit for this prompt! It’s an urban fantasy based on the Chinese mafia with rival family gangs, aka plenty of morally grey characters abound.
QUEER CONTEMPORARY (ROMANCE NOT MAIN PLOT)
Recommendation: If you want a contemporary with a queer main character and a romance that isn’t the main plot, Picture Us in the Light is the perfect book for you. Family history and secrets, identity, and mental health take the spotlight more than romance in this book, and it’s one of my favorites.
Recommendation: A lot of the books already mentioned feature QPOC, but another one I love is Darius the Great is Not Okay! It features an Iranian gay fat MC with depression, and it does an excellent job of exploring identity, depression, and family. (The sequel is also great too, with romance!)
Upcoming release: I’m really looking forward to Afterlove, which is, apparently, the “lesbian love story you’ve been dying to read.” It follows a British Indo-Guyanese lesbian, and it isn’t your typical YA contemporary because it involves some paranormal aspects like the soul reapers in the afterlife!!
Recommendation: My forever favorite middle grade book is A Wish in the Dark, but since I’ve already mentioned it, another book I read and loved recently was Lalani of the Distant Sea! It’s darker than MG usually is, but still carries light hopefulness in the midst of its adventures and heavier themes.
Upcoming release: Kiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom looks like it’s going to be such a fun MG fantasy, where a girl must face her anxiety as well as the gods from Indian myths born from her drawings!
QUEER FANTASY W/ STRONG FEMALE LEAD & FRIENDSHIP/FAMILY
Recommendation: I think what a “strong female character” is can be debatable, so the MC in Not Your Sidekick might not be exactly what you’re looking for, but this is a f/f sci-fi fantasy that has a focus on both friendship and family, so I thought it was a good choice! It’s a fun, addictive book, dealing with some darker themes as well. (The Rise of Kyoshi works for this too, it just doesn’t focus on family!)
CLICK FOR CONTENT WARNINGS (books I’ve read)Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating – racism, biphobia, lesbophobia, Islamophobia, toxic friendship, gaslighting, parental abandonment
Girl, Serpent, Thorn – violence, murder/death, imprisonment, war, depictions of blood
This is How You Lose the Time War – war/violence, torture, animal death
A Wish in the Dark – death, drowning
She Who Became the Sun – murder, death, violence, war, dysphoria, (internalized) homophobia, starvation
The Rise of Kyoshi – death/murder (of loved ones), violence, parental neglect, starvation, mentions of mass murder
The Gilded Wolves – murder, death, child abuse, loss of loved one, abandonment, anxiety attacks, depictions of blood, depictions of grief, mention of suicide
The Best Lies – murder, physical & domestic abuse, toxic/codependent friendship, suicidal ideation
The Bone Shard Daughter – violence, death of loved ones, missing loved one, depictions of blood, cutting into skin (not self-harm), drowning
The Empress of Salt and Fortune – murder, death of loved one, war themes, mention of suicide
Summer Bird Blue – death of sibling, car accident, depictions of grief, depression
The Weight of Our Sky – death (of loved one), violence, racism, anxiety and OCD triggers, missing loved one, depictions of blood, depictions of grief
Darius the Great is Not Okay – depression, racist comments, fatphobic comments, comments criticizing depression
Jade City – death, violence, drug use, drug overdose
Lalani of the Distant Sea – death (of parent), abuse (parental/domestic), bullying
Not Your Sidekick – racism, violence (superhero battle type), kidnapping, captivity/imprisonment
Picture Us in the Light – suicide, death of loved one, depression, child trafficking, immigration fears
have you read any of these books? did you find any to add to your TBR? do you have your own recs for these prompts? (please let me know, I’d love to hear them!)