Year of the Asian (YARC) TBR

Back in August I signed up to YARC – Year of the Asian Reading Challenge and set myself the “Indian Cobra” goal of reading 11-20 books by Asian authors. Since writing that post, I’ve been browsing and keeping an eye out for books to read for this challenge and have narrowed it down to those on this TBR list.

Spin the Dawn, Elizabeth Lim

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Spin the Dawn immediately reminds me of Mulan, with the main character, Maia Tamarin, having to pose as a boy so she can replace her father. Maia is one out of twelve tailors competing to sew three magical gowns for the emperor’s fiance in an environment full of treachery and backstabbing and added to the mix is court magician, Edan, who seems to see straight past her disguise.

Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng

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It’s 1970s Ohio and Lydia is the favourite child of parents Marilyn and James, who are both determined that she will pursue the dreams that they weren’t able to. So when her body is found in the local lake the already precarious family balance is destroyed and the result is absolute chaos.

Celeste Ng has been an author I’ve had my eye on for a while now, mostly due to the success of her novel Little Fires Everywhere, however it’s Everything I Never Told You, her debut novel, which’s premise strikes me as more interesting (but I am itching to read both).

Emergency Contact, Mary H K Choi

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Emergency Contact is set at the beginning of Penny’s college journey as she moves away from home to learn how to become a writer. There she meets Sam, a boy stuck in limbo in seemingly every sense of the word – figuratively, emotionally and financially – who both works and sleeps at a cafe but aches to resume on his life and pursue his dream of becoming a famous movie director.

The two main characters are Korean, come from atpyical homes and place on the lower side of the financial spectrum – in short Emergency Contact is full of representation that we don’t always get to see in YA, which hopefully will make for a thought-provoking read.

Descendant of the Crane, Joan He

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Unwilling Princess Hesina of Yan suddenly finds herself queen when her beloved father is murdered. Desperate to find her father and not sure of who to trust she turns to Akira, an investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. It’s up to Hesina to fight to find the answers about her father’s death – but will the cost be too high?

I always find it interesting to find characters thrust into positions resembling their worst nightmares because the character growth that normally accompanies it tends to be really good. I’ve seen books with similar premises to Descendant of the Crane but never told in a more Chinese/Oriental setting so I’m excited to see how the story will unfold.

Girl In Translation, Jean Kwok

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Girl In Translation has the most modern and topical themes out of the books on this list. It follows Kimberly Chang, an immigrant in Brooklyn who came from Hong Kong with her mother, leading her double life as a student by day but Chinatown sweatshop worker by night. This forces her to switch, or translate, herself between her two identities whilst juggling hiding her state of poverty and living up to her family’s dreams and expectations, as well her feelings for a boy she works with in the factory.

I think Girl In Translation will be one of those “wake up call” books which forces you to comes to terms with real, present day problems, as whilst we can passively absorb the information we see on the news, actively connecting through someone’s life, albeit in fictional form, tends to be a different experience – one we can ultimately empathise with a lot more.

An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir

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The Martial Empire is a harsh one, with death and destruction at every corner, especially if you dare to defy the emperor and his orders. Laia, a slave, lives with her grandparents and older brother but once the latter is arrested for treason Laia finds herself making a deal with rebels – spy for them within the Empire’s greatest military academy and they’ll rescue her brother. There she meets Elias, the school’s prize soldier who secretly is no more free than she is and the two of them slowly discover that their fates are much more intertwined than either of them thought, and that they have the ability to disrupt the balance of the Empire itself.

An Ember in the Ashes has been on my TBR for years, and I say that with no exaggeration – it really has been. I’ve been on the verge of buying it or taking it out from the library many a time yet have never committed to it and I’m determined that this needs to change by the end of 2019, especially since I’ve only heard good things about it.

Other books on my YARC TBR


The Black Tides of Heaven, J Y Yang


The Astonishing Colour of After, Emily X R Pan

Empress of All Seasons, Emiko Jean

Not Your Sidekick, C B Lee

I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Maurene Goo

Want, Cindy Pon

We Hunt the Flame, Hafsah Faizal

A Spark of White Fire

The Tiger at Midnight, Swati Teerdhala



Are you participating in YARC this year? If so, how many books are you aiming to read?

Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think of them?/Would you recommend them?


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