This is a weekly spotlight created by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks that specifically illuminates diverse literature. You can find more details of it in the announcement post here. Each post involves sharing:
- A diverse book I have read and enjoyed
- A diverse book that has already been released but I have not read
- A diverse book that has not yet been released
Read and enjoyed: When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.
Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide.
Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late. A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.
This is third in a loosely-linked series of middle grade fantasy books by Grace Lin, in a world strongly rooted in Chinese culture. I do recommend reading them in order (#1: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, #2: Starry River of the Sky) because it’ll help immerse you in the world and understand references here and there a lot better.
This book wove a mystery really well through multiple interlinked stories, and small hints that make you really want to piece the puzzle together properly. I loved the art in the book, which was absolutely beautiful. The ending was also really satisfying. I’d have appreciated such a book so much when I was younger, and hope to learn more about Chinese culture (I’m Chinese-Australian) and understand the way they were interwoven in the story better, in time!
TBR: When the Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore
To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.
But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches.
Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.
I have heard so many good things about this book. The dedication is beautiful, the cover is beautiful, I’m keen to read more about diverse identities I don’t see represented often in fiction, and can the paperback please come out soon or an Australian publisher pick it
Not Yet Released: The Emperor’s Riddle by Kat Zhang
Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.
Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together–one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.
When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.
I’ve had this book at the back of my mind since I saw the publication announcement! As with Grace Lin’s books, I would have loved to see these kinds of fun, positive, middle grade representations of Chinese culture and Chinese characters when I was younger. I love the puzzle/riddle aspects described, and the fact that it’s set in China. Seriously cannot wait to read this.