The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Asian American

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Dreaming is a breathtaking story that is so vividly written you will feel like you are walking next to Izumi as she navigates imperial life. Izumi has overcome so many challenges since discovering that her father is the Crown Prince Makotonomiya Toshihito of Japan. The transition from normal small town girl to Imperial princess has been difficult. Now Izumi’s mom has joined her in Japan, and they are living the happy family life that Izumi always dreamed of with her father. When Izumi’s father proposes to her mom, everyone is thrilled for the life that is to come. Everyone, except the Imperial council who has their doubts about the match. Izumi decides she will do whatever it takes to make sure her mom and dad have their happily ever after. But what will it cost her? Her future happiest, her friends, or even the true love of her life. Tokyo Dreaming continues the story that began with Tokyo Ever After. Perfect for fans of Sarah Kuhn’s I love you so Mochi, Katherine McGee’s American Royal, or Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries.

Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean, (List Price: $18.99, Flatiron Books, 9781250766632, May 2022)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Ahmed masterfully weaves together so many difficult topics that it’s hard to say what this book is about in any concise way. It’s painful, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It shines a light on horrific topics with sensitivity and grace and does so through the lens of two characters that are some of the most realistic I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Safiya didn’t really know Jawad, and she still felt the pain of his loss deeply. Upon finishing this book, I too feel his loss as if I knew him. I cannot remember ever reading a book so impactful, so relevant, and so emotionally gripping. If I had my way, everyone would read this book

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316282642, May 2022)

Reviewed by tee arnold, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

This collection is like a candy bag of sweets that will delight you with bright colors, textures, flavors, and then wash over you with strange childhood nostalgia and pucker the sore parts of your cheeks. Swinging from trivialities like ad jingles and jumping on trampolines to deep observations about love, family, and identity, these poems are able to sweep the highs and lows, silly and serious into folded notes you can keep in your pockets like confetti for all occasions.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen, (List Price: $16, BOA Editions Ltd., 9781942683339,  April 2017)

Reviewed by Julie Jarema from Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

An April Read This Next! Book

Nothing short of beautiful. Fresh feeling poems populated with violence, the roadside, love, and what endures. Where war and tragedy and trauma persists, so do the bold spirit in each of these poems, unafraid to look back be tender. What I found most compelling in Time Is a Mother was the rhythm, dilating and breathing one moment, rapid and pulsing the next, capturing the flow of relative time the way only a voice like Vuong’s can.

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong, (List Price: $24, Penguin Press, 9780593300237,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan

I picked up this book because 1. it has a full moon on the cover. I’m a complete sucker for a moon and as I have yet to be steered wrong by this, it will continue to be an indicator of a great story to me. And 2. I am adoring this retelling trend YA is on right now. Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology had me swiftly plucking this from the arc box. Other favorite motifs include: unearthly fireflies, a mysterious and magical book, & unexplainable “natural” happenings. The romance between Luna and Hunter is so sweet and swoon-worthy and doesn’t veer outside the plot (which is a pet peeve of mine).The story takes place in the early 90s which I forget until someone mentions a windbreaker, lol. I learned SO MUCH about Chinese versus Taiwanese culture–I never knew there was/is an identity issue and found it fascinating as Pan expertly weaves it into the Romeo & Juliet narrative. And speaking of R&J, the closer I got to the ending, the more anxious I was about how close to the play Pan would go. No spoilers here, but the ending is chef’s kiss.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily X.R. Pan, (List Price: $18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316464055,  April 2022)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

O Beautiful by Jung Yun

This beautiful character-driven book set in the American Midwest covers many contemporary topics like racism, fracking, sexual harassment, and the immigrant experience. I loved the messy protagonist Elinor Hanson, a Korean American who grew up in South Dakota. A former model with a new career later in life as a journalist, Elinor has baggage that needs unpacking so badly her clothes are spilling out of her metaphorical suitcase at a rapid pace. Korean American author Jung Yun has written a fantastic novel in O Beautiful that surprised me over and over, especially by book’s end.

O Beautiful by Jung Yun, (List Price: 27.99, St. Martin’s Press, 9781250274328, November 2021)

Reviewed by Rachel Watkins, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler

Part mystery, part family drama, with a dash of romance, The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a story of two times. Lexa is grieving the death of her biological father, whom she only met once as a teen in Taiwan. Told through flashbacks of that ill-fated meeting, we revisit with Lexa the days spent meeting her father, biological sister, stepmother, and extended family, and the impact it had not only on her life but those closest to her. An impactful story about the power of family and connections.

The Tiger Mom’s Tale by Lyn Liao Butler, (List Price: 17, Berkley, 9780593198728, July 2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng

Linda Rui Feng pulls you in with the intertwined stories of four individuals starting during China’s Cultural Revolution in the 60’s and ending up in America in the 80’s. You will love these characters and be moved by the storytelling in this engrossing debut.

Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng (List Price: $26, Simon Schuster, 9781982129392, 5/11/2021)
Reviewed by Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Think Weekend at Bernie’s but filled with hilarious, amazing, and brazen Chinese-Indonesian Aunties. I LOVED this book. Like, deep love. Like help dispose of a body and cover up a murder love. Dial A for Aunties is funny and outrageous and, surprisingly, romantic. If your family drives you crazy, but would also drive with a dead body in their trunk for you, then maybe you should cut them some slack and appreciate them. 😉

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (List Price: $26, Berkley, 9780593336731, 4/27/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Towery, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Lila has moved back home and is living with her Filipino family after a bad breakup. She’s also come back to help with the family’s restaurant. But when the local fool critic has never met a dish about which he had something nice to say passes out in his food at the restaurant and later dies, Lila’s the number one suspect. I love cozies and this was a nice, new addition to the genre with some Filipino flair! I loved the characters and look forward to reading more!

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (List Price: $16, Berkley, 9780593201671, 5/4/2021)

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Inc. in Marietta, Georgia

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

In Last Night at the Telegraph Club, Lily Hu and Kath Miller are gorgeously rendered against the glittering backdrop of San Francisco, escaping into the night for The Telegraph Club where they find themselves staring down a sort of freedom that they know they cannot leave behind. From the very first page, this is a novel that feels so incredibly full and rich with historical details and simmers with yearning and tension I simply could not put it down. Delving into the realities of 1950’s Chinese America identity, queer culture, McCarthyism & women in STEM, Lo has crafted a historical fiction novel of the absolute highest caliber.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (List Price: $18.99, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 9780525555254, 1/19/2021)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Scroll to Top