It is no secret that readers and self-confessed bibliophiles have a nice selection of new book releases to look forward to every month — and this has its upsides and downsides.
On the upside, yes, yes, and YES(!!!) to more books on shelves! There is always room in our spacious reader hearts for more stories to love and adore (and, you know, for stories to cause crippling pain to our feelings). But on the downside, new books are a huge, huge temptation that can likewise cause crippling pain to our little wallets. But I digress.
Thanks to the continuous cycle of authors and publishers churning out more and more new books, many of us are able to curate extensive lists of highly anticipated releases on a yearly, monthly, or sometimes even weekly basis. Personally, I don’t write those lists very often either because I’m lazy or I lack time. However, I’m making October 15 an exception on account of the fact that a lot of my most highly anticipated 2019 releases fall on this specific date — and I’ve been lucky enough* to have read and finished many of them quite recently.
So, sit back and listen to me rave about books that are finally hitting the bookshelves in stores today! Of course, I intend to write full reviews for these titles once I find the time and energy (as I am still feeling under the weather as I write this post). But, for the time being, entertain yourself with my incoherent bookish babbling.
* Yep, the only silver lining to being sickly for the past five days is feeling too ill to work on my academic requirements, but feeling well enough to catch up on a lot of reading.
🌟 The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao
With her family ostracized by the Jade Society, no one expected 12-year-old Faryn Liu to be chosen by the gods as the fabled Heaven Bringer — a powerful warrior with command over an army of dragons. To prove her worth, Faryn must set off on a quest across Chinatowns and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.
I’ve been lovingly wailing about this middle grade debut for months! In fact, I recently hosted an international blog tour in its honor, and I was also blessed with the privilege of being the first to reveal its cover. And you know what? The Dragon Warrior definitely does not disappoint! This is a beautifully written love letter to Chinese diaspora kids, and its story is generously sprinkled with fun, laugh-out-loud humor, and Chinese mythology. Katie is able to masterfully deliver authentic preteen voices that will certainly appeal to younger readers as well as more mature audiences (and this is no easy feat, by the way!).
But what I love the most about The Dragon Warrior is the amount of gushing love that seeps through every page. This is a story about culture, identity, family, and courage. This is a story that will uplift so many kids who feel invisible and who struggle with making sense of their identities.
🌟 The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
In a fantasy world with elemental magic, generations of twin goddesses have long reigned. But after one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy, the planet of Aeon split into two and ceased to spin. Thus, one side of the world is cloaked in endless night, while the other suffers under an unrelenting sun.
I am a shameless fan of Rin Chupeco and her books, and I am happy to say that despite my astronomical expectations (that could probably collide against the moon), The Never Tilting World nonetheless cleared my skin, watered my crops, and delivered me from the evil of goddess-made climate change, amen. This book is an incredibly unique fantasy with a heavy vibe of science fiction, which completely enthralled me. In terms of world-building, The Never Tilting World is a glorious spectacle to behold.
I love the brilliant use of contrast and foreshadowing in this story! I utterly adore the cast of disaster teenagers who are all just trying their best to fix what’s wrong in the world, as well as the complicated relationships they have with each other. Arjun is a particular favorite mine, and I will protect this cinnamon roll for the rest of my days.
AHH, THERE ARE HONESTLY SO MANY THINGS TO APPRECIATE ABOUT THIS BOOK! The portrayal of chronic illnesses and the inclusion of in-world therapy! The will-they-or-won’t-they Sapphic romance! The unlikely alliance turned slow-burn romance that’s steeped in delicious sexual tension! The character growth! Ahh! Y’all, we’ve been blessed this year. Truly. (P.S. I am actually giving away a signed ARC of The Never Tilting World via Caffeine Book Tours! Enter the giveaway here.)
🌟 Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
In a post-revolution world where people are classed according to a merit-based exam, Annie and Lee are two orphans-turned-dragonriders who are both vying for the top position in the dragonriding fleet. Although they grew up in the same orphanage, their years of training have turned their friendship into an intense rivalry.
When I heard that Rosaria’s debut novel is inspired by Greek philosophical literature, particularly Plato’s Republic, I knew that I needed to get my hands on Fireborne. But oh my god, I was not ready for this story! I buddy read this underrated gem with Vinny @ Artsy Draft, and even with all the naps I took in between (since Sick Shealea gets exhausted from reading), I practically flew through the pages. Fireborne is quite literally a book that I refused to put down, unless it was physically impossible to me to keep on reading.
From the eloquent writing style to the thrilling air battles between dragonriders to the impressive world-building, Fireborne packs one hell of a fiery punch! It also explores themes of gatekeeping and censorship, as well as highlights the importance of scholarship and education. And the slow-burn romance between two childhood friends-turned-rivals? My heart is still sobbing from all the softness and sheer perfection. This debut fantasy is a new favorite of mine for sure!
🌟 War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
In a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria where climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable, two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other.
Unfortunately, the gods did not favor me this time around and I was unable to get my hands on an early copy of War Girls (I promise, I’m not salty about it or anything). Nevertheless, I am really happy that this novel is finally out in the world because that means I can start saving up for it! I think I’ve said this already, but I will say this again: Slap “Black Panther” on anything, and my Marvel trash self is immediately sold. I am all about sibling relationships and futuristic worlds and political struggles! AND LET’S TAKE A MOMENT TO WORSHIP THAT BEAUTIFUL BLACK GIRL ON THE COVER, SHALL WE?
🌟 Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
Strange circumstances lead to an unexpected reunion between childhood friends Nova Huang, a teenage witch who loves books, and Tam Lang, a werewolf whom Nova is extremely attracted to. Together with Nova’s grandmothers, they push back against cults and dark forces trying to claim wolf magic for their own selfish agenda.
Listen, I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, but I never realized how badly I needed a book like Mooncakes in my life. This is a wonderfully soft, unapologetically queer book about magic and witchcraft, friendship and love, and self-discovery. Aside from centering two Chinese-American teenage leads, it also features non-binary and disability (i.e. hard-of-hearing) representation as well as wholesome F/NB and F/F romantic relationships.
I just adore the wholesomeness of this story, and I think we deserve more lighthearted and fluffy romances with diverse characters. Also, the illustrations in this graphic novel are so amazingly detailed and adorable. Everything about Mooncakes warms my little heart!
🌟 Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong
In this completely original collection of letters addressed to her two daughters, Ali Wong shares the wisdom she’s learned from a life in comedy and reveals stories from her life off stage.
I hardly pick up non-fiction books, if I’m being honest. As a research major, I regularly drown myself in academic journals — and so, when it comes to reading for leisure or personal enjoyment, I prefer to gobble up a lot of fiction. However, I’ve been particularly intrigued by the release of Ali Wong’s debut.
I first encountered her and her work in Always Be My Maybe (2019), which, unfortunately, did not fully win me over (the whole subplot with Keanu Reeves still boggles my mind, don’t hate me). Still, I became curious about her brand of comedy and since then, I started to watch several of her stand-up comedy performances. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a digital ARC of Dear Girls (thank you, publishers!), but I haven’t dived into the book yet. But hopefully, I’ll get to this one soon!
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I’d love to hear from you!
🌻 Are you as excited as I am about these beautiful books coming out today? Which one are you most looking forward to?
🌻 Aside from the books mentioned in this list, what other October releases are you highly anticipating?
🌻 I really struggle with writing full reviews for ARCs prior to their actual release date (hence, this post). Can you relate to this struggle? What have you done to avoid it?