I’m at the airport – and I temporarily have wifi – so hopefully I’ll be able to fill in posts. Here we go with today’s originally scheduled programming. The badass superstar Courtney Milan. Really she needs no introduction. Although if you guys have any tips on how I might attempt to wow her (or at least not underwhelm her) I’d appreciate them – cuz I’m going to be seeing her! 🙂
So with that er >.> intro – here’s Courtney!
Hi everyone. I’m an author. I happen to be hapa (my mother is Chinese), but I don’t want to talk about me today. Or my books. I want to talk about what I’m reading.
This year, I’ve been making an effort to diversify my reading. The thing is, I thought I was trying to do that in the past. I really did. I told myself that I was open to reading anything that came my way. I made a conscious effort to try and buy books that I knew were written by an author of color. But I went back through my “read” list for 2013, and my attempt to be open meant that less than 10% of my books were written by authors of color.
I realized that I can’t wait for a book to jump in front of my face. If I want to read diverse books, I’m going to have to actively search out authors of color. So in 2014, I’m reading one author of color for every book I read by a white author.
So, today, in honor of APAHM, I want to talk about some of the awesome books I’ve read that were written by Asian authors so far this year.
* Alisha Rai’s Bedroom Games series, going from Play with Me to Risk and Reward and ending with Bet on Me. What I love about these books is that they take the same couple and see them through different stages of their relationship–from first love to tentative commitment through the happily ever after. But Alisha Rai does this without using emotional manipulation or cliffhanger endings. Every book is satisfying. Each book brings the hero and heroine closer together. There’s a lot of conflict in these books–but I never felt that the couple was “backsliding” into their old ways that you thought they’d fixed up.
* Zen Cho’s The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. This is a wonderful historical romance between a Malaysian (but I believe ethnically Chinese) woman and an Indian man. It’s based on Jane Eyre–but a version of Jane Eyre where Jane doesn’t end up with Rochester, and when St. John offers to take her to India, it’s not to colonize and proselytize, it’s because it’s his home. I don’t know how to describe this book but it made me want to jump up and down and push this book into other people’s hands. Read it, read it, read it!
* Suleikha Snyder’s Bollywood and the Beast. Every good Beauty and the Beast tale features two people who are both outsiders in their own way, but react to their exclusion in ways that serve as a foil for each other. This book is a wonderful Beauty and the Beast story. I identified so much with Rocky/Rakhee–her hard work, which was so often dismissed by others, her feeling that she didn’t really fit any place. I just felt so protective of her.
* Did you know that Sherry Thomas has a new novella out? Claiming the Duchess is absolutely free, and it’s delightful. More than that, it’s an epistolary novella filled with her trademark wit. I can’t say much without giving out spoilers, but it was so, so lovely. So good that it made me reread her Fitzhugh Trilogy. Again.
* Amber Lin’s Giving it Up. When romances touch on sexual assault, they very often tend towards the stranger-danger sort of thing–some unknown, or barely known person assaulting the heroine. But statistically most rapes aren’t committed by strangers. I have a lot of thoughts about why romances tend to stranger-danger. I think, in part, it’s that the thought of rapes committed by dear friends make us (well, at least me) feel far more vulnerable. We want to believe that our friends would NEVER hurt us; if they do, it’s a double betrayal. This book has a raw honesty to it. If you are at all triggered by rape/sexual assault, this book WILL trigger you. This book has a difficult heroine, a very dark edge, and it delivers all the feels.
* I’m also super-excited about Sonali Dev’s upcoming A Bollywood Affair, a romance between a woman in an arranged marriage (she was married extremely young and she hasn’t seen her husband in 20 years–since she was four, so I assume the marriage hasn’t been consummated) and her husband’s brother who comes to serve her with divorce papers. Gah. That premise! I want to read it RIGHT NOW. But sadly, this is going to be out in October 2014.
For full disclosure, I should mention that I am friends with some of these authors–but I wouldn’t recommend a bad book to you.
I’m actively looking for more authors to read. Have someone to recommend? Let me know in the comments, and I will look them up.
So what recommendations do you have for Courtney? I’m curious too!
Welcome Courtney!!! All these great recs!!! And in super happy Sherry got a novella for her Fitzhugh trilogy! Oh and can I say Sonali Dev’s book sounds so good!
And my rec is, Jeannie Lin! You have to have heard of Jeannie Lin and her Tang Dynasty books! You know, her debut Butterfly Sword? How about The Sword Dancer? Or her new series The Lotus Palace!! The Jaded Temptress just released last month!!!
I second Jeannie Lin! Love love love The Jade Temptress.
Gah, Courtney, I feel like taking the day off, just to get at these! I agree with Ki Pha, Jeannie Lin’s Tang dynasty books were such a revelation to me, I actually feel like I’m in Tang dynasty china when I read her. Anjana Gattani’s Duty and Desire is more women’s fiction than romance but it’s a great sweeping look into India’s super rich. Then there’s Shoban Bantwal– her Unexpected Son is a great place to start and Mingmei Yip is also on my TBR but her books sound fantastic too.
I’m waiting for you to write something cross cultural too one of these days. Maybe a Regency set in the Raj, where a duke’s (maybe bastard) daughter falls for an Indian prince?
I’ve read Jeannie Lin! I’ve recommended her before, though, so I wanted to go beyond her today.
And Sonali–my next series isn’t going to India, but it is going to Shanghai. So there you are.
Yay! Cannot wait!
Thank you, thank you! Great recommendations. I’ve been meaning to try Sherry Thomas’s historicals and a free novella is always a good start. I also bought The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo after reading the free sample and getting completely hooked. So good!
PS. I love your books Courtney!
you can never go wrong with Jade Lee/Kathy Lyons
Hi Courtney! I was browsing your website looking for **ahem** a release date, went over to your Facebook page and found you here. Your recommendations sound wonderful – just what I need – more on my TBR list! I highly recommend Amy Tan if you haven’t already read her. Not a romance writer, but I think her books are brilliant.
Thanks for the recommendations Courtney. I will have to give some of these a try (once my TBR gets whittled down a bit – it’s out of control). They aren’t romance, but, I would recommend Guy Gavriel Kay’s Lions of Al Rassan, Under Heaven and River of Stars. All are historical fantasy with some romantic elements. Lions is set in a world based on the reconquest of Al Andalus and the unification of Spain. Under Heaven is set in a world (Kitai) based on Tang Dynasty China and River of Stars is in Kitai based on Song Dynasty China. The writing, characterizations and plots are excellent (Mr. Kay’s prose is exquisite). Lions specifically deals with the tensions and struggles between the different ethnicities (Jaddite, Asharite, Kindath) as one of the themes of the story. If an HEA is an absolute requirement, then these books might not work for you – the endings are somewhat bittersweet, but absolutely appropriate for the stories.
I’m sort of trying to do the same thing, but maybe not as systematically as you. I’m have a spouse who is a different race than me, a multiracial son, and friends with varied racial backgrounds, so I appreciate seeing books that look a little bit more like more like my world. I adored “The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” and I’ve never read Jane Eyre (don’t tell), I feel like maybe you should read “The Dom Project” but mostly because I’m not sure how I feel about the book and would like to hear what other people think about it (but made me also realize I don’t find humiliation erotic and made me want to read “Big Little Man:In Search of my Asian Self” which is non fiction). I really loved “Sharing Space” a lot, I don’t understand why it isn’t more popular. I’ve been meaning to read Suleikha Snyder. I’ve hesitated because I’ve been reading another author and didn’t really enjoy the books (I’ve read all but one of hers) and wish I did because I love what I know of her online and what she’s trying to do with her books but reading them felt so chore like and not very fun and I’m trying to figure out why before I tackle another author who I haven’t read but admire online.
Anything by Tananarive Due. Zenobia Renquist writes erotic romance and is great. Marjorie Liu writes urban fantasy romance. Tayari Jones.
There are so many just plain good authors out there.
Robin Covington for good old sexy romance. Lisa See for historical China.
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I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Nalini Singh yet (pnr)
There are some wonderful Asian writers in YA romance these days. I haven’t read Malinda Lo yet, but she seems very popular. (And has an excellent blog, so she must be good. 😉 ) I just listened to Marie Lu’s trilogy and loved the super smart heroine.
I have enjoyed some of Shoma Naranayan’s books set in India. I’m not sure which line they’re in in the US, but they are Modern Tempted in the UK. There’s also Rita Lakhani writing for the same line.
Sorry, that should say Riya Lakhani, not Rita.
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Just run into this, thansk for sharing all your favorite authors of color. For myself, I’ve read many Asian writers’ works before I got published by Kensington. My most recent novel is The Nine Fold Heaven, story of a singer spy. Happy reading!