Asian & Pacific Islander
Asian & Pacific Islander incorporates a multitude of ethnicities and nationalities, from Hawaii to Korea to Japan to China to the Indian subcontinent and a whole lot of ocean and land in between! I've also included the Roma/Romani (aka Gypsies) on this page because of their customs and origins in India.
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Click on the image to order your book online!
The Iron Ring (Grades 4+ / Ages 10+)
"When Tamar, the young king of Sundari, loses a dice game, he loses everything -- his kingdom, its riches, and even the right to call his life his own. His bondage is symbolized by the iron ring that appears mysteriously on his finger. To Tamar, born to the warrior caste, honor is everything. So he sets out on a journey to make good on his debt -- and even to give up his life if necessary. And that journey leads him into a world of magic, where animals can talk, the foolish are surprisingly wise, and danger awaits..."
Hollow Moon (Ages 13+)
"A kidnapping, a school band competition and an electric cat that eats everything in sight! Hollow Moon is a fast-paced and witty space opera mystery that tells the tale of Ravana, a teenage girl who has to grow up fast when she and her father become embroiled in a plot of interstellar intrigue. Having fled civil war sixteen light years away, Ravana and her father now live in the sleepy commune of the hollow moon, a forgotten colony ship drifting around Barnard's Star. Yet what began as a minor escapade to rescue her electric cat soon leads to an incredible adventure into the shady dystopian world of politics, kidnappings and school band competitions. Hollow Moon is an adventure for all who relish a dose of humour and practical astrophysics with their fantasy!"
An exerpt from an interview with author Steph Bennion on Zigzag Timeline:
"In Hollow Moon, the dominant interplanetary powers are China and India. Why these Eastern powers as opposed to Western ones?
"I reasoned that future endeavours in space would be driven by commercial needs—not to explore, but exploit, as Ravana contemplates at some point—by starting with asteroid mining and then moving on from there. China and India seemed likely candidates to make the first serious attempts at industrialising space, given the relative state of their economies and need for raw materials compared to the developed but debt-ridden West; China in particular is catching up fast as far as space technology is concerned..." To read the remainder of the interview on Zigzag Timeline, please click here.
Flute of the Wind Queen (Outlander Leander, Vol.1) (Ages 15+)
"Leander is an energetic young man who wants to become a treasure hunter. When his dad is deployed he sees it as an opportunity to go on his first adventure; which unfortunately leads him straight into enemy territory. All ambition and no skill or experience, he stumbles his way around enemy camps to find the famous relic the Wind Queen left behind." The author states that there is no sex and very little violence in the book.
Added 12-4-2013 (Asian)
Returning My Sister's Face: And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice (Ages 10+)
"Enchantment, peril and romance pervade the shadowy Far East, from the elegant throne room of the emperor's palace to the humble teahouse of a peasant village. In these dozen stories of adventure and magic from the Orient, a maiden encounters an oni demon in the forest, a bride discovers her mother-in-law is a fox woman, a samurai must appease his sister's angry ghost, strange luck is found in a jade locket, and dark and light are two sides of harmony.
"A striking debut collection from Eugie Foster."
The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake and Other Tales of Magic and Mischief (All Ages)
"18 Fairy tales and fables for young, young adult, and young-at-heart readers. Featuring princesses, foxes, rabbits, and other magical mischief from the Orient to Africa and close to home, from the imagination of Nebula Award Winning author Eugie Foster."
* The Girl Who Drew Cats
* The Tax Collector’s Cow
* When Shakko Did Not Lie
* The Princess and the Golden Fish
* Li T’ien and the Demon Nian
* A Parade of Taylups
* Cuhiya’s Husband
* The Dragon Breath’s Seed
* Kaawaa, Naagan, and the Queen’s Diamond Necklace
* The Adventures of Manny the Mailmobile
* A Patch of Jewels in the Sky
* Spring Arrives on a Hob’s Tail
* Second Daughter
* Princess Bufo marinus, Also Known as Amy
* Razi and the Sunbird
* The Red String
* The Tortoise Bride
* The King of Rabbits and Moon Lake
Eon (Grades 9+ / Ages 15+)
"Sixteen-year-old Eon has a dream, and a mission. For years, he's been studying sword-work and magic, toward one end. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye-an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured. When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life."
Eona (Grades 9+ / Ages 15+)
"Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon's army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona's power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled "Emperor" Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power - and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans..."
Starship Troopers (Ages 15+)
In this Hugo Award winning novel, young Juan 'Johnnie' Rico signs up for Federal Service. Successful military service will allow him all rights of citizenship, including voting. Boot camp is tough. He's ready to quit and has actually resigned when the aliens strike Earth, wiping out his hometown of Buenos Aires. Rip-roaring Heinlein at his best, this action adventure sci-fi novel is also a fascinating social commentary. It's never really revealed that Rico is Filipino -- until near the end of the book -- and if you don't read carefully, you'll miss it. (PSSST: The book is MUCH better than any of the movies! - RDJ)
Song of the Mountain (Ages 13+)
"...after the first age of men perished in a rush of mud and water, after ice twisted the face of the earth, when wise men first thought to put history on parchment, an old man sat at the eastern edge of the world. A boy knelt beside him, listening to the old man's rhyme and shivering in the heat of a blazing fire. If you listen carefully, you might still hear the echo of that ancient whisper:
"Mud and mire shall birth a tree,
A sprout shall grow of ancient seed.
The five unite to break the one;
The curse of man shall be undone.
But brothers rise ere dragon's bane.
The last shall smite the first again.
"Song has grown up listening to his grandfather recite legends of the distant past. But it is his own history he seeks to uncover, particularly the events surrounding his parents' deaths. But that is a secret closely guarded by his grandfather. Then Song discovers an heirloom that links him to an ancient prophecy. His destiny lies within the old tales he has scorned. Song must follow the path that killed his father. "
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Racing the Dark (Ages 13+)
"A brilliant new novel from a 25-year-old debut author, Racing the Dark is set in a land of volcanoes and earthquakes, plagues and typhoons, of island nations bound by fear of the spirits they imprisoned to control their volatile environment. Lana, a teenaged girl on a nameless backwater island, finds an ominous blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power, setting in motion events that drive her away from her family and into an apprenticeship with a mysterious one-armed witch. Lana begins to learn the spells and incantations, each of which requires some form of sacrifice from the person who employs it. As Lana becomes more powerful, she is deceived into a sacrifice she is unwilling to make — the life of her own mother. When Lana dares to use a dark, ancient spell to save her mother's life, she is set onto a path toward becoming a creature beyond her wildest imaginings. This is an unforgettable coming-of-age story set in a world where wielding the power of magic requires understanding the true meaning of sacrifice."
The Burning City (Ages 13+)
"In The Burning City , Alaya Dawn Johnson continues the trilogy begun with her debut, Racing the Dark, delving deeper into the world of magic wielded by women who understand the dark trade-offs of power and sacrifice. Lana, the heroine, has become the black angel — a harbinger of destruction unheard of in the islands for 500 years. Nui'ahi, the sleeping volcano of the great city Essel, has erupted. In the chaos, the city is reshaping itself and violence threatens from all corners. A rebel movement has formed in the destroyed heart of the city, determined to oust Kohaku, the mad Mo'i of Essel. Lana wants no part of the rebels' cause — the death spirit still chases her, and the great witch Akua has kidnapped Lana's mother. But the more Lana looks for her mother, the more she is drawn into the city's political conflicts. As Kohaku descends deeper into madness, determined to subdue the city by any means necessary, his wife has run away to the fire temple, where she too is slowly converted to the rebel's cause. When long-running tensions spill over into civil war, Lana must make her hardest decision yet: her mother's life, or a city's freedom?"
Stormdancer (Ages 16+)
Japanese steampunk with a female protagonist! Be still my heart!! (RDJ)
"The first in an epic new fantasy series, introducing an unforgettable new heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.
"A DYING LAND - The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. The skies are red as blood, the land is choked with toxic pollution, and the great spirit animals that once roamed its wilds have departed forever.
"AN IMPOSSIBLE QUEST - The hunters of Shima's imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a thunder tiger – a legendary creature, half-eagle, half-tiger. But any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.
"A HIDDEN GIFT - Yukiko is a child of the Fox clan, possessed of a talent that if discovered, would see her executed by the Lotus Guild. Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, she finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled thunder tiger for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her.
"But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire."
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Grades 4-8 / Age 10+)
"This Newbery Honor book features magic, adventure, friendship, and even a dragon who can't fly! In the valley of Fruitless Mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life's questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family's fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer."
"Grace Lin, author of the beloved Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat, returns with a wondrous story of adventure, faith, and friendship. A fantasy crossed with Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a timeless story reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz. Her beautiful illustrations, printed in full-color, accompany the text throughout. Once again, she has created a charming, engaging book for young readers."
Legend (Grades 9+ / Ages 15+)
"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths--until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills." Contains graphic violence.
Available January 29, 2013
Planesrunner (Ages 13+)
"There is not one you. There are many yous. There is not one world. There are many worlds. Ours is one of billions of parallel earths. When Everett Singh's scientist father is kidnapped from the streets of London, he leaves young Everett a mysterious app on his computer. Suddenly, this teenager has become the owner of the most valuable object in the multiverse the—Infundibulum— the map of all the parallel earths, and there are dark forces in the Ten Known Worlds who will stop at nothing to get it. They've got power, authority, and the might of ten planets—some of them more technologically advanced than our Earth—at their fingertips. He's got wits, intelligence, and a knack for Indian cooking. To keep the Infundibulum safe, Everett must trick his way through the Heisenberg Gate his dad helped build and go on the run in a parallel Earth. But to rescue his Dad from Charlotte Villiers and the sinister Order, this Planesrunner's going to need friends. Friends like Captain Anastasia Sixsmyth, her adopted daughter Sen, and the crew of the airship Everness. Can they rescue Everett's father and get the Infundibulum to safety? The game is afoot!"
The Ringworld series: Ringworld, The Ringworld Engineers, The Ringworld Throne and Ringworld's Children (Ages 16+)
Ringworld (Ages 15+)
200-year-old Louie Wu is bored. He's been everywhere and done everything that a human can do. Until the Hindmost, a three-legged alien called a Puppeteer, recruits he, the tiger-like Kzin called Speaker to Animals, and Teela Brown, a "lucky" human, to explore a world a million times larger than the Earth -- a ring around a distant star... May not be appropriate for younger teens due to sex and other mature themes. (RDJ)
Linda Sue Park
Archer's Quest (Grades 4+ / Ages 10+)
"Twelve-year-old Kevin, a Korean American math whiz, is shocked beyond belief when a young man, complete with bow and arrows, crash lands in his bedroom. And that’s just the beginning. The man, called Skillful Archer, claims to be a legendary ruler from ancient Korea. While Kevin tries explaining contemporary life to the man he nicknames Archie, the young ruler teaches Kevin about focusing his thoughts in an attempt to help him return to his kingdom. There’s not a moment to lose as Kevin uses Korean history and folktales, math, and the Chinese Zodiac to help his friend travel back through time before the Year of the Tiger ends. If Archie can’t get home, history will be forever changed.
Iron Jaw and Hummingbird (Grades 9+ / Ages 15+)
"Mars is controlled by the Chinese, who call their civilization the Celestial Empire. But for teenagers Gamine and Huang, it is anything but heavenly. Gamine was taken off the street by an aristocrat, schooled as a fine young lady — then abandoned at her patron’s whim and forced to make her living as a grifter. Huang’s army career is cut short by a bandit ambush. When the two meet, Gamine — “Iron Jaw” — is the leader of a sham religious movement, and Huang, or “Hummingbird,” is the bandits’ chief tactician. They join forces to bring down the corrupt government that has determined their lives." Contains sexual situations, may not be suitable for younger teens.
Gonji: Red Blade from the East: The Deathwind Trilogy, Book One (Ages 15+)
"A legendary sword-and-sorcery hero returns! Gonji Sabatake, the conflicted samurai-Viking, seizes Destiny itself by the throat, as he pieces together and pursues the bizarre, mystical quest which powerful cross-world forces have forbidden--the mystery of the DEATHWIND!
"Cast out of his Japanese homeland, stalked by assassins both human and supernatural, Gonji surges across a barbaric, myth-infested 16th-century Europe, following the spoor of the creature called The Beast with the Soul of a Man-- But is this a wily Enemy, or an enigmatic Friend? Gonji's embattled, vampire-haunted flight brings him to the magnificent walls of Vedun, fabled and accursed city in the escarpments of the Carpathians, only to find the town vanquished and occupied by mercenaries and monsters, demons and foul sorcery, under the command of the storied, invincible King Klann. Here in Vedun begins Gonji's mighty, willful rebellion against an age-old tyranny which has held countless intertwined worlds in its thrall.
"This is just the first of many battles that will imperil loyal friends, comrades, and loved ones in a violent combat to restore universal free will and self-determination, to consign unchained supernatural menace to its foul curling place, to restore honor, faith and love to a world of enslavement and chaos. The adventure of Gonji's mind-boggling quest, revised and restored from its original publication, begins with RED BLADE FROM THE EAST, Book One of The Deathwind Trilogy! Kai Meyer writes: 'GONJI is the most important rediscovery of classic fantasy since CONAN. Dark, complex, and fantastically well-written.'" Warnings for parents: the book contains some violence and strong language as well as some implied sex but nothing explicit. NOTE: This new edition has been completely revised and updated by the author. If you read the old Gonji stories, you'll want to read these new editions and get caught up once again in the world of Gonji! (RDJ)
Gonji: The Soul Within the Steel: The Deathwind Trilogy, Book Two (Ages 15+)
"The legendary warrior Gonji seems cast as Destiny's Scourge...
"The exiled son of a Samurai warlord and a Viking woman, Gonji pursues the secret of the Deathwind across monstrous 16th-century Europe. The storied city of Vedun has been conquered by the army of King Klann and his dark sorcerer, Mord. Gonji raises a rebellious militia...but the city suffers horrifying outrages, treachery rears its ugly head, and the warrior himself proves his own worst enemy. There's no help either from the enigmatic Simon Sardonis, revealed now as an entity of great power and dread. Foes threaten Vedun from all sides. All that stands between the embattled city and utter destruction is...THE SOUL WITHIN THE STEEL. Kai Meyer says: 'GONJI is the most important rediscovery of classic fantasy since Conan. Dark, complex, and fantastically well-written.'" Warnings for parents: the book contains some violence and strong language as well as some implied sex but nothing explicit. NOTE: This is the new and updated edition of the Gonji trilogy! If you're a frugal soul and buy a used paperback, make sure you get the latest edition. The author has revised and updated the series, including adding new or previously deleted sections! (RDJ)
Gonji: Deathwind of Vedun: The Deathwind Triology, Book Three (Ages 15+)
"The Book of Death...and of Life.
"The Carpathian city of Vedun is poised for holocaust: terrifying monsters, vile magic, and brutal mercenaries are arrayed against the anxious secret militia by the multiple-lived King Klann. Vedun's new military leader--the half-breed samurai, Gonji--must seek the aid of the powerful nightmarish creature, Simon Sardonis, who shuns all mankind. But when the inevitable clash explodes, when the ghastly struggle to protect and evacuate hundreds of innocents begins, will Gonji's efforts be enough? Will treachery prove the city's undoing? Can any remnant of a ravaged and brutalized populace be saved from the horror? Or will Gonji's now passionately embraced quest abruptly end with the...DEATHWIND OF VEDUN?
"The startling conclusion to a great epic fantasy trilogy! German fantasy writer Kai Meyer writes: 'GONJI is the most important rediscovery of classic fantasy since Conan. Dark, complex, and fantastically well written!'" Warnings for parents: the book contains some violence and strong language as well as some implied sex but nothing explicit. NOTE: This is the new and updated edition of the Gonji trilogy! If you're a frugal soul and buy a used paperback, make sure you get the latest edition. The author has revised and updated the series, including adding new or previously deleted sections! (RDJ)
Snow Crash (Ages 15+)
This is the classic 1992 cyberpunk novel that, along with William Gibson's Virtual Light, kicked off the cyberpunk sci-fi writing movement. With a main character named Hiro Protagonist, it's clear that there's plenty of action and humor for the teenage reader. Hiro is not just the hero of the story, he's a pizza delivery driver and computer hacker, lives in a storage locker, and the greatest sword fighter in the world. The book features a diverse cast of characters and plenty of Sumerian mythology.
Nightlife (Cal Leandros) (Ages 18+)
About the Cal Leandros series, via text from a middle school science teacher and rabid Sci-Fi fan: "Upper high school, college and up. Lots of F-bombs and myth references. Good character development and interaction. If it were a movie, it would be rated R for language and violence, but is good for the fantasy/ninja fan who wouldn't touch Twilight or Twilight clones with a biohazard suit and a 10-foot pole."
"'There are monsters among us. There always have been and there always will be. I’ve known that ever since I can remember, just like I’ve always known I was one… …Well, half of one, anyway.' Welcome to the Big Apple. There’s a troll under the Brooklyn Bridge, a boggle in Central Park, and a beautiful vampire in a penthouse on the Upper East Side — and that’s only the beginning. Of course, most humans are oblivious to the preternatural nightlife around them, but Cal Leandros is only half-human. His father’s dark lineage is the stuff of nightmares — and he and his entire otherworldly race are after Cal. Why? Cal hasn’t exactly wanted to stick around long enough to find out. He and his half-brother Niko have managed to stay a step ahead for three years, but now Cal’s dad has found them again. And Cal is about to learn why they want him, why they’ve always wanted him…for he is the key to unleashing their hell on earth. The fate of the human world will be decided in the fight of Cal’s life…"
Moonshine (Cal Leandros, Book 2) (Ages 18+)
"After saving the world from his fiendish father's side of the family, Cal Leandros and his stalwart half-brother Niko have settled down with new digs and a new gig - bodyguard and detective work. And in New York City, where preternatural beings stalk the streets just like normal folk, business is good. Their latest case has them going undercover for the Kin - the werewolf Mafia. A low-level Kin boss thinks a rival is setting him up for a fall, and wants proof. The place to start is the back room of Moonshine - a gambling club for non-humans. Cal thinks it's a simple in-and-out job. But Cal is very, very wrong.
"Cal and Niko are being set up themselves-and the people behind it have a bite much worse than their bark..."
Madhouse (Cal Leandros, Book 3) (Ages 18+)
"Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother, Niko, aren't exactly prospering with their preternatural detective agency. Who could have guessed that business could dry up in New York City, where vampires, trolls, and other creepy crawlies are all over the place? But now there's a new arrival in the Big Apple. A malevolent evil with ancient powers is picking off humans like sheep, dead-set on making history with an orgy of blood and murder. And for Cal and Niko, this is one paycheck they're going to have to earn."
Deathwish (Cal Leandros, Book 4) (Ages 18+)
"In a nightmarish New York City, life is there for the taking... Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are hired by the vampire Seamus to find out who has been following him -- until Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead). Worse still is the return of Cal's nightmarish family, the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. But first, they'll destroy everything Cal holds dear..."
Roadkill (Cal Leandros, Book 5) (Ages 18+)
"It's time to lock, load, and hit the road... Once, while half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko were working on a case, an ancient gypsy queen gave them a good old-fashioned backstabbing. Now, just as their P.I. business hits a slow patch, the old crone shows up with a job.
"She wants them to find a stolen coffin that contains a blight that makes the Black Death seem like a fond memory. But the thief has already left town, so the Leandros brothers are going on the road. And if they're very, very lucky, there might even be a return trip..."
Blackout (Cal Leandros, Book 6) (Ages 18+)
"When half-human Cal Leandros wakes up on a beach littered with the slaughtered remains if a variety of hideous creatures, he's not that concerned. In fact, he can't remember anything-including who he is. And that's just the way his deadly enemies like it..."
Doubletake (Cal Leandros, Book 7) (Ages 18+)
"Half-human/half-monster Cal Leandros knows that family is a pain. But now that pain belongs to his half-brother, Niko. Niko's shady father is in town, and he needs a big favor. Even worse is the reunion being held by the devious Puck race - including the Leandros' friend, Robin - featuring a lottery that no Puck wants to win.
"As Cal tries to keep both Niko and Robin from paying the ultimate price for their kin, a horrific reminder from Cal's own past arrives to remind him that blood is thicker than water-and that's why it's so much more fun to spill."
Trick of the Light (Trickster, Book 1) (Ages 18+)
Trixa, from Chapter 1: "...I told them the truth. My family had been gypsies and travelers since…since before anyone could remember. We’d seen a lot in our travels and we passed on our stories to relatives when the reunions came around..."
"When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she’s hit the jackpot. Both sides — angel and demon — would give anything for it. But first she has to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies, and what she’s ready to fight for. Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life…" Language (including F-bombs), sexual scenarios, violence and descriptions of killing demons may be too intense for younger teens and their parents.
The Grimrose Path (Trickster, Book 2) (Ages 18+)
"Bar owner Triva Iktomi knows that inhuman creatures of light and darkness roam Las Vegas - especially since she's a bit more than human herself. She's just been approached with an unusual proposition. Something has slaughtered almost one thousand demons in six months. And the killing isn't going to stop unless Trixa and her friends step into the fight..." Language (including F-bombs), sexual scenarios, violence and descriptions of killing demons may be too intense for younger teens and their parents.
The Unnaturalists (Grades 7+ / Ages 12+)"In an alternate London where magical creatures are called Unnaturals and preserved in a museum, two teens find themselves caught in a web of intrigue, deception, and danger.
"Vespa Nyx wants nothing more than to spend the rest of her life cataloging Unnatural creatures in her father’s museum, but as she gets older, the requirement to become a lady and find a husband is looming large. Syrus Reed’s Tinker family has always served and revered the Unnaturals from afar, but when his family is captured to be refinery slaves, he finds that his fate may be bound up with Vespa’s—and with the Unnaturals.
"As the danger grows, Vespa and Syrus find themselves in a tightening web of deception and intrigue. At stake may be the fate of New London—and the world."
My own review on Amazon: This young adult steampunk novel revolves around Vespa Nyx and the Museum of Unnatural History -- and the possibility that she might be the only witch left in this world of magic and technology.
The city, New London, is the fault of Saint Tesla, whose experiments tore loose whole sections of Victorian London, thrusting them into a magical land where an assortment of legendary creatures and the Tinkers live. The Tinkers are reduced to poverty by the time of the story. According to Trent, “…the Tinkers in this book are heavily based on my experiences living in the Sichuan highlands of China with the Baima people, an ethnic Tibetan tribe.” I actually thought that they were based on the Roma but later decided that they were of Asian heritage, so I was happy to read that I wasn’t too far off in my assessment.
The story moves along briskly, following Vespa through her trials with her father, work, aunt, New London society and a young Pedant, who might not be who he claims. While magic is illegal, children in the city are sometimes born with powers -- and abandoned or disowned by their families. The story is filled with mysterious events, magical creatures called Elementals, a dangerous and destructive Waste, plenty of intrigue and a romantic thread that doesn’t muck up the storyline at all. In fact, it’s essential to the story. The famous scientists of our world -- Tesla, Newton, Darwin -- are Saints in the city of New London, where magic is forbidden and the technology depends on a dust called myst.
The threads that tied the story together weren’t obvious and many were subtle hints and portents of things to come, unlike most YA literature. Even the story elements that seemed familiar often ended up in completely different places; the tale took unexpected directions. There were a few spots that I was able to predict what was coming next, but I’ve read hundreds of books; I wouldn’t expect a teen or YA reader to pick up on those nuances. In general, it was not predicable or heavy handed at all, including the ending.
The formatting of the story is interesting, with alternating chapters told in first person, present tense, by Vespa, and third person, past tense, by Syrus, a Tinker. It took me a minute to adjust to this style, but I think that it actually enhances the story line. You’re never trying to figure out which character’s point of view is being followed -- it’s obvious at a glance.
The weaving of fantasy and technology within a Victorian New London make this a unique addition to the world of steampunk. I stayed up until 2 am to finish this story and honestly, I’m looking forward to rereading the book to pick up details that I might’ve missed during the first reading. RDJ
The Tinker King (Grades 7+ / Ages 12+)
"Science and magic mean danger in this sequel to The Unnaturalists, which School Library Journal called “an entertaining mix of steampunk and fantasy.”
"After Vespa, Syrus, and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world in The Unnaturalists, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished, giving them hope for the first time.
"But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. Before they know what’s happening, Vespa, Syrus, and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic—and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay."
My Amazon review: I was lucky and received an ARC copy of the book in an online drawing.
The sequel of The Unnaturalists picks up after the first book. In this book, the Tinker, Syrus, is the main character. His chapters are first person present, while Vespa’s chapters are third person past tense. With the destruction of much of New London and myth now illegal, the four young leaders of the new society are trying to rebuild their technology, using Syrus’ Tinkers knowledge of machines. But now new troubles threaten them and an ancient enemy rises to oppose their efforts to rebuild.
Again, the twists and turns of the story line are not predictable. I enjoyed this book but I’m hoping that since I read an advance copy, a few details have changed with the publication of the book.
I was a little disturbed at a few spots. For example, at one point there’s a huge disaster, but there was no indication of regret by the main characters of those who didn’t make it through. And the Elementals that were saved simply disappear, with only a few references and questions as to their fate. Also, the ending felt a little rushed.
Other than those details, I once again stayed up much too late while finishing the book. I couldn’t put it down. The details, wonderfully expressed and yet not overdone, including Syrus’ eating utensils, again led me to the Asian heritage of the Tinkers. The story moved right along, keeping me wanting to turn the pages and find out what happens next.
I highly recommend this book, not just to young adults, but to adult steampunk and fantasy fans as well.
Rainbows End (Ages 15+)
Robert Gu, a world famous American poet of Chinese ancestry, was dying of Alzheimers. Cured, he wakes to a strange new world filled with technology and worse, he's lost his poetic voice. With a mean streak a mile wide, his son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter put up with his angst despite his cruel treatment of the people around him. Gu isn't very likeable at first, but he evolves slowly into a better person even as his skills with the new technology improve. This hard sci-fi story involves conspiracies, future technology, family issues, and more. To be honest, I think that a tech-obsessed teen would enjoy this book, but I felt like I was plowing along until I got to about page 200. At that point the action picked up and from there on, I enjoyed the story. The end of the book left some loose ends but I haven't heard of a sequel -- yet. (RDJ)
Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese - Graphic Novel (Grades 6+ / Ages 12+)
"Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again.
The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become. American Born Chinese is a 2006 National Book Award Finalist for Young People's Literature, the winner of the 2007 Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album: New, an Eisner Award nominee for Best Coloring and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year." This is a graphic novel.
Dragon of the Lost Sea series - Dragon of the Lost Sea, Dragon Cauldron, Dragon Steel, and Dragon War (Grades 4-7)
Dragon of the Lost Sea
"The outlawed princess of the Dragon Clan and her young human companion undergo fearsome trials in their quest for an evil enchantress."
The Tiger's Apprentice series- The Tiger's Apprentice: Book One, Tiger's Blood, and Tiger Magic (Grades 5-7)
The Tiger's Apprentice: Book One
"Tom Lee's life changes forever the day he meets a talking tiger named Mr. Hu, and discovers he is the latest in a long line of magical Guardians."
The Magic Paintbrush (Grades 2+ / Ages 8+)
"Steve can hardly believe it. With his new paintbrush, whatever he paints becomes real. Now he, Grandfather, and Uncle Fong can wish for anything they want. Uncle Fong uses the paintbrush to return to China, to the village of his childhood, and Grandfather wants to visit the Lady on the Moon. Steve wonders if the paintbrush can bring his parents back. But they all soon realize the paintbrush might have its own agenda."