August 24, 2012

Travel Tales: Back to Asia

For more Travel Tales, visit my co-hosts at Novel Sounds & Rather Be Reading. And don't forget, you still have time to enter my giveaway and win one of my 2012 all star reads!

Today's post is supposed to be one where I choose my favorite country and share some book titles that feature places in the chosen country, or aspects of their culture. However, because I'm indecisive sometimes, and because of my great love for the continent my family originates from, I've decided to focus this post on Asian culture.

I will be the first to admit that it's decidedly rare to find books I enjoy that include aspects of the various cultures in Asia. The ones that often end up being featured are Japanese and Chinese, with India slowly making its way into the picture. (On a side note, this makes me think about writing a book featuring Filipino culture...) There are some great books out there that highlight Asian culture or make it a part of the story, and I wanted to share a few titles that I've read and loved.

I cannot tell you guys how many times I've read this book - I just know that it's way more than ten. I loved this book so very much because it depicted Japanese culture beautifully. I learned a bit more about geishas, especially what they had to learn and do to hold such a coveted, desirable position. It was fascinating, and completely drew me into the world of Japan. I have yet to review it on the blog, but I may do that when I give it another reread.

I read this book fairly recently, and it didn't surprise me at all that I loved it - after all, it was chock full of references to Japanese culture. It wasn't precisely said to be in Japan, but I thought the language, rituals and even outfits were all very much Japanese in character. The best part about this novel is that there was also an element of fantasy in it.

This is an amazing duology for quite a few reasons, but the main reason I loved it was because it featured dragons (which is awesome in ANY situation). I love the fact that this book takes many elements from Chinese culture, and that it's incorporated in a way that I found refreshing. Just thinking about it makes me want to read this again! It's a great fantasy series, and I highly recommend it.

I read this one fairly recently, but I loved it something fierce - going so far as to say that Marissa Meyer deserved all the stars for this novel! It's a very creative retelling of Cinderella, featuring a main character who just so happens to be a cyborg. There's a handsome prince, an evil queen, a great sidekick and a grand ball - and it's only the first book! Elements of Chinese culture are subtly incorporated into this tale.

This is the only book that features Indian culture on my list, but I will say that I loved this just as much as the others. It's not only the fact that one of my favorite animals is on the cover, but it's how great the story is! It was magical and different, especially in terms of setting and even character names, and that's what made it stand out for me. I haven't finished the series yet, but you can be sure I will!

And now, here are a couple of titles I have yet to read:

Know any other books that feature any Asian culture? Tell me in the comments!

Don't forget to check out these other amazing TRAVEL TALES posts this week:

Author Pam Mingle wrote a guest post - and there's a giveaway!
My giveaway (US AND International) is still open!


  1. Great picks ! I really enjoyed Cinder and can't wait to read Stormdancer.

  2. I love your picks! I LOVE Asian culture, so this is fantastic. I'm fascinated the most by Korean & Japanese culture. I've never read a book that featured a Korean setting or character that I can remember though. Hmm...

    I loved Shadows on the Moon! Been wanting to read Memoirs of a Geisha and Stormdancer. Just bought Cinder so I will be reading that soon. :) My husband read Eon & Eona and loved them! I also really want to read Battle Royale and The Book of Heroes.

    Great post! I love diversity in YA and books in general. More is always welcome.

  3. Lovely post, Alexa. The only one I've read is Memoirs of Geisha and what a beautiful book it is. Another book I've read and loved is Wild Swans -

  4. Cool post! I still haven't read Cinder but I just got it a couple of weeks ago so I'm excited to get to it soon! I also heard amazing things about Eon and Eona.

  5. Great list! Shadows on the Moon sounds really interesting, I might have to add that one to my TBR list. Also, I didn't know you were a fan of the Tiger Saga! So am I! 4th book comes out next month :)

    Btw, it's so true.. I can't think of a fictional book that references Filipino culture at all.

  6. Great picks, Alexa! I always find myself drawn to books written within the Asian culture ... there's something so magical about them because it's like this whole other mysterious world.

    I remember loving Memoirs of a Geisha ... I need to reread it! And I have Cinder! I haven't read it yet, but it looks awesome.

    Some of my favourite books have to be Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and The Good Earth. Both are absolutely spectacular.

    Thanks for sharing, Alexa!

  7. This is such a fab list! I loved Memoirs of a Geisha and my wish list has just grown by another five books reading your picks :-)

  8. Coming from Asia, I love to read Asian books but I have mostly read books by Asian authors featuring Asia such as the ones by Khaled Hosseini, Bapsi Sidhwa, Kamila Shamsie, and Muhammad Hanif.

    I have Memoirs of A Geisha but I haven't got around reading it as yet.

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile

  9. One of my majors is all about East Asian culture so love, love this post! I've read my share of Asian culture books (esp Japanese) but there isn't a lot in the world of YA. Love your picks and gah, I wish Stormdancer didn't get lost in the mail so I could send you it.

  10. Alexa I think this is such an awesome post that you have put together! The only Asian books I have ever read where a few required reading short stories in high school (nothing too spectacular). So on that note, I could not agree with you more. There DEFINITELY need to be more books with an Asian influence in them. I have heard of and been waiting to read a lot of these titles and I also added a few to my TBR list (thanks for that!).
    p.s. I think you could totes write a story about a superbly awesome Filipino girl who is a bit awkward but that's okay because she finds herself an awkward twin that is almost as superbly awesome...just saying!

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  13. Yaugh. EON and EONA seem to pop up everywhere, and they look sooo good. I'll definitely have to bump them further up my list. Thanks for the push! Also, STORMDANCER is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.


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