My friends made a very helpful recommendation list for #readwomen, you can see it here and here. I saw some of my favorite books isn’t listed there, so I thought I’d make my own one. This time featuring my favorite underrated reads from different genre with a heavy emphasis on diversity. Majority of the authors on this list are women of color, and are LGBTQ+ as well. Happy reading!
Kastiel should have been used to the constant commotion at his town house in Velaris.
There was this one time, when he was much younger, when his uncle brought him to the mountainside.
It had been snowing then, fat frosted flakes, falling on his poked out tongue. He had wanted to stop and play in the snow, but his uncle was taking him to see the sunrise further up the path.
He supposed it was kind of pointless to understand why his uncle would want to bring him to watch the sunrise.
But Kastiel did remember stepping on soft bits of snow, and his uncle trying to drag him playfully behind him so he would keep up. His uncle, laughing at that time, threatened to hoist Kastiel up on his shoulders if he kept on being silly. But Kastiel had been curious then, he wanted to play on the white, almost silver snow.
And just as his small, fat feet padded across a much softer part of snow, it caved in under him. The hole on the ground hadn’t been deep at all, but Kastiel remembered the feel of heavy snow falling on top of him. He remembered seeing silver, then nothing at all. But he felt the cold, all over his body, felt it seep deep in his bones, and he heard his uncle shouting, “stay calm, Kastiel. I’ve got you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Much like today. He wished he could feel that cold now.
But Kastiel didn’t care about himself. He wanted to shout, “No. Not me, Uncle Cassian. It’s not me that needs saving.”
Seraphine has never known what it feels like to live outside of the dark. Ever since she was a small girl, she wished away the pity of the people’s eyes on her—dreamed away all their well wishes for her transformation to come quickly. But now that Seraphine was ignited from the inside out, she wished so hard that her father was there to control the fire raging in her heart. Seraphine let out a pathetic whimper at the feel of her skin burning, stretching, breaking, and finally falling away to reveal who she really was.
It had been his mother who thought of bringing Seraphine to a room in The House of Wind. “When I used to feel trapped, I would stay here for the openness of the room.” she had told Kastiel. His father murmured an agreement beside him. Now Kastiel sat on the ledge of the room’s window, listening to the sounds of Velaris at night. The Morrigan (his aunt sometimes allows him to call her Mor, but rarely) had healed him earlier, whilst his mother helped to contain Seraphine’s powers. He could hear the music of his people—no worries, no fears. Opposite of how he was feeling now. Where did Seraphine come from? What was she doing here? Those were the questions he should have been asking himself. Yet what he needed and wanted to ask were at war with each other. Kastiel remembers the sight of Seraphine’s face transform from beauty, to breathtakingly devastating. The fire she surrounded herself had stopped, calmed, revealing a stranger’s face—her, but not her from before. He couldn’t stop his lips from forming the words in front of his family. His silver jewel, his phoenix, his m– Kastiel nearly fell off the ledge, his wings fanning out, at the sight of Seraphine perch beside him. “It’s strange,” she whispers, “how the room is so open, yet I don’t feel the cold.” The look Seraphine gave him made his heart stop. Her eyes—turquoise with a ring of gold hadn’t changed when she transformed out of the fire. Yet, everything else had. Her face now freckled and smooth, her figure and mouth fuller, healthier, her ears, high and pointy, and her hair, an impossibly shinny silver. It was almost like spun silk. “It could be,” she says, breaking his thoughts, “my fire.” Unwillingly, he took his eyes away from her, into the mountains ahead. “Kastiel?” He shudders at the sound of his name on her lips—but he doesn’t meet her eyes. “Are you alright?” she asks him gently. “Is Fen?” Kastiel smiles at the thought of Fen. “One of my uncles has grown fond of your wolf. Don’t be surprised if you never get Fen back.” “And you?” Deep breath in—deep breath out. Again and again until Kastiel confesses, “I thought you’d never wake up.” The two sit in silence. “I thought I’d feel different,” he continues. “That it was wrong to want to get closer to someone I’d met once but—” “I feel it too,” she finishes for him. “Kastiel, listen. I wanted to tell you this before, back when we were flying out of the forest, but—” “Things happened.” “Yes, and I had no time to explain. No time to understand the fire I felt in my heart leak out of me, into you and I—” “I didn’t mind.” Seraphine’s laugh ignited Kastiel. “Will you always finish my sentences for me?” “Only if you let me,” he says.
Seraphine was barely holding herself together. She was using all of her strength to stop the fire from leaking out of her. The moment was too peaceful, too beautiful to ruin with her fire. Seraphine needed to learn to control it when her emotions were high—when she was about to make a confession. “I’m not from here,” she finally says. “Seraphine,” Kastiel replies, playfully nudging her shoulder with his wings, “I think I knew that, the moment you fell out of a dark hole in the sky.” Seraphine turned to look at Kastiel. She had wanted to see the emotion in his eyes. If only he would turn his head to look at her. She takes a deep breath. “I am from Erilea, in the country of Terrasen. You don’t know of the place, because it is not of your world.” Seraphine looked down at her hands. They were now longer—slimmer like her Aunt Manon’s. She takes a quick glimpse at Kastiel’s hands. They were much bigger and rougher compared to hers. Seraphine allow her eyes to trail up, past the thick cords of muscle in his arms to a delicate mark of a small full moon. She reaches out to touch where red leaked on the moon, like silver bleeding onto his skin. Kastiel’s hand reaches for her own—his strong, hard body now pressed behind the softer part of hers. If someone had been looking up at them, they would have seen two people—two lovers perhaps—leaning towards each other’s warmth, enjoying the view from the House of Wind. Kastiel takes the palm of her hand and folds it into his. “I want to see you, fire bringer.” She hesitates. “But, I’ll burn you.” “I trust you.” Bold, brave, stupid words, Seraphine thinks, as she let’s the fire unfold in her palm. The sight of his hand under hers, breaks Seraphine’s walls to rubble. “When I was born,” she says, recounting the troubles of her past, “I was ordinary. Nobody knew why my powers were hiding inside of me. My family, my friends, they had so much hope in me. They believed in me, and every day I felt like I was failing them. When I looked in the mirror—I was hiding my own self. So I left to find out why.” Seraphine watches her fire in silence, until she feels wetness appear in Kastiel’s hand seep into hers, turning her fire into mist in the air. With a small smile of wonder, Seraphine looks up towards the endless night sky, her eyes searching for the set of stars that lead to Terrasen. “But now that I’ve gotten my powers, how will I go back home?” “I could help you,” Kastiel offers, her hand still in his. “How?” “I’ll train you—to defend yourself, to fight, to master your powers while my family figures out how to get you back home.” Seraphine simply nodded—she should be happy to go home. Boldly, she asks him, “what are you thinking?” “If I meet your eyes again,” he says, “I’m not sure what I’ll do.”
The moment I heard about it, I put Want on
my to-read list because, um hello, sci-fi thriller set in Taipei? Yes,
please. I’m over the moon this book is out in the world now, and we at
Rich in Color will be talking more about Want in August! More on that next week. Today, we welcome Cindy Pon (@cindypon) to Rich in Color to talk about Want, writing, and representation. Check it out!
First off, I have to say that I was beyond excited for Want, a
YA set in Taipei, Taiwan! I’ve been there! Ahhh! Ahem, anyway… How did
it feel, writing a book set somewhere that’s clearly personal for you?
Not to mention in an all-too-plausible near future setting that feels
very relevant to current events right now?
All my novels are special to me, but WANT especially because it was
an ode to my birth city. I really wanted to bring the city alive for
readers, I wanted Taipei to be a character in itself. From some reader
reactions, I feel like I achieved that for them, and it makes me so
happy! As for relevancy, WANT is the novel that took longest from
fruition in 2011 to actual publication. Six years is a LONG time, and I
began to worry my near-future thriller would be retro-thriller soon
enough. ha! Often the reader reactions were that the world felt very
believable and real, and that is because I pulled a lot directly from
One thing I found fascinating was the seamless switching between
languages in Want. Different books usually handle this in different ways
to varying degrees of success. How did you decide you were going to
handle the issue of portraying different languages?
Hmm. It had to make sense but also feel organic and not confusing? I
had great beta readers and critique partners, and I relied on them to
make comments on points of confusion. I admit I’m a very intuitive
writer, so it’s just a matter of does this fit, does it flow, does it
make sense? Especially as I’m revising.
I definitely ship Zhou and Daiyu. But another relationship that
felt incredibly central to Want was family – the found family of Lingyi,
Iris, Victor, Arun, and Zhou. What made you choose this particular cast
Originally, WANT began as a short story in Diverse Energies
(Tu Books) and only featured Zhou and Daiyu. I found both of them
utterly fascinating, and it was their dynamic and my curiosity over what
their stories were that convinced me to flesh the short story into
novel length. As for the squad, I wish I could tell you I did tons of
brainstorming and character notecards and trawled through countless
images online for inspiration, but as with so much of my writing, they
just happened. I did know that I needed distinct characters with
distinct traits and abilities to offer to the group. That was the first
and easiest thing to decide. Then, they basically told me who they were
with each revision.
You referenced the movie Lucy in a Diversity in YA
post. For me, Want felt like the anti-Lucy, and that’s something we
need way more of. What do you hope to see in the future in terms of
Asian representation in media?
I want movies and shows and media in the west to feature Asians
front and center as protagonists and heroes, in all genres, from comedy
to drama to speculative fiction. We’ve been shunted aside for far too
long as far as representation, and so often, the bits we are given are
offensive or stereotypical or completely dispensible. All the
whitewashing is becoming tired and ridiculous. Our erasure still in
media is very real.
The moment I finished reading Want, I wanted (haha) more. I hear there’s a sequel happening. Can you tell us anything about it?
Yes! My fantastic editor offered on RUSE, the WANT sequel, while I
was actually in Shanghai for a research trip. So I am hoping to set RUSE
in Shanghai. My second books are always dealing with the consequences
of what happened in the first novel, and that is what I want to focus on
in this one, too. Won’t say much more than that. ha!
Want is definitely going on the top of my list of fave Asian YA reads. What are some of yours?
Aww, that is such a compliment coming from you. Thank you so much,
Jessica! I really love Malinda Lo’s Huntress and her forthcoming
thriller A Line in the Dark. I also loved The Reader by Traci Chee,
Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh, ENTER TITLE HERE by Rahul Kanakia, and Julie
Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! So much more to choose from since
my Silver Phoenix debut back in 2009!
I imagine people have asked you what your favorite Taiwanese food
is. But what I want to know is… What’s your favorite pearl milk tea
hahaha! Coconut milk tea OR barley tea (no milk)!
Finally, what new YA books are on your to-read list this year?
I’m super excited to read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee,
Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore, The Library of Fates by Aditi
Khorana, Warcross by Marie Lu, Uncanny by David Mcinnis Gill, The Glass
Spare by Lauren Destefano, and The Speaker by Traci Chee!
Thanks for stopping by! For those of you reading along, be sure to grab Want for your must-read shelf!
Thank you very much, Your Mercifulness. I’ve been taught to believe in others no matter how they seem, or how they treat you. I’m just sorry your daughter didn’t have anyone to teach her about trusting people before I met her.
The funny thing about it is, I made some incorrect assumptions about her the first time we met. If I hadn’t seen her again after that first trial, I’d have thought she was out to get me wherever I went next. She turned out to be more agreeable than I thought after we got to know each other.
I appreciate your thanks for everything I did, but I can’t really take credit for most of what happened. It was Apollo who turned Khura’in’s situation around and saved the day. The only favor I can ask of you is that you look out for him, as well as for your daughter.
“Burn, Phoenix, Burn” - (KnB) - AkaKuro White Day 2017
For my Akashi, @mschibi27! I really liked your gift so I hope you’ll like this one too. I went for Soulmates!AU but kept it more or less canon ^^”
Burn, Phoenix, Burn
Kuroko knew who his soulmate was. As a matter of fact, he had known since he was twelve and he caught sight of his middle school captain brushing the sweat off his chin with the collar of his shirt.
Akashi was pretty, back then. He hadn’t reached the handsomeness of a man, yet, but he held a soft beauty that was not childish anymore either. The sharpening lines of his face, the firm shape of his body in contrast with the softness of his round eyes, the voice not yet broken; Kuroko had looked at him like he was a piece of art on the making. The silver lines of a phoenix on his left hipbone suited him, yet somehow was in contrast with the fierceness of his red hair and eyes, with the demeanor of a winner above all.
And here is the art for the fic Satur Ascends (Comes Around Again) by Ficlicious, for the RBB Cap_IronMan
Seriously, she’s one of the best writer I’ve ever read :D her story made me cry (in the good) so many times, she has inspired mesooo much, and the only thing I regret is no having enough time to make more art, I’ll probably do more drawings for this story in her honor. She made my dreams come tru :’D
Also it was a great opotunity to lear how to draw fire, and it was awesome :D
His skin is steaming slightly in the air, smoke rising from his fingertips in lazy, thin swirls, and over the black material of the flight suit he woke up in, right where his RT disk contours his chest, is a silver-blue Phoenix emblem spread bold and proud.
He stares at it for a long time, touches it gingerly, traces the lines. “Okay,” he says, disbelieving and incredulous. “What the fuck?”
In which Tony Stark wakes up from his coma, becomes a Phoenix host, discovers all is not right in Star-Spangled Man Land, and decides to do something about it. Post-Hydra Cap fix it.
(Sorry for the delay, got hit by the flu, also, fixing the tittle, hope no one noticed XD)
No matter the impossible odds placed before them, The Silver Shroud always finds a way to destroy evil and save the day! So too can you, dear listener. Don your costume and prepare to take on whatever villains you may find in your way on your quest to a better tomorrow!
*NOTE: I haven’t read “Firewing” yet, nor have I finished “Sunwing”; I know about certain events and characters from both books, but I don’t know how they come about or unfold, so please don’t message/send me spoilers!!
Anyway, can’t sleep; must doodle bats designs so I have basic refs for later!!
First & second pics: my take on Shade Silverwing and Marina Brightwing, as runts and teens/young adults. For some reason I found it really hard to come up with older designs for them, especially Shade, and I still lean them towards being very young adults, so there’s potential for me to make one more aged picture with them as mature adults… Marina (especially older Marina) looks a bit like a cat, so I’ll try to work on her design more.
Third pic: messed up and suuuper-quick doodle of (*spoilers*) Shade and Marina’s son, Griffin. No, I haven’t read “Firewing” yet, but I know about a few events/characters from the series prior to reading it (even so: no spoilers, please!)
Fourth pic: Goth and Phoenix (and, yes, I will come up with a design for book-Throbb as well). I actually think these two might have been my favorites to come up with.
Ugh this took forever to get out. I don’t even know why.. I had fun writing this one though, I hope you like it! Feel free to send me any feed back, I would appreciate it!!
NOTES/WARNINGS: Mentions killing people and getting shot. Implies the loss of a parent.
Boxing day. The day that made Friday suck. You hadn’t been with the Avengers long, which was why they were training with you non-stop. Every day of the week held a different form of training. Monday; flight patterns with Vision and Wanda. Tuesday; Guns and other weapons with Clint and Natasha (That day wasn’t so bad.) Wednesday; Hand to hand combat with Bucky. Thursday; Technology and computer hacking with Tony. And on the off chance that Thor was on earth; battle tactics. None of those days were as tough as training with Steve.
The war vet pushed you to your max, making you do “one more set” at least five times in a row. Today was no different. You could feel your knuckles bruising even with the wrap Steve had covered your fist with. The Avengers Facility Boxing gym was nothing short of impressive. Decked out in red, white and blue, it was perfect for everything Steve wanted it for. Punching bags, a fighting ring and even a weights area filled the patriotic room.
“Again!” Steve shouted at you from behind his hands. You exhaled and rammed your glove-covered fist into the flat, blue glove that he wore. He swung a padded hand your way and you dodged the swing, hitting him in the side as you ducked.
“Good!” He encouraged. “Now, again. Harder.”
You swung again and again, hitting your small target until your lungs threatened to give out on you and even then, you kept going. Finally, he called it a day and ruffled your hair with a simple, “Nice work, kid.” and sent you to the showers.
After getting dressed you headed over get your bag so you could leave. That’s when you noticed it wasn’t where you left it. You fumbled through your gym bag, pulling tee shirts and athletic tape out of the way. You huffed with anxiety. It was here when you started. Your eyes quickly darted around the dark bag hoping to catch a glimpse of a glimmer.
“You okay?” Steve asked from behind you. Being the gentleman he was, he usually walked out with you and when you didn’t show up at the door he went looking for you.
You didn’t even look back at him. “I’ve lost my necklace.” Your words rushed out of your mouth.
“You mean this one?”
You whipped yourself around to see Steve dangling the short chain in front of you. You snatched it out of his fingers by the small charm that hung from the thin silver links.
“Where was it?” You examined the pendant and chain, making sure no harm had come to it.
“Right, here,” He pointed to the ground under the bench. “On the floor.”
“Thank you.” You finally looked up at him.
“Sure,” He shrugged. “What makes that so important?” He asked while he helped you gather your things and shove them back in your duffle.
“It was my mothers.” You said meekly. You weren’t ashamed that it was hers, but you were afraid that being sentimental would be seen as a weakness.
Steve nodded and gave you a tight smile. “It’s nice. It suits you.”
You looked down at the thin circle pendant. Inside the rope border was a raised silver phoenix. Your mother had the same abilities as you, pyrokinesis. Her flame had been small and only engulfed her hands and forearms. Nothing like you. When you lit up, your entire torso was covered in your bright orange and yellow flame. You had been given the nickname Zippo from Hawkeye. You resented it in the begining, and may or may not have set some of his things on fire as retaliation, but now that everyone called you by that name you let it grow on you.
“Yeah, it suited her, too.” You smiled and clasped the chain around your neck. You ran your fingers over the pendant before you adjusted the strap to your bag on your shoulder.
The bombs that exploded around the quinjet didn’t shake you, it was just another mission against Hydra. You pressed your headphones tighter to your ears and stared at the two bulbs above the back bay door. Both were dark, not yet lit. You bounced on your toes to the heavy dance beat, your eyes never leaving them. You waited with Bruce in the quinjet, the rest of the team taking point on this mission. You were young enough that they all agreed that you wouldn’t go out into the field unless they absolutely needed you. You didn’t have any say in the matter at the time but as you would soon find out, they almost always needed you.
The red light flashed on and a twisted grin spread across your face. You ripped the headphones off your head and slammed your palm on the button that lowered the bay door.
“Sorry, Doc.” You smiled at Bruce who sat and tried to be happy for you. “Looks like its my turn.” You flicked your wrists and a familiar warmth started in your hands and quickly ran up your arms and spread across your torso, finally engulfing your face and hair.
“Be careful.” He warned but you were already running out the door and towards your team.
“Where do you want me?” You yelled into the com in your ear.
“North wall.” You heard Tony instruct. “Lite ‘em up, Zip.”
Your lip twitched up in a sickly sweet half smile. “I need to hear you say it.” You huffed as your feet began to lift from the ground, your flames projecting you faster through the trees.
Tony sighed. “Come on, you aren’t over that yet.”
“I’ll be over it when you let me burn that stupid contract you made me sign.” Your world was a beautiful orange tint from the flames that covered your face. You could see flashes of your team through the trees. The shine of Steve’s shield, the red haze from the Scarlet Witch and even a streak of Tony’s iron suit.
“Just say it, Tony!” Falcon added, the stress in his voice apparent.
“Fine! We need you, Zippo.”
“At your service Mr. Stark.” You beamed as you flew past him, almost knocking him out of the sky.
You spotted the cluster of Hydra agents who were huddled behind a man with a grenade launcher.
“Aww hiding behind the big guy. It’s no fun unless we all play.” You smirked and flew straight into the group, sending the Hydra thugs in every direction. Tony and Steve took out a few before they even hit the ground. Wanda and Natasha took out the rest.
“Woo! That’s what I’m talking about, Zip!” Falcon cheers.
You laughed and cheered with him, pumping your fist in the air. “Who’s next?” You shouted.
“On your six, Zip!” Clint warned. One of his arrows flew past your head and impaled itself into the chest of a Hydra soldier. You followed Clints gaze and circled back to take out another soldier who was pointing a rifle at you.
“Pull back, (Y/N)!” Tony shouted as he flew towards you.
“I can handle this one!” You spoke quickly, trying to dodge the bullets that were flying at you.
“No, you’re not invincible, Zip. Pull back!” Steve agreed with Tony and ran at the soldier who’s attention was on you.
“Stop babying me!” You shouted. You were only a few meters away, now. You pulled your arm back to send a ball of fire his way but before you could a sharp pain exploded in your shoulder and side. You screamed and plummeted towards the ground.
Tony flew in fast and kicked the soldier into a tree so hard that there was no way he would survive the impact. He watched in horror as your eyes closed and your flames were snuffed out by the wind that rushed up beneath you. Steve ran as fast as he could and caught you, keeping your head from hitting the damp ground.
Sounds were muffled. You could hear beeping and humming. There were voices, different voices. You kept your eyes closed and tried to separate the sounds.
“She should have listened.”
“We’ve been training her non-stop, what is she supposed to do?”
“She had orders.”
“Come on, guys. She’s going to be fine. We’ve all taken hits before and we all bounce back.”
You opened your eyes and blinked until the world was no longer blurry. Sam stood with his arms crossed across his chest, beside your bed. Steve leaned against the arm of a chair and held the bridge of his nose. Tony paced the room with his eyes glued to a tablet.
“I’ve watched this video a thousand times. She flies directly into his line of fire. We did not teach her that.” Tony snaps at Sam.
“No, but we did teach her to take the enemy by surprise.” Sam defended you.
“We also invited her to be on this team,” Clint spoke up. You hadn’t noticed him standing in the doorway. “That alone puts her in harms way. If you are so worried about her getting hurt you should send her home.”
“She’s not going to go home,” Steve added. “She’s a fighter.”
“She can speak for herself.” You finally joined the conversation. Everyone shifted their weight and turned to you.
“Hey, Zip, how ya doin?” Clint grinned.
“I’m ready for round two.” You smirked. You winced when you tried to sit up in the bed you were in.
“Hold up,” Sam gently pushed you back down. “Your down for the count, for now.”
“Nah, I’ll be healed up by tonight.” You smiled.
“That may be so but you still need to rest.” Sam smiled. Of every one here, he seemed to be the most supportive of you regardless of age or experience.
“I told you to pull back.” Tony said sternly. He stood away from the bed and his eye brows were pulled down in disapproval.
“I know, and before you flip out, you were right and I was wrong.” You admitted , shamefully
“Yeah, I know that.” He snapped.
You sighed. He was in full ‘Dad-mode’, now. “I’m sorry.” You stopped smiling with the look he gave you.
“You’re dangerously close to being permanently benched.” He threatened.
You frowned and looked down at your fingers. “I get it, Mr. Stark.” You said to the blanket across your legs.
Without another word he left the room.
“He’s so mad.” You mumbled.
“He’ll get over it.” Sam chuckled.
“But seriously,” Cap stepped up to the side of the bed. “You need to follow orders. Sometimes we can see things that you can’t. You’ve got to trust us.”
“I do, I just thought he was being overprotective.” You confessed.
“For good reason.” Steve smiled as he poked your shoulder. You hissed at the pain but knew you deserved it. You touched your neck absent-mindedly but felt a surge of panic when your necklace was gone. You were confused when you looked up at Steve. At least, you were until you noticed the small velvet box that he held out to you.
You opened it to see your phoenix had been cleaned and polished.
“Bruce said it was in the way when he pulled the bullet out of your shoulder so I took it off and had it cleaned. It was a little bloody and I thought it deserved better.” Steve explained.
“Thank you.” You grinned. “This means a lot to me.”
Sam smirked and Steve squeezed your hand.
“All right, let’s let her rest, she’s got work to do tomorrow.” Sam grinned and prompted Steve to leave.
“Tomorrow, but I’ve been shot, twice!” You tried to escape your training. “And hey, tomorrow is Sunday. I don’t train on Sunday.”
“You disobeyed direct orders from Iron Man.” Sam laughed. “He’s gonna make you pay.”
You groaned and melted into your mattress. “Who’s training me?” You whined.
Sam laughed from the doorway and you could even see Steve trying to stifle a grin. “Natasha,” Sam answered. “And she’s even more mad than Tony.”