100 books like Spin the Dawn

By Elizabeth Lim,

Here are 100 books that Spin the Dawn fans have personally recommended if you like Spin the Dawn. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Mountains Sing

Betty Bolte Author Of Becoming Lady Washington

From my list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women.

Who am I?

I “discovered” historical fiction when a teen and have devoured it ever since. When my parents took me to the Cowpens National Battlefield in South Carolina in 9th grade, I realized just how much I enjoyed learning about history in real life. I found that reading historical fiction breathed life into what can be a very dull read, so I wanted to bring history to life with my own words. Visiting historical properties has become a big passion of mine! Every trip I take includes a visit to some historical site or another. I’ve been writing historical fiction/romance/fantasy since the late 1990s.

Betty's book list on historical fiction about emotionally strong women

Betty Bolte Why did Betty love this book?

This story is set in Việt Nam and paints a clear picture of the people who lived there in the 1930-1980 timeframe of the story. The family faced hardships and tragedies, including being separated for several months when they were forced to flee for their lives. One thing I really appreciated was seeing the impact and impressions of the Việt Nam war on the people of that country. My brother fought over there—he was a Ranger in the Army—during that conflict and came home very different. In fact, he’s estranged himself from the family for the past 30+ years. Reading about the conflict from the other side gives me a clearer idea of what he might have seen or done that he never would tell me about.

By Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Mountains Sing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Years later in Ha Noi, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.

Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Viet Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyen Phan Que Mai's first novel in English.


Book cover of The Ones We're Meant to Find

Lauren Yero Author Of Under This Forgetful Sky

From my list on seeking hope after the end of the world.

Who am I?

Can stories bring a human scale to something as all-encompassing as climate change? In 2011, I began an MA in Literature and Environment with this question weighing on my mind. I finished my degree two years later with a draft of my debut novel, Under This Forgetful Sky. I’ve come to understand the climate crisis, in many ways, as a crisis of imagination. Its enormity tests the limits of the imaginable. What if the world as we know it ends? What would life look like on the other side? The books on this list reckon with the fears these questions bring while also gesturing beautifully, unsentimentally, courageously toward hope. 

Lauren's book list on seeking hope after the end of the world

Lauren Yero Why did Lauren love this book?

The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a young adult dystopian eco-thriller that tells the story of two sisters across alternating timelines.

One timeline follows Cee, who wakes up one day colorblind and devoid of memories, stranded on a deserted island. The other timeline follows Kasey as she tries to understand her sister’s disappearance from within the rank-based eco-city she calls home (a city that rewards citizens who demand the least of the Earth’s dwindling resources).

Though the novel takes impending ecological doom as its ever-present backdrop, it tells a complex, surprising, human story about the quest for meaning and responsibility in an intricately interconnected world.

By Joan He,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Ones We're Meant to Find as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Perfect for fans of Marie Lu and E. Lockhart, The Ones We're Meant to Find is a twisty YA sci-fi that follows the story of two sisters, separated by an ocean, desperately trying to find each other in a climate-ravaged future.
Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it's up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.…


Book cover of Iron Widow

Kate Chenli Author Of A Bright Heart

From my list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults.

Who am I?

I write adult and young adult fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of magic. While growing up in China, I often found myself immersed in fantasy literature based on Asian history, mythology, and legends. I enjoyed getting lost in the rich imaginary worlds where the characters came to life. These tales fed my imagination and inspired me to create my own magical adventures. Writing has allowed me to expand on the ancient legends and mythology that I’ve always loved. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed creating lifelike characters, especially strong women who inspire young girls.

Kate's book list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults

Kate Chenli Why did Kate love this book?

This book has the most badass female protagonist of all young adult novels I’ve read!

Talking about a resolute heroine set on overhauling an entire misogynistic system. She’s not restrained by what society deems as appropriate or moral, and despite their constant attempts to oppress her, she grows even more determined to break free. 

The book blends mecha-science and fantasy perfectly. It has Pacific Rim vibes, but they are based in a Chinese composite of history and culture, while also rooted in traditional Chinese Qi magic.

By Xiran Jay Zhao,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Iron Widow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller!

Pacific Rim meets The Handmaid's Tale in this blend of Chinese history and mecha science fiction for YA readers.

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn't matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.
 
When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it's to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister's death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through…


Book cover of Jade Fire Gold

Kate Chenli Author Of A Bright Heart

From my list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults.

Who am I?

I write adult and young adult fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of magic. While growing up in China, I often found myself immersed in fantasy literature based on Asian history, mythology, and legends. I enjoyed getting lost in the rich imaginary worlds where the characters came to life. These tales fed my imagination and inspired me to create my own magical adventures. Writing has allowed me to expand on the ancient legends and mythology that I’ve always loved. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed creating lifelike characters, especially strong women who inspire young girls.

Kate's book list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults

Kate Chenli Why did Kate love this book?

Everything about this book feels exquisite for me, from the rich worldbuilding, the slow burn romance, to the intricate magic system.

I rooted for the main characters from the beginning–a village girl in possession of forbidden magic, trying to protect her grandmother, and an exiled prince looking for vengeance. They start off as reluctant allies, but as they go through hardship and danger together, their relationship develops into something beautiful and meaningful.

I love how the story focuses on their personal growth, dealing with their past and coming to terms with what the future may hold for them.

By June CL Tan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Jade Fire Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Girls of Paper and Fire meets A Song of Wraiths and Ruin in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, where ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, rich magic, and a captivating slow-burn romance collide.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her lethal magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far…


Book cover of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea

Kate Chenli Author Of A Bright Heart

From my list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults.

Who am I?

I write adult and young adult fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of magic. While growing up in China, I often found myself immersed in fantasy literature based on Asian history, mythology, and legends. I enjoyed getting lost in the rich imaginary worlds where the characters came to life. These tales fed my imagination and inspired me to create my own magical adventures. Writing has allowed me to expand on the ancient legends and mythology that I’ve always loved. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed creating lifelike characters, especially strong women who inspire young girls.

Kate's book list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults

Kate Chenli Why did Kate love this book?

Inspired by a Korean myth and Ghibli’s Spirited Away, a girl throws herself into the ocean as a sacrifice to the Sea God to save her brother’s beloved. As a human in the Spirit Realm, she’s determined to save her people before it’s too late.

I enjoyed the concept about people being pushed out of comfortable homes to make new lives in a totally different, strange world.

Every character has depth, with a compelling motive that justifies their action. The prose is elegant, capturing the dreamy side of Asian fairy tales. And the sheer beauty of it all–the wondrous mythology, vibrant spirit world, and lively atmosphere–is breathtaking.

By Axie Oh,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deadly storms. An ancient curse. Will her sacrifice save them all?

For generations, deadly storms have ravaged Mina's homeland. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curse them with death and despair. To appease him, each year a maiden is thrown into the sea, in the hopes that one day the 'true bride' will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe Shim Cheong - Mina's brother's beloved - to be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is sacrificed, Mina's brother follows her, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save…


Book cover of A Magic Steeped in Poison

Tessa Barbosa Author Of The Moonlight Blade

From my list on YA featuring magical competitions.

Who am I?

I fell in love the first time I ever picked up a fantasy novel. Suddenly a whole world of imagination and magic opened up in my head and I’ve been an avid reader and writer ever since. Competitions show up time and again in YA novels (from The Hunger Games to Red Rising), and I think it’s because they provide a good frame for stories about growing up, progress, or ambition. There are high stakes baked in and that makes for an exciting read. I hope you enjoy these books!

Tessa's book list on YA featuring magical competitions

Tessa Barbosa Why did Tessa love this book?

A steaming hot cup of tea is one of my favourite things in the world, and Judy’s book features a magical tea master’s competition. The tea magic was utterly captivating and inventive.

This isn’t a cosy fantasy though. Ning runs away from home to enter the competition, to save her sister from a mysterious illness, but she quickly encounters sabotage, jealousy, and a mysterious stranger who may or may not be on her side. I also have a soft spot for stories about sisters, so this one really had me invested.

By Judy I. Lin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Magic Steeped in Poison as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A #1 New York Times Bestseller!
A 2022 PEOPLE Magazine Best Book of Summer!

Judy I. Lin's sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, "These are the hands that buried my mother."

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it's her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take…


Book cover of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Kate Chenli Author Of A Bright Heart

From my list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults.

Who am I?

I write adult and young adult fantasy. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of magic. While growing up in China, I often found myself immersed in fantasy literature based on Asian history, mythology, and legends. I enjoyed getting lost in the rich imaginary worlds where the characters came to life. These tales fed my imagination and inspired me to create my own magical adventures. Writing has allowed me to expand on the ancient legends and mythology that I’ve always loved. Moreover, I’ve enjoyed creating lifelike characters, especially strong women who inspire young girls.

Kate's book list on fantasy novels by Asian authors for young adults

Kate Chenli Why did Kate love this book?

I adore an anti-heroine story, and Dao delivers in this Asian-inspired reimagining of the Evil Queen about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress by unleashing the darkness inside her.

The worldbuilding is lush, full of vivid details. The characters have amazing depth, never becoming one-dimensional stereotypes.

The protagonist is wonderfully complex. You sympathize with her at one point and then, in the next, she does something totally hateful. Her dark jealousies and obsession with her own beauty would make you despise her, but you’d also feel her frustration for having her ambition smothered as a woman in a patriarchal world.

By Julie C. Dao,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forest of a Thousand Lanterns as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

The Wrath and the Dawn meets Snow White and the Huntsman in this dark and mystical East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl's quest to become Empress.

"A richly developed fantasy world . . . Julie C. Dao is a talent to watch."-Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Young Elites

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her.

Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village…


Book cover of The Tailor of Panama

Lachlan Page Author Of Magical Disinformation

From my list on spy books set in Latin America.

Who am I?

I lived in Latin America for six years, working as a red cross volunteer, a volcano hiking guide, a teacher, and an extra in a Russian TV series (in Panama). Having travelled throughout the region and returning regularly, I’m endlessly fascinated by the culture, history, politics, languages, and geography. Parallel to this, I enjoy reading and writing about the world of international espionage. Combining the two, and based on my own experience, I wrote my novel, Magical Disinformation, a spy novel set in Colombia. While there is not a huge depth of spy novels set in Latin America, I’ve chosen five of my favourites spy books set in the region.

Lachlan's book list on spy books set in Latin America

Lachlan Page Why did Lachlan love this book?

Set in Panama or “Casablanca without heroes” as le Carré himself coined it, Harry Pendel is a tailor to Panama’s powerful, which makes him the perfect agent. When approached by an amoral MI6 spy, he decides to pass on information in exchange for much-needed cash. Only he doesn’t have anything of note to pass on and decides to weave a web of lies instead, much of which begins to come true. 

From the modern king of the spy novel and in the vein of Greene’s Our Man in Havana, a more light-hearted, satirical novel and although one of the author's lesser-known novels, an enjoyable read. Also a half-decent movie with Pierce Bronson and Geoffrey Rush.  

By John le Carré,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Tailor of Panama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A work of rare brilliance' The Times

Charmer, fabulist and tailor to Panama's rich and powerful, Harry Pendel loves to tell stories. But when the British spy Andrew Osnard - a man of large appetites, for women, information and above all money - walks into his shop, Harry's fantastical inventions take on a life of their own. Soon he finds himself out of his depth in an international game he can never hope to win.

Le Carre's savage satire on the espionage trade is set in a corrupt universe without heroes or honour, where the innocent are collateral damage and…


Book cover of Prairie Lotus

Sally Engelfried Author Of Learning to Fall

From my list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships.

Who am I?

Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me. I wrote my first book to explore what it might be like for a girl to have a father with whom communication is, if not easy, possible. Although my own father was around when I was growing up, he was a distant figure. A mechanical engineer, he lost himself in ruminations on machines and mathematics and was made still more distant by his alcoholism. As a kid, I tried to glean from books what having a “regular” father might be like. I still haven’t figured it out, but I love seeing other authors capture the formative effects of this particular parental relationship. 

Sally's book list on middle grade about father-daughter relationships

Sally Engelfried Why did Sally love this book?

This historical novel has been heralded as a fresh look at the era of the Little House books, and it does a wonderful job of looking at frontier life in Dakota Territory in 1880 from the perspective of Chinese-American Hanna. It’s also an examination of a daughter trying to navigate an often prickly relationship with her white father, made even more difficult after the death of Hanna’s Chinese-Korean mother. I love Hanna’s careful study of everyone around her—observances that are borne from a need to protect herself from racism, but which are also windows to empathy and understanding. Despite her father’s resistance to Hanna following her dream to become a dressmaker, Hanna prevails, using her knowledge of her father’s own nature to win him over.

By Linda Sue Park,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Prairie Lotus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered novel about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend.

Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story.

Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant…


Book cover of Letters from Cuba

Maria Kiely Author Of Which Way Is Home?

From my list on highlight the importance of trust and friendship.

Who am I?

An act of kindness from a stranger when you’re having a bad day can totally change your mindset, it can even change your life. I believe there are few things more important than trust, friendship, and making genuine human connections. Those are some of the main themes of my novel Which Way is Home? and themes that appear in each of the books on my list. You never know when someone is going to come into your life and change it for the better. I always want to be open to those experiences in my life and reflect them in my writing. Reading these books has only reinforced that desire.

Maria's book list on highlight the importance of trust and friendship

Maria Kiely Why did Maria love this book?

Based on the true-life experiences of author Ruth Behar’s grandmother, the letters that Esther writes from Cuba to her beloved sister Malka back in Poland feel totally real and remind me of my mother’s connection to her cousins that were left behind when she escaped Czechoslovakia. I love how open and curious Esther is and how that helps her connect with her new Cuban neighbors despite their differences. Esther creates a strong community by sharing her Jewish traditions with people who know nothing about them. The neighbors are willing to come together at first, despite their apprehensions, because they like this sweet, smart, little girl but they soon learn that they all have more in common than they would have ever guessed. This book will strengthen your faith in humanity.

By Ruth Behar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters from Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

Pura Belpre Award Winner Ruth Behar's inspiring story of a young Jewish girl who escapes Poland to make a new life in Cuba, while she works to rescue the rest of her family

The situation is getting dire for Jews in Poland on the eve of World War II. Esther's father has fled to Cuba, and she is the first one to join him. It's heartbreaking to be separated from her beloved sister, so Esther promises to write down everything that happens until they're reunited. And she does, recording both the good--the kindness of the Cuban people and her discovery…


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