What I Read in June

Continue reading “What I Read in June”

What I Read in May

Continue reading “What I Read in May”

Blog Tour | Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Emiko Jean
Publication date:
May 18th 2021
Flatiron Books

If you’re Asian American or like Asian Canadian like me, parts of Izumi Tanaka’s story will resonate with you. Izumi’s feeling of not being “American” enough in her small hometown and then feeling like she isn’t “Japanese” enough when she gets to Japan even though it’s where both her parents’ families are from is something I connected with.

Describing Tokyo Ever After as “Crazy Rich Asians meets The Princess Diaries” is fairly accurate since the tabloid articles reminded me of the articles and footnotes Kevin Kwan uses in his Crazy Rich Asian series. However, the best comparison for the book is the Amanda Bynes’ movie What a Girl Wants as it also has the initially awkward father-daughter relationship and an “uptown girl” romance subplot, and of course scheming family members who are more than happy to see the female lead fail miserably in her new role.

Of course this book has its own merits as well. I love that it’s set in Japan as we rarely get to stories of the Japanese royal family, especially in fiction. While not as popular as the British royal family, the Japanese royal family has had its share of intrigue and scandals so it was cool to see them being the centre of focus even if it’s within a fictionalized setting. Izumi was also a relatable character as she struggles with finding her place in the world, since she feels like she isn’t a remarkable person. Also as a teenager, I would definitely procrastinate on things that made me anxious, like how she doesn’t even touch the royal dossier prepared for her and instead escapes by binge watching Downton Abbey during her entire flight to Japan. 

My favourite part of this book was the AGGs, I loved how the girls bonded over the fact that they were the only Asians in their high school and as a result had similar experiences and struggles that their white classmates could not even comprehend. I also loved how they had each other’s backs even when Izumi was on the other side of the world. The mother-daughter relationship was also incredibly heartwarming, and I loved how Izumi was ready to tear into her father if he badmouthed her mom. Thankfully he doesn’t, though I was not a fan of how the book tried to push her parents back together near the end of the book because of the lack of build up. Izumi and Akio’s romance was sweet though, and she was adorable with her crush on her bodyguard and eventual boyfriend.

While I know fully that Tokyo Ever After is a Cinderella story which is a wish fulfilment story, there were just some parts that didn’t sit well. For instance, I find it insane that Izumi could miss weeks of school at a time just to fly out to Japan and become better acquainted with the father she just recently learned about. The whole thing felt rushed and unlike how a similar situation would be handled in real life. I’m almost certain that a new member of any royal family today could not make any public appearance without thorough instruction on everything, including royal etiquette and cultural training. So I felt bad for Izumi as her father and the place staff should have known better, especially since she was an American teenager and without proper preparation and knowledge she was left incredibly vulnerable to her cousins’ manipulations and the media’s scrutiny. It would’ve been nice for her to have some real allies around her age in her family. However, I appreciated how the twins were revealed to be not complete monsters, though I was disappointed with how the situation with her cousin, Yoshi was handled.

A quick, predictable yet still fun read, Tokyo Ever After is best enjoyed if you can suspend your disbelief and not compare Izumi’s experiences with the realities of being a member of an actual modern royal family. I enjoyed Izumi’s journey of rediscovering her Japanese heritage and learning more about her culture and reading Tokyo Ever After has reignited the excitement I have of visiting Japan again once this pandemic is over and it is safe to do so.


About the Author:

When Emiko Jean isn’t writing, she is reading. Before she became a writer, she was an entomologist, a candlemaker, a florist, and most recently, a teacher. She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She is also the author of Empress of all Seasons and We’ll Never Be Apart.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emikojeanbooks/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emikojean/

Website: https://www.emikojean.com




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

What I Read in April

Continue reading “What I Read in April”

What I Read in March

Continue reading “What I Read in March”

Blog Tour | Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z. Lee

Crystal Z. Lee 
Publication date:
December 10th 2020
Balestier Press
Received as part of a The Colored Pages Team’s blog tour


Crystal Z. Lee’s  debut novel, Love and Other Moods, takes its reader on a journey through modern Shanghai. Besides getting a glimpse at the sights, sounds, food and culture the city has to offer we get more acquainted with the young third-culture professionals who came to China for the opportunities they couldn’t have gotten in America. 

While I’ve seen this book being compared to Crazy Rich Asians, I honestly think it’s more than that. For instance, while the characters are definitely privileged and some are even quite wealthy, we actually see them hard at work. There’s Joss a food writer, and engaged to be married to Tay, a furedai aka “trust fund kid” whose father was a former military official and who founded a renowned auction house and then there is her best friend, Naomi Kita-Fan a young woman with Japanese and Taiwanese heritage who followed her boyfriend to the “City by the Sea”.

Naomi and Joss’s friendship was one of the best parts of this book. I loved seeing two young expat professional women supporting one another and being there for each other. It was nice to see the two of them remain friends throughout the years and eventually experiencing some major milestones together. It was also refreshing to see Naomi facing several of the same struggles that any other expat in her situation would in the real world. 

Dante was the most likeable male character in the book. I was sympathetic to his family situation, and I felt that the way he dealt with everything was not only realistic but fairly reasonable. The only character that I couldn’t care about was Logan, throughout the book even though he was supposed to be “fun” I honestly just thought he was an entitled loser. So while I didn’t hate him, I didn’t like him either. 

There are two romances in the book, though the central love story is the one between Naomi and Dante since Joss and Tay get married at the start of the novel and remain a reasonably stable couple for the rest of the book. Dante and Naomi’s relationship had quite the romantic beginning though they do end up facing some challenges from Dante’s family who have suffered in the past at the hands of the Japanese and with Naomi being half Japanese, they unfairly projected their mistrust and hatred onto her. I was fine with this conflict for their love story. What I disliked though was the extra drama involving Logan that I felt was shoehorned near the end. It honestly was an annoying and depressing damper on an otherwise lovely relationship. That being said, I appreciated how the book normalizes both how relationships and marriages evolve. While both Joss and Tay and Naomi and Dante’s relationships grow out of their rose coloured, honeymoon phases, it causes them to emerge as stronger partnerships in the end.

Taking place over seven years, Love and Other Moods was an exciting and fast-paced story of young expats carving out their place in life and in the city. It is also a realistic look at family, relationships, motherhood and fidelity to one’s family. The book definitely captures the busyness and excitement of Shanghai, and it makes me wish I could travel to Shanghai right now to visit the locales and try the various foods that are mentioned in the book.


About the Author:

Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer and a member of the Asian Authors Alliance. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her first New Adult novel. Her debut children’s book is forthcoming in 2021

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crystal.z.lee/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20927312.Crystal_Z_Lee 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/crystalzlee319




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | A Phở Love Story Book by Loan Le

Loan Le
Publication date:
February 9th 2021
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Received from publisher


As a Vietnamese person, reading A Pho Love Story felt like I was visiting characters who could be my family or friends of my family. This was the first time that I could see myself culturally in the characters of a novel as my mother was also from Nha Trang and the rest my family is primarily from Central Vietnam a major region which is often forgotten since most people see Vietnam as being divided into just South and North Vietnam. I relished in the fact that I could pick up on the Vietnamese that was spoken by the characters, though it may confuse for readers who aren’t familiar with the Vietnamese language as sometimes the context clues aren’t enough. I also loved seeing the characters eat home cooked Vietnamese dishes that aren’t as well known to people who aren’t Vietnamese. Everyone may have heard of phở and banh xèo, but in my family those were more for “special occasion”. We tend to regularly eat things like canh sườn bí (pumpkin/melon soup with pork), canh chua (sweet and sour soup), bánh bèo (water fern cakes), and bánh ướt (Vietnamese pancake wrappers made from rice noodles) all of which are things that Linh and Bao eat in the book. 

Family is often at the heart of Vietnamese culture, so it should be no surprise that at its core, Loan Le’s A Pho Love Story is as much a story about family as it is about first love and finding yourself. I found it interesting reading about teens who had to help with their family business, while also being regular high schoolers. It was cool getting a behind the scenes look at what goes into running a Vietnamese restaurant. I liked how the challenges were not glossed over, whether it be competing restaurants, the power of word of mouth or even difficult and racist customers. Speaking of which, it was heartwarming seeing Bao stand up for his parents and the Vietnamese community that he is part of. Children of immigrant from non-English-speaking countries can relate to how Bao’s parents were reluctant to fight back against the racist attacks for fear of making things worse. I’m probably not alone in my experience growing up and hiding things to protect my parents while also feeling helpless, unable to defend them. So it made me tear up a bit out of pride that Bao could find his voice at this age.

But what truly stood out to me was just how Vietnamese this book was. It should go without saying, but Asian Americans aren’t a cultural monolith. Sure there may be common elements in many Asian immigrant families like the double standards when it come to boy and girls, and the “encouragement” of picking a stable career like medicine, engineering or something in business/finance over something less “certain” like the arts but there are also many experiences that are unique to those who come from a Vietnamese background. Vietnam has had a history of being constantly ravaged by wars, and this has left a mark on its people. Even after all the years, it lingers on as intergenerational family trauma. A Pho Love Story touches on this through the gradual revelation of the Mais and Nguyễns’ shared past and the reason behind the “bad blood” between the two families. This book was refreshingly honest in how it doesn’t shy away from showing how detrimental family secrets can be, especially to the younger generation. The only way families can overcome intergenerational family trauma is by coming together and being open with one another. 

Despite “love story” being in the actual title, the romance in this book wasn’t my favourite thing. It was odd how Linh and Bao can go years with barely any interaction, yet suddenly develop feelings after a few short encounters, though maybe that’s how things are when you’re a teenager? That being said, I appreciated how they didn’t officially date until much later in the book, and that was after working together on an assignment for their school newspaper that had them trying out date spots together to recommend to high schoolers. That their family hated each other was not romanticized as evident by Linh’s eventual anxiety spirals and the emotional toils on both of them because of being forced to keep their relationship a secret from both their families. I did like however enjoy both Bao and Linh’s individual journeys in the book, I loved seeing Bao discover his passion and Linh come into her own as an artist. And I love Linh’s friendship with Allie and Bao’s friendship with Việt.

Initially, it took some time for A Pho Love Story to hook me in but I’m glad I stuck with it as I ended up enjoying it in the end. In the past year and going into this year, I’m seeing more and more books by Vietnamese writers coming out and it makes me proud to be Vietnamese seeing all the Own Voices stories. Especially in YA fiction, as it’s important for Vietnamese teens to read books where they can see themselves in the characters so that they know their stories matter just as much as anyone else’s stories.

Comparable Titles: Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao (review); Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen (review)




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Trung Lê Nguyễn
Publication date:
October 13th 2020
Random House Graphic
Received from publisher

If you’re a child of immigrants, and English isn’t your parents’ first language, you may find it difficult to communicate with them. This is especially true for Tiến who is struggling to tell his mother his biggest secret. Besides the language barriers, there are also the cultural barriers and well as the other adults in his life who don’t make it easy for young Tiến. Because Trung Le Nguyen draws on his own experiences growing up as a young queer boy in the 90s in the American Midwest, it gives The story in The Magic Fish an incredibly personal and intimate feel.

However, this is more than just the story of Tiến’s struggling to come out to his Vietnamese mother. Trung Le Nguyen aka Trungles’ The Magic Fish has multiple other stories. There is also the story of Tiến’s mother and how she came to America and her struggle with homesickness, And of course there are the various fairy tales that Tiến reads with his mother that Trungles connects to both of their personal journeys. As someone who grew up reading fairy tales, I love how Trungles adapted popular fairy tales and added his own twist to them. The stories truly come to life as the plot and emotion of these fairy tales show their connections to the events in Tiến’s life and his mother’s life. My favourite example of this would be The Story of Tấm and Cám which is sort of a Cinderella story, I love how the story parallels Tiến’s experience of going to a school dance and dancing with his best friend/crush. I also loved how Alera the heroine of the Tattercoats story shares several similarities to Tiến mother’s as both were separated from their mothers and both were forced leave their homes behind. 

As this is a graphic novel, I was amazed at how the elements of Vietnamese culture including the fashion were incorporated into the stories’ breathtakingly, gorgeous illustrations. Also, I loved how much thought and detail was given to the illustrations, the best example being how Trungles separates the different narratives. He uses different colour inks to differentiate the past from the present and to show when something is taking place within a story in the book. Pink is used to represent the present while gold shows the past and the fairy tales are shown in blue. Of course, as the stories often overlap, the colours in the illustrations follow suit.

Being of Vietnamese background, it would be remiss of me if I did not share that part of The Magic Fish that I resonated with. While I couldn’t relate to everything in this book, there were a few things that stood out to me. I liked how elements of Vietnamese culture were normalize such as the family altar and funeral rites as well packing medicine to bring back to your family when you go back to Vietnam. The other thing that I could definitely relate to were the phone conversations in Vietnamese, as my parents would do this with their siblings in Vietnam when they thought we were fast asleep. Finally, I could absolutely relate to how Tiến and his mother speak to each other in a language that combines both English and Vietnamese words as this is something that my family has always done with each other.

As The Magic Fish is just one book, it obviously can’t be everything for everyone. However, I do believe it’s an important addition to the LGBTQ literary canon, especially for those who are in middle grade and who are children of immigrants who may not be familiar with this topic. As illustrated in the scene where Tiến’s mother changes the ending to one story they’re reading, everyone is worthy of love no matter what, and it is important for queer youth to see characters like themselves get a happy ending.

Comparable Title: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha (Review)




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

What I Read in January

Below is a list of everything I read in January and my thoughts on each of the books. I got off to a bit of a slow start, be hopefully things will start picking up soon as I’ve got some awesome review books to look forward to in the coming months. Both A Pho Love Story by Loan Le and Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish will have their own detailed blog review post later this month, so be sure to be on the lookout for them both!


Pride and Prejudice but set it in modern Houston, Texas with Taiwanese American families. Throw in a baking competition, and that’s how I would describe Jennifer Yen’s A Taste for Love. This was an addictive read that I just flew through.

I love the sisters’ relationship and the female friendship in the book, almost as much as I enjoyed the progression of the relationship between Liza and James. I also appreciated how even though A Taste for Love was a sort of retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it didn’t adopt all the subplots from Pride and Prejudice. Instead, Yen took what made sense for the setting and characters and put her own spin for her book.

As someone who was born and raised in North America but whose parents came from an Asian country, I definitely could relate to many of the things talked about. For instance, Liza’s aversion to dating Asians guys is definitely something my siblings have in common with her, although unlike her they remain steadfast in their determination. The passive aggressive mind games between Liza’s mom and Mrs. Lee was also hilarious, though I’m relived that Mrs. Lee ended up being a reasonable person in the end. Finally, I also loved all the baked goods in this book, and it’s always interesting to have characters who have to help at their family’s small shops on top of being a typical teenager.

Despite not intending to make it my first read of the new year, A Taste for Love was the perfect book to kick start my 2021 reading!

Yona of the Dawn Volume 27 by Mizuho Kusanagi

I’ve always been a fan of manga since high school, but these days I’m more selective about what I read as there are so many options. In fact, if I were to list all the series I read online, it would take way too long. Mizuho Kusanagi’s series, Yona of the Dawn has a special place in my heart though as it was the series that reignited my love for shōjo manga after university. It is the only series that I currently collect physical copies of. I ended up getting volumes 25-27 for Christmas and could only get to volume 27 in 2021. Highly recommend this series if you like epic historical fantasy series that is more dark and less on the fluffy romance side and am looking forward to continuing with this series, although I hate cliffhangers so I’ll probably wait until there are a couple of new volumes released so I can binge a bunch of them again.

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le 

Loan Le’s debut, A Pho Love Story is a heartwarming read with a lot of soul. As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, I related to so much to the characters and cultural nuances in the book. If I were being honest, what I loved about A Pho Love Story wasn’t the love story but the cultural nuances because both the main characters are Vietnamese. Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of A Pho Love Story that I will have up on the blog later this month



FOrtune by Ian Hamilton

I’ve read Ian Hamilton’s Uncle Chow Tung series since the first book, Fate, and while it’s been a decent series, I’ve always preferred the Ava Lee series. That being said, Fortune impressed me as a compelling read. I definitely enjoyed Fortune more than I thought I would, and it was actually nice to return to the world of young Uncle and his colleagues. Also, I appreciated how we finally get to see the connections that Fortune has with its sequel series, Ava Lee. Both the introduction of Sonny and the mention of Xu and his son were an exciting development, as these are characters who would have key roles in the Ava Lee world. 

The overarching plot in Fortune was also an interesting one as we see Uncle realizing that the local gangs need to be more organized and thus unified. Seeing young Uncle’s thought process and how he works and how similar it is to the way Ava goes is an excellent foreshadowing to their fated partnership and why it’s not surprising they would get along and work well together. In the authour’s note at the end of the book, Ian Hamilton talks about how Fate was intended to be the last book in the Uncle Chow Tung series, but how he now hopes to write a couple more books. I too would be interested in seeing things from Uncle’s perspective once he encounters Ava, and of course what he’s like in the later part of his life after he leaves the triads.

Disney Manga: Kilala Princess – Rescue the Village with Mulan!

I read the original Kilala Princess manga series back in high school, so I was curious as to what would happen to Kilala and her friends in this sequel. In case you’re not familiar with this series, think of it as an all ages “Kingdom of Hearts with Disney Princesses” that is incredibly fluffy but also cheerful in tone. That Mulan is the featured Disney “Princess” in this book only clinched the fact that I was going to check it out. Surprisingly, instead of the black and white volumes that are typical for manga, Disney Manga: Kilala Princess – Rescue the Village with Mulan has been printed like a trade comic book and the pages even in full colours. If you‘re a fan of magical girl anime and/or Disney Princesses, then you may be into this. It’s definitely a book that was made to appeal to those who like them both. Also, while not entirely necessary, I would highly recommend reading the first Kilala Princess manga series that’s also published by Tokyopop. Reading it will help you better appreciate the story and how far the characters have come.





Regardless of how these books came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

5 YA Novels to Look Forward to in 2021

Last year I attended a couple of online previews and get an early sneak peek at several YA titles coming out in 2021. It was definitely an interesting experience attending these events online, and while I miss the in person events, I’m glad the publishers could move them online so we can still hear about all the amazing titles coming out in the new year. So without further delay, here are my top picks of YA books coming out in the first half of this year! 


You Have a Match by Emma Lord
Release Date: January 12, 2021

I haven’t read Tweet Cute yet, but I’ve seen many bloggers rave about it. You Have a Match is Emma Lord’s second YA novel, and it’s described as “The Parent Trap meets 23andMe”.  Protagonist Abby discovers she has a sister through an online website, and it turns out her sister is Instagram star Savannah Tully and the complete opposite of her! The two girls decide to meet up at a summer camp to figure out why Savannah was given up for adoption a year before Abby was born.On top of the family drama and secrets, Abby also has to confront the awkwardness between her and her best friend and crush Leo, who also is the co-chef at the camp where both girls are staying. This was one of the three review copies in the digital swag bags provided to us, so I’m hoping to get around to reading it sometime this year.

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce
Release Date: February 9, 2021

This book was Marisol’s pick from the Frenzy Presents event in December since she also studied in England and ended up marrying her “Hot British Boyfriend”. Pitched as “The Holiday meets Legally Blonde”, Hot British Boyfriend is about Ellie Nichols’ quest to land a hot British boyfriend during her high school’s study abroad trip to England. After all, the best way to get over the humiliation of a public rejection is to move on with someone better! Readers who love teen romances that take place overseas like the Stephanie Perkins’ books will probably enjoy this one as well!

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price
Release Date: 
April 6, 2021

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen and mysteries, then this book may be perfect for you! The first in a new series of Jane Austen murder mystery retellings. In Pride and Premeditation, Lizzie Bennet is now an aspiring lawyer, while Fitzwilliam Darcy is the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates. The two find themselves force to spend more time together as Lizzie is determined to prove herself by solving a murder case where she believes that the authorities have got the wrong person. As a fan of murder mysteries, I’m intrigued to see how the Lizzie and Darcy dynamic will be in a legal environment, so this one is for sure on my radar. It should also be on your radar if you’re a fan of the Lady Janies series.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Release Date:
 May 25, 2021

Not going to lie, Tokyo Ever After is the title that I am the most excited for out of all the books I heard about from the previews last year! I’m hoping to get a review copy of this one so I can read it as soon as possible and share with you guys my thoughts on it. Izumi Tanaka is a Japanese American girl who has been raised by her mother with no idea of who her father is. So she’s in for a big shock when she discovers she is none other than the Crown Prince of Japan! Described as “The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians”, I’m looking forward to all the Japanese culture and family drama and the promise of a potential bodyguard crush romance. As an Asian American who also grew up in a predominately white town, I can definitely relate to feeling like I don’t belong both in the country I was born in and my parents’ country. Tokyo Ever After has already been optioned for a TV series and a sequel is already set to come out in 2022!!

Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park
Release Date: 
June 1, 2021

Sunny Song’s summer goals include making Rafael Kim her boyfriend, getting to 100 K followers and of course having the best summer ever! Unfortunately, her plans are ruined when she accidentally makes an inappropriate video that goes viral, causing her principal to make her parents send her to a digital detox camp. Now she’s stuck in a farm in Iowa, which is basically the middle of nowhere to her, with no Internet access! Touching on topics like online addiction and casual racism, Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous promises to be both funny and heartwarming that fans of Jenny Han’s books may also enjoy as well.

Book Review | Ming’s Christmas Wishes by Susan L. Gong, Masahiro Tateishi (Illustrations)

Susan L. Gong, Masahiro Tateishi (Illustrations
Publication date:
September 29th 2020
Shadow Mountain
Received from publisher

I rarely review picture books on my blog, but thought I’d make an exception for Ming’s Christmas Wishes, as it’s about a young Chinese girl who feels like she’s not enough. At school she’s too “Chinese” while at home she’s too “American”. Any child of first-generation immigrants can definitely relate to this feeling at some point in their life.

As this is a picture book, the illustrations are of utmost importance. I was extremely impressed with Masahiro Tateishi’s illustrations. The illustrations are a combo of digital and traditional paintings. Elements of calligraphy and traditional Chinese designs can also be found throughout the book. I loved how the flashbacks were done in a more traditional style and that they were shown as less vivid on the pages to differentiate the recollections from the current scenes. The illustrations complemented the text perfectly, as what you read in the text is basically what you see in the corresponding illustrations, and this is perfect for Susan’s straightforward storytelling. 

That being said, I found the story left much to be desired. For instance, while it was good to see the early history of the Chinese Americans alluded to, that’s all that happened. There were brief mentions of early hardships, the San Francisco’s “Great Quake” as well the Chinese “picture brides” but nothing was really explained. It felt like the author tried to touch on as many historical points as possible and as a result none of them were discussed in a meaningful way. Instead it may be confusing to just about anyone reading the book who is unaware of the historical context of the story. Even I had many unanswered questions after finishing the book. This also isn’t helped because the story ends rather abruptly, and while the message of blending traditions is nice, there was no proper lead up to the conclusion. Many of the conflicts were also left unresolved, and the reader is supposed to go along with the fact that things are going to be okay.

I’m all for more diversity in picture books, especially Christmas ones. And I think kids will relate to Ming’s curiosity and questioning nature, her desire to fit in and her frustration with adults telling her no with no explanation. I related to her close relationship with her father, who was more understanding than her strict mother. Ming’s Christmas Wishes has the potential to be a good jumping point for conversations about the Chinese immigrant experience and about racism and discrimination.




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

The 10 Best Books I Read in 2020

2020 was a weird year and not going to lie my reading was definitely affected. I got a good chunk of reading done when I was sick earlier this year, but then I went quite a while before I picked up anything new. So this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but most of the books on this list were ones I read in the first half of this year rather than the second year. Without further delay here are my favourite reads of 2020, and as always they are in no particular order.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

At first this book was a bit slow for me. However, it won me over with its charm and strong, albeit imperfect female characters. In the end, I fell in love with the members of “The Jane Austen Society” and were rooting for them to find their own happiness. If you like warm historical novels set in cozy villages, and/or are a fan of Jane Austen’s books, then this one may be the satisfying read is for you!

The Good Shufu by Tracy Slater

This book has been on my TBR list since my early blogging days. I finally was gifted a copy of it last year and picked it up this year in anticipation of my Japan trip. Little did I know, that no travelling would be happening. Anyways, I love reading about the relationship between Tracy and the Japanese salaryman who becomes her husband. It was interesting to see how two individuals from different backgrounds come together to build a marriage. As someone who is interested in Japanese culture and still trying to learn the language, I especially enjoyed reading about how Tracy adapts to the culture and her new life in Japan. A heartwarming read about finding love and starting a family in an unexpected time and place.

Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim (Read the review)

I think I enjoyed Roselle Lim‘s Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop more than her debut. While Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune had more soul as it was a story about family both blood and found, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop is definitely a lighter fare with its matchmaking and love plot. Of course food also has a role in the book however it’s to a much lesser degree than the mouthwatering descriptions of food and cooking that were found in Natalie Tan. That being said, Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop made me want to go out and buy some pastries, so make sure you have some on hand while reading this one!

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (Read the review)

I always look forward to having a new Louise Penny novel every year. All The Devils Are Here is without a doubt one of my favourites of her more recent Inspector Gamache novels. I love how the setting has changed in this book to Paris, France, as it allows readers to see Gamache and Beauvoir to go out of their usual comfort zones as they try to figure out the mystery and unveil another massive conspiracy.

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai (Read the review)

I wanted to pick this romance because it’s by a Canadian author and I thought it was interesting that both of the main leads work in HR like jobs. The side characters in this book are also awesome, from the hilarious aunties to Layla’s badass cousin, Daisy. I love how family was such a major part of Layla’s story. Also, if you’re a foodie, then you’ll probably enjoy reading about all the Indian foods as Layla’s family owns an Indian restaurant. The Marriage Game has a pretty fun concept with the bet that Layla and Sam have going on, and I look forward to the other books in this series. As Daisy’s book will come out in 2021 and it involves the fake engagement trope, I’ve already requested it on Netgalley so fingers crossed I get to read it soon!

The Diamond Queen of Singapore by Ian Hamilton (Read the review)

I will not lie it was a bit painful reading a book about someone who jet sets as much as Ava Lee during a pandemic when all travel is cancelled. Anyway, the latest instalment in the Ava Lee series has many of the elements that make this series one of my favourites. There’re tons of globe trotting, high stakes negotiations, and of course some awesome action scenes! Looking forward to seeing the direction that Ian Hamilton takes next with the Ava Lee series.

10 Things I Hate About Pinky by Sandhya Menon (Read the review)

I’ve been looking forward to Pinky and Samir’s we saw them constantly butt heads in There’s Something about Sweetie. In 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, we get to learn more about Pinky including her insecurities especially when it came to being compared to her cousin which is definitely something I could relate to. We also get to see more of Samir finally dealing with his issues which were hinted at in There’s Something about Sweetie. But most of all it was quite satisfying to see Pinky and Samir come together after being teased for so long.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang (Read the review)

The Library of Legends is my first Janie Chang book, and what made me pick it up was the promise blend of mythology with real life. I love how Chang weaves elements of Chinese legends with the students’ journey. I was unaware of the brutal war between Japan and China, so it was interesting to learn more about the lesser talked about events that took place in the shadow of Pearl Harbour. There is also a love story that later comes to fruit in this book that is a sweet addition to a story that took place during a time with so much destruction that even the celestials were left broken.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen (Read the review)

This was the first book I actually started in 2020. I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of this title, and it definitely lived up to my expectations of it. There’s so much juicy drama and I love the cultural rediscovery and exchange aspect of this story as I never even heard of “Loveboats” before I learnt about Loveboat, Taipei. Ever’s story of exploration and coming into her own as both were relatable in its own way, and I was more than satisfied with her ending. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series and I may be in the minority with this, but I hope it features a certain pair of secondary characters from the first book.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha (Read the review)

Compared with other books I don’t think the book got as much as attention as it deserved, so I’m going to take this time to once again recommend this book. Frances Cha’s If I Had Your Face is an incredible debut that looks at issues that Korean women face today. From the pressure to get married, the lack of opportunities for young people without family connections to the impossible beauty standards that are exacerbated by the prevalence of plastic surgery I loved how it didn’t shy away from the problems in the lives of these young women. Forgot top ten, this one was definitely in my top three reads of 2020.




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Recently in Romance #6

 Recently in Romance is a new to this blog review feature where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some romance novels I’ve read. This review feature was originally created by Mostly Ya Lit.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

In a Holidaze is the book for you if you’re looking for a book to get you into the Christmas spirit. However, if you want a steamy romance, then maybe pick up one of the earlier Christina Lauren books instead. I really want to love this book, but it took way to win me over and even then I wasn’t completely sold on the romance. Fortunately, this book is incredibly light on the romance that it reads more like Womens Fiction. My favourite moments in this book were all the interactions with the various families at the cabin. I love all the crazy traditions they had and loved how competitive everyone got with each other. To be honest, I thought the whole Groundhog Day subplot would be a bigger deal in this book, so I was surprised that there weren’t that many time loops shown. I can appreciate the fact that this allows more space for the main story to develop. Honestly, In a Holidaze wasn’t my favourite Christina Lauren book, though I enjoyed it more than Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and The Unhoneymooners. A quick and heartwarming read, this book was a nice distraction that gave me the warm fuzzies. I can definitely see this one appealing to a more younger audience as compared to the previous Christina Lauren books, it is extremely tame in terms of love scenes.

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon

I’ve enjoyed most of Sandhya Menon’s YA novels, so I was looking forward to reading her adult début as “Lily Menon”! Unfortunately, Make up Break up lacks the charms of her Dimpleverse novels. Perhaps this may because of the third-person narrator that shows readers only Annika’s perspective, but it took an incredibly long time to like the male lead. The physical attraction was there from the start, and it was obvious that Hudson was in love with Annika, but I didn’t see the appeal of him. In fact, it wasn’t until more than halfway into the novel that Hudson showed a more “human” and compassionate side to him that was lacking from all his other previous interactions with Annika. What I enjoyed in Make up Break up was Annika’s close relationship with her father. It was refreshingly imperfect, but I’m glad that they could come to an understanding. Also, I loved her friendship with June, though it made me wish she would depend on those closest to her more when she was so clearly struggling. While the romance was a letdown for me since Annika and Hudson barely had any meaningful interactions until nearly the end, Make up Break up had a few redeeming qualities that made it an okay read.




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Midweek Mini Reviews #33

If it wasn’t for the pandemic, right now I would be in Japan with my friend celebrating our birthdays this year. That’s why the theme of this edition of Midweek Mini Reviews features two books that allow you to travel to and experience the magic of Japan without having to leave your house. If you want even more Japanese book suggestions, feel free to comment on this post!

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Convenience stores are such an integral part of Japanese life, especially in big cities like Tokyo. However, if you haven’t had the chance to experience the magic of an actual Japanese convenience store, then picking up Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman may help with that. The simple descriptions of all the sights, sounds and even smells of the store made me feel like I was back in Japan. The book follows Keiko Furukura, a Japanese convenience store worker in her late 30s whose’s lifestyle goes against the societal norms. While Keiko is without a doubt an oddball who lacks any empathy or feelings, it hard not to feel bad for her. She doesn’t want to cause trouble for anyone, and would prefer to be left alone to do what she believes is she is meant to do. Unfortunately, she lives in a country with a collectivist culture, where she is expected to get a proper job and eventually get married and have kids. This is unfortunately still the sad reality of many Asian cultures where there are often social consequences if you don’t “play your part”. A quick read, Convenience Store Woman is definitely not a light-hearted read. Every character is imperfect, and there is no attempt to hide how horrible people can be. A character like Shiraha who in another novel may have been the “love interest,” is far from it here as right from his introduction there is nothing but disgust and contempt for his entitled ass. If you’re looking for a book where the protagonist changes for the better or evolves, then Convenience Store Woman isn’t for you. However, if you’ve ever felt that you were not “normal,” then you may appreciate this book for its quiet critique of societal norms besides the fact that Keiko is a strong-willed character who succeeds in not bending to societal pressures

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Publisher Social Media:  Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/

If you knew of a way to travel back in time, would do you take advantage of it? What if besides not changing anything, there were several rigid rules that you must follow? For instance, there is only one seat in the café that allows you to time travel, and you cannot leave it? Would you still want to go back? Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s Before the Coffee Gets Cold tells the story of four different characters who ultimately decide to go back despite the restrictions. Of the four, I think my two favourites would have to be Husband and Wife and Mother and Child. The former for its heart wrenching portrayal of marriage where the husband has Alzheimer’s. The misunderstandings on both sides and the result from one of them going back made this one a tear-jerker. While the latter was the last story in this book and it served as a satisfying story to bring things to a full circle, especially with the revelation of who the titular “Mother and Child” were. This book feels very Japanese, especially when you look at the characters and their thoughts and beliefs. To Western readers, it may be difficult to understand why some characters, especially the women choose and act as they do. However, I found that despite that Before the Coffee Gets Cold was a cozy and heartwarming read that would be perfect for the fall or as a prelude to the winter holiday season. It is also the first book in a series, and I wouldn’t mind picking up the others when out, though I think I’ll probably do audiobooks for the next book (s).




Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above reviews consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.