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!


A TASTE FOR LOVE BY JENNIFER YEN

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.

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.

Mystery Monday | The Diamond Queen of Singapore (Ava Lee #13) by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 13 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

What is it about? When Ava’s best friend Mimi is late to their meet up, Ava knows something must have happened. It turns out, Mimi’s father has just died in what appears to be suicide. After his death, the family is shocked to discover that the only thing he left behind was massive amounts of debt. Willing to do whatever it takes to help bring peace to her friends and their family, Ava unofficially make it her job to recover the money that was stolen from Mimi’s father. However, what she thinks may be a straight forward recovery turns out not to be the case as following the Ponzi scheme takes her outside of Canada and even North America to Europe and Asia and with far reaching consequences. 


Where does it take place? Starting in Toronto, Canada Ava is able to make connections to the Ponzi scheme that takes her to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Singapore and even Chengdu China!

Why did I like it? After more than a couple of novels about Ava and her Three Sisters business partnership as well as her relationship with actress, Pang Fai The Diamond Queen of Singapore takes us back to Ava Lee, the forensic accountant and debt collector. Therefore, the book felt so nostalgic for me. Despite being out of the collections game for some time now, Ava proves why she’s the best at what she does both with getting money back and her brilliant negotiation skills. Ian Hamilton takes great care to make sure that the Ava Lee universe and the characters feel authentic, and it especially shows in this book. I loved following along with Ava’s process through her notes, and later through the detailed descriptions of the maps and diagrams she draws for others to see. We get introduced to a couple of new characters in this book and it should me interesting to see them reappear in future books. I just hope that nothing happens to Ava’s relationship with Pang Fai as I like the two of them together. Finally reading one of the Ava Lee books always feels like reading a travelogue of sorts, which unfortunately during a pandemic made me truly sad that I’m living in a city that is in lockdown. Not only did the descriptions of plane travel and hotels made me miss the mundane aspects of travel, but as someone who usually works in downtown Toronto, it made me miss the days when I could freely explore my city. The Diamond Queen of Singapore ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m looking forward to the next book and to seeing Ava take on an even bigger opponent. 

 When did it come out? May 26, 2020 (e-book) and August 4, 2020 (paperback)

 

 

 

 

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

 

Mystery Monday | All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Louise Penny is a former journalist and radio host with the CBC. The authour of the best selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, All the Devils Are Here is her 16th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives in a small village south of Montreal.

What is it about? While in Paris, after having had a lovely family dinner Stephen Horowitz is struck down by a delivery van while trying to cross a street. And despite what the police may have think, Stephen’s godson, Gamache is certain that this was no accident. Not willing to drop it, Gamache conducts his own investigation as to why his godfather was targeted. This reunites him with his former second in command and son in law, Jean Guy Beauvoir. Using all their skills and resources available to the Gamache family, what the two uncover is a conspiracy and cover up that once again proves to be much bigger than either either could have anticipated with many major, powerful players involved.



Where does it take place? This time the Gamaches are in Paris, France visiting their son-in-law Jean Guy and their daughter, Annie who is about to give birth again. Paris is also where their son Daniel and his family have been living for some time.

Why did I like it? After the events of A Better Man, I wasn’t sure where Louise Penny would go next with her Inspector Gamache series. Thankfully, this time around she did not disappoint. In All the Devils Are Here we get to learn more about Armand Gamache’s family, the focus this time is on the father-son relationships. The first one being that of Gamache and his godfather, the powerful financier and enigmatic Stephen Horowitz, and the second one is the relationship between Gamache and his son, Daniel. As the partnership between Gamache and his second-in-command and son-in-law, Jean Guy, so central to the Inspector Gamache series it’s easy to forget that Gamache has a son of his own besides his daughter, Annie. This book finally sheds some light on the relationship between Daniel and his father, showing that the reason he was barely mentioned or showed up in the earlier books was because the relationship between father and son has been sprained for some time. What I like about Louise Penny’s books is that she writes in a way that lets the readers see into the innermost thoughts of the various characters in the book, both the minor ones and the major ones. It is through this that the reader can understand why Daniel is anger with his father. It is interesting seeing the Gamaches through the eyes of other characters who are “outsiders” to their circle of friends and family. Compared with A Better Man, the writing has also gotten better in All the Devils Are Here, although the case here is a bit confusing to follow at first because of all the technical details. Nonetheless, All the Devils Are Here was a compelling addition to one of my favourite mystery series.

 When did it come out? September 1, 2020

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | Just Make Believe by Maggie Robinson

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Based in Maine, Maggie Robinson is a former teacher and library clerk. Her books have been translated into French, German, Portuguese, Turkish, Russian, Japanese, Thai, Dutch and Italian. In addition to mystery novels, she has also written a couple of historical romances. Just Make Believe is the the third instalment of her Lady Adelaide Mysteries series.

What is it about? Lady Adelaide is haunted by the ghost of her rascal late husband, Rupert who is unable to move on until he has done enough good deeds. Unfortunately, his appearance usually means someone is about to die and that Adelaide will be embroiled in another murder mystery. However, another murder case means that Adelaide has an excuse to call Detective Inspector Devenand Hunter of Scotland Yard, the man who she wants to be more than friends with. As more turn up dead, the three must work together to figure out who is behind the deaths.


Where does it take place? Gloucestershire, England during the mid-1920s

Why did I like it? I love mysteries set in the 1920s, and this one promised an intriguing mystery and an interesting dynamic. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Just Make Believe as much as I thought I would. The dynamic between Adelaide and Rupert’s ghost was fun as he provided some much needed comic relief. However, Adelaide or “Addie” was annoying as a protagonist and I just couldn’t see her appeal. Detective Dev Hunter was a more compelling character given that he is of South Asian descent and appears to be the only character that is not White. He also has an interesting background, and it was interesting to see him try to avoid being corrupted by those around him, unlike most of his Scotland Yard colleagues. The murder mystery plot was also interesting, although the conclusion somehow was both fascinating yet disappointing. The build up to the reveal was exciting and the reveal of how the deaths were connected. However, the conclusion of the case was disappointing as it shows how the wealthy and influential could easily get away with murder if it ever came to that. Despite it all, I have a feeling I will be still be eagerly awaiting the fourth book in this series if only for the various sequel hooks in Just Make Believe and to see how everything plays out.

 When did it come out? July 14, 2020

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | Don’t Look Down by Hilary Davidson

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Hilary Davidson is a former journalist, now crime novelist. She currently resides in NYC. Don’t Look Down is the second book in her Shadows of New York series, and her sixth crime novel.

What is it about? A man is found dead in what appears to be his apartment. A young woman, Jo Greaver was seen running away. But are things really as they appear? Or is this case more complicated than just a woman killing her blackmailer? As NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza continue to investigate they find that things aren’t adding up and that those who appeared guilty may be in fact innocent and those that survived are still in grave danger…

Where does it take place? New York City!

Why did I pick this book? Don’t Look Down is my second Hilary Davidson novel, the first one was Blood Always Tells. It’s been a while, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, almost immediately I was hooked. We are first introduced to a young woman named Jo and everything is set up to make it seem as if she’s the “killer” who is on the run. However, first impressions can be deceiving and what follows is a cat and mouse chase with various red herrings and potential suspects thrown in as Detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza try to figure out what actually happened and who is the one responsible for everything. I enjoyed the multiple POVs that were used to tell the story, although I found Cal’s chapters to be less compelling than Jo, Sterling, and Rafael’s chapters. And I also love how Jo’s character developed over the course of the novel. Overall, Don’t Look Down is a brilliantly executed police procedural with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes. It can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone despite the fact that it is the second book in Davidson’s Shadows of New York series, that being said I’m tempted to pick up the next book if there were to be one as I’d love to see more of Detective Sterling.

When did it come out? February 11, 2020

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | The Mitford Scandal (Mitford Murders #3) by Jessica Fellowes

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Jessica Fellowes is an English author and freelance journalist. Before The Mitford Murders series, she wrote several official companion books to the television series, Downton Abbey. The Mitford Scandal is the third book in The Mitford Murders series. Interestingly enough, her uncle Julian Fellowes is the creator of Downton Abbey and a well-known English novelist, film director and screenwriter, and actor. She currently resides in Oxfordshire with her family.

What is it about? Louisa Cannon is a woman who longs for more than her impoverished life thus far. While working at a glitzy society party, another maid is found murdered and amidst all the chaos fortune heir Bryan Guinness decides to propose to prettiest of the Mitford sisters, Diana who is only 18 years old. Despite being free from the Mitford family, Louisa ends up leaving her shop job to become Diana’s lady maid joining Dian in her newly wedded life. A couple years later a similar murder has Louisa thinking the two could perhaps be connected…

Where does it take place? Partly in Paris, France and partly in London, England during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Why did I pick this book? I love a good historical mystery and the plot of The Mitford Scandal had me intrigued. What I didn’t realize was that the Mitford sisters were real historical figures who were all truly fascinating people in their own right. In The Mitford Scandal, Fellowes does two things quite well. The first is she is great at setting the scene and capturing the emotional states of all her characters. The other thing I enjoyed was the writing which was both sharp and witty. I also loved how detailed the descriptions were. That being said, I found that I wasn’t all that invested in the story. I only found Guy’s chapters to be interesting and he wasn’t even the protagonist! For a book that was supposed to be a murder mystery, I was disappointed with the lack of focus on any of the investigations. The majority of the book instead revolved around Diana Mitford, who was the employer of Louisa, the protagonist. We get to see Diana’s life, both before and after her marriage while all the disappearances, deaths and murders were relegated to being side plots. The pacing of the book was also a bit weird with all the time jumps and it was difficult to remain invested in a mystery that was stretched over such a long time frame. Recommended for those who want more of a historical and less of mystery read as well as those who are curious about Diana Mitford and her sisters.

When did it come out? January 21st 2020

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | Foresight (Uncle Chow Tung #2) by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 11 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Foresight is the second book in his newest Uncle Chow Tung series which stars a younger version of Ava Lee’s mentor and former business partner.

What is it about? The betting shops run by Fanling Triad gang are losing money because of the competition from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Chow Tung’s men are starting to lose trust in him and are turning towards other means to make their money. In an effort to increase their profits, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” decides to take a risk by quickly investing in the textile industry in Shenzhen. By doing so he will not only create new partnerships but also encounter enemies both new and old along the way.

Where does it take place? 1980s Hong Kong and China in particular Shenzhen which is directly across the border from Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? Following the events of Fate, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” is now head of the Fanling triads. I was looking forward to see more of his adventures since Ian Hamilton has two more books lined up in his Uncle Chow Tung series, Foresight and Fortune which is due out in 2021. Unfortunately, it took some time for me to get invested in Foresight’s plot compared to Fate and this may be because of all the financial and business “talks” that occur in the book. The book does eventually pick up and there are a few interesting twists and reveals especially with regards to the political loyalty and government in China. Hamilton’s writing is of course also as sharp as always, and he does an excellent job at capturing the small details and showing the emotional turmoil of his characters. I’m not sure if I will pick up Fortune as its clear, especially after this book that I’m much more interested in Ava Lee’s journey compared with Uncle’s past.

When did it come out? January 21st 2020

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Michael Connelly has written around 30 books, and he is best known for his known for Bosch and Mickey Haller series. Before becoming a best-selling crime writer, he was formerly a newspaper reporter. Dark Sacred Night  is the third book in his Renée Ballard series, which features a fierce female detective.

What is it about? After the funeral of one of his former mentors, Harry Bosch is given a murder book by his friend’s widow. Sharing it with Detective Rene Ballard, the two decide to once again team up and try to solve this cold case. Will their investigation lead to some unpleasant discoveries for Bosch?

Where does it take place? Bosch and Ballard’s investigations in this book takes them and the readers from LA to West Hollywood and parts of some cases even stretches into Las Vegas.

Why did I like it? It feels like forever since I’ve picked up a book by Michael Connelly. Unlike his other books, The Night Fire was definitely a slow burn despite the always sharp writing from Connelly and the fact that both Bosch and Ballard are juggling multiple investigations in addition to the case that is the main plot of the book. However, I did appreciate that things eventually did pick up towards the end of the book and all their cases ended up being connected in some way. I also liked how Connelly wraps up the cases in this book, but leaves the ending open for another Ballard and Bosch team up. Long-time fans of Connelly’s books will be happy with cameos from Maddie, Bosch’s daughter and his half-brother, Mickey Haller, who Bosch enlists to help him with a personal issue that has the potential to lead to more serious consequences down the road. I hope we get to see more of Maddie as her choice of future career seems like it can have some interesting developments for both Bosch and the Connelly universe. So, even though this book was a bit on the slow side for the majority of the novel, I’m actually looking forward to the next Bosch and Ballard book and to them coming together again as partners.

When did it come out? October 22, 2019

 

 

 

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 2019

The Mountain Master of Sha Tin by Ian Hamiton

The latest book in Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series has the titular protagonist facing off against the man who has tried to kill her. After a bit of a letdown with The Goddess of Yantai, The Mountain Master of Sha Tin has won me back to the series.

“First Fai and now May are telling me to be careful, Ava thought. Was it a coincidence, or was fate warning her?”

Read the review

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Alisha Rai has quickly become one of the authours whose books I immediately jump on when they become available. The Right Swipe is Rhiannon’s (the badass sister of Gabriel from the Forbidden Hearts series) story, and it did not disappoint!

“I was thinking…ninety-nine percent of the time, immediate block for ghosting, right? This might be the .01 percent time when a ghost wasn’t being a total cowardly dog.”

Read the review

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

A lot of people have been fans of Jasmine Guillory, however The Wedding Party was the first book of hers that I really got into. I love Maddie and Theo’s back and forth banter and the romance that develops is very sweet as well. Also considering both are besties with Alexa (the protagonist of The Wedding Date), hilarity ensues as they try to hide what they’re doing from her.

“What the fuck was wrong with her? Was there some sort of force field around Theo’s apartment that led straight to his bed? Was there an invisible sign when you turned onto his street that said in big letters BAD DECISION CENTRAL? How had she ended up in his bed again?”

Read the review

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

If you’re a foodie than this book is a must read! Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune has been has been compared to Chocolat. And TV rights have already been sold for this debut! Despite the various lists its been on Natalie Tan’s Book Of Luck And Fortune isn’t really a romance, but rather it’s a heartwarming story about family (both blood and chosen) and of a community coming together.

“Nothing made me happier than the act of cooking. My happiest memories were of spending time in the kitchen with Ma-ma as we prepared our meals. The best cooks doubled as magicians, uplifting moods and conjuring memories through the medium of food.”

Read the review | Read my Q & A with Roselle Lim

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Fans of John Green’s books may enjoy David Yoon’s debut novel as his writing in Frankly in Love reminds me a lot of Green’s writing style. But more than that I love how Yoon portrays both the love and dysfunction that bond immigrant families together as well as just how tricky it can be growing up as a teenager with immigrant parents in America.

“You have a Chinese boy problem. I have this white girl problem. Our parents have these big, huge blind spots-racist blind spots-in their brains. What if we used those blind spots to our advantage?”

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Happy Go Money by Melissa leong

I love Melissa Leong’s financial segments on The Social and was really looking forward to her book. Combining happiness and psychological research with financial advice, this book’s an easy to digest read about personal finance.

“You work hard for your money. It should make you happy. You deserve that.”

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There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandya Menon


I loved When Dimple Met Rishi, and it wasn’t until There’s Something About Sweetie that I found a new favourite Sandhya Menon book. Once you get to know her, it’s easy to see why Ashish and pretty much everyone else falls in love with Sweetie!

“No. It’s not. When I walk down the road, people immediately make judgments about me based on my body size. That doesn’t happen to you guys, no matter how self-conscious you might be about your bodies. You’re still thin, and you get to exist in spaces without constantly being found wanting.”

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Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

Song of the Crimson Flower is my second Julie C. Dao book, the first being Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. Of her three books, Song of the Crimson Flower is without a doubt my favourite! Love the gorgeous and lyrical setting and writing and the stubborn but feisty heroine.

“Tam never saw you the way I did. He never valued your kindness, your generosity. Your love and respect for your family. I see you. I see you, Lan.”

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A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

I’ve been getting back into mysteries again and my go to has been cozies and historical mysteries. What I love about most mystery series is that you don’t have to start at the beginning of the series to enjoy the book. A Dangerous Engagement is your typical husband and wife as amateur sleuths duo set during the 1920s a time of gangsters and the Prohibition.

“Focus on the wedding details before you look for a mystery, Amory, I told myself. There would be plenty of time for that later.”

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Our Wayward fate by Gloria Chao

Maybe it’s because I’m not Chinese, but I’m not really familiar with the story of The Butterfly Lovers. Taking me by surprise, I related to Ali Chu’s story of being one of the few Asian people in my school and neighbourhood. And while it took some time for me to get really into the story, I did like the relationship between Ali and Chase and all the secrets it brought out not only about their families but about the Taiwanese-American community.

“Don’t you care that this is what everyone expects?” I blurted. “That this is fulfilling every stereotype? You said yourself you hated how they all asked if you knew me.”

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

Mystery Monday | A Better Man by Louise Penny

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (and on occasion thriller) genre that we are currently reading and our thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what we should read and review next.

Who is it by? Louise Penny is a former journalist and radio host with the CBC. The authour of the best selling Chief Inspector Gamache series, A Better Man is her 15th book in the Inspector Gamache series. She currently lives in a small village south of Montreal with her dog, Bishop.

What is it about? Gamache is back as head of the homicide department, a job he shares with his former second-in-command, Jean-Guy Beauvoir. In what may be the pair’s final case, a father approaches Gamache for help in finding his daughter who has gone missing. As more details about the woman’s condition and marriage come tonight,  the case becomes a more personal one to both men. Meanwhile a flood is hitting the pronvince and not even Three Pines is being spared, and Gamache once again finds himself being attacked this time on social media for his past mistakes.

Where does it take place? Once again the story is set both within the village of Three Pines as well as the

Why did I like it? I’ve loved most of the Inspector Gamache books that I’ve read with very few exceptions. However, A Better Man took a bit longer to sink back into. The case was a compelling one, although I think part of the reason it took me so long to get invested was because for the majority of the book the team was so laser focused on one suspect that they weren’t truly opened to any other possibilities. This made the reveal a bit of a surprise at the end, because in any other instance, you would have considered looking into that person as a suspect along with everyone else. That being said, Penny does excel at building suspense and the central mystery was laid out in a manner that entice me to keep on reading. Far from being my favourite book in the series, I did appreciate how the book never sugar-coated the mistakes the characters make and the consequences of their actions and obstacles they must face even as they strive to move forward and be a better person.

 When did it come out? August 27, 2019

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | The Mountain Master of Sha Tin (Ava Lee #12) by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 12 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).

What is it about? With Xu down for the count and his most trusted enforcer, Lop out of commission Ava finds herself being once again brought into another triad war. This time she will be up against Sammy Wing, an old enemy of hers who has tried to kill her twice as well as his own more vicious nephew, Carter as they will do whatever it takes to reclaim Sha Tin for themselves.

Where does it take place? With all the current trouble with the triads Ava finds herself back to her second home base, Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? With The Mountain Master of Sha Tin, I enjoyed the return to Ava’s old line of work and world and it was nice seeing characters like Sonny in action, doing what they do best. It was also refreshing to have Ava be the central lead for many of the missions in the book as the heavy hitters, Xu and Lop were both out of commission for the majority of the story. Ava has already proven herself in the past books to be a highly skilled and fearsome negotiator, but in The Mountain Master of Sha Tin we get to see her get her hands dirty and get directly involved in the Triad war. And in spite of her personal ties she shows that she is just the woman for the job. I loved how fast paced and action packed this book was, and I felt that those scenes were balanced nicely with small heartwarming moments between Ava and those close to her. There were also many new subplots that cropped up in The Mountain Master of Sha Tin that I’m excited to see come about in the future books. In the end, after not being blown away by The Goddess of Yantai, I’m glad that Ian Hamilton was able to win me back to the Ava Lee series with this compelling page-turner of a book.

When did it come out? July 2, 2019

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ashley Weaver is the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries, having had her starting working as a page at the age of 14. Her Amory Ames series features a wealthy young woman who with a bit of help from her husband, Milo is also an amateur detective. A Dangerous Engagement is the sixth Amory Ames Mystery novel. She now lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.

What is it about? Amory Ames is looking forward to being a bridesmaid at her childhood friend Tabitha’s wedding. However upon her arrival things are not as she thought they’d be, what with all the secrets everyone seems to be having as well as all the unspoken tension. Things take a darker turn when one of the groomsmen is found murdered on the front steps of the Tabitha’s home. Word is the murder victim may have had ties to the glamorous, dangerous world of both bootleggers and the mob but who really killed him? Not one to shy away from a murder, Amory finds herself drawn into finding the truth and getting justice once again.

Where does it take place? New York City in the 1930s.

Why did I like it? I wasn’t sure what to expect with this series as A Dangerous Engagement is my first Amory Ames book. However, I was intrigued by the premise as well as the time period. Fortunately Ashley Weaver, did not let me down! Both the writing and the characters were charming from the start, and I enjoyed the build up to the mystery. The pacing of the book was also perfect for a noir mystery. On the other hand, the relationship between Amory and Milo made me pause at times. However it’s clear that they’re very much in love with one another and that their past struggle has made them stronger as a couple. That being said, I’m not sure how they’ll fare as parents down the road, but it would be interesting to see. Other than that, I adore all the other references to 1930s New York in the book, including the Prohibition, jazz singers and gangsters what with the notorious Leon De Lora being one of my favourite characters in the book. I appreciated how he was far from being a one-dimensional character. So, if you like cozy, historical mysteries featuring a female sleuth, then give this one a shot!

When did it come out? September 3, 2019

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | Fate by Ian Hamilton

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Ian Hamilton, a Canadian authour of the now 11 novels in the Ava Lee series. His Ava Lee series has recently been green lit to be adapted into a TV series by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Fate is the first book in his new Uncle Chow Tung series which will star a younger version of Ava Lee’s mentor and former business partner.

What is it about? When the The Dragon Head (also known as the Mountain Master) of the Fanling Triad dies under suspicious circumstances, his seat of power is left open. Many assume that his deputy, Ma would be appointed but the triad’s White Paper Fan, Chow Tung aka “Uncle” doesn’t believe Ma is up for the job and seeks to have an election putting Ren Tengfei, the Vanguard/operations officer forward as an alternative to Ma. However, when Ma is found shot to death along with a Blue Lantern named Peng things start looking even more suspect. Could the Fanling Triad have an enemy from within?

Where does it take place? Fate starts with Chow Tung aka “Uncle” escaping from Mainland China and follows him ten years later as the “White Paper Fan” in 1970s Hong Kong.

Why did I like it? Fate is the first book in the Ava Lee spinoff series that I never knew I needed until I got it. I’m a fan of Ian Hamilton’s Ava Lee series and I’ve always liked the character of “Uncle” so it was only natural that I’d want to know more about him and his past. Although, Fate took a bit of time for me to get hooked, it did succeed in hooking me in the end. Once the action and pacing picked up, I became invested in the story and the characters. In particular, I liked the complicated “partnership” Chow had with Zhang, a superintendent with the Hong Kong Police Force. This was a compelling relationship as both knew each other when they were first starting out, and even though both men were mentored by Tian, who was a part of the Triad they ended up taking different paths in life. I’m curious to see how their relationship evolves as things get more complicated with each book in this series. I also enjoyed meeting “Uncle” again and seeing how he rose in the ranks. Of course, I still prefer the Ava Lee series over this one. And yet I’m looking forward to continuing the Uncle Chow Tung series in hopes that I’ll get to see more family faces from the Ava Lee series including a younger, Sonny.

When did it come out? January 22, 2019

 

 

 

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

Mystery Monday | The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff

Mystery Mondays is an occasional review feature here on Words of Mystery that showcases books in the mystery (occasionally  thriller) genre that I am currently reading and my thoughts on them. Feel free to comment and leave suggestions as to what I should read and review next.

Who is it by? Sophie Hénaff is a French author and  journalist, known for humorous column, “La Cosmopolite” in the Cosmopolitan. The Awkward Squad is her first novel to be translated into English and it is the first book in her Awkward Squad / Anne Capstan series.

What is it about? Anne Capstan, a police officer with a promising future finds herself suddenly in charge of a new squad of misfits after recent events had her coming off as a bit too “trigger happy”. Whole officially the new team was created to work on cold cases, in reality her new squad consists of various misfits whom H.Q. is unable to fire but doesn’t want to deal with. But as this mismatched crew starts woking on random cold cases they come to a discovery that the cases they’re individually investigating may be in fact related and connected to something even bigger than they could have ever anticipated,


Where does it take place? Set in Paris, France this isn’t your romantic “City of Lights”. Instead Sophie Hénaff’s book allows readers to see the more realistic side of the City that just like any other major city has its own issues and problems, including corruption and crime.

Why did I like it? The Awkward Squad features a mishmash of misfit characters. I loved how they were all able to come together in the end as a team to cleverly take down the murderer who was someone with a lot of influence and power. I especially liked the dynamic between unapologetic, and crass Rosière and rule-biding Lebreton as well as the unique partnership between Anne Capestan and Torrez, who has a reputation for bringing bad luck to those working closely with him. I loved how Capestan ignored the superstition and trusted Torrez to be her partner in the investigation, as this ended up saving her. With a wacky cast of characters The Awkward Squad had a great deal of potential. However, I felt that the book had too many storylines and characters and with all the jumping around it made it difficult to keep track of who’s who and what’s really going on. So while the ending of The Awkward Squad leaves plenty of room open for future stories, I’m not sure I will continue with this series.

When did it come out? April 3, 2018

 

 

 

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