China

A
Red Blossom in Snow

Jeannie Lin’s Lotus Palace Mysteries are back, and they continue to be satisfying, well-crafted reads. They’re best read in order, so I suggest not starting with this one; however, this review doesn’t have spoilers except for identifying previous couples. Song Yi is the lead courtesan at th ...

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The Stand-In

Début novels can be a bit of a gamble, but I’m glad to report that Lily Chu’s The Stand-In is a risk worth taking. Gracie Reed is the biracial daughter of a white Canadian man and a Chinese mother now struggling with dementia. First, her boss sexually harasses and then fires her. Next, a pap ...

A+
Our Violent Ends

I have been blown away.  Chloe Gong set a high bar with These Violent Delights, a 1920s fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet which transports the story’s action to Shanghai.  Our Violent Ends is the first book’s equal.  Gong’s talent remains unstinting.  You need to read this book. It’ ...

A
The Devil Comes Courting

The Devil Comes Courting is the third full-length novel book in the Worth Saga, and it follows a new heroine as well as the continuing adventures of the Worth siblings and the Hunter family. Captain Grayson Hunter is looking for a genius, specifically, someone to code Chinese characters for his t ...

A
These Violent Delights

Stunning prose, a pulse-pounding romance, and unexpected twists upon Shakespeare’s familiar tale of youthful but doomed love make These Violent Delights a high-quality read for anyone who likes a good gangster tale with a heavy skosh of romance thrown in. It’s Shanghai in 1926, and a war betw ...

A-
The Hidden Moon

Jeannie Lin’s Lotus Palace Mysteries hit a trifecta of unusual setting, richly drawn characters, and engaging plots. The Hidden Moon, book four in this series, continues this record, and I’m happy to be able to recommend it. Who would dare assassinate a chancellor on the very steps of the Ch ...

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The Library of Legends

A powerful story of love, sacrifice and survival set in China during the early years of World War II, Library of Legends is a gentle, magical surrealist fable about a land where enchantment may be waning but one can still catch a glimpse if one looks for it. Hu Lian is a second year scholarship s ...

B+
Tales From the Gunpowder Academy - Love in the Time of Engines

Although Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles features three separate steampunk novellas, I only read and reviewed the third novella, Love in the Time of Engines.  The other two novellas are standalone stories; LitToE is a prequel to Gunpowder Alchemy, published in 2014. LitToE is tough to grade. ...

A
The Magnolia Sword: A Ballad of Mulan

During the unstable Period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties in China (484 AD by the Western calendar), Hua Mulan’s much-awaited duel with her family’s rival is called off because both Mulan and her opponent, Yuan Kai, have been called up to a different fight. The emperor anticipates an inv ...

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Girls of Paper and Fire

Girls of Paper and Fire is one of the most anticipated YA fantasy releases of the year. Featuring a diverse cast of characters and an LGBTQ+ heroine, it is a story of magic, mayhem, rebellion and young love. Two hundred years ago, in the kingdom of Ikhara, the demon Bull King of Han took control ...