Vermilion by Molly Tanzer is an amazing book. It was the one I have spent years looking for. I read a crazy amount of mystery novels, but as I mentioned in my review of the Red Princess Mysteries by Lisa See, when it comes to historical mysteries, the protagonist is always the same – a white widow of means. I even read two mystery series set in San Francisco this year, and in both of them, Chinese characters are relegated to the sidelines, if they are present at all. Vermilion finally breaks out of this mold. Tanzer has created a facinating …
I have been looking for a novelization about Empress Wu Zetian for a while. I gave Empress by Shan Sa a try, but it was god-awful. So I was very excited to come across The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel. About The Moon in the Palace There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him …
Richelle Mead, the hugely successful author behind the Vampire Academy series, stepped into new territory this year with Soundless, a fantasy novel set an a China-inspired world. About Soundless For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.   When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she …
I read a lot of historical mystery books, but I got really tired of the same protagonist – a white widow of means. So when looking for a mystery with a non-white heroine, I came across Lisa See’s Red Princess Mysteries. While it isn’t exactly a historical series, the Red Princess Mysteries is a solid  trilogy with a much more interesting setting than most mysteries on the market today. Don’t forget to read my interview with Lisa See about this series here. About The Red Princess Mysteries: The bestselling Red Princess thrillers aren’t just riveting crime stories; they’re novels of …
I am a big fan of Xinran’s books. It is still difficult to find female Chinese writers writing about women’s issues in China in English. While more Chinese women are taking up the pen regarding these issues, Xinran was one of the first. She was in China collecting women’s stories when many people in China thought those stories weren’t important. Her books The Good Women of China and Letters From an Unknown Chinese Mother were groundbreaking in their time. This time, Xinran has widened her scope and looks at the first generation of young men and women raised under the …
Check out my interview with Kay Bratt here. Be sure to read all the way to the end for a chance to win a copy of The Palest Ink.  About The Palest Ink A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history. At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, …
The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel is a novelization of the life of Japanese spy Yoshiko Kawashima, who was also known as Eastern Jewel. While the book was interesting, it focused far too much on Yoshiko’s sexuality. The book’s description says: Peking, 1914. When the eight-year-old princess Eastern Jewel is caught spying on her father’s liaison with a servant girl, she is banished from the palace, sent to live with a powerful family in Japan. Renamed Yoshiko Kawashima, she quickly falls in love with her adoptive country, where she earns a scandalous reputation, taking fencing lessons, smoking opium, and entertaining numerous …
I recently finished reading The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo. It is a really fascinating book that I highly enjoyed and would recommend. The book’s description does not do the book justice. According to Amazon: Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a …
Talk about disappointing. Two years ago, when Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for literature for Frog, Westerners and Chinese were shocked and elated. The Chinese were ecstatic that a Chinese writer won the honor at all (he’s the only Chinese writer who lives in China to have ever won the prize) and Westerners were amazed that the book was “about the one-child policy and forced abortions.” Unfortunately for people who can’t read Chinese, that description was a bit of a misnomer. After waiting two years for the official English translation of Frog, I can tell you that there is …
Dear Ms. Thompson, Every day, women are told that they can only ever be truly happy if they give birth to a child. It is everywhere – from our own mothers, to politicians, to religious leaders, to books, movies, and TV shows. No matter what else a woman has in her life, no matter how many kids she may have through adoption or marriage, no matter whether she might not even want kids, the idea that women can only know true happiness by forcing another human being out through her vagina is force-fed to us every day. I started reading …
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