I’ve been on a reading frenzy, and since I always write about what I am doing, you are going to all be getting a few more book reviews in your future. So if you are looking for the perfect summer read, or just need something to distract you from life’s stresses, then this review is for you.
I know that everyone has been dealing with the stress of the past two years in different ways. Mine has recently shifted to literature and fewer dramas. For whatever reason, I am just not feeling the urge to watch 25 dramas at once like I used to (Maknae’s Note: She’s not exaggerating). But that means I have less to share on the blog, which is why I will be sharing my favorite books in an upcoming review series. These reviews will be a mix of Asian writers, Asian-themed novels, and just a hodgepodge of everything else that caught my eye.
Book I most want Netflix to adapt into a series
The Stand-In by Lily Chu
After getting fired and in need of money for her ailing mother’s hospice care, Gracie is offered the chance of a lifetime: take the place of her doppelganger, Chinese actress Wei Fangli, and give the actress some much-needed rest. Accompanied by Wei Fangli’s equally famous co-star and all around heartthrob Sam Yao, Gracie must learn to step up to the spotlight. As well as keep her heart sheltered since this is all fake…right?
The Stand-In started a little slow, but by chapter three, I was hooked. Gracie was a leading lady that is relatable and had everyday problems. But then add the crazy doppelganger swap story and a slow burn romance, and you have that little plot pep that every book should have. I recommend this novel to anyone who wants a fun romantic read with great Asian representation.
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The book that made me feel nostalgic
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette
Returning to her hometown after losing her job on the mainland, Callie takes a job at the local bookstore as she decides what to do next. A friend’s suspicious suicide, twenty-four years after her mothers, sets Callie on a journey to investigate the truth.
This novel was everything I could ever want in a cozy mystery. I loved how detailed the descriptions of the tourist town were. Even though I have never been to the Outer Banks, I was able to see the town and all its summer beauty in my mind as I read the novel. Reading Smile Beach Murder gave me the same feels I had as a kid reading Nancy Drew mysteries. The book was just so wonderfully classic in style, but with a strong story that kept me glued to the pages. I highly recommend Smile Beach Murder to anyone who wants a really solid mystery set in a location that will make you crave idyllic summer vibes.
I could not have been happier with Smile Beach Murder and look forward to reading future books by Alicia Bessette.
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A book that kept me at the edge of my seat
Wild Prey by Brian Klingborg (Inspector Lu Fei Mysteries)
This was an interesting read, in that it is by a Western writer who is a specialist in East Asian studies. Living for several years in Asia, he brings a different look into Chinese culture when writing the Inspector Lu Fei series. It took me a few chapters to switch my mind from the Chinese novels I usually read translated to the new viewpoint, but once I did, I was very satisfied.
Police Inspector Lu Fei has a way of finding trouble as he bucks the establishment to find the killer of a young woman. He travels in China, then abroad in Myanmar, searching for answers and justice.
I began this book not sure what to expect. I hadn’t read the first Inspector Lu Fei mystery, but that didn’t matter. There are slight references to the first novel, which only made me more excited to go back and check it out rather than detract from the story. Lu Fei himself was a great character. I found his way of doggedly following the clues very engaging. By the time Lu Fei journeyed to Mynamar, I was hooked and wanted to find out who the killer was. Without giving anything away, I was surprised with how everything developed and enjoyed the mystery from start to end. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys mystery and wants to expand their cultural horizons. Especially if they are not ready to delve into the deep end with Chinese novel translations.
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My Summer Romance Pick
Even Better Than The Real Thing by Melanie Summers
Finley needs access to the extensive art collection at her boss’ manor house. Lord Hayden Stuart needs a wife to inherit after his father dies. Neither expects this marriage to ever be more than a contract. But love has a way of sneaking into the equation.
Even Better Than the Real Thing was such a fun novel. It was full of witty banter, likable characters, and romance. It also was a great contract marriage novel. There is so much laughter and energy built into the plot that I couldn’t put the book down. This is the perfect book for those of you who want something fun, fluffy, and swoony. I will certainly be checking out more of Melanie Summer’s novels in the future.
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What’s on your summer reading list, drama fans? I’m always open to more recommendations. Drop down in the comments and let me know!
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi