lunedì 22 marzo 2021

BookTour: Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z. Lee [Review + Giveaway!]

Love and Other Moods

Published: 10th December 2020
Publisher: Balestier Press
Number of pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: Received from author


Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships—familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships—in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.

My Review

I always like to start a book without knowing too much about the story so when I applied for my copy of Love and Other Moods, I thought it would be an average romance, just set in modern Shanghai. Having studied Chinese and visited China for a month in 2017, I can not tell you how excited I was to read a book by a Taiwanese-American writer, that would certainly bring me back to that beloved country.

For me, Love and Other Moods was a great experience and I can frankly admit that it exceeded all my expectations. As soon as I started it, I was confused by the amount of impressions the author gives us: the narrative, just like China, is chaotic, full of colours, odours, sounds and characters shoveling to get your attention. I noticed soon, that the structure the author gave the book was going to be different from what I’m used to read and that even if Naomi was the protagonist,the story was actually going to be told by a variety of different characters: “A sweeping, multilayered novel exploring a kaleidoscope of relationships” – just like the back of the book recites. At first, I thought that this narrative pattern wasn’t really my cup of tea, as I felt too distant from Naomi to get attached, but later I realised that the beauty of this book lies in its ability to slowly capture the reader’s affection through brief and rapid episodes. The story is fast-paced and there are a lot of temporal gaps as the author does not concentrate on every single episode of her characters’ lives, but more on significant parts and bigger emotional turmoils. The attention posed on analysing different relationships and different conditions gives the reader a portait of unique characters. I really liked the romance that slowly grows between Naomi and Dante, our main couple, but I also really liked to explore Naomi’s work environment, Dante’s relationship with his traditional family and most importantly Joss and Tay’s approach to parenthood. Basically, every single character introduced in Love and Other Moods plays a role and I really enjoyed how the author actually completed all of their stories.

Another protagonist of the book, maybe even more important than Naomi herself, is Shanghai and the author certainly knew how to put it under the spotlight. The city represents the turning point in all our characters’s lives and I loved to discover the city alongside with them. The ability the author had in picturing Shanghai with its contsant contradictions between modernity and tradition was the sweetest thing about this book. For someone like me, who misses China daily, it was a pleasure to visit Shanghai through Crystal Z.Lee words and I loved how she captured China’s characteristics and eclecticity. I particulary enjoyed the focus the author put into presenting Chinese traditional cuisine as it reminded me a lot about author Qiu XiaoLong and his tribute to his country through his constant mention of chinese specialties. It’s interesting how food culture always seems to find an important place in Chinese literature, maybe representing the attempt at saving tradition in a country that’s constantly changing.

Last thing I really enjoyed about this book is how the author gently touches also the third-generations theme. All the characters in the book in fact, are children of Chinese people who have migrated towards different states and that decided later to move to their home country again. They’re half Chinese, yet they don’t feel like they belong in China at first. They look like Chinese, but they barely speak the language. To see them slowly getting aquainted with their origins and finally find a place to call home was heart warming and particulary interesting as it gives the reader the possibility to see things from another point of view.

A great variety of stories that will certainly warm your heart, Love and Other Moods is a 4 stars read for me! I would really like to thank the author for sending me her book and giving me the chance to review this wonderful work! I'll be sure to check out her future works, as I hope you will too!


About the author

Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. 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 debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.

Instagram | Goodreads

The Giveaway!

There's a tour-wide giveaway offering a Love and Other Moods 
gift basket filled with book gadgets! Total worth of the basket is 70$.
This contest is open to US residents only.

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