Welcome to my stop on the blog blitz for Love and Other Moods by Crystal Z. Lee!
Love and Other Moods is a standalone coming-of-age “own voices” story set in contemporary Shanghai, about falling in love, learning to adult and discovering one’s place in the world.
A copy of this excellent novel was sent to me and now has a permanent place on my bookshelf!
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.
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.
Love and Other Moods takes on a journey to the East. It was a refreshing take on the contemporary romance/own voices type novel as there are not a lot of books set there, although there really should be as the setting is dazzling and captivating. Let’s start with the cover as it is gorgeous. From interviews with the author, the four characters on the cover translate to mean “romantic journey in the neon city.” Each character, “romance,” “journey,” “neon,” and “city,” represent each part of the book.
Naomi Kita-Fan is a Japanese-Taiwanese-American in her early twenties, who moves from New York to Shanghai with her fiancé, Seth. Her life gets turned upside down when the engagement does not work out and leaves her alone in a foreign country. She decides to stay in Shanghai and now must find a job, learn the language, and find her way around her new life in this unfamiliar city. Not only does she face the challenges of this unknown future, she also has to balance her past issues that she is working on. It is a struggle that is very relatable to anyone, even if they are not going through Naomi’s exact situation.
Naomi’s best friend is Joss Kong, a college friend turned Shanghai socialite. Her life is semi-perfect on the outside, but she has her own personal struggles. Other notable characters are Roxy Gao, Logan Hayden, and Dante Ouyang. Roxy works with Naomi as an intern and the two of them become closer. Logan is a womanizing restauranteur who may want more. Finally, Dante is an architect and culinary enthusiast. He is an excellent character as he is bright, funny, and brings a nice balance to the story. The story is told from multiple third-person point-of-views (think Crazy Rich Asians, He’s Just Not that Into You, Valentine’s Day, etc.) where there is the main story with multiple side-stories that are almost main stories and they all intertwine together. It gives a great insight into the lives of Shanghai with both the good and the negative. There are a lot of tough topics covered, such as, expats, immigrants, cultural tensions, patriarchies, among many others.
The characters were well-written and realistic. None of them were perfect and made a lot of mistakes along the way. They tried their best to be good people, but sometimes they failed to reach that goal. It was a great take on a set of characters as they worked through their issues while still trying to be there to help those they cared about. The rest of the writing was very descriptive and the setting was written to feel as if you are transported there. I have only been to Shanghai once in my life and it felt as if I was right back there among the wonders of the city. The food was incredibly described and sounded very delicious.
I love that the good and the bad sides of Shanghai were explored as it gives a refreshing truth to those living abroad and those that already living there. It tackles a lot of issues while interweaving them with an entertaining story. The novel itself is a great tale of growth, self-discovery, and love. As the novel features multiple stories, there are moments that I would have loved a little more focus on Naomi as the main. On the other hand, I loved the other stories, so I do not consider it an actual negative. Crystal Z. Lee has written an excellent debut novel and I cannot wait to read more of this author’s works. I definitely would recommend this novel to anyone, who wants a nice coming of age/own voices story set in the glorious city of Shanghai!
**I give a special thank you to Lola with Lola’s Blog Tours for the opportunity to participate with this excellent novel from the author, Crystal Z. Lee. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**
There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Love and Other Moods. One winner will win a “Love and Other Moods” gift basket filled with items related to Love and Other Moods. Total value at $70. US Only.
Click on the Link for Your Chance to Win: ** A Rafflecopter giveaway **
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