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Archive for 'Asian'

The Lotus Palace

The Lotus Palace (2013) Jeannie Lin Tang Dynasty China, 847 AD Yue-ying is a maidservant to Mingyu, one of the highest ranked courtesans in Pingkang li, the pleasure quarter. Mingyu had started training in music, dance and calligraphy immediately after Madame Sun had taken her in. She had been twelve years old at the time, […]

Heir to a Curse

Heir to a Curse (2020) Lissa Kasey (Romancing a Curse) This story is set during the pandemic. Zach Frank is struggling with inheriting a cursed house. Not just–or even mostly–because of the curse, but because of the loss of the woman who left the house to him. The woman who was to all intents and […]

Eight Skilled Gentlemen

Eight Skilled Gentlemen (1990) Barry Hughart (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox) Year of the Horse 3338 (a.d. 640) This is my least favorite of the three stories. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, just that I don’t like it as much as the first story. A vampire ghoul has killed an important […]

The Story of the Stone

The Story of the Stone (1988) Barry Hughart (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox) Year of the Serpent 3,339 (A.D. 650). I’ve been re-reading The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox before bed for a really long time now. I’d read a page or two, then switch to something else, […]

Gunpowder Alchemy

Gunpowder Alchemy (2014) Jeannie Lin Set in China in 1850 It has taken me a really long time to read this; it’s been my lunch-time reading book, but I don’t always read at lunch, and after lunch I walk and listen to either an audiobook or podcasts. So–maybe I’ve been reading this for a year? […]

Bad for the Boss

Bad for the Boss (2017) Talia Hibbert Jennifer Johnson was orphaned at 11, when both her parents were murdered. She the lived with her grandmother who spent years trying to put Jen back together. Now it’s Jen’s turn and she needs the job at Brown Cow advertising agency to give her grandmother the care she […]

Snake Agent

Snake Agent (2005) Liz Williams Detective Inspector Chen is in charge of crimes that stretch into Heaven and Hell (obviously, far more cases involve Hell over heaven) and as an occult practitioner whose patronage of the goddess Kuan Yin affords him a measure of protection when he has to travel to Hell. Unfortunately, his recent […]

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was (1984) Barry Hughart Set in the Middle Kingdom of China, Year of the Tiger 3337 (AD 639) All the children in the village between the ages of eight and thirteen have fall victim to an unknown illness, and all the silkworms have died, […]

Bangkok Tattoo

Bangkok Tattoo (2005) John Burdett narrated by Paul Boehmer I had all but forgotten this story. (To be honest, I kept thinking bits from other books belonged here. I was wrong.) I remembered this book as being better than I found it this time around. Not to say it was bad, but it was far […]

Bangkok 8, Audio Version

Bangkok 8, Audio Version (2003) John Burdett narrated by Paul Boehmer I’ve been meaning to go back though this series for awhile, so when I had to take a break from the Spenser books for awhile, I decided that the Bangkok 8 series was what I wanted to listen to. Interestingly, it’s been long enough […]


Shinju (1984) Laura Joh Rowland Yoriki Sano Ichiro has been assigned to clear the case of a double-suicide. He has been given strict orders by his supervisor as what he is precisely to do. However, he is rather unsuited to following orders and instead looks into the death, which some suspect might have been murder. […]

River of Stars

River of Stars (2013) Guy Gavriel Kay I had forgotten just how melancholy the end of this book was. That doesn’t make the book any less good, but it did leave me craving something happy when I finished it. As with all Guy Gavriel Kay books, there are a variety of characters you follow over […]

Under Heaven

Under Heaven (2010) Guy Gavriel Kay With bronze as a mirror one can correct one’s appearance; with history as a mirror, one can understand the rise and fall of a state; with good men as a mirror, one can distinguish right from wrong. —LI SHIMIN, TANG EMPEROR TAIZONG Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing is always epic, […]

The Crane Pavilion

The Crane Pavilion (2014) I.J. Parker I skipped the book before this after reading the blurb for this book. After the loss of his wife and newborn son, Akitada returns home, ostensibly to care for his motherless children, but really to withdraw from the world into his grief. When his friends and family join in […]

The Emperor’s Woman

The Emperor’s Woman (2012) I.J. Parker Set in 1028. She was intended to be the emperor’s concubine, but she died at the bottom of a cliff near Prince Atsuhira’s private villa. The palace covered up the scandal. Months later, Akitada is drawn into the case when his best friend is accused of plotting against the […]

Death on an Autumn River

Death on an Autumn River (2011) I. J. Parker Set in 1024. On a river journey to Naniwa to unmask officials selling information to pirates, Akitada witnesses the recovery of a body. The image of the drowned child prostitute follows him as his own problems and disasters multiply. My favorite character in this story was […]

The Fires of the Gods

The Fires of the Gods (2011) I.J. Parker The capital is plagued by unexplained fires, and panic threatens to break out, but Akitada has his own problems to worry about. His ailing wife expects a child and he loses his job to a political appointee. When he tries to confront the nobleman who is responsible […]

The Masuda Affair

The Masuda Affair (2011) I.J. Parker Akitada is struggling to deal with the death of his son in a smallpox epidemic, when he comes upon a small abused boy alone in the rain. Rescuing the boy has far greater consequences than he could have imagined, when this draws Akitada into the death of a high-ranking […]

The Hell Screen

The Hell Screen (2003) I.J. Parker I was trying to figure out what I was in the mood to read, when I stumbled across The Hell Screen and remembered that I have the Lord Sugawara Akitada mysteries. Akitada is returning to the capital after receiving notice that his mother is dying. On his way he […]

Island of Exiles

Island of Exiles (2007) I.J. Parker The prince in exile has been murdered, and the son of the governor of the island of exile has been accused. Two men from the Imperial City have come to seek Akitada’s assistance in solving the murder. I didn’t care as much for this; parts of the story dragged […]

Black Arrow

Black Arrow (2006) I.J. Parker Set in Echigo Province, JAPAN GODS-ABSENT MONTH (NOVEMBER), A.D. 1015 Akitada has been sent to Echigo as provisional governor, and discovers that there are many problems at his new post, from the decrepit compound to a possible revolution to outcasts possibly harboring fugitives. Plus the fact that the winters are […]

Three Tales of Love and Murder

Three Tales of Love and Murder (2012) I.J. Parker Set in Heian-Kyo (Kyoto) in 11th century Japan. These are three Akitada short stories/novellas, all about love and murder (of course, from the title). Death and Cherry Blossoms Heian-Kyo (Kyoto), during the Flowery Month (May) This finds Akitada at the start of his career, a poor […]

The Tokaido Road

The Tokaido Road (1991) Lucia St. Clair Robson Set in Japan in Genroku 15, the Year of the Horse (1702) This story is based upon the real-life events of the revenge of the forty-seven ronin, expanded to follow the daughter of Lord Kiro’s outside wife, who has become a courtesan after her father’s forced suicide. […]

Bangkok 8

Bangkok 8 (2003/2011) John Burdett narrated by Paul Boehmer This series has always fascinated me. Sonchai Jitpleecheep is a Buddhist ahrat and a Thai detective–a rare uncorrupt detective–and the son of a Thai prostitute and an unknown American GI. All of these things make him a man who is incredibly foreign to the western mind, […]

The Shadow Pavilion

The Shadow Pavilion (2009) Liz Williams There are certain people who are not happy about the changes The Emperor of Heaven is making. But you’d think plotting assassination would be beyond Celestial Beings. You’d be wrong. The assassin is a strange creature; a centuries old child of a demon and a human who lives Between, […]

Precious Dragon

Precious Dragon (2007) Liz Williams The third Detective Inspector Chen book finds Chen back at work, and, after having stopped a rampaging goddess in the previous book, Chen and Zhu Irzh must now suffer the attentions of the public, and, more specifically, the accolades of part of the government of Singapore Three. This, of course, […]

The Demon and the City

The Demon and the City (2006) Liz Williams I really do love this series. Chen and Inari are on vacation, so Zhu Irzh is–in theory–handling the supernatural cases in Singapore Three. In reality, the captain is giving him very small-time crimes, fearing (perhaps justifiably) that Zhu Irzh could cause more problems than he solved. So […]

Snake Agent

Snake Agent (2005) Liz Williams The Detective Inspector Chen series popped up as an Amazon ebook deal of the day, and I love this series so much I snatched them up as ebooks. (In my defense, my copies are all trade paperbacks.) Detective Inspector Chen is in charge of crimes that stretch into Heaven and […]

Across the Nightingale Floor

Across the Nightingale Floor (2002) Lian Hearn I first read these several years ago, and, as I said at the time, couldn’t wait for enough time to pass so I could reread them. Far more time than I expected has passed, but when I came across other books in the series, I had to read […]

Heaven’s Net is Wide

Heaven’s Net is Wide (2007) Lian Hearn This is the tale of Lord Otori Shigeru, heir to the Otori clan. But it is so very much more. We learn not just of the Otori–Shigeru’s family, but of The Tribe, and of the Hidden, and of the Maruyama and of the amazing and fabulous world that […]

The Heavenly Fox

The Heavenly Fox (2011) Richard Parks A fox who reaches the age of fifty gains the ability to transform into a human woman. A fox who reaches the age of one hundred can transform into either a beautiful young girl or a handsome young man at will and can sense the world around them to […]

Vulture Peak

Vulture Peak (2012) John Burdett Sonchai is in over his head now. Colonel Vikorn has decided (was ordered?) to run for governor of Bangkok. Because General Zinna controls the local trade in body parts, Vikorn has decided that wiping out selling of illegal body parts is the way to make his name and propel himself […]

Akitada and the Way of Justice

Akitada and the Way of Justice (2011) I. J. Parker This is a collection of eleven short stories featuring the 11th century Japanese “detective” (there wasn’t such a term at the time) Akitada, over the span of his career, from the first mystery he was involved in to one towards the end of his career. […]

Rashomon Gate

Rashomon Gate (2002) I.J. Parker Akitada, is an official in the Ministry of Justice, who is bored with his job. But he has to support his mother and two younger sisters, so he does his best. His mother wants him to make a good marriage so he’ll move ahead in the world, but Akitada likes […]

Rules for Virgins

Rules for Virgins (2011) Amy Tan This is a short story by Amy Tan, set in Shanghai in 1912. Violet is a new courtesan and Magic Gourd is the older courtesan who is to both train Violet and prepare for for the life she has chosen. The story is comprised entirely of the advice that […]