I cannot believe this is Kevin Kwan’s debut novel, it’s fantastic. It is like Mean Girl meets Clueless with a little My Big Fat Greek Wedding but in Chinese. There were times when I wanted to take a few of the characters out for a long walk on a short pier but the main characters, Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young were awesome.
When Rachel’s boyfriend Nicholas asks her to go to Singapore for summer vacation and his best friend’s wedding, she is expecting a humble family, sight-seeing around the island and spending time with the man she believes she might one day marry. She has no clue that Nicholas Young is one of the most eligible bachelors in Asia or that his best friend’s wedding is the wedding of the century. She should have a target on her back, it would make things easier for the catty witches gunning for her position.
This hilarious insiders’ look at the Asian Jet Set shows the ridiculous clash of old money versus new, and overseas Chinese versus Mainland Chinese. Crazy Rich Asians is a fun, young romantic romp through one of the most exotic places on earth with its blend of future, history and what it means to be in love and deliriously rich.
Finding a new author is exciting. Discovering one with a unique voice and who has been influenced a little bit by a different culture is a lot of fun. I don’t always seek out authors of different races or cultures, but I like to read a variety of authors, genres and yes, different cultures. Why? Because I might learn something.
I have always enjoyed learning about different places, people and cultures. There was a time I really wanted to be an archaeologist, but I digress. Even before my daughter-in-law, Chanthou joined the family, I was enthralled by Asian culture. Chanthou is Cambodian. I have two lovely grandchildren who are half-Asian and all marvelous. I enjoy learning about the differences and similarities of each nationality.
I thought I knew quite a bit about Asian culture from years of reading and studying, but it has only been in the past few years that I’ve learned there are even more diverse cultures than the few I was aware of. I find the links between countries, cultures and the British and French who tried to colonize them to be fascinating and at times frightening. There is so much our public school history books did not cover.
When I started following Jayci Lee on Twitter it was quite by accident—a happy accident. She is writer friends with a couple of authors I adore. When I saw the cover of her book and read the excerpt, I was hooked, and boy did she hook me. Garrett Song is the brooding, hot businessman who has worked his way up through his family’s company. Natalie Sobol is vulnerable but not weak. In fact, they are both vulnerable but still strong, how Jayci managed to write these characters so well is beyond me.
At the very beginning on the fake spouse plan you know it’s not going to work. They are already attracted to each other, perhaps, that is why Garrett came up with the idea. Each of them has needs that having the other in their life will make the situation better, but they know that their marriage also provides complications, especially to their hearts. I laughed until I cried, and then I bawled like a baby. Oh, my god! You talk about ripping out my heart, the whole last half of the book I’m sobbing as I read but I can’t freaking put the book down because it is that damned good. And get this y’all, this is Jayci’s debut novel. If this is her first book, then I’m standing in line for the next one because if she’s this good already she’ll be serving my heart on a platter with her next one.
If you are looking for a beautiful story with a lot of heart, strong but vulnerable characters and a little flavor of Korean culture, this is a story you don’t want to miss. If you don’t care about other cultures, don’t worry, it’s still a great story. Read the book and you will realize that there are so many similarities between one culture and another that the only differences are in the details. Loved this book. Congratulations Jayci Lee!
Hello Lila Mina, it is so nice to have you here at my Creekside
Lila: Its lovely to be here! I
wish we could meet for real in a place like this.
Sherri: Oh, me too, if I ever win
the lottery! Until then, I love meeting writers and readers here in my virtual
I love your name, Lila Mina. Where does it come from? Do you know
what it means?
Lila: Thank you! I love the first name ‘Lila’, it reminds me
of lily flowers. In Swedish, it means ‘purple’, and it’s a perfect match
because it’s my favorite color. My logo is actually a purple lily. Mina is also
a reference to Swedish, it means ‘mine’. Yes, I’ve got Swedish roots!
Sherri: Tell me a little about yourself,
where are you from. Where do you call home?
Lila: I am from a
French-speaking country in Europe, and live now in the south-western island of
Kyushu, in Japan, where I moved with my family ten years ago.
Sherri: How interesting, then I’m
sure you are a coffee and wine drinker, or do you go in for more Asian tastes?
Lila: Italian espresso, Japanese green tea and red wine, in no particular order of preference.
Sherri: One of my daughters-in-law
is Asian, she is Cambodian. She has exposed me to so many other cultures from
food and drink to customs and beliefs. I love herbal teas especially ginger tea
and chai, but coffee, and especially espresso will always be a favorite.
beats espresso, that’s for sure. So nice to hear you’ve got ties with Asia, too!
Sherri: Do you speak Japanese or
any other languages? I would love to learn other languages. I took high school
French and learned Spanish while working in the crab house. I’ve picked up a
few words of other languages from reading, movies and friends.
not English, is my mother tongue. I’ve got various levels of fluency in other
languages. I grew up reading books in French, English and German, I love
Japanese literature… but I read translations! I’m not fluent enough in Japanese
to read whole books, I’m afraid.
Do you travel much. I’ve only been to the United States and Mexico.
Have you ever been to North
Carolina, or the East Coast?
Lila: No, never to North
Carolina, unfortunately, but when I was a teenager, my parents took me and my
brother to a couple of trips to the US, and we visited New York and Miami.
Because our plane got grounded due to terrible weather in New York, we received
free roundtrip tickets as compensation. This gave us the incredible chance to
travel all the way from Europe to Hawaii!
Sherri: That was quite a
compensation. I’m working on a historical novella that takes place during World
War Two, the bombing of Pearl Harbor is what finally launched us into the war.
I would love to visit Hawaii.
The novella will be my first published historical. Historicals are
my first love but I started writing contemporary romance and then drifted into
What genre do you
Lila: Of the very sexy kind! I
don’t write erotica per se (hmm well, ok, now and then I might indulge in a
short PWP), but I believe in sex positivity and how intimate scenes help build
characters and plot even in a thriller or horror story. I love pushing my characters’
limits, and it includes sending them on a path of self-discovery through mutual
exploration. My Temper trilogy is a dark LGBTQ and interracial
paranormal romance. I love blending genres and don’t believe much in
Sherri: My own novels have been
difficult to categorize. They don’t fit the traditional romance format yet
there is a strong romantic element. Mine, fall somewhere between women’s
fiction, suspense and fiction. I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It must be even
more so for you, with English not your native language.
Lila: Japanese literature and reading
books in French, English and German, all of this influenced my style and the
way I tell my stories. I have also a strong dislike for the way the ‘market’ is
supposed to dictate what people need to write and read. Writing is art and
creation, and shouldn’t be reduced to a commodity. So categories and rules
should be broken now and then. This is why I’m so glad self-publishing exists
On top of that, for the past five years or so, I’ve decided to
write stories featuring only women my age and older, so in their late thirties
and forties. Like the hit comedy ‘Grace and Frankie’ reminds us, women don’t
turn into stone after they hit 35, so it’s important for me to show that we are
still very much passionate – maybe even more than when we were younger, because
we are more in tune with ourselves. But of course, this makes my stories harder
Sherri: There are people who need
your stories told your way, don’t let the dictates of the marketing derail your
goals. This is also what I tell myself.
I am reading more older-characters, characters of mixed race or of
different races. I have discovered that a good story is a good story no matter
if the characters are different than me, maybe better because they are
different. It is one of the reasons I make my own characters biracial and with
challenges different than my own. I like to explore those differences and
similarities. My world, even in my tiny part of it, is filled with a variety of
people in a rainbow of colors, religions and sexual preferences, so too should
Has your career influenced your stories?
Lila: I’ve got an extensive
background in law (I’ve got a PhD in international law and passed the bar exam in
my home country). This had a very bad impact on my creative writing. In fact,
although I used to write hundreds of pages every year in my teens, my creative
well dried up during my law years and ‘sterilized’ my thoughts. I became an
entrepreneur when we moved to Japan and finally, my mojo came back. I still use
what I learned in my stories, though, either for my plots or characters.
Sherri: Do you write full time now, or hold down another job as well as write?
Lila: I’ve got two business on
top of writing, so no, unfortunately it’s not my full-time job!
Sherri: How long have you been writing?
Lila: Since I was ten, I think.
Along with reading, it’s been my major emotional outlet all my life – that’s
why I became nearly depressed when I couldn’t find the time or inspiration any
more during my twenties and early thirties.
Sherri: People who are not
creative do not understand what it is like to not be able to create. Like you,
I started writing at around ten years old. Different tragedies in life have
staunched my creative flow, losing our home to a fire is another reason I write
a darker, contemporary suspense. I believe it is my way of working through the
Lila: Oh wow, yes, I can entirely relate to that. We were in Tokyo in
2011 when the huge earthquake struck the northern region of Japan. In a blink,
our lives changed and we had to start again everything, in another city.
Writing clearly helped process my emotions and fears.
Sherri: What new project do you
have going on?
Lila: This year, I published my
Temper saga (three books, about 240k total), and I am currently working
on the sequel, called Vindicta. Temper introduces my three heroes: Lana,
37, an Italian businesswoman, Honda, 57, her martial arts instructor and Yuki,
42, Honda’s wife. It’s set in Japan.
When Lana accepts the Hondas’ red-hot proposal in Tokyo, she
stumbles into a dark rabbit hole. The Veil of Reality crumbles under her eyes.
To her horror, she realizes she is the solution to Honda’s spiraling madness,
but the enemy within has awaken and is slowly burning her alive, too. Vindicta
takes place in Italy a few years later, where Lana and her family go back to
find answers (and much more) after the tragic events of Temper.
I also plan to release a novella (40k), Platinum Nights, in
early 2020. It’s a contemporary and interracial romance set between LA and
Japan. I’ve got a few other novella-length stories (some contemporary, some
paranormal) that I want to flesh out.
Sherri: You sound busy. I like to
juggle multiple projects but sometimes it can also be overwhelming.
What do you love about
Lila: Seeing my characters come
to life, listening to them whisper their story in my ear, rousing powerful
emotions in my readers, introducing people to other places and cultures.
Exploring my own fears and aspirations, too!
Sherri: I can relate about
exploring my own fears and issues, I think writing and reading are forms of
therapy. My friend and the former leader of the Pamlico Writers’ Group once
said all artists, including writers, are broken. It is through that broken part
that we view the world and give it light.
What is your least favorite
thing about writing?
Lila: The long days where
nothing works, the hours spent staring at a blank page when everything seemed
so clear under the shower. Editing and formatting kill me! Maybe one day I’ll
be able to hire someone for doing all of the dirty work, ahahaha.
Sherri: With all that you have
going on do you have any hobbies or interests besides writing? Do these show up
in your writing?
Lila: Martial arts, in
particular aikido, are the way I release my tension and stress. And yes, most
of my characters (men and women) practice one!
Sherri: What do you feel are your
writing strengths and weaknesses? What comes easily for you, and what do you
have to work harder to get?
Lila: My readers enjoy my
descriptive and immersive style, the way I make them experience so many
feelings, how I spirit them away to Japan and lead them to more tolerance and
open-mindedness. They also praise the quality of the steamy scenes I write, how
mutual respect and consent are always keys, even in some very scorching and
disturbing moments, and this is important to me. Bestsellers like 50 Shades of
Grey have done a lot of damage with readers, beyond the world of BDSM, and it’s
crucial that romance stops glorifying abuse, in my opinion.
My weakness is that as a non-native English speaker, aside from
language mistakes now and then, I cannot pass for an American writer, either in
style or the way my characters act. This is off-putting to some. I’m also a
pantser, not an outliner, so sometimes I get stuck – chapters 1, 13 and 22 are
done, and I wonder how to connect all of this!
Sherri: I’m southern so there are
those who would swear English is not my native language either, it’s the
accent. It does make looking up words difficult and using proper language more
time consuming, but I believe who we are and where we are from can also be an
asset to our writing. It gives a unique voice.
I sympathize with being a pantser, I don’t outline either. I have
learned to make note of things I want to go into the story. My first draft is
rather lean and I go back and fill in, flesh out and tie everything together
during the rewrite.
Well, it seems our time is running out. I have enjoyed visiting
with you today. I hope someday we can meet in person.
If you have enjoyed my chat with Lila Mina, please check out her
links below. Visit her social media and follow the links to her books. I know I
Have a great day. Y’all come back to Creekside Café and set a
spell, we’ll talk about books, life and the sexy new waiter. Shh, don’t tell my
Lila Mina’s bio:
Readers will find behind the pen name Lila Mina
a European woman in her early forties who has been living in Japan for a decade
with her husband and son. After nearly twenty years of using her writing skills
for drafting legal briefs and business reports, she went back to her first
love: fiction. These days, when she is not running behind deadlines or wrapping
tea for overseas customers, you can find her practicing aikido, writing or
editing her manuscripts while sipping delicious green tea.
Inspired by the rich and complex Japanese culture and folklore,
her stories feature strong and mature female protagonists facing their inner
demons or ruthless enemies, and who are never shy to embrace their desires.
trilogy is her first major published work of fiction. Made of Deference,
Dread and Deliverance, Temper is a dark and interracial LGBTQ
paranormal romance featuring a seasoned trio of heroes: two bisexual ladies (37
and 42) and their pan partner (57).
My children tell me I should be on an episode of Chopped. I love the Food Network! Raising six sons I learned to use whatever was in the house to create a meal for whoever was home, I never knew how many I was feeding. Now that the kids are out of the house, my husband and I are trying to eat a little lighter.
A friend gave me a recipe for Ramen noddle slaw using Napa cabbage. Well, I did not have Napa cabbage tonight but I had Romaine lettuce. Delicate cabbage versus hearty lettuce it might work. Well, the slaw didn’t call for meat but I wanted some chicken. So I used olive oil, sesame seed oil (the hot kind) and a little vegetable oil just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. I like the blend of the oils. Hot Chili Sesame oil is like ten dollars a bottle so I use it sparingly but there is nothing like the flavor, it is amazing. I chop three boneless chicken breast into bite size pieces as my oil is heating in my electric frying pan, chop three to four cloves of garlic or a table spoon of minced garlic, pour in good soy sauce and liquid smoke, crush two packages of Ramen noodle (minus the seasoning packets-you can save them for soup or toss them) add sesame seed and dry roasted sunflower seeds. Stir until Ramen is well coated with oil and sauce and browned. Turn off heat.
In separate bowl mix Romaine lettuce, carrots and onions all thinly sliced like a rough cut slaw add in a Balsamic Vinegar Dressing, toss add to cooled meat mixture serve room temperature or cooler. Very nice summer salad. Great additions pineapples, Mandarin oranges or mangoes, you could even try it with the Napa cabbage.
sherrilhollister.com/Suspense She Writes Bookstore Dismiss