Searching for Clues, Love, and Magic (and Zombies!?)

By Skokie Staff Adult Services

Here are some of our favorites by Asian American authors—from fun and fascinating mystery, to sweet and fiery romance, to action-filled and entrancing fantasy, all the way to bone-chilling horror.

  • Dial A for Aunties

    2021 by Sutanto, Jesse Q.

    If USA Today's review doesn't sell you on this book, then I don't think this is for you: "Sutanto brilliantly infuses comedy and culture into the unpredictable rom-com/murder mystery mashup as Meddy navigates familial duty, possible arrest and a groomzilla. I laughed out loud, and you will too.” Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Mimi Lee Gets a Clue

    2020 by Chow, Jennifer J.

    If you’re in the mood for a cozy mystery, try this first installment in the Sassy Cat Mysteries. Mimi Lee runs a grooming shop called Hollywoof, and her new companion is a rescue cat called Marshmallow. Strangely, Marshmallow can talk to Mimi, which provides much humor and witty banter. They make a purrfect pair. Together they investigate a case involving a dodgy dog breeder, staying a paw ahead of the local detective. Want more? The second in the series is Mimi Lee Reads between the Lines. Recommended by Sharon.

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  • The Lotus Palace

    2013 by Lin, Jeannie

    Why are historical romances always set in England? Not only does this one take place in Tang Dynasty China—a drastically underused setting, in my opinion—but the relationship between the leads develops beautifully over the course of the book, making it a standout love story. (And there's a murder mystery, which is always a plus for me!) Recommended by Perry.

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  • A Ph̉ơ Love Story

    2021 by Le, Loan

    This is a young adult book, but young adult romances are some of my favorites. Publishers Weekly says "the classic star-crossed lovers recipe is updated with traditional Vietnamese dishes and smooth integration of the author’s southern Vietnamese dialect, star ingredients of this warm, delightful read." Recommended by Allyson.

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  • A Sweet Mess

    2020 by Lee, Jayci

    An enemies-to-lovers romance featuring a pastry chef is basically my catnip. Library Journal says, "readers will get lost in [the] sugary creations while rooting for the characters to find their happily ever after." Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Simmer Down

    2020 by Smith, Sarah

    The owners of feuding food trucks—one serving up mouth-watering Filipino dishes and the other British fish & chips—are in competition with each other for a coveted parking spot on a beach in Maui. Publishers Weekly says, "While the enemies-to-lovers romance is irresistible, it’s the sincere, well-developed characters and heart-tugging family dynamics that make this fulfilling love story stand out." Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Loathe at First Sight

    2020 by Park, Suzanne

    This young adult novelist's adult book debut is about a Korean American woman who lands a job in the notoriously sexist gaming industry. Booklist says, "readers into both gaming and women’s fiction will scramble for this fast-paced charmer." Recommended by Allyson.

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  • Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop

    2020 by Lim, Roselle

    Vanessa Yu, an accountant with the power of clairvoyance, travels to a tea shop in Paris to learn to control her predictions with the help of her Aunt Evelyn. Publishers Weekly says, "the characters sparkle, the magic successfully enchants... this feast for the senses will especially appeal to hopeless romantics." Recommended by Allyson.

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  • The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

    2017 by Yee, F. C.

    An indescribably brilliant book. Set in modern California, it follows high school student Genie Lo, who is suddenly responsible for stopping a demon invasion with her newly discovered superpowers. The book perfectly blends Chinese mythology, humor, and complex character relationships into a delightful and exciting adventure story. Recommended by Perry.

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  • The Empress of Salt and Fortune

    2020 by Vo, Nghi

    This novella may be short, but it packs a punch. Set in an alternate fantasy world, it is full of politics and conspiracies and friendship, as well as being a fierce condemnation of patriarchal structures and imperialism. Recommended by Perry.

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  • The Poppy War

    2018 by Kuang, R. F.

    Inspired by the Second Sino-Japanese War, The Poppy War is an absolute masterpiece of worldbuilding and brutal writing. The characters are all fantastically layered, and the story itself has incredible pacing—I couldn't put it down. (As a note, though, it includes an event clearly based on the Nanjing Massacre, and it isn't shy about depicting horrors, so please take this as a content warning.) Recommended by Perry.

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  • The Kingdom of the Gods

    2020 by Kim, Eun-Hee

    The source material for the excellent Netflix series Kingdom, this historical graphic novel has political intrigue, assassins, and zombies—what more could you want? Recommended by Allyson.

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