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

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Here are some of our favorites by Asian American authors—from fun and fascinating mystery, sweet and fiery romance, 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, check out 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. Mimi and Marshmallow 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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  • A Ph̉ơ Love Story

    2021 by Le, Loan

    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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  • Heart and Seoul

    2021 by Frederick, Jen

    This book is being marketed as a romance novel, and as a romance reader, I want you to know that by definition it is not. Does it have a love interest? Yes. Is there some serious steaminess? Yes. But a romance it is not. Does that mean it shouldn't be read? Nope. It is a really interesting look at belonging and interracial adoption. Go into it expecting a contemporary fiction novel with some steam and you won't be disappointed. Recommended by Becca.

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  • The Chosen and the Beautiful

    2021 by Vo, Nghi

    A really clever retelling of The Great Gatsby with a dash of magical realism. Vo's exquisite prose centers the "outsider" experience of Jo Baker as a Vietnamese American and queer character, giving this retelling depth and insightful commentary on race, gender, and sexuality. Recommended by Rummanah.

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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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  • Arsenic and Adobo

    2021 by Manansala, Mia P.

    Lila Macapagal needs to clear her name when a hated food blogger (who happens to be her ex) is poisoned while eating at her family's Filipino restaurant. Whether or not you're a regular reader of "cozy" mysteries, you're guaranteed to enjoy this debut novel by a Chicago-area librarian. Recipes included! Recommended by Andrew.

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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, this 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 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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