Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in  whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in  before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By  as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.
I received a complimentary copy of “Love and Other Moods” direct from the author Crystal Z. Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Whilst I didn’t get the chance to interview the author directly myself – she happily provided keen insight into her writerly process for this novel through a series of Q&A topical questions revolving round ‘transporting the reader’ into “Love & Other Moods” – which I felt you might benefit from knowing as well.
Love and Other Moods is based in Shanghai,
a city you had once lived and worked inside. What’s your favorite thing about Shanghai?
Lee responds: I love that Shanghai is a city of contrasts. You can see its history and modernity coexisting everywhere in that metropolis. There are ancient temples right alongside skyscrapers, traditional food stalls outside of fancy restaurants. It’s a city that attracts people from every walk of life, from all corners of the globe.
There are many, many delicious Chinese dishes
mentioned in your novel. Do you have a favorite?
Lee responds: In Love and Other Moods, one of the characters is a magazine food editor, one is a restaurant and bar owner, and one cooks as a hobby. Naturally there are many gourmet meal scenes in the book! Here is a sampling of some of the dishes that appear in the novel: Shanghainese truffle-flavored xiao long bao dumplings, Chongqing style liangfen spicy noodles, glutinous zongzi rice stuffed in bamboo leaves, lotus root pork bone broth, sticky niangao rice, Taiwanese oyster pancake, Peking duck and hairy crab. My favorite would be xiao long bao dumplings!
A favorite scene you enjoyed writing?
Lee responds: Chinese New Year is probably the most significant holiday in the Chinese-speaking world. In Love and Other Moods, there is a whole chapter that takes place in Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, where some major developments happen to the characters. I relished writing this scene, and not just because it’s full of drama. I also enjoyed sharing all the cultural details of this holiday!
Were the romantic relationships in the book based on people you had known in Shanghai?
Lee responds: Somewhat. Almost every character and situation were inspired by something that had happened in real-life. For example, I had known people in China whose family were opposed to them dating a Japanese person because of what had happened during World War Two. I also knew some Joss and Tay types, where the second generation was loosely connected to the government in some capacity yet decided to date outside of their circle. I also knew many Logans in China—western men who had moved to Shanghai and treated the city as their personal playground. Although many foreigners have left China recently ahead of the pandemic, there is still a sizable expatriate contingent in Shanghai. Many of my friends are still there, and have married or are dating somebody from China.
Why did you decide to write the story in multiple third-person point-of-views?
Lee responds: I struggled whether to write the novel this way, but ultimately I wanted this book to mirror a city, with viewpoints from the multitude of characters you would meet in a sprawling metropolis. Therefore, in Love and Other Moods, there are POVs from the expats, the Shanghainese socialites, the corporate executives, the working class, the entrepreneurs, the doorman, the maid, the millennials, the aging parents. To me, all of their perspectives are essential to the story, and is what makes a city like Shanghai come alive.
What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novel?
Lee responds:Although Love and Other Moods is billed as a Romance read–and there are many romantic moments in the book–there are also the more serious issues which many of us experience, particularly as women of color, such as racism and sexism.
Growing up, I adored reading rom-coms, but often felt I couldn’t relate, because the characters didn’t seem to endure some of the same issues I faced.
In writing this book, one of my greatest hopes is that some of my readers will feel less alone in their struggles, and feel more seen and heard.’
From the first moment you open the Prologue – she has found a way to knit you inside the city she’s chosen as a setting in such a way as to be provocatively acute in understanding how to connect you to the place as much as the allure of why so many journey to the city in search of what they cannot find elsewhere. It is a powerful start to the story – similar in strength to how Matthew McConaughey gave an evoking spoken word speech at the start of his fundraiser for Texas over the weekend.
Some writers have a way of placing you into the contextual landscape of a specific setting with such acute clarity – it feels as if you’ve been there yourself even if you’ve never physically have spent anytime there at all. Lee captures Shanghai in a way only she could tell similarly to how McConaughey changed your perspective about Texas within only a few minutes of an address as they both share a passion for words and the expressive nature of connecting to their audiences.
Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.
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.
Places to find the book:
Published by Balestier Press
on 8th December, 2020
Format: Trade Paperback
Ahead of reading my reactions to “Love and Other Moods”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel:
Naomi had packed four suitcases from New York, and right now they were stacked unevenly on top of one another in the hallway, forcing the front door to open only halfway, just tight enough for her to slide in sideways. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lived by herself. The lonely apartment was mildly depressing.
She felt like walking aimlessly. She passed by wrinkled men playing a game of Chinese chess, teenage girls in designer sunglasses taking photographs of each other, a woman gesticulating wildly as she yelled into her cell phone, tourists examining a guide book, a cloud of second-hand smoke drifting from outside a cafe, Uighur men selling kebabs, well-heeled shoppers clinging to their purchases, two men in yarmulkes talking heatedly, shrieking children competing with the racket from honking vehicles, and the sea of commuters gushing out of the Huangpi Nan Lu metro stop. Naomi let herself be swept up into the human river, bodies crushing against each other, arms brushing and shoving, no apologies no offense taken. Being in this city meant your senses were constantly accosted.
A man approached her with a flier featuring images of iPhones, Rolexes, LV handbags, and said that their shop was just ahead in an alley. She declined and quickened her pace. She spotted an empty bench by a bus stop and flopped down. Barely noticing as the traffic whizzed by, the racy selfie on Seth’s phone resurfaced in her head. A steady stream of downpour coaxed pedestrians to open a colorful array of umbrellas, or duck into convenience stores, boutique shops, malls entrances. Naomi felt wholly unequipped and unprepared, again, by this city.
Her hair was stuck to her face and her forehead was damp. She was relieved that the inclement weather matched her mood, for tears had started forming and slithering beneath her eyes, blending with the droplets of rain running down her face. She wiped it away with her sleeve. She just wanted to throw up all the fury and regrets that were lodged in her stomach, she wished it could all be flushed out of her head.
It was starting to hit her, the reality of having no boyfriend, no job, and nowhere to live.
She wondered if the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai was too small to co-exist with her ex-fiancé.
Converse on Twitter via: #ContemporaryRomance & #NewAdult
as well as #LoveAndOtherMoods and #CrystalZLee