Michaeline: Book Review: Jackie Lau’s Man vs. Durian

Handsome Asian guy holding a durian fruit

Image via Amazon

I’ve talked about Jackie Lau here at Eight Ladies before; I was impressed with Ice Cream Lover, a book about ice cream, Canadian love, and a grumpy but adorable Asian-Canadian hero who meets a bicultural Ice Cream Queen. (Both the heroine and the ice cream are bicultural.)

That was Book Two in the Baldwin Village series, and Book Three, Man vs. Durian, was just released on August 27, 2019. Jackie writes fast, and she writes well – an amazing combination for readers who devour books and want more.

The marketing tags for Man vs. Durian promise a fake relationship, a very sweet hero, a grumpy heroine, and lots of food – and the book delivers on all counts.

First, I really like to have food in a book – good food, bad food, food that provokes emotions and socially smooths the path for our characters. Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me revolves around chicken marsala and doughnuts; Lois McMaster Bujold invented the delightful and talented cook, Ma Kosti, with her little chocolate desserts of plutonium-like density. Food, written well, taps another level of our consciousness, and gives a story depth and heft.

Second, a fake relationship – in other words, the good old “marriage of convenience” trope in modern form – is also something I enjoy. In this case, Valerie (our heroine) has disappointed her mother on both the professional and the biological empire fronts (no boyfriend, no marriage, no grandchildren being the logical progression). Harassment made her quit a job she liked in computers, blacklisting prevented her from finding a new one, and a sucky boyfriend, straight from Reddit’s Relationship Advice pages, soured her on love. She’s now scooping ice cream in the shop from Baldwin Village Two, sorting out her options, and she’d like to get her mother off her back.

On the spur of the moment, she invents a Peter – who is not only a male boyfriend, but a children’s doctor. And, as fate would have it, Continue reading

Michaeline: Making the Best of a Dystopian Timeline









(Images via Wikimedia Commons)

In preparation for Margaret Atwood’s new book, The Testaments (officially released Sept. 10, 2019), I re-read two classic dystopian novels. I finished George Orwell’s 1984 on Sunday, and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale on Tuesday, then read right through The Testaments (the sequel to THT) on Wednesday.

That’s a whole lot of dystopia, folks. Fortunately, I survived the experience unbowed.

Orwell’s 1984 is THE fright novel about totalitarian systems. His vision is broad and deep, and his prose (generally) is economical and delivers its truth bombs with great precision. This is the book that gave us doublespeak, Big Brother and a clear way of talking about the rise of totalitarianism – in fact, he infodumps two chapters of a pretend totalitarian how-to manual in the last third, and it’s still a page turner. It’s not recommended for folks who need a happily-ever-after – Orwell’s book is bleak, and the only happy ending is death, and the government is stingy with even that. Continue reading