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review 2018-12-13 06:53
Thoughts: Dim Sum of All Fears
Dim Sum of All Fears - Vivien Chien

Dim Sum of All Fears

by Vivien Chien
Book 2 of A Noodle Shop Mystery

 

 

Lana Lee is a dutiful daughter, waiting tables at her family’s Chinese restaurant even though she’d rather be doing just about anything else.  Then, just when she has a chance for a “real” job, her parents take off to Taiwan, leaving Lana in charge.  Surprising everyone―including herself―she turns out to be quite capable of running the place.  Unfortunately, the newlyweds who just opened the souvenir store next door to Ho-Lee have turned up dead. . . and soon Lana finds herself in the midst of an Asia Village mystery.

Between running the Ho-Lee and trying to figure out whether the rock-solid Detective Adam Trudeau is actually her boyfriend, Lana knows she shouldn’t pry into the case.  But the more she learns about the dead husband, his ex-wives, and all the murky details of the couple’s past, the more Lana thinks that this so-called murder/suicide is a straight-up order of murder. . .



As a whole, Dim Sum of All Fears seemed to have cleaned up a bit of the amateur sleuth thing that was bugging me about the first book.  Lana's questioning and snooping actually came off a lot more casual than it did previously--rather than in a short, brusque interrogation style, she managed to just sound like an acquaintance or friend, curiously asking random, innocent questions.

Unfortunately, as a whole, this book was actually much more boring than the previous one.  And I'm not sure if that was my problem, or the book's.  I couldn't quite pay attention to much of the story, and probably couldn't even recall how the investigating went.  In fact, at times it didn't even really seem like there was much of a case going on, as it seemed kind of delegated to the background.  Really, everything about this book felt like it got delegated into the background: the Chinese New Year's upcoming festivities, the romance with Detective Trudeau, Lana's taking over of her parents' noodle shop...

In a way, it felt like there were too many story tangents going on with no real focus.  I kept finding myself thinking that I wished we could see more about the Chinese New Year since it's such a big part of Asian culture.  On the one hand, I love that Lana is being portrayed in such an Asian-American way--rather than deliberately making her seem or feel more Asian, she simply comes off as your average Asian-American girl; a half-Taiwanese, half-English, born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, who acts no different than any other average American girl, save for the references to her Asian background.  And I love that!

But on the other hand, this cozy mystery is set in a very Asian, Asia Village, where you DO notice that a lot of older generation Chinese and Taiwanese are pretty prominent members.  I guess that I would have expected more ado about the Chinese New Year, even if Lana's own parents are currently out of the country.  I mean, I'm a rather more American Asian-American, but Chinese New Year is still a pretty big deal!

Aside from that, I was also hoping to see more of a development to the romance between Lana and Detective Trudeau, but the two had zero chemistry.  And it was a bit of an eye roller that people were constantly telling Lana that Detective Trudeau is "crazy about her."  I mean, I don't blame Lana for having doubts because I don't see it either.  I don't necessarily need romance for a book to be good, but if you're going to include romance, you should at least make it a believable one--it's not even a slow burn.  There is no burn.

And then the conflict at the beginning wherein Lana gives up the chance at a job interview to help her parents run their restaurant was never brought up again.  So we're left with some open-ended deal where everyone, except for some of Lana's select friends, continuing to think that she hasn't gotten her butt in gear to look for another job, and that she's just being a lazy layabout claiming to have stuff to do.  And it was irritating as heck that her sister kept throwing that in her face.  And, even though this is besides the point, I got a little irked that everyone kept telling Lana what seems more like "her type of job."

Has anyone bothered to ask Lana what she actually wants to do?  And actually cared to listen to her rather than either belittling her, or telling her she's wrong?  About what she wants with her own life?  It's also quite irksome that everyone feels like they have the right to expect Lana to move on in her romantic life as well and find a new, nice boyfriend.  And I get that mothers (especially Asian mothers) are all about their daughter finding a nice man and getting married and starting a family, but the insinuation that the only way Lana will be happy is if she finds a nice man and gets married can start grating after a while.

And I know that the bickering between Anna May and Lana was supposed to come off cute, but I was really getting irritated with Anna May.  Because even though Lana's narrative made it seem like the two bickered regularly, what I was seeing was that Anna May was swooping in and belittling Lana every chance she got.  None of the bickering scenes were started by Lana herself, despite what the narrative or others seem to claim.  I also didn't get why Anna May was so pissed off at Lana about her parents leaving her in charge of the restaurant--it's not like Anna May really had the time to focus on being in charge herself.

And even in spite of all this... I still want to read the next book.  Because I like Lana and I love Megan, and I love them as a duo.  And I'm hoping that the mystery aspect of the books will continue to improve, even if slightly.

And I'm hoping for a new love interest.  Detective Trudeau does nothing for me.

And I was also hoping for a bit of development in Lana's own career choices, which may involve her parents' restaurant.  There was something that had been brought up in the first book that mentioned Lana maybe experimenting with food services from a cooking stand point.  That maybe, aside from just being there to work her shift and make a little extra cash to pay bills and rent, she might get involved with more of the food prep... which I hope will spiral into her maybe helping to expand the restaurant's menu or creating new, fun, menu items... or something like that.

Please bring that small, almost insignificant recommendation to Lana from the first book back to the surface.  Even if just for a small glimpse at a possibility.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2018/12/thoughts-dim-sum-of-all-fears.html
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review 2018-10-02 20:09
Solid Follow-up to First Book
Dim Sum of All Fears - Vivien Chien

I definitely enjoyed this one more. Mostly because with Lana being forced to run her family's restaurant, we get to see her take charge more. She and her sister still squabble a lot, but you can see where they are both coming from while reading. Due to the murder of two of the owners (Isabelle and her husband Brandon) in Asia Village, many customers and owners are starting to think that one of the storefronts is unlucky. Lana was close with Isabelle and is determined to identify her murderer. Will say there seems to be a hard pause in Lana's barely there relationship with Detective Adam Trudeau. I got to read an excerpt of the next book, and there may be another love interest that I hope we see Lana get excited about. She and Adam have zero chemistry. 

 

"Dim Sum of All Fears" has Lana dealing with her parents leaving her in charge of the noodle shop while they fly back to Taiwan to see about her grandmother. Though Lana has an opportunity to interview for a new job, she realizes she won't be able to have both. To make matters a little worse, her sister is bent of out shape she's been put in charge, there is a lot of things going on since Chinese New Year is around the corner, and oh yeah, two people were found murdered in their store. These new murders touch Lana a lot more than the last one since she was close to one of the victims, Isabelle. Lana felt ambivalent about Brandon since the guy was never around. And even Isabelle started to notice it. I really loved the twists and turns this book takes with finding out about Brandon's past. 

 

I did like Lana and Megan more in this one. They really are becoming a fascinating duo of amateur sleuthing. Lana I think felt more sure of herself in this one, even with her blue hair. I do wish that she and her sister would quit fighting. I think Lana's sister is jealous of her, though I get why Lana is annoyed her sister keeps making snide remarks.

 

Also Lana's relationship with Detective Trudeau seems to be cooling. They have zero chemistry. Lana at one point asks him why did he become a cop and he refuses to tell her. I was fed up with him. I also didn't like Megan saying she would investigate him to find out what is going on. Just ignore the guy if he isn't interested in having a real relationship. Their dates sounded lame too. 

 

The writing was good and so was the flow. I do think there wasn't any problems that I could see off the top off my head. 

 

I am friends with a lot of Taiwanese people and I know that Chinese New Year is a very big deal. I wish that Ms. Chien had gone into that more. I know that you are supposed to clean I think three days before the start of Chinese New Year. I think you are supposed to cook the day before. Things like that would have made the book more interesting to a lot of people. 

 

I do hope that we don't always get someone pulling a weapon on Lana, that kind of stuff will get old in a series really quick. 


 

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review 2018-09-10 05:17
Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Oh the Places You'll Go!/The Lorax[OH THE PLACES YOULL GO/LORAX D][UNABRIDGED][Compact Disc] - DrSeuss

This book  Dr. Seuss addresses graduates of all ages — from nursery school to medical school — and gives them the get-up-and-go to move mountains with the unrivaled exuberance and charm. This book is full of imagination and creativity.  The book can be used in a classroom as an introduction to a writing activity about future career or on career day. The book introduces creativity and motivation to the students. It also inspires them and reassure that they are capable of anything. 

 

Fiction 

Prek-2 Grade

Level P

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review 2018-09-10 05:09
First Day Jitters
First Day Jitters - Julie Danneberg,Judy Love

First Day Jitters is a book about a teacher who is scared to go to school on the first day of school. She misses her old school and plays all of the scenarios that could happen on her first day of class. She worries whether she will like this new school. The book provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations. This book could be used in the classroom as a first day of class read. The book could also be used as an introduction to a writing activity  where the students get to write about their fears on the first day of school.  

 

 

 

Fiction

PreK-2

Level L

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review 2018-09-10 04:34
Shiloh
Shiloh - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Shiloh is about a young boy who discovers a beagle dog who is being mistreated and abused. He goes beyond and does the right thing by protecting Shiloh and taking care of him. He becomes Shiloh's voice and guardian angel. This book can be used in a classroom by using it to discuss the importance of doing the right thing even when it is not the easiest route. The text could also lead to an assignment where the students get to research about their community and what organizations help around their community. 

 

Fiction

Grade: 3-8

Fountas and Pinnell: Level R

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