Book Reviews and Other Acts of Kindness

This week I had a group of writers over for a meeting. It was nice having them here. They brought food and flowers. They volunteered for upcoming projects. They sprinkled our time together with good will and all those small courtesies  that help make our days together pleasant and productive.

You might say their acts of kindness and generosity were only small and ordinary. But I went to bed that night feeling happy and grateful.

The next evening, I was looking for something on Amazon, and I decided to check my novel’s page. My book, Tiger Tail Soup, was published in 2014, and I haven’t been doing anything to market it for a long time. So I was surprised to see a number of new reviews and also happy to see that some of them were quite good.

Despite the fact that I haven’t been bothering to market my own novel, some readers have taken the time to write reviews of it. That’s so nice!

It’s a lot more fun to read than to write a book review. And writing a good one isn’t easy–at least not for me. So I really appreciate the effort these readers made to review my novel.

No matter how hard you work to write a good book, you never know whether people will like it, especially when, like mine, it tells an unusual story.

Reading the reviews left me feeling reassured, confident enough to keep working on my second novel. Thank you, all you book reviewers.

Here are some excerpts from the newest reviews:

– Kay in Seattle, One of the best reads of my year! 5 stars – I was immediately immersed in the story because the author was immersed in the culture, dyed in it. The book was long, but so was the war, as An Lee reminds us at the end, “I am still the same woman, wounded by eight years of war and occupation.”

– Maureen, Unforgettable tale, 5 stars – I can only add more praise to the writing skill and storytelling ability of Nicki Chen. She brings to life An Lee, a young Chinese woman dealing with the reality of war up close.

– Laurel, What I really enjoyed most were the richly detailed glimpses into the everyday … 4 stars – Tiger Tail Soup was an unexpected journey and thoughtful read. Raised by a mother born during the depression era, I was well acquainted with the perceptions and vernacular of western culture’s view of WWII, but entirely ignorant of the human experience and perceptions felt by those eastern societies trapped by the scourge of that same war.

May 2018 be a year of peace, respect, and kindness for us all.



About Nicki Chen

About Nicki Chen Nicki Chen is a writer living in Edmonds, WA. Her first novel, Tiger Tail Soup, is set in China during the Japanese invasion and occupation, 1937-1945. She's working on a second novel set in Vanuatu, a South Pacific nation where she and her late husband lived in the early '90s.
book reviews, books, China, historical fiction, home, Tiger Tail Soup, writing , ,


  1. Congrats on those lovely reviews, Nicki. Glad you have a good writers group.

    And based on your photos, you had a great time in the Bahamas! Welcome home!

    • Thank you, Linda. A good review is a great pleasure.

      I do have a couple of good writers groups. My critique group is sensibly small and long-running. The group I’m talking about here is one I’ve recently joined: the board of EPIC Group Writers. We’re lucky to have lots of writers (and artists) in Edmonds, and EPIC arranges writers groups and classes, contests, and various get togethers and services for writers.

      And yes, I did have a very good time in the Bahamas. Fortunately, it wasn’t too cold here when I returned. In fact, today we’re expecting the mid-50s and a blue sky.

  2. Your writer’s group sounds lovely, indeed. Very supportive. Do you critique each other’s work?

    • I belong to a critique group that meets about twice a month. We’ve been meeting for more than ten years, with occasional changes in membership. But this group is something new for me. It’s the board of the EPIC Group Writers. EPIC is a kind of umbrella organization for writers in our area (and there are many of us).

  3. Writing a review for your novel was easy peasy. I was sucked in from page one and loved every word. I have more problems when I review the book of a friend when I’m not a fan of the topic. I have one to do right now. The writing is excellent. The premise is sort of believable but it’s not my schtick. I haven’t been able to get past page 100. I even read the ending hoping that there would be a twist worth the read. Nada. So here I am procrastinating.

  4. Congratulations on your reviews, Nicki!

  5. Wonderful reviews . . . it’s obvious that the reviewers enjoyed your Tiger’s Tail tale.

  6. I also don’t like to promote my writing much…in fact, I’ve been really slack on it since the second half of last year and haven’t even been sharing my posts much around social media. I do feel no one is obliged and is forced to read my work, though. It is very nice of some of your readers to leave such thoughtful comments, and it sounds like they were very much immersed in reading your works – which is what every writer hopes 🙂

    • Writing and marketing are very different skills. I’m sure you and I are not the only writers who find marketing hard and unpleasant. It’s especially hard when the product is one’s own writing. When you said, “I do feel no one is obliged and is forced to read my work,” it reminded me of a job I had when I was in high school working at JC Penney. In those days, clerks were expected to encourage people to buy the items the store was selling. I enjoyed helping customers find things and ringing them up at the cash register. But I didn’t like trying to talk them into buying something. I don’t feel comfortable persuading or coercing anyone to do anything. Still, writers have to market their books.

      • It sounded like you made a great fashion consultant when you used to work in retail at JC Penney 🙂 Truth be told, not everyone likes to read…and so marketing a book well is ever so important to get your words out there.

  7. Congratulations on the good reviews! I also liked Tiger Tail Soup a lot.


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