Death by Bubble Tea By Jennifer J. Chow: Review/Giveaway/Guest Post

Aug 13, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Food Fun, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow & Jennifer J. Chow

This week we have a review of the first book in a brand new series by Jennifer J. Chow, Death by Bubble Tea. We also have a fun guest post by Jennifer where she shares some fun summer drink recommendations! Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.

Death by Bubble Tea: An LA Night Market Mystery by Jennifer J. Chow
Review by Cynthia Chow

For introverted bibliophile Yale Yee, the day is not starting off well. Not only has she learned that she is being laid off from her dream job at Eastwood Village’s Literary Narnia bookshop, her cousin Celine has just arrived at LAX for an unexpected visit and needs a pick-up. Well, more of a meet-up since Yale doesn’t own a car. It’s been twenty years since Yale last saw her glamorous wealthy cousin from Hong Kong, when Celine dashed whatever expectations Yale had of being “sisters” after the princess-like beauty whisked off to VIP Disneyland. Yale’s father emphasizes family above everything else though, which is why he encourages the two young women to run a food stall at the LA Night Market. Ba will be busy overseeing their family’s Wing Fat restaurant, so he’s leaving it to Yale and Celine to sell his inspired cold dishes and Yale’s even more original cold drinks.

Announcing herself as a “foodstagrammer” with a huge following, Celine takes on the assignment of being a social media marketer promoting their food. That entails constantly photographing their foods and naming their Night Market booth “Canai & Chai,” with the clever rhyming outweighing the fact that they sell neither roti canai flatbreads nor chai tea. Yale’s special boba tea that is the special of the day, which becomes a problem only when Celine decides to spice it up by serving it out of unique lightbulb containers and topped with gold flakes. Both of which are found next to the body of Jordan Chang, whose corpse was found by Yale not long after serving her a boba tea drink.

Investigating Detective Greyson Strauss is immediately suspicious of both Yale and Celine, especially when it’s discovered that Jordan had a nickel allergy and that gold flakes were found in her stomach. After a distrustful Yale is assured by Celine that her additions were in fact non-toxic and edible, the two very different young women begin tracking down clues to prove Canai & Chai’s innocence. A rival food stall operated by Yale’s lifelong nemesis and an accusatory blog threatens her father’s restaurant, which further propels her need to quickly solve the murder and save their businesses.

This first in a new series by the author of the Sassy Cat Mimi Lee mysteries introduces two unique, very engaging characters as its leads. Yale is not your typical twenty-something in that she is a true Luddite without a smartphone, much less a social media presence. Her phobia over high-tech conveniences began with the death of her mother, which Yale blames on both herself and the failure of a car’s electronic system. As a result, Yale relies on library research (adore), landline phones, and her love of Jane Austen (if only for comfort). Celine is a character who could easily have become a shallow, over-the-top Instagramming-addicted stereotype, but instead she proves to be far more multi-dimensional and sympathetic to Yale and her family’s lifestyles.

The other outstanding highlights of this novel are the unique aspects of Yale’s Cantonese traditions and foods. Recipes are included at the end for the adventure, but it’s really the tour through the Night Market and the Yee restaurant that makes this such a mouth-watering delight. The slow burn buildup towards an unexpected reveal allows for a longer examination of Yale, Celine, and their contrasting upbringing. Yale’s love of her father, the restaurant, and the Eastwood Village make her a character whom readers will enjoy following as she lowers her guard and allows Celine to push her towards taking more risks in a high-tech world.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Summer Drink Recommendations
By Jennifer J. Chow

For my recent marketing efforts for Death By Bubble Tea, Book 1 in the L.A. Night Market Mysteries, I turned to drink selfies as promotional tools. These involve pairing my book (or bookmark) with a bubble tea drink for iconic pictures.

Due to my tasty adventures, I’ve been collecting a list of refreshing cold drinks in the summertime. Note: Feel free to add in tapioca pearls (a.k.a. boba) to these drinks or not. In boba shops, you can even switch to other toppings like pudding, jellies, strawberry bits, and more!

The following are some suggestions from me. Here are drinks for lovers of…

Pure tea
Alishan tea. This oolong tea is grown in the high mountains of Taiwan. The brew’s color is emerald green, and it offers a complex floral-fruity taste.

Fruity flavors
Mango tea. Mango is a great fruity addition to black or green tea. You can even add mango jellies or mango bits to the drink if desired.

Nuttier tastes
Ube, known as the purple yam, provides an earthy but sweet flavor. The vibrant color also makes for beautiful photos.

Colorful drinks
Blue tea. There’s been a rise in drinks using butterfly pea flower tea. This herbal addition, made from dried flower petals, gives a drink a glorious shade of blue.

Icy beverages
Slush (or snow). These drinks are created with icy chunks or a smoother texture when you ask for a “snow.” It’s like drinkable shaved ice. The one featured below is a lychee slush with dragon fruit and mango.

Green tea
Matcha. For a strong green tea punch, I ask for matcha. These can be straight matcha teas, or you can opt for a swirled drink, sometimes known as clouds (i.e. matcha cloud). The swirl effect usually uses some type of creamer.

Classics with a slight twist
Lemonade. Lemonade is a go-to drink for the summer. You can order it plain or sometimes add various colors to it.

Whether you choose one of the above or opt for something else, I hope you get to enjoy a yummy beverage while reading a great book this summer.

Share your favorite drinks in the comments.

To enter to win a copy of Death By Bubble Tea, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “bubble,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 20, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.


Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up this week.

The first book in Jennifer’s other series was featured in a past Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast episode that can be found here or by listening to the player below:

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Jennifer J. Chow is the twice-nominated Lefty Award author of the Sassy Cat Mysteries. Her new series is the L.A. Night Market Mysteries; Death by Bubble Tea, which the New York Times called “the first in a fizzy new series,” hit the SoCal Indie Bestseller List. She currently serves as Vice President on the national board of Sisters in Crime, participates in Crime Writers of Color, and blogs at Chicks on the Case.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.

26 Comments

  1. Congratulations on the new series! This sounds really interesting. Thanks for the chance to win one.

    Reply
    • Wow. This looks great!

      Reply
      • Thank you, Marsha! Excited about this book 1 in the series!

        Reply
  2. I drink a lot of bubble tea! Count me in! Good luck on the new series.

    Reply
    • Definitely great for bubble tea lovers! Thanks, Glen+Davis!

      Reply
  3. Happy to be on KRL again! Thanks for featuring Death By Bubble Tea!

    Reply
    • You are very welcome! Thank you for sharing your fun guest post with us!

      Reply
    • I’ve never had bubble tea, sounds like an interesting storyline. Looking forward to reading the book.
      diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

      Reply
  4. Thank you for the chance. This is a new to me author. Always looking for new mysteries to read.

    Reply
  5. I love Bubble (bobba) tea. This series is right up my alley!!!

    Reply
    • Hooray, SaraJo! There’s even a bubble tea recipe in the back of the book.

      Reply
  6. I’m excited for the new series, and the drink recommendations sound delicious! I’m a big fan of bubble tea.

    Reply
  7. Congratulations on the new series. I can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the chance to win one.

    Reply
  8. Congratulations on the new series. I can’t wait to read it.

    Reply
  9. I’ve been hearing about bubble tea lately and seems to be quite popular though I’ve never had it. I bet this mystery would be a fun way to learn more about the food and culture.

    Reply
    • Yes, I think so (but I’m biased). Thanks for reading this post, Alicia!

      Reply
  10. Bubble tea is new to me, as is Jennifer Chow. Would love to win the book.

    Reply
  11. Sounds like a good book! Thanks for the chance to win it!

    Reply
  12. We have a winner!

    Reply

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