I love reading and learning about Asian culture and its rich history. China certainly has no shortage of either! When you mix that with the genealogy of a family, you’ve got my interest. Growing up, I listened to my mother’s stories of our ancestors as she uncovered their secrets while studying our family tree. While there are no Chinese branches on mine, there is a wonderful Asian twist that has given me a lifelong fascination with the Orient. That’s why books like Sweet Mandarin always manage to grab me and hang on.

Sweet Mandarin is more than a true story. It is several true stories all woven into one amazing family history that is author Helen Tse’s. Starting with the story of her great grandparents, it works its way from generation to generation, giving a beautiful account of what makes her family unique. Helen Tse’s family history contains a long line of fascinating people who struggled to work their way out of difficult situations, regardless of what they were “supposed” to do. The story starts with a great grandfather who began his own soy sauce factory and the family that suffered the consequences of his success. The bulk of the focus is on the women in Tse’s family; strong, brave women who break the bonds of China’s traditions, all the while coveting their culture like a valuable pearl. Tse’s family boasts three generations of restaurant owners, all having stories that will inspire and entertain.

Sweet Mandarin is a book that will appeal to a very wide audience – men, women, even young adult. Will it ever appear on the silver screen? I wouldn’t be surprised, and I certainly hope to hear there’s a movie contract in the works. And I thought my family was fascinating…

Want to win your own copy of Sweet Mandarin?

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me a little something about your family history. (I promise I won’t tell.) Where are you from? Do you know your roots, or are they a secret? Have fun with your comment! Winners are randomly chosen, but if the name drawn doesn’t respond, I choose the next winner by comment.

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Friday, September 5, 2008, to enter.


  1. My family history is mostly german and italian with a little of this and that thrown in. Which makes me a mutt. I do have an Ellis Island last name and what it was adapted from noone alive in my family knows.

  2. I was always told that my great grandmother was Blackfoot now that I am grown no one owns up to even saying that, now family says grandfather’s family had some Cherokee heritage. Hmmm, Sounds a bit like a mystery to me.

  3. Sounds like a great book, thank you.

  4. This book sounds great!! As for me, I’m half French, half Ukrainian….My family migrated to North America probably 200 yrs ago. According to my grandmother, our French ancestor was from a very wealthy family, but was disowned when he decided to move here…

  5. I am so mixed up, I don’t know who I am. Iranian, Ukranian, French, English, German and Mohawk from New York State. See what I mean? Thanks for the contest.

  6. My family secret? My grandmother HAD to get married. This was not the norm back in the early 1900’s! Would love to win! Great contest!

  7. born in Sweden. can trace family back to at least the 1600s with ease.

  8. my family came from canada :)

  9. Hm, I usually don’t enter these comment contests, but this one sparked my interest. I love learning about other peoples’ histories (I’ve had a blast just reading all the other entries) and I have a slight obsession with the orient. Heck my email means cute cat in Japanese. So, about my roots, I’m German, English, French and I’ve heard rumors that there might be a little Russian on my Mother’s side. Through that side of the family I’m related to Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th president). My Father’s side is all Italian, which he told me had ties to the mafia!! Imagine that!!

  10. My grandfather was a moonshiner!


    On my father’s side he is the first generation born in America. His Mother’s family all came from Italy and had a winery and ranch in Ukiah, CA. While the winery is gone, I believe some part of the family still owns part of the ranch, and we for sure still have a street name after my Nana’s family called Bartolomei Road.
    [email protected]

  12. My mom’s and dad’s families both came from Czechoslovakia (before it split). They all came through Ellis Island, and I have found pictures of the ships that they came on! I work with ELL (English Language Learner) students and this would be a wonderful read for me, as I love anything multi-cultural. Thanks for this chance.

  13. My mother is a professional genealogist, and even as a child I loved hearing about who I was related to and what their lives were like. She found out that my 22nd-great-grandmother is Lady Godiva, through my father’s family line. I’ll never forget when she delivered the news to the family. We were at my paternal grandfather’s home for a family dinner, and he, being a heavy smoker and at times a womanizer, had an ashtray on the coffee table embossed with a very naked “Lady Godiva.” As soon as he heard the news he grabbed that ash tray, put a bag over it and took it out to the trash. He said he’d never be able to look at it again in the same way.

    My 11-great-grandfather is Gov. William Bradford, who wrote the Mayflower Compact and was America’s first journalist.

    My son married a beautiful young woman from China, and I am fascinated in learning more about the Chinese culture. I worked at an Oriental School of Medicine with many Chinese and Korean students, and I truly learned to love them and their high regard for family. Would cherish the book.

  14. I have not been too successful in tracing my family history. I did find out my father’s family back three generations came from Union County Georgia and there is a big family reunion every year. I have heard family talk that our family owned oil wells in Texas but lost them somehow. In my research I have found Garretts all over even O’Garretts in Eire. I wish I knew my family’s history.

  15. I was born in the USA as were my parents. We can trace our family back to the year 1230 in Italy.

  16. Our heritage dates very far back in the New World history. Thomas Jefferson’s name appears.
    There are native americans in there too.

  17. My great grandparents came from Norway and Switzerland-I really do not know much about them

  18. My family too is from China. This book sounds very interesting!

  19. Supposedly my mother’s father’s side came over on the Mayflower. My mother’s mother’s side came from Poland.

  20. My grandfather was from Ireland and grandmother from Norway.

    [email protected]

  21. My family is from England,alot
    of them fought in the Civil War.
    Nice book and contest.Thanks
    I love the Chinese heritage

  22. My father came from China and my mother’s family came from Mexico.

  23. I know I’m part Dutch, part Cherokee… Interesting, yes?

  24. I know my grandmother came to the US from Germany at the age of 16 and was sponsored by a rich lady. She was her cook and clean for 3 years to reimburse her for the expenses.

  25. Our family is from Chekoslovokia

  26. I subscribed

  27. WIN WIN WIN!!!

  28. looks like a good book. my family history has my roots in sweden, but my son can say he is from africa too since his father is congolese

  29. My Nana’s family over in England is doing a great family tree at the moment and have traced their roots back to Scottish ancestory. My papaw’s and father’s side seem to be a mystery but I hope to start researching because geaneolgy really interest me. This book looks like a great read.

  30. This sounds like a good book! My mother’s family has Danish roots. My great great grandfather was a stowaway on his way from Denmark. He refused to reveal who he was when he was found (probably because he was a criminal, but we like to think he was a runaway prince!), so they gave him the last name “Mariner,” which is my grandmother’s maiden name.

  31. My family is primarily Italian – I was shocked to hear later in life that my great grandfather was Greek and had immigrated to Italy with his family years before immigrating to the US. Recently I encountered someone at work with the same last name as my mom’s maiden name and think we are related – it is an unusual last name. I checked the Ellis Island records and all of the people that had this last name immigrated from the same town in Italy. there were less than 25 people… I am fairly confident that his great grandfather and mine were cousins or siblings.

  32. Am I the only person up my tree… sure seems like it