Tag Archives: Smithsonian Heritage Month

SAPAHM Review: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau
Contemporary romance released by Jackie Lau Books on May 22, 2018

Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau Book CoverI’m a pretty simple guy. When I’m not writing a science fiction novel, I’m watching a good movie or reading a book. Alone. I like my reclusive life. That is, until my only friend asks for a favor—pretend to be his baby sister’s boyfriend on a couples’ getaway. Her ex is going to be there and she needs me as a buffer.

I should have said no, but Naomi is bubbly, energetic, and beautiful. She also means everything to her brother. But now, our fake romance is starting to feel all too real, and I find myself stuck between the promise I made to my friend and risking my heart to the one woman who might actually get me…

I read this book very quickly, and found both Will and Naomi to be sympathetic, although after a while some of the themes became repetitive. Will is a science fiction writer with a Ph.D. in physics, who is on the extreme end of introverted, and can be a little obtuse when it comes to social interactions. Naomi is Will’s best friend’s youngest sister. She’s an event planner, and bubbly—but not in an everyone-must-be-bubbly-like-me way. This is a forced proximity kind of romance, with a mini road trip thrown in for good measure. I say mini, because in my part of the world, it might take 3 hours to get across the city, if the traffic is particularly awful. Naomi is sweet, has had a crush on Will before and still finds him attractive, but is still processing her breakup with a prior boyfriend when the book begins; Will has a history of people wanting to change his way of interacting with the world, hence the “grumpy” descriptive. And yes, a fake relationship is orchestrated. Will learns that putting himself out there a little more isn’t all bad, and both Will and Naomi learn the importance of being with someone that likes you for who you are makes you be a better person. Continue reading

Mini Interview with Courtney Milan

[Aidee here!] Courtney Milan generously answered some questions I had following the release of her most recent novel, After the Wedding. I have not yet read this book, and this mini-interview contains no spoilers. After the Wedding is the second full-length novel in the Worth Saga, which begins with Once Upon a Marquess. Milan writes historical and contemporary romances; the Worth Saga is her current historical series. What I enjoy most about Milan’s books is the humor and the way she subverts common tropes. Without further ado, here is the mini-interview!

First, I’d like to know how you think authors can change romance’s centering of England in the historical genre, aside from not setting the story in England?

Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan Book CoverHistoricals used to range the whole wide world and I think one of the reasons this stopped is because people very awkwardly realized that there were massive issues with unproblematically glamorizing certain portions of the past. Like there used to be a whole genre of southern historical romance novels that just…glossed over the issues with slavery? Yeah. Or the entire spectrum of historical titles involving stereotypical Native Americans, sometimes with racial slurs in the actual titles? Eeeeek. It seems almost horrific to me that those exist, and yet there were probably hundreds, if not thousands, published over the years. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ines Bautista-Yao on Filipino Characters in Filipino Settings

Hello friends!!! I’m thrilled to introduce another first time guest to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. Ines Bautista-Yao was kind enough to respond to my request for guest posts for APAHM!I know that “#ownvoices” is the “trendy thing” right now but … it’s not a trend – it’s life, and I’m so pleased we’re able to continue celebrating SHM months!

Filipino Characters in Filipino Settings
By Ines Bautista-Yao

Growing up, my favorite books were by authors Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene, Jahnna N. Malcolm, and Sheri Cobb South. I would lose myself in the adventures, heartaches, and triumphs of the characters. That was easy. Emotions, no matter where in the world you belonged, were universal. What wasn’t so easy was trying to imagine what it would be like to see what the characters saw, and to interact with people who had blue or even green eyes, and flaming red or flaxen hair. Funnily enough, my classmates and I didn’t know what flax was, but when we read “flaxen hair” in a book, we all knew it meant blonde. So whenever my classmates and I would write stories or imagine characters, they would more often than not have blue eyes and that so-called flaxen hair. It had gotten to a point where I would stay after a movie was over so I could read the credits and file away the last names in my mind. I didn’t know enough American last names for my characters, and movie credits were a good source of information.

It had never crossed my mind to write a story about a little Filipino girl like me. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia Redux The Prequel: The Flatness of [Western] Romance

Hi friends! Do you remember the first 2018 APAHM post we had? Ekaterine Xia was our guest and I talked about how I’d messed up? So I found the emails from 2014 – she agreed to let me use the first post as a comparison, since she piggybacked off of it to write the May 5th one! (Are you confused yet?) In 2014 she said she’d tell me which book covers she wanted me to use … but that didn’t happen so I’m going with my picks. 😀 The most important thing though, is of course the post. Enjoy! N.B. I came up with the ~title. Because I think it’s accurate.

The Flatness of [Western] Romance

So it all started when Limecello tweeted with:

New quest! Any African American, Asian American, Hispanic, or Native American romance readers around? 😀

So I responded with: “Chinese person who reads romance over here. …I think I qualify as As-A?”

Not Just Human by E. Xia CoverThe thing is, it isn’t that easy. It’s the short answer.

The long answer is that I’m a third-culture-kid, aka global nomad, aka syncretic mutt of a first-gen fresh off the boat kind-of Asian American.

I was born in Taiwan, but we moved to the US when I was two. So technically Mandarin Chinese is my first language, but not by much. I grew up mainly in the US and it’s where I call home, no matter how much border control seems to disagree. Continue reading

SAPAHM: Into the Badlands & Ali Wong

Hi friends! SAPAHM! Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! What do Into the Badlands and Ali Wong have to do with each other? Very little!

But! They’re both popular right now, and they’re both Asian and/or Asian peripheral! Ali Wong is self explanatory. (OMFG somehow I accidentally typed “sexplanatory” which made me laugh and also maybe is accurate because she does talk about sex a lot in her specials?) So! I’ve seen both her Netflix specials! The first a few months ago, the newer one more recently.

I’m including trailers for both because hopefully they hit the highlights and you get the chance to watch – if you have your own NF account you definitely should watch them … and if you don’t, see if you can watch with a friend. I laughed until I wheezed.

But! Into the Badlands!

Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Chris Mariano on Air, Sea, and Birth: How the Filipino Community Has Grown in Alaska

Hi friends! Please welcome first time guest Christ Mariano to ALBTALBS! I really hope you take the time not only to read what is said, but also think about the history, and [cross] cultural aspects. <3

Air, Sea, and Birth: How the Filipino Community Has Grown in Alaska

Wired Differently by Chris Mariano Book CoverIn downtown Juneau, a raven takes about six hops to get from one wall of flowers to the other. He is watching, waiting, from his spot. To call his tiny public space a park would be an exaggeration; the droves of tourists descending from the cruise ships might easily dismiss it as a traffic junction. But this is Manila Square, a little piece of (my) home 5,898 miles away from an eponymous city, belonging just as much to the ravens and the wild Alaskan landscape as it does to the many Filipinos who have come to Juneau ‘by air, by sea, or by birth.’

By Air

Many Asians know the drill. When visiting another person’s home, it is more polite to leave your shoes by the door. Wait for house slippers. Offer to go barefoot, even. This is how you show your respect.

I wonder if other immigrants feel this way, too. Like you’ve left your shoes by the door, next to the life you used to lead. You can walk through this new house knowing where the cutlery and the best china are kept—maybe you even have permission to bring them out and host your own dinner party—but you know better. You’ll always feel like a guest too paranoid about overstaying her welcome.

I feel it sharply here in Alaska. Its people are warm even in the coldest weather, but the land can never be subdued into domesticity or familiarity. From fur trappers to gold prospectors to salmon canners to oil drillers, many people, including Asians, have come to Alaska seeking fortune or adventure or escape. My own family has chosen to live in Juneau—papers in hand, figurative shoes by that invisible threshold but somehow clinging to most of the baggage we’ve accumulated over the years. And while our migration story is rather common, it still amazes me that so many Filipinos would leave a home in the tropics to settle in a place known for its long and dark winters. Continue reading

SHM APAHM Guest Georgette Gonzales: When Creativity Blooms Late In Life

Hi friends! I’m really excited to welcome Georgette Gonzales to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet! She was kind enough to respond to my call on twitter (and hat tip thanks to Chachic too!) to guest for APAHM! She really does the introducing in her post, so read on!

When Creativity Blooms Late In Life

My Special Valentine by Edith Joaquin CoverMany, if not most, of what I read in writers’ interviews detailing their backgrounds and writing journeys tell of a kid with a vivid imagination, writing stories down in a notebook, keeping their work underneath all other school stuff (because it’s their deep, dark secret) or sometimes sharing the precious words with a few trusted family members and friends. Often, those who would read their work ask for more, so they continue to craft and create, write and compile, amassing notebook upon notebook of maybe fantastic and not-so-fantastic tales that later may be turned into bestsellers. At any rate, the voices in their heads would not stop until the stories were written so might as well indulge their yet-to-be-identified-as fans (and imaginary friends), right?

I, unfortunately, do not have this kind of back story. I didn’t even know I could write until I was…shall we say, forced into it because of my job. Continue reading

SAPAHM Guest: Ekaterine Xia on Circles and Cycles and Sometimes Spirals

Hi friends! Oh my gosh this blog post has been four years in the making. Ekaterine Xia first sent me a post in 2014 for APAHM and well, if you’re a “long time reader” you’ll know my life has been in shambles for pretty much this whole time but there was some extra going on then and ALBTALBS was pretty much on hiatus. And I do my utmost to avoid doing this sort of thing but – if there’s a someone else (which I think there might be but oh god for the life of me I don’t know/can’t remember) whose post I never scheduled or that I missed I am so very sorry. I’m sorry, please know I am truly deeply sorry, and it’s my fault.

… I already had this “conversation” with Ekaterine, so I wanted to share that. Anyway! This time WE’RE LIVE! Please give Ekaterine a warm welcome!

Circles and Cycles and Sometimes Spirals

Past Love's Triumph by E. Xia CoverFour years ago, I wrote a post about myself, the boundaries of romance, white privilege, and where a Chinese American third culture kid stood amidst the noise.

Now, Romancelandia is still dealing with privilege, erasure, and people fighting against those who want to keep the too-narrow gates shut.

Still the same issues, the same fights, but there’s more awareness, so I want to talk about happy endings and how my definition has shifted over the years instead of beating that drum further. For now. Continue reading

SHM APAHM Special Guest: Chachic on #romanceclass

Hi friends! I “met” Chachic on twitter – and I’m super excited for her to be the “kick off” guest for APAHM 2018! I hope you’ll join me in welcoming her – and read on for some great information about #ownvoices books and authors!

Hello everyone! My name is Chachic and I’m a book blogger, bookstagrammer and foodie from the Philippines. I have been chatting with Limecello on Twitter for a while now and I’m so glad to be here on her blog for a guest post for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. To be honest, I was super flattered when Limecello asked me for a guest post but I had no idea what I should write about! But then I remembered that one of my favorite genres is romance (the other is fantasy, in case you were wondering) and that I love supporting Filipino authors so why not talk about romanceclass? Continue reading

SHM APAHM!

Oh my lordt y’all – yes! L-O-R-D-T! It’s May! Which means it’s APAHM! And Lime, you might ask, WTAF are all those letters?! Well let me tell you! We all need periodic reminders. SHM stands for “Smithsonian Heritage Month” here at ALBTALBS. … Now you’re potentially going “WTF is ALBTALBS?!” … ALBTALBS = A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet. The name of the site. (No, it’s not “Tart Sweet” – that’s just the url because typing out the whole damn thing/using it as a url seemed … not smart.) … If you ask what “WTF” stands for I might cry. I mean, what the fuck, right? 😉

OK. APAHM. That’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! That’s just what it’s called! Some say APIA is more accurate … which would be Asian and Pacific Islander American.

We’re hobbling along with the Smithsonian Heritage Months and every year I think about hobbling it because why even bother, right?! I’ve been doing this for 4-5 years at least, and just what even. Romanceland is really trying (or so it says) to embrace diversity and be more diverse. And then you get the pushback of “tokenism” and “you only care during X months.” I’m speaking generally here…

Here’s the thing – ALBTALBS has an open door policy. Anyone is welcome to guest at any time. For the Smithsonian Heritage Months, I try to make the extra effort to especially highlight and celebrate our diverse members.

I sometimes think about giving up, but then will get a message that someone went through the SHM posts and bought the books of authors who wrote guest posts! Which is fantastic! And a the reason for keeping on.

So I hope everyone takes SHMs in the spirit in which they’re meant – in joy and lifting up. (Yes I realize I’m pretty much preaching to the choir here … especially since I’ve said time and again you all are much nicer than I am. Q.E.D.)

Anyway if people want to participate, they’re welcome to. You might have noticed in 2018 I opened up all the SMHs to anyone and everyone. I don’t care what color you are, your identity or background, you can write a guest post for any month. I hope you join us!