Hi friends! November is National Native American Heritage Month!
If you’re new to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) I used to have guests for the Smithsonian Heritage Months. Now, every year I post a list that I try to keep as updated as possible. I always hope to see this number growing, and more books to look into.
As always if you fall under this umbrella and want me to add you, or know someone who could/should be added, please let me know! (And on the flip side, if you want to be removed, let me know that as well.) … Also I know at least one of the authors is Canadian – but you know, North America. (I’m still not quite sure how to split or not split international authors …)
Confirmed bachelor Nicholas Grey is more than the playboy perpetrated by the tabloids. Now his position as CEO of the architecture firm Grey & Company is on the line, and his mother’s interference is making things more difficult. Nick’s committed to his work, but, in order to be taken seriously, he needs to land a huge project. A stable personal life will help guarantee the contract.
Fairy Godmother Faye Delmore hears Nick’s plea and steps in to help. Posing as a publicist, she suggests a strategy to polish his public image, which includes convincing Beth to play his wife. Faye knows Nick needs the huge project to save his job, but she also knows he needs Beth in his life.
What happens when you add a fairy godmother who loves playing matchmaker into the equation? A future designed by destiny.
I want to start this review with a caveat. When I picked up this book, I was not in a great frame of mind, having just taken a long test which I find to be entirely pointless, but which I can’t avoid. It is entirely possible this book will work for someone out there, but it did not work for me. The premise is cute and caught my attention. However, it was difficult for me to believe in my heart that the couple actually fell in love over the course of the book or that they were going to have a fulfilling and loving relationship by the end of the book. There are elements of magic in this book, but because the main characters are not aware of them, they felt distracting, as opposed to adding depth to the world. Finally, the way the author handled the power differential in this book did not work for me – I could not stop thinking to myself, “But she’s only an intern!” Continue reading →
“Blurb”: 18 years ago a young and innocent Xue Tong witnessed her family being brutally murdered. Since then she has hidden herself quietly and patiently, waiting for the day she could put her revenge plan into action. Well that day has come, and Xue Tong has finally returned to her hometown as Miss Lin Bao Er, the daughter of a wealthy Nanyang businessman. Now an adult, Lin Bao Er is clever, cunning, good with a gun, and skilled at understanding the depths of human nature.
When she meets the charming young master Zhu Guan Wen, the two decide to pose as couple in order to progress their own interests. Neither can help but grow feelings for each other, but will their love be their greatest strength or their downfall? [– from MDL]
You. Guys. I am giddy as I write this review. Revenge, a kickass FL, and THE most supportive ML. I was constantly *STAR-EYES* and *HEART-EYES* while watching this drama. Honestly, I think you “need” both trailers to get an idea – it’s definitely got it’s dark moments (nearly all presented in trailer two), but there’s a lot of romance too. The TBR prompt for October is “Danger Zone” and … Miss Mysteryreally fit the bill here because our FL (female lead) Lin Bao Er/ Xue Tong is throwing herself into unknown dangers in order to avenge her family. She’s got a plan, but in life you never quite know how things will turn out. Lucky for her she has ML (male lead) Zhu Guan Wen who could be labeled “Mr. Supportive.” (ETA: I forgot to add that as a potential bonus, each episode is only 5-10 minutes long, so it’s not a big commitment.) Continue reading →
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.
Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.
When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.
This was a wonderful romp with two very different main characters. I only wish we got to see more of them as a long-standing couple. Readers of this series and the Reluctant Royals series will recognize Beznaria from her appearance in How to Catch a Queen, as well as other characters. I think you can read this book without having read How to Catch a Queen, or the Reluctant Royals series, but you might miss out on a lot of the subplots going on. What this book is told in loosely alternating chapters in Beznaria and Makeda’s voices, and you get a really good sense of their personalities and way of moving through the world. This has become a fairly common way of structuring stories, but not everyone is good a capturing and conveying a character’s voice outside of dialogue, which you need to be able to do in order for this structure to live up to its full potential. Makeda and Beznaria both have a lot going on when they first meet, and much of the book is both of them sorting themselves out and figuring out that they love each other. Both also have complicated families that love them.Continue reading →
General Murong Qiu Yu was infatuated with the second prince Li Mo, she aided him in seizing the throne. However, she was betrayed and killed by Li Mo and her sister Murong Xin Er. After being reborn, Qiu Yu found herself back on her wedding night with the seventh prince, Li Jian. Qiuy Y decided to join forces with Li Mo’s rival, Li Jian, to ensure that Murong Xin Er and Li Mo face the punishment they deserve… – source, MDL
I followed the TBR Challenge Prompt for “once!” This is a new to me scriptwriter (Luo Man Ying) – which isn’t something I usually check, but I did here. It’s also fitting because the story is the best part of the drama. What’s Wrong With My Princess is one of the most satisfying revenge stories I’ve seen. It’s a short drama so definitely not big budget, but definitely worth watching. I think I’ve seen both lead actors in other dramas previously, but ironically the one who I’d be most interested in seeing again was a character I hated – the SFL. (I chalked it down to the directing and good acting – her character is awful.)
When it comes to Chinese dramas the way lead characters are discussed are “Female Lead (FL),” “Male Lead (ML),” “Second Female Lead (SFL),” “Second Male Lead (SML),” and occasionally there’s a third FL and ML. Although ML and FL are always the hero/heroine, it’s not the case for SML, SFL, etc. – just they also get the more developed stories and longer screen time. There are some trigger warnings needed for the beginning – although it’s so unrealistic and absurd seeing it at least for me wasn’t that big of a deal – in fact I kept thinking and even said “that’s not how this shit works” but it was so awful it’s one of those “I don’t mind it’s wrong” things. The evil characters kill FL’s child in utero… right as she’s going into labor. It’s deeply fucked but that’s the point and why she comes back so angry and determined to exact justice. There’s also the dark history (or purported history) of consorts and concubines doing this sort of thing in the palace in order to grab power for themselves or preserve power … so it’s slightly less “what the FUCK”/more common to see to a native audience than to a Western audience. Continue reading →
Hi Friends! It’s Latinx Heritage Month 2023! Technically Hispanic Heritage Month by law, and I’m not educated enough to get into this discussion – I just want to highlight the romance authors I know of who fit under this umbrella. ALBTALBS celebrates Smithsonian Heritage Months this way – but in the past we had guest posts and such so you can read them via the tags, particularly Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month – there’s a lot of good content there!
Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list – just who I’ve found. I’m trying my best.
As always – If you fall under the umbrella and aren’t listed let me know – I want to add you! I know I’ve definitely missed a lot – I haven’t been up to much this year, so please let me know who else is out there! <3
“Summary”: The maid in charge, Shen Yan, has assisted the Seventh Prince Chu Ning Yuan in seizing the title of crown prince. The two, who also had tragic experiences, became cold-hearted in order to seek revenge and seize power. They are used to seeing the dark, and the little warmth is only left to each other. Chu Ning Yuan gradually fell in love with Shen Yan who was always by his side, but Shen Yan was indifferent to his love, and even took the initiative to match Chu Ning Yuan to marry the daughter of a powerful minister in order to destroy the current crown prince’s plan to stabilize his power by taking the prime minister’s daughter as a concubine. Chu Ning Yuan saw Shen Yan’s intentions and became more determined to keep Shen Yan by his side. [Lightly edited by me, initially taken from MDL]
Dong Lan Xue is a short webdrama that is obviously low budget but doesn’t look like it at all. The costumes are gorgeous, as are the actors, the sets are well done, the script is excellent, the acting is good, there’s great fight choreography, and even nice background music. I think it was the first super short I’ve seen – as in each episode is only 2-3 minutes, and I was impressed with not only how much gets packed in, but how well the story is told. Continue reading →
*Editor’s Note: I don’t normally do this but I’d like to note Aidee submitted this review in February of 2022, so my apologies to her, and you, and think that might be why there are some unknowns in the review that have already been answered. Thanks for understanding.
From Darynda Jones, a standalone novella set in a world where vampyres are hunted for sport. The only thing standing between them and total annihilation is Winter, a warrior bred to save them from extinction. Forbidden to fall in love, Winter cares only about her oaths… until she meets the devilish prince of the underworld.
Of Fate and Fire by Amanda Bouchet
The Kingmaker Chronicles meets modern-day New York City! Piers, an exiled warrior from Thalyria, finds himself in the Big Apple just before the holidays. The world and everything in it might be utterly foreign to him, but that won’t stop Piers from helping to complete a vital mission for Athena and protect Sophie, a French teacher from Connecticut who’s suddenly knee-deep in inexplicable phenomena, danger, and henchmen after an Olympian treasure that should never have ended up in her hands—or remained on Earth after the Greek gods abandoned it.
The King of Hel by Grace Draven
A novella-length expansion of a stand-alone short story in which a cursed mage-king from a frozen kingdom is obligated to marry a woman of high-ranking nobility but meets his soulmate in a lowly scribe.
Familiar Winter Magic by Jeffe Kennedy
It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…
This was a good winter-themed anthology from some well-known authors. It landed a little unevenly on me, because I was not familiar with one of the authors’ writing, but if you’re familiar with most or all of the authors’ books, then this anthology is pretty good. There are four novellas in this anthology, and andeach one is based in a pre-existing world by one of the authors. Grace Draven’s novella is a prequel to her upcoming novel. Jeffe Kennedy’s novella introduces some new characters in her Bonds of Magic series. Amanda Bouchet’s novella ties together her two series. Darynda Jones’s novella was the least interesting to me, but that could be because I am not familiar with her books. Continue reading →
This is one of the rare times I’m “in line” with the TBR Challenge prompt – July is “opposites attract” and while this maybe isn’t what one would think … I feel it fits here. I might also be a little off with the second sentence of the post title, but it’s pretty safe to assume. So this is a love story but it is NOT an American genre romance. Obviously.
The premise is … what if you and your soulmate were trapped in reverse timelines.
I want to talk about the details of this drama for once – because the way An Ancient Love Song came into existence is SO COOL. As far as i know it’s a short, low budget “low production” series. However, I saw some interesting buzz about it, and had liked the FL (female lead) in another drama I’d watched before. Initially I saw a trailer and was like “while the visuals are beautiful it looks sad, so pass” but then I heard about the origin. So apparently someone made a random but intense fan music video (FMV) years ago. They took clips of different dramas and put them together (very impressive – they made the visuals seamless and it really looked like it could’ve been one show) – and even hired voice actors for new dialogue/a story. It went viral, and eventually someone decided to turn it into an actual series. The original creator was even brought on as a scriptwriter. I believe someone said it’s the first time this has ever happened. Continue reading →
LOOK IT’S SO GOOD OKAY?
*CAVEAT: To be honest, I put off watching this series for a bit because there were some mixed reviews, and for the first episode(s) the critics are legit. The beginning is … a lot. They throw a lot of shit out there, and introduce characters that are instantly killed off. Also, for whatever reason the first (few?) episodes – I’ve replaying from E1 as I write this review for me … third? fourth? rewatch – anyway, especially in episode one it’s like the director firmly told everyone “hey, overact as much as humanly possible.” Even knowing that/having seen some gifs that had me facepalming, I almost DNF’d at E1, but powered through, and am so glad that I did, because this series truly is excellent. (You need to watch the first few episodes the first time to get the background, but IMO the series only really starts/gets good once the hero loses is stupid awful “disguise.”) So … lol truly – if you pick up this series, which I hope you do … POWER THROUGH THE FIRST FEW EPISODES. Ping me, tweet me, email me, I will let you bitch all you want! I’ll encourage you and we’ll get through it! (It’s taken me months to write this review where I started and stopped…) Anyway, here’s the blurb/summary.
As leader of an elite unit, tasked with protecting the imperial family, Zhou Zi Shu was not a man to be taken lightly. A man of great honor, who commanded much respect, he served with the utmost loyalty and was rewarded accordingly. However charmed his life may have seemed on the outside, in reality, it was not the life Zi Shu desired. Unsettled within himself, Zi Shu ultimately decides to leave his position in order to pursue his own dreams.
Putting the past behind him, Zi Shu is determined to start anew but even the best laid plans can be waylaid by fate. Not long after setting off to see the world, Zi Shu finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that rocks the martial arts world. At the same time, he meets Wen Ke Xing, a mysterious martial artist from the Ghost Valley, who is on a quest to avenge his parents’ death. Brought together by fate, the two become fast friends as they share a series of adventures that leads them ever closer to a legendary treasure that is rumored to give its owner ultimate power over the martial arts world.
Entangled in conspiracies and hunting treasure, Zi Shu and Ke Xing find themselves caught up in an adventure so epic, it could alter the course of history forever.
Adapted from the novel, Faraway Wanders by Priest, Word of Honor is a 2021 adventure fantasy drama directed by Gary Sing and Jones Ma.
I posted online a little bit about this series while I was watching it and I said it has some of the most complex main characters I’ve ever read or watched. One was basically forced to become an assassin to protect not only himself but his entire martial [arts] sect (Four Seasons Manor) of nearly 100 people that he was entrusted to lead at just 16 years old. The other is willing to watch the world burn as he tries to avenge the tragic death of his parents – and with good reason, because they were betrayed by the world. Then there’s the added level of this being a same sex relationship/romance drama which is definitely ~not allowed in China, so the whole thing is overall subtle and it’s mostly hints and innuendo. (Since the airing of this show there’s been an outright ban…) Still, I really enjoyed Word of Honor and started rewatching it to write this review. Again, I also entreat people to “endure” through the first few episodes because there’s some pretty painful overacting in them which thankfully doesn’t last.
The “prompt” of the TBR challenge this month is “love is love” – and this is a “BL” series – “boy love” which is unfortunately banned now, so shout out to the iconic Word of Honor. (LOL seriously – considering comments I’ve read, these characters live rent free in a lot of people’s heads. 💯) And truly. Gong Jun and Zhang Zhehan give a masterclass in chemistry here, with just looks. Continue reading →