Stricken with the knowledge of everyone’s complicity, and unable to return home, Li Haolan vows she will never beg for another thing in her life as she tries to claw her way out of her fallen circumstances and avenge the death of her mother and the wrongs done to her. The scheming merchant Lü Buwei purchases Li Haolan and takes interest in the fate of this intelligent, unusual girl. Together, they form an unlikely partnership as they both begin to climb the ladders of power.
Shen Qin, the Prime Minister’s daughter, is due to be married to a powerful general, Xiao Han Sheng, but she is already in love with another man, Prince Ning. In a nefarious bid to disentangle herself from this marriage, Shen Qin traps a female artist, Shi Qi, and uses a magician to perform a type of sorcery that enables the two ladies to swap faces.
Shi Qi wakes up with her face now belonging to the Prime Minister’s daughter and is blackmailed by Shen Qin into marrying Xiao Han Sheng. To her surprise, she recognises Xiao Han Sheng from an old encounter in the past. Conflicted, she has to carry out a charade as his wife, Shen Qin, and matters get complicated when Prince Ning also starts getting interested in her. (Source: MDL)
A Familiar Stranger is a hidden gem. I hadn’t heard much about it and think more people should be giving it love. This is a short webdrama that I thought was incredibly well done. (I don’t quite get all the differences between web dramas in China and such – I do know they’re more an established medium than in the states – but sometimes still quite low budget. That’s not the case here/I don’t know how much was actually spent but it definitely doesn’t lack in terms of quality.) The sets, actors, script, musicality and OST (original sound track) are all great. In fact, after first watching it a week or so ago I rewatched it again a few days later, and have re-started it again for this review. And I’ve watched two other dramas that the male and female lead star in, respectively, I thought they were that good. (Also the theme for this month is “unusual historical” which … *gestures* – I mean, everything I watch now is an “unusual historical” in terms of our usual romance novels.) Continue reading
Widow Eliza struggles to raise her young daughter and run her Washington state flower farm. Julien, a charming amputee with a knack for business, stops his road trip to help her out of a tight situation. A Southern native, he has no intention of sticking around a sleepy farm town. Eliza’s grit and dedication warm Julien’s wounded heart, but can they look beyond a business partnership and see the beauty of second chances?
This book technically has a lot of elements I love in my favorite books–disabled characters, interesting family dynamics, and love interests falling in love and learning to work together. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. I am sure that this book would appeal to lots of other people, so I will do my best to highlight the parts others might enjoy, but please keep in mind this was not working for me as a reader. Also, there are mentions of suicide and death in a vehicular accident in this book, as part of the background for Eliza, one of the love interests. Eliza is a widow, running a flower farm and raising her young daughter in a small town in Washington. Julien is passing through said small town when he agrees to help Eliza out at her farm for a short time–at least to start. Continue reading
Lady Veronica Elal has been freed from her tower—and entered a life of servitude. It doesn’t matter that her wizard master has odd ideas about circumventing Convocation tradition and making their relationship equal. Nic prides herself on her practicality and that means not pretending her marriage is full of hearts and flowers. Besides she understands that, despite her new husband’s idealism, they face obstacles so great the pair of them could be crushed to nothing, even without dashing themselves brainless trying to fight the Convocation.
Lord Gabriel Phel has come this far against impossible odds. He was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. He’s managed to begin the process of reinstating his fallen house. And—having staked his family’s meager fortune to win a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter to be mother to his children, his lady, and lover—he rescued Nic in a distant land, successfully bringing her home to House Phel. Though she’s cynical about their chances of success, he’s certain they can defy their enemies and flourish. Together.
But, the more Gabriel discovers about working with the fiery Nic, attempting to learn the finer points of wizardry and marriage, the more illicit fantasies plague him. His need for Nic—and the dark cravings she stirs in his black wizard’s heart—grow daily. Though Nic has reconciled herself to being possessed by Gabriel—and indeed yearns for even more from her brooding and reluctant master—creating a new life for herself isn’t easy. Especially when Gabriel seems determined to subvert the foundation of her world. Starting with her father.
This is a good sequel to Dark Wizard, which I reviewed and enjoyed. I’m a bit grumpy that it ends on a cliff hanger, although I appreciated that the cliff hanger doesn’t have to do with Nic and Gabriel’s relationship. When I reread this book, I struggled a bit with the pacing, but I also found it fairly absorbing both times I read it. I would not recommend picking up this book before reading Dark Wizard because it follows closely on the events that ended Dark Wizard. Nic and Gabriel have to navigate their relationship and how it differs from the one they had imagined, figure out what their life together will look like, and deal with the repercussions from their actions in the previous book. That last part is a bit of a spoiler. Continue reading
Blurb: As a disciple of the Lei Clan, Lei Wu Jie can’t wait to prove his worth as a hero, but as a novice who has only just entered the martial arts world, the path to becoming a true hero is difficult, at best. Undeterred by the challenges that lay before him, Wu Jei makes his way to the great city of Xue Yue, certain that his time there will mould him into the hero he so longs to be. Unfortunately, his trip to Xue Yue is waylaid by an unfortunate mishap at the Villa of Fallen Snow.
As proprietor of the Villa, Xiao Se has all the looks of a wealthy innkeeper, but he can barely afford to keep the inn open. Struggling with his business, Xiao Se is less than pleased when his establishment is damaged by the antics of a young, wannabe hero. Demanding he makes amends for the damage he caused, Wu Jei can think of only one way to appease the grumpy Xiao Se, and that is to take him with him. With no other options, the two set off together without any idea of what fate has in store for them.
Befriending several people along the way, including Wu Xin, Sikong Qian Luo, Tang Lian, and Ye Ruo Yi, Xiao Se and Wu Jei soon find themselves caught up in an adventure far greater than any of them could have imagined. While facing countless dangers, the group stumbles upon a trail of clues that tie one of them to a battle for the throne that took place over a decade ago. The question is, is the intrepid hero ready and willing to take his rightful place as the leader of the people? And where will the brotherhood go from there?
I really enjoyed this show. I started writing this review when I was rewatching (again again) and on episode 6 where there’s a lot of great humor. The Blood of Youth has such a badass ending. The theme for the March TBR challenge is “baggage” and boy howdy does our (main) hero have a lot of it. The most eyebrow raising aspect is – and … get ready to mark your calendars because this is rare – ignore the “romance” in it. Truly it’s terrible. I recoiled from my screen during most the “romance” scenes 😅. I liked the great balance of this series between plot and serious matters and humor, as well as the great relationships that are displayed. Really in my opinion it’s a buddy epic, and a journey of the hero “re-discovering” himself. It’s a bit of a wuxia fantasy – there are a lot of suspension of disbelief elements (basically people flying, near sentient weapons etc), but just go along for the ride. It’s a good time. Continue reading
Here are two [synopses] of the series:
The story of a witty young girl named Qiu Yan and a cold-faced duke named Liang Yi, who goes from battling each other with wits and boldness to understanding and accompanying each other.
Qiu Yan is the least favored eldest daughter of the Qiu Manor. She managed to reap happiness step by step relying on her own efforts and wisdom. (From MyDramaList)
As the eldest daughter of an influential scholar and Vice Minister of Works, Qiu Yan (Qiao Xin) ought to have been highly favored within her family. Alas, as the daughter of her father’s concubine, the favor Qiu Yan should have received often went to her younger sister, Qiu Min (Kabby Hui). Often overlooked and frequently mistreated, Qiu Yan’s only chance of escape from her less-than-fortunate life comes in the form of an arranged marriage. Unfortunately even that goes awry at the last minute, leaving Qiu Yan an object of scorn and mistrust.
Determined to clear her name, Qiu Yan takes on the investigation herself; but she isn’t the only one looking into the case of her newly departed husband. As head inspector of the government’s investigative agency, Duke Liang Yi (Jeremy Tsui) is determined to uncover the truth. Often crossing paths with Qiu Yan, the two form an unlikely friendship, which works out advantageously for both, as the closing of their case gets them both what they want most. But the fates that tie Qiu Yan and Liang Yi together aren’t finished meddling just yet.
When her family is threatened by an unexpected accusation, Qiu Yan and Liang Yi must work together once more, to save her family from ultimate disgrace. As they work to clear her family’s name, the sparks that often fly between them eventually ignite a much bigger flame. But can love blossom in the midst of a major family crisis?
A fantastic story of clashing wills and melting hearts, “The Autumn Ballad” is a 2022 Chinese romance drama directed by Ding Ying Zhou. (From Rakuten Viki)
(Today was the first time I’d ever seen the trailer… anyway.) The “prompt” for the challenge this month is “Starting Over” and I’m currently having my heart ripped out by my rewatch of The Autumn Ballad … and I think it really fits well. (The book I’m reading very slowly, Kraving Tavek by Zoey Draven, would fit well too but I have a feeling even much more angst is in the second half and I fear it turning into wangst … so we’ll see.) Anyway … it’s funny because I think I actually tried watching The Autumn Ballad a while back but the opening scene turned me off – but last week I saw more of the episode when someone else turned it on and I got hooked. Hard. I literally watched all 34 episodes in two days … so there you go. (I also literally didn’t sleep the second night which is not recommended for healthy responsible adults.) 😅 It also means I’m fuzzy on some details so a piecemeal rewatch is called for, although I’m fast forwarding through all the parts that annoyed me the first go round, so there’s that too.
I don’t know if I’ll do a good job describing things/doing it justice because I’m so in it … but here we go. Continue reading