Tag Archives: Recommended Books

Lime’s Favorite Chinese Romance Novels (So Far)

Hi friends – shout out to Ki especially! ❤️ You might know about eighteen months ago I started watching C(hinese) dramas in earnest after not watching any for years … and after not having any interest in reading translated novels … hearing about an upcoming drama with leads I liked got me very curious – ironically that one is still being translated (I think it’s been like nearly six years and counting 😅) but I’ve read so many since. And generally I try to avoid MTL (machine translating/novels that aren’t fully translated so then you have to turn to a site that just plugs it into a machine.) Anyway I guess this post will “close out” APAHM 2024.

ANYWAY. What started off my reading journey was the drama The Double.

Yo I am so fucking hype about this!!!! LOL. Anyway, it’s based on the book 嫡嫁千金 (Marriage of the Di Daughter) by 千山茶客 (Qian Shan Cha Ke). I immediately read three of her other books (four if you count one I DNF’d at the time) – one I even reviewed … and it’s number one. (The list is in my reading order, not my “like” order, because they’re all pretty damn close.)

  1. The Rebirth of the Malicious Empress of Military Lineage by Qian Shan Cha Ke book cover - it depicts a painted image of a woman and the title written in Chinese characters将门嫡女之定乾坤 (重生之将门毒后) (The Rebirth of the Malicious Empress of Military Lineage) by 千山茶客 (Qian Shan Cha Ke). I reviewed it here. It’s a fabulous rebirth + revenge story that has recently been licensed to be adapted into a drama and I’m both very excited and nervous because what if the leads aren’t people I like or they ruin the story?! But anyway currently it’s the only fully translated QSCK book that I know of, and is definitely worth the read. You can read it here – I started with chapter 1 since the site doesn’t have an official book page/they list all their other translations too. I also really liked 重生之嫡女祸妃 (Rebirth of the Ill Fated Consort) also by 千山茶客 (Qian Shan Cha Ke). It’s a very similar story, but even more vicious. I like this genre though, with epic revenge, smart characters, and smitten heroes … so I went for it. I’m grouping it with Malicious Empress though because a) it isn’t fully translated yet b) as I said it’s quite similar (yet not). The latter has also been licensed for drama adaptation and … the rumors of the current FL make me incredibly sad so light a candle to the drama gods it’s someone I like in the end. 🤞🙏 (For Ill Fated you can read chapters 1-207 here and bless the person who picked it up – I haven’t read their translations yet but will at some point – from 208 on you can read it here.)

2. 重生之女将星 (Rebirth of a Star General) by 千山茶客 (Qian Shan Cha Ke). It’s already been adapted into the upcoming drama Legend of the Female General, which I believe is currently in post production. I really like both leads as well, but unfortunately it’s so early in the process there’s no trailer or anything to share. Anyway, this is obviously another rebirth/revenge story, but the revenge happens pretty “early” on in the story, and then we get more focus on our heroine and hero spending time together. (And sadly not. They’re both generals, and basically literally the pillars of the country with a shit ass incompetent emperor. At times I wanted them to be like “fuck it” and just leave or live in seclusion.) This author really likes tearing her characters apart. 😿 It wasn’t fully translated when I read it (heh in fact I think I read more than half of it machine translated?) But it was still awesomeThe translator is also relatively fast so … hopefully it’ll be finished soon? This book has such a bad ass heroine and I really hope the drama does it/her justice. I felt her “first life” was so goddamn tragic – even reflecting on it now my heart hurts. (I literally cried.)  You can read it here – as of today 189 chapters have been posted. I loved the growth our girl went through – twice. (And thus ends my recs of any not fully translated books.)

3. 九叔万福 (Greetings Ninth Uncle) by 九月流火 (September Flowing Fire). I reviewed the novel here. It was my first book by SFF and I liked it so much I immediately read five of her other novels – so I’ve read six books by this author which might be the most yet? I love how incredibly competent and practical our heroine is, and again our smitten hero, as that’s my jam.  It does peter out a smidge near the end but is still such a satisfying read. I think it’s also a pretty gentle “introduction” to c-novels. There are some pretty frustrating aspects but nothing too extreme – and a good snapshot of ancient life in China and their precepts. It’s also a “rebirth/revenge lite” in my opinion because that’s a part of the storyline, but only the beginning – and our FL only lived two years before she was “rebirthed.”  You can read the novel here. I’m also adding 我给男主当嫂嫂 (I’ll Be the Male Lead’s Sister in Law) by 九月流火 (September Flowing Fire) because I think it’s so damn close to being fully translated. (It’s kinda hard to tell because the translator(s) broke it up into MANY smaller pieces. Back when I read it I had to read the whatever MTL version of a lot of it 😭 … but it was still so good. It’s also a bit of a “rebirth/revenge lite” in that the heroine lived one life, died, and was like “well fuck that shit” but she isn’t out to “get” her ex … more like she’s a bit of a chaos muppet who loves watching shows – the shows being people making fools of themselves. It’s so satisfying and delightful. Once this book is finally fully translated I am absolutely going to (re)read it. ❤️💯 You can read it here.

4. 八宝妆 (Eight Treasures Trousseau) by 月下蝶影 (Butterfly Shadow under the Moon). I think I actually DNF’d this book the first time I tried it 😱 (or 😅 it might’ve been another book with a very similar start?) But anyway – I think the first chapter is a bit weak but then it really picks up and I quite enjoyed it. It’s not entirely clear that our heroine has transmigrated/there’s no “big reveal” or “tell” in the beginning like the previous books I’ve mentioned, but it becomes obvious as you read on. I believe our heroine was originally an actress in the modern world and her internal commentary is gold. I really love this author’s humor. In fact as soon as I read this book I read I immediately read four more books by the author – all her fully translated stories set in ancient times. You can read it here. There are a few more from her backlist I’m eyeing/waiting for the translations to be done … and some modern ones to add to the list once I get there though I’m still shying away from non-ancient set books. Which leads me to 何为贤妻 (To Be a Virtuous Wife) by 月下蝶影 (Butterfly Shadow under the Moon). Another transmigration story – I think the heroine in this one was an entertainment agent in the modern world? Another similar yet sufficiently different story (to me) to be incredibly enjoyable and I also plan on re-reading it as well. There’s a chapter titled “Imperial Knife Corps” that lives rent free in my head. You can read it here.

5. It happened! I finally read a xianxia! 勿扰飞升 (Ascending, Do Not Disturb) by 月下蝶影 (Butterfly Shadow under the Moon). It’s kinda hilarious to me how much I basically hate xianxia since it’s essentially the equivalent of high fantasy … but there too often are so many goddamn pointless misunderstandings. And what’s great about Ascending is that we don’t have that here! This is the fluff cotton candy absolute delight and joy of a book. It was sweetness and fun and if you want a pick me up read I cannot recommend it enough. I will absolutely be re-reading this book at some point in the future. It’s already been adapted into a drama – Ascending, Do Not Disturb – although the title makes me cringe – I’m already looking forward to it. I really like the male lead, and am curious as to how they’ll adapt things. Not holding my breath on being happy with it but if I am it’ll be a delight. It’s all the fun cultivation to immortality with a goofy heroine that is so sweet and talented and kind of “oops” and it’s hard to explain – you just have to read it. The drama finished filming not too long ago so I don’t think there’s a trailer or anything available yet. But! You can read the book – fully translated! here! I will say the beginning is the tiniest bit slow/you might be anxious because it doesn’t start with sweetness and light, but you get there quickly.

6. 爱谁谁 (Who Cares) by 風流書呆 (Feng Liu Shu Dai/Casanovanic Bookworm). I think this was the first book where I was like “I can read the original title without help! 😹😅” and also I like it so much more than the translated one/it doesn’t … argh. It’s hard to explain. But anyway. THIS BOOK. It has I think the hero with the MOST GODDAMN TRAGIC BACKSTORY I’VE EVER SEEN. And I’m taking into account all the gawdawful abusive insanity I saw in the decade+ of my ex-job. Anyway … this does not start out as an easy read. In fact at first I wanted to throw the [hero] into a volcano where he’d be kept alive for a thousand years to suffer. I was heated. But then we find out about him and I just … really truly loved him. I also really loved our heroine’s “fuck you, and fuck this shit” attitude. It’s a rebirth story – she finds out just how much of a trash ass man her ex (and his family) were, and wants to do everything she can to avoid him. Once she can’t, she’s basically like “nope.” Oh there was so much that was so frustrating but then so satisfying and all these twists and turns that had me 😱 and this is another book I’ll be re-reading. I don’t want to give too many spoilers – but really – power through the “grrr” because once you get to the sweetness I was 100% 😻 this guy ended up being one of my most favorite heroes ever. EVER. … EVER!!! You can read it here.

7. Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House book cover侯门新妇 (Daughter-in-Law of a Noble House) by 海青拿天鹅 (Hai Qing Na Tian Er/Sea Blue Swan). This book might be a bit more of a “typical” c-novel in the slow pacing and development, but I really appreciated the characters being slightly older. Our heroine is 20, and has been previously married (only kinda not really…). I can’t explain it without getting into spoilers but when I found out the twists and turns I was like 😱. It also gets into a bit more politicking than some of the others, and the characters face more difficulty, but it’s never too much/not “want to throw the book out the window or set it on fire.” Which … some of my other reads have edged into. If I recall correctly, this isn’t a book with rebirth, revenge, or transmigration – and that makes it different already. Our heroine’s family was framed and she was the only person who survived the calamity because the empress dowager was her relative. Life is not easy for her, but she’s a survivor. I loved how her initial plan was just “get out.” But also how our hero won her over. I read some of the comments/reviews first so I slightly spoiled myself, but I don’t mind in my c-novel reads because I need to know first I’m getting a happy ending. Also that someone said everything means more the second read/when you know how much the subtle little actions mean.

8. 穿成佛系文好命女配  (Transmigrating into the Female Supporting Character with a Good Life in a Laid-Back Novel) by 九月微蓝 (Jiu Yue Wei Lan). I’m actually really super sad it doesn’t seem there are more books by this author that have been translated. (I did read/try the other one in NU; not as good – such a big difference … it looks like she has a few more that I’d really love to read and for a few minutes I’ve even been tempted to give it a try myself with a combination of some sort of machine translating and having google translate read it to me or finding the audiobook …) Anyway this is a bit of a goofy title but it’s no lies given. I’m currently re-reading it (and doing some light edits for my own enjoyment) – if you’d be interested in that version let me know – but the original translator did a good job and inserts some images etc to give examples of what the text is describing. This is another relatively low stress novel – and sometimes you just need that. Our heroine is someone who transmigrated from the modern world into a novel she read, so she has a few “cheats.” There are also at least two other transmigrated characters, one being her older half sister who is just evil and unhinged … but in this case it isn’t too annoying because ~everyone else who is important is in on the “joke” so it’s more like “look at this clown” instead of “I want to smash people in the face with a brick.” If you want a feel good read this is definitely the book for you. You can read it here.

9. 三嫁惹君心 (Marry You for Three Times/Three Marriages) by 明月听风 (Ming Yue Ting Feng/Bright Moon Listens To The Wind). So Marry You for Three Times is the title of the book in the OverDrive/Hoopla system … Three Marriages is how it’s translated for Novel Updates… and if I were to translate it I think it’d be “Three Marriages to Provoke the Gentleman.” This is a book that isn’t translated but I JUST LOVED IT SO MUCH! SO MUCH!!! I listened to the audiobook (thank you library!) and loved it so much as soon as it ended I immediately hit “play” and listened to the whole thing all over again. Then I listened to three more books by the author. (I DNF’d one otherwise it’d be four – the DNF thought was because the narrator was so nasal I wanted to puncture my eardrums. Sad, cuz it’s a book I wanted to read.) I want to be like “YOU NEED TO LEARN MANDARIN SO YOU CAN LISTEN TO THIS BOOK!” LOL. The first 38 chapters are translated with links here but it looks like it was long abandoned. Sob. >.> One day if I lose my mind I might give translating it a try … our chaotic couple treat arguing as their love language – but it’s not real arguments – more like teasing bickering. For example our hero talks about “punishing” the heroine by “family law” but it’s more … him being kissy and sex. Heh. (Although we never get anything too explicit because censorship rules/laws – damn CCP.) Another thing I loved is that our heroine is blind and you so rarely see any sort of “disability” in books. I loved the book so much I reviewed it … I definitely recommend checking your library/Hoopla if you understand Mandarin cuz then you can read it here. <3

10. 戾王嗜妻如命 (Tyrannical Wang’s Beloved Wife) by 昭昭 (Zhao Zhao). While I did really enjoy this book, in part I’m recommending it because of the translator too – and this is the first book where that’s happened to me – the Translator Notes are great, there’s so much detail.- and I think in part near the end when things get intense and she talks about having to translate Classical (Ancient) Chinese … it’d be like having to suddenly translate Latin or Ancient Greek and … respect. Heh I posted about it but I still have trauma from my Classical Chinese class I had to take in university … It’s a tiny bit of a mess because this book is LONG. Holy hell is it long. I think it’s the longest book I’ve ever read. I talked about it in my review here. The book is well over 2 million words. BUT IT’S WORTH IT. While I mentioned the hero is a bit extra, even for me, I understood why the way he was the way he was. I also loved how the story (with the extras) takes you through literally their entire lives. So satisfying! A tiny bit I wish the translator had done the “modern world” extra, but I also get why not because holy hell it was a lot. It took her nearly five years to fully translate, and she went pretty fast, considering we have another book that is less than half as long and only half translated six years later… ANYWAY. This is another transmigration story (😅 I don’t know if they’re just that hard to avoid or if I gravitate towards them?) – I loved our intelligent practical heroine and … while he’s Definitely Problematic in parts, he’s an absolute delight in others and seriously – I do think this is a romance because all his motivation is to make life as good as possible for our heroine. Gotta love that. 

There are more but these I think top my list, at least today. There are some other books I liked but are difficult. I’ve mentioned the more I read (and watch) I fucking hate Confucius and Mencius and their “men and women can’t have any interaction with each other and women should never show their faces in public.” Assholes. I’ve also mentioned how in most these books/made up dynasties the age of majority for women was 15 – which I think was pretty true throughout history? … In my brain I just age everyone up about five years. 😇 There might be cultural differences that make things more difficult to grok … for example filial piety was huge. Someone found guilty of being unfilial could lose their government position, and I think in some dynasties it was said even possibly a capital crime. It’s often weaponized by villainous characters. Those are just rants things though. Clearly I’m enjoying delving into this genre, and reading about different times and this culture, and all the kickass women and the men who love them.

I’ve also got a slew of books I’m waiting to be fully translated before I start reading them. Heh I kinda slowed down because at one point I only had like 3 more books in my TBR and none of them interested me and I panicked.

I also love how these novels have “extras” (which IMO are/should just be considered as part of the book…). Important to note is I think all of these are self published. I don’t know how it works in China/who has editors and such (I know some of the authors do) – but all the ones I recommended are pretty tight in their storytelling. Some you can kinda tell it was an earlier work, but I still enjoyed it. Sometimes it’s a bit of a wild game guessing if the “mess” is from the author or the translator. I think it helps sometimes when translators go a bit more direct I’m like “I know exactly what the original phrase was.”

I really hope some of you will read at least one of these books – I’d love to know what you think! And if anyone might have any suggestions for me! ❤️

Desperately Seeking: Smitten Heroes

Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas Book CoverHi friends! Back with a quiet feature of ALBTALBS – where I (and anyone else can!) look for recommendations from the community. It’s pretty self explanatory … but I am desperately seeking them! I’m in a Mood what with recovery and such, and … I just want books with a strong strong strong romance/pursuit from the start.

Merriam Webster defines smitten as: deeply affected with or struck by strong feelings of attraction, affection, or infatuation

Which … yeah. I want your favorite books where the hero is taken from the start. He’s head over heels for the his love interest, whether overtly or not – but he’s now pursuing her, courting her … or him! M/F or M/M … or other pairings are welcome. I just want a romance where one of the characters is gaga for the other(s) from go. If you have F/F recs I’d love to hear them too. F/F is definitely a genre I’m not very familiar with, but I’m very glad to see there are more stories being written in Romanceland/more visibility.

Off the top of my head … Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas would be one such book. In fact … I’ll list them, in no particular order. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking: Slump Busters!

Hi friends! So as you see… I’m looking for books that can bust that reading slump!

It’s been a lot for … I mean everyone seems too encompassing, but for a significant number of people just with a lot of personal stuff, work, life, the world. … The low key unease from the sense that now we’re all gonna die at any possible moment and the doomsday clock keeps moving closer and closer to midnight… And in our smaller microcosm, it seems like a lot of people haven’t been reading much lately. Nothing is working, and books are being DNF’d left and right. So …

ANYWAY. Let’s ignore all that. >.>

I’m looking for happy, and joy, and love and happily ever after happy endings in my books!

What’s your “go to” recommendation for people? What have you read and re-read so much your physical copy either is, or would be falling apart?

Tell me! Tell us! What book, what author, so on and so forth! Give us the info in the comments! Hopefully we can cultivate “go to” lists! <3