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.
Tag Archives: TBR Challenge
Team TBR Challenge Review: A Familiar Stranger
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
Team TBR Challenge Review: The Blood of Youth
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?
And a secondary trailer because why not
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
[November] Team TBR Challenge Not Review: Single and Ready to Jingle by Piper Rayne
Single and Ready to Jingle by Piper Rayne
Contemporary romance released by Piper Rayne on November 15, 2022
The girl who loves Christmas falls for the Grinch—it’s a Christmas miracle.
What started as a dumpster fire of a blind date turns into a deal.
In truth, it probably didn’t help that I showed up dressed like an elf but that’s a story for another time. Our start was rocky at best which is why it’s so frustrating that I can’t stop thinking about his sexy British accent. Or the way his chest and arms fill out his suit. Or his perfect hair with that single streak of grey at the front.
Santa likes lists and so do I, so here’s all the reasons why Andrew and I aren’t right for each other:
He’s my brother’s best friend
He’s the biggest grump I’ve ever met.
He hates Christmas.
That last one is big for a girl like me who thinks that the entire month of December should be a national holiday. So, when he calls for my help in planning his firm’s holiday party, I can’t pass up the opportunity to grow my small business. Bonus, we make a deal, and he agrees to attend three holiday events with me so I can make him fall in love with Christmas. As if I’d pass up an opportunity to make a Grinch’s heart grow three times its size.
It isn’t long until I discover Andrew has a very real reason to hate Christmas and I start to see him in a different light. That’s when the Christmas miracle begins.
Ok first of all, let’s just pretend it’s still November, shall we? Because somehow this week got away from me. (Like all the other weeks and years…) Anyway. secondly, I want to say overall I enjoyed this book. I’m not at all mad I read it. That being said though, there are some things that bothered me about it. And I’m just … too crushed by endless migraines to write a real review right now. So we’re going with just the lies in the book. (ETA the November TBR Challenge “prompt” was “Lies.”)
I picked up Single and Ready to Jingle because I’ve enjoyed some Piper Rayne books in the past, and “best friend’s sibling” is one of my romance catnip tropes. The heroine is 28 (god forbid she be over 30, right?) And the hero is 34. They get matched on a dating app, and realize he’s her brother’s best friend. But the thing is – they don’t exchange actual names until the actual date. (They’d also never met prior to this first date.) As the blurb says, it goes badly. With good reason. I have to admit I’m leaning a bit towards Andrew’s side on this one because Kenzie shows up at a posh Manhattan restaurant literally in full Christmas elf getup with literal bells on. Why… not just message you’ll be late? And change?
Both characters have a lot – a lot – of understandable baggage. I totally was okay with that. November’s TBR challenge prompt was lies … so I guess I’ll discuss the two biggest ones in the book that I remember. Continue reading
Really Super Late Not TBR Review: on Carter’s Flame by Tiffany Patterson and The Story of Yanxi Palace.
I was born into a world of wealth and privilege. My birthright was to be at the helm of one of the world’s leading energy companies. But that wasn’t my purpose in life. Sitting behind a desk of a fortune 500 isn’t what gets me going. I’ll leave that life to my brothers. No. It took me years to find my true purpose. Saving lives. Walking into the depths of hell to pull out survivors. It’s what gets me out of my bed in the morning, and eventually, it’s what led me to her.
On a day that, to her, must’ve seemed like the wrong place and wrong time, is where I met my destiny. Michelle Clarke. Our worlds collided and I knew instantly that she was mine. Everything in my life up until this point has been preparing me for her.
The eight years I spent in special forces.
And the last six years spent as a proud member of the Williamsport Fire Department’s Rescue 4 squad.
All of it was preparation for her. And nothing, not her reluctance, not my brother, and not even her son’s father will stand in the way of what belongs to me. My job is to rescue people and put out fires, but I will set anyone who stands in our way, ablaze. I will happily pour the gasoline and light the match and set all of this shit aflame, just to ensure she is where she belongs … with me.
And if you’re interested …
Here’s a link to start you out on Yanxi Palace. From what I’ve seen of it the translations are overall quite good. This is actually my first time watching the series with English subtitles. There are a few things I’d quibble about but all told they aren’t that serious. And they’re much better than many others I’ve seen generally. (Definitely whatever was put up on Amazon Prime is some like terrible bootleg version.)
Anyway I’d love if more of you read Tiffany Patterson and watched Yanxi Palace because I have things to discuss.
Team TBR Challenge Review: Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell
Oak King Holly King by Sebastian Nothwell
Fantasy romance released by Sebastian Nothwell on February 14, 2022
Shrike, the Butcher of Blackthorn, is a legendary warrior of the fae realms. When he wins a tournament in the Court of the Silver Wheel, its queen names him her Oak King – a figurehead destined to die in a ritual duel to invoke the change of seasons. Shrike is determined to survive. Even if it means he must put his heart as well as his life into a mere mortal’s hands.
Wren Lofthouse, a London clerk, has long ago resigned himself to a life of tedium and given up his fanciful dreams. When a medieval-looking brute arrives at his office to murmur of destiny, he’s inclined to think his old enemies are playing an elaborate prank. Still, he can’t help feeling intrigued by the bizarre-yet-handsome stranger and his fantastical ramblings, whose presence stirs up emotions Wren has tried to lock away in the withered husk of his heart.
As Shrike whisks Wren away to a world of Wild Hunts and arcane rites, Wren is freed from the repression of Victorian society. But both the fae and mortal realms prove treacherous to their growing bond. Wren and Shrike must fight side-by-side to see who will claim victory – Oak King or Holly King.
It has been so long since I bought this one that I actually don’t remember why I picked it up, other than I am always a sucker for a good shifter romance. (My assigned theme for this month was “animals” and I’m going to say two characters named after birds one of whom IS a bird is, uh. close enough.) Anyway – love a shifter romance, also love a historical romance, historical + shifter + supernatural shenanigans = autobuy, for me. Also the cover is beautiful. Continue reading
Team TBR Challenge Review: Love Notes by Christina C. Jones
Love Notes by Christina C. Jones
Contemporary Romance released by Christina C. Jones on February 2, 2018
Love that says something, instead of just looking like it. Love you can always trust to feel like home. For both of them, it’s something that has always been just outside of their peripheral, something to be observed rather than experienced. A depth of feeling reserved for people who were “into” that, those with a different outlook, those more… deserving. Until their paths cross. Lines are crossed. And maybe the stars are crossed too, because the connection and chemistry are so off the charts that they can’t stay away from each other, can’t avoid it… even if they think they should.
I haven’t read blue collar romances in a long time, partly because I realized that a lot of them were about secret rich people and I find that premise less interesting. If you’re going to write about rich people, then write about rich people, don’t try and disguise them. Anyway, I struggled a bit when trying to meet the prompt for this month’s TBR because it was for a blue collar romance and I had been reading entirely outrageous (in the best way) paranormal romances for the last few months. I got this book because Limecello recommended it when it was on sale a few weeks ago. And here we are. This was a fun book, and its warmth and feeling of community balanced out the darker elements. The book talks about child sexual abuse, and it is an important part of one of the love interests’ backstory. Jules is moving back to her old neighborhood and opening up a photography studio when she meets Troy, who manages a barber shop across the street from where her studio will be. Both Troy and Jules go through some character development during the book. Honestly, this is a lovely book to read. And Limecello really likes the audiobook version. Continue reading
Team TBR Challenge Review: Servant Mage by Kate Elliott
Servant Mage by Kate Elliott
Fantasy released by Tor on January 18, 2022.
In Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage, a lowly fire mage finds herself entangled in an empire-spanning conspiracy on her way to discovering her true power.
They choose their laws to secure their power.
Fellion is a Lamplighter, able to provide illumination through magic. A group of rebel Monarchists free her from indentured servitude and take her on a journey to rescue trapped compatriots from an underground complex of mines.
Along the way they get caught up in a conspiracy to kill the latest royal child and wipe out the Monarchist movement for good.
But Fellion has more than just her Lamplighting skills up her sleeve…
This book kept calling to me ever since Limecello assigned me this month’s TBR theme, which is “after the war.” This book is not a romance, but I think it does a wonderful job of exploring the nuances of what comes after a revolution and how it isn’t as clearcut as we might expect. It is set in a fantasy world, where there is magic, and where a revolutionary war recently took place. The main character, Fellion, has magical abilities over fire, and is working at an inn when the book begins. A major issue I had with this book is that while there are clues to Fellion’s background and motivations, we don’t fully understand them until almost the end, so that the tension between the choices she has at the end of the book hadn’t built up enough for me to be fully invested either way. I think you could say this is a coming-of-age story, though Fellion’s age was never entirely clear to me, other than young but not a child, so I hesitate to stick the book with that descriptor. Lest you be misled by the blurb, this is not going to be a rags to riches story. Continue reading
Team TBR Challenge Review: The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White
The Storm’s Whisper (The Broken Lands Book 5) by T.A. White
Adult high fantasy romance released by T. A. White on January 22, 2022
The path to peace is never easy.
As the first Caller in living memory, Eva struggles to find her footing as the bridge between her chosen people and the mythological race known as the Kyren.
When unexpected arrivals threaten to test the newly formed alliance, Eva and her protector, Caden, fight to hold together the fast-fraying bonds before peace unravels and war once again returns. Should she fail, bloodshed the likes the Broken Lands haven’t seen since the cataclysm will stain the ground red.
The mysterious abilities that lie at the heart of Eva’s power will be her salvation or lead to her becoming an evil far worse than anything seen before. Will this land fall or be reborn into a new age?
I’ve really enjoyed the Broken Lands books and was very eager to read more about Eva and Caden. The first three books are about Shea and Fallon, books four and five feature Eva and Caden. To be honest, I’d been slightly reluctant to recommend the series because although the books and stories are very enjoyable, the first three have editing issues, and I know there are people who find it quite off putting. I don’t know if the author has found a new editor, or made other changes, but I didn’t notice that while reading The Storm’s Whisper. I also want to re-read all the books now. It’s been a while since I’ve read the whole series, and I think it’d be really enjoyable to read through as book five has a rather final ending, although there are tendrils to follow. (And I REALLY HOPE THEY ARE FOLLOWED! I’d love to see more in this world.) Continue reading
Team TBR Challenge Review: Evil Twin by Kati Wilde
Evil Twin by Kati Wilde
Released by Kati Wilde on July 31, 2021
But he was born four minutes too late. Though it was Bane who’d led armies to victory against the scourge of the undying, now he must watch as his undeserving twin claims yet another throne through marriage to a princess of a neighboring kingdom. A kingdom that Bane had saved.
That throne should be his. So he’ll take it.
All Bane must do is deceive his twin’s innocent bride. He’ll trick her into his bed, and once he’s planted his seed, the bride—and her kingdom—will be his. With such a prize in hand, he won’t care if she ever forgives him for his deception. It hardly matters if she does, because his evil plan doesn’t include falling in love.
But his bride has a few plans of her own…
If you know anything about my reading tastes you know I love me some adult high fantasy romances. The February theme for the TBR Challenge was “fairy tale” and … close enough. While this is an entirely (as far as I know) new story not based on anything, it does take a number of fairy tale tropes – the [evil] twin, magicked land, who is deserving etc, etc. And a lot of the usual tropes are turned on their heads, as one might expect from Kati Wilde. If you’re interested in reading a sexy good time romp, you should pick up a copy. Continue reading