Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published December 9th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Source: Publisher
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

(Gonna get this off my chest real quick: it’s on the first page or so, but Sleeping Beauty’s prince was already married?‌ UGH.)

The first third of Princess of Thorns was pretty solid. The character’s were fun, it wasn’t… quite like the synopsis – more like a high fantasy that had borrowed names from famous fairytales – but a good read just the same. The latter section, though, is where the cracks start to show, and everything starts to unravel.

Niklaas was kind of. Eh? Upon first their first meeting, but it was nice to see his character change. Actually, both he and Aurora are pretty bratty and lofty and cocky at times, but I‌ liked their easy exchanges, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

Rather, the world-building – or rather the lack of world–building bothered me the most. So there are. An enchanted circle of briars?‌ And fairies. And ogres. And another world? And something about magic-born children and briar-born children and portals to other worlds with ogre mothers in them, but it’s never quite explained, only glossed over in a very you’ll-understand-eventually sort of way that I‌ never quite understood. Ditto for Niklaas and Aurora’s curses. And their families. (Also, on the subject of things I don’t understand, Aurora doesn’t quite so much “dress up” as a guy upon first meeting Niklaas as she does “get mistaken for” a guy and I‌ still really don’t understand how that can happen when we see him emoting over her beautiful face and curves and whatnot later on?)

And, while we’re talking about Aurora and Niklaas, Aurora-and-Niklaas: the romance was kind of strange? They had really easy-going friendship vibes going on, and then Niklaas found out Aurora was a girl, and then suddenly Aurora was wondering if she had ~feelings~ for Niklaas. I’d understand the way he treated her changed after the realization – and was actually pretty surprised and found it a little strange that it hadn’t changed that much – but this slam-dunk into romance read awkwardly. The last part of the book literally books it (ha!) from best-bros to full-blown-romance with no development or progression in between.

Speaking of things that don’t exist – the stakes. It was fun to follow Aurora and Niklaas’s trip in the first half or so of the book. But her brother’s in prison, and we’re told that there are Big Bad Ogre Plans that’ll end the world. So, the stakes should be pretty high, and there should be a lot of tension and urgency, but the execution’s pretty easy-going? A lot of things just fall into place. Crimsin, the girl at the inn, for one, virtually just shows up and glosses them over a tight spot. Even the ending doesn’t seem that climactic because of the ~exciting twist~ and even Aurora at the end wasn’t really sure what happened but just ran with it.

(And, the highlight: Princess of Thorns is the oNLY‌ stand-alone fantasy on my bookshelf – can we please spare a moment to thank Princess of Thorns from relieving me from fantasy cliffhanger hell: THANK‌‌ YOU)

Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published July 15th 2014 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★★★

The finish line is only the beginning.…

Annie hates running. No matter how far she jogs, she can’t escape the guilt that if she hadn’t broken up with Kyle, he might still be alive. So to honor his memory, she starts preparing for the marathon he intended to race.

But the training is even more grueling than Annie could have imagined. Despite her coaching, she’s at war with her body, her mind-and her heart. With every mile that athletic Jeremiah cheers her on, she grows more conflicted. She wants to run into his arms…and sprint in the opposite direction. For Annie, opening up to love again may be even more of a challenge than crossing the finish line.

This! Book!!

The Hundred Oaks series is one of my long-time favorites, and I thiiink, judging from the books I’ve read and the synopsis for the ones I haven’t (but will! but absolutely will!!), I might relate the most to Annie. I like Annie’s sense of humor – a little wry, a little dry, a little self-depreciating. I like how she’s hesitant, but trying. And Jeremiah was swoony-cute and charming and I loved how fluffy and supportive their relationship was? Also how they didn’t get together right away; it took time, a lot of time, but it was still them, every step of the way, and the process was really cute to read. I also really enjoyed how the spotlight was shared with Annie’s other relationships as well – with her friends, her ex-friends-turned-friends, her mother, Kyle’s family, etc.

And it was! Melodrama-free! No one gave her shit when they saw her with Jeremiah; it really was all about Annie – healing, mending relationships, accepting, moving on. Breathe, Annie, Breathe is heartwarming at it’s core, and I want the best for alllll of the characters.

On my fourth night in the dorms, I decide to buy earplugs. I love Vanessa because she’s so nice, but God, having a roommate can be annoying. It could be worse, I guess. I could have Iggy and her mandolin. But even if Vanessa were silent, I’d still have the crazy screaming people in the hallways to contend with. Two guys got into an argument because one drank the other’s Snapple. A couple broke up in the common room because he cheated with the girl who runs the projector in his film class. Our neighbors live for blasting electroclash music. Kelsey and Iggy got into a fight because Kelsey didn’t clean her hair out of the shower drain.

Freshman year, and I lived in a triple dorm room. The beds were lofted, with desks and a tiny, tiny closet wedged below them, but even then, the room was so small that they had to be packed tightly, side-by-side, with juuuuust enough room between each loft bed so that someone could squeeze through. Plus, our neighbors were the hardcore gamer type, and would sleep when the sun rose, then wake up a mere few hours later, and spend all their waking time gaming, and blasting their music for every hearing ear in the city. My rooming situation is a lot better now, and I’ve never been one for the Greek scene, but the way university is portrayed here is super relatable.

It’s also really cool to see cameos from previous Hundred Oaks books’ characters (Jordan! Sam Henry! Matt! Kate!).

“As a kid, I had the worst mile time ever. Our gym teacher made us run the mile a few times a year for something called the Presidential Fitness Test. I’d huff and puff and wonder why the hell President Bush cared how fast I could run laps around the playground. I always came in dead last.”

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is heartwarming and fluffy and cute, and there were so many relatable bits for me, both as a university student and a runner – I really, really enjoyed it!

轻易放火 by 墨宝非宝
Published June 1st 2014 by 湖南少年儿童出版社
Source: Webnovel
Rating: ★★★½☆

Jia He is a worker-bee screenwriter in China, a profession that really does not get much for recognition but suits her personality of not liking to be in the spotlight. One day, she gets a call and finds out who will be the leading actor of her latest script—Yi Wenze, her longtime idol since her teenage days. Jia He is the screenwriter on-location for this project. So, she is there, trying best to maintain her composure and contain her starstruck giddiness in front of her idol. In the process, she happily discovers, some time later, that she has become friends with her idol. Aaaah! Already a dream come true, right? Her time with this project comes to an end, and she bids farewell and returns home, thinking that if some day she runs into Yi Wenze again, they are acquainted enough that they can nod their heads in friendly greeting to one another. But then, soon after, she gets a phone call, and the name that shows up on her caller ID is… Yi Wenze.

And so, this is a story of how a little screenwriter is pursued by her idol, the one who had been in all her teenage dreams, how she goes from being idol’s diehard fan, to idol’s friend, to idol’s girlfriend, to idol’s fiancee, to idol’s… Hehehehe.

Sugary-sweet and adorable! The leading couple is cotton-candy cute, and I really appreciate the lack of melodrama (and JY’s reaction to any hint of it), but also, I feel like they jumped the gun on a lot of things, while other elements of the story ended up feeling incomplete.

老婆,你好! by 月下蝶影
Published November 4th 2014 by Createspace
Source: Webnovel
Rating: ★★½☆☆

He was confused, so he asked, “I have a car, a house, good-looks and money. What am I lacking in?”

She replied, “All those attributes are what men use to lure mistresses. So, which of those attributes is a good characteristic?”

Ashamed, he reflected, “I am loyal to one and I can host and cook. I can make the bed and accompany you when you wish to go out.”

She replied bitterly, “I shall, reluctantly, accept you then.”

Good men would not let the women they love fight with the mistress but get rid of them on their own.

I feel like I should’ve really enjoyed this? I really liked the leads individually, as well as the main secondary characters. I really liked how this novel turned so many of my least-favorite tropes completely on their heads. But the leads, while great individually, didn’t seem to have much chemistry, and I still really, really don’t understand why WC started chasing her in the first place, let alone why he persisted for so long (I refuse to believe the epilogue reason exists because that’s the Dumbest Thing). The book was slow-paced, which isn’t always bad, but the ending, with an abrupt, out-of-character proposal, and a rushed parade of scenes that quickly pushed them to their “traditional,” happy ending, dashed a lot of my expectations.

Defending Taylor
(Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published July 5th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★½☆☆

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

The romance was cute; I liked Taylor’s family, especially her siblings; it had all the elements of a Hundred Oaks book. But. Taylor was a hot mess and she had sO many opportunities to confess, and at the beginning it made sense, but toward the middle, it was flat out frustrating to read.

Things I Can’t Forget (Hundred Oaks) by Miranda Kenneally
Published March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Auction
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt – with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

I’ve read Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, and Racing Savannah, albeit a little out of series-order and a while ago, but I remember really enjoying the series for it’s fluffy yet realistic romance and sports elements. Things I Can’t Forget is my first peek back into the series after a good few years, and it’s definitely missing some of those elements I remember.

First up, a disclaimer: I’m not too good with religious books, and books that deal with heavily religious themes. Things I Can’t Forget lays it on thick, with the constant “will Brother John approve of this?” “am I living a good Christian life?” and, the golden “I hate it when Christians don’t act Christian-like” every paragraph or so. It made the first half a bit of a struggle to wade through, but I can appreciate how the author chooses to develop a character like that, and goes all out in doing so, instead of shying around Kate’s struggles, or ending it with a quick, fantastical, 180 position-reversal.

Kate’s relationships, both with Emily and Parker, were aspects I really, really loved, and the way the author took her time to explore all the ups, downs, and bends in both relationships made it feel all the more real and meaningful. (Also, Parker and Will were really fucking cute.) (Also, Jordan cameo!!!)

“King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” is a cute exchange; “King Crab Kate” and “Miniature Poodle Matt” are really, really cute.

Also, back in high school, I worked at a local summer camp over my summer breaks, and covered both Chemistry (pet bottle rockets!!) and Art Director (clay chia pets and cork-board-pom-pom coasters!!!), and it was really fun to see bits and pieces of my experiences reflected here as well. Especially Brad’s thing about “I prefer working with the younger kids. Puberty scares me” and “I’d much rather deal with snakes and bears than kids going through puberty. Seems easier” – hard same. Middle and upper elementary kids are a terrifying, terrifying lot.

The ending, though, felt rushed and abrupt – all these dangling plot threads are tied up in just a small handful of pages, and it feels oddly hollow and lacking, like you had this huge cast of characters, each starkly different and unique from the other, and then at the end they were just kinda smushed together and patted on the head and then! It’s over!!

So all in all, Things I Can’t Forget was hardly set up to be a story I’d enjoy, but it’s a Miranda Kenneally book, and though it wasn’t my favorite Hundred Oaks book by any means, the supporting characters and the characters’ relationships managed to make up quite a bit.

It’s been roughly two months since my last translation but I’m back with another! You can probably start to get a sense of my basic-ass taste in music^^;;; あいみょん has such a lovely voice – I might put up a couple more of her songs’ translations sometime in the near future, so watch this space! As always, I’m sorry about my awful grammar, and please do feel free to let me know if you spot any errors! It’d be much appreciated, actually. Enjoy!

風の強さがちょっと
the wind is a little strong
心を揺さぶりすぎて
and is unsettling my heart
真面目に見つめた
the you that gazed so seriously
君が恋しい
you’re my dearest

でんぐり返しの日々
the days that somersault into one another
可哀想なふりをして
acting so pitiable
だらけてみたけど
they seemed so lazy but
希望の光は
the ray of hope was

目の前でずっと輝いている
always shining right in front of me
幸せだ
it was happiness

麦わらの帽子の君が
the you wearing a straw hat
揺れたマリーゴールドに似てる
reminded me of swaying marigolds
あれは空がまだ青い夏のこと
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
懐かしいと笑えたあの日の恋
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

「もう離れないで」と
“don’t leave me anymore”
泣きそうな目で見つめる君を
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
雲のような優しさでそっとぎゅっと
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, hold you, never let you go

本当の気持ち全部
all of my feelings
吐き出せるほど強くはない
I’m not strong enough to reveal them
でも不思議なくらいに
but, it’s strange –
絶望は見えない
I don’t feel hopeless

目の奥にずっと写るシルエット
the silhouette burned into the back of my eyelids
大好きさ
I cherish it, you

柔らかな肌を寄せあい
your soft skin brushes mine
少し冷たい空気を2人
as we walk, just the two of us, in the slightly chilly air
かみしめて歩く今日という日に
as we enjoy this day called “today”
何と名前をつけようかなんて話して
and talk about things like what to name it

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
足りないからとキスして
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
雲がまだ2人の影を残すから
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

遥か遠い場所にいても
even if we’re somewhere far away
繋がっていたいなあ
I hope we can be connected
2人の想いが
I hope that our feelings
同じでありますように
will be the same

麦わらの帽子の君が
the you wearing a straw hat
揺れたマリーゴールドに似てる
reminded me of swaying marigolds
あれは空がまだ青い夏のこと
that was when the sky was still summer-blue
懐かしいと笑えたあの日の恋
the nostalgia made me smile, of our romance that day

「もう離れないで」と
“don’t leave me anymore”
泣きそうな目で見つめる君を
the you who looked at me as if you were about to cry
雲のような優しさでそっとぎゅっと
with that soft-kindness like a cloud, tightly,
抱きしめて 離さない
I’ll hold you, never let you go

ああ アイラブユーの言葉じゃ
Ah, the words “I love you”
足りないからとキスして
aren’t enough, so I kissed you
雲がまだ2人の影を残すから
our shadows still linger in the clouds
いつまでも いつまでも このまま
forever, forever, let’s stay just like this

離さない
never let you go
いつまでも いつまでも 離さない
forever, forever, never let you go

Archangel’s Prophecy (Guild Hunter #11) by Nalini Singh
Published October 30th 2018 by Berkley
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind…and now they’re failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before it’s too late and Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering in New York and across the world.

In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.

I heard this ended on a cliffhanger so I thought I’d wait until Archangel’s War came out and I’m sO CLOSE BUT I CAVEEEEED.

> The back-and-forth, the ease and openness to communication, and the stability and depth of Elena and Raphael’s relationship will forever be my favorite thing about this series.
> The Legion has a bigger presence in this story!! That was cool.
> This was… really slow? Which, on one hand, makes sense, because it’s the book leading up to the Big Angel War (I’m assuming, because, Archangel’s War). But on the other hand, this was the eleventh of eleven books leading up to the Big Angel War, and all the previous books had no trouble with this, so I really think it’s just a This Book problem and not a problem of its placement in the overarching story.
> There was also a ton of recaps. A TON. Something like the previous ten books distilled to a couple of paragraphs and them crammed into every feasible place you could find. Which, overall, made Archangel’s Prophecy read as more filler-y than anything else.
> I ended up skimming through a fair chunk of this. I love Nalini Singh and I’ll still read anything she puts out, but this was the most filler-y, draggy, and disappointing book in the series by a long shot, and I’m pretty sad about that.
> Most everything ends on an ambiguous note, and I felt like this book was just going around and around in circles without ever really getting to the point 🙁 Like this was what the entire book was supposed to be aBOUT but then it ended juust before the Big Happening? Even all the other stuff – the family stuff (I’ve got my eyes on you, Jefferey – you better shape up, yeah?), the angelic/vampiric mystery stuff was just… glossed over… they took up a lot of physical pages but didn’t seem to take as high of an importance as Elena’s immortality business, and yet.

(But, am I still going to read Archangel’s War? HELL YEAH. One more month to goooo)

I love Yamamori Mika’s characters.

ひるなかの流星, and Suzume, particularly, is absolutely nothing like me and she’s just really pretty cool? I like the way she charges through life, boldly and just. Herself. As cheesy as it sounds, that itself is equally admirable. I remember this one scene in particular where she ties up her hare for an image change, smacks her cheeks once, and then picks herself up after falling into a bad spot – figuratively. Mamura is super cute, too. He’s awkward and bumbling and sometimes overthinks his way into embarrassing situations, but his straight-forward attempts and makes him feel genuine and endearing (and me sound like a grandmother. Look at these soft children trying to live their best lives!!). His family dynamics are wholesome and fluffy as well, and just what the story needs. Yuyuka, from love-rival to best friend, is a grounding force amidst the fluffy, bumbling main characters. Shishio, with his hipster-y off-day look and boisterous facade, is interesting and a needed addition, variety and color to ひるなかの流星’s cast of characters. Just purely based off of character line-up, and ひるなかの流星 is fluffy-cute and promising.

It is fluffy-cute! The character dynamics are just as bumbling, sweet, and endearing as you’d expect, and that, coupled with adorable artwork? It’d be stranger if it didn’t work out.

Buuuut, my only qualm? I wish the student/teacher trope would die out already. Shishio works just as well (maybe even better, honestly, especially in some of his scenes with Mamura) as a fellow student, and his dynamics with Suzume’s father can be kept if he was a slightly older student.

SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER!!
But, she ends up with Mamura. The people around her raise similar questions about the nature of her and Shishio’s relationship. It’s painted as a first love vs. lasting love, someone whose back you admire vs. someone who’s there to walk every step with you, and that in itself is a pretty nice sentiment.
SPOILERENDSPOILERENDSPOILEREND

Enter, 椿町ロンリープラネット.

First off, I’m an Aesthetic Bitch™ so of course I’m in love with the title.

You thought ひるなかの流星 was the end of it, bUT. The age gap here too bothers me A Lot (twenty-eight and sixteen?), and the constant reminders that Fumi is responsible and capable and wise beyond her years does absolutely zip zero zilch to assuage those rumors.

So, 椿町ロンリープラネット follows ひるなかの流星. I see way too much of myself in Fumi and Akatsuki, so their little monologues and baby steps to individual self-improvement are actually really nice to read, motivating, in a way, and heartwarming in another, and the reason I’ve stuck it out with the story so far? Well, that and the adorable artwork. Of course.

BUT, and yes, there’s another Big But: I don’t like how Akatsuki uses Fumi as his emotional crutch. Call me an idealist, but I like to think that any kind of genuine, happy, healthy relationship should be a two-way street. Here, Fumi is the only one providing emotional output (for the lack of better words; re-reading this, and wOW can y’all guess what kind of field I’m in). Genuine, happy, healthy relationship? Noooot quite. She ends up occupying this odd multi-status as Akatsuki’s Mom, Caretaker, Girlfriend, Charge, Housekeeper, aND Therapist and that’s far too much for anyone, let alone high-schooler, a sixteen-year-old.

So, as 椿町ロンリープラネット winds down, I can’t help but think of how much it follows ひるなかの流星. Not in the story, per say, and not exactly by means of the characters, either, though both casts do share the quality of being colorful and endearing – but in the way the casts seem to always be fluffy-cute, down-to-earth, and full of potential, yet the main characters’ romantic plots are always written into less-than-idea scenarios that, had they been written/drawn by anyone else, I probably wouldn’t have picked up.

I wrote out this long thing, practically a monster-sized musing to myself at this point, but TL;DR? I really liked ひるなかの流星, and I liked 椿町ロンリープラネット, but I feel like that was 100% because of the characters, and if the main romantic relationships hadn’t been so blatantly imbalanced, I think I would’ve enjoyed them a lot better? Yes.

Aerou turns two/five today!

The road’s been filled with hiatuses and gaps here and there, but we’ve safely arrived at Aerou’s big second anniversary!

I am almost certifiably awful at these types of celebratory post, AND somehow I managed to completely miss Aerou’s previous birthday? So I decided to venture out and see what others have done for their anniversaries! And, facts. Facts seem safe. Here are some facts to commemorate Aerou’s birthday (with previous-year’s facts mixed in as well, because I sTILL CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT?)

  • I’ve been blogging for roughly a decade, and Aerou is my fifth blog! I moved around a lot between wordpress, self-hosted wordpress, and blogger, and I was also a co-blogger for a stretch of time, but I think I’ve found a good home for my tiny, ramble-y corner.
  • The highest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand!
  • The lowest-rated book review of the past blogging year award goes to Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
  • The 3-star and 4-star rating tags are tied for most-used ratings of the past year
  • I’ve finally put that Translations tag to good use: translations of recent songs I’ve been enjoying have also recently joined my blogging queue!
  • I’ve never gone under three words for aaany of my post titles, and even if you completely disregard all the really long bite-sized titles, most of my post titles are mile-long fragments like My Reading Habits Can Be Aptly Labeled “All Or Nothing”: the Urban Fantasy Edition, Commitment Issues (or: a Tiny Section of a Long List of Series I’ve Started and Never Finished), and the upcoming Yamamori Mika and the Case of the Awesome Characters in Not-So-Awesome Situations. (THEY’RE SO LONG THEY EVEN GET THEIR OWN LINES I CAN’T BELIEVE) I have a problem.
  • (/whispers/ this is actually Aerou’s quasi-second anniversary? As in: Aerou’s been around since at least 2016, and roughly summer of 2015, I’d say? Or maybe even 2014, but I honestly don’t quite remember – the server I was hosted on abruptly shut down, and I was a dumbass who forgot to back up her stuff properly, so if you click way back now, my earliest post shows up as my review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone – the earliest post I could retrieve, posted on August 16th, 2017, and thus Aerou’s new quasi-birthday. So technically, Aerou’s fifth anniversary is sometime this year, but Aerou-since-switching-servers, and Saved-Data-Aerou’s only two years old. Semantics?)

In the coming years, too, I hope I can continue with Aerou and hopefully, year by year, this list of facts/superlatives can grow and grow!

One little step at a time 🙂

别那么骄傲 by 随侯珠
Published September 2015 by 花山文艺出版社
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★☆

Chatting in the dormitory at night, roommates wonder how much pain Aunt Flow brings. Mr. Perfect He Zhi Zhou has never bothered joining in on these petty talks for amusement. That is, until he became a woman and laid in bed with a white-cast complexion……

Chatting in the female dormitory at night, roommates sighed over the current pairings in the school of engineering, Shen Xi was a little curious that the problem with these topics is that there was no way to test them. Until she became an engineering male and a bar of soap dropped in front of her……

Introduction in one sentence: About how a top-scoring perfect male with no desire in the opposite gender and an amusing female lead were set up like lightning setting the ground on fire spreading out of control—leading to a sweet and rippling life……

Life is so long, don’t be so arrogant. Some things are bound to deviate.

The first half was fluffy and silly and fun. HZZ really did end up drawing the short end of the stick in all this chaos, both his and SY’s reactions to everything were hilarious, and the way the author just… shamelessly and boldly charged headfirst into everything that differed between the male and female experience… I’m screaming. I did feel a lot of sympathy for LYT, but, maybe in part because we’re seeing this through SY’s eyes, I do feel like he had it coming, and that SY deserved a lot better than him. It did really feel like he only started trying to put in the effort once HZZ came into the picture, and once he realized that SY had other options, ones arguably better than him – only when he felt threatened. And while the latter half of the book took on a slightly repetitive pattern, and with a few questionable elements, it made for a nice, lighthearted read, and I really appreciated how steadfast the main couple was, even through their small squabbles and silliness. TL;DR I’m weak for fluffy, happy, silly stories and 别那么骄傲 was just that.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Published November 4th 2014 by Createspace
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

I liked some of the poems, others felt rather incomplete – it was a pretty underwhelming read, despite the emotion and conviction behind every single word being pretty darn powerful. I don’t know how to feeeeeel.

Spider’s Revenge
(Elemental Assassin #5) by Jennifer Estep
Published September 27th 2011 by Pocket Books
Source: Library
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Old habits die hard. And I plan on mur­der­ing some­one before the night is through.

Killing used to be my reg­u­lar gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spi­der, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly mat­ters: Mab Mon­roe, the dan­ger­ous Fire ele­men­tal who mur­dered my fam­ily when I was thir­teen.

Oh, I don’t think the mis­sion will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more prob­lem­atic than expected. The bitch knows I’m com­ing for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keep­ing Bria safe is my first pri­or­ity. Tak­ing Mab out is a close sec­ond.

Good thing I’ve got my pow­er­ful Stone and Ice magic — and my irre­sistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This bat­tle has been years in the mak­ing, and there’s a chance I won’t sur­vive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s com­ing with me…no mat­ter what I have to do to make that happen.

There’s a plot there, somewhere, under all that repetition. In hindsight, the “army of lethal bounty hunters” feels way over-exaggerated, as does Gin’s skills – she keeps messing up perfectly good shots! I know she beats herself up for it and knew she screwed up, but it ends up feeling like cheap twists to stretch this one hit into a full-length book, and it doesn’t quite work for me. The fight sequences are still cool, though, and the last quarter or so of the book really picked up the slack.

十二点的辛德瑞拉 by 板栗子
Published 2017 by jjwxc
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★½☆☆

Newly crowned Film Emperor Feng Jing; good looks, good stature, good acting, good character. Except he has one unshakeable rule—any night show he stars in cannot go past 12 o’clock. The media, with ulterior motives, chases after this little crazy secret of his. Yet remaining unconcerned about how the outside world falls into turbulent times, Film Emperor Feng still stands tall and unmoved.

Jiang Ran recently felt that her dog has become somewhat strange. Ordinarily when she kisses, hugs, and raises her dog up high, her dog would always be especially happy and lovable. Now whenever she kisses, hugs, and raises her dog up high, however, her dog was horny…

Reading Guide:

Every midnight, the male lead’s soul switches with that of the female lead’s dog, switching back at six o’clock in the morning.

Self-healing little sweet novel! Sweetness is the only goal!

The female lead is intelligent, beautiful, tender, generous, hardworking, and brave (according to the male lead) Male lead is a loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog, loyal dog (according to the author)

板栗子 is one of my favorite authors for fluffy, lighthearted romcom-style chinese reads (with the added bonus of hilarious online forum/chat mediums incorporated into them as well) – I really enjoyed 只怪当初瞎了眼, 结婚协奏曲, and 我的世界坠入爱河. 糖心蜜意, though sliiiightly missing something that the other three had, in terms of cuteness and fluff and immersive enjoyability, was another all-around great read! But 早安,幽灵小姐 was. Weird? For the most part, I didn’t like MZ – that was my biggest qualm. He came off as imperious at times, creepy at worst, and though he did have some moments, 早安,幽灵小姐 was the first 板栗子 book that left me feeling disappointed. Enter, 十二点的辛德瑞拉.

To be fair, the biggest point has more to do with my personal tastes than anything else. The way FJ’s body-swap was portrayed… weirded me out? for the lack of a better term, and that definitely colored my opinion, especially of the beginning 1/3. I also think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, up until now, the 板栗子 novels I’ve enjoyed were all from the female perspective. I really enjoyed reading about these girls pursuing their careers, doing their best and chasing success (DM with singing, TZ with fashion and manhua, PY with acting, and TM with sweets). Along the way, they encounter romance, but it’s more a? a happening that’s encountered on their respective career paths? Yes, cute and fluffy romance has always been the centerpiece of 板栗子 novels, but usually, it’s colored by daily life and career notes. Here, there’s very little color, and that, coupled with FJ’s not-awful, but also cardboard-dry character, and there’s very little that can prop it up to the same fun and immersive standards that 板栗子’s other novels had set. The first half is one large, slightly manipulative and arguably creepy and stalkerish pursuit of a girl, all pretenses abandoned.

The second half, despite all this, does get a lot better! JR, as well as the appearance of YY, as well as poor MXE, does wonders for the dryness of the story. And, FJ’s family? Amazing. His sister deserves the biiiiigest hug; I love their close-knit dynamics. FJ and JR’s cute, flirty dynamics are everything you’d want and expect from 板栗子. The chaos of the media, the melon-eater comments, the zero-fucks attitude FJ has toward these happenings… The second half returns to 板栗子’s usual fluffy, cute, slightly outrageous and over-the-top style. But.

1). Their relationship happened super, super fast? Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like, especially after his sister’s ordeal, floating marriage 4-5 months after your very first meeting is pretty rash? 2). The second half was wild – in a good way – but the first half, with all it’s aforementioned weirdness and creepiness, is a pretty high hurdle to have to clear to get to all the fluffy cute chaos later on and, frankly, if I wasn’t a huge fan of 板栗子’s other works, I definitely would’ve tapped out within the first twenty chapters.

So, 2.5 stars, all for the second-ish half. Three on Goodreads, because they don’t allow half-stars, and I definitely liked 十二点的辛德瑞拉 more than 早安,幽灵小姐, and even though I didn’t quite like it as much as 糖心蜜意. Fingers crossed for the next!