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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.

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!