Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Puppies

Just some of thr puppies that were born at yhe shelter.

Don't worry, they were all adopted out. Just worry for the ones that have @sshat owners that return them when they lose their puppy cuteness or when they are harder to handle as adults.

In the meantime,  enjoy the cuteness without the yapping and whining and crying...or the pee and poo everywhere. Omg does the pee and poo get everywhere.

P.S. They are all different litters and puppies.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin

Ok, I totally meant to write this review before The Sword Dancer, but RL got in the way.   




First off, I'd like to say a grand Thank you! to Super Librarian Wendy. I had been trying desperately to seek out a good read away from the crazies, the mundane and the overall lack of reads. I get more books for this awesome librarian then all the blogs I read...combined. That's saying a lot.

Second, Thank you Jeannie Lin for writing a book that finally filled in on a niche I had been dying to have for decades. Yeah, you read right, decades. It's been so hard to get some great Asian stories since my reading skills has become non-existent. 

Third - this book helped me get out of a slump. You read right, I am out of my slump! Err...sort of, ok. Not really over my slump, but I'll explain a little later on in another post that's probably more boring.

THE NOBLEMAN WHO TURNED A TEA GIRL INTO A PRINCESS…
Yan Ling tries hard to be servile – it’s what’s expected of a girl of her class. Being intelligent and strong-minded, she finds it a constant battle…
Proud Fei Long is unimpressed by her spirit – until he realises she’s the answer to his problems…He has to deliver the Emperor a ‘princess’. Can he train a tea girl to pass as a noblewoman in two months? Yet it’s hard to teach good etiquette when all Fei Long wants to do is break it, by taking this tea girl for his own…

To begin, the premise of the story is very simple and kind of like My Fair Lady. High born guy meets low born girl. Guy teaches girl to be lady-like. Two fall in love. Overcome problems within moments of the end. Happily ever after.

Horray - happy stories. 

Ok, let me just say I really really liked this story. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to given that the title was about a concubine. It was a surprise when there wasn't a single concubine present! Ok, there was one, but she went to become a buddhist nun so soon into the book, I just thought of her as a nun. 

Where to begin... Yan Ling was a tea shop girl, meaning she was a servant/employee at a tea shop. Fei Long happened upon that tea shop to try and get his little sister back as she had been promoted to the title of Princess to be sent off for a political marriage Hequin. 

Much like with The Sword Dancer, the research Ms. Lin puts into her books were stellar.  I love books I can learn from and everything was so subtle and realistic.  I didn't feel as if I was being "told" who things were or how things worked.  It all came together so well, with the day-to-day life, social hierarchy, and the love story.

I liked Yan Ling and I really loved the fact that even in the beginning, she stood up for herself.  It sounded much like how a young independent woman would react. At the same time, she was smart and humble enough to apologize for her mistakes.  A trend I have noticed was the place on education...how it brings people together.  Granted, I thought 3 months was rather fast for her to be as eloquent as she got, but then again, she was a smart young lady to begin with.

Fei Long was hot.  Not the cover model, that picture was just a little odd.  The character though, whew...hottie.  Smart, strong and very respectful.  He was responsible and quiet.  I enjoyed how that even though Fei Long was a quiet man that took the burden onto himself, he was actually very passionate in his own way without being crazy.  It was like a gentle strength.  Lol.

Now, I loved Dao.  When I used to watch the Drama series growing up, I was always more interested in the side characters. I always wondered why some of those servants would remain so loyal even when their masters and mistresses made stupid choices after another, or would remain with a single person the rest of their lives - sacrificing everything.  Then again, those stories really just used the "servants" to drive the story without giving them real backgrounds to explain such loyalities.  Here, I love how Jeannie Lin gave one great explanation that I'm sure happened more often than not.
*SPOILER*
Dao was Fei Long's half sister as her mother was a servant there.  
I loved how Dao was expressive, smart, inquisitive and that she and Yang Lin were friends.  None of that stupid female rivalry stuff.  Instead, they were more like sisters - sort of.  :)  I really really wished I could've read the novella, but I'm not good with ebooks... The last time I read using my sister's ipad, if fell and slammed on my face.  My nose did not appreciate it.  Someday though, and someday soon...I will get myself a good e-reader and read more Jeannie Lin!!!!  Among others. :)

Ok, some stuff:
I wish there was more expansion about the social/class problems and such that was lightly touched upon, an example, Concubines.  As happy as I was the two h/h got together, I had a hard time believing in that time period someone of Fei Long's status could've married a tea shop girl as a main wife.  A concubine, yes, since that's kind of how it was back in the day.  First marriages were arranged and men had no real choice either.  Therefore those of class and money often married concubines of those normally unstable status to be with those they loved.  Sort of....I'm really butchering my history lesson here. Fear not, Ms. Lin does it wonderfully since I thought about it some more. Fei Long didn't have both parents or elder relatives around to arrange his marriage...which begs to differ how he was able to wait so late to get married to begin with. 

Something else I noticed just because - how people call each others name was a sign of closeness.  It's more common to use the last part of their names as a sign of closeness, or if using the middle character (first character after surname), people usually add another word "-er" for girls and such. Plus, in most cases, people would never call each other by their names unless they were very close to begin with (which did make sense in the story to show how they were getting closer and closer, at least emotionally).  So it threw me for a little when I saw...then I got used it. Lol.

Lastly, maybe because it's a Harlequin, the resolution to the problems were so fast I barely caught it.  Not that I didn't enjoy how it happened and the happy resolution.  The nakedness...oh and my favorite part about malnourished tiger embroideries. I giggled for days every time I read it.  There were many cute and humorous parts throughout the book. My favorite kind. :)

So, if you haven't read it...you should. 

UPDATE (DEC 2013):  I figured it out...about the ending.  I have been too used to tragic asian romances that it felt odd things fell together so perfectly.  That's the thing isn't it, after reading so many other books, it hit me how perfect this book was.  The ending was perfect and actually realistic.

The crazy in me studious part of my personality kicked in and I actually found the occurrence of marriage of low class women into wealthy family as their "Wife" was actually possible.  Even an Emperor did.  One even had only one wife, ever.

Either way, I come back to this novel.  I still love the malnourished tiger shoes.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Sword Dancer by Jeannie Lin


Oh yeah, I got the ARC a while ago and really had to sit on my hands and bite my lip to keep quiet.  I had started this review, but honestly RL has been kicking my butt...So a little late, but still in stores. =D

The Sword Dancer is the second Jeannie Lin novel I have read and I am so happy to keep reading her books.

Thank you Ms. Lin for sending it to me.

Onto the story. 

Sword dancer Li Feng is used to living life on the edge of the law--a woman alone in the dangerous world of the Tang Dynasty has only her whirlwind reflexes to trust. She "will" discover the truth about her past, even if that means outwitting the most feared thief-catcher of them all....

Relentless, handsome and determined, Han sees life--and love--as black and white. Until he finally captures the spirited, courageous Li Feng, who makes him question everything he thought he knew about right and wrong. Soon he's faced with an impossible choice: betray the elusive sword dancer he is learning to love, or trust his long-disregarded heart and follow her to dangerous, tempting rebellion....

For once, the blurb in the back is pretty spot on.

I don't know where to begin writing this review without sounding like a gushing fan girl. So I'm just going to make it short and sweet.

Girl has mysterious past. Girl does shady stuff with skill and wit.  Boy sent to capture girl. Political intrigue! Some chasing and helping each other.  Hot calligraphy. More chasing and helping. Secrets revealed! Angst and separation.  Smart move and horray! Together again.

Lol

Li Feng was an awesome heroine. She's no shrinking violet (or peony since we're on the asian theme). For one, she has a day-job; she's a sword-dancer.  I mean, as sword-dancer!! Is that awesome or what?  She was very realistic, with conflicted loyalties and desires. 

Han is equally cool. :D   Responsible, smart and skilled, but had to deal with tough decisions like a real person.  No magical all powerful loaded (i.e. unrealistic) powers.  I loved how even though we didn't see much of his family, the familial links were still hard at play.  Again, very realistic relationships and experiences.  

You can tell the author did very thorough research on the Tang period.  I almost felt as if I was watching a wuxia series. :D  There were layers upon layers of culture, life, and politics.  At no point was this world painted as "exotic" or "mystical" like a lot of the stories out there.  I cannot even begin to describe what a relief and enjoyment it was to read a book featuring both Asian h/h without one or the other made...I don't know the word other than Oriental exotic.  The Sword Dancer was a great combination of romance, adventure, and mystery...set in historical Tang Dynasty. Plus, I don't want to give too much away.

A very nice scene that I'm starting to think take part in all Jeannie Lin novels: how education/knowledge can be extremely sexy.  I mean, seriously.  Han's ability to read and write was like such a huge attraction for Li Feng.  Finally, for me at least, instead of being some shirt ripping, richer-than-Midas, all powerful, man - we have an actual human being that looked super hot writing. Hehehe.

Seriously, I felt like I was ready wuxia novels.  That's how good it was. 

Another plus: It's a well known fact that I'm not big on angst-y stuff.  I like my stories simple and sweet.  Too much drama gives me a headache and the fact a lot of angst-filled stories always felt false...as in, I really did not believe all those things would happen at once, or omg there is no way someone would react like that.  Here though, there were some really worthy angst.  The familial ties, the inner conflicts, the multiple conflicts - it was intense and it was sweet and oh so good. 

Although the story cleaned up very nicely towards the end with the major conflicts/big bad, if felt a little too unrealistic at times.  Especially when at the several big reveals that all started appearing at the end even if it made sense.

Definitely will get Ms. Lin's next book. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Conclusion of a friendship

I apologize for the lack of posts. I had actually been working on several reviews, but some personal life stuff got in the way.

I originally wrote this post with intentions of venting on what I felt was an injustice of friendship, but as I kept writing, it ended up into a driveling pool of anger spouted reasongins...and was like pages and pages long. Ergo, it wasn't published. Instead, I left it for a few day or so and called up my sister, spoke to a few other friend and generally tried to get some perspective.

The conclusion was still pretty much the same. It was basically time to let a particular friendship laps into something as more of an acquaintance-like situation, or none at all.

Sounds so juvenile and drastic like the drama-queen I am, but in all honesty, I just don't have the energy or time I used to in order to deal with and sustain a relationship like with someone. I am still deciding if I should discuss this with that person, let's call her E, about my conclusion as the alternative would be to leave the relationship alone until the point have been driven through.

Personally, I would like to tell E as I was once on the receiving end of someone completely ignoring me and not even acknowledging my request as to know what has happened. I later found out someone had manipulated as an in-between, but sadly that lady chose to believe someone else rather than allow a discussion. She may have gotten her closure with whatever it was she believed and felt no amount of talking would have resolved anything, but I had to resolved it on my own, a few years after the lady's death. Even so, I remembered the absurdity of her actions. Therefore, I didn't want to make the same mistakes.

One problem would be E's habit of cancelling on me whenever we would schedule a hang out time. So, telling her in person is really out of the question. Not sure if phone call or email would be better. I could be especially modern (and cruel) and do it via text. ;) Kidding.

In truth, I do not believe telling her would make any difference in my decision and the course of this friendship...as I've voiced my concerns about how she has treated me several times before and resulted in the same. Several times in the past few years pointing out how I am uncomfortable/unhappy/unwilling to have this form of friendship. How many chances are you supposed to give someone before you give up?

I don't think there is a clear answer, but when it no longer feels right, then it was probably time to say "pass" when certain people come knocking. Rather then let the sarcastic and mean (but often fun to read) post out, let's just settle on this.

Every relationship requires some form of effort. Expectations vary depending on the depth and/or length of said relationship. E and I had known each other for a very long time. There were moments throughout the years where we felt close enough to be like family. As time wore on and our personal lives become more prominent, the type of effort we are willing to put forth sometimes dictates the type of relationship people have.

For the past few years, I had already noticed the distance growing between us. So this end really shouldn't be that much of a shock. I'm not especially sad about this end, but it is rather disappointing. It feels as if I am throwing away such a long friendship...but I think as with all forms of relationship, when two people no longer work towards the same thing, it is hard to sustain.

So, even though I didn't publish any of it, just writing out a lot of my thoughts really helped me see this more clearly. I am ending a friendship that had lasted a very long time. I no longer want to spend so much time and effort just because of the length of time we had known each other. Time is important, but it is not the determinate of a good relationship with anyone.

Instead, I shall be selfish and focus on the things going on in my life...especially since I'm getting legit soon. Ah joy...that's another whole crazy post. All I can say about it is, the people the created this monstrosity of "weddings" is insane.