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review 2019-03-27 04:16
Quick Thoughts: The Dragon and the Pearl
The Dragon and the Pearl - Jeannie Lin

The Dragon and the Pearl

by Jeannie Lin
Book 2 of Tang Dynasty

 

 

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL COURTESAN OF THEM ALL...

Former Emperor’s consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress.  Now she lives quietly alone—until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away....

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics.  The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web.  He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell—yet her innocence calls out to him.  How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend...



I want to say that I think this book suffers from pacing.  And maybe the romance was a little hard for me to root for at the beginning.  And also, the ending felt a bit rushed.

But otherwise, I DID find myself enjoying a good third of the story, specifically the middle third of it, after both Suyin and Li Tao kind of let their guards down around each other and become intimately involved.  The beginning had a fairly decent start up until the mind games between Suyin and Li Tao dragged on a bit longer than I would have liked.  Then the story picks up slightly when the romance starts... and then tapers off again as that part of the story dragged on for a while.  And then the last third of the book inserted a lot of action that felt slightly out of place and rushed, bringing about an ending that felt a little off kilter.

In a way, I kind of enjoyed the quiet, banal happenings during the beginning of the book that had been used to show the relationship between our main couple changing day by day.  But I also felt a bit squicky about how their sexual relationship starts off, and didn't really care for the fact that Suyin felt more like an accessory to Li Tao's story than actually being part of the story herself.  Especially considering the significance Suyin's flashbacks, contemplating her role throughout her life.  After all of that--the fact that she'd spent her life being used and owned by men--I would have liked to have seen more for Suyin.

If anything, I kind of wish we could have developed Suyin's character a bit more, instead of just having her be the "One True Love Cure All for Li Tao's Darkness and Problems."  Ling Suyin has a lot of history and complexity all on her own that I wished had been explored more.

My final complaint would be the loose ends and random tangential story lines that felt inconclusive.

Otherwise, the writing is just as beautiful as I remember Jeannie Lin's writing being.  And even in spite of Suyin's underdeveloped character, I really, really liked her a lot.  Given more substance, I think she would have been a wonderful character with a wonderful story to tell, not shadowed by the main male character in this book.

 

 

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/quick-thoughts-dragon-and-pearl.html
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review 2016-11-29 20:00
Three Tang Dynasty Poets
Three Tang Dynasty Poets (Little Black Classics #09) - Wang Wei,Li Po,Tu Fu

This is exactly why I thought the Penguin Little Black classics would be great. This edition contains three poets from the Tang Dynasty and I will be the first to admit that it wasn't something that I would have usually picked.

But I'm very glad that I read it now, because I was most pleasantly surprised by the deceptive simplicity of many of the poems. They were really quite charming. In honesty, I liked all three the poets, and usually I'm not even that much into poetry.

Certainly recommended! I might even look for a longer collection of their poems.

Little Black Classics #9

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review 2016-05-11 23:43
More than Cherry Blossoms
Three Tang Dynasty Poets (Little Black Classics #09) - Wang Wei,Li Po,Tu Fu

I particularly enjoy the additional material at the end. It's actually quite a good collection covering war, politics, nature, and dance

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text 2016-05-07 08:00
My TBR List -- May 2016 Voting

My TBR List is a monthly meme hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading.

The basic gist of this activity is to have others help decide on which book out of three I'm selecting from my TBR pile I should read for the month via votes.  Posts for voting, the winning book, and the final book review will go up on Saturdays.

Click on the above links for more information.

Join This Month's My TBR List -- May 2016

 

 

In a similar theme to last month, I would like to continue working on series I've started reading over the past couple of years and this year.  This is the Let's Work On That Series edition #1, and it is basically a choice from three books in ongoing series that I'm still in the process of reading.  In an ideal world, I would sit and keep reading these series, book after book, until I reach the very last one available.  Then I would sit in anticipation until the next book in said ongoing series gets published.

 

These are also all books that I currently own on my shelf, so it's another win-win situation wherein I will be able to continue whittling down the books I own on my shelves.

 

Yay!

 

Thanks to everyone for stopping by and voting!

 

 

The Books

(Book covers link to their Goodreads book page.)

  

Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood

-- Book 7 of Buchanan-Renard-MacKenna series

 

Sophie Rose is a crime reporter at a major Chicago newspaper and the daughter of Bobby Rose, a charming gentleman and big-time thief.  When asked to write an exposé about her notorious father, Sophie quits and goes to work at a small newspaper, covering local personalities such as William Harrington, the 5K runner whose trademark is red socks.  Those socks--with Sophie's business card tucked inside--are practically all that's found after Harrington is killed near Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, seemingly in a brutal polar bear attack.

 

Sophie heads north to investigate, but danger follows in her wake.  After one attempt on her life, she's assigned brash but sexy Jack MacAlister as a bodyguard.  But Sophie and Jack will soon be fighting more than their growing passion for each other.  Powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent the exposure of the sinister conspiracy Sophie and Jack are about to uncover.

 

 

The Dragon and the Pearl by Jeannie Lin

-- Book 2 of Tang Dynasty series

 

Former Emperor's consort Ling Suyin is renowned for her beauty; the ultimate seductress. Now she lives quietly alone--until the most ruthless warlord in the region comes and steals her away....

Li Tao lives life by the sword, and is trapped in the treacherous, lethal world of politics. The alluring Ling Suyin is at the center of the web. He must uncover her mystery without falling under her spell--yet her innocence calls out to him. How cruel if she, of all women, can entrance the man behind the legend....

 

 

Lucky in Love by Jill Shalvis

-- Book 4 of Lucky Harbor series

 

Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself.  And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right.  But for once she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong.  And who would be more wrong than Ty Garrison?  The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine.  Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone...

 

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave.  Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't--including leaving the military for good.  As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love.  After all... anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor.

 

 

Let's Vote!

**For BookLikes members reading this in the BookLikes dashboard view:  Click here to generate the voting box on another page if you would like to vote.  I don't know why the voting box doesn't show, though it appears in blog view just fine.

**For everyone else voting via BookLikes blog view or at the Book Abyss's Blogspot home:  You may ignore the above tangent.  The voting box shows just fine.

Again, thank you for stopping by and voting!

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Previous My TBR List months at Ani's Book Abyss can be found at the Bookish Memes page.

Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2016/05/my-tbr-list-may-2016-voting.html
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review 2016-02-19 13:00
Thoughts: Butterfly Swords
Butterfly Swords - Jeannie Lin

Butterfly Swords -- Jeannie Lin

Book 1 of Tang Dynasty

 

 

This book was slow to start up, but once it got going, aside from a few hiccups here and there and some eye-roll-worthy moments, Butterfly Swords was entirely captivating up until the very end. The style is beautifully done and the characters quite readily likable, even if predictable. It DID bring to mind nostalgic FEELS of the days when I used to watch wuxia television series religiously, on repeat.

It was just also more romantic and quite a bit steamier, as well. Whew! **fans self**


The Story:
After learning that the powerful Li Tao had a hand in her brother's death as well as is planning treason on her father's throne, Shen Ai Li orchestrates a bandit attack on her wedding procession in order to escape her marriage to him. Even despite knowing the shame and disappointment that would befall her and her family because of this act, Ai Li is determined to get back to the capital to reveal this betrayal to her mother and father, the Emperor and Empress of the Tang Dynasty Empire.

Born from a warrior family, Ai Li has only her learned fighting skills and her butterfly swords to defend herself with, until she chances upon a barbarian warrior with a handsome face and blue eyes. Ryam is a ladies' man with wanderlust and a fatalistic outlook after a battle gone bad with imperial soldiers. But Ai Li affects him in a way he had never expected and he finds himself agreeing to protect her on her journey, even as he fights to restrain himself from wanting her or worse yet, falling for her.


Some Thoughts:
I had forgotten that I'd yet to actually review this book fully... or at least as fully as I'd intended to do. This might mean that the book really wasn't all that memorable, but I know that that's not entirely true. Unfortunately, even as I write those words, I have to admit that there really wasn't anything outstanding about Butterfly Swords aside from the beauty of the writing and that nostalgic sense I already mentioned about my memories of watching wuxia series when I was younger.

In a nutshell, the story progressed well and was told well. The characters were created well. And historical China is a different kind of setting for a category romance that is also part romantic suspense. But in the end, the formula for the romance really isn't much different from other romances I've read before because the characters were standard stereotypes and the romance was also quite formulaic.

Ai Li is a great character, don't get me wrong. She's strong and idealistic and quite forward-thinking, especially for a woman born to a very traditional family in historical China. Because even as she talks about her duties and her role as a daughter in the royal family, she still dares to defy and go beyond the typical station of a woman in historical China.

And I'm not saying this as if I think it's a terrible thing for Ai Li to be so strong and forward thinking (even if she does still display the more historically accurate ideals of her time). I love a strong and idealistic, forward-thinking female heroine as much as the next feminist. But historical China is also one of my least favorite eras mainly because I can't stand that whole "women are merely property for their fathers, brothers, and husbands to use as trade" bullshit. Unfortunately, just because I don't like it doesn't mean that I can argue with it, nor does it mean that I would argue with it. That was just how historical China was and nothing can change those facts save for some clever suspension of disbelief in fictional stories here and there.

Historical China was just never a friendly place for women.

Goodness knows that Louis Cha took enough liberties in his own wonderfully created, uber popular, widely beloved and accepted wuxia novels to make them so truly awesome! There are so many strong, idealistic, extremely forward-thinking women in his stories that it makes you forget you're in historical China.

But I digress...

Back to Ai Li, as I was saying: She's a great character, and what I love about her is that she can hold her own in a physical battle even if she can't quite hold her own in a battle of hearts. Because even with all of her ideal traits, she unfortunately comes off as the typical romance novel Mary Sue. She's strong, she's independent, she's intelligent, she's innocent, she's a virgin (thus making her the epitome of sexual innocence), and she's also brave and righteous and endearingly naive. And she's the one woman, ever, who is different enough to "change" our broody, alpha male's life. Because she's special.

Our broody alpha, of course, is a bad boy with a heart of gold, sexually experienced with playboy tendencies, a warrior and a hero, and is mush when he's faced with our heroine. And then there are those underlying tragic reasons why he cannot commit to one woman no matter how in love with her he is.

There is nothing unique about this romance.

HOWEVER, what makes this story enjoyable and readily lovable is the presentation. Once again, the writing is exquisite, the imagery vivid, and the progression done very well. And even with the formulaic love story, I couldn't help but enjoy every moment between Ai Li and Ryam as they got to know each other, little by little, as they traveled together. Despite some of it being exposition or narrative, we still get to see the process of them having conversations, learning little things about each other, and just talking about anything and everything. So even though there's an undertone of lust thickening between the two in the background, their relationships truly is built on a pretty sweet and sincere foundation of caring and friendship.


Final Thoughts
Some things were a little hard to overlook in the story, especially towards the end of the book when the conclusion required an HEA.

But ultimately, Butterfly Swords is a very enjoyable book and I find myself not quite bothered by the little quibbles here and there. As one of first few category romances in a historical Chinese setting, thus bringing about feelings of nostalgia, I have a feeling that Butterfly Swords may forever have a special place in my heart.

Jeannie Lin is an author I intend to continue following with the rest of this series as well as her other historical romances.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge


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