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Posted by Guest Reviewer

B-

The Moon in the Palace

by Weina Dai Randel
March 1, 2016 · Sourcebooks Landmark
RomanceHistorical: Other

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category.

The summary:

There is no easy path for a woman aspiring to power

A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.

In the breakthrough first volume in the Empress of Bright Moon duology, Weina Dai Randel paints a vibrant portrait of ancient China—where love, ambition, and loyalty can spell life of death—and the woman who came to rule it all.

Here is Turophile's review:

Our heroine Mei is summoned to the Emperor’s palace after her father’s untimely death. There she quickly discovers the social stratification among the emperor’s many concubines. She also learns the intricate politics among the women, though not as quickly as perhaps she should have to succeed in her overriding goal: attracting the Emperor’s attention quickly so that she could assist her mother.

The most intriguing aspect of this book is the interpersonal dynamics between the women and the elaborate political games in which they engage. In ancient China (and in many other places), external power belongs to the men. At the Emperor’s Court, a woman’s worth and power derives from the interest displayed by the Emperor as well as the success in bearing the Emperor male heirs. Because access to and the favor of the Emperor is a scarce resource, the relationships between the women are fraught with intrigue and power struggles. Mei learns this the hard way when she is betrayed by a woman whom she believed was a friend and almost mentor.

Throughout the book, she faces dilemmas about whom to trust and to align with. Making these choices becomes even more difficult when she develops a friendship with and later an attraction to a young man whom she learns is the Emperor’s son. As this book progresses, she learns from each mistake and further cements her own power base though the book ends before that power is fully realized. Thankfully, there’s another book in the series and I plan to read it. If you enjoy novels about relationships between women and women finding their own inner strength through those relationships, you will enjoy this book.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the book for me was that the language felt too contemporary. It’s a challenge writing of an ancient time in a vernacular that modern readers will enjoy, but in general I found the dialogue too simplistic.

Reviewing this book has been a challenge for me because I wanted to like it more. Historical Chinese novels are a favorite genre for me, but the downside is that I can’t help but compare one book to another. Compared to other novels I’ve read set in similar time periods or of young women who find themselves in an Emperor’s court forced to survive on their wit, I didn’t enjoy this book as much. It doesn’t feel fair to even raise that comparison, however, when I’ve read and continue to read umpteen books set it in the Regency period. Thus, I’d still recommend this book but urge readers to follow-up to it by exploring other Chinese or Chinese American authors who write historical fiction and/or historical romance set in China, including but not limited to Anchee Min, Jung Chang, Jeannie Lin and more.

YVR -> YUL -> YYZ

Jun. 23rd, 2017 08:24 am
dagibbs: (Default)
[personal profile] dagibbs
I'm on my way home, and not traveling on the weekend for a change. Sadly, the weekend weather does not look good enough for it to matter.

The Lake

Jun. 23rd, 2017 10:26 am
cyberghostface: (Right One 2)
[personal profile] cyberghostface posting in [community profile] scans_daily


So each June I sometimes try to post a Bradbury comic or two in his memory. EC did numerous Bradbury adaptations and 'The Lake' is probably the strongest.

Story under the cut... )

Merci!

Jun. 23rd, 2017 01:00 pm
[syndicated profile] cakewrecks_feed

Posted by Jen

Have you heard of the Croquembouche [CROCK-you-EAM-butchy]? It's a French thing.

Well, if not, here's what it's supposed to look like:

So kinda like old, cobweb-wrapped monkey bread. But in a yummy way.

 

Well, a certain anonymous person - who shall remain unnamed to protect her anonymity - found this gem at a wedding which she may or may not have anonymously attended:

I believe her exact words were, "it looks like some kind of primitive jungle cake being attacked by a swarm of lactating spider-wasps."

Mmmm, lactating spider-wasps...

Well, uh, Jane D. [wink wink], thanks for putting a new spin on these things.

 

Note: I think it's important to ask yourself a couple of questions before commenting here on Cake Wrecks:
Question: Did Jen and john really intend to give us the pronunciation of a word?
Answer: No.
Question: Are Jen and john complete and total idiots?
Answer: No.
Question: Do they...
Answer: No.
Question: Would they...
Answer: No.
Question: What about...
Answer: No.
That is all.

 

*****

Thank you for using our Amazon links to shop! USA, UK, Canada.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

Today I chat with Dr. Kecia Ali, Professor of Religion at Boston University, and author of a new book, Human in Death: Morality and Mortality in JD Robb’s Novels. We discuss what inspired her to write a book about the series, which is now 45+ books in, and what she discovered with her multiple and attentive re-reads of key novels. We talk about portrayals of ethics, family, friendship, race, women’s work, and of course violence, and we hear what she’s working on next – and of course what Dr. Ali is reading, too.

If you’re at all familiar with the In Death world, this part should not be a surprise: Trigger Warnings for discussion of sexual assault, violence, abuse, and rape in the plots of the In Death books.

I also want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Sara Ronis, Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at St. Mary’s University in Texas. She emailed me before this book came out to suggest. Dr. Ali as a guest – and she was totally right. I learned so much from this interview. So thank you to Dr. Ali, and to Dr. Ronis.

And! If you’re at all curious about Human in Death, Dr. Ali’s book, her publisher, Baylor Press, has been supremely awesome!

First, we have a giveaway of one hardcover copy, so if you’d like to enter, head over to the podcast entry. There will be a Rafflecopter widget for you to drop your email into. This giveaway is open to US and Canada only, must be over 18 and ready to learn all the things, void where prohibited. By submitting  an entry to the contest as set forth herein, each entrant does acknowledge and agree that, in the event such entrant is victorious, such entrant will perform a ceremony reasonably appropriate to such circumstance, including, without limitation, the Miposian Dance of Joy or all the dances from What the Fox Said.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We also have a discount code! Use code BSBT at BaylorPress.com, and you ’ll get 20% off the cover price and free shipping. Thank you to Dr. Ali, and to David and Savannah at Baylor Press for hooking us up.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can learn more about Kecia Ali and her work at her website, and on her BU page as well.

And if you’re interested in the romance track at the PCA/ACA conference, there are a ton of details online.

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle and on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

Thanks to our sponsors:

More ways to sponsor:

Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?)

What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Maniac.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.


Podcast Sponsor

This week’s podcast is brought to you by Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title.

With her signature wry wit and humor, librarian turned author Sarah Title returns to delight readers with Falling for Trouble, the second installment in her Librarians in Love series. With starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, an Amazon editor’s pick and a glowing review from The Washington Post, this series is highly acclaimed and just plain fun. Falling for Trouble features a librarian hero with a penchant for running in very short running shorts, and a rocker heroine, who bond over music.

Liam Byrd loves Halikarnassus, New York. He loves its friendliness, its nosiness, the vibrant library at the center of it all. And now that Joanna Green is home, the whole town sizzles. A rebel like her stirs up excitement, action, desire—at least in Liam.

Joanna never thought she’d have to come back to her dull, tiny fishbowl of a hometown ever again. She almost had a record deal for her all-girl rock band. She almost had it made in L.A. And then her deal went sour and her granny broke her leg . . . and now here she is, running into everybody’s favorite librarian every time she heads to a dive bar or catches up with old friends.

He has charm, he has good taste in music—and the sight of him in running shorts is dangerously distracting. But when he loves her old town and she can’t wait to check out, their new romance is surely destined for the book drop….

Falling for Trouble by Sarah Title is available now wherever books are sold and on KensingtonBooks.com

Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.

Links

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:24 pm
muccamukk: An orange life ring floating in the sea. (Lights: Lifering)
[personal profile] muccamukk
I ended up signing up for [community profile] fandomgiftbox, which is sort of [community profile] fandom_stocking in the summer with slightly different rules. I had fun treating it last year, so why not.

Wish there were more people in my fandoms in [community profile] multifandomdrabble fest. Sign ups open for another day!

I know people have been looking for nice Bill icons from this series of Doctor Who. Here are a bunch made by [personal profile] luminousdaze, along with 12, Missy, Clara and a bunch of the gang.

I really like this essay by [personal profile] lydy: The Rules: A Memo for Every Man in My Life.
Instead, I want to address something that comes up over and over in these conversations, and always from men. "What are the rules?" "How can I know how to behave if you won't clarify what you want?"

Dear men, please do not ask me to provide to you something that I have never had. I cannot provide you the rules. I do not know what they are, and I never have.


Pitssburgh Queer History project has some great archival material here.

ETA: For those who like Murderbot Diaries, Martha Wells is doing an AMA here, and here's a quote from the next one.

New PSA fic and some writerly musings

Jun. 22nd, 2017 10:29 pm
celli: an ad for "Tom Corbett's Slash Goggles! Only 35 cents!" (slash)
[personal profile] celli
The Reverse Fuckbuddy (2103 words) by celli
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Pod Save America (RPF)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jon Favreau/Jon Lovett
Characters: Jon Lovett, Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Pundit (Pod Save America RPF), Leo (Pod Save America RPF)
Additional Tags: First Time, Friends to Lovers, Fuckbuddies, Jon POV Character is Lovett
Summary:

Jon doesn't want to talk about it, Favs doesn't know what he's talking about, and Tommy would like everyone to shut the fuck up.



emotion in fic )

I find the process of learning this new skill fascinating, if you can't tell, and will happily chat about it for hours. So let me know if you have any comments or further suggestions!

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Nelle

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