Bookshelf

Some of the novels I’ve read and my thoughts on them. The overall rating is my best attempt at impartiality while the enjoyment level reflects all my shameless personal biases. Because I’ll only be adding books that I have finished in their entirety or have left a lasting impression on me, the ratings may be somewhat skewed. 🙂

Feel free to chime in with your thoughts or share some recommendations!

a-i

A Love So Beautiful《致我們單純的小美好》
by Zhao Gan Gan (趙乾乾)
Genre: Modern, Romance, Comedy
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 3/5
Comments: Heroine is hilarious and spunky in her internal monologue but becomes a hopeless pushover when it comes to dealing with her love interest. I picked it up wanting to read my favorite scenes from the drama, but somehow I walked away feeling lukewarm about not just the book, but the drama as well…
Chang’an’s First Beauty《長安第一美人》
by Fa Da De Lei Xian (發達的淚腺)
Genre: Historical, Romance, Rebirth, Angst
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: A beautifully complex story filled with both romance and political intrigue. Though the focus is on the youngest of three daughters in a fallen aristocratic family, I loved each of the older sisters and found myself wishing for more chapters dedicated to their respective stories. Trigger warning for grooming and emotional abuse.
Eastern Palace《東宮》– Full Review
by Fei Wo Si Cun (匪我思存)
Genre: Historical, Palace, Tragedy
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: Pure hurt, no comfort. But it’s the kind of pain that keeps you coming back for more. The heroine is an absolute delight. The rest of it makes you want to hate men. What really sold me was the side stories, which went beyond the heroine’s limited perspective and shed new light to the events of the novel.
Don’t Fall in Love with the Boss《才不要和老闆談戀愛》
by Ye Fei Ran (叶斐然)
Genre: Modern, Romance, Comedy, Rebirth, Campus
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 4.5/5
Comments: This story perfectly captures the beauty of youth and the wonderful aspirations we all have when we’re young. Once the leads finally decide to get together, their bickering banter is exchanged for a whole lot of sweetness.
Eight Treasures Trousseau《八寶妝》
By Yue Xia Die Ying (月下蝶影)
Genre: Historical, Palace, Transmigration
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 4/5
Comments: Out of the Yue Xia Die Ying novels I’ve read, this is the only one I can recommend with confidence. It falls in the “pampering” category but had plenty of palace intrigue and interesting dialogue between the heroine and her love interest to keep things interesting from beginning to end.
Empress with No Virtue《皇后無德》
By Jiu Xiao Qi (酒小七)
Genre: Historical, Comedy, Romance, Palace
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 4/5
Comments: This one will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s hilarious and has Jiu Xiao Qi’s special brand of kooky humor. Plus, we love a queen who simply wants to hold her own in a man’s world.
Hello, Wife!《老婆,你好!》
By Yue Xia Die Ying (月下蝶影)
Genre: Modern, Romance
Overall Rating: 3/5
Enjoyment Level: 1.5/5
Comments: Underwhelming, to say the least. I truly did not appreciate Yue Xia Die Ying’s flavor of feminism here. It’s great that she uses her platform to discuss misogyny, but she takes herself way too seriously and the way she discusses her own narrow and idealized perspectives of feminism as if they were absolutes really does not do any favors for female empowerment in literature.
I Advise You to Like Me as Soon as possible《勸你趁早喜歡我》
By Ye Fei Ran (叶斐然)
Genre: Modern, Comedy, Romance, Workplace
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 3/5
Comments: A workplace story with a dash of romance. Some of the civil welfare cases that the story deals with are quite poignant. However, the romance is a slow burn and only comes through in earnest somewhere in the last 1/5th of the book, which some may not have the patience for. The story’s efforts in salvaging the male lead’s integrity after all his shady behavior are also questionable at best.
I’m Willing to Rise with the wind《我願乘風起》
By Jiu Xiao Qi (酒小七)
Genre: Historical, Comedy, Romance, Mystery
Overall Rating: 3/5
Enjoyment Level: 3/5
Comments: Nancy Drew but make it ancient times. Wacky and cute, though not quite as good as Jiu Xiao Qi’s greatest hits. It’s an easy, short read that skips all the boring drama and is mostly plot-driven. Perfect for passing the time.

j-r

Marriage Concerto《結婚協奏曲》
By Chestnut — Ban Li Zi (板栗子)
Other Title(s): A Small Thing Called Love《戀愛這件小事》
Genre: Modern, Romance, Comedy, Entertainment Industry
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: Parted childhood playmates reunite, only to become lovers. Makes me want to turn back time so I can find one of these for myself. One of the slightly more developed romances from Ban Li Zi, who’s notorious for always skipping the process of her leads falling in love and instead goes straight to them just being in love.
Memories of a Graceful Reflection《猶記驚鴻照影》– Translation Project
By Feng Ning Xue Wu (風凝雪舞)
Genre: Historical, Palace, Romance, Angst
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 4.5/5
Comments: Deliciously angsty and not for the faint of heart. It had me on my toes from beginning to end. Bears many similarities to Eastern Palace, but the tone is more mature and the heroine doesn’t have the fortune (or misfortune, if you will) of taking shelter behind a veil of naïveté. I don’t love angst, but this one’s a favorite of mine.
My Darling《我的曼达林》
By Mo Bao Fei Bao (墨寶非寶)
Other Title(s): My Mandarin
Genre: Modern, Romance, Entertainment Industry
Overall Rating: 5/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: The most heartwarming story about winning over the heart of your childhood crush and overcoming the transition from friends to more than. The awkwardness pervading the leads’ relationship was palpable and had my own heart feeling stifled many a time, but the catharsis that followed was so worth it.
Peony’s Tavern《芍藥客棧》– Translation Project
By Yi Mei Tong Qian (一枚銅錢)
Other Title(s): Flower Demon’s Tavern《花妖客棧》
Genre: Xianxia, Romance, Historical, Cultivation
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 4/5
Comments: What do you call it when a female character gets fridged for the sake of her own growth? In any case, this story is an absolute delight and centers around a cute little peony demon and her ragtag gang of friends as they deal with a new kid on the block who seems oddly invested in the tavern they call home.
Please Confess to Me [Rebirth]《請向我告白〈重生〉》
By Grumpy Crab — Bao Zao De Pang Xie (暴躁的螃蟹)
Genre: Romance, Rebirth
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 4.5/5
Comments: Simply too sweet. Not a groundbreaking story by any means, but it was an easy read that left me feeling warm and fuzzy at the end of it all. On a chilly day, heat up some hot chocolate and read this to warm up your heart.
Refusing to Serve Me? Off With Your Head!《不侍寢?砍了!》
By Lan Ai Cao (藍艾草)
Genre: Historical, Palace, Hurt/Comfort, Comedy
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Enjoyment Level: 4.5/5
Comments: Denial and humor is such a natural defense mechanism for trauma, and Lan Ai Cao utilizes them so well here, effectively adding a layer of poignancy to this story of healing. Her faith in reader intelligence as she slowly peels back the troubled history between the main trio really allows her storytelling abilities to shine.
Rock Sugar and Pear Stew《冰糖燉雪梨》
By Jiu Xiao Qi (酒小七)
Genre: Modern, Comedy, Romance, Campus
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: What the heck, this story is so cute?! Jiu Xiao Qi brings her characters to life in this coming-of-age story that balances sports, growing pains, and what it takes go after your dreams.

s-z

Seven Unfortunate Lifetimes, All Due to a Moment of Impulse《一時衝動,七世不祥》
By Jiu Liu Fei Xiang (九鷺非香)
Genre: Xuanhuan, Comedy, Romance, Angst
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 5/5
Comments: Jiu Liu Fei Xiang hops between angst and cute and tension like there’s no time to spare, proving that she can write comedy just as well as the tragedies she’s known for. Very much plot-driven at the expense of character development, but luckily, the plot is just so good.
Three Lives, Three Worlds: Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms《三生三世十里桃花》
By Tang Qi Gong Zi (唐七公子)
Other Title(s): Eternal Love, To the Sky Kingdom, Once Upon a Time
Genre: Xianxia, Historical, Romance
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 4/5
Comments: The story that started the Chinese novella craze for me. Some characters fall flat and it has its flaws, so I don’t think it ages well. However, it’s a captivating read that reels you in with its delightful world-building. Strangely, also one of the few instances where the drama adaptation outshines the original work.
To Be a Virtuous Wife《何為賢妻》
By Yue Xia Die Ying (月下蝶影)
Genre: Historical, Romance, Palace
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 3/5
Comments: Objectively, it’s probably the same quality as Eight Treasures Trousseau, but it just felt so bland. I read this one later and probably didn’t hate it it at the time, but it just left no lasting impression on me. Frankly, most of Yue Xia Die Ying’s stories read like self-inserts so it starts getting repetitive very quickly.
Your Most Faithful Companion《不二之臣》– Mini Review & Extras Translation Project
By Bu Zhi Shi Ke Cai (不止是顆菜)
Genre: Modern, Romance
Overall Rating: 4/5
Enjoyment Level: 4.5/5
Comments: An indulgent read about rich people leading their ridiculous rich people lives, but it’s surprisingly grounded in terms of substance and character development. It also helps that I’m just a huge sucker for the forced cohabitation trope.

9 Comments

    1. Glad to hear that there’s someone else who feels the same~ TBVW has its merits, but a lot of it seems self-serving whereas 8TT feels like a more fleshed out story imo.

      1. The couple “interact” more with each other and actually working together..
        Have you read “Grand Princess” ??? It’s very good!

        1. Agreed, the chemistry is just so much more palpable!

          I’ve been curious about The Grand Princess but the chapter count is a little intimidating for me, but it looks like I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the rec 🙂

          1. It’s true that the chapter is quite long.
            I finished a crazy one just now, dreamer in the spring boudoir. Lol reading this makes my blood boil and maybe you can try lol.

    1. This is perfect because I’ve been wanting to read more xuanhuan and xianxia, but sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Thanks!

  1. I read 8TT probably back a few years ago and tried reading TBAVW but just cant get into it. Glad some people share the same opinion with me LOL. Anyway for xianxia and xuanhuan, I’d recommend You Qian’s stories if you’re just looking for comedy and romance 🙂 ‘After Transmigrating into a Short-lived White Moonlight, had a HE with the Villain is great as well.’

    1. So glad to know I’m not alone on this front LOL. TBAVW is so popular that I thought I was nuts when I didn’t enjoy it as much as some others have. Thank you for the recommendations! After Transmigrating into a Short-Lived White Moonlight has been on my list for a while, so maybe it’s time for me to take the plunge. 🙂

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