Jade Temptress

51uboamisolTitle: The Jade Temptress
Author: Jeannie Lin
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 3.5 out of 5.0

Some days, I have this pipe dream of fiction set in historical China written by Chinese people, where their Chinese characters can be as unapologetically Chinese as they want to be without pandering to a white gaze. Some days, I dream about a representation of China that is beautiful, but is not used to fetishise and aestheticise in some picture of imagined Orientalist glory. A critical take on historical China that is not condemnatory, where culture and history are worlds to inhabit, not setpieces for authors who don’t know how to play in a world without smashing it to pieces.

Some days, it’s really hard to have this dream, because there exists so much excrement in the dredges of publishing. From white men who don Chinese women’s names to write bad poetry to white women who have visions of a futuristic China ruled by Japanese emperors, it’s hard out there for a Sino girl who grew up on Princess Returning Pearl and wuxia!

And then Jeannie Lin comes along and my eyes, they grow wide. My heart, it starts to thump wildly. What is this mystical thing I’m witnessing? It couldn’t possibly be a novel about a courtesan whose exoticism is not repeatedly emphasised, whose relationship to her livelihood is complex and nuanced! A hero who is not a traditional hero, especially not a traditional Chinese hero, because our heroes tend to be pale-skinned moon-faced willowy scholars lost in their own heads. And a murder that––is not a murder? (To be determined at a later date.)

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Portrait of Us

portrait-of-us-9781481451901_hrTitle: Portrait of Us
Author: A. Destiny & Rhonda Helms
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, YA
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 4.0 out of 5.0

In these last few days of summer, I’ve been feeling especially compelled to read light, fluffy romance novels. This is in part summer nostalgia but also, and I think this might be the larger part, because light fluffy romances are always good for getting me through a reading slump. I’m still not out of the forest, but I can see the edge of the trees.

This novel was given to me by a friend who assured me that it was cute, almost tooth-achingly so, and that it was, but what really caught my eye was the description: [Corinne’s] dreams become muddled when she finds out she has to work with Matthew––the arrogant, annoying jock whose postmodern style seriously clashes with her classic aesthetic. Hi. Yes. Sign me the fuck up, please, this is the stuff I eat for breakfast.

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6977329Title: Moonshine
Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Genre: Historical Fiction (Alt/Spec Fic), Mystery, Supernatural, Action, Urban Fantasy
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 2.5 out of 5.0

Zephyr Hollis has a reputation as a do-gooder. As a singing vampire suffragette, actually. From Brooklyn to Midtown to Battery Park to the LES, she and her bicycle are near-ubiquitous as she runs from protest to meeting to night school, where she teaches. One night, before class, she comes across a young boy, victim of an Other attack, and tries to save him. She’s helped by Amir, a mysterious Other who attends her classes, who in turn offers her a deal: if she will help him track down Rinaldo, the vampire mob boss whom she suspects is behind the attack of the child, he will pay her a much needed $200. The more Zephyr investigates, though, the more she finds herself compromised by her growing attraction to Amir, and by the feeling that something is very, very wrong.

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X-LOVE (2015)

eac4b74543a982262bb309098e82b9014a90ebaaTitle: 爱的未知数
Starring: 吴颖,高靓
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: ★★★★☆ | 4.0 out of 5.0

Short review for an adorable short film!

Is it just me or have I been REALLY into queer Chinese films recently?

X-Love is the story of Cooka and Tina. They have your typical meet-cute. Cooka is an assistant at a modelling agency, and Tina is the ugly duckling who wants to be a model. Taken by her innocence and can-do attitude, Cooka decides to help Tina; she takes the latter to a salon to get a makeover, and takes her shopping to update her style, and viola! Tina is suddenly an in-demand model. But as this is happening, Cooka and Tina become closer and closer friends, until the day that isn’t enough anymore.

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Girls Love (2016)

cefc1e178a82b901991ddf50748da9773912ef25Title: 错了性别不错爱
Starring: 何佳颖, 米勒
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ | 2.0 out of 5.0

warnings for casual homophobia, sexual harassment, public outing

So it’s not the best English title in the world, but then, English is also not the only language in the world, and I’m quite willing to forgive an indie web film about queer girls falling in love just about anything but killing their protagonists.

This film, shot after and in partial response to the popular BL webseries Heroin 《上瘾》, became quite popular among young Chinese people. It follows the story of Yu Xiaorou (on the left), who finds herself developing feelings for Mi’le (right), her college roommate, and is forced to process those feelings. Meanwhile, she juggles dealing with casual homophobia from her classmates and an obnoxious boy who just won’t take no for an answer.

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Front Cover (2015)

front_cover_ver2Title: Front Cover
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic, Dramedy
Starring: Jake Choi, James Chen
Rating: ★★★☆☆ | 3.0/5.0

I might actually need to watch this film a second time to process it/my feelings/everything.

Ryan Fu (Jake Choi) is a self identified “potato queen” and an up-and-coming stylist in the New York fashion scene. His life consists mainly of work and parties, and all he wants is to establish himself––to have something to be proud of by the time he turns thirty. So when he gets taken off a cover job and put on styling Chinese actor Qi Xiaoning (James Chen), he’s not happy. Especially not when he finds out that Ning has explicitly requested an ethnic Chinese stylist on the assumption that they will better understand each other, because Ryan has never been invested in identifying as Chinese, has actively divorced himself from Chinese culture, and is flattered when people mistake him for something other than Chinese. But Ning brings another problem––Ryan is out and proud, but Ning is so deep in the closet he’s practically buried. But as they spend more time together, they may find that they have more in common than they thought. And they may find that they have the courage to embrace their identities––don’t they?

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