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Book Review(ish): Heaven Official’s Blessing, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased volumes one and two of Heaven Official’s Blessing, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù. Who could look at the cover art of that first one and not be tempted? I’m just going to go ahead and write a single ‘review’ for both books, since it’s a single continual story.


About the Books:

heaven officials blessing 1

Born the crown prince of a prosperous kingdom, Xie Lian was renowned for his beauty, strength, and purity. His years of dedication and noble deeds allowed him to ascend to godhood. But those who rise, can also fall…and fall he does, cast from the Heavens again and again and banished to the mortal realm.

Eight hundred years after his mortal life, Xie Lian has ascended to godhood for the third time. Now only a lowly scrap collector, he is dispatched to wander the earthly realm to take on tasks appointed by the heavens to pay back debts and maintain his divinity. Aided by old friends and foes alike, and graced with the company of a mysterious young man with whom he feels an instant connection, Xie Lian must confront the horrors of his past in order to dispel the curse of his present.


heaven officials blessing 2Xie Lian has confirmed that the bewitching youth San Lang is actually Hua Cheng, one of the Four Calamities and a supreme ghost despised by all heavenly officials. Still, he has trouble matching the terror of his companion’s reputation with the charming, clever, and protective young man he’s come to know.

When a distress signal leads Xie Lian into Ghost City, a bustling metropolis containing all the horrors and delights of the dead, he sees Hua Cheng in his element—and his true form—for the first time. But despite their chemistry and care for one another, there are missions to fulfill and secrets to uncover, and Xie Lian’s centuries of troubled history are never far behind.

my review

These are the 3rd & 4th Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù light novels I’ve read this year. I purchased everything that came out at once (Heaven Official’s Blessing 1 & 2, Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, & The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System). These are the last to get read and, though I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve been reluctant to call the post I write for each a review.

I’m not as familiar with all the expectations and norms heaven officials blessing 1 photoof light novels*, like I am regular novels. Plus, I can’t know where blame or praise should be lain—with the author and/or the translator—for language choices. I’ve seen several reviews (from people who were able to read the stories in the original Chinese) saying the translations aren’t accurate, leave things out, and/or change the relationships of some characters. And since I can’t read Chinese and can’t know, I’ve just decided to write posts expressing how I feel about what I’ve read, without actually reviewing it. It may simply be semantics, but it makes me feel better.

Anyhow, as I’ve said, I purchased the four books available as of now and I would have bought the rest if they were out. So, that ought to tell you how I feel about this series (all three actually). I’d seen season one of the Heaven Official’s Blessing anime on Netflix. But, though I thought it very pretty, I wasn’t convinced I’d love the series as much as the avid fan-base and gorgeous fan-art suggested I should. But having read these first two volumes, I think I will and look heaven officials blessing 2 photoforward to immersing myself in it…one volume every couple months for the rest of the year. *cries.* I wish I hadn’t discovered it until the whole thing was out.

When I finished volume one, I said over on Instagram that I thought the language too modern for the setting, but that I otherwise thought the series was super cute so far and looked forward to continuing. Cute to me is OK, but I do prefer my fantasy a little on the darker, edgier side. So, I was thrilled when someone commented, ““Cute”… honey, you’ve got a big storm coming 🙃🙃.” It was the piteous “honey” that really let me know I’m in for a change of tone. And having finished volume two, now, I can see some of that storm being set up and expect to enjoy watching it all play out.

As has been the case with the other Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù light novels I’ve read, it’s the characters and their interplay that makes this such a winner for me. I actually do think the language is a little on the silly side and the world is big, but vague. None of that matters though, because I read on just to see the next time Xie Lian and Hua Cheng were on page together. Xie Lian is just so blithely oblivious to Hua Cheng’s obvious attentions that I can’t help but enjoy myself. The story development (and romance) is very slow. But it’s still a fun read.

All in all, I really do look forward to finishing the series out.

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*Edit: Proving my point that I’m not well enough informed on the genre of these books to truly ‘review’ them, I received a comment over on Goodreads saying these aren’t truly even light novels (as I’ve been calling them) but a published webnovel.

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Other Reviews:

Alice Poon – Book Review: Heave Official’s Blessing

MXTX Books Vol. 1: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, Heaven Official’s Blessing 💖

 

 

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Book Review: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, by Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù

I purchased a copy of Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù’s Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. And while I academically understand that Chinese names aren’t ordered the same English names are, which means my process of alphabetizing by last name, comma, first name is possibly inaccurate, I and 100% counting Mò Xiāng Tóng Xiù as my X author for in my author alphabet challenge this year! And look at me getting it read in FEBRUARY and I’m probably going to read more than one! That never happens. X is almost always the hardest and last letter I manage.
grandmaster of demonic cultivation
Wei Wuxian was once one of the most powerful men of his generation, a talented and clever young cultivator who harnessed martial arts and spirituality into powerful abilities. But when the horrors of war led him to seek more power through demonic cultivation, the world’s respect for his abilities turned to fear, and his death was celebrated throughout the land.

Years later, he awakens in the body of an aggrieved young man who sacrifices his soul so that Wei Wuxian can exact revenge on his behalf. Though granted a second life, Wei Wuxian is not free from his first, nor the mysteries that appear before him now. Yet this time, he’ll face it all with the righteous and esteemed Lan Wangji at his side, another powerful cultivator whose unwavering dedication and shared memories of their past will help shine a light on the dark truths that surround them.

my review
Honestly, this isn’t so much a review as just documenting my thoughts about reading this first volume of Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. Because there isn’t any way to separate out my the untamed posterexperience with it and my love of The Untamed. I was 100% predisposed to enjoy this, for sentimentality’s sake, if nothing else. I 100% wish I had read the book first (since the show follows the book so closely), but if I’d not seen and loved the show, I almost certainly wouldn’t have thought to pick up the book. And I kind of think I might not have loved the book as much if I’d not already fallen in love with the characters. Chicken meet egg, yeah?

I also decided I wasn’t going to try and write a real review because I don’t know how to separate out what can be attributed to the original writer/writing and what is the fault or accomplishment of the translator. I definitely thought some of the colloquialisms and informal language (like “duh”, and “you messin’ with me”) felt out of place. But I also quite enjoyed reading the story. There’s a pretty good review from a professional translator on Goodreads that I found really informative on this point though. And it isn’t the only review I’ve seen saying the translation isn’t all that great. But I am in no position to comment on such things myself.

Lastly, I just don’t know what standard to assess danmei by. I understand poetry, short stories, and long form fiction all have different literary expectations. So, there isn’t any reason to think danmei don’t as well, and I don’t know them. So, I don’t feel qualified to judge them.

So, rather than pretend any of the above isn’t true, I’m just going to say I love these characters. And as meandering and unfocused as the story may be sometimes, I’ll read about Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangi watching paint dry if that’s what is on offer. For those who enjoyed The Untamed, this book gets just about as far as the drunk Lan Wangi scene and it’s every bit as cute as you’d expect.

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found at sea

Book Review: Found at Sea, by Jaclyn Osborn

I picked up a copy of Jaclyn Osborn‘s Found at Sea (Tales of Fate #1) as a freebie on Amazon.

Kellan
They call me the demon of the sea. A pirate captain so cruel that not even death will claim me. They aren’t wrong.

Any humanity I once had is gone. I’m cursed. A curse that will someday consume me, unless I find the key to breaking it. Just when I’m beginning to lose hope, I meet an auburn-haired beauty in a tavern who captivates me like no other, and my cold heart starts to beat again.

He’s innocent. Pure. And I’m so very wicked. But I still crave him.

Fletcher
I crave adventure. Listening to sailors weave tales of their exploits makes me long to see the world as they have. But my life is ordinary. Then, pirates enter the tavern one night and press-gang me to join the crew.

I’m both afraid and excited by what awaits me aboard the legendary pirate ship. Captain Kellan Flynn is dangerous. However, he awakens a desire I’ve never felt before. The cold, hard stare he gives others softens when he looks at me.

If he’s as horrible as they say, why do I feel so drawn to him?

*Found at Sea is a fantasy romance featuring a grumpy pirate, sexy times in the captain’s cabin, and swashbuckling adventure. HEA guaranteed.*

my review

I quite enjoyed this. It wasn’t flawless. The writing gets a little jinky at times (the descriptors in the sex scenes seemed to especially make me cringe), it’s super sappy, and the plot is really predictable. Plus, there’s the disconnect between the DREADED PIRATE and the fact that the character is actually really sweet. I realize that his growth from a bad man to a good man is one of the primary plots of the book, but he kind of feels like he starts as a good man. So, I never really believed him as this blood-thirsty, horrible, feared pirate.

Having said all that, I just enjoyed reading the story. I liked the characters. I liked the platonic friendships and that there were straight, bi, and gay characters. I’m curious enough to see what happens to Alek to seek out the next book. And doesn’t that really say more than anything else? I’m ready for more.

found at sea