• ISBN-13: 9780425215586
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication Date: 27 June 2007
  • Pages: Paperback, 528 pgs
  • Source: Personal Library

The Russian Concubine may have a romance theme, but it is also a historical fiction centering China's revolutionary stage during the 1920s, whereby there are protests and rage between the Communists and the Kuomintang Nationalists, with Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek as their leaders respectively. 

Weaving together with this epic historical is a love story featuring a Russian girl and a Chinese youth. Lydia, together with her aristocratic mother, Valentina, are exiled from their country Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. All the men are not spared, including her father, and they were either being captured or killed. Lydia feared her father was dead, after being taken away by the Bolshevik army and they are then forced to take refuge in Junchow, China. 

With no skills and knowledge of the Chinese language, Lydia feels like a fish out of water, but she's a survivor and most of all, she steals to make ends meet. She'd pawn away the things she has stolen and would lie to her mother about them, not wanting to worry her mother any further. It was by chance that fate allows her to meet a young Chinese Communist, Chang An Lo, on her way home after stealing a ruby necklace. He'd saved her from being caught, after all that necklace is both valuable and important and is to be presented as a gift to a diplomat's wife. Lydia couldn't stop thinking about Chang thereafter. 

Chang An Lo, on the other hand, is mesmerised by the fiery foxy girl he'd saved that day. He felt she is courageous and unlike other foreign young women. However, their romance is threatened by the clash of the Communists and the Kuomintang Nationalists. And not to mention they are spies and bribery everywhere that one never feels safe, as there are also brotherhoods triads in the already chaotic Junchow. Some foreigners who live in the International Settlement are besieged by their own rivalries and revenges as well. Overall it was bad times. 

Despite the grave theme, I was totally wowed by The Russian Concubine. It is an epic historical story which is rich with ethnic cultures, in particularly to the Chinese. Set in pre-revolutionary China, this story tells the journey of Lydia's escapades from Russia to China, and how she survives living in a foreign country with limited skills and language. The relationship between Valentina and Lydia, as well as Valentina's affair further add intrigue to the story. 

What I also liked about this story is the intertwining of history and romance. Both have interesting elements that kept me interested throughout the story; the history wasn't too dry or boring and the romance wasn't cheesy either. I think it is a well balanced read. There is a sequel to this book and The Concubine's Secret is definitely onto my to-read list.

Here's my thoughts on Kate Furnivall's The White Pearl, (the first book I read by her) which I thought was good too. 


ISBN-13: 9781771380201
Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
Publication Date: 1 August 2014
Format: ebook, 32 pgs
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
Source: Netgalley

It's been a long time since I'd shared my thoughts on Children's Fiction I read here. While browsing through Netgalley, I found this adorable Children's Fiction featuring Red Riding Hood. Well to be exact, she's a little girl called Ruby who likes to dress in her red cloak and thinks of herself as a superhero who goes out of her way to save the day. 

One sunny afternoon, her mom asks her to pick some raspberries in the woods. With a flashlight and a lunch box in hand, she bids her mom goodbye and set out to the woods. Despite the chill drifted out from the shadowy darkness in the woods, she trots ahead and tell herself that a superhero must be silent like a cat and watch out for danger. She meets several small animals on the way, but her final encounter is one yellow-toothed and a huge-clawed wolf. 

Ruby uses her 'superhero' skills to avoid the wolf, but it turns out that the poor wolf is simply feeling hungry, after all. So what did Ruby do? Like a superhero who always helps those in need, she shares her raspberries with the wolf together under the big oak tree. 

Super Red Riding Hood is an adorable retelling of the children's favourite folk-tales but unlike the original tale, this little story has a humorous twist to it. Aside from the bright, colourful illustrations, another thing I liked about this picture book is the message it conveys - do not judge others quickly, be brave and to share. This is simply a wonderful picture book which I'd enjoyed reading with my youngest daughter (who's six). She's especially attracted to Ruby and the red things she adorns (cloak, boots, lunch box). And of course, she too thinks that being a superhero is cool. 


ISBN-13: 9780062216915
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: 21 October 2014

Format: Hardcover, 288 pgs
Source: Publisher

Sometimes the Wolf is a crime thriller, but it is also a story between father and son and how time distance and danger would test the limits of their relationship. 

Patrick Drake was a Sheriff but a bad decision and a reckless action had thrown him into prison. He was supposed to lead a normal life, raising his family in a small mountain town at Silver Lake, Washington, and catching bad guys, but fate seems to have another plan laid out for him. His wife passed away and he was faced with financial woes. What's a desperate man to do at that point? As foolish as this sound, he had turned to smuggling drugs and got caught. He spent twelve years in jail, and now he's out of parole under his son, Bobby Drake's watchful eyes. 

Bobby used to have dreams. He has a basketball scholarship to Arizona but he has to forgo his dream since his father’s guilt. As if that's not enough, he's now deputy sheriff in his father’s old department, and despite all those years have gone by, most people in their small town still remember his father's deeds. However, the Drakes are far from having peace as not long after Patrick’s release, a threat from his past reappears. 

The opening is quite a stunner with the murdering scene, but left enough intrigue for readers to find out what it has to do with the Drakes. What also makes this story a compelling read is the element of trust. Should Bobby trust his superior, who's used to work with his father? And most importantly, does he think his father had killed two men and had those drug money stashed away? Like a lone wolf being hunted, Bobby soon finds himself like that wolf he and Ellie, a Fish and Wildlife staff, who tried to track down after it has made its appearance at Silver Lake in fifty years. 

Filled with tension and mystery, Sometimes the Wolf is a gripping thriller not only about the crimes and murders but of family intrigue, deception and loyalty as well. Mr. Waite captured those tense feelings through his wonderful prose which I find captivating. There is something about his writing that I find quite different from other thrillers; it's like there's more finesse and artsy in his style and I find it refreshing. The way he described the relationship among the three Drakes men (Patrick, Bobby and Morgan, who's Bobby's grandfather) truly defines that saying about blood is thicker than water, no matter whatever the circumstances is and to me, that melancholy feeling is just so great given the premise. However, despite the beauty, I was somewhat skeptical towards the ending, for I felt something was amiss but I'm willing to let it go because, well, sometimes things are better if one left unsaid. 

ISBN-13: 9780425251270
Publisher: Jove Books
Publication Date: 6 May 2014
Format: Paperback, 304 pgs
Source: Personal Library

It'd been a long time since I've read a contemporary romance. Several years ago, before I started this blog, most of the books I read are romance. Contemporary romance, historical romance, romance suspense, paranormal romance. . . you name it, they are on my read list. Then I found myself in this wonderful blogging community, and it has allow me to explore other books which I don't think I'd be reading without all the lovely reviews and recommendations. Thank you, my bookbloggers friends, for sharing those books! 

Back to this post, I want to say reading It Happened One Wedding reminds me why I love reading romance in the first place. Witty, sexy and romantic; this book has all the right elements of a good romance story. 

Sidney Sinclair is a career-minded woman. She takes pride in her job as a director at a private equity firm and while she scores in clinching business deals, she finds it lacking when it comes to the love department. She has decided that men who are commitment-phobic or playboys are off from her list. 

Special agent Vaughn Roberts is the man who fits right on her list. Confident, flirty and good-looking, Vaughn is the man Sinclair who'd avoid at any costs but fate decides otherwise and they are thrown into close contact since they are best man and maid of honour for their siblings' wedding. You see, Vaughn's younger brother, Simon, is to marry Sidney's younger sister, Isabelle. 

Sidney is stuck with him no matter she likes it or not, until Isabelle walks down the aisle. Vaughn, on the other hand, is determined to win over this cool and confident redhead. After all, he has not encountered a woman who would say no to him until her. 

What makes this story a fun read is the exchanges between Sidney and Vaughn (they've some witty dialogues there.) As you can imagine, they didn't leave a good impression with each other initially and I liked the fact that they didn't fall in love at first sight. I think love at first sight do exist, but I'm a little skeptical about it. Thus, when I read that Sidney and Vaughn didn't fit into that category, I was curious on how and what it takes to make their relationship grows, especially since they rub each other off the wrong way the first time they met. 

But of course, sincerity, trust and respect play a huge part in a relationship and as the time goes, Sidney and Vaughn can't help but to be attracted to each other. But what's so memorable about the romance is Vaughn changed his mindset about commitment and the things he'd done for Sidney simply made my heart melt. Yeah. 

I really enjoyed reading this love story between Sidney and Vaughn. They had me chuckle over their squabbles; and they had me smile over their exchanges and the things they have done for each other. I also liked reading about their siblings, Simon and Isabelle, whom I felt are humble and down-to-earth people. Their sweet romance may not be the core of this book, but they do play a part in putting Vaughn and Sidney together. 

It Happened One Wedding is the third book I read by Julie James (after Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect, that is) and I have to say each book didn't disappoint me. Ms. James is one of my favourite romance authors and I know I can always count on her books if I want something romantic and fun to read.