Thursday, 27 February 2014

talk #5: If they were free, perhaps that is not love?

    After trying to find a galaxy picture for the prologue of Once Promised, I found it rather peaceful to just look at galaxy pictures --- I suppose the closest equivalent on earth is the northern lights. 

     I have had some more time this week to read and write before I fall back into the thick of things at work next week, so I'm glad I could have provided some joy and food for thought for readers! I actually finished Book 1 of Once Promised and spoiled myself with the ending of Book 2 and the epilogue. Ah, my heart, how it feeeeels. I am probably going to finish summarising Book 1, but what I'm going to do with Book 2 is still up in the air. Haha. I may just do a one shot summing up when I finally read Book 2, but now, I just need my heart to gently rest somewhere.

    Book 1 is amazing. It's truly epic. And, the best thing is that it's really not just about the romance, it is about love of all kinds - friendship, siblings, parent and child.... so many kinds of love. It's that truth that aches --- that makes me want to write about it, and talk about it, and try and figure out what makes what could have been so sad and yet inevitable? 

   Truthfully, and I say this without reading Book 2 completely yet, I think Once Promised ended sadly just so Lost You Forever could be born. 长相思 is actually better translated I think to "Always Yearning for You", "Always Thinking Of You" or "Always Missing You" and I actually wonder if the two stories should switch titles in the end haha... because what Once Promised feels like is that one will always be yearning for that other, and what Lost You Forever hints at is about past promises. Then again, perhaps they are but mirror images of each other. 

   Because of love, they have duties. Because of duties, they are not free to love. If they were free, perhaps that is not love? 

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Summary and Scene Translation for Chapter 1

   Chapter 1 pretty much blew me away and consolidated my notion that Chi You is quite the exciting male lead - full bloodied, cunning but heroic at the same time. After reading Chapter 1, you will look at the Chi You in Chapter 2 in a completely different light - realising the weight and gravity behind the choices and his actions... and the consequences that might follow after.

   P.S. If you want to discuss spoilers (ie, what happens beyond the chapters I summarised so far), please put [spoilers] [end spoilers] tags in the comments because I'm trying to read this novel unspoiled as much as I can. Thanks for reading <3

Chapter 1: I was Originally A Wild Man

   The chapter starts in Shen Nong country, as it is in the centre, it is one of the richest, with the most people and the greatest amount of exports. At the southwest of Sheng Nong, that's where it is the wildest, with ferocious beasts and poisonous atmospheres. This is where the Jiu Yi tribe lives - it is a very remote uncultivated tribe and they are treated as the lowest ranked citizens. The males are born to be slaves, the females are born to be maids.*

  A hundred years before, the Jiu Yi tribe was unhappy with this cruel slavery and so started to band together and rebel. Because of one strong malicious beast that helped the Jiu Yi tribe, they were able to deal with tens of great soldiers from the God Tribe and this caused the Yan Emperor to be disturbed. The Yan Emperor called the best warrior in the Sheng Nong Tribe, Zhu Rong (the Fire God) to personally deal with this beast.

  So, Chi You is not named by Tong Hua throughout this chapter, but it is clear that the strong malicious beast that helps the Jiu YI tribe is Chi You. Zhu Rong comes to Jiu Yi Tribe and formulates a cruel plan to get Chi You to come out of the forest - he will kill 10 villagers every hour until Chi You turns up. One of his subordinates mention that gods are not supposed to kill humans, but Zhu Rong says who will know if they don't tell? 

  Before Zhu Rong arrives, there is a lovely interlude, where the tribe witch tells Chi You not to come out and to escape as Zhu Rong is coming. The tribe witch thanks Chi You for helping them, but they rather be slaves than have the Beast King be killed. Apparently, they had already sent 100 males and 100 females to the Yan Emperor as a promise of obedience and he has decided to forgive them and the Beast King. 

  So, two hours pass and Chi You does not appear. Twenty people have been be-headed. At the third hour, Zhu Rong and his subordinates have relaxed and grown complacent, thinking Chi You is a coward. But it is at that time, Chi You cast a magic that caused one part of the ground to capsize into a hole - Zhu Rong hastily and angrily directs his flame at it. Zhu Rong mistakenly kills one of his subordinates instead and Chi You takes the chance to escape. The villagers point out to Zhu Rong that he cannot behead any more of them because Chi You did appear. Zhu Rong keeps his word, and even more infuriated, chases after Chi You with his soldiers. 

   Chi You manages to avoid capture for a long part of the chase in the forest with several beasts coming to his help, but ultimately, Zhu Rong is too strong. Zhu Rong catches hold of Chi You but Chi You cleverly tries to knock Zhu Rong's vulnerable part (the part under his erm stomach), which is the only part not covered in fire. So, Zhu Rong lets go of him, and Chi You manages to escape again.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translations (Chapter 9.2: The Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet)

    As I read Once Promised and translate Heavy Sweetness, I do think that all the other characters except Jin Mi, could quite easily survive and fit into the palace politics of Tong Xia's immortal fantasy, and so what makes them so different is Jin Mi. Jin Mi's candour, shamelessness and fearlessness is what makes it all so laugh it out loud funny.

  Just a small comment on the comparisons between Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Thousand Miles of Peach Blossom and Heavy Sweetness --- I was always slightly confused why c-novel readers like to make these two novels compete with each other. Since I love both, I think both are great in their own right. I do think that Bai Qian and Jin Mi are extremely different, and their lack of sharpness regarding their emotional feelings is a very small similarity. Their stark difference is especially clear in this chapter - Bai Qian being a Higher Immortal, always tries to preserve her stature, pride and class in all formal events regardless of what she might be cursing inside, but with Jin Mi what she curses on the inside and outside is almost the same (even if she subjectively believes otherwise haha). Jin Mi is a small sprite whose one aim is to become a god --- not because she wants to be a god, but because she wants to be powerful enough to leave the Flower World on her own and experience the world. So, when she comes to the Birthday Banquet, it's not because she is trying to create mischief (though she's a natural mischief generator), but because she never knows when she will be captured back to the Flower World and she wants to see and experience all the exciting parts of life!

Chapter 9.2: The Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet (Part 2 of 5)

     Who knew that this "Heavenly Empress" would elegantly walk to the palace front and stylishly bow towards Night and Phoenix. She said, "Sui He of the Bird Tribe greets the two Highnesses." It turns out that she wasn't the Heavenly Empress, but the peacock that was the head of the bird tribe - the one that Flower Leader had cut off the food supply for ten over years. But it looks like the supply has been restored, as her cheeks were supple and red, and the bird immortals behind her were energetic and healthy.

   "Besides the immortals from the Flower World, it looks like all the female goddesses and immortals are here at the Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet today," Master Pu Chi muttered, "Unless they are taking this opportunity to settle Phoenix's marriage as well?"

   Ah? So, it's to choose a wife for Phoenix.

  An immortal nearby stroke his white beard and said philosophically, "This immortal friend speaks soundly, I am of the same opinion."

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Prologue (Translation)

  Actually now that I'm reading the correct version, this fits the mythological vision of Tong Hua much better than if the first chapter started with the fated meeting of Chi You and A'Heng. If we started with Chi You and A'Heng, they become the centre of our universe, magnified, our main focus points. But, now that the landscape has been pulled way back, until we are looking at it on the level of the creation of the universe, we see that every figure is but a star in a wider galaxy. Even the mightiest creator will one day fade, what more the descendants of the descendants of the once great? Maybe, all we can ask in life is to meet people who will imprint onto our soul, love into our bones and give us a promise we try to fulfill in all our finiteness.


   The universe was in chaos, when it just started to form, there was only one Emperor King, which was the person who created this world, the great Emperor Pan Gu*.

  At that time, the distance between the sky and the land was not so great, humans belonged on the land, gods belonged on the godly mountains, people could pass through the heaven stairs to see the gods. The God Tribe, Human Tribe and Demon Tribe were all mixed between the sky and land.

  The Great Emperor Pan Gu had three subordinates who were as close to him as siblings, the one with the greatest power was a girl, it has been too long ago, so her name cannot be remembered, it is only known that later she built the Hua Xu Country, and the people bestowed on her the title, Ruler of Hua Xu. The other two were males, one was the Ruler of Shen Nong, he garrisoned himself in the Central Plains, defending the peace from all four directions, the other one was the Ruler of Gao Xing, he positioned himself in the east, he protected the point from which the sun rose and where all the water flows to.

   After the Great Emperor Pan Gu passed away, wars were ablaze on the lands, the Ruler of Hua Xu hated the never-ending wars and recused herself from the war, creating a beautiful and peaceful Hua Xu Country. However, she is still remembered by later generations not because of Hua Xu Country, but because of her son, Fu Xi, and her daughter Nu Wa.

  Fu Xi and Nu Wa were powerful and virtuous leaders, they gained the respect of all the heroes of the land, and finally stopped the war, and were crowned the Great Fu Xi King and the Great Nu Wa King.

  The deeply battered Great Wilderness finally reached a reign of peace and regained a sense of life and vitality.

   Many thousands of years later, the Great Fu Xi King passed on, the Great Nu Wa King was in great pain from her sorrow and left to live in the Hua Xu Country. No one ever saw her again, whether she is dead or life became a mystery, and the tribe of Fu Xi and Nu Wa disappeared.

  With the disappearance of the Fu Xi tribe, the Central Sheng Nong and the Southeast Gao Xing became the two great conquerors, on the surface they maintained the blood oath signed in front of the Great Fu Xi King and the Great Nu Wa King and did not transgress each other, but secretly their ambitions were burning and they wanted to swallow each other.

  In the Northwest Wilderness, there was an ordinary mountain called Xuan Yuan Mountain, at the foot of the mountain lived an unnoticeable small god tribe, Xuan Yuan tribe. At a grand ceremonial rite, the Great Elder of the Xuan Yuan tribe overcame the group's disagreement and appointed the youngest hero of the tribe to become its leader. But even that Great Elder did not expect what the young hero ultimately accomplished.

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Note!

Cute little doll saying "I'm sorry! Sorry sorry!"

   I was reading until Chapter 5 (it was really good), when I thought that some parts did not make sense and there seemed to be holes in the story... so I just googled for another version of Once Promised to be sure, and indeed! The version I was following appeared to be some redacted version! 

  Anyway, I'm going to go back and summarise the Prologue and Chapter 1 so the sequence is right. What I previously posted as Chapter 1 is actually Chapter 2! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Summary and Scene Translation for Chapter 2 [Edited]

[Edited on 25/2/14: I've realised that the version I was first following did not have the full chapters, so I'm editing this to fit the correct version. This actually happened in Chapter 2 and not Chapter 1. I will be going back to summarise the prologue and Chapter 1.] 

   Oh my! I only planned to do a "my thoughts" kind of entry for the chapters as I read the novel but I loved the first chapter so much that I ended summarising it in great detail and translating the end of the first chapter which I loved. Ok, shall not spoil it, so my comments are below. 

  P.S. Oh, for avid fans of Heavy Sweetness, do not fear for I have diligently translated until Chapter 9.4. I will be posting the next translation part up this week :).

Chapter 2: Mistakenly Falling into the Web

  Chi You was rushing back to Sheng Nong when a girl dressed in green asked how to go to Bo Fu country. That's how they first met, under the red glow of the sky, Chi You says he is from Bo Fu and the girl introduces herself as a normal peasant, Xi Ling Heng, she can be called A'Heng.

  They travel to Bo Fu, which is a country where water is very expensive. No one knows why but the Bo Fu Mountain started burning, hence water became scarce. At a shop, an old man comes in begging for water, and after Chi You and A'Heng struggles over the kettle for a while (Chi You telling A'Heng she can't afford it), A'Heng gives water to the old man. The old man tells them that Bo Fu Mountain is burning because the Fire God, Zhu Rong, is cultivating his powers and fire there. This caused fights in the neighbouring villages as they are all fighting for the scarce water supply. At this, A'Heng secretly thinks to herself that this would be difficult to handle because the Fire God is one of the ten strongest gods.

  While Chi You is resting, A'Heng goes up to the Bo Fu Mountain by herself. So, she climbs up and was about to step on something when she hears a cry and realises Chi You has fallen behind her. So, she runs back to help him and at that moment, the place A'Heng almost stepped on becomes a deep hole with a huge spout of steam shooting through [Chi You secretly saving her haha].

  While A'Heng helps Chi You down the mountain, Chi You tells A'Heng he is not engaged yet and he has to tell his mother if she wants to marry him because she is hugging him so tightly as she helps him down (haha). It's very cute because Chi You refuses to go back down and acts a bit like a village idiot - he insist that A'Heng is going treasure hunting on Bo Fu Mountain and wants to follow her up. He also delays her journey and often causes her to take the longer way during the route, but it's implied that he has saved her from poison or dangerous potholes because of it. 

  So finally, Chi You doesn't want to go further, but A'Heng does not want to give up. So, A'Heng gives Chi You the special ice silkworm robe that her mother gave her to protect Chi You from the small blazes. Chi You can feel the coolness from the robe A'Heng placed on him and he asks what is it. A'Heng just tells him to wear it carefully, but instead of going down, Chi You gives a cunning smile and pretends to have twisted his ankle. Haha, so poor A'Heng has to carry Chi You --- and he becomes heavier with each step until A'Heng thinks she is carrying a small mountain. 

  At one point, A'Heng takes out a box which looks like it's made of white jade, but it's actually made up of a ten thousand year old ice, and in it there are two ice silkworm kings. She tells Chi You to stand behind her and uses the two ice silkworm kings to cast an icy net over the fiery mountain so that the fire can be extinguished. It appears to work at first, then the fire fights back even stronger and A'Heng almost falls down the cliff but Chi You grabs her. A'Heng then pukes out blood and loses consciousness.

Once Promised (曾许诺)by Tong Hua(桐华): Brief Introduction + Synopsis Translation

   I'm an avid follower of ockoala's translations at Koala's Playground for Lost You Forever. To prevent myself from reading forward past ockoala's translations, I've decided to read the prequel, Once Promised. Actually, I never thought I would read this novel since it has a sad ending and I don't touch tragedies at all, but since the sequel promises to have some sort of happy ending, I like to think that I can see Once Promised and Lost You Forever as two parts of a whole, yin and yang, and whatever regrets in the first novel is hopefully answered in the sequel. 

  Contrary to my usual practice of reading c-novels in one go, I've decided to read Once Promised in parts (if I can withstand the suspense hah), in the hope that any bitterness or tragedy is more edible in bite-sized morsels. 

  The world-building of Once Promised is pretty complicated, so I'm going to break it down for my reference and hopefully help any other readers interested in the the background of Lost You Forever or in reading Once Promised. 

 Here's a translation of the synopsis: 

   In ancient times, a time where heroes are born. God, Man, Demon and all things on earth were mixed in between Heaven and Earth. There were three great god tribes: the Central Sheng Nong, the Southeast Gao Xing, the Northwest Xuan Yuan, they occupied three parts of the land, three independent empires.

  The heroes the world paid the most attention was undoubtedly the Sheng Nong Tribe's War God Chen You and the Gao Xing Tribe's Prince Shao Hao. 

   Chen You was the Beast King brought under control by Shen Nong's Yan Emperor many hundred years ago, cruel and honest, cunning and pure, his powers? He has never lost a battle. He has no rules in his heart, only revenge, his one goal is to use his powers to take over every single thing on earth, in one united empire. 

  But fate makes fools of men, in his bid to cement his empire, he met the princess of the Xuan Yuan tribe, at first a misunderstanding, but very quickly they fell deeply in love. 

   Under the Peach Blossom Tree, Chen You made her a promise of love, he will give up everything, and stay by her side for the rest of their lives*. 

*The best promise of all - I can sense the tears already :(.

   Besides, knowing that it's a sad ending, I've actually avoided any spoilers since I wasn't interested in reading Once Promised, so I'm going in with pretty much a clean slate. I went to read up a bit about 山海经 (Book of Mountain and Sea), which Tong Hua based both novels on. It's pretty fascinating as apparently many tales of Chinese Mythology came from this book, eg, NuWa patching the sky and Hou Yi shooting the Nine Suns- but it also talks about chinese medicine, mythological creatures, etc. When I was young, I was deeply into all kinds of mythology - Greek, Norse and Egyptian, so I feel quite sheepish to lack so much knowledge about Chinese Mythology... I guess all these stories were so naturally part of my background, that I never thought about them on a more conscious level.

   The fascinating thing is that Chen You is a real character from the Book of Mountain and Sea, and famously rivals/battles the Yellow Emperor. Tong Hua is probably writing on more levels than I could ever understand. And with that, I shall jump in!

  Will update on my thoughts again as I read. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Crazy Adventures of the Wu Gate by Ying Zhao (午门囧事 by 影照)Review - Ancient, ME, 4 stars

    I'm sure everyone knows my reading tastes quite well - a preference for ancient books and happy endings. I dislike the time-travelling trope and stay clear of mixed and sad ending books as if they were a bout of measles. So, how did I end up reading one of the more famous time-travelling c-novel books and getting my heart broken in the process? Mind you, I even cheated and read the ending and the epilogue beforehand so I knew which of the three male leads to ship - but darn it, heart always overruns logic and even though the female lead clearly ended up with the right guy, why does my heart hurt for the wrong guy? 

   The Crazy Adventures of the Wu Gate is a very famous book, part of which is because the author could have locked up sections of her book for VIP access but chose not to to repay her fans who had followed her all these time. This of course is extremely rare for popular books. So, you can actually read the whole book (all three parts here) at the official site. As of my writing of this review, on JJWXC, this book has 1,013,004,416 points. That is amazing, some comparisons: Tang7's Ten Thousand Miles of Peach Blossom (84,900,256 points) and Dian Xian's Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost (176,386,816 points). Just by the number of points alone, this c-novel is a giant. 

  So, where shall I start? I was just googling stories with 囧事 (crazy/silly adventures) in the title because those c-novels are usually funny and light-hearted, even completely ridiculous and silly. The Crazy Adventures of the Wu Gate stood out with so many discussions and reviews. There were warning signs ahead already --- this book is very divisive, it will break your heart, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry. 

  I particularly love the author's post-script at the end where she explained the genesis of this novel and why she wrote it (I'm translating her words with some paraphasing): 

    In essence, the ending was fixed already at the start. The female lead will not remain in the ancient times, she will not remain in the ancient times and enjoy the love of all the male leads. 

    The reason is simple - she has read too many novels in which the female leads can control and direct everything, and is loved to death by a whole group of handsome guys. In her heart she was thinking, why should these female leads be loved by so many people? Why should the entire world revolve around them? 

   So with a streak of rebellion, she started to write this story. A story about a simple girl who travelled to the past - she did not know how to read poetry, how to draw, did not know how to strategise, she was just greedy, lazy, a little cowardly but she had her street smarts, naivety and a kind and sensitive heart. 

  In the author's mind, this represented many girls. 

  And just like the traditional time-travelling novel, she arranged for the female lead to meet different kinds of handsome guys. At the start, they would all treat her very well - see her in a different light, do many things for her, let the readers start to have romantic fantasies. 

  And then, at the end of each part of the book, the author will break the fantasy - it turns out that all those were just illusions, the romance and sweetness was planned, there was a motivation, there was an aim behind it. 

   Thus, there is no love that arises with no reason, there is no hate that starts with no reason.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

#Talk 4: The perfect representation of the Black Belly Boss

   If you can understand a person by what they eat, then my tastes are most perfectly captured by cupcakes. Hong Kong prices their cupcakes ridiculously from $4 to $6, when in Singapore, a great cupcake is $3 to $4. This was pretty horrific news to me since I eat cupcakes by the dozen. But, I succumbed eventually, and like to buy cupcakes from sift and kisses in Hong Kong. The cupcake above is an extraordinary ferrero rocher cupcake! 

   Oh yes, I'm supposed to talk about Black Belly Bosses. Haha. In my opinion, the equivalent of a cupcake in c-novels is the black belly boss and silly employee comedic novels! It's pretty contradictory because I can't stand stupid female leads, but they have become my favourite trope to read. To be honest, sometimes after I finish a normal standard boss-employee novel, I don't even remember reading it, but they always have a sweet aftertaste. 

   In case, anyone is not familiar, c-novel readers usually describe a male character as 腹黑 (Fu Hei) which is literally translated as black belly to capture the black, often sadistic, humour of the male lead, who likes to bully and laugh at the girl. Classic black belly characters are Feng Teng in Come Eat Shan Shan, Dong Hua in The Pillow Book (probably the most popular one?) and about every male lead in my modern recommended list (see sidebar).

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translations (Chapter 9.1 - The Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet)

     I've been wanting to write so much more - as there has been so much exciting c-novel news, but I've suffered quite a bad bout of fever and flu! Ugh, Hong Kong winter that blows hot and cold, sometimes in the same day! Hopefully, I will be able to complete all that I wanted to write before I head back home. My 2 months attachment to Hong Kong is almost done, and I can say I will have lots of fond memories of Hong Kong (ah, the food, the people, the chaos) and dim sum (you definitely touched my heart). 

   The photograph above is of Fan Bing Bing in some Wu Ze Tian movie, and gosh does she look great. When I saw it, I immediately thought that's exactly how I imagined the Heavenly Empress to look like. In my opinion,  Fang Bing Bing always looks over the top and ostentatious, but pretty darn awesomely so. With her flamboyant eyes and peony red lips, she has a beauty that is almost violent.

Chapter 9.1: The Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet (Part 1 of 5 )

   Holding a chicken feather as a token of authority. What sounded false when heard but is real when seen, it turns out that this phrase is not just a classical allusion. Also, it turned out that Phoenix was a bird stuffed with authority tokens, which is both tragic and admirable. 

   I am not a Phoenix, hence I have no habit of stuffing myself with authority tokens and running around. I didn't know before, but now that I knew, I naturally could no longer use the Phoenix feather as my hair clip. So, after entering the southern sky gate, I changed to a grape stem to clip my hair, and kept the phoenix feather in my robes.

   The Heavenly Empress' Banquet was indeed not ordinary. There were gods from all around, bustling and boisterously riding on a cloud and heading towards the Purple Cloud Palace. The cloud I was riding on was not large and had almost completely dispersed outside the palace gate, but fortunately Master Pu Chi had astutely and quickly gave me a hand and hence I had landed safely.

   The palace was filled with the divine essence of gods. I found a space at the back and satisfiedly sat down. Master Pu Chi grabbed a cushion next to me, and grandly sat down. I waved at him and said, "Master Pu Chi led the way very well, I am very satisfied. Now, Master Pu Chi can go back."

   Master Pu Chi's eyes gave out a flash of surprise, he said in an aggrieved and dejected tone, "Xiao Er Immortal has dismantled the bridge after crossing it so quickly, I have no preparation in my heart at all!"

   "Ah, then Master Pu Chi can prepare now. Just that how long will Master Pu Chi take to prepare?" We fruits are usually generous, easygoing and kind to others. 

   Master Pu Chi seriously reflected for a moment and said, "I'm very weak, I'm afraid that unless there is an hour or two, I will not be able to accept this quick turnaround."

   I raised my eyebrow, and Master Pu Chi laughed widely and continued, "I know astronomy and geography, I can not only lead the way, I can also talk and accompany Xiao Er Immortal, and pass the boring moments in this banquet."

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translations (Chapter 8.5 - The Elegant Tendrils)

   Happy valentines' day! My family has flown over to Hong Kong for the weekend. I will be flying back home next weekend, so lots of stuff to pack and wrap up at my job too before I go home. Ah, home! But, I will try and update a few entries before I fly, because it's become a habit (haha).

  I thought the picture above suited this chapter. And, it would really help if people could send me beautiful images for the chapter translations to my email:

  Enjoy! :)

Chapter 8.5: The Elegant Tendrils (Part 5 of 5)

   Xiao Er Immortal... I thought for a moment, well this name certainly matches Master Pu Chi. However, I clearly summoned a local soil god, why did a water sprite arrive? Did I have an aura that attracts sprites? ... I looked at the darkening sky, there was not much time left, so I guess I have to make do with what I had. 

   "I summoned Master Pu Chi for one task. Does Master Pu Chi know a short cut to the Heavenly Realms? Please lead the way." 

   Master Pu Chi spread out his sleeves and shook off the water droplets. He said slowly, "Xiao Er Immortal wants to go for the Heavenly Empress' Birthday Banquet?"

  I answered, "Yes." 

  Master Pu Chi asked again, "Xiao Er Immortal is prepared to go to the southern sky gate or the northern sky gate?" 

  I reflected that the northern sky gate was the main entrance, and this did not suit my style, so the southern sky gate would be more suitable. I answered, "Southern sky gate."

  Master Pu Chi then asked again, "Xiao Er Immortal is prepared to arrive at the "Shen" hour or the "Xi" hour?" 

  I answered, "Naturally, the faster the better."

  Master Pu Chi then asked, "Xiao Er Immortal is prepared to fly or swim there?"

   "Fly there." I wasn't a fish, how could I swim there... 

    After a series of detailed questions were asked over half a burnt candle, Master Pu Chi gave a "wo" sound and said disappointedly, "I know the way to the Heavenly Realms, but as I was bathing halfway just now and Xiao Er Immortal had hurriedly summoned me, I'm afraid I have to return and bathe finish first."

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Translation of Tang7's Edited Ending for "Life is a Twice Blooming Flower" (岁月是朵两生花)

      First, I want to wish Peanuts a happy 1 year blog anniversary (officially Feb 13 2014)! I can't imagine the c-novel english community without Peanuts' blogs and recommendations <3. Everyone go wish her a happy blog anniversary!

     Peanuts told me that since I'm such an ardent fan of Tang Qi Gong Zi (since renamed to Tang Qi/Tang7), I should read her modern novel, Life is a Twice Blooming Flower. Though she did warn me about the weak plot structure, it was still slightly disappointing as a BIG Tang7 fan. 

    Yesterday, I finally joined weibo just so I could follow the updates of my favourite c-novel authors. Wow, it's a treasure chest! Tang7 actually answers lots of questions from fans and it's interesting to read her thoughts. I will try and do some weibo translations too one day!

  Anyway, I found out that Tang7 has heavily edited Life is a Twice Blooming Flower, and most of all, she rewrote the ending! Yan Song and Qin Mo re-unite with a hug in public! <3 

   I don't have all the edits, but she posted the new ending on her weibo, and I'm translating it to celebrate Peanuts' blog anniversary! Enjoy!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost: Translations (Chapter 8.4 - The Elegant Tendrils)

      This is a faster update than usual and I want to give thanks for the support that have been given to the translations. I started this blog on 2 Dec 2013 after reading Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost and 3L3W: Ten Thousand Miles of Peach Blossoms and being all be-dazzled by the new shiny world of c-novels. It's been slightly more than 2 months and it's pretty amazing for me that there have been 10,000 page views, because I never really expected for people to read my small blog. It's really great to be able to share with people my views and joy over c-novels, since I don't know anyone in real life I can talk to about them.

   So, thank you and enjoy <3

  P.S. I'm saving some of the prettier images for the more dramatic chapters, and so have been posting paintings of flowers. Some are really lovely and I quite like this one - this is the osmanthus flowers that Jin Mi used to make wine.

Chapter 8.4: The Elegant Tendrils (Part 4 of 5) 

   Since the spell did not produce buns, I was a woman of my word, and treated Night to a small shop for breakfast. 

   Both of us changed our appearance, hid our immortal aura, and found a decent looking shop in the city. We picked a clean bench to sit on when we heard a voice from a neighbouring table, "Xiao Er (a nickname for shop assistants - literally "Little Two"), bring two or four buns."

    "Coming!" The shop assistant flicked a white towel on his back, and smoothly brought forward a plate of steaming buns. 

    I watched and learned immediately. However, as the "Xiao Er" was already called over to the neighbouring side, following this order, I loudly hit the table and shouted, "Xiao San (literally "Little Three" and a nickname for mistresses/third parties), menu please!"

   Suddenly, the whole shop fell silent. A deadly glare shot over from behind the bamboo shade on the right. I turned my head, and saw that two and three girls behind the shade, were glaring at me with hostility. 

   At a corner of the shop, someone broke out into laughter. 

   I turned and leaned close towards Night, and asked in a low voice, "Is it because I bypassed the order over them?"

   Night sipped a mouth of tea, and leaned towards me, he returned in a low voice, "This 'Xiao San' in the mortal world is a phrase used to scold people."

  As he said this, the old person behind the counter who was calculating on his abacus anxiously came forward with a menu, "This Master, the neighbouring table sits the three concubines of a very important and rich master in the city. They are gathering in my shop today. If you want anything, please order, but please don't ruin my shop!"

  Mortals are so strange, why can I call "Xiao Er" (Little Two), but not "Xiao San" (Little Three)?

  Since I did not want to calculate with them, I flipped opened the menu. The first dish was extremely shocking, it was called "Fruit Pancake". This caused the little heart of my fruit self to roll one round in the oil and shook my head repeatedly, "Too cruel! Too cruel!"

   Night looked over and smiled consolingly, "This fruit is not referring to real fruits, it is only dough, only fried dough. Do not be scared."

    Even so, this blood-soaked dish name caused my heart to turn in fear. I looked down and the next dish was called "Crab Meat Soup Bun". I love buns, so I ordered this dish and two bowls of soyabean milk. 

   In a flash, the shop assistant called "Xiao Er" came with a basket of steaming buns. I reached out for one, blew on it, and excitedly ate it.

  This really proved that mortals are unreliable and do not go by the book. As Fruit Pancakes did not have fruit, who knew that Crab Meat Soup Buns had soup inside? And, quite a bit of soup, the soup juice accurately leaked and squirted onto Night's robes.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost (Translations - Chapter 8.3: The Elegant Tendrils)

  The above is such a great picture of what Jin Mi had in mind when the "crow" Phoenix wanted to eat the grape. Haha. 

Chapter 8.3: Elegant Tendrils (Part 3 of 5)

     Night saw my action, so he very cooperatively did not pick up the chess pieces. He placed his hands in his sleeves and looked at me with a face full of interest. 

   There was a "Pi Li Pa La" sound, and it worked! I fixed my gaze as I saw the chess pieces undergo a transformation, and became an ice hail the size of a fist, it rolled across the stone table, and landed on the floor. After being shone by the sun, it melted into soiled water. 

    The person opposite me sucked in a breath of cold air. I raised my head, and saw the little soil god's eyes were staring extremely wide, and paused and looked at me blankly. 

  "He is completely stunned by my sorcery!" I half covered my mouth as I moved towards Night's body and whispered to him. 

   Night let out a breath of air, stepped forward half a step, and covered Jin Mi with his body, "Little soil god, are you here for something?"

    The little soil god regained awareness and coughed, "Small god greets his Night Highness. Today, small god must go to Lao Jun's manor to take on my assignation. Before I leave, I wanted to bid my farewell to your highness, Phoenix Highness and Ling Guang Gentleman (this is Jin Mi's male alter ego in the mortal world), " Little soil god raised his neck and tried to look pass Night's body but he was blocked by a swish of Night's sleeve. 

  "Heh heh," Little soil god touched his head and continued, "Unfortunately, it seems Phoenix Highness and Ling Guang Gentleman is not here. How shall I greet the immortal lady?"

  I just realised that I had forgotten to transform back after regaining my true form last night, no wonder little soil god did not recognise me. I was about to answer him, when Night said, "Today is Heavenly Empress' birthday, all the gods are going to pay their greetings. If little soil god rushes down now, perhaps you can still catch the beginnings of her ceremony."

  The little soil god was so excited that his whole face became red and bowed three times to Night, "Thanks for your Highness' guidance. His highness is indeed as they say - a truly almighty kind god."

  Night waved his hand, "No need to thank me," and continued in a soft voice, "Regarding this lady... perhaps the glare of the sun is too bright today and caused the little soil god to see wrongly?"

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ancient Doting Wife Series by Ming Yue Ting Feng (宠妻古言系列 - 明月听风) Summary & Mini Reviews

   Ming Yue Ting Feng (明月听风) is one of my favourite c-novel authors. Her writing style is based on three famous principles: 《不虐不NP 不悲剧!有感情有激情有剧情!》meaning "no torture no NP (NP usually means harem - means the final pairing could be 1 girl 2 guys or 1 guy 2 girls) and no tragedy! Got emotions got passion got drama!" 

   For someone like me who enjoy reading positive, light-hearted romance novels with happy endings, Ming Yue Ting Feng is a godsend. She writes very good dialogue, interesting character set ups and she has a clear storyline for all her novels. In fact, she writes them a bit like a mystery novel - there is one big mystery and a few unanswered questions and the characters fall in love and try and solve them together. So, what usually prevents the characters from being together is not a stupid denial of feelings, but because of greater external forces in which the characters need to learn how to bond to deal with together - to fight for their love. Oh, I love such storylines!

  A common flaw in all her novels is that they tend to have lengthy dialogue and sag after the first half, when she is delaying the resolution of the mystery so the third quarter of her novels are usually the weakest. Then, they go full speed ahead and usually end very well. So, she has pacing issues, but overall, a very solid c-novel writer. 

  I will now write an introduction to my favourite series of hers - the Ancient Doting Wife Series. It has four full length c-novels and one mini novel. I have read all of them except the first one, "The Martial Adventures to Doting a Wife". Although this novel has some connections to the later novels in the series, this was clearly written as a stand alone and predates the later novels in timing. The beginning is not very good to be honest, and her writing was still quite raw, so I don't plan on reading it. 

  Let's head straight to the good stuff!

1) Thawing Master Yan* (融岩) (4.5 stars) (HE) 
Literally, the chinese title is Rong Yan - Rong meaning harmonising, melting, softening and Yan representing the male lead, whose name Yan means a hard cliff. The suggestion in the title is that the female lead softens and harmonises Yan.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost (Translations - Chapter 8.2: The Elegant Tendrils)

   Thanks again for reading and the support! 

    To clarify, we are about 30% through the book. I am currently translating what appears to be the edited book version from a site, but it does not have the full version there. From this book version, we are currently at Chapter 8. But from another site which has the full version ("version 2"), it has 68 chapters and this Chapter 8 from the book version will be around Chapter 25 of version 2. I am following the book version first as Xiaoyuer appeared to follow it and it groups the chapters into nice segments with a proper title. But, when the book version runs out - I will then complete the translations with version 2. 

Chapter 8.2: The Elegant Tendrils (Part 2 of 5)

   I stretched out my tongue to prepare to lick my lips to reduce my temperature, but Phoenix accurately captured it, and hooked the tip of my tongue back. In that moment, it felt like there was only Phoenix's lips and his hands on my waist left in this world, and everything else had disappeared. 

   The world spinned, and I reflected. The Moon God did not trick me, mutual cultivation was indeed enjoyable. I have to take this opportunity to carefully remember the steps, so that in future, I am able to mutually cultivate with other people if necessary. 

   I was just planning on this, when Phoenix suddenly paused. He grabbed both of my shoulders and pushed me away. His gaze was painful, "Wrong! Chaotic! This is all wrong."

  Hmm? I was shocked - I had wasted all my efforts to remember all the steps. I had made myself a disciple to the wrong teacher!

  I blinked my eyes and enquired humbly, "Why?"

   Phoenix replied, "Why?" His face had a dejected expression, "I know that you already have feelings for me, as I have for you, but... fate makes a fool of us, the heaven is not fair... our relationship will not be condoned ethically, if you insist on being with me, you will incur heaven's fury, and be destroyed..."

  The more I listened, the more confused I became. I wasn't sure what Phoenix's drunken words were saying. However after the mutual cultivation, I was tired, and so I yawned, and lightly patronised Phoenix, "If one is destroyed, then so be it."

  Phoenix emotionally grabbed my hand and said painfully, "It's alright for me, but how can I bear for you to incur heaven's fury?"

  I sleepily waved my hand, "It's ok it's ok..." I could not take the heavy drowsiness that came over me and laid down and went to see Master Zhou (the god in charge of sleep/dreams, like the Sandman).

  I was half dreaming and half awake, but Master Zhou looked like Phoenix, and was stroking my cheeks with an expression of affection and suppressed pain, "But how can I bear..."