Wednesday, April 04, 2018

K-Drama Review: Mirror of the Witch aka Secret Healer

title: Mirror of the Witch aka Secret Healer
genre: historical, fantasy, romance
original run: May 13-July 16, 2016
network: JTBC
number of episodes: 20
my rating: 4 stars

synopsis from viki:
Can a young royal physician change the fate of a cursed princess?
When Queen Sim (Jang Hee Jin) is unable to conceive, she visits the shaman Hong Joo (Yum Jung Ah). Hong Joo’s powerful black magic helps the Queen give birth to a twin boy and girl, Soon Hwae (Yeo Hoe Hyun) and Seo Ri (Kim Sae Ron).
But the dark sorcery comes with a price when Seo Ri is cursed, causing her to be abandoned and left for dead by the Queen. Seo Ri is rescued by the father of Poong Yeon (Kwak Si Yang), who becomes her only friend as she grows up in hiding.
With Poong Yeon and her helper, Choi Hyun Seo (Lee Sung Jae), by her side, Seo Ri grows up as a witch, all the while trying to figure out how to lift the evil curse on her life. When Seo Ri meets the royal physician Heo Jun (Yoon Shi Yoon), will he help her change her fate and reclaim her rightful place?
“Mirror of the Witch” is a 2016 South Korean drama series directed by Jo Hyun Tak. The series is inspired by the Mirror of Eastern Medicine (Dongui Bogam), a book compiled by the royal physician Heo Jun and published during the Joseon Dynasty and considered a classic in the study of Korean traditional medicine.

Secret Healer came up in my Netflix "Asian drama" suggestions. It's been on my to-be-watched list for a while, so I thought I'd give it a try. It took me so long to watch this drama because I had to pay close attention or I would miss something. Definitely not a drama to watch while washing dishes or with a toddler interrupting.

What I liked: 

The overall story plot- so good. so so good. I was very pleased with the story. Yes there were a few plot holes but they didn't bother me so much.

The villain- Hong Joo was an excellent villain. I loved her back story and her obsessed she was. I was a little confused by her relationship with Choi Hyun Seo. It was much deeper than master-student.

Yoon Si-Yoon as Heo Jun- so genuine. I loved the depth of his character and how he portrayed the comedic scenes, the sweet romantic crush scenes, and the serious scenes.

Kim Sae Ron- I felt like there was a little missing from her acting. I did like her crazy psychotic scenes when the curse took over completely and her scenes with Yoon Si-Yoon were very good. She had an innocence about her portrayal that worked for her and against her. In her favor because her character has been locked away and is only 17. Against her because she didn't have oomph when it came to the calmer scene when she was in witch mode.

Min Do-Hee as Soon-Deuk- My favorite character by far in the whole show.

Things I didn't like: (**some minor spoilers ahead**)

Like I said before there were a few plot holes. There were things that bothered me like if Yeon-Hee has been making potions for years, why didn't she know what some of the herbs looked like and Heo Jun did?

THE ENDING- The ending gutted me. It was such a plot twist that I didn't like but I can understand why the story went in that direction. Also, in the recap after all the trauma was over, a few characters were forgotten like Queen Sim and King Sun-Jo's wife. Maybe King Sun-Jo's wife was too much of a minor character to follow up on, but did they have kids after it was all over??? And how did Queen Sim feel about Heo Jun in the end? I need to knowww.

Overall, I gave Secret Healer 4 stars. I might change it to 4.5 only because the ending and the plot holes. But this one definitely makes my top dramas, has given me appreciation for historical dramas (some of you know how hard it is for me to get into them), and also is one I will be re-watching later on.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Baby Jay's Library- Winter 2018

Baby Jay is learning sight words! He is also learning how to write his name, letters, and numbers. He still LOVES trains. We recently moved to a new neighborhood and close to a very big library. Jay picked out the only two train books in the board book section :) He has learned how to "read" them by memorizing word patterns and sight words. The other night he surprised his dad by reading one of them to him. Of course after that, I immediately ordered the books online.

1. Trains Go by Steve Light 

2. Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 
by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

K-Drama Review: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

title: Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo 
genre: Romance, Historical, Melodrama, Fantasy
original run: August 29, 2016-November 1, 2016
network: SBS
number of episodes: 20
my rating: 2-3 stars 

synopsis from dramafever: 
Hae Soo (IU) is a 21st century woman who gets caught in a solar eclipse and is transported to the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th century for nearly 500 years. Suddenly, Hae Soo finds herself in the royal palace, where she comes across Fourth Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Ki). A man as feared as he is handsome, Wang So is based on the real-life fourth king of the Goryeo Dynasty and makes others tremble but wins over Hae Soo’s heart. However, he is not the only one in the palace with eyes on the throne, and a political battle of deception, secrecy and lies ensues between Wang So and all the other princes. Adding to the drama are Eighth Prince Wang Wook (Heirs star Kang Ha Neul), who is less than willing to wait in line behind seven other members of the royal family, and Third Prince Wang Yo (Beloved alum Hong Jong Hyun), whose right to the crown actually precedes Wang So’s. Also known as Moon Lovers - Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, the drama is based on the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin by Tong Hua, which also inspired the 2011 Chinese hit Scarlet Heart starring Cecilia Liu and Nicky Wu. The drama is directed by Kim Kyu Tae, whose previous work includes It’s Okay, That’s Love, and was adapted for the screen by Jo Yoon Young, also known for Cinderella Man. 

Um... It took me a while to sit down and watch this drama. I saw the 1st episode and when Lee Joon Ki killed a horse I automatically stopped watching because: why kill the horse? what did the horse do to you? was that seriously necessary to kill the poor horse because you didn't want to go back to the other tribe? It took a serious push from a friend to go back and watch this series. I can't say I completely hated it. I normally do not like time travel in books or tv or movies but again, thanks to a serious push from a friend I gave it a try. 

What I liked: 

The costumes- beautiful. IU's outfits were amazing. 

The acting- The chemistry was great. The acting was decent. A little over the top but expected from a melodrama. Very "Twilight" in some parts. 

The brothers- the relationship with the younger brothers was nice to watch. It was annoying how everyone was in love with Hae Soo at some point, but still the younger brothers' love for her I admired the most. 

The drama and backstabbing- Definitely kept the story moving for sure. The drama would have been lost without it. It shows how all the glamour and ideology we have for princes and princesses is over rated which is a trend I'm seeing in dramas lately. Being rich and royal isn't all it's made up to be. 

How Hae Soo changes history- this was actually kind of cool. Because of her the king remembered for bloodshed is remembered for change. 

What I didn't like: 

Ok, first I didn't like how Hae Soo was from a different world was completely forgotten toward the end of the series. I understand she was there for a seriously long time and adapted to court and probably forgot about her past but that was never really explained just me assuming. 

Another thing, there are so many plot holes. Like so many. And gaps are filled thanks to the magical plot fairy in the form of a random character explaining what happened in between. 

Best example is the last episode when Hae Soo wakes up and her friend explains how she was knocked out for so long and woke up recently. 

I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS! What happened with Hae Soo's old boyfriend she ran away from in the begining? Why did she run away from people yelling at her in the beginning? What did she do or what did others do to her? I know it was explained by the plot fairy that her boyfriend cheated on her with her friend but not much explained after that. 

Scarlet Heart Ryeo is definitely a melodrama in every way. After about halfway through the series there was nothing but over the top drama and sadness. I'm not sure if it was the writing or if I'm just extra picky about melodramas. There was no closure toward the end. The lovers are left with this big empty hole which makes it more sad but some people like things left open ended. I think most of us expected a tragic ending for the tragic lovers. 

Yeah. I am not satisfied with this one. I understand many love this drama but to me it was just missing so much. Maybe it was the hype before it came out, or the bad first impression with the horse scene when I tried to watch it the first time. I gave it 2.5-3 stars because it wasn't all bad and someone out there will fall in love with it. It wasn't for me. 
I will be watching the original Chinese drama Scarlet Heart on Viki at some point to compare. 

K-Drama Review: Answer Me 1997 (aka Reply 1997)

title: Answer Me 1997 (aka Reply 1997) 
genre: Romance, Comedy, Idol Drama 
original run: July 24, 2012 - September 18, 2012
network: tvN
number of episodes: 16
my rating: 5 stars

Synopsis from Viki:
If you were to look back on your life, what would you remember most about your high school days and what you and your friends thought was important back then? Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji) and her five friends – Yoon Yoon Jae (Seo In Guk), Mo Yoo Jung (Shin So Yul), Kang Joon Hee (Hoya), Do Hak Chan (Eun Ji Won) and Bang Sung Jae (Lee Shi Un) – were friends in high school in 1997, when the K-pop and celebrity idols were gaining national popularity, and they were swept up in the adoration of their favorite K-pop and other idol stars. To the 18-year-old Shi Won, her entire world revolved around Tony An of H.O.T., and her only aspiration in life was to grow up to become his wife. Her best friend Yoo Jung was her partner in crime, also falling in love with a different idol everyday. Fifteen years later at the age of 33, the six high school friends meet for a mini-reunion, during which two of the friends announce their plans to marry. As they reminisce about the height of their teenage angst, the viewer needs to try to figure out which two friends fell in love during the 15 years since high school, much like the popular American sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.” Which two friends’ passionate idolization K-pop stars turned into a genuine love for each other? “Answer Me 1997,” also known as “Reply 1997,” is a 2012 South Korean drama series directed by Shin Won Ho.

What originally drew me in was that the synopsis says Answer Me 1997 is much like How I Met Your Mother which I am obsessed with so I had to watch it. This drama was laugh-out-loud funny at some parts. My husband would look at me like I was crazy trying not to break out laughing while watching on my phone. 

What I liked: 

Comedic pauses- There were moments were the characters would pause and the weird sheep noise would sound off during awkward moments and those moments were so well timed. 

Seo In Guk- Ok, so the other reason I watched this drama was definitely for this good looking man. After rewatching Love Rain (an AMAZING drama), I had to see what other dramas Seo In Guk was in and Answer Me 1997 came in as one of his best. He was so good in this drama, definitely no complaints about the portrayal of his character. 

The mystery- I loved trying to figure out who was getting married. After they revealed who the couple was, I thought the series would go downhill but then they hook you in with another couple that is already married and we have to guess who was chosen from the love triangle. It wasn't as strong as the first "who gets married" arc, but still kept you guessing and engaged with the show. 

Idol Rivalry- watching the rivalry of H.O.T. and Sechskies was so cool. Definitely made me think of the Backstreet Boys vs N*SYNC rivalry here in the states. And thinking that when I was a kid in the 90s in this was going on in S. Korea was cool to see. 

What I didn't like: 

The ending was so rushed. I could have used a few more episodes to drag out the last mystery reveal.

Not much I didn't like with this one. It's kind of hard to write a full review without giving away too many spoilers. This is one that I will say go watch it for yourself and see how you like it. I will definitely be rewatching Answer Me 1997 when I need some laughs. Oh, and it's on Netflix now under the title Reply 1997! 

Friday, July 07, 2017

New to My Bookshelf

Hello everyone!

Recently I did a little shopping at Barnes and Noble and went to Book Con and I got some great reads I've been wanting to pick up for so long ^_^ Some of these are recent additions on my TBR list so I can't wait to dive in!

Nora and Kettle- Lauren Nicolle Taylor 

Norse Mythology- Neil Gaiman 

The Bear and the Nightingale- Katherine Arden 

The Constant Princess- Phillippa Gregory 

Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

K-Drama Review: Goblin

title: Goblin: the great and lonely god
genre: Fantasy, Melodrama
original run: December 2, 2016- January 21,2017
network: tvN
number of episodes: 16
my rating: 4 stars

synopsis from dramafever:
A fabled "goblin" attempts to end his life by marrying a human priestess, but things get complicated when he starts to actually fall for her, and in turn, finds a new reason for wanting to stay alive.

Ok, first of all, that synopsis does not do this drama justice, though it does give a brief summary without giving anything away.

Goblin was definitely entertaining. The first half of the drama I loved, but it kind of fell apart for me towards the end. It was like I didn't care about the main characters and wanted to know more about the minor characters' story. This was also the first drama where I noticed there was a warning at the beginning saying the drama was for ages 15 and up. I was surprised that the drama had a rating, but after watching the first 2 episodes, I understood. The premise is not for the faint of heart and will definitely raise some eyebrows.

What I liked:

Kim Shin- the story of how he became a goblin and how he got to present day in the drama is fascinating. I found myself looking forward to these parts the most. It's starting to make me think about exploring historical dramas.

Grim Reaper- my favorite character in the drama. I loved the story of his past, I loved who he was in the present and how he found out the truth about who he was in his past life. Everything about him was wonderful.

Grim Reaper and Sunny- I loved everything about their story! Their past lives, their current relationship, how they fall in love. *sigh* I would watch a drama about them.

Goblin (Kim Shin) and Ji Eun Tak's relationship up until the sword was pulled out- I thought their relationship was unique and complicated and interesting. After Ji Eun Tak lost her memory after the sword was pulled out, it was cute how Kim Shin tried to win her over again. Then she regained her memories and I lost all interest in their relationship. It just got boring and I was more interested in the Grim Reaper's story with Goblin's sister, Sunny.

What I didn't like:

I was just overall bored at some parts. There was too much melodrama for me.
Toward the end of the drama, I definitely cared more about the minor characters, specifically Grim Reaper and Sunny.

If you like the melodrama genre, this will definitely be a new favorite for you. It just didn't sit right with me. It was a very good story, but yea. I think just a little too much for me.

K-Drama Review: Oh My Venus

title: Oh My Venus
genre: Romantic Comedy
original run: November 16, 2015- January 5, 2016
network: KBS2
number of episodes: 16
my rating: 5 stars

synopsis from
When you go from the top of the pecking order in the looks department in high school and then fall to the bottom in adulthood, is it possible to get back on top? Kang Joo Eun (Shin Min Ah) was envied by every girl and desired by every boy in high school as the Daejeon Venus because of her pretty face and killer figure. Despite coming from a poor family, Joo Eun was determined to go to law school and become an attorney. At age 33, she has achieved her professional goals and has been in a stable relationship with her high school boyfriend, Im Woo Sik (Jung Gyu Woon), for 15 years. But she has let herself go over the years and is now overweight and often disregarded and overlooked by society and her coworkers. On the plane ride back from a quick business trip to the United States, Joo Eun has an embarrassing run-in with Kim Yeong Ho (So Ji Sub) and his two sidekicks, Jang Joon Seong (Sung Hoon) and Kim Ji Woong (Henry). Yeong Ho is a celebrity personal trainer who is involved in a scandal in the United States and forced to flee to Korea until things cool down. But his wealthy family has other plans for him. As soon as they discover that he is back in Korea, his grandmother appoints Yeong Ho as the new president of the family medical services company and prevents him from returning to the States. A lost purse causes Young Ho to reconnect with Joo Eun and witness another personal embarrassment for Joo Eun in the aftermath of being dumped by Woo Sik and finding out that he has been dating her new boss, Oh Soo Jin (Yoo In Young). As it seems to become a habit for Yeong Ho to bail Joo Eun out of trouble, can he also help her to reclaim her former looks? “Oh My Venus” is a 2015 South Korean drama series directed by Kim Hyung Suk.

This was a drama I was hesitant to watch when it first came out despite the raving reviews I was reading from friends mostly because at the time I was losing the weight after having my son and a weight-loss drama was not what I needed to see. Recently, a friend told me to watch it when I ran out of other dramas to watch so I gave it a shot and I loved it.

What I liked:
The realistic weight of Kang Joo Eun- It was spot on. The makeup looked great and realistic. Recently, I have been reading a lot about the sizes of clothes in S. Korea and how plus size for them is the size of an average woman in the states. For example, I normally wear a small/medium in women but in S. Korea, I would be a large. So looking at Kang Joo Eun's realistic weight and seeing the struggle even though to us it may not look like she is overweight was interesting to watch. She was still very pretty even with the "fat suit".
Also the weight loss journey was believable. The struggle, the slow transition, how slowly the weight came off. It was about half way through the drama before she lost all of the weight and even at that she still had diet and exercise and criticism about her body.

Shin Min-ah- This is the first drama I've seen with her in it. I liked how she portrayed Kang Joo Eun. The comedic scenes were on point and the more dramatic scenes were well done. I am intrigued, so I will be looking for dramas she stars in to watch in the future.

When Kang Joo Eun did lose the weight, there was no "wow dress" to show off her figure.
When Kang Joo Eun had her moment with her pretty dress, Kim Yeong Ho had his panic attack so the focus wasn't on her transformation and I really liked that.

There were some serious laugh-out-loud funny scenes- I found myself giggling or laughing and my husband looking at me like I'm crazy. This is the first drama to make me lol in a while.

Henry Lau and Sung Hoon- the perfect comedic relief. Their relationship with Kang Joo Eun was adorable.

Typical k-drama cliches didn't bother me- Everything seemed to flow with the story and when it was a stand out cliche, the characters kind of made fun of it so it was a comedic moment that still fit with their personalities.

What I didn't like:

The American scandal was never fully explained in depth. I was confused about the whole situation. Did Kim Yeong Ho have a romantic relationship with her? Or did he help her with some secret weight loss? I'm so confused. This tidbit was only put here as a reason to get Yeong Ho back to Korea and it was a little annoying.

Oh Soo Jin- I like her performance better in Goodbye Mr. Black. Her scenes felt over done to me.

If I said anything else I didn't like I would be nitpicking (like how I do not find Im Woo-shik attractive at all, or there were too many flashbacks in the last episode). The plot is very simple which may bother some but it didn't bother me. I really enjoyed this drama and will be watching it over again whenever I need a feelgood drama for comfort and a good laugh. Highly recommend.