Sunday, July 15, 2018

K-Drama Review: Rich Man, Poor Woman

title: Rich Man, Poor Woman (aka Rich Man)
genre: romance, comedy, idol drama
original run: May 9- June 28, 2018
network: DramaX
number of episodes: 16 + 1 special
rating: 1-2 stars

synopsis from viki:
A man who can’t distinguish faces meets a woman who is unforgettable. Lee Yoo Chan is the founder and CEO of the IT company Next In, which has become the most desirable places to work. He suffers from a condition where he can’t recognize faces, and this makes him very guarded and mistrustful of most people.
Kim Bo Ra is the pride of her hometown on Jeju Island who came to Seoulto attend college. With her imminent graduation, her dream is to work for Next In. When Bo Ra meets Yoo Chan, will both their lives change in unexpected ways?

I just wasted 16 hours of my life. First: I have not seen the original Japanese version though I plan on watching it next to compare it.

** This review contains minor spoilers **

What I liked:
I watched this drama for Han Yeon-Soo because I absolutely loved her in Monstar. Her acting wasn't 100% for me but that could also be the direction.

the OST: I loved the OST. I downloaded some of the songs onto my summer playlist. Kei's Let's Pray is such a good song and I lost it over Hard For Me by Cheeze (which sounded a lot like Han Yeon Soo's singing voice).

What I didn't like:
Suho as Lee Yoo Chan- I just didn't like Lee Yoo Chan. I wasn't crazy about Suho's acting but Lee Yoo Chan wasn't a likeable character.

THERE WERE SO MANY FILLERS. So many side stories, so many unanswered questions. Examples: Park Mi-Soo and Cha Do-Jin, Lee Dong Ha and Min Tae Ra. Their stories and romances were way more interesting than Lee Yoo Chan and Kim Bo Ra.
Speaking of romance, there wasn't any between the main characters at all until the end. It drove me nuts. The trailer and instagram clips all focused on this romantic tension and there wasn't any.

Oh and one big question: what happened to the Dancing Whale??? Did they become a sub-section of NextIn? Because at the end if I saw correctly, Cha Do Jin is there in NextIn. All that build up and big deal of him having a separate company and saying that the workers were "on loan" to NextIn if he never went back? OH! AND how far up the ranks is Cha Do Jin after all he did for Lee Yoo Chan? He should have been Vice prez or something and not Min Tae Joo when he came back.

Yeah, I'm so disappointed. I kept watching because I was about 8 episodes in and in a surprise twist Lee Yoo Chan was fired and I wanted to know what would happen.

Overall, 1-2 stars. I won't be watching this again ever. I am going to watch the Japanese version now.

Review: Emergency Contact

title: Emergency Contact
author: Mary H.K. Choi
book birthday: March 27, 2018
rating: 3.5 stars

blurb from goodreads:
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a cafĂ© and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

This book is so flawed it was good. Complicated, I know. It reminded me of how much I love The Night Circus and it is one of my favorite books but it too is very flawed. I'll admit I wasn't expecting much after reading and being extremely disappointed by other books with Asian protagonists before (Example: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout).

That being said I kinda liked Emergency Contact. I went into this one blind, only knowing it was roughly about two characters communicating by text which I find very intriguing. I very much enjoyed the alternating chapters between Sam and Penny.  I liked the way they met and their unlikely friendship. It felt very natural and realistic, true to college town life. I spent a year away for college (it wasn't for me) and the college town vibe I got there is exactly what I got in Emergency Contact.

I did feel that introductions for Sam were rushed though so that it could get to the part where he meets Penny. Sam has such a complicated history that was revealed so quickly I didn't have time to want more because it was all shoved in my face. Not complaining too much though. Of the two protagonists Sam was my favorite. I liked everything about his character. From his relationship with his mom to cutting off his ex-girlfriend. I even liked his backstory with Jude. Jude was an amazing character. She was another one that was so real. Her friend was obnoxious, but Jude was cool.

That being said- I hated Penny. I liked her in the beginning, her weird relationship with her mom and all was typical teenager and believable. But once she got on campus her teen angst was completely obnoxious. I didn't like her chapters or her descriptions of things.

Is it just me or is Penny's rape story overkill? I thought Penny's character could have done without it. Being upset about her mom not being more observant and more of a mom I get. But the rape thing I felt like didn't bring the story anywhere. A girl can be innocent and afraid of being intimate with a guy without being emotionally and/or physically damaged.
Like Sam's ex-girlfriend's miscarriage felt more believable and moved the story somewhere for me because his ex-girlfriend was full of herself and a very hurtful person.

I have one major question. What was the point of Bastian's character? I loved that kid. My favorite quote from the book was said by him

"What makes you think you of all people get to be an artist?" Sam asked, focusing on Bastian's face. 
Bastian exhaled a perfect ring of smoke. The kid so famous was already it was ridiculous. 
He tilted his head. 
"What kid of question is that? It's fucking art, man" he said, scowling. "You don't choose it. It chooses you. If you waste that chance, your talent dies. That's when you start dying along with it." 

I LOVE THAT QUOTE SO MUCH. But then I don't get the purpose of Bastian's relationship with Sam. I get the whole film thing and I'm so grateful their relationship produced this quote. I just don't get it.

Another thing I liked was the texting. I liked all of the speaking through text parts as expected. And the fun texting didn't die when they saw each other in person thank goodness. BUT after that one part where they open up about their moms I was just waiting for the end.

To sum it up: Like Sam, hated Penny. Jude is cool peoples. Wth happened with Bastian? And the character development needed work. A lot of work.
Overall 3.5 stars for conflicting feelings about this book. I did like it, I will keep it in my bookshelves to reread one day... for Sam.

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, 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.