Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Top Ten YA Romances I Surprisingly Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

TTT again! This week is a romance freebie. My list is the romance fiction I read that I didn't think I would like, but I found them to be guilty pleasures.

1. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith 
Okay, this one caught me off guard. I usually can't stand insta-love but I picked this one up because the whole premise was based on insta-love. I really liked it. It was one of those easy going reads that I needed after a long day at work. I also liked The Geography of You and Me.

2. When It Happens by Susanne Colasanti
This was given to me by my bbf (best bookish friend) and I took a chance on it. At the time, I wasn't really into contemporary YA but this definitely changed my mind.

3. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margret Stohl 
I read this one while working at Barnes and Noble. Again, this was based on a recommendation from a friend. I was afraid to get into it because of the fanbase. I liked the first book, but while I loved the story, the ending was kind of like "Oh come on, there's more?" instead of "I need to know what happens next!" so I haven't continued the series.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Definitely a guilty pleasure. I still go back and read this when I need a mindless read to feel better. To me this is one of those silly romances that you either like it or hate it. In my case I liked it.

5. Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles
Another one I read because my bbf recommended it to me. I usually don't like urban fiction but she insisted. I surprisingly enjoyed this series. It's not one I keep on my shelf but I have it in my classroom.

6. Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer 
I don't typically like books that take place in the future. Futuristic worlds are a turn off for me. But I had to read this series because of the fairy-tale references. And of course I LOVED it and fell into the fandom ^_^

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

K-Drama Review: Legend of the Blue Sea

title: Legend of the Blue Sea
genre: Romance/comedy
original run: November 16, 2016 - January 25, 2017
network: SBS
number of episodes: 20 + 2 bonus episodes
my rating: 5+ stars

synopsis from viki.com
How can a mermaid from the Joseon era survive in modern society? Shim Cheong (Jun Ji Hyun) is a mermaid who follows her one true love, a nobleman’s son named Kim Dam-ryeong from the Joseon Dynasty, to modern-day Seoul. Kim Dam-ryeong's modern doppelgänger is Heo Joon Jae, a highly skilled scam artist who first becomes interested in Shim Cheong because of a jade bracelet worth $6 million that Shim Cheong wears. With nowhere to go, Shim Cheong is taken in by Joon Jae, who also finds his con partners, Jo Nam Doo (Lee Hee Joon) and Tae Oh (Shin Won Ho), hiding out in his home from a vengeful past victim of their scams. Shim Cheong discovers a rival for Joon Jae’s heart in Cha Shi Ah (Shin Hye Sun), a researcher at KAIST who deals with ancient artifacts. When a dangerous killer named Ma Dae Young (Sung Dong Il) sent by Joon Jae’s stepmother who wants to make her own son the heir to Joon Jae’s fortunes, can Shim Cheong survive her strange new environment while also helping Joon Jae avoid the dangers that await him? “The Legend of the Blue Sea” is a 2016-2017 South Korean drama series directed by Jin Hyuk. The story is inspired by a historical tale about a mermaid contained in a short story anthology known as “Eou Yadam” by Joseon-era scholar Yu Mong In. This drama marks the last acting role for superstar Lee Min Ho before he enters his mandatory two-year military service and the first acting role for Jun Ji Hyun after giving birth to her first child. Parts of the drama series were filmed on the Pacific island of Palau and in Spain.

Okay, first can I say that Jun Ji Hyun looks AMAZING! This is her first drama after having a baby and she looks incredible. Also, how depressing is it that this is Lee Min Ho's last drama! Honestly, I was so afraid to get into the fandom behind this.  But because this is his last drama and I think Jun Ji Hyun is amazing, I took the leap and I'm so glad I did.

That being said...

What I liked:

The connection between the present day and the past: That caught my attention right away when I read the premise. Star crossed lovers who were in love in a past life and reconnect in present day.

The comedic scenes: They weren't forced and always happened at the right time. Most of them were also laugh-out-loud funny.

The story kept me guessing: We knew who the villains were, but the twist? I didn't see that coming at all.

Lee Min Ho: This is officially my favorite drama with him. I wasn't a fan of Boys Over Flowers and Heirs was too dramatic for me. But Legend of the Blue Sea showed me why he has such a fan base.

Jun Ji Hyun: I loved her in Blood: the Last Vampire, I loved her in My Love from Another Star and I loved her in this drama. I feel like she does wonderful with the comedy but also with the more serious scenes. She played an excellent mermaid.

What I didn't like:

This is hard because I liked everything.... There wasn't anything wrong for me in this drama. I loved it. I guess one thing I can complain about is that I would have liked to see more of an epilogue with the minor characters like Yoo-na the little girl and her mom.

Oh and the villains. Ma Dae-Young wasn't really the killer I thought he was, but later learning about his past it all makes sense. The step mother was annoying but necessary to move the story along. Her past self was more interesting than her present self.

If you're looking for more about mermaid folklore, you will be disappointed. This drama is more about the reincarnation and the present characters trying to have a second chance. I've read some reviews about the chemistry between Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji Hyun and how it was lacking. I disagree. I feel like the director wanted to keep the romance more innocent and also play up the fact that the mermaid was adjusting to life on land.

Overall the vibe of the drama was very similar to My Love from Another Star, but I enjoyed this way more. All in all, a new favorite. Now I feel brave enough to watch Goblin... I think.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Review: The Great Hunt

title: The Great Hunt
author: Wendy Higgins 
book birthday: March 8, 2016
my rating: DNF

blurb from goodreads:
When a strange beast terrorizes the kingdom of Lochlanach, fear stirs revolt. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity knows her duty to the kingdom but cannot bear the idea of marrying a stranger... until a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention. There’s no denying the unspoken lure between them... or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not the marrying type. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast—but the princess continues to surprise him, and the perilous secrets he’s buried begin to surface.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, and a princess willing to risk all to save her kingdom.

I really don't have much to say. I tried really hard to like this book. The story was so promising and I was so intrigued by a retelling of a Grimm tale that I'm not familiar with. But seriously? the "romantic tension" was just too much. The language was so flourished and at times felt forced. Some people who read romance novels on the regular will like the mushy gushing descriptions and hot-and-bothered scenes. It wasn't for me.  

Example:  "His arms...seas almighty. His arms were all muscle, bulging without even flexing. Same with his calves. And his face was chiseled as in the coldlands tales of old."
Um... I find my husband's arms to be a turn on too, but "his face was chiseled as in the coldlands of old"? um... yeah. no. 

Another thing that bothered me was Paxton, who is the love interest, joked about domestic violence. This is something that when looking through other reviews I found to be a shared peeve. I don't know if that kind of talk is a turn on for some who may read the book, but to me it's not okay. 

Yea... I did not like this one at all. I don't think I'd even recommend this to my students.