Thursday, October 29, 2020

Kdrama Review: Do You Like Brahms?

Drama: Do You Like Brahms?

Genre: melodrama romance

Starring: Park Eun Bin, Kim Min Jae, Park Ji Hyun

Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ 

This was the drama that got me to give in and buy the PLUS pass over there at Viki. Gah. I didn't want to give in but I wanted to watch this drama so bad...and I was sick of going to watch a drama and having it be for only plus pass members. So... I did it.

That being said, I'm not sure this drama was worth it. I guess I expected too much this time around. I expected it to be slow and heart warming and calm and sweet. It was slow for sure... a little TOO slow. But it was filled with much more angst and not so much the sweetness as I expected. And I thought it would be WAY more romantic than it was. (It probably didn't help that I was watching it in conjunction with Angle's Last Mission, which if you read that review, I deemed it one of the most romantic dramas I've seen so far! Probably not fair to this one!)

Anyway, this one is about a girl who is trying desperately to be a great violin player. She's really struggling. She's just not as good as she would like to be. And everyone in her life is very discouraging. And it's about a guy who is a prodigy piano player, and very famous, but he's sick of it and has hit a sort of wall. And then the two of them meet. And they fall for each other pretty fast, but things are complicated with other people in their life... and it's not as simple as AH, let's be together! Sigh. 

It was kinda cute for a minute how awkward they were with each other. But after awhile I wanted them to get over it... lol. And they were so formal with each other... the ENTIRE drama. I thought that after awhile couples usually get a little more relaxed, but not these guys! However, there WAS an awesome kiss. 

So yeah, I got frustrated with some of the characters that made me crazy. And about half way through I just wanted it over, which is very unusual for me where dramas are concerned. 

I did really enjoy Kim Minjae in this leading role though. And wanted to know if he was really playing the piano. My guess is... maybe a little, but not for really. I don't think the girl was really playing the violin for sure. It really would have been cool though. There was a lot of classical music moments in this one that I enjoyed, but it did add to the slowing down of things a lot too.

Here's a trailer:

And a song by the one and only Baekhyun:

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Kdrama Review: Angel's Last Mission: Love

 Drama: Angel's Last Mission: Love

Genre: romantic comedy drama

Starring: Kim Myungsoo, Shin Hyesun, Lee Donggun

Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This one was pretty popular last year, but I just never got around to watching it. When I continued seeing people rave about it this year, I decided it was finally time. Besides, I missed Kim Myungsoo and needed him in my life again. And this was a GREAT choice for that!

So this one is about a dude who is an angel... sort of a misbehaving one because he always breaks the rules. And so when he saves a girl from dying he is really in trouble and is given a mission as a sort of punishment. And the mission is to be in her life and help her find love. Because she is really bitter and ornery and grouchy due to lots of crap she's had to deal with in life.

Let's sum up her life: she's a very famous ballerina but was blinded in an accident on stage and hasn't danced since. The accident from which the angel saved her killed her secretary... her only confidant and friend. Her parents were killed when she was a kid and her only family are out to sabotage everything around her. Basically, life sucks and she is very bitter. So of course, no one is going to love her because of it.

And I'm sure you can guess what happens. Are angel's allowed to love humans? OF COURSE NOT! But will that stop our cute and adorable angel... OF COURSE NOT!

Guys, this is probably one of the MOST romantic dramas I've seen yet. Or at least in the top of my favorite romantic ones! But EVERYTHING is against these guys. And it's very heart wrenching!

One of the things I kept hearing about this one is the music. And it's true, the music did not disappoint. I've added so many songs to my drama playlist! All of them so emotional and beautiful.

As  mentioned, Kim Myungsoo (also known as L from the kpop band Infinite)  was awesome in this. I love his acting. And our girl played by Shin Hyesun (who I loved in 30 But 17) was also amazing. The whole thing is so very well acted. 

Yeah. I pretty much loved it.

Here's a video with three trailers:

And the song that especially stands out:

Friday, October 16, 2020

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

 Book: Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Genre: YA contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This is the story of Frank Li (frankly... get it?) who is dealing with the dilemma of being Korean, but also being American. He has Korean parents who have come over to the US to live the good life here. They run a store and all is well, and yet... it is not. Frank, as many kids do, feels torn between the two cultures. 

They have "gatherings" with other Koreans in the area, his parents friends, and he has grown up bonding with the kids... who he calls the Limbos. They understand each other well, experiencing all these same things. And yet they are only friends at the gatherings.

He has to deal with the racism by people toward him, but also with the racism his parents have toward others. And when he falls in love with a white girl from school, he decides to hide this from his parents, especially considering what happened with his sister. (She married a black guy and his parents disowned her.)

In order to "hide" his girlfriend, he and one of the other "limbos" decide to fake a relationship. Because their parents are SO HAPPY at the idea that THEY are dating. Yeah. 

And then everything just really gets messed up and complicated!

Meanwhile, he's trying to bond with his dad, and that also gets messed up and complicated. 

It's such a heartfelt book...very funny in parts, very sad in other parts. It covers all the range of emotions for sure. I loved his parents...and fell for them hard despite their issues. Of course I loved seeing the Korean culture so readily displayed, and I even learned more Korean! Bad words even! LOL!

Yeah, this book has quite a pile of cursing. As I've mentioned before, I can usually handle it, if the character seems to warrant it. But sometimes I felt like it was way over the top for these characters. Almost like they were trying to prove their American-ness or something. Sigh. 

But despite that, I really enjoyed this one. I wanted all the best for the characters. I got weepy at the end. I ached and rejoiced with everyone!

(PS. I tried to picture one of my kpop idols in the lead role, but alas, it didn't work. Frank just took on his own form. Speaking of, kpop and kdrama and other such things were mentioned here and there in this book, but still in a degrading way I felt. Maybe I'm just defensive, but why can't people mention this stuff without putting it down? Why? I guess our character Frank didn't want people to think he would stoop so low as to enjoy this stuff himself. And our author probably looks down on it like everyone else. Whatever.)

(PPS. David Yoon is the husband of Nicola Yoon who wrote Everything, Everything, another very popular YA book. This is his first book.) 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

TV Review: Dispatches from Elswhere

Show: Dispatches from Elsewhere

Genre: drama

Starring: Jason Segel, Andre Benjamin, Eve Lindley, Sally Field, Richard Grant

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

We watched this a few months back and I just realized I never blogged about it and I wanted to! I should have written out my thoughts when they were fresh and clear, but now I have to remember them!

My son watched this, and has re-watched it several times and was quite smitten with the premise and the message and they way it really makes you think. So he compelled us to watch, so we could have some deep discussions, which we did. So, right off, if that's the sort of thing you enjoy doing... watching and then seeing watch discussions might come from it... this is definitely a good show to consider!

This show is written and produced and acted, and pretty much everything, by Jason Segel. He learned about something like this (a sort of reality game adventure) that happened in real life in California, and he was fascinated, so he wanted to create this show based on that.  (You can watch an interview all about that here.)

Basically, the premise is that everyday people are brought together by some strange entity that presents them with a mystery they need to solve. It's all so intriguing that the people get VERY into it and sort of takes over their lives. Our little team of four is made up of a dude who is lonely, living a very boring life and doesn't really even know what he likes... and tall pretty insecure girl who looks outwardly confident, but is inwardly really struggling.... and older sweet grandma type...and then the dude who really takes this very seriously and becomes totally immersed. (Well, in they end they all do of course!)

There's actually really no way to describe this show. We follow these four as they go on the journey to solve the mystery, and how in the end it's  MUCH  MUCH more. It's more about a journey of self discovery. But also of looking beyond yourself, and actually seeing others. And of realizing that we are all the same... we are all different yes, but also, all the same. It's really quite powerful in its presentation. I remember it ended by pounding the idea of... "I am you" into our heads. Which I loved. 

It also has quite the crazy twist at the end, which of course I can't discuss now... but seriously. It takes in all sorts of unexpected directions. And... like I said above... makes you really think and then want to talk about it. Which is a really cool thing.

And as always, I loved the music. Check that out on Spotify here.

Have any of you watched this? What were your feelings about it?

Here's a trailer for the series that will hopefully entice you to check it out much better than my words will!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Book Review: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

 Book: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Genre: romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

As you know, I love this Proper Romance line that Shadow Mountain puts out. And this book is no exception. A very fun, and proper romance!

We have our girl, who is new in town, working as the art teacher. And hoping to forget her former life. And our dude, who is a firefighter, recently recovering from being burned in a terrible forest fire. He's a hero in the community, but feels far from it. He wants to hide his scars and retreat from everyone. 

But when he notices that our girl paints very similar to his mom who died when he was a kid, he wants to commission her to paint something for his dad as a Christmas present. 

Their first meeting is hilarious. And from there, things become a fun banter between the two of them, and before he knows it, he is forgetting about his scars. And trying to help her heal her own emotional scars. 

And yet, are either of them actually ready for a relationship?  

It's a fun simple sweet story and I loved it. Others have said this, but I have to agree with them... this one would really make a great Hallmark Christmas movie. I predict that it will end up there some day! So if you love that sort of thing, this book is for you!

Thanks to Shadow Mountain for sending me this book to review. I've currently got quite a pile waiting for their turn so be prepared for more to come!

Here's a cute little trailer if you are interested:

And more about the author:

 Krista writes contemporary romance, historical romance, and fantasy. She has lived in lush Oregon and rugged Wyoming, but Washington is her beloved home state. She likes to choose familiar settings for her stories and is grateful to have such inspirational places to choose from. She is a mother of six, gramma of three, a gardener and cook, loves to travel, laugh, and hike, and lives to make the best of what she’s been given. Find her on Instagram @kristajensenbooks

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Book Review: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

 Book: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Genre: Urban fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This lucky book was chosen for our book club's October read. We will be discussing it later this week. I've read a handful of Neil Gaiman books, mostly his books for kids, so it was fun for me to finally read one of his other very popular novels. 

This is the story of an ordinary dude, living his ordinary life, going happily along with everything, when suddenly a girl literally falls into his life and his whole world changes. 

This girl is running away from sinister enemies in the underworld. When she falls into our dude's life, she is barely alive. He can't just walk on by, so he picks her up and helps her. In so doing, something flips in his world, and he ends up having to join her world.

That's when he discovers there's a whole other world BELOW London. A world where rats are revered, where magic is real, where beasts and angels and demons exists. He goes on a journey with this girl and her other friends in order to discover who is behind the murder of her family. He hopes that once they accomplish this, even though he is bonding quite quickly with these new people in his life, he will also be able to return to his normal, everyday, regular life.

It's so very fun and imaginative and crazy and adventurous! There's one thing after another and never a down moment. The characters are quirky and eccentric and awesome. I was intrigued throughout. 

It's a pretty great book for October reading, though I didn't find it scary really... however, there is a lot of violence and such, so beware that if you are triggered. Mostly, it's so very fantastical that I found it just fun and not so very disturbing. Mostly. 

Let me know if you've read this one and what you thought of it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Book Review: Key to My Heart (Idol in Love #4) by Trish Milburn

 Book: Key to My Heart (Idol in Love #4) by Trish Milburn

Genre: Kpop romance

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★

I just really enjoy this fun series a lot. If you haven't been paying attention, the whole series follows the activities of a fictional kpop group, SBG, and each book features a different member of the band, and how he finds love. This is quite the revolutionary idea in the land of kpop since most kpop idols don't really get to date and fall in love. And if they do, it's very much in secret, and if that secret comes out, they get crap by the "fans" who are bothered by the idea. And if they happen to actually get married (gasp) they REALLY get crap and even are sometimes kicked out of their group. 

I love that Trish is playing with this idea such that she is making it somewhat "normal" for the boys to find girlfriends and be happy and show that they are able to go on with their work as a kpop idol even so. 

In this instalment, we center on PK (Park Kwon) of SBG. He's the fun loving, flirting, happy go lucky, maknae (youngest member.) It's somewhat surprising to everyone, then, that he is suddenly struck by this girl he happens to meet. (Her friend actually writes him a letter inviting him to her birthday party, and he up and goes!) She runs a tour guide company and he suddenly ends up booking a tour and they spend several days together site seeing. Can you even imagine?? I love it. 

Of course, she is thinking this is not a great idea. Being the girlfriend of an idol has a lot of drawbacks. But maybe she will manage to overcome those? 

And he, while he isn't sure that he can actually succeed in a long term relationship, he might change his mind and do it anyway. Maybe? 

These books are very light and fluffy, but you know I'm loving that right now. I love how fun and clean and positive these stories are. I love how I can picture all this happening, and I can picture these boys and this group as if they were real. So much fun.

I have no idea who Trish pictured for the character of PK (I know she bases all her characters of a real life idol, which is so much fun!) but I sort of pictured a younger version of Eunhyuk from Super Junior. He's a very playful flirty type, with a big heart, and would fit this image really well.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Reading Recap: September 2020


Labor Day sunset

Books I read this month. Only three??? 

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer: Twilight told from Edward's point of view.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson: A look at all the fascinating this our bodies do to keep us alive.

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds: A "groundhog day" like story where our guy gets to try over and over again to keep his girl from dying.

Favorite: I really enjoyed The Body, for something different and educational. Everyone, give it a go!

Goals for October:

  • kpop romance books! (One is already done, a couple still to go before I finish this series.)
  • The Toll... dang this book is being neglected. If I'd just get going again on it I'm sure I will finish it fast!
  • I've started Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman for book club. Intriguing so far. 
  • I'm starting the Beehive long list reading and have the first one here, ready to go! I love this time of year!

What was your favorite book you read this month?

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds

 Book: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Genre: YA Contemporary with some fantastical elements

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This book has a Groundhog Day premise... where our main dude continuedly lives a period of four months, over and over again. He resets the day he meets the love of his life, Kate, and it ends a few days after she dies, four months later. He figures his mission is to stop her from dying, which turns out to be quite complicated.

But not only that, he must also figure out some issues with his best friends. He needs to help one deal with the return of his dad from jail. And he needs to come to terms with his own feelings about the other one. 

Every time these four months reset, he does something different, figures out new things, etc. which sometimes change things for the better, and sometimes for the worse.  

I really enjoyed the voice of this story... our dude was fun to get to know... over and over again. He's a great guy and we as readers are really rooting for him to figure this out in the end. It is never explained why this is happening to him, I guess that's beside the point for this particular story. It's just about getting second chances... over and over again, and what would you do if you could. 


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