The Wolf Gift, Anne Rice’s foray into the mythology of werewolves, or Morphenkinder, is an amazing, agonizingly slow, frustratingly rambling book. It was full of details you wanted to know, didn’t know you wanted to know, and absolutely didn’t want to know. Much like… most Anne Rice books. But the poorly paced plot is so well written you don’t really mind… much like most Anne Rice books.
I loved to hate it. Let me tell you why….
art by Artem Rhads Chebka
Just finished Magonia by Headley – which had excellent characters, families, and a surreal and highly unusual fantasy world floating above our own. In this book, there is a world above the clouds, filled with shapeshifting birds and other surreal creatures who have long roamed the secret spaces of the air. These creatures aren’t quite human, though many can transform themselves into humanoid forms. Unable to breath in the lower atmosphere, they have a strange relationship with the human world – basically “fishing” out food and supplies when needed. I must say – it was intriguing.
Unfortunately… it had two severe draw backs. The antagonist was shockingly undeveloped- which was unfortunate. And my biggest qualm, the two main characters were stupidly smart.
The Emperor of Any Place is about men. Specifically, the Canadian son of a draft dodging American, his military grandfather, and two soldiers shipwrecked on a mysterious island from opposing sides of WWII.
It deals with growing up, grief, responsibility, fathers and sons, male mentors, and male friends. There’s a nice mystery that baited me enough that I actually finished the book, even though I was only halfheartedly invested. The author went on and on about things I found tedious and boring (constructing forts, shelters, miniature boat models). There were tangent plotlines that felt irrelevant, mainly the bits about the grandson, his band and his friends. But there were also very intriguing elements – the diary of the two men on the island, for example.
Review – Queen In Hyun’s Man
Though the first two episodes of this drama are notoriously slow, this is one of the most interesting (and romantic) time traveling between Joseon Era & Modern Times shows out there. Why? Because the two main leads are so interesting (and romantic). They feel fresh… even though it’s not a new show (it came out in 2012). Ji Hyun-Woo plays the thoughtful scholar who snickers at jokes, explores the new world with a reserved wonder, quietly observes situations before taking action, and is totally hard for his modern companion and doesn’t hide it.
Ji Hyun-Woo and Yoo In-Na are crackling with chemistry.
Yoo In-Na plays our leading lady, an adorable ditzy actress who’s won over by her time traveler almost instantly… oh the way he talks, she mutters. Their banter is so refreshingly real. It feels like an actual couple, not some k-drama construct. She’s lying through her teeth, flirting, trying to show off, and he’s teasing her, testing her. They make this show. There’s really no other reason to watch it. The plot is decent, but it’s watching this 300 year time gap couple cuddle in the library that makes this show stand out. It literally made me feel like a giddy school girl every time these two were together, starting about episode three and kicking into full gear by episode four.
You will be helplessly charmed. It’s not cheesy or gimicky or cutesy. These are two grown people falling in love, just… head over heels in love. And it’s magnetic. Check it out if you’re in the mood for lots of PDA and heart melting romance.
Overall Rating – 9/10. Dear God, Let Me Be Reincarnated As Yoo In-A In My Next Life.
Review – Circle: Two Worlds
A well done, high concept sci fi show about memories, responsibility, and identity. The story revolves around two twins who discover a mysterious woman in the woods when they are children. Is she an alien? The woman disappears from their life, only to reappear again when they are in their early twenties. At the same time a string of questionable suicides start occurring at the Health and Science College. Who is she? And how is she connected to these events and the lives of the twins? Rotating between 2017, our time, and 2037, when the country has been split into “Normal Earth,” a wasteland of pollution and dust, and “Smart Earth,” a clean environment where all the citizens are on modified mood controllers and live peacefully.
There are plenty of spectacular twists in this drama and the plot was so unconventional, I had no idea where it was taking me from episode to episode. The acting was incredible, especially from Yeo Jin-Goo… wow, that boy has an expressive face, does he not? Murder, mystery, secret experiments, missing persons and aliens! Who could ask for more? (Uh, I could! sequel, please?)
As with all mystery shows – I won’t do a lengthy review since mystery shows are best enjoyed with the full mystery unraveling as you watch. So… do yourself a favor and check it out.
Overall Rating – 9/10. Blue Worms Are Not Your Friends.
Review – Oh My Ghostess
Can I just say now right now that my favorite thing about this cute little show was the epic girl-friendship between the professor the shaman? How adorable were they? I loved that we had two older women coming together as friends with no common ground whatsoever other than the fact they were both lonely and needed a buddy. Sometimes that is all it takes. Their friendship made the entire story better, like having home made icing on a cake instead of store bought. Sure, we were gonna eat that cake regardless… but now it’s just so much yummier.
Oh My Ghostess was a cute, supernatural romance about a shy young girl who gets possessed by a horny extroverted ghost – which both makes her life better and worse. The horny ghost is convinced if she can lose her virginity to man of vitality, then she will let go of the grudge keeping her from crossing over to the next world. When that man of vitality happens to be the shy girl’s boss and secret crush, hilarity ensues.
Park Bo-Young was so adorable and funny in this show – jumping back and forth between a wide eyed innocent and a shameless rambunctious hussy with ease – that’s great acting prowess, right there. Cho Jung-Seok played the male lead, a persnickety chef who’s a bit of a narcissist but also a surprisingly sweet romantic at heart. His character transformation over the show was as just as impressive as the female lead. Throw in a bunch of playful restaurant coworkers, a gigantic cop with a little boy’s smile, the dead girl’s family, and a murder mystery or two… and you’ve got a nice way to spend sixteen hours.
It was a fun little romance and I can see why so many people have recommended this show over the years. Add me to the list. I recommend it too.
Overall Rating – 8/10. Don’t Die A Virgin In Korea.
Review – Tunnel
There’s a lot to like about this show. The unusual plotline. The adorable cop shenanigans and bromances everywhere (all the main cops are dudes in this show and they’re all extremely lovable). The tangled web of time travel. The serial killer(s) and their damaged childhoods. I enjoyed the whole thing. A quality drama, highly recommended.
Overall Rating – 8/10. Grumpy Time Traveling Detective Solves An Old Case.
A little bit more about characters follows (very, very mild spoilers)
Review – Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon reminds me a lot of iZombie. It has a playful “comic book” style that knows how to have fun. Zap, Boom, Shabang! Those over the top, tongue-in-cheek comics where though good guys fought off villains, no one was injured beyond repair and good humor ruled over seriousness. Think… the bright friendly, child-saving Superman of the 1900’s… not the monotone angsty Superman of the 2000’s. Do Bong Soon is here to save the day, damn it! And you’re going to feel great about it.
<-This NOT That->
I adored this show! It had so much going for it… which I will be discussing with massive spoilers below… but above all else, it was romantic. So, so soooo romantic. Cute romantic. First love romantic. Original Superman romantic. You remember… the big-grin fly me over the city romance of a hunky guy smitten with a feisty girl.
Overall Rating – 10/10. Saved The Day.
Spoilers and Fangirling with Much Discussion Ahead!
Review – Bride of the Century
Two things were made abundantly clear by this cute, odd, quirky, melodramatic, supernaturally-tinted show. One, Yang Jin Sung is a adorable! Two, Lee Hong Ki… maybe not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I love this little guy… but he just doesn’t have the chutzpah for leading male status, in my humble opinion. Yang Jin Sung, however, blew me away. I actually didn’t realize it was the same actress playing two characters until the end of episode one, she was that good. Her face is so expressive and she can go from sticky sweet to hardened bitch face in two point five seconds and both are perfectly believable. My favorite is her little lip curl – which makes me think of the famous lip curl of Jang Keun-Suk. I’ll be bookmarking her other dramas and watching them soon.
Bride of the Century is mainly a story about women. It’s about a rich, rich family with a sexy ghost watching over it for generations… but she demands payment for her services, in the form of the first wife of the first son of each new generation. This is a conundrum for the mom of the current first son, as she wants him to marry the gal of her choice but needs to get that sacrificial first marriage out of the way before her plans can be realized. So it’s scheming demon, and momma is willing to go to great devious lengths to get what she wants… but soon finds herself at war with another momma who doesn’t plan to lay down her daughter’s life without a fight. It’s the behind the scenes battlefield that so many women wage wars on and claim victories over. The battlefield of other women (dead and alive). It may the be the worst thing patriarchy has done to humanity – setting women against women. But it’s a great thing for dramas and novels.
Overall Rating – 8/10 – You Can’t Trick A Ghost With A Doppelganger, But You Can Trick A Man.
Discussion and Spoilers Follow
Review – Signal
I heard everyone raving about this show but I thought, “Ugh, a cop show. Ugh, sounds like Frequency. Ugh, matching up an older woman with a younger man again. Ugh Ugh.” I should have slapped myself across the face. And so should you, if you are entertaining such thoughts. Snap out of it! Signal is AWESOME.
Yes, it’s a cops-solving-crimes show that jumps back and forth between the past and present, connecting cops and crimes across decades. And yet I was riveted. None of the cases ended like I thought they would. None of the future’s interventions had the outcome I expected. None of the usual cliches and tropes applied to this show. There was no noona romance, for one thing. Instead, a seasoned female cop works alongside a young cute rookie and NOTHING HAPPENS except for work. Gasp! I was sooo happy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, men and women can be friends. They can care about each other and not want to have sex. It is, in fact, possible to live and work in a nonsexual way with half of humanities population. Signal was a revelation!
It was also very dark. The crimes were horrible and gritty. The justice system struggled, realistically. Crimes were unsolved. People died and their killers were never brought to justice, not in this past, not in the present. It was hard to know what the right thing to do was. People are so many shades of gray, after all. The story lines were complicated and compelling and every single episode was gripping and intense.
I highly recommend not reading too much about it before starting it up. It’s nothing like Frequency (the movie or the show). It’s a mystery and all mysteries should remain vague and ponderous until you actually watch it unfold before your eyes. I don’t like to do lengthy reviews on mysteries for that very reason. So I leave you with this – just watch it. When you’re done, you can pick at the little pieces and discuss characters and debate the ending all you want to. Somewhere else. This review is just to get you to bite and spend sixteen hours devouring this amazing show.
Overall Rating – 10/10. Dark Crime and Magical Realism.