Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: To Be Read List


The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme of Top Ten Lists.

This week's question is:

Ten Books You Recently Added To Your To-Be-Read List

The ten most recent books I've added to my TBR shelf on Goodreads:

By: Morgan, Page 
Published: Jan 01, 2013 
Published: Jan 28, 2014 
Published: Summer 2015

Gilded (Gilded, #1)
Published: Mar 01, 2014 

Published: Jun 18, 2013

Published: Jul 15, 2014 
Published: Dec 22, 2010 

Published: Jan 01, 2013

Published: Sep 10, 2013 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kat's K-Dramas (Movie Edition): Pirates

I'm on a little bit of a Korean Drama kick.
So forgive me as I turn Readiculous Blog into KoRea-diculous blog (haha, see what I did there?)

Anyway, I just watched the Korean film, Pirates, and it was super entertaining.


해적: 바다로 간 산적

Starring: 
Directed by: Lee Seok Hoon
Synopsis:
On the eve of the founding of the Joseon Dynasty, a whale swallows the Emperor's Seal of State being brought to Joseon by envoys from China. With a big reward on whoever brings back the royal seal, mountain bandits led by Jang Sa-jung go out to sea to hunt down the whale. But he soon clashes with Yeo-wol, a female captain of pirates, and unexpected adventure unfolds
Random Thoughts: It's the birth of the new Joseon nation and it comes with some hardships, the main one is that the new royal seal is eaten by a whale (haha, love it). The best part is that the whale is given kind of a personality, and it doesn't hurt that she's trying to protect her little baby whale calf. So really the lesson is that we should all be rooting for the whale.

The random humor in this movie is great. I laughed out loud so many times.

Son Ye Jin did a great job as Captain Yeo Wol, the heroine and captain of the pirates. She is tough and fair, but at some times she's innately feminine (in a very Korean way). Like when she's handcuffed to Jang Sa Jung and he does very gross boy things. It's just awesome how embarrassed she is but how tough she is at the same time.

I love how dumb the bandits are. They are so clueless when it comes to the sea (e.g they think a shark is a whale and they don't believe that a whale breathes air through a nose on its back). Also, Jang Sa Jung always gets little to no respect when he tries to introduce himself as the world famous Crazy Tiger. It's so funny because he's actually a really great fighter, so he really should get more respect then he does, but he's also just a little bit of a bumbling fool when it comes to being a bandit (and a pirate). Kim Nam Gil is a great actor (he became a huge star after stealing the show in Queen Seondak), he has great comedic timing but he's also believable as a fierce warrior.

The relationship between the bandits and the pirates is also hilarious. The idea that two groups of thieves would collide is like that episode of the Flinstones where they met the Jetsons (or was it the other way around?).

Each of the characters have a past, and it comes back to haunt them over the course of the film. Rivalries are born that make the main mission (catching a whale) the least of their problems. Seriously, even the whale has flashbacks, it's awesome.

Some storylines weren't well developed. The romance is very quick (maybe too quick) to develop. And the rivalries are pretty surface. Like in the sense that I understand that there is a reason for these characters to hate each other, but I just don't feel it.

This is a movie with a lot of flash, pretty sweet action, not so much substance. But that's alright, it's a fun ride, and I still found it highly entertaining.

Live blogging my thoughts of the first 20 minutes of the movie (No spoilers, don't worry): 

Five minutes in there's an epic slow-motion rain sword fight scene! I'm sold.

Jump forward in time.

Eight minutes in there is an awesome pirate ship fight scene and an awesome heroine to boot. Super extra sold.

Woah, these pirates have no mercy.

Wait, they kind of save a bunch of slave girls, so maybe they're pirates with a heart of gold?

Also, Yeo Wol is the first mate, nice. Powerful ladies!

Sweet! A giant whale! I love whales (also, this whale was a part of the movie synopsis, so it's not a surprise). Also, this whale is so lifelike. Seriously, it's not like the lame CGI sea monsters in other movies (I'm looking at you Pirates of the Caribbean Kraken).

Another jump forward in time.

Yay! Sulli appears so quickly in the movie!

Sooo...the pirates don't really like their Captain. But they super love the First Mate.

Haha, the pirates have hilarious names (Poop Sack, Big Eyes, Sea Horse).

Dude, this captain has a giant sword, like irrationally large.

Another slow motion sword fight, this movie is seriously killing it and we're not even 20 minutes in.

I've decided I definitely want the whale to survive this movie.




SPOILERS, DON'T READ IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SEE SPOILERS

The end was just too convenient. Everyone evil is killed in one fell swoop explosion. The evil pirate, Soma, even kind of repents and saves Yeo Wol's life. And apparently it didn't even matter if they got back the royal seal (which they didn't).

In the end, it seems like the movie is trying to fit too much into a two hour movie. Pirates, and bandits, the founding of a new country, a man's loyalty being tested. like when Jang Sa Jung faces the new Joseon king at the end and demands that he lead the country well. That makes sense, and it gives closure to an issue brought up in the first scene (that the king is kind of weak). It's nice that the king gains a backbone due to Jang Sa Jung's words, but it just seems like a random side-story, but really it's a very big issue and should have been the main storyline.

Oh also, apparently, there's a bigger issue about how the soldiers of the king were taking women and children to gift to the Ming Dynasty as an offering. And this was really making the country suffer. Apparently this is what made Jang Sa Jung go and chastise the king since he apparently cared more about a royal seal than his people. The fact that this story line's message was not clear until the end is concerning to me and just drives home the fact that there's too much trying to happen in this movie.

Also, the romance was only slightly given closure. In a credit scene we see Jang Sa Jung and Yeo Wol looking onto the sea together. And we get to see the cute baby whale alive and well (so sad that the mommy whale died!). 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kat's K-Dramas: Healer




So I'm going to try to review some of the dramas that I really liked watching. It'll be similar to my book reviews (so an overview of the whole series instead of an episode by episode recap).


힐러
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance
Episodes: 20
Aired: 2014-Dec-08 to 2015-Feb-10
Network: KBS2

Watch it on: Dramafever, Viki

Synopsis:

A mysterious messenger, an online newspaper reporter who only concerns her own interests, a popular reporter who agonizes over the truth and reality.
When these three people meet, a passionate romance starts and the truths from the past and present reveal themselves to the world. This drama features young people and how they grow into real reporters.
This drama explores the world of underground business as well as journalism. It talks about how sometimes there are underground, powerful political groups that manipulate journalism for their own needs. It shows how different groups of journalists either conform or fight against these political powers.

Main Character: Chae Young Shin/Oh Ji An (Park Min Young) - She was abandoned/lost as a little girl, so she has a lot of issues about this. But now she wants to be a reporter like her idol Kim Moon Ho (a brutally honest investigative reporter who is a celebrity due to his great reporting skills). She is strong and honest and adorable, so I really like her as a main character.

Love Interest/Second Main Character: Seo Jung Hoo / Park Bong Soo / Healer (Ji Chang Wook) - So, I truly believe that Jung Hoo is the second main character and not just the love interest. Not only because he is the Healer (the whole name of the show). But because he has a past that intricately ties him into the greater mystery and he has a lot at stake in this show.

Secondary Love Interest: At first I thought that this show was going to try to make Kim Moon Ho (Yoo Ji Tae) the secondary love interest, which I would have hated since he is more of a protective older brother to Chae Young Shin. However, they don't do that in this drama (thank goodness!).

Setting: Current day Korea (with some flashbacks to the past).

Random Thoughts: Perfect balance of drama, comedy, action, and romance. I loved Healer for it's ability to find the perfect mix of these elements. It's what made the show both exciting and emotional for me. Also, it doesn't hurt that there were secret connections between a lot of the main characters that were revealed along the way. I love when a drama gives past connections (I don't care how hokey this might sound, just trust me that it's done way better in K-Dramas then in a lot of American dramas).

Chae Young Shin is a great lead female. She is not too whiney or weak. She is also not too rough and unlikable like some female leads can be (although, sometimes this works for a character, see I Can Hear Your Voice). Young Shin is the perfect blend of a strong female that still has some flaws and issues to work through. She also has a great family and support system around her, so it's easy to see why she's become such an upstanding and lovable girl.

On the flip-side Seo Jung Hoo did not have a loving family. He had a master trainer who taught him how to fight after his mother abandoned him. Oddly, his relationship with his mother is kind of good. He still goes to see her and shows her a lot of affection. This confused me for a bit but in flashbacks they explain it away (a little too quickly for my liking, but at least they explained it).

This is also a drama that seems to address a lot of the "cliches" that occur, kind of in a tongue-in-cheek way. A lot of dramas do this to try to dissuade the audience from thinking it's too corny. I've seen it done better in some other dramas, but I've also seen it done way worse. So I give the writers of Healer credit for trying and for pulling it off fairly well.

All-in-all, I waited each week for new episodes and the drama kept my interest during it's whole run. I really enjoyed the actors and the story of this drama, and I think it's a fun show to watch (especially if you're new to the whole Korean-Drama game. It's not overly steeped in Korean Culture, so it's easy to get into).

Recommendations: If you liked the mysterious past/master fighter aspects of Healer, then try City Hunter. If you liked the journalism in Healer, then try Pinocchio.


SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON'T WANT TO READ SOME SPOILERS

I like the connections and how they became more complex as the drama went on. The fact that the past with the "parent characters" keeps permeating into the present is important to the drama. It seems like there are a lot of small reveals that show how interconnected the three main characters truly are. At first, I thought the Healer was just a jaded guy who lived a mysterious life. He is a man who doesn't like connections, but the fact that he gets embroiled in a mystery that deeply connects him to other people made me really happy. I do think it's a little coincidental that he gets randomly involved in the mystery, but I don't hate that one coincidental meeting that gets the ball rolling. When you think about it a lot of stories happen because of a coincidental meeting of two people fated to meet. 

Though there are some coincidences that I thought were a little too blatant. The fact that Jo Min Ja (Ajjuma) used to work on the police force with detective that now hunts Healer is a little far fetched. The fact that Chae Young Shin idolized Kim Moon Ho, who happens to be the man who has been looking for her for years and also happens to be her Oppa in a  past life (a little too coincidental).

I like that Seo Jung Hoo comes from a very similar background to Chae Young Shin and was also abandoned like Chae Young Shin, but he has taken a very different path. It makes it so fun to see how these characters interact and how they discover their history and react to it differently.

I also really enjoyed the romance. I like the scenes where Seo Jung Hoo is following Chae Young Shin as Healer and she calls him (thinking he is Park Bong Soo) and they talk about deep feelings while he is watching her longingly. I know this seems a little stalker/creepy, but I like to think it's easily explained away by the fact that he's just doing his job (since he was hired by Moon Ho to watch over Chae Young Shin).

Unfortunately, this series was one that had an anti-climactic ending. One of those endings where I thought, "is that it?" I know that sometimes a resolution is not as high-action as you'd like, but this show is an action/thriller, so I would have expected a little bit more. To be fair, there was some intrigue and secret plans that they carried off in the end. And it was nice that our main leads got a happy ending. I just wish that there was...more...

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Feature Follow Friday: Blog Memes

Every Friday Parajunkee and Alison Can Read hosts Feature Follow Friday. It's a great way to get to know the blogging community and they ask fun questions!

This week's question is:

Have you come up with any special memes or features on your blog that you'd like people to visit more?

I made up a few, I haven't been the best at keeping up with all of them, but they are as follows:

Throwback Thursday Reviews: where I review books from my childhood.



Monday Musings: Where I talk about random things, mostly to do with reading and writing.


Kat's K-Dramas: Where I talk about and review Korean Dramas.



Adventures in Revising: Where I talk about advice I've gotten and lessons I've learned about revising my writing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: An Ember in the Ashes


Breaking the Spine features a weekly event where we talk about the books we can't wait to read.


By: Sabaa Tahir
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill

Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.
LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.
ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.
When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

I love that it's in a Rome-like world. I love that it's an epic fantasy. I love that it's a debut novel. So many things to love! Can't wait for this book to come out.