Category: Reviews

Review: Itaewon Class

Posted July 16, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews, TV Shows | 0 Comments

Itaewon Class

Male Lead: Park Seo Jun
Female Lead: Kim Da Mi
Second Lead: Kwon Nara
Also Starring: Park Bo Gum, Lee Joo Young, Kim Dong Hee, Ahn Bo Hyun, Chris Lyon, Yoo Jae Myung
Year Released: 2020
Number of Episodes: 16
Genre: Contemporary
Country: Korea
Where I Watched It: Netflix
Recommended By: Chase
Watched it For: Chase

In a colorful Seoul neighborhood, an ex-con and his friends fight a mighty foe to make their ambitious dreams for their street bar a reality.

When Quarantine first started, my nephew Chase recommended that I watch this show. I’ve never been interested in reading subtitles so I’ve never really tried very many Korean dramas, though they’re very popular in the Polynesian community. I remember watching Boys over Flowers and Flower Boy Ramen Shop a long time ago but I can’t remember much about those shows. I binged watched the hell out of them with my nieces Meghan and Chaylene back in the day but I couldn’t tell you what they were about, who was in them, or even if I liked them. So needless to say, I was low key skeptical about trying out this show. Chase was adamant that I would enjoy it and he was absolutely right.

I freaking love this show.

Discovering this show has kick-started a love of all things Korean for me and I’m sad to report that I am not reading books much. The only thing that I’m reading much of these days are subtitles and it’s like I’m trying to make up for lost time because my entertainment of choice these days are Korean dramas and so I figured that I’ll start reviewing them and tracking what I’m watching, who I’m loving right here on the blog.

I’m counting Itaewon Class as my first Korean Drama because I actually remember it and don’t think that I’ll forget anything about it, like ever. From the very beginning, I was hooked. I went through the wringer with this show. There were lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of times when I wanted to beat every single person, and plenty of times where I thought I would burst from happiness. I also cried a lot too. Like, ugly cry. It only took me about 18 hours to watch this show from beginning to end so it was a short watch but I loved every single minute. The writers did such an amazing job with this show that I ate every single episode up.

So this show features the life of Park Saeroyi. A young man who just wanted to make his Dad proud. He was a no-nonsense kind of person, who dreamed of becoming a police officer. When he transfers schools, he meets the boy who will become the literal bane of his existence. Saeroyi witnesses, a rich kid bullying another kid and doesn’t stand for it. He punches the rich kid out and his life is forever flipped upside down. The rich kid ends up being the son of the CEO of Jangga Co., who is also Saeroyi’s father’s boss. Needless to say, Saeroyi gets expelled from his brand-spankin’ new school and his father is forced out of his job. Saeroyi is devastated that in one fell blow, the life he was working toward falls out of his reach. Over the course of the show, we see Saeroyi start from the bottom and work his ass off to have a prayer of making it to the top. He doesn’t do it by himself though. With every setback, different people fall into his life and kind of stick. I loved seeing him collect more people for his family because Saeroyi was loyal AF and his circle of friends was loyal AF right back to him.

Saeroyi’s dream of becoming a police officer goes right out the window when he goes to prison for almost killing that same rich kid that got him expelled from school. In another incident, of course. So while serving time, he studies and he researches and he plans. Once he’s released from prison, his plan goes into full effect. He works different jobs to save money to open a street bar and that street bar is the jump-off point for his real plan. To get revenge on the rich kid and his family by opening the company that is going to take the top spot as the biggest food company in Korea away from them.

A lot of different social issues are covered in this show and the way that they were all handled, worked really well for me. Transgender issues, racism, social injustices, discrimination, all of these issues are addressed throughout this show and I connected with every single character and every single storyline. These characters became family to me over the course of the show and I was such a huge fan of each of my Danbam fam.

They were all three-dimensional characters that went through their own obstacles and learned their own life lessons and I really enjoyed getting to know each of them. They all added something different and something fresh to an already fantastic show and I was here for all of them.

The romance in this show really rocked my socks. I cried so hard when things went so wrong for them and I cheered so much and so loud when things went right for them. When the light goes on for Saeroyi and he realizes who he belongs with? OMG, the smile on my face almost broke my face. I just…this was me when he finally gets his shit together and goes after his girl. The girl who has been his ride or die partner throughout the entire freaking show and he was so blind to her in every way that mattered.

I just….gah. I fucking loved them. So stinkin’ much.

This is a fantastic show. I can’t say that enough. I loved this show so much that I have made so many of my family members watch this show and it was a hit with every single one of them. I have become obsessed with finding the next Korean drama that I will love as much as I loved this one and some have come close but none have surpassed my love for this show. Park Seo Joon’s acting is superb and the rest of the cast are no slouches either. Everyone played their parts well and I am looking forward to seeing them all in different shows and movies because they all have wormed their way into my heart and I’ll support the shit out of all of them. I highly recommend this show to anyone wanting a feel good show about a man down on his luck who turns shit around and gets shit done with a solid support group along for the ride. There is some serious squad goals in this show and I loved it so much. I can’t recommend it enough. Chase did good with his pimping of this show. I’m SO glad that I watched it.

Listen to the OST

I didn’t understand a word of any of the songs that played throughout this show but the music is banging. I can now sing along with every single song because I listen to the shit out of this soundtrack. My favorite song is the main song, Start by Gaho. That shit goes hard. So good.

Final Rating

5 out of 5

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: Train to Busan

Posted July 14, 2020 by Rowena in Movies, Reviews | 2 Comments

Train to Busan

Male Lead: Gong Yoo
Also Starring: Jung Yumi, Ma Dongseok
Year Released: 2016
Genre: Action & Adventure,
Country: Korea
Where I Watched It: Netflix
Recommended By: Chase

Train to Busan is a harrowing zombie horror-thriller that follows a group of terrified passengers fighting their way throughout a countrywide viral outbreak, trapped on a suspicion-filled, blood-drenched bullet train ride to the Safe Zone…which may or may not still be there.

One Sunday, during quarantine, the kids were trying to figure out which movie to watch and decided on this one. I sat down to watch it with them and had no clue what the movie was about, who was in it, and once it started, what anyone was saying. None of that stuff seemed to matter once the movie started because I was hooked almost from the jump.

This movie is about an overworked and low key neglectful father named Seok Woo who takes his daughter, Su An, to see her mother in Busan. He seems to be the kind of person who puts work above everything in his life, including his family, but when he can’t ignore his daughter’s cry for her mother, he books them both tickets on a train to Busan to reunite them. When a freaking zombie outbreak happens, the only safe place is on the train and as far as anyone can tell, Busan. So they all press forward in hopes to beat the zombies to Busan.

Through the beginning of the movie and even when things start to heat up on the train, I looked like Gong Yoo did in the gif above. I kept wanting him to get his shit together, stop being a selfish piece of shit and pull his weight. When the zombies attack, Seok Woo is still only worried about himself, about his work, and about his daughter. In that order. When the zombies start getting closer and closer, Seok Woo really comes into his own. He rises from that fine ass piece of shit in the beginning, into one of the good guys and I would have loved the hell out of him, if in the end, he didn’t freaking go out the way that he did. I was yelling at the TV screen so much because come on, you idiot! He lived through every single one of the zombie attacks and just kept finding ways to overcome them and then when all is said and done, he’s just a freaking idiot.

I will say that this movie was entertaining as shit. It was filled with great characters, fantastic bad guys and there’s a lot of action and adventure going on so there’s much to enjoy. My favorite characters were these guys:

When the big guy gets pissed off at Seok Woo, I was glad because I wanted to kick Seok Woo’s fine ass right in the nuts. Seeing the three of these guys ban together to save as many people as they can from the zombies made for a good time. They were kicking ass and taking names and my heart went out to each of them as they fought in each fight, at the same time they were grieving their friends and family. I hear that there’s going to be a sequel to this movie and that Gong Yoo is in it so I’m going to watch it as soon as I can because I love me some Gong Yoo. He is at the top of my Korean loves list. Hot damn, that man is gorgeous.

I would so drink his dirty water so I’m glad that I watched this movie because there was fantastic eye candy, some zombie fighting action and a cute little girl that I wanted to save my damn self. There’s enough in this movie for everyone to enjoy and I definitely recommend it. This would have gotten 5 stars if that ending had been different. I love everything except the bad guys, the zombies, and that ending. Ehhh…

Final Rating

4 out of 5

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 18, 2019 by Rowena in Books, Features, Reviews | 8 Comments

Each week, I’ll be writing a review for an oldie but goodie that I’ve read through again to see if these books are holding up for me. I’m a different person than I was when I read these books, older and wiser (at least I hope) so I’m curious to see if books that I used to love can stand the test of time.

Throwback Thursday: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina BowenThe Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Ivy Years #1
Published by Indie Published, Rennie Road Books on March 21, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 268
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
four-stars
Reading Challenges: 2019 GoodReads Challenge

The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He's way out of Corey's league.

Also, he's taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the "gimp ghetto" of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They're just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she's falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won't, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness—one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who's afraid to love her back.

When Sarina Bowen put these books on Kindle Unlimited, I had no plans to re-read them but I kept seeing this series mentioned everywhere so when I left my kindle at home one day, I downloaded these books onto my Kindle Library and read them on my computer at work. I have no regrets either because I absolutely adored my re-read of this series. Sarina Bowen tackles such heavy themes in each of these books and just like the last time I read these books, I loved them.

It had been such a long time since I read this book and with each reading, my love for both Adam Hartley and Corey Callahan grows and grows. Sarina Bowen does such a good job of writing young love and she handles the immaturity and growth between her New Adult characters so well. I hang on every word, every single time and it was no different this go around.

Corey Callahan starts her freshman year in college in a wheelchair. A really bad accident cut her playing days short and she’s got to work really hard to get back on her feet again. All of her plans for college are out and she’s trying to make the most of it but it’s hard and when she meets Adam Hartley, who is injured himself and living in the dorm across the hall, things get a lot harder for her because of course she develops a crush on him and of course he’s already got a girlfriend.

Adam Hartley is on the injured list and can’t play hockey until he’s all healed up. He’s on crutches and getting around is hard so he’s parked in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall and he strikes up a friendship with his wheelchair-bound neighbor, Callahan. There’s a lot of things he can’t do these days so spending time with Corey keeps his spirits high. The more time that they spend together, the closer they get and before Hartley knows what’s what, he’s got a decision to make. Stay with his girlfriend or lose out on Callahan.

There’s a lot going on in this book. Both Corey and Hartley are working through their own personal issues so this book was heavy on character development, which I’m always down for. On top of them trying to figure out how to maneuver around campus and just get around town, they’re also falling for each other. Callahan falls first and she’s rocking that unrequited crush pretty hard for a long time. So long, in fact, that I wanted to strangle Hartley for taking so long to make up his damn mind. I still thought that he took entirely too long to break up with his girlfriend but in the end, I still loved the hell out of him. I loved the hell out of both of these characters and was super thrilled that they finally got their happy ending in the end.

Sarina Bowen writes college romances so well and I think I’ll be reading these books over and over again because I love them that much. They’re not perfect but they’re still pretty freaking awesome. If you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend them.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

The Ivy Years Series


four-stars

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Buddy Review: The Assist by Rebecca Jenshak

Posted February 14, 2019 by Rowena in Books, Reviews | 0 Comments

Buddy Review: The Assist by Rebecca JenshakThe Assist by Rebecca Jenshak
Series: Smart Jocks #1
Published by Rebecca Jenshak on November 5, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Point of View: Alternating First Person
Pages: 270
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Add It: Goodreads
three-stars
Reading Challenges: 2019 GoodReads Challenge

You know those stories where the smart girl tutors the dumb jock? This isn't it.

Blair What's the probability of insulting the one guy on campus I need to help me pass statistics? If I knew, I wouldn't be standing in front of Wes Reynolds begging him to tutor me.

Basketball player, sexy, arrogant, always sleeping through class... these are the things I knew about him. What I didn't know is that he is a seriously smart jock.

Wes What's the best way to get rid of the peppy and unrelenting girl that keeps asking me to tutor her? If I knew, I wouldn't be staring at her tan legs and attempting to teach her statistics.

Sorority girl, fine as f**k, determined, ball buster... these are the things I knew about her. What I didn't know is that she is all the things I didn't realize I wanted or needed.

Or that one semester with her would change everything.

The Assist is the first book in the Smart Jock’s series by Rebecca Jenshak. The Smart Jocks series is a set of New Adult romances that feature really smart jocks from Valley University in Arizona and the women they fall madly in love with. First up is Wes Reynolds, the starting point guard for the Valley University’s Men’s Basketball team and the girl from his statistics class, Blair Olson.

Blair needs to get an A in her statistics class but after receiving a bad grade on her first test, she knows that she needs help. When she comes across Wes Reynolds grade, she fumbles her way into getting him to tutor her. Wes is not a fan of her assumption that just because he’s a jock, he couldn’t possibly have passed the test without help but it becomes fun seeing her genuinely sorry for her assumptions and before he knows what is what, he’s helping her with her classwork.

Rowena: Now, I will admit that I was really hyped for this book because it featured a basketball hero. I’m from L.A. and L.A. is a basketball town so for me, this romance appealed to my inner basketball-loving heart. I really wish there were more basketball romances out there but I’ll take what I can get and while I really enjoyed the basketball aspect of this romance, there was something missing to make me completely love it.

What did you think, Ames?

Ames: I have to agree with you – I liked seeing basketball instead of hockey or football being the featured sport in this NA novel. And I was looking forward to the switch up of having a nerdy jock be the one to tutor someone. And this book had some promise but something just didn’t click for me. I liked Wes but Blair’s character was hard for me to grasp.

Rowena: Yeah, I had trouble with Blair’s character as well. I was really mad at David for his shenanigans and I guess I was a bit disappointed that Blair let Wes save her from that. I wish she would have saved herself, stood up for herself and really let him have it. She didn’t do anything about anything involving him, Wes did and that bummed me out. She was so quick to help everyone else but she wouldn’t even help herself.

There were also chunks of the book that moved slow. Like, I knew that what we were reading was leading somewhere but I struggled with staying in the story. It was just too easy for me to put the book down and do other things.

I will say that I enjoyed the bromance between Wes and Z. I thought that was great. They genuinely cared for each other and when Z tells Wes that he didn’t care about anything but seeing if his friend was okay, I was super happy. I thought Wes handled his big hurdle so badly but I understood it and I got where he was coming from, I just wish that like Blair, he would have stepped up and shown the heart that he talked so much about with Blair in the beginning. I thought that whole thing was stupid. You don’t quit on your team because you’re hurt. You don’t stop being part of a team because you can’t play anymore. You find other ways to help your team and the way that he didn’t get in trouble for ditching games and practices? I thought that was completely dumb. Being around a lot of college athletes, who have been hurt with season-ending injuries, I just don’t see someone completely checking out the way that Wes did. That was another thing that messed with my enjoyment of the book. There were no consequences for Wes’ actions and that annoyed me. There were no consequences from his coach, no consequences from his teammates and that just didn’t make sense.

Anyway, so Joel is getting his story next and I’m mighty curious about who his heroine is going to be. Do you think it’s someone new or…Gabby? I’m low key hoping it’s Gabby and I’m also wondering if Z is going to get a book now that he’s no longer a student at Valley University. Hmm. Are you planning on reading the rest of the books?

Ames: Oh yes! That whole thing with David was so…such a let down! Especially in this day and age, for someone to so willingly remain a victim? And that website? If people knew about it how come it wasn’t reported before? She really should have stood up for herself. I felt like all the extra work she was doing for him was just swept under the rug too. I mean, I can understand why someone wouldn’t say something but this is fiction and this would have been a great opportunity to show some strength in a character instead of relying on a guy to confront that douche.

I feel like there was a lot of telling with this book and not a lot of showing. So that’s where I felt a disconnect with the story.

I liked the friendship Wes had with his roommates and especially Z as well. But like you said, the way he disconnected after his injury was something that true teammates and friends would have confronted him about. They would have dragged his ass to the gym and games. They wouldn’t have let him stay in his funk as long as they did.

See Z had a moment when he looked at Gabby so that’s who I see pairing up in a subsequent book. And I would read Z’s book. I think he’s an interesting character. Especially as he goes pro. I’m not really interested in Joel’s story though.

All right. This was Jenshak’s debut book and although there were some issues with it, overall it was ok. I’m giving it a 3 out of 5. What about you?

Rowena: I did see the moment you’re talking about, I just didn’t think Z would be getting a book since he’s not going to be going to the college anymore. Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe Joel’s girl will be the girl that he tutors in Spanish. I’d like to read Joel’s book. I liked the way that he stepped up and went to his Dad to try to help Blair out with the whole website thing. That showed promise for me. But yeah, as far as this is concerned. There was a lot of promise and I enjoyed the friendships but overall, it was just an okay reading experience for me too.

Final Grades

Ames: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

three-stars

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Buddy Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward

Posted January 29, 2019 by Rowena in Books, Reviews | 0 Comments

Buddy Review: Blood Kiss by J.R. WardBlood Kiss by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Random House, Signet on December 1, 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Point of View: Alternating Third Person
Pages: 397
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Add It: Goodreads
three-stars
Reading Challenges: 2019 A-Z Challenge, 2019 GoodReads Challenge

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

Rowena: Our first book club book of the year is Blood Kiss by J.R. Ward, which is the first book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood spin-off series, Black Dagger Legacy. In this series, we’ll be meeting new characters who are training to become soldiers in the Black Dagger army to help the brothers fight the war against the Lessers who threaten their very existence. First up, Paradise and Craeg. So let’s get this show on the road, ladies.

What did you guys think?

Tasha: I really enjoyed the story of Craeg and Paradise and the whole Training Program. Marissa’s story with Butch and her relationship with her brother Havers wasn’t one I was all that interested in. But I know it all came together in the end.

Shy: I thought it was ok. A lot of missing pieces for me (I guess it’s probably because it’s a spin-off from another series?)

I dig Craeg and his back story and thought it made sense with why he’s so cutthroat and why he goes off half-cocked. I don’t know how I feel about Paradise. I feel like her character was just way too sheltered and then to have her go through training… I don’t know it just didn’t work for me.

I liked Butch and Marissa, they made more sense to me lol.

Tasha: So Butch and Marissa are from the original Black Dagger Brotherhood series and I’ve read the first 9 books (out of 17) of the series. I can see where you’d feel like something was missing.

I saw the aristocrats and the glymera as “the ton” from our historical reads. The women are basically raised to needlepoint, play musical instruments and host parties. And they couldn’t be in the company of other men without a proper escort or chaperone. That’s how I pictured Paradise’s upbringing. But what about her dad, Abalone? I so adored him!! As the Kings first advisor and of royal bloodline, he was such an understanding father. He didn’t come off as snobby and I really liked that he supported Paradise in whatever she decided to do. He wasn’t in the least worried about what their peers had to say.

Shy: Thanks Tasha, I figured it had to be tied to another series because of the way some parts were written.

I love Paradises dad, especially his response to Paradise and Craeg.

Rowena: I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would. I could have done without a lot of the Butch and Marissa stuff because having them sharing the spotlight with Craeg and Paradise took away from Craeg and Paradise. I get that this is a spin-off but why not let the new characters shine? How in the world are they supposed to shine when the older characters are everywhere? Aside from that, I did really enjoy this one.

I thought the training sessions and seeing the trainees bond together was interesting and even though I know that I’ll probably not read anything else from this author, I rather enjoyed getting to know each trainee. I liked all of them….except Anslam. LOL.

Tasha: I’m with Wena…more Craeg & Paradise, less Butch & Marissa. I mean, they had a whole book to themselves already.

The re-read for me was okay and I found myself more annoyed with the side story (Butch & Marissa) this time around. I don’t know if I want to continue on with this series and see what happens with Xan, but who knows. At least this time, I can expect a side story of someone from the original BDB series.

My rating for this 3.5 outta 5 stars.

Rowena: I enjoyed the romance between Craeg and Paradise, I just wish we’d gotten more of them. There’s a lot going on with this book but it was really easy for me to pick up on who the bad guys were and that almost never happens with me. I need the bad guys to knock on my door and introduce themselves normally but not this time around. Haha.

There is a lot to like about this story and even more to look forward to with this series but there were also things that I could have done without so for me? This one gets 3.5 out of 5 too.

Shy: I think Paradise and Craeg’s story was ok, not really my favorite. It just felt both predictable and things didn’t add up (but I think that’s more because I’m new to this entire series). I just felt like a lot of it was cliché between Paradise and Craeg. I wish they were a lot more interesting or just… I don’t know, more lol.

I still stand by Butch and Marissa, they helped make this story more enjoyable for someone like me who has no idea about the back story of this series. I know you both are annoyed with them mixing into this story but I’m glad they did reappear in this book.

I give it 2.5 stars

Final Grades

Rowena: 3.5 out of 5
Shy: 2.5 out of 5
Tasha: 3.5 out of 5

Black Dagger Legacy Series

three-stars

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,