Tag Archives: romance

Giving The Romance Genre a Shot…

Over the past few months we’ve been inundated with terrible news on TV, radio, the internet, etc. Yet, I can’t seem to stop watching or scrolling through my social media feeds. I realize I am in desperate need of a break!

So with the world in utter turmoil, I’ve decided to turn my sights towards something lighter and more hopeful… romance! Anyone who knows me knows that I generally don’t do the romance genre. I prefer historical fiction, thrillers, or literary fiction. But lately, I’ve found those genres to be too heavy. And it’s too much for me right now. I need something different. Starting with…

Emma. This is the new movie based on the Jane Austen novel.

I know that many other versions of Emma have come out and I’ve never been interested in them. But for some reason, this one looked really good. I also remembered that I have a copy of the book on my bookshelf, just sitting there and collecting dust, never having been read. So I dove in, starting with Chapter 1.

The first thing that I realized is that Emma is a pompous snob who needs to stay out of other people’s business! Thank goodness there’s Mr. Knightley there to call her out on her shit. I’m only about 100 pages into this book but I already know how this is going to turn out. And maybe that’s why I’m so into this story. I know it’s going to have a happy ending and hopefully will remain comedic throughout.

 It’s not just books that are helping me to escape the madness of the world. I’ve also found a Korean rom-com on Netflix that I’ve completely fallen in love with! It’s called Crash Landing on You. It’s about a very rich South Korean woman (Yoon Se-ri) who accidentally lands in North Korea after a paragliding accident (hey, no one said this story had to be realistic).

There, she meets a handsome Captain in the North Korean Special Police Force (Ri Jeong-hyeok) who tries to help her escape. Crash Landing on You is now the third-highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history. I’m about half-way through the series and I completely understand the popularity. I like how it shows North Korea (though I’m not sure how accurately) and roughly what it’s like for people to live there. For example, there is a house inspector that will come into people’s homes without warning to check to make sure there is nothing illegal in the house (like a rice cooker). There’s another scene where all of the people in the community must go outside at a designated time to do government mandated group exercises that are led by a voice on the loudspeaker. Conversations are monitored and the people are micromanaged on how they live their lives. I read an article that said North Korean defectors helped to provide guidance to the writers of the show to get the scenes right.

Despite the harsh setting, the show is still upbeat and surprisingly funny. The focus is mostly on two star crossed lovers who meet against all odds. It’s sappy at times, but hey… sappy is what I’m looking for (don’t judge)! 

For now, those two romance stories are what I’m distracting myself with to get my mind off of pesky things like Covid19. So far it’s working!

What romance books/shows/movies would you recommend?

The Night Circus and My Insomnia

As of the beginning of September, for absolutely no apparent reason, I have developed horribly severe insomnia. I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t sleep for three nights straight and that was WITH sleep aids. Since then, I have gotten some nights where I sleep a few hours here or there, but the insomnia has never really gone away. I’ve tried all types of over the counter medications… Niquil, ZZzzquil (which I gather is kind of the same thing), Melatonin, Unisom, and Sleepytime Tea. I tried going without any screen time at night. No lights, no phone, no TV, no Kindle. I’ve meditated, listened to Podcasts and light classical music, exercised everyday until my body became exhausted, and still have gotten nowhere.

So I did what any avid reader who can’t sleep would do. I picked up “The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern. No, it didn’t cure my insomnia, but I felt like it would be a good read since it falls into the theme of my life right now: dark, sleepless, and mysterious (the mystery in my life being… why the hell can’t I sleep right now?)

The Night Circus is about a circus that is only active at night, much like my brain these days. When it was published in 2011, it gained a lot of hype and is still very popular with readers 8 years later.

Although it’s often categorized as a fantasy/romance, I figured I’d give it a try despite not being a fan of either one of those genres. Currently, I’m about 300+ pages into this and I would personally say it’s more fantasy than anything else. There’s a little bit of romance, which I can only assume escalates further along in the book, but it’s not what drives the plot.

Speaking of the plot: it’s slow. Lots of things happen, but I’m not seeing a lot of movement. I’m guessing these plot points get tied up at the end, but I can’t say until I actually finish the book. I still have a good 150 pages or so to go. Yeah, it’s long. My paperback edition is over 500 pages.

The main story line follows two magicians, Celia and Marco, who are competing against each other in a mysterious battle, much of which is not known to the reader. Despite this rivalry, the pair fall in love.

I found some of the minor characters to be far more interesting than Celia and Marco. There’s Widget and Poppet, a pair of red-haired twins who possess magical powers; the German clock-maker, who creates clocks that are more like pieces of artwork; and Prospero the Enchanter, Celia’s father, who is also a magician. These are just a few, but each of the characters in The Night Circus has something interesting to add to the story. It seems like nobody is just plain ordinary.

The thing I love about this book is the descriptions of all things strange and bizarre. Morgenstern has an amazing imagination and her attention to detail really brings the magical scenes to life.

I felt like this was a good book to pair with my insomnia. It’s strangely comforting to read in the late hours when I can’t sleep. And even though I’m not dreaming, my mind is travelling into a new fantasy world that is stranger than any dream I could ever imagine.

Rebecca – A Classic Tale of “Romantic” Suspense

****This blog post includes spoilers. Consider yourself warned!***

Rebecca.Image

It’s finally autumn. The leaves have turned color, the air has become crisp and cool, and it’s the perfect time to sit back and enjoy a gothic story.  For me, I figured it was a great opportunity to read “Rebecca,” by Daphne Du Maurier. I heard that the book was a spooky thriller… the perfect fall read!

My initial reaction after finishing the book is that it’s not a romantic thriller, as the cover suggests. It also wasn’t really scary (I assumed it was going to be). If anything, it was more of a mystery.

The book was written in 1930s and mostly takes place in England. The unnamed protagonist is working as a companion to an older lady (Mrs. Van Hopper) in Monte Carlo when she meets a rich widower named Maxim de Winter. The two hit it off and eventually marry. The protagonist quits her job and moves to Manderley, Maxim’s huge estate. While there, the protagonist becomes obsessed with Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, who drowned only a year prior. She’s jealous and is incredibly insecure.

Although I liked this book, I was slightly disappointed because I think I was expecting somewhat of a ghost story. I was also a little confused because it was labeled a “romantic thriller” when (in my opinion) it was neither romantic nor a thriller.

Let’s discuss the “romantic” part. Yes, there’s a marriage. But I wasn’t entirely convinced that the two characters loved each other. Maxim only proposed as a way of preventing the protagonist from moving to New York. And his proposal was, sorry to say, lame! He literally says this:

So Mrs. Van Hopper has had enough of Monte Carlo,” he said, “and now she wants to go home. So do I. She to New York and I to Manderley. Which would you prefer? You can take your choice.”

Obviously the main character is confused and assumes Maxim is making a joke. Then he says this to her:

“If you think I’m one of the people who try to be funny at breakfast you’re wrong,” he said. “I’m invariably ill-tempered in the early morning. I repeat to you, the choice is open to you. Either you go to America with Mrs. Van Hopper or you come home to Manderley with me.”

“Do you mean you want a secretary or something?” (From the main character.)

“No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.”

So that’s his proposal. Now I’m not much of a romance reader, but I can tell you with some certainty that this is not romantic! If I had been proposed to in this way, I would not have accepted. But again, the main character is clearly young and insecure, so it seemed fitting that she would be swooned by this sort of proposal. :::eye roll:::

Now for the thriller part. It did have some aspects of a thriller, but it didn’t seem like a typical thriller to me. Yes, there was a murder, Rebecca’s murder. But it already happened. It didn’t seem very suspenseful. Nobody was running from danger, except Maxim, who was running from the law, hoping to get away with his wife’s murder.

The best character in the book is clearly Mrs. Danvers, the house manager. Although she was not likeable, she kept the story moving and made it a whole lot more interesting. Unlike the main character, Mrs. Danvers is confident and is not afraid to take matters into her own hands. And in the end, she knows Maxim killed Rebecca and she has no problem taking revenge. Maxim should have gone to jail for what he did, but instead he got away with murder. And while the protagonist is happy about this (because after all, it means Maxim loves her more than Rebecca :::more eye rolls:::), Mrs. Danvers does what needs to be done… she burns Manderley to the ground! Right on!

Thank you Mrs. Danvers. Your service is appreciated.

Now I’m excited to watch the movie!