I watched this drama as it aired in July, but I wanted to think about it more before writing my review. Surprisingly, I found Go Go Squid! enjoyable from beginning to end. It’s really Han Shang Yan’s story, a young man approaching the age of 30 who holds grudges and regrets, single-mindedly pursuing his dream of winning a cybersecurity competition for China. The romance storyline helps him let people into his life again and let go of the unhappiness he’d bottled up in his heart. There are much more flashback than I expected, but I loved all the team and competition scenes.
Note: I received this box for free as a BOTM YA affiliate. This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you purchase using my link. This helps keep my blog running!
Perhaps you’re already heard of Book of the Month, a monthly subscription box (U.S. only) that offers five newly released hardcover books for you to choose from for $14.99/month (free shipping!). I had to cancel my subscription I have a huge number of unread books on my shelf, but I love seeing their selections every month, which range from non-fiction to thrillers to fantasy—there’s bound to be something that interests you! You can add additional books for $9.99, which is such a steal for a hardcover.
Recently, Book of the Month launched a Young Adult subscription box as well! Previously, there were a couple YA selections every once in a while, but if you love YA or are looking to read more YA, this box is perfect for you. Sign up today and get your first book for $9.99 with the code FLEX!
For August, I picked the YA historical novel The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee, and I absolutely loved it! Set in 1890 Atlanta, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a maid by day and writes an advice column under the pseudonym ‘Ms. Sweetie’ by night. I immediately loved Jo because she’s witty and self-aware, and she explores race and gender in her column. I loved seeing the perspective of a Chinese-American girl in this time period in the South.
The other August selections are:
- House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (fantasy)
- Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry (thriller)
- Mind Games by Shana Silver (sci-fi/dystopian)
- Color Me In by Natasha Diaz (contemporary)
You can also add additional books from the current month & past months for $9.99. My recommendations from past selections are:
- Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (fantasy) – see my review!
- The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (contemporary)
- With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (contemporary)
- Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (fantasy) – see my review!
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan (contemporary)
If you’re a BOTM YA subscriber, let me know what you picked this month!
After finishing watching Fall in Love, Unrequited Love, AND Go Go Squid (review coming soon) recently I really needed a new drama to fill the void. I tried a couple episodes of Retourner Le Monde a Toi (Gu Li Na Zha’s new drama set in the fashion business) but wasn’t feeling it, and watched half the premiere episode of Mr. Fighting because I like Deng Lun and Ma Si Chun, but I wasn’t sold on that either. But then Love Is Deep hooked me!
Love Is Deep is about a girl who has loved her boyfriend for many years and worked alongside him as he started his own company. When she realizes he doesn’t love her the same way, she quits her job and decides to pursue her own dream of designing pet toys. Meanwhile, she develops a friendship with a handsome surgeon and his younger sister. The leads are both very likable and there are a lot of fun supporting characters. This drama is available on YouTube with English subtitles.
It was only after I started watching that I discovered this drama is based on a novel and I Hear You was based on a novel by the same author! Admittedly, I Hear You disappointed me but it did have a number of positives so here’s hoping Love Is Deep is better!
Unrequited Love was featured on my Netflix homepage (here’s the direct link) so I decided to give it a try. With a title like ‘Unrequited Love’ I had previously been hesitant to watch this because I thought it’d be too sad or angsty. However, this has turned out to be my favorite modern c-drama of 2019 so far! I loved it from start to finish, and enjoyed not only the central storyline but the wide cast of characters. Set in college, the drama features several different relationships, exploring unrequited love, the choices we make, second chances, and feelings not being black & white. There are a lot of moments of reflection and self-aware, relatable characters, and many moments that made me laugh out loud.
This drama is 24 episodes that are ~35 minutes each so it does not drag on, and is super easy to watch multiple episodes at once. I watched this right after Put Your Head On My Shoulder, and while they’re both set in college, they are so different—Unrequited Love is so thoughtful and mature, while Put Your Head On My Shoulder is light and fluffy.
It’s worth noting that this drama is based on a novel by Ba Yue Chang An (I’d like to read it), who also wrote the novels that the dramas My Huckleberry Friends (2017) and With You (2018) were based on. I haven’t watched either of those because they’re set in high school. There’s also a second adaptation of this novel that’s supposed to come out in 2020 starring Yi Tian and Hu Bing Qing and I plan to watch it as well.
Continue reading for my full review—there are no spoilers (aside from references to the promotional summary).
Fall in Love is a Chinese web drama from YouKu that was released in June-July 2019. You can watch it on YouTube, although the subtitles are automatically generated and not particularly accurate.
I came across this drama on my YouTube homepage and randomly decided to give it a chance. The summary on MyDramaList was so vague that I had no idea what to expect, but I soon understood why.
Short version of my review: in the beginning, curiosity about the mysterious female lead compels you to watch Fall in Love, but once all the pieces are on the table the story becomes rushed and uneven and falls into some classic drama clichés.
Continue reading for my spoiler-free full review!
The final episode of Fall in Love is fast-paced and ties up the drama’s storylines neatly and pleasantly.
(Ok fine, it felt very rushed but I lost interest many episodes ago so I’m not bothered by it. Review post coming soon!)
Put Your Head On My Shoulder is a 24-episode Chinese drama that aired in April-May 2019 and is available on YouTube with English subtitles.
The story centers around two college students pursuing very different fields, who find themselves living together due to their mothers being friends. As graduation approaches, they make decisions about their futures and fall in love with each other. This is a light and fluffy series with very little drama. If anything, the leads’ biggest obstacles are themselves, learning what they want and how to communicate it. It’s very much about navigating a relationship for the first time.
I really loved the first half of the series and found it charming and funny, but in the latter half I lost interest (a mix of it being slow, frustrating, and boring). While it was enjoyable, I don’t think this drama will make any of my best-of-2019 lists nor do I think I’d watch it again.
The penultimate episode of Fall in Love is quite dramatic. Lu Qiao continues to convince Hao Yun that Feng Ping can help him walk again, and turns to drastic measures. Feng Ping and Yue Sheng reflect over their past honestly.
(In case you missed my previous note, this drama lost its charm for me and became the kind of drama I felt like skimming through so I have not recapped episodes 16-28. I’ll post the episode 30 recap tomorrow & then an overall review!)
Shang Yan isn’t actually such a cold person, he just happens to be very serious and on the quieter side. He has a strained relationship with his grandpa and after Team Solo split up, so I can see how it may be difficult for him to let people get close to him. The timeline of what happened back then is still murky, but Xiao Mi makes a great point in episode 10 and I think he’s able to get through to Shang Yan. I really enjoy their friendship.
Also, I saw Hu Yi Tian’s role labeled as a “special appearance” and I now see why. He features prominently in several scenes, but he frequently doesn’t appear in larger K&K team group scenes. I enjoy his scenes with Shang Yan a lot, and although his character is very quiet as well, I find his facial expressions (confusion, amusement) to be on point.
In these episodes: Shang Yan’s grandpa has him bring Tong Nian over for dumplings. A small group of K&K and SP team members travel to Norway together for an individual competition. Ai Qing makes efforts to repair her relationship with Shang Yan.
If You Liked: All Is Well
Today’s book recommendation is not young adult! Last month it was announced that Constance Wu had signed on to play the lead role in the movie adaptation of Goodbye, Vitamin so of course I bumped this book up my to-read list. Constance Wu stars in ABC’s sitcom Fresh Off the Boat and of course, starred in last year’s rom-com Crazy Rich Asians. I’m really excited to see her in more lead roles on the big screen! But, back to the book!
Premise: Ruth Young quits her job and moves in with her parents for a year when her father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
» Purchase on Amazon
My Spoiler-Free Review
Published back in 2017, Goodbye, Vitamin is written in the format of short diary entries spanning a year, and I found it to be a very relaxing rhythm. I liked Ruth’s direct tone and found her humor very charming. There are little offbeat details and the humor is slightly grim and ultimately, I thought she was both relatable and authentic.
I also felt the seriousness of Ruth’s father’s Alzheimer’s disease in her observations and reflections, the truth of the relationship between her parents, and the way her brother’s relationship with them differs from her own. Goodbye, Vitamin is so captivating and enjoyable without trying too hard. The premise isn’t dramatic but rather, devastating in its ordinariness. I was turning page after page and next thing I knew I was halfway through the book. I definitely recommend this book and I’m so excited for the movie!
I’ve compared this to the Chinese drama All Is Well because that happens to be the only drama that I’ve watched that’s about adulthood and family, and things are more complex than they may seem on the surface.