First Impressions: The Ghost Bride & My Love From The Stars

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The Ghost Bride (chapters 1 – 10)

Synopsis: It’s 1893 Malacca, a small port town of Malaya governed by British. Despite evidence of the town’s westernization, there remain Malaccans who adhere to their traditional customs—one of those practices being ghost marriages. With her family bankrupt and father shut in from self-isolation, Pan Li Lan’s prospects for a bright future look grim. That is, until the wealthy Lim family propose that she become their dead son’s ghost bride. Should she accept, she will be ensured a comfortable home from then onward, but at what cost? After a visit to the Lim mansion, the deceased Lim Tian Ching begins visiting Li Lan, drawing her into the afterlife. Separated from her body, Li Lan soon finds herself trapped between the world of the living and that of the dead. In order to rejoin her physical form, she races to unearth the Lim family’s secret—as well as her own family’s—before the separation turns permanent.

Thoughts: I attempted this book once before, only for classes to cut in on my free time and force me to sit it down. I read through a whole whopping three chapters! But from that I knew of Yangsze’s attention to detail, and I expected The Ghost Bride to traipse not aimlessly but slowly. These descriptions shouldn’t be glossed over, but savored. It’s not often that I discover an author who knows just the right amount of detail to pour into a narrative without weighing it down from verbosity.

It was bright, but there was no sun, merely the whiteness that comes from a fog at midday. And like a fog, parts of the house seemed to vanish as I passed, so that the way behind was shrouded in a thin white film.

True to its locale—1893 Malaya—real-world backdrops help reflect a setting’s image inside readers’ minds, but Yangsze’s imagery is mighty impressive at times. Now that I’m reading The Ghost Bride with renewed interest, I’ve found that the wording reels me in. Rather than slowing down to appreciate detail (or detail slowing the narrative!), Yangsze’s world comes alive and time passes by unnoticed. As a minor note of critique, however, Yangsze’s writing oozes foreshadowing. Much of this leaves me pondering in anticipation, such as the particular attention paid to the Mr. Lim’s third wife. From this I suspect her status to rise, but at the cost of Mrs. Lim—only I’m left to figure out why. (And I do love concocting scenarios.) But what my criticism applies to are moments of heavy-handed implications that are brazenly pushed in my face:

Madam Lim must have thought me simple or at the very least unsophisticated. I caught her sharp pigeon eyes studying me from time to time. Strangely enough, this seemed to relieve her. Only much later did I understand why she was so pleased with my gauche performance.

It’s deflating. Deflating, because I feel a fully heightened awareness of the situation. This particular passage is up for interpretation (I want to keep this spoiler-free), but other occasions remove suspense by how straightforward the statements are. All in all, this particular issue remains VERY minor when compared to The Ghost Bride‘s strengths, and I look forward to continuing Li Lan’s adventure.


My Love From The Stars (episodes 1 – 6)
>>Watch: DramaFever, Viki, SoompiTV

Synopsis: Although his appearance may lead you to believe otherwise, Do Min-joon can hardly be called “human”—or perhaps “earthling” is a better term. 400 years ago during the Joseon Dynasty, Min-joon came to earth, but as circumstance would have it, was left behind. Now present day, Min-joon will soon have his chance to return home in three months, but life becomes complicated for the cynical taciturn when top Korean actress Cheon Song-yi makes a crash landing of her own.

Thoughts: Cheon Young-si easily wins top spot on my list of favorite sassypant divas (whom I love to love), because rude exterior aside (which is nothing more than bravado), she’s a character the audience can sympathize with. The writing certainly helps in this regard, but I appreciate that Young-si is never the first to strike nor is she intently malicious. She does, however, prove comically embarrassingly ignorant. Okay, so she doesn’t know how to order a mocha, but she’s more capable than she realizes. She craves affection and lives with the mindset that hate mail is better than no mail. I feel for her, and anyone who’s experienced isolation while surrounded by people can understand. People are quick to badmouth Young-si the moment her back is turned and perform a 180 when they speak to her face, but bad publicity is better than no publicity, right? Ehh, it’s really not, but I think Young-si will soon realize this if she already hasn’t. The girl has wounds, and she’s rubbed raw—continuously, but I’ll be happy to see those cuts heal as she grows.

(And I know I spent an entire paragraph on Jun Ji-hyun‘s portrayal of Young-si, but Do Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun!) is just as good—as is the two leads’ chemistry. And when I ship, I ship hard. I fell in love with Kim Soo-hyun watching Dream High, and I literally bawled over Sam-dong and Hye-mi days after I finished the show. Please be kind, Drama; my heart is fragile.)

But even with all that praise, I feel let down. My Love From The Stars saw success so huge that even non-drama fans are aware it exists and an American re-make—pause for cringe—is in the works. Ratings aren’t everything, but the acclaim and large fanbase helped place it on a pedestal, and I’m sad to say I find it overrated. Upon saying that, I can hardly complain about the dialogue or acting, and the gorgeous cinematic scenes leave me quite impressed.


8 thoughts on “First Impressions: The Ghost Bride & My Love From The Stars

  1. lillianccc

    Hi Raya! Long time no see! I’m really glad to know that you’ve transitioned over and are keeping up with this new blog since so many of my blog friends have seemingly fallen off the face of the Internet so it was really reassuring to see that you’re still active. 🙂

    I had no idea you liked K-dramas too!! We’re going to get along even better from here on out. 😉 I’m really interested to hear how you like the rest of The Ghost Bride since (if you remember), I’d also been reading it. I won’t give anything away but I will say that a second reading proved to be highly beneficial for me since the first time through, I was racing just to see what happened next.

    And My Love From Another Star! I was still in London when this drama came up and literally exploded everywhere including the Internet. I did enjoy it but I kind of get what you mean about it being a letdown. Did I like it? Yes. Would I rewatch it? Eh… probably only the scenes where Song-yi’s teasing Do Min Joon mercilessly and/or when he’s trying so hard not to become like a “petty human” and ends up doing petty things anyway. 😀 I’ll stop rambling now before this turns into a full-blown essay but in any case, I’m really glad you’re back in my virtual neighborhood!

    1. Raya Post author

      Lillian! I’m so happy to see you’re still around. I’ve had the same problem: most of my blog friends disappeared & others aren’t as active in keeping in contact. it’s nice to see those who are still around.

      I love k-dramas! I used to watch them (& j-dramas) all the time when we had international channels back in the day before the stations went kaput, & I recently got back into them a few years ago. do you have any favorites? I think with the success & praise that surrounds My Love from the Stars, I expected the plot & script to blow me away. instead, I’m finding that it’s pretty average plot-wise. but I really enjoy the dialogue, especially between Song-yi & Min-joon! their banter can be too cute & funny at times. 😛

      TGB: surprisingly, I do remember you telling me that! probably because I can’t find too many people who’ve read it or seem interested in reading it. (which is a shame. Yangsze has a very likeable writing style, IMO.) I’m pacing myself at five chapters a day, and I should be up to chapter thirty-one by tonight. maybe it’s my bias for self-absorbed but unintentionally funny characters (because I like watching them grow as people), but I liked Fan the instant she was introduced — I’m hoping she’ll undergo some development and make a selfless choice or too, but once she finds out Li Lan is lying to her… I can see her going either way.

      1. lillianccc

        I used to be a big jdrama fan too but at some point, fell off that wagon. Do you have any recommendations? I seriously have no idea what’s going on in that scene anymore haha. I recently finished the Korean remake of Nodame Cantabile and while it can’t possibly compare to the original, still really enjoyed the characters that the actors brought to the drama. My sister highly recommends Misaeng, which is about to finish and has drawn rave reviews so I’m thinking of starting that.

        Funny that you enjoyed Fan’s character, as the instant she appeared, all my defenses went up and I immediately got a bad feelng about her lol. Won’t give anything away but talking about the book makes me want to reread it again. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

      2. Raya Post author

        I’ve been trying to hop on the J-drama train, but everything I start winds up on hold. N no Tame Ni is supposed to be good. I watched the first episode, and it certainly looked interesting. I’ve also heard about The Perfect Insider, which is on DramaFever — I have that watchlisted as well. ah, I saw Piece, too. it’s a couple years old, I think, and the male lead infuriated me, but it’s one of the few I’ve gotten into. have you watched Liar Game? I saw the first season before I watched the K-adaptation. It’s, uh, a bit dull on the acting from Erika Toda’s part but I loved Shota Matsuda. (and I swear, I don’t know what is up with that Liar Game poster. Matsuda’s hair does NOT look like that!)

        ooh, Nodame Cantabile. I watched the J-drama before the K-drama came out. I watched four episodes of the Korean version before I put it on indefinite hold. how did you like Nodame’s Korean counterpart? it’s funny, because I mostly fretted over who would play Chiaki of all characters, right? Joo Won turned out to be awesome, but I don’t know about Shim Eun-kyung…

        and yes, Misaeng! I’ve been watching it since episode one. I still haven’t watched the last episode yet, but I have nothing but praise for this show, and that’s pretty rare for me. highly, highly recommend it!

        I finished The Ghost Bride this morning (: oh, Fan, that woman…! I knew that would happen, but I had so much hope for a different scenario. and Er Lang! ER-GORGEOUS-LANG. I would spoil the whole book here since there are so many thoughts swimming in my head, but I won’t say much in case of wandering eyes. I may write up a “discussion” post that’s separate from my review.

      3. lillianccc

        I’ve heard so much about Liar Game that I think it actually put me off watching it, just because hype turns me away haha. But first, I need to jump onto Misaeng since my sister keeps telling me how much I’d relate to it, given that I’ve started work again. And now your recommendation has given me that push I needed. 😉

        Joo Won is nothing but brilliant, seriously. I admit when I first saw the teasers and posters I was skeptical but he won me over very quickly. I think Shim Eun-kyung didn’t quite settle into the role until the middle but sadly by then, quite a number of ppl had tuned out. Still, I liked the different nuances they brought to the characters, even if some parts were overacted.

        And YES, Er Lang! I remember having some vague suspicions about halfway through the book but quickly dismissed them. Well. All I can say is the ending thoroughly satisfied me. If you get a discussion post going, I will be totally on it for sure.

  2. Pingback: Recommending: must-watch 2014 Korean dramas | [vagenda implied]

  3. Savindi

    I want your photography skills!! I kind of wish I had kept my brother’s DSLR when it was offered to me lol. But he exchanged it for another Camera. The Ghost Bride sounds super interesting! I like the fact that it set in Malaya. I don’t think I’ve read a book set there before. And the cover is incredibly gorgeous too! Maybe I should get into K Dramas considering that you and Lillian are big fans! Oh and I meant to ask you have you seen this ? Knowing you, you probably have lol. I think you should re-recommend some dramas to me-but they can’t be 40 minutes lol! I don’t have the attention span for that anymore 😦

    1. Raya Post author

      ha ha, all I use is my iphone & then I touch-up in photoshop. my pictures would be impossibly ugly with grain and dark lighting otherwise.

      the setting in TGB is *SO RICH*, I think you’d like it. in my overall opinion, I think Choo’s characters are a bit lacking in that they are flat in comparison to the backdrop, the main puzzle piece feels brushed off, & I have a few complaints re: how Li Lan’s loveline is handled, but despite all that? I still love it. this book has charm — I’m even re-reading it, which I don’t do often with books.

      the samsung ads with kim woo bin! I haven’t seen the videos but I’ve seen the the gif sets on tumblr.

      oh gosh, I honestly don’t know of any k-dramas that are under 40 minutes. the large majority are 60/65 minutes. Lillian might know of some if you ask her, but I think your best bet might be to dig around in j-dramas. most that I’ve seen are usually 30 – 45 minutes — j-dramas are often shorter than k-dramas in terms of ep count and ep duration. my suggestions would be Piece (tho the main male character is just ugh), Nobuta wo Produce (but I think this runs closer to an hour), Nodame Cantabile (very slap-stick), & Liar Game (also contains slap-stick). Liar Game is very… meh? you can read my review on season one if you want. also: Buzzer Beat. I haven’t watched this yet, but I saw part of episode one & it’s high up on my to-watch list. I wish I could recommend more, but it’s been years since I’ve been in that scene.


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