May has been good, it’s been bad, it’s been busy and it’s been healing, and I’ve come out of it feeling more myself than I’ve felt in months! May was also pretty busy, and as a result this post may be a little wordy!
An odd headline, perhaps, to choose this month, but with everything going on, I choose the mundane. I choose train fares. Anyone in the UK reading this knows that train fares in the UK are so pricey they make you weep, and they keep on rising… A cap can only be a good thing. It’s not a fix, but it’s better than nothing.
I’ll keep this short and sweet, as there’s more than a little being flung at you below.
Quite simply, the fact that Dubai has a Cafe Nero makes my day (or night) every time I pass through the airport! Thank you, Dubai, for the little things!
I have read many books this month! Many have been good, one was… sub-par.
We kick off this list with Sarah J Maas’s most recent installment of the A Court of Thorns and Roses world: A Court of Frost and Starlight. A novella, rather than a full on novel, this was a lovely quick read showing us the fall out from the battle at the end of A Court of Wings and Ruin and bridges the gap beautifully between this series and the next (I believe trilogy) she has based in this world. Personally, I enjoyed it. I have seen many grumblings about the length and content of the novella on the old world wide web, but as I understand it, A Court of Frost and Starlight was meant to be for the fans, and it fits the bill wonderfully.
Next came War Storm by Victoria Aveyard. After the end of the third book in the Red Queen series, I was keen to see where this was going to go. I was severely underwhelmed with where it ended up! The push and pull between the two main protagonists (Mare and Cal) was dragged out to impossible lengths in this final installment and the ending was… lackluster. I finish this series with no feelings towards any of the characters, and I’m not sure I like Mare at all. All in all, it was a disappointing read.
Thankfully, all was not lost in the book department. I was having a book chat with a friend and mentioned Susan Ee’s Angelfall to her. She then steered me in the direction of Nalini Singh’s Guild Hunter series. Now let me tell you, I read all ten published books in just over a week. Technically, this means that it spilled over into June, but as it’s one series, I’m bending the rules on that one!
Now I’ll tell you what I like about this series. The main characters are far from perfect. They are all flawed, but they have rational emotions and reactions that I can connect with and understand. The world building is brilliant. There is no long build up, trying to explain things to the reader by pointing out what makes it different, you’re simply thrust into the story and expected to roll with the norms that are throws at you.
It’s another series with vampires and angels, but it’s not Twilight or True Blood (though the content sways more to the true blood side on occasion, I’d say not for younger teens, when it gets to late teens I can’t be a judge of maturity anymore) but these vampires and angels aren’t romanticised, nor are or were they hidden or secretive as per the previously mentioned series. They’re all out in the open and a totally normal part of the world. There was no great reveal, they’ve all just always been there. And the story continues to build and interweave book on book, sometimes shifting focus to other characters, but the same story is always going forward. One minor downside: I hate the covers…
Long story short: This world is captivating as hell, and now I’m stuck here waiting for book 11!
On the writing front, this is what writing on a plane looks like:
The last few weeks of May were awesome – there are a slew of posts coming your way! I’m pretty excited about them if I’m honest!
May was also the month of Open Class prep – a blog post that will be wending it’s way to you shortly.
I’ve not made much this month as I’ve been using resources from last year – the directions lessons mean the snakes and ladders boards have come out again!
One of the perks of plane travel, is the wealth of film and TV available. I flew Emirates this month, and the selection was most excellent. That said, in my six years of long haul flights, I still haven’t learnt not to watch sad or emotional films.
So the viewing on the four flights I took consisted of the following: The Battleship Island, Bittersweet Brew, The Snowman, Phantom Thread, Warriors of the Dawn, Your Name and Maigret. I covered Korean, Japanese and Western movies, and British TV, with characters from Korea, Japan, Britain, France and Sweden! Quite the range. And that was just on the plane. May also brought me Violet Evergarden.
The Battleship Island was a hard watch, but beautifully filmed. To give a brief synopsis, in this movie 400 prisoners in a labour camp on Hashima Island in the 1940’s attempt to escape. Hashima Island is known for it’s underground coal mines, adding to the harrowing grittiness of the movie. But the cinematography remains beautiful and the opening and ending sequences have remained with me.
Bittersweet Brew… a synopsis that talked about a law student working in a coffee shop. I was not prepared for the plot that followed. I really shouldn’t be surprised by now. I don’t remember the last time a Korean drama had a happy, or at least satisfying, ending! This wasn’t my favourite of movies, but it wasn’t bad either.
Phantom Thread, staring Daniel Day Lewis, was… slow. It was beautiful to look at, and Daniel Day Lewis’s performance is captivating, but it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged in the film. If you love fashion, it’s definitely worth a watch, but it’s nothing ground breaking.
The Snowman is an adaptation of Jo Nesbø’s book of the same name. I loved the book, but this film was, frankly, pants. Yes, Michael Fassbender is a great actor, but there was nothing that saved this film. Nothing.
Warriors of the Dawn is a historical Korean film. Long story short, King runs out on his people, names his son King, and a band of mercenaries need to get him from A to B in one piece. Epic, sprawling landscapes, growth from boyhood to King, and a people under siege. It’s a movie that does what it says on the tin, and does it well. Well worth a watch!
Your Name did amazingly at box-offices, globally, and was nominated for a slew of awards, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. This was a beautifully balanced animation, with plot twists that I didn’t see coming. It was pretty magical in the best of ways, and I can see where all the hype came from! It’s well deserved!
Maigret is the latest incarnation of the French novel detective, this time played by Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean/Blackadder. As is so often the case, Rowan Atkinson plays a non-comic role with a subtle elegance and delicate balance that suits the character of Maigret perfectly. The episodes are beautifully shot, have an earthy, European feel, and I really felt like I stepped into the past watching these. There are only 4 episodes of this, and I do hope they make more! It’s sublime television.
Outwith my flights, I watched Violet Evergarden. This came to my attention in a round-about way. I’ve never been a watcher of anime, but something about this grabbed me. I did a little research and found out the source material for this series won the grand prize in the fifth Kyoto Animation Award’s novel category in 2014, the first work to do so in any of the three categories; novel, scenario, and manga. This fact created a great Buzz around this anime, and it completely captured my attention. It’s a fabulous series that I would highly recommend.
As you know, I currently live in Korea, and this month I went to the UK for a weekend for my brothers wedding. Now, I’m not a wedding person, but it was my brother and I love him oodles and his now wife is one of my favourite people! Their wedding was delightful, teeming with people I haven’t seen in years, good food, fantastic music and just all-round magical. worth the 50-something hours of traveling it took to get there and back!
May was also the month of the Monsta X concert. I love me my music, and seeing these guys was a dream. They’re better live than on record – I love it when that happens. Totally separate to the music, as I’m still learning Korean, I was pretty stoked to be able to follow the banter more than ever before! Success!
Not quite craft, but still relevant, I took it upon myself to finally get down to the doodling class I’d bought from Rad & Happy some months back.
I’ve followed Rad & Happy on instagram for some time now, and when this class was released, I was keen to give it a go, and signed up on pre-sale. A lettering class was added in May, and I snapped that up on pre-release too. I figured both would be useful in where I want to take this blog.
The doodling class has already proved to be insanely useful, and I cannot recommend it enough.
There I was in the airport, waiting to board my flight, when I started doodling, and this was the result:
Meet Grammar.Bot. Grammar.Bot has already made it onto a ton of worksheets already, and they’ll be coming to the blog next week! I’m so excited for these guys! I definitely think it’s time to invest in an iPad pro though!
I can’t talk about May’s music releases without mentioningSHINee. I don’t know how many of you following here are into the Kpop music scene, but if you are, you’ll know what happened in December 2017. If you’re not in the know, in December last year, a member of SHINee, Kim Jonghyun, took his own life. Long having been one of my favourite groups, and he being a member I particularly admired, it hit me, the wider kpop community, and Korea, hard. May marked the groups first release since with The Story of Light Ep.1. It was far more emotional than I had been anticipating.
Jonghyun had an incredibly distinctive voice, easy to pick out, and very much part of what made SHINee. It is testimony to the remaining members talents and will to carry on that Good Evening lacks non of their unique style and signature sound. Jonghyun is still laced through everything, butSHINee is back and have lost none of their brilliance and sparkle and, in their words, they will always be five.
Other music I’ve been loving this month:
Bolbbalgan4 returned with Red Diary Page.2. This duo never disappoint and I have no doubt that 여행 is going to be played in ever store and cafe throughout the summer months.
BTS released their new album in May. Love Yourself: Her was, for me, a disappointment. Love Yourself: Tear is an improvement in that I like two songs off the album, and I really love The Truth Untold, but it’s still missing that certain BTS flavour that they seem to have forgotten in the race to take America… at least that’s how my ears feel!
May brought us the new Plan B album, Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose. What an album! Plan B‘s music has a way to soothe, yet excite, packing punches with his melodies and his lyrics. Stand out tracks for me are: Heartbeat, the titular Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose and Mercy.
We also got new Frank Turner with his new album Be More Kind. This was the album I didn’t know I needed. Honestly, my mood was buoyed so much by this album. I was having a wobble and Don’t Worry sorted me right out. This album is healing, I’m convinced of it!
Early on in May we had a new girl group debut. Idle, stylised (G)I-DLE are a new group to come out of CUBE ent. and they have scored high in the charts and won on music shows. I love their title song, LATATA, and I can’t wait to see where they go next!
May has also been the month of the tv show Breakers. On this show, singer-songwriters battle against each other with their own compositions. The stand out to me has been Hui from the group Pentagon. He’s the mainstream idol on the show, and he’s thrown track after track at the audience. We’ve had Navigation, Bodyguard and Swim Good, and this boy has pipes and composition skills for days – but then we knew this, he wrote WannaOne’s hit, Energetic, after all! There’s a week to go, he’s made it the final and I’m intrigued to see what else he can pull out of his hat.
I had a moment this month. A moment where the smile lines under my eyes were so in my face it wasn’t cool. So I took myself off to The Saem to get me some magical snail anti wrinkle cream. I ended up with essence, after much deliberation, and some samples of the mirco peel soft gel. This stuff is amazing. So amazing, I went back when my samples were done to buy a full bottle.
I’ve been shifting my skincare routine a little, and I feel like these two have made a great difference in a short space of time! 10/10 would recommend.
I am not a great photographer, by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been really enjoying Gudak Cam (this links to the US apple store, but I got it on the UK one, and it’s avaliable for android too!)
This app acts like a disposable camera. Each “roll” has 24 pictures, you have the tiniest viewfinder, no selfie options (but you do get the option of flash) and no way of seeing your shots once you’ve taken them. Only when you’ve finished a roll can you “develop” your film, taking three days, and you have to wait an hour for a new roll of film.
It’s been so long since I used a disposable camera, that I’d forgotten the excitement of waiting for your pictures. Here are some of the shots I took testing this app out:
I love the old school, muted quality of these photos, they’re some of my favourites of the many I’ve taken! For a whole 99p/$0.99, I’d say the app is totally worth it!
Did May treat you well? Did anything exciting happen, or has it been business as usual! Let me know down in the comments!