All posts by Ma. Venus Gamboa

An introvert does what it does.

Netflix’s Prince of Tennis Live-Action Series – Worth Binging!

I got to give it to Netflix.

They did a wonderful job of bringing a Chinese live-action adaptation of the hit anime series, Prince of Tennis. I’m a very huge fan of the franchise, and the anime was one of the most unforgettable series during my childhood years. Even now, in fact.

There was a previous Chinese adaptation way back 2008, but I didn’t quite like their take on it and the cast didn’t leave much impression. And while it’s purely up to the makers how to approach an adaptation, I don’t think that show appealed well to its intended viewers.

Anyhow, we’re way past that experience and I’m just so glad that this time, they pulled it off really well.

What I liked about this 2019 version

The Cast

Is awesome. Their looks and manners were so on point, it’s pure joy watching them on screen.

Notable ones who are on top of my list are Peng Yuchang (as Lu Xia / Ryoma Echizen), Xie Bin Bin (as Mu Siyang / Kunimitsu Tezuka), Zhang Yi Jie (as Zhou Zhu / Syusuke Fuji) and Ren Yan Kai (as Ji Jingwu / Keigo Atobe).

Green Nature Photo Book Collage

The story sequence 

Stayed true to the source material. It’s been years since I saw the anime, but I can still narrate in sequence the schools that Seigaku fought from the provincial, regional to the national competition – #hardcorefan.

This series followed the anime’s progression closely, with minor creative variations here and there which were executed well so as not to deviate from the original storyline.

A pleasurable blast from the past which will make you want to rewatch the entire anime series!

The comedy

Is so on point, I swear. Like there wasn’t an episode where I didn’t laugh. It was hilarious. Everyone was so extra. Light-hearted and fun – happy experience!

Will I recommend it?

To the fans of the anime series, absolutely! If you’re one, then go. Try the first episode. If you’re not hooked, at least watch up until episode 4!


A Glimpse Back to My Top 5 Best Reads of 2019

Say ‘yes’ on the comments if you have already made a partial list of books you want to read this 2020.

I already have a few, but before diving into new adventures, I’d like to pay tribute to some of the best reads I’ve had last year – books which I would not mind rereading and hyping up to friends. They’re that good.

Plus, if you haven’t read them yet, consider them as my personal reading recommendations to you this year:

In no particular order…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Date finished: January 6, 2019

Synopis: The circus arrives with no warning. No announcement precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves, and it is only open at night.

My thoughts: Beautifully-written, dream-like and spectacular. I love it.

Goodreads average rating: 4.04 stars / 5

Deep Fathom by James Rollins

Date finished: January 27, 2019

Synopsis: Ex-Navy SEAL Jack Kirkland surfaces from an aborted underwater salvage mission to find Earth burning. Solar flares have triggered a series of gargantuan natural disasters. Earthquakes and hellfire rock the globe. Air Force One has vanished from the skies with America’s president on board.

My thoughts: Awe-inspiring adventure to the world beneath the seas! Makes me want to explore ancient ruins up close! Here’s my full review on this book.

Goodreads average rating: 4.09 stars / 5

The Judas Strain by James Rollins

Date finished: March 18, 2019

Synopsis: From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to devastate humankind – a disease that’s unknown, unstoppable…and deadly. But it is merely a harbinger of the doom that is to follow. Aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital, Dr. Lisa Cummings and Monk Kokkalis – operatives of SIGMA Force – search for answers to the bizarre affliction. But there are others with far less altruistic intentions. In a savage and sudden coup, terrorists hijack the vessel, turning a mercy ship into a floating bio-weapon lab.

My thoughts: Byfar the most action-packed adventure in this series! No less than wonderful! And I’m totally in for GrayxSeichan ship!

Goodreads average rating: 4.15 stars / 5

Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman

Date finished: July 6, 2019

Synopsis: Call me by your name is a story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

My thoughts: Can’t put words on this. It’s a masterpiece.

Goodreads average rating: 4.26 stars / 5

Agincourt: Henry V and the Battle that Made England by Juliet Barker

Date finished: November 10, 2019

Synopsis: Waged almost six centuries ago, the Battle of Agincourt still captivates. It is the classic underdog story, and generations have wondered how the English-outmanned by the French six to one – could have succeeded so bravely and brilliantly. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Juliet Barker paints a gripping narrative of the October 1415 clash between the outnumbered English archers and the heavily armored French knights. Populated with chivalrous heroes, dastardly spies, and ferocious and bold king, AGINCOURT is as earthshaking as its subject – and confirm Juliet Barker’s status as both a historian and a storyteller of the first rank.

My thoughts: Fine historical read with helpful references.

Goodreads average rating: 4.11 stars / 5

I’m still beefing up my 2020 reading list, so if you have some recommendations up your bucket, drop them down on the comments!

2020 New Year’s Greeting to all!

2019 has officially ended.

Yes. Take that in. Face the mirror and say goodbye to the past year.

You’ve survived 2019. There might have been mishaps and surprises on the way, but you have prevailed. You made it through!

You can rest, take a few days off, go on vacation away from home – you deserve it. But those who are already planning their next steps for the coming year (just like myself), today is a good day to just lock yourself at home, meditate, and write. Or just do nothing.

If I learned something from the past year, it’s the fact that we all can make use of a silent, uninterrupted, away-from-outside-noise moment where we can savor just the presence of SILENCE. 2019 was a loud year. And whether we like it or not, we have been bombarded by interruptions from all aspects of our lives. Well maybe not all of us. But you know what I mean.

And they’re all part of life. I’d like to think that no matter how negative they may seem, there is something good that came out of it. Unique to each of our own experiences.

So bask in happy, grateful thoughts and do away from all office, work-related stuff even just for today. January 1, 2020 is YOUR day.

Happy new year!

My Top 3 Go-to BTS songs on rainy days

I live in a country that only knows two seasons – the dry and the cold. Majority of the year falls under the former, which can turn extremely uncomfortable during summer. Even the cold days don’t necessarily mean rain. So when it does, it sure is a welcome change.

But for me, that also means getting trapped at home. I love the cold, but not necessarily the idea of getting wet as one tries to navigate the city.

So stay at home it is. And it won’t be complete without listening to songs – one to pass time, two for entertainment. I don’t have a playlist, but I sure have go-to songs which I almost, most of the time play in a loop to silence the downpour.


Converse High

Ma City

If you like BTS, you most likely have some too.

Name them!


Waking up to Sufjan Steven’s Visions of Gideon

Strange as it seems, but I woke up in the most unusual way possible – at least in my personal experience. Not entirely surprising, but unusual nonetheless.

I woke up to the sound of the song ‘Visions of Gideon.’

Truth is, there was no music at all. Just silence. And for a moment, I felt like I’ve woken up to the most comfortable feeling I’ve had in a while.

Well-rested. No stress. Peace of mind.

This random song may not be entirely random considering how I’ve been thinking about it ever since I finished watching Call Me by Your Name. It’s simple yet meaningful. The lyrics, in fact, is very repetitive throughout that there’s nothing much to memorize if you want to. Yet the meaning doesn’t exactly come as easy.

Visions of Gideon.

I’ll probably take another time to delve deeper on this but for now, I’d just want to share how strangely meaningful it felt. The tune, to top it all off, has this ‘haunting’ touch on it which has the tendency to run in loops. In my head. It’s something I’d listen to when I’m confused, nostalgic, or just feeling that strange longing for someone – something which has long been set aside but not forgotten.

Calming. Soothing. Beautiful.


Quick thoughts on the’Bodyguard’ television series – Compelling


A veteran war soldier suffering from PTSD who refuses to seek medical help finds a regular day job as the personal bodyguard of Home Secretary, Julia Montague.

I like the show. It’s short, fast-paced, well-written and has a nice group of characters that balances each other throughout the story. The premise isn’t really new – with a war veteran trying to find his place again in normal society while combating his post-mission trauma and grappling to salvage his marriage.

Conspiracy is a major theme throughout and I think the six-episode series delivered it really well. Tension was up, political drama on point, and the attempt to romance, though in the guise of an affair, is interesting – something that played well in adding to the intrigue. (And I liked the chemistry.)

For the cast, Richard Madden‘s a champ. He brought out David Budd’s character well – a mix of angst and determination fueled by a very strong sense of duty.

And yes, he looks stunning in a suit!

While I see the storytelling as linear it didn’t appear predictable. It can appeal dragging at first but once I started getting into the story, I just felt like I need to see how it play to the end. And that I did.

So will I be recommending this? Yes, if you’re up for this genre!

Lawless Lawyer Korean Drama: Good Cast with Bland Storyline

Despite my personal bias on any shows starring Lee Joo – Gi, I’d say this doesn’t come close to his ‘better’ works.

Apart from the mainstream premise of the show, the ever -popular revenge dynamic, Lawless Lawyer also failed to provide that gripping amount of tension, drama and conflict crucial to sustaining the story’s spirit.

I don’t have anything against the acting. In fact, I thought they did really well on their respective roles. Lee Hye Young who played the role of the master antagonist of the show, Cha Moon Sook, was especially good. Really good.

Kiseong District Judge, Cha Moon Sook

But there’s a limit to how much you can do with good acting. At the end of the day, it’s how the story unfolds that create a significant impact on the show.

Also, I get why the ‘romance’ aspect is added to the story. But I just don’t feel its necessity. The story can do just fine without it. Not to mention the lack of chemistry between Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi.

But then again, this could just be because of the storytelling.