Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Kdrama Review: Hotel del Luna

Drama: Hotel del Luna

Genre: Fantasy
Starring: Yeo Jin Goo, IU, P.O
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This has been the current buzzed about drama this summer...and so I decided to jump in at the beginning this time and watch it every week as it aired. It helped that Toto was home when we started it and wanted to do the same! And then the Mr. saw us having fun watching together and joined in. And soon the son/brother and his girlfriend were joining us! WE WATCHED A DRAMA TOGETHER AS A FAMILY! This is pretty big and it was really fun for me.

Anyway. The drama is about a hotel for ghosts...a place for them to stay when they are stuck here because of something holding them back from going to the afterlife. When they get that resolved, they can move on to the great beyond.

Our girl has been the boss/owner/runner of this hotel for over a thousand years, a sort of punishment to the stuff she did in her life, all of which we learn about as the show progresses. Over the years, she hires a human person to manage the hotel so he can deal with human matters. Our guy is the one she has lately picked for this job. For a bunch of strange and interesting reasons.

She has three ghosts very close to her that also help with the hotel.. their back stories and resolutions to them are also a big part of this show.

It has a bit a of a Beauty and the Beast vibe because there is a tree that represents her soul, and when this new manager shows up, the tree is suddenly blossoming. And the idea is that when it blossoms and then the leaves fall again, she will be ready to move on... finally.

There is much lovely bantering between these two. They seem ill-matched of course, but the dude, a very soft hearted and calm and sweet kid, manages to soften her extreme harshness. It's awesome.

The fun ghost stories (of guests at the hotel), the past stories of our main characters, the beautiful special effects, the amazing acting and the amazing music all make this one of the best dramas of the year. Such a fun one to watch.

My only complaint was that it seemed to drag a bit in those final episodes... and they really played some things up and made it go on and on and on. But I was waiting for the usual kdrama manipulation of the ending and this one did not do that. So I was very pleased with that.

IU dressed up in so many amazing things during the drama! 

Anyway. IU, our main girl, was amazing in her role. She outshone everyone, even my guy (the third drama of his I've watched in a row now) took a back seat! Even though he was perfect too. Also PO (from the idol group BlockB) was so adorable as the bell hop. And his story was the one that actually made me weepy in the end. Great job dude! So good!!

There were a lot of drama inside jokes featured during this drama... cameos from some famous dudes, a very WHAT? cameo from someone huge at the end, lots of references to other dramas these guys have all been in, and especially The Crowned Clown which I just reviewed the other day. I was happy to catch and understand most of these jokes and it made it all even more fun.

Anyway, it was a blast watching one in "real" time and see the buzz every week online as each episode was aired.

Here's the trailer:

And the song we all fell in love with:

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Kdrama Review: The Crowned Clown

Drama: The Crowned Clown

Genre: historical
Starring: Yeo Jin Goo, Lee Se Young, Kim Sang Kyung
Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This one got a ton of buzz earlier this year and everyone was saying it was their favorite historical drama to date. So when I was going through my Yeo Jin Goo binge this summer, I knew this one had to be watched!

But I was nervous because as is usually the case with historicals, I feared it would be too tragic. But I was still ready to jump in!

From the opening scenes I know that our boy Jin Goo was going to KILL this show with his amazing acting. Yes. He totally blew me away. I can't handle how good he is!!

This one is about a really awful terrible young king (mostly he is terrible because of lots of things gone wrong in his life and he has resorted to drugs to numb all his feels) who really has no grip on reality. He thinks everyone is out to get him (and in fact there have been several assassination attempts) and so when his helper dude (secretary? I can't remember what his official title is, but he becomes a favorite very well loved character) finds a dude in the city, a jester/clown in fact, that looks JUST LIKE HIM, he drags that kid to the palace and they force him to dress up like the king and become the king, while the true king hides and waits for the danger to pass.

Well, yes, of course Jin Goo is playing both parts and the way he can go from this ruthless scary king to this fun lovable clown is amazing.

Here's the iconic scene where the switch takes place. You can see the contrast between our two Jin Goo's and see him acting with himself, which is always amazing when that happens:

Anyway, of course the clown ends up doing a TON better at being king than the king. And the helper dude (secretary?) realizes that if the kingdom is to be saved, it would be better if the clown remained as the king.

Also, the clown falls in love with the queen... who... as king it should be okay, right? But since he is NOT the king, he feels a bit...wrong... about this... and all the CONFLICT ensues. And she is all, why is the king suddenly nice? And she wonders why she suddenly actually LOVES him now, whereas before she was scared out of her mind!

And then what if people start to figure out he is really not the king? WHAT IF?

Ah, and what about the REAL king???

Oh man, the politics, the scheming and plotting. The emotions and feels. The dude who is the captain of the guard! All of it! It's intense and crazy and pretty much edge of your seat stuff all the way through.

Did I say Yeo Jin Goo was amazing??? I did? Because.... (and guys... all this at like barely 22 years old. How do people get such talent?)

The end was weird though, and frustrated the HECK out of me. I don't even know if I know what happened exactly. WHAT HAPPENED my people who have seen this??!!!

Anyway, it says at the beginning of the show that it is not based on true characters, but then I read somewhere that actually it based on something from history. So that's intriguing.

The music soundtrack for this one is AMAZING also. As is the cinematography. Everything about it is truly beautiful.

Here's a simple trailer that highlights our three main characters. It's so simple but gives me the chills anyway:

And all the cute romance bits:

For an idea of the soundtrack music, here's what the opening title music sounds like:

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Our Experience at KCON 2019 LA

I wasn't sure it would actually happen again this year, but sure enough, we were invited back to KCON 19 in LA to be on three different panels. This year it was just me and Toto representing The Kpop Konverters, and despite missing our comrades, we had a fabulous time.

Every night there was a concert of sorts. The first night was Klub Kcon where they have a DJ dude doing kpop mixes while everyone dances. In between that are random performances from random popular youtube types and others, all hosted by a very flashy flamboyant and quite obnoxious drag queen. (At least this year... lol. He was funny but also... not. ) We hung out there for awhile, but left early to go back and sleep after driving all day to get there.

The next night was Kcon Rookies, where they showcased what was supposed to be 4 of our newbie groups that we are all loving on right now. One of the groups ended up not being able to come, sad sad day (there were a lot of visa issues this year, thanks to our president I think.) But the three that were there were a blast and we thoroughly enjoyed that evening. We decided to play it cool and hung out in the back of the crowd instead of stressing about getting close. ATEEZ stole the show for us.. our favorites of the year by far. A new girl group called LOONA was also very popular and a cute boy group called AB6IX also got a lot of love.

ATEEZ at Kcon Rookies

The next two nights were the big concerts and we loved every minute of them both. The second night though was especially fun when we let it loose and stood up and literally screamed our voices raw during Stray Kids and Seventeen. We also sang loudly during N. Flying's tribute to Queen and then there was the moment when the three rappers from Stray Kids (3Racha) and N. Flying sang together. I really thought I was going to die seeing that. Best thing ever.
Finale of the second concert

We had three panels, one each day of the con. They all went really well and we had a blast discussing kpop with random attendees and connecting with so many fun people. I really wish I'd taken more selfies of these connections. I always forget in the moment!

After one of our panels with our fellow panelists and attendees

 In between our panels and the night concerts, we went to a couple other panels (Holland and Edwin were highlights) and seeing which groups we could encounter on the convention floor. We did fight our way in the mosh pits down there to see ATEEZ up close, and also SF9 and AB6IX. We also waited for an hour and a half to see N. Flying at the foodie booth. It was worth it. They were adorable.
AB6IX cuties
ATEEZ with Ronald McDonald getting their free fries and pics taken!

Holland's panel... he's famous for being the only kpop idol who has official come out as gay. We fell in love with him.
N.Flying boys making sandwiches. 
Edwin draws horrible fan art and Toto was lucky enough to win a picture of herself!
KCON is a blast. Every year I think we won't be going again, but after this time around, i hope it truly does continue to be a yearly tradition for us. Which means I can't let the channel die so we can still be relevant and invited back, right???

We posted a ton of stuff on the channel about KCON, but this one is our overall experience vlog with little clips from all the things I mentioned.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Reading Recap: Summer (June/July/Aug) 2019

Seven Magic Mountains: a strange and colorful art project in the middle of the dessert just outside of Las Vegas off I-15

Well, and so I know summer would absolutely KILL the reading vibe I had going the first half of the year. Dang, but isn't summer supposed to be about just kicking back and reading all the books? Maybe back in childhood days, but not now. Sigh.

Anyway, these are the books I  read since we last updated at the end of May:

Ban this Book by Alan Gratz: A fourth grader decides to take her school library's book banning situation into her own hands.

A Room with a View by E. M. Forster: Our heroine falls in love while vacationing in Italy, but she is total and complete denial. (This was an "almost" re-read.)

The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen: A doctor and his assistant embark on a romantic and creepy adventure that leads to a faraway country and a coppergate tower.

Comeback: A Kpop Novel by Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose: A romance blossoms when a famous boy band idol and his make up artist remember what brought them together a few year's previous.

Best of this lot: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower... though I gave every one of these books an average three stars.

Plans for September:

  • finish the big epic fantasy that I have been working on all summer long
  • read the new Kasie West :)
  • read the book club book, One of Us is Lying

I don't even have to ask. I know you are all doing better than me regarding reading! Let me know what your favorite book of the summer was, and I'll add it to my list!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Book Review: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Book: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
Genre: MG contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

We read this one for book club way back in June I think, so I'm not sure I can even remember my thoughts!

But basically, it's about a 4th grader student who loves to read and gets bugged when her favorite book series is banned from the library because some mom deems it inappropriate. Sort of accidentally, she starts to loan out this series, and then she finds out what else is on the banned list and with the help of her friends, she acquires more and more books from that list, and loans them out.

Soon she is running a pretty popular library from her locker.

And then she gets found out and gets in trouble and has to defend herself at the community meeting. Which, being a girl who doesn't speak up much, is quite the growing experience.

I enjoyed the book, but as is usual with these sorts of things, I get annoyed at the obvious agenda pushing. But, you know, that was the point of this book basically, to get kids aware of the issue and interested in reading a list of "banned" books ie books  they think of has "bad" in some way and thus more appealing to read. 

I also had an issue with the fact that the things this girl did I could not picture a fourth grader doing. She seemed so much older so that was distracting to me.

But it was all in all a cute story and very fun for any reader to embrace.

Book Review: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen

Name: The Lady in the Coppergate Tower by Nancy Campbell Allen
Genre: Steampunk romance fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

I ended up getting this ARC from Shadow Mountain to read and review. The premise sounded very intriguing and so, yeah, it was an easy "SURE!"

This one is very steampunk, set in the regency time period, but with all sorts of funky gizmos and gadgets (they can even text!) and magic and most importantly automatons, aka robots. I love those things! LOL!

Anyway, we have our girl who is a very spirited thing full of fun and adventure. And very very beautiful. She has an incident in the prologue that lets us know she might perhaps have some sort of healing and/or ghosting power? I can't quite recall, but we get an inkling of something. When the book actually opens, she is working as an assistant to a doctor that we learn she is very much has a crush on, well, and in fact very much loves.

When we get his point of view, we learn that he also loves her. But of course, they think neither one of them is worthy and so have never acted on these feelings.

ANYWAY, one day a very creepy regal weird and other sorts of adjectives, dude appears and says he is her uncle. And that she is a long lost princess and that she has a twin who is sick and needs her.

So she decides to go off with this guy to see her twin that she never knew existed, to a very romantic places called Vania... or something.

The doctor says, NOT WITHOUT ME YOU DON'T and he goes with her! Yes!

They travel in a an exotic submarine. Like a cruise ship, only a submarine. Fascinating.

And weird things start happening and these two begin to realize that the dude who says he is her uncle is even more creepy and weird than they first anticipated! They also realize that they maybe should tell each other their feelings. Yes.

This book is really fun and is a twist on a fairy tale, and other famous characters (I feel if I reveal who and what it will be spoilery, so read it to find out!) If you like a fun mash up of all sorts of things you will love this one! All with a fun sweet romance included!

(This is part of the Proper Romance line from Shadow Mountain. And if I understand right, there is a line of Steampunk Proper Romances... so more where this came from!)

Anyway. I really enjoyed it. So fun. Thanks to Shadow Mountain for the chance to read and review this one!

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Book Review: Comeback: A Kpop Novel by Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose

Book: Comeback: A Kpop Novel by Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose
Genre: YA romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Our youtube channel email was approached by these authors to maybe perhaps read and review their book. So... I was like, of course! Why not!? So both Toto and I read it, both of us in nearly one sitting. It was a really fun read!

Yes, it's another kpop novel! (I am finding that lots of authors are out there writing kpop novels these days!) This one about a famous idol who we learn has struggled in the near recent years and almost quit his band. His parents (from America) are not at all supportive of him. It really makes him sad. But when we catch up with him, all is going well, mostly.

And our girl, she is also struggling, a Korean American, living in Korea with her cousin and trying to make a life for herself there. When we meet her, she is a style fashion helper with a girl group, and on this one particular night, she stumbles into (literally) our guy idol, since their groups happen to be performing on a TV show like MCountdown (yes the one I got to see while in Korea!) on the same night. When their eyes meet, they both freak out.

It seems like they have met before!

So we have to read quite a bit of the book to find out if that is true, and how exactly that happened. Meanwhile, our girl ends up with a job actually working for the boy band with this very famous idol, and ends up being his makeup Noona... (which is what the guys call the girls who take care of them.)

EVERYONE's biggest kpop fantasy! Doing makeup or hair or dressing the idols! Seriously though. It would be quite the fun and crazy job.

Anyway. And so we learn all about their pasts and why it would probably be a really bad idea if they get together now. But they don't care of course. Except they do, because dating is really not a good idea for the success of a band, you know? Yeah. Bad idea.

And so what to do?

It was fun. I recognized a lot of stuff based on BTS things. And our idol had some qualities of a mixture of BTS boys, but there was one scene that was so Namjoon (RM) that any BTS fan would know! I guess that was fun. Not sure still what I think about it being obviously BTS, but yeah. It was fun!

I really really loved being able to picture a lot of things. Especially the description of MCountdown, but lots of other things too. The first chapter or so was a bit annoying as so many kpop things have to be explained. I get that it might be necessary assuming a non kpop person reads it, but I'm guessing that most people picking this up will have kpop knowledge. Anyway. It was kinda funny. And makes one realize that there really is another language surrounding kpop (and it's not Korean) as there is in any fandom.

Thanks to the authors for letting us read this one! Very fun. I always enjoy a good kpop novel! It's fun to see how others imagine a kpop romance would play out! I have my own idea for one (and actually started writing it) that will never see the light of day I'm sure....

For Toto's thoughts on the book.... you'll have to ask her I guess!


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