Friday, May 24, 2019

Book Review... AGAIN: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Book: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Genre: YA contemporary
2nd time rating: still ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Do I review a book on a second go around even one that's actually really recent?

I guess I will so I can at least say that I loved this book just as much on a re-read. I find so many things that I relate to, it's almost a bit scary. Thing like:


  • being into something that people in your real life don't get
  • and thus feeling the need to hide it to a degree
  • because otherwise people will make fun of you (something Eliza is quite worried about)
  • having an online life that is totally separate and different from your real life
  • going to meet ups or events where you realize there ARE people DO get you
  • feeling the need to constantly create (even if millions of people don't care, unlike Eliza!)
  • and then having people IRL not really care about or showing no interest in what you are creating, even family. 
  • retreating to this sort of fantasy online life because it's lonely in real life
  • and it being your own fault mostly for hiding behind this wall, which then makes you even more frustrated!
Seriously. I could go on.

We read this one for book club this past week because we realized we had lots to say about the parenting in this book, which seems to bring out some pretty strong feelings with a few of us!

Some felt that the parents did a crappy job and if they would have done this or that or the other thing, than Eliza would be a more stable kid and wouldn't have had a breakdown. They should have looked up her comic, followed her blog, realized how famous she was. They should have not bugged her to get out and do something other than looking at her phone and computer. They should have understood that what they loved to do, she didn't love to do and left her alone. Yeah? Am I getting this right? I'm not sure.

My view is that they weren't that terrible of parents. They did what most parents do. They didn't like that she spent so much time on her phone and computer, so they tried to get her to participate with whatever the family was doing. Christmas for heaven sake. Camping. Board games. Etc. They knew what she was doing, they knew about her "hobby" but since they didn't get it, they didn't dig further to know more. They tried to get her to talk. They tried to get her involved. But they were scared of her, because they knew if they pushed too hard it would backfire on them and she would retreat worse. But at least she had parents that while they may have messed up, they cared. They were present. 

Navigating these sorts of things is really hard. Some parents will do it better than others, but I doubt there's any parent who can figure it out perfectly. 

My thoughts on THAT!

The book also deals with anxiety and depression and suicide. Really tough things! But I think it does it well without being too over the top about it and it feels genuine. 

Anyway.

I just looked at my first review, and I've pretty much said the same things over again here. LOL! So, that's it then. It's official.  I love this book. 




Thursday, May 9, 2019

Kdrama Review: He Is Psychometric

Drama: He Is Psychometric

Genre: crime suspense
Starring: Park Jinyoung, Kim Kwon, Shin Ye Eun
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

People were raving about this one, so I watched it. The first episode I thought, eh... another crime one? I get tired of the crime ones sometimes, but I continued and loved it of course.

It was fun to get to know Jinyoung as an actor. He's from a very popular kpop group called Got7 and he never really stood out to me in that group, I was always paying attention to other members. But that is no more. Let's just say he stands out now! :)

He plays a dude who can touch people and see their memories... or touch objects and see what's happened to that thing. So the people in his life are hoping he can sharpen those skills and help them in their jobs. They are cops and prosecutors and etc, so he could come in handy.

Meanwhile, he meets a girl... and soon figures out their pasts are connected. (As always!!) And every episode we got more of what happened with them. It's a fire where he loses both of his parents... and it remains an unsolved case to the present day... but during the drama other cases crop up that seems to be connected to the fire event, and so the case is reopened.

Jinyoung is adorable with the dog in this one!

And then we found out more backstory of the dude who saved him from the fire and his now his guardian and basically big brother. And that backstory is heart wrenching! And his character is the one in the drama where you just want to sob and sob and sob, and hug him like crazy. AH!! Always so much emotional trauma!
Kim Kwon who's character is in need of lots of hugs whether he knows it or not.

So yeah. Another great one. Jinyoung was amazing. Did I say that already? And hopefully he can do more soon. Geez these triple threat guys... they are everywhere! How can some people be born with so much talent. It's so not fair.

The romance is cute for a bit, but then takes a back seat to the mystery story.
Here's a trailer:





And the song sung by two of  Jinyoung's Got7 band members:


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Book: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


I chose this one for our latest kpop book club book because I wanted something historical and this one got rave reviews and was a finalist in the National Book Awards and etc. I wanted something a bit more farther back historically, but this one was interesting nonetheless.

It follows a Korean family from 1910 to 1989... starting with the Japanese occupation of Korea, through WWII and on to modern (ish) days. The main character is Sunja, who is born in Korea on an island just off the coast from Busan. Her dad dies when she is young and her and her mom run a quite successful boarding house. She ends up marrying one of the guys who boards there and they move to Japan to live with his brother and wife.

It was very hard to be a Korean living in Japan, which is the main theme of this book. It was hard then and it's hard now. And all of her family who was born there, her kids and their kids... are Korean ethnically, but basically Japanese, yet they truly have no country they can claim. It sounds like such craziness for them!

Anyway, we follow her story through all the the years. She had two boys and we see what happens to them. One of them ends up in the pachinko business (thus the name of the book) and I had to actually look it up on YouTube so I could visualize what a pachinko machine looks like. Vertical pinball basically. Loud and colorful. And you can win... a little with skill a little with chance. And then turn your prizes in for money... off site. I guess it's HUGE in Japan and makes a ton more money and rich people than everything going on Las Vegas.

So it's a great family sage, the type of which I love and haven't read for a long time. So I loved it. Became very attached to all the characters and either rejoiced or yelled at their choices. One of them I had to shut the book for  minute and go... ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? WHY WHY WHY???

It's about family (and found family), and relationships and identity, Korean culture and Japanese culture, and hard work and love and struggles and life and death. So yeah, it's good! I'm so glad to have sort of randomly added this to my books read this year!

Stay tuned to find out what's up next for the kpop book club!


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Concert Review: ATEEZ in LA March 15, 2019

ATEEZ
Mingi, Jongho, Wooyoung, Seonghwa
Yeosang, San, Hongjoong, Yunho


This concert happened back in March and I talked about it all over Twitter and YouTube, but never here. I decided I needed to write it down still, just to have for my own records since I print my blogs out as a sort of journal, so. Here goes....

Big breath....

Okay, so I fell in love with this new awesome cute pie, amazing kpop group back in October when they first debuted. But I didn't take the time to actually learn who they were until their comeback (remember comeback in kpop terms just means new release/album/song) in January and was BLOWN AWAY again about how good they are. So Toto and I sat down and learned their names and put faces to names and truly fell in love.

And then they up and announced their world tour! At a mere four months old! And only ten songs released! This was crazy!

So Kathy and I decided to go for it. (Kathy had since also fallen in love.) Toto would be in Korea by that time, so it was just me and Kathy trying to get tickets. Kathy had a presale code so we could buy them before the general public. And so we did... barely. We felt very lucky because they sold out fast during the PRE sale. But we got them... VIP tickets which meant that we would be let in the venue before everyone else and get a good spot near the stage... there would be no seats... it would be all pit/GA standing. But with VIP tickets we thought we'd be okay. Yeah. We also got hi touch (high fiving the dudes after the concert and actually "meeting" them and looking into their eyes.)

Much anticipation looking forward to this concert. I couldn't wait. This would be their very first concert EVER... our LA concert. They hadn't (and still haven't) even done a concert in Korea. Only a showcase here and there. So we knew this was going to be so fun and historic and all that.

So the day finally arrives. Kathy and I are doing a 24 hour trip. Fly there, see the concert, sleep, fly home. Literally nothing else.. not even time to eat really. It's SO CRAZY!

We got to the airport and the plane was delayed nearly an hour. We still had time, but that just added to our anxiety! We got to LA about 4 pm, shuttled to the hotel, ran in went to the bathroom, dropped off our stuff, and called a Lyft. I think it was less than 15 min.

We got to the venue... The Globe Theater in downtown LA, with plenty of time, and in fact we found our line of VIP people and proceeded to stand in it for two hours.

Oh, I forgot to say that they thought they'd come up with a great system to avoid the standing in line and fighting for a spot. On a certain day and time about five days before the concert, we had to log onto the computer and submit a form and depending on the time stamp of the form we got a number which determined our spot in line. We did that, submitted it right on the dot of the time, and got the numbers of 349 and 350. This is when we started to realize that having a VIP ticket actually meant nothing.

So when we got there, we got in the VIP line with all the HUNDREDS of other people with VIP tickets and ordered ourselves according to our number.. and waited to be let in. There were WAY more people with VIP than even the regular GA I think, and having a spot up close looked very dim. In the end, they never even looked at our number or checked or anything. We could have lied and jumped ahead of all those people, if we had been that sort of concert goer!

We finally get in and get our spot and stand some more waiting for it to start. Our spot wasn't good. About half way back from the stage. (This is a very small club type venue, so small is good, but also not good.)  I had hopes all would be well still. But....

... it was not. As soon as they came on stage, the surge was so bad we were all smashed... and then everyone's phones went up, and I mean people holding them WAY over their heads and I quickly realized I was not going to see ANYTHING.

It was such a huge disappointment. There are no words.

The surges continued to happen and I had to concentrate on breathing and quit worrying about the concert itself. People started passing out and security had to fight their way through the throng to carry them out. It got really bad. And the boys (remember this is their very first concert) had to ask people to step back and make room. This, of course, doesn't really work. There is no way to "step back" when you are totally smashed. So finally, they left the stage and said they would come back when we all calmed down and figured it out.

It was so embarrassing. And awful. And all the terrible things.

We shuffled ourselves around and Kathy and I even debated falling back entirely or going to the side or something, just to see if we could find a better spot. But then we just said, whatever, we will just stick out. In the meantime, we had fallen back quite a bit and were now at the back of the pack. NO WHERE NEAR the front that our freaking VIP tickets were supposed to get us.

We lasted the rest of the concert praying for it to be over, trying not to cry and lose it. Trying to enjoy even a little of it. I couldn't see, hear or breath. It was hard to see the good in any of it. I wanted to see them dance so bad.  I only caught a glimpse of their flopping hair now and then... and if I looked between the raised arms of everyone, in one spot, I would see first this boy and then that boy go in and out of that tiny spot.

When they talked, everyone put their phones down and I could see them a little bit. I got one picture.




At the last song, I finally pulled my phone out and joined the crowd with my phone WAY over my head (above my eye level yes) and this is what it looked like:


<

Guys. We were so sad. To have paid that much and made that effort to not see them. Or even hear them really. It was the worst. I blame the stage (too low), the sound system (too crappy), the venue (too small) but mostly the company that organized this tour for WAY overselling... both the VIP and the regular tickets and cramming WAY too many people into that space. They did us so dirty. And I will never go to a concert put on by them again... and here's hoping ATEEZ and their company learned a lesson to never use them again too!

I gotta say though, the boys were fabulous. None of this was their fault. They did amazing (even though I couldn't see it I've seen clips, and their own footage) and worked so hard and put on a great show.

We hung around afterwards for the hi touch. Since pretty much everyone was a VIP there were lots of us and they actually did a pretty good job of putting us in lines that time. And finally our turn came and we filed past the boys and hi fived them all. This part was actually nice because they didn't rush us through, they spaced us apart well. Three of the boys did a two handed high ten and finger clasped our hands, so that made me happy. They were really into it. But actually I held all their hands, so it wasn't really a high five, it's more like a handshake/clasp. Some of the others were much shyer about it, but those three were great! I tried to remember to look into their eyes and I said thank you to them all, but I didn't use any of the Korean I had practiced. It's so scary (exciting scary)  that all words leave your head, both English and Korean. No joke. Some people are much better at dealing with this phenomenon, but not me.

So I am happy that part turned out okay and that in the end I did SEE them, I just didn't get see them sing or dance.

Anyway. We were bummed and it was hard to shake that. We walked down the street to a Carl's Jr and had a hamburger and a drink... I was so thirsty I thought I was going to die. And then we went back to the hotel, slept, got up and flew home. All the while venting and in total disbelief that we had been so duped and scammed.

I really hope for a do-over regarding ATEEZ. Holding out hope they come to KCON in August. But they are so popular already that it will probably be a frenzy and I still probably won't ever actually see them. They are going big places and I think will rise up the ranks faster than any group has so far. It's going to be amazing to watch.

In a couple of weeks I have  my next concert (Stray Kids) and I'm scared to death now that it will be the same thing. We have seats this time, so I hope that helps, but people and their phones will always be a problem. And all the screaming. I would love it everyone screamed... then stopped for the songs... then screamed at the end, the stopped for the talking, the scream at the end, then stop for the songs... etc. Not too much to ask, yeah? But people scream NON STOP and it's very  frustrating.

Hoping for the best. I'm sure you'll find out how it goes down!

But you should check out ATEEZ and see what you think of them. Seriously. Here's a song called Treasure you might like:




Monday, May 6, 2019

April 2019 Reading Recap


April cherry blossoms



Well, I met all my goals that I made last month for this month, except not much happened toward the big reading challenge!

The four books I read are:

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard: A mute girl (selective) and a deaf boy meet each other and hit it off.

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee: memoir of Hyeonseo as she grows up in North Korea, ends up leaving and how she got her family out.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: we learn the story of three different moms who's paths cross as they send their kids to kindergarten, and we learn that all is not as it seems

Dreamology by Lucy Keating: Our girl and our boy dream the same dreams of each other, and then they meet in real life.

Favorite: The Girl with Seven Names for sure. But Big Little Lies was very fun reading too.

Book Challenge Progress: None. I thought about counting the North Korean book toward history of a foreign country, but decided I wanted to read something else for that one.

Goals for May:

  • mark SOMETHING off for the challenge! (Pretty sure I'm not going to complete this challenge but it's still fun to try.)
  • re-read Eliza for book club
  • read something from the nightstand/floor book stack

I felt like I was reading a lot, but still only four books! AH!! How'd you all do?

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Movie Review: Avengers Endgame (Spoilers)

Movie: Avengers: Endgame

Genre: Marvel superheros (it's its own genre now, right?)
Starring: EVERYONE I think. But my favorites are Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth. Oh and Jeremy Renner. 
My Rating: Two thumbs up of course


If I understand correctly, it's okay to talk about this movie now yes? At any rate, if you are still nervous about spoilers, you can come back after you've watched it and we can discuss, deal?

So I'm happy we did the little catch up thing before going to this movie. It helped a ton to understand stuff and I actually think it was nice to have it all fresh in my mind. Maybe those who didn't need to catch up rewatched stuff? I'm guessing that probably happened a lot too. Anyway.

I think Infinity War and Endgame should be considered a pair... a part 1 and part 2. Know what I mean?

To summarize: In Infinity War our villain, Thanos, decides to round up the Infinity stones so he can be all powerful and do mankind a "service" by getting rid of half of all people. Our heroes try to stop him and a huge battle happens in Wakanda on the Black Panther's territory in which things do not end well. We are left with a "what just happened?" feeling in the worst worst way!

So in Endgame we pick up right where we left off... for a moment anyway, and things continue to look very dire. Our um... remaining.. heroes are baffled and depressed and have no idea what to do.

Five years pass and a very key thing happens and suddenly there is hope again. Our brilliant minded heroes put their heads together (well one especially brilliant mind) and pretty much figure out how to go back in time to stop Thanos. They actually have to go back before that and get the stones first, before Thanos does.

Which makes for the best part of the movie actually, when they come across their former selves in previous movies. That was so fun!

My other favorite thing about this movie is how many very very human parts there were. Like, I feel like a lot of times these movies are more about the special effects and sometimes forgets about the actual human connections. This movie had that everywhere, which I truly appreciated. I think the emotions of all these characters were so raw and exposed, that they all couldn't help but be more human. Know what I mean?

I may have touched on spoilery things above, but now I'm going to be truly spoilery about stuff, so be warned now especially:

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Loki's death in the first movie (Infinity War) made me sad, but it happened so fast and so out of no where that I was unprepared and didn't really register that it happened. And I really really hoped that he would be saved in this one, but I'm not sure if that happened. His character was left ambiguously and we don't really know what happened to him, do we? He was there in the past and then he disappeared. Where did he go? Did he still get killed in the future?

But my other favorite is definitely Ironman and so... yeah. I cried... okay. Because I LOVE how RDJ portrays this character and this was a hard hard one to watch. And man there is so much foreshadowing that it's going to be him... you all caught it I'm sure. So I think we as an audience were basically prepared. But still. That it had to HIM of all the people!!

Natasha and Hawkeye fighting over who would die... that was hard too. Sob. I heard she is going to get her own movie after all... but what about him? I want him to have one too! He is my other favorite! (Does that make three favorites now? I haven't even talked about Thor!)

Thor! Wasn't he crazy awesome in this one? Oh my word, he sort of stole the show, yeah? LOL! That was funny. Like a total alter ego for him. What the heck. And when he was able to talk to his mom in the past? Dang. That was good.

Ironman talking to his dad in the past was also great.

And then the Captain. I cried again when he saw his love in the past. And for him to get that happy ending after all with her??? YES!!!! The best ending ever!

I was happy the green girl, Gomorrah... yeah? (I had to look it up, lol.) But she needs to remember a few things, eh? Poor Quill. They'll figure it out though. :)

There were a few superheroes that showed up for this movie's final big battle that I wasn't familiar with. I'm guessing a missed a few movies still, and have a few more to catch up on. I think I need to watch the Spiderman movie because that kid makes me laugh.

Oh, and wait, why was Vision not in this one? Or did I miss him? And his girl Wanda, yeah? That felt weird to me since he was a key part of the previous movie. Anyway, I probably missed them somehow in all that craziness.

Okay, I think those are most of my thoughts. It was good. I was glued. My husband, however, fell asleep YET AGAIN. Sigh.

Great job Marvel for taking us all on a crazy fun ride these past few years. It will be fun to see what's next.

Here's a lovely trailer, which I've only just now seen for the first time. It gives me chills.




"WHATEVER IT TAKES."   😭😭😭😭

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Avenger Movie Catch Up: Mini Reviews



So awhile back we learned that the husband's work was treating us to The Endgame. However, the past few years we had become very very behind in all our Avenger movie watching. So we knew in order to fully enjoy this movie, we needed to to a lot of catching up!

Here's what we watched:

Spoilers might be ahead... I have no idea at this point what I'm going to say yet....


Thor: Ragnorok


I'm a pretty decent Thor movie fan, but somehow never watched this one. Well, of course it was a sad one right from the get go. WHAT THE HECK??? I sort of felt like, well, there is no point in watching the rest of this movie NOW!! :)

But it was good to see Thor in action again, with his evil sister as the main villain. I enjoyed the introduction to some new and quite funny characters. The Hulk always makes me a little crazy, but it was fun to see him as part of this movie too.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


Unlike Thor, I am not a very big Guardians fan. So I pretty much avoided this movie on purpose. The characters are supposed to be funny, but I find the humor extremely cringe worth for the most part. I do enjoy the music though, I must say! So for the first half of this movie, I was rolling my eyes a lot and hoping for it to get over with soon.

However, the second half was much more interesting with the conflict and redemption of a couple of interesting characters. I enjoyed their development. I also enjoyed seeing Kurt Russel in his role. I enjoy also the attempt at throwing in a little romance in here, but it needs a lot of work. Sigh.


Ant Man

Some might think this one wasn't necessary in order to understand the Avenger movies, but I think it did help a lot. After we watched it, both my husband and I looked at each and said... have we already seen that one? It felt vaguely familiar, but not enough to really ring any bells. LOL.

So, yeah. This one was fun. Pretty cool special effects as all these movies have. I find it interesting that the power to get big and small and big and small is quite a powerful one. Who would have thought??

The crazy boys in the crazy van are my favorite part of this movie.

We didn't watch Ant Man and the Wasp, though we probably should have. Maybe we will still get to that one. But my daughter sent us a link to the clip that was shown after the credits and told us she thought this was a key moment for Endgame. And yes, it sure was. I'm glad we went in with THAT little bit of knowledge!

Avengers: Infinity War


Well, finally the BIG movie that needed catching up on. I knew that if nothing else we had to watch this one before Endgame. Wow, but we heard lots about this one last year! So I was dreading it a bit and nervous for it and pretty much knew what to expect from all the buzz last year. But yeah. This movie and Endgame are more like a Part 1 and Part 2, don't you think?

Anyway. I felt it was non stop stress of a movie. My husband fell asleep but I was on edge the whole time. And baffled as everyone was at what the heck happened.

I must say, that these movies, all of them, just seem like one big special effect fight. Which, is cool for a while, but after a bit, it gets tiring and just really hard to understand what's actually happening. this is probably one reason why I sort of drifted away from keeping up with them.

But I truly enjoyed seeing all the characters trying to save the universe together! There were some I didn't quite remember, though I think I'd seen their movies. But for the most part, I think we did a pretty good job getting ourselves prepared for it!

I also decided that I'm much more of an Iron Man sort of humor person than a Guardians sort of humor person. Can you see the difference between those two like I do? Anyway, I fall on the Iron Man side. I also enjoyed the quips from the Spiderman boy. I never did watch his version of the Spiderman story. I guess I figured I knew that story. But I do enjoy his take on Spiderman (boy). LOL.

So after that, I deemed ourselves ready! We didn't do Captain Marvel. I hoped that didn't matter. Or, like I said, Ant Man and the Wasp. Are those the only two that came out between Infinity War and Endgame? I guess we can still watch them at some point, yeah?

Anyway, up next, my thoughts on Endgame.


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