Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Review: Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner

Book: Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ 

It looked like it would be a cute fun quick read written in email form. But...

It wasn't at all cute or fun. It was a stressful hard painful story. It's about a girl who suffers from all sorts of things, mostly that her brother ODed and died and her mom and step dad are monsters and she is in "remedial" studies at school after once upon a time being an honors student.

For an assignment, she writes to her celebrity idol, Rachel Maddow, and pours out her heart. Which becomes so cathartic to her that she continues to do it but  never sends them. So instead of feeling like emails, it's more like a journal.

And this girl is very angry about life and her language is very harsh... this book had f bombs filling every page... along with all the other cuss words you can think of. It got old I must say.

I wanted to feel bad for this girl, but it was hard for me to muster that up. I'm so so sorry!!!

She ends up running for a position on the school government that will help select the school superintendent or something. And then later she actually runs for student body president. Against a guy that gives her all sorts of grief, and her former girlfriend which also causes her all sorts of grief.

And so she struggles. A lot. And life is really crappy for her. But in the end, things do look a little better, and it ends on a note of hope. I almost didn't finish it but since it's such a small book, I just pushed through and wanted to see if there was hope in the end. Thankfully, there was a little.

But it was stressful reading.  And will not be a favorite for this year!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Book Review: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Book: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Genre: Magic Realism
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is the second book we chose as part of our endeavor to have a kpop book club! Yes! A book club in which we read books that the kpop idols have loved and recommended... or books about Korea... or books that are like a kdrama, etc. We have quite the list to choose from.

This particular book (and it's author specifically) is listed on several favorite lists from the idols. For instance:

RM from BTS

JB from Got7

Jonghyun from SHINee

As I said when I announced this book, how fun would it be to discuss this book with these guys and see what it is about it that speaks (spoke...sob) to them. Gah. If only we could have a book club where they are included. Unless they are Goodreads members and have already found us using an alias or something. I mean, it's possible....

I was scared of this book and this author. I've heard lots of praise for him, but have always assumed it would be "too hard" to read. I am happy to report that was not the case. In fact this book was very very easy reading, except for a few scenes that had subject matters that were hard. But the readability and the engagement and the page turning was great! So now that encourages me to even perhaps try another of his books one of these days!

Anyway, this story is basically about a 15 year old kid who runs away from home and heads out on a bus to a new city and has no idea what he plans to do. He ends up hanging out a cool and tiny little library where he makes friends with the guy manning the front desk. On alternate chapters, we are following a 60 year old mentally disabled guy who had a trauma happen to him when he was a kid that caused his disability. He is minding his own business, living his simple life when suddenly he feels compelled to go on a sort of quest... he has stuff to do but he doesn't know what it is, but he will know when it happens.

The stories and back stories of these two and also the librarian who we meet eventually, all sort of tie together, and it's quite fascinating. But also, very confusing and bottom line, while I enjoyed the journey, in the end... I didn't get it! I don't understand the point! WHAT WAS THAT ALL FOR????

But I think it's one of those books where it's just... figure it out and whatever you come up with... that works!

I read that some  people figure everything is a sort of a dream state, and all the crazy and weird things that happen could happen in our dreams, and it's bordering on conscious and unconsciousness. Or, it's that the characters are coming and going in and out their bodies, and inhabiting each others' bodies. Yeah?

I don't know. But it's crazy some of the stuff that happens. But I enjoyed it, despite a few scenes that were a bit graphic for my taste.

There is a big emphasis on books, music and art. I loved that. There was also many profound things that were said where I was like... yeah man. I googled the quotes.. here are a few:

So anyway, in the end, I would say I enjoyed reading this one, but I truly have no idea what it's trying to say! If you've read it and have a theory, do share! Enlighten my small brain! And if you've read others by this author and enjoyed them, let me know which one should be next on my list!

Emily has announced our next read! Click below!!

And if you want to see me SAY all the above things I just WROTE, but with lost more stuttering (no, hopefully those are edited out) then you can:

Friday, February 8, 2019

Random Kpop Gifs!

These gifs need to be released to the wild! Here's a few fun things I've made or saved to my phone recently:

Defining swagger
Bang Chan from Stray Kids

Leo from VIXX
His not so stingy with his smiles these days.

Han from Stray Kids feeling pretty proud after
an awesome cover of Bang Bang Bang by Big Bang

Woojin from Stray Kids during a performance of District 9

Wei from UP10TION from the Blue Rose MV

San from ATEEZ
saying Purple and Hello in English :)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

January 2019 Reading Recap

My January Snow Picture straight from the backyard!

In an attempt to keep up with my monthly recaps this year (and hopefully have something to show for each month's reading!) here's what I read in January:

1. The Other side of Lost by Jessi Kirby: Our girl is sad that she is been spending her life building an Instagram following instead of being close to her cousin who used to be her best friend. So after the cousin dies, our girl decides to fulfill the dream she (the cousin) had to hike the John Muir trail.

2. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder: There's a magical island where nine kids live and every year a new kid comes and the oldest kid leaves. But what if next time, the oldest kid doesn't want to leave?

3. Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez: A fantasy take on the Tristan legend.

All three of these books were just okay for me. If I had to pick a favorite... hmmm....maybe the Sweet Black waves one? :)

All three of these books fulfill a category in the book challenge I'm doing:

  • First book in series: Sweet Black Waves
  • Book by a female author: Orphan Island
  • Book by an author you've never heard of : The Other Side of Lost

Goals this month:
  • Book club book: The Marriage Bureau
  • Read some for fun books I just acquired
  • Finish Kafka for the kpop book club (DONE!)
  • Read something else for the book challenge

What's up on your reading lists?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Kdrama Review: Encounter

Drama: Encounter (aka. Boyfriend)

Genre: romance
Starring: Park Bo Gum, Song Hye Kyo
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

After Come and Hug Me (all the hammer murdering remember?) I needed something a little more chill, and this ended up being the perfect one! Like, probably the most refreshing drama ever.

It's a simple story, which in kdramas is quite rare, about a guy and girl falling in love. Yes. That's pretty much it. The girl has a family that is giving her grief, so the whole conflict is.... is she strong enough to stand up to them and finally, once and for all, be happy? Oh, and there's the little conflict that she is much older than him. We call that a noona romance and it's awesome.

She is a CEO of hotel chain and is planing on opening up a new hotel in Cuba. So she is there on a business trip. He is "just and ordinary guy" traveling around, spending the last few days of his 20s on a trip. They have a chance encounter, and spend a lovely (very tame) evening together. Eating, dancing, talking. She has been pic-pocketed and has no money, so he is scraping his pennies together to pay for their fun things. He has no idea who she is. At the end, they plan to meet for breakfast, but of course it doesn't work out and they go back to Korea thinking that's it.

Well, and so he is getting a job and is hired on... at the big hotel in Korea where she is the CEO. She is doing the welcome to the employees speech and their eyes meet across the crowded room. She freezes and he breaks into his beautiful smile.

So it goes from there. Her family and her ex in law family are holding all sorts of things over her head. But at this point, she is beyond caring. Mostly. And she just rolls with it and a beautiful romance happens

I kept expecting all the normal problems to happen, but since these guys were older, they didn't play games. They just talked things through. It's so refreshing. And the guy is so freaking honest and open, he just says what he's thinking and feeling. It's the best. I loved this character so much, and Park Bo Gum with his beautiful smile and clean look was perfect for the role.

The cinematography is great too. They make Cuba look like the most romantic place to go! Who knew? CUBA!!! There was no silly stuff like sometimes happens in kdramas, no over the top acting, no crazy antics, no sad backstories (except for her marriage and life, which was not really a back story as it was still currently happening). But we still had the quirky and fun side characters, which completes the whole picture.

I loved it.

Okay, the trailer:

And my favorite song from the drama sung by a favorite, Eric Nam:

I'm not wanting to figure out what to watch next after this one. I guess I'll read for a bit! LOL!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Book Review: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez

Book: Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ 

The premise of this one, the Tristen and Isolde story in a fantasy setting, seemed promising. I thought I would like it more, but... yeah. It was just okay.

The setting was awesome. The magic pretty cool. The writing not too bad. (Sometimes overly flowery and sometimes I thought certain word usage was weird, but not too bad.)

But I just didn't FEEL it like I wanted to. The chemistry between the characters was lacking. Or too instant. Like... let them develop something, not just be instantly... OH I WANT TO KISS YOU, you know? And the conflict she should be feeling at liking this guy didn't seem powerful enough.

There were a bit of twists on this take of the story, but basically the same sort of thing where Tristan washes ashore injured and she heals him. (The she is Branwen though and not Esuelt... which is different, right?) And the whole getting Esuelt to go be Marc's wife (but not Branwen) but Tristan is involved, which in the "real" story he is not, right? I might be confused, but I thought when she shows up to marry Marc, Tristan is all... CRAP. So... yeah. Anyway, the story is familiar, but different, which is good because then you don't always know what's happening.

It's pretty dark, and much dark magic is used... life and death sort of magic. It's pretty intense at times.

Anyway, intriguing idea. I just wish I was drawn more to these characters more. Like I think maybe there was too much world building and magic and political stuff, and not enough character stuff? Sigh.

This is a first in a series and I am not sure about continuing. Maybe? It ended on a pretty big downer, so now I want to see if things get fixed or not!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Book Challenge of 2019

I'm not very much into challenges anymore these days. Man, remember when I was? That was fun times. But the friends at book club were talking about this one the other night that our local independent used book store is doing and it looks fun.. .and challenging... to me.

And I'm happy to support this bookstore with money, as many of the categories are specific to the store itself, and the point of the challenge is to not only challenge the reader, but to get people to the store, and so I thought... why not?

Anyway. Here's the fun list:

First book in a series
Man Booker Prize winner or nominee
Book by female author
Book recommended by friend or family
Newbery Award winner or honor
Pioneer Book “Employee Pick”
Book by an African-American author
Book from the “Self-help” section
Book by an author you’ve never heard of
Oprah’s Book Club selection
Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller from the 1960s
Book by a Nobel Prize winning author
Book with a red cover
Play or screenplay
Book from the “Poetry” section
Collection of short stories
National Book Award winner or nominee
Book from the “Nature/Ecology” section
Book from the “New Arrivals” display at Pioneer Book
Book you’ve never heard of
Book set in or written about your home state
Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller from the 1970s
Pioneer Book “Customer Pick”
Pulitzer Prize winner or nominee
Book from the “Biography” section
Book by an author born over 100 years ago
Book from the “US History” section
Book from the “Sports” section
Book with a strong female lead
Book published the year you were born
Book involving the ocean
Non-fiction book you probably disagree with
Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller from the 1980s
Book translated into English
Hugo or Nebula winner or nominee
Book from the “Westerns” section
Book from the “True Crime” section
Christmas or holiday book
History of a foreign country
Book with 500+ pages
Book from the “Science” section
Book from the “Bestsellers” display at Pioneer Book
Book set in or written about Utah

Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller from the 1990s

If we the readers accomplish the list, we get $50 store credit. Fun, yes? I will have to pretty much make all my reading fit this list! Let's see how it goes, yes?


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