Sunday, March 17, 2019

Book Review: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Book: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Genre: Literary fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

So much buzz last year around this book! And I'm happy to report that for me it lived up to the hype! Such a crazy gripping story!

It's fictional story but based on something that really happened in history, in Tennessee between 1920 and 1950 or so. This lady decided to have an "orphanage" and sell kids to rich people. I guess some of the kids were truly orphans, but many of them were stolen kids... stolen from poor people who signed them away without realizing what they were signing.

We follow the story of one family who's parents went to the hospital so the mom could have twins. They left the rest of the kids on their shanty houseboat. Before they could get back, the bad guys came and stole those kids and took them to this home. This part of the story is told in the voice of the oldest girl, Rill, who is 12 years old. It's heartbreaking.

We flip back and forth between that and the present day where our other girl has a chance encounter with a grandma at a rest home and that makes her think this person has a connection to her own grandma. She starts investigating and uncovers the truth about her family.

I was gripped and totally immersed in this story. Great writing moved it right along and had me at every page. I loved it. Even though it was a painful story, it was told in a hopeful way and so it wasn't necessarily a downer. I appreciated that too. Perfect. So glad to have finally read this one!

We'll be discussing it at book club this week. I'm hoping everyone else enjoyed it too!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Kdrama Review: My Strange Hero

Drama: My Strange Hero

Genre: Romantic comedy/drama
Starring: Yoo Seung Ho, Jo Bo Ah, Kwak Dong Yeon
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤

This one was intriguing because it stars the same dude from I am Not a Robot, where he was fabulous. I loved him in this one too but the story line didn't grab me quite as much as I hoped it would.

It's about guy who was expelled from high school because of an incident, which we learn about as the drama unfolds. People told lies and he was falsely accused. Those people being his best friends. So he has lived with that over his head for the past nearly 10 years and is pretty bitter about it, but he's moving on.

But then one day he is invited to come back and finish high school. So he enrolls as a 27 year old and decided to take advantage of the situation and get revenge on all those that wronged him. His former girlfriend, who now teaches at the school and is his homeroom teacher, and his other friend, who is now the director of the school and is suffering from his own many bitter feelings.
The director dude who takes an amazing internal journey in this drama.

Well. It gets crazy, and there is so much corruption at this school thanks mostly to the mom of the our director dude. She is a piece of work for sure. And hss messed up this boy in so many ways.

Of course, our main guy falls in love all over again with the girl who is now his teacher. And his revenge takes a different turn. All together, with the help of the students in the wildflower class (kids with the lowest grades) they manage to bring all the corruption to light and take back their school!

So I enjoyed the romance parts. Our main dude is over the top adorable. I can't with him. He has the best eye smile I think... EVER. I cried during the bits with the director dude, who is SO SO MEAN, but also in SO SO MUCH pain. He was awesome. His character development was probably the best part of this drama.
The eye smile of which I speak.

Anyway. I enjoyed it. Cute one! Mixed in with the heavy drama as always!

A little trailer:

And cutie pie Ken from VIXX with a song and cute clips:


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Book Review: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Book: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

I sneaked this in after buying it on a Kindle deal and seeing that it is marketed as a sort of You've Got Mail/Little Shop Around the Corner type of story. Boy and girl are secretly communicating and fall in love, but have no idea that the other person in real life that is driving them crazy and causing them all sorts of grief, is in fact the person they are writing to.

Yes? This is great premise and one I'll probably never get sick of.

In this story we have our girl, who's voice I loved and personality I related too (mostly, lol), comes to live with her dad in California. She has been emailing a dude (because of their mutual love of classic movies) and she knows he lives in this beach town, but she doesn't want to tell him she is there. She plans to stalk him out and evaluate the situation first!

Meanwhile, she starts working at the local tourist trap and gets annoyed right off the bat by the drop dead gorgeous surfer boy full of himself body guard. Yeah.

But of course that doesn't last for too long because this boy is very very intriguing. And then she starts to learn his back story, and back stories will end us all!

Meanwhile, what does she do about the dude she's been writing to? And should she keep trying to find him, or just tell him once and for all that she is here but that she isn't really that interested in him anymore? And just how much does she let surfer boy into her life and her OWN crazy back story?

I loved the setting, the lazy warm breezy California beach town. I think I need to live in a place like this. Seriously. I loved the banter. Banter is the best! I loved this girl (for the most part. She made some questionable choices a couple of times, but yeah.) and her insecurities and her tendency to be an Artful Dodger all of the time. I loved the dude, who appears to be one way, but is really another. I loved the families in this book. Good families are a such an amazing thing in books these days! And of course I loved the classic movie references! So many!

Yeah. I loved it for a fun YA romance. Pretty sure I need to read more by this author. Keeping my eye on more sweet deals!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Book Club Book Choices 2019

It's voting time for the book club.
We are celebrating our 15th year in existence this year! CRAZY!!!

We had a first round of voting and these books made the first cut:

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Hollow City by Dan Wells
A Room With a View by E.M. Forster
Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Now we are voting on these books to see which ones will make
the cut to round our our schedule.

What comments and/or suggestions do you have to help us choose?

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
Red China Blues by Jan Wong
Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio by Terry Ryan
The Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
Educated by Tara Westover

Bottom line: I just want to read them all!!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Book Review: Stories for Children by Oscar Wilde

Book: Stories for Children by Oscar Wilde, Illustrated by P.J. Lynch
Genre: children's illustrated short stories
Rating: ★ ★ 

I picked up this one to read because we are doing The Happy Prince for the Kpop bookclub this time around and I found it in this compilation and decided to just read all the stories here, because it will also fulfill another category on the book challenge I'm doing!

This particular edition included six stories. Here's a summary of each:

The Selfish Giant: A giant gets bugged when he discovers children playing in his garden, so he bans them from coming. But then his garden is cursed with winter until he realizes why and has the kids come back. One particular kid catches his eye...

The Nightingale and the Rose: A young boy wants to give something to a girl to make her fall in love with him. The nightingale learns of this plight and sacrifices himself to create the perfect rose, but the boy takes no heed and all is in vain.

The Devoted Friend: A miller has a very warped definition of friendship and works his "friend" to literal death.

The Happy Prince: A statue of a the prince notices the suffering people in his kingdom and he gives everything he has, with the help of his sparrow friend, to ease their suffering.

The Remarkable Rocket: A firework, intended for the celebration of the marriage of the prince and princess, decides to start bragging about how wonderful he is and ends up exploding in a very unremarkable way.

The Young King: A pauper turned king has three dreams on the eve of his coronation which makes him decide he does not want to be a pompous king and he refuses to wear the riches prepared for his coronation.

Basically, every single story is extremely depressing! Except maybe the Selfish Giant which still ends in death. Yeah. Every story is also quite sarcastic and expresses the author's feelings (I'm assuming they are his feelings) in quite an unsubtle way. Of course, most of this would go over a kids head, so I was baffled they are considered "for children." They are pretty morbid for children too! More like parables for adults here! They did feel like twisted Bible stories in a way.

Anyway, still I learned lessons. Things like: be a true friend, don't be selfish, don't be a braggart, help the poor people, don't be prideful, give of yourself, know the true meaning of love. Etc. :) Also, I know I was supposed to pay attention to the illustrations, and they were okay, but they didn't really stand out to me.
I.M aka Im Changkyun of Monsta X

We read this one because recently I.M (aka. Im Changkyun)  from Monsta X read The Happy Prince for an audiobook production. I found it on Youtube and thoroughly enjoyed listening to him read it to me! He knows English well, but has some interesting pronunciations for some words which made me smile and was so very cute.  Here it is if you are interested. I know he did a Korean version too, which I would love to listen to. But I haven't found it yet.

We are also reading The Little Prince for this bookclub this time around, so look for that to come later!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Concert Review: ONE OK ROCK

So awhile back we realized this Japanese rock band was coming near us, like within driving distance, like we could just go and come home.. no long ride, no plane ride, no hotel! And cheap tickets too! So we decided to go! Just for fun!

We'd heard of them, but weren't totally familiar, so in the days leading up to the concert, we listened a lot to them and pretty much loved every song. So we were truly looking forward to it.

Of course, it was all GA standing, unless you spent quite a bit more money and sat in the balcony where they served drinks so it was 21+, which bans Toto from that possibility... for another year anyway. But we were fine with GA and figured we were now experienced pit goers.

Yeah. Well, we had forgotten that this concert featured two "warm up" bands. (I think they should call  them "sap all your energy" bands and leave you DEAD TIRED for the band you came to see! UGH!!) And the second of those bands was flat out awful. And roused the crowd to the true mosh pit frenzy to the point that some lovely kids decided it was time to start the slamming thing. Which caused massive pushing and shoving leading to people getting hurt and people in tears. Also, we lost our good spot on the floor that we had held on to at that point for over 3 hours. Sigh. I was so mad. SHAKING mad.

When that band finally ended, there was the expected surge, but it was a HUGE surge and some boys linked arms and literally mashed their way in front of us. Now we really couldn't see as they were all a head taller than us. I thought I was mad before, but now I was SEETHING.

After standing there for a minute trying to get control, I thought, why should I let this happen? I don't need to take this. The boys were still all linked arm in arm, and so I lifted the arm from the guy in front of me, and shoved Toto between him and his buddy so that she was a little bit in front of them again. He looked at me like I was crazy. I just said, "you stole our spot, I'm taking it back." He put his arm back, which meant he was now having his arm around both Toto and his friend. Awkward. We had to stand like that, literally in each other's faces for a half hour while they messed around on stage. Finally, he awkwardness was too much and he retreated a bit. Some of the other boys saw how upset Toto was and I felt like they were feeling a little sheepish at that point. And they didn't bug us or give us grief anymore. (They were very young Japanese boys. Not sure if they even did English too well. And I am convinced that in normal life they are very nice boys, but in that situation, they were so very not. I hate how that happens to some people.)

So FINALLY, after waiting and standing for FOUR hours (one outside to come in, one inside waiting for it to start and a total of two for those two dumb bands) our guys came out and the concert truly started. Thankfully, once they started, the crowd seemed to calm and everyone was normal for the rest of the night. Sigh. I was so scared it would happen again, but it didn't.

And so, ONE OK ROCK was awesome. Hearing those songs live was awesome. So much energy. Chill inducing lyrics (they sing sometimes in Japanese, but they did English songs for us) and just powerful vocals and guitarists. We really loved it. Even though we were EXHAUSTED! We sang some of the songs loud with the crowd and everything was redeemed! In the end, we were glad we went and were able to see them.  I guess in Japan, you can't hardly get a ticket and they play at huge venues and are extremely popular. So we feel lucky to have experienced them live. Next time though, I 'll probably avoid the pit and sit upstairs. LOL!

Here's a video with a little montage of some footage we took. Please take note of the very first song they sang. It's called Push Back and the chorus says :So go ahead and push us, we'll get up and push back!! LOL! We thought it was so perfect! Watch the first part of the video at least to see that song!

Monday, March 4, 2019

February 2019 Reading Recap

I don't know why but the combination of flag, snow and mountain always compels me to take a picture!

It was almost like a normal reading month for me! Here are the books I enjoyed in February:

4. Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami: a young kid runs away from home and meets some interesting people along the way in his journey to find himself
5. Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner: a struggling student writes to a famous news anchor as a way of getting her feelings out
6. Geekerella by Ashley Poston: a girl goes to a convention dressed in her dead father's cosplay and ends up meeting the stranger she has fallen in love with through texts
7. The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson: the story of a dating service set up in London during WWII
8. Fame, Fate and the First Kiss by Kasie West: a budding actress has strange things happening on set, including falling for her tutor

Favorites of the bunch: Geekerella and Fame, Fate and the First Kiss were just totally enjoyable. Kafka on the Shore was a wild ride that I somehow enjoyed!

Book Challenge Progress: 3 more crossed off

  • Kafka on the Shore: book translated into English
  • Dear Rachel Maddow: book I've never heard of
  • Geekerella: book recommended by friend or family
Goals for March:
  • read the book I have lined up for a book tour
  • read both book club books (in person and online kpop club)
  • mark something else off the challenge list
What books did you enjoy this past month?

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Book Review: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Book: Fame, Fate and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

As you know, I pretty much read all Kasie West books the minute they are out. So this is the latest one!

It's about a girl who is the lead actress in a zombie movie playing opposite a famous actor dude. She is happy for her big break, but trying to adjust living with her dad suddenly and having his ever protective presence always in her face. As part of that, he has hired a tutor from the local school, to help her get her homework packets done. When the tutor shows up, she is surprised that he is a cute student her age, but not surprised at how serious and closed off he is. She pretty writes him off.

But that doesn't last for long. She soon realizes there is a lot more to him than meets the eye and she learns that if she is going to find "chemistry" with her co-star, she might have to experience love in real life first.

Lots of fun movie set scenes. Which is funny since I just read a book taking place on a movie set. Seems like these things come in spurts, yeah? It's fun because we get a little glimpse throughout this one of the actual script of the movie too.

So, as with all the rest of her books, I totally enjoyed and devoured it. Those first books are still some of my favorites but I really truly enjoy a good simple YA romance with a little mysterious conflict thrown in. So much fun!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Book Review: The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson

Book: The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson
Genre: NF WWII
Rating:★ ★ 

We read this one for book club. It was interesting because it was like our libraries hadn't even heard of it. That's not normal! But I requested them to purchase a copy and now they have one! LOL! Anyway.

The author of this one took over a marriage bureau aka. dating service based in London back a few years ago and became so fascinated with the history of this business that she decided to write a book about it documenting how it got started and highlighting some stories surrounding it.

It started a few years before WWII when our girl Mary was struggling to find her place in life. Several marriage proposals of her own didn't pan out and she bounced from job to job never really settling. Her uncle who lived in India planted an idea in her head that she decided to run with, and to get her friend Heather on board.

So that's how The Marriage Bureau get set up, in a small office in London, with the intent to help people who wanted to get married, but didn't really have time to go through the whole process of finding each other. It was a booming business from the very start!

They had clients fill out information about themselves, and about who they wanted to date. They interviewed them and had a secretary type up all the things. And then basically they could memorize everyone in their system and when someone came in looking for a certain type, they could match people up! The clients paid a small fee to register their information, and then a bigger fee if they got married.

We follow them through the break out of the war, and all the sad stories that happened with that. We follow them through changes and moves and new people added to the business. We learn about many different people and their stories and how they found each other through this bureau. We follow them until they have their 10th anniversary and have a party to celebrate, inviting all the people that they matched up. So much fun!

The thing I loved about this book was the fact that it confirms that everyone has a story. These were all "normal" people, living ordinary lives, but they they all had a story, something interesting enough about them that made this book feasible to write. And something interesting enough about them that we were always left wanting more. That was the biggest complaint people had a book club was that they wanted MORE... a follow up... for these stories. Sometimes we were left hanging a bit!

But for the most part it was great fun reading this book. It was written in a more newspaper-y format, not really a novel narrative, and I think I might have liked it more had it been less... newspaper-y. But still, I enjoyed it very much. Very fun to see how this dating service type business flourished even back in the day... and how this business actually still exists today, despite the invention of computer matching sites.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Review: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Book: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

I've been hearing about this one for quite awhile now. The book club friends kept talking about it and saying how much they thought I'd like it.

They were right.

I finally bought it when it was one sale at Amazon Kindle and couldn't wait to get to it. Some how I fit it between the other things and proceeded to devour it.

So yes, it's a retelling of Cinderella. We have our girl, Elle, who lives with her stepmom and twin stepsisters, and works at a food truck called The Magic Pumpkin. Her dad, before he died, was in charge of a huge convention for a Star Trek-like show and when she finds out about a cosplay contest that's happening there this time, she wants to go. So she finds her dad's old costume and with the help of her quickly co-worker, proceeds to fix it up and she starts making plans to go.

Meanwhile, we are also following the story of the dude who has been cast to star in a remake of this show. Many people aren't happy with this casting choice, including our girl who wrote a scathing blog post about him that goes viral. Yeah.

As part of his job, and as part of the cosplay contest, our dude has to go to the convention, and judge the contest. Yeah.

He wants to get out of it, so he calls a random number he finds on the internet for the convention. It happens to be our girl's number, since she is using her dad's old number.

A conversation between them begins. I love it when that happens!

Can you predict the rest??? Even if you can, it's a blast to see it all go down! And there are some interesting twists and turns that you won't see coming. I enjoyed every minute. I love that our two leads were able to develop a relationship before they actually "meet" at the "ball." That was an awesome addition.

Anyway. If you are into retellings. Or cons. Or cosplay. Or Star Trek-like shows. Or cute YA romances. You will enjoy this one.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Kdrama Review: Where Stars Land

Drama: Where Stars Land

Genre: romantic drama
Starring: Lee Je Hoon, Chae Soo Bin, Rowoon
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

So this whole drama basically takes place at Incheon Airport, on the of the busiest airports in the world. Our two main leads work there and on the girl's first day, she bumps into the guy and is instantly intrigued.

The guy has a secret which our girl slowly figures out, bit by bit. There's another guy that works with them, who it seems was a sort of brother figure to our guy, but they are estranged now, and he seems determined to reveal the secret and ruin our guy. Ah, that was frustrating!

The secret is coming out....

The drama is filled with the daily incidences that an airport might and often has to deal with. Little tiny mini stories scattered throughout. This was new to me for a drama. Usually it's one big huge story arc (which this also had) but not usually little stories that get wrapped up in an episode or two. So that was interesting.

Adorable security guards trying not to fall for each other.

I loved our side characters as usual. There was a very cute security guard who, interestingly enough, was played by the same guy that was scary and mean in a the hammer bashing drama I watched a bit ago! LOL! So, that just goes to show how great an actor his is! From really scary, to really cute. Ah, he was adorable in this!

Also, the second male lead was played by a cutie pie from the kpop bad SF9 named Rowoon and man. He did great too making you feel all the feels for him getting rejected by the girl! Way to go Rowoon! I had to go back and watch our KCON footage from two years ago to see what I captured of him and to remember I've seen him in real life! LOL!

Adorable Rowoon

The last couple of episodes of this drama were pretty intense for me. I forgot to breathe a few times. But then the very very end (we're talking the the last 15 min) was so disappointing. Sometimes I just don't know what these drama writers are thinking when it comes to endings! The whole show is always so good and beautiful and etc and then the end is just... blah. Or weird. Or confusing. Anyway.

But despite that, I enjoyed this one a lot. Very fun to have a drama all swirling around the workings of an airport!

Here's a trailer:

And my favorite song from this one:

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Currently: Feeling Sad-ish

Listening: Someone has taken over the Spotify and there is some weird rap going on. But mostly, what I'm listening to these days are these guys:

Watching: And those guys I will get to WATCH in real life in a few weeks. I am beyond excited. Other watching habits are simply an episode of a kdrama every night. I just finished one last night and will review shortly. It takes me about two weeks to finish a drama. Some people I follow over on Twitter watch a drama a day a swear. I don't know how they fit in life between that. I haven't managed to find any English speaking shows that sound interesting and I haven't seen a movie in a long time. Life is weird. Does a new Survivor start up again soon? I think that's the only show that my husband and I enjoy together so...

Reading: I've been reading pretty well lately. Knocking those books out one by one! But nothing very amazing. I mean Kafka on the Shore was fascinating. And then I finished Geekerella (review to come soon). Sheesh, talk about two different kinds of books. LOL. Trying to finish up this week's book club book, The Marriage Bureau. It's fun and so full of so many interesting stories.

Blogging: Well, I must admit, I don't even know why I'm still doing this. I like the personal record of it for sure. I have maybe what... 3 readers still? Anyway, thank you if you are still reading. I'm a terrible reader of blogs myself these days. I skim some still though. Man I miss the heyday of blogging from a few years ago. Good times.

Writing: I still think about it every day. This past weekend was LTUE, the awesome local very cheap conference that I went to faithfully for about ten years, but have missed the past two years. Another sad thing from the past, eh? Maybe next year I'll be ready to pick it up again.

YouTubing: We crossed over yet ANOTHER 1000 subscriber mark since the last Currently I posted. Wow. It's mostly because we put up a compilation of Monsta X being cute with kids which a ton of people see and then automatically subscribe to us. I think. Yay for that video! Now if only they'd watch a couple other videos of ours! It's just like blogging though, we have a few stalwarts that seem to enjoy what we are doing and comment and interact. So for now... the channel continues.

Picture Taking:
All books on the SHELF!

Pretty winter

The mountain I love

The day it snowed for real

We got a package

Kpop party dancing!

Bed making helper

My grandma's bell collection was dispersed among family. I ended up with 4.

Kpop Christmas

Looking Forward To and Being Nervous About:

  • seeing a Japanese rock band called One Ok Rock in SL on Tuesday.
  • taking Toto to CA next week to send her to Korea. 
  • going to CA in March to see ATEEZ (see above)
  • hopefully going to CA in May to see Stray Kids
  • hopefully going to Korea in June to travel around after Toto is done with her semester


  • organized my book mess in the basement. That feels good to finally have under control, for a few days anyway.
  • having fun with the book challenge from the local bookstore.
  • continuously craving chocolate chip cookies. I fight it nearly daily. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.
  • am addicted to kpop stan Twitter and need to figure out how to detox. 

If you are a friend/fan of Toto, you should follow her new Youtube channel where she will be posting creative artsy videos (not vlogging necessarily, though a vlog or two might make an appearance) about her adventures in Korea. This channel is her  EDGE project for school. 

She also has a new companion Instagram for Korean adventures channel. If you want to see pictures there. I'm hoping she updates often!  You can find her at @totally_there

And that's pretty much what's been going on around here! What's new with you all?

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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