Thursday, September 19, 2019

Book Review: One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

Book: One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
Genre: YA mystery
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This one got a lot of buzz last year, so we decided to read it for this month's book club book.

It's about four kids who end up in detention together one day when a fifth kid suddenly collapses with a massive allergic reaction and dies. And now the investigation is all centered on them.

We get the story from all their points of view, which at first was a little much, but it didn't take me long to get into the groove and remember who was who and which was which.

We have:

Copper: the all American star baseball player
Bronwyn: the honor student and classic piano prodigy
Nate: the drug dealer outcast
Ally: the seemingly airheady beauty queen princess

And the guy who died: Simon. And his big claim to fame is that he runs a gossip column type app that dishes all the juicy stories on everyone in the school.

Mix this all up with the mystery of Simon's death, add in some interesting parental figures and siblings, plus some really fantastic secrets that EVERYONE has and you have this fun and page turning story.

And it was very engaging and lots of fun to read. As is usually the case with me, I wasn't that into the actual mystery (and really it didn't seem like this was the main center of the book either) but was very into the relationships of these four kids with each other, with their families, and with their other friends. Really lots of great characters here and lots of modern day struggles addressed. I look forward to discussing it at book club this week.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Book Review: Maybe This Time by Kasie West

Book: Maybe This Time by Kasie West
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

Another Kasie West book! Yes! You know I'm on it whenever she comes out with one!

This one is about a girl who works for a florist and she has to help at all the local events in the small Alabama town they live in. She'd really rather be working for the seamstress that makes alterations for people, so she can get experience for her dream job as a fashion designer. But that's not to be.

The books takes us on a year's worth of events, starting with Valentine's Day and ending with New Years. The interesting thing about this particular year of events is that the dude who caters the events (the dad of her good friend) is getting mentoring from a very famous chef who's been on TV. And he has brought his son to work along side with him too.

Well, our girl and this son don't hit it off too well. At first. They clash at all the events and banter and bicker like crazy. But of course, as it goes, they start seeing each other differently which in turn makes them both learn a ton about themselves.

So basically, the typical fun contemporary YA romance, with this interesting twist on the fact that our two heroes only see each other at these events throughout the year. And enough stuff happens to make the relationship blossom.

It was exactly what I needed!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Book Review: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Book: Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Genre: epic fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is book one of a huge epic fantasy called Malazan Book of the Fallen. My son finished the entire Wheel of Time series recently and needed more of a similar genre (he was already all caught up with the Brandon Sanderson stuff) and he learned about this particular series and absolutely fell in love. And he wanted me to try it too, so that's what prompted this read!

And I must say, it was hard going in parts, but also very enjoyable in parts and while I have to say my brain these days struggles with this stuff, I also get glimpses of the old me who totally loved it. Very interesting mix that is!

Anyway,  this books starts the adventure of two peoples or empires... who are pitted against each other in a war to take over the world. It's interesting because you get the view from both sides and there truly aren't any "bad" guys... you love and are rooting for everyone!This is not how these kinds of books usually go.

One one hand we have the noble people, the rulers, the big wigs...and on the other hand we have the lower level, common people. However, everyone, or rather, many people have magic. And this means that strange and other worldly things are happening all the time. We also have the thieves and assassins using their plain old skill and luck. It's truly a mixture of everything.

 And when stuff goes down, it goes down in a big and fantastic way. Like, dragons and demons and scary birds and hounds and old skeletal creatures and fat magicians and sorcerers all fighting to win the day. One thing is for sure, the world building in this book is CRAZY. So amazing that someone can come up with this stuff! It truly blows me away.

Much of the political intrigue went over my head, as it usually does, but I did become very invested in the characters. Wiskeyjack, Sorry, Tattersail, Crokus, Quick Ben, Caladan, and so very many more! I am happy to have succeeded in making it through this first book and now my son is anxious for me to keep going (guys, there's like 20 or more in this series!) but I told him, maybe someday, but I needed a few easy reading books first! LOL!

Have any of you read this series? Let me know your thoughts if you have!

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!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Kdrama Review: My Absolute Boyfriend

Drama: My Absolute Boyfriend
Genre: Romantic comedy/fantasy
Starring: Yeo Jin Goo, Minah
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Up first in the great review catch up is this drama that I could not resist after see the adorable teasers and clips. And at this point I hadn't yet seen the grown up Yeo Jin Goo and I was curious. (You may or may not remember how I was smitten with him as a young actor in Moon Embracing the Sun... and since I was late to THAT party, it seemed VERY fast that he was suddenly grown up!)

So, yeah. this drama is about a company that makes robots, custom made in fact, for very very rich clients. One particular nasty client wanted a "love" robot because her life is very very lonely... for reasons. Well, this robot is accidentally shipped to the wrong address and our main girl opens up the box, the robot falls out and BAM, they "accidentally" kiss... which now of course means that the robot has imprinted on our girl... and he is at the ready to do all the loving she wants!!

And so it goes from there. Our girl is not wanting this burden to deal with, and our robot just wants to love her! And the company dude who made this robot has learned that if the mistake gets fixed and he ends up at the right place, that client will basically destroy him. Since he thinks of this robot as his little brother, he does not want that to happen, so he begs our girl to keep him until he can figure out things.

Well, of course our robot is SO FREAKING ADORABLE, that our girl is very quickly smitten. And meanwhile her own love life is going down the drain and so she rebounds to Mr. Robot.

There are some very funny moments, and yes of course, Jin Goo is amazing in this role and so so cute. The storyline does have some sad moments too, as always, especially when it starts to be come apparent that there will not be a happy ending.

The ending is a bit manipulative as drama endings sometimes are, so that is my only beef with this one. Like... really? But that is such a small bit overall that I still deem this one a very well liked and very fun. Another drama that makes you ponder what it means to love, what it means to be human, how important emotions are and all that fun stuff.

What is it with robot dramas? I love them too much I think!!

Here's a very good trailer:

And a sweet song:

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Where Have I Been? Aka. An Attempt at Catching Up

Many many things have happened since I was lost on here. And I am so far behind that I've had trouble motivating myself to keep going. Which is such a sad thing given that this blog is over 12 years old and how can I just stop. You know?

So since I was last here... early June, this is what's gone down:

The big Asian trip happened. Two weeks in Korea and one in Japan. We picked up Toto when her four months and one semester had ended. We spent a weekend in Busan with Sangi (exchange student from two years ago) and her family. We did lots of kpop stuff and lots of not kpop stuff. We met up with my sister Megs, who is there teaching English, and spent a weekend doing touristy stuff in Seoul. Everything was awesome and lived up to the high expectations. When I stepped off the plane, I instantly felt like I was in the middle of a drama and it felt so surreal. That feeling didn't leave the whole time. But, after three weeks, we were exhausted and happy to come home.

At home it took us awhile to readjust. But back to work we went. I can't remember what else happened during those few weeks, but it must have been busy!

In early August we had our couple days at Arches and Canyonlands for a family reunion with just my kids. It's the first time we have all been together in years. We did a lot of hiking in the heat and some picnics and bonding. It was great, but again, we were exhausted afterwards and glad to be home out of the sun.

Then we had one week to prepare for KCON. This year we were again invited to be special guests and had three panels to present. Only Toto and I went to represent the channel, but we still had a great time and now, a week later, I'm missing being there. We went to four nights of concerts, spent time in several mosh pits to see bands up close, did the three panels, hung out with the famous people in the green room, met up with Twitter friends, and had a fantastic time. We screamed louder at that last concert than I think we have ever before. It was so much fun!

Two days after driving home from LA, we got in the car again to drive Toto to school. There was a fire and they shut down the freeway, so we had to go the long way around. Then I had to came back the long way around. It ended up being another 12 hours in the car, twice what it should have been. So that was crazy. But she is back now, after being away for so long, what with Korea and such. Hopefully she gets the groove back there and adjusts yet again!

Now we are all adjusting here at home since one of my sons has moved back in while he deals with some health issues. Life is never dull, and always crazy. That is for sure.

There are still two kpop events coming up in September. Another concert in LA and one in Las Vegas! Woot! 

On the reading and watching front... since we last talked:
  • I have finished three books, and almost re-read another. I am half way through a huge massive fantasy that I'm reading with my son, and it's HARD!
  • I have finished only 3 dramas (one of them really short and tiny) and almost done with a 4th. These dramas all star a dude named Yeo Jin Goo, which means I guess that I'm having a binge of his stuff and a bit of a love for him going on. Dang, that boy can act.
  • I have not been to any movies. 
  • I may have been to a couple of musicals, but I can't remember. Well, there was that one we went to in Korea that blew me away, even if I couldn't understand the language. :)
Maybe I'll do some mini reviews of these things? Hmmm.....actually I probably won't. I will do regular reviews. Wait for it....

Does it seem like enough has been going on that it would keep me away for three full months? It doesn't seem like it. But it does seem like the summer flew by and that I didn't do much but try to keep up with life!

How have things been with you all? 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Kdrama Review: Her Private Life

Drama: Her Private Life
Genre: romantic comedy
Starring: Kim Jae Wook, Park Min Young, Jung Je Won
Rating:❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

A very fun premise about a career girl who is still, even in her VERY OLD 30s!!!, fangirling over the dreaded KPOP IDOL GROUPS! GASP!

So she is in love with a particular group (a fictional group played by the real life IN2IT that I, um, love. Yes.) and especially in love with a particular member of that group...also fictional (meaning not part of IN2IT) and played by the lovely rapper One (aka. Jung Je Won).

Turns out she is SO into this group and this idol that she is actually the masternim of one of his most popular fansites.. .and so she dresses up in black with her big camera and "stalks" him at all his events and appearances, taking amazing pictures and posting them to her site and then moderating the group chats and forums, etc.

By day she is an art curator at an art museum. And one day when she is out trying to buy some paintings, she runs into a dude named Ryan Gold and they fight over the same painting. He wants it because he is drawn to from his memories, she wants it because her idol has just posted that he loves this artist. :)

And then suddenly this Ryan Gold, from America (but yes Korean) ends up as the director of their museum. And they don't hit it off very well.

But THEN... he wants to do an exhibit highlighting these paintings he loves, and he learns that the idol has the biggest collection of them, so he is going to commission him to be part of the exhibition. And takes our fangirling girl with him. To the IDOL'S HOUSE! And she freaks out and there is a mishap and now everyone thinks wrong things and to cover it up she and Ryan Gold now have to pretend they are dating... to throw the spotlight off SiAn (the idol).


And THEN, they suddenly realize they are actually extremely attracted to each other......

And it's a fabulous love story from there and I loved it! It's just so much fun! And these characters are the best. Loved loved loved.

HOWEVER, I'm still a bit sad at how the fangirling is portrayed. And how the fans of the idol are portrayed. And yeah. The stereotyping is just really frustrating and annoying. The idea that one should hide it, that's somehow embarrassing to love and idol group. Yeah, all the same old same old.

But our lovely main dude character, played by the beautiful Kim Jae Wook ,  is very accepting of this part of her life. (Because spoiler, you know he figures it out....) And THAT is shown beautifully.

He's perfect for this part.

Anyway. It's a fun one!! Park Min Young gets ALL THE GOOD ONES! And she gets all the awesome kissing dramas! (This is one of the best kissing dramas I've seen so far, in case you wondered.) What is UP with that???

A fun trailer with an interview and bloppers:

The song:

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Reading Recap: May 2019

The fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

The books I read this month!

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: A family saga covering Sunja's family as they move from Korea to Japan during the Japanese occupation, through WWII and into modern times.

Educated by Tara Westover: The author's memoir documenting her strange life growing up as the daughter of a father who wanted to live off the grid, including not having his kids go to school... and how she left and ended up getting a doctorate from Cambridge.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: A re-read of this one of my favorite books about a girl who is famous online for her web comic, but a misfit quiet girl in real life.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim: Mercy wakes up in Carmen's body and has to figure out how to survive once again and figure out what she needs to do to end this cycle. Maybe if she helps this family solve the mystery of their missing daughter?

Favorites: Educated and Pachinko both top the list. Re-reading Eliza was also enjoyable.

Book Challenge Progress:

Pachinko: National Book Award finalist
Educated: book with a strong female character
Mercy: book from the customer recommended shelf

June Goals:

  • do a buddy read with my son of Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson (except he already finished)
  • read the book club book
  • maybe start another book for the challenge

How's your reading going my friends?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Book Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Book: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

Genre: YA SF
Rating: ★ ★

I picked this one up at the bookstore from the "customer recommended" shelf because, for the challenge this store is doing, one of the categories is to read something from this shelf.

Well. I must say. I was not impressed with this one! Dang it! :)

It's about a girl who wakes up and finds herself yet again in someone else's body. So, as she has had to do over and over, she quickly figures out her situation and adapts to survive whatever life she is living this time. We as the readers have no idea why this is happening to her, or what she is, just that she is an entity that is now in someone else's body.

So the girl she is now being has just arrived at a sort of exchange program for the high school choir she belongs to. And she is given to a host family that seems to be dealing with some sort of tragedy. And suddenly she takes it upon herself to help them solve this mystery. Mostly because she is attracted to the brother. Hmm.

It was just a weird story. And kinda of boring until the end, as some of these books go... a lot of set up and then the end gets good and then it's over and then you have to read the next book to see what happens next. And while I'm usually okay with set up, I just didn't feel it this time. Like while we are setting up the plot, let's also get us invested in characters too. Yeah? For me, it didn't happen.

From the book blurb and etc. we know that she is a fallen angel, but that is never really explained in this first book. There are other beings we meet that make us wonder, hmmm, what is going on, but nothing is really explained. Despite the set up feeling. It's just... all weird.

Luckily it was a short and easy to read book. It was a fun experiment to grab some random book off the shelf to read based on some stranger recommendation. But I wasn't hooked and will most likely not be reading anymore from the series.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Concert Review: STRAY KIDS in LA May 17, 2019

Changbin, Hyunjin, Woojin, Lee Know, Seungmin
I.N, Han Jisung, Felix, Bang Chan

After the fiasco of the ATEEZ concert in March, I was very nervous about this concert. I knew it HAD to be better because we all had seats. No pit at all. But I was still nervous about if all I would see would be phones. And if the sound would be okay such that I might actually hear the songs just a little. Or would I only hear screams?

Anyway. We (I took Adia and Leila with me this time) traveled to LA (actually Pasadena which is not quite LA) on the Thursday before. We drove through nice awesome gusts of wind and one dust storm that was pretty scary there for a second. Rain threatened the whole way, but never really dumped on us, so that was good. We arrived to an overcast and chilly California, but was greeted by the hotel front desk dude who asked what we were there for. When I said, a concert, he said, "Oh, the Korean band?" I was like "yeah, but BTS was here LAST week!" He was like, yeah, and THAT was insane! :) I was happy to know that he knew there was yet another Korean band besides BTS gracing their lovely city. LOL.

On Friday we made our traditional concert pilgrimage to Choice Music in Koreatown (very much LA now) and spent a ton of money on albums. We had beverages at the nearby cafe and opened them and filmed ourselves a bit. A very nice old Korean dude watched us the entire time, fascinated. Finally stood up and asked us what we were doing. We explained it all and he loved it. He explained that his wife was a famous singer too in a big fancy choir and even went to Julliard. He told us he was 90 years old. He was adorable and cute and so happy to chit chat.

We then ate lunch at the food court. I was not brave and ordered simple rice and chicken. It was good. But huge and I barely made a dent.

Then we went back to our hotel and got ready for the concert. We arrived more than four hours early even though we had assigned seats! It's part of the experience to just go hang out with the crowd and be part of the excitement. So we did!

We stood in a short line to get our P2 (hi touch) wrist bands. Then a long line to buy merch. (Well, I didn't but the girls did.) Then another short line to get batteries for the lightsticks they bought. Then we just waited until security let us in. Which happened about an hour before the show.

Once inside and I saw where our seats were, I was devastated. They were close, but as far left to one side as you can go, which meant that we could really only see half the stage. Unless they stayed all the way to the front. And we truly could only see half of the screen (video presentations are a big part of kpop concerts... not just for jumbotron type viewing)

I was so bummed.

But the girls were still very excited and seemed not bothered, which made me feel better, and I just hoped for the best and that the boys would come to the very front of the stage.

Finally, it started, and can I just say, the beginning of these concerts are seriously the biggest adrenaline rush. I have no words. Best thing ever. And this one was no exception.

And when they came on stage... WE COULD SEE THEM!! YES!!

And we only had one or two awful phone people in the way! By awful, I don't mean people who film because... I film I have my phone out, I mean, you have to have that memory preserved. By awful, I mean people who hold their phone up at complete arms length for the ENTIRE time... and film EVERY SINGLE THING! Like, seriously. BE IN THE MOMENT!!! UGH!!!

But I could see around my problem person, for the most part, and managed to get a few clips myself (not at arms length!) and the tried to remember to be in the moment and watch with my own eyes.

And they were as amazing as expected. Dang, these boys are good. They truly blow me away with their talent despite how freaking young they are. I loved every minute of it and was sad when it had to end.

(At the end, the problem girl stood on her chair and then she totally blocked the view of all of us behind her... finally I got her attention and said in my best mom way... GET DOWN! She crouched a little then, but still stood on the chair. Seriously. I wanted to lecture her afterwards, but refrained.)

Here's my video of our experience if you are interested. I skipped their long comments at the end and put them here in their own video. Every single one of them talked to us in English whether they could or not. It was awesome. Two of the boys are actually from Australia, so they have that most awesome accent and of course can talk to us a ton.

(Reminds me of when NCT was in NY for an interview a month ago and the interviewer said to Johnny "Wow, your English is amazing!" and Johnny said back. "Well yeah,  I'm from Chicago." He was so annoyed!!!)

Afterwards, we waited in the theater with the huge crowd that had paid for a hi touch. At one point, Adia saw Woojin peeking his face out of the back stage door... and she said all calmly... omg that's Woojin.. then she yelled "OMG THAT'S WOOJIN!!!" The whole crowd then turned just as Woojin lead the whole line of them out the door and up the side of the theater. We stood and cheered and they smiled shyly and cutely as they tried to sneak through us all to the hi touch spot. LOL. One of our favorite moments.

Finally it was our turn. They threatened us with our lives if we tried to film it. But Adia still tried... putting her phone in her front pocket. So just as we got to the first boy, security stopped us and reached over and took her phone. She was mortified, since Lee Know, first boy in line, saw the whole thing. And then we had to quickly recover and go on with the high fiving! Sigh.

So it was one of those hi touches were there were about four security/staff people behind us the whole way, yelling and pushing us along, distracting us from our tiny little interaction moment. I HATE THAT SO BAD! Anyway... so the first half I was trying to be in the moment, but the second half I was so annoyed with staff that I can't even remember the boys. I'm so bugged.

But Jisung was as enthusiastic as expected and had a comeback comment for everyone. (to my simple "thank you" he said "YES!!" back to me. Lol. To Leila's "your awesome" he said back to her, "No, YOU'RE awesome!" Stuff like that... for everyone.) Bang Chan was good to look in our eyes and say thank you very deliberately. Felix was so beautiful I forgot to breathe. I.N was just so so cute. AH! And then... I can't remember Woojin or Changbin or Seungmin... and I sort of remember Hyunjin because he was at the end. Also very very beautiful. But... all I could think about by that time was how I wanted to turn around and tell all the staff to shut up. Sigh. DANG IT! I need to learn to just tune them out and ignore them!!

I shook my head at the staff directing us out and said "that's just not right" or some such stupid thing. She's all... I know. I think she thought I meant how fast it is, but whatever. That's annoying too, but it's the fact that the yelling staff makes you forget to actually enjoy the moment.

They all have such soft, delicate hands. I just have to say. And they didn't really high five us, after HUNDREDS of people, i think they get so tired holding their hand up. So it turns into a bit of a high hand shake.. .or quick hand grasp. It's all quite awkward actually. LOL.  Next time I might rethink my strategy and not do a grasp OR a high five, but simply just place my whole palm to theirs and just hold it there for a moment.... not hold on, and not hit like a high five, but just put my whole hand on theirs.... things to ponder.....

In the end, the hi touch thing is a bit of a let down, but also so much fun. I have mixed emotions about it! I decided you have to have a certain personality to make them succeed, and I don't have it. It scares me WAY too bad. And for most of the boys (I'd say half of a usual group) they feel so awkward too... so it's all just weird. Some boys love it though.'s fun to see which ones are which when it comes down to it.

We got a Lyft ride back to the hotel and then as is usual after concerts, talked and watched our videos and pictures for another hour or so before we could settle down to sleep. Seriously. The high and energy from concerts (that are fun and not fiascos) are amazing and why I continue to pay the money to make them happen. It will never get old.

Then we got up the next day and drove all the way home. So tired. But all worth it.
Our view of the stage

With Leila and Adia

Stray Kids 

A favorite moment I managed to capture

Saying goodbye :(

Next concert? Hopefully KCON in August. And then I have Pentagon tickets in September (back in LA) and tickets also in September for a music festival in Las Vegas where Monsta X well be showing up. So... it continues.

Concerts I've missed that make me so sad: NCT, Up10tion, BTS, and a festival where Super Junior and Taemin played. During April and May I could have happily gone to LA every weekend for something or another. It's so crazy. How did this happen?

Bonus: My favorite Stray Kids song (I think... there are many) with lyrics if you are interested. I've probably shared this already, but here you go again:

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Kdrama Review: My ID is Gangnam Beauty

Drama: My ID is Gangnam Beauty
Genre: Romantic comedy
Starring: Cha Eunwoo, Im Soo-hyang, Kwak Dong-yeon
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This one is about a girl who was ugly in middle school and high school to the point that she had no friends and everyone made fun of her. So the summer before she goes to college, she has a ton of plastic surgery done and comes out beautiful. She's ready to start a new life in college.

Much to her dismay, at orientation, there's a guy in her class/department who is from her middle school. And she she is scared he will figure out it's her. Of course, he does and things go from there.

It's about the hang up we all (and especially Korea) have on outer beauty. And how that is truly not the important thing at all. This drama deals also with bulimia as another character struggles with that. There's also much to be said about bullying. And sexual harassment too. Lots of that sort of thing, all under the umbrella of a cute love college love story.

When this first aired, lots of people were talking about Eunwoo's acting abilities. I've seen in before in The Big Hit and thought he was awesome. So when he was getting criticized for being too stiff and too bland, I was like... seriously? But it made me leery and I put off watching this one for quite awhile.

But I am happy to report that I loved his acting and thought he was totally adorable. He plays a character that who has cut himself off emotionally from everyone, and thus the stiffness. In other words, he nails this gig! And then, when he starts to loosen up... you feel it. Those last few episodes when he starts letting his smiles out are absolutely lovely.

I laughed out a lot a lot at this one. Some of the silly situations they get themselves in and the awkwardness they deal with is the best.

The side characters were also a ton of fun in this one. I was rooting for everyone to have their happy ending! I also loved seeing Kwak Dong Yeon in a nice boy role. Is he in a leading role, anyone know? Because I need to see him as the lead now!!!

P.S. Did I tell you Eunwoo is in Astro? Yeah. He is. Yet another idol actor!


 Clips with the song!


Friday, May 31, 2019

Book Review: Educated by Tara Westover

Book: Educated by Tara Westover
Genre: memoir
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I've been hearing about this book for quite awhile now. When it lost in our book club voting I decided to not wait any longer and just read it now. And once I got started, I pretty much devoured it.

It's a story about the author's strange and crazy upbringing, and how she escaped it to finally go to school, and then she becomes an amazing scholar breaking all odds to even get a doctorate from Cambridge.

She grew up on a farm and junkyard in Idaho where her parents, but especially her dad, had some crazy ideas that included doomsday thoughts, paranoia, literally translations from the scriptures, and no fear of danger. They didn't believe in doctors, school, or things like getting birth certificates. Basically, he wanted to live off the grid where the government couldn't find him and stock piled food and weapons for the day they did.

The problems arise when he or someone in his family gets gravely injured and they just hope they get better with no help from the doctors. It happened so many times. Also, there's the issue of physical abuse from her brother which no one would believe. (She actually didn't tell anyone about it until later, but they all knew it was happening and just looked the other way.)

So when she was about 16 she decided she needed to get out of there, and the only escape was to go to college. So she studied on her own, stuff she'd never learned up till then, so she could take the ACT. And she need. And she passed. And she got in.

Coming to college was like stepping out into a completely different world and it took her a long while to adjust. But once she did, she embraced this new life, and would have liked to figure out how to mesh her two lives, but it turned out to be pretty impossible. She documents her struggle with that and how for nearly a year she did nothing but watch TV in the midst of her depression over it. So sad.

So, like I keep saying... it's very fascinating and there's so much to think about and talk about, but it's also quite depressing. It's hard to read about the rift between a daughter and her family... even if that family is crazy!

Among all the crazy things, it's a bottom line tribute to learning and how we have an innate desire to learn. And how if we don't go to school, at some point, we crave it. And how some people will do anything to get the education they want so bad.

I'm kinda sad our book club decided not read it because I've been so compelled to talk about it and everyone here is getting sick of me now!! LOL! I'm sure our book club discussion would have been quite interesting.

Let me know if you've read it and what you thought and if you too needed to talk about it a lot afterwards. :)


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