Saturday, February 8, 2020

Mini Movie Reviews: Jumanji 2, Frozen 2, Star Wars IX

I've not been going to the movies much lately, but over the holidays I saw three movies in one week. I know, right? Here's what I thought of them:


JUMANJI 2: The Next Level

I hadn't see the first one of these... and since work was taking us to this second one I had to catch up and so we rented that one first and watched it in preparation. I thought it was surprisingly funny, which seemed to be the sentiment from most people who had already seen it. Not bad, quite funny, not creepy like Robin Williams version, and etc. I agreed. It was a fun movie. So with that I looked forward to this second one.

Good thing I prepared, because I would have been so lost otherwise. Anyway, the second one was pretty much more of the first in that the kids end up in the video game AGAIN (even though it was destroyed in that first movie!) because they had to rescue their friend. They thought they would have the same characters as the first, but there was much body swapping going on and they had to experience a different body. So that was funny. Also, add to the mix that the grandpas ending up coming with them, and so that was funny. (A fun way to get some more big names in this movie!)The best thing about these movies is seeing these actors have to play up being a person they are not... I mean that goes without saying for any actor, right? But you KNOW what I mean when it comes to this movie! LOL! Anyway, the adventures were crazy and fun and everything was exaggerated as expected and I really enjoyed it. Woot!

The trailer:



FROZEN 2

I'm not a huge Frozen fan, but of course we had to go just to be part of the in crowd. HA HA! And I wanted to hear the music so... we went. And yes the music was fun. I especially enjoyed the haunting song at the very beginning that the mom sings. So pretty. The story was a bit sad, given the whole betrayal spin, but of course all things end happily. I really enjoy Anna and Kristof the most for sure. And the Olaf of course, as we all do. 

What I especially enjoyed was seeing all my kpop favorites going ballistic over Into the Unknown and everyone doing covers of it. So fun! And some of them blow me away with their renditions. For example Sunyoul from Up10tion, singing it in Elsa's original key, which is AMAZING. Take a listen:





But here's the trailer:




STAR WARS IX: The Rise of Skywalker

Here's another one we were able to go to with work people, the husband's this time. I wasn't as excited about this one as I have been for Star Wars' past, but just the fact that it was the end of the series... something I had been in love with since seeing the first one in 1977 at 12 years old... gave me chills, and made me so sad at the same time. What a ride it's been, this Star Wars thing, eh? I am blown away by the epicness of it all!

Anyway, I ended up loving it.  I thought it was a great end to the epicness. It felt good. I got weepy. I was happy with the arc of certain characters. Confused by some stuff, but not overly so. Anyway, I don't want to say too much in case someone happens up this who cares about spoilers. Plus I don't remember details much either! HA. I need to see it again I think.

Here's the trailer:




Anyway, it was a fun week of movie watching. I do miss the movies and hope to go more this year! Bring that back into my life!!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Top Ten Books from 2019



I think this might be the last sum up list for awhile! Have I remembered everything??? You do still want to know my favorite books from this past year, right?


Top Ten Books I Read in 2019

(no order, blurbs from reviews included)

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate: 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!

Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami: 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. 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!

The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee: There are a ton books of  North Koreans telling their stories. And I'm sure they will all be different and yet the same. I really hope that some day the situation changes and that the dreams of all these people will come true and that the two Koreas can be united and families can all be together without fear.

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

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


Educated by Tara Westover: 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.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: Sounds simple in its summary, yeah? But the magic system is crazy awesome. The writing is beautiful and so perfectly descriptive. The characters are amazingly real. There's another traveler who I really felt for... and became so sympathetic for, even though he is a very very bad boy. But the author is able to easily make us care about him. I love that. 

It's a very violent and dark book. As I said on Instagram, the title does not lie. There is very dark stuff going on here. It's creepy and scary and disturbing.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi: Anyway. All that deep stuff aside, the romance is AWESOME! Perfectly swoony. I loved it. I loved the writing (as I've come to expect from this author) and the way she handled this subject. It hit me just right instead in preachy or self-pity-ish... which I very much appreciated. Thank you!

Dry by Neal Shusterman: And wow, but by the end of it I knew it would be awhile before I took my casual drinks of water for granted. And still, nearly a month after reading it, whenever I guzzle a huge tall glass of water I think... wow... this water is AMAZING! I was even having dreams about being thirsty! 

So, I loved it even if there were harsh moments in this story. It was very page turning and nonstop "action" ie. things that happened from second to second to keep you on the edge of your seat. It was fabulous. 


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

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: 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.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

2019 Year End Number Crunch

Wow, I almost forgot to do the number crunch post! How shocking!


So anyway, here is my reading by the numbers. Also numbers for kdrama and youtubing too. 

READING STATS

TOTAL BOOKS: 41
Total pages: 14,010
Total Re-reads: 3

Authors
Men: 9
Women: 32

For:
ARCS for Review: 3
Supporting Utah Authors: 2?
Book Club: 9
Read Alongs (Kpop Book Club): 5
Beehive Award Long List: 12

From:
Library: 11
On my Kindle: 15
Bought/Owned: 14
Borrowed: 1
Audio: 0

Genres:
YA: 26
Adult: 11
Middle Grade: 2
Picture Book Fairy Tales: 2

From the YA Category:
Contemporary Realistic Fiction: 20
Fantasy: 6

From the MG Category:
Contemporary Realistic Fiction: 1
Fantasy: 1

From the Adult Category:
Historical Fiction: 1  
Fantasy: 3
Literary Fiction: 3
Non Fiction: 3
Classic: 1

Star Ratings:
5 stars: 7
4 stars: 18
3 stars: 14
2 stars: 2
1 star: 0

Observations:

  • Fifty for a Goodreads goal was still too much. I'm back down to 45 to try for during 2020.
  • YA contemporary/realistic fiction appears to still be a current favorite.
  • I'm back on the ARC/Review list for a local publishing company!
  • If it's on my Kindle, I'll read it. This needs to be remembered.
  • I doubled my Beehive Award long list reading this year! Wah!
  • I need to get back to supporting Utah authors. What happened to that endeavor?



KPOP/KDRAMA YOUTUBE STATS

Total Kdramas consumed: 21
5 hearts: 7
4 hearts: 10
3 hearts: 4

Total Videos Uploaded on The Kpop Konverters: 933 (up from 828 last year)
Total Uploaded in 2019:  105 (down from 273)
2.3 million views: 1 
Over 100,000 views:  15 (up from 12)
50,000 to 100,000 views: 22 (up from 14)
10,000 to 50,000 views: 91 (same)
5,000 to 10,000 views:  68 (up from 60)

Subscribers at year end: 27,486 (up from 22,632 last year) 
View count at year end: 11,350,409 (up from 8,729,763 last year)

Observations:

  • At this time last year I was worried about the changes coming up for the channel, and my worries are coming true. There is definitely less enthusiasm going on with those involved! But... we aren't dead yet.
  • At this time NEXT year, we should have more than 1000 videos uploaded! That's seriously crazy. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Book Review: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Book: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

A fun story about a kid (a black French Canadian kid, which is a big part of this story) who moves to mid America Texas and has to deal with some pretty interesting culture shock.

He gets a job at a restaurant and starts a friendship with a girl who he thinks is a stereotypical cheerleader, who helps him get the attention of the girl who catches his eye at school.

And can you guess what is actually happening? The cheeleader is deeper than he thought, and the other girl isn't quite as cool as he thought.

It's lots of fun witty banter with this kid, and he writes it all down in his notebook. Which is probably a good thing that no one gets their hands on it. Right? Ha.

Guys, I really enjoyed this book, and it's only been a couple weeks since I finished it, but now I can't think of anything very profound to say! LOL! It's one of those books. Fun to read, but then you quickly forget about it.




Monday, January 27, 2020

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Book: Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: ★ ★ ★  

I've been wanting to read this one forever, and so for Christmas I ended up getting the whole trilogy. So hopefully by the time I meet Neal Shusterman in April, I will have them all read and can understand everything he has to say about them. And maybe I can even ask him all my questions. Ha.

Anyway. This one is CRAZY! It takes place in a not so distant future, where everything bad about the world has been eliminated. Even death. All people are immortal. However, even this ends up causing a  problem, which is... over population. It is realized that people still need to die. And so certain people who are called Scythes, are appointed (after a rigorous testing period) to be the ones who decide who dies and who lives.

And basically, they become gods, and are treated as such by the people of the world.

This is the story of two kids who are chosen to apprentices to become Scythes. They are not happy about it, but as things go along, they realize that they do actually want this job, as depressing and sad as it is.

As we go along, the story addresses the question of what happens if corrupt people end up as Scythes? What then? And Scythes really have to answer to no one. What then?

It's a scary thought.

Our two kids are brilliant and it's fun to see them grow and change. Their story is truly just starting when this book ends, so I'm excited to continue reading and see what happens next!

Have you read this book yet? What are your thoughts? Did you find it disturbing and fascinating both at the same time?



Sunday, January 26, 2020

Top Ten Kdramas of 2019



Oh my word, the fourth year of kdrama obsession and IT IS NOT GETTING OLD YET! I love these shows so much. They fulfill something that I can't get anywhere else. I love it so much. The only way for you to understand is it just watch one, once and for all! Some of you have, and you get it, right? But it's so hard to articulate!

Anyway, here's my kdrama year end wrap up for 2019.

Dramas watched: 21

Five Hearts: 7
Four Hearts: 10
Three Hearts: 4

Aired this year: 15
Aired before this year: 6

New-to-me favorite actors:

Hyun Bin
Kang Tae Oh
Kang Ha Neul
Yeo Jin Goo (he wins with three of his dramas on my list this year!)
Kim Jae Wook
Park Jin Young
Yoo Ah In


And my top ten dramas for 2019 in no particular order (and with links to my review and a little blurb from that review):

Encounter: 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.


He Is Psychometric: And then we found out more backstory of the dude who saved him from the fire and his now his guardian and basically big brother. And that backstory is heart wrenching! And his character is the one in the drama where you just want to sob and sob and sob, and hug him like crazy. AH!! Always so much emotional trauma!



Her Private Life: 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.





The Crowned Clown: 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.




Hotel del Luna: 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.


Moment of 18: Anyway. We learn about the struggles and the crazy home life (crazy parents) for several of these students, including the bullies. And so then we can sympathize with them all. We root for the romances... all of them. And hope each kid figures out how to succeed. The best part of this drama was the amazing teacher character! What a champion for the kids he is! Brought me to tears several times. He is the best! So much fun, and if only all kids could have a teacher like him, yeah? He made the show.

Tale of Nokdu: He is adorable. And our girl is adorable. And even our villain is adorable. I freaking fell in love with the villain, dang it.  It's a beautiful drama with beautiful people, and beautiful scenery and beautiful music and a story, while maybe not so beautiful, is in the end... beautiful. I loved it.







Absolute Boyfriend: 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.

Chicago Typewriter: But yeah. I loved it. I love the time jumps, I loved the intensity of the stuff in the 30s. Our characters are freedom fighters, fighting to win back independence. And it's really quite painful to see what they went through. I loved the character development and how our main dude went from a very self centered dude, to extremely compassionate and loving. I loved the book love that is shown (again, with the book love! I do seem to be getting a lot of that lately!) and the painfulness of the writing process. That was great!


My ID is Gangnam Beauty: 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 loud a lot at this one. Some of the silly situations they get themselves in and the awkwardness they deal with is the best.





Honorable Mention: Memories of the Alhambra : But basically, we have this crazy game, the romance developing, mysteries to solve, magic, epic musical score, sweeping beautiful magical cinematography, amazing acting, scary villains, sword fights, history and present day all mixed up together, suspense edge of your seat-ness.... all in the backdrop of Granada Spain.





Part of the allure of kdramas is the amazing music that is used in each one of them. Every single one has an entire movie score to with it. Here I have compiled ten of my favorite songs from the kdramas this year.




Kdramas are coming fast and furiously to Netflix. It's time you check them out!


Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kdrama Review: Memories of the Alhambra

Drama: Memories of the Alhambra
Genre: Romantic Thriller Fantasy
Starring: Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This is a drama from last year or the year before I think, and everyone was talking about it, but I heard mixed reviews, so I was a little scared to go for it. But we decided to watch it as a family for our holiday "binge" watch (one episode a night for the full two weeks) and let me just say, it's not good to listen to "what everyone is saying" all the time. Because this drama was amazing, and even if most didn't like the final 10 seconds of the drama perhaps, it shouldn't make or break the rest of the show.

Know what I mean?

That's all to say, I'm really glad I finally watched it.

It's about this sort of obnoxious rich CEO dude who runs a company that makes contact lenses that when you put them in your eyes, you are put right into a virtual reality game.... a game that you play out on the street that feels so REAL you can't hardly even believe it.

He goes to Granada Spain to track down the kid who created this game, who calls him frantically in the middle of the night about something terrible that's happening. Our CEO dude goes, and plans to make a deal with the kid to buy the game, but he cannot find this kid. The kid mysteriously has disappeared.

Instead, he finds the family of this kid, (particularly his sister) and in investigating the game (in order to buy it) he ends up getting all wrapped up in it himself, and he ends up fighting (through the game) his former friend, now turned rival.

The game gets really messed up from here, and pretty much takes over the CEOs life and pretty much tries to kill him, over and over and over again.

And of course our girl gets involved, and things will never be the same for her again either.

Wow, it's WAY too complicated to sum up nicely!

But basically, we have this crazy game, the romance developing, mysteries to solve, magic, epic musical score, sweeping beautiful magical cinematography, amazing acting, scary villains, sword fights, history and present day all mixed up together, suspense edge of your seat-ness.... all in the backdrop of Granada Spain. Some parts they move back to Korea, but much of this is filmed in Granada, which is very unusual.

I really enjoyed it a lot!

It's on Netflix. Here's the trailer:

 


 And the song with more clips:

 

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