Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ten Reasons To Read (or Skip) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Book: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Genre: Historical Fiction with a fantasy element
Rating: ★★★☆ ☆

(Trying out another idea for book review/thoughts. What's your feedback?)

Short Synopsis: Ursula is born in 1911 and immediately dies. And then is immediately born again. This time she lives. Until she drowns at age 4. At which time, she is born again. And so on and so on and so on. Each time she is born again, she learns a little about how to get a bit further in life. Sometimes it takes several times. She survives the flu epidemic, WWI, WWII and many other interesting things. How many times will it take to get things right?

Five Reasons to Read This Book

1. You'll learn a lot about different time periods in history.
2. You'll feel like you are right there experiencing the bombs of WWII.
3. You'll see what it might have been like to know Hitler personally.
4. It will make you think about how you live you life and what you would do differently if you could start all over again.
5. Rich thoughtful writing.

Five Reasons to Skip This Book

1. No swoony romantic parts.
2. Lots and lots of detail. A bit on the wordy side.
3. Repetition as this character lives her life over and over again.
4. Not many likable characters.
5. A great hook in the beginning that failed to deliver.

Bottom Line: For me the reasons to read overpowered the reasons to skip. I enjoyed and loved getting immersed into this time and place (England/Germany between 1911 and 1960) in history.

Other Reviews:

Life After Life has everything I love in a book: interesting well developed characters, a well drawn historical setting, a magical element, and a macabre undertone. From RA for All

I am in the strange position of recommending this book while still kind of warning off traditional romance readers. From Dear Author

Life After Life is good, but it is repetitious in a way it needn’t have been, there is a great deal left unsaid, and the suggestion of intrigue at the beginning is nowhere to be found. From The Worm Hole

So, yeah, sorry but this books was slow, boring and repetitive. It was torture to pick it up and finish. From Alternate Readality

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kdrama Review: My Love From the Star

Drama: My Love From the Star (though it's known by many different names.  So confusing! Click on the link to find all the episodes!)
Genre: Romantic Drama/Comedy
Starring: Kim Soo Hyun, Jun Ji Hyun, Park Hae Jin
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

While this one is still funny, a lot funny, it is much more drama filled then the last one I told you about. Thus, the duel description above. Both drama and comedy. Which is awesome.

This is the story of Do Min Joon, who happens to be an alien. See, he came from his planet 400 years ago and got stranded on Earth. He's been waiting ever since for a chance to go home. And now, suddenly, that chance is here... in just three months from the time this story opens.

He's learned a ton of interesting things during his stay here, and in fact, he's extremely smart and rich and cool. But one thing he hasn't experienced... love and family. And now, just when it's about time for him to go home, love moves in RIGHT NEXT DOOR!

Love moves in!
This girl just  happens to be the most famous actress in Korea at the moment. Well.. until she's not. And this girl also just happens to have all the characteristics that he hates! And of course, he's attracted. Like really attracted. But does he plan on telling her this? No way Jose! He's going to remain calm, and cool and collected and show no emotion whatsoever, because does he need this complication in his life right when he's about to go home?

NO! He does NOT!!

Poor Professor Do! (Because yes he's a college professor at the moment and wouldn't you know it, our actress decides right this very now to take a class and guess who's class she ends up in? I bet you can't guess!!!)
Professor Do Min Joon

Sigh. Things get complicated. Very complicated. And not only is he fighting to not like this girl, he's also somehow managed to get himself all mixed up in a mystery surrounding her and the murder (maybe? suicide? maybe? who knows??) of her so-called friend.

And now, he has to figure it all out. Because for some reason, he must help her out.

But he's not going to fall for her. Of course, he's not.

This is Do Min Joon not falling....LOL!

Professor Do! You can't hide it for long!

This is Do Min Joon giving up and falling...

Ah! So good! And then, at the end. Oh my word. Bring a kleenex.

Here's some scenes set to the theme song. Sorry it's not English subbed, but you'll get the feeling of it!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent FIVE Star Reads

I'm not scared of giving out five stars. You all know that. And here are the latest five I've awarded. It seems like they were a long time ago now. I need another five star in a bad way. Maybe today since The Winner's Kiss will be showing up on my doorstep any second! YES

Five Recent Five Star Books
(with quotes from my reviews)

Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway: "It's all sorts of sweetness and swoon worthiness."

Mosquitoland by David Arnold: "It's an interesting mix of sad and funny. You know the kind, where you feel bad laughing at the situation these characters are in, and then you end up weepy eyed afterwards. Yeah, that kind."

Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: "Gah. I love these books so much. If you haven't read them  yet, what the HECK are you waiting for?"

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord: "I loved that the guy we thought would be the guy was not the guy, not because he turned out to be a jerk, but because he was just not the right guy. I loved the whole "nerds are awesome" theme too. I mean, I really really loved that especially."

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: "I loved it. This! This is the sort of book I want to write! I just, I don't know, it's just so cool!"

What are your recent five star books? Link up over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our 2016 Salt Lake Comic Con FanXperience

Thursday afternoon saw my daughter and me heading out for yet another Comic Con experience! We had great expectations having forked out the money for a VIP pass this time. Which also meant we'd bought our very first photo ops, something I both looked forward to and felt extremely anxious about! We were branching out! It was #epic!

Anyway, here's what we did and who we saw, in case you are interested in this kind of thing.

Peter Davison
aka. the 5th Doctor

The big event of this day was a special panel by Buzz Aldrin. We got there quite a bit early and decided we had time to go see Peter Davison first... who played the 5th Doctor Who back in the 80s. I've only watched the recent "modern" remake Dr. Who's so am not familiar with these older doctors (the ones they are calling the "classic" Dr. Who's!) but every time we see one of their panels, we love them. This guy was awesome and funny and personable and I didn't know that his daughter played the daughter of David Tennant in one of his episodes, who then ended up marrying David Tennant in real life! What a crazy story!! Loved it!

Buzz Aldrin
aka. the 2nd man on the moon

After that we ran and got in line for Buzz ending up with an okay seat and had a lovely time listening to him tell his stories and promote more space exploration especially to Mars. He was a hoot and lots of fun. "Nothing is impossible!" Oh, he's the second man on the moon, in case you might not have known. He took this picture:

and this picture:

which is just beyond cool. His comment about why those pictures are so iconic, "Location, location, location!"

After that we ran to get a closer seat where we camped out for a couple Q and A panels. First up was
Sylvester McCoy who was the 7th Dr. Who. Also, some of you may know him as Radagast the Brown from The Hobbit movies. He was awesome because he circulated through the audience, taking questions personally. At one point he was standing in our aisle and I was busy trying to get his picture, when suddenly he was crawling over us to get to the kid next to us to answer his question. We were trying to scoot our bags out of the way so he wouldn't trip over them and he made fun of us. Ah! It was so funny! My impression of him, a short little man with a TON of energy! He was great fun!

Sylvester McCoy
aka. the 7th Doctor

After him we had the great opportunity to listen to LaVar Burton interact with the audience and answer questions. He was amazing. Probably the best panel of the whole time for me. (Here's a link to the whole thing if you're interested. See if you can see what I mean.) And he had us laughing so hard that my face literally started to ache. I'd forgotten he was Kunta Kinte back in the day of that famous Roots show, which yes, I'm old enough to remember in a very very vivid way! Anyway, I just love him!
LaVar Burton
then as Kunta Kinte

LaVar Burton now
aka. the Reading Rainbow guy
and Geordie

We left the room for a bit to wander around the vendor floor and check out celebrity row and figure out where photo ops were happening. I was too nervous and scared to talk to anyone though. This is an aspect of Comic Con that I need to get over. But I feel too stupid to stand in line just to say hi and not actually buy an autograph from them, or pay to have a selfie taken. You know? (Each one of those is around $50 by the way.)

Anyway, then we went back to the big room to see two guys from The Backstreet Boys and one from Nsync. And yes, I am too old to have been gaga about these groups, though I've enjoyed their music. I thought it would be fun to see them still. Joey was late and got there just in time to say hi and answer like two questions. Nick and A.J. were... okay, but I was not overly impressed with them. There was a girl with them too who I have no idea who she was. They were all promoting a zombie shoe they are doing for the SyFy channel called Dead 7. We saw a couple of trailers and it looks awful! Very B movie-ish! Which, you know, can be fun sometimes! Oh, and yes, they sang the chorus of their famous-est song... but I forgot what it was. And that's good because if I remember it will be stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Then we popped into a ghost story panel, because it said "MORE stories of the paranormal" but after listening for a bit we realized it was the same stories he told last comic con. Nothing new for us. So we left early and went and got a hamburger from Crown Burger instead.


We got there bright an early to be among the first people into the big ballroom. First up was a couple of guys from The X Files... a show I never quite got into, but we wanted good spots for later, so we were there. They were Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis, the second being known as the cigarette smoking man, if you are familiar with that show. Anyway, they had fun stories and were entertaining even though we weren't fans of their show.

The X Files guys

Up next was Gillian Anderson, who the crowd was going wild over. (I guess guys especially find her attractive. Okay. I don't see it, but then again, they probably don't see it when I'm gushy for a certain guy actor, amirite?) She was another though, that I did not know and wasn't excited about. I was willing to give her a chance however. One of the things we've learned is that even if you aren't familiar with the celebrity, their panels are fun and you end up a fan afterwards. This has happened so many times. Well, let me just say that this chick did not win me over. Sorry if you are a fan of hers, but she was crass and weird, and stand-off-ish with the audience and just... I don't know...icky. She gave me a very slimy feeling. She did auction off her shirt to go toward her charity and someone bought it for $1000.  Yay!?! Anyway. She was weird.

Gillian Anderson
aka. Skully from The X Files

But up next was our favorite dude, Alan Tudyk! And he delivered! His thing is to bring a bunch of his personal garbage and for anyone who asks a question, he will sign some piece of junk and give it away! It's a riot. Plus, he is as far to the side of animated and enthusiastic as the above mentioned Gillian was not. We love him!

Alan Tudyk

and more Alan Tudyk

After that was one of his fellow Firefly costars, Summer Glau. She played River on that show and did an amazing job! She is so tiny and  cute and quiet and lovely! We had to sneak out of her panel early in order to experience our first photo op.

Summer Glau
aka. River from Firefly

It was a madhouse at the photo op area, but they let us bypass all the outside lines and took us right into lines inside where pictures were happening. There were a ton of people in line ahead of us at the inside lines, but it moved fairly quickly, once they got started and BAM BAM BAM, they have you in and out of there like cattle through a shoot! Literally five seconds to pose with the celebrity, like enough to BARELY time to say hi, pose, flash, and thanks. BAM BAM BAM!

That's us with the Alan Tudyk!

Once that was over,  we had a bit of time to stop and buy the new Dan Wells book and have him sign it. I should have taken his picture dang it. What was I thinking? This is Comic Con after all! PICTURES!

Then we managed to get back to the big room to see Peter Facinelli. Dang that boy is nice looking! He was full of fun Twilight stories and I guess he's pretty famous for a strange character on Nurse Jackie? Yeah? Anyway. He was great too. I didn't get a very good picture of him though.
Peter Facinelli
aka. Carlisle from Twilight

Then we went to see Dean Cain, who said he will run for president against Kanye if it ever comes to that. I will vote for him. He seemed totally capable. It was fun to remember watching his show Lois and Clark from back in the day. Good times! My picture of him is too terrible to share. But he looks just the same.

And then, we looked at the schedule and suddenly realized that Chandler Riggs aka. Carl from The Walking Dead was listed as doing a panel! What? Where did that come from? So we used the ZipQ VIP perk to get into that one and he was awesome.  We learned that he is very much looking forward to us all seeing next week's season finale and every time someone asked.. "what was your favorite thing to shoot, your hardest? your best? your..... whatever?" he would answer Episode 16! Also we learned he goes to public school, likes John Green books, the band 21 Pilots, truly likes chocolate pudding, his favorite character is Michonne, and he enjoys having long long hair. Oh, and he has worked with seven different sets of twins who play Judith!
Chandler Riggs
aka. Carl from The Walking Dead

Then it was time to line up for our special Dr. Who panel. They got us in there ten times faster than last year and we did most of the waiting inside on the chairs. Instead of sitting on a cold concrete floor. Nice. Anyway it was a panel of the two older Dr. Who's, which we'd already seen on panels, and also Alex Kingston who plays River Song, and Matt Smith, the 11th Doctor. They had a great time interacting with each other and making us laugh. It was a great time. Though I find it fascinating that kids are still the only ones brave enough to stand in the Q and A line and ask questions.

The two classic Doctors with the moderator

Alex and Matt

And that ended our second day.


We got there even earlier for this day! We wanted to be close! We were among the first inside thanks to Catie who beat us there and let us jump in line with her!  First up was Alex Kingston, who I just mentioned above, but it was fun to see her on her own. PS. I totally forgot she was on ER. I loved that show! She is a hoot and a blast to listen to. And so cute!

Alex Kingston
aka. River Song on Dr. Who

Then we saw  Jason Isaacs known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter. He was a riot and decided to not really do a Q and A but just answered all the normal questions he knew everyone would ask! Sort of in stand up comedian style. He told great stories from the set of Harry Potter and how he was the one who had the idea of what Lucius should look, including the long white hair. He's also known for Captain Hook from a Peter Pan remake that I remember quite enjoying. I need to rewatch that. He's in a ton of other things too. He was funny and extremely energetic and we could have listened to him for much longer than the allotted hour.

Jason Isaacs
aka. Lucius Malfoy

Up next was the man of the day, Jeremy Renner! He's here in Park City shooting another movie, so he just decided he could handle zipping down for the day to hang out with fans. He was quite laid back and quiet after Jason, but still very nice, very cute...VERY... and had the most fun laugh and deep voice. Sigh. He could only stay for a bit, so it was a quick little glimpse of him, but worth it.

Jeremy Renner
aka. Hawkeye the coolest Avenger

After that we popped back over to get in line for our photo op with Jason. Sheesh. Did I say it was a madhouse over there?! We waited a bit for them to call us and while we did that we walked around and saw that Nsync Joey was having a dance party at his autograph table, and that Matt Smith was "out" so we got a closer up glimpse of him and... DANG! Did I say how smashing he is?! Anyway, we ended up nearly first in line for the photo op and didn't have to wait for very long really. A VIP perk at work then for sure! BAM BAM BAM! Photo with Jason! He did shake our hands though, which was nice. He seems like a good guy. Yeah, I need to watch more of his movies.

That's us with Jason Isaacs!

Then, we ran back to the panels and saw Danai Gurira aka. as Michonne from The Walking Dead. wow, she is stunning and wow she does SO MUCH STUFF! I'm blown away by the lives these people lead! It kills me!
Danai Gurira
aka. Michonne from The Walking Dead

Then we stayed for the voice actors and their famous and extremely popular panel called Twisted Toons. In past I've just been so-so about them but my daughter was over the moon to see (hear?) the guy who voices Sponge Bob. Also, there was the guy who does Disney voices, which I actually know! And so it ended up to be more fun than I expected. they read the script of The Force Awakens in all their funny voices and people were rolling in the aisles. We stayed the whole time and didn't end up sneaking out early like we thought we might.

We had a bit of time to do some shopping. I added to the Funko Pop Star Wars collection. Something one must do while at Comic Con you know...

And the collection grows

After that we went and saw some familiar faces talking about writing and doing their Writing Excuses podcast.
Howard Taylor, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells
aka. The Writing Excuses guys

And then we stayed in that smaller room to hear what people had to say about the new Star Wars land in Disneyland. It sounds fun and I look forward to experiencing it someday!

Then we stumbled out of there, blurry eyed and happy, re-energized from yet another comic Con and ready to face the next six months until the next one rolls around!

It's bigger on the inside.
Here's a little feeling for what it's like there. We are in the crowd at .05 seconds in! LOL!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Currently: Feeling Surprisingly Not Hungover

Listening: Ryeowook is singing One Fine Spring Day which just makes my heart light and happy.

Watching: Caught up with one Survivor episode last night (one from several weeks ago) and WOW... everyone was dropping like flies and I've never seen so many behind the scenes people materialize! It was really quite scary. One guy was whisked away on a stretcher and out of the game. 

Reading: Um. But I did buy a new book. Another one. Adding to the stack.

Writing: Um. But I better get kicked into gear because there's a conference coming up!

Blogging: I wrote a fun Day in the Life post! And I hosted a couple of Bloggiesta chats! And that event ends today. I didn't do much, but I tried.

Health Watch: A couple of Zumba episodes. But eating has not been good.. again.

  • I spent the past three days at Comic Con (which is why I would expect a bit of a hangover this morning) and had a BLAST! Still running high on the energy of that and will have to share it all in a post soon.
  • Hosting Easter dinner today. Wish me luck.
  • Planning on hanging out with Megs this week and doing a lot of dancing, blasting music and Kdrama watching.
  • Planning on a the first camping trip in YEARS next weekend. It should be relaxing, but probably won't be. That's how these things tend to go.
  • Hoping for some really good down time soon. Much needed.
  • Happy Easter everyone! Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Day in the Life: March 17, 2016

Last year, Trish from Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity hosted a fun blogger connecting event where she encouraged us to record the details of an ordinary day, post about it and then link up.

We loved it! It was a blast to see what everyone's days are like! We couldn't wait to do it again! And now, the day has come! Today is the post and link up day. Check Trish's blog for all the details. If you haven't recorded your day yet, you can still do that and link up soon!

Last time (check out my day from last year here if you missed it) I recorded a work day. (I work three mornings a week at the library.) This time I decided to try a non-work day for you to see what I do when I have the whole day ahead of me to do anything I want! (You'll see that some stuff doesn't change much from last time.) I took notes. I took pictures.

 And so I give you a very typical ordinary day (except for the fact that it was a book club day) in my very typical and ordinary life:

Thursday March 17, 2016

6:30 am: I wake up... before my phone alarm actually goes off. I pry my eyes open and read my phone for messages and notifications and what might be happening in the world. Not much is. But it is St. Patrick's Day!

7:00 am: I roll out of bed and drive my daughter to school without getting out of my pajamas. I always wonder what would happen if some sort of issue arose and I had to face the public. But luckily, today was not that day.

7:30 am: When I get home, I crawl back in bed and promptly fall into a deep sleep. Why is it so easy to sleep at this time of day but so hard at... say... 3:30 am sometimes?

8:15 am: I wake up for the second time and nudge the hubby awake too. While he gets ready for work, I read in bed. I'm not even close to finishing the book for book club happening later this evening, but I plan to give it a shot. However, I'm interrupted many times and the morning's reading session is only mildly successful.

Reading in bed.
9:15 am: I get out of bed with the intention to exercise. But first, my sister texts me and we continue our ongoing Korean obsession discussion that has been nonstop since Jan. 8 when we discovered a music group we can't get enough of.  The topic of this morning's discussion is the fact that one of the boys has announced his departure date for his mandatory two year stint in the Korean military. We mourn the fact that this particular boy will be forever changed by this experience. He is the sweetest most softhearted one of the bunch with the most angelic voice ever. Imagining him surviving boot camp and the stuff that must go on at such a place kills us. Ah. I hope he comes back tougher, stronger, but not truly changed. Sigh.

Ryeowook from Super Junior

9:30 am: I continue on down the stairs where I put on a Zumba DVD and dance my heart out. Oh, before I went down, I made the fatal mistake of stepping on the scale, because I've been doing pretty great for two weeks now with the dancing and the not eating so much. Well, it's no surprise that there was not one bit of change. So I went down with a heavy heart thinking it's all in vain. But still I went. And still I had fun. Despite the fact that it seems to do no good. Sigh.

Zumba with Beto

10:30 am: I return up the stairs all sweaty and disheveled. I eat breakfast and shower and finally actually get ready for the day. I clean the kitchen a little too. I blast music. From here on out, just know that the music is a given and is with me for the rest of the day until the evening. (Most often I'm blasting from this Spotify playlist.)


Music is a constant presence in my day.

11:00 am: I get on the computer! ARGH! I only meant to check a couple of things, and make a shopping list, but I get sucked in.. AGAIN... by the Korean boys. Dang, they are distracting! Well, I manage only 20 minutes of watching a few videos, which actually isn't that bad and I don't lose too much time. At one point I stand up and just had to dance. After all, no one is watching. Then I turn around and see this:

Mika wonders what the heck I'm doing.

11:20 am: I focus and figure out what I want to make for book club this evening and I make a shopping list.

11:45 am: Finally, I'm out the door to the store. Sheesh. It's almost freaking noon! How does this happen?
Grocery store of choice.

12:45 pm: An hour later I'm home with food. I'm exhausted. I unload the groceries and plop in the chair and allow myself about 15 minutes for a breather.

I always underestimate my purchase plans.
I thought the small cart would be just fine this time.
It wasn't.

1:00 pm: Time to get busy. I make treats for book club and potato soup in the crock pot for dinner. One of the book club treats gives me grief and it's a miracle I don't chuck two uncooperative appliances in the garbage. I make a much bigger mess than is necessary, but I still manage to get it all done in an hour.
Potato soup in progress

Avocado spinach dip that didn't want to get
pureed up!

2:00 pm. Time to multitask. The cookies are still baking, so in between batches, I get online and join the weekly family sister chat. For about in hour we chat about life and random things. I can't remember anything worth reporting. At the same time, I'm working on Bloggiesta emails and stuff. I probably wanted to write a blog post, but I don't think I managed it. I feel anxious because I haven't read any more of the book club book. Also, all I want to do about now is curl up with the latest Kdrama I'm watching. Sigh.

My office space has changed and gotten
much more cluttered since the time I posted a picture!

3:45 pm: It's been nearly two hours on the computer now. I'm on call to go pick up the daughter from school. She is staying after for some stuff. At this time, I get the text to come get her. So out the door I go. Did a say yet what a gorgeous day it is outside? Thus, the obligatory mountain picture to prove it:

This view kills me sometimes.

4:15 pm: We are back from the school. There's so much to do still before book club! I gotta get busy! I find a few St. Patrick's Day (and Easter) decorations and switch them out with the Valentine's stuff that's still up. I change the quilt wall hanging. I vacuum a bit and throw out some garbage. I print the list of books that won our vote for books we want to read this upcoming year. I bounce from thing to thing, trying to get it all done. So that I can:

5:00 pm: Crash with the book for just a little bit at least! Now it's time to read and try to fight of sleeping! How do you think I did? I read some. I slept some.

Voting results for book clubs schedule next year.

The Easter tree.

5:45 pm: I realize that the daughter needs to go again to a school thing, and she should eat first. So I  finish what needs to be done to the soup. However, she doesn't eat it and just goes (driving herself this time because there's now a car available.)  The husband comes home and we sit for a moment together and have dinner. In between all this, I fold the laundry that's all over the bed.

I'm such a good folder! LOL!
(And bed maker, obviously.)

Potato soup finished!

6:30 pm: I curl up with the book again. I do a pretty good job this time reading and not sleeping. Still I'm about 100 pages short of the end.

So close and yet so far!

7:15 pm: Ah! I should get the treats and water and other such things ready for book club now!

The book club spread: avocado dip, mint chocolate chip cookies and candy.

Ready for book club!

7:30 pm: Book club starts! We discuss the book Life After Life. Most people thought it was boring and too repetitive and what was the point!!?? I enjoyed what I'd read so far and a couple others thought it was okay. No one seemed to love it. Sad. We discussed the books we plan to read next year and assigned them all a month. We talked about other books we've read this month. It was a great meeting! I'm so happy my sister who lives in the area joined us again! It's been awhile since we've seen her there!

During book club!
Isn't everyone so festively green for St. Patrick's Day?

10:20 pm: Book club is over! I'm tired. I get in bed and finally, I plug myself into the tablet and watch an episode of my current kdrama... My Love From the Stars. Gah. It's getting good. Too bad I can't just keep watching. But my eyes are tired and I do have to work the next day.

Professor Do Min Joon
He's so sad here. He's stopping time in order to not hear
the girl confessing love to someone else.
Because what else do you do? 

12:00 am: I sigh, flip the tablet closed, and curl up to sleep. Another day is over.


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