Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reading Recap July through December 2017

With Jenni at Erin Summerill's book launch for Ever the Brave

With husband, son and his friend at the Oathbringer launch.

Here's what I read the second half of the year. Better than the first but not by much. I felt like it was tons better, but most of these books were in the just the last few months, so I was deceived. The summer was pretty scarce with the reading.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick: A girl finds out that the boy who lives with a crazy big family next to her is just exactly perfect for her.

The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg: A girl is apprenticed to the paper magician and she is at first disappointed, but in the end, she is okay with it, especially after she saves his life.

Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between by Jennifer Smith: A couple who's been dating for a good long while need to decide whether or not they are breaking up or staying together when they leave for college. The book is their last day/night spend together as they approach that decision.

Our Lady Jane by Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows: An alternate look at the Lady Jane Grey story.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: A book filled with funny crazy essays about what it's like to live with a mental illness. (Or two or three.)

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: A guy finds himself kidnapped and sent to another reality where his life is completely different and all he wants to do is get back to is regular boring beautiful life.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo: A girl uses the formula found in Kdramas to help her get the guy.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: A girl suffers from terrible anxiety but despite that, she falls in love with the guy who's dad has gone missing and she is helping to find him.

Gem and Dixie by Sara Zarr: Gem is sick of her parents not taking care of her or her sister so she takes matters into her own hands.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer: A boy and girl come together through writing letters to each other.

Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen: A girl gets sent to a wilderness survival program for troubled teens and learns how to change her life.

A Taste for Monsters by Matthew Kirby: A girl with a disfigured face finds refuge in a London hospital and befriends the guy there known as the Elephant Man.

Deacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher: Deacon Locke takes his grandma to prom and becomes an internet sensation.

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner: A boy has lost all his friends to a car accident and has to deal with the guilt he feels that it was his text who caused it.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen: Through strange and magical circumstances, a young woman finally comes out of herself to start her life.

The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore: A 12 year old boy ends up getting mixed up with a couple of strange people who give and take memories.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: A girl who is famous online, but a recluse in her real life is faced with the problem of what to do when when she is discovered.

Favorites of the bunch:

I gave five stars to Deacon Locke Went to Prom, Letters to the Lost and Eliza and Her Monsters. They were all wonderful thought provoking complicated amazing stories.

Goals for 2017:

  • Read more.
  • Continue working on my huge overwhelming stack of books accumulated recently.
  • Read Oathbringer.
  • Read another Wheel of Time book with my son who is suddenly obsessed. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kdrama Review: Revolutionary Love

Drama: Revolutionary Love
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Starring: Choi Siwon, Kang So Ra, Gong Myung
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

So I watched this one soley for the reason that Siwon was in it. His first project since coming back from the military. We loved him as the second lead in She Was Pretty, but what would he be like as the main lead?

Pretty awesome I'd say! It did start out a bit weird for me. He was over the top silly, but that's because his character was. And it was somewhat cringy. But then, as the character developed, Siwon's acting refined too. Yeah. Of course he can act in a "normal" way!

In fact by the end, he was back to his swoon worthy self in a big way! Sheesh. Boy.

So this one it about the son of a rich family who owns a food company. But the son is a good for nothing playboy type who doesn't seem even a little bit smart at all. And because of all his escapades, he sort of gets kicked out.

And that's when he runs into this girl who is just working like crazy at a gazillion different jobs just to have enough to live on. He is fascinated by this. And it's actaully refreshing to him. And he falls for her fast. And now he wants to please her. Make her proud of him.

This leads to him doing all sorts of crazy things that actually start to benefit the big food company. And his dad gets mad about it, because he's pretty much a crook. But his older brother is even worse. And now they want to stop him. Especially since he's trying to uncover all the crap they've been doing all these years.

But instead, he ends up as an intern at his own company.

And there is a the second lead, who has been his reluctant friend through it all and bales him out of everything. And this friend has also been in love with the girl for years. But never has said anything. And it's so so heart wrenching! Ah, I loved this guy! (Well, and are you surprised? Always the second male lead guys. Always. Even when Siwon is the main lead!!!)

Gong Myung as the second lead who doesn't get the girl.

Anyway. It's supposed to be a funny show and it is over the top silly at times. But there are some dark disturbing moments too. Child abuse for one. And Siwon, even though he's older now, still gets beat up by his dad. Like, all he time. It's terrible.

So, yeah. You never can tell what you are going to get with these things! In the end, I totaly enjoyed it, but there were parts that made me either roll my eyes or cringe, or look away. A strange little drama indeed.

Here's a trailer that hardly gives you a feel for it at all:

And here's the song. It's English again! What's up with that!???

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Movie Review: Wonder

Movie: Wonder
Genre: Drama
Starring: Julie Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay
Rating: Two thumbs up

Whenever a well loved book is turned into a movie, it's always a scary thing. But I think this one did a great job. The kid was an amazing actor... all the kids were actually, and that makes a huge difference I think. I also really enjoyed Julia and Owen who played the parents. They are pretty much good in any movie, don't you think?

This is the story of a boy who has a face deformity. He's been homeschooled and is brilliant smart. And now his parents have decided it's time for him to face the world and go to regular school.

It's a hard thing.

But this kid has an amazingly resilient and persistent personality, and before long, he is making friends without problem. Well, wait. There are some problems and that's what this is all about. And not only his problems, but the problems of those around him. His sister. Her friend. The kids he comes in contact with.

It's one of those stories that shows that EVERYONE has a story. Even if you aren't the leading character in a crazy plot.

I love that.

It was a great movie. And so many tear jerking moments. Things like the parents watching him walk away to face the scary school. And the death of a pet. And friends making up. Simple, tear jerking things.

Yes. This is a good one. Watch it some day! If you haven't already.

Here's a trailer:

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

You Did Well Jonghyun

This is Kim Jonghyun. He is the lead singer for a Korean kpop band called SHINee. They've been singing together for ten years. They were the first kpop band we got to see live in person, in LA, in March.

He sings beautifully. He writes songs. He is a goofball. He has the biggest most contagious smile ever.

He suffered from depression. On Monday, he decided he was done. He texted his sister and said, this is my final farewell.

He wrote his friend and said, all I want is for people to say, you did well.

You did well... it's what Koreans say after they've completed a job... after they've worked together on a project, they will say to each other as they leave... you did well. Kind of like we say, good job guys.

He went to an apartment, not his, and burned charcoal on the stove. And poisoned himself with carbon monoxide.

His sister called for help. They couldn't find him. Until it was too late. He died on the way to the hospital.

And now there are four other boys who are without their lead singer. Three of those boys are also known to suffer from depression. One of them fainted when they heard the news.

And now there are millions of fans all around the world without his voice and his smile and his music.

And now there's a family without their son or their brother.

I wish he would have known how many loved him. I wish he would have been able to get help that actually helped. I wish he would have decided to call someone in that last moment instead of go through with it. I wish we could hear him sing again, live in person, in LA.

But hopefully his pain has ended. And hopefully his family and band members will heal.

We are going to miss him like crazy. He did amazing things while he was here for these short 27 years. So yes...

Jonghyun, you did well.

Our tribute to Jonghyun... pictures and gifs set to his beautiful song: End of a Day:

A year ago, singing live at a radio station. SHINee being silly and cute. One of our favorites. Jonghyun is in the black hoodie.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

Movie: Murder on the Orient Express

Starring: a ton of big names stars! But Kenneth Branagh heads things up
Rating: One thumb up :)

This was a pretty fun movie. A little silly in parts. And a bit over the top in parts. But basically what you'd expect from an Agatha Christie type mystery. We have a bunch of seemingly random passengers on this train...  and as the trip progresses, we get to know them and their weirdnesses. A bit into the trip (the scenery from the trip was the best thing about this movie! LOL!) they discover one of the passengers has been murdered.

Well, of course one of them has done it!

And it just so happens that Hercule Poirot is on the train! Only the best detective ever. Or cop. Or whatever he is. (Ah, the opening scene is really fun! I just remembered it. Nothing to do with the movie, just introducing this crazy dude!) And even though he really doesn't want to get involved, he does anyway. He can't help himself.

And he uncovers quite the story. And it turns out that... well... yeah... you'll have to just watch the movie!

It's fun. Nothing to freak about, but good fun entertainment!

Here's the trailer:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Favorite Things 2017

So guys. In 2012 I started a tradition here on the blog to post my favorite things of the past year. Taking a clue from Oprah and such. But it appears I forgot to do one last year! WHAT WAS I THINKING? I had so many favorite things from 2016!!!

And so now this post will be things from both years... 2016 and 2017. And you know what that means right? Because what HIT ME HARD these two years???? Sigh. Let's just jump into it...

(P.S. I love looking back at past years and looking at my favorite things of 2015 just cracks me up now. Like... did I have any idea what was about to happen in my life? NONE??? Not even a clue!!! Ah, but things are so much more fun now!)

And so I give you favorite things from 2016 AND 2017:

I think number one in my list will have to be Drama Fever and Viki and V Live.... all the places were I get my Korean fix (besides YouTube of course.) Two drama sites, and one where kpop stars jump on whenever they feel like it and talk live with fans. Among other things. All three provide endless hours of entertainment...that two years later I'm not tired of yet.

And all these things make a person want to learn a new language of course. Pretty much the hardest language in the world. (I actually saw a list.. and it was listed as such... I'm not just saying it!) But there are some ways to do this... and so far the one I'm using the most is called Mango Languages. It's technically a data base that you can access from your library... and it has every thing... even Pirate!

I have love hate relationship with a YouTube Channel called 1theK... it shows pretty much every new release from the kpop world, which makes me realize there is no way to keep up. But it's a good place to see what's going on. But, I hate that they take views away from the official channels of the artists. So, there's that too. Love hate.

Sangi came and introduced us to Shin Ramyun. It's so much better than the Top Ramen stuff. Believe me on that.

I'm in love with my new (ish) phone that lets me do anything I want on it at the moment! YES!! (Well, except texting is still hard. Whatever.)

My favorite conferences and conventions of the past like Comic Con and LTUE and such have been replaced by a convention we call KCON. I feel like I'm with my people here SO MUCH MORE than any conference/convention I've been to before. It's amazing. And KCON has concerts... two of them... with dozens of bands. And more than dozens of beautiful kpop idols.

Suddenly simple beads are a favorite thing. And suddenly my wrists feel naked with out these simple cheap beads on them. It's a weird phenomenon.

Light sticks.. basically a very very expensive fancy custom flashlight.. are favorite things. Though I only own one at the moment. Maybe more are in my future.

I'm surprised this one isn't on any past lists, but Airbnb... guys. We don't travel without it anymore. Hardly do we do hotels anymore... but only Airbnb. It's awesome.

Oh, and we discovered kpop fries from a local restaurant called Bumblebees. LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!

Well, and usually I list some favorite shows/music and or people... but that's so hard to do now! (Though you can be looking for a top ten songs list coming soon!) AH!!!! There's too much! But I will just end with a few random pictures of some new favorite people since I last did this list two years ago! Enjoy!!!

Lee Jinki

Choi Minho

Kim Seokjin

Park Hyungsik

Jung Taekwoon

Lee Hyukjae and Kim Jongwoon

Super Junior

Lee Minhyuk

Park Jimin

Lee Hongbin

What are some of your favorite things of this past year?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Book: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Magic realism-ish, romance-ish.. I don't know
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This is our book club for next week. And I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this! I think I thought it was a fantasy of some sort (with queen and all you know) but not really this strange magical realism thing going on. So subtle that you almost didn't even notice it!

So in this story, we have our main girl Josey, who seems to be hiding from the world. She's all about taking care of her mom and not doing one dang thing or herself. Except for hording candy and romance novels. And then this one day a visitor shows up and starts hanging out in her closet. This lady is someone she knows from the town, but not someone she really considers a friend. But this not really friend appears to need help, so what's Josey to do but help her.

Meanwhile, she (Josey) ends up talking to anther sort of acquaintance, and they do end up becoming friends. It doesn't hurt that this new girl's boyfriend (well, except she is having a bit an issue with him at the moment) is the best friend of the guy who Josey has loved for years...namely the mailman.

Well, and suddenly things start happening. And it's weird because Josey suddenly wants to start doing stuff for herself. Like go on a date with Adam (the mailman) and hang out with Chloe and let the local cab driver drive her mom around instead of her.

Really crazy things like that!

Well, it's kind of a simple story, but then we start getting all the back stories (DUDES! This book so much like a kdrama! It's just hit me!!! LOL! Back stories. Side stories. Sad stories. Quirky characters. Hints of magic. Yep... totally a kdrama kind of book.) and then you realize things aren't quite as simple as it seems. There's this strange sort of feeling going all, with all of the characters, and I started wondering, what's going to drop. SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO GO DOWN!

I loved that feeling.

And I loved the writing style. One of those sort of detached styles that grab you anyway... know what I mean? Like it's trying to not be too connected, and it fails. I love that.

I loved the character driven, relationship issues. Like there really wasn't much going on except relationship issues. Perfect.

And then the end. Of course I did NOT see it coming when the thing dropped! Even though I was looking for it. I just didn't think of that particular thing. You know? But.. I loved it.

So now... to find more of this author's books. I hear they are all pretty awesome.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Genre: YA Contemporary

This is the story of Carver Briggs, who one day sent his friends a text when they were on their way to pick him up from work. The next thing he knew, he was getting notified that they'd been in a crash and all three were dead. There was a half finished text on the driver's phone... meant for him.

The is the story of Carver Briggs, who now has to deal with the guilt that his text killed his friends. The book opens up just as he is going to the last of the three funerals. That day, he has his first panic attack.

This is the story of Carver Briggs, who spends the next many months dealing with panic attacks and facing school alone, and seeing the twin sister of one of his friends glaring at him, and connecting with the girlfriend of the other friend, and hanging out with the grandma of yet the third friend.

It's the grandma of that third friend who sets into motion the goodbye days. Something that, while at first didn't seem to help, but in the end, worked. So he spent an entire day with each of the families, remembering that specific friend, doing with them what that friend would have done with them had they had the chance to have one more day.

I was worried at first about this book. It started out being a bit on the whiny side, like I was worried we would go through the WHOLE book with this boy moaning about how he felt so guilty about this accident. (And while I can see that he would feel this way, doesn't it come down ultimately to be the choice of the driver whether he looks at his phone or not? Carver sent the text, but the friend looked and tried to text back. )

So at first I wasn't sure I could handle that. But then it started to change, and we started to see Carver dealing with things. The tiny little romance with the girlfriend of one of the boys (which yes made for a very interesting conflict there!) and the connection he started to make with the other families. And the connecting he made with his therapist who made him tell stories to get through things.

So, I ended up really enjoying it after all and loving yet another main boy character. I'm a sucker for the guy points of views these days! And it ended up hopeful and sweet and happy, despite the downer of a subject.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kdrama Review: While You Were Sleeping

Drama: While You Were Sleeping

Genre: Romantic suspense with a touch of fantasy elements
Starring: Lee Jong Suk, Suzy Bae
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Yeah, I know you are thinking this name sounds awfully familiar!  But it has nothing to do with that movie you all know. In this story, our characters keep having dreams about all the other characters. Bad stuff (usually) that's going to happen to them. And then they have to figure out how to make the bad stuff not happen. Which is pretty tricky sometimes!

So our main guy moves in next door to our main girl. He tries to be nice at first, but she throws him off. And so he's all whatever. But then their paths cross again and then SHE decides, oh, he's not so bad after all and suddenly, she's not leaving him alone and he's all... dang, why is she always in my face!

So one day a thing happens that brings together several of our characters, the main ones and the secondary. And this sets into motion some events that over the course of the year makes life for our main girl really really bad. And it seems like the drama is going to end before it gets started.

But suddenly, our main guy is right there in HER face now and getting all mixed up in her business. But we learn that he is trying to make the above bad things not happen.

Oh my word this is making NO SENSE AT ALL is it??? AH!!!

Our guy is a brand new prosecuting attorney and over the course of the drama, we get involved in all the cases he is solving. Some of them had me screaming (literally out loud) in suspense and trauma. All of it ties together in the end. There are some great villains in this drama that have you totally squirming and on the edge of your seat. The secondary characters are perfectly quirky too and the second male lead, AS ALWAYS, is swoon worthy in his own right. Sigh. Always.

Suzy and Jong Suk
Jung Hae In plays the 2nd male lead... aka the cop that loves our main girl.

But mostly I loved the romance of course. Led by one of my most favorite of all time (I fear I say that every review, don't I... well... yeah...) leading guys. This guy is just... so... CUTE!! And great acting and... all of it. I just don't know how to say it all again. He's great. Really really great.

The end is pretty crazy, but the very very end had me let down just a touch. You know I just wanted a little more... something. I don't know what. But still, I loved this one.

And so one of our (sort of ) Super Junior boys, Henry, sings one of the main songs in this drama, and it's all English, so maybe you'll love it. It is one of the most romantic things ever. Gives me chills. Here it is set to some of the lovely, but not too spoilery, clips:

And there's a gazillion trailers for this one. Here's one of them:


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