Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Reading Recap: November 2019

Snowy morning!

Books I read in November:

Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman: The answer to "what if the water stopped coming out of the tap one day"... and it's not pretty.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi: A retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in inner city New York with a cast of all black characters.

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer: A romance between a girl who is dealing with her own wrong choices and wrong choices of her sister, and a boy who is dealing with the wrong choices of his dad.

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen: A summertime story of a girl who goes to stay with her maternal grandmother and finally learns more about her mom who died five years before.

Favorite: I really enjoyed ALL these books and gave them all four stars. How to pick a favorite? Dry probably stayed with me the longest and made me think too much and have nightmares about dying of thirst.

Goals for December:

  • read the book club book The Bear and the Nightingale
  • read more Beehive long list books
  • don't stress that goals and challenges have not been met
  • makes year end favorites list and maybe even some decade end ones!

Will you all be making year end and decade end lists? Is it still a thing?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Book Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Book: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is an author you know you can go to whenever you want a fun, sweet, heartfelt coming of age story. Which is pretty much what I always want, so there's that.

In this one, we have our girl who's mom passed away several years before due to an overdose. Her mom gave her and her dad trouble a lot, and our girl only remembers the bad times, and has just a vague memory of the good. 

So when the dad gets remarried and goes on a honeymoon, our girl ends up staying with her maternal grandma, someone they have totally lost touch with, and in so doing, she reconnects with her mom's family and learns all about her mom...thanks especially to a childhood friend (who she can't even remember) who has now grown up into a way cute boy. It just so happens that his dad was really good friends with her mom and he has tons of pictures of them, and knows all the stories.

A perfect summertime romance. I really enjoyed it. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Book Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

Book: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

So I've decided this author is one of my favorites and I need to catch up on on ALL her books. Seriously. I love her writing and her stories and her way of dealing with both an intense romance along with some real life issues. So good. 

So this one is about a girl who is frustrated because she has been judged because of a past deed where she choose poorly and now has messed up how everyone looks at her... which used to be the smart and perfect honor student. Also, she has to deal with her sister who has come home from college pregnant and the whole family is trying to deal with the consequences.

It's also about a boy who's father has been caught embezzling money from all his clients and because of that... the dad tried to commit suicide, failed, and is now disabled and dependent on his wife... and this boy... his son. Everyone now hates him (the boy) because they think he knew what was going down and they blame him for what has happened. So the boy has gone from really really popular, to no one talking to him.

So these two come together since they have to do a group assignment together... and they start learning more and more about each other and that the judgments everyone is putting on them aren't quite right. 

I really enjoyed this romance... and also all the underlying crazy things these kids deal with because of other people's choices mostly. It's really good. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Book: Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is a fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a few changes. It's modern day and takes place in inner city New York with a cast of all black people. 

So basically you know the story! I really enjoyed it! The characters were a lot of fun and I had no trouble picturing them and this setting. I loved seeing how she managed to change up the story just a bit to fit a modern setting. It was fun anticipating the next event but still not really knowing how it would go down. 

There were a lot of references to this culture that went over my head... and some of them I would have liked have explained to me a little, just so I could go away from this reading with a little more knowledge about it but they were just thrown in here and there and I didn't know what was being talked about... so I went a way not learning. That was a little frustrating to me. But the only complaint I have really.

Because bottom line, it was really well written and I was totally engaged through the whole thing. So yeah, a really fun retelling!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Kdrama Review: When the Camellia Blooms

Drama: When the Camellia Blooms
Genre: drama/mystery
Starring: Kang Ha Neul, Gang Hyo Jin
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This one is a heartfelt drama that includes nearly everything a drama could have. A little romance, a little mystery, lots of  mean mother in laws, quirky friends, a precocious kid, an ex, a murder, scandal, orphans, a long lost mom, and death. I mean, everything!

I enjoyed it, mostly. I loved the romance, though I wanted more of it. It seemed our main leads were only on stage together for a very small percentage of each episode. It made me a little crazy sometimes.

I loved all the kid/parent relationships. In fact, this is what this drama is mostly about. And that is played up to the highest and made me weepy several times... because kid/parent relationships can do that to me as we know.

This story is about a single mom who comes into this small town (this one does not take place in Seoul which is unusual) to set up shop... shop being a bar. She lives there for several years, being tolerated by the townspeople, but not really being friended by them. But she doesn't seem to care until the time period of our drama and then she lets it all out.

There's a serial killer and he seems to be stalking our girl, which really upsets the policeman, who has fallen in love with our girl at first sight. And he is determined to 1. make our girl love him back and 2. catch the killer.

Meanwhile, the ex of the girl (and the father of her kid) shows up and decides his life is crappy enough that he would like to change it which means, be a dad now and also, get our girl back.

Many of the characters are shown in this picture. Can you feel the tension? LOL!

We also have the quirky friend who likes to steal from everyone, including our girl who has hired her. And we have the crazy towns ladies, and the lawyer and her wannabe governor husband. They have many issues And everyone has a mom who is getting way too much up in everyone's business!

And then the mom of our girl shows up and suddenly, everything gets really complicated.

So... I enjoyed the story. Except the killer dude part which I didn't understand why that had to be part of the story, I think everything else would have held up on its own with out that, but whatever. Everyone loves a mystery I guess.

Most of the side characters made me crazy and I had trouble sympathizing with any of them. And wow, did they all yell a lot! SO MUCH YELLING IN THIS DRAMA!! Whew. But in the end, most of them redeemed themselves and I was like, okay. Maybe you all can be decent people after all. I don't know.

My favorite part of this drama BY FAR was our main guy and the character he played. (Are you surprised? LOL!) What a bumbling awkward, perfectly sweet and nice guy he is! When he was on screen, all was well! I loved his interaction with nearly everyone in the drama, but of course the romance for sure. What there was of it. Gah, I needed more. But anyway. He was amazing. I have seen him in only one other drama (Scarlet Heart) where his character was completely different. Now I would love to see more of his stuff to see what other characters he has done.

He's so good at expressions! Love it!

My other favorite character was the kid.. what a crazy good actor he is! OH MY WORD, but the kids they find for these dramas sometimes. It blows me away. He was amazing and my weepiness usually stemmed from feeling the emotions he was portraying. Wow.

Anyway. The moms all made me mad. All of them so so selfish. Except the mom of our girl, and especially when we learn her back a story, she is an exception. but the other moms.. dang. They made me crazy.

This has been a very well loved drama across the kdrama fandom and I feel like an exception for having some issues with it, which is weird, because I usually love everything about every drama. So. Interesting turn of events there.

Not to say I didn't love it... I mean I really liked it a lot. Yeah. It's on Netflix so those of you who have pondered a drama but don't want to deal with another app... there you go. Link up above on the title, watch it on Netflix and let me know what you think! Netflix is getting a TON of dramas these days, so it will be so easy to find them and watch them for all of you!

Here's the trailer:

The cute song and moments:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Book Review: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Book: Dry by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman
Genre: YA contemporary-ish sort of
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is the story about what might happen if suddenly there is no water coming out of your taps when you turn them on. This is what happens to this family, and these kids. One day, no water. It is contained to an area in the LA country  but a lot of people are affected. 

First everyone goes to Costco to buy water, or in other words, to fight over the water there. That makes people last a day or two. Then they hope to figure out a way to turn the ocean water into drinkable water. But that fails too.

Our two heros... the girl and the boy next door, end up together trying to stay alive. They pick up a few other stragglers on the journey and together they make a band of unlikely survivors. Our boy is from a family that actually HAS prepared for such an event, though it targets them in the neighborhood which is also not a good thing.

But these kids end up trying to find the bunker that our boy's family has built, and yet... that is not easy either and they come up against one obstacle after another after another after another.

Oh man, it's disheartening to see a portrayal of how fast society will come screeching to a halt should something like this ever happen. Martial law was declared within days and so so many people suffer and die. It's really eye opening.

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. 

P.S. Neal Shusterman is coming to the local library in a couple of weeks. I'M SO EXCITED!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Kdrama Review: Melting Me Softly

Drama: Melting Me Softly
Genre: Romantic comedy with SciFi elements
Starring: Ji Chang Wook, Won Jin Ah, Choi Bo Min
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Our boy Ji Chang Wook is back at it! It seems the critics and other reviews felt this drama wasn't his best return to the acting scene, but I found him to be just as adorable as always and enjoyed this drama thoroughly.

It's about a dude who is the director of a popular stunt reality TV show in the 90s and for one of his gigs, he thought it would be fun to be the first frozen human. He gets a girl to do it with him and they are put in the tank and frozen, all of it being filmed for the show. They are supposed to be awakened 24 hours later, but something happens, they are stored away and no one involved knows what to do (or are threatened with their lives) and the two of them or forgotten about for 20 years. Until finally one day in 2019, they are brought back.

And so it's about them dealing with life now that 20 years have passed. Their own health is at risk and they have to find the cure for that or they will die. They have to navigate that fact that their families are older and dealing with heavy things. And of course, everyone's love lives are messed up.

Figuring out phones!

I thought they were really cute together and the relationships they each have with their families is heartwarming. There were some annoying characters that really grated on the nerves, the other managers of the TV show for one... and the girl's ex boyfriend who was bad in 1999, but worse in 2019, for the other.
Cute Bo Min of Golden Child

But they did include another love interest for her... a college student who falls fast and hard for her. He is played by the beautiful Bo Min of the group Golden Child... and idol who we have actually had some interaction with once upon a time at KCON 2018 thanks to the fact that Toto was wearing his name on her head and he saw it and loved it!  He blessed us with that crazy smile of his and we won't ever get over it. LOL. But he plays up that smile a lot in this drama which was awesome.

Bo Min reacting to Toto's headband which had his name on it.

This was also the first drama I've watched since being to Korea myself and to be able to recognize landmarks and locations was SO MUCH FUN! AH!!

Anyway. I enjoyed it and got all wrapped up in how it would all end!

The trailer:

The cute stuff:

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Star Wars Movie Marathon Part 1: The First Trilogy

I posted awhile back that I thought it would be fun to re-watch all the Star Wars movies prior to the last and final (right? it is the end for real, right?) movie coming out in December. I'm a little behind of course, but I have at this point managed to rewatch the first trilogy, Episodes I-III. Here are my thoughts just for fun.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I remember enjoying this movie thoroughly when it came out in the theaters. There was no one there to tell me that I shouldn't be. However, during the course of the years and the criticism, I do agree that this movie has issues. For me it's mostly a matter of very cheesy dialogue. I do enjoy little boy Anakin but I still find the age difference between his little boy self and teenage Padme disturbing. Like how does that age difference shrink suddenly in the second movie? I can't remember how old they are supposed to be, but in my mind in that first movie he is 10 and she is 14 or 15 (but looks older). I have no idea if this is right, but it seems like a doable age difference for the second movie's events.

Anyway. The plot and the set up for the events that are to come work for me. The scary addition of the Sith characters, the getting to know the corruption of the Emperor, the discovery of Anakin, and etc. I love the pod race, and light saber fight at the end. Also, it rips my heart out when Anakin walks away and leaves his mom. Painful.

So despite the flaws, I sill find this movie full of emotion and heart. I also enjoy Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor a lot and find them to be pretty awesome Jedis.

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

The clone part of this movie I never quite understood. The development of the Storm Troopers, yes? Which is intended for our side (ie. The Republic) but ends up being for the Empire somehow. Guys, I don't follow some of the politics of these movies really, so how this happened still confuses me!

Anyway, again the dialogue is somewhat cheesy and Anakin's angst is distracting, but I seriously think that is how this character is truly suppose to be and still find Hayden Christensen to portray him very well. I think his method of delivery his lines is how someone turning to the dark side would be.... quite emotionless. AND YET, with too much emotion. He does it well. I think I'm in the minority on that. But there you go. Anyway, he has very expressive eyes and regardless of everything else, his eyes say it all. The scene after his mom dies is so very powerful to me, no matter what people say.

I've always thought the romance could have been developed a little better. It seems like he demands, she resists, and then she suddenly gives in. I wish we could see it happen a little more naturally. But still, the music for this romance makes it all seem beautiful! LOL.

I love the fight scene in the arena at the end. I find the final fight scene with Count Dooku to be forced and sudden. He seems to come out of nowhere too. Anyway. The back story of Boba Fett is also interesting to me.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

This third movie has always been a hard one for me to watch, which must imply that by this time, I have become fully and emotional attached and invested. Seeing Anakin turn is painful. Seeing him give up everything with the hope of saving Padme is painful. Seeing him actually believe the Emperor is painful.

The younglings scene is heart wrenching and will forever be one of the saddest movie moments. But then it just gets more heart wrenching to me when Obiwon and Anakin fight at the end. Like I feel teary every single time. When Obiwon cries..."you were like a brother to me!" AH!!!  It's so intense. And the music. The music is SO GOOD! And the setting. I mean could this have happened at a more perfectly awful place?

I love the tie ins with what's to come in Episode IV too. The sunset at the end with Luke especially. I mean you know they knew we would love that.

Anyway. I do feel like these movies continuously need to be defended, which is why it might seem like that's what I was doing. But despite their flaws, I feel like they did a great job of setting up the world for the original/middle trilogy.

Every time I watch them, I am reminded of the moment when as a 13 year old kid I read a blurb somewhere in some pop culture magazine that they had plans to make a prequel trilogy that would set up the story for the Star Wars that I loved. The idea of this blew me away and so when I watch it, I am fascinated that it actually really happened.

So there're my disjointed and random thoughts. Now I need to watch Solo and Rogue One before moving onto the original trilogy of my childhood/teenage years. I'm getting a little behind with the one a week plan, but I'm still working on the marathon in general. Anyone else out there doing this mission? Let me know!

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Reading Recap October 2019

Fall in the canyon

Books I read this month:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: A "traveler" has magic that enables him to go back and forth between alternate realities of London, but things get scary when he ends up with a magic rock that needs to be transported back to its home.

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi: Our girl is angry at life's injustices but after making an unlikely friend she learns better how to see the world.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: A tragedy has caused our girl take off running across the country where she finally figures out how to deal with the pain.

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith: A dude from Britain needs to find someone with the name of his ex girlfriend so he can continue with his plans to travel by train across the US.

Favorites of this month: Wow, but they were all good. However I gave A Darker Shade of Magic and A Very Large Expanse of Sea both five stars.

Plans for November:

  • continue with the Beehive Award long  list reading
  • read this month's book club pick: Crazy Rich Asians
  • participate and win in Nanowrimo
Rock on!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Book Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Book: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Contemporary YA romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

So, we have Hugo who is about ready to set off on an adventure riding a train across the US just when his girlfriend breaks up with him. But sadly, everything is in her name and it's nontransferable. Problem. Solution: to ask any random girl with the same name as his ex to step in and go on the trip with him.

And so that's when Mae comes in and fills the spot. And you can probably guess what happens from there. But for both of them, so much is going on at home that they can hardly be in the moment. Hugo has to figure out what he's doing about school, and Mae is very worried about her sick grandma, and about getting into to film school in California.

So yes, this is an insta love sort of story, if that bothers you, but I enjoyed it just fine. It's another travel across the US story (just like the previous one I reviewed) and so I enjoyed THAT again too. (going by train seems so fun. I want to do this!) Anyway, that seems to be a thing suddenly!

But as with all Jennifer E. Smith books, the romance is fun and very swoony and sweet. She is similar for me to Kasie West in that regard. Cute teen romances. But there's always some depth too. Another great one!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Book Review: A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

Book: A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti
Genre: Contemporary YA
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

This one is about a girl who is struggling with some tragedy that has made her nearly unable to function. When the story begins, she runs out and away from a diner she's at, and just keeps on running. After many miles, she decides she just wants to keep on running. So spontaneously, she finds herself running across the US just to... get it all out I guess.

Her friends and her brother are masterminds so they start a gofundme and raise money for her... her grandpa comes to get her in the motor home, so he is her guardian.. and suddenly. she becomes famous and is met by people at every stop she goes to.

All along the way, as she runs, we get the flash back story as to what happened. Though, it's not until the very final pages do we get to the tragedy, so by then we are guessing what happened, and it sort of made me crazy.

So on one hand, I enjoyed the running journey, seeing the country and meeting the people... I would actually love to do this someday, only not running. But you know, driving the back roads and see the small towns and awesome countryside. It would be amazing.

But I was very much losing patience by the end as to what happened. And what this girl's future was. I was pretty convinced she had actually committed a crime. (Wrong) And was headed to court herself.

Anyway, so I won't give it away what happened... but when we do find it out, the whole thing suddenly became a bit political, which as you know, rubs me the wrong way too.

So, this is a hard one! I really enjoyed reading it. The writing is fantastic and the journey engaging. (I don't think I've read any other books by this author, which kinds of surprises me.) But the dragging out of the "thing that happened" and then making a statement bit... was just... eh.

Have you read it? I'd love to know what you thought!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Movie Review: Gemini Man

Movie: Gemini Man
Starring: Will Smith
Genre: Action Adventure
Rating: one and a half thumbs up

I have a goal to start finding my love for the movies again, so the plan is to just simply go more often for date night, or whatever. Here's hoping some decent ones show up now and then! Mostly I look at the list of available movies and there's just nothing that looks good.

Anyway, that being said, the other night we ended up randomly at Gemini Man. Because anything Will Smith has got to be good, right?

And it was... not bad. Actually quite good I'd say. I actually enjoyed it!

The premise is that we have an assassin... Will Smith, who kills the bad guys. And then just as he's about to retire, someone is out to kill HIM. And when he finds out who it is, this dude LOOKS JUST LIKE HIM... a younger him. So he and his cohort (a girl he has just barely met) set out to figure out what's going on. And who this dude is.

It's all quite fascinating really. And a little disturbing.

There is lots of violence and fighting, but not as much as I expected. The movie actually had a lot of chill and quiet moments which was surprising. I remember leaving the theater thinking... there were some great parts and some really weird parts. I think some of it seemed very real... and some of it seemed way too fake and digital-ized, you know? I think that was it.

But we had no idea if Will Smith played both characters, and it turns out, he sure did! So somehow they managed to make him look all those years younger. It didn't look fake, that part, either. And he looked just different enough that it made us wonder (not knowing going in) if it was him, or someone else.

Anyway, what an excellent acting job! I loved that.

So, if you are up for a decent action adventure, and you are a Will Smith fan, then check it out!

Here's the trailer.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Book Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Book: A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

I was at once both leery and intrigued by this book. I worried it might be a bit too agenda-y and try to shove lessons to be learned in our faces.

But, while it did teach us something, it was done in a very palatable way. And I ended up loving it.

Based on a year in the author's own life, this is about a girl who is dealing with being a Muslin girl in high school, the year after 9/11. She is angry. Very very angry. At lots of things, and not just how she is treated by people, both at school and not.

When she gets paired up with a dude for science lab, she is curious about him, but figures his curiosity about her is just like everyone else's and doesn't really mean anything.

As it turns out, they click and become friends and then more. In so doing, it helps her to look at the world a little differently, and when she realizes his life isn't as perfect as she thinks it is, she starts to look a little more outside herself instead of focusing always on her own pain and anger.

There's a quote at the every end of the book that I wish I'd written down before I turned it back to the library, but the gist of it is what I just said above... that in all the anger she has with dealing with all the injustices, she realizes that it's her attitude and her choice with how she reacts to all that. And that she can choose to be happy over angry. That other people have their own things and that everyone is all the same and that her prejudice against people is just as bad as their prejudice against her. Or something like that... whatever it was, it was good and I inwardly cheered.

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!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Let's Watch Some Star Wars!

So I saw this movie watching schedule on Facebook and I think I'm going to give it a shot. Which means I need to watch that first one soon!

Who's with me?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Concert Review: MONSTA X at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas September 21, 2019

A few weeks ago, we had pretty much the most craziest kpop adventure yet! Nearly four years of doing this, and this one topped them all in the CRAZY department!

Earlier this year when we found out Monsta X would be at the iHeartRadio Musical Festival in Las Vegas, we thought.. that's like RIGHT HERE (lol it's only 6 hours instead of 9 hours away!) and so we HAVE to support!

Also, it wasn't that expensive for a ticket, so we were like, what the heck.. and bought tickets. Kathy (who you will know here from Read This Instead from back in the day) and I planned to drive together, and pick up Toto at her school on the way.

So that's what we did! And the adventures began!

First adventure was starting out in a pouring rain storm, but that was not bad and quite nice actually, and didn't last long.  All was well.

Next adventure was arriving in the dark in Las Vegas, which wasn't too bad either, but always a bit edge of your seat-ish. We stayed at the Stratosphere, a first for me and so that was exciting. We got discounts on the elevator ride to go up the tower, so that became our adventure of the night, it was a good one. We saw the scary rides up there at the top and people bungee jumping. So crazy!

Then the adventure became trying to find ice cream, which we ended up getting just at the McDonalds at the casino. Ha. But it was ice cream and tasted pretty good.

During the night we were all woken up by some sort of siren or alarm. Kathy thought it was inside. I thought it was out, but regardless... it woke us all up... and then we realized the power was out. Kathy called the front desk and they said, yep. We don't know what's going on, but it's out. The water too.

We were like, SERIOUSLY??? But I figured it would be back on by the time we really got up. We had about 2 more hours of trying to sleep, but when we woke up... it was still out. It appeared we still had water though, however, we were scared that it would suddenly shut down on us. So we took modified showers... by the light of our phones... and then we got out of there!

When we checked out the hotel gave us the room for free, and complimentary breakfast buffet coupons. So... awesome! We ate breakfast, then headed to the concert.

It was the day stage, which we had learned lasted much longer than we thought. It was scheduled to go from 11 am to like 6 pm. And we learned our boys would perform at 3:15 pm. one of the last ones on the list. So the debate was... do we go early enough to get close, or do we not stress about it?

Well... of course we wanted to be close! I mean, after all the effort it takes to get there, you want to be able to actually  SEE them, you know!!

But we didn't go and stand in the line at the gate, we just went and got in about the time the gates opened, which was at 10:00 am. and piled in with the crowd and just went straight to find a spot at the stage.

Turns out our spot wasn't bad at all. So we were happy. And as each band performed, things would shift and we ended up closer.. .and closer... and closer.

our view at the beginning for one of the first bands

But... we had to last the extreme endurance test now. It was 90 (or more, not even sure) degrees... with the sun beating down on us. So we had to stand there... from 10:00 am until 3:15 pm... waiting for the moment we had come for. So we stood for an hour before anything even started, and then after that, we at least had bands to watch....that would help, right?

We had one water bottle each, so we played the drinking game, where we all got a sip from our bottle after each band. We had to make it last the whole five hours, and try not to pass out from dehydration, which lots of people were doing actually. They did pass us water a bit, but it was quite the scramble to get your hands on one. We did each end up with one, and so then we felt good passing them on to others after that. They really did try to make sure we all didn't faint.

I had brought a little paper hand fan, and that thing saved me I'm pretty sure. Seriously. It was BAD. There were several moments about half way that each of us thought... how are we going to make it??? Like it was so hard, and truly an endurance test!

The things we do!! It's so crazy!!!

Anyway, the bands that came on before.. some where okay, and fairly enjoyable to listen to, and others.... not so much. And there was a spell there in the middle where i thought we would all fall asleep on the spot. Ugh. It was LONG... LONG LONG LONG to wait!!  And all that time, you have to be very aggressive to keep your spot, and not let tons of people push in front of you. It was so painful to maintain the spot... really. This is almost the worst part of it all.

And then finally it was almost our turn, and suddenly I realize two people had come up behind me, each with HUGE cameras (which are not allowed) and I was so mad... like HOW DID THEY GET THEM PAST SECURITY??? And they just put them in your face and couldn't care how they are blocking your view! Or banging your head with it or whatever.

And they tapped me on the shoulder and were pointing up ahead (acting like they didn't speak English) and basically asking to go closer and get to the front. I was like... ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? No FREAKING way!

But I calmly shook my head and simply said.. no. you are not getting in front o me. No, you can not just show up, after I've stood here for five hours, an expect to get to the front. No, no and no. They looked at me like I was the worst person in the world. And if I was, I sure didn't care. No way was I going to let them get closer. I couldn't believe they'd managed to push their way as far as they did. I guess they really intimidate people with those cameras.

So Kathy asked them.. are you guys fansites? And they were all, yeah... so proud of themselves. And Kathy asked, which one? So one of them revealed herself, so we could look her up later. The other we figured out who it was on our own later.

Anyway, so fansites are people who dedicate their lives to one member of a particular group. Basically, a stalker fan/groupie, who follows them everywhere (including on the plane they are on, and hotels they are in,etc.) to get pictures. They sale stuff and make money somehow, to support the endeavor. People, other fans, love them because they get all these awesome amazing HD pictures with those huge illegal cameras. But I have never supported them (that I know of) and can't stand seeing them at events, because they break all the rules and feel so entitled just because they have thousands of followers and because the boys actually know them. Ugh... so annoying.

So, it's about to start finally, and I have this to deal with. I was so mad. SO MAD! So when they came out and started singing I (and Kathy too I know) made ourselves as annoying as possible, making sure our hands, and arms and elbows and phones got in their way a lot. Geez. It's a ruthless game! After awhile, I did forget about them, because I needed to enjoy the show, you know?

But i was getting banged on the head constantly, and the one was still trying to push closer. And then at one point there was a HUGE surge and someone barreled into me and I was like WHAT THE HECK.. NO!!! And it appears that they had really pushed to the point several of us went flying. RIGHT WHEN MY FAVORITE SONG WAS STARTING! (And yes it's all on camera, because i was ready to film that song!)

Anyway... we survived it and regrouped and watched the song and screamed for the boys and loved (lol) every second of those 15 minutes (and 5 songs) they were on stage! Every single precious second!
Our view at the end. The person with the paper never gave up and held it the WHOLE time. 

Shownu throwing water on us

Minhyuk and his out of control tongue

Wonho looking fine

Jooheon with his dimples out (you might not see them, but I know they are there!)

After they were done, (the fansites had suddenly disappeared) we had to make our way out of that pit. It was another adventure to be sure. We had to push and shove and squeeze through so so many sweaty stinky slimy slick people! I thought it would never end! They were surging forward to get better spots for Billie, and we, all the MX people, were surging back to get out. It does not work well!!
Pre endurance test (with new MX friend Liz)

Post endurance test
Whew, but we made it out, and then went to find water and to just breathe. We found Emily (internet kpop book friend) to say hi to, and just sat and talked for a bit, before Billie came on. At which point, we went back to the BACK of the crowd to enjoy her!

Seriously though. It was the craziest mosh pit experience yet!

And the most interesting thing about it is that we were not in a crowd of kpoppers. This was a mixed crowd, so it was very interesting to see the reception people gave our boys. Of course, we had lots of MX fans with us, but also lots of Billie and other fans. They were blown away by our craziness I know, but I don't know if they fell in love with our boys. I watch them and think, how can you not? They are amazing. But then, I think many people watched them and thought... what's the big deal? Sigh. It was really interesting to experience that too.

We left and went and got food and drank so much soda until we all felt hydrated again. And then we found our second night's hotel, and just had the most relaxing evening ever! Ah, that was probably the best shower I've had in a long long time! LOL!

Then we drove home the next day, and that was the end of our adventure... except for all the looking up of the fansites and seeing how they moaned about the mean racist people who wouldn't let them go in front of them... and then we debated about revealing ourselves, which we eventually did and bam... they up and deleted their posts! LOL! Well, so we got some Twitter attention for a minute about that. And vented all kinds of righteous anger. But in the end, the fansites will still get tons of love and money from their followers and lots of attention from the boys who benefit by their pictures too. (Though I do think the boys aren't too fond of the stalker behavior, yeah?)

Anyway. Yes, the most crazy thing we've done yet. I need a break.

(But only two weeks later and I've bought tickets for the next concert... but NO MOSH PIT!)

Anyway, here is everything caught on video. The sound is bad because the bass was so intense our phones totally freaked out. I've been to a lot of concerts and this was the most intense bass I've ever experienced. It was extremely painful. So add that the endurance test! Also, Toto's phone can't handle screaming, so that's a problem.

It was also sad because the boys had a ton of technical difficulties. And we learned they basically got into a fight with staff before they came on stage. So what you see here is them performing but being mad. Ugh... but they seemed to shake it off and do well in the end. They are amazing. Really and truly.

Everyone says, but... was it worth it? To that I say... YEP!


Monday, October 14, 2019

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Book: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
Genre: speculative fiction (magical fantasy)
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Yes, I do think this one is getting five stars, simply for how it surprised me with how much I loved it and how glued to it I was.. and how I loved pretty much everything about it. Yeah, that's a five star book I'd say!

It's about our guy who is a magical traveler between worlds... these worlds are three different Londons... Gray London where there is no magic, Red London where magic flourishes, and White London where magic has taken over. There's also Black London, a place that the other three have shut themselves off from due to the fact that very very dark magic has destroyed it.

When a relic of that dark city appears, our traveler (Kell) ends up with the responsibility of getting it back... hopefully before the darkness spreads and destroys these other three Londons.

He ends up partnering with a girl from Gray London, who knows nothing about magic, but is extremely savvy and capable, and who ends up saving his life many times over. They bond, and face this evil together.

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. His name made me think of a person in real life that I know who also uses that name, and I think that made me picture HIM as that character and then it made the agony for him even worse.

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. (We picked this one for our October book club for a reason!)


Anyway. I was hooked fast and loved it all. Is this a series? I haven't looked it up yet, but it feels like there could totally be more to this story! (Oh nevermind, Goodreads says it's Shades of Magic #1, plain as day. Well. So I guess I'll be reading more of this stuff!)  (Oh gosh, there's a TON of books based on this one.. .what have I done???? )

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Movie Review: Downton Abbey

Movie: Downton Abbey

Genre: period drama
Starring: um... everyone...Maggie Smith mostly
Rating: Two thumbs up of course!


It's been the tradition with my co-worker that we celebrate our birthdays by sluffing work and going to a movie together. We missed it last year somehow, so were determined to make it happen this year... and thankfully there was actually a movie we both wanted to see... DOWNTON ABBEY of course!

I was a little worried I would have forgotten how the series ended... but it all came back and was not a problem. I quickly remembered all the reasons I loved the series.

The basis for this movie is that the king and queen of England are coming for a visit. So the house is in a flurry to get ready, both the up and the down stairs. It's very fun to see what needs to be done. It's also a little distressful to see how what is being demanded by the monarchs. So crazy.

There are some awesome antics that end up happening that are totally delightful. Can I just say how much I love Anna and Bates. :)
Branson is still my favorite.

The whole movie I stressed trying to figure out what king and queen this would be.. and where the Princess Mary in the movie features in things. I determined afterward that they (the king and queen) are the grandparents of our current Queen Elizabeth. And that George, her dad, was their son... and the brother of the Princess Mary in the movie. Do you all agree with me?

King George V and Queen Mary

Anyway, I loved seeing it on the big screen, with the big beautiful sweeping views of the country, and the music that gave me chills. Loved it!

It was really fun to go to a movie again. I hope I can start making it more a thing again...if only there were better movies out there to see. I'm pretty underwhelmed by most of them. Let me know if you see a good one!

In case you want to see the trailer. It's a good one!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Concert Review: Pentagon in LA September 12, 2013

On a whim (you may think all the concerts are "on a whim" but there is usually much stress and agonizing involved) I bought tickets for Pentagon way back in May... for a September concert. They weren't selling fast, so I bought them "later" as in after everyone else because people were like... you should totally go! It's not expensive!

So I thought, yeah, why not? And I said to the husband.. "want to have a trip to LA?" and he agreed to go on an excursion with me, to even go to the concert with me. So I bought tickets WITH SEATS in the balcony and hoped it would be good.

So Thursday September 12, we left on our adventure. We decided to do Lyfts and public transportation the whole time, so we even left from our house with a Lyft ride! And then the trains to the airport, the plane ride to Burbank (our latest LA airport of choice) and then a Lyft to our hotel in Koreatown... because the concert was to be at an hysterical old beautiful theater in Koreatown called The Wiltern (on the corner of Wilshire and Western... get it? It took me awhile...)

So we wandered around the area, got food, got bingsoo, took a ton of pictures, stood in a huge line to get in (even though we had assigned seats) and finally... the concert!

Pentagon is a group that is popular, but not THAT popular. So it was fun to support them and see their adorable-ness first hand. I loved every minute of it (except the crazy girl in front of me... she should have been doing the pit thing, lol.) The husband tolerated it, but did not come out loving them or anything. He was a great sport about it all. It will be interesting to see if he will go to another one some day with me.

My favorite parts of the concert included the ballads, the covers and the cute popular songs. Also, their ending comments. (Whole video of that here if you are interesting what I mean by that.) I think the view from the balcony was awesome. It's really fun to be closer, but we definitely had a great view this time, even if we weren't RIGHT THERE.

Here's my highlight video of the concert:

We spent the next couple of days hanging out in LA... one day at The Getty, and the evening in Santa Monica. Then we spent the next day at Universal Studios. It was so hot! But we had a great time, and got a nice recharge before come home and facing life again.

A few pictures:


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