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!


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