Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Kdrama Review: Reply1994

Drama: Reply 1994 (on Netflix)

Genre: Romantic comedy, found family saga
Starring: Go Ara, Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon Seok, Son Ho Joon, Baro
Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This is the second in the Reply series. Though these dramas aren't really connected, so it's not quite correct to call them a series. The characters are completely separate, though it was a blast when the characters from Reply 1997 (the one I previously watched) and this one crossed paths! I thought I would dying laughing!

This one centers around a boarding house for students in the middle of Seoul. It starts out in 1994, but goes through 2002, so we get to see several Korean historical things happen, as well as much technological development. (Beepers/pagers are a huge thing in this drama but by the time it ends, everyone has cell phones!)

The boarding house is run by the mom and dad... along with their daughter and sort of adopted son. There is three other boys who live there, and one other girl. And then the cousin of one of the boys who hangs out and sleeps over often.

The drama is basically about their lives as they grow up from freshman college kids, to adults, getting married and having careers. It's all about the character development of these characters and we as viewers become totally immersed in their lives and invested in having them succeed. I feel like I've just acquired a while pile of friends that feel totally real to me. It's awesome how that works.

Some things that you'll learn about while watching this drama:

  • the rise and fall of Seo Taeji and Boys (the group that started the kpop craze)
  • the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997
  • the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store in 1995
  • progress of cell phones
  • Korean baseball and basketball history
  • Korea in the World Cup game in 2002

Anyway. I found that fun. 

But mostly I just enjoyed the characters and their interactions and their love for each other, and all their craziness and idiosyncrasies. So good.

There were bits that made me crazy though. But... oh, well.

And I must say that I was heart broken over the second male lead syndrome in this one. Similar to Reply 1997, the characters are together in the present day (2013) celebrating a housewarming for one of the couples. They are watching the wedding video of that couple (which takes place in 2002) but we don't know who the girl ended up marrying until the final episode. I pretty much know who it would be, but I was rooting for the other guy like crazy. I think it's probably because his personality fits my own I think the guy that gets the girl would drive me so crazy... so putting myself into the drama (as we always do) I really fell for the other guy. Sigh. 

And I hear the last Reply drama (1988) is even worse! I'm going to have to take a Reply break and watch a few other things first I think.

 I can't find an English subbed trailer, but here's the main song sung by most of the main guys! I had no idea they sang this song! The one guy who I knew was an idol (Baro) isn't even in this! LOL! His group sings a different song for the drama I guess. Anyway, I loved that I found this video:

I looked up the B1A4 song and have to share it too. Baro, who was in the drama, is the rapper in the baseball cap. Gah, he was so adorable in this drama!

And here's Seo Taeji and Boys with the song from this drama. The guys we have to thank for kpop becoming a thing!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Kdrama Review: I'll Go To You When the Weather is Nice

Drama: I'll Go To You When the Weather is Nice (or When The Weather is Fine)
Genre: melodrama
Starring: Park Min Young, Seo Kang Joon, Lee Jae Wook
Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

I'm kind of scared to review this one because I loved it too much and won't do it justice. Pretty sure I won't find the words to describe what this drama is like.

Some words that come to mind: quiet, calm, soothing, simple, romantic, beautiful, and very very warm-hearted.

That's not to say it didn't have some disturbing moments. Because it did. Some very rough episodes. And yet, it still maintained that overlying feel of calm and soothing-ness.

It's about a girl who returns one winter to the small town she lived in for awhile during high school to live with her aunt. She is immediately attracted to the guy who she sort of knew in high school who now runs the tiny quaint bookstore. He remembers her instantly because he has liked her from the beginning.

They "talk"... that is to say, they communicate and bond with very little talking, but with all the glances and looks and actions that speak louder than words. So much acting in this drama without dialogue! I love it! She ends up working for him in the store. She joins the eclectic book club that meets there once a week made up of people of all ages from the town. And she falls for him, because who wouldn't? He's quiet, thoughtful, bookish, generous, compassionate, beautiful and... all the good things.

Except for the fact that now and then he runs from his demons by hiding out in a cabin he has in the mountains.

Yes, he has a back story. It's sad and based mostly on loneliness. Though he ended up with a beautiful life filled with love. And is actually extremely stable and steadfast thanks to that.

And yes, she has a back story. And it's mostly about what happened with her mom, her aunt, and her dad. It's tragic and disturbing and hard to watch.

It's quite the serious and slow paced drama. A beautiful slow burn romance. And so many funny parts too thanks to the awkwardness of our main dude and also many of the side characters.  They are all so cute. His friend has a love story blossom in this drama too that I just loved. And his sister, is an absolute joy, so feisty and spunky!

The title is very symbolic as this drama is bottom line about finding warmth in a cold world. There is a line at one point toward the end that goes something like... your hand is cold, and mind is cold, but when they touch, we both become warm. And one time when our girl is so sad and hugging our guy, she says "It must be nice to be be so warm all the time." Gah!! But yes, the underlying theme...warmth.
Our characters having too much fun behind the scenes!

The music is a beautiful acoustic background... usually one line of a cello, or guitar or piano. Simple and beautiful. I want to find it so bad, but am only succeeding in find the OSTs ( singing bits.) Anyway. Such pretty quiet music to go with our pretty quiet characters!

Another favorite bit of this drama is that it ends with us being privy to his private blog posts that he writes every day. And we get to see what he's REALLY thinking, since he has a hard time expressing himself during the actual events of the drama. It's the best!

Because of the slow quiet nature of this drama, some might find it boring. But during these hard days (we actually started this drama on Earthquake Day, because we needed soothing so bad!) it was just the thing for me. I looked forward to it every week so much! I'm really going to miss it now that it's over! Sigh.  It'll definitely be one of my favorites of this year. Maybe I'll just start over and watch it all again...

Here's a tiny trailer:

And a song with the clips:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Coronavirus Week Six: April 20 to 26, 2020

A great visual for pretty much what every day is like around here.

Well. It's kinda crazy that for the first two weeks of this, so much was happening. And now. There is absolutely nothing to report.

I haven't been anywhere since the walk we took last week on Sunday. We didn't do groceries this week since we got all stocked up last week. (We did get take out a couple of times though.)  I have not left the house for a week. Not sure a walk out and about will happen today either. We do get some sunshine (if it happens) on our deck now and then. But it's actually been cold many days this week, which is frustrating.

So what have I done? Good question, yeah?

We hosted an online kpop party on Friday which was quite successful and very fun. Today we were supposed to be going to LA for a concert for one of our very most favorite bands... ATEEZ, so tonight we are hosting another watch party to pretend like we are there and seeing them live. It's not going to work, and it's going to be sad, but at least it will be a fun sort of sad.

Anyway, I wish I'd figured out how to do watch parties sooner. It worked well and we'll probably do more.

I finished a book this week. And started another. Yesterday was the readathon that I used to live for, but did I read one page yesterday? Nope, not one.

It's weird because the days fly by so fast and I feel like I truly get nothing done on any of the projects I could work on. Watch the quarantine end one day and I'll be like... wait... I WASN'T READY!

We filmed and edited more for the channel this week. We have found a sweet Filipino boy band to love now. They are getting a lot of attention and are adorable, so we have been hyping them up a bit and having fun getting interaction with their fandom.

SB19.... look them up!

And as always, the drama watching every night. One ended this week. Which means we might start another new one this week.

Toto finished schooling stuff, so she has been cleaning and organizing all the stuff in her room. That's been quite the project too. We have big bag for the thrift store. Can things be dropped off there these days? I don't even know.

I know a lot of states have extended the stay at home thing through May, but I haven't heard yet what's happening here. I have heard nothing about the library opening up again, with the possibility of me going back to work. I will be surprised if that happens and expect it to be until the end of May too. Hopefully we'll know for sure what's going on soon.

In the meantime, we stay home. We work on the computer. We figure out food. We watch dramas. We talk to online friends. We read a little. And sleep a lot. Life goes on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

Book: I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
Genre: YA romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★

This is a cute story about a Japanese American girl who goes to Japan to visit her Japanese grandparents that she hasn't known at all during her life, and in so doing hopes to "find herself" and figure out once and for all what she is supposed to do with her life.

Her mom moved from Japan to America for college and never went back. This has caused a riff with her and her parents (our girl's grandparents) and they haven't really had a relationship since. So when our girl (let's call her Kimi since that's her name) goes, she doesn't know at all what to expect, but it turns out that she bonded perfectly with her grandparents and they truly were able to help her figure things out.

The problem is her mom wants her to be an artist but she really enjoys designing clothes. So it's been a struggle. But what do you know, she finds out her grandma is also into sewing!

And of course when she gets to Japan, there's a cute boy (you know it, since the place is FILLED with cute boys!) and they have an adorable relationship, though it's fast because she only has two weeks. Sigh. So fast.

Anyway. I enjoyed the cuteness. The girl, Kimi, was really quite whiny though and it annoyed me that she knew what she wanted to do with her life but just wouldn't fess up to it until we had all this stuff with the guy and her grandparents. Though since that's the story, it had to be!

This book was especially fun for me since many of the places I visited last year were mentioned, including Nara Park with all the deer, and the huge Buddha also in Nara, and the hole in the pillar that everyone climbs through. Also, many places in Kyoto. Gah, I want to go back again! Such a beautiful place!

The romance was cute and I was able to picture the cute boy with the black shaggy hair and dimple quite easily since I "know" boys like this... lol! Yep, this was how I pictured him:

Yuta from NCT 127 and yes he's Japanese. :)
He just needs a dimple and he's be a perfect Akira from this book.

This was the second book we've read for the newly formed Asian Stories online book group. Can't wait to see what's next!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Coronavirus Week Five: April 13 to 19, 2020

And so it goes.

We had some "adventures" this week.

Picked up groceries on Wednesday, and then actually went IN to Costco on Friday. Donned the homemade bandanna mask and braved the germs. Everything seemed fairly normal out there in the world. Costco was limiting the amount of people in the store, but we went at a good time and got right in. The worst part was trying to breathe and see. That mask was not fun. But I do feel all stocked up again for the time being. We'll see how long that lasts.

And then book club was on Thursday. We had 6 or 7 people Zoom in for that. It went well. Planning that next month we'll be doing the same thing. I wonder if we will in June too. Sigh.

We started a new amazing kdrama. It's on Netflix... The King: Eternal Monarch. Check it out! It's making a buzz! But anyway, that means three currently airing dramas now and one old one. They are keeping me going and we look forward to the days when new episodes drop.

We only managed to get out once for a walk, on Sunday. This needs to happen more often I think. Walks I mean. If only it would warm up just a touch. Like... only a touch.

The dieting thing is getting to me. Much depression surrounding that whole endeavor. I having been pondering the whole mental health vs. physical health thing. For me at least, my mental health is taking a hit in order to supposedly get healthy physically. And I'm still not convinced that "getting healthy" is actually happening. A lot of weight came off fast at first, but it has totally stopped now... so... what's happening with me? I have no idea. And in the meantime I am stressing about food constantly, and am almost always hungry. I wish so bad I could bake my way through this quarantine like so many others... how happy that would make me! AHH!!

This week is also sad because we had events we were really looking forward to. Sigh. So instead we are going to create some online watch parties, and I hope they turn out or else I'll just get more depressed!

So... yeah. Basically fighting sadness is a lot of what's been going on this week. How about you all?

Friday, April 17, 2020

Book Club Picks 2020-2021

Here's what the book club has voted to read for our upcoming schedule staring in June and going through May of next year.

Let us know if what Liane Moriarty book you think we should add to the line up! We've already read What Alice Forgot, and Big Little Lies. Which one do we need to read next???

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
Biased by Jennifer L. Eberhardt

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Spinning Silver by Noami Novik
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary
a book by Liane Moriarty yet to be determined

It's quite the list of different things, don't you think? I love it when that happens!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Book: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Genre: YA Fantasy 
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This is this month's book club pick, which we will be discussing tonight through Zoom! Woot. It'll be interesting to see how that goes.

It's a very intense fantasy about people with magic vs. people without. The people without happen to be the rulers of the kingdom and have suppressed and killed all those who have magic. But now, it appears that the children of these magic holders can bring magic back.

So we end up with a couple of sibling pairs, trying to first acquire the magical artifacts, then take them to the magic island before the solstice so the ritual can be performed and magic can be restored.

Of course they come across many many obstacles along the way. Very deadly ones. This is wow, a very violent story! Sometimes a bit over the top for me. But needless to say, those parts were very gripping and definitely had me engaged and turning pages!

The world building and magic system is quite cool. Some of it was a little.... magical.. for me. But still cool. I enjoyed our characters. I was hoping for a bit of romance thrown in, and was worried it wasn't going to actually happen, but then, there were a couple of chapters that was all about the romance. Nice. So I'm glad we had some of that thrown in amongst the crazy violence!

I know this starts another series. I don't know, I can't decide if I want to continue it or not. I need to be in a place where the intensity doesn't bother me as much. I need calmer quieter books right now and I keep reading not so calm books!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Coronavirus Week Four: April 6 to 12, 2020

We've passed the four week mark of doing this stay at home/stay away from people thing. It's hard to believe. We did get the word that it's officially going to last at least through the end of April (the stay at home directive I mean) and I'm sure it will then be extended once things are assessed again.

Nothing exciting happened around here. I went out once this week, on Wednesday when we walked to the nearby park and back. The husband did a small grocery trip. And that was it. We have ordered another bigger grocery order, which we will pick up this week on Wednesday. So that will be our excitement of this week!

Oh, this week will be exciting too since we plan to try a Zoom meeting for book club! Also, I hope to figure out how to do a YouTube watch party and try and get some online friends to watch kpop with us. We'll see if that works or not.

So life continues much like last week. We all get on our computers for most of the day, doing our work, school and projects. The big thing for me and Toto is looking forward to watching another drama episode at night. This week we plan to start yet another newly airing one. That'll be three dramas we are trying to keep up with!

Twitter went crazy yesterday when someone said they thought concerts won't come back until fall of 2021. Seriously, this is so depressing I can't really even think about it. I guess we'll see if they are right.

The current virus numbers are:

1.8 million total cases, 557, 000 of them in the U.S.
113,00 total people have died, 22,000 died in the U.S
The numbers in some of the first hit countries are going down a little.
But the rest of us are just arriving to the peak. I can't find the Utah numbers right now, but they are growing.

Anyway. It's made us all paranoid about germs and people. That's for sure. I hate it. The idea of things going back to normal is starting to feel weirder and weirder. Like even if they say it's okay, we will none of us believe it. It's going to take awhile to get over this.

Easter was yesterday! We boiled some eggs and made deviled eggs and had ham. That's how we knew it was Easter I guess. And the big food splurge was making cookies. So it was very exciting around here!

That's it for this week's report. I think week by week the report will continue to get more and more boring!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Reading Recap March 2020

March clouds

Books I read this month!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: When your perfect life turns out to be not so perfect.

Her Quite Revolution by Marianne Monson: The story of Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman state senator.

Adorkable by Cookie O'Gorman: A cute friends to lovers story.

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim: A very unique murder mystery and court intrigue story.

Favorite of the month: Little Fires for gripping-ness. Adorkable for pure enjoyment.

Goals for April:

  • Finish Thunderhead (DONE!)
  • Read I Love You So Mochi for Asian book club
  • Read Children of Blood and Bone for regular book club
  • Re-read Matt's book so I can properly write an Amazon review :)
  • Read some more fun and fluff
  • Read another book from Shadow Mountain for review
  • Read the next in the Scythe series: The Toll

I can totally do this, right?

How's everyone's quarantine reading going? You'd think we'd have all the time in the world to read, right? I still am struggling to fit it in. Kdramas are winning right now since they tend to fit the emotional need of this crazy time a bit better.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Kdrama Review: Forest

Drama: Forest

Genre: melodrama
Starring: Park Hae Jin, Jo Bo Ah, No Gwang-Sik
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤

Gah, or maybe 3 and a half hearts? I loved parts and other parts, not so much! 

This one is about a big CEO dude (aren't they all? It seems like it lately!) who wants to build a resort in the nearby forest before his competitor does. I think. Frankly, I miss a lot of the business talk... and my mind glazes over. Which is why there are lots of parts I found boring in this one. There's lots of business talk.

Anyway, so in order to accomplish some stuff to that end, he joins the special forces team... basically the search and rescue team based there in the forest. 

Meanwhile, our lady doctor gets put on probation ( sort of ) and is reassigned to the village hospital in the forest. These two (the doctor and the CEO ) have had a couple of run ins already, so when they meet up now in their new jobs in the forest, they are all like... what the HECK are YOU doing here??

And of course it turns out they are sharing the same house... one living on one side and the other in the other. So they have LOTS of opportunity to run into each other now for sure!

The CEO dude is very haughty and arrogant. And quite ruthless. But suddenly we start seeing a different side of him. And it's this that I never get tired of in these dramas. This character development. The change that seeing something different about life can do for a person who is so selfish and inward. You know. 

Anyway. As the story goes on, we learn that there are LOTS of secrets and our dude has to decide if he is going to be part of hiding the secrets, or bringing them out. Even if it means losing his business opportunity. Also, the secrets involve his sad back story, so that adds to the angst.

So yeah, while I totally enjoyed our leads and their love story, the business aspect and back story mystery of this one was... eh. 

No Gwang Sik

Also, there was a new (to me, actually I think he's pretty new to everyone. This was his first drama) and totally adorable side character dude, who thankfully was not the second male lead, but had his own love story arc. YES! I love it when that happens! 

Anyway, here's a trailer:

And the main song with the better clips:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Book: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Genre: YA dystopian
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

AH, this series though! So crazy and disturbing and good and thought provoking!

This is the second in the Scythe series. If you'll remember, I was hoping to finally, once and for all, meet Neal Shusterman this month. He was scheduled first last December, but had to postpone to April. And now of course, he is postponing again. To who knows when. I really hope it still happens sometime! One of my all time favorite authors for sure!

So this is the continuation of the story of Citra and Rowan... our heroes from the first book. Citra has settled into her role as Scythe Anastasia, trying to make sure the the "new order" scythes don't take over. Rowan is also doing his part in this effort, in a totally and completely off the grid unethical way. (Um... killing all the bad guys shall we say.)

We get glimpses throughout of the Thunderhead's viewpoint of this situation and the way it thinks the world is progressing, or not. The Thunderhead is the future of what we now know as The Cloud. It's the AI system that basically rules this future world. It's a fascinating look at how things could actually progress. Fascinating... and scary!

Also, we are introduced to a new and intriguing character named Grayson who appears to have a very crucial role in all this, though it seems we won't really know what that is until we read book three. The Toll, which luckily I have on head to jump right into!

Except I have some other books to read first for book clubs and such! AH!

I'm really enjoying this series, disturbing though it is. (Yeah, beware the violence people!) And it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus Week Three: March 29 to April 5

We've survived another week!

This week nothing big happened. No announcements. No earthquakes. ( Here anyway, though the aftershocks continue in SL... Idaho had a big one though. And San Diego too I think.) But, the virus continues to grow... the curve continues to escalate. People continue to die. However, toward the end of the week some places reported their numbers finally going down a bit. Let's hope that continues. But here they will continue to go up first of course. I haven't been paying a whole lot to the news and numbers, but they say it will get a lot worse here before it gets better. I'm pretty sure this stay at home thing will last AT LEAST through April... and most likely through May.

I felt like this week was all about navigating our new normal. Husband brought all his equipment home from work and set up his work space and started working from home. He's not exactly happy with his work space, but I'm guessing it's better than some.

So our days are: trying to get up between 9 and 10... yeah. Sometimes that doesn't even happen, but if we do manage that, we feel accomplished! The husband "goes to work" on his computer, the daughter takes her computer downstairs to an empty room and "goes to school." And I go to my computer and just... do random stuff.

Never before has it hit me just how "non essential" I am. It's a great feeling. I have zero importance to add to society. So.. yeah. That's a lovely feeling.

Still though, I have plenty to do. Boredom is not an issue.

We putter around that way for several hours. Everyone seems to get "done" with their work around 4 or so. Then we shift to playing. Video games, youtube videos, reading, etc. At some point we figure out food, and then we watch something...a kdrama, a movie, etc. I manage to fit in exercise either in the morning by myself, or evening with the daughter.

The big outings for the week were:

  • Tuesday and Saturday to the grocery store to pick up our online order (it was our first time... it went well. Items we tried to get but were unsuccessful: flour, yeast, spaghetti and salsa. We were able to get milk and eggs though. Yay.)
  • Sunday for a ride and a walk
  • Wednesday for a ride
  • The husband got out a couple times to deal with duplex/landlording stuff. 
  • It finally got warm enough one day to sit outside on our deck for a bit.
And that's about it. Woot. Party!

And so we start into week four. Here's hoping we can stay sane and continue to get the essential stuff done, work on the fun things, maybe organize something, clean something and not tear our hair out in the process!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Book Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Book: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Genre: mystery, court room thriller
Rating: ★ ★ ★

This is the first book chosen by the newly created online Asian Stories Book Club (interested? follow on Twitter @Asian_StoriesBC. And no I didn't create this one, Shannon from @ShanKdramaPop got it going!) The intent here is to read books by, about or set in Asian countries. We'll see how it goes, but I'm excited to jump in!

This one is a crazy story about a Korean immigrant family who has a business where they giving pure oxygen treatments to families who have autistic kids... though they treat others too who's ailments might be benefited by pure oxygen.

The crazy happens when something goes wrong during one of these treatments, a fire and explosion happen, and two people are killed. A trial commences where a mom of one of the kids is accused.

The book is then giving us the inside story of this trial, as we go day by day through it, from everyone's different perspectives... and in so doing, we also get the flash backs as to how all this different people were involved. They are many POVs which I enjoyed (some might be annoyed by that) and it was interesting to see how literally everyone had something to hide.

In then end I'm not sure there was one redeemable character! Some were down right awful and some were victims. And in the end, we find out the truth of what really went down the night of this explosion.

It's crazy I tell you!

Anyway. The subject matter was pretty tough throughout. I struggled in parts. I also struggled with court room detail, but that ended up not being the main focus of the story. The Korean immigrant bit didn't really factor into the event itself, but did play a part in the situation these people found themselves in... and in their struggle to make it in America and deal with the obstacles they faced. So hard!

So if you are love mysteries and court room intrigue and all the complicated factors that tell the WHOLE story, you'll probably really enjoy this one.


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