Friday, June 26, 2020

Coronavirus Month THREE: May 19 to June 26, 2020

One day we spent learning how to screen print tshirts and we we made a bunch showing off our kpop love!

I slacked off in my posting every week about our new daily life. That's because there's been nothing much interesting to write. As I mentioned last time, life was seeming to ease back toward normal, and that has continued through the month of June. Sometimes a little too normal. And in so doing, the virus cases are spiking and are actually way worse than when we started in March. So, it's all very confusing and frustrating and who knows what's right and what will happen and how this will all play out.

I'm going to work two days a week now. (My normal was always three days.) So who knows how long that will last and if/when I'll go back to the normal routine there. But the library is opened now, with modified procedures, and everyone wears masks and things all seem to be going smoothly for now.

The husband is still working from home and so far nothing will be changing with that. The company has loved people working from home and so this might be the new normal for him. We still get up very late... and he works later in the evening... and it seems to be a great routine for all!

We have been going out and about more... to the stores, and on errands... always with the mask. One day we even went to a restaurant... eating outside on the sidewalk were no one else was around. It was weird and like a blast from a former life! But other than that, we continue to order take out when restauranting is needed.

The family circle has widened still a bit more too, and we we've gone to a few family events, and hosted one kid who stayed the night as she is moving across the country. Not sure if I'm supposed to feel guilty about that, or... like I said... what's right or wrong in all of this, but so far, everything seems to be okay.

A few weeks ago we added another big event to the year of 2020 in that the civil rights movement has had a resurgence and people all across the country ignored the social distancing/quarantine thing to gather together and protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. This was all sparked by the death of black man in Minneapolis after the police were called by a store clerk thinking he was using a forged check or something. He didn't resist anything, but the policeman still restrained him by kneeling on his neck until he couldn't breathe and died. The whole thing was caught on someone's phone. Chaos ensued all around the world. It was gut wrenching to watch. Since then, many other similar cases have been brought to light and everyone is calling for something to change, and for racism to end once and for all. I still think it will be a long time before we can reach that ideal, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction.

Anyway. And so it goes. In our immediate every day lives, nothing is new. All events are still cancelled and travel  is restricted, so there's nothing to do and no where to go. Online events continue and help us all to feel connected, which is awesome. It remains to be seen what happens next or where we go from here. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. Mostly, the whole thing just sucks and is making us all crazy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Kdrama Review: The King: Eternal Monarch

Drama: The King: Eternal Monarch
Genre: fantasy romance
Starring: Lee Min Ho, Kim Go Eun, Woo Do Hwan
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This was a much anticipated drama since it's the first one for Lee Min Ho after his return from his military service. Since he's pretty much my favorite, I was part of this anticipation and looked so forward to it!

It seems like many people were let down... maybe they built it up too much, I don't know. But I was not one of them. I loved it. The story, the acting, the intensity, the creativity...and yes, even the craziness and confusion.

The opening scene when LMH appears on screen, in a uniform, on a white horse, with epic majestic music playing... was THE BEST THING EVER!

Anyway. The story is about a two worlds... parallel universes. Our main guy is the king in the one called "The Kingdom of Corea"... a world that divided from our own at some point in time and kept the monarchy rule. The other is our present day familiar "Republic of Korea" where our girl is a cop. The story opens when our king is a kid and his dad is assassinated by his uncle. A mysterious someone saves him (the kid) and leaves behind a strange memento. Our king is driven by the hope to meet this person some day and thank him/her for saving his life.

A key to this story is a magical flute-like instrument that allows travel between the two worlds. Our king, as a young boy, ends up with half of this instrument... and the bad guy... his uncle... ends up with the other half. The uncle is driven by the hope of continuing his quest for taking over the kingdom, which of course, means killing the king.

The story gets very complicated and mind bendy from there, with our characters traveling back and forth, and also having counterparts in both worlds. In other words, all the actors had to play two different roles.... one in each world. How cool is that? But also confusing, yes?

One of the best parts of this drama is the our king's sidekick... his personal guard, played by Woo Do Hwan. He is very stoic, stern and serious as the king's guard. In our world, his counterpart is very funny, child-like and playful. A complete opposite. Seeing this actor play both roles, sometimes in the same scene, was absolute perfection. So good! Our girl also played opposite types of people in both worlds.
Wo Do Hwan's duality was a highlight of this drama!

Anyway, eventually time travel also becomes part of the mix, and you know how confusing time travel stories can be! But despite all the questions and the "what the heck just happened?" moments, I felt that it wrapped up perfectly and everything made sense (mostly, lol) in the end. It's a very romantic drama with the love story developing quickly this time, which is a bit unusual. These guys don't have time to waste!

All the secondary characters and stories were also great. It made us all want a little longer drama I think, so their stories could be developed even more.

And the music. AH! Epic. I loved it.

Also, the cinematography. Seriously. Beautiful.

So yeah. I loved it all. I'm sad for those that had issues with it, given the highly anticipated buzz this was getting. I'm happy, though, that for me, it lived up to expectations. I'm so glad Lee Min Ho is back and I can't wait to see what he does next!

A very fast trailer:


 And my favorite song from this one:


Monday, June 15, 2020

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: contemporary/apocalyptic
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Here's one of those books that's been on the to-read list forever it seems. In fact I had both a physical copy and a kindle copy, each not knowing the other one existed. Ha. You know I really wanted to read it!

But it didn't happen until now when the book club voted it as our first read of our 17th year! And in the middle of a pandemic! You'd think we planned it or something.... LOL!

I had heard amazing things about this book, but I have also been scared of it. Some said it was intense and scary and disturbing. So as much as I wanted to read it, I've been hesitant. But what the heck, I just jumped in and you know... ended up really enjoying and in the end, it wasn't hard to stomach at all for me, even if we are in the middle of our own crazy pandemic.

So yeah, this is the story of what happens to a group of people who survive a pandemic. A flu that kills off, what did they say?, like 99% of the world's population. We start with a play in progress and the lead of the play dies right on stage of a heart attack. The little girl in the play witnesses the whole thing. That night, the flu hits their city and the world changes. We end up following the stories of the girl, the actor (who even though he dies in the first couple pages we find out his back story) and the dude who runs up on stage to try and save him. We also follow the stories of the actor's friend and some of his wives. (He had three.)

We bounce around in time from the present day when the plague breaks out... to 20 years in the future to what the survivors are doing. Some of them we follow what happened during those 20 years, but mostly we bounce from present to future and back again.

I really enjoyed the matter-of-fact writing. It was so easy to read and very fast paced. It did get a little intense in parts when the "bad guy" became a factor to survival.  It reminded me so much of The Walking Dead, but without the zombies. You know, where you have to deal with the crazy communities and leaders that had sprung up as a means to survival. And living and eating isn't necessarily the hard part, but staying away from the crazies is more what it's about.

Great story. Great life lessons. Great thoughts on what it means to be a family. I really enjoyed it.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Book Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Book: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Genre: YA contemporary
Rating: ★ ★ ★

Our boy is one of those popular quite snotty jock kids who hangs with the quite snotty crowd and thinks it's okay to be shallow like everyone else, except he kinda feels guilty about it deep down inside.

So one day he's in an accident and it ruins his knee and he can no longer play his sport, which causes his friends to no longer see him the same way. And he also no longer sees his friends the same way. And so when school opens for their senior year, everything is different.

And yet it's the beginning of everything.

Also there's a new girl.


Anyway, and so it goes. This kid is trying to figure out his new place in the society of high school and he's intrigued by this new girl, who has some sort of tragedy going on herself.

It's another cute and fun high school romance story. But not as fun and cute as some others that I've loved more. But still. I was invested. The writing is fun and engaging and snappy. It makes it very fast and easy to read.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Reading Recap May 2020

A May storm rolling through

Reading is picking up around here! Though not sure that will reflect in May's recap. I guess you'll have to see next month if I'm right or not.

What I read this month:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North: Harry lives a life, dies, and then is born again in the exact same circumstances. This is the tale of what happens during his first 15 lives and it's not very pretty.

Awakening: Starwalker Chronicles Book 1 by Christopher Keeler and Matthew Keeler: Our girl Jenna finds herself mixed up in a rebellion of sorts and learns she is key to the success of this endeavor.

Sing Me a Love Song: An Idol in Love Book 1 by Trish Milburn: Our girl (another Jenna!) comes to live with a kpop group to write their story... and becomes very intrigued by one of the boys in particular.

I would have to say The First Fifteen Lives was my favorite this month just because it was so... crazy!

Goals for June:

  • read Station 11 for book club
  • read more of Trish's idol books
  • read books that have been waiting their turn patiently for years
Summer is typically a bad reading time for me, but since life is weird right now, maybe I'll actually read a lot this summer. It is summer now right? Because time is also weird.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Book Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Book: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Genre: YA 
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

This is a story about a dude who is born blind and when the story opens he has just started at a sighted high school after having gone to a blind school for years. He quickly acclimates and makes friends, connecting in particular with one girl. He especially loves the way she describes things and they find many common interests to bond over. He's pretty sure he's falling in love with her.

Then he gets the opportunity to have an operation that might give him sight. He is warned of all the complications and has to decide what he'll do.

And so, he decides to go through with it. It's quite fascinating to see what a person who has never seen, might go through when suddenly being able to see! (The author's note explains that he did a ton of research on this and I think he did a great job describing what it might be like. I felt pretty disoriented and dizzy!)

So it's not long before he notices there's something a little different about this girl he might be in love with... about how she looks. So as you might guess, it's a great lesson on what makes a person beautiful, and also what we base our relationships on. But it does so in a really great non-preachy way, lots of humor mixed in with lots of deep moments.

I really enjoyed it this one! This is the first novel by this guy who I guess (after looking him up) is a really popular motivational speaker. I'm curious about the memoirs his written about his life now. Anyway, hopefully he'll continue with more fun YA novels!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Book Review: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Book: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
Genre: YA graphic novel
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

A cute story about two high school seniors who have worked for years at a pumpkin patch during the Halloween season. They will be graduating now and going off to college, so they know this will be their last night working. Our girl is determined to get our guy to finally confess to the "fudge girl" he has crushed on all these years, but never talked to.

So they end up trying to track her down the whole evening, but she keeps moving locations. In the meantime, they sample a lot of food, run into their favorite co-workers, and generally reminisce about all their adventures over the years.

And by the end of the evening, they realize something that they totally didn't expect when their shift started!

Awesome! I'm not one to pick up a graphic novel on purpose, but whenever I do, I'm always happy I did.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Kdrama Review: Clean With Passion for Now

Drama: Clean With Passion for Now
Genre: Romantic comedy
Starring: Yoon Kyun Sang, Kim Yoo Jung, Song Jae Rim
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

The first few moments (well, and many moments throughout) of this ones were very timely! Our dude has massive OCD about germs and so we are seeing the world through his eyes as everyone around him sneezes, wipes their hands all over surfaces, and then everyone else touches those places. He is thinking about all the germs in the world and how everyone is so gross to spread them all over the place. Living right now everyone, not just the germ OCD people, is on high germ alert... it was pretty "funny". 

So he is the CEO of a cleaning company, since that's what he knows. And he hires young pretty people to his cleaning fairies. He's a good guy, but just very very uptight and all. 

Our girl runs into him, literally, one day when she is helping out with her dad's cleaning business. And she dumps garbage all over his car. He is appalled! And demands she pay him for damages. It doesn't help that this girl is very rumpled and "unclean" to him. He is so disgusted by her.

But their paths to continue to cross and it turns out he is not so repulsed by her as he originally thought. Eventually, she ends up with a job in his company and then they really end up seeing lots of each other. Many funny things happen that gross him out and yet...he is also attracted. It's awesome.

As is the case for all dramas, there are lovely back stories that explains why our characters are the way they are and make them even more sympathetic. Soon we are rooting for them all to find happy endings and figure out all their issues.

It's a really cute fun drama and another perfect one for this crazy time. It's silly at times and over-the-top acted, but still, I really had fun watching it. I've never seen this actor dude before, but he was hilarious and really got into the over the topness!

Also, the romance is adorable. And once they get going... wow!! Pretty sure this one has the longest kissing scene I've ever seen in a drama!

And of course there's a love triangle. The dude that lives in the families rooftop apartment has a big part to play in this story too! 

Here's a cute little trailer:

And the song I enjoyed throughout the show, with cute clips:

Monday, June 1, 2020

Book Review: Sing Me a Love Song by Trish Milburn

Book: Sing Me a Love Song (An Idol in Love Book 1) by Trish Milburn
Genre: romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Trish and I fangirl together over kpop nearly daily over on Twitter. Ah, the fun we have! When I realized (quite awhile back) that she's a prolific author and has been immersed in writing this kpop romance series for the past year, I was intrigued and interested. I've been meaning to check it out all this time, so I am happy to have finally jumped in with this book one!

I've read quite a few fun little books based in the kpop fandom and I must say that so far this is my favorite. And I am now committed to reading the rest of the series! Because I need to know what happens to everyone!

This particular book is the love story between Hajoon from the kpop group SBG and their recently hired biographer. In a very unprecedented move, the company hires this girl to come in and actually live with the group in order to get to know them, interview them, take notes and write a true and sincere book about their crazy lives. What the heck! LIVE WITH THEM? Yes!!!

And so our girl, Jenna, comes with the idea she is going to be so professional and just do the job as she has done with previous gigs. But... these guys... (and the one in particular...) are hard to ignore. And she comes to love them all like the family she's never had.  And despite both of their better judgement, she and Hajoon truly fall in love.

Which, as you may or may not know, is quite forbidden in the kpop world! And so how to deal?

What I loved about this story is how real it seemed. I mean, it felt like how their lives are portrayed might really be how it is. The stuff they go through, their relationships with their families, the secrets they keep, the way they have to bow down to their managers and the company, the blood sweat and tears they put in to their work. It's intense. And frustrating.

Anyway, I totally enjoyed it and, just like Jenna, fell in love with all the characters. Lately I've been learning a ton of new kpop groups, the list is quite endless, and now I've added yet another one! Even if they are fictional!

The rest of the series highlights all the different members of this group and how they all manage to find love, which is awesome, since in the real kpop world, I know this is a rarity. (Although it does happen for a few lucky ones! Way to go Chen, Sungmin and Taeyang!) And now I've gotta keep reading them to see how it all goes down with the other boys. Awesome job Trish for sucking me in!

(And once I am caught up with the kpop boys, I just might have to check out all the cowboys she's written about!)


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