Friday, September 24, 2021

#AMWRITING...Again


Once upon a time I thought I'd write a book.

So I did NANOWRIMO and a book happened. I sent it to some beta readers (aka. friends and family) and got some decent feedback and some discouraging (but well deserved) feedback. That book I put away and have been ignoring for nearly six years. 

In the meantime, more NANOWRIMOs happened and I somehow got addicted to participating. More books happened. But none of them ever got finished.

Until this past year, and I finally finished Nano Book Two.  It took me one month to write 50,000 words and one year (seven years later) to add 13,000 more words to it and call it "finished." 

This weekend I plan to (you know I can always chicken out still!) go to the next step with this story... and enter it into a thing called Pitch Wars. 

Why am I doing this? I have no idea! Mostly for the experience. And maybe the off chance that someone thinks my story sounds fun and unique. And because there is literally nothing to lose, except maybe some confidence. And seriously, that confidence is so low that, there's LITERALLY (and I literally use that word for its literal definition!) nothing to lose. 

This contest is a really cool thing where a list of published authors called MENTORS look over the submissions and choose someone they want to help through the process of querying an agent. So if they like your story, they will help you do all the things to get it better. 

To enter I have to submit three things:

  • the first chapter (or first ten pages)
  • a query letter
  • a one page synopsis
  • choose and submit to four mentors with wish lists that match my story
Doesn't sound too hard, right? Well, think again. First of all, my book doesn't have chapters. Second, I've never written a query letter before. And third, have you ever tried to summarize 63,000 pages into one page? (LOL, you might say I've done it a thousand times here on this blog, yes? But also, I have never done for my OWN story and I can see just how much actually happens in said story that you have to LEAVE OUT when summarizing! It's painful!) Finally, all the mentors sound awesome and bottom line, I just want to curl up and read all THEIR books!

Anyway, here's to going out of my comfort zone and being brave and succeeding by just DOING it. I'm really not expecting anything, but I wanted to try just to prove to myself, if no one else, that I'm back on board and serious about this writing thing. Again. 

And if nothing else, I hope to make yet another effort to connect to the writing community and find my people. Because it's absolutely true that this writing thing is going nowhere without people in my corner. 

Maybe you are asking what book I'm submitting to this contest? Well, it also just happens that we have to have a 35 word pitch ready for this thing too, even though that's not part of the official submission. 

So here goes:

High school in the 80s can be rough! Note passing between two best friends is one way to survive the struggles of boys, bridge building and baby sibling number six.

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Kdrama Review: Imitation

Drama: Imitation

Genre: melodrama

Starring: Jeong Ji So, Lee Jun Young, Park Ji Yeon, Jeong Yun Ho

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤

This was a fun drama that got a lot of buzz because it stars a bunch of our favorite kpop idols playing... kpop idols. Kinda cool, yeah?

It's about a couple of different kpop groups... two boy groups and one girl group, and follows them in their journey to debuting (in the case of the girl group) and struggling (in the case one of the boy groups) and being huge and popular (in the case of the other boy group.)

It deals with a bunch of issues swirling around the industry...the competition between groups, the comradery between groups, the terrible management and manipulation by management, the struggle these idols have with dating relationships, and so on. It's heartbreaking at times.

But also really heart warming at times too. Our main dude is very popular and a bit of an angry young  man, but then he connects with the girl from the girl group and they bond and fall in love. And then he turns all sweet and soft. But the other dude from the other and already loved her, so he has to deal with that sadness.

When the drama opens, one of the guys from the popular group just up and disappears right in the middle of a performance, so we have the mystery to deal with and learn about. And that's part of the heartbreaking bits. 

Anyway, it was very fun to see boys from ATEEZ, and SF9 doing some great acting. And it was fun to fall in love with a dude named Park Yuri (he does solo stuff) and also the main dude who used to be in a group called U-Kiss back in the day. They were all great. The girls were from real live groups too... Pristin and I forget who else.


Jongho from ATEEZ and Park Yuri... so much comic relief in this drama. LOVED THEM!

But the fun thing is that these fictional bands, since they were made up of people in real bands, all did songs and performances as part of the show. I loved that. 


Our cute couple


So yeah, it was great and a lot of fun. It did get a bit slow for me in parts and I always just wanted the cute romance parts, but everything about it was quite interesting.

Here's a tiny trailer:



Here's the "popular" group SHAX with their song:

 

 Here's the "struggling" group SPARKLING with their song:

   

 The debuting girl group OMEGA 3 with their song:

 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Book Review: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Book: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Genre: literary fiction?

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


I don't even know how to describe this little book. It's fascinating and trippy and weird. And I totally enjoyed it!

It starts out with us meeting a dude living in some sort of palace... but this palace is huge and goes on forever. And our dude seems to be the only one living here... with the exception of some other dude who visits him now and then.

Our guy is fascinating but we can tell he is... off... somehow. He is very very immersed in this palace place and it just seems so weird. He keep meticulous records and lives off the land (the sea actually because this palace appears to be on the water) and he seems very happy and content. 

But then one day strange things start to happen, and our dude starts getting a clue that something is not right. And that's when we as readers start realizing what's really going on too.

And I really can't say much else because it would all be SPOILERS!

But guys, have you read this book? What did you think? I feel like there's something deep and symbolic about it all but I don't really know what! Anyway. Good, fast, interesting little read this one was!

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Kdrama Review: So I Married The Anti-fan

 Drama: So I Married the Anti-fan

Genre: romantic comedy

Starring: Choi Sooyoung, Choi Taejoon, Chansung

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤



This one sounded stupid at first, but then I saw everyone raving about it and then it sounded just the sort of fluffy and fun that I enjoy, and yep, it was! Totally fun!

The premise is we have our guy who is a top kpop star, and our girl, who is a reporter and they get in a clash when she sees something she isn't supposed to and it makes him crazy. Their conflict is captured and now it's a big news story. His people think it would make a  great publicity stunt, and so they come up with the idea to make a reality show pairing them together. They can't stand each other and this sounds painful to them, but both of them are talked into it.

And so the show (within the show) begins. And also the romance. Which is very lovely! And suddenly we see that this dude who seemed gruff and unapproachable at first, is actually really sweet and nice. Of course he is!

It was awesome. So much great banter and funny moments. And then swoony moments. 

However, I didn't enjoy the side story of his two friends... one of them who manages the other of them in the kpop business...and yet doesn't seem to be helping her debut as a kpop star at all. Anyway, that story included a lot of emotional abuse and it wasn't not fun. And the resolution of that story was just weird and unsatisfactory for me. Just weird.

And Chansung from 2PM played this part and dang but he seems to always have these obnoxious boy parts! Can't he be the sweet charming main lead some day? Here's hoping!

But despite that, I did truly enjoy it. A fun crazy romance for sure!


Here's a trailer:




And that song that Taejoon actually sings himself:



Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Book Review: Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo

 Book: Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo

Genre: YA romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


I wanted to read this one because I heard it was going to be a Netflix movie, and you know I'm going to be curious about this one given it's topic! 

So in this one we have a kpop star... who is the girl this time. And a dude who is suffering the summer as an intern at his dad's bank in Hong Kong. They are both Korean  American's from California, and both living these interesting lives abroad. Our girl loves being a very famous star, but she is feeling strange about it lately... and needs to figure out what's wrong. How to change things up a bit, etc. 

So one night when she sneaks out of her hotel to find a hamburger (she is starving because they never let her eat) and she is under the influence of her sleeping pills... she ends up stumbling upon our dude. Who basically rescues her because she can barely function. Of course he thinks she is drunk. 

He doesn't know where she lives so she ends up spend the night at his apartment. And when the morning comes and they can think clearly again... she knows she should go back... but he wants to make use of her. Because in the meantime,  he has found out who she is and he has aspirations to become a top "journalist" (aka. paparazzi) and this would be his big break. So somehow, he convinces her to spend the day with him. She needs the escape and he needs the story.

Well... and so then we go around Hong Kong on a grand adventure! And now I wish I could visit someday! (Ha, like travel will ever happen again, eh?)

So this ended up being a fun romp and cute romance. Lots of disses to the kpop business as usual. It's a rough business I guess and deserves the criticism, but sometimes I get tired of that, you know? But this one is good because she figures out how to buck the system a bit. So in other words... happy ending. 

Anyway, for those of us that are kpop fans, this is another fun take on that craze. And I'm really quite enjoying this author. I have another one of hers on the stack to read soon. So we'll see if the enjoyment continues. 


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Book Review: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

 Book: They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

Genre: Graphic memoir

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This was the other book we read last month for book club. (If you've been paying attention, we've been reading two books per month through the summer. It's been an interesting endeavor!)  I found it to be very interesting in learning about what happened to George Takei's family during World War II and how they ended up in the interment camps. 

It's a great look from a young boy's point of view. He didn't understand a whole lot of what was going on, but he sure did feel the pain from his parents. He makes a big deal about the fact that he really questioned his father later on... and wanted answers to why they did what they did and suffered what they did.

But as a young boy, he adapted well and the whole experience was quite an adventure actually. And it turned out they felt very safe in these camps and built up quite the life for themselves. That was one of the most interesting parts to me... that once they were freed and let out to go about their lives again... that was almost a worse adjustment than going in. And they felt very afraid of everyone. 

But yeah. It's so depressing the way we all have treated each other over the years. And so scary that this sort of thing very well could happen again. I'm glad George Takei has taken this experience and made it sort of his life's campaign.

Anyway, another great book and story that I never would  have read except for book club! I love that!

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Kdrama Review: Doom at Your Service

Drama: Doom at Your Service

Genre: Romantic comedy/fantasy

Starring: Seo In Guk, Park Bo Young, Kang Tae Oh, Lee Soo Hyuk, Dawon

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


So when I saw that my favorite Seo In Guk would be in a new drama, I was all in. Of course! And then Tae Oh is in it too? And Dawon from SF9? And then Lee Soo Hyuk who I thought was new to me but I'd actually seen him before..??? And to top it all off, my favorite girl actor too? Of COURSE I'm going to watch it!

Interesting premise this one is. Our girl is diagnosed within the very first minutes of the drama with a terminal brain tumor. And she goes on to have an even crappier day from there! And at the end of this crappy day, she is angry and upset as is expected and she yells into the void... "I wish doom upon this WHOLE WORLD!"

Well, little did she know that Doom himself heard the call. And before she knows it, he is knocking at her door and when she opens it, he says with that perfect classic Seo In Guk smile... "Hi. Doom.. at your service."

Yep...that's how it starts!

Turns out they end up in a sort of weird contract (I'm actually bit blurry on what and why this contract) And now she is all, what the heck have I done? And he is all, sorry girl, you can't get out it now. And things just get worse for her really. And she has to make a very very hard decision.

Adorable Seo In Guk and Park Bo Young

Man the banter between these two is so perfect. And our boy Doom is so so swagger-y and like he is NOT going to be fazed or touched by anything. But of course he is and he ends up being WAY more human than not. 

And there's a girl who seems to be directing everything. The symbolism in this drama is off the charts and it might make one crazy trying to figure it all out,  but I just didn't worry about trying and enjoyed the story.


You should watch this drama if only to hear this guy's voice.
Lee Soo Hyuk

I love his smile.
Kang Tae Oh

There's also a second side story with the friends our our leads that made it seem like two different dramas going on here. Like not sure what any of that had to do with anything, but it made so our swoony second lead boys could have a love story too. And they were good and I enjoyed it even tough I didn't quite get it. And it was a bit frustrating.

And Dawon? Boy... he can act! WAH.. he's so good as our female lead's little brother. He is absolutely adorable. I just have no words. So good.


And all the heart eyes for Dawon!

Anyway, it was very touch and go and how this one might end. I was very nervous. But I will give you this much of a spoiler for those who also might worry... don't be nervous. JUST WATCH IT!!


Here's a really quick trailer:


And of course this one has amazing music. Here's an example:



Monday, July 12, 2021

Book Review: You're My Star (An Idol in Love Book 7) by Trish Milburn

Book: You're My Star (An Idol in Love Book 7) by Trish Milburn

Genre: Kpop romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


While this book is still considered in the "An Idol in Love" series, it feels like a first book because we are leaving our familiar band behind and learning about a new band. Which, actually FEELS familiar because this is what we kpop people do, learn new bands over and over and over again... and continuously add to our list of bands we love. So if we do it for real bands, we can do it for fictional ones!

We have slightly met this band before because they have had some appearances and mentions in the other books. But it's their turn to have their own stories now. They are called Sky High and they are in what I feel like is a bigger company and for sure a company that is much less lenient then the company our SBG boys are in. 

So if these boys all start falling in love, who knows what's going to happen!

In this first book we meet Hoon just as he's coming home from a personal event and he gets mobbed at the airport. It appears someone has leaked his information and the fans have swarmed. Turns out they think our girl, who works for the company as the person who coordinates the band's travel, is the culprit. But of course, we know she is not.

And Hoon is really bothered that she is getting blamed and begins to take steps to help her clear her name. And in so doing.. .well... it happens. He suddenly sees her in a different light than someone who just books their travel. 

And it goes from there!

I continue to thoroughly enjoy these books. Thanks Trish for such a fun series! I love seeing all the different ways that these pretend kpop idols are falling in love and imaging our real guys maybe doing the same thing!





Friday, July 9, 2021

Kdrama Review: Love Alarm Seasons 1 and 2

Drama: Love Alarm Seasons 1 and 2 (on Netflix)

Genre: Romantic comedy/fantasy

Starring: Song Kang, Kim So Hyun, Jung Ga Ram

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


There are 8 episodes in the first season and 6 in the second, which if watched together basically makes a normal kdrama season, so don't let that confuse you! They are all complete now so just watch them all together. I guess it's possible there will be more still to come though. Netflix wants to westernize the familiar kdrama formula of one and done seasons. Whatever.

This one has a great premise in that someone makes an app that dings if someone within a 10 meter range loves you... or... if YOU love someone and come within their range, you will ding their love alarm.

So, what if you can't keep your love for people a secret anymore? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Does this take away something vital we need regarding confessing our love and/or saying "I love you" to people? 

Also, what if some people don't WANT your love and are bothered to be loved by you? What if you are loved by two different boys and those boys are best childhood friends? THEN WHAT?

Oh my word, but this little app causes ALL KINDS of craziness and it really truly does make you think. 

Song Kang

This one stars a dude named Song Kang who I hadn't heard of before this drama, but now I'm seeing him everywhere. He is stunning, but dang I did NOT like his character in this drama and was of course rooting for the second lead dude. Sigh. Second lead syndrome is THE WORST! Anyway, I was hoping to find something Song Kang has done where he plays a nice boy, but I'm hearing that he seems to cater to the bad boy dudes... so I don't know... I might have to wait a bit longer!

The female lead is played be a very popular star too. She is in so many things! She is great in this one too!

Kim So Hyun

As I said the premise for this story is pretty awesome, but it leads to quite a depressing drama. I felt sad most of the time during this one. And frustrated. But is was definitely an engaging and interesting one!

Here's a trailer for season 1:



And for season 2:

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Book: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Genre: autobiography/memoir

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ 


So I didn't really know what expect with this book, but wow, I really ended up loving it. I know this dude is popular out in the news/comedy world, but I don't really know him... I think I may have watched exactly one video of his. So I was like, hmm... do I CARE about his childhood? Other than it will be interesting to learn about South Africa?

Well, turns out he is a fabulous storyteller ( of course he is... thus the comedian in him!) and he can tell it like it is and with such heart and honesty. I really loved it. 

And at the end when we got to more about the relationship he has with his mom... yeah. That got to me. There was a little weepiness. I am a sucker for mom/son relationships.  

This is basically him telling stories from his childhood and a bunch of crazy memories of growing up in a very turbulent environment that is South Africa. He was still very young when Apartheid ended and we learn that meant things just got worse. But the biggest theme from all these stories is that he really struggled with where he fit in. He describes three groups of people: whites, blacks and coloreds. And he didn't fit in with any of them. So he would pick and choose depending on the situation. He has learned a ton of different languages, so he would pick and choose that also, depending on the situation. 

It's all quite fascinating. And sad. Also inspirational for celebrating the human spirit. 

Anyway, like I said, I really ended up enjoying it and it was quite eye opening to learn about. 

We'll be discussing this one in book club next week, stay tuned for how that turns out!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Book Review: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Book: The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes

Genre: historical fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


We read this book and another similar book (The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek) for book club this past month. We heard that there was a bit of a controversy between these two books, so we thought it would be fun to read them both and compare. 

I managed to read this one and quite enjoyed it. The other one I started, but never finished and sadly it went off my kindle and I don't think I'll worry about getting it back.

Anyway, they are both about a period in history when a bunch of brave and strong women rode on horses through the backwoods of Kentucky to deliver books and magazines to the mountain people. Great premise for a story and one that I am pretty sure both authors came up with on their own!

This one was specifically about an English lady who married a dude from this Kentucky town and came thinking she would have a great adventure. But things did not turn out quite like she imagined and the two of them ended up not really clicking. She ended up doing the job of riding books around the mountains and found her place that way. They other ladies were awesome and became her good friends and she truly become strong on her own. 

Getting to know all these ladies, and then all the other interesting characters was the best part of this story. Very fun. And I've pretty much decided that I'm quite good with the writing style of this author. She is a great storyteller and has a fantastic way of getting you into and engaged in the story. I felt compelled to keep reading this one when I needed to lay it down and that's a great sign, yeah?

Anyway, I guess her book came out a few months after the other one and she was accused of plagiarism, not necessarily because of the main subject, but because some very specific incidences are a bit similar. But after reading up on that and seeing the list... I think they are are so nitpicky that this whole claim was just crazy. And the other book had such a different feel and was more about racial issues and the interesting occurrence of the "blue people of Kentucky" that I really think they are totally different. 

So that's my take on that.

The other book I heard was harder to read and no romance (a big factor for me!) that I have decided not to keep going with it. At least for now. But I am glad to have added this to my have read list. I really enjoyed it!


Monday, June 7, 2021

Kdrama Review: Hello Me

Drama: Hello Me (on Netfllix)

Genre: Melodrama, light romance

Starring: Choi Kang-hee, Lee Re, Kim Young-kwang

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


I watched this one based on a recommendation someone sent me when I was lamenting a kdrama slump. So I didn't go in knowing anything, or watching because of a certain actor. Which is kind a weird, lol. 

But it's a really fun premise in that our main girl lead is having a crappy life and everything is looking so so down. And suddenly, she wakes up and there's this girl who looks just like she did when she was 17... 20 years ago. And it turns it this girl IS her from the past!

So she has to take care of her until they figure out how to get her back to her timeline. In the meantime, the young her is disgusted to find out how her life turns out and the old her is upset and ashamed, but also determined to fix things. The young her has such a spunk for life that it rubs off and soon our main girl is doing a ton better.

Of course there's an incident that happened that made this character change. And the younger version doesn't know... yet.. .what that is. 

That's basically it. And it makes one think... what would your younger self think if they could see your life now (assuming you are old like me). My younger self would be absolutely aghast at how some things have turned out. And surprised and perhaps even proud about lots of stuff too. It would be interesting if we met each other. I think we are totally different people now and it would really be weird. 


Anyway. There's a cute boy in this one too...and he really likes our girl... but they barely even hold hands. Nary a kiss in sight! WAH. So sad...

And there's an actor whose storyline takes a weird turn into the whole "bullying from your past" issue that seems to be a thing these days. Weird because it didn't have a whole lot to do with the story... but I guess it was something they wanted to address.



Anyway, cute drama. It made me weepy in parts.. .just the relationship between these two characters. Also, the relationship the dude has with his dad. It's all quite powerful.

A very quick trailer:

 

 Here's my favorite song from the drama...shown with the sad weepy bits:

   


 And here's the fun song shown with the cute and fun bits:

 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Reading Recap: April and May 2021

 

A stormy sunset at the farm in Idaho in mid May.



Man, I got behind and never did a recap of the books read for April... so here you have both April and May combined. It will look like an awesome list that way! 


April's Books:

My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner: cute story about a kid who ends up as his school's potato mascot

What Stars are Made of by Sarah Allen: our girl wants to get her favorite scientist listed in her textbook

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: a very lose, but wonderful, retelling of Rumpelstiltskin 

Moment of Truth by Kasie West: our girl is bugged by a masked dude who crashes her swim meet and decides she must find out who he is

Hearts in Harmony by Trish Milburn: the last two guys in this lovely fictional band finally find love like all the members have done in the previous books

Favorite this month: My Life as a Potato and Spinning Silver

May's Books:

What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter: cute story of a blogger who is in love with a guy who so knows both online and in real life, but he only knows her as the blogger and thinks the real life her is someone different.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman: third book in the Scythe trilogy where everything finally comes to a crazy climax

To Best the Boys by Mary Weber: when our girl decides to join a contest previously meant only for boys

Favorite this month: What I Like About You


Goals for June:

* We have TWO books to read for book club so I'm on that one now. 

* I want to read The Silence of Bones by June Hur.

* I need to get caught up on Trish's kpop books. I just have one to read!

* There's a couple on my nightstand patiently waiting for their turn. I need to get to them too!

* I'd love to finish the book I'm writing and get it out to beta readers maybe. Wow. Did I just type that out loud? I'm soooo close though....so close. 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Book Review: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Book: To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

Genre: YA Fantasy-ish

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


It took me a minute to get into this one, but once I was fully focused I really enjoyed it. 

It's set in a sort of fantasy kingdom type world where all the boys get to compete every year in a contest where the winner gets a scholarship to college. In the first half we meet the characters and get a feel for this world... and the fact that there's a disease killing people and our heroine and her father are trying to find a cure, especially since her mom is dying from it. 

We also learn that there are two classes of people, the Uppers and the Lowers. But both can compete in this contest. 

Our girl realizes at one point the letter inviting people to compete is vague in saying that it actually has to be boys. So she gets the idea that she can join in. 

It's a sort of Hunger Games style thing where the whole town comes out in a festival type atmosphere to watch and wait to see who wins. 

Anyway, this contest doesn't start until about half way into the book, but once it starts, it's quite hard to put down! It reminded me of an escape room type game where they have to figure out how to get out, and then get out again, and again... until they finally get to the end... the reward. Our girl goes in with a bunch of her friends and some of them end up being true friends and some not. 

Man I did a terrible job of explaining that! But hopefully it intrigues your interest! I found it quite fun with many surprising twists and turns. I don't think this is the beginning of a series, but I still find myself wondering what's next for our girl (and guy!) 



Friday, June 4, 2021

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Book: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Genre: YA dystopian

Rating: ★ ★ 


Wow, but it took me an entire year to read this book! I started it... got distracted by other things, and then wasn't in the mood and then finally decided to just finally get it done. It was a struggle this book. The first two books in these series moved pretty fast and were quite engaging, but this one lost me in many ways. 

The whole world just got very complicated and it actually started making me crazy... this world... where everything became so very religious and just... WEIRD. You know? And we sort of lost the deepness of the characters... they got lost in the midst of all the rhetoric of this world. 

But still the whole premise of these books fascinate me.. .and I pushed on to see what would happen. The second half of this book did finally get going a bit better for me. And the climatic ending was absolutely intense!

Anyway. A summary? Hmmm.. .how to do that without spoiling pretty much everything??

In this book we are following several different threads from the previous two:

* Grayson has become The Toll, which is the leader and god-like figure for the Tonists... the people who are speaking out against the Scythdom. And his goal is to try and get these very religious zealots to tone it down .... HAHAHAHA... a bit. 

* Rowan and Citra have been rescued from the doom they faced at the end of book 2, but are separated and face completely different realities. Rowan is still on the black list and the bad Scythe is still trying to kill him. For real. For keeps. Citra ends up in the hands of the good guys again and they are out to try and figure out how to end this  mess.

* There's a new settlement that's started on an island that is beyond the reach of the Thunderhead and they don't know why they are making this settlement, but it will become clear by the end of the book. So we are following a few different people there. 

*And we also get the POVs of some of the "bad" people and how they are very conflicted in what's going on and we are left wondering if they will turn in the end.


Whew. It's a lot people.... these books. They are very powerful and deep and thought-provoking, but hard. HARD stuff. Very violent and very disturbing. If you've read them, I'd love to know what you think of them, and what exactly we should be taking away from it. 

Neal Shusterman was supposed to come to our library pre-pandemic. He had to cancel, then the pandemic happened and he had to of course cancel again. We are left wondering now if he will try to still come. He is one of the authors on my dream meet list... and I really hope that still happens someday. I would love love love to hear him talk about what he was thinking about this series. Fascinating! Please, let it happen!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Book Review: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Book: What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter

Genre: YA Romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


When I was exchanging book recommendations with my daughter, she suggested this one for me after I told her I loved Tweet Cute. She said this one was a lot like that one, and she was right! This is definitely another cute fun "you've got mail" plot style romance. And why not add more of these into your life, right?

This one is a about a girl who has a famous blog and twitter where she combines cupcake designs with book covers. Her two passions perfectly paired and everyone loves it. She becomes friends with other kids who also have famous online brands, but they've all never meet in real life. 

So when she moves to a small town and suddenly comes face to face with one of these dudes, the one she really connects with and quite likes a lot, she freezes. She knows who he is, but he doesn't know her, since she hasn't ever used her real name or face on anything she does. 

Anyway. They become friends in real life and continue to be friends online, and still the dude doesn't know. She knows she has to tell him, but every time she tries, something happens to make it, not happen. Of course.

And so of course we wonder what will happen when he finds out... will he be mad? Or excited? Or both?

Anyway, it's all cute and fun and crazy and I loved it. Not that I'm famous online or anything, but I related to so much in this book. Her desire to go to the big book convention (BEA anyone?) and be on a panel of bloggers... the lingo she uses to describe this life. The stress of coming up with posts and waiting for replies and responses. Just simply the love of books and the love of being creative and sharing that with the world. It's awesome. 

(The one thing I thought was weird was that she and thus I'm guessing the author, made a big deal about an issue where an author in this story wanted to make sure everyone knew her YA books were for everyone. But the kids got mad at that and said no, they are for THEM, the kids. And I was like... okay yes, but... hmmm.... not sure what was trying to be said here, but it made me bristle a little.)

Anyway. I love these kinds of books and need to fit them in between all the heavier stuff that ends up on my list too.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Kdrama Review: Hello Monster aka. I Remember You

Drama: Hello Monster (aka. I Remember You)

Genre: Suspense Crime Thriller

Starring: Seo In Guk, Jang Nara, Park Bo Gum

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


I was in a bit of a drama slump, so decided I  need some Seo In Guk in my life again, and this was the last drama of his I hadn't yet seen, so the choice was obvious. It' called both Hello Monster, and I Remember You. And it's a bit of a heart wrenching thing. 

Our main dude comes back to Korea because of an email hinting at something he's been trying to find for years... namely, his brother. When they were kids, we learn that their dad was murdered by a very bad serial murderer dude who's path they had all crossed. (This bad dude played BRILLIANTLY by D.O. from EXO... the younger version anyway.) And the brother, who was like only 8 or something, disappeared that night. 

Now it's years later, and suddenly our guy is getting the vibe that maybe his brother is still out there somewhere. And yeah. Of course he is. Meanwhile, he ends up helping a fabulous team of cops who investigate murders, and falls for the girl on that team. Only, he is very aloof about it of course. (Ah, I wanted more swoony SIG romance moments, but this drama is not about that I guess...)




Instead, it's about this brother relationship, and once everything gets figured out.. .it's as I said, heart wrenching! This song from the drama and these clips will demonstrate well what I mean:



The brother is played by Park Bo Gum, who is another very famous and top notch actor in the kdrama world. And it was fun to see him in this role, something quite a bit different from what I've seen him do previously. Man, he is good!

Anyway, and all the side characters are fantastic so yeah. It's a good one! I just wanted more romance of course. But it has everything else for sure. 

Here's a trailer:


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Kdrama Review: Run On

Drama: Run On

Genre: romantic comedy 

Starring: Yim Si-wan, Shin Sae-kyeong, Choi Soo-young, Kang Tae-oh

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤

Wow, but I've gotten behind in my thoughts on the kdramas I'm watching. I don't even know if I can remember them enough!

Anyway, this one is about a dude who is a runner, also the son of the CEO of a rich company. But he gets in trouble when he stands up for a teammate that is getting bullied, so he finds himself on the outs with everyone. 

And our girl is a translator and their paths cross when she has to translate for him during an event (the one where he ended up getting in trouble) and from there their paths seem to keep crossing and they end up finding a lot on common with the things they are dealing with. And in fact he finds himself without a place to stay, so he ends up on her couch. Ha. Love it when that happens!

This actor was a new-to-me dude and I found him intriguing. Took me a second to get used to him, but he was awesome. The romance in this one was a bit... slower even than normal. I enjoyed the story for the most part, but was bored during some of it. 




The side character dude on the other hand is one of my favorite actors and I LOVED his character and wanted more with him all the time. He's a student painter who falls for the very cold hearted boss of the training company (where the first dude is or was working) and she falls for his paintings. But can she fall for HIM too? Will his adorable personality win? 



Anyway, bottom line a cute fun drama but not one I'm raving about as much as I sometimes do!

Here's the trailer:




And one of the songs by a favorite group named Lucy:

Friday, May 7, 2021

Book Review: Hearts in Harmony by Trish Milburn

Book: Hearts in Harmony by Trish Milburn

Genre: Kpop romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


If you've been paying attention, you'll know I've been making my way through my friend Trish's kpop romance series. This is the last one about this particular band, even though the series continues on to highlight another group. 

In this series each member, and their particular love story, have been featured. So much fun! But this is a seven  member group, and this is just the sixth book. I was worried about that! But it all makes sense once you get going in this book. 

And while you may be able to guess what's going on here, I don't really want to say a lot because.. .spoilers.

One of my favorite things about reading this series it that Trish addresses many issues from the the crazy kpop industry, and this one deals with quite a big one. In a sweet, sensitive and positive way.  I really enjoyed that.

But mostly I was happy for these last two remaining members getting their happily ever after. 

In preview reviews I've added a picture of a real life kpop idol who's image I thought fit the characters in the book, but this time I couldn't come up with anyone. Maybe a couple of dudes from OnlyOneOf? LOL! (Sorry that's probably only funny to me and a random kpop fan who might read this....) Anyway, take your pick. Any two would work! 


Meanwhile the next book about the other group is already out, so I'm still catching up! And then I'll be one of those waiting for the next book to drop! But seriously, I'm goin to miss all the boys in this group that I've gotten to know so well. Hopefully they'll show up now and then in the stories of these upcoming books. :) 



Thursday, May 6, 2021

Book Review: Moment of Truth by Kasie West

Book: Moment of Truth by Kasie West

Genre: YA contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ 


After read a bunch of books for projects and commitments, it was time to read something for fun that has patiently been waiting its turn, and that was this book! YES! Another Kasie West book! Also a great comfort read for me no matter what it is. 

In this latest one, we have our girl who gets bugged when her swim meet is disrupted by someone dressed up as the latest popular craze super hero (or something, I don't even know what) and so she makes it her mission to unmask him, figure out who he is and call him out. 

Over the course of the book, several possibilities arise. And while she continues to dig for the truth, she finds out what HER truth is. And how to overcome her own fears and issues, especially the glaring problem of her dead brother that she never knew. 

Yet another fun romance with lots of funny bits, and lots of thought provoking bits. I truly think of her books as a sort of palate cleansing for me! Yeah? Some fun and mostly light, so I can keep going on the other things. And I just realized she had yet another book released this very week! WOOT!

 



Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

 Book: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 


What a lovely fantasy story! It's a very loose retelling of Rumpelstiltskin in which we have our girl who is so smart and takes over her dad's money lending business... in so doing she ends up making a ton of money... thus... she turns silver into gold. 

Well, so when the Staryk king (the mystical people who rule the winter) gets wind of this, he comes to her and demands he turn his silver into gold. If she doesn't he will kill her, he if does, he will marry her. What a choice she has, yes? Because let's just say he's not a very a nice dude.

Meanwhile, we get the stories of several others characters, with the assumption that all the stories will converge at some point, and of course they do.

One of them is the peasant girl who ends up working for our girl who is turning silver into gold. And how she and her brothers have to deal with abuse in their house and how they try to escape it. And how that ends up getting them right in the middle of the craziness that's about to go down. 

And the other one is the girl who ends up being forced to marry the tsar. Turns out that tsar is possessed. And she needs to figure out a way not be killed by the demon.

And it all goes down when the girls try to destroy the various monsters ruling them, and how that showdown is basically a fight between fire and ice.. .and wow. It's crazy!

But then... are they really happy to be the ones destroying these guys in their lives? Hmmm....

I really loved the rich detail and beautifully story telling. I really needed romance though... I really thought I was going to get romance! AHHH!!! So other than that, everything else was fabulous! 


Monday, April 19, 2021

Book Review: What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen

Book: What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen

Genre: MG contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


This was a cute story about a girl with Turners Syndrome, something that I wasn't at all familiar with. So we as readers learn all about that and how it affects our girl and all the stuff she had to deal with.

Our girl is also very into science so when she gets an assignment to write about someone in history who is not in her history book, she knows just who it will be! 

And thus begins her quest to actually get this person added to the history book.

She's quite the tenacious kid and it's lovely to see that. It's a very heart warming story and I actually learned a lot from it. 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Book Review: My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

 Book: My Life as a Potato by Arianne Costner

Genre: MG contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


What a fun cute story! I really enjoyed this one about a middle grade kid who feels like he is cursed by potatoes! And that seems to be confirmed when he ends up having to be the mascot at his new school where the mascot is... A POTATO! 

Turns out he kind of has a knack for this sort of thing, but still he doesn't want anyone to know. So ends up lying to get away with it all. Which makes him feel bad towards his friends. 

It also turns out he's becoming popular at this new school. And he sometimes finds himself wanting to help the underdogs, but remain popular. Which as we all know, is sometimes a conflict of interest. 

So how does he solve all this issues?

I fell in love with this character from the very first page and I love it when that happens. Rooting for him all the way! He's an adorable kid, I know this! LOL. A truly funny story with lots of heart. Awesome.

(This one read a little bit older than some of the other MG books I've been reading lately... which probably contributed to the fact that I enjoyed it a lot. But not TOO much older. It was pretty spot on, really, perfect for grabbing all sorts of audiences.)


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Book Review: Kits and Cubbyholes by Loralee Evans

 Book: Kits and Cubbyholes by Loralee Evans

Genre: MG fantasy

Rating: ★ ★ 


This one is along the vein of Magic Treehouse, where our kids have the ability to time travel. In this particular story, a kid from the 1700's comes to the present day and the kids are all like... "Hey, don't you remember the time we visited YOU?" 

But alas, he doesn't! Which means somehow perhaps something happens to the memory of the kids in the past? 

Anyway, so this book is the present day kids trying to figure out how to get this kids back to his time. In process they all end up witnessing an event they've heard about.

The fun thing about this book is the premise that when they kids go back in time, they end up in the stories of their very own ancestors. Which would be pretty cook, yeah? But also quite disconcerting! 

The part that made me a little crazy was that they just kept referring to their previous adventures, and I kinda wish we were experiencing an adventure... but it just felt like they were trying to get the one kid back and not a whole lot was happening. Until that event at the end, which was just a little bit of this book.

Anyway. Cute story. 


Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Book Review: Horace and Bunwinkle by P.J. Gardner

 Book: Horace and Bunwinkle by P.J. Gardner

Genre: MG 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

I wasn't too sure about this one, not being a huge fan of talking animal books. But it looked fun and easy, so I jumped in and guess what?

I thought it was adorable! An ornery stuffy dog and a cute lovable pig become siblings... and they end up teaching each other all kinds of things about getting along and loving life. 

They get in all sorts of trouble and have all kinds of adventures... along with the fact that there's a mystery to solve. The mystery of the missing pets!

Very cute with loads of fun animal characters. My immediate thought was how fun it would be to read aloud, especially by someone who loves to do voices. So upon finishing it, I sent it to my granddaughters with the suggestion that their mom and/or dad read it with voices! I'll let you know how that goes over!

But regardless, hopefully they'll have fun with it (yes there are even cute fun pictures!) and it will get a second life with them. 



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Reading Recap: March 2021

 

On our walk one day in March.

Here's what I read this month:

A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright: Our girl is on her way to India to meet her potential husband, but meets the captain of the ship in the meantime. 


On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Mendez: Three sisters trying to survive when their mom suddenly disappears.


The Wonder by Emma Donoghue: Our heroine goes to see if the talk of a young girl starving herself, yet surviving, is true or a hoax.


96 Miles by J.L. Esplin: A survival type story of two brothers and their two friends walking the 96 miles to get help during a countrywide blackout.


Kits and Cubbyholes by Loralee Evans: The coolness of traveling back in time and meeting up with your actual ancestors.


Horace and Bunwinkle by P.J. Gardner: The antics of stuffy uppity dog and a cute piglet... and how they solve mystery of the missing pets. 


Favorite was for sure 96 Miles. 


Goals for April: 

  • The book club this month is Spinning Silver. I need to find it at the library.
  • I want to read some books that are laying around being neglected. 
  • I need to find some good love story books. 

What are you all loving lately? Let me know!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Book Club Picks 2021-2022




Here's our schedule for book club this next year! We are doing DOUBLE THE BOOKS during the summer! This cracks me up given that the whole book club is experiencing a slump. Maybe this will help? I guess we'll see!

Anyway, over the years our book club lists have been popular, so I wouldn't want to neglect you all of seeing what we've chosen yet again. 

Have you read any and do you have thoughts about what we have coming up?


The Giver of Stars AND The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: June

Born a Crime/ They Called Us Enemy: July

Seven Deadly Shadows/My Plain Jane: August


Anxious People: September


The Picture of Dorian Gray: October


I am the Messenger: November


Emily of New Moon: December


Keep Moving: January


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: February


Nine Perfect Strangers: March


Dread Nation: April


Carve the Mark: May



Wish us luck!!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Book Review: 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin

 

Book: 96 Miles by J.L. Esplin

Genre: MG contemporary survival

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Wow, but I haven't read a book that gripped me like this one for quite awhile. It's a survival story that really had me on the edge of my reading seat the whole time, and I devoured it. (Ha devoured... because yet again, this book will make you HUNGRY and THIRSTY both, like... literally!)

It's about two brothers (ages 13 and 11) who are trying to walk the 96 miles across the Nevada dessert to get to family friends who they hope will help them. Because there's been a country-wide blackout and it's been about a month now with no electricity. Which means that society is falling apart.

Just before the blackout, their dad had gone on a business trip, leaving the boys alone. And it appears he is having a problem getting back to them, because they have heard nothing from him at all. 

Normally they'd be fine, because their dad is one who has prepared... they have food storage and a generator and all the things they need. But the neighbors raid it and steal everything. This is a problem in more ways than one, and so they head off for help.

It's written in such an engaging way that I was invested from page one. It read very much like a YA for me and not sure why... the characters just felt a bit older than they actually were, but not in a way that bothered me, you know? They are awesome kids. We do meet up with another sibling pair and the four of them face this adventure together. It's very heartwarming. And rough, and scary. And sad, once again showing an idea of what people will do in the face of survival. 

Anyway. Yeah. I loved it. Now, I kind of want to go take drive and see this road they had to walk down. 

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