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. 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Book Review: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

 Book: The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Genre: historical fiction-ish (man who thought naming a genre would be so hard lately?)

Rating: ★ ★ 


We read this one for book club this past month and I must say, it's one of the weirdest books I've read in a long long time! I went in expecting absolutely nothing, but what I got was REALLY not expected. LOL!

It's about a girl in Ireland in the 1800s who appears to be starving herself, but staying alive. So people are starting to look at her like she is something divine, some sort of saint... a "wonder!" So a couple of nurses (well, our main character nurse and a nun) are sent in to watch her 24/7 to make sure that her family isn't sneaking her food and then claiming her to be this saint-like thing. 

Our main character girl goes in with a really bad attitude about it thinking she is going to figure it all out right away and that every one is really stupid and she is going to be in and out and yeah... she is just rolling her eyes over it all. 

Turns out things are much more complicated than she expected, and suddenly she finds herself  much more invested in this girl and everything that's going on than she planned!

The first half or so of this book was VERY slow... and it seriously was just us as readers going every day into this girl and watching her.... and absolutely nothing was happening. Our main character did A LOT of complaining and such... but yeah. I was like... please let something happen soon!

And yet I felt this weird draw to keep reading and to see what WOULD happen. And what was actually up with this girl. And in the end it started to get much more crazy and...like I said.. .so very weird, that the last bit I read nearly in one sitting until it was done. Such a crazy story!

Not based on a true story, but based on stuff like this that really happened, which makes it all even weirder. Anyway, I'm glad it showed up on our list this year and added some diversity to my reading for sure. Be warned though, reading this while you are hungry is not recommended! It will make you even hungrier!




Monday, March 22, 2021

Random Life Update

A cat picture because don't we all love cat pictures?

I feel like it's been a long long time since I've done a random rambling post. But I feel like one is really needed about now since we have crossed that year mark from when all the pandemic stuff started. Here are a few thoughts:


  • We keep having anniversary dates: one year since the pandemic started, one year since we've been to our last concert, one year since that crazy earthquake happened, one years since we've been on an airplane, one since we could go in public without a mask... and on and on. It's crazy we've survived this long in this new world. Who knew it would still be happening a year later. 
  • But it seem like the light is at the end... I got my first vaccine dose last week, and look forward to completing that process with the second dose in a couple of weeks. Hopefully the rest of the family and follow soon with their doses. I'm still wary that it will even help... I keep reading things that say you can still give it and you can still get it... so that makes me think what's the point. But hopefully the point is that this is a step in just making this all end. Though.. there are some that say it will never end and this is our life now. Which is the most depressing thing ever.
  • It's also been one year since I went to the doctor to "get healthy" which basically means I'm told all the things that are wrong with me and that if I eat this I will die, but if I eat that I will also die. And that I need to take a thousand supplements to cover all the things I can't eat. I can't even tell you how frustrated I am with it all. I'm still at 40 pounds lost, and holding steady... it seems that no matter what I do.. eat good or eat crappy... nothing moves that number now. So... I'm currently trying to figure out what to do next... food wise. Moderation in all things?
  • In other news, I'm constantly trying to figure out how my hobbies can make money. I don't know why I care about this lately, but it seems like a good thing to worry about. So... I want to figure out how to make videos for the kpop channel that get watched, I want to start making other sorts of videos for a "normal" channel (lol... like books, travel, etc.), and I want to figure out how to write books that people want to read and sell them independently on Amazon. So there you go for my new years resolutions. Ha. 
  • I'm also helping my son try to get a cool language vocabulary site off and running and spending a ton of time on that. If anyone knows how to get a business going, let me know! I'm sure you'll see more on that when I really start trying to get the word out, but in the meantime, if you want to drill French words or Korean words... try it out! www.trackyourvocab.com 
  • Oh I was going to mention that I'm part of a video chat show that my friend is doing on her YouTube channel. Talking with people from all over the world about kpop. It's been pretty cool so far. Pretty sure anyone reading this won't want the link, so... no link. Just know that's been a biggish fun thing in my life lately! And maybe I'll get famous because of it...(insert extremely sarcastic emoji face here....) 
What's new with you all? Have we all survived the year and hopeful things will get back to the new normal soon? New normal where we can travel, go to concerts,  and you know... see people again? 

An example of the sort of breakfast I eat that makes me lose weight,
but isn't great for cholesterol levels.

It's been exciting at the library, we opened a new part of the building that we call:
The Library Hall. Now, if only we could have events in it!

An example of the wonderful lyrics found in my kpop songs. 
Most songs are so upbeat and positive, and they really help me keep going.

Pickleball has becoming a thing at this house. But it's bad if you accidently step on one.

A rare selfie on the day I got my Victon album and was thrilled.



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Reading Recap: February 2021

 

February Storm


Oops I guess I'm a bit behind on my monthly recap post! Here you go!


The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington: During a tornado a young girl is lost and family is gone, but she is found at the nearby zoo being protected by an elephant.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary: What happens if you share a flat with a dude you've never met, and plan to never met since he lives there during the day, and you live there during the night. No problem, right?

Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin: Our girl and her mom are trying to cope with the death of their dad/husband. 

Beautiful Melody by Trish Milburn: Chim, leader of the famous kpop group SBG, finds love when he is reunited with a childhood friend.


Favorites of the month: The Flatshare and Beautiful Melody. 

Goals for March:

  • read The Wonder for book club
  • read as  many MG books that I can for the award I'm helping judge
  • catch up with my Shadow Mountain ARCs
That's about as much goal making that I can handle!

Here's hoping you are all having fun with your reading these days!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Book Review: On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Mendez

 

Book: On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Mendez

Genre: MG magic realism-ish

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


I've been anxious to read this author for quite sometime now. She was someone I met way back in the big book blogging days before she became famous.  (Her books are currently making quite the buzz especially after she was chosen as a pick for Reese Witherspoon's book club.) And I think this was a great first choice for me to read!

It's about a 12 year old girl and her two sisters. Her single mom works hard to keep them going, but one day when the mom heads to work... she doesn't come home. And she doesn't call, and they have no idea what's happened.

So our girl  tries to keep going as if all is well. But that's really tricky when she has to go to school. And she finds out the day care her mom uses for the baby is crap. And she wants to try out for Peter Pan and get the role as Wendy. And she needs to figure out how to get food for them. 

Her mom has told them stories about fairies, which she rolls her eyes about, but turns out it appears these fairies might actually be helping them somehow. Or SOMEONE is anyway. She ends up befriending a cute boy that actually does help them in the small ways he can. And the neighbor helps them a bit. And she finally gets the courage to contact  her grandma that she doesn't even know... to see if SHE can help. 

It's all very moving and sad in bits, but funny in bits too and cute and wonderful in all the family and friend connection stories. We do find out what happened to the mom and in the end some hard choices have to be made, but it all works out and I think all three of these sisters are in a better place. 

I totally enjoyed finally reading one of Yamile's books and hope to add more to my list soon! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Book Review: Beautiful Melody

Book: Beautiful Melody by Trish Milburn

Genre: kpop idol romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


I'm still trying to catch up with this series! This is book five in the Idol in Love series wherein each book a different member of this fictional kpop band is highlighted... specifically their love story. It's so much fun. And like I've said before, I am in love with this band now as if they were real! 

In this book, our leader Chim finally gets his story. He's off to see a childhood friend's wedding, and he goes against the rules and attends without his people, his entourage... which turns out to be a bit of a mistake. 

All his childhood friends attend this event, including a girl who he has lost touch with after she moved to the US. She is now back in Korea and when he sees her at the wedding he's all... wow... she grew up well! And of course she is thinking the same thing about him. She knows he's become this famous dude, and has sort of paid attention, but when she sees him in person she's all.. wow... he's is TEN TIMES better in real life and... can this even be the same dude??

And so they reconnect and it's wonderful... until the paparazzi gets wind of things because of bad security situation and bam... suddenly everything is this HUGE scandal. So how are these two supposed to connect now that they are being watched constantly, and if they don't want Chim's career to be ruined? (It's so crazy that this is true to what really happens in the kpop world... dating is a massive scandal and can totally ruin careers... unbelievable.) 

These books are such fun fast reads! I look forward to slipping them in between all the other books I'm trying to get read. The next book is the last that will be dealing with this group and we'll get the stories of the two remaining members. I'm particularly concerned about them so I want to jump into reading this one ASAP! 

And Trish has just released the 7th book, in which we switch over to learning about the "rival: group of these guys that we've fallen in love with! How fun is that! 

Trish uses a real life kpop dude as visual inspiration for all her books. I don't know who Chim was for her but I find it fun to try and think up my own visual inspiration as I'm reading. Chim was a little harder for me to peg though...hmmm.... (which I actually love that they become their own person in my mind, you know? I'm telling you, this is a real band for me!)

I'll think I'll go with Yonghoon from ONEWE for my Chim! What do you think Trish? Does he fit or not? LOL!





Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Movie Review: News of the World

Movie: News of the World

Starring: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel

Rating: Two thumbs up


It's been a long time since I watched, like, a "normal" movie. But my husband watched it and said it was good, so he "made" me watch it too. And what's not to like? Tom Hanks.. you know?

It's a Western setting... and our dude goes around to all the communities and reads them the news, since they have a hard time getting it any other way. In his travels he comes across a stage coach wreck and rescues a girl who is being transported to her family. After some time he learns that she was was kidnapped by the Indians years back and her Indian family was killed and so now she has been rescued from that situation and is being taken to the only family she now has, an aunt and uncle. It falls on our hero to continue that mission.

And so they have some adventures together and life is rough out there in the Western world, and they bond. And it's adorable. And then comes the time when he has to give her to this family that she doesn't know. 

Here's the trailer:



So yeah, it was a fun movie to watch after not seeing movies for so long. I really love Tom Hanks of course, and the girl they got to play this part was fantastic. Not an easy roll at all.  And of course, the music is fantastic... James Newton Howard. What's not to love there either, right? 

Watch it if you get a chance. If you've already seen, it what did you think?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Book Review: Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin

Book: Beginners Welcome by Cindy Baldwin

Genre: MG contemporary

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


This is the story of a mom and daughter trying to recover from the death of their husband/father. Our girl has not only lost her dad, but her friends have drawn away from her too. She's so sad. And her mom is really truly not functioning. In the midst of this, she escapes one day to the mall and befriends an old guy who is there playing the piano in the courtyard. She talks him into teaching her piano, and this happily brings back some good memories of her dad and makes her feel like life is good again.

Except the problem is, her mom would be SO MAD if she found out! 

So it's all quite a problem. She wants to enter a contest at the end of the year, and she needs this guy's help to do it. But she also doesn't want to cause her mom more trouble.

Oh, and then there's the matter of her dad's ghost that just won't leave them alone!

It's all quite a sad story, but with a hopeful feeling. And how you can find friendship in the most unlikely of places. I quite enjoyed it!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Kdrama Review: Lovestruck in the City

Drama: Lovestruck in the City (on Netflix)

Starring: Ji Chang Wook, Kim Ji Won, 

Genre: Romantic comedy

Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


This was a very different one guys! I don't even know what to say! LOL! It's set up like a reality show... or a documentary. So the actors are looking at the camera a lot and talking to the "interviewers" and answering questions. In the course of them answering questions, their story unfolds. And so sometimes it morphs into a "regular" drama where we see the story... and then sometimes we are back with the characters as if they are real people getting interviewed. 

Does that even  make sense? 

So it's fun and different and takes a bit of getting used to. But I enjoyed it once I got used to it.

It's very unrealistic though, because at first you think all these characters are randomly picked for this "reality" show, but then suddenly we realize that they are all connected. Of course. Their stories all intersect in the end!

So we follow three couples, who are all getting interviewed about their thoughts on love and relationships. The main couple had a fast and furious affair when the dude went off for a vacation. And meets the girl and is completely blown away by her. She is like a breath of fresh air to him. So quirky and fun and spontaneous. 

But turns out she was faking that personality. And when she realizes he is in love with THAT personality and not her true self. She runs away and leaves him. Ah, it's heart breaking. 

So now, in present time, which is about a year after that happens... he is angry and hurt and trying to heal, and not doing a very good job of it. 

The other couples have stories that we follow too and we get invested in all of them. 

Despite the fun of this drama and the sort of free spirit of it... at times it made me feel quite depressed. I hated how they treated each other sometimes, and what a bleak out look it had on love... and relationships. It just made me sad a lot.



And yet, there are moments that are very romantic and has some of the most romantic bits I've seen in a drama to date. Also.... Ji Chang Wook. I mean.. . he's practically perfect in every way, so it really doesn't matter what he does, you know! Yeah, if you are a fan of him, watch this one!

Anyway, so mostly I really enjoyed it, even if these characters made me crazy at times. The end was... weird... and upsetting for one of the couples. I was like... you are seriously going to leave that story like that? NO. UNACCEPTABLE!

Also, they threw in a side story that featured newly returned from the military SHINee's Minho, who placed the character of the cop and they gave him a little romance at the end too. It was cute, but felt a bit out of place, especially when we really wanted things wrapped up with the other characters. But like JCW... Minho is Minho and we'll watch him do anything really. 

(Side note: I thought that cop looked like Minho the whole time, but I totally didn't think it was him because how could he be in a drama already when he literally JUST GOT DONE with the military? I figured it was just a really good look alike. But then towards the end when everyone was talking about him, I was like.. DANG, that REALLY is Minho all this time? Silly me!!)

So yeah. It's a good one, mostly! And like I said... I love Ji Chang Wook in anything. 


Yeah. How could I not think that's Minho??


Here's a fun fast trailer:




And a lovely song set to some of the fun clips during the romantic parts!

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Book Review: A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright

Book: A Captain for Caroline Gray by Julie Wright

Genre: Historical romance

Rating:  ★ ★ ★


This a fun story about our girl Caroline, who is just too smart and witty for the guys of her time. Whenever she says her opinion about things, and she has a lot, all the suitors get scared and back off. So when her cousin (who owns the house she lives in) gets married, she basically gets kicked out and has to figure out her prospects. Turns out a neighbor decides Caroline would be PERFECT for her son... who happens to work and live in India. So an arrangement is made whereby Caroline heads off to India to meet this guy, with the deal that she will give him a chance, and get to know him...but she doesn't have to agree to a marriage unless all things work out. 

And so... she heads off to India... which will take THREE MONTHS by boat. (It really struck me this time about how travel used to be... can you imagine a three month journey to another country? And we think a 13 hour plane ride is nearly unbearable! Yeah, you really gotta commit that THAT vacation!)

Well, and so on the boat, life gets interesting. She takes to the sea like a pro and loves the activity there and walks around sketching everything. 

And then there's the captain of this boat. He's intriguing to say the least! But when she opens her mouth to say her thoughts... will he be turned off and run away? And how can she be attracted to him when she has a dude waiting for her in India? Hmmmm???

Then we get the POV of the captain. And how he is baffled at this girl and torn about what he should do about it if anything. 

Okay, so I really enjoyed the story, and the setting. Most of it on the boat, and some in Mumbai. And Caroline is a great heroine. But the captain... I don't know.. I didn't really warm up to him. He seemed a bit gruff and even mean at times. I wanted to like him so much more than I did! Ah, I hate it when that happens! I also wanted a more sparky romance... more intense. 

But that's really my only complaint about this one! Lots of fun side characters and some crazy goings on occur. It was a very interesting time in history for sure. 

Anyway, you should totally check it out and let me know what you think of our captain!

Also, thank you to Shadow Mountain for continuing to send me Proper Romances to read, even though I am so behind in my reviewing! 

Here's more info about the author:


JULIE WRIGHT was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s lived in LA, Boston, and the literal middle of nowhere (don’t ask). She wrote her first book when she was fifteen. Since then, she’s written twenty-five novels and coauthored three. Julie is a two-time winner of the Whitney Award for best romance with her books Cross My Heart and Lies Jane Austen Told Me and is a Crown Heart recipient. Her book Death Thieves was a Whitney finalist. She has one husband, three kids, one grandbaby, one dog, and a varying amount of houseplants (depending on attrition). She loves writing, reading, traveling, hiking, snorkeling, playing with her family on the beach, and watching her husband make dinner.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Movie Review: Space Sweepers

Movie: Space Sweepers

Genre: science fiction

Starring: Song Joong Ki, Kim Tae Ri, Richard Armitage, Seon Kyu Jin

Rating: Two thumbs up


When I learned that two of my worlds were colliding in this movie, I knew I needed to give it a try. Yes, a favorite British actor and a favorite Korean actor...together... in one movie! Also... space! I haven't seen a good fun space adventure for a long time it seems. 

Anyway, it lived up to fun space adventure-ness!

It's about a ragtag group of misfits who are space "sweepers"... with the job of cleaning up junk floating around in space. Also, Earth is dying and a dude has created a utopian-like society in space that is quite exclusive, which many people don't agree with. 

And then there's this girl who somehow gets lost and everyone thinks she is dangerous because of some special powers she has. Our little group of crazy people find her and they are so excited to claim the huge reward for doing so. But then they learn that the plan is to destroy her. So they have to rethink everything.

It's very fun with all these crazy people interacting with a kid.. .and to see that bond happen. And the whole theme of Earth dying and what's the best thing humanity can do about it. And what are solutions that will work. 


Our hero and the kid he rescues.

I enjoyed the acting, and the music and the crazy very unrealistic space fights! And all the characters of course. It was very fun to see my two actors interact with each other, though that scene was very brief in the end. 

The movie is mostly Korean, but there is also lots of English too, and many moments with French and Spanish and Russian ( I think) and even a language I didn't know... maybe something made up? I don't know, but yeah. Lots of languages used, so I loved that. 

Anyway, despite many familiar space movie tropes, it was quite a fun diversion for the night, this movie!

Here's a trailer:

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Book Review: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Book: The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary

Genre: romance

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


I've watched a kdrama with a similar premise so I was interested to see how this book would handle this funny situation! And it was just as delightful as expected. 

We have our girl who needs an apartment, and especially needs to get to away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. And we have our guy who needs to earn some extra cash. So since he works nights as a nurse, he figures why not have someone come and sleep at his place at nights and work in the day while he is there sleeping. Makes perfect sense, eh?

And so they come together, and for months all works as planned, and they communicate leaving cute post it notes around for each other. But never actually meet, until one day. 

It's very fun and full of lots of British-isms which I loved. We flipped between the POVs of both of these characters and it was fun to see the differences between and yet how they worked so well together. 

So yeah. Fun!!


Monday, February 8, 2021

Kdrama Review: True Beauty

 Drama: True Beauty

Genre: Romantic comedy

Starring: Chan Eunwoo, Moon Ga Young, Hwang In Yeop, Park Yoo Na

Rating:  ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


I guess this one is based a very popular webtoon that I have not read, but that a ton of people have. It's about a girl who is "ugly" (basically she has bad facial skin) and is bullied by the students at her school. When her family moves and she is transferred to a new school, she gets a chance to change. She becomes an expert and make up and no goes to school looking fabulous. She instantly popular.

But there's a guy who hangs out at the local comic store and they have a run in there. So he knows her true face. When she realizes he is in her class, she is mortified and tries all she can do to make sure he doesn't figure out who she really is. But he has already figured it out! And does he care? NO! He likes her despite her face... whether it's made up and beautiful... or bare and "ugly."

And so they fall in love, but she is determined to make sure the other kids never find out her secret.

Ugly...????

Beautiful


Meanwhile, another beautiful dude (because the first dude is extremely beautiful too... and the smartest kid in the class besides!) appears. And he is the cool dude... the "bad" boy if you will... and something about our girl calls to him, and he also falls for her. Her beautiful face. What will happen when he finds out about her true face? Hmmm....

Well, and so... much happens. There is A LOT in this drama about bullying. It's upsetting to watch at times. But mostly this is a lighthearted one with so many laugh out loud moments. So many. And as usual played brilliantly by all the leads. And rips your heart out with the second male lead syndrome for sure. 


The relationship between these two is what made me tear up the most.

I'm very familiar with our lead dude... Cha Eunwoo... seeing him in other dramas and on the stage with his group Astro... but I'd never heard of our second lead dude and he blew me away as he did everyone else watching this drama! I may have seen him some very secondary roles, but I don't remember him at all. But he is awesome. And is now on my list to watch whatever else he does!


Hwang In Yeop... beautiful.


Anyway, a very heartwarming drama with great messages about how we treat each other and deal with hard things. Watch it!

Here's a trailer and a song:

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Book Review: The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington

 

Book: The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington

Genre: MG 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


Our girl was lost from her family during a tornado, saved by an elephant and adopted by the zoo. What a premise, yes? This happened when she was about 5 and now she is 12. She still hasn't found her family and the zoo train engineer has taken care of her all this time. She lives in the zoo with him and is friends with a boy that also lives in the zoo. She has lots of plans for this summer, but everything ends up going a little crazy and not according to plan.

That's because she finally gets to visit the elephants and it turns out that the elephant that saved her can actually sort of talk to her. And this elephant tells her to go check out a spot in the woods next to the zoo. And when she does, she unearths quite the secret! And maybe even a clue to her past!

This book gave me "we bought a zoo" vibes and that's one of my all time favorite movies so... cool! We also get lots of parallels to the book "Island of the Blue Dolphins" which our character has just had to read for school. And that is also cool. 

So yeah, I really enjoyed and became totally immersed in the mystery that our girl needed to solve. What a sweet, lovely story!



Wednesday, February 3, 2021

January 2021 Reading Recap

 Here are the books I read this month! Off to a... great?... okay?.... start!

From our trip to the Oregon coast last week.


Texas Cowboy, Be Mine by Trish Milburn: A fun and simple cowboy romance.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal: A Pride and Prejudice-like story with magic.

The Blue Jeans Rebellion by Joanna H. Krauss: What happens when a boy in a 1800's conservative community decides he wants something different.

American Royals by Katharine McGee: What if America had royalty?


Favorites: American Royals... except for the ending. Shades of Milk and Honey was mostly fun too. 

Plans for February:

  • read The Flatshare for book club
  • start reading the pile of MG books that have been sent to me for the MLA award
  • catch up on some books I started but have yet to finish
How did your 2021 get started? Are we all hanging in there?


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Book Review: American Royals by Katharine McGee

Book: American Royals by Katharine McGee

Genre: YA romance and speculative-ish

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

In enjoyed the reading of this book, but I must say I was quite disappointed by the ending.. or lack thereof. Sigh.

It follows the points of view of four girls who are living in the high society of the American royalty... yes... in this world George Washington decided he would like to be a king and not a president... and so we have kings and queens here, just like in England and other places. And this the story of his descendants who are now part of that.

The four girls are :

Beatrice: She is the oldest of three kids and is up next for the crown. Normally the crown goes to the oldest son, so she is the first time the new law is in effect, and she will become Queen when her father dies. And he would like her to find a husband before that happens, which might be sooner than we think. So there is a ball held with eligible guys for her to choose from... but that's all a bummer for her because she is actually in love with her bodyguard.

Samantha: She is Beatrice's younger sister... and twin to the prince... Jefferson. She is the "spare" princess and she resents that and acts out in all  manner of rebellious ways. Too bad she falls for... at first sight... the dude that Beatrice chooses from the above mentioned ball. Beatrice gets EVERYTHING! Sigh...

Nina: Her mom works for the palace, and so she has grown up being best friends with the royal kids...Samantha's best friend particularly. And over the years, she has realized she has fallen for Jefferson. The prince. But he's been paired with some other girl... and in fact he has been dating her... but just as the story opens.. .they break up leaving him available for Nina.

Daphne: She is the "some other girl" who is out to get Jefferson... even though they have just broken up, she will do anything to win him over. She is perfect for him! Even though she is most annoyingly attracted to his best friend Ethan. The struggle!

So basically we get four different romances going on, and bunch of complications. And I really got invested in all of them... except Daphne who is a really unlikable character, but that's expected. I just wanted her to go away! 

Anyway, yeah. Invested. But:

SPOILER

.

.

.

.

.

.

sadly there is no resolution in this book. No happy ever after at all for anyone. It made me a little crazy. And I'm not sure these get resolved in the second book either. But I guess I might have to find out. Anyway, I really expect at least someone's story to be okay after all that! 

Still, despite all that, I enjoyed this one! It was fun to see America in the same way England is, all crazy about their royalty. Fun premise for sure!

 



Sunday, January 31, 2021

Book Review: The Blue Jeans Rebellion by Joanna H. Kraus

 Book: The Blue Jeans Rebellion by Joanna H. Kraus

Genre: Early reader chapter book, historical fiction

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


Really cute story based on a true incident that happened in early Utah days. We meet a cute 11 year old boy who is sick of the pants he is made to wear every day. Homemade woolen pants. When he sees blue jeans for the first time, he wants a pair and he does something not quite okay to get money to buy some. 

Then all the boys want some, so when this kid gets in trouble, they all come together to figure out a way to make it possible that they can all get jeans!

Cute and fun with lessons learned without being too in your face. It was a fast little read, took me 20 minutes or so to get through it. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021

December 2020 Reading Recap

 

A fun Christmas present I received. Now I'm on the lookout for quotes to stick on it!


Books Read in December:

Thorn by Intisar Khanani: An interesting spin on the goose girl fairy tale.

Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: An account of the live and times of the band Daisy Jones and The Six, which is NOT a real band!

Paul, Big, and Small by David Glen Robb: Paul learns to deal with some of the craziness of life thanks to his friends Big and Small.

Half Life by Lillian Clark: What happens if you end up with a clone of yourself?


Favorites of the month: I guess I would say Daisy Jones.

Goals for January (lol now that January is nearly done!)

  • read the book club book, Shades of Milk and Honey... DONE
  • read a for fun book from Christmas... DONE
  • start in reading middle grade books for AML award... STARTED
  • try to read a couple more books for the Beehive long list... FAILED (still working on some, but the deadline is over.) 
Goals for 2021:
  • I set my Goodreads goal to be the same as last year... 45. I failed... barely... in 2020 with 42 books. So I know I can do it. LOL. (Remember the days of 90 and 100 book goals!)
  • As is the new norm for me.... JUST KEEP READING! (Kdramas are a FIERCE competition for reading time. It's an ongoing real struggle around here!)
  • I have a ton of middle grade books to read, some ARCs from Shadow Mountain to catch up on, some kpop books by Trish to catch up on, a ton of books I've bought that need reading... and etc. I'm still at the point of saying... I will never run out of something to read!
I hope you all had a fabulous reading month and year!

Friday, January 29, 2021

Top Ten Favorite Kdramas from 2020

 



As is usual, I watched a mix of dramas that aired this year, and dramas from past years, because there is ALWAYS something to try and catch up on...even though "catching up" with kdramas is basically an impossible endeavor. Unless of course you are one of those people can manage to watch 100s of dramas per year, which I am not one. 

Anyway, here's my shake down on the dramas this past year.

Total dramas watched:  20

Aired in 2020: 10
Aired previous to 2020: 10 (1 of them a re-watch)

Five hearts: 9
Four hearts: 6
Three hearts: 5

New-to-me favorite actors that I discovered:
Kim Jung Hyung

Kim Jung Hyun
Seo Kang Joon
Lee Jae Wook
Ha Seok Jin
Kim Myungsoo
Kim Bum
Lee Tae Ri
Ryu Jun Yeol

Favorite dramas from 2020
(with blurbs and links to my reviews)

Crash Landing On You  

It's premise is one I've not seen before an any kdrama... which is basically a romance between a South Korean famous/rich lady, and a North Korean soldier. Because, one day, she goes out paragliding, and a storm comes along and blows her off course and she crashes into a tree and gets all tangled up there. Our guy, going on his patrols, happens upon her and gets her down.

Well. Now he has a dilemma. Does he turn her in? or let her go? He decides to let her go of course, and tries to direct her the way to go, on foot, to get back across the line, but she doesn't trust him and goes the opposite way. Wrong choice. She ends up wandering all night, gets lost and then ends up in a nearby village where just when she is about to get caught... he shows up and hides her in his house.

I'll Go to You When the Weather is Fine 

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 you...to be so warm all the time." Gah!! But yes, the underlying theme...warmth.

It's Okay to Not Be Okay 


Wow, but it's a good one. It's filled with many teary moments, and many out loud laughing moments. The relationship of the brothers is crazy good. The acting of these two actors playing the brothers is crazy good. The music is crazy good. The weaving of dark and twisted fairy tale stories in and among the "real life" stories is crazy good


The King: Eternal Monarch 


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?





Tale of the NineTailed  


WAH, things get complicated! It's a crazy detailed plot with magic, and horror elements. Lots of comedy and romance too. So much. It has it all.



Twenty Twenty 

The story is about a bunch of college kids (first year in college I think?) and they are trying to navigate the waters of growing up... of separating from their parents and becoming their own persons. Our dude is very emo (and yes this fits Wooseok totally!) and he is bugged at his parents for deceiving him when he was younger about their relationship. He trusts them not at all... and he's moved out and living on his own and trying to make a push for getting started in the music business. (LOL) He's friends with a couple of other guys, his sidekicks. Chan plays one of these guys and can I just say... I was BLOWN AWAY by this kid's acting! Who knew he was so good? He's absolutely hilarious! He has the comic timing down perfectly. He was pure joy to watch. 

Favorite dramas from before 2020:


Angel's Last Mission: Love 

And I'm sure you can guess what happens. Are angel's allowed to love humans? OF COURSE NOT! But will that stop our cute and adorable angel... OF COURSE NOT!

Guys, this is probably one of the MOST romantic dramas I've seen yet. Or at least in the top of my favorite romantic ones! But EVERYTHING is against these guys. And it's very heart wrenching!


1% of Something 

So, we have our rich obnoxious leading dude who is set to inherit his grandfather's wealth...but the grandfather makes a clause in the will that he has to marry this girl, this nice sweet school teacher girl. Now, the reason the grandfather chooses this girl, is that she ended up being the one to save him when he nearly died one day near her school. She has no idea who he is and doesn't know the connection. So she is baffled when she is summoned to be part of this contract.

It's a really cute one! So much fun! So funny and adorably and swoony all over the place! AHH! It's great to counter balance some of the heavy subject ones with these sorts of fluffy ones. I love it.

Clean With Passion for Now 

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!


Reply 1988   

Anyway, these families are all best friends. The parents AND the kids. The drama has no plot, only we the viewers experiencing life with them. School stress, work stress, health stress, romantic stress and etc. It's all total character based, and I love it. So much. As with the other Reply dramas, these characters have become part of my life and it's going to be weird to let them go and move on!

(with honorable mention to Reply 1994 and Reply 1997)

Did I convince anyone to jump into the world of kdramas this year? If so, let me know what you watched and loved!

Here's to a new year of amazing shows! 

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