Thursday, December 1, 2016

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Genre: Harry Potter (that's its own genre now, right?)
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: two thumbs


We went in the late afternoon to this movie. I was kinda tired and the first half was a struggle for me to keep my eyes open. Very slow. And Eddie, I love him, but... man he is hard to understand sometimes. These days, I'm used to subtitles and he really could have used some subtitles!!!

That being said, it was a fun movie, with awesome creatures and some pretty cool special effects. And I enjoyed the familiar music.

I'm afraid I don't know my Harry Potter history quite well enough to have made the connections I think I was supposed to make between this story and the books. But even so, it's cool to know there are the connections.

The "no maj"... and already I've forgotten the character's name

My favorite bits in the movie was the other dude actually, the baker dude. The "no maj." He was great! And I got a bit weepy in the end when... well, you know that one part at the end where rain is involved.

Anyway, I don't really have much else to say except Harry Potter fans should really go! And also, there's a little surprise at the end that somehow wasn't spoiled for us. And it was awesome.

Here's the trailer in case you've missed it somehow:


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Movie Review: Dr. Strange

Movie: Doctor Strange
Genre: Super Hero
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch
Rating: PG 13
My Rating: Two thumbs up

I really looked forward to this, even though I know absolutely nothing about Dr. Strange. I'm not your most well-versed person in the Marvel Universe... like... AT ALL. So I had no idea who this superhero was/is.

But who cares. Because... Benedict Cumberbatch.

It was a great story. Famous doctor gets in an accident. His hands get ruined. He goes on a quest to figure out how to heal them. He ends up in some mystics house in some remote place in Nepal I think it is... and learns how to do some pretty cool mind tricks.

At first he's crap at it, and then he becomes a master really really fast. And then it's time to fight the bad guy.

And there's a really cool cloak/cape thing that reminded me a lot of Alladin's magic carpet.

Anyway, the special effects in this movie are TRIPPY... and I felt like I'd been on some sort of phsycaldelic  high after watching it. It was cool, but... trippy. The whole rest of the day I felt a little woozy and dizzy. (Yes, I did see it in 3D Imax... so that might have added to it!)

But I enjoyed the ride!


My only complaint is... LET HIM KEEP HIS BRITISH ACCENT!! I don't care if Dr. Strange is America. Whatever. Sigh. Benedict Cumberbatch speaking with an American accent was just WRONG.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about that.

Do you want a trailer? I have one:


Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Review Thoughts: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating:★★★★☆


Wow. I read a book! And a big adult type one at that! And guess what? I liked it. I really really liked it!

So yeah, there's been a ton of buzz about this one. I'm glad to have finally managed to read it myself. Thank you book club!

It's about two kids during WWII. One is a blind French girl who gets displaced during the German occupation and ends up living in a village outside of Paris for the duration of the war with her great uncle who has PTSD from the first world war. She adapts to things very well and is living a fairly nice life, helping her uncle come out again and learning all about his radio hobby.

The other kid is a German boy who is extremely smart and gets recruited to work in the war as the guy who seeks out people doing illegal radio transmission. Yeah. Do you see the connection here?

Well, after much much time, their stories converse for a brief moment. But before that happens, we get completely invested in BOTH of them. Who cares that they are opposite sides of the war!? I truly love stories that can do this... make you realize that there are just people involved doing what they have to do to survive and that there is no good guys or bad guys. I mean, there are, but the people are just the people, know what I mean?

Anyway. There's also a bit of a strange element of the supernatural in this story... but it didn't really bother me that much. Some at book club could have done without it though. What made me crazy was I was DYING for their stories to converge and when they finally did, it was for such a short period of time. Ah. I wanted more there!!! I wanted a nice little romantic happy ending.

But, you know, you can't have it all I guess.

Still, I really enjoyed this book. The storytelling was awesome. The writing was beautiful. The characters were fascinating. And it held my wandering and unfocused attention unlike any book has done for a long time.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Author Signings: Jeff Kinney, Cressida Crowell, Marissa Meyer, Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman, Shannon Hale, Jennifer Nielsen, James Dashner

We've had a plethora of author signings lately, so I figured it was time to catch you up! Plus a few that happened that I never reported on. Because... life.

Last night we managed to BARELY get to Jeff Kinney! (Dumb traffic and dumb accidents!) It was in an auditorium full of crazy excited kids! And I felt just like one of them. I don't know what it is about these books, but they make me laugh pretty much like nothing else. It was fun to see what this author was like and see his method of drawing and planning and plotting. I'm amazed how such a simple idea has been so popular and successful for him. It's awesome. 


He came through the audience answering questions
and walked right by us. Here's the blurry result.

They had the most awesome balloons out front of the event!


The night before last we meet the author of the famous and popular How to Train Your Dragon books, Cressida Cowell. She was an absolute blast.. so animated and funny and spunky!

Sangi meets Cressida Cowell

Toto meets Cressida Cowell

Tori and Sangi with Cressida Cowell


 The week before that was Marissa Meyer, who we've met too many times to count now. She has a new book in a new series out about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland fame... and what she was like as a teenager. It's called Heartless. Yeah. I hope to fit it in somehow. When we talked to her, we asked her if there as any truth to the fact that she was inspired by the in real life Kai from the kpop group EXO for her very own Kai... she said... no.. but when someone sent her a picture she said... I approve! That's him!!!

Kai from EXO


We got a pretty good crowd of friends to go to this one with us! 

Marissa Meyer


Last year I was disappointed that these awesome authors of my favorite book last year, Illuminae, came on a night that I couldn't go. But they came BACK! All the way from Australia! Thank you for that Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman! So I got to see them this time and.. it was awesome. I find them to be pretty amazing and I've started the next book, Gemina, and am reading while cringing... it's so intense!


Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Probably last month it was, these group of crazy authors came to the library, all sporting read hair like Squirrel Girl... whoever that is. LOL! I'm not totally up on my superheros... but they've all written stuff to do with her and so they came together and talked. They are: Dean Hale, Ryan North, Margaret Stohl, and Shannon Hale.




And then there was on my other favorites, Jennifer Nielsen. She was promoting her latest book called The Scourge about a plague of sorts.

Jennifer Nielsen


And I just had to throw in this picture because he's so freaking famous now... we said hi to James Dashner at Comic Con, and yes, he still remembers me from back in the days when he was still a little author.
Toto and Sangi with Mr. Dashner Dude

Hmmm.... it seems like we went to see Brodi Ashton this past summer too, but I must not have taken pictures. Wait, Really?


I can't remember who's in the queue coming up! But I'm sure there's someone!!! What fun authors have you all seen these days?




Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Kdrama Review: Cinderella and Four Knights

Drama: Cinderella and  Four Knights
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Drama
Starring: Park So Dam, Jung Il Woo, Ahn Jae Hyun, Lee Jung Shin
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤


I really didn't have plans to watch this one. It looked to "normal" to "basic." But we watched the first two episodes during fall break when we had our kpop party with Megs and friends. And so I was hooked. A couple episodes is all it takes.

This plays on the familiar Cinderella story in the sense that it's about a girl who is living with her step mom and step sister that treat her like crap. Her dad is around, but always gone working and he has really no desire to step in and help her.

In day when she is delivering pizza to a party, the guys there are making a joke that whoever walks in next the one guy will take to his grandpa's upcoming wedding. And this girl walks in with her pizzas. He is at once intrigued after watching her deal with the rudeness she encounters right there in front of him. And she he approaches her and she ends up going the wedding with him.

Only, he makes her pose as his fiance which is quite the surprise to her but in so doing, she catches the eye of this grandpa dude, who is of course the head of a big rich company. Anyway, after these first two episodes, she ends up coming to live at the grandpa's house because he is hiring her to rein in his grandsons and make them into better guys. For some reason he thinks she can do this. Besides, she finds herself suddenly homeless and so she decides, what the heck.

And now she is living with these three really really stuck up guys who give her all kinds of crap. Well, except one of them who is pretty sweet to her from the get go. (The fourth guy is the secretary that runs the household who is also really sweet to her.)

And so it goes from there. Will she fall for one of them? Even though the grandpa has said NO DATING? Will one of them fall for her? Or are they just plain too obnoxious after all in the end and she walks away?

There's other bits to the story that make everything complicated, including another girl for the past, and we end up with a sort of love square/pentagon kind of shape that is head spinning but fun in it's complication.

All the players in the love game.

The girl in this one is so cute. I loved her. The guys made me a little crazy except for the secretary dude who is over the top handsome and the other guy played by yet again a CNBlue kpop idol. One of the guys grew on me as the show went on and when he finally smiled a few times, I got it.

Our main angsty dude... smiling.

Lee Jung Shin from CNBlue
The secretary /body guard... smiling. 

This one is also compared to Boys Over Flowers for good reason. A no name girl is suddenly being sought after by four (three?) rich guys. And then they all end up loving her in different ways. Very very similar.

Bottom Line: So I ended up quite liking this one and getting all involved and worked up as usual, though it didn't quite engage the intense emotions that some of these dramas tend to to do.

A trailer:





Here's the theme song that I love of course, with some clips:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Book Review Thoughts: Demian by Hermann Hesse

Book: Demian by Hermann Hesse
Genre: Classic-ish
Rating:★★☆ ☆ ☆

Guys. Do you find it weird that kpop led me to this book? I mean, who would think that a Korean band made up of boys ages 19 to 23 would base their extremely popular (I know this crowd thinks they aren't popular, but believe me they are. EXTREMELY!) music videos on an obscure German novel written a hundred years ago?

Who would think?

And who would think that in doing so they would get a gazillion people, including me, to pick up said obscure German novel and actually READ it?

Well, it happened. These boys, this band, known as BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan in Korean) over the past year has made a series of music videos inspired by this book. Now, because I've been fascinated by the videos, naturally I wanted to check out the book. And besides, I loved it that my two fandoms come together for a time!



BTS winning award after award for their latest album called Wings which is inspired by this book

Well, I must say that after having read the book I'm pretty much just as confused as ever. Here's what I got from the book (spoilers!):

  • a boy (let's call him Sinclair) gets teased by a bully and another kid (let's call him Demian) comes to his rescue and now Sinclair thinks of the rescuer as a sort of savoir
  • when Sinclair goes of to boarding school, he becomes rebellious mostly by drinking way too much. He yearns for contact with Demian but alas, he seems to have disappeared.
  • Then Sinclair sees a girl and basically falls in love... even though he has no contact with her, just the thought of her brings him out of his rebellious stage and he suddenly becomes spiritually enlightened.
  • He draws a picture of her, but somehow, it looks like Demian. Weird.
  • After boarding school, he goes off to college. There he finds another friend who teaches him a sort of religion where Abraxas is the god. And Abraxas is this bird thing, but to be honest, I can't even remember how this bird thing came to be in the story. I think Sinclair drew him too.
  • And then suddenly, Sinclair bumps into Demian again. And they become friends again. In fact Sinclair hangs out at his house a lot. 
  • And falls in love with his mom. LOL! I mean weird. 
  • And they have all sorts of strange over-my-head conversations 
  • And then the war (I think WWI?) starts and both of them go off to fight. 
  • And then Demian dies and the end.

Rap Mon in all his dimpled and genius glory.
So what does that all have to do with the kpop videos? I really don't know! They have wings, and a statue with wings, and a mom named Eva, and you know... maybe I should just go watch all those videos again!!! I think it has more to do with all the strange philosophy and the Abraxas stuff that went over my head than it does this actual story. Rap Monster, (I know his name is strange, but you get used to it. Or we can just call him Namjoon if you'd rather.) who is a genius and the leader of this band, read this book and was so taken with it that he instigated this whole concept. Which I find to be the coolest part of this, shall we say, experience. 

And anyway, at least now I can say I've read the book behind the videos even if I still don't get it. 

And now you want to read the book too, right? AND watch a video? Yes? Well, I can help you with the video part:




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

September and October 2016 Reading Recap


Bryce Canyon was beautiful for fall break.
Look at that sky!
And the silhouette of the unknown hiker is even cool!


Since my reading has suffered so much, I've taken to recapping only every other month and this month, we're on. So here's what I've read:

Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano: A girl learns she is a key part of fairy world and has to find the cure for the Blight.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova: We get to experience the progress of Alzheimer's through the eyes of this character.

The Immortal Throne by Bree Despain: The conclusion of this awesome series about Hades and the underworld.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: The classic story about a guy who creates life and then regrets it like nobody's business leaving the monster to fend for himself.

Demian by Hermann Hesse: There's a dude who is struggling in life with all sorts of things and he finds friends who help him. Or do they? (Review to come soon! Beware!)

So, I'm reading but at a slow slow pace. It's my new normal I suppose. My favorite from these two moths is The Immortal Throne for sure. The others were just, you know, okay. Or weird. Or both.

Plans for November:

  • I've just barely started Gemina, the sequel to Illuminae. So excited. I know I've got this one!
  • Read All the Light We Cannot See for book club. 
  • After that I don't know. I need a really good love story. Suggestions? Anyone?

How's your reading going? 



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