Sunday, December 17, 2017

Favorite Things 2017

So guys. In 2012 I started a tradition here on the blog to post my favorite things of the past year. Taking a clue from Oprah and such. But it appears I forgot to do one last year! WHAT WAS I THINKING? I had so many favorite things from 2016!!!

And so now this post will be things from both years... 2016 and 2017. And you know what that means right? Because what HIT ME HARD these two years???? Sigh. Let's just jump into it...

(P.S. I love looking back at past years and looking at my favorite things of 2015 just cracks me up now. Like... did I have any idea what was about to happen in my life? NONE??? Not even a clue!!! Ah, but things are so much more fun now!)

And so I give you favorite things from 2016 AND 2017:

I think number one in my list will have to be Drama Fever and Viki and V Live.... all the places were I get my Korean fix (besides YouTube of course.) Two drama sites, and one where kpop stars jump on whenever they feel like it and talk live with fans. Among other things. All three provide endless hours of entertainment...that two years later I'm not tired of yet.

And all these things make a person want to learn a new language of course. Pretty much the hardest language in the world. (I actually saw a list.. and it was listed as such... I'm not just saying it!) But there are some ways to do this... and so far the one I'm using the most is called Mango Languages. It's technically a data base that you can access from your library... and it has every thing... even Pirate!

I have love hate relationship with a YouTube Channel called 1theK... it shows pretty much every new release from the kpop world, which makes me realize there is no way to keep up. But it's a good place to see what's going on. But, I hate that they take views away from the official channels of the artists. So, there's that too. Love hate.

Sangi came and introduced us to Shin Ramyun. It's so much better than the Top Ramen stuff. Believe me on that.

I'm in love with my new (ish) phone that lets me do anything I want on it at the moment! YES!! (Well, except texting is still hard. Whatever.)

My favorite conferences and conventions of the past like Comic Con and LTUE and such have been replaced by a convention we call KCON. I feel like I'm with my people here SO MUCH MORE than any conference/convention I've been to before. It's amazing. And KCON has concerts... two of them... with dozens of bands. And more than dozens of beautiful kpop idols.

Suddenly simple beads are a favorite thing. And suddenly my wrists feel naked with out these simple cheap beads on them. It's a weird phenomenon.

Light sticks.. basically a very very expensive fancy custom flashlight.. are favorite things. Though I only own one at the moment. Maybe more are in my future.

I'm surprised this one isn't on any past lists, but Airbnb... guys. We don't travel without it anymore. Hardly do we do hotels anymore... but only Airbnb. It's awesome.

Oh, and we discovered kpop fries from a local restaurant called Bumblebees. LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!

Well, and usually I list some favorite shows/music and or people... but that's so hard to do now! (Though you can be looking for a top ten songs list coming soon!) AH!!!! There's too much! But I will just end with a few random pictures of some new favorite people since I last did this list two years ago! Enjoy!!!

Lee Jinki

Choi Minho

Kim Seokjin

Park Hyungsik

Jung Taekwoon

Lee Hyukjae and Kim Jongwoon

Super Junior

Lee Minhyuk

Park Jimin

Lee Hongbin

What are some of your favorite things of this past year?

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Book Review: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

Book: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Genre: Magic realism-ish, romance-ish.. I don't know
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This is our book club for next week. And I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this! I think I thought it was a fantasy of some sort (with queen and all you know) but not really this strange magical realism thing going on. So subtle that you almost didn't even notice it!

So in this story, we have our main girl Josey, who seems to be hiding from the world. She's all about taking care of her mom and not doing one dang thing or herself. Except for hording candy and romance novels. And then this one day a visitor shows up and starts hanging out in her closet. This lady is someone she knows from the town, but not someone she really considers a friend. But this not really friend appears to need help, so what's Josey to do but help her.

Meanwhile, she (Josey) ends up talking to anther sort of acquaintance, and they do end up becoming friends. It doesn't hurt that this new girl's boyfriend (well, except she is having a bit an issue with him at the moment) is the best friend of the guy who Josey has loved for years...namely the mailman.

Well, and suddenly things start happening. And it's weird because Josey suddenly wants to start doing stuff for herself. Like go on a date with Adam (the mailman) and hang out with Chloe and let the local cab driver drive her mom around instead of her.

Really crazy things like that!

Well, it's kind of a simple story, but then we start getting all the back stories (DUDES! This book so much like a kdrama! It's just hit me!!! LOL! Back stories. Side stories. Sad stories. Quirky characters. Hints of magic. Yep... totally a kdrama kind of book.) and then you realize things aren't quite as simple as it seems. There's this strange sort of feeling going all, with all of the characters, and I started wondering, what's going to drop. SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO GO DOWN!

I loved that feeling.

And I loved the writing style. One of those sort of detached styles that grab you anyway... know what I mean? Like it's trying to not be too connected, and it fails. I love that.

I loved the character driven, relationship issues. Like there really wasn't much going on except relationship issues. Perfect.

And then the end. Of course I did NOT see it coming when the thing dropped! Even though I was looking for it. I just didn't think of that particular thing. You know? But.. I loved it.

So now... to find more of this author's books. I hear they are all pretty awesome.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Book Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Book: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
Genre: YA Contemporary

This is the story of Carver Briggs, who one day sent his friends a text when they were on their way to pick him up from work. The next thing he knew, he was getting notified that they'd been in a crash and all three were dead. There was a half finished text on the driver's phone... meant for him.

The is the story of Carver Briggs, who now has to deal with the guilt that his text killed his friends. The book opens up just as he is going to the last of the three funerals. That day, he has his first panic attack.

This is the story of Carver Briggs, who spends the next many months dealing with panic attacks and facing school alone, and seeing the twin sister of one of his friends glaring at him, and connecting with the girlfriend of the other friend, and hanging out with the grandma of yet the third friend.

It's the grandma of that third friend who sets into motion the goodbye days. Something that, while at first didn't seem to help, but in the end, worked. So he spent an entire day with each of the families, remembering that specific friend, doing with them what that friend would have done with them had they had the chance to have one more day.

I was worried at first about this book. It started out being a bit on the whiny side, like I was worried we would go through the WHOLE book with this boy moaning about how he felt so guilty about this accident. (And while I can see that he would feel this way, doesn't it come down ultimately to be the choice of the driver whether he looks at his phone or not? Carver sent the text, but the friend looked and tried to text back. )

So at first I wasn't sure I could handle that. But then it started to change, and we started to see Carver dealing with things. The tiny little romance with the girlfriend of one of the boys (which yes made for a very interesting conflict there!) and the connection he started to make with the other families. And the connecting he made with his therapist who made him tell stories to get through things.

So, I ended up really enjoying it after all and loving yet another main boy character. I'm a sucker for the guy points of views these days! And it ended up hopeful and sweet and happy, despite the downer of a subject.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Kdrama Review: While You Were Sleeping

Drama: While You Were Sleeping

Genre: Romantic suspense with a touch of fantasy elements
Starring: Lee Jong Suk, Suzy Bae
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Yeah, I know you are thinking this name sounds awfully familiar!  But it has nothing to do with that movie you all know. In this story, our characters keep having dreams about all the other characters. Bad stuff (usually) that's going to happen to them. And then they have to figure out how to make the bad stuff not happen. Which is pretty tricky sometimes!

So our main guy moves in next door to our main girl. He tries to be nice at first, but she throws him off. And so he's all whatever. But then their paths cross again and then SHE decides, oh, he's not so bad after all and suddenly, she's not leaving him alone and he's all... dang, why is she always in my face!

So one day a thing happens that brings together several of our characters, the main ones and the secondary. And this sets into motion some events that over the course of the year makes life for our main girl really really bad. And it seems like the drama is going to end before it gets started.

But suddenly, our main guy is right there in HER face now and getting all mixed up in her business. But we learn that he is trying to make the above bad things not happen.

Oh my word this is making NO SENSE AT ALL is it??? AH!!!

Our guy is a brand new prosecuting attorney and over the course of the drama, we get involved in all the cases he is solving. Some of them had me screaming (literally out loud) in suspense and trauma. All of it ties together in the end. There are some great villains in this drama that have you totally squirming and on the edge of your seat. The secondary characters are perfectly quirky too and the second male lead, AS ALWAYS, is swoon worthy in his own right. Sigh. Always.

Suzy and Jong Suk
Jung Hae In plays the 2nd male lead... aka the cop that loves our main girl.

But mostly I loved the romance of course. Led by one of my most favorite of all time (I fear I say that every review, don't I... well... yeah...) leading guys. This guy is just... so... CUTE!! And great acting and... all of it. I just don't know how to say it all again. He's great. Really really great.

The end is pretty crazy, but the very very end had me let down just a touch. You know I just wanted a little more... something. I don't know what. But still, I loved this one.

And so one of our (sort of ) Super Junior boys, Henry, sings one of the main songs in this drama, and it's all English, so maybe you'll love it. It is one of the most romantic things ever. Gives me chills. Here it is set to some of the lovely, but not too spoilery, clips:

And there's a gazillion trailers for this one. Here's one of them:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Kdrama Review: Coffee Prince

Drama: Coffee Prince
Genre: Romantic comedy
Starring: Gong Yoo, Yoon Eun Hye
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

This is an old drama, like ten years old I think. But it's a classic and one that everyone who knows anything about kdramas, and even those who don't, talk about and rave about. I decided it was finally time I caught up and watched it!

It stars Gong Yoo (who I know from Goblin and Train to Busan, but I'm sure he's done a gazillion other things these past ten years too) and Yoon Eun Hye, who actually starred in the very first drama I watched, Lie to Me. I had no idea it was her because she is TOTALLY different in this one!

So, the basic story (because as you know there are a ton of side stories too!) is about this guy who is sort of loser, struggling in life, not really doing anything and just living off his family's riches. But his grandma challenges him to take this old run down coffee shop and make it successful. I think she is hanging something over his head to motivate him but I already totally forgot what. At any rate, he does love his grandma and I think he finally grows up enough to want to just make her happy.

And so he puts his heart into it. And hires a bunch of sort of misfit guys to run it and he calls it Coffee Prince.

But before all that, he is bugged that his grandma is setting him up on a ton of blind dates, so one day when he runs into this young dude, he takes a fancy to him and hires him to pose as his gay lover, even though, of course, he's not gay.

The problem is, this guy is not a guy, but our girl, the heroine of the story. She is very tomboyish and many people at first glance think she's a guy. So when our guy hires her to pose as his lover, she just goes along with it because she needs money to support her family.

And then they become friends and he hires her to work with the guys in the coffee shop. Still thinking she is a guy of course.

Well, and so.... she starts to like him. And much to his dismay, he starts to like her. Which is very confusing to him, because.. he's not gay.

It makes for quite the interesting conflict!

Gong Yoo and Eun Hye

And so it goes for awhile until you are just DYING for her to finally just tell him already! And then when the truth finally comes out, it's not in a good way and BAM.. everything falls apart.

Throw in all the other side stories and the back stories and you've got yourself one crazy drama filled drama! So perfectly awesome!

The best part about this one was the acting. Like these two were so totally amazing. Gong Yoo, I mean... he's just.. there are no words. He's so good. And Eun Hye? The way she could make you forget she's a girl? Like how does she do that when she's this beautiful actress? I don't get it! She was so good. I think that these guys and this drama won all sorts of awards because of them.

And it quite pushed the boundaries, you know, for this whole gay thing and gender identity and all that. And just really makes one think.

And the romance was so... cute and fun and intense. All of it.

Kim Jae Wook who is NOT Japanese but played the cool Japanese guy.

Oh wait, did I mention the Japanese guy? Well, I'm not sure if the actor is Japanese (I looked him up, he's not) but he did play a Japanese dude and he was so COOL! Like, he hardly said anything and yet you just fell in love. But when he did say stuff.. he had all the best lines! Yeah. He was also awesome.

Some cute clips with music that was not in the show:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Book Review: Deacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher

Book: Deacon Locke Went to Prom by Brian Katcher
Genre: YA Contemporary

Wow, so this book grabbed me from the first page because I fell in love with the main dude from the opening line. This would be a great book to illustrate the use of voice to wannabe authors. Yeah, this dude, this Deacon Locke, had me from the start.

So our boy, Deacon Locke, has been living with his grandma for a few years now, since his dad basically disappeared. (I can't remember what happened to his mom at the moment, but she is not around either.) So his grandma takes him in for his high school years.

And now he's a senior and he feels like he needs to experience prom,  just to say he has. But he is too shy to do something about it. And he misses his chance.

So he decides to take his grandma to prom, since she never got to go when she was in high school because his grandpa had to go to the Vietnam war.

Sweet, eh?

And everyone in his school thought so too, so they all take out their phones to film them! That's because they've (Deacon and his grandma that is) been taking dance lessons and they are awesome!

So now this shy boy. Tall, awkward, astronomy geek and now in love with his dance teacher, becomes an internet sensation. What's a guy to do?

So stuff happens. And then other stuff happens. And Deacon becomes extremely stressed out. And how does he fix it all?

Read the book.

It's such an awesome friendship book. And relationship book, with Deacon and his grandma at the heart of it. Lots of funny moments. And sad moments. And romance moments. It has it all. I loved it.

And I've never heard of this author. I need to go read all his other stuff now.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Book Review: Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen

Book: Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆☆

This book is easy to sum up. It's a girl's experience being sent to a wilderness survival camp for troubled teenagers, in the middle of Utah. It's how she goes from angry and belligerent, to her normal happy (ish) self again. It was fun to see the transformation.

The book opens when her parents have finally had enough. And she finds herself on her way from California to Utah with the final destination being this camp. In real life, we have a ton of them here in Utah. It's a great place to get lost and find yourself at the same time, in the desert! I loved being able to picture the landscape and the feel of the area without any problem. Not that I've ever been lost in the desert. Or to one of  these camps for that matter. But I have been on a lot of hikes in such terrain!

Anyway. And so she fights the whole thing, until she finally decides to stop fighting. And then she ends up loving it. And then she basically doesn't really want to go home. But in all this process she realizes what an awesome family she has and how she has treated them so horribly.

And yeah. So the wilderness camp works! For this girl. And while it doesn't end totally happily ever after, and you can tell there will be bumps along the way, you have this awesome feeling of hope.

It also shows that it isn't a perfect fix for all troubled teens. There's a guy who needs to come back and try again. And I hope he makes it this time!

(Zero romance for those who wonder about that kind of thing, though there is a gorgeous Native American dude in it! YES!)

I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would (given the no romance factor and all). It was well written as all of her books are. I'm pretty sure I'm a fan.


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