Friday, March 16, 2018

Our Book Club Schedule 2018-2019

We've just finished up the voting process for the book club and here's what ended up on the list:

June 2018: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
July 2018: Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
August 2018: Summerlost by Ally Condie
September 2018: The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright
October 2018: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
November 2018: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
December 2018: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
January 2019:  Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
February 2019:  The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson
March 2019: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
April 2019: The Girl With Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

May 2019: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

What do you think? Have you read a bunch of them? Do we we have much to look forward to? I think so!!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: Celebrity Superhero by Jennie Bennett

Book: Celebrity Superhero by Jennie Bennett
Genre: YA romance (a Kpop one!)
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This author has a line of kpop romance books which is super fun. This is the second one I've read, and my guess is I'll have them all read before it's over. Just because, you know, kpop.

So, in this one we have our girl, Anna, who is obsessed with a certain kpop group, one who promotes and markets themselves using the superhero concept (like EXO if anyone knows in real life groups!) And she particularly loves one member, as we all do, and is... well.. obsessed.

One day, her family is preparing to host a family from Korea, a family that happened to be their neighbors and friends from way back when, before they left to go back to Korea to live. So Anna remembers their son as the kid she played with when she was little and that was fun and all, but she is kinda bummed that she is expected to entertain him now.

Then he walks in the door and she is blown away when she realizes her childhood friend is now her ultimate bias from her ultimate kpop group of which she, you know.. obsesses over! (I was wondering how she didn't know what had happened to him, but they basically lost touch over the years and I guess he kept his two personas quite separate or something.)

Anyway, and so it goes. He acts all jerky toward her and lets her know right off that he has no plans to hang out with her, so no worries. She is sad to learn his personality does not match his looks, but still. She can't help but drool at the sight of him.

Meanwhile, he keeps doing stuff that has her convinced he really truly does possess super powers, just like in their videos. Turns out they do get thrown together and have some adventures and she is even more convinced. At one point he's all "you know my secret, right?" and she says, "yes, but I won't tell anyone."

But of course, we the readers are pretty sure about not that they aren't talking about the same thing!

So, does he come around? Is he REALLY that jerky, or is something else going on? Does he truly have super powers? Can he and Anna be friends in the end?

Of course I had a great time reading this book. It's so fun to imagine a close encounter with one's ultimate bias (or biases in my case since I can't choose one. or two. or three) It's fun to imagine what these idols would be like in real life, or how they are as normal guys, or how they are not in front of a camera.

It's a very quick and short read. I'm always left wishing for more. But I laughed a lot and it kept me engaged and reading until late in the night one night to see how it all ended! Sigh.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Anne of Green Gables Read Along Part 1 Discussion: Chapters 1 - 13

Well, so far I'm loving my re-re-re-read of this book! Just as fun and sweet and all happy making as ever. If this is your first time with it, what are you thinking so far? (We'll talk more about that our Twitter chat on Monday... 6:00 pm MDT. Dang... Daylight time again. Sigh.)

In the meantime, here are some other questions to be thinking about and if you want to post your thoughts and answers on your blog that would be awesome. I'll add a link at the bottom so we can quickly find your posts!!

(all these nabbed from various websites because I was too lazy to think up my own.)

1. In chapter 2, when Matthew is driving Anne back to Green Gables, she asks him: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive.” Given her tragic childhood, how do you think Anne is able to maintain such a positive attitude?

2. Anne is insistent on renaming places and inanimate things.  Why do you think she does this?

3. Marilla gives several reasons for finally deciding to keep Anne. What reason do you think most changed her mind?

4. If Anne grew up today, would she have been happier with how she looked? What would she have pined for, looks- and fashion-wise? What is our society's equivalent of plumpness, dark hair, and puffed sleeves?

5. How would Anne have turned out if Marilla had let Mrs. Blewett take her? Would that life have crushed Anne's imaginative spirit, or would she have changed in a different way?

My Answers:

1. I just think Anne was born this way. It's her nature and in her soul and it's something we should all embrace. It's my favorite thing about this book. Positive attitude! It's hard but it's awesome. 

2. I think she likes to name things because of her crazy imagination that she can't contain no matter how hard she tries. And boring names are... boring... so she is compelled to make things better and prettier. At least in her mind. 

3. I think it may have been because of Matthew. She wanted to make him happy. But then again, I think deep down, she really wanted to brighten up her own life. Also, despite what she may have thought, she fell in love with Anne from the get go too. 

4. I think Anne would have embraced her red hair much much more today than she did then. I don't think red heads get made fun of or looked at weird near as much as they used to. Do they? Also being skinny is sought after, so I think she for sure would have been happier. But she would have probably still not be satisfied, as none of us really are. So for today's standards... not plumpness for sure! Healthiness and fitness. As for hair, I have no idea. Is there a hair color people like more than others? Colors and streaked/highlighted?  Then for fashion... just whatever is in, right? What's in today? Skinny jeans? Leggings?  LOL, I don't even know. 

5. I think Anne had a spirit that would have been really really hard to crush, despite her circumstances. She'd proved that already with how resilient she been so far in her not so happy life. But it's sad to think about her being in that situation even so. I'm happy we don't have to find out!

Okay everyone! Join us on Twitter tomorrow (Monday March 12) at 6:00 PM MDT. We'll talk more about these questions and other random Anne stuff. We'll be using the #GreenGablesRAL. See you there!

And here's the linky if you would like to write a post with the above questions. Share with us!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

This Week in Kpop: March 2018

Oh my goodness tons has happened this past week!

J-hope came out with his mixed tape and I love it. This is strange for me because I'm usually not a fan of mixtapes... which are usually hard core rapping. But this album of his is perfect. I love it. Here's the MV he put out for Daydream and you can see what I mean. It's cute and fun and bright. Just like J-hope.

The same day Sungmin, the one from Super Junior that "fans" kicked out because he had the gall to get married, came out with a solo song called get this... you got it... Day Dream! AH!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???  But it's a totally different kind of song, a beautiful ballad. Watch it and see what we mean about how beautiful his singing is:

Monsta X tickets went on sale this week. It was a nightmare. We wanted high touch tickets again so we could high five them all, but we didn't realize that you clicked in a different place on the site to buy those, so we were in the wrong place. But we did get tickets, just not the ones we wanted. We are still feeling so disappointed about that, but we will go and have fun and see them anyway. That adventure is in August. In the meantime, we are looking forward to their comeback happening soon!

This week was CRAZY for kpop youtube channels. A huge Korean entertainment company decided crack down on channels using stuff from their TV broadcasts and gave out copyright strikes left and right. Channels that got three or more were instantly deleted. Like BAM, no longer existed AT ALL. Many huge channels were affected. Those that were deleted instantly started new channels and those that weren't went to the channels to vent and explain what they think was happening. It's been pretty scary, but so far we have been safe. We actually partner with this company, so we have a little bit of an extra protection because of that, but still, they don't want us using anything from their TV broadcasts. So much to learn!!! And the huge channels also have learned that despite their popularity, they are still vulnerable and have to play by the rules.

And WOOSHIN IS COMING BACK! This is the kid from Up10tion who left because he of a scandal that wasn't even real, which caused him massive depression. He is coming back! They will drop their new stuff this coming week and we are crazy excited. It was being hinted at for weeks, but finally, they revealed that it's all true. Yes. Welcome back Wooshin.

Wooshin in the white coat, front and center. The group is complete again!

Two more Big Bang members leave for the military this coming week. That means that four out five will be gone. The fifth one will leave as soon as he wraps up a few things, in a couple of months. Big Bang's idea is to get it all over and done with together and then come back with a... BANG! Lol. But they announced this past week that they did a song for us before they all left and we'll get that song this next week. Such a cool surprise!
Seungri (leaves in a few months), G-Dragon (left last week), Taeyang (leaves this week) 
T.O.P (left last year), Daesung (leaves this week.)

Suga from BTS had his birthday this past week. He turned 25 American age. For his birthday, he fulfilled a promise that he gave four years ago and donated meat to 39 (for his birthday 3/9) orphanages across Korea. He didn't want anyone to know, but fans became aware and the news spread like crazy with everyone moved that he remembered this promise and actually did it. He's truly one of the most giving persons on the planet.

Here's the song that's been stuck in my head all week. I mean, how could it not get stuck??? This is by two guys from the group NCT-U and they are... I don't even have words. They are GOOD. I could watch them dance all day. STOP BABY DON'T STOP!

I will stop there. I hope you enjoyed the little run down. Can't wait to see what's next!!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Kdrama Review: Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey)

Drama: Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey)
Genre: Fantasy
Starring:  Lee Seung-gi, Cha Seung-won, Oh Yeon-seo, Lee Hong-gi and Jang Gwang
Rating: ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

When I first started this one I thought, um... wait... this is WAY too weird and... yeah.. weird. But I stuck with it and glad I did because I ended up loving it.

It's about this group of demon/gods (I could never really understand what group they actually belonged to, lol) Or maybe they were demons trying to become gods? At any rate, they were here in the world in their human forms for various different reason.

One of them was for sure trying to gain points toward becoming a god. To do that, he was trying to capture evil spirits. Well, our heroine just happened to be a human who evil spirits are drawn to due to her special blood. So, he finds this girl and basically hires her to help him.

Meanwhile, our "hero", sheesh, what was he doing on Earth? I think he was banned he because he continued to constantly get in trouble. In fact, years before when our girl was just a kid, she actually found him locked up in an invisible house and she set him free with the understanding he would protect her.
When our main characters first meet.

Now years later, they meet up again and she finally remembers who he is but all he wants to do is eat her because her special blood will make him even more powerful.

Are you following?

And then a magical bracelet appears that the first dude finds because he needs our girl to live so she can get the evil spirits for him, so he gets her to put this bracelet on the magical monkey (yes he's a monkey when not in his human form)  and BAM, now he HAS to protect her with his life or his heart will break. In fact the bracelet makes him instantly fall in love with her.

Well, this is a problem because of course, she starts to truly fall in love with him, despite the fact that he wants to eat her... and she is now bugged that the love he constantly professes is totally fake. And so he's all... WELL THEN TAKE THE BRACELET OFF! (Since she is the only one that can take it off, yes?) But she needs him to help her with the evil spirits and besides, she is enjoying all the love he is showing her. So she won't take it off.

Oh, and then there's the character who had his sister's soul inside of him,
so by day he was himself (on the right)
and by night he was sister (on the left)
Yes, played by the same actor. Amazing, yes? I loved him too! AH!!!

Well, and so it goes from there. It reminded me a bit of Supernatural in that every episodes they had a new thing to find and kill, and people doing weird things because of the evil spirits. But it all tied together when an evil priestess wakes after 1000 years (or something) and is ready to take her revenge on the king that stilted her back int the day. She takes procession of their zombie friend's body (yes there's a zombie too) and begins to formulate her plan.

All this is not good for our main characters and they plot to stop her.

Oh my gosh this is a complicated story but so good!

I loved it because of the crazy quirky characters and their relationships (there's a great bromance) and their heart. Despite being demons they are extremely lovable! Especially the one that's a pig in his not human state. Oh man, he was great! And the zombie girl. They sort of fall in love too and there are some rip your heart out parts with them. Sob.
These two were hilarious together!
Our pig and zombie!

It's just a great epic fantasy type drama that's so crazy and over the top but so good. Sadly, I'm not too sure I liked the ending. Still, I'm going to miss this one!

A tiny little trailer:

 But here's more of an idea of what it's like set to one of my favorite songs from the drama:


And another:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Book Review: The Magical Monkey King retold by Ji-Li Jiang

Book: The Magical Monkey King retold by Ji-Li Jiang
Genre: Chinese folktale

Inspired by the crazy drama I was watching (done now, review of that soon if I can tackle it... AHH!!!) I picked up this funny little book at the library one day in order to learn more about this very popular folktale.

We learn first how this silly monkey came to exist. Basically, a storm swept across the land. At the top of a very very tall mountain, there was a stone. After the storm, the stone was shattered in pieces, leaving only a black stone egg. It sat there for 99 days and then a dragon came and breathed fire on it. Then it burned for 9 days. After which, the egg was gone and a stone monkey sat there.

Eventually, the monkey came to life and he found a clan of monkeys to live with. He helped them to discover a beautiful secret garden where they lived happily for many years. They loved him so much, they made him their Monkey King.

But the monkey got sad because he wanted to live forever. So he goes on a quest and finds a sage who, after much trouble, finally teaches him a lot of life's secrets. Among them, magic. But he caused so much mischief, the sage kicked him out.

And so it goes, many other adventures follow. The Monkey King happily causes grief wherever he goes, but also saves his monkey clan from the demons. Also, later on he gets banned to a peach orchard, his favorite thing of all, and eats the peaces of immortality, but he gets in big time trouble. Eventually he meets up with Buddha himself, loses a bet and gets banned to live under a mountain for 500 years.

This is one crazy monkey! And in my drama, he was also very much crazy! But oh so lovable!

A very fun and enjoyable little tale filled with all sorts of lessons to learn in life. As I said over at Goodreads, this one would be a fun one to read to kids. I think they'd get a big kick out of it. I also enjoyed learning a bit of the background and basis for which the characters on my drama were based. What a blast.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Book Review: Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee

Book: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju
Genre: YA NF Memoir
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Lately I've been hearing a lot about these types of books, stories from North Korea. And while I've been a bit scared to read them, I've been very curious and interested too. So finally I tracked this one down at the library and proceeded to devour it.

This one is told almost like a novel, but in the voice of the author as he remembers his childhood days. Life was pretty good for him for the first few years. They lived in the capital city in North Korea and his parents had good jobs and they had good things and lived comfortably. His dad was sort of "high up" in the government if I understand correctly, but must have done something "wrong" because one day everything changed.

(Sungju, as a kid, never knew what happened, and then finally, years later, he was told, but he still can't reveal what it was because there could still be repercussions to family members.)

One day, his dad came home and said, let's pack, we are going on vacation.

They left their apartment and comfortable living and headed to a small town more north where their life slowly unraveled. After maybe nearly a year, they had run out of food. Jobs weren't working out. Sungju quit school. And finally his dad said, "I' going to China to find food, I'll be back in a week."

Of course, he never came back.

After months of waiting, his mom said "I'm going to aunt's house to find food. I'll be back in a week."

Of course, she never came back.

Sungju was barely 12 years old.

You see, a famine was going on due to the invasion of the US on North Korea. Yes. And everyone was starving. And now Sungju, as this little kid, had to figure out how to survive.

He went to his friend's house and together they perfected the art of pick pocketing and swiping from merchants. Eventually, they gathered other friends and formed a gang of seven street boys. They traveled from town to town, fighting other gangs for the territory, and learning better and better ways to steal stuff. Sungju was dubbed their leader and he had to do all the fighting. (Thanks to learning taekwondo back before life changed.)

Anyway, and so it goes from there... four years on the streets. He was even in the kids jail for awhile, a place no one survives. But he and his gang busted out. This lasted until he was 16 years old. And his parents never came back.

But then one day....

Okay see, I can't tell you exactly how it ends, because that would be a spoiler, even though you know the ending! I want you to read it!! But, let's just say, I couldn't put it down last night and read until the wee hours to see how it all ended... crying all the while.

Amazing story. It's hard to believe that this stuff is truly happening to people, regular people, right now. It's not like it's in the past and over with... like...right now. This kid is my own son's age. This happened to him just a few years ago (years 1998 to 2002 to be exact). And it's still happening. All because these people happened to live on the wrong side of a line drawn in the sand when leaders were dividing up the spoils of war.

I don't know what the future holds for this country, but I'd love to see them unified some day as a one Korea,  with South Korea going in,  putting their arms around their brothers, and helping them to recover.

Sungju is doing great today. But it's one of those stories where he was so angry that it took him more than a year to find himself after being rescued. He could have gone either way. But there was a specific moment where he decided he wanted to live a good life and chose the better path. I'm so glad he did and happy that he is able to tell his story now with such a positive tone and feeling of hope. Yes, it's truly an amazing story that while to us seems so crazy and powerful, and yet, is basically the story told by everyone living there.



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