Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: Those Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

Book (Story?) : The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. La Guin
Genre: Short story/literary fiction
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Here's another book (story) that I picked up thanks to BTS and all the tons of literary references that their videos and teasers and theories and concepts are always promoting and throwing at us.

This one made an appearance in their Spring Day video last year (wow it's been a year already?? ) and everyone went wild. Since I'm not all that into the crazy theories these guys love to wrap the fandom up in, I have no idea what the connection is thought to be between their video and this story. And I could look that up, but I know you all probably won't care either. (Oh, man I found this, so if you are interested, take a look!) So on to the story!!!

Yeah, basically this is a short story that I'm going to count as a book since it's in a nice hardback bound copy and looks very bookish!!

In the beginning we get a description of the town people and how they are all on their way to the race grounds where a horse race is about to happen as a celebration to the beginning of summer. It's a beautiful day and everything is pretty and perfect. And the people are happy. Oh so happy!

We then get a more detailed description of this town called Omelas. How the people are so good and happy that they don't need a king, or slaves, or clergy or soldiers or weapons. They had few rules and laws. And yet, we are told over and over, that they are not simple minded or naive. They are mature and intelligent.

Do you believe all this? we are asked. The narrator knows it's hard to accept. That people could actually live this way.

If not, he/she says, then how about one more thing.

And then we learn about the ugly secret. The bad bad thing kept in a closet. ( I will not tell you want that thing is because that would be spoiler-ish. You have to read it to find out!) The thing that everyone knows about but no one does anything about. That thing that without it, the happiness of the town would no longer be. The thing that people come to visit and are repulsed by, but still go about their joyous happy lives.

Except those who don't. Except those who walk away from Omelas.


Yeah. I have no idea what it means. But it feels like it could be pretty deep and symbolic. Most of the short stories I've read in my life have this sudden punch in the gut at the end, and this one is no different. It's beautiful and ugly at the same time. Omelas is not what it appears to be. There is something about Omelas that make some people want to leave, even if it's a blissful happy place. And what is the price for happiness anyway? And what would you do gain it and keep it?

This is the third thing I've read thanks to the BTS boys... what's up next? Not sure, but let me just say I've only begun to scratch the surface.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: Exo by Fonda Lee

Book: Exo by Fonda Lee
Genre: YA SF
Rating:★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

It's been awhile since I read a science fiction and this one was not bad... not bad at all! :) Pretty dang good actually!

It's about Earth after an alien invasion. I'm assuming the invasion happened about our current time. There was a long 30 year war at that time, with humans trying to fight against them. However, they finally gave up and peace between the races was declared. The book takes place near Peace Day, 100 years later.

Most of the human population has just decided to go along with the rule of this alien race. Some of them have wholeheartedly embraced it. And those people have even had their children become like the aliens in a process called Hardening. They alter them biologically so they have the ability to armour themselves with an exoskelton, similar to the aliens. These people, who have gone through that process, are called Exos.

Our boy, Donovan, is 17 years old, and an Exo. He works as a soldier maintaining peace. Because there are outlying groups who are still against the aliens and want to take back the planet. They despise Exos and hate what they symbolize. Donovan's job is to search out these people and have them prosecuted.

Oh, and Donovan's dad is the Prime Liaison... the most important human job....maintaining relations between humans and the aliens.

One day, when out on patrol, things go bad, and suddenly Donovan finds himself captured by these crazy humans. And while with them, he learns about their cause and realizes that they have some pretty good ideas....

And there's a girl of course. As one of these fighting humans. There's also someone else who's in that group that quite freaks Donovan out. And he is so confused he can hardly function.

It's a great book that shows how there really is no black and white. You can see both sides of this issue. You end up rooting for everyone and you want everyone to win. It's frustrating and eye opening.

Sometimes I worry about books with a political sort of premise, but this one was okay in its presentation. It didn't get too bogged down with it.

I enjoyed the intensity of this story. Many edge of your seat moments. It did get a little slower in the middle for a bit, but soon picked up again. So yeah, I really enjoyed it! I'm wondering if this is the start to a series since it ended up with lots of places it could still go. I guess we'll see!! (Well, so I see in Goodreads that there's an Exo #1 by the title.. I guess that answers that question! Yeah, there's many things Donovan still needs to do and figure out... poor kid.)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

This Week in Kpop : January 7 2018

It's been two years since we discovered Super Junior and in so doing, discovered kpop and our lives were changed. We're having a giveaway to celebrate:

There was another Korean award show (Golden Disk) and BTS won album of the year. EXO won one global artist, which caused the fan wars to erupt yet again. Also Super Junior and a bunch of our other favorites, won another award that I don't totally know how to explain. But yeah. What it means is tons more awesome performances to watch!

BTS held their 4th Muster (like a concert but more informal) and did a bunch of performances to songs that previously had no dances to go with them, so that was cool.

SHINee announced in heart breaking letters to the fans, they will go ahead with the concert scheduled for Japan... and sing without Jonghyun though they will feel him with them in spirit.

Super Junior indirectly announced an LA concert date for April 29th, along with plans to have Europe dates. Also, they had performances in Malaysia this week.

New favorite song of the week.... Grrr by Stray Kids. Ah, this one is so much fun!!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Movie Review: The Greatest Showman

Movie: The Greatest Showman
Genre: Musical
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Zach Efron, Michelle Williams
Rating: two thumbs up

We went to this one over the holidays for our annual family girls night out. It was a perfect choice. Upbeat and fun!

This is the story of P.T Barnum based on a few key moments of his life. (There's a lot left out, there's a lot of time crunching, there's a lot of glossing over, but it's generally how he got started and some difficulties he faced.) And all told with musical numbers.

P.T. Barnum, as you know, started "the greatest show on Earth" aka. the circus as we know it today.

The plot is simple... Mr. Barnum daydreams as a kid, falls in love with a rich guy's daughter, marries her, wants to show her the good life, but has all these fanciful dreams that never really amount to much. And then he has the idea to start a show starring random "misfit" type people he comes across. The little person he names Tom Thumb, the bearded lady, the Siamese twins, the black trapeze artist, and etc. Soon, he adds animals to the mix too. Despite a lot of criticism, his show succeeds and he becomes famous.

He then adds in a famous singer called Jenny Lind, which causes some conflict in that he forgets what he started it all for... to give back to his family.

So, for me, the message to take home was... live your dreams, stay true to yourself, march to your own drum, love your family. All this reflected in the big song numbers of the show.

And it's the songs that make this movie. Big numbers... huge production numbers. Catching tunes that will get stuck in your head. Positive fun upbeat songs. And some great choreography too. One totally takes place on the trapeze. (Way to go Zach Effron and Zendaya!) Another one is between Hugh Jackman and Zach Efron in a bar, and that is pretty amazing too!

If you like musicals, you'll love this. If you need a family movie, you'll love this. If you are into Hugh Jackman, you'll love this. If you enjoy seeing no name's become stars, you'l love this. If music gives you chills, you'll love this.

Here's a trailer, in case you need a better visual:

And of course the soundtrack is awesome... here's the whole soundtrack playlist on Youtube:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Kdrama Review: Somehow 18

Drama: Somehow 18
Starring: Choi Minho, Lee Yoo Bi
Rating: ❤❤❤❤

Oh man guys. This drama. It's only two episodes, so it's more like a movie and not a true drama. So since it was so short, I'm like what the heck. I'll watch it. Besides... our SHINee boy Minho was in it, so... double what the heck.

It aired on like Dec. 12 or so.. I probably watched that first episode a few days later...

And then, a few days after that, we woke up to the news on Dec. 18th that Minho's band member brother and friend had committed suicide that day.

The drama's story line? It's about a doctor who is haunted by the suicide death of a high school classmate, a girl he secretly loved, and who suddenly gets a chance to go back in time to prevent it from happening.

Are you kidding me????

So I went to watch the 2nd episode the very night of the news of Jonghyn's death, somehow forgetting the story line, and then I was like. No way... no way, NO WAY! It took me about two weeks to watch that final second episode, but I had to/wanted to do it.

So Minho's character was a nerdy picked on kid in high school and he decides he doesn't want to live... so when he is up on the roof to jump off, the mysterious new girl comes and talks him out of it....flash forward a month or so later... and she is on the roof... and there is no one there to stop her.

When he goes back in time, of course he has knowledge of all this and he tries to stop everything from happening, but he quickly learns that even if he stops stuff.. the end result will still happen.. or it will just happen to someone else... the outcome is essentially the same.

So how's he going to stop this suicide?

Cute picture of Minho (right) and Jonghyun (left) together. 

And so when it gets to that point and now HE'S on the roof talking HER out of it... the words that are coming out of his mouth... the dialogue that he had to memorize for this.. was just what his hyung probably needed to hear.. and so I'm sure that was all in Minho's head during that terrible traumatizing week...and how ironic for him to have that drama being aired only the week before. I can't even imagine.

"There are people here that love you. Your life is worth living. Please stay with us." etc. I can't remember what else. But when I watched it, I imagined Minho himself finding Jonghyun and saying all these things to him. And... yeah. Sobbing.....

Cute nerdy Minho.

But... I do love Minho's acting. How can he pull off a nerdy boy? Well, he can. Ha. Barely. A very cute nerdy boy. :) Poor Minho. I hope he's doing okay.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review: Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas

Book: Under Locker and Key by Allison K. Hymas
Genre: MG contemporary

I had a feeling I'd like this one! It's a cute story about a kid who "steals" things back for people. Like a mini Robin Hood. Or.. perhaps if they lost something, he will find it. He calls himself a retriever. And he doesn't accept any payment for his services... except chocolate cake. Yeah, he's such a good kid! With quite the attitude

So one day he gets a lost key back for an 8th grader. And come to find out... that key was not that kid's and he actually DID steal it...for that kid.

Now that kid is going to do not so good things with it and our boy (gah why is it so hard for me to remember names... oh right Jeremy!) Jeremy has to get the key back before things get too crazy.

And he has to enlist the help of his nemesis... Becca, who is the school's mini detective and major rule keeper. She thinks Jeremy is a true blooded thief. But, somehow, she reluctantly agrees to help.

Let the antics begin!

Very fun MG story. I loved the hint at the friendship building between the two who claim to hate each other. I loved how Jeremy might appear an out of control kid was really deep down good. I loved the banter and smartness of it. It was great!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Kdramas from 2017

I got a special request (thank you LillyLilac!!) to list my favorite Kdramas of the year. And yes, some of these aren't FROM 2017 but are old and I'm still catching up on them! And so I thought it would just be as simple as seeing what I gave five hearts too and there's my list, but in looking back over it.. some of the five hearts got bumped off and some of the four hearts got saved. Yeah, it happens.

Links to my reviews and some random quotes from those reviews are included.

And so my favorites from the dramas that were released this year are:
(Not in any order except that Goblin does top the list.)

Goblin: The Lonely and Great God There is much magic and ghosts and past and future lives, portals to other places and all that fun stuff. Also full of so much funny stuff and  many many weepy moments. It's truly one of the more emotional dramas I've seen and that's saying a lot. Cinematography, music, story line, character development, acting. All of it. AMAZING.

The Legend of the Blue Sea  But, as usual, I mostly loved the love story. The side kicks (of which there are many), the funny situational comedy, the sweet and perfect sappiness, and especially Lee Min Ho, who I somehow cannot get enough of.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo  needed a light and funny drama and this one looked like it would do the trick and I was right! It did! Oh my gosh I loved this one just for its cuteness. Sigh. Such  fun happy heart warming stuff.

Hwarang So yeah. I loved it. Let it be known though, that this one caused me to cry that hardest I've ever cried because of a drama. Beware episode 18. I'm talking gut wrenching sobs. Yeah, maybe I was a little bit TOO invested in this one and its characters? :) No. It was worth it.

Strong Woman: Do Bong Soon Anyway. He pretty much loves her from the beginning, which is the cutest thing because... he is just SO DANG CUTE! But she is brushes it all off, because first she thinks he's gay and second, she is totally in love with her high school friend. And so it goes from there.

There are a bunch of side stories that are just totally off the wall bizarre. And one of them, about a serial killer, is downright disturbing. But they all tie together in the end, sort of. But I was in it for the cute romance which was totally worth watching all those weird side stories for! Also, beware the cheese factor. This one plays it up as high as it can go! So it's better if you are in the mood for such  thing! But again... who cares because... Park Hyung Sik.

While You Were Sleeping  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.

Suspicious Partner/Love in Trouble Such a fun show... all the way around. For the romantic chemistry and banter. For the most awesome creepy villain who blew me away with his acting and caused a ton of suspense. For the sad back stories. For the fun quirky side characters. For the tragic side stories. All of it. Most of all though, it's the best because of Ji Chang Wook, who I've raved on and on about before. But yeah. He knows his stuff. And he knows how to be a leading romantic dude like no other. He's just, pretty perfect.

And favorites from past years that I watched this year:

Moon Embracing the Sun This is a saga of a drama. A sweeping historical romance that covers a big time period and has a very complicated political plot and complicated messed up romances and relationships. I have no idea how to summarize it! Think of this as a period drama, like watching stuff from our British Tudor history or something. It's like that. Just like that! It's all very emotional, but I held it in for the most part. Until the last couple of episodes and then I gave up and let the tears stream. Sigh. It's so good and heart wrenching! 

Coffee Prince 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. SO GOOD!!!

Pinocchio  And it's about revenge. And about forgiveness. And redemption. and family... and so many wonderful beautiful things.  I got teary so many times during this one! So many! Which is a good thing because you know it's moving and heart wrenching! Yes. It is. Mark it down for one of the best ones!

It's been a great year for dramas. I love them so much. Can't wait to see what this year brings! Already we're off to a great start!!!


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