book review · mini book review · Uncategorized

Spring/Summer Reading Wrap Up

I’m back?? I know I said I was back from hiatus and then I wasn’t and then I went back on hiatus without warning. I haven’t been reading enough to warrant a monthly wrap up anyways. I’ve also been opting for more shorter books/short stories/novellas these days. So in this post, I’m wrapping up all the books I read from May-August.

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui (4/5)

29936927The Best We Could Do is a graphic memoir about immigration but less so about how it affects the generation after and more so on the history and culture around the parents that are the immigrants. As with most stories about immigrants, it is written from the perspective of a person (Thi) who has only been told these stories. But seeing it in a graphic novel really makes you feel like Thi Bui’s parents are actually telling the story themselves because the pictures reflect the immediacy of the event being told. If it’s a scene where the parents are trying to escape by boat, then the panels reflect that exact scene. It follows her parents from when they were kids all the way up to when they immigrated to the US. What I find interesting is how much of her parent’s personalities really shine through and how that influences their triumphs and struggles, their shortcomings and successes. I wish there was more about their story affects Thi’s life and her child but I liked how the memoir explores this sense of displacement that her parents faced, as a consequence of war and being forced to deal with traumatic events in the best way they knew how, even though it caused a sense of displacement for Thi herself. She was constantly wondering why her parents were not fully present for her.  Lush watercolor permeates the graphic novel with fluid lines and equally fluid pacing.

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How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore (3/5)

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This reminded me a lot of Gossip Girl and I think for what I was looking in a YA contemporary, it had a little too much drama. I think I was expecting more of a cute and fluffy read. Usually with these books I expect the writing to just be a means of catapulting the plot and moving overwrought drama forward, to get from Point A to Point B, but clearly Devore’s writing is beautiful unto itself. It’s got a superb sense of melancholy and beauty that I never expected with this type of story and let me just say the romance was beautifully done. I appreciated the unapologetic unlikeability of the protagonist. She is not the wholesome, pure, dependable heroine you expect from a contemporary and it made her character development all the more interesting. It was not tied up neatly but still has this strong sense of purpose that not many YA books have. Even though the plot was too dramatic for my personal preference, I’m definitely checking out her next book.

We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to Covergirl, the buying and selling of a political movement by Andi Zeisler (4/5)

There seems to be a trend nowadays that everyone can claim to be a feminist. Thanks to the support of many celebrities, the word has become “hot” and “trendy”. If you buy this makeup product, you can be a feminist too! Though Image result for we were feminists onceoften the true meaning of feminism has become muddled and used instead for capitalist gain. This book uses an abundance of cultural and pop references as well as a plethora of historical arguments to convincingly support this argument. The most important thing I learned from reading this is the concept of choice feminism. Choice feminism looks appealing on the surface. Anyone can choose to be a feminist! But the concept is insidious and inherently selfish. If an ideal does not fit the person’s individual ideology, the person rejects it. Where choice feminism fails is truly changing the ingrained sexism of society. A female can choose to become president or a housewife and both could be considered feminist depending on who you ask so it’s a win-win situation right? A female can choose to wear makeup or not and both would be feminist. That is choice feminism. What choice feminism ignores, however, is the ingrained cultural ideals that forced this choice in the first place. Sure, a woman is at perfect liberty to become president instead of a housewife and that would be considered feminist but that ignores the cultural and historical context that makes it so difficult for a woman to become president. I found this book to be incredibly relevant to today’s cultural atmosphere and was incredibly eye-opening book that focused on some of the more obscure but no less insidious aspects of today’s “feminism”.

I then read a couple of other YA contemporary books that I have mini reviews on:

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The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis (2/5)

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Set in Georgian society, The Butcher’s Hook follows a young girl, Anne Jacob, who is set into an arranged marriage. As with a lot of heroines in historical fiction, she of course does not like this arrangement and gets involved with the butcher’s boy. I expected a dark historical fiction novel about discovering subconscious desires and giving in to them in a time when so many restrictions are placed on your desires. What I got instead was a slow book where you know exactly what is going to happen but the book drags on and on and when you finally reach the part you already predicted, you’ve lost interest in the book. It just does not live up to anything. The main character had a lot of promise at the beginning but quickly derailed to standard cliche stereotypes.

I then read some nominations for this year’s Nebula award in the short story category.

Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar (3/5)

34401218Written like a fairytale, this story’s worldbuilding is one of its strongest elements with tidbits of magic and mysterious happenings. I could not fully immerse myself in it because as you progress through the story, the feminist themes become more and more overt to the point where the fairy tale elements seem more like an accessory than integral to the story. It is about forgiving yourself and moving forward but mostly it praises the power of female friendship. You can read it here.

 

 

Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0 by Caroline M. Yoachim (4/5)

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This short story was such a nostalgic surprise. It follows in the format of the Choose Your Own Adventures. It is both a homage and a satire of those books. What I also liked about it was that it was set in space and it reminds me a lot of the humor from The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but more accessible. You can read it here.

 

 

I then read some graphic novels although two of which I’ve only read the first issue.

Misfit city Issue 1 by Kirsten Smith, Illustrated by: Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz (3/5)

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This was heavily influenced by the movie, The Goonies except it features an all-girls cast. It also reminded me a lot of the show Gravity Falls with its off the wall sense of adventure and Steven Universe for its sense of diversity. I admit this first issue is mostly filler as we learn more about the girls themselves and the town that they reside in. The mystery itself isn’t revealed until the end as a cliffhanger. An eccentric and fun read nonetheless. I recommend this if you liked Lumberjanes but want a little more edginess to the art and plot.

 

Goldie Vance Issue 1 by Hope Larson (3/5)

28953805This reminded me very much of a Cartoon Network show written for kids and will mostly be enjoyed by kids. It’s a cute and offbeat story about a girl who solves mysteries in the hotel run by her dad. Clearly the mysteries aren’t going to have you on the edge of your seat but the colors are vibrant and it’s fast-paced so it’s a good palette cleanser.

March vol. 2 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Illustrated by Nate Powell (4.5/5)

22487952I continue to completely and utterly love this series. The second volume continues the story of John Lewis and his role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. It is clear that what makes this so completely genuine is the strife even within the black community as to how to attain their freedom. It is also so awe inspiring how truly nonviolent this movement and I think because of this, you feel every inch of humiliation and oppression in contrast to the nonviolence. But along with the lowest of lows, you feel a sense of hope that only people who are tired of being oppressed for so long can feel. Even when I knew the outcome, I often felt a sense of hopelessness and disbelief that this point in our history occurred with so readiness and even worse how it continues to manifest even today.
Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell (Short story)

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Kindred Spirits is a short story about a girl who waits in line for the midnight premiere of The Force Awakens. It was so wonderful not only because it featured a Vietnamese main character (yes!) but because its deceivingly simple premise gives way to a surprisingly cute and satisfying story. The characters are eccentric and have just enough of a story so you don’t wonder why the hell you’ve been reading a pointless story about someone just waiting in line for a movie, because of course, as only fandom people will know waiting in line for a movie is not just about waiting in line for a movie is it? I extra recommend this short story for fans of Star Wars as well because there’s a plethora of Star War references.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan Mcguire (Novella)

25526296What happens to the children of Narnia, of Wonderland, of magical worlds after they come back to reality? This novella seeks to answer that question and it’s very reminiscent of Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children as it takes place at a house with eccentric children and an eccentric keeper of the house. Really my only qualm with it is how short is, I wanted so much more from it. The characters, especially the twins, have so much potential left and the worlds that they left are even more fascinating. I want to hear more about the Underworld. It is also a part murder mystery although the mystery was unsatisfying because it was solved so quickly but overall still an enjoyable read if only to see how this premise unfolds.

What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (3.5/5)

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This is a sweet YA contemporary revolving around grief. Kit Lowell’s father suddenly died after a car accident, she finds difficulty in moving forward. She resolves to find out how her father truly died with the help of a classmate, David Drucker. Julie Buxbaum is a great contemporary writer. She writes about grief as if she’s deeply intimate with it. I also loved that she explored this concept of discovering that your parents are no infallible and I think her portrayal of Kit having to deal with that newly discovered concept was very well-handled. I loved how she explored the many different forms of Kit’s grief. The anger and denial but also the difficulty of trying to do mundane things in the face of a sudden emptiness in your life.

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movie reviews · Uncategorized

Mini Movie Reviews: Summer Movies

Wonder Woman | Directed by Patty Jenkins | Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine | B

It’s hard to live up to the expectation of being the most anticipated movie of the year. I can say that Wonder Woman both lived up to and disappointed those expectations. And I Image result for wonder woman movie posterthink in the movie’s essence, Jenkins really understood who Wonder Woman is at the core. She is someone who is a little naive and idealistic but ultimately resiliently caring and kind and that is who Wonder Woman has been since her inception in 1941. So even though the pacing was a little clunky and it falls into the same traps of typical superhero movies like a predictable and obvious villain and side characters that are not developed enough to be memorable, it still felt true to its heroine. What is slightly different is that Jenkins at least allows the development of small character moments both serious and humorous making sure that the small details about these characters are not slipping through. Just the small lines about babies and ice cream is enough to establish a baseline for the character. Of course, that allows the interactions between Wonder Woman and Steven Trevor to shine through and it was honestly where a lot of the humor came from. I do wish they had done a better job of establishing why Wonder Woman is the way she is. The way they portrayed her made it seem as if she was born like this; I wish they had showed some sort of catalyst. And I think sometimes she jumps a little too quickly to violence even though a big part of her character is showing mercy and kindness to all. Like any summer blockbuster, it’s not all about the characters, Wonder Woman revels in the dramatic and slow motion stylized action moments which is probably why the action sequences were some of the best parts of the entire movie. They felt adequately long and really built on each moment instead of being one long overdrawn battle sequence.  My forever favorite scene is when Wonder Woman walks into No Man’s Land to block the bullets and clear the way for the rest of the soldiers to come through. If anything else, Wonder Woman is inspirational precisely because, however cheesy it is, it is ultimately committed to its sincerity and that makes up for a lot of its flaws.

Everything, Everything | Directed by Stella Meghie | Starring Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson | C

Look, this is just not a good movie. Plain and simple. The entire movie felt like one long awkward conversation with excruciating pauses between dialogue and long, silent stares that last minutes too long. One of the biggest pitfalls of the movie is failing to establish aImage result for everything everything movie poster sense of chemistry and urgency. In a movie, if you are going to tell a romantic story about a couple, you must, must, must take the time to establish the individual characters first. I knew a lot about Maddy throughout but I don’t really know anything about Ollie. At all really. What are his dreams, his desires, his motivations, his fears? Without them, he has been spit out from the generic boyfriend machine. Even her mother who has a side role in the movie had better development than him. I wish I could see what the screenwriter of this movie was thinking because the dialogue felt so misplaced most of the time. Cheesy lines felt even cheesier than usual and serious lines were just plain hilarious. On top of that, they failed to establish a relationship between the two characters mostly due to the mediocre writing. So when climactic events occur, you can bet I did not feel a single thing and it’s not because I have a heart of stone this time. But more than that, there is no sense of real danger; I never thought for a second Maddy was in any danger of dying from SCID (and I haven’t read the book), and therefore, no real sense of loss and ultimately growth for these characters. I suppose if you’re in the right mood for a dramatic teen love story, I suppose you can watch this and have a good laugh but otherwise I recommend a hard pass.

Dunkirk | Directed by Christopher Nolan | Starring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy | B

Dunkirk is the latest of Nolan’s impressive filmography so I expected nothing less than something stellar. I suppose maybe I am too used to blockbuster war movies (the last one I saw was Hacksaw Ridge) or other stylized ones in general. And while I appreciate the Image result for dunkirkcraft behind making this film, it was more apparent to me that the story lacked something. It starts off intriguing, a young soldier walking through a deserted neighborhood and for the first some 30 minutes after he almost barely speaks a word of dialogue. For the most part, this provides a sense of mystery, you don’t know this boy’s (I don’t think his name is ever mentioned) motivations, his desires, his fears. I suppose those things aren’t needed for a movie that is about, as Nolan states himself, survival. How he portrays the characters is at once it’s biggest strength but also it’s biggest weakness. Nolan flits between characters and their perspectives for a time before flitting back to another character. And even though I usually love that careful attention on small character moments, this time I wasn’t as satisfied with it. Usually in war films, there’s a period where the soldiers will reveal parts of their lives before they became a soldier and it turns into a point of emotional investment from the audience to the character but here we don’t get that. But even if we did not get the back story I would have at least wanted a better sense of motivation and desire. The characters just feel like faces in the crowd. And if Nolan wanted to portray survival, I think he only touched on surface level facets of survival that could have been explored deeper. There is no doubt that Nolan still knows how to craft a movie in his exact vision. The cinematography follows those frequent over the shoulder shots and careful time on small character moments. And of course, Hans Zimmer once again does an excellent of creating suspenseful and tension filled pieces to fill in the scenes. Maybe I wasn’t able to look too hard into the details. There’s also this sense of build up that continually builds up during the movie but there is no sense of that build up leading to anything significant or poignant at the end. Maybe that was the point, after all, in war, there is no discrimination and no time to focus on the individual, but if so, I think it could have been executed better.

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

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Author: Heather Demetrios

Pages: 320

Synopsis: Goodreads

Genre: YA Comtemporary

Series? Standalone

Rating: tealstartealstartealstartealstar

 


It’s easy to judge someone for being in an abusive relationship and that judgement is usually tagged along with the age-old question, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” If someone is hurting you physically and verbally isn’t the obvious solution to just leave them right away? Just say the words, right? But as this book deftly illustrates, it is neither easy or simple.

Grace Carter doesn’t have the best life. She lives with a cruel and demanding stepfather and a mother who pours all the housework and chores on her. All she wants to do is get out of Birch Grove, California and do theater in New York. Gavin is the ultimate dream boy. He is an angsty teenage boy who plays the guitar. He’s popular and charismatic. Grace has had an unrequited crush on him for 3 years and he has never noticed her before until one day. What starts as a passionate and sweet relationship spirals into a relationship unhealthy, obsessive, and claustrophobic.

What I appreciate most about this story’s structure besides its crafty use of the second person is its deliberate slowness. Demetrios really paints a detailed picture to helping you understand why Grace would fall in love with someone like Gavin even as you know from the very beginning how the relationship will end. The eventual deterioration of the relationship was perfectly paced. What is so poignant is how Demetrios sets up the relationship because it starts off like any other happy and healthy relationship. Gavin is sweet and dotes on Grace. He writes songs about how much he loves her. He is emotionally and physically supportive of her when things at home are too overwhelming. He makes sacrifices for her. Demetrios captures that euphoria of being in a new relationship when everything feels fresh and new and full of love and possibility. When the sweet nothings feel even sweeter and every compliment makes you feel like you’re on cloud 9. So it’s understandable when the first red flags come Grace does not even notice them especially when they are wrapped under the guise of toxic manipulation. The progression of the relationship really shows how Grace, someone who has big dreams and a sense of individualism can ultimately give all those up for a relationship. With the psychological effects of her home, there is no doubt there was something so intoxicating about Gavin needing her but the even more intoxicating feeling of Gavin wanting her. A person who has, her whole life, never felt wanted.

What makes this book so much more real than other books about abusive relationships is how Demetrios portrays Grace’s self-awareness of her toxic situation juxtaposed with her utter ignorance and denial of Gavin’s bright red flags. The most recent book I’ve read about an abusive relationship is It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover which I thought failed to examine the nuances of a relationship like this. I get what she was trying to do but it was not enough. It is possible to love someone but know that they are toxic for you but Hoover made it black and white, that you can just leave him if you set your mind to it. It’s about resolve. But Demetrios knows it’s about more than resolving to break up with him. Grace knows she should break up with Gavin and resolves many times to do so but she always ends up making excuses for him or Gavin will end up manipulating her love for him and she would get sucked back in time and time again. This constant cycle of denial and resolve, resolve and denial is exactly the cycle that abusive relationships go in, feeding through the doubts and insecurities of both participants. The reader sees how the love and sacrifice that Gavin demonstrates for her at the beginning of the relationship is now used as a shackle to rein her in. You know precisely how Gavin is manipulating her yet you understand how Grace would be confused by this manipulation and ultimately Gavin himself thinks he is doing the best for her even when he so clearly isn’t. This reflects on the cyclical nature of abuse, further emphasized by Grace’s mother who also is in an abusive relationship that Grace herself constantly laments is abusive while she is her relationship with Gavin. How can someone who is continuing to witness the abusive relationship of a loved one be completely oblivious to the fact that she’s in one herself?

On a side note, as with most YA contemporary I’ve read, there’s always the issue of how well integrated the side characters. And although Demetrios does not go into their characters in depth, it is clear they feel lived in and not just used as plot devices for specific parts of the Grace’s journey. Grace’s two best friends provide much needed comic relief and are the supportive friends you would want yourself. Even her cruel stepfather is offered moments of humanity that don’t turn him into an evil machine for the sole purpose of making Grace’s life miserable (although I’m sure in Grace’s situation it feels like it a lot). His role extends to her mother and how that affects Grace in turn.

I am fully impressed with Demetrios’s writing and although I can see how her writing could spiral into YA contemporary cliches like in I’ll Meet You There, I think if she writes more YA contemporary realistic, I am most definitely on board. The way she writes psychological progression and nuanced feelings made concrete to a T is something I truly admired. The use of the second person, as if Grace was addressing Gavin in a letter, makes you feel the impending doom of their relationship, the mix of blunt sarcasm and irony tinged with real sadness.

I highly recommend this book for its subject matter but also the deft way it is handled with all of its nuances.

On another side note, I’m back (!) which I’ll explain more in another post but I do plan on posting at least once a week from now on.

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mini book review · Uncategorized

Mini Book Reviews: YA Contemporary

Obviously I never stick to what I say cause I’m already posting before I said my hiatus was over. I’m here with a blog post yay..Who even knows my mind. I’m here to review 3 recently hyped YA contemporary books. I really need to stop giving into the hype train because none of these contemporaries lived up to my expectations but they were cute nonetheless.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (3/5)

Molly is a virgin and has never been kissed. She wonders if she is inherently unlovable. Image result for the upside of unrequitedShe wonders how someone gets 1 person to like them let alone many like her sister Cassie. But all that changes when she gets a job at at an antique store and meets Reid.. I think this book gets a lot of things right in some ways. It perfectly captures what it’s like to feel left behind relationship wise, how it feels to be totally clueless and immature when it comes to sex and relationships. Her inner thoughts throughout the book reflect this constant insecurity that is kind of narcissistic but ultimately relatable at the same time. I do think that the side characters had a lot of potential like Hipster Will, her moms, and even Cassie but they never quite reached it. Although very diverse, they lacked a sense of presence and personality other than their obligated roles. But all of this is fine except Becky Albertalli’s writing has nothing to offer itself. It is overtly simple to the point of boredom. I wish the relationship between Cassie and Molly was explored more. TUoU’s main theme is one of self-confidence and self-acceptance but Molly’s journey to self-confidence immediately resolves itself after she kisses someone. Poof fixed..  I wanted more of an exploration of her insecurities surrounding her weight, her anxiety etc. the romance was ok even if the love interest was slightly lackluster. But it was serviceable and pretty cute and I didn’t hate it so there’s that.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston (2.5/5)

As you have no doubt guessed from the title, Geekerella is a Cinderella retelling following Ella who is a fangirl of the show Starfield (which is essentially Star Trek) and she has a blog talking about all things Starfield. Starfield is getting a reboot movie and the main actor just so happens to be Darien Freeman whom Ella hates for the main role.Image result for geekerella She writes a heated blog post about it and the story ensues from there. I have to be honest, I mostly wanted to read this book for the fandom aspect and you can certainly tell the author is a fangirl herself. She understands all the machinations behind conventions and blogs and online fandom. I liked that part the best even though there was less of that aspect than you would expect. I also have to be honest and say I’m not really a fan of Cinderella retellings mostly because I always feel the stepmother and stepsisters are so cartoonishly evil, it’s almost laughable. I felt the same way about the stepfamily in this one and I, in fact, think they’re not even as bad as real human beings can be (which tbh is kind of sad to think about but it’s true). They’re superficial and say mean stuff but I didn’t feel hurt when they insulted her because there was no sense of nuance or half-baked motivation for their actions. I also felt as if Ella as a main character was boring af and that’s mostly due to the fact that she was not very proactive in making her own decisions in her own life. Even the cosplay she was going to enter into Excelsicon was not really even her idea. This book also suffers from a case of instalove. They text each other and begin to fall in love because they understand Starfield references together and that’s it?? Also this is a side note but I am so sick of how convenient getting into college is for YA protagonists is. Mild spoilers but basically Ella gets accepted into UCLA because a film professor really liked her blog and basically pulled strings for her..

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (3/5)

When Dimple Met Rishi is about two Indian-American teens who end up at the same web design summer camp called Insomnia Con. Dimple does not know that her parents have Image result for when dimple met rishian arranged marriage planned for her (and if she did she would be furious, she has no time for that tradition and only wants to start designing her app) with her IIH (Ideal Indian Husband). The potential Ideal Indian Husband in question is Rishi who is perfectly aware of this arrangement and is perfectly fine with it as well. He is the traditional, reserved, and practical first son after all. Misunderstandings happen, they meet up and it goes from there. Although I wish it had gone into more detail, I did enjoy the exploration of arranged marriages, of expectations with traditional parents and that ultimate conflict of values between parents and children as they grow up. What I didn’t like as much is the instalove between Dimple Met Rishi. Their initial conversations were a little trite and ultimately did not convince me. After the initial meeting, Rishi already thought she had the best eyes in the entire world (cool story bro).  Dimple was portrayed to be this really fierce and outspokenly feminist character but Rishi ended up being the more outspoken one..weirdly enough even though he was suppose to be the more reserved one. In all honesty, Dimple was basically like most YA contemporary heroines, she’s “not like other girls” who worry about boys and doesn’t do frivolous things like her roommate Celia. Also Rishi was a little too perfect. If you read my Alex Approximately review, Rishi is the nice guy. This book is also dual perspective which was interesting reading because one thought that Dimple would have would bleed into Rishi’s thought process. I wish the relationship between Dimple and her mom was explored more. Her mom is more interested in how Dimple looks than what Dimple was actually doing in Insomnia Con. But it was solved so conveniently in the end. There was no sense of real conflict in this book, even in Dimple and Rishi’s relationship from her not “doing” relationships (I haven’t heard that before), to long distance relationships to being too “domestic”. None of these themes served as real conflicts.

Also the whole Bollywood dance thing was very trite. And also, again with the whole unrealistic getting into college part. Repeat after me: You cannot get into college just from one person’s good word!!!

Let me know if the hype train got to you and you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them =)

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Uncategorized

Hiatus

So I haven’t posted in about two weeks and I had a lot of posts planned out for May and June but almost none of them have come to fruition. I’ve just had a busy month in May and  will probably have an even busier month in June so instead of worrying about posting something every week, I’ve decided to just take a break from blogging. Even though I have the motivation and the inspiration to write posts, for now, I lack the patience and dedication to write them and make headers that I’m proud of. But I’m still reading, nothing has changed on that front. I’ll still be on my Goodreads for the duration of my hiatus so you can reach me there or if you want to see what I’m reading. I will also be checking my comments from time to time. I will most likely be back in mid or late July this year. Thanks for sticking with my blog and my erratic schedule. I’ll see you soon!

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tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: Master of None Season 2

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Title: Master of None

Season: 2

Created by: Aziz Ansari & Alan Yang

Episodes: 10 (S2)

Starring: Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandro Mastronardi

Rating: A

MILD SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1

 


I’ve never seen a comedy quite like Master of None. I don’t even know if comedy is the right way to describe Season 2. It still feels like a comedy albeit in a very dry and sometimes satirical way but it’s barely even funny. However, it was definitely not afraid to push the boundaries of TV style and combined with its incredible sense of intimacy and its wise notes on relationships and connection, it comes out all the more unique and better for it.

We left Season 1 when Dev and Rachel ended their relationship and Dev makes the split second decision to go to Italy to learn more about pasta making. Right off the bat, we see a unique change in TV style. The entire first episode is shot in black and white, lending itself to old vintage films and the stereotypical romance of Italy. And subsequently it follows him as he goes back to New York to resume his acting career and his search to find a connection with someone. What continues to strike me about MoN is how much it meanders. There will be several scenes in one episode of him sharing good food with good friends. It’s most likely just them saying how good the food is. Usually, I hate it when shows lack focus and have no sense of where they are going but that aspect was oddly charming in MoN. It felt authentic and confident. It felt like a coming-of-age that just shows you how much you can grow and change even when it seems you’re a 30 some year old man who is adulting and suppose to have all your shit together.

Dev gets a gig hosting Clash of Cupcakes (a satire of cooking shows) and while it pays the bills, he struggles to find emotional fulfillment from it. Similarly he tries to find fulfillment in his relationships as well even when dating in the social media world is messy, weird, and overly complicated for its own good. In the first episode he meets someone who he has a connection with but unfortunately gets his phone stolen and cannot contact her again. In a standout episode with a wonderful editing style, Dev is on a date with someone he met on a dating app and he asks the question “How many siblings do you have?”. She answers and then the scene seamlessly cuts to several other first dates he’s had answering the same question conveying the rote dryness of first dates but also the feeling of euphoria when you have found someone you have an automatic connection with.

Many of the episodes focus on Dev’s pursuit of love but it also doesn’t gloss over his friends’ lives as well. In another standout episode and probably my favorite one of the entire season, was “Thanksgiving” which chronicles some Thanksgivings in Dev’s life from 1990-2017 which he always happens to celebrate at Denise’s house with her mother, aunt and grandmother. The growth that Denise goes through in this half hour is something else. Her relationship between her mom and grandmother, her relationship with Dev and her relationship with her girlfriends are all flawlessly woven throughout this episode. They have definitely shown an original coming-out story. When Denise comes out to her mom, it is so intimate and emotional but it is not an all consuming event. It does not feel like an ultimatum, a do or die, but an expected confession made in a diner. Even if you don’t like this show, I guarantee you will like these two episodes.

As with Season 1, Season 2 eventually starts focusing on Dev’s relationship with this one woman that he has a connection with. It does deal with infidelity and I was worried it was going to fall into cliche territory but, without giving away spoilers it didn’t. I think most of that has to do with how Dev’s and Francesca’s relationship progresses. It wasn’t obvious, at least to me, who Dev’s “Rachel” was going to be this season. I think it sometimes veers into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory but it’s still respectful to its characters and their point of view.

Still from Master of None's season 2 on Netflix

I love the show’s ultra dry humor that you sometimes can’t tell is suppose to be funny or not. The show also an ode to the place he resides in which is the one and only New York with all the celebration of the diversity that exists in NY. These 10 episodes span from half an hour to an hour and a half flawlessly stylizing its cinematography to match the tone of each episode.

He has made so many relatable observations about what it’s like to live in the modern world. It’s really the uncertainty that Dev feels that really carries this show. The uncertainty of his feelings for Francesca and when he knows it, the uncertainty of how to continue a relationship with her, the uncertainty of his friends’ romantic lives (shouldn’t they be married by now? they wonder) and this uncertainty over this need for a connection with someone amidst the superficiality of small talk and the like. At the end of “The Dinner Party”,  Dev and Francesca are taking an Uber back to their respective places and after Francesca departs, we spend 3 minutes just on Dev as the Uber takes him home with only the sound of the car as noise and a curt “bye” as the only piece of dialogue. It is instantly relatable and fiercely intimate at the same time.

MoN was, if anything, even better than Season 1 because it was discusses the same topics of Season 1 but expresses them in riskier ways that just work. It’s a must watch.

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

April Favorites 2017

I think April is turning out to my lucky month because for the past 3 years, judging from my monthly favorites post, nothing especially bad seems to happen. I wish I could stay cocooned in April for a few more months but shit is already starting to catch up to me so gotta deal with that somehow.

Coincidentally, last April, I posted hiking pictures and this year I’m doing the same thing with 2 of my friends. This hike didn’t count as a hike so much as it was a stroll through some well-worn sandy paths with 1 “steep” hill but considering my level of physical activity on a daily basis, it was just right.

 

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Spot the human in the picture.

 

It’s kind of a tradition for us to get ramen whenever we hang out so that’s always a plus even though the ramen was salty af. But on to more food, I tried Dunkin Donuts for the first time..and was disappointed although the cronuts would have been sooooo much better had there not been peanut butter on it just saying.

My friend recently got accepted into medical school and I’m so happy for her. We went out to celebrate with other friends. We went to this nice place with a really nice view of the beach.

 

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Please summer, give me opportunities to wear this pretty romper.

 

I have one podcast favorite for April and it’s so good. I first discovImage result for the bright sessionsered this through Evi @ Adventuring Through Pages where she talks about her favorite fictional dramas that’s told through podcasts and this one sounded really interesting to me and it’s so good. You need to listen to it.  It’s called The Bright Sessions and essentially it follows a therapist as she records her sessions with her clients who all have supernatural abilities. Each episode follows a session with a different person with a different ability and then it repeats with the same people. As we move along through the episodes, we start to question the therapist’s motives and we find out there is a bigger and darker story arc than we initially thought. I really liked the different abilities. There’s a person who can time travel, another who can sense the emotions of other people etc. etc. Highly recommended.

Of course, I have some music favorites this month.

  • Fine – Taeyeon

Cheers to yet another Taeyeon hit. I continue to love her voice more and more with every new song. Also her music videos are always A+’s imo.

  • I’m the One – DJKhaled & Justin Beiber ft. Quavo, Chance the Rapper, and Lil Wayne

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The music video is stupid and the lyrics are dumb but I could never resist a catchy song. I’m basic ok?

  • Chocolate – The 1975
  • Sing Street soundtrack – John Carney

The Sing Street soundtrack is so damn catchy and inspirational. Even though it’s feel-good, the lyrics are so well thought out and not cliche at all. If you like ’80’s music, it’s a must listen.

  • Making Me Feel Alright – Bjorkman Pupavac feat. Robin Lundbeck

The perfect summer beach/pool song.

  • The Spring – Jeong Eun Ji

Enuji’s songs are something you’d find in a hipster coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. It’s so tranquil and soothing it’s impossible not to like. I’m so happy her solo albums have been so distinctly her and I can’t wait to hear more from her.

  • Dream in a Dream – Ten (NCT)

There’s no mistaking the ancient Asian music influences on this song but the combination of that and the more modern pop influences make this song unique. Also Ten’s dancing is so good and his vocals are not too shabby either 😉

  • Most Girls by Hailee Steinfeld

Hailee Steinfeld is my queen. I completely loved her performance in The Edge of Seventeen as well as Pitch Perfect 2 and this song was pretty much the icing on the cake. In the popular pop music world, toxic messages of girls and women are so rampant and this song is an antidote to all that. She celebrates women and all their differences and it’s beautiful. Why can’t there be more songs on the radio like this? And with an electro-pop catchiness to it?

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