Book Recommendations · book review · favorites · Uncategorized

Favorite Books of 2019!

Now we have come to the last part of my favorites series of 2019. I hope you’ve enjoyed and hopefully you’ve found something new you liked. These are in no particular order except the last one is probably my favorite book of the year.

So first on my list, I would like to give a shoutout to a few self help books I’ve found immensely helpful this year. This is coming from a person who sort of looked down on self help books thinking they were a waste of time. I was sometimes right but there’s definitely a plethora out there. It’s important to keep in mind when reading these that you just have to take some of the advice but leave others and you’re good.

  1. Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

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So 2019 was the first year I had even heard of the word self compassion but it was a concept that really stuck with me. I am someone who constantly self criticizes and this book, when applied consistently, really did help me through that self destructive behavior. I can tell the author is really passionate about this through her writing and inspired me to pick it up. She also gives out exercises in the book for you to do on your own, none of which are time consuming but are really effective if you keep an open mind. I will definitely be dipping in and out of this every now and again.

2. The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

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This is another one of my holy grail books that I will be dipping in and out throughout my life. The Happiness Trap is less about why happiness as a destination is not possible but about thinking about negative thoughts differently. And it’s not about thinking positively. His main focus of the book is conveying that you can be content with your life if you live a meaningful life. Of course, a meaningful life means something different to everyone and this book helps you find that. A lot of the exercises and concepts he brings into this book is so unique than your typical self help book including concepts like diffusion. This book changed my life.

Now onto a short story.

3. The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin

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A very powerful short story about a utopia where everyone is happy. What’s the twist. Le Guin’s writing is so incredibly vivid.

4. Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

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I know reviews of this book were kind of mixed but honestly, I thought it was much stronger than the second book especially when it came to the character development of the three sisters, Madoc and the Ghost. Of course, it also had the best parts of what makes this series so wonderful, the intense plotting, the backstabbing, and of course my favorite OTP, Cardan and Jude. Let me just say I was very satisfied with their relationship trajectory in this book :). I was also pretty impressed with the conclusion especially regarding Madoc and how the book resolved the tension that’s been building up between him and Jude throughout the series. I can’t wait to reread this book in the future and gush all over again.

5. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

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This series impresses me to no end. This second book raised the stakes even higher and the consequences even more dire. I still wish Kuang would include more female characters but I’m so happy that this book, the equivalent of a Chinese action movie almost, has a female protagonist. That is rare in and of itself. I love the relationships that develop and Rin’s ever growing descent into her powers and corruption. The plotting is perfectly paced but the second book also improves on building the world around Rin expanding beyond the school setting of the first book. There is no way to describe this book other than epic.

6. Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

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I had to briefly touch upon this series because Turner is an amazing writer. Within each book of this series, she develops creative ways of writing Eugenides, the main character, in different perspectives. She is very deft at writing concisely but each sentence means something. Eugenide’s relationships with everyone, especially the Queen, is more complex than most YA relationships written out there. Aside from that, she is a master of plot even though her books barely have any actual action. It’s a beautiful series.

7. Good Talk by Mira Jacobs

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This is the only graphic novel on my list. The book is made up of conversations she has with her family, friends, husband and son about race and the America of 2016. You can tell a lot about people through the conversations they have. This is definitely true of the conversations she has with her son because her son is so young and asks questions we often don’t have answers for. The art is also very interesting; it’s drawn in a semi realistic/cartoon cutout way which simultaneously heightens the emotions behind the conversation and detaches you from it. It’s an interesting dynamic but no less powerful. It definitely made me mad about the state of American right now.

8. Normal People by Sally Rooney

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I mentioned in my favorite movies of 2019 that I’m a sucker for romance. It’s a shame that so many are not written well (yes I know I sound pretentious). I’m happy to report though that this is written very well. It’s part romance, part coming of age novel set in Ireland. The author has a lot to say about gender politics and the class system through her characters. She definitely is interested in character interactions which are my favorite part of any media I consume. It’s also a very millennial book capitalizing on the struggles we face so definitely not everyone but it resonated so well with me.

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favorites · tv review · Uncategorized

Favorite TV Shows of 2019!

In the continuation of favorite things of 2019, we are moving right along to TV! I have 4 amazing new TV shows to me that I loved in 2019. I will link summaries

1.Sex Education

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Asa Butterfield is like the next Michael Cera. He can play the awkward teenager really damn well. I’m not complaining though, he plays the character very charmingly. This show is everything to me. It is funny but more than that, it is daring. It shows sex as it is in real life, and topics around sex such as masturbating, your first time, painful sex, even a sensitive episode centered abortions (so well done), foreplay, oral sex. Honestly this show is better than sex manuals and the sex ed I got in high school. Why? Because it shows that being a teenager is not just black and white, not just about whether you’ve had sex or not. It’s about everything in between. But aside from its honest depictions about sex, the show portrays some interesting relationships and friendships especially between main character Otis and his mother (who seems to know a little too much about his life), his best friend Eric (who struggles with how to express himself), and Maeve. Another thing that’s great about this show is that every dramatic thing happens for a reason rather than just to spur the plot along. It’s a gem of a show and I’m so excited for Season 2 coming in just a few weeks!

2. Schitt’s Creek

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When I first started watching Schitt’s Creek, I was just looking for another comedy to watch but what I got was so much more. Essentially, it’s about a rich family that loses all their money and has to move to a small quirky town that they bought originally. It is a sitcom that plays a lot with self awareness. For example, there’s a sign near the entrance of the town:

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The mayor of the town is unaware of the blatant sexual innuendo even though we and Johnny Rose do. I really love the clever play on humor but it always grounds itself in its very soft heart. You grow to love this family spoiled and obnoxious as they are as they learn to become the same but slightly better people. The 7th and final season is coming out in a few days! I’ll be so sad to see this end.

3. Billy on the Street

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I have never taken quite so much to a reality game show as I did Billy on the Street. I thought it would be a cute show I dipped in and out of but nope, I binged watched all 5 seasons within about 2 weeks. It had me laughing out loud and smiling and wishing I was as brave as Billy.  I just love how he sticks so much to his character no matter how often he might be tempted to break it. I love the segment, “For a Dollar” especially since you get some funny answers. I also just love pop culture so there’s that. Also Billy and Elaina forever.

4. Unbelievable

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This miniseries is about a series of rapes by the same perpetrator that are investigated by 2 cops. You follow two storylines, one of the cops solving the case and the other of one of  the victims, Marie Adler. It is based on a true story, the original source was from a 2015 Pulitzer Prize news article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape”. The title of this show says a lot of things are unbelievable. The fact that such atrocious rapes even happen. The upending of a victim’s life. How apathetic the system is towards rape victims. But maybe what’s most unbelievable is the fact that Marie, condemned for lying for having the courage to speak about the truth is then dismissed by an investigator and left to deal with the traumatic emotional repercussions.  Although the show’s plot is mainly focused on mechanism on figuring out who the rapist is, the show’s emotional core is conveyed through Marie. It is heartbreaking how seeing her gradually suffer more and her emotional scarring slowly bleeds into her real life in insidious ways. The show also has a lot to say about the difficulties female cops experience on the job. I did really like how even though one of the cops did have kids, her main struggle was not whether or not to stay home with the kids as so many shows do to make some struggle for female cops. It’s a heartbreaking show, one that will make you question humanity but restore it again for you.

 

 

favorites · movie reviews · What I've Been Watching

Favorite Movies of 2019!

2019 was definitely an experimental year when it came to movies but some of that experimentation turned out for the better as some of them actually went into my top lists!

So let’s start off with movies first since I only have 4. In total, I watched 45 movies this year. One did not come out this year so these are just the best I watched this year.

  1. The Farewell

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Despite my immense frustration with the ending, the Farewell had to make my top list. In retrospect, it would be odd if it didn’t because it definitely ticks all the boxes for my type of movie. It’s pretty female centric, the story revolving around our main character Billi who has a close relationship with her grandmother and her struggle with the family decision to keep her grandmother in the dark about her grandmother’s cance; it is character centric, most of the scenes are quiet, almost trivial interactions between family members and it’s a slow coming of age story about family. I definitely think the director has at some point experienced firsthand this internal struggle. Every conversation feels so natural. They feel real partially because there’s a lot of Mandarin infused throughout. But its dialogue takes on familiar beats of the “tough love” Asian children experience (her grandmother often calls Billi stupid endearingly) but also the unspoken silence of bearing burdens alone as is common in Asian households. The film does lean towards Billi’s side (the culmination of mainly American values) but ultimately dishes up both perspectives and lets the audience decide. It is a lovely and warm movie. Definitely will be rewatching in the future.

2. Parasite

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This one totally came out of left field and I definitely did not expect to love this one as much as I did. Parasite is a thriller with horror elements about a poor family that slowly invades this rich family’s house in an effort to get rich themselves. This movie is heavy on the metaphors and symbolism and although twists abound, nothing prepares you for the crazy twist in the middle. My mind was blown. In many thriller movies, characters especially secondary ones are not fully fleshed so you’re left with motives that are left woefully unexplained. But not here. I appreciated that each character had a purpose and a personality that had them even more interesting when they were on screen together. But more than that, the movie brings up a lot of questions surrounding the class system in Korea. I appreciated it more because we see how each class is at fault, how they faulted each other. I particularly found it interesting the themes of finding the poor disposable to the rich and how that came into play. When it comes to the war between rich and poor, the director does a brilliant job at highlighting the how vastly different these two worlds are.

3. Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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When it comes to movies and TV, I definitely have a weakness for coming of age and romance. Never have I seen a romance so masterfully done as this one. On every technical aspect of filmmaking, this was beautiful. Each shot in the film looks like an oil painting from the 18th century. Each scene is carefully placed and centered. Every color is bright and saturated. Every glance between actors meaningful and fleeting that you can’t tear your eyes off the screen. I know a lot of people will think this movie is boring since so much of the action happens in the space between silences and quiet split second facial expressions but it says so much about love and desire. It also says a lot about how we create memories. I find also that films that are most successive in exploring through a feminist lens are the ones that don’t parade that they are “woke” and feminist but are still just as powerful.

4. Pan’s Labyrinth

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Pan’s Labyrinth is hands down my favorite movie of the year. It’s definitely a weird one but I loved the themes behind it.  Everything about this movie is stellar from the screenplay to the cinematography, the acting, the visual effects, the editing. All of it helps to convey a seamless transition from the human world to the underworld. lives in, in many ways humans do worse things to each other than anything the others could do. It is also interesting how even though the creatures look terrifying, Ofelia  retreats to this world when the real world is too much to bear. It is at least a world where she feels like she has some semblance of agency over her destiny and her life. The film is deeply brutal and violent yet somehow whimsical and mysterious. I love this movie because it upturns so much that we expect from a children’s fantasy movie. I also love how deftly it explores how children see the world especially in war and through the added fantastical lens we see the human characters for who they truly are.

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book review · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

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Title: The Dragon Republic

Author: RF Kuang

Genre: Epic, historical Fantasy

Pages: 654

Series? Yes, 2/3

Rating: 4.25/5

All opinions are my own.*

 


Major spoilers for The Poppy War. Spoiler Free for The Dragon Republic.

The Dragon Republic is bigger and richer than its predecessor in every way: writing, plot, and characters. When we left off at the end of The Poppy War, Rin has defeated The Federation and Altan has died. Now she and the rest of the Cike face civil war. Daji is still at large leading the country but amidst that, diverging forces enlist her to start a civil war to overthrow Daji. But neither is as they seem and neither seems like the right choice.

RF Kuang explored the consequences of war in TPW but digs into the deeper recesses in this book. What happens after the war ends? Why does it feel like a loss even after they won the victory from Mugen? There are no parades, no victory celebrations, no praises and certainly no breaks in this book. Running away from her inner demons, Rin thrusts herself into civil war enlisting with Vaisra, the Dragon Warlord to overthrow Daji though his motives remain nebulous and suspicious. There are numerous descriptions of military, naval, and economic strategy. Much like the war of the first book, the plot preps and simmers slowly but violently at the beginning. Kuang moves her chess pieces slowly, almost dauntingly, until it boils over in the third act in an intense and twisting way. There’s definitely more maneuvering and strategy of large scale armies and navies in this second volume, resulting in less gory scenes than that Golyn Niis chapter but only marginally so. The action scenes are well thought out, there are no half drawn scenes of fighting, no fade to blacks. They were epic in scope and you can really picture what is happening in the whole battle scene even though you are focused only on Rin’s perspective. Whereas the reader was mostly confined to the school in the first book, we really get to see more detailed and beautiful worldbuilding here delving into Arlong and the Dragon province. But the development doesn’t stop at the material world, Kuang also develops the spiritual world more as Rin’s and the Cike’s powers are tested more. I have to admit that although I’m never really on board with fantasy books taking place too much in the spiritual world, this development of it in this world never ceased to engage me. That’s because through this, we learn more about the many issues Rin is suppressing but also the history of shaman use in this world.

This book most excels when it comes to Rin. I appreciated that while Rin is redeemable in her own right, Kuang never adds things in to Rin’s character to make her more palatable or more relatable, making her one of the most unique characters I’ve come across. Rin is dealing with a lot in this book and Kuang never lets Rin forget the things she had to do to win the war and Rin struggles to reconcile what she believed the best way to win the war with the thousands of innocent people she killed. But on top of that, Rin is being pulled every which way by different power figures vying for her special talents. She struggles to find her purpose in life because no one cares what she believes in taking only about her power can bring and what she is willing to sacrifice to exact revenge on Daji. Rin isn’t the only one that goes through the ringer however. We saw one maybe two sides to each secondary character, but here they are out of their element and each character is pushed to their limits. I especially enjoyed seeing wholesome Kitay, belligerent Venka, and a special someone (who I won’t name because spoiler) pushed to their limits. For example, Kitay who remains the diplomat and strategist struggles for his humanity and doing what is right for the army. I wish the members of the Cike were spotlighted more but they remain a welcome and funny constant to the unpredictable nature of the other characters. There are some truly sad moments in this book never vearing on sentimental but nevertheless bordering on it. The best moments of this book existed in interactions between Rin and her friends, often reminding me that while Rin is exacting revenge on Daji, I always remembered that the care and loyalty she has for her friends are unmatched. This book really goes to show how far these characters have come since they first stepped foot into Sinegard. 

No less interesting are the new characters and other returning characters. Everyone has their own motives and their own values. No matter how late they were introduced, Kuang never failed to infuse a sense of history and complication to the character. I especially liked the exploration of Daji, Vaisra, and the other warlords of the different provinces. These characters enriched the background of the story and the book would not have been the same without their strong presence. I also appreciated that she expanded her range of female characters from the first book though sadly a majority of the major players were still male. Daji, Rin, and maybe Venka were the only major female players and even then Daji and Venka appeared at only roughly 10% of the book. I hope this continues to be rectified in the final installment. 

The writing has lost some of its fast pacing and eyes-glued-to-the-page quality but it more than compensates for that with the author’s improvement in the nuance, depth, and detail of the story. Every sentence feels richer . While TPW was inspired by the works of Sun Tzu and unit 731, Kuang reached for a wider inspiration circle this time, she states she drew on the Opium Wars and the Chinese Civil Wars. There is so much more to unpack in this book and I’m looking forward to unpacking more when I inevitably reread it.

This book comes out August 6, 2019. I know that fans of TPW will love this book even more! It is one of the best fantasy sequels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. A special thank you to Harper Voyager and HarperCollins for sending me an ARC to review. I was soooo excited when I opened the package and saw it was this gem of a book I was so eagerly anticipating.

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Misc · Miscellaneous · Uncategorized

I started a Youtube channel!

Hi!

I know I have been MIA and inconsistent on this blog for a while now. But I realized my love for blogging has been waning these past 2 years. I realized this when I found out that I was taking more than 2 weeks just to finish a blog post and everytime I would come back to it, I would have this feeling of dread. I’ve wanted to make videos for so many years but always excused it because I didn’t have the right equipment, the right timing, the right setup, etc. but I finally took the plunge because I’ve been making too many excuses and it was starting to bother me. Plus, I needed some place for all my thoughts to go instead of bottling it up and having it bounce around in my head without throwing it at someone and starting discussions that I love. Anyways, I’d love it if you could check it out, it’s a review of Pan’s Labryinth!

 

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tv review · Uncategorized

I rewatched Friends..

I have to admit I did not like Friends as much this time around since I watched it for the first time 3 years ago. I had forgotten most things that happened aside from some memorable one liners (We were on a break!!!). So after rewatching all 10 seasons again, I realized that while it is a good background show to have you’re doing laundry or whatever and does have moments of great depth and relatability but there are definitely some cons that I just couldn’t ignore. Here are my stray thoughts upon rewatch.

The humor

While I absolutely adore comedy today such as The Good Place and Parks and Rec, there is something about the blunt sarcasm in Friends and other sitcoms that I totally love especially when Chandler is talking to Joey or Ross. I missed that from today’s comedies. It is especially apparent in Friends considering the characters are pretty sarcastic personality traits themselves. The jokes become pretty repetitive and formulaic but I didn’t expect anything radically different when it comes to sitcoms.

Rachel

I would argue that this show revolves around Rachel. The show begins and ends with a big decision that Rachel has to make. I really like her character growth throughout the seasons especially when it came to her career and I wish it had continued during the later seasons. I have to admit, I have a much better appreciation for her now growing up though I wish I could say the same for Ross.

Themes of Friendship!

The greatest thing about Friends is how it so accurately portrays the nature of friendship and big life events that happen when you’re in your late 20’s and early 30’s. Things like quitting your job to pursue something you actually love. Getting fired from your job. When your deepest relationship is with your friends. Trying to get pregnant. Deciding whether to commit to a relationship or even marriage. Deciding if you want kids etc. A lot of their feelings and love and devotion between friends and SO’s, these themes of finding your one true love is of course is as universal now as it was in the 90’s. I truly believe this is what makes Friends really work, the chemistry and bonds between the characters. I absolutely love the episodes when they’re doing things together such as the episode where Ross is trying to hurry everyone up for the paleontology banquet and everyone is taking their goddamn time or all the Thanksgiving episodes.

Problematic Jokes

I understand this show was written in the 90’s but I had no idea how pervasive the “gay” jokes were and it got really annoying after a while. There were whole episodes dedicating to making fun of the guys and whatever feminine habit they adopted. For example, in the episode where Joey carries around a bag, all of the friends make fun of him for carrying a purse. Or the time when Joey’s roommate who is a woman decides to spruce up the apartment and teaches Joey how to arrange flowers and Chandler furiously berates him. Or the time when Chandler plucks Joey’s eyebrows and soon after they insist they have to do something manly in order to idk continue being men? There are also way too many jokes about Ross using lotion (how that’s hilarious I don’t know). Even Monica is implicit in this, often calling Chandler and Joey girls after she does a masculine coded trait. For example, in the last episode of Season 10 she breaks Chandler and Joey’s game table, she says “I’m going to go check on the twins, see ya girls!” You could argue that these male characters do not fit stereotypical male characteristics and that makes it ok that they make fun of each other for not being “manly” cause none of them are anyway. However, it’s clear to me that in the end, the male characters continue to dig themselves deeper into the masculine stereotype they so rigidly define and never get out of it.

On the flip side, I have to give credit where credit is due although I have to admit for every credit, there is a counter..credit?. This show arguably revolves around a female main character who used to be the popular girl and is sexually promiscuous and is not punished for it (even though the show makes too many references to her being slut). Ironically, though, Rachel continues to call Ross’s female love interests sluts or whores.  The female friendships between the female characters are so wonderful and there’s numerous episodes revolving around Monica’s and Rachel’s friendship which was great to see.

The prominence of lesbian jokes also became grating. There are so many jokes about Carol being a lesbian for none other than her being a lesbian. But they did at least show Carol and Susan in a caring relationship which is something. The only thing Friends can’t be considered really is racist although how much credit should be given to them considering there were very, very few POC in the show itself? Friends does not quite stand up to the test of time but I do understand it was a product of its time.

Way too many relationships with people who you know they’re going to break up with

There are so many random extras in the show that serve as love interests that last no longer than an episode! It came to a point where I knew something had to be something wrong with the love interest. For example, Ross finds a love interest who was interested in his paleontology book in the library. She seems to be perfect: she loves paleontology and is also very good looking but come to find out she has a disgusting apartment and is a hoarder. I was frustrated at the number of “filler” love interests that came in that stood no real chance and that kind of took the fun out of it for me. I really like that Phoebe ended up with someone outside of the group, plus her and Mike are the real OTP to me.

Ross and Rachel storyline

Obviously this storyline is very hit or miss with audiences. While I found them entertaining, I never understood the appeal especially near the end, when people would come in and out of their lives and you knew they were going to break up because of course Ross and Rachel were going to end up together. Honestly, if I had it my way, I would have paired Ross with Julie from Season 2 or Charlie from Season 10 and Ross would have been with Gavin though admittedly maybe these options would not have provided enough tension? I did like that through this on and off relationship though we get to explore Ross and Rachel’s insecurities and flaws from Ross’s fear of Rachel cheating on him to both of their respective possessiveness. It would have been nice if some of those flaws had been addressed before you know, Rachel gave up a dream job in Paris for him but who cares about that when you have a hot on and off relationship with Ross right? There is a definite appeal to their story but I got tired of it very easily.

Chandler and Monica

Chandler and Monica have some very sweet moments. I especially loved Chandler’s speech to the mother about adopting her kids when Chandler tells her I’ll learn to be a good dad once the baby is born but Monica? She’s already there. She’s a mother without a baby. But I did not like their relationship dynamic after the initial stages, it just made it seem like Monica was a mom and Chandler was her kid. Chandler had so much character development from his commitment issues to opening up about his feelings and being more emotionally mature but Monica? her character development went to a standstill after she broke up with Richard which on this rewatch, I’m forever bitter about it. They were so freaking good for each other. I was also bothered by the fact that hereafter whenever Richard was mentioned, Chandler got really, really insecure about it and Monica had to convince him that he was better than Richard (even though in what ways I cannot tell you) considering Monica basically spent the entire relationship tutoring Chandler on how to even be in a relationship. Chandler did get better near the end though.

Conflict

The biggest issue I have with Friends is the constant usage of lying to build conflict. Every single episode is built on someone telling a lie to another friend and by the end, the truth is revealed. It made it really hard to understand why they were even friends and made it hard to distinguish their motives from one another. It does do very well setting up drama though. I was reading this one review about Friends and he stated that Friends was basically “a soap opera disguising itself as a comedy” which I have to agree with.

Stray Thoughts

– I think the Vegas episodes after Season 5 were among the best of the entire series. I completely love the Rachel and Ross dynamic (among the best of their acting) and their little marriage storyline was so funny

“Heelllooooo Mrs. Ross, Hellloooo Mr. Rachel!! LOL

-lots of filler storylines near the end – like Ross wearing a girl’s shirt, Joey not liking sharing food, Monica’s hair problem at the beginning

– ross and rachel storyline is sooo overdrawn. It should have ended at least 3 seasons earlier. literally everyone was better than them for ross and rachel than either of them.

-those computers and cellphones look so much older and bulkier after 3 years of not watching this show

-how awkward must it be if you say someone else’s name other than your betrothed at your own wedding? I’m looking at you Ross..

-is it just me but did Joey just get dumber and dumber with each season?

-it was so funny when the friends made fun of Ross for how many marriages he’s had

 

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2019 Wrap Up

January 2019 was a stressful month for me but let’s be honest, January is never a great month for me. It’s too bad it happens to seem like the longest month of the entire year. It’s just that time where everyone is going back to their daily routine and all the fun festivities and chill time are over. You have to start reevaluating your life (as I did) and believe me, I was worried about a lot this month from taxes to money to school to what I’m going to do with my life. The thing about agonizing over big decisions that determine your life is that the process is painful but finally, finally you start to get out of your head and little by little you start to plan out the stepping stones until you feel it is feasible. I’m finally at that point and hopefully February will be better. At least it’ll be shorter. To end on a happy note, let’s end with the obligatory food pics 😉

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Noodology – Tomato Soup with Beef and Rice Noodle
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iSno Cafe Shaved Ice
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More noodles! Noodle Street – Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

But in the meantime, let’s talk about all the stuff I loved or didn’t in January. Starting with books:

Image result for the lost sistersThe Lost Sisters by Holly Black (4/5) – You know I never read short stories when it’s part of a series because I never saw the point but this short story proved me wrong. It gave more insight into Taryn’s motivations from the first book which we can all agree was confusing and sketchy at best. But, I sympathized a lot with Taryn after this story and although I do not agree with what she did (the betrayal!!), I can at least understand it.

The Wicked King by Holly Black (3.5/5) – You know, now thatImage result for the wicked king the shock of all the plot twists has died down, I can look at this book with a more clear head. I definitely do not think it was as good as The Cruel Prince. It definitely felt like a filler book; the development of the characters were sacrificed for the sake of plot development, the worldbuilding was shot to the wayside, and suddenly there are a lot more one note side characters used for advancing the plot. Of course that did not prevent me from squealing at all the Cardan and Jude scenes (yo, dm me when you get to the end of Chapter 15), and of course at that killer, killer ending. I will be waiting with bated breath for the last book. Also, shoutout to Alicia from A Kernel of Nonsense for Image result for the king of attoliabuddyreading this with me. The reading experience was so much more fun with you! 🙂

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (4/5)– I’m not sure what was going through my head when I decided to quit this series at the beginning of the second book a few years ago because this series is simply amazing!! I’ve read a lot of YA books with political intrigue and none of them have really come close to the subtle machinations and plotting that this series has. Rest assure I will be doing a full review of this series once I finish the fifth book.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (4/5) – The fourth book in the Thief Image result for a conspiracy of kingsseries. Another amazing installment.  This one follows a different character but I grew to love him just as much as the main characters. Again, review to come. Also, the new covers are WAY better than the old ones. Sometimes cover changes can be really good.

Image result for daughter of the forestDaughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (DNF) – The ultimate reason why I DNF’ed this was because it was boring. It’s a very interesting book if you look at it through a feminist lens (talk to me about this, I wanna know what you think), but I grew wary once the Lady Oonagh was introduced. Of course, the female villain of the story has to wear low cut clothes and be “ladylike” and be promiscuous and sly. I hate the virgin/whore dichotomy.

 

Movies

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Bandersnatch (C)– Yes, the concept is novel and cool but only for about 10 minutes. The reason why I like watching TV and movies is because I can watch the characters come to their own conclusions. It’s part of the fun of watching characters different from you, but these “choose your own adventure” modes are you just being a stand in for the character. I could also argue that the story wasn’t right for this gimmick. If it were an adventure story such as surviving in the jungle where the choices have a lot more drastically different stakes, then sure maybe. Also, the ending was a bit too tongue in cheek and meta for me. An interesting watch, but not something I’d ever watch again.

Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse (B) – After all these years, Spiderman/Spiderwoman’s Image result for spiderman into the spider verseremains my favorite superhero and that’s because I love his/her origin story. He starts off as a teenager going about his high school life with the usual high school problems but is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes a superhero but he’s still a teen! His story is very much a coming of age story. In much the same vein, Spider Verse is about Miles finding where he belongs but trying to live up to his people’s expectations of him. Although the story does become oversaturated what with all the different emotional beats and all the different spiderpeople coming together, it was very entertaining. Oh and yes, I did like the animation. I definitely haven’t seen something like that done in a big studio movie.

Image result for ali wong baby cobraAli Wong: Baby Cobra (A)- I’m really liking stand up comedy right now and this one was no exception. She talks a lot about modern feminism (although she’s not as feminist leaning as a lot of female comics today), her husband, racism, and a myriad of other topics. She’s pretty raunchy and crass and she tells some Asian jokes that you will only really get if you’re an Asian so that was fun.

 

TV

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Ugly Delicious S1 Ep 7 (A) – I only watched one episode which was episode 7 “Fried Rice” but I really liked it. It had such an interesting blend of talking about culture, race, and even history surrounding the cuisine. Clearly, most TV shows need to be talking about these woke topics BUT it does so in such an insightful way. I really liked the conversation they had about how we perceive authentic Chinese food vs commercial Chinese food and the concept of high end Chinese food. I Image result for patriot act hasan minhajdefinitely need to watch the rest of the season.

 

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj Ep 1-3 (B+)– I think it’s pretty great that more young people are getting more involved in politics, although that obviously comes with consequences like the rise of polarized news. Yes, Patriot Act is a left leaning entertainment news show but I must say though that for what it is, it is informative, sincere and enthusiastic about participating in the political sphere. Minhaj is a really charismatic host and the episodes are 20 minutes long so who doesn’t have time for that? I also really like the infographics he intersperses throughout; they are very concise.

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The Good Place (A) – The Good Place is a show that I did not give a fair chance to the first time I watched it. I mean I quit it after the 5th episode but I gave it a second chance and I loved it! It is so sweet, charming and asks a lot of questions most sitcoms would not dare go near. I’m planning on a review of this as well since I’m all caught up! A must watch if you’ve already seen shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Parks and Rec and Superstore, Image result for i am not a robot posteralthough this is probably my favorite out of all of them.

 

I am Not a robot (DNF) – You do not know how badly I want to fall in love with a korean drama right now but can’t find anything that I like (let me know any recommendations). This show moved kind of slowly and the whole robot thing could have led into some icky non consensual territory. Maybe I’m just making up excuses at this point.

You (C) – You may be a Netflix show but it feels a lot more like a CW show. Heck, it even Image result for youhas Penn Badgley from Gossip Girl and Shay Mitchell from Pretty Little Liars. The drama is of the back stabby, cat fighting, petty type. My problem with these types of shows is that the characters get into high stakes drama and then forget about it in the next episode. Dude, your best friend literally backstabbed you and sold you out, you got mad at her, and now the next day, with no explanation, you’re besties again?? The show was very entertaining and does delve into some interesting questions about social media and obsession. It’s a good show to binge watch.

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