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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favorites · Uncategorized

2018 Favorites

2018 is coming to a close and as per usual, I consumed a lot of media/things in genearl as you can probably guess. I’ve been debating the future of this blog for a while now but I’ll get into that in the next post. I didn’t do a book stats post like I normally do and even debated doing this one. But for now, a recap of my 2018 favorites!

Books

Image result for the cruel princeThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black – The Cruel Prince has probably ended up on a lot of people’s favorites and I am giving into the hype because this book deserves most of it. I completely adore this twisted world with its lies and deceit. I adore the character arcs and I simply cannot wait for what is going to happen between Jude and Cardan. The plot twists were so insane. I hadn’t read a YA fantasy book that had me on the edge of my seat and had me gladly suspend disbelief in a while. I’ll be picking up the next book as soon as it hits shelves.

 

Educated by Tara Westover – This year I read a Image result for educatedcouple of memoirs but this one was by far the best one. One of my favorite things about it was the narrator’s voice. It is completely raw and honest in its discussion of what she remembers won’t exactly be accurate all the time but that she tries to confirm with other witnesses. She surprisingly stays pretty much neutral and objective even when talking about the most horrific things that have happened to her which can sometimes be frustrating because I wanted to know what she thought of being in that situation. I loved reading about her journey written with stark descriptions of the nature that she grew up in. I loved reading about her realizations about the world she lived in and where she fit into that world and the power she gained by getting an education.

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All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister – Nonfiction was definitely my jam this year and this was the most well-crafted I read this year. Although at first, I considered this book to be especially niche considering it is about single ladies but it turned out to be all encompassing and really lays out how this trend will affect society hereafter. It gave me so much food for thought. It gave me thoughts about how this trend will affect dating, marriage, work life, housing, the job market, and most importantly,  longstanding prejudices against single women.

March Vol. 3 by John Lewis – What I love most about this series and Image result for march vol 3this book in particular is its refusal to quite literally be black and white. Although the end goal of the civil rights movement was right, the means to get there was debated and argued. The dissent among the people of the movement, the focus on moderates of the movement.

The fact of the matter is no movement is as clean cut, heroic, and simple as one would believe. The cause is heroic but the reality is behind the scenes, there is much debating and sacrificing even your views for the greater cause. But what happens after is something worth seeing through.

Image result for the poppy warThe Poppy War by RF Kuang – Although the ending of this novel is kind of eh, there is no doubting the immense entertainment provided by its relentless main character, its study of military strategy and the often overlooked Unit 731 human experiments. I cannot wait to see where the series goes.

TV

The Haunting of Hill House – Scary and tense, the Image result for the haunting of hill houseHaunting of Hill House was absolutely incredible. More of a family drama than a horror story, it proves horror can be just as character driven as other genres.

Image result for the marvelous mrs maiselThe Marvelous Mrs Maisel Season 1 – I fell in love with Maisel and her can do attitude. The bright vividness of the production and the snappy editing and dialogue never ceased to entertain. Although season 2 failed to live up to my high expectations, the first season is so worth watching.

 

 

 

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Anne with an E Season 2– Anne with an E reminds me of everything that is quaint and wholesome in the world. It reminds me of my childhood reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Anne’s optimism is always appreciated as she fights for what is true to her.

This season focused much on the secondary characters including Gilbert, Diane, newcomer Cole, and Anne’s foster parents. They are each endearing in their own ways and each are finding out how they belong in this world. It’s so positive and accepting you can’t help but love this show.

Image result for love season 3Love season 3 – I’m so happy more realistic rom com TV shows are being made and this one has stuck with me throughout all these years. I completely adore the hidden satire in this series. Of course, the main draw of any rom com is the main couple. The main couple in this one is

Fargo Season 1 – I can’t believe I actually watched thisImage result for fargo season 1 show this year! It’s amazing. It’s actually quite a metaphoric show attached to a realistic often violent core. Martin Freeman is an actor I’ve always loved and I think he does a beautiful job in this one. This show is well crafted on every level from its acting to its screenplay to its editing and directing.

Movies

Crazy Rich Asians – I might love drama and intense action but at my core, there is no beating a romantic story. Crazy Rich Asians delivered on so many fronts for me. It breathes air to the stagnant trope of rich boy meets poor girl trope and the “evil mother in law” trope while being generally funny and heartwarming. This is my favorite type of commercial movie, one that is original, detailed, and passionate but still adheres to a simple formula.

Games

2018 is the year I discovered my love of games. Although it will never replace my love for books and binging TV shows, I really have found happiness in the competitiveness and stories in games.

Image result for stardew valleyStardew Valley – I love this game. It’s so cute and relaxing. You literally just take care of a farm and befriend the villagers and discover new creatures and alternatively, types of fish. There’s always things to do that keep it from becoming boring.

Soul Calibur – Soul Calibur brings me back nostalgia for fighting games. Unlike a lot of games I’m attracted to, Soul Calibur really forced me to pay attention to how I press buttons and thinking more about the movement and strategy instead of just mashing random ones like I use to do.

Polytopia – Polytopia is a simple game that still results in numerous end results plus the animation is just hella cute so there’s that too. I love the strategy you have to employ to gain control over others’ territory.

MakeupImage result for tarte microliner

Tarte Microliner – Eyeliner is my favorite piece of makeup and the tarte microliner is my favorite eyeliner I’ve ever used. It is so good; it’s shaped like a fine tip pen. It’s easy to use but very precise for the perfect winged tip. It dries really fast and does not smear but is super easy to take off.  I have such a higher standard for eyeliners now that I’ve used this one.

Image result for maybelline fit me foundationMaybelline fit me foundation – This foundation color is a perfect fit for my skin undertone. It’s not too heavy and has a more dewy finish which is perfect for me. The best part of this foundation is the drugstore price. It is amazing for the price.

Music

This year was definitely the year of the popular kpop. I fell in love with Seventeen (my favorite being “Thanks”. I love their music and will continue to listen to any new albums they come out. Although Seventeen is my favorite, I can’t forget BTS, NCT, and Red Velvet.

This was also the year of Ariana Grande, my favorite release this year being thank u, next. I don’t know, I just really like her songs but don’t ask to explain why.

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favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

January 2018 Wrap Up

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It’s been a minute since I’ve done one of these but I told myself I would restart this year so here I am. As a side effect of only posting 2x a month now, I’m compiling all the books, movies, TV shows, and music in one big monthly wrap up rather than separating my favorites apart from the book wrap up. I am convinced that January is just not my month. It’s like the Monday of the year. I anticipate a change because it’s the beginning of the year but usually everything stays completely the same. Consequently, I think it’s the month I feel the most restless. It’s the month when the holiday cheer is gone and over, set in by a gloominess and overcast, everyone is suddenly back to business. If January was about anything, working those hours, I realized what was and is truly important to my time. I started doing this project called the one second a day for the rest of the year. The idea behind it is that you take a video of your life everyday and compile one second of each to put into a video compilation at the end of the year. I’ve modified it so that it’s one picture a day. This year is more of a test year than anything because I’m not used to taking pictures frequently but nevertheless, I have taken on this endeavor. However I realized that during the middle of January, that each day was a blur of work and I just did not have a picture that highlighted my day.

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Matcha Ice Cream

Sadly, a symptom of being a fully fledged working person is that while you realize you have more responsibilities, you also realize you have to fight for what is truly important to you and how to distribute that time. I have a habit of “sucking it up” or adapting rather than changing. It’s the way I taught myself to do things but I realize that sucking it up doesn’t change anything and it just makes you more miserable. You have no sense of whether something is truly working out for you or not. If it is not working, it doesn’t mean that I should keep doing it. Life is too short to just endure.

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The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison (3.5/5)

17934655The Empathy Exams is an interesting concept of a book. It deals entirely with our ability to empathize and the nuanced ways in which we do so. One essay explores the irony of going on a tour to learn about poverty, another follows empathy through her experiences as a medical actor and how we must have common ground before we are able to empathize with someone, and another essay defends the concept of being too sentimental. As with any essay collection, there were definitely ones that had excellent premises but that I wished she had analyzed more of what she observed from it. But the very best stories are so worth the more mediocre ones because they are so in tune to how we perceive empathy in our daily lives.

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (4/5)

I actually don’t think I’ve been this enamored by a YA fantasy since The Winner’s Kiss. 26032825The only thing I wish it had more of is Marie Rutkoski’s ephemeral writing. Holly Black’s writing cuts like a bland knife. It cuts, and does the job, even fairly well, but it just lacks a certain sharpness not to mention she uses the cliche that every YA writer uses and overly emphasizes a feeling. But what makes this different from other YA fantasies is that every single character has an immediate stake but also an underlying stake throughout the book that is not immediately apparent when they are introduced. Our main character is utterly fascinating. Jude is someone who has grown up with fire. She hates these fairies who have tormented her and who have ultimate power over her, but at the same time, this is the place she calls her home and the place that has nurtured the brutal, caustic person she has become.  Of course, I also cannot forget the slow burn romance that I fervently hope will develop more in the second book. I don’t think I’ve shipped two characters this much since Arin and Kestrel. I cannot, cannot, wait for the next book.

Meet Cute by various YA authors (3.5/5)

33503607I have to say that this is probably the strongest short story collection I’ve read in terms of how many of the stories I liked. Even if the execution was not up to par, the premises provided such a fascinating take that I had a lot of fun reading it anyways. It was such a lighthearted and happy collection and only proves why I could like YA contemporary. It brought such a smile to my face.  My favorites were “Oomph” by Emery Lord, a story that follows two girls at the airport and “Print Shop” by Nina La Cour, Nina La Cour really knows how to write a dreamy, vintage California setting. Honorable mentions have to go to Nicola Yoon’s, “The Department of Dead Love” which follows social workers who help you after a break up, Dhonielle Clayton’s, “The Way We Love Here”, where you know who your true love is beforehand, Jocelyn Davies’s, “The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love”, which follows a girl’s statistics of meeting this boy on the train everyday, Julie Murphy’s “Something Real”, which follows two girls on the set of a reality show, and even Jennifer L. Armentrout’s, “The Dictionary of You and Me” which follows a librarian and her repeated calls to the owner of an overdue book. All are squirmingly cute. I want a full book on some of these.

What do you think the difference between wanting to be friends and wanting to be more than friends is?

Some people you want to get to know and some people you want to know you. I think that’s the difference.

jan1

My Happy Family | B+

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My Happy Family is a quiet movie about a woman who leaves her family and buys an apartment to live alone. It’s one of those movies where nothing much actually happens, and yet you have this rich sense of the main character’s inner life. When she first presents this idea of living on her own after living with her extended family including her mother, father, husband and children, her entire life. Her family cannot fathom why she would want to do this; they immediately ask if her husband has abused her in any way, wondering what she could be unhappy about. I love the way this movie explores a person, especially a woman, finding her own space, literally and figuratively. It explores the importance of finding your identity separate from your family, and how it is difficult for a woman to do so as they are expected to sacrifice for family often at the expense of their own health. This movie is set in Georgia (European Georgia) and I did watch the dubbed version, it did take me out at first because I’m so used to finding a subtitled version but I got used to it.

It | B

Image result for itI’m not really sure how to feel about this movie. On the one hand, found family especially between kids is one of my favorite things ever and this movie delivers that. It’s a fun (and scary) romp to defeat this evil clown (who is btw terrifying). It delivers a scary story that only Stephen King can write where the scary entity is just an extension of the real things to fear: abusive parents, mean bullies, and growing up. And yet, on the other hand, I just think this ’80s nostalgia has gotten old. Maybe it’s just me, but I just cannot deal without another disproportionate all white male kid gang and that 1 manic pixie dream girl. Maybe I’m not as attached to the ’80s because I was obviously not born during this time but the oftentimes racist and sexist undertones is just not nostalgic for me. This was definitely a movie adapted from a book that was definitely written in the ’80s which is different from, say Stranger Things, that has a love for the ’80s but feels less stranded in its time.

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Father is Strange | finished 8 episodes 

Father is Strange is the perfect example of why cliches can work if they are well Related imageexecuted. I’ve rolled my eyes a lot at the traditional family dramas that have pervaded TV and you know, this drama’s story doesn’t deter from those familiar plot points: missing dad, shrewish mother- –in-law, miscommunication, an unexpected pregnancy subplot, no nonsense grandma, poor vs rich class conflict, and of course, some good ol’ fashioned romance. These plot points, however, are done with a subtlety and are better appreciated with distinct characters and strong acting. It also has a progressiveness that has been missing from many traditional dramas that helps it feel fresh and modern while keeping the nostalgia of a family drama. I have since stopped this drama because, however much I enjoy it, the storylines move at a snail’s pace, and I would appreciate this more when I do not have other, faster shows to occupy my time.

Image result for the end of the f *** ing worldThe End of the Fucking World | Finished 2 episodes

I think I would have liked this show 2 years ago, even a year ago, but the fact of the matter is, I just have less tolerance now for shows with apologetically shitty characters. There are always exceptions but I just do not think I’m in the mood to watch shitty, pretentious teenagers at the moment. Don’t let my review deter you from watching it though, objectively, the acting and editing are on point.

Alias Grace | Finished 4 episodesImage result for alias grace

Another stopped show. I liked it fine, but it just needed more space to explore its concepts. I love the set design and the cinematography but the story is lacking. I should just finish the last two episodes but honestly I’ve got other shows to watch.

 

 

jan4

Feminist Frequency

Image result for feminist frequency podcastAs I get more and more into the podcast world, this continues to be one of my favorite podcasts. This features 3 women, including Anita Sarkessian who produced the video games vs tropes series on YouTube. The podcast discusses the latest media including movies, TV shows, games, and the news and looks at them through a feminist lens. I really love the discussion these ladies have together. I also get some great recommendations from them.

 

jan7

Illenium – Beautiful Creatures (feat. MAX)

I’m actually really enjoying all of Illenium’s music, but this one I’ve been listening to the most. My perfect kind of EDM.

If love is a lie, then why do we need it?
We swear we’re alive, but we’re falling to pieces

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Clash RoyaleImage result for clash royale

Yes, I had been playing this a lot in January and it made me realize how much I actually like playing games if only I can really apply my analytical and strategical skills. The only bad part is that I get really competitive and angry when I lose.

 

 

 

February is already shaping up to a great month, and I hope that bodes well for the rest of the year. As always, let me know if you have enjoyed any of these and if you have any recommendations for me based on these. =)

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favorites · Uncategorized

Favorite Books/TV Shows of 2017

Sadly, because 2017 was not a great reading year, there weren’t many books that really stuck out to me. I even hesitated making a best of 2017 for books because even the ones I considered my favorites of the year were not the same greatness that my favorites for previous books. But I decided I do want to mention the most memorable of the year. I tried to include a variety of formats that I read. Unlike in previous years, I have not ordered these in any way.

Human Acts by Han Kang

30091914Han Kang is such a daring writer. She experiments with format and writing style and whether or not it is effective is often besides the point. What I feel she always tries to achieve though is capturing the rawest emotion of her characters. I think it works very well here. It is stylistically quite different than her previous work, The Vegetarian. Human Acts is definitely more like one long metaphor but it completely works as she portrays the brutality of the 1980’s rights as an extension of death and life.

 

 

I have a few short forms I would like to celebrate.

  • A Series of Steaks by by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Short story) – A clever scifi story about 3D printing and female friendship.
  • Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station by Caroline M. Yoachim (Short story)- A throwback to Choose Your Own Adventures stories. It, at once, celebrates the format but also pokes fun at it.
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Agozi Adichie (novella) – nothing in this novella is particularly new but the way Adichie crafts her writing about feminism makes you feel as if this should be common sense and her arguments are
  • The Death of a Moth by Virginia Woolf (Essay) – I need to read virginia woolf’s other works asap after reading this. This short story is literally about the narrator watching a moth die but the spectrum of feelings you get while reading it is  all encompassing.

We were Feminists Once from Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl: the buying and selling of a 25898263political movement by Andi Zeisler

I’ve read a lot of feminist rhetoric and it’s surprising to find a recent one that I learn so much from. This book ties modern feminism and how it has affected capitalism. This book has been so eye-opening for me and I see how feminism in the modern age can be manipulated for less than wholesome motives.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

35247769You know I like this book because I’ve read it twice..in 1 year. It’s hard to explain why exactly this book and this series is so special to me. On the surface, it wouldn’t seem so, after all it is just a romantic contemporary about a high school girl and her journey through high school and romantic entanglements. But it is just so sincerely heartwarming and fun to read. I love Lara Jean’s little family, Peter, and of course, all the cookies Lara Jean baked.

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios29102896

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. I have no qualms about coining this book as the best YA book discussing the progression of a toxic relationship. It is subtle and powerful and just has an all around depth to it. It paints everything in greys instead of blacks and whites and it’s such an honest and realistic portrayal of all different types of toxic relationships.

Image result for the language of thornsThe Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I’m starting to like Leigh Bardugo more and more as a writer. My favorite thing about this collection is how it upends fairy tale traditions and canon. By reversing these traditions, Bardugo really shows the reader how much we have relied on traditional tropes to write our fairy tales and how when you look at these tropes in the light, it might cause you to look at these characters differently than you always have. It is honestly worth a hard copy just because the illustrations inside are so beautiful!

TV Shows

I had much better luck in finding great shows this year. These are my top 5 definitive TV shows of 2017 and I would rewatch all of these in a heartbeat. I thought it would be a little repetitive if I included Superstore because I have a feeling that that show will be here for a while and it will probably on every single one of my favorite TV show lists. But other than that, here are my favorite shows of 2017. These are in order from least favorite to favorite show of 2017

Insecure, Season 2

Comedy|8 episodes|HBO

Image result for Insecure season 2I watch Insecure like I listen to friends gossip. It is so deliciously juicy and enticing in the way that the world of dating can be.  But the great thing about this show is that its so clever about portraying how the different men in Issa’s and Molly’s life reveal who they really are. But it’s not just about that. It’s about their struggles in the workplace and of course, the struggle to find who or what they truly want. Even better is that in the end this show is about Issa’s and Molly’s enduring friendship. It is a completely bingeworthy show.

 

Master of None, Season 2

Comedy|10 episodes|Netflix

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I am so, so impressed with this show above all else to experiment with different storytelling formats. One episode will be an hour long while another will be half an hour. One episode is partly told in subtitles with the main characters not even being present in the episode. One is told like an old Italian movie. There are long pauses without dialogue. This show feels like a meandering but it manages to stay cohesive. It is absolutely brilliant in its discussion of modern dating, workplace harassment, and diversity. I’ve seen and read a lot of media that covers the coming of age of high school to college to post grad people but Master of None shows that a coming of age for the late 20s-30s group can be done so well.

Search Party Seasons 1&2

Dark comedy|20 episodes|TBS

Image result for search partyI love Search Party and it is one of the most unique shows I’ve seen in a long time. Its young 20something characters are very difficult to like and even sympathize but they are great fodders for discussing self entitlement and self obsession as well as the struggle that a lot of 20some year olds struggle with now: the struggle for purpose and meaning in their lives. Don’t take this to mean that this show is a continual philosophical story but these themes are the foundation for a darkly funny and satirical tale. This show is weird. It combines a mystery featuring amateur detectives with a great look at characters that we think we know until they sweep the rug from under our feet to reveal who they truly are. My review for this is coming soon but this is truly a unique, weird little show that deserves so much more hype.

Anne with an E

Drama|7 episodes|Netflix

This was honestly a wonderful gem of a show and I’m so happy it has been renewed for aRelated image second season. This is just one of the few book to TV show adaptations that have so accurately casted the right actors and actresses for their respective characters. I also think it is one of the few book to movie TV adaptations that have stayed so true to the book’s core themes while still adding its own individuality to the show.  The addition of the stable boy, Jerry, was such a delight considering how much humor he brings to the show. This show is somber, melancholic, and aesthetically beautiful but it is full of hope and lightheartedness just like its main character.

 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Korean drama|16 episodes| MBC

My number one favorite show of the year is Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. I’m actually Image result for weightlifting fairy kim bok-jooalready thinking of rewatching this next month. It is a beautiful, beautiful drama full of hope and love. I completely adore the lighthearted and vibrant tone of the show. Our main character, Bok Joo, is a charismatic and blunt weightlifter who goes to a college for athletes. She is always a character that you root for and throughout the show you are cheering for her success and the ambitions she has despite the many comedic and cringeworthy situations she finds herself in. Cushioned around this character are two lovely best friends, a well meaning father, some endearing coaches, and a charming and swoonworthy love interest. I especially like this drama for how it upends some traditional korean drama tropes and understands that at its heart, it is a story of a girl who dreams of being the best weightlifter instead of a story of a girl who has a romance. It had me smiling, laughing, and crying the entire way through.

Have a wonderful New Year’s and here’s hoping that 2018 will be full of even better books and TV shows!

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favorites · Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

December 2016 Favorites

I know 2017 is already here but I kind of want to rewind back to December again in some ways because December was an unexpectedly good month for me. That’s the thing about the Christmas season, everyone just seems to be in a better mood than usual and you are just extra cruel to do anything bad to someone at Christmas so usually they just wait until the 26th to do something mean. At least in my experience. Maybe you’re the Grinch. I don’t know. Over Christmas, it was almost a constant influx of guests at my house and I got to spend time with family that I hadn’t seen in a really long time (3 years in fact). It’s crazy how someone can change in that time and your perceptions of them are kind of blown out of the water.

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Our family photo is so on point. My cousin in the back is posing like a fucking bodyguard. My brother is separated from us by the stairs…

Of course, the more important part is getting to eat all the food..

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Do you know how you can tell this is a Viet gathering? All of those aluminum trays..
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Mama D’s pasta. It was so delicious and the service was even better than the food.
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Omg this is making my mouth water. Cream Pan’s strawberry croissant with cream inside and powdered sugar on top. 

I also got to enjoy the season with my friends. We went ice skating and I suck at ice skating so, so much that it was shameful. I had to have someone holding me throughout most of the allotted time  but it was still fun nonetheless.

I also went to see the Christmas lights near my hometown. It is insane how creative and decorative people get with their Christmas lights.

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This was the sweepstakes winner for this neighborhood.

There are some crazy lights during this time of year. I also went to see a single house where the whole house was covered in lights and it changes colors and you can even tune into a certain radio station to listen to it while you watch it.

I did my annual tradition of Secret Santa; I got Exploding Kittens that I’ve been wanting for a while. This is so fun and very nearly the perfect icebreaker. The rules are so simple anyone can play and there’s both luck and strategy involved. Basically your goal is to not draw an exploding kitten. I played a lot of games in general in December like poker, Heads Up, Monopoly, and Forbidden Island but this one’s my favorite.

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I actually didn’t listen to a lot of Christmas music in December which is kind of unforgivable but I did listen to Pentatonix’s Christmas album with Hallelujah being my favorite out of the songs. In terms of other music, I fell in love with The Weeknd’s new album Starboy. I honestly like all the songs but my favorites are Six Feet Under and Party Monster. I also liked the hip hop song Black Barbie by Nicki Minaj and Mike Will Made It. It was nice to go back to popular hip hop last month.

Writing this post made me really happy. I mean writing on this blog makes me happy in general but it was nice to go back down memory lane. Wow, I’m making it seem like this was 10 years ago even though it was only last month. But yeah, that was my December. Let me know what your last month of 2016 was like =)

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