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.

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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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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

November 2018 Wrap Up

As we head into the holiday season, I find myself drawn more and more to reflecting on the year and reflecting on the people, feelings, and things I’m grateful for this year. Obviously November emphasizes this of course with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving this year was a fun fare. I went over to my boyfriend’s aunt’s place for Thanksgiving and ate so much food. I’ve never had the traditional western Thanksgiving food so much till now. There was turkey, vegetables, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and of course, pumpkin pie. For dinner, I went over to my boyfriend’s maternal side and ate more.. ham, turkey, creamed corn and 4 different kinds of cake plus flan. This side had a mixture of Asian food as well like sticky rice. I had so much food and it was all so good. I then had a Friendsgiving the next day with even more good food. I had the turkey obviously but also some lasagna, spinach and artichoke dip, vegetables, and 4 different types of pie!! and one apple tart (that I was in charge of and turned out much better than I thought it would be considering my dough would not even cover the pot)! We then played some Mario Party which is actually a very good party game and the games are very easy to learn.

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Friendsgiving!

It’s easy for me as an anxious person to dwell on the negatives as I’ve been want to do these past few weeks what with waiting for schools to (still) reply to me and some rejections and just my all around anxious and dissociating self. So here is me writing about some things that I am grateful for. I am thankful for my health, as frustrating as my mental health is, I still have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the exponential self growth I have achieved this year. I’m thankful for the soft sound of my fingers hitting the keyboard at work as a patient spews out her problems. I’m thankful for nice fitting jeans with the perfect top crowned with the perfect dark makeup. I’m thankful for therapy that I just started a few weeks ago. I’m thankful for the sweet rush of sweetness when you drink your first sip of boba. I’m thankful for warm, cozy nights in bed reading a book. I’m thankful for the cute clip clopping of my horse’s hooves while playing Stardew Valley and cuddling with Nathan under the covers. I’m thankful for my friends who I can reach out to anytime and feel as though I just talked to them yesterday. Whenever I talk to them I feel full, I feel whole. I have a ton more to be grateful for and I hope it encourages me to be more positive in the future.

Books

Image result for cravings chrissy teigenCravings by Chrissy Tiegen 4/5 -What I appreciate about this cookbook is the unique flair that makes it feel so personal to Chrissy. She injects a lot of her trademark humor and family history. The recipes are actually very easy and not time consuming and there’s variety of different kinds of dishes from breakfast to party dishes to Thai dishes (she’s part Thai). She wanted to emphasize the redoability (that’s not a word) of the dishes and I think a lot of the dishes you would want to do again. The pictures of the food are lovely. I haven’t tried any of the recipes but I sure want to.

 

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell 3/5 – O’Farrell Image result for i am i am i amrecounts 17 instances of near death that she has experienced in this book. I appreciated her analysis of her immediate reactions to the these near death experiences that gives an instant reaction to what she was going through. I have two favorite stories in this collection. The first one is about the delivery of her first child. Prior to this, she was advised by doctors she must have a mandatory C-section or experience major birth complications due to her medical condition. She switched to a doctor who looked down upon those who had C-sections and refused to give her one despite her desperate insistence and she recounts the loneliness she felt even when she was with lots of hospital staff. She remembers feeling the violence simmering underneath when she narrowly escapes a stranger who turns out to be a murderer having killed a person a day after he met her. My biggest issue with the book was that it grew very repetitive and dull especially near the end. The stories started to just feel more like exposition than an analysis of death and life.

Image result for becoming michelle obamaBecoming by Michelle Obama 4/5- Review to come. But I loved it!

TV Shows

Emma Approved Season 2 (C)- I’m kind of sad this show has been cancelled due to the lack of patreon donors. But I definitely wasn’t the person I am now when I first started watching this show but I felt this time around, it lacked cohesiveness and plot. I definitely didn’t really like the mockumentary style because although we do get to see more natural settings for people to be in such as outside the office where we see more of Mr. Collins without him posing for the camera but I actually did like that people had to watch what they said in front of the camera when they were in the room. It added a certain tension. Maybe it was too late for this reboot to occur and there were too many changes ruining the nostalgia factor.

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The Haunting of Hill House (A) – Full review here.

Movies

I’m so proud of myself for watching so many movies this month. I probably watched more this month than the other months combined sadly.

Image result for searchingSearching (A) – This movie was a completely great surprise for me. Probably my favorite of the month. I really liked how social media and internet culture was used in this movie. I also really liked how it kept leading you to believe one thing but it was actually another. The ending kind of blew my mind a little. I also appreciated that the thriller took the time to explore a father-daughter dynamic. The main character feels as though he knew his daughter but as he continues his search for her, he realizes he doesn’t actually know that much about her.

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Idiocracy (C)- This movie is starting to look like real life more and more these days. Thankfully it is only a movie for now though a biting satire on consumerism, instant gratification and blind following. Besides the humor and satire, I found the plot to be painfully linear, the side characters especially the female to be written irrelevantly (sadly) and the development to be mediocre at best. It was interesting to see Terry Crews as president though.

Image result for wreck it ralph posterWreck It Ralph (A-)- I completely adore this movie. It is still as fun, original, and heartwarming as it was when I first watched it about 6 years ago. The sugar rush theme is so addicting. I love the theme of the movie, about finding who you really are despite being literally programmed otherwise. The characters are so endearing. I still want to watch the sequel although I am hesitant as I was burned earlier this year with The Incredibles 2.

Mrs. Doubtfire (A)- This movie is really funny! I had my suspicions Image result for mrs. doubtfire that it was going to be full of sexist bullshit but ironically it wasn’t that bad aside from the usual making-fun-of-female-parts-when-a-man-dresses-as-a-woman. In fact throughout the movie, he has to learn how to be more caring and more attentive to his children and ex-wife something he didn’t do before. I also liked that the ending didn’t wrap up too neatly thankfully. Robin Williams does amazing impressions and his British accent is hilarious.

Image result for kill billKill Bill (B)

Kill Bill is very unique stylistically and I absolutely adore the cinematography with its many shots seen from above the subject. Tarantino definitely gets some of the inspiration in this movie from Asian martial movies and a little bit of anime as well. I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to extreme violence in movies so I have to admit I covered my eyes for a little bit of this movie so it’s not like I’ll watch it again but I’m glad I did at least once. Although, of course, the understanding now about the sexual assault scandal of Uma Thurman and Harvey Weinstein who worked on the  Bulmovie stains the experience.

Music

Ariana Grande – thank u, next

What can I say? Another day, another Ariana Grande repeat. I also really liked the James Corden remake of it.

Misc.

Youtube – Amandarachlee

So I’ve recently went down the bullet journal rabbit hole. And I freaking love it; I’ve bought my journal, crayola supertips, the tombow dual brush pens, the whole gambit. It’s soothing and calming and literally all my favorite things: doodling, handlettering, and just scribbling down things such as to do lists or keeping track of the books and movies I’ve read or watched. Amanda’s youtube channel really inspires me and her methods are so simple that anyone can follow them. Plus it’s just so aesthetically pleasing.

Makeup Revolution – Naked Chocolate Palette

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The makeup Revolution white chocolate bar is fabulous for all the neutral colors you need. I did wish there wasn’t as much fallout with the powder and I definitely wish the glitters were more pigmented but I think it’s fabulous for the money you pay for and a great beginner’s palette. I love the dark purple and browns.

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tv review · Uncategorized

TV Review: The Haunting of Hill House

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Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Director: Mike Flanagan

Based on the book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Season: 1

Episodes: 10, ~42-71 minutes each

Rating: A-

 

I am so happy I found The Haunting of Hill House. I sincerely wish all horror was made this way and it really proves not only how versatile horror is but also why I love the TV form more than movies. I read the book this show was based on a while ago so I had forgotten a lot of what happened but from reviews I’ve read I understand that the show differentiates significantly from the book. In the show, the story follows 5 siblings of the Crain family in their adulthood as they cope with the aftermath of their childhood at Hill House. Their childhood was filled with strange occurrences and mysterious sightings of evil ghosts. On their last day at the Victorian Hill House, they left with the father in a hurry, only knowing their mother had died. As the story continues, it is revealed through flashback what exactly happened or didn’t happen all those years ago.

The first reason this show is so awesome is the way that jump scares are placed. They are placed in moments after achingly slow buildup and slow camera pans across dark rooms, ratcheting up the suspense and tension from one episode to the next. Funnily enough, the camera basically shows you what the scare is going to be but the real scare comes when you look back again and find the person or  the ghost is not what you thought it was at first glance. This, of course, makes the scare even more psychologically scary as the show does not rely on the violent or absurdly grotesque to tease out scares. In fact the real scares are whether or not these ghosts are the manifestations of the siblings’ inner demons. In fact, it is a relatively slow moving show taking the time to slowly lay down the important pieces of character and story over putting scares down. It is still perfectly paced and the cinematography is so masterfully slow and deliciously tense.

As Steven Crain states, “a ghost can be a lot of things. A memory, a daydream, a secret. Grief, anger, guilt. But, in my experience, most times they’re just what we want to see.” Steven, the oldest Crain sibling, is an author who writes, he believes, fictional tales of Hill House. He is sick of the fictional voices that his youngest siblings see. They should have gotten mental help for their delusions and figments of imagination a long time ago. Shirley, the second oldest and my least favorite, is a mortician and a control freak having witnessed 4 of her kittens die mysteriously at Hill House. She refuses to say these ghosts exist. Theo, the middle, struggles with emotional intimacy and then, the last two siblings were the ones who saw the most of Hill House’s ghosts. In adulthood, Luke becomes a drug addict and Nell is still haunted nights by the mysterious Bent-Neck Lady. The story shifts timelines going as back as six years ago all the way back to their childhood, each episode focusing on a sibling until it refocuses back to present events and what they will do moving forward. I was honestly surprised I got really emotional during Luke’s episode. He is quite gullible and trusting and genuinely wants to help his younger sister and the people he cares about but through his own naivety and drug addition, he is unable to. This show loves its characters and does not stray too far from its central characters’ development which is still so rare to see in horror but ultimately what I enjoyed most about this show. The siblings are all tied by their unique perspective on death and grief and even represent a deeper metaphor for depression, schizoprenia, migraines, and other mental conditions.

I love how much the show focuses on the house. The Victorian house is an entity on its own and I love each detail on its antiques, its expansive halls and rooms with mysterious treasures. With each episode, more of the house’s history and it’s original inhabitants are revealed. It really built up the suspense and mystery of the house, each sibling having a different relationship with it. It was fully integrated into the story. The story itself did delve a little bit into horror cliches, you know, with children drawing pictures of unsettling things to the age-old “mother is going crazy and hysterical” which only perpetuates the stereotype of female hysteria. The dialogue also leaves something to be desired although I didn’t really notice until the last few episodes. The ending also leaves something to be desired. I was happy we got answers but the ending was so cloying that I felt it didn’t match with the previous episodes. I wanted an uncertain ending but I suppose it does stay true to its characters and the family dynamic. Because the family has been threatened to be torn apart by this house, the ending is fitting that they start to face the demons they’ve been hiding from and come together as a family.

It was really interesting to see the family’s  fractured interactions with one another and their different relationships with or lack of with the others from what they experienced as a child. It definitely added an interesting way of telling each sibling’s perspective and the way each perspective is different because of what they experienced. For example, sheltered by their father and told to close his eyes on the fateful night their mother died, Steven did not see anything supernatural and refuses to believe that Hill House had any ghosts. Their mother died because their father was neglectful and didn’t get her the mental help she needed, causing resentment towards his father. Nell bore the brunt of seeing all these strange ghosts but no one believes her and she starts to believe she’s going crazy, still haunted by her dreams and sights. No one believes Luke either, thinking he is just a heroin addict, and although he wants to become clean, the only way to escape the ghosts he sees is to take drugs. And ultimately, that is what the show was about, the broken hopes and dreams of these siblings, how their tortured past continues to haunt them, but ultimately their inability to face their demons continues to stalk them into their adulthood. Their ghosts are the people they love, the people they have failed, their family, and even themselves. As they each cope and dodge their problems, it becomes apparent the ghosts have not left them. At the heart, it is not about people haunting the house or a scary entity wreaking havoc on lives. It is about the lies we tell ourselves, the denial, and the intimacy of a family that has had a horrible past connecting them for better or worse.

The Haunting of Hill House is so much more than typical horror fanfare and proves that horror can be done just as well for TV as a movie. I loved the exploration of character and mental health throughout and don’t think I have seen anything quite like it.

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

October 2018 Wrap Up

Personal

This month, I finished my goodreads goal of 40 books!!

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I honestly did not think I was going to reach my goodreads goal this year because so much has been going on but I’m pretty proud of myself for getting here. 40 is only about half of what I read in 2017 but I realized last year (and this year) that I have a lot more interests now from gaming to blogging to cooking to scrapbooking to even just going out that I put reading on the backburner. I read for a lot of things. For escape, for entertainment, for the writing, for a new perspective. A huge chunk of it was for escape but I realized I don’t need an escape as often anymore. Same goes for Youtube and certain vloggers I follow, gone are the days I crave for those cozy stay-at-home vlogs from fleurdeforce or extensive reading vlogs. My interests have changed significantly this year but don’t get me wrong, you bet your ass I will be here for Fleur’s vlogmas and digging myself into the next coming-of-age YA or patiently waiting for The Wicked King (because I fucking need that book in my life right now). That, for one, will never change.

In other life things, this month I got to tour a school I went to a concert this month featuring Sophia Black, Pluko, Phantoms, and the best one, Manila Killa. They produce electronic/dance music but more on the low key side. The venue was very laid back as well but still atmospheric which was pretty awesome..

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What would my wrap ups be without my boba adventures? This month, I have a new boba shop favorite, which has not happened since discovering Tastea. It’s called Omomo Tea Shoppe. I really like my boba drinks with a decent amount of tea. I don’t like it overly milky or powdery. And when it comes to the actual tapioca pearls, I really like soft but decently chewy pearls without the sliminess. Omomo has all of that. I may or may not have gotten this about 4 times this month and waited an hour once for it.

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Taro Fresh Milk Tea with Red Bean

I also tried boba cake this month. I had to comfirm this was a gimmick and it was. Boba just does not work with cake. Cake needs a crunchy topping to go with the softness.

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And of course, what would October be without a basic pumpkin patch picture. I pumpkin carved for the first time this month.

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Books

Image result for adult children of emotionally immature parentsAdult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents (4/5) – I don’t think I need to explain what this book is about based on the title. I will say that this book brought to life many things that I had not realized and does so in a concise and understandable way. It does not point fingers and assuages your fears and desires. It even provides a plan of action for you which to me was the helpful complete with extra quizzes and exercises to help you feel less emotionally stranded in your day to day life. Even if you think you know everything, this book puts into words what you felt but couldn’t explain about your parents.

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Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (2.5/5) – This series is not that good but I have to thank it for getting me out of a reading slump and getting really excited about reading again. This first installment is full of infodumps and “special snowflake” vibes from both Feyre and Rhysand, no wonder these two belong together. I gave this a freaking 4 stars when I first read it (wtf was I thinking?) and upon reread, the part after she goes to Amarantha is definitely much better but still now the novelty of the plot is over, I am only left with some unmemorable characters. But the worldbuilding is light years better than Maas’s Throne of Glass series so there’s that. I do love me some good descriptions of buildings and fashion.

Image result for court of mist and furyCourt of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (2.5/5) – Contrary to maybe popular belief, I did like what Maas did with Tamlin. It may just be me seeing what he did in the first book in a new light? but it kinda makes sense that Tamlin showed his true colors in this book considering his anger management problems, secrecy, and overprotective nature in the first book. You don’t see a lot of this in NA or even YA where the main female protagonist is with another guy in the second book; it’s usually a very slow build where the characters are endgame in the third book, in NA, the two endgame characters are together by the end of the first book and the first boyfriend is nothing more than a passing glance. I liked that this was about recognizing that Feyre is a different person with different needs. I also did like the message that Maas sent about doing things for you and recognizing

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g the power within yourself although I have to admit, that power message is marred by the fact that Feyre is constantly saying “Rhys let me do this and Tamlin didn’t” Keyword: let.

But there are just numerous things I didn’t like about this book. For one, the very sad back stories for everyone started to blur together. Not everyone needs a tragic backstory and top of that, it is not an excuse for a bland personality. All h

er male characters are either tragic and brooding or tragic and funny (and funny only because 80% of their jokes are sexual innuendos and 20% sniping at other characters) because obviously making sexual innuendos is what all guys do and that’s the only type of joke there is. *rolls eyes* Also, making sexual jokes really does not make you that endearing. Also, honestly, the number of times I have to read the phrase “Bile rose in my throat” or the words “male” and “female”, I will personally throw up. Tell me this is not Heir of Fire 2.0.

Court of Wings and Ruin (DNF) – I quit this book about 1/4 of the way through because I just could not stand the cons anymore. Now that the overlying theme of Feyre coming into her own is over, the plot just lacks any sort of tension and excitement. It’s just so linear, do this, say some things that sound badass but aren’t really, break some bones threaten battle. It’s just so trite and there’s no sense of character development. Also it seriously is a carbon copy of her other series.

Image result for how to be yourself quiet your inner critic and rise above social anxietyHow to be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise above Social Anxiety (4/5) – This book is really reassuring in that it really encourages the notion that a lot of social anxiety does not have to be a part of you forever. You can do things to change it. Most importantly, it actually gives you useful cognitive processes that you can apply in your daily life to help with your anxiety. It’s been helping me quite a bit.

 

 

 

TV shows

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Emma approved Season 2 – Yes, it’s finally here! It seems that Pemberley Digital is going for all the Jane Austen crossovers with the introduction of Persuasion in this one. It inspired me to actually read Persuasion. It’s so nice to see the new camera format too that makes the documentary more plausible.

Sorry for Your Loss (A-) – We have to talk about Sorry for Your Loss, sure to be among my top shows of 2018. It is literally 10 episodes of played by Elisabeth Olsen slowing going through her grieving her husband who died. In between, there are flashbacks of moments with her husband. As the show progresses, the conflicts between her and her husband start to emerge more and you start to realize she does not know as much about her

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husband as she would have liked. What happens when you have all these unanswered questions, thinking you had all this time to ask them? When is the right time to “get over” your grief? What are the things we pretend about the other person to make lessen the brutality of grief?

The show also follow her mother, adopted sister, Jules, and brother-in-law as they try to do what’s best for her while grappling with their own unique grief. The show is very somber in tone and focused on the little things that face you in the aftermath of a death. Grief is obviously not easy and we see this manifest in her random outbursts that others could only see has hysteria, the inability to stay during weddings, irritability, depression, going to therapy groups that don’t seem to help. She sees

Image result for what's wrong with secretary kimWhat’s Wrong with Secretary Kim – I’ve been in the mood to watch a kdrama recently and I went through a slew of ones in the hopes of finding one that will stick to my impossibly high standards for dramas. I just wanted something fun and light and slightly ridiculous. This drama fit all that but the pacing was so weird and there was a bad case of instalove. Initially I was so excited by the main heroine but thepacing just threw me off too much.

Oh My Ghostess (DNF at ep 3) – Eh, realistic characters and funny heroine but pacing is slow again. Characters also cliche. Also, how many times can the heroine say “what?” before I start to think she has a hearing problem.

Go Back Couple (DNF at ep 1) – Eh, cliche, characters I don’t care to see develop to be honest.

If there’s any recommendations for kdramas you can suggest, please do! I’m going to watch On the Way to the Airport but if that doesn’t work, I’m not gonna try again until maybe awards come out.

 

Songs

Sunflower by Post Malone & Swae Lee– Yes, more Post Malone songs. It actually seems fitting he did a collab with Swae Lee since they have similar music vibes in their songs. I like his songs more and more each time.

1999 by Charlie XCX & Troye Sivan – I was 5 years old in 1999 and nostalgia is real when I watch the music video. There’s references to Titanic, Sketchers, the Matrix, Justin Timberlake , cheesy Windows wallpaper. I am honestly so ready nostalgic movies and shows to come out about the 90s especially after the plethora of 80’s inspired media. It would seem the trend is already starting with mid90s which is going to be Jonah Hill’s directorial debut.

Youtube

Peruseproject: Reading vlogs

Her vlogs are literally the best reading vlogs and I watch all of them. I always feel so cozy and warm and safe watching them after a hard day even though she is just reading, playing with her dog, eating out with her boyfriend or doing a clothes haul. The vlogs also inspires to read a lot more. Also bonus points because her apartment is so dang cute.

Games

Soulcalibur VI

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This game always reminds me of old-school fighting games I use to play in the 2000s like Dragon Ball Z. I freaking love this game. There’s story mode and the regular battle mode. The great thing about this update is that you can customize your character from eye color all the way to calf size. Outfit customization is pretty impressive too. But really why is there no female option for some of the races???

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Uncategorized · wrap up

September 2018 Wrap Up

September was a relatively normal month for me. I’ve been trying to do this thing where I try not to let my social anxiety dictate my life. Not until I really analyzed myself in September did I notice how many of my behaviors (touching my hair incessantly, going on my phone, looking down) in social situations helped me avoid talking to people when really it’s not as bad as I made it out to be in my head.   I mentioned in my August wrap up that I wanted to live a more meaningful life. So I started forcing myself to initiate conversations and my theory is that by exposing myself more to different social situations I can start to become more myself wherever I go. It’s quite the difficult journey as I’ve had these habits for about 20 years of my life. In the meantime, here are some fun things I did.

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iSno cafe – shaved snow with brownies, chocolate chips, and whipped cream
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Patch Coffee – the usual hipster coffee shop but I liked this one’s airy atmosphere and travel pictures on the wall

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I promise my next post will not contain Cha for Tea
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Happy Hour!
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My boyfriend got a pillowpet bear. His name is Lenny.

 

Books

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The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkoski (4.5/5) – I reread the Winner’s Curse trilogy this year and I am still so amazed at this series. I did an entire review on it in my previous post here.

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Sadie by Courtney Summers (3.75/5) – Sadie is a YA crime thriller about Sadie who is out to kill her sister’s murderer. It alternates chapters between Sadie’s point of view and that of a journalist, West McCray who makes a podcast chronicling his investigation into Sadie’s whereabouts. For a crime thriller, I really liked this one and I thought the complicated relationship portrayed between Sadie’s mother, Sadie, and her sister Mattie was ambiguous and consequently fascinating.  Ironically, Sadie paints her neglectful and drug abusive mother in the best light to Mattie wanting to give her normal childhood, who, in turn, sees Sadie in a harsher light. Sadie is an awesome protagonist to follow in the first person. First person is written a lot in YA and I often wonder why because a lot of the perspectives offered nothing unique or nuanced but Sadie remains brutal and mysterious even though we are in her head. I thought the accompanying podcast to this book where you can follow along on the podcast was very ingenious and realistic. I just wish the book had a little bit more to it. Despite the good exploration of their relationships, I wish I knew more about Sadie’s past because it was so interesting. I also wish I knew more about the murderer too, he became just another murderer to me. Also, for reasons I can’t explain, this book lacked a certain tension to it.

Movies

Memento (A-) – Memento is about Lenny who is unable to form new memories whichImage result for memento makes it difficult when the movie revolves around him trying to find his wife’s murderer. When I found out this was a Christopher Nolan movie, I went into it with certain expectations since I had now seen Inception, Interstellar, Batman and now this movie. And as expected, you are left in the dark about basically everything which is actually fitting for this movie as the main character doesn’t remember anything about what he just experienced and the movie starts at its ending and meets in the middle. You will get more confused as Lenny tattoos more information to his body with the same ambiguous people appearing in his life again and people chasing him. This one is not as grand as the other movies in terms of CGI and worldbuilding. It definitely has more of a thriller aspect to it and once again that ending is left open for interpretation.

Image result for princess diaries 1 and 2Princess Diaries 1 and 2 (B) – Whenever anyone feels doubtful about who they are or whether they’re enough, they need a dose of Princess Diaries. Aside from being utterly charming and warm with a cast of lovable characters (my favorite of which is Mia’s grandmother, proper but sassy Julie Andrews), PD shows how Mia, a girl who thought she was an insecure outcast, found the princess inside herself. As a side note, I am always so delighted at the ending of PD 2. To me, it is one of the most feminist endings of any rom com I’ve seen.

TV

Insecure (A) – Insecure continues to be such a delightful comedy show. It’s definitely aRelated image show made for millennials. In this season we learn more about Issa’s childhood and we finally see her recognize her mistakes and try to fix them but really come into her own. Of course, as per Insecure, it’s filled with drama and relationship twists. The dynamics between her and Molly are as solid as ever. The Coachella episode was my favorite of the season as Issa and her friends grapple with the fact that they are growing apart.

Image result for emma approvedEmma Approved Season 1 (B)– I rewatched Emma Approved because as I am writing this Season 2 is already out!! It was such a wonderful shock when I found it was coming back because Season 1 was such a huge part of my life 5 years ago when it first came out. I was still in my sophomore year of college. I remember rushing to the library after my dreaded physics class and hurriedly finding a computer and putting headphones on to enjoy the next short but sweet episode. It was definitely one of the few bright spots in my otherwise dreary sophomore year. Though upon rewatch I found the plot to be lacking compared to the nuanced commentary and wit of the book, I definitely needed Emma’s stalwart optimism and high confidence in September.

Reality showsLove Island is only the start of more bad reality TV shows I’ve started watching except for British bake off (which is so charming). I’ve since started watching Married at First Sight. It ends up being more funny than anything since I can’t take any of them seriously.Image result for killing eve

Killing Eve – It’s been said a thousand times but I just cannot get behind watching a crime show and this one did not break that streak. Though objectively this is a great show about a female assassin (never gets shown on TV) and a female detective to boot, I need to be just in the right mood to watch crime! I watched 3 episodes before I stopped but for any crime junkies out there, I wouldn’t miss this one. It’s filled with some funny side characters and the potential for deeper psychological and violent reveals.

Games

Clash Royale

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I was back to playing this game because I just liked the gameplay and I found more interest in making new decks. But alas I got frustrated with it and stopped playing it although I know it is a game I’ll come back to eventually.

Music

Yellow by Coldplay, remade by Katherine Ho – I saw Crazy Rick Asians in August and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack. I really like the rendition of Coldplay’s Yellow. Fun fact: Coldplay originally did not want the song to be played since it had racist connotations but the director sent a heartfelt letter saying this was the song that made him comfortable in his Asian skin for the first time and Coldplay approved it.

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Nobody Compares to You by Gryffin – This song was on repeat when I was driving to pick up my boyfriend from LAX airport. It’s got that airy but upbeat tone that I always gravitate to in a song.

Makeup

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Tarte Microliner

I have found my holy grail liner. I thought it was the Kat Von D liner but that one, after I’ve used it in its entirety, I’ve noticed it actually doesn’t last that long, it’s not that pigmented and it’s actually harder to take off than this liner. The great thing about the Kat Von D liner was its tip’s precision. This one is just as precise. It’s amazingly pigmented. I only need to put one line on if needed. It also comes off very fluidly and it won’t come off in crusty pieces. You can make any eyeliner shape you want with it.

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book review · Uncategorized

The Winner’s Curse trilogy review/thoughts

This trilogy is such a delight, not least of which I can say it is a wonderful departure from other YA fantasy books in its characters and its writing. *Spoilers for all three books*

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So when Book 1 starts off, we learn that the Valorians conquered Herran over 10 years ago and the Herrani have been slaves ever since. Enter our two main characters: Kestrel is a Valorian and Arin is a Herrani. Book 1 follows their initial meeting and what happens as the two worlds start to collide and Herran is on the brink of rebellion. In the first installment, they both stand high in their peoples’ regard: Kestrel is a high general’s daughter and she, as Valorian tradition dictates, is set to marry or join the army; Arin is a pivotal force in the Herrani rebellion. This romantic relationship starts off interestingly different from other YA novels–at a slave auction where Kestrel buys Arin. Off putting at best, problematic at worst. But, slowly, Rutkoski expertly asks us questions about the slavery of the oppressed, the oppression of culture when a people are conquered,  and the conquered’s bleak past and future. Although I can say all I want about what Rutkoski knows about war and slavery so intimately, I cannot lie, my favorite part of these books is Kestrel and by extension the romance between Kestrel and Arin.

The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.

-Marie Rutkoski

Rutkoski introduces the concept of the “Winner’s Curse”, essentially, did Kestrel lose more than she won when she bought Arin? And Rutkoski so expertly explores not just in the conventional way in terms of monetary loss. Under any normal circumstances and in a normal world they would have pursued a romance devoid of many problems but the relationship explores how because of this system of oppression, the unequal power dynamics, makes this relationship extremely difficult and uneasy from the start. The internal motives that may or may not be there: is Kestrel lying? Is this how she really feels, is Arin taking advantage of her for information? The first book follows how they develop feelings for each other despite their peoples’ tenuous history. The best thing is that Rutkoski offers no easy solutions but that’s what makes you root for them. Kestrel, as the general’s daughter, is ever calculating and manipulative goes against her better judgement and duty to be honest with Arin. She will willingly go into a duel for him (one of my favorite parts of the novel) and seek out his honesty. They try to hard to be honest which is why the midwinter rebellion is such a heartbreak to read. Arin not telling her to drink the wine (ugh my heart). And even when Arin lets Kestrel go to the boats and tell the emperor about the rebellion.

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I also love this world. The people are so distinct in their ways of life. The Valorians value war and honor and doing everything for your country. The Herrani admire the arts and the gods. It has influences from Greco-Roman culture and especially the Roman empire with its emphasis on war and a rigid system of honor. There are descriptions of architecture, art and frequent allusions to the Herrani religious system of gods. It makes the book more prevalent to our history.

Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?

Rutkoski is a wonderful writer. It is immensely metaphorical and quiet and the imagery of the intangible is so precise. I love the way she portrays her characters. Kestrel is far from the stereotypical heroine I’ve come to expect from YA. I think her character especially shines in the second book.  She is not stubborn for the sake of being stubborn and consequently a “strong” female character. She also is not good at fighting and in fact does not want to go to war! Instead, she is good at war strategies and has immense cunning prowess, beating everyone at Bite and Sting. One of her fatal flaws is her dishonesty which I makes the miscommunication in this book all the more believable. She lies to herself about not wanting Arin, lies to the emperor and is a spy for the Herrani, lies to Arin about supporting Valoria and to everyone around her so much that she doesn’t know who she is. She is torn between Valoria and Herran, to her father and to Arin. And what she didn’t realize in the first book is that her first duty is to herself. I love her duty to her country but the fact that she comes into her own and figures out her own honor. I still get all the feels at the end of Book 2 when she tries to tell Arin the truth in the piano room but is brutally interrupted. Book 2 is my favorite because it shows Kestrel out of her element in the royal court where she may not come out on top. I’ve said it once before but the miscommunication in this one actually makes sense unlike the miscommunication of 90% of YA novels. And of course, once again, no easy decisions as demonstrated when Kestrel persuades the emperor to poison the grass so the people would starve and move away instead of burning the land where all the people would just die instead. I also really liked that Kestrel and Arin developed separately as the stakes with the emperor got higher and every character is cunning and has ulterior motives.

The plot is truly a weave of political intrigue which I absolutely love. Kestrel is smart but everyone is smart and I loved seeing her outplay and outmaneuver everyone, especially in the third book. The third book really explores her relationship with her father (who I personally hate). Kestrel really struggles with her father because he has done some  horrible things to her not least of which he sold her out to be sent to an internment camp where she was drugged and forced to work and lost her memory. But despite all that, she admits that she does still love him. Even as someone who would not understand, I do empathize with her especially when she recalls memories of him when she was a child teaching her strategy. Her father is a complex character in his own right as the emperor so willingly tells her during their last Bite and Sting game. He worshipped the emperor because he saw a kindred spirit in their strategizing, their brutality. I think Kestrel was someone he just did not understand and for him that understanding equated to love. The series ends with a very satisfying conclusion and those last few pages really show how Kestrel and Arin have come full circle.

Her next book which comes out in 2019 is set in the same world featuring cameos from the original trilogy and I’m so excited!! Bring it on.

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movie reviews · Uncategorized

Reviews: Romantic Comedies

It is exciting that we are finally seeing romantic comedies featuring Asian leads! The romantic comedy genre is a genre that I love despite being extremely picky about it.  Rom coms get a bad rep in general for being unrealistic and cliche and rightly so, they contain a lot of generic plot points, not-that-romantic leads, toxic ideals of love, and mostly white people. Do these romantic comedies do anything different? We shall see.

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You can imagine my excitement when I realized that TATBILB was becoming a movie. It is, after all, one of my favorite YA contemporary novels of all time. I’ve reread the trilogy multiple times now and I still adore them. I love Lara Jean as a character, I love LJ and Peter, I love the family dynamics, I love the happy-go-lucky feel to it. While I thought the movie was entertaining, I did think it could have captured the essence of the books a lot better (although maybe I am just bitter it did not turn out as I had wanted it to which is also a problem). My main problem with the movie was the cinematography. You might think this is not a big deal, but it made a huge difference to the overall tone and atmosphere of the story.

For example, in one scene where Lara Jean and Peter were talking in the cafe about why Lara Jean kissed him out of the blue, the camera lays its lenses on one person and then abruptly lays them on the other. While this is great for seeing the character’s emotions, it does not bring any sort of chemistry or intimacy to the scene. A lot of the book depended on the chemistry between LJ and Peter and I’m sure the movie wanted to make us believe that they were falling in love, but the detached and stilted way the camera captures the whole room instead of the two characters and the frequent back and forth between just the faces did not help capture any sort of intimate banter between the two.

It also did not help when we were meant to relate to LJ and her relationship with her sisters. The climax did not feel climatic (This bon iver wannabe?? what kind of insult is that) and the denoument felt lackluster. The script also did not help adding to the stiff and almost formal nature of the characters.

I also had issues with Lara Jean’s character. This sentiment was exacerbated of the way the character should be written when I was watching Princess Diaries the other day. At the beginning of the movie, Mia is constantly dropping things and avoiding conversation with her grandmother. We, as the audience, really see that Mia is clumsy and all around socially awkward (although I hate this trope in general) in a unique way but in the case of Lara Jean, I’m only reminded of who Lara Jean is as a character by the way everyone else talks about her–or by the movie being portraying her as a cliche awkward outcast teen heroine as in the scene where she says her boots are from Etsy to the Gen the bully. Also where was all the baking? So in the end, when Josh is talking to LJ about how she cannot keep hiding her true feelings, it doesn’t feel quite as punchy. I did, however, like that they captured fairly well Lara Jean’s naivety and romantic idealism. It’s part of what makes her such a great teen main character.

The movie also did not make good use of its voiceover narration. It should allow the characters to jump back and forth in time but really, that happened only once. I felt it was used more as a copout to explain characters that they didn’t know how to insert in otherwise. For example, Chris did not have to have that introduction of being her best and only friend. We presumably would already know this in the next scene when she is waiting in the cafeteria all alone with no one to eat with her and texts Chris. Waste of a scene to be honest. Also, all the scenes with Gen were kind of a waste as well considering we don’t really meet her in the book until some time later if I recall correctly. I will say though that Noah Centineo who plays Peter Kavinsky was A+! I really could not have thought of a better actor for the role. He embodied a good balance of playfulness and sportiness but there was a sublime thoughtfulness to him that wasn’t forced. He was very different than other teen movie love interests. He was the hands down the best actor out of the whole bunch, with Lara Condor second and Kitty third. Speaking of which, I did not get nearly enough sisterly dynamics. I thought the ending ended on a cute note and it was overall entertaining at least. I guess I just had high expectations for a book series that was so close to my heart. B-

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Romantic comedies are a fickle genre for me. On the one hand, I love romance, but I usually hate romance books and romantic comedies get some passes from me but they mostly end up in the C category. Well Crazy Rich Asians really fleshed out the parts of the romantic comedy that I did not like but still stuck to the genre.

The best reason why this romantic comedy was able to have depth is the secondary characters and Rachel’s viewpoints. I’ll start with the secondary characters. I absolutely adored the depth they were given. The obstacles given to the main character in rom coms are usually very one dimensional. Some storytime is given to Astrid, an old money type who contrasts Rachel. Her storyline was actually very surprising to me and it ended on a rather feminist note about the woman being the breadwinner in the relationship.Their storylines collide in similar ways and I really liked it. I also really liked the way the mother was portrayed. In a ton of korean dramas and Asian movies, I see this representation of the cruel mother in law who subjects our heroine to many humiliating experiences. But as disapproving as this mother in law is, we understand why she disapproves even as we are rooting for Rachel.

As she states, Rachel is not “one of our kind”. This statement would have been cliche had the movie not explored the mother in law’s past, had the movie not been truly seen through Rachel’s eyes. Throughout the movie, we see how overwhelming stepping into Nick’s world is. She literally feels like a fish out of water with constant humiliation. This is a lifestyle that she has not lived. As in most romantic comedies, the heroine is usually written to be relatable and it is great how this movie shows the problems specific to an Asian heroine. Rachel faces a lot of the problems that Asian American and Asian women face when they are faced with a disapproving mother in law, a fact that happened a lot. I love that the story constantly brings it back to Rachel’s perspective and how overwhelming it is for her to meet Nick’s family. It is not just a matter of her being poor and him being rich, it’s about the differences in lifestyles and perspectives in the world. Rachel struggles with not feeling good enough for this family and constantly trying to gain respect from people who think she is beneath them. The movie definitely sought to do more than share a romantic story with cultural clash however. It sought to inform the audience about new vs old money in Asia and the camera really dwells on the beauty of Singapore. One of my favorite scenes was the scene where Rachel, Nick and their friends are eating out through the street food markets that pass by.

The cast and crew really cared about making this movie authentic and as such the jewelry, dresses, and outfits were all hella extravagant and expensive.

This movie is very funny and just an all around feel good movie and in fact a movie I would recommend seeing in theaters. The opulence of the set design can be really appreciated on the big screen. I recently read a review on myanimelist about My Hero Academia. It was a review stating that this anime did not seek to break down any barriers of its genre. It sought to be the best of it. And that is what Crazy Rich Asians is to the romantic comedy (aside from of course, the all Asian cast). It did it well and I have to also applaud its focus on its heroines’ growth and change and did not fall into many toxic tropes used in romantic comedies that make us fall in love with the main characters. No clumsy heroine, no changing for a man, no stalkery tendencies, no wrist grabbing, and no infidelity with a mean ex or a nice-but-safe ex. This is what happens when rom coms pay attention to the details. 

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