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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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized · wrap up

August 2018 Wrap Up

personal

August 2018 is the year I realize my own mortality. How quickly time moves. I know this because I feel this sense of urgency, that I must accomplish things now before I lose the time and opportunity to do so. Feeling this urgency also helped me realize that I can take small steps but maybe bigger steps towards my goals will be better. As is happening more often than not now, I am feeling anxious about not reaching my dreams. I always thought things would work out one way or the other but now I realize I must really work towards them and make my dreams into goals. Speaking of goals, August is now that time of year that everyone goes back to school. This gives me anxiety that I’m not in school yet. Although I know my time will come, my anxiety comes in waves and questions start to wash over me. Are they reading my application? I tried my best, but maybe I should have tried harder? How can I possible compare to the thousands of applicants that apply? The good thing about this anxiety is that it gives me the motivation to be productive and to be motivated towards my goals, personal and professional. Because of this, I am trying to give 100% to everything I care about whether it is more to my hobbies and learning more for the sake of learning or whether it is cooking or scrapbooking or learning how to store photos. I hope I can keep this streak going.

One of the biggest highlights of my August was going to Disneyland!! I have missed this IMG-0827place so freaking much! I hadn’t been back in 3 years and let me tell you a lot has happened within those 3 years, so I was excited to see how I viewed Disneyland again. I went on the “new” Incredicoaster and the “new” Guardians of the Galaxy ride. I went on the not so great Monsters Inc ride (why couldn’t they have made a Tangled one??). Also, how could I forget the famous and classic Mickey beignets, or my old favorite Pizza Planet, which has some new pasta combinations, or my new favorite, the Mint Julep–a mint lemonadey drink–at New Orleans Cafe.

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Ratatouille Postcard from Downtown Disney

Disneyland will always hold special memories for me. I’ve gone to Disneyland with the most important people that have been or are in my life. It’s always so fascinating to see what a different experience Disneyland is with each and every one of them. Sometimes I get swept up in every ride possible. Other times, I watch parades and animation academy and the other times like this, I really get to savor the food. It’s why I’m always excited to go back and I already can’t wait to go back again.

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August also marks the month of my best friend’s birthday. Talking to her while we were eating ice cream, I am struck by how much can change in a year when you’re in mid 20’s. It’s a bittersweet time of rapid change and even greater revelations. My Instagram feed is full of people of who are getting engaged, getting into grad school, and even getting married. I once thought my life would never change and now it’s changing more than ever.

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Rolling Ice Cream @ Rollin Creamery

books1

Image result for my lady's choosing an interactive romance novelMy Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curan (3/5)

I remember loving the Choose Your Own Adventure novels when I was a kid and when I heard there was a romance version, I was so pumped. Yet, the storyline is a little too simplistic for comfort. You literally know how some endings and caricatures are going to go. There’s the nice guy, the Darcy character etc. Also, the one storyline I did with the Darcy-like character suffers from an intense case of hate to instalove with no explanation. But it’s fun to see the different endings. I did end up dying once as a penniless orphan with syphilis so there’s that.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (3/5)Image result for all systems red

All Systems Red is a Hugo award winning novella about a murder robot who hacks into her scripted programming and can make her own decisions and works for these human clients in exploring a new land but gets caught up in a bigger conspiracy when the other bots start to kill her human. The worldbuilding is amazing, but honestly I felt the characters were kept at arm’s distance and the plot, though suppose to be exciting felt like it was written by an eyewitness’s grandma’s cousin’s second stepsister. Too far removed from the action. The best part was hearing murderbot’s thoughts as she decides how to approach being more of a human than a bot.

1383168The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller (4/5)

The Anatomy of Story is an introduction to writing, well, a story.  It shows you the basics of plot, character, character arc, scene building, and dialogue. I love the way this guide does not make this process seem too simplistic. Normally when I read guides on writing, it’ll say things like make your character relatable, give one or two flaws and then that’s it. But this guide really shows you how to make your story organic. I love reading writing guides even if I’m not too much of a writer yet and that’s because I think these make me a better reader and helps me better analyze story structure critically and actually use specific terms. I’ve even found myself analyzing books, TV, and movies with some of his techniques in the back of my head.

Fence Vol. 1 by CS Pascat (3/5)36064768

16 year old Nicolas Cox wants to the best fencer. Headstrong and determined, he plays a match against the world famous Seiji Katayama and loses. Now he is determined to beat him and gets his chance at King’s Row, an elite fencing academy. Fence is very inspired by sports anime and manga and considering that’s not my thing, this is just ok. I just think the caricatures for these main characters are all the same. There’s that one mysterious guy that the main character wants to beat in game but there’s sexual tension between them and you get the idea. I also wanted to read this because I knew there was going to be a found family aspect but I feel nothing. I just really want more depth to these caricatures besides out of proportion drama and angst and a main character whose external motivation is very cliche and generic.

games

Polytopia

Polytopia is a strategy game where you capture cities and fight other tribes. I love polytopia, the aesthetics are freaking adorable!  It’s so fun and there are endless possibilities for creative gameplay. I love thinking about the maneuvering and seeing how using your resources affects how you play. It’s a completely free mobile game with some in game purchases but it is never at the expense of your gameplay or enjoyment of the game.

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Plants vs Zombies

This mobile game is kind of old but no less entertaining than it was when I first played it years ago. It’s great for the casual gamer and it only took me a week or so to beat the game. The graphics are so cute. It’s not that challenging but challenging enough to keep you persisting through the game.

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music

Sweetener – Ariana Grande

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I’ve been listening to this album nonstop since it came out. It seems as though Ariana Grande is moving away from her pop roots and dipping her toes in more sultry rnb music. My favorites are sweetener, goodnight and go, and pete davidson.

movies

Image result for nice guysThe Nice Guys (B)

What Nice Guys ironically lacks in action sequences, it makes up for in its clever satire and even cleverer tongue-in-cheek dialogue. Ryan Gosling’s character’s daughter steals the show with her razor sharp bluntness. It definitely plays with the action and buddy cop genre. It was a very good time but don’t watch this if you’re in the mood for a mindless action film. It was definitely a lot more than that.

Blue Valentine (B-) Image result for blue valentine

I first was interested in Blue Valentine because I had always mean to, fascinated as I am with the analysis of marriage and watching Nice Guys with Ryan Gosling reminded me of that. Blue Valentine follows a young couple in the bitter throes of their marriage. Though their marriage is tumultuous and full of miscommunication and past hurt, it was not always like this and the movie explores the beginning of their relationship and where it all went wrong. It’s quite a sad tale. We really get to see how love manifests differently in the eyes of each character. Though they see it as love, their definition of love is imperfect and different than the other. The movie makes effective use of its blocking, the characters as mysterious to us as they are to each other.

Image result for crazy rich asians movie poster         Image result for to all the boys i loved before movie poster

The next two movies I will have reviews for in the upcoming weeks. I wanted to mesh them together because oh boy have I got a lot to say. I must say though I am so excited to see more Asian main characters on the silver and big screen.

shows

Image result for disenchantmentDisenchantment (DNF – Netflix)

This show took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting this level of emotional depth but it is just not my type of humor. Simpsons was never really my type of show so objectively pretty good, but not one I’ll be continuing on with.

30 rock 

The 30 rock binge marathon continues! this Image result for 30 rock season 4show just gets progressively better as it goes on and Seasons 3 and 4 are a testament to that. Although the character of Tracy Jordan really gets on my nerves.

Image result for insecure season 3 posterInsecure Season 3 (Ongoing – HBO)

This comedy is so consistently good!! In this season Issa continues to navigate the throes of work, relationships, and friendships. Season 2 left off on a major change and I’m glad to see that although Issa’s flaws are the same, it is nice to see her navigate new changes and really self reflect. This is one of the few comedies that pays attention not only to the comedy but to its craft. The cinematography really highlights Issa’s isolation and thought processes which is awesome because she is a character who doesn’t really express her emotions easily through dialogue. But it is still fast paced and raunchy and keeps you bingewatching. Also, the music is always phenomenal.

youtube

How I Plan and Organize My Life – Jenn Im

Jenn’s videos always inspire me to be productive and this one was no exception. I love that her advice is not as basic as these productive videos tend to be (just write everything down in your planner! ugh) and it has really inspired me to strive for what I love whether personal or professional  and however simple it may be and paying attention to a long term goal through small steps is so worth it.

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tv review · Uncategorized

Mini Reviews: Period Pieces

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Historical Comedy-Drama | Amazon | 1 Season – 8 episodes (40 minutes) ea. | A

Thank you, thank you, thank you to this show for getting me out of my TV slump. It is so charming and witty, and as a show about stand up comedy should be, funny. Miriam Maisel is the perfect 1950’s housewife with a perfect husband, two little kids, and an Upper West side apartment. In her free time, she supports her husband, Joel’s, comedy side career.. until he confesses he has had an affair. On one drunken night, she does a stand up routine and she slowly starts to realize that she wants to perform comedy on her own. I am liking this trend of exploring feminism and social issues through TV shows set in different time periods. In the 1950’s, this show would have looked very differently. It would have looked down on Miriam’s movement away from family and instead doing things for herself. But it is a great topic for today. The show is very polished with brilliant use of bright, solid colors. It is definitely a happy go lucky portrayal of the 1950’s but is not cloying nor insufferably cheerful  as it does not shy away from the darker side of this era exploring the ’50’s constraining limits on perceptions of women and what women can do.  It explores how women were discouraged from pursuing their interests. The first time Miriam announced she was not accepting her husband back, her mother and father immediately implored her to return to her husband despite the fact that he cheated on her. And although, you, of course, side with Miriam, the show paints effort into the secondary characters, especially the ones you were meant to side against such as her father, mother, and Joel. In true Gilmore Girls style, there is whip fast dialogue and  characters coming up with a perfect comeback as soon as the other opens her mouth.  Though you know they do what they do for Maisel with good intentions, you see where they are misguided in giving Maisel counsel and advice. The one secondary character that makes the show is the inn’s owner, Susie Myerson, who becomes Miriam’s business partner and has a no nonsense and sarcastic personality.

Their blossoming friendship from skepticism to friendship is a joy to watch. The show does get a little repetitive because part of the show is slowly building up Maisel’s revelations, but it is so worth the watch and the 14 Emmy nominations. The editing is seamless, flitting from scene to scene, flashback to present in the most polished way as if it has no time to waste.

The writing is so smart and the jokes written for Maisel’s stand up routine is so relevant to her life and so funny. The first season sort of leaves off on an emotional cliffhanger so I will patiently wait for the second season. It should be noted as well that this show has been nominated for 14 Emmys. A perfectly bingeworthy and heartwarming show.

Anne With An E Season 2

Historical Drama | Netflix | 2 Seasons – 17 episodes (40 minutes) | B+

I completely adored Anne with an E so I was so excited to watch Season 2 when it came out. Though not as compelling as the first, it does present new avenues for the characters without relying as much on flashback. The second season is also different in the sense that it follows two characters for its majority: Anne and Gilbert. While we follow Anne in Avonlea going to school and making new friends as usual, the most notable of which is delivered by a spectacular performance by Cory Grüter-Andrew as Cole Mackenzie. Bigger than life, the kids at https://78.media.tumblr.com/cfeb2fac9a4ccf72a6d0498cc4c4442d/tumblr_pbh5q20aXi1rtvheio2_400.gifAvonlea struggle to find their identity amidst social pressure to deny who they are. This prevalent and circular theme allows the show to break away from having their characters be the “token gay” or the “token black” because everyone in the show is struggling to be their true self despite heavy social and lawful oppression. No one person is isolated in their problems with their identity. While Anne tries her best to revoke feminine standards of the era, it directly juxtaposes with Cole’s desire to blend into the background and the toxic masculine standards he is forced to uphold but has no desire to. There was one particularly inspirational and emotional episode where this theme comes to head. Anne, Diane, and Cole are invited to Aunt Josephine’s party and they  accept who they are as a person despite their own skepticism. If they were born in this day and age, they would have a much easier time, but in 19th century, it was suffocating. I’ve seen a lot of shows try to tackle feminism and racism but I’ve never seen it done quite like Anne with an E. The screenplay capsizes on the microaggressions suffered that take a huge toll on the characters and it is an overt analysis, but it cleverly weaves different aspects of the -ism for a complete and full picture.

I also completely adore Gilbert’s timeline. While Anne is growing to trust her intuition while going through the embarrassing stage of puberty (“What is a kiss?”), Gilbert is on a steamship trying to find his own ambition after his father died. He meets Sebastian whom he quickly becomes friends and learns more about the world than when he was in the little town of Avonlea. He meets different people and he figures out more of what he wants to do out of life.

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A decent amount of story is given to Sebastian, the only POC in the show and as you might imagine, the show takes the time to explore racism through his character though he has a fleshed out story for himself especially near the end. Showing his struggles through Gilbert’s privileged eyes accentuates his struggles.

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And of course, you have Marilla and Matthew who deal with growing old while still taking care of a child. The episodes still follow a sort of episodic formula but the stories tend to span 2-3 episodes instead of just one. I do think some of the storylines dragged on for too much longer than they were meant to last especially with the teacher. I was also sad that we didn’t have any Anne and Gilbert moments! There was literally only a few scenes with them but at the same time they were trying to amp up the tension between them?

Also, compared to Gilbert’s storyline, Anne’s problems feel more trite so I felt they were growing at different paces. And for those who complained about the show’s darkness in Season 1, I think will be more pleased with this season as it does not have as many flashbacks to Anne’s orphanage times and it feels more wholesome. So this season was not quite as developmentally on point but it still feels very inspirational as it was meant to be.

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Monthly Favorites · Uncategorized

July 2018 Wrap Up

I haven’t written a blog post in 5 months but I missed blogging too much, so now that I have more time to dedicate to it. It would seem that even if I did have more time, that does not mean more blog posts as I’ve spent these past few weeks trying to finish my Anne with an E blog post but to no success. So I thought maybe a wrap up would ease me into it again. A lot has happened since I last wrote, most of which I will probably touch upon in my yearly wrap up for 2018. But so many things have happened and these wrap ups were a way for me to document my months. So July. First, at the beginning, I attended Anime Expo. I am not an anime fan at all but it was fun to walk around and see the different artists’ work and I ended up buying a couple of prints. I also walked around the exhibit hall with all the vendors selling posters, souvenirs, . There was a very interesting section for 18+ crowds where you could try out a sex simulation with a maid on a VR set. But the cosplays were so fascinating to see and it was worth just for that.

As always, I had a fuck ton of food adventures, featured below:

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Love Letter – Garlic Chicken & Sweet Potato Pizza
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Sip -Matcha Ice Cream (It was pretty good but melted really quickly)
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Boba Guys- Jasmine Green Milk Tea (I’ve finally tried the infamous Boba Guys, it almost lived up to the hype but no quite)
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Avocado Cafe – Salmon Avocado Toast with Pesto (Overpriced but this is avocado toast after all)
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Hot pot 🙂 
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Dim Sum! I do not like chicken feet though.
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Cha For Tea – Matcha  Latte (Sooooo good)

What else happened, oh I got a haircut and some new glasses. I felt like I shed an old life when I got new glasses because I had had my old ones for so many years, since before college.

And of course, I cannot forget that I turned 24 this month! And I have to say, it was pretty much the best birthday of my entire life. Part of my happiness had to do with the fact that I felt 24. In previous years, every birthday felt like a year of non accomplishments. But this year, I felt like I had accomplished so many milestones and I was actively working towards my goals and dreams. But a huge part of my birthday happiness was due to the pleasure of spending it with some of the people I loved most in this world. It’s always an anxious affair when different groups of my friends meet up. I always wonder, will they get along? What will they even talk about? But as most of these things go, it turned out to be fine and I had a great time. I had an amazing time eating hotpot and drinking a little too much and then of course the drunk talks late into the night. Thank you for the memories and it makes me excited for the years to come.

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Books

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – 3.5/5

Image result for the seven husbands of evelyn hugoI truly wish Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote literary fiction instead of genre fiction. She has all these ingredients of a good LF author; she focuses on complex character development. It follows Hugo, a famous actress in the ’50s and her rise to fame. She has been shrouded by mystery but is now coming out and willing to share the truth behind her seven husbands and her famous career. The caveat is that she only wants to tell her story to an inexperienced reporter, Monique Grant. The problem I see with Reid’s is that there is some huge twist that takes the spotlight away from the emotional core.

Another weakness was the reporter’s separate story when she is not interviewing Hugo. Her story was not nearly as interesting as Hugo’s and I found myself impatiently waiting for when we could return back to Hugo. I love how it analyzes the way Hugo uses her sexuality and embraces her image when everyone would judge her for being a woman of ruthless ambition who uses her looks to get ahead in her career. But I would have loved this book if it had about 25% less plot twists and 25% more character development/emotion.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal – 4/5

I really want to read Kowal’s The Calculating Stars now, which is essentially a prequel toImage result for the lady astronaut of mars this Hugo award winning novella. It follows a lady astronaut who was famous for going to Mars but is now old and cannot go on any more space missions. She has to make a hard decision about going on one last space mission. Like all scifi novellas I have liked, it teases the details of the world and lets you make the rest of the worldbuilding yourself. The characters are so well drawn for a short novella. A Hugo award well deserved.

Blankets by Craig Thompson – 3/5

Another one of my specialties, the quintessential coming of age graphic memoir. It is drawn in a very monochromatic palette, with basically only blacks and whites and a few grays in between. It has a sketchy but geometric drawing style with tidbits of the surrealist where the author is drawing his feelings instead of the reality.

Image result for blankets craig thompsonI wish he had followed more of the relationship between his father, mother, and brother who he hinted he had more complicated relationships with, but instead he took a different trajectory and followed his love of the neighborhood girl. There’s a very fine line that would not allow this story to delve into the cliche but unfortunately it did. Their relationship became redundant and typical. I also wished he had explored more of his relationship with drawing and the more gradual exploration of how he lost his faith with Christianity. He spent too much time on one aspect and not enough on other aspects. As many coming of age stories around boys it features bullies, an unrequited love, and the feeling of not fitting in with the other boys when he did not fit the ideals of masculinity.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – 3.75/5

You can find a lot of comparisons between TGC and Educated by Tara Westover; they are both memoirs about a more-than-eccentric family living off the grid with narcissistic parents that was highly skeptical of modern medicine and the government. At their cores, the books are about the authors’ struggle to find their identity while being in toxic Image result for the glass castleabusive parental and sibling relationships. I enjoyed Educated more because of Westover’s inclusion of footnotes throughout stating her memories may not be completely accurate but that she consulted other witnesses to the events to ensure it was as accurate as possible. I also preferred Westover’s more sentimental and introspective writing. She would focus more on her internal thoughts which I appreciated because I wanted to know how she dealt with such mental pressure and dissonance. I also really enjoyed Westover’s comparison of her childhood versus the life she led after she started college and her perspective changed. Walls did not fully into her mental life after she moved to New York and separated from her parents. Her memoir read more like a progressive exposition of events that happened (I did this, then that) and although I appreciated the blunt unsentimental nature that prevented the memoir from spiraling into sappiness, it did take a lot of the emotion out of it. My favorite part, however, was the portrayal of the relationship between her father and Walls. Though they had a fraught relationship (he almost pimped her out once) she still loved him and although I personally would want nothing to do with him anymore, Walls helped me understand at least slightly why she would continue to have him in her life.

Youtube

Channel Cut

I love seeing how people interact so it’s no surprise I like this channel. I especially like the truth or drink featuring couples. Some of them are so awkward but I love all their answers anyways.

Music

Seventeen – Oh My

Seventeen is now the only kpop boy group I will follow by every song they release. They really make use of their large ensemble and I just love their music.

Childish Gambino – Summertime Magic

Honestly, Gambino never really disappoints me.

Kygo, Imagine Dragons – Born to Be Yours

A Kygo x Imagine Dragons collaboration was not going to disappoint me either. It is a great summer song.

Games 

World of Warcraft

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I am currently playing as a retribution paladin and am level 20 so now and it gives me such high school nostalgia where I would spend hours on Wizard101 being lost in a fantasy world.

Movies

Image result for the incredibles 2The Incredibles – 2/5

This movie was just ok. I remembered the first movie pretty vividly as it is one of my favorite Pixar movies. It was wonderfully dark, a near perfect blend of delicious satire and commentary around family and delivering blockbuster worthy action scenes. This one tried to do that. The last one was about how Mr. Incredible having a midlife crisis and wanting to do superhero work work instead of being with his family and working his 9-5 job. I loved that the second movie was going to focus on Helen and her identity outside of the family. But it didn’t really go far enough I felt. There was no resolution other than Helen getting the temporary spotlight. They also spent way too much time on Jack Jack and the discovery of his powers even though they were not even used that much in the movie. There was also a lack of tension and emotional stake, a compelling villain, and less than stellar family dynamic exploration. It definitely more like a studio cashout on a blockbuster than an authentic exploration of family which was pretty sad.

TV

I will have separate reviews for these as I’m pretty sure they will end up in my favorite TV shows of 2018.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – 4/5

To be honest with you, I was having a tough time getting Image result for the marvelous mrs maiselinto TV this year. I tried going through a lot of TV shows in the hopes that one would stick and this show broke my slump. It is one of my favorite TV shows of 2018, no question, if not my favorite. It is so charming with easily likeable characters and the Gilmore Girls signature whip fast dialogue.

Image result for anne with an e season 2 posterAnne with an E Season 2 – 3.75/5

Definitely not as good as the first season but it still has its merits and I loved the deeper exploration of secondary characters especially Diane

30 Rock Season 1 -YES. My new Parks and Rec. Y’all know I cannot live without a good comedy in my life.

 

Trailers

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trailer

Can it please be August 17 already??? I am hesitantly optimistic about this movie even though the last teen comtemporary I saw was Everything, Everything and that was sooo bad. Although maybe I’m looking at this trailer through rose colored lenses because this series is after all, my favorite YA contemporary series. But the casting is pretty spot on if you can ignore the non Korean casting of the Korean characters and the song! so lovely. And so far, they are really sticking to the core of who Lara Jean is. Also, I really support the decision to air it on Netflix instead of in theaters. There is less pressure to perform as well so they stylistic choices can be up the cast and crew instead of following the whims of a studio.

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