Well, it’s the end of the year. Which means…time for wrap up posts! Wheeeee!
So, let’s just jump into my list of favorite books, music, kdramas, movies, etc. of 2017!
Favorite Books by genre:
So, I actually made a video talking about my favorite books. I don’t know if it’s the holiday season or just 2017-syndrome, but I got a little emotional talking about my faves. If you want to watch me almost cry then click below!
Rebel Seoul (2017)
I have written a THOUSAND reviews and done a THOUSAND videos about why this is my favorite of the year. So I’ll link you to all of them. But TL;DR: bromance, giant robots, swoony romance, awesome kdrama and manga influences!
Daughter of the Burning City (2017)
Another book that I’ve talked my HEAD off about all year. I love the dark carnival setting. The found family aspect. The strong female lead in Sorina and how she cares so much about her family. I also really like how Foody doesn’t hold back with some of the creepy details. She makes a world that would scare me to live in, but I’d totally want to visit at the same time.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (2017)
Loved this Chinese retelling of the Evil queen from Snow White! Gorgeous world building. Evil AF main character that I can’t tear my eyes away from! I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster by Xifeng. She is not one to let your heart settle before she makes another questionable decision. Also, she might EAT your heart, so be careful!
Saints and Misfits (2017)
A very personal and emotional journey of one muslim girl’s journey to find courage after a traumatizing event. You really get steeped into Janna’s life and heart. She places people into three categories: saints, misfits, and monsters. The problem is that the monster she knows is someone no one in her community would guess and you can imagine that really weighs on her throughout the book.
The Inexplicable Logic of my life (2017)
This book DESTROYED ME. I swear my eyes were leaking the whole time! I loved the concepts of friendship and family and acceptance. It’s hard to know who you are or who you want to be when you’re in high school. It’s even harder when you tack on labels that other people insist on using to look at you through. For our main character that’s stuff like having a mother who died when he was a baby, a biological father he never knew, and a loving adoptive father who is gay. None of these things should matter, but of course they do in Sal’s life. Good thing he has his best friend Sam. But, of course, life is never a straight line journey. And things happen in both Sal and Sam’s life that make them take a hard look at who they are and what family means to them.
Long Way Down (2017)
I am NOT someone who reads books in verse. I’d heard a lot of great things about Long Way Down and I was lucky enough to snag an ARC. So I decided to read it randomly one night while I was on a trip with my family. I was up until 3AM finishing it. It was such a powerful read. Every word had weight. I admire Jason Reynold’s talent so much that he can make one word mean so many things and have such an impact on me. I literally had goosebumps reading this book. Even if you don’t read in verse, you should pick this up.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love (2017)
I love Maruene Goo’s humor! I was SO EXCITED when I heard about a book about a Korean American girl who uses Kdramas to find love. But it was so much more than that. Desi could have BEEN me as a teen. She is a girl who analyzes her world and has found success in school and extracurriculars by being meticulous. So when love never goes her way, she decides studying something where love always work is the key. So she watched Korean dramas and maps out the path to love. Oh Desi, you poor misguided dum dum. But seriously, I can imagine this being something I’d have tried at 17, lol. I mean, she goes a bit far at some points and I can’t imagine I’d have put anyone in danger to find my one true love in high school. But, I can totally understand why Desi wants to figure out why she’s such a klutz at romance. I just want to hold her close and tell her everything will be okay and also smack some sense into her.
Such a fun middle grade adventure! I loved the strength of the main character. She wasn’t like in-your-face Katniss shooting and arrow style. But she was smart and passionate and she was trying to save someone she loved. And I love those motivations especially in middle grades. I also liked that the book had an awesome muslim girl as the protagonist. And that her culture was an ingrained part of who she was. Yes, she was trapped in a mechanical Jumanji-like game, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t still a multi-faceted person.
BTS – Spring Day
Wanna One – Beautiful
G-Dragon – Untitled
Lee Hyori – Seoul
Harry Styles – Kiwi
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
So much heart! Great acting by the two leads. The friends were cute and really helped to boost up the main characters and highlight who they were. I especially loved Bok Joo’s relationship with her two best friends. The older brother fell flat for me, but I also felt like he was just there as a plot vehicle to cause growth in Bok Joo (Not sure how I feel about that, but I really enjoyed Bok Joo’s character arc and it wouldn’t have been what it was without him).
SO EMOTIONAL. LOVE Reaper and Goblin relationship. Wasn’t as into the relationship with Ji Eun Tak. I was very invested in Reaper and Sunny’s relationship. Reaper was probably my favorite character. I wish they utilized Sungjae more , though 🙁
Love Park Hyung Sik. New crush. It could have done way more with the bromances especially between Park Seo Jun and Park Hyung Sik. However, I loved watched Hyung Sik so much, that I was happy and entertained most of the time watching it.
While You Were Sleeping
I LOVE LEE JONG SUK. Also, this drama…kinda…it kinda made me like Suzy as an actress. There! I said it! I’m not taking it back! Listen, she might have been a log of petrified wood before, but she bloomed under the love of Lee Jong Suk. THAT IS HIS MAGIC! This drama also had such great tie ins between all the characters and story lines. It was kind of episodic in that there were different court cases that needed to be solved and different dangers for our three leads. The supernatural elements of the prophetic dreams was handled really masterfully and I like how they delved into the concept of cause and effect of our actions and how they change the flow of destiny/fate.
(also, Jung Hae In = new crush)
Before I get into it, I’ll say it. This movie was a complete 180 from the tone of the other Thor movies. I had a hard time believing that Thor was suddenly so hilarious and witty. But that aside, I really enjoyed this film. I loved Taika Waititi‘s What We Do In The Shadows, which is a mockumentary about vampires in New Zealand (if you haven’t watched it then GO WATCH IT NOW, I’ll wait). So, I totally got where the new humor came from. Taika Waititi is hilarious and I loved him as the rock monster. I think that the ladies got to step it up in this film and I was so happy with that. Valkyrie is my new girl crush for sure! And they really did a nice job of taking advantage of the complicated relationship between Loki and Thor that was set up by the other films. I love Loki because of how morally ambiguous he is. And the fact that Thor still wants to believe in his bother is one of the things I actually have always liked about Thor (even when he was a pompous bore).
I wasn’t really that into Spider-man anymore about the bajillionth reboot, but I honestly thought this version was a great reboot of the franchise. It seemed more genuinely teenage to me. The school life Peter had and the way he interacted with his friends seemed really appropriately awkward for who Peter Parker is. And I actually really liked that I didn’t have to rewatch him get bit by a spider and “discover” his powers all over again (this isn’t a spoiler, since this Spider-man appears in Civil War this takes place after that and he obviously had his powers in that film). We just got into the meat of him BEING spider-man, which is probably what helped give the faster pacing of this film
Stranger Things Season 2
Three words: Season Two Steve. (May be spoiler-ish stuff in the below video, but it doesn’t really give anything away about the plot)
This show is so funny and clever and sharp! It also does not shy away from addressing issues like racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. I loved the nod to the growing pains of the publishing industry in the Male Fantasy Author episode.
We should all try to find the confident Gina Linetta inside of all of us:
I know this show isn’t new in 2017, but I watched it for the second time this year with a huge group of my critique partners and I cried so hard! I don’t know why the second viewing hit me so hard. I do theorize that it’s because of who I went to see it with and because the political climate in America is trash right now. I maybe long for a time where people fought for ideals and country above selfish greed.
That’s it for my 2017 faves! If you have any favorites from this year I’d love to hear about them!
| TAGS:kdrama, music, random thoughts, TBR
Sep15, 2017 |
FINALLY, the day has come! It is release day for WBP’s own Axie Oh and her debut YA Sci-fi REBEL SEOUL Here is a quick blurb of this amazing Science Fiction novel: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member…
Hey guys, I am so excited to share the first ever podcast interview I’ve ever done! It was with 88 Cups of Tea one of my ABSOLUTE FAVES! And I am still pinching myself because I can’t believe I had this amazing experience. It was for their celebratory 88th episode (congratulations Yin and Moonlyn!) and I was one of the lucky listeners picked to interview. Previous episodes of 88 Cups of Tea included interviews with greats like Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Alexandra Bracken, Renee Ahdieh, and V.E. Schwab! So I am so star-struck by this podcast and Yin (the amazing host!)
I’d say definitely check out all the episodes and listen to all 8 amazing listener interviews on this super fun episode (I’m around the 1:37:40 point)
Ya’ll. The 88th episode has arrived. Dun dun DUN! Today’s milestone episode is proudly sponsored by Sun Basket and BookCon. It features eight incredible listeners from our 88 Cups of Tea community. I remember when I first launched this podcast, the 88th episode seemed so far fetched.
And visit their website for the show notes and their archive of all the episodes: HERE
| TAGS:podcast, writing advice, writing journey
Apr21, 2017 |
Hey guys! The time has come for my vlog’s purpose to be truly realized! I’m vlogging my way through Korea with my cousins. So you can go to MY YOUTUBE CHANNEL to check it out. Here’s the playlist that I’ll update with the newest videos when they’re posted!
Also, look for some easter eggs of Rebel Seoul giveaway previews throughout the vlog!
UPDATE: My Korea trip has ended 😭 so all of my vlogs have been posted. I’ve gotten some interest in haul videos so stay tuned for those! 💸
Let me take you along as I travel to S. Korea and explore one of my favorite cities/countries!
| TAGS:travel, Vlog
Mar06, 2017 |
Prepare yourselves! I’ve infiltrated ANOTHER social media platform. This time it’s youtube/vlogging/authortube. It came about as most of my social media obsessions do, a random conversation with my cousin and my sister. As I said in my last post, I’m going to go to a few conferences and to Seoul, so I decided a great way to share those trips would be via vlog.
Here’s my first (kind of shaky, kind of rambling) video!
Trying to figure out how to vlog, so I take you around Chicago’s West Loop as I try to find a place to write!
Here’s my second vlog (which is my actual formal introduction vlog). I discuss some of my favorite writer/reader/fan things.
My official #authortube introduction and a few of my favorite things.
Hope you guys enjoyed it. And subscribe to my Youtube for more of my adventures. I am also going to try to make some videos where I talk about my writing and give some tips from what I’ve learned so far!
Sometimes, when you’re writing you lose sight of things. And sometimes, it’s easy to forget what you’re writing for. I know that I write for myself, for my story, for my heart. But, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I write so others can read my stories and find something to love too.
This is when community helps me find my perspective. I love seeing people get excited about stories and books. It’s great to see people that I’ve always respected and cheered for getting book deals and debuting. This year alone, I have multiple friends and CP’s debuting and I am so excited I can barely contain it at times. I think it’s alright to find your happiness where you can. And taking some time away from your own work to be happy for others is not only nice, but I think it’s key to keeping your perspective on the publishing world. If we can’t find like-minded people and form these connections, writing and publishing will feel like a very lonely place. Especially since the writing itself is a solitary activity.
I live for the moments that my CPs share pieces of their work, or an aesthetic collage, or an initial outline of a new idea. These are the times when I can sit back and be in awe of the people I’m lucky enough to call friends. And I can be inspired by the talent around me. I’ve heard a lot of advice that says when you form a critique group you should find people who are more talented than you, and I’m pretty smug about the fact that I’ve accomplished that.
It helps to give us moments of hope when we feel like all we’ve been doing is drafting and revising, drafting and revising. It’s wonderful to see a story that we used to read as CPs go from draft to final MS to sold to book. The thrill of that journey is enough to inspire us to keep going with our own work so one day we can see a book cover made from scratch for the stories we’ve created.
I also think it’s important to still be a fan. Everyone I talk to about their writing journey usually says something along the lines of “I’ve always loved stories and reading.” And I think that’s so key! Being a fan means that we can appreciate the craft and creativity that goes into the field we’ve chosen. We can still be in awe of the beauty and talent that goes into crafting a story. We can have hero authors that (if we’re lucky) we might meet one day (and maybe cry on. NO YOU CRIED ON LAINI TAYLOR).
And, I also believe that writing is not ONLY about the writing. It’s about living a life worth inspiring a story. It’s about reading other stories to get motivation and inspiration. And it’s about knowing what books are out there right now being devoured and loved by the very audiences we’re writing for.
I have this analogy I make about my creativity where I call it a bank. I have a certain amount of words saved up that I’ve collected as I read or watch other stories. And when I write too long without reading I spend all of my words. There are legit moments where I feel so burned out that I cannot form coherent sentences anymore and it feels like I’ve used up all the words in my word bank and I need to fill it again. I hate when these moments happen, but at least I know that I can just go to my TBR and I can be inspired from the very first sentence I read.
I find joy in almost every part of publishing (reading, writing, revising, meeting other writers). Seeing a CP or friend find success helps because it shows us that good stories can find a home and that talent is appreciated. Taking a moment to bask in the glory of your talented friends can warm some of the cold nights spent revising your MS for the umpteenth time. And it also helps to live vicariously through them as their stories find their audiences. I believe these communities are key to creating a sustainability in this industry so we don’t burn out or lose sight of why we’re doing this all in the first place.
Speak up:5 comments
| TAGS:hope, random thoughts
Dec28, 2016 |
Usually at this time of the year, I’d do a year-end blog post about my favorite things that I’ve read and watched and listened to. I might still do one of those, but I can’t ignore that this year wasn’t business as usual for me.
As 2016 draws to a close, it feels like you can’t go anywhere or read anything without politics coming up these days. At first, I was worried that this would be off-putting for many, then I realized that ignoring the problems in our world might be what brought us here. So, I’m facing it. I’m not going to talk about politics with every blog post, but I won’t shy away from it either.
It’s like the line from Hamilton, “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?”*
After looking into the quote, I think it is meant to ask what you’ll die for, but I always thought it had a bit of another meaning (probably because of the quote it’s based on*). If you don’t stand for anything or have any convictions, will you just be a follower listening to the loudest voice at the time? Will you fall for anything? I don’t want to just follow the crowd to the “safest” place I can find. I want to create safe spaces. I want the whole world to be safe for everyone.
Many people are happy 2016 is coming to a close, but I see 2017 as an even bigger battle. I think it’s a worthwhile battle and perhaps 2016 prepared us and pointed us in the right direction. However, now we need to follow through and fight for what we stand for.
And that brings me to another Hamilton quote, “Let’s take a stand with the stamina God has granted us.”
While I’m healthy and able, I want to take a stand for what I believe in.
I believe that my identity is not something to be hidden but something to be proud of now more than ever. I believe that there are more good people in this world than bad. I believe that fear has won for now, but it won’t win forever. I believe that hope is stronger than the fear that has driven us here. I believe in #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #ownvoices. I believe that my story matters even if only to a few. I believe in equality and I believe that in order to build a foundation for equality we must first look for equity.
* This line was inspired by the quote, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” It’s often been attributed to Alexander Hamilton, though I’ve found no concrete proof of its origin.