Friday, January 22, 2016

Readiculous Blog on YouTube: Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka & Mac Barnett

I'm newly into book-tubers AKA Book Bloggers who post videos on YouTube. I'm not quite sure if I'll do a full-on video blog. However, I do like to take some sweet videos at author events. Especially when authors are funny, cool, interesting, sweet, etc.

So, I created a new YouTube channel named (drum roll) Readiculous Blog

Feel free to subscribe or even suggest booktubers you think I should follow.

Here are my first videos, a reading of Battle Bunny, a hilarious picture book by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett. During their signing at Books of Wonder (one of my fave children's book stores) they decided to read both the original "Birthday Bunny" and updated "Battle Bunny" at the same time. (Trust me, it's hilarious)

The premise is:
Alex has been given a saccharine, sappy, silly-sweet picture book about Birthday Bunny that his grandma found at a garage sale. Alex isn't interested - until he decides to make the book something he'd actually like to read. So he takes out his pencil, sharpens his creativity, and totally transforms the story!
Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the rabbit's innocent journey through the forest morphs into a supersecret mission to unleash an evil plan - a plan that only Alex can stop.
Featuring layered, original artwork that emphasizes Alex's additions, this dynamic exploration of creative storytelling is sure to engage and inspire. 
Battle Bunny Reading Part 1

Battle Bunny Reading Part 2

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kat's K-Dramas: Oh My Ghostess

오 나의 귀신님

AKA Oh My Ghost
Genre: Romance, comedy, fantasy, thriller
Episodes: 16
Aired: 2015-Jul-03 - 2015-Aug-22
Network: TVN
Watch it on: DramafeverViki
Na Bong-Sun (Park Bo-Young) works as an assistant chef. Because of her timid personality and low self-esteem, she doesn't have any friends. Since she was a child, she has been able to ghosts because of her shaman grandmother. One day, she becomes possessed by seductress ghost Shin Soon-Ae.
Kang Sun-Woo (Cho Jung-Seok) is a star chef. Na Bong-Sun has a secret crush on him. He is good looking and confident as a chef. Even though he is popular with women, he has yet to get over his ex-girlfriend. He begins to notice Na Bong-Sun after her sudden change.
Main Character(s): There were really two main characters (sometimes sharing the same body!)
Na Bong-Sun and Shin Soon-Ae. So, here's the down low on these girl(s). Na Bong-Sun is a timid girl who wants to be a chef. She's always had the ability to see ghosts, so she's very jumpy and introverted because of it. She kind of comes off as a bit of a cry-baby at first, but I think she deserves forgiveness because she is haunted like 24/7 by ghosts. She also has a secret crush on Kang Sun-Woo (who everyone calls "Chef").

Shin Soon-Ae is a ghost (played by Kim Seul-Gi when she's in ghost form). She died almost three years ago and she needs to move on before she becomes an evil spirit. She believes the reason she's stuck is because she died a virgin. If she can only seduce a man (by using the bodies of unassuming women) then she can pass to the afterlife. She finds Na Bong-Sun, who's frequency exactly matches Shin Soon-Ae. That means that Soon-Ae gets stuck in Bong-Sun. And hilarity ensues!

I love love love Park Bo-Young. She plays both the timid Bong-Sun and the saucy Soon-Ae perfectly. They are two very distinct characters and she's just the best at being both. She also is adorable and all of her other roles are just as wonderful. I cannot say how much I love her.

OMG, she's just so adorable and hilarious

Love Interest: Kang Sun-Woo AKA "Chef." He's a bit of a jerk. He's cocky and self-centered. He's a famous and celebrated chef and very popular with the ladies. However, he might be that way because he got his heart super broken before. He isn't the nicest to Bong-Sun/Soon-Ae at first because they get in the way. However, this story is just as much about his development as well.

This GIF cracks me up. Bo-Young, Jung-Seok, and Seul-Gi are awesome together.

Allies and Enemies:

Seobinggo - The hilarious Shaman woman who can see Soon-Ae and tries to get her to give up her grudge and move on.

Lee So-Hyeong - Sun-Woo's first love.

Kang Eun-Hee - Sun-Woo's sister and Choi Sung-Jae's wife.

Choi Sung-Jae, Sun-Woo's brother-in-law, a cop, and Soon-Ae's first love! What a small world! He hangs around the restaurant to see Sun-Woo and his wife, Kang Eun-Hee.

Shin Myeong-Ho - Soon-Ae's father, he owns a small restaurant that Soon-Ae used to be the cook for. He drinks too much ever since his daughter died and Soon-Ae, as Bong-Sun, befriends him.

Heo Min-Soo - Hilarious Assistant Chef who kisses up to Sun-Woo and abuses his authority with the other chefs.

Jo Dong-Cheol, Seo Joon, Choi Ji-Woong - the other chefs who make up the whole gang at the restaurant. (Also, I have a crush on Kwak Si-Yang as Seo Joon. I love that Min-Soo gets mad at him for being so hot, hehe)

Random Thoughts:
This show rocks! It was tight plot and pacing the whole way through. Some stories start out great and then get sloppy in the end, but Oh My Ghostess kept the awesome going the whole way. I wonder if it's because the writer's knew the entire plot and never diverged, or if it's because the actors were so great with good chemistry. Probably a mix of both.

Each character got a good and solid backstory and character arc. The chef starts out cocky and selfish and he learns to care when he learns to love (awww, a reformed jerk, I have a soft spot for them, I can't help it). The main girl starts out timid because she grew up able to see ghosts. So, while I usually feel really lukewarm about timid heroines, I thought Bong-Sun had a valid reason for it. And I loved seeing that she developed as a character because of her relationship with the ghost and her ability (she also developed because of her relationship with the chef, but that wasn't the only reason. So I applaud the writers). The ghost's personal story was great. I did not think they were going to give her such a complex and developed story, but it is a huge part of what drove the main conflict/plot. I really liked Kim Seul-Gi in Flower Boy Next Door. She was so quirky and weird in that. And I thought she brought a lot of that great energy to her role as the wayward ghost Shin Soon-Ae.

The love story was actually really well developed and sweet. Who would have thought that a love story that started out as a ghost trying to score with the main guy by using the main girl's body would turn into something so sweet. But it did (trust me).

OMG, look at this chemistry! <3

Love the side characters. The assistant chefs were great comedic energy, and I love how they struggled with the hierarchy of the restaurant (both because of age, title, and romantic entanglements). I feel like Min Seo had his own mini-character arc. I started out really annoyed by him, but I kind of found him adorably flawed by the end.

Didn't love Chef's younger sister, Kang Eun-Hee, but she was a character who played her part well. I think that the mother was a fascinating side character. And I loved her relationship with the shaman. The fact that she treated the shaman like her boyfriend was hilarious, constantly texting her and asking her to go out for food and drinks. The shaman herself was a great character too. She was a good mini-adversary for the ghost, but she wasn't a bad guy. She was just someone who wanted something the ghost didn't (at first).

Overall, I loved this drama. It won my Best Drama of 2015 Award in my end-of-the-year post. And I think it really is a great watch for people whether they're fans of Korean Dramas or not.

Oh My Ghostess Jjang!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Musings: The Language of Things

Something my cousin said recently made me really think: 

"They also aren't [constantly] read[ing] about it or follow[ing] people who really talk about it so they don't have the language for the conversation."

This was in reference to talking to people about race and racism. Not just people, but people in places of privilege.* It's easy to talk about racism academically or historically. That's why most people can talk about the civil war and slavery in our country, because it happened. Key word "happened," as in past tense.

What makes us falter is what's going on now. When people are being pushed down by a system, society, or group of people we know it is wrong in our hearts. However, it is infinitely harder to talk about the situation when (often through no fault of your own) you are defined as a member of the more powerful group. It makes it hard to talk about the sensitive subject of prejudice and racism.

However, talking is exactly what needs to be done. How can we fix or change anything if we don't talk about it? And this is something that relates to writing and books in a huge way. Because we get a lot of our information from the books and news we read.  So, the question becomes, why can't people talk about these issues easily? It could be because of a strange feeling of guilt from being part of that privileged class, it could be because of ignorance (just not knowing the facts), it could be because they just don't care (which I deeply hope is not the case).

However, I think one of the main reasons is that they don't know how to talk about it in an informed way without knowing the facts and the language to use. However, they won't know those facts and that language until they talk about it. So it's really a vicious cycle.

You know what can help people learn these things without having to feel foolish or ignorant in front of their friends and peers?


Yes! Books about other cultures, other people, other lives that they don't innately know about. This is why movements like We Need Diverse Books exists. Because we do need diversity out there in book form, so that if someone wants to learn more about things they have resources.

(And I'd also like to note that these books should be vetted for using the proper language, so we're not putting out misinformation out there. There are some "diverse" books out there that were not properly researched. Misrepresentation is worse than no representation).

On a slightly tangential path, I want to talk about books about diversity versus diverse books (I'm using the term "diverse books" here to more specifically define books that are not diversity-issue-driven. That is, of course, not how it is usually used).

I read a tweet by author Varian Johnson:

He makes a great point in saying that a lot of the books he was given about blacks in America were about civil rights or slavery. A lot of the diverse books out there are issue books where the character's race, sexuality, disability, diversity is the main point of the book and character. That's fine, because these are issues we need to be discussing. However, we also should be discussing the everyday experiences of diverse people. As a child, I wanted to see myself in all of my favorite characters and heroes, but I couldn't see it 100% because I wasn't white. That's not to say that these characters don't rock, but there is so much room in the world of storytelling. Some of that space should be given to kick-butt diverse characters and stories as well.

*I want to say that sometimes when I say the word "privilege" people immediately shut down. Almost like I'm cursing or calling them a dirty name. I don't think privilege needs to be thought of as negative when it's mentioned on its own, it's the context that makes it bad. Having privilege doesn't make a person bad, abusing the privilege does. Doing nothing about the fact that you have that privilege and others don't. And especially using that privilege to keep others down.
A white friend asked me why I had to use the label "white privilege" and I said, "because that's a very accurate label. Some people have more de facto advantage in this world and they have that advantage because they are white. White privilege." However, a white person cannot control the color of their skin any more than a black, Latino, or Asian person. So, I hope that people can understand that these labels aren't personal attacks on someone's existence. It's more of an observation on how society exists, and a request that everyone looks at their situation and judges themselves based on how they act within that space.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges

Time for 2016 Reading Challenges!

2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge

Go HERE to sign up and make a challenge for yourself.

I super failed this one in 2015. So I MUST win this year! Or else!

The A-Z Reading Challenge

I didn't finish this one last year either, so I'm going to really try this year. I would just like to point out how it is always very difficult for me to come up with books for all 26 letters. The hardest was "K" this year!

 An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Inherit the Stars by Tessa Elwood

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Winter by Marissa Meyer 
Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Passenger (Passenger, #1)
by Alexandra Bracken
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Riders by Veronica Rossi

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer
Unbreakable by Elizabeth Norris
EXtraction by Stephanie Diaz
The Last Star  by Rick Yancey
Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Diversity Reading Challenge

I was hoping to find some great diversity reading challenges for 2016. I haven't yet, but that doesn't mean they're not out there to be found (eventually).
So, for now, I'm just making my own diversity reading challenge. It's really simple: Read more diverse books and review/blog about those books.
So far, these are on my radar (sorry if there are repeats from my A-Z list):

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh

Monstress #1 (Monstress #1) by Marjorie M. Liu (Author), Sana Takeda (Illustrator)