visit: descanso gardens

I had such high hopes for this year. After spending my first year in California pretty much holed up in my room and working, I didn’t really get to explore my new “home”. Yeah, so my plan to get out and actually experience California went down the tubes quickly.

While I am used to doing things alone, lately, I’ve been struggling with loneliness. And the fact that I have zero friends out here makes it tough for me to want to do any of the limited activities available to me. So, I remained inside even when it was deemed okay to go out again (and then told to remain inside because California massively fucked things up).

Anyway…after months of being cooped up inside, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone! I kept hearing about Descanso Gardens from various LA residents and decided to check it out.

I only spent an hour there (because again, doing this kind of thing alone isn’t very fun!), but it was a good experience and I’m glad I did so. I always loved visiting the New York Botanical Garden back home, and it’s nice to have one nearby here. The Rose Garden was pretty much all in bloom right now, and roses are my favorite flower!

If I wanted to hike a bit, I could have stayed longer, but I really hate inclines! That was more in The Ancient Forest area of the gardens. It was very cool and gave me ACOTAR vibes (so if I ever decide to cosplay Feyre, I know where to go!).

Overall, I had a good time and hopefully will go back every once in a while. Maybe with a friend if I’m ever able to socialize again.


read: the gilded wolves by roshani chokshi

I received this book from OwlCrate last January. In fact, I had chosen to read it during my very first attempt at the OwlCrate-A-Thon, but as I was moving during that readathon, it didn’t get read. And due to my reading habits, it was just going to stay on my TBR until I got to it.

Enter #thegildedwolvesreadathon on Twitter. Originally, they planned this readathon for June, but due to the social climate, pushed it to July. As I am not doing anything anyway due to the pandemic, I was very excited to participate! Enough intro, let’s get to the review!

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

Taking place in Paris in 1889, Severin Montagnet-Alarie is a hotel owner who is determined to take his rightful place as patriarch of House Vanth. Along with his team, he comes up with a plan to find an object to help achieve his goal, but they all become pawns for another purpose.

Guys, I apologize for this synopsis. Basically, how it was always described to me was a heist book, with similarities to Six of Crows (which I loved!). That description alone was enough to hook me as I am obsessed with heist stories!

Continue reading “read: the gilded wolves by roshani chokshi”

listen: misterwives “superbloom”

MisterWives, Mandy Lee, Etienne Bowler, MisterWives

It feels like ages since I last had an album completely rev me up. But that’s pretty much par for the course with MisterWives and me. It’s been three years since their last album, “Connect the Dots”, but they released an EP last year with some songs that made it to this one. I had connected with those songs too (and *ahem* tied them to ACOTAR, because this is who I am), but really was itching for a full album.

Well, they did not disappoint one bit. “SUPERBLOOM” is one of the most meticulously curated albums I think I have ever encountered. It starts off discussing a breakup (I’ll refrain from talking about the band’s personal life, however, I did see a review that called this album their “Tragic Kingdom”, and uh yeah, that fits), how you’re trying to move on despite the pain, giving into the pain, until you finally reach the point where you want to be happy again, and then you fall in love with someone new. The journey this album goes through is gorgeous, and the best part? The band has never sounded better.

They have never veered from the pop rock genre, and I got more of late Paramore vibe than I ever had before (because they’re now on Fueled by Ramen, maybe?). But in the midst of these beautiful, sometimes depressing lyrics, the songs still are full of life! They run the gamut of multiple genres, and I couldn’t help but want to move while listening. Mandy Lee’s voice is still the highlight, but I can’t remember the last time, I was moved by every single song on an album. Maybe it has to do with my emotional state in the pandemic, but damn. This is an absolute masterpiece of a record. I wish they would get more attention and praise.

Favorite songs: “decide to be happy”, “rock bottom”, “running in place”, “muse”


#dcomchallenge: genius (1999)

Genius dcom poster.jpg

Synopsis: Charlie Boyle (Trevor Morgan) is a 13-year-old genius (hence the title!) who enrolls in college. Always treated poorly due to his intelligence, he decides to act like a normal kid when he meets a girl, Claire (Emmy Rossum).

Thoughts: It’s funny because this DCOM was actually one of my favorites as a kid, and now I’m like, “Why?” It’s not bad! It’s just extremely trope-y and not much happens in the grand scheme of things. I have concluded that my love of this one is likely due to Morgan being cute and the amount of hockey in it.

This one follows the whole “Just be yourself and things will work out” message to a T. You feel bad for Charlie multiple times because he’s socially awkward but desperately wants to fit in. It’s relatable! And his alter ego Chaz is hilarious because he’s going so overboard in certain aspects (racking up detentions, being disruptive in science class), but ultimately it shows just how much of a little nerd he really is.

For some reason, I thought his hockey player roommate, Mike (Yannick Bisson) featured more prominently throughout Charlie’s journey to self-discovery. He’s really not in it much except for the hockey scenes. Man, I miss hockey. And I loved Claire’s ice skating moments.

Obviously, there is a conflict when it’s revealed that he’s not Chaz, but Charlie the whole time, and he also manages to destroy the hockey rink due to unattended lab equipment. But everything works out okay. Except they totally did cheat to win that game! Ah well. Remember kids, be yourself and nothing bad will happen!


#dcomchallenge: johnny tsunami (1999)


Synopsis: Johnny Kapahaala (Brandon Baker) loves his life in Hawaii, surfing and hanging out with his famous grandfather, nicknamed Johnny Tsunami (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa). When his father, Pete (Yuji Okumoto), gets a new job in Vermont, Johnny is in for multiple culture shocks.

Thoughts: This remains one of my favorite DCOMs! It was so much revisiting it and trying to remember what hooked me as a kid. My family had a house in Vermont, though we never traveled there in the winter. Also, I went skiing a grand total of one time and hated it. Yet, I can’t get enough of snowboarding and skiing in the Winter Olympics! I don’t get it.

What I like about this movie is that it’s got quite a few layers. There’s the fish out of water storyline, the “my dad doesn’t understand me!” storyline, and the class distinction between the Skies (skiers) and Urchins (snowboarders). And they all get just enough time to breathe and get solid resolutions! I gotta say that the Skies vs. Urchins thing was most fascinating to me as an adult.

This is Kirsten Storms’ second DCOM, and she feels very stiff. It was weird, especially given how much she carried Zenon. Is it because Emily is kind of boring? Maybe. I mean, she’s more open-minded and had good chemistry with Baker, so it wasn’t like terrible. But it was offputting. I wish Brett (Zachary Bostrom) hadn’t been so one-note as the preppy villain. He was pretty much a caricature of all the ’80s movie villains. And I had forgotten that Noah Bastian was in this! He was Chad in 2Gether, one of my all-time favorite movies, TV shows, bands, albums, etc. Yes, they were a parody group, but they are always in my heart!

I want to end this with how much I miss Lee Thompson Young. He was one of my big Disney Channel crushes back in the day. He was always full of life and seeing him brings such a smile to my face. I can’t believe he’s been gone for almost seven years. And Disney+ really needs to get The Famous Jett Jackson on the platform already.


read: crown of midnight by sarah j. maas

Should I change the name of my blog to reflect my SJM fandom? A Court of Geeks and Roses, maybe? (I’m kidding)

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)

Celaena is adjusting to her role as King’s Champion, dispatching his enemies. When her next target is someone from her past, it starts a chain reaction and causes Celaena to question if she’s really doing the right thing.

Once again, I suck at writing synopses. Anyway, if you recall, I did not become obsessed with Throne of Glass as I did with ACOTAR. That has changed. I loved this book. It was full of action, mystery, romance. I was constantly looking forward to what happened next, and I still love every character so far.

Continue reading “read: crown of midnight by sarah j. maas”

#dcomchallenge: smart house (1999)

Smart house movie cover.jpg

Synopsis: Ben Cooper (Ryan Merriman) has been taking care of his dad, Nick (Kevin Kilner), and younger sister, Angie (Katie Volding), since the death of his mother. When he wins a contest for a smart home, they move in and get a little more than he bargained for.

Thoughts: Oh, Ryan Merriman, one of my favorite Disney Channel crushes (there are two more DCOMs that feature him!). I mean, there’s not much to say about this one. It’s still an interesting premise, and with our overreliance on smart devices, kind of prophetic!

Which is hilarious because while I see some benefits with living in a smart house, I’m terrified of a robot uprising and don’t fully subscribe to other’s beliefs that Alexa and Google Home is helpful. Is it because of this movie? Maybe! (And The Terminator, obviously). A video wall in my bedroom would be quite nice though.

What I had somewhat forgotten was the plotline regarding Nick and the creator of the smart home, Sara Barnes (Jessica Steen). And how that played into Pat (Katey Sagal) freaking out and becoming more sentient. With Ben’s help. That added a little depth than I realized, as the movie focuses on when it’s time to stop grieving and move on with life after the loss of a loved one. It’s not that Nick is replacing Ben and Angie’s mom, he just wants to find love again. And he and Sara’s chemistry was really sweet. This is definitely something I pick up more as an adult than I did as a child. Yay growing up!

Some little things: LeVar Burton directed this masterpiece. Love the soundtrack that includes B*Witched and 5ive (with a sick dance breakdown by Merriman and his friends). The uber-chaste party scene is hilarious. And Pat is terrifying at the end.


#dcomchallenge: the thirteenth year (1999)

Now we’re definitely at a string of rewatches for me and I’m excited.


Synopsis: After his 13th birthday, popular swimmer Cody Griffin (Chez Starbuck) begins to have weird things happen, and it’s definitely not puberty. With the help of his new friend, Jess (Justin Jon Ross), they discover that he’s a merman!

Thoughts: First off, as I started watching this, I realized that most of the early DCOMs were heavily male! And that just struck me as bizarre since Disney Channel usually skews female? Whatever, just wanted to point that out.

I’ve always liked this one. It’s rather low-stakes, but has a lot of charm. The kids act like kids! Cody has a rivalry, both professionally and romantically, with a kid named Sean (Tim Redwine). There’s no real bullying, even though Jess is a total nerd. Cody’s not thrilled when they’re first paired up, but he was never outright cruel to him either. There’s an adorable PG-relationship between Cody and Sam (Courtnee Draper). And the relationship with his adoptive parents (Dave Coulier and Lisa Stahl Sullivan) rings true!

The only real drama is that Jess’s dad (Brent Briscoe) is obsessed with finding a mermaid he saw 13 years ago…Cody’s real mom. But that gets handled pretty quickly. Again, low-stakes! Oh, and while they’re trying to figure out what’s wrong with Cody, he’s banned from swimming which upsets him a lot.

I have to say though that my favorite line has to be “Nerds don’t really have friends, they have hobbies.” Because yes. That is true.