Thursday, January 18, 2018

Naruto, Japan Whirlpools (September 2017)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Awa Odori 2017





Part of the reason why I haven't been posting much is because so much as been happening since I've been in Japan. One of those things was Awa Odori, a dance festival, which is held every August. It's one of (if not the biggest) things that the city I'm living in is famous for.



This is video I took of the Awa dance.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2017 TBR

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

End of Year Book Survey (2017)


Just about everything about this blog was pushed to the side in the second half of 2017 as I settled into life in Japan. It makes me cringe when I remember that I haven't posted a TBR/wrap-up video in more than six months. (Those are coming back soon.) But I was determined to still do the the yearly survey from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner. I think it's the jump start I need to dive back into things in 2018.

So, while this was also the first year that I didn't reach my Goodreads reading goal since I began using Goodreads, here's a look back on what I did manage to read in 2017.

Number of books you read: 44
Number of re-reads: 5
Genre you read the most from: This is tough to determine, but it looks like fantasy is just barely in the lead.


1. Best book you read in 2017?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I know there are mixed feelings about Clare in the bookish and fandom communities, but the third book in the Infernal Devices really has stuck with me. Also, I was emotional but mostly fine for most of the book, and then the epilogue left me contemplating my mortality for weeks afterward. (No joke. I read a whole series with a character who was dying, and then it was just the epilogue that had me shaken. There was something about it.)

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Some Go Hungry by J. Patrick Rammond. To be fair, most of my excitement was based on the fact that it's set in Indiana (and southern Indiana at that). That made me want to like the book. Unfortunately, while it was a good book in many ways and I found it fun seeing places I knew, I had a number of problems with the writing.

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read?

Nolander by Becca Mills. I'm worried that I'm only choosing this one because I finished it so soon before writing this post, but I'm going for it anyway. Overall, this was a good book but not one that blew me away. Why am I choosing it as the most surprising? Well, the whole reason I read it is because I downloaded it to my Kindle in a deal with 13 other paranormal books that were combined into one anthology. This one is the fourth or so book I've read from that anthology, and it's the first one I've liked at all. It's enough to make me keep reading the others despite my previous bad luck.

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did)?

I don't think I convinced anyone to read a book this year. I don't think I even tried to. As my silence on this blog can attest to, I haven't even pushed books on people through the Internet. Maybe next year I'll have an actual answer to this question.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best sequel of 2017? Best series ender of 2017?

Thanks to that anthology I mentioned above, I started a lot of series in 2017, but the one I'm going to put down as the best isn't one from that anthology. I'm going with A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. The book wasn't perfect by any means, but it did leave me wanting to see how things go in book two. The second book in the series came out this year, so I need to get around to it.

Other than all those volumes of Avatar comics I read, I didn't actually read many sequels this year, so my best sequel and series ender go to Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. While they are just about my only options (as I didn't much like most of the Avatar comics), I did genuinely enjoy them as well, as evidenced by Clockwork Princess being my favorite book of the year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

I read books from a lot of new-to-me authors this year. I'll choose Jessica Cluess as my favorite, as I've spent a lot of time thinking about A Shadow Bright and Burning even months after I read it.

7. Best book you read from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I'll choose the Avatar comics as a whole for this. I don't read comics often, though I would like to read them more than I do. I think the main thing holding me back is that you can read a comic in one sitting and then you have to go get another one, so it feels like a bit of a money drain. I do enjoy them as a medium though, despite my lackluster enthusiasm for the Avatar comics in general.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I don't want to go down a path of repeatedly choosing the same couple of books over and over again for this, though I admittedly don't have the biggest selection of books to choose from, but this really was Clockwork Princess. Though I had an idea of where things would go, having read the Mortal Instruments series, I was still very much invested in this book, and it definitely had me more concerned about the fates of its characters than anything else I read this year.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson. This is a series of short stories, which makes it incredibly easy to re-read one whenever you feel like. Plus, something you just need more Magnus Bane in your life, and this is great for that.

Unfortunately, my copy is in the U.S. right now, so it's unlikely that I'll actually be re-reading it anytime soon.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

This one goes to Wonder Women by Sam Maggs. I've been vocal about how I don't like people on the cover of books, but this one is a bit different as it's non-fiction and the cover is portraits of real women. Since my problem with people on covers comes from a place of wanting to picture the characters for myself, I don't have the same problem with people on the cover of non-fiction books, and I really love this artwork.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Really, I could put down most of the cast of the Infernal Devices here, but I'll choose Jem as I'm currently writing a fanfic from his perspective. That probably means that he was quite memorable to me.

12. Most beautifully written book of 2017?

I don't know if there is one particular book that stands out to me as beautifully written from 2017. I could say Clockwork Princess, but one of the things with Clare's books for me is that there are always some parts that I think are beautifully written and others were I'm left thinking, "What is this?" So I don't really know.

I suppose I'll say The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, i.e. J.K. Rowling. It has some weird subject matter to describe as beautifully written, but this is J.K. Rowling we're talking about. She definitely knows how to put words together.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017?

I'm going to choose Clockwork Princess again. As I said, the epilogue left me contemplating my own mortality for days afterward. I'm not sure that it was life-changing, but it definitely provoked some thinking. And panic. I'm still not entirely sure if it was a good or bad reaction to be honest.

14. Book you can't believe you wanted until 2017 to read?

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. I should have gotten around to it so much sooner, but then, it took me ages to read the first Robert Galbraith book too.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

I'll choose one I really love and agree with from Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:
“One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
16. Shortest and Longest book you read in 2017?

Shortest: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang
Longest: Fodor's Japan by Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.

17. Book that shocked you the most?

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith. I've learned that the Cormoran Strike books never go how I'm expecting them too, but this one was especially not at all what I was theorizing as I read.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship)

Herongraystairs: Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Yeah, I'm not choosing sides in this love triangle. Everyone needs to be happy. I'd never been so conflicted over a love triangle. If only things had gone differently...

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

I would say Will and Jem in the Infernal Devices, but as I wish that was romantic, I'm not sure it really counts.

While the Avatar comics aren't my favorite, there are still aspects of them I like. One of those is seeing a tiny bit more of Zuko's friendship with the Gaang. It makes me happy.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

This could still be Clockwork Princess, but I'll also throw The Silkworm out there.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don't have an answer to this as I didn't really choose any books based on peer pressure this year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

I say this every year, but again, I was too busy shipping characters with each other to develop any crushes myself. I couldn't possibly get in the way of all the true love.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

24. Best Worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year

I also have to go with A Shadow Bright and Burning for this. The world of the story is such a large part of what's made it so memorable to me.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. I loved getting this look into the making of the series and getting to see all of the artwork.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

27. Hidden Gem of the year

Once again, I'll say A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

28. Book that crushed your soul

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, more so because it reminded me that I, too, will die than because of the fate of the characters. Though I was sad for them too.

29. Most unique book you read in 2017

The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlanksy, but it was mostly just really boring.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Avatar comics made Mai and Zuko break up. I don't need to say anything more.


1. New favorite book blog of 2017

Honestly, I know that I followed a bunch of new people back during Armchair BEA, but I can't for the life of me recall who I followed now that I've struggled to keep up with book blogs for the past six months or so. This is one thing I need to do better in 2018.

2. Favorite review you wrote in 2017

There weren't many of them, so you'd think this would be quite easy. I'll go with Harry Potter and History, edited by Nancy Reagan.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog

Again, I didn't have many. Because I had almost none, actually, I'm going to go ahead and say that it was my announcement that I was moving to Japan.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

It was definitely Armchair BEA, and I'm very sad that it won't be returning next year. It will be missed.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017

I got to visit a popular manga store here in Japan, and though I still can't read manga in Japanese, I enjoyed looking through everything they had. I may have bought more than one should when you can't actually read it yet.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

It was honestly just making time for any of it when I was so focused on moving to Japan, working, and exploring Japan.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Unsurprisingly considering how little I've been active, my blog hasn't gotten many visits this year.

Though it's a video, I believe it was one of my Shadowhunters reviews.

8. Post you wished got a little more love

I'm not sure I have one of these this year, as most of what I wrote was just reviews, and the reviews I'm happiest with are the ones that got more attention.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I suppose I'll say Animate, both in Osaka and Hiroshima, which is that manga store I mentioned above.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

No. No, I didn't not. Moving on...


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

For Christmas, I got Harry Potter, A History of Magic, and I'm extremely excited to read it cover to cover.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?

I'm so behind. I don't have a clue what books are coming out in 2018.

3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating?

See above.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018?

I know it's already out, but as I mentioned, I'm very excited to get around to the sequel of A Shadow Bright and Burning.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

After this year, I'll stick with "complete my Goodreads goal" as my main reading/blogging priority for next year.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Reign Review: 4x16 "All It Cost Her..." (i.e. the Series Finale)

It took five months, but here's the post I wrote right after watching Reign's finale, which now feels like a million years ago.

Reign is now over for good, and I say that with a massive amount of relief. The finale confirmed for me that the series should have stayed about Mary and Francis' relationship and ended after season two. If that weren't the case, they wouldn't have felt the need to bring Francis back in the final scene like they did.

Bothwell's insistence that he and Mary were meant for each other also looks rather ridiculous once you make it to the finale (if it didn't already). The show never has them get married like they did in real life, and on top of that, it's Francis she's with in the afterlife, with no mention of Bothwell at all. It makes me wonder why they handled Mary's relationship with Bothwell like they did since it wasn't really needed (anything it added could have easily been done without any implied romance between them) and came to nothing in the end.

The witch stuff... What was that? There's nothing else to say about it other than that it was weird, and I have no idea why that was there considering nothing panned out from it either. So much of this show has just left me confused.

Elizabeth's story in this episode was the only part I enjoyed at all. It felt like watching Elizabeth come into the role she was meant to have, which was nice.

Mary, on the other hand, had a much worse story this episode, which sucks considering she's the main character and should have had the best ending.

I was never expecting a time skip, and frankly, I don't understand why we got one. It wasn't something I wanted, seeing Mary's death portrayed. I haven't been a fan of Reign's constant time jumps as they try to tell Mary's entire life (especially as they highlight what I said earlier about how the show should have ended after season two), but I figured they would end the series with Darnley's death, not Mary's. (It also feels weird that they didn't attempt to age Mary to appear decades older except by putting her hair up.)

The only nice part of that was getting to see James as an adult, but what I think would have been really nice would have been seeing a short clip of him being crowned king of England, showing that he accomplished what Mary had been after earlier in the series. That would have been fitting I think, but it's not what we got, despite seeing him talk to Elizabeth.

Mary's death just didn't feel necessary to the show. The sudden time jump felt out of place, and we got nothing more than a rushed explanation for why Mary got put to death, which had nothing to do with anything else that had happened in the series. (I also wonder if the reason for the execution was clear to anyone who didn't already know what happened, since the show didn't put much effort into explaining why she was being executed.)

The show would have been much better off ending the episode with Mary fleeing to England at least. We didn't need anything that came after that.

As I mentioned before, the addition of Mary in the afterlife with Francis was even more ridiculous. It felt too cheesy and out of place, and all it did for me was illustrate what's been wrong with the show for the past two seasons.

So, yeah, the finale of Reign was disappointing to me, which sucks as I was hoping to at least feel pretty good about this one episode after hating the previous episodes more and more. I should have known not to get my hopes up since I haven't been optimistic about an episode of Reign since the very beginning of season three.

I'm glad it's over. Reign deserved to have its finale years ago.