Monday, March 6, 2023

Looking Back at February 2023 Reads

I didn't accomplish all of my February Reading Goals, but I accomplished enough of them that I'm quite happy. And I enjoyed most of my reads too.

Apologies if anything in my post seems a little bit off from the norm. I experienced a personal loss on Friday (which is also why I didn't get around to participating in the Danny Kaye Blogathon). I wish I had been able to participate, but I didn't feel like watching The Kid from Brooklyn due to the grieving process and I didn't prep anything beforehand. I was going to watch it on Saturday, oh well.

You'll find my thoughts on Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews, and The June Boys by Court Stephens in this post.

Friday, February 24, 2023

The L. M. Montgomery Tag

This fun tag is part of Hamlette's We Love L. M. Montgomery Week. ♥

1. Who introduced you to L. M. Montgomery's writing?  Tell us the story!

I honestly think it was me. I grew up with the Megan Follows miniseries so when I reached my late teens I just decided to try some of her Anne books. I'm not sure when I first saw the miniseries, only that it's always been there, just like the Road to Avonlea miniseries that I adore.

2. What LMM books have you read?

I have an awful confession. I know that I've read some of the Anne books when I was a teenager, but I have no idea which ones or how far into the series I got. But I read at least 3 and I have also, now, read Emily of New Moon.

3. What movies or shows based on her books have you watched?

I swear someone showed me something about Jane of Lantern  Hill at some point, although I might be misremembering. I've also watched the classic Anne series with Megan Follows, all 3 of them. I've seen a few other Anne movies along the way and, yes, I did watch 2 seasons of Anne with an E although I cannot recommend it other than the first season which I found rather brilliant.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

We ♥ L. M. Montgomery Week - Emily of New Moon (a review)

Emily of New Moon was read for Hamlette's We Love L. M. Montgomery Week. ♥

This was my first time reading Montgomery's Emily of New Moon. It's incredible how fast I read it. It was hard to put it down when I had to do other things, like, oh work or sleep or go run errands. It's a very enchanting, melancholy sort of story, and I was completely pulled into it.

Creative souls are hard to come by sometimes and Emily Byrd Starr is, if at all possible, even more creative and imaginative than Anne Shirley. She's a wild thing, born of the fey, on so many levels.

For the unfamiliar, like I was, Emily is orphaned early in the book and, through no other alternative, goes to live with her mother's family. She was raised wild by a father much like herself in personality, and her mother's family despised him. So it's a struggle for her, going to live with an aged aunt who appears to find her troublesome at best and hateful at worst. Aunt Elizabeth Murray is the matriarch of New Moon farm. Aunt Laura is the sweeter, meeker younger sister, and Cousin Jimmy is kind, but also appears to have some sort of interesting mental defect that might make him slightly dangerous. Or at least, there are times when Emily feels slightly fearful of him, although she's not entirely sure why.

I won't go in depth into the darker side of the book here, or the elements that troubled me, but it's impossible to read Emily of New Moon without realizing and appreciating that Montgomery herself must have felt things very, very keenly. I looked a bit into her life, not much, but just a bit, and realized she was much like her heroines in a variety of ways. I had no idea that her use of "the flash" for Emily's brilliant and spiritual inspirations came from her own experiences with it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Great Expectations: Time Marches On

Time is cruelty for Miss Havisham, the eccentric owner of Satis House in Charles Dickens’ fine novel Great Expectations. The progression of time drives her mad; to protect what little sanity she has left she must stop time’s progression. It’s impossible to do so. Time is powerful and in its willful determination to do as God dictates, Miss Havisham leads a fantasy life where she protects herself from the hurt of abandonment.

Wronged by her fiancé, Miss Havisham locks her doors, leaves the wedding feast on the table, and commands that all her clocks be stopped. Time is not permitted to work. Yet there is something in the saying that time is the great healer. It allows wounds to scab over and scar. The memory of the hurt remains, but the pain is gone. Time heals those wounds, but when Miss Havisham stops time for herself, she stops the healing process. There is no progression for Miss Havisham. Instead, she locks herself into the memory of the wrong done her, scraping off the healing scab every single day in order to feel the pain afresh.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

First Classics Club Read of 2023 - Pride and Prejudice (1813) by Jane Austen

I'm sitting at my laptop with my cup of delicious Blackcurrent Breeze tea from Twinings and my fingers freezing due to the dip in temperatures outside. I am so immensely grateful today. I'm grateful for my cup of tea. For my space heater that is working its little tail off to warm my home office space. For my cozy slippers and wool socks. And I'm grateful for Jane Austen.

I first encountered Austen probably 19 or so years ago now. My father is a huge Laurence Olivier fan, so when I was in my late teens, we watched the 1940 Pride and Prejudice as a family, with Olivier in the starring role as Mr. Darcy, naturally (read my review, if you wish). It's still my favorite film adaptation, despite its historic and literary inaccuracies.

But I hadn't picked up Pride and Prejudice to read until at least a decade later. And it certainly wasn't my favorite of Austen's novels. I always thought my dislike is because I'm quite stubborn about joining a fandom with a high rate of support.

I'm not sure what's changed in 2023, but something clearly has because I loved re-reading Pride and Prejudice. Perhaps my outlook has softened somewhat where this novel is concerned. But really, I think that my propensity to be like Lizzy is what annoyed me most about the novel, because the tendency annoys myself. We are not even remotely the same personality type, but we do both leap to judgements and criticisms, especially when our feelings and personal pride have been offended. 

Monday, February 6, 2023

Japanese Movie Review: We Love (2018)

Rin (Hirano Sho) and Yuu (Sakurai Hinako) have been childhood friends forever, but their relationship has always been rocky due to Rin's bullying techniques and Yuu's extreme anxiety disorder. They happen to live next door to one another in the same apartment complex, go to the same high school, and even share the same set of friends in Koyomi and Keita. Yuu lacks confidence in herself in spades and any confidence she might develop is constantly undercut by Rin's biting remarks. Privately, Rin worships the ground Yuu walks on, but he can't tell her that because he doesn't know any other way to interact with her because they've been toxic for so long.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Looking Back at January 2023 Reads

One goal/non-goal I have for 2023 is to set aside time to read. It's so easy to get caught up in scrolling on your phone randomly and before you know it, you've fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole for hours with nothing to show for it. Other than baking recipes you'll never make or debunking videos for things you would never try in the first place. If you get my drift.

So for me, reading five books in January is monumental! And not a single one of them was manga! Not that there's anything wrong with reading manga. I personally love reading it. But it's usually a pretty quick read and not very challenging. So I'm proud of myself for reading five non-manga books in January.

My favorite read in January was actually The Woodcarver's Daughter, followed closely by Pride and Prejudice.

How about you? What was your reading accomplishment in January? Did you have a favorite read?

Enjoy scanning my list of reads and my thoughts on each of them. You can also see my February 2023 Reading Goals. I would love to know if you've set any reading goals for yourself this year!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Setting February 2023 Reading Goals

I don't usually set reading goals for myself since I technically fail at them. But I sense that setting them here and in my bujo rather than on Goodreads will have a positive impact. I would like to complete 5 books in February, just like I did in January (yay!).

Finish reading Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, for the We ♥ L. M. Montgomery Week that starts on February 20th, hosted by Hamlette. I'm already pretty much addicted to the book and am suffering when I have to put it down to do other things. So finishing it won't be difficult.

Read The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Now, I haven't even started it so if I get a little ways in and find myself hating it, then I likely will stop. And I won't feel guilty about stopping if that happens. 

Read My Story! His Song! Blessed! by Sherman Andrus (a member of the gospel singing group The Imperials).  I bought the book at the end of January and I'm very excited to give it a read and learn his story. My parents raised me on gospel music so The Imperials played regularly in our home.

Read a kid's fiction or YA novel, my choice, whatever strikes my fancy.

Read a Christian fiction novel, whatever strikes my fancy. Maybe one by Camy Tang because she's a Japanese American Christian novelist and she wrote an entire Christian series featuring Asian leads. That's right up my alley, and I already love her style because she's written Regency Christian fiction under the name Camille Elliot.

How about you? What reading goals do you have in mind for February?

You can find my January 2023 List of Reads here!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Sherlock Holmes: The Shadow in the Window

As thin shadows swayed across my window blind, my fingers clutched the book to my chest. My throat muscles convulsed, and the blood trapped in my veins by the shock suddenly thundered on, rushing heat through my body.

It was him… the creeping man.

This was my first identifiable memory as a Sherlock Holmes fan.

Of course, the creeping man wasn’t actually outside my window; it was a crazy shadow cast by a tree devoid of its leaves in the winter. But that moment of utter terror experienced in my early twenties decided my favorite Sherlock Holmes short story for me.

The Creeping Man startles the imagination with its ghastly and Gothic possibilities, making it one of the most iconic of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Announcing the Classic Children's Literature Party April 2023

I cannot lay claim to the idea. A lovely blog called Simpler Pastimes hosted CCLE for quite a few years, but the last one was in April 2017 so I have decided to begin hosting my own version with a slight name change to Classic Children's Literature Party or CCLP. I have dearly missed the event for a few reasons. One being that reading really is a simpler pastime and it's lovely to take a break from the hectic race of life to read children's literature. Another is that classic children's literature reminds us of a more innocent time for children. And finally, I discovered so many amazing children's books by participating in the event and I wish the same delight for other readers.

So let us begin as we mean to go forward. 

Classic Children's Literature Party 2023 - Basic Guidelines

Throughout the month of April, read children's classics, as many or as few as you like. There are no minimum or maximum expectations. Post your thoughts and impressions about each of them on your blog and leave a comment with your link on the main Event page that I will post on April 1st (no fooling!). I'll also compile a link-up page and publish that at the end of the month.

Use your own judgement for what fits the idea of being a "children's classic" but here are some helpful guidelines:

  • Children's classics are not going to be picture books, as in primarily pictures with very little text. So keep with the idea of the book being children's fiction in the elementary or preteen age bracket.
  • A common measuring tape using for classic literature is that it must be at least 50 years old. So let's stick with that measure, only books 1973 and older. I'm good with the publication month being after April in 1973. 
  • Go wild with books from other countries and translations other than English. I'm partial to British literature myself so that will likely be my focus.
  • You can join at any time during the month of April. 

This is intended to be a fun, relaxing party with no pressure or expectations other than to enjoy reading. If you like, you can always post a list of anticipated reads on your blog and share that here so others might be inspired with your ideas. If you read one book or 10, you are welcome to participate. Classic children's literature is inspiring and I hope you will delight in the time spent reacquainting yourself with old favorites and even finding some new ones. 😘

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Japanese Drama Review: Alice in Borderland, Season One (2020)


Stories that involve being trapped in a game are the popular it thing right now. I love trapped in a game stories, but while I "enjoyed" AinB, it's really not that original. I could get the same thing watching Tron, The Hunger Games, or The Maze Runner, and actually enjoy those more. If not for the likeable leads of Arisu and Usagi, I would have dropped it halfway through the first season. Why the threat of dropping? Because it's far more violent than was necessary. Lots and lots of gore, showing the impacts of bullets, knives and swords actually cutting, a brain dissection, etc. It went overboard, probably because the manga is also big on over-the-top gore, but I'm only guessing at that part since I haven't read it, and probably won't. I'm also not keen on attempted rape, so keep that in mind as being triggering for a lot of folks. 

2023 Update: I published this review on another blog last year, but have decided to keep everything at Musings of an Introvert. So if you find any odd references, like not mentioning S2 is already released, oops, that's why! I also binged S2 over Christmas break so I will be releasing that review soon. Um, can I just say, as a precursor to the S2 review, Yamashita Tomohisa, what the heck, man!? I felt like I was in anaphylactic shock for hours!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Kamenashi Kazuya gears up in 2023 for season two of the hit Japanese law drama, Seigi no Tenbin

Seigi no Tenbin tells the story of Takano-san, a defense attorney with a a vendetta against criminals due to personal loss in his life. Some think the character is better suited for a prosecuting attorney, but I disagree since Takano-san has to put aside his own prejudice in order to serve his ethically serve his clients. It would be so easy for a prosecuting attorney to just go full-tilt into revenge mode. It takes a bit more moral dilemma juggling for him to be a defense attorney. He has to plead for leniency, to put himself in the position of the criminal, to seek for compassion on their behalf. Season One of Seigi no Tenbin is deeply moving.

I know literally nothing about what Season Two might entail, only that I love, love, love Season One and have been hoping and praying for Kame to end up in a drama that would be worthy of a second season. I am so glad that Seigi no Tenbin is that drama!

Thursday, January 12, 2023

The Apartment (1960): A Lesson in Power Harassment

The Apartment (1960)

starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray

One of my favorite Christmas movies is actually a very depressing movie about power harassment and attempted suicide that happens to take place over Christmas. Weird, right?

There will be some spoilers, so keep that in mind when reading.

The Apartment was released in 1960 and stars Jack Lemmon as C.C. Baxter, Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik, and Fred MacMurray as Mr. Sheldrake a.k.a the hound from hell. It is the brainchild of Billy Wilder (a favorite writer/director of mine) and I.A.L. Diamond and is brilliant and funny and horrifying all at the same time. Like a lot of those 1960s dramedies.

Power harassment is a manipulative tactic. If you go along to get along, you'll receive some benefit in return, or you'll just be able to keep your job. If you don't go along, then you'll lose your chances at promotion and possibly even lose your job. Not surprisingly, the term power harassment was originally coined in Japan, but not nearly as long ago as you might think, just in 2002. Japan has been and still is notorious for power harassment issues (like the majority of Asian countries), but based on the existence of movies like The Apartment, it is a wide-reaching demon that affects everyone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Welcome to 2023!

Yes, things were sporadic last year, for a variety of personal reasons. It was not an easy year, by any means, but there is a somewhat brighter outlook right now so I'm making plans for this blog that you can count on going forward.