5 + 1 CS Lewis Books on my TBR/Re-Read

Hullo, world!

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning–a quiet, peaceful sort that reminds me of what Christ has done for us. I actually debated whether or not to write a blog post this week because it feels…a bit sacrilegious…then again, I realised it’s a good time to reflect a bit on the more theological-heavy readings I like to do!

*proceeds to haul out my stack of the CS Lewis library*

So I present to you, the 5 + 1 (shorter) CS Lewis books on my TBR/Re-Read shelf!

1. Miracles

‘The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.’

This is the key statement of ‘Miracles’, in which C. S. Lewis shows that a Christian must not only accept but rejoice in miracles as a testimony of the unique personal involvement of God in his creation.

Using his characteristic lucidity and wit to develop his argument, Lewis challenges the rationalists, agnostics and deists on their own grounds and provides a poetic and joyous affirmation that miracles really do occur in our everyday lives.

I’ve read this book before, but I don’t remember much about it, only that it was (as usual) a really good book on miracles! So, it’s probably a good time to re-read it & make sure the thing stays in my head…(´∩ω∩`)

2. Reflections on the Psalms

Lewis writes here about the difficulties he has met or the joys he has gained in reading the Psalms. He points out that the Psalms are poems, intended to be sung, not doctrinal treatises or sermons. Proceeding with his characteristic grace, he guides readers through both the form and the meaning of these beloved passages in the Bible.

This book has been on my TBR for a long time…and now that I’m trying to memorise the Psalms, I think it’s worthwhile the read. 

Also, I must confess that I’ve avoided reading/thinking about Psalms for the longest time–I don’t hate it, but I had difficulties with it despite the number of times I’ve gone through it. I’m hoping this book and memorisation will cure me of this. ( ´•௰•`)

3. A Grief Observed

Written in longhand in notebooks that Lewis found in his home, A Grief Observed probes the “mad midnight moments” of Lewis’s mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God. Indecision and self-pity assailed Lewis. “We are under the harrow and can’t escape,” he writes. “I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace.” Writing A Grief Observed as “a defense against total collapse, a safety valve,” he came to recognize that “bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.”

Lewis writes his statement of faith with precision, humor, and grace. Yet neither is Lewis reluctant to confess his continuing doubts and his awareness of his own human frailty. This is precisely the quality which suggests that A Grief Observed may become “among the great devotional books of our age.”

I feel like since most of the CS Lewis books are perpetually on my TBR/Re-Read shelf, my comments will start sounding the same– “it’s been on my TBR shelf, so I MUST read it!”

But for this book specifically, I have a vested interest even though I haven’t technically lost anyone close to me, my grandmother (in Japan) has been ill for a while now and it’s tough to be far away, knowing she can pass away any time without knowing the salvation found in Jesus. 

4. Till We Have Faces

In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who possessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love himself, setting the troubled Orual on a path of moral development.

Set against the backdrop of Glome, a barbaric, pre-Christian world, the struggles between sacred and profane love are illuminated as Orual learns that we cannot understand the intent of the gods “till we have faces” and sincerity in our souls and selves. 

I’ve read this book around three times now, and with every re-read, it becomes even deeper. I only own this as an eBook, so I’m seriously considering buying it so I can annotate it…٩(´꒳`)۶

5. The Weight of Glory

The classic Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, contains nine sermons delivered by Lewis during World War Two. The nine addresses in Weight of Glory offer guidance, inspiration, and a compassionate apologetic for the Christian faith during a time of great doubt.

I’ve started reading this and school overwhelmed me, so I haven’t finished it. I think this book will be really relevant to me esp. given the politically charged atmosphere of Canada & the world these days. 

6. The Problem of Pain

For centuries Christians have questioned why, if God is good and all-powerful, he allows us to suffer pain. C.S. Lewis sets out to disentangle this knotty issue, but adds that, in the end, no intellectual solution can avoid the need for faith.

My brother bought this on our latest used-bookstore haul (you might remember it from two months ago) and he’s been telling me how good it is. (Although the point is kind of moot by now since we all agree that all CS Lewis books are THE classics.) So, as soon as he finishes it, I’ll probably beg him to lend it to me. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

And that sums up today for now!

Thank you for reading! How is your holy week going? Do you have any CS Lewis TBR/re-reads? What are some of your favourite CS Lewis books? (Or, a book you keep coming back to?) Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Ares Prequel Review & WIP update

Hullo, world!

It’s back to rainy (or sleeting, shall I say) season here. From the sudden burst of spring-esque sunshine days and cherry blossoms starting to bloom, I was hoping that winter was officially over…

Alas, I had guessed wrong. (ˉ ˘ ˉ; )

But hopefully, it will start to get warm soon!

Weather aside, today is a special day for me–I will be presenting to you Jenna Terese’s Ares, a prequel to Ignite!! I’ll also be doing a mini update on my current WIP, so without further ado, let us commence!

Ares

Rating: 4/5 stars

Contents: Thematic elements

Reminds me of: MHA, Marvel, Frozen

“Ares could feel it. He could feel it in the frantic snow and the biting wind that pummeled ice into his face. He felt his sister crying.”

His sister can’t tell. Not ever.

Ares is the son of the leading scientist in superhuman research, Dr. Hiram Bailey. His father thinks like everyone else. Supers are a stain on society.

But he doesn’t know his own twins have powers.

Ares can keep a secret. But his sister? Her excitement over their powers just might make things dangerous for them both. 

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.

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My Thoughts

Note: I received an eARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Since I’ve had spotty experiences with prequels, I was a little nervous going into this. But, I needn’t have worried!

  • First of all, the sibling relationship. Ares and Astrid are too cute!! I knew from Ignite that the theme of family was strong, and the prequel captures the same atmosphere–even more so, I’d say, since it’s the backstory that we’ve all been waiting for. 
  • Ice & snow. I don’t know why, but there’s something really fascinating about ice and snow–in fact, a lot of the stories I love have them! (Think Snow Queen, Wicked Saints, Frozen.) And obviously, I can’t help but love this story filled to the brim with ice & snow. 
  • The family dynamics. While Ignite already hinted at the complex story behind Dr Bailey and Ares, this prequel offered the exact story that led to Ignite. And obviously, as much as I like Ares (#aresfanclub), I’m also interested in Dr Bailey’s story, so I thoroughly enjoyed this story. 

The only complaint I have is that it felt too short! And now I can’t wait for book 2 to come out…

This book is for you if you like:

  1. Complicated family dynamics 
  2. Sibling relationships
  3. ice, snow, and superpowers

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jenna Terese believes stories are powerful. That’s why she’s dedicated to creating fiction that will impact the world. You can find this INFP dreaming about the future, fangirling over her favourite books, geeking out about Marvel, playing piano, or sipping a chai tea latte as she writes sci-fi novels.

WIP Update

As you might know, I’ve been agonising over reworking my earliest WIP–Juliet. The title itself is a placeholder name, which is unusual since I usually know the title before everything falls into place. 

In fact, if you know anything about trying to go back to that first novel you wrote–well, it’s kind of tough. 

At the same time, Juliet has been the story of my heart. It’s made me realise how far I’ve come in my writing and now I’m at that point where I can understand what was working, what wasn’t, and how the story has come to outgrow me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the story. But now I know that it doesn’t have the depth I need or a sort of “literary frame” to expand my central messages and themes. 

So now, I’m developing the depth. I’m working it out by reading books on genre conventions (sci-fi), astrophysics, philosophy, and more. I’m scratching the overarching story and decided to push back the time frame after everything has happened. I’ve come to the tough realisation that my characters weren’t doing anything–things just kept happening to them. And as hard as it is, it’s also been rewarding. 

I honestly don’t know how long this will take. I might take the next month off and try a spring NaNo since I’ve been dying to *actually* write. Yet I know that no matter how long it takes, I’ll keep at it…because it’s the story that matters. 

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! Have you read Ignite? Are you excited to read Ares (and Embers)? Or better yet, are you in the #aresfanclub? Is there a story that’s been on your heart, always? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Book Recs Based on Studio Ghibli Movies

Hullo, world! 

It’s not a pleasant day here in the Pacific Northwest, but it is now officially reading break so I am immensely relieved & happy. This week, I am excited to announce that I will be sharing with you my first-ever attempt at creating a book recommendation list based on Studio Ghibli Movies!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confetti*

Yes, you’ve come to the right place if you are: 

  1. A devout Ghibli fan
  2. A budding Ghibli fan
  3. A wannabe Ghibli fan

It’s no secret that I am a self-declared Japanophile (given I’m Japanese, which I talk about more in this post) and an avid Ghibli fan. I’ve probably watched most of the major works and have known Miyazaki-sensei since the time before Ghibli, where he was working as an artist in the World Classics Animation series. (Pls let me know if anyone knows of the amazing works like Heidi, Girl on the Alps, A Dog of Flanders, or 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother!!) Sidenote: I’m very sceptical of the recent “Ghibli” movie by his son, but that’s beside the point. 

Anyhow. 

I’ve done my best to stick to books that have English translations; some of them are not books but another manga/anime that I think is right down the genre. It’s not an exhaustive list, so I might do part two in the future, IDK. 

But, without further ado, let me present to you, Book Recs Based on Studio Ghibli Movies!!

A: Castle-recs (Howl’s Moving Castle & Castle in the Sky)

  • Howl’s Moving Castle (very obviously) 
  • A Winter’s Promise 
  • Mortal Engines 
  • Sorcery of Thorns 

MY THOUGHTS:

This was the easiest list to come up with for apparent reasons. These two films are one of my absolute favourites in Studio Ghibli, not to mention I absolutely adore these books as well! (You can also read my review on A Winter’s Promise if you’re curious.)

B: War-recs (The Wind Rises, Grave of the Fireflies, Porco Rosso)

  • The Eternal Zero 
  • Catch-22 
  • The Glass Rabbit 

MY THOUGHTS:

This list came to me quickly, but I debated over whether or not to include Catch-22 (also because I DNFed it halfway through…). As all these books are about the war, it’s kind of hard reading about them. At the same time, they offer perspectives from Japan (and Italy) which isn’t featured often here, so I would greatly recommend them if that sort of thing is your cup of tea. 

C: Epic-recs (Princess Mononoke & Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind)

  • Children of the Whales 
  • Attack on Titan 
  • Future Boy Conan (prob. His earliest work!!) 

MY THOUGHTS:

It was surprisingly tough to find books that might fit this list, probably because i) both of these movies are the “unprecedented” genres and ii) not many English epics are based on Asian legendary backgrounds. So, all of them are manga or anime…but don’t run away just yet! I promise they are totally worth watching/reading if you love Princess Mononoke and Nausicaä. (esp. Future Boy Conan contains a lot of elements that will come out in later Miyazaki works)

D: Marnie-recs (When Marnie Was There)

  • When Marnie Was There 
  • I Had That Same Dream Again 

MY THOUGHTS:

When Marnie Was There came out about a year before I left Japan. It was also thought to be the last Ghibli work there ever will be, so I can’t forget the impression it left on me. Robinson’s book is just as breathtaking as the movie (if not even more so) that I couldn’t help but recommend it. Also, Yoru Sumino’s I Had That Same Dream Again has the same sort of translucent, dream-like quality that I love. 

E: Earthsea-recs (Tales from Earthsea)

  • Earthsea Cycle
  • Till We Have Faces

MY THOUGHTS:

Again, the Earthsea books expand Ghibli’s rendition of it. (I know some people hate the movie if they’ve read the book but I like the movie well enough!! Please don’t be too mad.)

And once I thought about it, C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces sort of reminds me of Earthsea (not to mention I have a strong compulsion to include any Lewis book in a given book list) so here we are. 

F: Heian-recs (The Tale of Princess Kaguya)

  • Land of the Lustrous
  • Heike Monogatari & The Heike Story

MY THOUGHTS:

This is a traditional Japanese story that’s read to kindergarteners. I remember being distinctly terrified of the messengers from the moon and just the overall storyline. (Most old Japanese classics are kind of scary, now that I think about it.) Princess Kaguya reminds me of the Land of the Lustrous, which has a similar connection to Buddism and the moon. Heike Monogatari is a Japanese classic that’s read in schools and recently, it’s been adapted into a beautiful anime so I greatly recommend that as well! 

Overall, it was much harder to come up with book recommendations than I thought. But it was fun, so I might do it again! 

What did you think? Do you agree with the books I recommended? What are some books you’d put on the list? What’s your favourite Studio Ghibli movie? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you below!