2021 MID YEAR BOOK FREAK-OUT TAG

Hullo, world!

It’s another beautiful (albeit cool) day here on the west coast. I’m a little down in the spirit because a) I have a cold that won’t go away b) we finished watching Jujutsu Kaisen season one c) I’m more or less stagnated in my writing lately. 

Well, I’ve discovered a fun tag off from Paperfury’s website that I’m snagging, so as to hoping it will also lift my spirits. 🙂 

Let’s jump right into it, shall we?

1. HOW MUCH HAVE YOU READ?

I’m almost at my 100 book mark, so that’s always exciting. 

2. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN READING?

I’ve been keeping track of my reading diet ever since I decided I needed to read a more balanced load (you can read a bit about it in this post), and I’m glad to see I’ve been able to keep it up (sort of). It’s become a bit more lax, but I’m still happy with my current reading life, and that’s what counts. 😉

3. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

I guess it boils down to these three for now…

4. BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2020

Um, obviously Crooked Kingdom and (not a sequel) but Blessed Monsters and my all time favourite by Astrid Lindgren. Seriously, everyone should read Detektive Kalle Blomkvist.

5. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO

These three. I’ve begun both SL and TCatB, but haven’t finished them yet!! (And their covers are all very gorgeous!!)

6. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

I’m not really good at keeping up with new releases, but from what I’ve seen, I’m excited for them! (Wait, a few of them are already released…oh well. I did say I’m not good with dates.)

7. OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Right, out of my comfort zone… Joyce’s Ulysses by far gets the prize (and it was another whopping 1,000 page long tome), a collection of essays (which I’m enjoying lieu slow progress) and a short story collection by Anthony Doerr (whose style I adore profusely).

8. BIGGEST SURPRISE

These two. I mean, you can read my review on the Ninth House on Goodreads if you’re interested, but it was just so hard to get into NH until everything I could think of was that. And I usually don’t read horror stories, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one. 😉

9. NEW FAVOURITE AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU)

I’m currently raving (and still kind of hung over) from these authors. Seriously, everyone should read Democracy in America, even if they’re not American.

10. UNDERRATED GEMS YOU’VE DISCOVERED RECENTLY

It’s kind of summed up here…Badon is a manga, but it reads like a literary fiction, and DO I NEED TO MENTION THE SONG OF ROLAND AGAIN OR ARE WE AGREED THAT YOU SHOULD BE READING IT NOW???

11. REREADS THIS YEAR

Also, just finished reading Fangirl for the nth time again. #comfortread

12. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I think I cried WAAAY more than I usually do when I read, which is kind of funny when I consider it, or maybe I hadn’t met the kind of books that makes me cry until this year.

13. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

I mean, I love these books from the cover to the story itself to just everything. Looking at them makes me smile.

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT SO FAR THIS YEAR (OR RECEIVED)

Definitely these books.

15. GOALS FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR

  • Don’t think too much about the amount of books read (or unread). Keep my focus on the quality of books! (That being said, my goal is still 120 books.)
  • Continue reading books I love and tougher books. Esp. with my uni syllabus, I’m thinking I’ll get to meet books I otherwise won’t meet.
  • Have fun with my reading life. I get too intense with everything I do…
  • Get back on bookstagramme around the beginning of August. Find a more sustainable rhythm to it.
  • Support my local bookstore when I buy books.

And that’s about it!

Thank you for reading! How about you? What are some of the books you’ve met this year? Books you’re excited meeting for the first time? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

Finding God in Anime & Capsule Review

Hullo, world! 

I’m so excited for today, not simply because I get an excuse to ramble on about my favourite things, but also because I get to share with you some of the awesome things I’ve been able to be a part of. 

The first of those is…*inserts drumroll*

THE FINDING GOD IN ANIME DEVOTIONAL!!!

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Yes, you heard it right. There’s a brand new devotional feat. manga & anime and it’s the one thing you didn’t know was missing from your life ™. 

About Finding God in Anime

Being a Christian can be tough. Being an otaku can be tough. But being both at once?

Sometimes it seems easier to become Hokage rather than explaining your faith and passions to others. That is why we otaku have united in this devotional: To encourage otaku like you spiritually and through a medium we all cherish.

In this devotional, you will find God in the animes you know and love. Each devotional presents spiritual lessons found in animes ranging from the world-famous Attack on Titan to fan-favorite Haikyu!! to beloved classics like Cowboy Bebop. Each piece will feature a different theme such as:

  • Human Will vs. The Holy Spirit in Yona of the Dawn
  • Choosing to be Free in Free! Swim Club
  • Not by My Might in My Hero Academia

…and many others! We believe that God can be seen throughout His creation—even in places where people might not intend! So pull out your cosplay and snuggle close with your plushies as you join us in Finding God in Anime.

About the Organizers

Laura and Moriah’s life consists of giving each other manga recommendations until they see whose TBR pile will fall on them first. Rest assured they’re both still safe…until another manga releases. In the meantime, they enjoy sharing beautiful pictures of Japan and trying to make each other laugh with anime memes. They both have an appreciation for cute stickers, samurai, and pins. If they’re not chatting about all things otaku, you can find them trying to write their next story or surviving on ramen and pocky after their latest manga order. 

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MY REVIEW:

First off, how cool is it that you get your devotions done and spend time reminiscing about your favourite manga & anime?? I spent this week and the last reading from FGiA, and it has been a blast…and let me explain why you should be using this devotional as well. 

Reason #1: My mum and I have recently reached the conclusion that it’s impossible not to see biblical themes reciprocated in certain manga/anime, starting from Ghibli and extending to AoT, TPN, &c. We often spend time discussing aspects of our favourite manga & anime and tying it into our personal devotions. So, if you don’t have someone like my Mum, you can still have this discussion with FGiA!

Reason #2: As an anthology, FGiA consists of short devotional entries that’s easy to follow and enjoy even if you don’t know the specific story. It’s a great pick-me-up first thing in the morning (even if you slept in) or the go-to for those small snippets of time you might have on hand

Reason #3: All of the stories featured in FGiA are certified to be clean and God-honouring, even if some of them are darker than the others. It’s a great way to find out more about other manga & anime you were interested in but weren’t sure. I for one was reminded I was really into Yona of the Dawn a few years back and am thinking of giving Naruto Shippuden another read. 

And lastly, just a personal side note: I was super hyped Renée Le Vine included Precure. I basically grew up watching Precure since it started and it has a special place in my heart! I also love Nausicaa (esp. the manga), so I was pleasantly surprised it was featured on more than one occasion. 🙂

So, if you’re an avid manga-reader or anime-lover and would love to explore biblical themes within them, this devotional is absolutely for you!

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, May 31st

–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Kick-Off

–       C.O. Bonham | Special Feature

–       Author E.E. Rawls | Book Spotlight

Tuesday, June 1st

–       Angela R. Watts | Special Feature

–       Jenna Terese | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 2nd

–       The Clean Fiction Blog | Book Spotlight

Thursday, June 3rd

–       Author Hannah Carter | Book Spotlight

Friday, June 4th

–       Deeply Shallow | Book Spotlight

Saturday, June 5th

–       SJ Barnard | Book Review

Monday, June 7th

–       The Artist Librarian | Book Review

–       K.A. Cummins, Exploring Possibilities | Behind-the-Scenes Interview

Tuesday, June 8th

–       Tabitha Caplinger | Book Spotlight

Wednesday, June 9th

–       Piper Bee Blog | Book Review

Thursday, June 10th

–       Erudessa Gentian Blog | Book Review

Friday, June 11th

–       Bigger on the Inside | Special Feature & Review

Saturday, June 12th–       Laura A. Grace | Blog Tour Wrap-Up


I also got to be a part of the Capsule ARC team! Mel Torrefranca’s first novel, Leaving Wishville, has been one of my highlight reads of 2021 and I’m super excited for her second book to come out on July 10th! 

Capsule

Rating: 4.5/5 stars, PG13

Contents: Thematic elements, mild romance, crime, accident, some swearing (no f-words)

Two students from Brookwood High School mysteriously go missing on the same night.

The first is Peter Moon, a heartless pescatarian who bashes students from Brookwood on his blog, turning everyone against him. The second is the adored Kat Pike, an audacious girl desperate to boost her adrenaline. Three days pass. No leads.

Indifferent to the disappearances, sixteen-year-old Jackie Mendoza remains immersed in her virtual world of video games and online friends.

When a menacing app by the name of Capsule downloads itself onto Jackie’s phone, she enters a game interlaced with reality. A game threatening to erase Peter and Kat forever. Only Jackie can save them now—but Capsule is the most ruthless game she’s ever played.

Mel Torrefranca delivers a heart-wrenching thriller about unlikely friendships, bittersweet memories, and a never-ending search for answers best left forgotten.

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MY REVIEW:

I was super excited to be able to ARC read this book as I enjoyed Mel Torrefranca’s first book, and needless to say, I was not disappointed!!!

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

1. Theme–It’s honestly refreshing how Capsule visits the themes of family, siblings, friendships, and being present in your life. I just loved how streamlined the themes were in the sense it was completely natural. I also loved the way it subtly made me think of my online presence and IRL friends.

2. Prose–Again, I’m super picky about prose, but with Mel’s books I never have to worry about it. 😉 It’s vivid and imaginative, setting a clear tone to the story as well as offering an insightful narrative.

3. Characters–I usually like “unlikeable” characters, and I found I was really drawn to all three of the main cast–Jackie, Peter, and Kat. Jackie is into online games, something I’m not interested in, but I could feel her seclusion. (Not to mention I adored the brother-sister relationship between Jay and Jackie.) Also, her character arch was really encouraging. Peter was probably my favourite character because…(trying to think of all the good things about him)…he’s human? IRL, I think he would be the type of person I’d avoid, but it made me reconsider people who might look one way but are really another. Also, I shouldn’t be laughing, but some of his comebacks and remarks about other characters were funny. I initially thought I wouldn’t like Kat, but I think three chapters in about her made me reconsider everything and she also became another character I rooted for. Or not. But I did love the way the characters all blossomed!

4. Plot–The plot is straightforward, and I was expecting it to be more sci-fi but Capsule reads like a contemporary. (I know, sorry I keep saying *insert book title* reads like contemporary. It just does!) Where Leaving Wishville had a decided dystopian/sci-fi undertone vibe, Capsule was lighter on the genre expectation which I think was refreshing because TBH, I wouldn’t have connected to the story as much as I did if it was all about gaming. #sorrynotsorry I personally love countdowns since they give a clear visual of the story. I think that although the story is simple, the ending gives it a nice twist and sharpens the focus. (Open-endings are the way to go!!)

5. Execution–Overall, Mel Torrefranca did an excellent job with Capsule’s composition. I think I would have liked one more thing, but it’s really emotionally gutting and thrilling.

If you like:

a) Contemporary with soft sci-fi elements

b) Strong relationship between characters

c) An alternate look at life vibes

This book is for you! 

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And that’s it for today! 

Thank you for reading! What did you think? Are you a manga and/or anime lover? What are some of your favourite manga/anime? Are you excited for Capsule to come out? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

12 Classic Loves Collab with Samantha

Hi guys! 

Surprise! I’m not SJ. 

I’m Samantha (or Sam, up to you), and I blog at Bookshire, where I talk about books, from reviews and analyses of habits of the reading and writing world, to digressing into flash fiction and raving about my favorite books (and occasionally movies). I’m so grateful that SJ suggested doing this collaboration! It’s been a lot of fun. 

Today I’m here on SJ’s blog to talk about twelve of my Very Favorite Classics in no particular order, excluding books by Lewis or Tolkien, because otherwise this would turn into a Lewis And Tolkien Appreciation Post. Which would be amazing, but not entirely what I’m going for. 🙂

Without further ado, let’s dive in! 

The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

“Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people—those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment, and those who find comfort in food.” “How can I go down on one knee when I’m in the middle of my tea?”

Elizabeth Goudge


This was one of my absolute favorite books growing up–I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. I love Gouge’s penetrating but subtle commentary on human nature, alloyed with a beautiful story of a girl who’s willing to give up her pride to make things right, all set in a fantasy-esque manor estate.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“Laws and principles are not for times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigor.”

“We were born to stive and endure.”

Charlotte Brontë


This was the book that made me love literature class. I suddenly realized that even if a book is required reading, it can be absolutely amazing. And this one is. I love Jane’s determination to do the right thing, her fearlessness, and her capacity for forgiveness. She’s probably one of my favorite female characters in classic literature.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

“I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copybooks; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end.”

Louisa May Alcott


A classic. Well, I mean, they’re all technically classics, but this is a…classic classic? I think this was actually one of the first “adult classics” I encountered as a kid–my mom read it aloud to me! I still have really good memories of that. It’s just such an enduring story, with the right amounts of growth and heartache and love and sisters. 

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Jane Austen


How could I leave Jane Austen off the list? Pride & Prejudice won my heart from the moment the ridiculous Bennet parents came on the scene, and…still hasn’t given it back. The amounts of snark! The humor! The handsome and altogether too relatable Mr. Darcy! (Honestly, if I had to describe myself in one character…it might have to be Mr. Darcy.) Plus, the sister game is strong with this one, too. Win!

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery

“Nobody is ever too old to dream. And dreams never grow old.”
“Have you ever noticed how many silences there are, Gilbert?”

L. M. Montgomery

I have a confession to make. The first Anne book is actually…not my favorite of the series. Anne’s so very talkative and imaginative and idealistic and makes so many mistakes at the beginning that it drives me slightly nuts. I like Anne much better as she ages and mellows…at least a little! I wouldn’t want her to lose her essential Anne-ness. Windy Poplars is probably my very favorite of the Anne books–it’s told in letters, which is a form I absolutely love, Anne is more mellow but still her lovable self, and there’s a tremendous amount of growth. All of that besides the phenomenally described setting of Windy Poplars itself. 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

Harper Lee


I’m not sure how I didn’t get around to reading this until last year? Because it’s amazing. Having the narrator really keeps it from being too heavy and preachy by (in my experience) actually almost taking the reader back to the time when they saw things in a simpler way. And so Lee is able to deeply drive home her point about racism, but in a really subtle (almost…enjoyable?) way. 

The Aeneid by Virgil

“Even when Greeks bring gifts, I fear them, gifts and all.”

“Shall a single woman drive you out of line, breaking our formation?”

Virgil


What’s not to love about epic poetry? This poem is like a mix between the Odyssey and the Iliad, with around equal parts epic journeys and epic battles. I love the flow of the language, the amount of quality theme-age, and Aeneas! That man is awesome. 

The Princess & the Goblin by George MacDonald

“Princesses don’t always have their handkerchiefs in their pockets, any more than some other little girls I know of.”
“The less his mother said, the more Curdy believed she had to say.”

George MacDonald


I still have extremely fond memories of my grandmother bringing this one with her on a visit and reading it to me for an hour each day! It’s a fairytale for children, but it’s not afraid to be unique and subtle and mysterious. It’s just the right amount of mix between fairytale and fleshed-out book, with characters who…honestly make more sense than many fairytale characters.

Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

“If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence.”
“It is this silent swerving from accuracy by an inch that is the uncanny element in everything.”

G. K. Chesterton


When SJ suggested this idea to me, she suggested we leave out Lewis and Tolkien, but she didn’t say anything about Chesterton! So I’m free to nerd out about one of my new favorite theology books. Orthodoxy is the only nonfiction book on this list, but it’s one of the most brilliant books about Christianity I’ve ever read. Chesterton has a gift of opening his reader’s eyes to how amazing the thing he’s writing about is, and he definitely does that here; I came out of the book amazed at how cool Christianity is! 

Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather

“This church was Sada’s house, and he was a servant in it.”
“Doctrine is enough for the wise, Jean, but the miracle is something we can hold in our hands and love.”

Willa Cather


I love this beautiful and slow-moving picture of a holy bishop trying to evangelize in New Mexico. The setting almost feels alive, the characters are so real and beautiful, and while the plot is definitely slow, it’s deep and impactful.

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

“Logic is mingled with convulsion, and the thread of a syllogism floats unbroken in the dreary storm of thought.”
“And then, do you know, Monsieur Marius, I believe I was a little in love with you.”

Victor Hugo


I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did! But it’s a brilliant philosophical discussion of justice, mercy, and the poor, wrapped up in the story of several extremely compelling characters, including my favorite, Jean Valjean. I loved it all the way through, and even loved the part about the Parisian sewers!

Antigone by Sophocles

“These are the laws whose penalties I would not incur from the gods, through fear of any man’s temper.”
“The time in which I must please those who are dead is longer than I must please those of this world.”

Sophocles


It’s only a play. Very short. But it packs a punch! It’s about the importance of the natural law over the laws of man, and the story of the young girl who knows this better than the king does. It’s about bravery and humility and the importance of wisdom and humility in leadership. 

So there you have it! Twelve of my favorite classics, in no particular order. 🙂

SJ has a post over on my blog with twelve of her favorite classics, which you can read here, if you’re so minded! 

Thanks for reading! And a big thank you to SJ for having me!

Have a lovely day

-Samantha

What did you think? Are you a fan of Classics? Were there classics on the list that’s also your favourite? Let Sam and I know your thoughts in the comment below; we’d love to chat with you!