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!

February ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon to you!

I can hardly believe that my reading break is over, let alone February is over. This month felt really short compared to January (which is partly because it actually is) since my uni went back to being in-person which was kind of…well, kind of a whirlwind. ( ´•௰•`)

But overall, I am super excited to be here to sit down with a cup of tea, some Japanese sweets, and talk with you. ꒰◍ᐡᐤᐡ◍꒱

-February Afternoon Tea ‘22 Setting-

Location: Cozy home library

Tea: Hong Kong-style milk tea, Paris Afternoon green tea, Camomile tea 

Offered with: Dorayaki, Anmitsu (Japanese parfait)

This month, I fell into a reading slump. *gasps* Compared to last month, where I was sort of on fire to read as many books as possible, this month saw me picking up a book and not finishing it, then picking up another book and ad infinitum. 

Which is simply terrible.

But, to be fair, a lot of things were going on this month. Here are the books I did manage to finish:

  1. Vita Nostra
  2. The Journey of the Iwanami Children’s Classics
  3. Typee
  4. The Communist Manifesto (Broadview)
  5. Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball, 1973
  6. Mere Christianity

Looking back, although I DNFed and didn’t focus on my reading as much as I would have liked, but I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the books I did read (well, except Typee) so I guess that’s what counts!

Also, my siblings and I got a chance to visit an old used-book store in downtown that we’ve always wanted to go to. It was much bigger on the inside than we thought, and we unabashedly spent over a hundred dollars on C. S. Lewis books. (Now we have two copies of Mere Christianity, most of his major works, and a C. S. Lewis encyclopedia.) Really, I was not expecting them to have many Lewis books. Our favourite find was the Compact Oxford Dictionary the size of our Mac desktop (times two) complete with a huge magnifying glass to read the dot-esque letterings. Sadly, it was around another hundred dollars and mum told us there was no room for it. (After all, one shelf of our bookshelf is dedicated to our various dictionaries.) The bookstore itself didn’t have enough space for all the books, so some of the books were piled on the ground, on the tables, on top of the already towering bookshelves, etc. 

I am definitely going back there again. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

Currently reading: On the Genealogy of Morality, (still re-reading) Crime and Punishment, Wind-up Bird Chronicle vol.2

Would you like more Hong-Kong tea? My friend makes the most delicious Hong Kong tea and suffice it to say I am now a fan. 

Music 

This month, I listened to a lot of Studio Ghibli soundtracks. Some of my favourites were:

Practising: The Breakfast Song, Subarashi Hibi (Amazing Days)

Listening to: more Studio Ghibli soundtracks, Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue, anime & classical music lofi

Movie/TV Shows 

Since I was really busy this month, we didn’t get to watch a lot of new movies or TV shows. But I did continue watching some of the ones that started this January, so that was good. 

Current favourites:

  • DCU–Deep Crime Unit…the name is pretty self-explanatory and if you know anything about the Japanese actor Hiroshi Abe, you get the idea
  • Mystery to iu nakare–Do not say it is a mystery…this one is actually a dramatisation of the manga with the same title. I thought it was kind of wacky to start with, but now love the psychological elements of it!!
  • And various others…now that I think about it, I think we watch too many Japanese dramas (ˉ ˘ ˉ; )

Manga/Anime

I didn’t start new manga or anime either this month. 

However. 

I am very much looking forward to Spy Family starting in April with WIT studio!! *goes to convince mum it’s a good idea to start yet another anime*

Also, I got a Jujutsu-Kaisen T-shirt from Uniqlo which I’m hyped about. ୧꒰*´꒳`*꒱૭✧

More tea or sweets, anyone? The dorayaki is back on the menu again partly because I had some yesterday and was reminded how good they are and partly because it’s the taste of nostalgia!

I talked a lot this month about slow writing (again) and keeping a writing journal. Initially, I was planning to work on a shorter WIP after Osthauptstadt. And in the first week of starting it, I decided to switch gears to re-work Juliet. This has been one of my oldest works that I can actually call a novel and while I got to the climax of book 3, has been on hold for the longest time because of various structural issues. 

Notice I didn’t say rewrite. It’s rework. 

Reworking a novel I’ve been writing for the past seven years or more is painful. It’s fun; at the same time, I have to face the many incongruities and discrepancies in my characters and plots that I’ve so far taken for granted. It’s like taking apart a music box that’s stuttering when you only have the basic idea of its workings. Every day for the past few weeks, I had to face my fears that I don’t have enough to bring my WIP into working conditions. Some days went better, other days not so much. 

And at the end of this month, I think I’ve done the best I can for now. I still have ways to go until I can actually begin my rewriting for the umpteenth time, but I guess a little patience goes a long way. 

Have you tried the Anmitsu? It’s a kind of Japanese parfait with matcha and clear jello, tofu mochi, fruits, red bean paste, matcha ice cream &c. I tried making it for the first time this week and loved it, so I thought I’d share it with you here. (୨୧ ❛ᴗ❛)✧

Back to uni. 

I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy being back in a classroom and I’m still not sure. Of course, it’s nice to be able to see my friends, classmates, and professors since you actually get to talk to people versus being online, on Zoom where it feels…awkward? And at the same time, it’s a bit exhausting for an extreme introvert like me. Hopefully, I’ll get fully back into the swing before my midterms and finals!!

Other than being head-flying-ly busy (imagine the current AoT season, if you get what I mean), I got more chance to spend time with my family which was great! We went shopping, went on a driving trip (for cheaper gas than in the city, lol), attended a secret meeting no one should know about, &c. (If anyone is familiar with the current Canadian politics, just pray for us. Canadian democracy has gone to the grave.)

And while too many things happened that I can’t tell everything in a single post, I want to leave you with some verses that I found encouragement in recently.

17The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.

19 Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.

20 Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.

(Psalm 9:17-20, KJV)

Thank you for reading! How was your February? What are some things you did this month that was exciting? Did you find that February passed away in a breath? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!