September Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good afternoon to you!

It’s already that time of the month where I info-dump my September with you generally served with too many cups of tea than needed. Do forgive me for not posting last week…if you were one of those people waiting for an SJ post to pop up last Saturday *insert plot twist* and it didn’t, I really do apologise for it. University has officially claimed my life, but I’ll get into more of that later. 

-September Afternoon Tea ‘21 Setting-

Location: Vegan café

Tea: Matcha tea latte, Chai tea latte, Ginger tea latte

Offered with: Taiyaki, Belgium waffles, French crullers & fluffy donuts

As school started, my reading habit went a little sideways…which is pretty predictable, given all things. 

  1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (fic)
  2. Magic for Liars (fic-da)
  3. Bunny (fic-da/nw)
  4. Shin-ai naru (jpn fic)
  5. Amphitruo (uni-syllb)
  6. United We Fall (YA)
  7. Life of Galileo (uni-syllb)
  8. The Blazing World (uni-syllb)
  9. The Chosen and the Beautiful (fic-da)

Currently reading: The Fellowship-The Literary Lives of the Inklings, Moby Dick

Overall, I think I read too much dark academia in one month and I’m a bit sick of them now. I’m super hyped about reading about the Inklings & revenge-reading MD…this time I’ll finish it! (I hope.)

More tea, anyone? The ginger tea latte is absolutely gorgeous, so is the French crullers. 

Again, I think university swallowed up a large chunk of time and I didn’t have as much space for media…which is quite sad, but I think I’ll be overloaded if I added anything more. 

Music 

So, a hilarious development occurred. My sister got me into BTS, and although I still don’t know much about them, I’ve come to enjoy their music a lot. 🙂 I listened to less classical music in general, but I think I’ll change that since I’m thinking of going to the central branch library to borrow lots of classical CDs soon.

TV shows

While I didn’t watch any movies this month *gasp*, I watched a lot of Japanese TV shows with my family. Some of my favourite ones are:

  1. Tokyo MER (This was honestly too good to be true. It’s like every writer’s dream in the character arcs, settings, & everything!!!!)
  2. #bemyfamily (Ohmygosh, this is like the cutest show EVER. I love every #bemyfamily member & their relationships with each other.)
  3. My Fair Prince (A little cringey but loveable rom-com about a game company CEO. Tbh, we watched it for the sake of Dean Fujioka, lol.)

Manga/Anime

I got through halfway of season 3 in BNHA & I. Was. Destroyed. If you look at my record history of fav. Fandoms in manga/anime, you’d probably notice a lot of them are on the morbid side where you never know who will die in the next episode. (So not looking at KNY, AoT & co.) So compared to them, I though BNHA wouldn’t have a high death rate. 

Tash, was I wrong. 

It’ll probably take me another week to get over it…

Just look at this cutie…

In the meantime, I’ve been rediscovering my love for these mangas:

  1. Hetalia
  2. Uramichi Onisan
  3. Detective Conan

Have you had the chai tea latte yet? Or a classic matcha tea latte? The mini-taiyaki are also worth a try!

As mentioned in my September update email, I’m officially out of the writing rut & am brimming with creativity. 

However. 

I’ve yet to reach the 50K mark in Osthauptstadt (like, another 500 words left) and it’s honestly been a little discouraging to me since I thought I’d be able to whoosh past that wc. Then again, university has been more than I thought it would be, so I guess I’m happy with what I have so far…and the end is near!

“You’re the next.”

So, university. *inserts nervous laughter*

I used to think people who complained about university life was a bit…um, sort of not-all-there? Like, I didn’t believe them. How could one of the most pivotal part of your life be anything but joy???

(Someone please go punch the person who said that.)

Obviously, the academic side of university has been great. I’m so glad I read my uni term 1 syllabus ahead of time because it’s saving me precious life’s energy & I’ve been hyped since last year to just get to an academic institution. (Okay, maybe other than the fact I had to write a 2K essay on Plautus’ Amphitruo which was fun but not really.)

But I totally did not count the human interaction energy needed to do university. I’ve met so many people (probably over thirty) and it was awesome getting to know new people, but I feel like I’ve officially expended my extrovertism for the year 2021. Last week was plagued by dizziness & nausea that I was walking like a drunk nautam. (Due to part iron deficiency, part stress, part something else, probably) Oh, I also went to my first house party. It was offered by my church’s young adult, so it was super chill, but just saying. 

Me, dying from human interaction.

Let us hope I will recover the extrovertism over this weekend, everyone!

Do have some more of the Belgium waffles while they’re hot! Or perchance another cup of tea? (Remember, one can never have enough tea…)

Life has been good. (Yes, I know I sound like a commercial, but it’s true.) I stepped way out of my comfort zone, talked to people, socialised & acted like a semi-modern person. (I asked for people’s IG handles when we were parting. Genius, eh?) I got more involved in my bible study group & young adult’s group. I cried for joy when everyone excoriated Hobbes because Hobbes is evil and so is his Leviathan. I made myself bento-lunches on a regular basis & advertised Numbers as the Most Interesting Book in the Bible to Read ™. 

And in the end, that’s probably all you need to do in a month. 

Thank you for reading! How was your September? What are some of the highlights from this month? Did you meet new books or people? How is the new school year going for you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

United We Fall Review & Email List Update

Hullo, world!

I got through my first week of uni & although I’m already getting the anti-Christian vibes in one of my classes already, most of my profs & classmates are really nice and I’m super hyped about it! 

Today, I have an exciting announcement to make…United We Fall, Bk 2 of How We Rise by Brooke Riley is coming out in 3 days!! Whoo!!! I was very privileged to ARC read her book, and here’s my review below…

United We Fall

Rating: 4/5 stars, PG13

Content: Violence, Romance, government control, thematic elements, some language

What is truth? What are lies?

It’s been two weeks since Raegan’s death. Two weeks since a big blow was dealt to the resistance. Two weeks since Peter lost his best friend and perhaps his soul mate. Now, he’s out for revenge on everyone responsible, starting with the biggest coward: Agent Specter.

Peter doesn’t care what rules he has to break to bring down those who took away the one he loved the most. When someone he never expected comes forward with information that seems too good to be true, he has to make a decision on what to do before it’s too late.

The shocking sequel to How We Rise

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My Review

I can’t wait for UWF’s upcoming release in 3 days now!!!

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

♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰ ⋱✮⋰ ⋱♱⋰⋱

1. Theme–Again, Brooke kept her focus on family, friends, and basically relationships between people when the world is changing. It’s quite relevant with today’s political atmosphere and spoke to me. (   ˙꒳​˙   )

2. Prose–I was pleasantly surprised to find Brooke grew more into her prose. As UWF features multiple povs, I was really happy to find each character had a more distinct voice than bk1. ଘ(੭ˊ꒳​ˋ)੭✧

3. Characters–Okay, this is obviously where I have to stop because, UWF is super character-driven like you would not believe.😂 (Also, most of the character arcs are spoilers for those of you who have not read bk1, so please be warned!) Prepare for your heart to be shattered, everyone!! 。°(´∩ω∩`)°。

> Peter: First of all, I was kind of sure HWR destroyed a lot of characters and the one who got the full brunt of it was Peter. *inserts comforting words & marshmallows and anything I can think of* I loved how he struggled with coming to terms with what it would look like after such a tragic bk1 ending–which he sort of didn’t, but anyway.🤔 I think it was realistic how he grappled with grief and guilt and revenge, and how it might continue into bk3!! Gahh!!

> Spencer: I was not expecting his arc to be this good. Tbh, I don’t remember much about him in bk1 (sorry, lol) and it came as a surprise when he stepped into the tragedy to really pull people together into healing and mending…and forgiving. I think this was a big score. So many YA dystopia I’ve read was depressing because the “rebellion” was just an excuse for revenge, a circle of hate upon hate. But Spencer changed all that. Honestly, he’s probably my fav. character because of it. 🥰

> Evan: Obviously, my absolute fav. character (other than Spencer & Peter) is Evan. Okay, I was waiting for UWF just because I wanted to know where Evan was going after HWR. 🙈 And, quite naturally, I am waiting for OWA to follow him all the way to the end. *terminate rant before I spoil anything*

> Carissa: I wasn’t expecting her to grow into the sort of jarring ending from bk 1…I think she def. helped deepen the world of the HWR trilogy because I didn’t see it as clearly before. She still isn’t my fav. but towards the ending of UWF, she really expanded into herself. (*´꒳`*)

> Samantha: Another character I’ve been waiting to see where she’d go, and I was not disappointed! Although to be sure, I would have liked to see more of where she came from and where she is currently, there’s a large cast at hand, so I think it was okay…

> Jackson: Here, I’ve absolutely got to stop. *deep breath* Do you like the “traitors who mend” arc?? (As in Edmund?) Do you like dorky characters who are actually really caring on the inside?? Have you been waiting for Jackson since the ending of HWR?? If so, Jackson is totally there for you and that’s like the only incentive you should need to read this book. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

> Nicole, Sawyer, Noah, Stella: They were all deepened down & I was happy we got more screen time on them, although I do think they can be more fleshed out…Nicole & Sawyer’s arc was realistic and offered another way for the worldbuilding to expand. 

!!SPOILER ALERT!!

(If you want to read it, highlight the paragraph below…)

> Raegan: I debated whether or not to put her in here, but I will. Tbh, I didn’t really feel for her in HWR and then the ending shook me…

And we have UWF. 

Raegan is honestly such a resolute character that I feel bad for not seeing it earlier. She goes through such a traumatic experience but keeps her resolve, keeps moving forward. And that’s something not everyone can do. 

4. Plot–UWF reads like a contemporary dystopian, so the plot is not too convoluted but rather more straightforward. It felt flatter in terms of action. There’s certainly tension and a buildup, although it felt a little too predictable. I think I would like to see more twists in bk3!

5. Execution–Overall, I think Brooke tied together all these elements well into a solid contemporary-dystopian. I think I would have liked to see more coherence in worldbuilding and a more streamlined plot to character arcs, but that’s about it. (୨୧ᵕ̤ᴗᵕ̤)

★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰ ★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰ ★∻∹⋰⋰ ☆∻∹⋰⋰

If you like:

a) character-driven stories

b) redemption arc

c) contemporary-dystopian

This book is for you!!

AUTHOR BIO

Brooke Riley started her writing journey at fifteen when she had an idea about a world falling to ruin. Though the stories have come a long way from their original conception, she has found a refuge in writing books. A lover of literature and an avid bookworm, words have always been somewhere ingrained in her soul.

When she’s not writing, she’s dreaming up new worlds, making playlists, or hanging out with her family.

You can find her on:


Email List Update

Last week, I asked around a little about my email list. For a while, I’ve been meaning to work on it and haven’t really been able to, but from September, I want to change that. 

“Mailchimp, as you might know, takes some time to set up (even with personalised templates). And, it hasn’t felt like it conveyed my sentiments &c really well anymore …

So, from now on, my monthly email would look a little different. Since I have the monthly reflection-thing going on already on my Afternoon Tea with SJ series I will cut the redundancy of stating them here. Instead, I will focus more on the month’s starting goals, TBR, WIP goals & c.”

PERKS of joining my email list:

You’ll get…

  1. Weekly blog updates delivered straight to your inbox
  2. Monthly goal updates on reading, writing & life
  3. One aesthetic writing quote wallpaper + One aesthetic writing task wallpaper
  4. Exclusive sneak-peaks into my WIPs, character collages &c!
  5. Priority updates into my future online writing group

So, if you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to my email list. WordPress is a good place for my blog, but for any other announcements, it isn’t the greatest. By subscribing to my email list, you can be sure to stay in the loop of where I am outside the blogosphere. 😉 

And that’s it for today!

Thank you for reading! Are you excited for Brooke’s upcoming book release, United We Fall? Have you read How We Rise? Are you subscribed to my email list (yet)?? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below; I’d love to chat with you!

Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon!

Today, I’ll be sharing my summer with you. It felt like a really long and short summer versus last year where time was like a small creek. This year was filled to brim with adventures &c, so let’s dive straight into it!

-Summer ‘21 Afternoon Tea Setting-

Location: Beachside park

Tea: Hibiscus, lime-lemon-basil, Mint-and-Grapefruit

Offered With: Muscat parfait, melon cream soda, white roll cake

I got to read a lot of books over the summer–the total being over thirty-something books–and although there were books I wanted to read anc couldn’t, I’m happy with what I did read…well, except some of the reading I did for my university syllabus. (My family would know all about it, given I ranted about the need for it to burn in the seventh circle.)

Summer Reads

  1. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (fic)
  2. When We Were Orphans (lit fic)
  3. Bushido (Jpn nfic)
  4. Miura Woshin Essay (Jpn nfic)
  5. World History from Maps (Jpn nfic)
  6. Murakami Haruki’s top 100 playlist (Jpn nfic)
  7. Counting by 7s (mg)
  8. Rashomon (Jpn clsc)
  9. Good・bye (Jpn clsc)
  10. Fangirl
  11. Writer As A Vocation (Jpn nfic)
  12. The Art of Flight (nfic)
  13. The Chronicles of Narnia (clsc)
  14. Shayō (Jpn clsc)
  15. The Bacchae (uni sylb/O4)
  16. Love Does (nfic)
  17. 1Q84 v1-3 (Jpn fic)
  18. The Communist Manifesto (uni sylb)
  19. Carrie Pilby (YA)
  20. Till We Have Faces (clsc)
  21. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (uni sylb)
  22. Grettir’s Saga (uni sylb)
  23. The Prince (uni sylb/O5)
  24. Unfamiliar Fishes (uni sylb)
  25. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (uni sylb)
  26. My Brother’s Spare (YA)

Overall, I’m glad I’m almost finished reading my first term university syllabus books. 🙂 

Would you like more of the white roll cake? Or another glass of hibiscus tea? 

Anyways, I rediscovered my love for many things in this section over the summer as well since I went on a manga re-read and movie binges! 

Music 

Practising: Gurenge (Kimetsu no Yaiba op), KaiKaiKitan (Jujutsu Kaisen op1), Chopin Etude op.10 no.3

Listening to: Prokofiev piano concerto no. 2-3, Tchaikovsky Symphony 4, 5, 6, Max Richter’s Voyager

This summer’s most-listened-to playlist on Spotify

Movie 

I watched a lot of movies in July since my family was away for camping and I was sick for a week. Some of them were fantastic, some were just okay…

  1. Vancouver’s Sunrise–after the all-Japanese baseball team back in the early 20th century
  2. Honey and Thunder–based on the Naoki prize winning book about piano prodigies
  3. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence–the classic feat. Sakamoto Ryuichi
  4. Tenet–Nolan keeps getting better
  5. Kingsman–bordering on okay and not okay
  6. The Imitation Game–I love Alan Turing and I love Benedic Cumberbatch!
  7. Kill Your Darlings–also based on a book
  8. Interstellar–my new fav!!
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them–re-watch…Newt Scammader is simply too cute!!
  10. The Crimes of Grindewald–Newt + Theseus. Also, “Your eyes look like a salamander’s.”
  11. The Prestige–earlier Nolan work. Okay. 
  12. Memento–earliest Nolan work? Not okay…
  13. Norwegian Forest–based on the Murakami book. Stunning cinematography albeit a tad graphic
  14. Emma–re-watch. Absolutely hilariously Austen
  15. Castle in the Sky–classic Ghibli. Prob. in the top 5 list. 
  16. Nausicaa–I’m the fan of the manga, but the movie was amazing as well!!

Manga/Anime

I did a manga reading challenge and am happy to say I got through most of them!

  1. Tokyo Ghoul + Tokyo Ghoul re: (Re-read it for the third time? Gets better with every re-read.)
  2. Attack on Titan (up to vol. 33, waiting for the library to acquire vol. 34!!)
  3. Kimetsu no Yaiba (This finally arrived from Japan. I cried buckets and it’s definitely a must-read.)
  4. The Promised Neverland vol.15-19 (I am still waiting to get vol. 20…)
  5. My Hero Academia various + Anime season 1-3 (It keeps getting better and better.)
Everyone should read this manga and cry as much as I did.

(Psst! I also have a new Goodreads account solely for manga-reads. It’s at: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/138785634-iaphos)

Wow, that was long. I think I’ll have another glass of mint-grapefruit tea. The muscat parfait is absolutely gorgeous, too!

So, writing life… *insets crickets chirping*

As much as it pains me to say, I did not have a great writing life this summer. I have not been able to move up my wc since the last WIP update I did in July which has been kind of depressing to me…

However. 

In the bigger scheme of things, I got a few wc tucked between various projects, trying to sew up loose ends, brainstorm, outline, worldbuild, etc., etc. I feel a bit stand-stilled so I’m not sure how y writing will work out in September, but crossing my fingers I might be able to get back on track!

This is where things get really exciting. University is starting soon. In fact, orientation week is from Monday!!! *inserts cheers and fanfares and confettis*

For those of you who have been long SJ Barnard readers, you might remember me flailing about university and my long dream of getting there. Well, I am happy to announce to you that I am finally (and officially) enrolled in a university with first year courses of my dreams (maybe) hoarding brand-new textbooks and binge-reading syllabii. I am so excited I can just burst!!

So, cheers and onto the next topic…

Lifestyle & Living

More tea, anyone? Have you tried the melon cream soda? They’re all the rage in Japan as being Showa-aesthetic and “emoi”. (My siblings hate the word!! It means emotional, btw.)

Life has been good. I survived a five-day long camping trip to Whistler, three-day intensive karate camp (where we won the talent show with Kimetsu and GReeeN songs), one and half week illness (not Covid, thank goodness), and various online university prep workshops. That, and reading pretty much summed up my summer.

I also got my first ever MacBook. It’s MacBook Air with M1, rosegold *swoons* and works like a dream compared to my old Dell. I’ve yet to name it but I’m leaning towards Rhindon, spelt with nne-ending. (In case you’re wondering, it’s the name of Peter’s sword.) Since I bought it with student discount, I got free AirPods which makes me feel like an actual modern person! Eeep! I’m getting back into drawing more, and am thinking I’ll draw in between classes…hence I will be clad with iPad & iPencil, too! 

I usually don’t buy things at all and all of the expenditures have been dizzying to me, but why not? I’ll probably not buy things until four years later. 😉 

And that’s the grand finale to my summer break! 

Thank you for coming over! What was your summer like? What are some of the highlights and/or favourite memories? Did you travel places? Or meet new books? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!