• TV

    Monthly TV – April 2023

    “You” Season 4 – I was really hoping this would be the last season because this show has been going for too long. This show is so over the top and stupid that I expect it every season. I actually liked this season relative to the others because of the setting and the cast. I really hope Joe gets what he deserves in the last season.

    “The Mandalorian” S3 – I loved this season much more than the general consensus it seems. There was one episode I found boring (and it wasn’t the Plazir 15 one). The finale felt a bit rushed but it ended on a happy note. I am not a devout Star Wars fan. I have seen all the movies. I didn’t watch The Clone Wars or Rebels, only a few eps here and there. I’ve dabbled even in the fandom. I do find the Filoni and Favreau shows consistently entertaining for me to stick through with it. The action is great to watch and I’m glad we have cinematic TV. It’s not perfect writing all the time but it’s entertains stuff.

  • Books

    April 2023 Books

    A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

    Maybe it was all the hype around this and the emerging “cozy fantasy” genre term but I expected to like this more than I did. I think it was has some lovely moments. I really like Mosscap the robot. It’s wonderfully short as well. It didn’t wow me the way others have though. A solid novella. I will consider reading the sequel.

    3.5/5 stars. Read April 5, 2023.

    The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeyth Lim

    The sequel to Six Crimson Cranes which was one of my favourite reads from last year. I was a bit disappointed. I partly blame myself as I have been in a reading rut related to some health issues recently. This sequel was too long at 500 pages though. In the first book, I was not bored with the action and there seemed to be a more cohesive journey and mission for Shiori. In this book, there are several side quests. It was too much and I basically got bored. I think if this book were half the length, it would have deserved it’s rather nice ending. This makes me rethink reading more from Lim as I think there was too many characters and quests in this book.

    3/5 stars. Read April 5-8, 2023.

    Vacationland by John Hodgman

    I adore John Hodgman. Ten years ago, I started listening to his podcast Judge John Hodgman and it remains my absolute favourite podcast and one of my favourite things in general. I became a MaxFun supporter for the show. He is so considerate and humanist on that podcast. I like his sometimes streams of Get Your Pets and Zoning Out where he plays Sim City. He is so chill and compassionate when interacting with guests. In the past few months, I have been suffering from insomnia and to help me sleep or keep me company in the bad nights, I’ve relistened to a lot of the JJHO again. I was running out of episodes so I decided to get the audiobooks. This one was good. I missed some of it when I fell asleep in the middle but I liked the start and the end especially the reflections on his mother’s passing.

    See my original review here.

    4.5/5 stars. Audiobook.

    This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

    This was part of a banned books list. I didn’t realize until I started it that I had already read another graphic novel from Mariko Tamaki. This was well illustrated. It’s a coming of age story and realistic with some of the dialogues by the younger leads. There is a teen pregnancy storyline which was okay. I preferred more the dynamics between the lead and her mother. In any case, a nice book.

    3/5 stars. Read April 22-23, 2023.

    The Cat Who Saved Books by S?suke Natsukawa

    A cute, cozy novel. Low stakes. For bibliophiles. I gave this a generous 3.5 when most of the book is a firm 3. I liked the ending.

    3.5/5 stars. Read April 27-30, 2023.

  • TV

    Monthly TV – March 2023

    I mainly watch shows after the season airs and binge them afterwards. This can be good because I find myself invested like I would a book or movie. I do want to give weekly show drops a chance to see if it’s better.

    Weekly Watching:

    “The Mandalorian” Season 3 – I like adding Bo Katan (Katee Sackhoff) as an addition. I watched Battlestar Galactica and Sackhoff’s acting on that was good even though she often plays characters who are emotionally limited which is common in sci-fi. This show benefits from having more than Din and Grogu, but I don’t find myself particularly enamored with the Star Wars shows as world building so much as the characters, the acting, and in this show’s unique case, the puppetry.

    “Ted Lasso” Season 3 – Seeing as this is the last season, I wanted to see if it would be good week to week.

  • Books

    March 2023 Books

    The Red Scare: A Graphic Novel by Liam Francis Walsh

    A nice little graphic novel. I like graphic novels now as a breather between other books. I especially like to read and finish one after a work day. This is very much a YA novel with protagonists who are immature. I did like that the main character is called out on it and there is an element of sci-fi fun to it.

    3/5 stars. Read March 16, 2023.

    Ella Minow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

    I generally like short epistolary novels like this. This was a subversive novel which bordered on being twee at times. It was interesting. I can see being polarizing though. I really liked it because it was creative and I enjoyed the characters. It had a couple of sad and dark moments, but it was generally an easy and satisfying read.

    3.5/5 stars. Read March 27-29, 2023.

  • Books

    Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

    This is yet another been on my TBR list for awhile. It was okay and I think partly because I already employ most of the these techniques. I think the book wasa good way to reflect on my relationship and history with smart phones and social media.

  • TV

    Monthly TV – February 2023

    “The Flatshare” (18 02 23) – As a TV show, it was okay. As an adaptation, it was below average. I would like more London set adult shows that aren’t too dark but this one sorta missed out on some of the good and darker aspects of the book. I liked the acting I guess.

    “Ted Lasso” S2 (19 02 23) – Not all of S2. Just the last few eps which I didn’t up finishing in 2021. I had to finish it now that S3 has been announced soon. There were a lot of father issues on this season though which I guess is a nice change from mother issues on some other shows. Not as tight arc wise as S1 but I still think this show has its bonuses. I like its earnestness. I hate Nate though.

  • Books

    A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall

    I keep trying to find regency romance novels that I like as much as Georgette Heyer’s and Jane Austen’s. While most of the books are fine, I don’t love them. This one was the same.

    This a queer regency romance with a transgender woman as lead. It had great reviews and it is well done in parts. I liked the protagonist. As usual, I could have done without the male lead who was super angsty (dad issues, PTSD, physically disabled, drug addiction). I really liked the supporting best friend who was the lead’s sister-in-law. That was a good character.

    My biggest issue with this book was that it was too long. I started in early January on vacation but it took me ages to read 15%; it was a very slow start. I contemplated giving up on it a few times before powering through to one third into the book. At that point, it did pick up in plot but I still found it all a bit too over written personally. I had to skim a lot to finish it.

    I do think for people who read a lot of regency novels, this is probably one of the better ones. I think I preferred this over the Bridgerton in terms of quality of writing and characters. Therefore not for me personally but not bad overall.

    I am going to stop picking up regency romances now. I keep hoping to replicate my love of the classics but it never does.

    3/5 stars. Read on Kindle January 4-20, 2023.

  • Books

    Best of 2022 Books

    Without going into personal stuff details too much, 2022 was a more difficult year than I had anticipated. It’s been a rough time with COVID-19. I really hope that personally and globally, we all recover. On a book front, I was able to maintain my reading goal of reading over 52 books every year. It was a decent year for reading books. I read 60 books which is not as good as 2021’s 70 but a great year in terms of quality books and audiobooks. This is by no means exhaustive and I really could not list all the good books I read this year.

    For 2023, I am aiming to read more from my collection so less new books and more classics.

    Audiobooks and Non Fiction

    2022 was a great year for audiobooks. I was able to appreciate it more and listen to them while I was sick, knitting, or puzzling. The following are great books and well narrated.

    The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

    The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson

    The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – Not non-fiction but narration by Tom Hanks really made this novel.

    General Fiction and Literary

    A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

    Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

    Young Adult and Children’s Fiction

    Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster

    Last Night at the the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

    Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

    Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

    Graphic Novels/Manga

    Satoko and Nada series by Yupechika

  • Books

    The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

    I picked this one up in a little library in Sydney. It’s by an Australian author and set in Melbourne. I knew from initial impressions and some light reading on good reads that it was a “domestic thriller” similar to the work of Liane Moriarty. I debated about bringing it back but eventually decided to try for it as my plane reading.

    My expectations were low because I don’t really read a lot of these domestic thrillers. Upon reflection when I have read the popular ones, I don’t mind them as much as say modern romance novels.

    I found myself liking this more than expected. I did figure our the twist half way. I didn’t love the romance or abuse survivor storylines. I think these thrillers use trauma too much as a plot device. The resolutions to these storylines was a bit too neat as well.

    What was good is the author seems to really know middle class women and to a certain extent, a woman from a poorer background. Of course the women are all white and most of it happened in a very privileged setting. Still, I found myself actually liking and relating to the women in the book. They were all messed up but the author had a nice way of showing their relatability.

    As a novel published in Australia by an Australian, I found moments and words which were for that audience and would likely have been changed for international readers. I liked that after my own experience travelling in the country.

    Not bad pulp fiction. Didn’t regret reading it and it kept me occupied for a few hours. Sometimes these kind of novels are great for travel.

    3.5/5 stars. Read January 13, 2023.

  • Books

    The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

    John Wyndham was an English sci-fi author known for his works published in the mid-20th century. I read The Chrysalids by John Wyndham as assigned reading in middle school and remember it leaving an impression. It was helped by the fact that I had one of my favourite English teachers at the time. In any case, I wanted to try more Wyndham especially since this book is in the 1001 Books list and I managed to get a copy.

    The premise that a small town of women are suddenly impregnated after a day out through xenogenesis is horrible. The concepts in this book and in Wyndham’s books make him one of the most interesting of sci-fi authors. Having read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, I can see how Wyndham influenced them more so with the Chrysalids though.

    It has been decades since I read the Chrysalids so I can’t offer a great comparison on the writing except that the children in that book were the central characters. Here, the children are the antagonists. The writing feels a bit heavy handed since it’s a bunch of mostly male adults talking a lot. There are not enough from the female characters at all which is disappointing given that they suffer so much by the plot.

    I do think the themes and the creepiness make this book and Wyndham’s interesting.

    3.5/5 stars. Read January 3-4, 2022.

  • Monthly Movies,  Movies

    What I Watched – Autumn and Holidays 2022/23

    Rick & Morty Season 6 – This was the only show I was watching in the autumn.

    Free Guy (13 11 22) – Fun. Sweet rom com. Great cast. Mindless entertainment

    Knives Out: Glass Onion – Very fun! I thought Janelle Monae was great in this and I continue to adore Daniel Craig’s Blanc character. I am so happy that this series is living up to the first film.

    My Kitchen Rules AU – I was actually really pleased by the winners.

    Only Murders in the Building season 1 & 2 – Funny. We loved this. Growing up I remember watching a lot of Steve Martin movies and his comedy style is silly and often wholesome. A bit predictable for me as someone who reads mystery but the comedy is top notch. I also like the chemistry between the three leads.

    Julia Season 1 (13 01 23)- Started on plane and finished at home. Very great plane watching as it has some of my favourite things: food, mid-century decor and fashion, female characters, and a great cast! Uplifting and sweet. Also as someone who loves Frasier, the many scenes between Bebe Neuwith with and David Hyde Pearce feels like a spiritual successor to Frasier. The show’s writing is not perfect and the artistic license taken with the lives of real people and the social issues is clunky. However, relationships and acting and design are one point.