Where to Place “Bishop’s Honor” While The Cold Bites Off Humanity

“Bishop’s Honor” tells the story of Bishop, a detached soldier who formerly lived in solitary, far from the rest of the humanity. Then came Maeve, his former best friend’s widow, and her six-year-old son. Due to his promise to Maeve’s husband, Bishop came out from his isolation in order to help Maeve and her son navigated themselves through the Maunder Minimum, a period of solar inactivity that led to a mini-ice age.

“Bishop’s Honor” tells the story of Bishop, a detached soldier who formerly lived in solitary, far from the rest of the humanity. Then came Maeve, his former best friend’s widow, and her six-year-old son. Due to his promise to Maeve’s husband, Bishop came out from his isolation in order to help Maeve and her son navigated themselves through the Maunder Minimum, a period of solar inactivity that led to a mini-ice age.

Continue reading “Where to Place “Bishop’s Honor” While The Cold Bites Off Humanity”

Jonathan Stroud’s “The Golem’s Eye”—Of Injustice, Camaraderie, and Blind Ambitions

In The Golem’s Eye, the second book of Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, young Nathaniel has grown up to become a junior magician in the Security Ministry. His dazzling career and tactless arrogance attracts enemies from all over the place. It brings pressure to his main job—eradicating rebellion movement trying to overthrow the magician government, The Resistance—as each politicians keep trying to frame every incidents into his fault.


In The Golem’s Eye, the second book of Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud, young Nathaniel has grown up to become a junior magician in the Security Ministry. His dazzling career and tactless arrogance attracts enemies from all over the place. It brings pressure to his main job—eradicating rebellion movement trying to overthrow the magician government, The Resistance—as each politicians keep trying to frame every incidents into his fault.

Desperate for ally and enraged by the way other magicians look down on him, Nathaniel does something that he has promised not to do: summoning Bartimaeus and binding the djinn into a master-servant contract with him, again.

Continue reading “Jonathan Stroud’s “The Golem’s Eye”—Of Injustice, Camaraderie, and Blind Ambitions”

Jennifer Blackstream’s “Deadline”: A Blend of Magic and Crime

Shade Renards has decades and a dark past behind her, but right now she’s just a village witch. And she doesn’t want to be. Her biggest dream is to be a detective, helping people uncovering crimes instead of helping people with their backache or pets that get sick. Despite her mentor’s explicit disapproval, Shade opens up a new investigation agency. Her first case is a missing—possibly dead—person. But she finds more than just a dead body.

Shade Renards has decades and a dark past behind her, but right now she’s just a village witch. And she doesn’t want to be. Her biggest dream is to be a detective, helping people uncovering crimes instead of helping people with their backache or pets that get sick. Despite her mentor’s explicit disapproval, Shade opens up a new investigation agency. Her first case is a missing—possibly dead—person. But she finds more than just a dead body.

Continue reading “Jennifer Blackstream’s “Deadline”: A Blend of Magic and Crime”

Illustrated Journaling Challenge Day #10 – Mizu ni Sumu Hana, A Review

Image source: Mizu ni Sumu Hana Manga Cover Volume 2.

20/01/2021 – Listening to TWICE’s Sweet Summer Day.

Recently I finished Mizu ni Sumu Hana (水に棲む花; Flowers That Live in Water; alternative title: Romance of Darkness) manga series. It was written by Shinohara Chie and published from 2004 to 2005. The series itself consists of five manga volumes (24 chapters).

The story revolves around a high school girl named Nikaidou Rikka. One day, the school bus she was on plunged into a lake and everyone inside died, except for her. She was miraculously saved by a water god called Izumi. For years, Izumi had been interested in girls named Rikka though he couldn’t remember why. Another Rikka was previously also saved by Izumi using a seed that could prolong her life. If she didn’t get the seed, she would die soon. On the other hand, by swallowing the seed Izumi had given her, Nikaidou Rikka was on the process of assimilating with water. That gave her two option: to live with Izumi in water and leave Yuzuru (the guy she loved) behind or to give up the seed and die so that another Rikka could live?

Personally I think the story’s plot is a bit cliche. I don’t enjoy much of the characters, except for the other Rikka (who seemed to be the only character showing personality development in the entire series). There was a lot of talks about sacrifice and destiny, which were supposed to be romantic, but ended up as being too forced and, honestly, kind of unnecessary. On the other hand, the art was really good and I love how the author incorporated all water scenes into the story. I also appreciate that even though the initial premise was a love triangle, it actually didn’t quite evolve to be so. On that mark, the series wasn’t as predictable as I expected it to be.

I recommend this for a light read when you have spare time and want something quick to enjoy. Also good for fantasy and supernatural lover who doesn’t want to dive deep into another universe but still crave some magical moments.

Illustrated Journaling Challenge Day #7: Deep Love, Pao’s Tale

17/01/2021 – Listening to MONSTA X’s Middle Of The Night.

If I remember correctly, I read Deep Love: Pao’s Story in December. It was manga by Kurosawa Akiyo. After devouring the first volume in one sitting, I decided not to continue reading it. The reason? It was good. The manga was good. The story was incredible. It was real. And it was so painfully torturing that I almost couldn’t make it through first volume.

Deep Love: Pao’s Story was told in the perspective of Pao, a puppy whose family got abandoned after their caretakers’ family went bankrupt and had to hide from debt collectors. Pao’s mother gave all food that was left to the puppies and ended up dead soon after. Pao’s older siblings also found their demise in the hands of humans. Even though Pao managed to survive, he still couldn’t shake off bad fortunes from his path. From abuse, poverty, suicide, homelessness, torture, animal cruelty, to prostitutions; Pao had witnessed the various unforgiving nature of human world and the people inside it. But not all humans are bad. Along his journey, Pao did encounter several people with kind hearts and genuine love. I guess that’s the message the author wants to give us all: that even through some nasty events that happen in life, we can still find love deeper than the ocean.

I recommend this manga for people who love animals, especially dogs, and have stomach strong enough to handle the bloody, torturing part of the story (I warn you, there is quite a lot and all is heart-wrenching enough to make you cry). Apparently the manga is part of a series called Real, which includes Pao’s story, Ayu’s story, Host’s story, and Reina’s story. All three latter characters were introduced in Pao’s story, so it is a good idea to begin from that first. Wish you a good day. Don’t forget to be kind to animals (and people).

The Maze Runner Series, Ki Hong Lee, and Being a Mental Health Advocate

2020.10.01 – Listening to ONF’s Good Good.

Last week I was binge-watching The Maze Runner movies (all three of them) and binge-reading the books (also all three of them). I was struck by how different the movies and the books are, but also how each had something I especially liked about them.

For those who haven’t watch or read the series, please beware of spoilers.

SPOILERS ALERT!

I actually watched the movie first and only picked up the book right after watching the third and final movie. The Maze Runner movie was released in 2014. I remembered getting hooked up right away after watching it. I recognized Thomas Brodie-Sangster (the one who played “Newt” in The Maze Runner) was also the same person who played Jojen Reed in Game of Thrones. Newt and Jojen were my favourite characters, so I was excited when I knew Thomas Sangster played both characters. Unfortunately, both characters died (poor me, or poor them. Mostly poor me).

To be honest, I knew Newt was going to die even before I watched The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure (the second and third), which was why I hadn’t been enthusiastic to follow the series. From 2014 to 2019, I basically avoided the series. At least until last week, when I picked up the second movie as my Artist Date plan for the week.

The Scorch Trials, to be honest, wasn’t really my cup of tea. It was a lot of actions and less of thoughtful decisions. Basically Thomas and the gangs kept getting betrayed, had to escape to different places, getting attacked, and so on. It also focused a lot on Thomas, which was a pity, since there were also a lot of other characters I would like to dig deeper. The ending captivated me though, and I immediately picked up The Death Cure afterwards.

If I had to rank the movies by which I liked the most to the least, the order would be The Maze Runner, The Death Cure, and The Scorch Trials. The Death Cure was thrilling and thought-provoking. In this movie, I took a liking on Minho (played Ki Hong Lee). I was already familiar with Ki Hong Lee as an actor. I had watched several of his short movies (mostly by Wong Fu Productions) and seeing him as Minho, a strong, sarcastic, and short-tempered character, was a whole new different experience. I got so interested that I re-watched The Maze Runner movie again just to see more of his acting. The final verdict is that I really love his acting and his works (he has an IGTV series, Mr Soulmate, which is also very entertaining).

I read several articles on Minho’s characterization and was told that his sarcasm and other traits were shown more through the books. Which is why, after having a marathon of the movies, I had a marathon of the books. And damn, it was good.

Through the book, I took more understanding in all the characters, the plots, the universe, and how it differs from the movies. I like how it ends in the book, since they didn’t find the cure so Newt’s death feels more inevitable than in the movies, where Thomas’s blood is deemed as the true cure (which means in the movie, he actually had the chance to save Newt). I like how Newt’s death was known to Minho in the movie. He at least deserved to see his long-time friend for the last time, even in death. In the book, Minho didn’t even get a goodbye or a letter and he didn’t even know that Thomas killed Newt (that’s just so sad). I like Teresa better in the movie since I can sincerely understand her motives for betraying Thomas.

And I love Gally, both in the book and the movie. Played by Will Poulter (known by his role as Eustace Scrubb in Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Gally is possibly the most complex character in the series and the one who shows the most character development. He began as one of the main villains, but then proceeded to be the one who saved Thomas and the key character in The Death Cure plot.

END OF SPOILERS.

After finishing The Maze Runner series, I began researching more about Ki Hong Lee. He had mentioned in several interviews that he was grateful and feeling honoured for the chance to play an Asian character in a Hollywood movie. I was not familiar with Hollywood industry or about Asian-American in general, but this made me realize that it’s a breakthrough for an Asian to get roles with strong characters like Minho in The Maze Runner. I mean, I rarely find any movie or TV series from America who has Asian as lead characters. I remembered all the hype when To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Crazy Rich Asians got movie adaptations. I definitely enjoyed the both the books and the movies, but being unfamiliar with Western film industries, I had never noticed the significance before.

In an interview on CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment)’s YouTube channel, Ki Hong mentioned how once he had thought about changing his name into something easier to pronounce (an English name of some sort), but his mother was against it, saying that if people can pronounce names like Tchaikovsky they surely can put an effort to pronounce names such as Ki Hong Lee.

Ki Hong also stated that since there aren’t a lot of opportunities for Asian actors to have an acting career in Western film industry, it’s up to him to create the opportunity. I think I admire him a lot for saying that. Yes, most of the times, opportunity doesn’t come to us. And sometimes looking for it is not enough. We just have to create it by ourselves. Success is not a paved road after all. We have to begin by something.

Many of The Maze Runner casts are mental health advocates. I think I somehow found my way to those kinds of people, like Will Poulter, Kaya Scodelario, Ailee Xu, Stray Kids, BTS, Halsey, and many others. I found myself deeply interested in this topic. For the last two weeks, I had been working on a concept of psychology app for a scientific project competition in my university. I realized that I still have a lot to learn and there are so many ways to help people who struggle with mental health. When my team presented our idea last night during the preliminary stage of the competition, we were given warm response. It seems that more and more people have become aware of the importance of mental health and it is nice to see. I don’t know whether my team would be able to advance to the next stage, but even if we don’t, it is still a fortunate opportunity and I feel proud of what we’ve achieved. The last two weeks have been really busy with college assignments and preparations for the project, so I hope I can take a breather today and tomorrow, before starting to take off again with different projects next week.

Note: I plan to pick up The Fever Code or The Kill Order next. I have noticed that reading a lot, instead of watching YouTube or being buried in college stuffs, improves my mood throughout the day. What about you? What do you do when you need a surge of serotonin?

The Buddha in the Attic – a book summary

Nobody win war. Everybody lose. (p.87)

THEY want a life outside the farm, outside the country, apart from their countryman. They dream of a life with a rich husband who won’t force them to spend day and night tending the farm and the house. They dream of a life far from their boring hometown, closer to an adventure in the New World. They dream of a happy marriage life with American men who will speak in different language than theirs, who will act differently than their fellow countryman.

Not at all of them get what they wish for. A life in America might be very different from their life in Japan, or might be not so different at all—because some of them get a Japanese man to marry instead of American. Some of them get loving husband, but some are not so lucky. Some spend their future life in luxury, some might find themselves buried yet again in poverty. Some find friends, some find that their neighbours hate them. But in the end, it will all be the same. Just like how their beginnings are so similar to each other’s.

When a war was brewing and America seemed to be not wanting Japanese people live under their sky so freely, the woman who once dreamed were sent to a far away place, where nobody know what happens to them later on.

The Buddha in the Attic is a story about dozens (maybe hundreds) of women who were sent off to America as soon-to-be-bride. It was written mostly in the Japanese women’s perspective—not just one or two or three, but a lot of them. Hence the pronoun “they”. It was a beautiful and tragic story. I love the writing style—it hooked me right from the very beginning.

Quotes Collection: Daisy Jones & The Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid

1. I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse. I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story.

2. You do sometimes sit and wonder why it wasn’t you, what makes you so special that you get to be safe. The world doesn’t make much sense.

3. Love and pride don’t mix.

4. That’s the glory of being a man. An ugly face isn’t the end of you.

5. Who the fuck do you think you are, cheating on me? You think there’s a woman alive who is better than what you have?

6. Someone who insists on the perfect conditions to make art isn’t an artist. They’re an asshole.

7. When you put your life in your music, you can’t be clearheaded about your music.

8. I wore what I wanted when I wanted. I did what I wanted with who I wanted. And if somebody didn’t like it, screw ’em.

9. It is what I have always loved about music. Not the sounds of the crowds or the good times as much as the words—the emotions, and the stories, the truth—that you can’t let flow right out of your mouth.

10. When you have everything, someone else getting a little something feels they’re stealing from you.

11. It’s like some of us are chasing after our nightmares the way other people chase dreams.

12. I don’t believe in soul mates anymore and I’m not looking for anything. But if I did believe in them, I’d believe your soul mate was somebody who had all the things you didn’t, that needed all the things you had. Not somebody who’s suffering from the same stuff you are.

13. They’re songs. You pull them out of wherever you can. You change the meanings to fit the moments sometimes. Some songs came more from my heart than others, I suppose.

14. It’s so strange, how someone’s silence, someone’s insistence that something isn’t happening can be so suffocating. But it can be. And suffocating is exactly the word, too. You feel like you can’t breathe.

15. Appreciation from people you admire changes how you see yourself. Everybody wants somebody to hold up the right mirror.

16. I mean, there were a lot of teenage girls that wanted to grow up and be me in the late seventies. I was keenly aware of that. But the only reason people thought I had everything is because I had all the things you can see. I had none of the things you can’t.

17. History is what you did, not what you almost did, not what you thought about doing. And I was proud of what I did.

18. Art doesn’t owe anything to anyone. Songs are about how it felts, not the facts. Self-expression is about what it feels to live, not whether you had the right to claim any emotion at any time. Did I have a right to be mad at him? Did he do anything wrong? Who cares! Who cares? I hurt. So I wrote about it.

19. But loving somebody isn’t perfection and good times and laughing and making love. Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it.

20. Do you know what you do with that level of trust? When someone says, “I trust you so much I can tolerate you having secrets?” You cherish it. You remind yourself how lucky you are to have been given that trust every day.

21. Here’s a lesson for everybody, take it from me: Handsome men that tell you what you want to hear are almost always liars.

22. You have to have one person in your life that you know would never do anything to steer you wrong. They may disagree with you. They could even break your heart, from time to time. But you have to have one person, at least, who you know will always tell you the truth. You need one person who, when the shit hit the fan, grabs your stuff, throws it in a suitcase, and gets you away from the Italian prince.

23. I wish someone had told me that love isn’t torture. Because I thought love was this thing that was supposed to tear you in two and leave you heartbroken and make your heart race in the worst way. I thought love was bombs and tears and blood. I did not know that it was supposed to make you lighter, not heavier. I didn’t know it was supposed to take only the kind of work that makes you softer. I thought love was war. I didn’t know it was supposed to … I didn’t know it was supposed to be peace. And you know what? Even if I did know that, I don’t know that I would have been ready to welcome it or value it.

24. It’s easy to disguise almost anything as a love song.

25. I wasn’t scared of regretting not having a child. But I was scared of regretting having a child. I was scared of bringing an unwanted life into this world. I was scared of living my life, feeling like I’d anchored myself to the wrong dock. I was scared of being pushed to do something I knew I did not want.

26. Passion is … It’s fire. And fire is great, man. But we’re made of water. Water is how we keep living. Water is what we need to survive. My family was my water. I picked water. I’ll pick water every time. And I wanted Daisy to find her water. Because I couldn’t be it.

27. No matter who you choose to go down the road with, you’re gonna get hurt. That’s just the nature of caring about someone. No matter who you love, they will break your heart along the way.

28. You can justify anything. If you’re narcissistic enough to believe that the universe conspires for and against you—which we all are, deep down—then you can convince yourself you’re getting signs about anything and everything.

29. You can’t control another person. It doesn’t matter how much you love them. You can’t love someone back to health and you can’t hate someone back to health and no matter how right you are about something, it doesn’t mean they will change their mind.

30. But at some point, you have to recognize that you have no control over anybody and you have to step back and be ready to catch them when they fall and that’s all you can do. It feels like throwing yourself.

31. I’d chased this life with all of my heart. I wanted so badly to express myself and be heard and bring solace to other people with my own words. But it became a hell I’d created myself, a cage I’d built and locked myself in. I came to hate that I’d put my heart and my pain into my music because it meant that I couldn’t ever leave it behind.

32. A part of me wishes you wanted kids, because my kids make me so happy. But … I think in order to be happy like I’m happy, you need different things. And I want you to have whatever those things are.

33. Life is about who is holding your hand and, I think, whose hand you commit to holding.

34. I decided I don’t need perfect love and I don’t need a perfect husband and I don’t need perfect kids and a perfect life and all that. I want mine. I want my love, my husband, my kids, my life.

35. I’m not perfect. I’ll never be perfect. I don’t expect anything to be perfect. But things don’t have to be perfect to be strong. So if you’re waiting around, hoping that something’s going to crack, I just … I have to tell you that it’s not gonna be me. And I can’t let it be Billy. Which means it’s gonna be you.

36. Don’t count yourself out this early, Daisy. You’re all sorts of things you don’t even know yet.

37. Your life isn’t about me, honey, my life is about you.

You’re My Pet: 3 Things I Like About It

1. The Main Character’s Perfect Mask and Her Insecurities

Graduated from both Tokyo and Harvard University, Sumire was known to be smart and competent in her work. Not only that, she was tall, beautiful, and always stayed calm in every situation. But in her colleagues’ eyes, they only saw an ambitious woman, with cold personality and not-so-feminine attitude. For them, Sumire was intimidating. So when her boyfriend cheated on her and ran off with other woman, people were quick to blame Sumire’s indifferent behaviour and lack of affection—which is actually, only a façade, a mask to protect her fragile confidence and self-compassion.

Back in her college days, Sumire had been quiet and introvert, too shy to speak her mind and very anxious about what people had thought about her. Some of those traits still remained. It was just that she was now more capable of hiding it. But by hiding her weakness and worries, Sumire was unable to show her vulnerable side to people close to her—even to her now ex-boyfriend. People thought she was prim and perfect. But in actuality, she just couldn’t tell people that she smoked and played games for hours when stressed out. She couldn’t tell people that them calling her cold and ambitious actually hurt her feelings. She couldn’t even say that she hadn’t been actually mad when she corrected one of her colleague’s mistake in work. She’s just being herself, perfectionist and worried about people knowing her weaknesses. But she couldn’t show that side of her to anyone.

These struggles were the main focus of the the manga’s overall plot—how Sumire began to learn to express herself more, being more honest with her feelings, and finding people who actually took the care to understand her.

2. The Adorable Dark “Momo” in Disguise

Finding a starving, homeless boy in a cardbox was a change in Sumire’s life. It might be a blessing or a hidrance, but at that time, Sumire definitely thought that it was a total hidrance. So to get rid of the boy as quick as possible, Sumire said she would only took the boy in as a pet. Surprisingly, the boy agreed without a single moment of hesitatence and thus given a name, “Momo”, based on Sumire’s previous dog.

As a pet, Momo was obedient. He let Sumire feed, bathe, and play with his hair. He didn’t complain when Sumire used him as a place to throw out all of her buried anger and emotions. He listened and gave Sumira comforting cuddle, just as a real pet would do.

But the real “Momo” is more than a pet. He was a boy with great talent in dancing, but never settled long enough in any school or any group to assure a bright future. He did what he wanted to do, said what he wanted to say, and disappeared when he needed to.

But soon Momo realized that just like how Sumire needed someone she could express herself with, he needed a “permanent” home and real “commitment”. So despite their weird dynamic and relationship, he always came back and Sumire always welcomed him.

3. The Heart-warming Story and Light-heartened Plot

Readers wouldn’t expect it from the seemingly “sexual” cover illustration, but I’d firmly say that “You’re My Pet” is a heart-warming story. Sure, the characters are adults with adult jobs, adult romances, and adult problems, but it’s definitely not meant to be a love story that focuses on sexual parts of a relationship. Of course there is a few of adult scenes, but that is a given, since it is a josei manga after all. But to be honest, romance doesn’t even happen between Sumire and Momo until months, even years, into their story. Most of the plot is dedicated to solve Sumire’s insecurities problems and Momo’s so-called “no-commitment” problems. Sumire doesn’t even see Momo as a real human being, a real boy, a real man on top of that, for a very long time. Their interactions, therefore, are mostly warm and light, full of comforting feelings, which I like tremendously. Definitely a recommended manga.

49 Days Journal Challenge – Day 23

Sragen. 16.06.2020.

15:17. Listening to MXM’s COME CLOSE.

Today I want to talk about books.

There are four books I’m currently reading this month, all in different devices. That’s not unusual. I tend to pick up several books and read them at the same time. It makes it easier to finish more books and read from more diverse categories because I can switch from one book from another when I get bored. The rule is to read them in separate place or separate time.

For instance, I am re-reading the physical book of The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. It’s a book about the music and poetry (and sun) Greek god, Apollo, who is punished by his father, Zeus–for a reason he himself was unsure about. Apollo was turned into human and lost all his godly power. This book is light and full of humour, written in the perspective of self-centered, but comically Apollo. I usually read this book after I take a bath in the evening, while waiting for my parents to come home with dinner.

The second book I’m reading is Lord of the Flies by William Golding. It’s a classic, so I think many of you have already been familiar with the story. I have read the simplified version in high school but never picked up the original until now. I read it using my mother’s phone. And because I can only use my mother’s phone for a limited amount of time per day (I mean, it’s Mother’s phone, after all), my progress in reading this book is pretty slow.

The third book I’m reading is The Hammer of Thor, once again by Rick Riordan. As you may have guessed, I am a big fan of Rick Riordan. I own many of his books in physical version, by for this specific series (Magnus Chase and The Gods of Asgard) I prefer to read it on my laptop. The Hammer of Thor is the second book in the series. It’s actually my least favourite series from Rick Riordan, which is why I’m also taking it slow with this book. I usually read it for fifteen to thirty minutes in the morning. It’s a book about Magnus Chase, a demigod, who is in a quest to find the lost hammer of Thor.

The last book I’m currently reading is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. I read the book using my own phone because 1) the book is extra delicious so I want to be able to read it anywhere, and 2) I take a lot of notes from this book so it’s easier to use my phone instead of other devices. The book is a personal biography of Lori Gottlieb, a therapist, who found herself shaken apart after an unbelievable breakup. While she seek a counsel from another therapist named Wendell, she realized that her problem was actually bigger than just a breakup and that in unexpected ways, many of her former patients had something she also struggled with deep inside. What I like the most about the book is that it’s actually an easy read despite the heavy and very reflective theme–mental health and self-denial. I really recommend you to read this book if you like psychology and things like that.

So those are the four books I’m currently reading. For the record, I use Play Books to purchase and read all the e-books I have mentioned above, with one account even on three different devices. And that’s how I am able to read several books at the same time.

I think that’s it for today’s entry. By the way, it didn’t rain yesterday nor it would today. There are some gray clouds in the sky, but so far the weather has been very clear. I feel a bit disappointed, though at least it’s not as hot as yesterday.

Thank you for reading. See you again tomorrow with different content!