Friday, December 28, 2018

Shadowhunters Talk: 2x19 "Hail and Farewell"

I'll start off talking about this episode on a high note: the Forsaken.

Interestingly enough, even though they play a significant role in the books, the Forsaken aren't a part of the story that have stood out to me over time. While I haven't forgotten about them, they're not something I've thought a lot about since the last time I read the books (which is going on a few years now), so I feel kind of vague when it comes to them. It feels like something that was never fully explored in the books, but I'm not sure if that's true or just my hazy memory.

Either way, the Forsaken in the TV show have left a more lasting impression, and I can say that with confidence since I'm writing this so long after this part of the show aired, yet I have a much clearer memory of the show's version of the Forsaken than the books'.

In the TV show, the Forsaken remind me a lot of zombies, which isn't how I thought of them in the books even though, looking back on it now, I can see some parallels. I'm really not a zombie fan. I've tried before to get into zombie stories, and I always find them incredibly boring in the end. Because of that, I'm glad the Forsaken never played a larger part in the show, but I did like the way they were used.

Seeing Raphael apologize to Izzy was nice. There was a moment where I thought it might be signal that the show was going to reignite their relationship, but I'm glad they didn't After what the two of them went through together, I don't think things could work out between them. They need to move on, but I also hope to see them learn how to be friends. After all, they can relate to what the other went through in a way that others can't. I want the friends to come after they've gotten their distance though, so I'm glad the show didn't do it right away. I'm only hoping we can see hints of a developing friendship in the limited time we have left with the show.

This episode includes Clary killing Sebastian. It's been so long now that I can't remember what my initial reaction was, but since I don't remember being surprised about the later developments, I'm pretty sure I always expected him to come back somehow. Sebastian being gone would have meant losing the big villain without anyone geared up to take his place. While there are other characters who could become the primary antagonist (not least of which is the Clave), there didn't seem to be one queued up.

(Of course we did get a new antagonist after this, but I'll talk more about that when she appears, and it's connected to Sebastian anyway.)

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Life Post: Feeling Thankful (and Some Star Trek: Discovery Fangirling)

Long time now see yet again. It's been May since I last wrote one of these posts, but I won't bother much with apologies. I've been doing that every time I write one of these lately.

If anyone's bothering to read this, you may also have noticed that I've posted a couple other posts recently. Those posts were all written back in 2017 before I'd even moved to Japan. They'd been sitting in drafts waiting to be edited, and now they finally have been. I'll be trying to write more in the future. I have a lot of books and TV shows that I've been watching the last year and a half that I want to talk about.

For instance, I just finished the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. While various Star Trek series were often on TV at our house when I was a kid, I never sat down to pay attention to them, which means I know a lot of random details about them but don't fully understand the universe. I kept getting interested about details of the universe while watching Discovery that would send me down a rabbit hole researching more. I got really into the show, so I definitely want to talk about it in more depth at some point.

I'm now in my second year of teaching in Japan, and from the lack of activity on this blog, you can probably guess that it keeps me busy. Our New Year's holiday is coming up next week, and I've made the decision not to travel for it this year. I need some time to get things in order at home. My apartment needs a serious cleaning from top to bottom (not just quick, casual stuff), and there's so much other stuff I want to do, not least of which is get some stuff written for this blog again. We'll see what I manage to do. I shouldn't have many distractions, since everyone will be with their families or traveling.

All that being said, things are really good here. I really like my job, even when it's stressful. To be quite honest, when I was preparing to come to Japan, I had to keep warning myself that things might be terrible. I didn't want to expect things to be amazing only to be disappointed, and in the process, I kind of thing I made myself come in with zero expectations.

That might have been a good thing, but it didn't turn out to be necessary. While I'm definitely still living in reality (I'd never say things are perfect), I'm really lucky that I chose a great school in a great city with great co-workers and great students. After some stuff that's happened recently, I've gotten particularly cheesy about how much I appreciate all of that. I know some people come to Japan to work at a school they've never visited before and have much worse experiences with the job or their co-workers.

Part (though not the entire) reason I've been thinking that lately is because I've been thinking about how close things could have been to being different for me. I was very close to requesting working in a certain city when I got my job, but I fully understand now how different working in a large city would be compared to where I work now, and I think it would have greatly impacted my enjoyment of the job for the worse. I'm so happy I've ended up where I did.

Woah. I totally didn't intend to go there with this post, but that's kind of a trend with these posts too, I suppose. Along with the long gaps between posting them. Like I said, I've been thinking about that a lot recently, so it's not too big of a surprise. I guess the end of the year is as good a time as any to reflect on what I appreciate in life. Since I'm not in America, I didn't have Thanksgiving for that.

Book Review: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike 3) by Robert Galbraith

ISBN: 0316349933
Published: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Read from June 13 to July 1, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.
Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.
With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…
Career of Evil is the third in the series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A mystery and also a story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. 


Note: Despite how long it has taken to post, this review was originally written the day after I'd finished the book.

So far I've been impressed by the way each Cormoran Strike book feels unique. I don't read many mystery series, but one of the reasons I decided I wasn't interested in reading more Sherlock Holmes after the two I did read was because what I had read felt too similar to each other for me to care for the next one. I haven't felt the same about the Strike books, and I'm hoping that I won't in the future either.

This mystery is personal to Strike in a way the mysteries of the previous two books were, with the suspect targeting Strike and Robin directly. I think that worked to the story's benefit and helped with developing Robin and Strike as characters. We get to see both of them emotionally affected in ways we don't in the first two books, and we also learn more details about their pasts, especially Robin's. There had been hints about something making Robin drop out of university, and while the reveal wasn't shocking (as I had more or less figured it out before the reveal), I appreciated hearing her story and seeing how it was handled.

For two books, there has been something of a love triangle between Strike, Robin, and Matt, and that becomes a larger part of the story in this one. I think that's a good idea largely because I don't think the love triangle can be drawn out over too many books without getting old. Don't expect the triangle to completely resolve itself in this book, but it is a larger focus. After this one, I feel like it must have a conclusion of some kind in book four. And that's what I hope for since I don't think I want it to last longer than that. I'm not a big love triangle fan, and it's getting frustrating to read.

There isn't a scene featuring Matt where I'm not thinking, "Why do you want to marry him, Robin? That's a terrible idea." Honestly, all I want is for her to dump Matt. I don't care if she gets with Strike or not.

As for the mystery the book revolves around, it seemed really obvious to me that one of the three main suspects was guilty by the halfway point in the book. It was so obvious to me, in fact, that I knew I had to be wrong, and lo and behold, I was. The piece of evidence that made it feel obvious to me was never given an explanation, and I'll probably be frustrated by that forever. How could there be such a clear connection if it didn't mean anything? That was a small detail all things considered, but it was enough of one that it bothers me that it wasn't addressed.

Overall, I'd say that the mystery itself didn't feel as intricate as the mysteries of the last two books, and I wasn't as impressed with the reveal. This book seemed more focused on developing Robin and Strike as characters, though, and I can appreciate the book's value for that within the series. I appreciated them being developed into deeper characters.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Shadowhunters Review: 2x13 "Those of Demon Blood"

Note: Written in June of 2017, much closer to this episode airing. Hence why it sounds like I just watched the episode for the first time and why I don't know things that happen later in the show.

This episode was incredible. I'm in love with so many aspects of it.

Jace is truly a masochist if he decided to spend time at the same bar where Clary and Simon are having a date. Or maybe he's trying to prove to himself that he doesn't actually care, which doesn't seem to be working out well for him.

The mutilated Shadowhunter was a shock. Since this is something new from the books, I truly had no idea who could have been behind it. I liked having to try to figure something out instead of having a pretty good idea of where it would go from the start.

Also, though, I love how that was used to explore the prejudices that Shadowhunters hold towards Downworlders. That was where this episode was at its absolute best. I loved, loved, loved Simon explaining to Clary that he couldn't submit a DNA example because of what happened to his family in the Holocaust. That made it so real and also made a very important point that I'm extremely glad the show is delving into. And, of course, Simon turns out to be right when the Clave then decides to insert GPS trackers in all Downworlds.

On a bit of a tangent, how hard would it be for the Shadowhunters to get those things into every Downworlder? I don't doubt they'd try, but that sure seems like a task that would take awhile and, meanwhile, not help so much with finding the filler. This is the Clave we're talking about though. Of course they'd go for it.

Speaking of the Clave, this is the most menacing they've been, but except for Inquisitor Herondale, we still haven't actually seen the Clave. This was try of the books compared to where we are in the show, but I have to say that I'm excited to see the whole Clave and Idris at some point. (Because they have to show us Idris eventually, right?)

Jace's conflict over wanting to please his grandmother now that he knows he's a Herondale but also knowing that what she's asking him to do is wrong is absolutely excellent. Imogen's characterization has been excellent so far. It's just how I picture her. She believes fully in the Clave and holds prejudices against Downworlders, but she one hundred percent believes that she's on the side of good. I'm hoping, since she's still alive and getting to know Jace, that maybe we'll see Jace actually getting through to her and making her change. Or maybe she'll just stay prejudiced forever. Who knows? (I'm kind of thinking that she's going to die by the end of the season to be honest, but since she's already lived past when she would have in the books, there's no telling what they'll do. I'd like to see her stick around a bit longer.)

Imogen knows just what to say to appeal to Jace, with her speeches about the Herondales always following their instinct and doing what's right (with "what's right" undoubtedly having been twisted over the past century and a half or so). She's right about that being what Jace needs to do, of course, but unfortunately for her, Jace's instinct is not telling him to do what she wants. I love that. I'm hoping, too, that her recognition that he is really a Herondale and that he believes that the Clave has done wrong will do something to convince her to come around.

I find it quite interesting that, considering how strict the Clave is, it's also perfectly all right for Imogen to appoint her own grandson as head of the Institute and it's not criticized as favoritism at all. Very interesting how that works. (This is sarcastic, of course, because it makes complete sense that the Clave would work through favoritism while being convinced that it's impartial.)

One tiny complaint I have is that the Malec aspect of this episode wasn't explored further. I know that the "show more Malec" screams can get exhausting, but I don't mean that in a blind "I just want more Malec" sense. I just think this episode hinted at a conflict in their relationship that I would love to see be dealt with more in depth.

Magnus is a Downworlder, and Alec is a member of a group that, by and large, despise Downworlders. That complicates their relationship, and it's made more complicated by the fact that Alec is, even when he doesn't realize it, influenced by the prejudices that have been pushed on him since he was born. I'm glad that was acknowledged, but I almost wish that the resolution hadn't been so brief.

Alec clearly recognizes that he was wrong, but I wonder if we could have gotten more from him over why exactly he was wrong. Or maybe this is just coming from a desire for more Malec, and I don't completely realize my own biases. I don't know. I just feel like seeing Alec acknowledge exactly what he did wrong more at length would have been nice. That being said, this could very well be dealt with more in the future (and I feel like it has to be to a certain extent).

I am so ready to see Isabelle train Max. Will we be seeing more Max now, though, or is the bulk of his training going to happen off screen? I'm hoping we'll at least see more of him than we did in the past, even if he's not in every single episode. There's a lot of room for character growth with Max, and that would be nice to see. Plus, I just really want to see tutor Izzy more. It's awesome, and I feel like being an authority figure for Max could really help Izzy after what she's been dealing with lately.

It was also no surprise that Max would go after Izzy even once told to stay in the Institute, and it was a given that he would be kidnapped once he had. Still, I like seeing Max involved in such an important plot point, and I was genuinely worried that he might end up dead, when I wasn't at all that worried about Clary earlier in the episode. (Clary is, after all, the main character. She's going to stick around for a while.)

As for Kaelie being the one behind it all, that felt a little out of left field. I didn't suspect a Seelie until Raphael said he was suspicious of them. I'd honestly figured it was another Shadowhunter before that trying to blame Downworlders. (I still don't quite get why Kaelie wanted the blame to fall on other Downworlders.) It seems quite the turnaround from before with her, but I liked that they at least explained that her brother had been killed.

Meliorn not only not being responsible but also helping them find Kaelie also made me happy. For anyone who hasn't read the books (and I don't consider this a spoiler), Meliorn is not all that great in the books. The TV show is making him much more complicated. He's not an ally of the Shadowhunters at all times, but it's been made clear that he cares about doing what is right. I wouldn't have been surprised if the Meliorn from the books was killing Shadowhunters, but seeing him work with Izzy and even Raphael (Seelies, Shadowhunters, and vampires all together) made me happy. I really appreciated that.

Finally, Jace turns the Institute over to Alec. One of the first things I thought when Imogen made Jace head of the Institute was that Alec really should have gotten the position. Everyone knew it. I love that Jace acknowledged that, and I love Alec's line about the Clave never appointing him because he's dating a guy who's a Downworlder, a reminder of both the Clave's prejudices towards Downworlders and their homophobia.

When Jace made Alec head of the Institute instead, I wasn't surprised exactly, but I hadn't quite been expecting it either. It was so nice to see and definitely what needed to happen. I also love that everyone knew it needed to happen. I can't even tell you how excited I am to see Alec be in charge of the Institute in the upcoming episodes. I'm so ready for it.

I almost forgot to even mention the Jace and Maia scene. Truthfully, I don't feel I have much to say about it. It was...interesting, but I don't feel as if it's going much of anywhere in the future. I don't know though. Maybe they'll surprise me and do more with that. We'll see.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Comic Review: A:TLA The Rift by Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko

Note: I wrote this review more than a year ago, and apparently never posted it. Whoops. Better late than never I guess. Sorry if it feels a little disconnected. I'm sure that I meant to add more to this, but it's been so long since I read this comic (and I don't have it in Japan to reference) that I can't really do that now.

ISBN: 1616555505
Published: February 11, 2015
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Received: Christmas present
Read: July 1, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Avatar Aang and friends honor an Air Nomad holiday that hasn't been celebrated in over one hundred years, but when cryptic visits from the spirit of Avatar Yangchen lead Aang to a refinery operating on land sacred to the Airbenders--they soon find themselves in peril as a dangerously powerful ancient spirit awakens with vengeance and destruction on its mind!
This collection of The Rift Parts 1-3 features annotations by Eisner Award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and artists Gurihiru (Thor and the Warriors Four), with a brand-new sketchbook section! 

Of all of the Avatar comics I've read so far (which is through to the end of Smoke and Shadow), The Rift has been my favorite. That isn't to say that I didn't have a number of problems with it, but many of the issues that kept me from connecting with the previous comics either weren't present in this trilogy or weren't as bad.

I'm glad we got to see Toph again as she'd been missing for a while. In the story, we see her begin to reconnect with her dad. Since the Legend of Korra, I've wondered what Toph's relationship with her parents was like as an adult considering her relationships with her own daughters, and this comic partially answered that question. It gave me enough information that I can fill in the blanks, and it's more or less what I wanted to see come from their relationship. I appreciate the comic for that. It's one of the few times the comics have given us new information and I've been completely fine with it.

Aang and Toph also have quite a bit of conflict in this story, which I almost feel should have happened in one of the earlier comic series. They identify most with opposite elements, after all, and it felt well within their characters to get angry with each other like they did in The Rift.

Honestly, I think Toph as a character was what made this comic more successful to me than the previous comics. I've always been very fond of her, and she's one of the few characters who I feel is written faithfully in the comics. (I find that the others act out of character too often for my liking.)

Monday, May 28, 2018

Life Post: Fanfiction, Reviews, and Traveling

Long time no see. I shouldn't be surprised that it's been two months since I posted anything (and I'm really not). That's just the way life has become for me.

Actually, I have been incredibly productive when it comes to writing. It's just that none of that writing has been blog posts. If you follow my fanfiction, you'll know that I've been posting something or other nearly every other day, and I've really appreciated getting into fanfiction challenges. That's how I've been getting my creativity out recently.

As a consequence, though, I haven't been writing blog posts or making Youtube videos or even reading. That last one really throws me more than anything. How little I've been reading over the past month or so just really gets to me. I don't like it, so I'm going to have to work on that before I make too much of a commitment to post to the blog on a regular basis.

In other news, season 3A of Shadowhunters is over, and I still need to talk about season 2. And Race to the Edge is over, and I still have nearly two seasons to talk about. That has me hanging my head in shame. I'm still going to talk about all of those episodes because I love both shows and really do want to talk about them. Even if a lot of what I have to say has already been said over on Tumblr.

This is getting longer than intended (as is so often the case), so I should at least mention "real" life a bit. Not much has changed on that front. So much of my life is work now, and as a teacher, I don't want to talk too much about it for privacy reasons, which I've said before.

I did go to Nara recently over Golden Week, and it was such a nice trip. Nara's a lovely place, even if a deer did try to eat my shirt. It was a pretty quiet trip, so there's not a ton to share, but I enjoyed the peacefulness of it.

And in two weeks I'm going to Universal Japan, so I'll try to talk more about that after the trip. I'm looking forward to seeing Hogwarts again!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Life Post: Changes and Being Productive

Look at me writing another one of these when it's only been a week. I'm probably more impressed than you are.

This week promises to be a big one as all of our kids classes finish up and we prepare to start new ones next week. Because I've been teaching the same kids classes since I started working, I'm sure this change is going to feel really weird, especially since the kids I'm teaching will be changing.

One of the other teachers is also leaving, and we're gaining two new teachers come next week. That will also be a huge change, I know, and it's definitely sad to see people leave, but I don't want to turn this into an upsetting post.

I've been doing an incredible amount of writing lately. I got back into challenges, and they have me churning out stories at a speed I haven't in ages. That's partially to do with the length. It's easier to churn them out when they're short and not long, chaptered fanfics like I usually write, but it's made me feel incredibly productive.

Recently, I also increased how much time I'm spending studying Japanese, and I'm taking an online class now. (That might sound strange, taking an online Japanese course while living in Japan, though it is a course from a Japanese university, but I feel like it works better for me than going to the free class they hold here, which just isn't good timing for my schedule.)

All of that has left me feeling pretty good recently, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Life Post: Eight Months in Japan

I realize that I haven't written one of these posts since July, right after I came to Japan. For the past eight months, I've had a to do list that keeps growing and never gets any shorter. And that's not a metaphor. The terrifyingly long to do list is a thing that actually exists, and I stare at it every day. It's at the point where I don't think it will ever be under control again.

But we don't need to talk about that anymore.

As you can imagine, far too much has happened over the last eight months for me to talk about it much in this one post. I've actually captured moments of various things in videos on my phone, so I'll eventually get around to editing those together for Youtube. (It's on that massive to do list.)

Work is going well. Since Japan's school years begin in April, our kids classes are finishing up, and we're preparing for our new kids classes in a couple of weeks. That means I'll be teaching some classes I haven't taught before, so I've been learning a lot about those classes, including a trip to Okayama for training just yesterday.

I'll also go ahead and mention that I'm officially staying in Japan for longer than the one year that I was initially contracted for, so that's exciting. Here's to exploring even more while I'm here.

Eventually, I'll do more in depth posts on this, but I've been to Osaka several times and also Kyoto and Hiroshima so far. And some trips around Tokushima prefecture where I live. I've loved all of the places. The geography of Japan was one thing I never considered before moving here but that I've fallen completely in love with. I was so "ehh" about mountains before, but now I think they're amazing. I've never seen mountains like those in Japan.

Just yesterday, on the bus to Okayama, I spotted a group of monkeys sitting together by the side of the road and thought, "Well, that's definitely not something I get to experience in America." I appreciate that I'm still having those moments where I get genuinely excited about stuff in Japan.

On the "terrible things about Japan" side: I've become way too obsessed with melon pan, and it might be becoming a problem. How am I ever going to survive in America again when I can't get melon pan? Or, the even better question, why isn't melon pan a thing in the US? I feel like that needs to change.

Anyway, it's past midnight here, and despite the fact that tomorrow is a national holiday (the spring equinox) and I don't have to work, I need to be getting to bed. I'm already a little sleep deprived because the Okayama trip ended up interfering with my sleep schedule. I'll do my best to not let eight months pass between life posts again so that I can keep you better updating on what's happening here in Japan.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Awa Odori 2017

Part of the reason why I haven't been posting much is because so much as been happening since I've been in Japan. One of those things was Awa Odori, a dance festival, which is held every August. It's one of (if not the biggest) things that the city I'm living in is famous for.

This is video I took of the Awa dance.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

End of Year Book Survey (2017)

Just about everything about this blog was pushed to the side in the second half of 2017 as I settled into life in Japan. It makes me cringe when I remember that I haven't posted a TBR/wrap-up video in more than six months. (Those are coming back soon.) But I was determined to still do the the yearly survey from Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner. I think it's the jump start I need to dive back into things in 2018.

So, while this was also the first year that I didn't reach my Goodreads reading goal since I began using Goodreads, here's a look back on what I did manage to read in 2017.

Number of books you read: 44
Number of re-reads: 5
Genre you read the most from: This is tough to determine, but it looks like fantasy is just barely in the lead.

1. Best book you read in 2017?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I know there are mixed feelings about Clare in the bookish and fandom communities, but the third book in the Infernal Devices really has stuck with me. Also, I was emotional but mostly fine for most of the book, and then the epilogue left me contemplating my mortality for weeks afterward. (No joke. I read a whole series with a character who was dying, and then it was just the epilogue that had me shaken. There was something about it.)

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Some Go Hungry by J. Patrick Rammond. To be fair, most of my excitement was based on the fact that it's set in Indiana (and southern Indiana at that). That made me want to like the book. Unfortunately, while it was a good book in many ways and I found it fun seeing places I knew, I had a number of problems with the writing.

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read?

Nolander by Becca Mills. I'm worried that I'm only choosing this one because I finished it so soon before writing this post, but I'm going for it anyway. Overall, this was a good book but not one that blew me away. Why am I choosing it as the most surprising? Well, the whole reason I read it is because I downloaded it to my Kindle in a deal with 13 other paranormal books that were combined into one anthology. This one is the fourth or so book I've read from that anthology, and it's the first one I've liked at all. It's enough to make me keep reading the others despite my previous bad luck.

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read (and they did)?

I don't think I convinced anyone to read a book this year. I don't think I even tried to. As my silence on this blog can attest to, I haven't even pushed books on people through the Internet. Maybe next year I'll have an actual answer to this question.

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best sequel of 2017? Best series ender of 2017?

Thanks to that anthology I mentioned above, I started a lot of series in 2017, but the one I'm going to put down as the best isn't one from that anthology. I'm going with A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. The book wasn't perfect by any means, but it did leave me wanting to see how things go in book two. The second book in the series came out this year, so I need to get around to it.

Other than all those volumes of Avatar comics I read, I didn't actually read many sequels this year, so my best sequel and series ender go to Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. While they are just about my only options (as I didn't much like most of the Avatar comics), I did genuinely enjoy them as well, as evidenced by Clockwork Princess being my favorite book of the year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

I read books from a lot of new-to-me authors this year. I'll choose Jessica Cluess as my favorite, as I've spent a lot of time thinking about A Shadow Bright and Burning even months after I read it.

7. Best book you read from a genre you don't typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I'll choose the Avatar comics as a whole for this. I don't read comics often, though I would like to read them more than I do. I think the main thing holding me back is that you can read a comic in one sitting and then you have to go get another one, so it feels like a bit of a money drain. I do enjoy them as a medium though, despite my lackluster enthusiasm for the Avatar comics in general.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. I don't want to go down a path of repeatedly choosing the same couple of books over and over again for this, though I admittedly don't have the biggest selection of books to choose from, but this really was Clockwork Princess. Though I had an idea of where things would go, having read the Mortal Instruments series, I was still very much invested in this book, and it definitely had me more concerned about the fates of its characters than anything else I read this year.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Maureen Johnson. This is a series of short stories, which makes it incredibly easy to re-read one whenever you feel like. Plus, something you just need more Magnus Bane in your life, and this is great for that.

Unfortunately, my copy is in the U.S. right now, so it's unlikely that I'll actually be re-reading it anytime soon.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

This one goes to Wonder Women by Sam Maggs. I've been vocal about how I don't like people on the cover of books, but this one is a bit different as it's non-fiction and the cover is portraits of real women. Since my problem with people on covers comes from a place of wanting to picture the characters for myself, I don't have the same problem with people on the cover of non-fiction books, and I really love this artwork.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Jem Carstairs from the Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Really, I could put down most of the cast of the Infernal Devices here, but I'll choose Jem as I'm currently writing a fanfic from his perspective. That probably means that he was quite memorable to me.

12. Most beautifully written book of 2017?

I don't know if there is one particular book that stands out to me as beautifully written from 2017. I could say Clockwork Princess, but one of the things with Clare's books for me is that there are always some parts that I think are beautifully written and others were I'm left thinking, "What is this?" So I don't really know.

I suppose I'll say The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, i.e. J.K. Rowling. It has some weird subject matter to describe as beautifully written, but this is J.K. Rowling we're talking about. She definitely knows how to put words together.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017?

I'm going to choose Clockwork Princess again. As I said, the epilogue left me contemplating my own mortality for days afterward. I'm not sure that it was life-changing, but it definitely provoked some thinking. And panic. I'm still not entirely sure if it was a good or bad reaction to be honest.

14. Book you can't believe you wanted until 2017 to read?

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. I should have gotten around to it so much sooner, but then, it took me ages to read the first Robert Galbraith book too.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

I'll choose one I really love and agree with from Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare:
“One must always be careful of books," said Tessa, "and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.”
16. Shortest and Longest book you read in 2017?

Shortest: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise, Part 3 by Gene Luen Yang
Longest: Fodor's Japan by Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.

17. Book that shocked you the most?

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith. I've learned that the Cormoran Strike books never go how I'm expecting them too, but this one was especially not at all what I was theorizing as I read.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship)

Herongraystairs: Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Yeah, I'm not choosing sides in this love triangle. Everyone needs to be happy. I'd never been so conflicted over a love triangle. If only things had gone differently...

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

I would say Will and Jem in the Infernal Devices, but as I wish that was romantic, I'm not sure it really counts.

While the Avatar comics aren't my favorite, there are still aspects of them I like. One of those is seeing a tiny bit more of Zuko's friendship with the Gaang. It makes me happy.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

This could still be Clockwork Princess, but I'll also throw The Silkworm out there.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don't have an answer to this as I didn't really choose any books based on peer pressure this year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

I say this every year, but again, I was too busy shipping characters with each other to develop any crushes myself. I couldn't possibly get in the way of all the true love.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

24. Best Worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year

I also have to go with A Shadow Bright and Burning for this. The world of the story is such a large part of what's made it so memorable to me.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read?

Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. I loved getting this look into the making of the series and getting to see all of the artwork.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

27. Hidden Gem of the year

Once again, I'll say A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

28. Book that crushed your soul

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, more so because it reminded me that I, too, will die than because of the fate of the characters. Though I was sad for them too.

29. Most unique book you read in 2017

The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlanksy, but it was mostly just really boring.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Avatar comics made Mai and Zuko break up. I don't need to say anything more.

1. New favorite book blog of 2017

Honestly, I know that I followed a bunch of new people back during Armchair BEA, but I can't for the life of me recall who I followed now that I've struggled to keep up with book blogs for the past six months or so. This is one thing I need to do better in 2018.

2. Favorite review you wrote in 2017

There weren't many of them, so you'd think this would be quite easy. I'll go with Harry Potter and History, edited by Nancy Reagan.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog

Again, I didn't have many. Because I had almost none, actually, I'm going to go ahead and say that it was my announcement that I was moving to Japan.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

It was definitely Armchair BEA, and I'm very sad that it won't be returning next year. It will be missed.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017

I got to visit a popular manga store here in Japan, and though I still can't read manga in Japanese, I enjoyed looking through everything they had. I may have bought more than one should when you can't actually read it yet.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

It was honestly just making time for any of it when I was so focused on moving to Japan, working, and exploring Japan.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Unsurprisingly considering how little I've been active, my blog hasn't gotten many visits this year.

Though it's a video, I believe it was one of my Shadowhunters reviews.

8. Post you wished got a little more love

I'm not sure I have one of these this year, as most of what I wrote was just reviews, and the reviews I'm happiest with are the ones that got more attention.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I suppose I'll say Animate, both in Osaka and Hiroshima, which is that manga store I mentioned above.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

No. No, I didn't not. Moving on...

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

For Christmas, I got Harry Potter, A History of Magic, and I'm extremely excited to read it cover to cover.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?

I'm so behind. I don't have a clue what books are coming out in 2018.

3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating?

See above.

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018?

I know it's already out, but as I mentioned, I'm very excited to get around to the sequel of A Shadow Bright and Burning.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

After this year, I'll stick with "complete my Goodreads goal" as my main reading/blogging priority for next year.