Nostalgic Notes: Sweet Valley Saga

Nostalgic Notes

As a child and a teen, I was a voracious reader (still am, come to think of it XD). Since third grade, I’ve read books by Roald Dahl, Archie comics, The Boxcar Children, The Baby-Sitters Club, Animorphs, and the list goes on forever. I can tell you that my Goodreads account is not complete. There are so many books I’ve read that haven’t made it onto my account. One of the series I forgot to include is the Sweet Valley books, and lately those are some of the books I’ve been really missing. Growing up, I read some of the Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley High, and the Unicorn Club books. Didn’t quite make it to Sweet Valley University books, but oh well. In any case, I actually enjoyed The Baby-Sitters Club and Animorphs series more than them, but there are three Sweet Valley books that hold a special place in my heart. Two of the books are presented below.

Sweet Valley Saga

The Wakefields of Sweet Valley and The Wakefield Legacy focus on the family history of the Wakefield clans before Steven, Elizabeth, and Jessica are born. The first book documents the maternal line, starting with Alice Larson in the 1860s; the second book shows the paternal line through Theodore Wakefield. Basically, Alice and Theodore meets and falls in love, but circumstances keep the two away, and they each find someone else to love. Their descendants then all meet each other at various times, but more circumstances keep them away until Steven, Elizabeth, and Jessica’s parents finally get together.

Ignoring the terribly contrived and soap opera-like romance with betrayals, angst, and whatnot, the chapters are divided into generations, so the different time period are shown. We get to see what San Francisco is like in the 1910s, what the 1920s are like somewhere in the United States, and even experience wartime romance during World War II in Europe and the Pacific! As someone who likes history, I enjoyed reading about the different time periods. I think if I were to re-read these books, I’d appreciate the historical aspect of the books. The romance? Not so much . . . Either or, these two books were devoured by me on a regular basis back in the past. I think I got rid of my physical copies, but I found e-book copies, so I think I’ll re-read them sometime soon — just to get rid of an itch XD

What are some books you liked growing up? Are there any you really miss? I’d like to know what you lovelies liked :)

2014 Book Meme

TC's Bookcase

With 2014 ending, I am doing the book meme I did last year with this year’s books. I’ve read a lot more this year than last year, and I had to increase my reading goals three times this year! According to Goodreads, I read 121 books and mangas, and then there are the 25 volumes of manga scanslations I read, so all in all, I read about 146 books and mangas, which I consider pretty good considering how I read so much less previous years due to grad school! Anyway, onto the meme!

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My Favourite Things: December 2014

My Favourite Things

I’ve decided to do this “My Favourite Things”, a monthly meme that focuses on what I’ve been obsessed with for the past four weeks. This meme is hosted by Raisa and Eirene.

Kindle Paperwhite and Coffee

For the past month or so, I’ve been obsessed with reading The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit fanfics on my first generation Kindle Paperwhite. These are epically long fics (majority of them are 100,000+ words long), and they are addicting. Super addicting. I’ve stayed up until 3:00am one day reading a fic I just couldn’t put down. Thorin Oakenshield and Bilbo Baggins are the two culprits who wouldn’t leave me alone. I don’t know what it is about these two, but they need to shut up, haha! Seriously, though, fanfics own me. And there is nothing better than getting in my cosy bed after a long day of work with a cup of coffee while I escape into the wonderful world of Middle-earth with drama, humour, and angst through well-written fanfics by fans like me.

Speaking of coffee, I also discovered coffee I actually LIKE that’s not espresso-based. I got my dad a Keurig machine for his birthday in August. Since then, he and I’ve been trying out different K-Cups brands to see which are good. I discovered that my favourite is the Green Mountain Blueberry Coffee and Newman’s Own Special Blend. The latter is really great in that it’s so flavourful to where I can drink it without adding any sweetener. I’ve got other flavour/brand to kill, but once they are gone, I’m only going to buy these two.

And that’s my two-cents for this meme! Hopefully I’ll be able to do this regularly, so I hope to see you guys next month for the January edition!

Staycation Recap: Week One

It’s already been one week since my staycation has started, and I am having a blast! I was going to meet someone today, but that got cancelled, so I’m going to take the time to do a recap post!

Doll Free Market Display Magic Knight Rayearth Dolls Lantis and Eagle Vision Dolls

On Saturday, I met up with Chibi Toaster, and she wanted to go to the Doll Free Market in Setec Convention Centre near Daechi-dong, so I tagged along. She picked up her dolls, and I got to see some amazing sights. It was neat seeing dolls dressed up in contemporary and older clothings (like the dolls wearing hanboks), but the highlight of this trip was seeing the full cast of Magic Knight Rayearth as dolls. They were just beautiful. I took an extra photo of Lantis and Eagle Vision, my two favourite characters and OTP from the series :D

Gel Manicure Harry Potter Doll

After the Doll Free Market, Chibi Toaster and I went on base to get some lunch at Pizza Hut, get our nails done (I got gel manicure!) at the salon, and then go to the Oktoberfest that was being hosted at the on base hotel. Then we went to Chansbros, my favourite coffee shop to relax, and I got to see her beautify her Harry Potter doll!

Thai Red Curry

On Sunday, I met up with one of my high school friends, Tina, and we had lunch at Trevia Pizza di Roma and cakes at by 92 (no photos, sorry!). After that brief meeting, I came home and read mangas and tried making Thai red curry, which I botched up on by adding onions. Oops!

Ansan Station Nasi Goreng and Sate Kambing Chinese Mooncakes

Monday came with me going to Chansbros for a bit before taking a 1 hour and 15 minutes subway ride to Ansan. I’d never been in the actual city of Ansan, so it was neat seeing another part of Korea. I met up with my friend Piotr, and we walked around in a loop looking for the multicultural street. When we found it, I felt like I’d went back to my childhood. Walking around that area was like walking around in Itaewon 20 years ago. Except there were like at least thirty noraebangs and 90% of the restaurants were Chinese restaurants (hence the mooncakes!), while the other 10% were Nepali, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, or Russian. Piotr and I both decided to try Indonesian, and we went to a restaurant called something “Bali”. But because the service wasn’t great, and the food was mediocre, I dubbed the place “Podunk Bali”. I did like the nasi goreng, but the service and everything else was just bleh. Afterward that meal, Piotr and I bought some mooncakes, and then I was back on the long subway ride home.

Cheonggyecheon outside Dongmyo Station Cheonggye Plaza

Tuesday was a super busy day that had me do a lot of walking! I started off by going to the Cheonggyecheon stream outside Dongmyo Station. From there, I walked all the way to where the stream starts — at Cheonggye Plaza — which ended up being about 3.3 kilometres.

Seoul Metropolitan Library Inside of the Seoul Metropolitan Library

Then I walked to Seoul Metropolitan Library, which was nearby. This building used to be the old City Hall building, but then they made it into the library. Aside from the library (of which they had several different sections), they also had an exhibition of the old mayor’s office, and had displays and information about the building here and there. I actually enjoyed this place, and it was free to go in, so that was a nice bonus!

Shinsegae Department Store Payard Afternoon Tea Set

After the library, I walked to Shinsegae Department Store. That place made me feel uber poor. O_o; I felt so out of place, so I didn’t browse there very long. I found Payard, this cafe there, and even that place made me feel out of place. However, I did see that they do afternoon tea, and that’s something I’ve wanted to try for a while, so I may return just for that!

Afternoon treats from Bbang and at Chansbros

I ended up adventure by getting some treats (fruit stick and chocolate biscuit) at this bakery called “Bbang”, and then I went to Chansbros to unwind from that long walk.

Interior of Hell Cafe Hell Cafe Iced Latte Dear Leader Tongue Scraper at Hell Cafe

Wednesday was less intensive than Tuesday. I decided to go to Hell Cafe in Bogwang-dong, and I liked it! Their coffee is definitely better than some of the other places I’ve tried, and their classical music selection was great. I’d go back there again whenever I’m in the area. On the flipside, that tongue scraper made me go “WTF”. Of all things to find in a coffee shop, this is definitely the last thing I’d consider! Anyway, after Hell Cafe, I went to Jam & Bread to get some bread, and then I stopped by Chansbros. I came home and did a manga marathon with Cardcaptor Sakura.

Cafe Comma Near Sangsu Station Snoozing Kitty in an Accessory Store

Thursday had me and a co-worker go look for this book cafe called Cafe Comma near Sangsu Station. It took a while because the map confused us and we kept making the wrong turn, but we eventually got there, and I love it! The books are all in Korean, but I love the vibe of the place. Being surrounded by all these books made me happy. We stopped by this accessory store when we left, and there was a snoozing kitty . . . ignore that basket sign LOL. I spent that evening watching The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Cafe Comma Near Hongdae Station Ice Mint Chocolate, Notebooks, and Writing Utensils

On Friday, I decided to check out the other branch of Cafe Comma near Hongdae Station. This one was bigger, but I think I prefer the other place better. There, I stayed for a while with some ice mint chocolate and wrote some in my letterbook. Afterwards, I walked around Hongdae and Sangsu area, and then came back to my neighbourhood where I stopped by Chansbros, ate pho for dinner at Le Saigon, and got some fish and chips for my dad. At home, I watched An American Tail.

Annnnnnd that’s it for now. I still have one more week left, and I know I’ll be just as busy, if not more than last week, with all the errands I have to do. Places to go, people to meet . . . Whew!

The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia

When I was in elementary school, through the Scholastic book orders or book fairs, my dad bought me the box set of The Chronicles of Narnia. Back then I’d no clue about the publication order. I was only familiar with the chronological order that was displayed in the box set, with the The Magician’s Nephew being the first title. Needless to say, my foray into Narnia involved me reading that first book.

It. Bored. Me. I had no idea what was going on. I think I skipped it and then tried The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and that kept me a bit more interested, but not by much. I only know for sure that I’d never got beyond the first two books in my elementary, middle, and high school years. Even in my uni years, I just couldn’t really get into it, despite watching the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (of which I enjoyed!).

I finally read about how one should read the books in the publication order as opposed to chronological order, and that made me decide to tackle the series that way. It took a couple of months, but I’ve read the entire set, and I must say that the publication order made a lot more sense and it kept me interested. Here are my spoiler-free thoughts on the series.

The Goods
– REEPICHEEP. He’s the best character ever. That is all.
– Edmund also won me over. Going from a selfish little prick to a fine King is certainly a huge change for him.
– Puddlegum is about the only thing that made me enjoy The Silver Chair. His pessimism cracked me up.
– The entirety of The Horse and His Boy kept me fully interested. The plot was just amazing, with a good pacing for once. This is my favourite out of the series.
– My next favourite is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I love how it’s based off of The Odyssey, but I really love how it sets a major potential for Caspian/Edmund as a pairing, haha!
– Much like Tolkien did with his books, I love how Lewis created the world of Narnia. Everything about it fascinated me, and I just kept wanting to know more about the world. And I think that’s why I really liked The Horse and His Boy, because I got to see more than just Narnia — I saw how the world was like in Calormen and Archenland.

The Bads
– I know these books are for children, but the pacing drove me nuts, especially in Prince Caspian.
– I still have no love for The Magician’s Nephew. I mean, this time, I understood what I read, but I think the effects of my earlier attempt with that book remains lingering, so it’s affecting my bias.
– I don’t know how I feel about the ending. I do feel like I’ve been cheated, but at the same time the ending fits the series very much.
– As an Atheist, I didn’t care for the Christian themes, but I still respected them as being plot points.

The Uglies
– JILL. In The Silver Chair. I absolutely could not stand her. Thank goodness she improves in the last book.
– In fact, I enjoyed The Silver Chair the least. I think it’s because there weren’t any Pevensie siblings, and Eustace just couldn’t replace them.

The Conclusion
That was a satisfying read. It took me what — over two decades? — to read the series, but I’m glad I did. The world of Narnia definitely fascinated me to where I could overlook all the religious undertones. I’m not sure if I’d ever re-read the whole series, but I know I’ll re-read the ones I really liked, like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.