Let’s Rewind: January 2023

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done one of these posts (not since mid 2021, I think) that I feel much out of practice. But I’d like to bring it back this year. These posts then to be long (heh, heh), but they let me chat about books I wouldn’t otherwise review (those I reread) and share thoughts on things I wouldn’t do a separate post for.

Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.

2021 and 2022 were such stressful, busy, trying years for me that I was surprised when I felt light and unburdened when January 2023 rolled around. I hope it’s a sign for how the rest of the year will be.

Well, January was good to me. My reading mood was back on track — no more suffering from a reading slump for me! — I was interested in blogging, I hung out with friends, and had some restful time alone in my humble, comfy abode. I made LOTS of rum punch for myself 😀 and managed to find a new Jamaican restaurant that makes good food (which I consider a great discovery for the month).

Two great things I did was visit the Museum of Illusions in D.C., which was fun and mind-boggling. If you decide to visit, I suggest not going on the weekend or on a holiday when it’s most likely to be packed. I think it would be more enjoyable with less people around.

I also visited the Smithsonian Castle, which I’d never thought to visit before (despite walking past it MANY times down on the National Mall) because I didn’t know it was a museum too. I managed to sneak in a visit before it closed on February 1 for a five-year renovation. I love the design of the building, which was designed by architect James Renwick, Jr. It’s very beautiful inside and outside, and contains artifacts that each of the Smithsonian museums would hold. It’s the oldest of the Smithsonian buildings. I took only a few photos of the building while touring because the place was packed while I was there. I think it’s because it would be closing soon. Here’s a pic I took of it:

Can you believe it? I managed to read five things in January! 😀 The first thing I completed was How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams. It’s contemporary romance about a young woman trying to insert some fun in her life after abstaining for relationships due to having been in an abusive one. I went in assuming it would be a light, fun read, but it wasn’t. Although it touches on some heavy topics, I don’t think they were adequately explored or resolved. I didn’t like this one.

Because I got hooked on the TV-show adaptation, I decided to give The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman a try, and I’m glad I did. It’s a young-adult fantasy novel about a girl who has a great destiny. In this book, that great destiny leads her on a journey delving into Dust, which seems to be the source of magic in her world, finding out who’s kidnapping kids, and helping an armored polar bear. I had a wonderful time reading it.

I followed that up with a paranormal novella — Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell. It’s the first in a series and is about three women, two of whom are witches (I think), trying to stop a chain supermarket that’s threatening to set up a location in their small English town. Apparently, a demon is driving the chain to set up a location there. The characters are interesting but something about the story didn’t connect with me, so I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

After Witches of Lychford, I stuck to short-form reads and picked up a middle-grade historical graphic novel next. Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos (illus.) is about the experiences of a girl whose parents sent her away to live in New York City when Fidel Castro’s regime took over Cuba in the early 1960s. It’s sweet, and I liked the illustrations. I’m glad I tried it.

George O’Connor’s Greek-mythology-inspired comic book was next. Zeus: King of the Gods is the first in the Olympians middle-grade comic-book series. I believe each volume in the series tells the story of a different Olympian god. It’s a fun read and one that would interest those interested in Greek and Roman myths.

I usually don’t use these posts to discuss books I gave up on, but it’s a new year, so time to start something new.

Books I DNF

The Woodwitch by Stephen Gregory — I developed an interest in this book after reading a review of it over on Umney’s Alley, and my curiosity in it grew when it became tricky to get a copy from the library. I attempted reading it for the entirety of January but gave up when I realized that I remained stuck on page 10 because I did not have any interest in what I was reading and didn’t feel like pushing to develop an interest. I had just escaped a reading slump and feared regressing into it if I should force myself to read something that didn’t immediately grab me. I might return to it at another time.

Cats! Purrfect Strangers by Frédéric Brrémaud, illus. by Paola Antista, transl. from the French by Annie Gullion — It’s a collection of light-hearted stories about three girls who adore their cats, and is intended for a middle-grade audience. It’s actually a fun read and I enjoyed what I read, but some parts struck me as too silly, and the collection seemed too long, so I gave up on it about halfway through. I think part of the reason why it didn’t work for me is because I’m not the intended audience, but that’s a small part. The larger reason why is because I wasn’t in the mood for a story this silly. The parts I liked and thought were funny are the ones that focus on relatable things cats do as pets. Although I didn’t complete it, I rated it on Goodreads (I gave it 2 stars) and would actually recommend it.


So… I’d usually do a video break here, but I’m out of practice so I have nothing planned.

No break. 🙁

I can’t believe I managed to read some articles. It’s been SUCH a long time since I read an article for fun.

Those with a star () are the ones that stuck with me.

Books & Publishing

Inside Book Twitter’s Final(?) Days (esquire.com)

— About how Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media platform could affect Book Twitter and publishing. It focuses more on Book Twitter’s impact on publishing.


How a Leading Voice of Eswatini Culture Was Erased From History (lithub.com)

— An article adapted from a biography about Regina Gelana Twala, a Black South African woman who was a writer and activist in South African and Eswatini, a landlocked country in southern Africa. Due to racism and sexism, her and her work were excluded from history and did not receive the recognition they deserve.

The Invention of Fettuccine Alfredo: A Love Story (lithub.com)

— About how the popular dish came about. It’s an excerpt from the writer’s book about pasta.

“Yet its early history is surprising, because it takes us to the heart of Italy at the dawn of the twentieth century, when a cook discovered — or rather, rediscovered — a fabulous dish that uses a few simple ingredients to magical effect.”

Social Issues

★ Sold an American Dream, These Workers From India Wound Up Living a Nightmare (npr.org)

— Soni Saket, author of the book The Great Escape, talks in an interview about Indian men who were lured from their country with the promise of good work and visas in the U.S. but ended up living and working in labor camps for oil rigs along the Gulf Coast, after Hurricane Katrina.

Around the Blog-o-verse

Picture Books Tips and How to Posts on Writing and Illustrating (kathytemean.wordpress.com)

— Tips and resources for those interested in writing/illustrating picture books

Brock’s Reading Spreadsheet (twitter.com/letsread)

— In case you’re looking for a free spreadsheet to use to track your reading and book buying, I recommend this one Brock created.

Stuff I Pubbed

The typical year-end/new year posts:

ZeZee’s Favorite Reads of 2022
ZeZee’s Most Memorable Reads of 2022
ZeZee’s Disappointing Reads of 2022
Reflecting on 2022: Reading
2023 Reading Plans

Art break

Well, I usually place an art break around these parts, but… I’m unprepared, so here’s another photo of the Smithsonian Castle that I took:

The ones I frequent were all on break for January, so I listened to Harry Potter books on audio instead. I’ve reread them this way so many times that I no longer record having read them.

Oh, there are so many.

These are all listed from worst to best in each section.

TV shows

Invisible City

This is a Brazilian TV show based on Brazilian folklore that had me hooked from the start because I love me some supernatural shows. It has its faults, but I’m a sucker for shows like this.


I’m surprised that I enjoy it, but Chloe’s unwillingness to believe Lucifer is extraordinary despite all the evidence presented to her is already starting to annoy me. I don’t think Tom Ellis’s English accent is enough to blot out that annoyance. (I’m now on season 2.)


I’m 3 episodes into this intriguing, weird, historical, sci-fi TV show and am so hooked! I shared my interest with my brother, who informed me that Netflix didn’t friggin renew the show for another season and it ended on a cliffhanger! Seriously, wtf! I’d love to learn what exactly is going on. It’s so weird and interesting and haunting.

His Dark Materials

I blame Aquavenatus for this wonderful discovery. Her posts about the TV show reminded me to try it now that I have access to HBO. It’s so great that I was driven to immediately start the book, which I’d been putting off for years. I like how closely it stuck to the source material but also think the tweaks it made were good ones.


These sucked
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
The Invitation
Despite Everything

Ugh! Why do I torture myself by watching these movies (the first three) to the end? Despite Everything is a Spanish rom-com. I didn’t like it, but I loved the clothes the characters wear, which is why I kept watching. For the clothes.

Black Adam

It’s not as bad some in this category, but as far as superhero movies go… it wasn’t that great for me.

Violent Night

I kinda liked it because of all the action and David Harbour and John Leguizamo, but I’m upset that I went to the theater to see it.

You People

Umm… it was often awkward but not often funny. It’s a rom-com.


Fucking sucked, and I’m pissed because I thought it would be great. It’s all muddled for the first half, or maybe 70%, and starts making sense toward the end. Loved the acting though.

Meh — OK — Pretty damn good
The Pale Blue Eye

It was okay. I enjoyed watching it and liked Christian Bale’s acting, of course. I think Harry Melling as Edgar Allan Poe caught my attention more, though.


Was surprising and not at all what I expected because I’ve only ever seen the movie poster, no previews, so I thought it was horror. It’s not. But I enjoyed it. It’s about grief/grieving.

Phantom Thread

Finally got to watch this. It’s a quieter movie than I expected, and the end gave me Jane Eyre vibes. But it’s really good, and I loved the acting, especially Daniel Day-Lewis, couldn’t look away from the dude. Also loved many of the lines, like these:

“Chic? Oh, don’t you start using that filthy little word. Chic! Whoever invented that ought to be spanked in public. I don’t even know what that word means! What is that word? Fucking chic! They should be hung, drawn, and quartered. Fucking chic.”

“There’s an air of quiet death in this house, and I do not like the way it smells.”

Glass Onion

Love it! It’s made my favorites list. Enjoyed the story and the acting, and that it’s a good one to discuss with friends, although I’ve yet to do that.

The Menu

Oh my gosh! I love it even more than Glass Onion. Such a fucked up, twisted, weird movie, but I loved it and loved the acting and would watch it again. Loved Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy’s acting in it.

Rewatched two favs: Atomic Blonde (love Charlize Theron) and Fifth Element (a cult fav that’s my fav too).

And all of that was my January. I’d be surprised if my February is filled with as many movies.
How was your first month of the year?

17 thoughts on “Let’s Rewind: January 2023

  1. I watched The Pale Blue Eye and enjoyed it though I agree it was the actor that played Poe who really shone. I was like, holy crap, I can’t believe he was the kid who played Harry Potter’s horrible cousin! I also loved The Glass Onion, so over the top and amazing. Now I’m going to have to check out The Menu!


  2. Glad to hear you had another good trip into DC. I know exactly what you mean about visiting on weekdays and skipping weekends and holidays. Grrr…. I like the Castle. I’ve only been inside a couple times but I love how old it is and how different the architecture. I didn’t realize it was closing for renovations for so long. And I’d never heard of the Museum of Illusions. Sounds cools.

    Both The Glass Onion and The Menu are on my list, can’t wait to see them. And The Fifth Element is one of my all time favorites. Just love rewatching that one from time to time. 🙂


    1. Yea, the weekdays are the best. Less tourists too. The Museum of Illusions was a lot of fun. Lots of optical illusions. It seems more like a pop-up thing to me and seems more about enjoying the exhibits and taking photos of them. It’s not an actual museum, I don’t think.

      Highly recommend those movies. The Menu had me reeling wondering who the hell came up with the idea for it and who wrote it and how did the idea come about. And the Glass Onion was a fun mystery.


  3. Glad you’re out of your reading slump! Also, are you based in the DC area?! If so, I had no idea! I’m in northern VA. Unfortunately I didn’t get to sneak in to the castle before it closed for renovations. But the plans for it sound kind of cool.


    1. I am! 🙂 I’m often in the city. If you’re interested in meeting up, let me know.
      They have a virtual tour of the Castle on the Smithsonian website. I intend to visit when it reopens to see how it’s changed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hell yeah that’s an awesome month, and you’re reminding me I need to look at the Northern Lights TV show and books (rereads on the books).

    Now time to go read all those articles.


  5. ZeZee,

    Thank you for sharing my post about Picture book tips. I enjoyed looking at your blog and your favorite book you read last year. I have a list on Writing and Illustrating. I am always looking to add books to my to read list. Might not be anything that you are interest in reading, but I thought you might like to see if there is anything on my list that you might pique your interest. Here is the link: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2022/11/23/my-list-of-top-books-read-in-2022/


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