Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Broken.

Summer thoughts
(August 2017)



"Why do you always draw broken hearts?"

The answer is simple: Because our love is not perfect. Only God's love is perfect. We are human, after all. And we are broken. All of us. Every fragment of our entire being. Broken. Do not be quick to judge us though, for it is what makes us us. It is the core of our existence. Brokenness. And what would we be without it?

Our broken pieces long to be whole again. We long for more than who and what we are; to serve a higher purpose. We long not merely to exist, but to live. We long for more. We are pathetic beings drowning in pools of our broken dreams. But oh, they are such beautiful dreams. Dreams of the future. Dreams of life. Dreams of hope. Dreams of love.

Love. This is where we are broken most of all - in thinking we are capable of loving another and that if we love them enough, that love will be perfect? Can we, as fallen and broken humans, achieve something perfect? In an imperfect world, do we even fully understand what perfect is?
Could we ever love enough? Can we ever cure ourselves of this brokenness?

We can try. Can we ever succeed? We can hope. But that is not up to us. Who we are to our core, our broken souls long for our Creator - to serve Him and to love Him. To find ourselves in Him and to be whole again. We can strive to be better people, but we will never be better than anyone else, only better versions of ourselves in the way we were created to be. We will be what we are and what we are is beautiful because life is a precious thing and we are made in the image of God and God is love and love is beautiful. 

But for now, we are broken, living each day as if it was our last, making the most of the little moments, growing from our mistakes, learning to love someone as much as we are able, and creating beauty every day in our art and in our actions. Every flaw, every imperfection, every bit of our brokenness is special in ways we cannot hope to understand. But we can try.

As for me? I am content to be broken. I am a dreamer. I am flawed. I am certain that one day I will find myself whole again in the company of my God.

Yours truly,
Me.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

We danced in starlight...

Summer memories
(26 July 2017)

Starlight. We are dancing in starlight.
I have never danced before.
I do not know how to dance. But he does. 
He does and he's sharing that with me.
Me. Why me?

The sand glistens beneath our feet and the skies twinkle above us.
A thousand whispers and a thousand secrets.
Secrets never heard.

Waves. The sound of the gentle waves reaches my ears.
I can hear nothing else.
Crisp salt air fills my nostrils.
I can smell nothing else.
His arm is around me. He is holding my hand.
I forget the cold piercing my skin.
The world is ours tonight. No one else exists. It is only me and him.
This night was made for us. 
The universe shifts slightly to correspond with our every movement
and our every thought.
Our dreams. Our ambitions. Our hopes. Our desires.
Everything becomes surreal. Nothing is real.
Am I dreaming?

I watch our feet. Every move, every step.
I observe everything.
I see the lights appear on the sand.
It is magical.
They quickly appear and begin to form a pattern around us.
They are gone.
They have faded away.
The stars too ripple around our wet feet.
What are they? Where did they come from?
They are beautiful.

I look up. I look into his eyes.
I realize I have been smiling. He is smiling too.
I feel nervous.
I look down. I wish for this moment never to end.
It is special. It is magical.
It ends.

Yours truly,
Me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Forever.

Timeless and Forever. Eternity. They sound beautiful, don't they? The thought of someone or something lasting forever doesn't seem too farfetched, does it? I think it does. And it can be scary. Are we wrong, as people, to think that a work of fiction, now considered a classic, is timeless? Or that a marriage can last forever? Or that I could escape the grasp of oblivion and be known throughout history? Or that we could exist for all eternity with those we love?

Sadly, all good things as we know them must come to an end. If they never ended, would they be so spectacularly etched in our minds as something special? Probably not. Someone I used to know once said, "You can't live the same thing twice. You just have to find something good in everything."

Before I really get started, I just want to say a quick thank you for staying with me after all these months. I've missed writing and I am happy to get back into it. I hope to post about my summer in a day by day fashion, telling specific stories. However, the following post is what my summer has looked like in a nutshell. Thank you in advance for reading!!

Three months ago, I began working a summer job in Cannon Beach, Oregon. At the beginning of the summer I wrote one blogpost with the hope of keeping all of you up to date with my latest adventures, sharing stories and pictures. I meant to write at least two posts a month, but you know, that went kaput pretty quickly. I got so caught up that I never made the time to blog. If I wasn't working, I was hanging out with people, and if I wasn't hanging out with people I was studying or sleeping.

Working at the Cannon Beach Conference Center was such a blessing. It was both a privilege and an honor to work in a Christian environment on the Oregon coast. I met so many amazing people and shared in so many memorable experiences. Work was enjoyable and stressful at the same time, but I believe I quickly found my ground. I liked most of my coworkers and my supervisor was an enjoyable person to work for.

It's interesting to me how so many people came to work at CBCC and we were all with the same people in the same place, and yet everyone had a drastically different experience. My experience was beyond amazing. First of all, I love the place. The small town, the ocean, the sand, the rocks and landscapes. It's a beautiful place to be. I don't know what it's like the rest of the year, but I do know that, having only been there for the summer, I could definitely live in a place like that or it's surrounding towns.
Second, I really enjoyed the company of the people. As I've said before, it's the people that make an experience worthwhile and so memorable. My first couple weeks in Cannon Beach was spent with a small group of people who became fast friends...or so I thought. While we all got along and had fun hanging out, I knew that there was no real connection between us. Which was fine, they were still great people and enjoyable to be around. 
However, I quickly found myself feeling alone a lot of the time once my sister and I began working different shifts and never saw each other. I felt a little lost. I wanted a friend. Not just someone I could hang out with, but a true friend. Someone I could talk to and depend on. Someone who would remain my friend even when summer ended. I hung out with a lot of people. They were great, but we only hung out once. Or we talked in passing but never really talked.

There were several people put in my path who made me realize that not everyone had to be my friend. Some people could be just coworkers and that's fine. I didn't have to socialize with them outside of work. Later I began praying. We're all God's children and He loves all of us. I asked Him to help me to love His children. To love people. That was put to the test when He placed someone in my path. They were drawn to me in ways I'd never really felt with people before. In a strange way, I felt drawn to them as well. I considered them a friend. I felt lead to talk and pray with them. I wanted them to be able to look up to me, but they only pushed me away. Needless to say, in the end, it didn't last past summer. I wish them well though and hope to hear from them again in the future, always keeping them in my prayers.

I did make one amazing friend though. Someone who is definitely still in my life, a month after summer ended and I hope will be in my life for many years to come. We met on June 12th.
I had been at the conference center nearly two weeks. I felt comfortable with my job and the people I had gotten to know. That week, the week of the 12th, so many new people were arriving to work for the summer. I was sitting in the staff lounge when in walks this guy getting a tour of the place. He introduced himself as David. I found out he'd be working in food services just like me. When he walked out, someone asked me who he was. I replied, "I don't know, some new kid. He's like 16."

He started out as a coworker and later became someone I liked being around (turns out he's actually much older than 16 and a lot closer to my age than I initially thought). One night I needed someone to talk to and he was there. We saw the world so similarly. We both have artistic minds and we appreciate the beauty around us. We were both homeschooled and grew up in Christian homes. We became friends and remained friends for several weeks. Until the night he asked me to date him...
I told him that if he and I were going to be "just a summer thing, I don't want to be a part of it because there's no point." He told me, "That is not my intention." We both saw that the reason for dating someone is for potential marriage. And I don't mean dating as in, we go on a few dates and that's it. We skipped that stage entirely. I mean boyfriend/girlfriend. We're committed to each other and we're very intentional and we've both admitted that we care about each other and we're serious about this.

Two months later, I am not home, but I find myself back in South Dakota and he's back in California. We're keeping in touch over texting, phone calls, Skype, and writing letters. We hope to visit each other. We want to continue to get to know each other and keep our relationship moving forward, always keeping God in the center, all the while continuing to grow as individual people. The scary thing about this is, how long will it last? Maybe it won't. Maybe it will. Maybe it will last forever. But what does that mean? I love the thought of forever. My mind cannot even fully comprehend the meaning of the word, but it rings with a certain beauty.
Neither one of us has ever been in a relationship before, so this is all completely new. But I'm excited for where it will lead and I pray and hope for the best.

It's been hard being away from everyone I met during the summer and being away from Cannon Beach. I haven't felt home in a long time, and that's ok because I know my true home is in Heaven with my God. Even though my summer couldn't last forever, maybe I found my temporary home on the Oregon coast, because South Dakota is not home. I admit, it's been emotional, especially the first few days. One thing I know is that my happiness can never depend on any human; not myself, my family, my friends, or even David because who I am and my happiness comes from God.
It's a little bit scary to think that I may not know these people for the rest of my life, because what lasts forever? God does. And I will. Life can be beautiful. It can be an adventure. But it can also be an ugly place. School and exams, jobs, car payments and house payments, sickness and disease, famine, drought, war, persecution, and losing those we care about. We've done a pretty good job of creating a little Hell of our own, tempted by the demons within our own minds. The one beautiful aspect of life that trumps all others is that one day we die. Death is not sad. Death is a beautiful thing. The only sad thing about death is the selfishness of those left behind. One day I will die, but I will then live forever with God. Nothing lasts forever, not the seasons nor the friends we make. But we will if we believe in Him. I take comfort in the thought of my forever.

Yours truly,
Me

P.S. Just want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who was a part of my summer. To name only a few of you, Hannah H., Hannah V., Hannah B., Angelo, Kaitlyn, Kinzie, Bri, Rachel, Ronel, Luke F., Keri, Kristie, Paul, Caeli, Caleb, Jetaya, Leah, Chris, Lewah, Austin, Bryan, Daniel, Catherine, Mark L., Nick, Tim F., Jennifer, Colton, Jessica H., Corina, Benji, Aaron, Patrick, Frances, Mat, Ashlyn, Kevin, Tim C., Jared, Savanna, Olivia, and of course, David.You guys are all amazing, it was a blast to work with you and to get to know you!!


P.P.S. The best moments could not be captured in a photo. Moments like that walk on the beach, or seeing a shooting star, or talking as we swayed from the hammock, or running down the middle of the dimly-lit road, or dancing as the sand sparkled beneath our feet, or the look in his eyes that night, or peaking through the windows of the galleries after they closed, or reading the poems on every trashcan in town. Those moments are infinite and are forever etched only in my mind. However, there is a haunting beauty in photos. They hold memories. An image, frozen in time. Remembering that day with those people, doing that one thing. Here are a few of my favorite photos, courtesy of yours truly and David.


Me overlooking North Beach. July 2017.
David and I at the gala. August 2017.
 Bryan and my sister swing dancing. August 2017.
David and I dancing. August 2017.
David, me, Hannah, Jennifer, and Bri at the Farmers Market in Seaside. June 2017.
 My sister and I after an intense game of Fugitive through town. July 2017.
Daniel, David, and I in front of Haystack Rock. June 2017.
My sister and I, Caeli, and Hannah inside Subway. My first time eating at Subway!! June 2017.
David and I watching the Eclipse. August 2017.
My sister, me, and Savannah in the back of the car on the way to Manzanita. June 2017.
Me and David on the top of the Astoria Column. August 2017.
 David and I swaying in the hammock, watching the sunset at North Beach. July 2017.
 Through the tree towards Ecola Point. August 2017.
 Sunset at Cannon Beach. June 2017.
 Hannah, my sister, and I inside the hat shop in Seaside. July 2017.
 Shadows of David and I in Manzanita. July 2017.
My last day of work in Cannon Beach. September 2017.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cannon Beach.


Caleb, Caeli, Hannah, me, my sister Alexis

Olivia, Angelo, me, Benji, Kevin


Rachel and me

Bri and me

Hello everyone!!
The past week and a half has been a pretty busy for me. I mentioned in my last blogpost that I was going to Cannon Beach, Oregon, and now I'm here!! I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I have worked at a summer camp before, so I thought it would be similar, but I didn't really know. I didn't know exactly where I'd be working or what I'd be doing or what the area was like or who I'd be working with. I figured that even if I didn't have fun, at the very least, I'd be on the beach!!
So far, my time here has been amazing. I love it here so much, I'm already sad for summer to end. I love the area, I love being in a Christian environment with so many other believers, I love being near the ocean. There's a candy shop here with a sign that reads: If you are lucky enough to live near the beach, you are lucky enough. I couldn't agree more!! I've walked the brownie-sand nearly everyday. I've seen some beautiful sunsets and my feet hurt, but it's worth it!
I've met some amazing people, including those in the top photos. Pictured in the first photo is Caleb, Caeli, Hannah, me, and my sister. Next is Olivia, her brother Angelo, me again, Benji, and Kevin. Next is Rachel and me and then in the last photo is Bri and me. Honestly, it's the people we are with that make an experience memorable. The two things I am most excited about this summer are growing closer in my relationship with the Lord, and the friendships I have made/am making. There are over 100 staff here this summer. I cannot possibly hope to get to know each and every one of them, but I am grateful for this group of friends I have been getting to know.
When I read a good book, sometimes the characters are so full of life, I think to myself, "I wish this person was real." I would love nothing more than to have that character as my friend or just be able to spend a day with them. Am I the only one who does this?? XD
Well, when I'm in large groups like this, I tend to think of the people as book characters. Pretty much everyone I've met so far would make a great character, each offering something special, unique, and interesting about them. It's weird to think that I've known them only two weeks because in a way it feels like I've been here much longer. Maybe because we've already done so much and hung out a lot? I'm not sure.
After some antics by Benji, myself and 2 other girls started laughing and shook our heads, saying, "Classic Benji." It was then that we realized that we had only known him a few days, yet it still seemed so - him. We decided that the reason locks and passwords exist on phones is because of people like Benji (no offense Benji). 
Sunday, June 4th, my second day here, I went to the movies to see Wonder Woman with a small group of the other staff (btw, the movie was so good!). On the ride home, myself and a few other girls began discussing the film and then the topic of guys slowly came up. Not much was said, but I could tell that some stories needed to be told. After a brief discussion, the four of us girls in the vehicle decided that we were "strong independent Amazon women who don't need no man!" Maybe you had to be there to find it funny - or at least see the film to understand our declaration.
One evening, while having dinner on the beach, Caleb put on a great show for us. He thought it would be a good idea to chase the seagulls towards us. Instead, they swarmed him and ate all the food off of his plate...and then he somehow ended up with sand in his eyes, flushing them out with my water cup, and then asking, "Is it ok if I drink my tears?" as he proceeded to then drink the water to rinse his mouth out which was also full of sand. ;D He previously told us that his spirit animal would be a sloth because they're slow and dumb. I beg to differ - he's a golden retriever. He's happy and energetic and dumb (Sorry Caleb, I had to throw that out there!).

Haystack Rock is about 1.5 miles away which I have walked to a number of times. It's a cool rock - if you like rocks. One of the most impressive sights I've seen is the shipwreck. I'm not sure why it's so cool, but it is. It ended up on North Beach on June 8th. That's been a super popular sight the past week. There's a river which separates North Beach from Cannon Beach, so the walk to see the ship is super short if you cross the river. OR there's a long 20 minute walk down the road and across the bridge. Naturally I've been across the river twice - but I've yet to actually walk across it - or swim across for that matter, assuming it was deep enough. Which it's not. :D

Honestly, one of the most fun and memorable things I've done since being here took place just last night. Side note: I've always been in love with the idea of dancing, but I can't dance. Like, at all. Unless I'm playing Just Dance and it tells me I'm "energetic" or "creative." Being in a dorm with a lot of girls, and walking to the bookstore and looking at every single picture in a book on dancing puts one in the mood to dance. Am I wrong here?
Point being, after dinner last night, a small group of us walked to the park and began to swing and then somehow that lead to wanting to dance, but none of us knew how, which is great because then we can all look like noobs together. I decided to grab my laptop and hook up my speakers and play Just Dance outside by the loading dock. It's not as public as some areas, and it seemed like a nice big area for us to set up. The four of us began dancing. Slowly people walked by and one by one, we ended up with about 10 people dancing. Some people stopped to watch, others glanced as they passed. Many joined for a few songs and then left. But it was a hit!! We were panting and sweaty and tired, but we all had so much fun. It was decided that we should plan a repeat at least once a week and get more of the staff involved. Maybe have 40 of us dancing. All we need is a larger screen. My laptop got difficult to see after about 6 people. XD So if any of you are reading this, you should totally join next time!! You know you want too. Kevin, it's our (the girls in Old Ecola) personal summer goal to get you to dance with us. 
Afterwards, we all cleaned up and got dressed up for the Sunday worship service we were required to attend as part of the Cannon Beach Conference Center Summer Staff of 2017.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. Most of them are mine, but a thank you to those of you who let me use the ones you took also. Shout out to Bryan, Benji,  and Kirstie!! I've also been posting some photos and videos on Facebook if you'd like to check those out. As always, thank you so much for reading and I look forward to sharing more with you in the near future!!

Yours truly,
Me

Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer Plans.

Dear Readers,
I want to thank those who read and responded to my last blogpost about proofreading and editing. I have 4 people helping me out with that, and 2 who might be helping out in a few weeks time, so again, thank you so much for that!! I'm super excited about the progress made so far, and look forward to the finished product!

It's hard to believe summer is nearly upon us. I hope everyone has plans of some sort, something enjoyable. I always hated the question, "What are you doing this summer?" Especially in high school, when that seemed to be the only question people could think to ask. How was I supposed to know? It's not like I could tell the future. It's not like I actually planned anything. I'm a pretty spontaneous person. Most things I did were planned like, a day or 2 before I did them. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has several "it seemed like a good idea at the time" moments. XD

This year started out different. Maybe that's good? Or maybe it's not. I'm not sure.
To start things off, I stayed with my brother in South Dakota for nearly 3 months. Then I went to California and stayed with my other brother and his family. After nearly 3 months there, I found myself back in South Dakota. I've been here for a few weeks, and this Friday, I'll be heading to Oregon.

Let me tell you, my summer is going to be epic!! I'm going to be working at a Christian conference center in Cannon Beach. I'm confident that I'm going to have a blast and meet a lot of amazing people, but even if I don't, I'll be on the beach - that's epic in itself!

I've spent the past few weeks preparing to leave: getting everything I'll need for work (such as work pants, shirts, and uh, other stuff..), shipping several boxes of my things to Cannon Beach, creating playlists on YouTube for the pets I'll be leaving behind, etc. 
That's one thing I'm not looking forward to: leaving the pets. I'm very concerned about my dog, and leaving her for 3 months. And the music is for the bird. XD He gets stressed a lot, and he's moody. Music usually helps calm him, plus keeps the unbearable silence at bay.

Ooh, I also got a new phone, I'll no longer be using my old flip phone. I know some of you will be so proud of me. ;)

It is my hope that I'll be telling you more about my summer in the future and sharing lots of pictures because I have a phone that can do that now! Thank you for reading!

Yours truly,
Me

Monday, May 15, 2017

Proofreading and Editing.

Hi everyone!
I was going to upload a different post today, but due to some unfortunate circumstances, I decided to post this instead.
Back in October I won a writing contest through Rowanvale Books, which won me the prize of having my book edited for a discounted price. When I had finally finished writing Beyond the Veil in January, I was able to use that prize. Over the past several months, my book has been in the editing phase.

At the end of February, the first half of my manuscript was sent back to me to revise and accept/reject any of the changes made. After I emailed Rowanvale for nearly 2 weeks, I sent the manuscript back, ready and excited about stage 2 to begin, and thus have them edit the second half of the book. Unfortunately, stage 2 was never reached, as stage 1 was not completed. Due to several technical difficulties, lack of understanding, lack of communication, and the failure to get anything resolved, I was refunded for the work not completed, and wished the best of luck for whatever lies ahead for me.

I was extremely excited when the editing project began back in February. However, 3 months later with only 1/2 the book partially edited to show for it, I find myself quite displeased with my experience through Rowanvale.

I also find myself in the need of a proofreader and editor outside of myself, my mom, and my sister, which is why I am asking you! I am not looking to pay anyone, so if you're interested in reading the rough draft version of my book, are willing to proofread and edit it, and have a lot of time on your hands, I'd certainly appreciate it!!
I'm hoping to see not only objective changes (changes that include incorrect spelling and grammar), but subjective changes as well (personal preferences such as the content and flow of the story as a whole).

If you want to do this, please let me know in the comments or the contact form. Please only reach out if you're ready and willing to make a serious commitment to this project. As Rowanvale initially told me it could take up to 3 months to complete the editing phase, I'm hoping that we can still achieve that goal with 3 months in mind.
Thank you so much for reading! If you're willing and able to work on this project, please email me through the contact form or let me know in the comment section below!

Yours truly,
Me

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Batman Forever.

Hello everyone!!
I just want to share with you what I have been up to lately...
First of all, what kid doesn't like Batman? I mean, seriously, he's Batman! For the past 2 and a half months, my sister and I have been in California with my brother and his family. We've been having a great time! Let me just say, Batman is life. Anyone who doesn't like Batman should probably stop reading this post. XD
My sister and I love Batman and the DC world. Marvel? Not so much. When I was a kid, Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Flash were my favorite. My sister always liked Batman, Robin, and Superman. And now we've been playing with my 5 year old niece and my 7 year old nephew. They're a lot of fun! When my sis and I first arrived in California back in February, we were watching Batman: the Animated Series (you remember that show, right?) 

My niece was playing with her 6 inch tall DC Super Hero Girl dolls and started watching the animated series with us. She requested, no, demanded that we see Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and the Joker. I'm pretty sure we've now seen every episode in existence featuring any one of those three villains. Harley Quinn and the Joker are her favorite characters now, thanks to my sis and I. My nephew said he didn't like to watch cartoons, but he soon started to watch it with us and asked if we could watch some with Bane. I love these kids so much, they definitely know what's good!

Since we don't have a Joker doll or action figure, we've had to get creative, pretending that my nephew's Marvel character, Hawkeye, is the Joker. Since he's about 12 inches tall, he goes nicely with my niece's 12 inch tall Harley Quinn doll. Sadly, there are no guys for the 6 inch dolls. While it's easy to pretend that Poison Ivy is dating Two-Face, Batgirl is dating Robin (aka Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson), Supergirl is dating Superman (duh), the set was missing the best character: Harley Quinn. When the other girls asked each other where Harley was, the reply was, "She's on a date with Joker." So my sis and I did the only logical thing to do: we bought the Harley Quinn doll for our niece (and a Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber for our nephew). Now she's here hanging out with the squad, but "Puddin" is away on holiday or something. XD
It's only a matter of time until A. she gets a Joker action figure or 
B. she starts playing with something else.
I vote for option A. I mean, come on, every hero needs a bad guy as strangely awesome as the Joker - even if she does pretend that they're all good guys.

Other than playing with toys from the DC universe and watching the Batman cartoons and the Dark Knight, I have been to a rodeo, to a little mountain town, and to the bookstore countless times. I have eaten at amazing Mexican food restaurants, I've had In-N-Out burger, and Mountain Mikes pizza (California seriously has the best food ever!!). Oh, and I got to see Beauty and the Beast in theaters!! It was sooooo good! Part of what made it so good was the amazing cast. Part of what made it so good were the songs. In my opinion, Beauty and the Beast is the best live-action film Disney has released recently because, unlike the other films (Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book), this one actually had the songs which made the animated movie so good in the first place!

Ooh, I quickly want to say that I am super excited about Gotham starting up again on FOX!! Jerome (aka the Joker) is awesome! I love how they have developed him so far. Killing him was terrible, but bringing him back was the best thing they could have done at this point! I can't wait to see more of him in the future, but I hope they don't develop him too quickly now that he's back. Who else is starting to freak out, wondering WHEN they're going to renew the show for season 4? Also, let me know in the comments what you think is the best portrayal of the Joker, live action or otherwise (Spider Monkey, your opinion doesn't count). Thanks for reading!

Yours truly,
Me

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Changeling and the Cupboard.

(BOOK REVIEW)

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Where I received this book and what my interest in it is:
So one day I was on Facebook just absent-mindedly scrolling through my timeline when I saw a post that someone had shared of The Changeling and the Cupboard. A changeling is, by definition, a child believed to have been secretly substituted by fairies for the parents' real child in infancy (New Oxford American Dictionary). In other words, fairies would take a human child, typically a baby, and put a fairy child in it's place that was enchanted with magic so the parents would never suspect the swap took place. With this knowledge, it was the title of the book that gripped me immediately, as the cover was not appealing in the slightest (after all, I am a lover of fantasy and fairies XD). I found it on Amazon and having not even finished reading the synopsis, I knew I wanted to read this book. I reached out to the author, Gus Kenny, who agreed to me writing a review on my blog. Within a week I had the paperback book in my possession. Thank you so much Gus Kenny for sending me the book and for taking my mind for a spin into the magical world you created!

Type of book:
YA Fantasy

Ideas expressed/message/ and/or plot:
Lucy Bison has lived with her uncle, Mortimer, for as long as she can remember. She doesn't know what ever happened to her parents and Uncle Mort never answers any questions concerning them. Uncle Mort is a stern man and has a list of strict rules for Lucy to follow, the most important being that she is never allowed in the park, which borders their back fence. On Lucy's ninth birthday, she meets Frankie Friday, a boy who came from the park.
Lucy soon finds herself surrounded by a world of fairies and magic - a world of folklore and fairy tales she thought was impossible to even exist. Her family, which consists of Uncle Mort, Aunt Eva, Aunt Lexi, and Grandmother, may not even be her real family and Lucy herself may not even be human. When Lucy Bison was an infant, she was taken to the All King, or Fey (fairy) King, and thus a changeling was left in her place.
However, she was rescued from the world of Fey and another changeling was created to take her place with the All King. But which Lucy is the real Lucy? And who put the cupboard in the park? Is it more than just a piece of old furniture? Her troubles are only just beginning when an ancient creature that was supposed to be long dead is after her, or the real version of her. Where did it come from, who sent it, and why?
Nearly everyone in Lucy's life is not who she thought they were. They are suddenly mysteries to her, keeping secrets of their own, and possibly hiding from her the information she wishes most to know.

My favorite characters:
I think my favorite is Frankie Friday. He's extremely kind-hearted, funny, and book-smart. He's very matter-of-fact and doesn't understand so many things beyond his basic explanation of them. I love his curse words, using exclamations like, "Sand of the witch!" Lucy Bison is also a favorite. She's very clever for a nine year old. The story is told in the first person and several times I forgot that she's so young. One thing that stood out to me is that she doesn't seem to be a very patient person. She lost her temper towards Frankie several times which made me mad, but at the same time I can understand her losing her patience with him because of his simple ways of thinking. I also choose Mortimer as a favorite. I love who he is beneath his rough exterior - I even like his rough exterior! He may be strict, but nearly everything he does is for the best. Unless you're one of his enemies. Then he's even more impressive. Lastly, I choose Aunt Lexi. She has a fire and energy inside of her that makes her seem like she'd be a fun person to be around. She can be serious when she needs to be, but mostly she seems like the person always having a good time and getting excited and distracted over the smallest things.

Favorite scenes/quotes/lines:
Early on, a man who goes by Mr. Lucian says, "You of all people should know that all tales have a pearl of truth to them." This is my favorite line because it describes one of the things I love most about fantasy. While it provides the escape from reality that I like, it is also about people and life and struggles that are similar to real world experiences in their own right.
Now I'm trying to not give away any major spoilers, but the chapter entitled Pizza and Prisoners is one of my favorites for various reasons (page 71 of the paperback edition)! The chapter entitled Dreadful Dreams is also a favorite, especially the few lines encircling the line, "Though I suppose that is not healthy. Falling in love with a dream." This entire section was beautifully written (page 215-216). In Secrets and Speculations there is a section about fear that I really liked (page 250), and then the second half of Sunday Morning Coming Down (page 271).

The Changeling
and the Cupboard
Other books to read by Gus Kenny:
The Changeling and the Cupboard is part of a series titled, The Complications of Being Lucy. Book 2 is titled The Changeling and the Borrowed Family. Book 3 is titled Traitor's Niece and is currently unpublished, but will be available to purchase this summer! To learn more, check out The Complications of Being Lucy Facebook page, and Gus Kenny's Twitter and website.

Additional Notes:
There are so many great characters in this book, I don't think there was a single person who wasn't interesting. Well, they were more than interesting. A lot of books have interesting characters. These characters are truly memorable!! First of all, they have names like Mortimer, Mother Morgan, Mr. Keyes or Mr. Lucian, Dargo Muldoon, and Frankie Friday. I mean, come on! How can anyone forget Frankie Friday?! Even his description in the story sounds like a Frankie Friday.
I am extremely happy I saw this book, because it was just as good as I was hoping it was going to be, if not better! Most of the characters are a little bit eccentric in their own way. The story was interesting and intense and had me hooked a few pages in. The writing style is fun and easy to read (though there were a few sentences that I had to read and re-read). All in all, I felt the book had everything that a great fantasy book should have! I can't stress enough how memorable the story and characters felt. I highly recommend the series to anyone who loves fantasy. I have read fantasy books about changelings before, but Gus Kenny added a twist to it that I had never heard of before, so it made it that much more interesting to me! Please make sure you check out The Changeling and the Cupboard along with the rest of the series!

Yours truly,
Me

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Alligators In The Trees

(BOOK REVIEW)

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Where I received this book and what my interest in it is:
In February, Cynthia Hamilton emailed me, asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing one of her books. She has written 7 in total and allowed me to choose the one I wanted. I chose Alligators In The Trees for various reasons and I'm glad I picked it. The title in itself was the most interesting title to me, quickly grabbing my attention. I read the synopsis for each of her books and though none of them were the typical books I usually like to read, I was pleasantly surprised a few of the stories intrigued me. Thank you Cynthia for reaching out and allowing me to review your book!

Type of book:
Contemporary Fiction

Ideas expressed/message/ and/or/ plot:
Priscilla Vanderpool works at Frank's Coffee Shop in Lower East Side Manhattan. She's 32 years old, never been married, lives in a run-down apartment, and has only ever dated losers. However, few know that she is a gifted lyricist, though no one has ever read, let alone published any of her songs.
Philip Glessner, a businessman, and Tobias Jordan, lead singer of rock band Absent Among Us visit the dive as a sort of sanctuary and escape from their lives. Priscilla knows that men of their standard shouldn't be in a place like Frank's.
Philip has been going there for months and is strangely infatuated with his waitress. Tobias just happened to stumble into the place, began writing meaningless lyrics on a napkin when Priscilla sings his words from behind his shoulder. He leaves Frank's, somewhat offended for her reading his lyrics, and heads home. When he finds that his words have no "spark", he plays them on the piano with Priscilla's tune. He suddenly feels inspired and seeks out his muse.
When Tobias returns to the coffee shop, he learns that Priscilla isn't there. Meanwhile, Priscilla has agreed to go have dinner with Philip, whom she learns is a renowned architect going through a divorce and the downfall of one of his buildings. Priscilla claims she is not attracted to Philip in any way, but agrees to see him again the following day.
Eventually Priscilla decides she needs to change her life around and intends on moving to Florida. She decides to burn her boxes and boxes of lyrics for easy travel when she gets a bus ticket to Florida, but Tobias tracks her down, sees what she is up to, and buys the lyrics for a huge sum, allowing Priscilla to purchase a train ticket to Florida, rather than a bus ticket.
Both men feel that they need Priscilla in their lives, though all she wants is to get away from New York. All three characters are struggling with their lives in their own way and upon meeting one another, they must face decisions that force them to decide who they want to be and what they're going to do with their lives.

My favorite characters:
I liked Tobias's story best I think, but Priscilla is also one of my favorites. Though Tobias is selfish, as Priscilla points out, he's also the most interesting character with a charming side, but I think also a hidden side that's caring and loving, despite what the other characters think of him. Like the other characters in the book, he doesn't have a clear direction of where he wants his life to go, but does things because it's what others want him to do or expect of him. Priscilla is very relatable in some aspects, as she's the only one of the three main characters who isn't high class. She does what she wants for the most part, and though she has a strong exterior, she often has a weak will and gives into other's desires before her own. As she says of herself, "you can't confuse cynicism with bravery."

Favorite scenes/quotes/lines:
Chapter 42 is my favorite chapter in the entire book. It shows a side of Tobias that I think we didn't get to see enough of. At one point, Priscilla asks him if he's ever been in love, to which he avoids the question. It is in this chapter I think we see the kind of love he could be capable of, if given the chance to prove it. Throughout the book there are many songs written out by Priscilla (including the lyric "there're gators in the trees"), and a few by Tobias. In this chapter we get to see my favorite song in the entire book. It is as follows and also serves as my favorite quote:

You asked me about love
There's so little that I know
Hadn't ever caught the feeling
Hadn't ever felt it grow

You asked me why I never sang of it

I wouldn't have had a clue
Didn't know the face of love
Till I caught sight of you

Funny to find out now

It was in me all along
So here it is
Here's your love song.

Alligators in the Trees
Other books to read by Cynthia Hamilton:
Lucky At Love, Golden State, Once Upon A Lyme, High Price To Pay, Spouse Trap, and Finding Ruth. You can check out her website and find her on Facebook and Twitter

Additional notes:
I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I would. I liked the beginning a lot, it was fun getting to read into each of the characters lives. The book was written in the third person, but one chapter would be following Priscilla's life, the next on Philip's life, and the next on Tobias's life. However, I soon found myself dreading Philip's chapters. I don't really like his character. He's kind of annoying and nothing attractive about him. His daughter didn't interest me either. Again, that's just me.
I don't want to spoil anything, but in the final chapter of the book, I was happy with Priscilla's decision, and then extremely disappointed with the last few sentences in the book. I heard that there's maybe going to be a sequel, for which I am excited! I feel like there was closure for Philip's story, and even Priscilla's in a way. But not Tobias. He deserves more. Be sure to check out Alligators In The Trees!

Yours truly,
Me

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Sneak Peek at the Characters from Beyond the Veil.

I realize I have never told you where I live, and that's ok because that's not important. What I do want you to know right now is that I am not home, I am in California on a vacation of sorts. Since I am not writing much these days, I've been spending a lot of my evenings doing simple sketches in my notebook. I decided to show you what I've been working on and I included some quotes from Beyond the Veil. Let me know what you think in the comments!!


Hollyhocks

First is a drawing of my protagonist from Beyond the Veil, Hollyhocks. Personally I believe this is the best drawing of her yet. I think I captured her really well here; her childlike elfin features are exactly how I perceive her to look in my mind. Hollyhocks is extremely kindhearted, but also naïve, seeing the world the way she wants it to be. She's a dreamer and often ponders her own thoughts before speaking them aloud. She cares deeply for those close to her and tries to be there for those who need her, while she herself doesn't always readily accept help from others when she needs it.
Quote: She echoed the words to herself. “Eternity.” such a simple word with infinite meaning. She decided she quite liked the way it sounded.

Edward V

Next is the second most important character in the story, Edward V. I purposefully drew him in this post to match that of John Everett Millais' painting, the Princes In The Tower. In my mind, he has blond hair that reaches down to his shoulders similar to the painting, but I was pretty sure if I attempted that, he'd look like a girl...
Edward is a very bright child but also a very lonely one, often filled with thoughts beyond that of a 12 year old boy. Though his life was mostly good, my story brings him to a point where he is susceptible and impotent, quiet but curious. When he opens up to someone, he forms a deep friendship with them.
Quote: "There is no such thing as a great king, or even a good one," Edward stated. "There are only simple men who try their best."


JuJuBee

I also drew JuJuBee. She's a lot of fun to draw, I feel like her appearance matches her personality and radiates with a mischievous and yet friendly demeanor. She has a deep past, is honest to a fault, always speaks her mind, and can be slightly rude at times. She also likes to have fun and is the rebel of the group. The thing about JuJuBee is she's that one friend who would slap you if you deserved it and she wouldn't feel bad about it, but she also has a hidden caring nature and is there for her friends when they need her most.
Quote: "Humans," JuJuBee said, shaking her head. "They think they know everything. How can one person claim that any one thing is possible or impossible? How little you must know."


Shaylee

This is really the only decent drawing I've done of Shaylee. In this post, she was really hidden behind her mount, but I like the way I captured her here. Her green skin and bug-like antennas set her apart from the other fairies. Shaylee is nice, but not overly friendly. She's mature, determined, likes to follow the rules, and she doesn't take any nonsense. She knows how to get something done and is quite sure her way is the only proper way to do it. Despite her exterior though, she does always look for the good in others and is ready to lend a helping hand.
Quote: "Childhood is a beautiful thing. You may be a king, yet you are still a child. Do not allow the wicked in the world to have power over you."


Jack Frost

Back in December of 2015, I hinted that I MIGHT be writing about Jack Frost, so I guess if you haven't followed my social media, this drawing confirms that Jack is indeed in my story. He's possibly the most interesting character from the book, or at least the most unique. I must say he was a lot of fun to write. He's extremely persistent, slightly pompous, and devilishly charming in his own right. He also has bright eyes filled with childish wonder.
Quote: "An adventure can present itself at any given moment. Life itself is an adventure, is it not? Who says we must venture off into the far corners of the earth. There is still plenty right here in the Forest yet to discover. I daresay there are plenty of secrets untold within our own little band."


Anlon

Lastly, with the help of my sister, I present to you Anlon. Where he comes from or how old he truly is, no one really knows, but his eyes are filled with age and wisdom beyond that of a mere animal. He sees more and understands more than he lets on, an ancient guardian and protector of the Forest. He stands taller than any of the unicorns from the Wild Herd, more proud and more beautiful than any other.

Yours truly,
Me