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Sunrise

The beginning of the year is like a beautiful, radiant sunrise. The start of something new, something clean and pure, with no mistakes made in it yet. Everything seems possible at the New Year, we make resolutions and are confident and excited about them.

Whenever I think of 2015, I get a little burst of happiness that runs through my whole body.

I would be lying if I said that 2014 was incredible, that I got a lot done, that I had fun. 2014, for me, was a big learning year, the first step in my transition into adulthood. And I can't say it's been enjoyable.

This was the year I got my first job and realized just how horrible and sinful this world really is. This was the year I learned how to drive, and the year I learned that I don't like driving. This was the year I discovered that sometimes, when you put your prejudices away, you find that some people are much different than your own perception of them. This was the year of losing friends, and gaining them in strange ways.

2014 has left a scar on my heart that, I think, will stay with me for the rest of my life. It wasn't a bad year, just a difficult one.

This next year I want to take what I've learned in 2014 and fix things, patch up the mistakes I've made.

My first and main resolution is to pop my bubble and be more myself around actual, real life people. Most of the time I'm like a little Emily Dickinson, wanting nothing more than to stay locked up in the confines of my room for the rest of eternity. Really, that's all I want. I can't embarrass myself or be incredibly awkward when I'm with myself, but I know deep down that's not good for me.

I want to be able to show people who I really am, despite the fact that they might not like me. I want to show my writing to the people I love and care about, the people who's opinions matter to me, without being afraid of rejection.

It's going to be hard, but that's my main goal for 2015.

I also want to read more, and take my own pictures (maybe this will be the year I get a DSLR camera... I can dream, can't I?). I want to get out of my comfort zone. I want to finish a novel, and blog, and meet even more bloggy friends and real life friends!

2014 might have been the year of learning, but I have a feeling that 2015 will be the year of change. And I can't wait!

Happy New Year, darlings. :)

if i'm not dancing with you

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When I close my eyes I can remember how it was before,
How it felt to leap through the air, the wind pulling and playing at my unkempt hair.
I remember what it was like to be free, nothing more than a blur of movement to the rest of the world.
I was happy.
But that was all before.
Before I met you.

You grabbed my hand and pulled me in. It wasn't my choice to go with you, but I didn't object either.
We moved so well together,
your hand in mine and mine in yours.
I thought that you were someone to count on, someone who would always be there to catch me when I would jump too high.

I've tried to forget, tried to move on, really I have, but it's hard.
I tried to dance again, but the loneliness is all too noticeable.
My head longs to rest on your shoulder, my back aches without the support of your arms. I can't dip myself down low to the ground without you there to bring me back up again.

The truth is
I don't want to dance if I'm not dancing with you.   

Book Review | Dorothy Must Die

| goodreads |
A bit of a disclaimer: I know next to nothing about The Wizard of Oz. I have never read the book (even though I've heard it's quite good), and I have seen the movie only once in my life. My Dad always thought the whole story was creepy, and I was never around much of it growing up.Maybe I should've picked up the actual Wizard of Oz book before starting on this... I don't know if it would've helped me out... Eh, probably not.

When I saw this book, something about it just called to me, begging me to buy it. The cover is super cool, and you all probably know that retellings are my biggest weakness in literature.

So, I got it, and started reading it immediately. From the first page, however, something just didn't strike a chord with me.

The first few chapters were pretty torturous. Amy annoyed me... a lot. Her life was pretty terrible, I get it, but she complained about things that didn't even matter! The story didn't seem to have a good set up. It was very quick, and it didn't give me enough time to care about anything that was going on in the book.

Once Amy got to Oz it finally picked up!

Oz is scary! Post apocalyptic and completely, utterly terrifying!
It was great! I loved the new, original Oz that the author created. It's definitely much different than any other Oz retelling that I have ever heard of. And the new characters she added were fabulous. Pete and the new witches (and warlock, sorry Nox) made the book for me, but, unfortunately, they were only there or 1/3 of the book at the most, the rest was all Amy.

Amy was the typical girl-next-door-who-turns-out-to-be-the-only-one-who-can-save-the-world type character. Her personality didn't really seem consistent to me. One minute she was the bound and determine feminist out to be the savior of all Oz, then the next she was a whiny teenager who spent most of the book complaining, crying for Nox or somebody (mostly Nox, though) to come and encourage her, to tell her that she "has more courage than she thinks!"
However, she did have pink hair and a pet rat... that was cool-ish. (and her last name was Gumm! Of course, you'd have to be an old movie star nerd, like me, to get that reference [look up Judy Garland to see what I'm talking about])

The only character I hated more than Amy was actually Dorothy. Which was good! It's always good when the author actually makes you hate the villain. They kind of overshadow the full Dorothy story, how she came to overlord power and all. I might have to read the prequel novella thing to fully understand that. But man was she mean! I wanted to jump into the book to kill her myself (Amy was taking far too long)!
Most of the middle dragged a lot, but the ending was explosive, and not entirely as predictable as I thought it would be.

All in all it was a pretty neutral read for me. It needed work, but the idea was a good one. Who can say no to a creepy retelling? really? 

Will I read the sequel when it comes out? Probably, we'll see. ;)

P.S. My first time using gifs in a book review. What do you think?
P.P.S. It was a Wizard of Oz retelling! It needed gifs, it was basically begging for them!

A little bit of Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there-- A Visit from St. Nicholas, Clement Clarke Moore
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My Christmas spirit has finally arrived!

In the name of being honest, I must admit, I keep forgetting that tomorrow is Christmas. I don't really know why exactly...

I know it's cheesy, but Christmas really is my absolute favorite time of year, just this year has been different than I expected...

I always try to save my Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving. Even when the commercials and songs are already playing everywhere, I hold back until we are on our way back home from my aunt and uncle's house on Thanksgiving night. And it was especially hard this year. It gets harder every year. But after Thanksgiving, all my Christmas spirit didn't quite explode like I thought it would. It flickered, sputtered, and died down to a simple buzz ringing in the back of my head.

Don't get me wrong, I've still been over-the-moon excited. I watched as my siblings decorated the Christmas tree with their favorite ornaments, I ate my weight in cookie dough as I made the Christmas cookies, I wrapped up several presents with the pretty wrapping paper, and I watched my favorite Christmas movie (Miracle on 34th Street, the old one).

Even after all of that I still kept having to remind myself that it is Christmas time, and I should be far more excited than I was. Maybe it's because of the lack of snow.

My little forest is muddy, gray, rainy, and depressing. The weather man says that we shall indeed have snow tomorrow, but I think he might just be saying that to make everyone hopeful and happy. I think the universe is trying to mess with me. It snowed on Halloween, it snowed on Thanksgiving, and now Christmas is going to be completely void of snow. Ba Humbug.

But today I woke up, and my stomach was in a knot, my excitement level flew through the roof, and my Christmasy happy feeling was finally here.

I shall enjoy this final day of preparing. I will wear my favorite ugly Rudolph sweater and belt out Christmas song until I loose my voice, and I'll read the Christmas story in my Bible tonight as I try desperately to get some good sleep.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

in the black and white

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Entry #33

I have a fascinating fear of old, black and white pictures, ones that were taken when the camera was first invented. Back to a time where people never seemed to be able to smile, and everything always looked so gray and dismal. 

There's a special sort of creepiness to an old picture. It's almost like you're looking through a telescope into a whole other world... A strange sort of world where there's no color or sunlight. Where the people can stare right into your soul with their cold, lifeless, gray eyes.
***
Addition: When I was younger I genuinely did have a fear of old pictures. They would just creep me out so much. Whenever I would have to search up someone who lived long ago I would have my sisters scan the website so that I could be sure there were no pictures that would haunt my dreams. It's not bad now. Old pictures are special, they show you a different time, back when photography and portraits were different... a different kind of beautiful that could sometimes be scary looking. 

disclaimer | as of late

am a ghost. I float around in the background. I watch the world as it passes me by. I see strangers sing and laugh, and I try to sing with them... But it's not real. I thirst for life. A real life. I'm tired of hiding, I want to be seen. 
insta
Life has been full to the brim, overflowing, drowning out everything else. With choir concerts, parties, papers to write, drama rehearsals, and speeches to prepare for. I feel suffocated by it all sometimes, but that's okay. Christmas is coming, that small time to catch my breath before I dive back in again. And I'm going to enjoy it. 

nous sommes les miserables

In mid January, I picked up my big, thick, beautiful copy of Les Miserables, and on November 4, 2014 I turned the final page accomplishing what many have tried, but only few have succeeded at.

Yes, I read all 1,232 pages of my copy of Les Mis (even the boring history chapters were read thoroughly. Yep, I'm Super-Reader!), and I enjoyed every second of it.
“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

This is a truly incredible book, and I honestly believe with everything in me that if every single person on this planet read this book, the world would be a better place. That might seem like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not.

While the new movie version is superb (*fangirl jazz hands*) and stays true to the book most of the time, you really don't get the full experience. I watched the movie before reading the book, and I realized quickly as I was reading how the characters had way more depth than is portrayed on the screen.

You really get to see how Jean Valjean struggles with himself, especially towards the end, how terrible the Thenardiers are, and how Marius and Cosette's love-at-first-sight thing isn't quite so cheesy after all (it's quite adorable, actually). 
“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables 
I'm not here to bash the movie. I understand that turning 1,232 pages of pure gorgeousness into a three hour long movie (with music and singing) is no easy task, and they did fabulous with what they had.

Again, this is a phenomenal book. I felt for the characters, I cried. I laughed. I could see it all vividly. (Try reading the revolution scenes on The Forth of July, the sound of the fireworks makes it seem so realistic!) 

This is a book that can't only be read once, there is far too much in it and you would be sure to miss something your first time through. I can't begin to tell you how many times I had to stop reading because I came across a quote, or a profound thought that I needed to read again and again. 

I shall definitely pick it up again someday. Maybe the French version this time! :)

Up next on Hannah's ventures through books that are over a thousand pages in length: War and Peace! (Um... no, just kidding... ;)

words like lightning and thunder

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"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."-- Mark Twain
This quote was scrawled out across the whiteboard in class one day, written in my teacher's hasty, cursive handwriting. She had us copy it down in our notes, and it has stuck with me ever since.

I'm a writer. My passion is literally sticking letters and sounds and syllables together to create words that add up to sentences, and, eventually, stories.

A couple weeks ago, my teacher read to the entire class a paper I had turned in. I cringed in my seat at every word, and when it was done, I was relieved. It did make me excited that my teacher liked my paper, but then as she started reading the other papers, ones that read like poetry, I got discouraged.

I honestly don't think I'm the best writer. I'm decent, I suppose. I use good enough spelling and grammar and can make things sound pretty and interesting enough for people to read a little. But I'm not the best.

I dream of writing something great someday, not flimsy and generic. Something that will challenge people's thinking, and make them go "Wow!". But I don't ever believe I could actually, physically do it.

And I realized, as I was going over ^ this quote again and again in my mind, that the reason why I can't stand my writing is because my words are weak. My words are never full and powerful, my vocabulary is never stretched enough. My words are lightning bugs (or, as we call them in the midwest, "fireflies"). It's something I need to work on. To take Mark Twain's quote to heart and really make my writing bloom. :)

--a thought of mine whilst I've been absent

Bookshelf Challenge

I was tagged quite awhile ago by Danielle from A Digression with the Dark. Thank you muchly, Danielle :)

My bookshelf is my most favorite thing in the whole world. I spend my spare time rearranging my books in different ways, or sometimes I just sit back and stare at all my beautiful books. (Creepy and possessive, right?) When I saw this tag going around the blogosphere a little part of me wanted desperately to do it. But I knew that the most probable thing would be that I wouldn't get tagged. Well, obviously I did get tagged, and this is dreadfully late, but I'm happy to finally get it out!

Without further ado...

1) Is there a book that you really want to read but haven't because you know it'll make you cry?
Dude, if a book promises to make me weep it will be at the top of my TBR list. Seriously, when a book is powerful enough to touch my emotions it's a beautiful thing, and I don't try to run from it, I embrace it. And so, no, there are no books on my shelf that promise to make me cry. I have read them all.

2) Pick one book that helped introduce you to a new genre.
I read everything, so I'm not quite sure what to put here. There are so many books that have introduced me to new genres. I don't own Cinder yet, but I've got Scarlet, so I'll go with The Lunar Chronicles. Cinder was probably my first ever hard-core YA book. I was very hesitant about it at first, but it is now one of my favorites. I'm now a proud Lunar Chronicles hipster! I loved it before it was cool! ;)

3) Find a book that you would like to reread.
All of them. Seriously. Someday I just want to go through my entire bookshelf and read every one of my books again. But right now I really want to pick up Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and The Help again.

4) Is there a book series you read but wish that you hadn't?
Whenever I start a series or something I feel committed to it. I always always want to know what is going to happen, even if the series is less-than-extraordinary.
I started The Staff and the Sword series by Patrick W. Carr awhile ago. I got the first book for free on my ereader, and... yeah. It was a free book. I'm not really interested in continuing the series, which is rare for me.

5) If your house were burning down and all of your family and pets were safe, which book would you go back inside to save?
Without a doubt my beautiful Lord of the Rings box set. I know, I'm terrible for not picking my Bible...

6) Is there one book on your bookshelf that brings back fond memories?
Okay, I'm cheating here. I don't personally own this book, but I know we must have it somewhere in the house. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. That book is like one of my all time favorite childhood books. We read it as a family in a single day. Every time I think of it I get nostalgic.

7) Find a book that has inspired you.
Probably The Book Thief... Or Code Name Verity. WWII books are very inspiring. (Not to mention completely and utterly heart wrenching!)

8) Do you have any autographed books?
No, and this frustrates me on many levels.

9) Find the book that you have owned the longest.
I'm cheating again and saying my Bible. I am too lazy to go through all my books and determine which one I've owned longest!

10) Is there a book by an author that you never imagined you would read or enjoy?
No. I'm usually fairy good at guessing whether or not I will enjoy a book. There are quite a few that I thought I would enjoy, but didn't...
The only living photo of my bookshelf. (there are many more books scattered about my room that you can't see in the picture)
***
I don't tag people because I'm lame, so if you wish to do it, just say I tagged you. 

I know I'm uber late on this bandwagon, but if any of y'all did this challenge please leave your link in a comment. I would love to read your answers! (In a curious way, not a creepy way.)

in which I fail

I'm trying. I really am. I keep telling myself that I can handle everything that I want to do... but I'm discovering ever so slowly that I just can't.

I want to be able to be caught up with school all the time. I wish I had the ability to get up in the morning and get all my schoolwork done so that I can then have time to write and to blog and to read. I want to be an awesome blogger, one who is so active with her readers, one who posts more than once a week. I want to do NaNoWriMo. I did sign up, even though I knew I couldn't do it. Not a single word has been written. I want to finish my ever growing TBR pile. I'm currently reading five books, and even though I have been reading a lot more than I did in the summer I can't get through them fast enough to meet any sort of reading goal this year. I want to be the bestest friend in the whole world. I want to be able to go and be there for my friends when they need me, to not be living in a virtual world all the time where they can't reach me. I want to be in the real world with them, and cry and pray for them...

But I'm just destined to fail at all this.

My life is a tornado right now. Junior year is not taking it easy on me. (well... mainly speech class. It is the absolute bane of my existence) And it's especially hard when your heart is breaking... over a lot of things. My heart has been breaking for awhile.

I know this is messy. I thought that once I started blogging again everything would go back to normal, but it's proving to be much harder than I thought.

Just know that I'm trying.

“To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is a bad dream.”

The Bell Jar has been on my mind ever since I finished it. I've been trying to gather my thoughts about it, to make sense of what it made me feel... and honestly I don't know.

I'm not good at writing something meaningful about the deepness of classical books. I try, but making my scattered ideas sense to others is nearly impossible, so just bear with me. I'm vomiting words here.
***
I've been feeling... down lately. I don't really know why... there's a lot of crazy stuff going on with my life and I've just been finding myself kind of depressed at times. Don't worry about me, I'm starting to feel better. I say this because that was one of the reasons why I decided to pick this book up.

Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic. 
I don't know what my logic was. "Hey, I've been feeling not-so-great, how about I read a book about a depressed, insane person to make me feel better! Yeah!" I don't even know... But, despite all that, I found this to be one of the most interesting and beautiful little books I have ever read in my life!

It's very extremely dark. I absolutely love darkness in literature. I found it so interesting to be able to go into the mind of Esther. When I told my Mom that this book was told in first person from an insane person's point of view, she couldn't understand why in the world I would ever want to read it.

Crazy people fascinate me. I wonder what it is that makes them crazy, what do they think, how do they feel. (But, they also completely terrify me, which is why I shall never be a psychiatrist.) And I found, quite surprisingly, that the mind of someone who is insane isn't all that strange. Many of the thoughts that Esther had about things and life I also have thought. (Obviously not the thoughts she has about killing herself.) We were very much a like. Just look!
“I am sure there are things that can't be cured by a good bath but I can't think of one.” 
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
“When they asked me what I wanted to be I said I didn't know.
"Oh, sure you know," the photographer said.
"She wants," said Jay Cee wittily, "to be everything.” 
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
"I'm not sure why it is, but I love food more than just about anything else. No matter how much I eat, I never put on weight. With one exception I've been the same weight for ten years." -- Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (story of my life!)
Knowing what I do about Sylvia Plath (I just had to do some research on her, of course) made me appreciate this book much more. Seeing how she weaved in the tale of her own tragic life and struggles through her absolutely gorgeous writing was both inspiring and heartbreaking. There are so many amazing quotes I could fill this post with.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. It deals with very mature topics at times, and it could be hard for people to swallow it. Esther has absolutely no hope that she will ever feel better, that her life will ever go back to normal, and it's difficult to get through, especially at the end there.  But I feel like it is a very raw and important book that everyone should at least try to read in their lifetime.It made me appreciate the hope I have that my life will turn out okay in the end, no matter how crazy or down I might feel.
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy.” 
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Permelia

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All she's ever known is the ticking of her heart. It is constant. It is what keeps her awake. It is what keeps her alive. She dreams of stopping it. If only she could dig through her chest and rip it out, stop the ticking so that she can sleep at last.
-from entry #10
***
I haven't written anything in over six months. Half a year without a single word of my story scribbled down. I haven't forgotten my book, it's just been sitting in the back of my brain collecting dust.

I've never been able to stick with a story idea before, and in all honesty, when I started brainstorming for this crazy little book at the end of my Freshman year, I didn't think it would last as long as it has. 

I've kept the flame burning for almost two years now... but yet, I have still barely gotten past the first couple chapters of the first draft. Every time I sit down to write it just won't come. I stare at the blank document, trying to squeeze the words out of me, but I'm like an empty tube of toothpaste. I know I have this story in me, I know it's ready to come spilling out onto the pages of a book, but perfect words are nowhere to be found. I feel dried up.

I wrote a journal entry about one of my favorite characters in my book, Permelia. I was feeling her for a moment, and I had to write it down. She all of a sudden came alive to me and I got excited. Here were words that had been stuck inside of me for six months, finally coming out.

I'm not giving up on this story. I can't. It's my baby, and I won't rest until I've seen it grow into adulthood. I might not find the right words now, but someday soon they will come.

when we went to turkey run


It was a year ago. I woke up early on a Sunday morning, ready to go to church, when Mom stopped me and said that we were skipping church that day. My mom never likes it when we skip church, so I knew there had to be a good reason, but when she said we were going to go to Turkey Run instead I knew she must be joking!

Turkey Run is a state park. A thick forest that is absolutely gorgeous in the middle of October. Or, at least, that's what I was always told. I hadn't ever been able to go myself to know for sure. The thought of going to a park on a Sunday morning instead of church sounded like the most ridiculous thing. But I didn't ask any questions, I just zipped up my jacket, grabbed my camera, and followed my family out the door.

We arrived after about an hour long drive, and we immediately started our adventure. Over muddy trails, under the tree limbs, covered in autumn leaves that would fall slowly around us like fiery rain. Pushing the baby stroller over the steep hills, and walking across the long wooden bridge.

We stopped at an especially beautiful place in the park, right next to the river, and took a moment to just pray and appreciate the absolute beauty of God's creation. 

I remember this time last year being a particularly difficult time for me and my whole family. It was a time of confusion and change. Dad was looking for a job, and there was a very large chance that we would be moving, but where we were supposed to go, we didn't know. I didn't know how I felt about anything, I was sort of numbing my heart to everything that was going on, hoping that I would wake up and it would all be a dream.

As we stood there in the middle of the woods praying, oblivious to the joggers and hikers that passed us by, I knew that everything would be okay. In the end we would still have each other, and God was in control.

I still can't believe it's been a year already!

We're still where we were a year ago. Shortly after our day at Turkey Run, Dad got a job offer completely out of the blue, and it was even closer to home than where he had been working before. Whenever I think about how that all worked I'm just amazed!

I'm still unsure about a whole lot of things in my life. So much has changed, I've changed, and I think it's for the better. Sometimes I wonder what will happen before next October, but I'm not as scared as I used to be. 

Life's an adventure, like a hike through Turkey Run, and I'm going to take it one step at a time, trusting whatever God has in store for me.

Fairytale Survey

I adore fairytales. I received a giant book full of Grimm's fairytales as an Easter present a year or so ago. I just cannot get enough of them!

I found this fairytale survey at Feed Me Books Now forever ago, and I have been absolutely dying to do it myself ever since.

As you will see, it's pretty genius.
Part I :: Classic Characters
Pinocchio- the boy whose nose grows when he lies
Is there a book you lie about because you feel ashamed for liking it?
I don't usually lie about books. If I love a book I will shout it from the top of the Eiffel Tower! But I'd have to say the only books I would maybe lie about are all the books in The Luxe series. The whole series is full of plot holes and all sorts of things that people hate. I don't really know why I loved them as much as I did. They are sort of my guilty pleasure. 

Beauty and the Beast- the girl who fell in love with personality
Which book do you love that has a hideous cover?
Before I read The Book Thief I thought that the cover was the most hideous thing! But now that I understand it, it is my most favorite cover of all the books in the world!

Snow White- hunted down for her beauty
Do you ever buy a book based on the cover alone? And if so, what is the last one?
I do this all the time, and it is not good. Pretty covers are my weakness. The last book I bought based on it's cover was probably Dorothy Must Die. The cover is just too cool I couldn't resist.

Sleeping Beauty- cursed to sleep, awakened by true love's kiss
What is your favorite book couple?
This is the most difficult question ever! I ship every couple in the whole book world, but I just have to go with Cress and Thorne from Cress by Marissa Meyer. They are the most adorable couple ever, and they make the little helpless romantic inside of me sigh with happiness. 

Little Mermaid- gave up her old life for love
Do you ever branch out to new genres or do you like to stick to the ones you know and love? If you try new things out, what is the latest book?
I love trying out new genres and different kind of books, but one genre that I haven't read much of is Paranormal. It's just really creepy and I've never wanted to read any books in the genre. But I gave it a try with The Diviners by Libba Bray. Oh, I loved it! The writing was beautiful, and Naughty John was the most satisfyingly scary/creepy villain I have ever read! It gave me nightmares. It was great. Why they decided to wait three years to release the sequel, I don't know! 

Cinderella- who lost her shoe after midnight
What is the last book that made you stay up all night?
I like sleep a lot and don't stay up for much. (yes, I'm that girl who's the first to fall asleep at sleepovers) It takes a very special book to keep me up all night, and Divergent is the only one that has succeeded. I refused to sleep until I knew how it ended!

Rapunzel- locked up in a tower
What is the worst book you read last month?
All the books I read last month were really good, but Of Poseidon by Anna Banks was the last book to disappoint me. I just didn't care for it. Which was a shame, since I was hoping it would be a very good summer-y read. 

Part II :: Mix-Match
Aladdin- the poor boy who found a genie
What is the latest book treasure/gem you've found?
This one would have to be The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. This entire trilogy had me so hooked from the beginning. This was probably the uickest I have ever read an entire trilogy. (This is also another book I bought based on it's cover. I regret nothing.)

Alice in Wonderland- the girl who fell through a rabbit hole
Which book made you feel like you landed in another world?
The whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, for sure. Middle Earth is my all time favorite book setting ever. I shall not be moved.

East of Sun and West of Moon- where a girl embarks on a journey to save her love
Who is one of your favorite kick-butt heroines?
I have many, many favorite heroines who are very strong. Like Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles, and Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. But for now, I'm going to go with Julie from Code Name Verity. She was the best character ever. She made me laugh, she made cry. She had such a strong personality, and was able to give her captors a really hard time.

The Frog Prince- where an enchanted prince becomes human again
What is a book you thought you would hate, but ended up loving?
Wuthering Heights! Hands down! I had heard so many mixed things about this book, but I hesitantly read it anyway, and it blew me away! It is now one of my top three favorite books of all time. In fact, I should go re-read it right now!

Hansel and Gretel- left alone in the woods and captured by a witch
Which duo (brother/sister, sister/sister) is your favorite and why?
I have realized hat there is a stunning lack of awesome siblings in my reading... I should fix that. Why are all the good characters an only child? They need siblings to make their lies more exciting! (and less lonely) The only one I can think of is Will and Cecily from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. But yeah, they were great. I wish I had a big brother like Will. 

Little Red Riding Hood- almost eaten by a wolf dressed as her grandmother
What book disappointed you after falling in love with the cover and blurb?
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I was so excited for this book! It sounded like a really epic fantasy that I would love, but it was just... meh. 

Rumpelstiltskin- nobody knows his name
Which book do you love that doesn't get enough attention?
Oh, most definitely Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. This is one of my most favorite books, and it's sequel is just as great. More people need to read it! It's Robin Hood!
***
If you decide to do this survey as well, please leave the link to your post in the comments, I'd love to read it. :)

on reading

My reading has been suffering.

Like I've mentioned before I'm in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad reading slump. I'm slowly pushing myself out of it, but still.

I've been thinking a lot about book reviewing. I do enjoy reviewing books. I do. I like sharing with people the amazing books I've read. I like it when someone comes back and thanks me for recommending a book to them. It makes me feel like I've actually done something useful. But with school starting and all, I started thinking, especially since I'm a Junior (Wha!?), I want to start branching out with my reading more.

I've always been the type of person who could read anything, but I want to round out my reading. I want to step out of the young adult bubble that the whole world seems to be in and read other things. I want to read classics (oh yes! Classics!), more adult books and children books, as well as YA.

But most importantly, I don't want to just review books anymore. I want my reading to make me think about the world. I want to have thought provoking discussions, and I want to learn something from the text in the books I read.

Reviewing is great and all. And I shall probably always continue reviewing, either on here or just on Goodreads or something. But I don't really want to have a book review blog. I have no real interest in authors sending me their work for review (it just sounds stressful, especially in this reading slump), I want to be free in my reading and thinking. Not that book reviewers aren't, I just don't like it when people force books upon me to read within a week. I would simply detest the book by the end, and it wouldn't be good for the author of the book or me.

I'm still playing around with the idea. We'll see what happens. But I'd love to hear what you think of branching out.
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Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started a Blog

Three years ago I started my first blog. I don't remember the exact day, but today is the day I have sort of unofficially set as my blog's birthday. It has been quite the journey. I've grown and I've learned so much from blogging, and I really wouldn't trade this wonderful experience for anything.

This is not an advise post. I'm pretty terrible at giving advise, and all of those "you-should-blog-like-me-because-look-at-all-the-followers-I-have-don't-you-want-to-be-like-me" posts are all the same and are all so annoying (most of the time. I have read a couple that were actually good). This is more of a letter to my younger self, and a reminder to me in the present. These are the things I wish I knew before I started blogging, and the things I'm still trying to learn.


Don't be cocky
I was thirteen when I started my first blog, and I was very cocky and proud. I get embarrassed now thinking about it. I had wanted to start a blog, but my parents wouldn't let me quite yet, so I spent my time reading blogs to see just how it was done. By the time I was finally given the okay by my parents to start up a blog of my own I felt like I knew everything there was to know about blogging. All I had to do was post, and the followers would just start rolling in. Its terrible, I know. I'm always the type of person that tries to be the best at everything, and then when I realize I'm not the best it can hit me pretty hard. Humility is a thing I'm working at, but I'm glad to say that I have changed since I was thirteen. I know I'm not the greatest blogger in the whole of the universe, and I'm okay with that. 

Only follow the blogs you'll actually read
In other words, don't follow other, smaller blogs hoping for a follow back. This was something I did, and still do sometimes, I'm sorry to say. Bloggers want followers, and sometimes they forget that there are actual living, breathing people behind the number on their dashboard. When I went through the list of blogs that I followed on bloglovin' I was stunned at how many blogs I had forgotten about, ones that I didn't really care about, ones that I had only followed because surely they would follow me back and boost my follower number. I have discovered that it is better to follow only blogs I actually like to read. The followers will come, don't waste your time or other bloggers' time follower hunting. It just isn't fun in the long run.

Don't judge other blogs based on design
Here's something I have learned over the course of my blogging career: not everyone cares about the way their blog looks. I know, it came as a shock to me too. When I started blogging I thought blog design was the most important thing in the world. And it's sad, but I would have a hard time reading other people's blogs if their design was terrible. But, yeah. There are actually bloggers who just want to blog, and who don't worry about how their background clashes with their header. And their are some people who might care about their design, they just don't quite know how to do it yet. I take it for granted sometimes that I know HTML and forget that not everybody understands it. Sometimes I wish I didn't care about design as much as I do, but it's okay. That's just the type of blogger I am.

Don't compare yourself to other blogs
This is the most important thing that everyone in the blogging world must know and understand. The blogosphere is a huge place, full of all sorts of people of all sorts of talents and strengths. Some are better writers than others, and some have more followers than others. It's so, so, so, so, so easy to be reading other bigger blogs in your blog-genre who are more popular than you and get discouraged. But please, don't give up. Those popular bloggers went through the same thing at some point, I guarantee it, and look, they broke the barricade and made it to the top. Over time you will find your voice, the thing that will make you stand out against the rest, and you will make it. It might take you awhile, but you will, I promise!
***
Thank you so much for reading my words. I know you probably haven't been here for the whole three years, but I'm glad you're here. This blog is one of my most favorite things in the world, and it just blows me away that you actually take time out of your day to read what I have to say.

Here's to another year! 

The Hot Air Balloon

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I clutch the rope as tightly as I can until I cannot feel the tips of my fingers anymore. The wind plays with my hair, loosening my tight ponytail, and letting the loose strands dance in front of my eyes. I do not mind, though. Nothing can make my hands abandon the rope. It is not that I am frightened of falling. It is excitement, not fear that makes me feel as if I am going to tumble out of the basket.

I lean over to get a better view of the world I left behind. Miles upon miles of corn fields and rolling green hills spread out in front of me, like a beautiful patchwork quilt made of only green fabric.

"Where are we going to land?" I ask.

"I don't know,” You shrug. “Does it matter?"

I shake my head. No.

When I am up here, surrounded by nothing but clouds, sky, and fresh air, all of the worry, fear, and stress I left behind on Earth seem so minuscule. I look at you. I can see a light in your eyes, and somehow I know that you feel the same way I do.

I can feel you standing close to me, and I slowly loosen my grip on the rough, prickly rope, allowing you to fill your hand in mine. I can feel a smile spread across my face as we drift off into the distance, fading away into the honey-orange sunset. Everything was going to be alright.

We let the wind take us wherever it pleases. I do not worry about where we will land. It will be a different and better place, far away from where we have come from. That is all that matters.

 Dedicated to a friend.

getting myself out of this reading slump

It's been quite awhile since I have participated in Top Ten Tuesday (granted, it's been quite awhile since I've done anything in the blogging world), so I figured I'd join up again this week.

In case you aren't aware, Top Ten Tuesday is a book blog meme hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish. It's a weekly thing, but I only do it every other week unless the topic for the week is just too good to resist! :)

This week's topic is: Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List. 

If you're friends with me on Goodreads, you probably know that my TBR list is ginormous and utterly terrifying. You might look at my shelf and think "Pfftt, that's nothing compared to mine!", and maybe it isn't, but to me it is quite daunting. I just hear of so many irresistible books all the time, and I tend to think I can take on waaay more than I actually can. There are books that have been sitting on my virtual shelf for years, ones that I actually have no desire to actually read anymore, but I just can't get myself to take them off. *sigh* such is the life of a compulsive reader.

But actually during my blogging hiatus I was also in the midst of the worst reading slump in the entire history of the universe. I have finished probably about five books in the past six months. That is very bad. I guess this isn't going to be the year I read 100 books.

So, with the start of a new school year I am desperately hoping to get back into reading. I have several books from several genres that I'm going to try to read during the Fall season. There's no theme here, and none of these are particularly Autumn-y, but simply books I am just dying to read right now!
***

1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I just bought this book the other day, and I have been constantly eyeing it ever since. I have heard so many good things about it, and I just know it shall make me weep! But sometimes you just need a book that can make you cry, you know?

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Yes, I haven't read this yet, even though I've wanted to for a long, long time. Everyone in the whole world seems to be obsessed with it, and I have had several friends recommend it to me. I just haven't gotten around to it.   

3. Splendor by Anna Godberson
This is the final book in The Luxe series. I have mixed feelings about all the books in this series, but I do want to see it to the end since I've made it this far. (And I must know what happens to Henry and Diana. I must!)

4. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I have heard absolutely nothing but amazing things about this book. It sounds very quirky and fun, but I honestly don't really know what it's about. But the title itself is enough to make me want to go and snatch it up right now, so it must be great!

5. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I can't decide if I really want to read this book, or if I just don't want to feel guilty. I bought this book waaay back in July for no real reason. I don't really want it anymore, but I feel as if I should read it before deciding to give it away. Oh well, it should be an interesting read.

6. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Despite the fact that this is a summer book (or at least, I always think of it as a summer book), I really want to give it a go this fall. 

7. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Obviously, there is no way I'm ever going to get to this one this year, but I want to read it so badly I just couldn't not put it on my to-read list. I am determined to read it someday, though!

Even though I have already read this book awhile ago, I really want to reread it in October to satisfy my inevitable craving for a creepy book. I might even finally pick up Hollow City along with it!

9. Every Day by David Levithan
Just another book I've heard so much about but haven't been able to get a hold of myself...

10. Anne of Green Gables (series) by L.M. Montgomery
I would really, really love to read the entire AoGG series this school year sometime. Anne is my spirit animal.
***
Are there any books on your TBR you're particularly looking forward to this autumn? If you also did the Top Ten Tuesday linkup, please share the link to yours, I'd love to read what sort of beautiful books you listed! :) 

I guess this is how you keep a journal?

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I have never, ever been able to keep a journal... ever!

I've always liked the idea of a journal. I have a whole drawer full of fancy notebooks that just sit there completely empty of any writing, And a part of me always longs to put my words in them.

I do... but then about a week later I have no desire to write in my "journal" anymore, and it slowly makes its way back to where it came from, to my drawer of abandoned journals.

So, naturally, when my composition class teacher said that we would all be writing a journal throughout the school year I was a little nervous. She didn't know that all my attempts to write a journal fail tragically. But as she kept talking about it, how we were supposed to write and what she expected, I began to get a bit excited.

You see, I had never realized before that there was a difference between a journal and a diary. To me they were always the same thing. Just a notebook where you simply list every single thing that happens to to throughout the day. But, no. That, my friends is a diary.

A journal is something that sounds much more fun and appealing to me. A journal is where you talk about your feelings, where you can write about exciting things, and where you can write about your dreams.

As my teacher went on, I had an epiphany! A journal is a lot like... a blog!

I found it kind of funny actually. I had been keeping a journal and hadn't even known it.
***
So, yeah, I'm going to be writing in an actual, real journal. Maybe I'll even share some of my profound entries with you (well, that is, if I actually have any profound entries). 

But, in all honesty I do think this will be good for me. I don't like people reading my work out loud. You can read any of my writing whenever you want, just don't read it out loud to me or I will scratch your eyeballs out! 

All of my journal entries must also be only a page long, which shall be a challenge for me. If you haven't noticed, I tend to get a bit carried away and write some really unnecessarily long things. (seriously, if I start to get long winded, you have my permission to slap me.)

I'm not so sure how well this will all go, but I'm actually hopeful about this one. :)

this is what happens when you disappear

I didn't mean to disappear, but sometimes you really can't help it. My life has been filled to the brim with pure insanity. So many things have been happening, some good, some not-so-good. Some I will be sharing with you, some I will be keeping to myself.

I've missed this blog very much, I have missed my online friends, and writing out my thoughts.

But the thing is, once you've left the bloggy world for as long as I have (six months. wowzers!), you're sort of forgotten about. Maybe every once in a while someone has logged into their blogger dashboard, saw my blog name on their reading list and just wonder "whatever did happen to that person?" They probably just shrugged it off, though, and moved on with their lives.

It's sort of like I've disintegrated into nothingness.

The other day I went through my feed on bloglovin', scanning through the never ending list of unread blog posts that had accumulated during my long absence, and I started to think. I thought about when I first started blogging three years ago. I thought about how great it was, how exciting and new and shiny the internet world was. I thought about the old blogs I used to follow and read faithfully, and I realized that most of them had just simply vanished from cyberspace. Granted, some of them did give a quickly written farewell speech, but most of them just... stopped.

A part of me wishes that I could go back to then, when blogging was simple, and the thought of having 10 followers was enough to make me jump with excitement. Back when my fingers itched to write about the tiniest and most insignificant things of life.

...But I realize that sometimes things have to change. You grow. You learn things about yourself that you couldn't have ever conceived before. And sometimes you just have to start over.

So, I'm back. Mostly. It was a long, hard, and unexpected break. Things are different now, and I shall talk about that all in due time. I'll talk about wordpress, and why it didn't work out, I'll talk about all the life that has been happening, I'll review books (though, it might be a little different), I'll read, and comment on other blogs. Slowly, but surely, I will fall back into place.

Thank you. I'm excited :)

This Lullaby

Line: The name of the song is "This Lullaby".

About: When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn't mess around. After all, she's learned all there is to know from her mother, who's currently working on husband number five. But there's something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy's rules. He certainly doesn't seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can't seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy's starting to understand what those love songs are all about? (goodreads)

Author: Sarah Dessen

Pages: 345

Publisher: Speak

Review: I know what you are thinking... Why in the world would Hannah read this!? And, I'll agree with you, this is most definitely not one the usual books Hannah likes to read. So, why did she read it? Several reasons. 

First of all, it was around Valentine's Day when I picked it up, and that holiday just puts you in the romance-y book mood somthin' awful. Secondly, it has been on my TBR forever and a day, and I just can't will myself to take books off of my TBR, even if I know I'll never read certain books in a million years (what if I decide I do want to read it in the future and can't remember the title!?). Third and lastly, Stephanie Morrill has raved about this book more than once at GTW... so I just had to read it.

I was actually kind of excited for it, which is not my usual reaction when I have to read a romance. But, truth be told I thought it was going to be one of those books about someone with cancor or something that would make me cry... nope. This book was exactly like a chick-flick in book form. Complete with strange character names (Remy, Dexter... seriously?), parents with not-normal jobs (okay, being an author isn't entirey odd, but having a best selling adult romance author as a mom is pretty rare), and many romantical things that would most definitely not happen in real life. And, after doing some research on Goodreads, I think all of Sarah Dessen's books are like that.

Despite this book being targeted at teenage girls who are forever alone, I was actually kind of impressed with it. Sarah Dessen can write! Really well, actually. And there was at least one day while I was reading this that I couldn't put it down. I just had to know what would happen to Dexter and Remy, and find out if they would just finally get together already! 

As I was reading This Lullaby, I couldn't help but think that Remy was a lot like my sister... I don't know why, so don't ask me. I just kept compairing the two of them. 

And I actually really liked Dexter, after I got over him being sort of a creeper, of course. 

I actually do think this book would've been deserving of 5 stars, but there were just waaaay too many bad words, and far too much talk of icky stuff for my personal taste. Thank heavens there were no icky scenes, though, that probably would've made my rating plummet to 3. 

For my first hard-core teen romance book, it was okay... but I doubt I'll go looking for books in that section of the library again. It was an experience, but it's just not my kind of read. But if you do like that stuff, go ahead and give it a whack. :)

Romance: You know, I really should take this thing off of this review, because this is a romance... so romance in this book is a given.

Violence: Just teenagers expertly throwing giant cups of diet coke and stuff at each other. I need to learn how to do that! 

Recommended Age: 14-15+

Rating:

Guest Post | She Will Not Fall


Have you ever been given a task or thought of an idea that seems impossible, even crazy?

I like to assume that most people have. My immediate response to possible failure is to not even try. I can also assume that i'm not the only person to do that as well. When you fail, it's not a good feeling, am I right?


Sometimes however, we have to try or do something that probably won't succeed. That's when we get scared and try to run away. We are so afraid of failing we don't even try.


Two months ago I had a decision I had to make. Turn away to avoid failure and disappointment, or take a step of faith and possibly fail but maybe reap a very rewarding experience. I took that step of faith. Was it scary? Yes. Did I doubt myself? At times. But did I succeed? Kinda.


Kinda?


Two months ago I was given the chance to travel to Luoyang, China on a mission trip. But I applied months later than everyone else, and the cost of the trip blew my mind. So, did I accept without knowing where I would find money to pay for the expensive trip. Or say, no thanks, and avoid failure.




Well, of course I decided to go on the trip. And guess what!? I got all the money for my 1st payment way before I needed it! I still have one more payment, and I'm not sure where that money is coming from.


The point is, not everything is black and white. You can't fear failure.


God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. {Psalm 46:5}


If you feel you're being called to something don't turn away because you are afraid. The reward is so great when you step out in faith. If everything was easy, there would be no fulfillment in the accomplishment.




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About the Author:

My name is Emma, I am 16 years old and live in Virginia. I have six sibling. Two are adopted from China and have medical needs. I am home-schooled in the 10th grade. My hobbies consist of, ballet, singing, photography, and of course, blogging.

I blog over at Rescue the Orphaned