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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

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
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

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. 
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

"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.)