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"wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight"

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I've had all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia sitting on my bookshelf, neatly collecting dust between the spines, for many many years. Every time I would glance at them I would think to myself: "I should just sit down and read all of those someday..." But someday never seemed to come, and the books remained in their little box set. 

Of course I already knew the stories of all the Narnia books. But I had yet to read them all on my own. The stories had all been given to me secondhand. My mom read a couple to me and my sisters when we were young, and I've seen the movies multiple times. I wanted to read them for myself to develop my own personal, untainted thoughts on the popular series.

It wasn't until I was stressed beyond belief that I started to crave a children's book. I wanted something that would lift my spirits, and something that wouldn't take much effort to read and get into. After scanning my shelves for options, The Chronicles of Narnia seemed like the best choice. 

I know there's a mild controversy among readers as to which order is the best to read Narnia. I decided this time to simply read them in the order starting with The Magician's Nephew and ending with The Last Battle. If I ever pick them up again, I'll try to read them in publication order so that I can begin to form an opinion on the matter. For now, however, I'm sticking with the order they're presented as.

Reading these books as an adult was a very different experience than I expected it to be. They still read like children's books, with plots that are easy to follow, characters that are somewhat childish, and writing that isn't too complicated. I found, though, that while they were entertaining, there's so much more to these books than a simple children's fairytale story.

I truly enjoyed reading all of the books in the series. All very short, very quick reads, each like a little treat. They all had special parts or themes that have stuck with me since I finished them. My personal favorites, however, were The Silver ChairThe Last BattleThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and The Magician's Nephew, in that order. While the other three were still good, they didn't quite touch me in the same way those four did.

As I was reading, I was struck again and again by just how deep these books could get. There were times, especially in the last two books, that I found myself pausing to think about a particular passage or to underline a quote that I thought was profound. Theology and Biblical lessons are woven so tightly within the story in a way that could only be done by C.S. Lewis. From the birth of Narnia, to its rebirth; the speech given by Puddleglum as he resists the manipulations of the witch; Eustace and Edmund's redemption stories; and, of course, the iconic scene of Aslan dying on the stone table.

I strongly believe that Aslan is one of the absolute best illustrations of the character of Christ ever written in literature. "He is not a tame lion."

I will always regret the fact that I never read all of these books when I was younger. But I do feel that I have understood them, and have received so much more from reading them as an adult than I ever could before. They were a lot more than I expected them to be, and I'm sad to see that my journey in Narnia has come to an end.
"I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia." --Puddleglum

am I a writer?

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Am I really a writer? I've been trying to answer that question about myself. Trying to gauge whether I should consider myself a writer or not anymore. 

It's been a long time since I've felt joy from my writing, since I've felt that sense of satisfaction I used to get from writing my thoughts down on a page. It's been over two years since I last remember staining paper with my story ideas. I've been thinking a lot about my writing, where I'm going with it, if I will ever write a book like I've always dreamed of, or whether I am a writer anymore or not.

Writers are suppose to write recklessly with fervor and urgency, like they must form words and sentences and paragraphs in order to simply breathe and survive. Whatever spark for writing I used to feel has dulled. I haven't had any bursts of inspiration to write. My mind is as blank as the pages in my journals.

I think I've finally come to the conclusion, though, that it isn't an issue of my not being a writer anymore. Just sitting at my laptop right now composing this insignificant little blog post is enough to nudge the storyteller living within me into action... I'm just a different sort of writer now than I once was.

I'm a cautious sort of writer now. I don't have a lot of time anymore to write for myself very often, so when I do, I pressure myself for it to be great, something that I will be proud of. But that rarely happens. I don't want to take any risks in my writing.

It's hard to get back into something when you're so out of practice. But I'm trying. Maybe I will write a book someday, or maybe not. Maybe I will write something else in a format that I haven't thought of yet. I'm trying to learn how I write now and how to utilize my writing the way it's meant to be shared.

Writing will always be something that is important to me. Whether I feel like a writer or not.

Book Review | The Night Circus

| goodreads |
I have never read a book more atmospheric than The Night Circus. I have never envisioned a world or characters as clearly as I did while reading this book. The way Erin Morgenstern expertly utilizes all of the senses in her writing is astonishing.

This book is deceptively labeled as a romance. When I first picked it up, I was expecting a magical, mystical romance novel. Honestly, I was uncertain whether I would really like it or not. I cannot emphasize how happy I am that did end up reading it, despite my skepticism. There is a romantic story arc woven into the plot, but it is much more minimal than I had expected initially going in.

This is a story that completely revolves around a circus. Le Cirque des Rêves is the heart and soul of this book, and it is what makes it such a special read. The author's writing is so descriptive and beautiful, and when I read it I get lost so easily within the world she has created.

I wish more than anything that the circus could be real, I want to explore the Ice Garden, the Cloud Maze, and the Labyrinth. I want to make a wish on the Wishing Tree, and, most importantly, I want to eat all of the delicious food.

The story surrounding the circus is also very intricate and detailed, jumping from different perspectives from different characters, and going back and forth in time until everything comes together beautifully at the end. The writing and plot can feel somewhat slow at times, but I hardly noticed since I was so enthralled.

I also fell completely in love with all of the characters. They were all very well balanced throughout the whole novel. There didn't seem to be any secondary characters as they were all vital to the circus. Isobel, Poppet and Widget, Chandresh, and Marco intrigued me the most. Celia, however, was the most difficult for me to like, even though she is technically the main character. I think this is because she keeps her feelings and emotions hidden away most of the time, making it harder for the reader to really get to know her. But it's part of her personality and who she is, so it was easy to get over, and I did eventually learn to like her.

Ever since I've finished this book, it has haunted me. Every time I think about it, I get this aching desire to read it again and again. The writing alone makes it worth the read, but it also has so many important and thought provoking themes such as sacrifice, love, wisdom, knowledge, and dedication, making it so much more than a simple romance or fantasy novel.

The Night Circus is most definitely a forever favorite for me, and I feel like I can never do it justice.
“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.” 
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

écouter | a playlist in French

J'aime écouter le musique français. Quelquefois je ne comprend pas les chansons, mais ils sont belles. Musique est la langue parlé de tout le monde.

translation// 
I love to listen to French music. I don't understand the songs sometimes, but they are beautiful. Music is a language spoken by everyone.
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I've been collecting French songs.

So much can be revealed about people through their music. Just by listening, I've been able to gather so much about language and culture in these songs.  

This is a work in progress, something I will continue to add to as I delve deeper into French and Francophone music.
Give a listen:
Can we just talk about how awesome Let it Go is in French?

why I love long books

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Inspired// I watch a lot of book related videos on youtube. It's my guilty pleasure. One of my favorite Booktube creators is Ariel Bissett. Even though I disagree with some things she's talked about and discussed, I still love her videos because they really make me think deeply about literature and writing in ways I never would have before. 
A week or so ago, Ariel made a video entitled Why I Love Short Books. I've watched the video through multiple times, and the more I watch it, the more I've reflected on my own reading habits. I do agree with what Ariel says in her video, but I've noticed that I am naturally drawn to long books for many many reasons.
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For as long as I can remember I've wanted to read long books. I would check out ginormous classics from the library that I knew I had no chance of finishing in the two weeks before it was due back. But for some reason I kept attempting to finish them. There was something inside of me that needed to prove to myself that I was committed enough to read books that were over 500 pages long.
I'm still like that to a degree. I felt the greatest sense of accomplishment when I turned the last page in Les Miserables. And I still look at big books as a fun challenge. As I've grown older, though, there are many more factors that feed my love of long books. 

I have found that I simply enjoy long books more than short books, typically. My shelf of favorite-books-of-all-time is crowded with large, thick volumes. I think that this is because as I read books that are longer I grow more attached to the characters, the story, and the way the author writes. I become invested in the plot, and it's always bittersweet to finish because I become so attached. I don't get that feeling often with books that are shorter in length.

I do have a very huge appreciation for short books. As someone who can become unnecessarily wordy in my own writing a lot of the time, I understand the importance and skill it takes to be concise. Books such as The Great Gatsby and The Bell Jar have left a significant impact on my life, and it amazes me when an author can deliver such a punch in just a couple hundred words, or even less. But there are some ideas that are just too big to contain in a small book. Some have to overflow beyond a reasonable length for a book. 

I do know people who are intimidated by large tomes, and that is something I totally understand. It does take more time and commitment to finish a book that is very long, but I find that, for me at least, it's always a rewarding experience. Whether it's long, short, or just right, don't let the length of a book turn you away from what you could potentially learn from it.

What is your personal preference in your own reading? Long books or short books?

more than passion

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"On n'est point toujours une bête pour l'avoir été quelquefois."

translation//
"Being a fool sometimes does not make one a fool all the time." (quote from Denis Diderot, French philosopher)
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I've always been a believer in the impossible. I always thought that if you were to dream something, and want something, and be passionate enough about something that it would be bound to come true. This optimistic, sickly sweet, Disney-princess perspective I had came to define my worldview.

It's amazing how we are challenged and tested as we grow older. I love to look back on my life and see how my thoughts and opinions have evolved and matured over time.
God has thrown curve balls at me, and I've discovered the hard way that there is much more than just passion that you need in order to achieve something.

It's a discouraging thing to walk into a room and meet twenty other people with the exact same dream as you. You no longer feel special. You question whether or not the world really needs you when there are hundreds of others who are more qualified.
Comparison has always been my bane, and has caused me to give up many aspirations, despite how passionate I thought I was.

I have found my own passion to be a flighty thing, jumping from one goal to another. It's so easy to go after whatever sounds most appealing or achievable at the time, instead of focusing on one thing. There is a sort of drive, commitment, and persistence that one needs. Something that will cause you to go after what you want, even when your passion is questioned. I always admire people who are able to stick with what they started, and it is something that I am forever learning myself.

I still believe adamantly that passion is an important trait to have. If you're going to be doing something for the rest of your life, you should be passionate about it, or at least enjoy doing it. It is the glue that holds dreams together. But there are more ingredients that go into succeeding.

My goals, dreams, thoughts, and opinions will continue to change as I face new obstacles and triumphs. But I'm learning that that's a good thing. I'm glad that I've had to learn these things the hard way, and I feel like my passions have been strengthened through it. I'm excited for wherever life takes me.

Book Review | The Secret History

| goodreads |
The Secret History by Donna Tartt is not a typical murder mystery novel. Honestly, after reading it, I found it barely seemed to fit the genre at all. You know from the very beginning who will die. The author lays out the whole murder scene in the prologue. So instead of trying to figure out who committed the murder and how, the reader is trying to piece together the why. What was it that drove the killer to murder?

I picked up this book on a whim, but mostly because for some reason the synopsis reminded me of Dead Poets Society, which is one of my favorite movies. However the story turned out to be darker and very very different than what I expected. Not necessarily in a bad way, though.

The reader follows the narration of the main character, Richard as he joins a mysterious community made up of the five other kids in his Classics class. Richard was a somewhat dull character. There was nothing interesting about him or his voice in telling the story, but I found it to be nice. Richard, to me, represented an average, everyday person, someone with whom the reader can relate to. It makes the other characters seem much more interesting and different in contrast.

The five students who make up the strange club are all very unique, but equally untrustworthy. Even when they seemed like great people, I had a hard time believing everything they said, but I felt like that was how they were supposed to be written, especially Henry. Henry Winter was the most fascinating out of the group. His past remains very secretive throughout the whole book, the author only revealing bits of who he is every once in a while. I still am uncertain how I really feel about him.

I also really enjoyed learning a little bit about Classics as I was reading. Classics and the ancient would are very interesting to me, and reading a book with Classics as a theme was great.

However, there were some trivial problems I found while I was reading. The amount of information the reader receives is unproportional. Some of this probably has to do with Richard's narration, you can only know what he knows or what he finds out, but some was not. There were certain, unimportant things that would be explained and described in tedious detail, while other, way more important things would be somewhat skimmed over in a way that made it hard for me to understand.

Also I mourned the lack of the presence of the character, Julian, the professor. Based on the synopsis, I expected Julian to be a powerful presence in the novel. I imagined him being a John Keating type of influence on the actions of the students, when in reality, he only made an appearance maybe three times in the whole book. But in those cameos, I really liked him, and desperately wished he was a bigger character. I feel like if he had been in it more, I would've been able to understand the actions of the main characters better.

Despite all of this, I did love this book. It was a very dark read, but the writing and descriptions in this book were stunning, and I definitely want to pick up more by Donna Tartt someday.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.” 
― Donna TarttThe Secret History

backstage

I sit quietly in the dark. I can see nothing, except for the bit of light that streams in through the bottom of the curtain and glazes over the toes of my high-heeled shoes. I can hear the impatient murmurs of the audience and I can feel my stomach tighten with both excitement and nervousness. Hundreds of people will come to the theater tonight. They will sit in the green-velvet, folding chairs, dressed in their finest clothes and watch our show. We are entertainment to them, merely something to occupy a Saturday evening. They will never know of our world backstage.

I search the faces of the tired actors and stagehands, as if I can tell by simply looking at them whether or not it is time to begin. A couple of girls stand at the side of the curtain, opening it just enough to peer through to find family and friends amongst the growing crowd. I can hear them as they laugh and whisper in hushed tones, but I don't dare breathe a word. I rub my sweaty hands on the stiff fabric of my unwashed costume. My thick stage makeup feels as if it is melting off my face in the unbearable heat.

I am ready to go on. My lines have been running through my head and haunting my dreams for the past several days. I can walk through every scene without even thinking. I know which prop goes to whom, and who says what in exact order. Yes, I am ready, but right now I lean back against the black, brick wall and try to soak in everything around me. Tonight is our last performance. It is almost hard to believe we are here already. In this past short week the theater has become a home to us, a place it doesn't matter how old we are or where we came from, we are all family backstage. I know that once we take our final bow tonight, after the curtain closes and the audience goes back home, it will be all over. We will take down the set, pack up the countless hair brushes and tubes of mascara, and go back to our old lives.

I know that over time we will probably forget our parts, what we said, and where we stood on the stage. The one thing that we will not forget, however, are the memories we made at this old theater. I will remember exploring trap doors and hiding places, sneaking candy into dressing rooms, and exchanging secrets with other actresses as I applied more layers of red lipstick. I will remember taking naps on old sofas stuffed with bobby pins, daring the stagehands to climb up the never-ending ladders that poke through the ceiling, and the strong scent of sweat and hairspray that never seemed to fade. I have made more memories at this theater than I have in my entire life. This is what the audience cannot see tonight.

Suddenly, the house lights flicker and dim. The audience goes completely silent with anticipation. I stand and brush myself off quickly as a man in a suit goes onstage to introduce the performance. My head is spinning. Everything is going so fast, but I don't really mind. The curtain opens with a heavy squeak. It's show time!
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Resurrecting an old composition because I miss this more than you can imagine.

Book Review | Rebecca

| goodreads |
You know those books that pull you in? The ones that keep you on the edge of your toes, that leave you breathless with its beautiful imagery, that chill you to the bone? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is one of those books.

This story follows the main character as she spontaneously finds herself becoming the second Mrs. De Winter, her experiences as she uncovers the dark secrets of her new husband's past, and the presence of his first wife, who continues to haunt them beyond the grave.

I was nervous when I started this book. So many other readers and reviewers who I greatly respect have sung the many praises of this book. Like every hyped-up book I read, I was afraid that I would get my hopes up too high and become extremely disappointed if it didn't live up to them. However, I'm very pleased to say that Rebecca most definitely lived up to every bit of the hype and then some.

I was also afraid this was going to turn out to be a ghost story. I have a hard time enjoying scary types of books, but this book surprised me. It turned out to be more of a mystery thriller than a creepy ghost story. From the moment you meet Maximilian De Winter, you're trying to piece together what truly happened to Rebecca.

I really liked the fact that the main character, the second Mrs. De Winter, remained anonymous throughout the whole book. The narration was told in her point of view, and since you never find out her real name or who she really is, it makes you feel like you are her as you're reading. You relate with her and feel what she feels as you're figuring out the mystery of Manderley with her.

The other characters were intriguing as well. You never know exactly who to trust or who to like. Some of my favorite scenes were those with Mrs. Danvers, she was shady and untrustworthy, but she was passionate. When she would get angry I could practically see her going on her tirades. Frank and Bee were some of my other favorites.

The pacing of the book was nice. Daphne Du Maurier's writing is so fluid and smooth, you don't care at all if the story goes slowly or not. However, once the ending hits and secrets start slipping out, the plot quickly becomes a speeding rollercoaster of crazy emotions. There were many plot twists I didn't even see coming, and I'm usually shockingly good at guessing plot twists.

This was truly a curl-up-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-mountain-of-pillows-on-a-rainy-day kind of read. It's suspenseful, and moody, and dark, and Daphne Du Maurier's descriptions of Manderley are drop dead gorgeous! It's a beautiful gothic novel that I will most definitely be picking this one up again someday soon.
I suppose sooner or later in the life of everyone comes a moment of trial. We all of us have our particular devil who rides us and torments us, and we must give battle in the end. --Daphne Du Maurier

my language journey | beginner status

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Je suis désolée, j'essaye, je te le promets.

translation//
I'm sorry. I'm trying. I promise you.
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Small disclaimer: I am not a language expert. I still consider myself a beginner in my studying. I am in no way fluent in French, or any other language other than English for that matter, but I've been wanting to write a post like this for awhile. I want to share my language journey with you, and give advise for anyone who might want to try to learn on their own.

Someday in the future I plan to write detailed posts on why I am studying French specifically for my first language, why I decided to major in it in college, and why I strongly believe that language learning is so, so, so important for everyone. This post, however, is all about the how: how I began learning French, and how I got to the level I am at now.

I've been studying French seriously since about Junior year of high school. However, learning a different language has always been something that I have wanted to do, and I've been teaching myself little bits of language off and on since I was very young.

My first official French resource I tried was French in 10 Minutes a Day, a cheap, short, floppy workbook meant for people attempting to learn basic French quickly in order to have a nice vacation in France. Nothing serious. Even though it wasn't the best language source to realistically learn French well, it gave me the first steps I needed, and it cultivated my early fascination with language. It taught me basic vocabulary that has stuck with me to this day, and I believe I still have the workbook half finished and abandoned in a drawer somewhere.

Since I was homeschooled my whole life, I never had an opportunity to take a serious French class, so I began exploring online options. I would watch little lesson videos, listen to native French speakers, and I also joined a website called LiveMocha, a sort of social media site for people trying to learn languages on their own (however, it's sadly not in existence anymore).

Towards the end of middle school I finally convinced my parents to get Rosetta Stone, since I needed to start working on getting a language credit for high school. I firmly believe that Rosetta Stone is one of the best resources for starting to learn a language. It won't make you fluent at all, and it is somewhat pricey, but I feel like it gave me a way better jump start than any other resource I had used previously. I learned a lot of vocabulary and phrases, and it made my first real French class so much easier.

As I was going through the Rosetta Stone program, I also used some supplemental sources to go a bit deeper in my language learning, especially as I became more serious.
I got a nice French--English dictionary, and I would watch old French movies whenever one was on TV (which happened more often than you might think). 
I would google concepts I was confused about, and I would read various French literature, most of which was translated into English, but it still taught me cultural things that were important to know.
I also subscribed to a helpful youtube channel that I still watch regularly, Comme Une Française TV, that explains specific aspects of the French language and culture that isn't always taught in classes or curriculum.

No two people are the same, and what has helped me may not work for you. If you want to learn French or any other language, the best thing to do is to try different things. If you're serious buy different books, or look around online. In this day and age, the possible resources are endless. Just stick with it. Persistence and practice are ultimately the best ways to learn anything.

The Book Thief Again

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I've written before about what a wonderful experience it is to read through an old favorite for a second time. I love the feeling of revisiting the stories and words that have become a part of me. The familiarity is comforting. And even though I already know what happens, rereading allows me to take a closer look at what it was that made a book special to me.

I first picked up The Book Thief in the summer of 2013. I will never forget it. It is not often that a book makes me feel the way The Book Thief did when I finished it, and I immediately recommended it to everyone I knew, wanting to see someone else grow to love it as much as I did. To this day, my old, battered, paperback copy has been read more than any other book on my shelf.

This year I decided it was time to give it a second look. I wanted to see if it still held its special place in my heart after almost 4 long years. And it did.

From the first page it took hold of me once again. The eerie narration from death, the beautiful descriptions, and the characters that break my heart every time. By reading it through a second time, I feel as if I paid more attention to the details, the foreshadowing and the use of the words to paint the story in a powerful way. I fell in love again with Liesel, Rudy, Max, Hans, and even Rosa who I didn't really care for my first time through.

The themes that are highlighted throughout the book also became clearer to me, and I was able to appreciate its message more. The importance of books and words and knowledge could've been told in many different ways. However, the World War II setting, the way it was told and narrated, the view of Nazi Germany that it portrays, all connect together so well, in ways that are surprising and profound, especially as I read it through a second time.

It's somewhat difficult for me to write about this book. I honestly believe it to be perfect, even though I'm sure it has its flaws. I could ramble on and bore you all for hours and hours about how much this book means to me. About how much I wish I could go back in the past and read it again for the first time with fresh eyes. Markus Zusak has truly written a masterpiece that, I am happy to say, will stay with me forever.
I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --Markus Zusak

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je ne sais pas

18 janvier 2017.
aujourd'hui j'ai décidé à écrire en français sur mon blog chaque semaine.
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translation//
today I have decided to write in French on my blog every week.

For 2017 I made a sporadic goal to write on my blog every week. When I say I miss blogging and writing, I really mean it. I miss writing for fun. I miss not having the suffocating pressures of deadlines and page limits and pre-determined topics guiding my writing. I miss being happy with what I've written.
Obviously I've already failed at my New Years resolution. Two weeks have flown by with nothing to show for it. But I have a project that has been developing in my brain for awhile now.
I've been studying French at school and on my own for a long time. It is my passion and is something I want to work with the rest of my life. I have wanted to do something that will grow both my writing and my French skills. Something that will push me to go out of my comfort zone, to study more vocabulary and sentence structures and grammar. But it is also something that will push me to blog and write the way I've wanted to for a long time.

Every week I plan to write a sentence or two (maybe a paragraph if I get ambitious), with the translation. Some days I might write more in addition in English with something I've been reflecting on or want to talk about.
I'm still thinking of how the details will be.

Il n'est pas parfait. It won't be perfect. I expect to make many mistakes (I hope no native French speaker or any of my professors find this). It will also be boring and mediocre at times since my current skills limit my writing. But I'm excited to be able to share this journey.

Merci.

À bientôt.