First & Then, a Novel by Emma Mills [Review and Recommendation]

11:20 PM

I watched Elmify (Author, Emma Mills) on YouTube in middle school, when I attempted to make my own channel inspired by hers. That was, undoubtedly, a preconceived failure. My middle school years turned to high school years, and I didn't have time to watch my dear Elmify anymore. Little did I know that I'd turn right back into a more mature, sophisticated (or so I like to think) version of my middle school self once I reached the college level. What I'm trying to say is, I spend a lot of time with my nose in a book, my fingers with a pen or on a keyboard, or my eyes on a screen, watching booktube or, like, the vlogbrothers. I'm basically just a better looking, more mentally, emotionally, and physically stable version of my middle-school self. And I'm so fine with that. 

So here I was, perusing Booktube, Elmify and her wit not having crossed my mind since the day I received my eighth grade diploma and award for perfect attendance, and moved on to "bigger" and "better" things. One of my favorite booktubers holds up Emma Mills' book and says something along the lines of, "This book is by Elmify, another youtuber," and I was struck dumb. My Elmify had published a book. What a dream. I always knew I loved her. 

I put First & Then on my Christmas wish-list and it was a done deal. Now I'm here to tell you about my experience reading it. 

Summary - 

First things first, the book centers around Devon Tennyson, a particularly apathetic and ordinary senior in high school. She silently watches her best-friend and forever crush, Cas, from the sidelines of the football field. Her normal life is flipped when her family takes in her cousin, Foster. Foster asks a lot of questions and doesn't seem to fit in quite the way the other kids do, but he has a secret talent that Ezra Lynley, the star of the football team, cannot ignore. Ezra takes a liking to Foster, and maybe someone else, when he realizes the freshman's potential as a kicker on the football team. First Foster, and then Ezra, are thrust into Devon's life without her control. 

How did I feel about it?

The writing - the writing was inexplicably witty and intelligent. I recall this from Elmify's videos, and really enjoyed reading her style of writing. She's smart, but at the same time laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, I haven't giggled into the creases of a book since I read The Rosie Project. 5/5.

The plot - I'm not going to lie. I felt that the first 150 pages, though incredibly well written, were a little slow. No much was really going on for a while. I pushed through because I had faith in the quality of Emma's writing. Eventually, though, it does pick up and from there it gets very interesting. There are a lot of small aspects from the beginning woven into the end, and I enjoyed that. 3/5.

The characters - I can't say I'm surprised since I'm in love with Mr. Darcy, but I'm also in love with Ezra Lynley. First of all, he's sultry and comes of as a total asshat. No kidding, in real life I've always thought that the man I fall in love with will probably somewhat of a jerk to others, but a sweetheart to me. But that's not up for discussion right now; I'll save it for another blog post, I promise. Besides Devon, the characters all had some sort of backstory that brought a bit of mystery to the book, just like real life. You never really know what people are going through or have gone through. This existed for Ezra as well, which drew me into him even further. Ugh. I just. Can't. Woah. I was slightly bothered by how apathetic and seemingly boring Devon was, but that was sort of the point of a lot of the book, so I can't be too bothered. 4/5. 

While it took me a while to really start flipping the pages, I liked this book a lot. It gave me a lot of smiles, laughs, and thought-provoking moments. I look forward to seeing what else Emma Mills, perviously known to me as Elmify, writes in the future. I know that she has two more books signed with her publisher thus far. 4/5.

Forewarnings to a younger audience reading this book: a lot of underage drinking, talk of sex, talk of parental drug abuse. Besides that, there's some kissing and swearing, but it really isn't obscene. I'd recommend for 13+. 

If you're looking for a cozy, funny, relatable read, this is a good one to pick up. 

Oh yeah, Happy New Year!

P.S. I'm getting nervous because I have a huge used book to-be-read pile and a few new books to read. I'm thinking of saving the newer books for when I go back to school. 

Should I read: 

1) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2) Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern 
3) The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
4) Quiet by Susan Cain
5) Half Broke Horse by Jeannette Walls
6) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
7) When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
8) Reread a Harry Potter book

Let me know in the comments! Or recommend any others you've loved lately. (As if I need more books to add to the never-ending pile...) If I don't receive any replies, I'm just playing eenie-meenie-miney-moe. 


To Be a Fiction Writer - AKA, Why I Don't Want to Hangout With you

9:19 PM

I sound absolutely insane when I talk about writing. If you’re not a fiction writer, prepare yourself. I promise I’m not a psycho or a schizophrenic, I just have all of these stories and people living in my head, and I need to get them down somewhere.

(See what I mean? Please don’t close the tab! I’m not crazy, I promise!)

So yes, there are little voices in my head, but they aren’t telling me to do strange things or hurt other people/myself. They’re telling me their story, piece by piece, and I react with the guttural urge to write it all down. It sort of feels like anxiety, taking over my brain and demanding that I tell their story, except a lot more exciting.

When a new character or story comes to my mind, stimulated by something around me (a key, a door, a person, a quote, something a friend said, etc), a warm, strong ball of light forms right below my chest, in the pit of my stomach. It feels like a panic attack, like I’m about to explode if I don’t get the idea down somewhere. Sometimes all it takes is a note on my phone or in my journal, but often, like in November during NaNoWriMo, I need to get the whole dang 50,000 word story out.

As you might expect, this greatly interferes with my social interactions. I could be talking to someone, deep in conversation, when all of the sudden I’m enveloped by the person in my mind and I dig deep into their story-- right at the same time as this person is trying to talk to me. At that point, my brain says screw the conversation, the people in your mind are far more fun.

I don’t mean to be offensive, but it’s true, because the people in my mind are living in situations much more interesting and creative than the ones in my real life. Sorry, friends, you weren’t invented like my characters.

Something else that happens is when I'm either a) deep in the writing process, or b) looking forward to a night deep in the writing process, and someone asks me to do something with them. I'm most likely going to say no. If I get an idea and have a prior engagement planned, I'm totally screwed for the rest of the occasion because my mind won't shut up. Whoever accompanies me is in for it too, because they aren't going to get the proper attention that they deserve from me. I'll space out, or take frequent bathroom breaks to get whatever I need down.  

Author Kiera Cass recently described something similar in a video on Epic Reads Youtube about her new novel The Siren: “I went downstairs and wrote the first four paragraphs…and then had to go to a birthday party, that I hated, because I wanted to go home and play with the people in my head and not my real life friends.”

When I heard her say that, I laughed out loud because no situation has ever been described truer for me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the company of other people, it's that I'm too often so preoccupied and entranced by the stories and characters in my mind that I can’t focus until I get their lives on the page. The fun is getting to create their story as well and seeing how it plays out. To me, that’s way better than real life.

In a way, going back to the beginning of this post, I do consider myself just a tad bit crazy. Fine, I admit it. But I realized the other day that you have to be a bit insane to do something great. We visited the Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI (a historical village filled with old houses and history lessons from people dressed to the time period). One of the buildings kept there is the laboratory of Thomas Edison, inventor of the lightbulb. Here, you see his equipment-- his mortar and pestle, desk, various tools, wires, and shelves and shelves of chemicals and powders. I'm not exaggerating when I say the building, as large as a barn, was lined with bottles of substances that Edison used for his inventions. The man orating Edison's history told us that he tried to come up with a new invention every 10 days. 

All I'm saying is, people who think normally don't do anything extravagant; they live normal lives. It's the people who are a little bit out of this world who do the extraordinary. I think fiction writers fall in that category. We are a peculiar breed, with the lives of 10,000 others inside our heads. No one has been more places or heard more stories than we have.

I'm proud of my semi-insanity. I'm just glad it's not considered unhealthy to think the way I do. Everyone else just calls it "creativity". 

I'd really love to stay, but I have to go edit my novel now. That sounds pretentious. Let me put it this way: I'd really love to stay and chat, but the people in my head are calling to me. Ah, that's better. 

Thanks for reading, 

blog post

An OwlCrate Delivery

2:59 PM

No, I didn't get my Hogwarts letter by owl...yet (Still convinced that the owl sent to deliver my letter was the dullard of the parliament. Pay no attention to my lack of magic and ever-present muggle-ness).

But I did get the second best thing delivered to my doorstep the other night: an OwlCrate box! OwlCrate is a monthly young adult book subscription box. You can sign up for one month, three months, or six months. In every box you get a new, hardcover YA novel, along with some other bookish goodies. It's guaranteed to be appropriate for age 16+ (Ugh, okay, I'm almost 20. Whatever-- I'm the + in 16+. This Time article will forever be relevant to my life.). My mom ordered me a box to celebrate the end of my first semester of sophomore year in college. So I won't be getting other boxes, unfortunately, unless they're ordered another time.

I arrived home from Chipotle with my little brother, mom, and step-dad, when my mom saw the package on the porch. I pulled it up, jumping when I saw the OwlCrate logo and owl footprints on the box. My mom was nearly as excited as I was. She watched me open it and even almost took a video of me opening it all, because that's what the box tells you to do. (Um, mom, I'm not a video person. Nuh-uh. I prefer to be behind the camera).

Here's what came in my box (SPOILER ALERT):

- First, I found a small journal that allows you to keep track of what books you've read, how much you liked them, as well as areas to write down favorite quotes, authors, etc.

- After that I pulled out a small candle, which really got me going. I love candles. They're warm, fuzzy, cozy, calm, everything I need in my life. Not only that, but this candle is made by a company, Frostbeards Studio, that makes book-lover scented candles. I received the 'Reading at the Café' scent, which smells of coffee beans and chocolate. I don't like drinking coffee, but I do love the smell.

- There was also a magnet by Sandra Vargas on Etsy who creates whimsical looking pieces of art.

- Included next was a to-do list with a cute little octopus reading on it. The first thing I wrote to-do was to write this blog post. It's by boygirlparty, also on Etsy.

Finally, the December novel. They keep this at the bottom of the package, so that the anticipation can rise as you're seeing all of these cute little bookish gifts. This months book is....*drum roll*

Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliot!

My first reaction was: wut is this book? I've never heard of it. I quickly realized that it was a historical fiction novel, just judging the book by it's cover. I've loved reading historical fiction lately, so I wasn't disappointed.

After reading the short synopsis included in the OwlCrate box, I was even more excited. It reads: "This historical fiction novel takes place during the Renaissance, and follows our heroine as she discovers a world of artists, philosophers and other creatives. When she meets a young Leonardo da Vinci her life changes forever as she learns about her inner desires and creative voice. This is a very well researched novel and is sure to make you feel as if you have gone back in time!"

A small magnet set was also included, and I created my own poem out of it on the whiteboard next to my bed.

I have started the beginning of this book, and am so far intrigued by the research that must have gone into it. As much as I love reading historical fiction, I'm afraid I could never write it. There's already a large amount of research involved in writing a contemporary, dystopian, or fantasy novel to begin with. To write a historical fiction novel, there's only more. I would be way to afraid of getting some aspect of the society wrong. That being said, even what we know about history might not be correct. It's just scary, that's all. So I give Elliot and other historical fiction authors major props, even though it's probably just what they love to do.

Five stars to OwlCrate. I really hope to be receiving more of your subscriptions soon!

Thanks for reading,

P.S.  I debated posting this to Instagram, but decided my friends would think it's too weird. However, the Detroit Lions play tonight (my home team), and I'm not much of a football fan. I'm over here cheering for the real lions. Go Gryffindor! Go lions! 

P.S.S. @JKRowling, why aren't they the Gryffindor Griffins? Just wondering. 


Tumblr: From Outlet to Obsession

7:12 PM

Tumblr used to be something fun for me. I didn't know why I enjoyed re-posting other people's photos so much, why I found it so inspiring, or why I spent so much time on the site. Eventually I started to notice a pattern in the amount of emotional energy I invested on my Tumblr blog.

I reblogged the photos because I desired them, because I wanted them to be my life. Whether it be a picture of a couple, a bowl of food, a house, a kitchen, or an outfit, they were all things that I desperately wished were mine. I began taking interest in different communities on the site: vegan [if you didn't know, I am one!], preppy, yoga, sometimes even 'Fitblr', a community for those who like to lead a life of exercise and healthy eating.

I turned to Tumblr for answers, only to find that it is truly a place where they can never be found. Not only that, but it provides a very unhealthy outlet that feeds into my unrealistic expectations and desires for life.

Sites like these, including various other social media, create an extremely distorted picture of the way life should be, how you should look, what you should wear, and who you should be with. The once friendly, funny, creative online community quickly turned into a comparison machine for me.

In these worlds, girls are often uprooted from the original purpose of their blog; vegan girls are never vegan enough, preppy people aren't wearing all of the right brands, being healthy and exercising a moderate amount isn't adequate anymore because others are doing better and seeing more results, you eat too much or not enough, you don't practice yoga with the right intentions, and so on. People call out popular users on every small thing. What was once positive is torn down by negative assumptions and call-outs.

The truth is that everyone is different. Every life, every body, every personality. No one is going to react the same to situations they're placed in. You need to do what's best for you, not what the screen seems to think is best for everyone.

So how should life really look? I'm not sure. Sometimes I think my ideas and thoughts behind what life is for and what is real have been changed far too much by the presence of the media to understand the concept of a normal life. I can imagine it doesn't resemble the photos all of the time, though every once in a while, I'm sure it does. We have moments of bliss and moments of wreck, times of trial and times of success, but most of them are never caught on camera.

Sometimes you have to trust that your life behind the lens is just as solid, just as good, as those that are photographed in front of the lens.

From all of this, I'm determined to focus on one thing: God. I shouldn't desire the life in the photos on Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook, unless they are lives filled with Christ. In that case, I should not be glorifying the lives that are lifting Him up, but instead joining in on building a firm relationship with Christ and spreading His light.

Life is not a picture or a magazine photo spread of 'Who wore it better?' It's the pursuit of happiness, which in my case is a steady, firm relationship with God. If you're not a believer, I encourage you to question your motivations and aspirations that might be based on internet communities and sites. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube are only a few examples. Look at it in your real life as well, for comparison is human, and humanity existed long before the internet.

I can't bring myself to totally delete my Tumblr. I know that it's bad for me. It's like an addiction that I can't kick. I think that joining a more productive community on the site, perhaps one based in Christ, might help me a bit, but even there will always be aspects of comparison and sin. A good idea would be to delete the app on my phone. The truth is that these actions are so ingrained in me, so comfortable, that I have a hard time letting go. But it's time to move on.

The only person I should be striving to be like, comparing myself to is Jesus Christ.

I know that others have had experiences like this, even girls that I know and have talked to about it. We should not be pressured by comparison to do anything- to act a certain way, dress a certain way, desire people a certain way. If we look at what truly matters in life, we see none of that. If you'd like to chat about it, feel free to email me at I'd love to have a conversation.

Have a lovely weekend, and good luck on finals to all my fellow college students!

camp nanowrimo

Here's to New Adventures

7:08 PM

New job, new major, new summer plans; All of the stress of the past few months is falling into place, and I know that sooner or later the planning for the future will continue, and more paperwork will need to be filled out, more hours will need to be put in, more outlining will need to be done, but it's all in preparation for aspects of my life that I'm passionate about.

On the small scale, I've recently accepted a job at the library on campus in media tech. While my current job is at the desk and most of what I do is my own homework, it's a far change from my previous employment of scanning alumni files to a database. There's also the chance that I will be trained to work in the tech lab, which would provide me with a lot of computer skills. (I love computers. The more I know about them, the merrier. Bloggers can't not like computers.)

A much bigger change has occurred within the past few weeks:I'm changing my major. After romanticizing what it would be like to teach for so long (ie. All of my students will love reading! None of them will be behind! They'll love our in class discussions! I don't need to follow common core!), I faced the facts and recognized that education, becoming a teacher, is not for me. I don't doubt that I would make a good teacher, but I know that it wouldn't be a place where I was ever truly happy. 

That being said, I dropped my education endorsement and am now switching to English and creative writing, something that allows me to be both a systematic and creative thinker. I'm also pursuing classes in media and graphic design. For now, I'm not sure about career, but I know that I have many options that will use my creative and intellectual skills, leaving me feeling satisfied. My dream job would be an author, but I know that I would be happy as a grant writer, magazine writer or designer, graphic designer for a company, or if I played a role in media for a company. Heck, maybe I'll be a full time blogger. I'm not so sure about that, but people do make careers out of it. 

Summer plans are happening too. I've just been accepted to a program at my school to study abroad in Vienna for a month. I'll be taking a four-credit art course while living with a host family in the city. We're going to take two weekend trips as well. 

I'm currently picturing myself exploring the city, having picnics with my journal and a basket of strawberries, looking out over the city on a warm but breezy day. I feel overcome with excitement, the kind that boils up in you and seems to expand to the point of bursting in your chest, only for it to remain there in a bubble, enthusiasm trapped. When this happens, my body doesn't know what to do with it. I usually exclaim, "I'm so excited!" and gallop and dance around my room as if I'm a (rather clumsy) ballerina. It's quite like a baby deer just learning to use their legs, unsure of how to bound about with the new skill that they have. 

In June, I've been offered to research literature under a grant my advisor applied to and received. I'm not totally sure what I'm going to be researching yet, but my advisor has told me that his goal is to get me published. When he told me that, my brain screamed "Eeep!" because what English major desperately wants not to be published; I don't think they exist. We all want to be published, no matter the subject or the type of writing. I'd write a research article on frog's feet if I were told it would be published by a legitimate source. 

After that, I plan on sticking around in my college town and maybe continuing my job at the library if they'll have me there. I'll participate in Camp NaNoWriMo in July, pen my fourth or fifth novel, or edit another. I'll photograph the area, and try to keep you update on this blog. 

I'm just oozing with gratitude for the way things have panned out, and eagerness for the year ahead of me. I have a lot going on, and I'm thankful for that. I wanted to write a post to commemorate the way I'm feeling in this moment - excited, beholden, amazed with God and His plan. 

A few days, weeks, months ago, I was stressing about all of these things. I had to change my entire schedule for my new major, had to file a bunch of forms to apply to go to Vienna (I didn't even think I'd get accepted.), had to break it to my last job that I would be leaving, and then start training at my new job. Things are slowing down. I know they'll speed up and I'll get stressed again, so I need to take advantage of this moment of peace and glory. 

God is so good. Here's to new adventures, brought to me by Him. 

I'm choking up a little bit. 

I'm so happy. 

I hope I look back on this post and remember the good that's to come, and that God has a knack for making things work out eventually. This is His kingdom. I'm so excited to explore it. 

I hope things are well for you all as well, 

amy ewing

Recommendation and Review: "The Jewel" by Amy Ewing

11:16 PM

Hello avid readers and not-so-avid-readers!

Fan of The Hunger Games series? Also love Kiera Cass' Selection novels? I just finished a book that combines the sacrificial, dystopian aspects of The Hunger Games with the royalty pieces of The Selection, as well as incorporating strong female characters like those in both series.

This book has sat in a bag of books on my bedroom floor at home since the beginning of this summer, and I finally decided to read it over Thanksgiving break. I regret the decision to put it off for so long. Like, I really, really regret it.

Violet Lasting won't be Violet Lasting for long. Within days, mere hours of her life, she will be sent to The Jewel, where she will serve as a surrogate to a woman of royalty desiring to have a child. She's trained in Auguries, special powers that will enable her to make the baby grow faster, stronger, and even better looking. After being torn apart from her family, even the riches of the palace cannot calm Violet, known as #197 in her new home at the House of the Lake. Sure, the Dutchess of the Lake is better to her than most owners would be to their surrogates, but Violet cannot stand the idea of being seen as property. She hates that she has no choice in her present or future. When she stumbles into the man hired to tame the Dutchess' niece for marriage, she cannot help but fall in love with the him, who feels these the same was as her. However, the consequences of their relationship may be more than the two are willing to give up.

Review and Recommendation --

To be honest, this book played out a lot better than I thought it would. Ewing's writing is magnificent; I found it to be more appealing to me than usual science fiction and fantasy writing, which usually steers me toward the contemporary genre. Her writing is both poetically descriptive as well as informative and straight forward in spots where it must be. I don't mean to generalize the genre, but to boast her writing skills. In addition, this book was definitely what I would call a page turner. I never got bored with it, didn't want to put it down once. I read it in about a day and a half.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading young adult fiction, no matter what genre you prefer. However, considering violent and sexual scenes, I would not recommend it to those under the age of 12 or 13.

I give Amy Ewing 4/5 stars for The Jewel, the first in a trilogy that includes some short story e-books. I am currently reading The White Rose, the sequel to the first book, and it is no disappointment. I have a feeling this will become one of my new favorite series.

I hope this gives you a good idea as to whether or not this series would be a good one for you!

Have a wonderful week,

aminata forna

War: Real vs. Not Real - A Reflection on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part Two

2:08 AM

Tonight I had the opportunity to see the premiere of the new The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part Two movie with a group of my college’s dorms. As I watched, I couldn’t help but take notes on my phone about the subject I’m writing on now (I apologize to those around me who had to deal with the occasional light on my phone. I felt like the annoying, rule-breaking cartoon shown at beginning of movies, depicted to tell people not to be rude in the theatre.)

Throughout the movie and in the books, characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark engage in a game called “Real or Not Real” in order to decipher the memories that have been falsely placed in Peeta’s mind by his captivators as opposed to those he has really experienced. The game evokes an emotional response for the reader as well as the characters.

There are many things that stand out to a reader or viewer of The Hunger Games, one of those is Katniss’ love interest(s). Watchers and readers of the series will argue – Gale versus Peeta. While I’m not against such debates and have actively engaged in them before, I feel that the novel offers bigger questions that need to be answered. I have no doubt that Suzanne Collins wrote the series with more in mind than a love triangle.

Collins wrote a series of young adult, dystopian novels about war, something that has been all too prevalent in the history of our world as well as its current state. The traces of reality in The Hunger Games are real and frightening to a reflective viewer. Perhaps what seems like a get-a-way novel for teens to dig their noses into and pass the time poses questions that our young people (and old) need to be asked:

How do we get to be these people who can justify the killing of another being? Is death redeemed by more death? Is there ever a reason to take a life? What is the goal in war? Power? Revenge? Is there such a thing as fighting for peace? Is any place really free after experiencing war? And can there be a return to normalcy, or a pre-war state, after crossing that life changing line?

If you watch, you see the effects of their war, of their constant fighting and turmoil. The characters deal with PTSD, loss, and grieving in so many ways. From the beginning to the end, they are not the same, and it is not for the better. The series is painfully upsetting, and upsetting merely to watch in a movie format; I couldn’t imagine experiencing it in real life. True, the novels are fiction, but I believe that in every piece of fiction there lie truths about the society that we live and breathe in. In this case, truths about war.

In my English class, we’re reading The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. We haven’t finished yet, but we have read and discussed enough to see the similarities in questions that both authors ask. Forna’s novel takes place in Croatia, former Yugoslavia, and post-civil war. The civil war has had great damage on the society and the relationships that exist in the town. Forna questions whether human nature is inherently evil, due to all the war that occurs; she asks whether a perpetrator of violence can ever return to a pre-violence, pre-war situation; she asks at what point a society implodes, wonders if we are all too sensitized to war, and begs to know how we reconcile with the people we’ve hurt and the actions that we’ve done.

War is not a game, as it is played in The Hunger Games; It is not a book; It is not a movie, though it can be depicted and examined in these forms. As said in the new release, “No one ever wins the games.” Does anyone win a war? Are the benefits really greater than the cost of loved and cherished lives? Can we claim that “these things happen in war” after the killing of innocent women, men, and children? Is that the excuse?

I want to encourage those of you reading to reflect on the questions asked in The Hired Man and The Hunger Games. War is, by definition, deadly and filled with bloodshed. Before we seek revenge, before we fight, before we shoot, before we tear someone else’s world apart, we must ask both what life we are taking, and how our own lives will be taken, in a non-literal way, after we have done the deed. Can a person ever be the same again after an act of violence such as that? Is a life ever the same? I don’t believe that hate and vengeance are ever the answer. Reconciliation is something we must become more familiar with.

Unfortunately, time and time again we show ourselves that this is not possible. The character Plutarch writes a letter to Katniss in which he says, "But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We're fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction." We have a history for not learning from our mistakes. Is returning to normalcy possible after a state of war?

I ask these questions and expect no answers, though I will take suggestions if you have them. I have none. I don’t think I’ve been around long enough to know them, though I certainly think about them a lot.

In the end, Peeta and Katniss romantically pronounce their love as Real. What I took from their words was that, above all else, all we have is each other. Think about losing a loved one to war; maybe you already have. If so, you know that what is won in war is never greater than the lives lost. Never. This I know to be true, as well as the fact that war is capital R, Real. Those who want to destroy us do not place it in our minds, though it exists for the same reason, to destroy. It is real-life, present, and ready to take lives.

I’m not okay with that, are you?


A Pile of Manuscripts with One Goal

11:35 PM

I'm a planning machine; I have a systematic brain that pumps out what she wants. If you're anything like me, one goal turns into another goal the minute the first one is completed. All of my life, my most colossal objective has been to write a novel. It was something that didn't seem achievable to me.

I didn't know that I could complete it in just one month (NaNoWriMo), or even less than that.

As the story would unfold, I did write a novel. It's not one that I ever plan on revisiting. However, I now had a new target in mind: write another. What could be better than having two novels under my belt at the age of 18-19?

I did. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. My entire life's autobiography would read only those eight words: I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. I finished that novel, and now I'm in the process of writing another NaNoWriMo. Yet, it has only very recently occurred to me that at the young age of 19, I've written two and a half, almost three now that I'm nearly finished with my NaNoWriMo for this year, novels. Not many can say that. 

It also occurred to me that my goals need to change. Yes, I can write a novel; I've done it more than two times now. Simple. Piece of cake. What I need to do is edit the novel, to perfect it to my liking. So what's my current goal? Well, I'd like to finish my NaNoWriMo novel and then begin editing the novel that I wrote this summer. 

Editing is a grand journey. It's a picky, dissecting adventure. The world adventure probably isn't suiting...Anyway, It's hard to go back into your words and decide which ones are worthy still, which pieces of the plot just don't fit, no matter how much you love that scene. Nevertheless, I get excited every day about writing and editing. I'm going to pursue this dream.

Why am I telling you? It makes me accountable to my word. I find that sharing my goals with others gives me two times the drive to finish them. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but it works, and that's the only party my driven, goal-oriented brain cares about. 

What comes after editing? I've been looking into it. Probably querying to agents. It sounds both snobby (I'm Brooke and I'm going to be sending my book to agents to get published.), naive, and unbelievable that I've even come to a place where I can see myself reaching this step. The unknown part, the part I'm not sure will ever happen, is publishing. I know that I can write a query letter and send it off to agents that I find in books and online. That's not the hard part. It's the part that's out of my control: getting the agent to take me under them and then have them get me a publishing deal. 

Your goals are only as big as you make them. I once thought I could never write a novel. I didn't know that all I had to do was, excuse me Nike, for stealing your phrase, do it. Now I'm doing it. I know that what's beyond my control isn't worth worrying about. Writing is what I love to do, and I would love to make other people happy with it as well some day. For now, it's what gets me excited and happy about going to each new day, and that's all that matters. I'm following my dreams. 

Gosh it feels good to say that.

book review

"Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell Review/Recommendation

1:43 PM

Searching for a fantasy book that is equally warm, fuzzy, and hysterical? I'm writing to tell you about Rainbow Rowell's new novel, Carry On. It fits all of the above to a T.

What's interesting about this novel, is that the cast of characters actually exists in her last young adult novel, Fangirl. Rowell decided after finishing Fangirl that she had to tell these character's stories. And boy, did she ever. The plot was originally a fanfiction of various existing published fantasy series.

Simon Snow is back for his last year at Watford, a magikal school in the midst of a Normal world. Upon return, he expects many things - delicious scones, reuniting with his girlfriend and best friend, Agatha and Penny, and, of course, his horrible, vampire roommate, Tyrannus Basilton "Baz" Pitch.
Simon hates Baz with all he has, despises him to the point of obsession. When Baz fails to come back to Watford that year, Simon wonders what plan he has up his sleeve.

There are dark forces in the magikal world. The Insidious Humdrum, a villain leaving behind areas void of magik whenever he attacks,  took Simon and Penny the year before. To their shock, the Humdrum looks exactly like the one chosen to defeat him, Simon. Back at school this year, the Mage (the head of the school and the magikal world) thinks Simon should go away for the year to be in hiding. That's the last thing Simon wants to do. He needs to stay at Watford to enjoy his last year and find out where Baz is and what he's up to.

In a story that is equally funny as it is mysterious, Rowell captivates her readers. I have loved reading every single one of her novels, and was hesitant that this was her first fantasy genre book. To my pleasure, it was just as good, if not better, than her previous books. The plot-twists and backstories are well thought out, the characters are diverse and likable, and the world of her creation is one you wish you lived in.

I give Rainbow Rowell 5/5 stars for Carry On.

I recommend this book to Harry Potter lovers, those who enjoyed any of Rowell's other YA books, fans of light fantasy, and just any teen in general. I do warn that the book contains bisexual characters and a few descriptions could be considered graphic depending on what the reader has been exposed to in the past.

Thanks for reading,


Allow me to explain myself -

12:08 AM

A lack of inspiration, a drought of heart, a missing soul. These all adequately describe the way I felt toward toward my writing on the page, in a word document, and on this blog from around June to Recently.

I felt lost in my writing pursuits and honestly couldn't find the words for any type of writing I tried - blogs, short stories, camp NaNoWriMo, journaling, anything. 

Recently I've reflected on that, thinking about why I went through this period of painful writing. Writing should never be painful if you love it. I didn't know what happened or where it came from, and it left me feeling inadequate and underachieved in the one thing I truly love - literature and the written word. 

I went through a weird period where I broke up with my boyfriend of three years and moved to my grandparents to work at a bookstore pretty much full time this summer. When I say it like that, it sounds like I went through a quarter-life crisis. It was an amazing experience, I was constantly around readers and sometimes writers, yet I struggled with this aspect of my life outside the store. 

This past month of October, and now into November, my writing has been stronger than ever. I've been encouraged by many around me, including professors, my step dad, mom, peers, and, most importantly, myself. 

For a while I lost track of my dream. Well, I'm back. My blog might be a bit more bookish, but the same amount reflective and a little bit girly. 

I appreciate if you've read this. 

In the words of Adele: Hello, it's me. How are you?  It's so typical of me to talk about myself. 

Lots of love,


aaron hartzler

September 2015 YA Release Reviews: "Dumplin'", "Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between", & "What We Saw"

10:10 PM

Hi everyone!

I've recently had the pleasure of reading some future young adult releases, given to me by my boss (I work at a book store) who received advanced copies of books weekly. I thought I'd take advantage of the books and give you guys some reviews for them!


Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. 
September 15th, 2015.
Five Stars. 
Photo from
Willowdean "Dumplin'" Dickson is fat. Sometimes she cares, sometimes she doesn't. With a mom as a former pageant queen of the town's prized competition, Will sometimes struggles to feel like she's normal, until she decides that pageants are for fat girls too.

Julie Murphy's writing is funny and charming, leaving you wanting more with every chapter. Each chapter is pretty short, making it a good speed read. The plot keeps you going too. It's not just about a fat girl. It's about a real girl struggling with friendships, relationships with boys and parents, work, bullying, and self image.

Not only is it a fun read, but if you've ever struggled with an insecurity about your body or a feature, it can be a remedy like no other. "Dumplin'" wants you to feel great in your skin. She really does.

Photo from
Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith. 
September 1st, 2015. 
Two Stars. 

It’s the night before Aidan and Clare head off to college. Twelve hours separates an entire country’s distance between them. Clare sets up a night of revisiting their past, so that the two can figure out whether or not they should try to stay together.

I was expecting a lot more from this book. Yes, it is written decently and evokes a memorable feeling of a high school relationship ending over college. However, I found the characters bland and annoying. They didn't have much substance to them, just a lot of stereotypical qualities. There’s the super charming, cute, athletic boyfriend and the straight A, rule follower girlfriend. The couple had their cute moments, but it often felt forced.

I thought the storyline was a cute idea, taking place over 12 hours before the couple parts ways for college as they try to make a decision about breaking up, but nothing really monumental ever happened. I wasn't too impressed. I haven't read Smith's other books, but I still think I'll give them a shot even though I didn't enjoy this one.

Photo from

What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler. 
Sept. 22nd, 2015. 
Five Stars.

What We Saw has to be one of the most thought provoking novels I've read this year.
Things get a little wild at a party, and Kate Weston is taken home by her childhood friend, Ben Cody. Ben is a star on the high school basketball court, and therefore a star in their small Iowa city. Basketball in Coral Sands is everything. If Ben can get a scholarship, he might be able to escape his extreme couponing mom and make a life for himself. 

That night changes everything when four of Ben's friends are charged with rape and distribution of child pornography. The name is not released, but everyone knows who's accusing them: Stacey Stallard, known for her provocative dress and behavior. The town circles in rumors. Is it Stacey's dress and behavior that caused this, or did the boys act in the wrong? Is it even true? 

You have to read to find out.
This is a novel about an issue brought about widely today, a wild page turner about trust, society, and doing the right thing.


Well guys, I hope you enjoyed that little preview. There's plenty more where that came from, as she lets me borrow her Advanced Copies quite a lot. Hopefully one day I can get my own copies sent to me for review. :) 

Happy reading,



Brooke Cooks - Dairy-free chocolate mousse fruit cup.

9:14 PM

Back in May my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday treat, and since I've recently become dairy-free (or rather, dairy-limited...since I still indulge in it a bit) I wasn't sure what to answer. I took to pinterest to find a dairy free recipe for my birthday. There were all sorts of things that I found, but the dairy free chocolate mousse was what really caught my eye. I found this recipe here and the whipped cream recipe here.

After making the chocolate mousse, I topped it with various fruits and then the coconut milk whipped cream. It was super good and I was impressed with how close to the real thing it tasted.
For the chocolate mousse you need:

A mixer
A bowl
1 can coconut milk (1 can will make about 4 servings)
2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon raw honey, stevia, or sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Put your coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours or over night, so that the creamy fat part settles on top.

2. When you open the cans, scoop out the white part and either save or empty the remaining liquid (I know it can be used for other recipes, so that's why you would save it).

3. Add the cocoa powder, honey/sugar/stevia, and vanilla.

4. Whip with your mixer until it is as fluffy as you want it.

Next, I spooned this mousse into the bottoms of glasses. It's pretty rich depending on how much cocoa powder you put in, so it doesn't take that much.

Then, I washed raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. After cutting the strawberries into smaller pieces, I layered them on top of the chocolate mousse.

For the whipped cream topping you need:
A mixer
A bowl
1 can coconut milk (1 can = about 4 servings)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Optional: Pinch of sugar/stevia

Throw it all in your bowl and use the mixer to whip it up. I finished off my cups by adding the whipped topping to them (and some chocolate chips! This is optional.) and storing them in the fridge until after dinner. Super yummy and dairy free :)

The cool thing about this is that it's vegan and delicious. I've been contemplating the vegan lifestyle recently and came back to this recipe, since ice cream is, like, my only vice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it out yourself. Let me know if you have any questions regarding anything in this post! Do you have any dietary restrictions and/or any yummy recipes you like to make?


Girl Power: Experiment Shows Women Favor Women More Than Men Favor Men.

8:30 PM

I'm not the kind of person who likes tearing others down to bring myself up. So men, understand that I'm not trying to do that with the study I'm about to talk about. I'm just trying to show people that the thought that "all women hate each other" is completely, scientifically wrong.

You've heard it said a million times before: Women hate other women. They're jealous and catty. Or: If women could just learn to get along and like each other, we could rule the world.

Brain blast, sisters, studies show that women like women more than men like men. In case you didn't hear, the 2004 study done by Laurie Rudman and Stephanie Goodwin used experimental methods that came out with some pretty cool results. In their four experiments they tested in-group bias, identity, self-esteem, caregiving, and sexuality. Using the experiments, they drew one large conclusion: women are more likely to like women than men are men (Goodwin & Rudman, 2004). I've said it a lot, but just soak it in, okay?

Why is this? You might be wondering.

There's a lot of reasons. 

One answer lies in our internal mechanism that promotes our own group bias; it draws from our high gender identity (Goodwin & Rudman, 2004). This would be what I refer to ask the group bathroom effect (do not quote me...that's not even a thing and I just made it up). Girls are more likely to invest emotional energy into the relationship than men are, making women favor women more than men. (Um, did I just notion that going to the bathroom together is investing emotional energy into the relationship...maybe. Take that any way that you want to).

Another reason lies in stereotypes. Women are perceived by both men and women as more safe, which links them to warmth, whereas when men are linked with power it's triggered as a threat. Even men are more afraid of men than woman are (Goodwin & Rudman, 2004). Go figure. I'd probably be really afraid of dads if I were a boy; they seem to get yelled at more often. I won't name this effect to save myself some embarrassment.

You need another reason? Well Goodwin and Rudman have it: mothers. As the primary caregiver, mothers set the tone for what their children think of women. If you are raised by only a maternal figure, you're more likely to be more pro-female. If you're raised by a good, caring mom, you probably like women, whether or not your father was in the picture at all. However, if you're raised by a bad mom, you might not like women very much (Goodwin & Rudman, 2004). I'm not lying, people are trained to like women from the moment they transfer from womb to world.

Look, I know that this study is 11 years old and that it might be considered outdated by some sources (that being said, I think it should be replicated). However, are the above reasonings not true today, 11 years later? They're still true, at least in my case.

So what can we take from this?

First, let's not say that women hate each other, because according to this experiment, we don't. We actually really, really like each other for a lot of reasons.

Let's take this as a fact. Girls like girls. With that, let's take it to the next level and tell our family and our friends - promote the spread of girl positivity. It's already there, I think it's sometimes a little bit downplayed by the objectification of women in the media. Women are taught by media that to be the best is to be the skinniest, prettiest, to be the alpha-chick. It's also true that women are taught by natural selection to be warm, caring, friendly, and sensitive. Let's use the natural side of ourselves and ignore the media side.

I strongly encourage you to read the study (linked above) and let me know what you think. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, skip down to the heading where it reads Why Do Women Like Women More Than Men Like Men? I promise it's worth the read.



Laurie, R., & Stephanie, G. (2004, June 7). Gender Differences in Automatic In-Group Bias: Why Do Women Like Women More Than Men Like Men? Retrieved May 26, 2015, from

ps. I'm sorry for the lack of post last week. I've been incredibly worn down by work and such.


Hiking | Northern Michigan

10:14 AM

I've been spending my time in Northern Michigan this summer, working at a bookstore. On my days off, I go hiking at all the national trails. In the mornings I usually take a hike in my grandparents backyard which, yes, has a trail.

Hiking has rapidly become my favorite form of exercise. I'll be sad when I go home and there aren't any trails around.

Why I love it:
1. The scenery is beautiful.
2. It's good for thinking/reflection.
3. It brings me closer to God.
4. I sweat, but don't feel like dying (unlike running).
5. I don't get tired of it.
6. It's peaceful.

I wanted to share some of my hiking photos with you. I hope you enjoy!

All the Bright Places

A Collection of YA Book Reviews. (Feat. Nelson, Niven, Kinsella, & Blume.)

8:28 AM

Hey everyone!

Looking for some summer reads? I've got a few for you here, potentially. Even if I didn't like them, I suggest you give them a try if you like the sound of them. Everyone has different opinions.

I'm a book person. I work at a bookstore, I spend my nights with my nose tucked between pages, I have various book-themed apparel, and I could go on and on all day about my favorite characters and stories. I've read a lot of books this summer and even got my hands on some September releases (future review post to come!). I'm going to share them all with you today and hopefully give you an idea of what you'd like to read.

Follow me on Goodreads if you're interested in my what I'm reading!
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. 
Three and a half Stars. 

Photo from
This is the story of twins, told from two different point of views and at two different times in their lives. The twins deal with the loss of their grandmother and then mother, among other issues that circle throughout the book. At a young age, Noah and Jude are inseparable. They barter the features of the universe together (hence the title), until they grow up and things get rocky and go wrong. Noah is gay and a former artist, hiding his secret. Jude is a former ray of sunshine gone dark. In a beautifully written language you hear the story of "NoahandJude".

I give this book a 3.5/5, mostly for the beautiful writing. I didn't find the story to be that captivating and at times found myself putting it down to read something else. However, Nelson adds great characterization and language, making this book a truly beautiful work of art. I would recommend this book for ages 14+ due to language and sex.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. 
Five Stars. 

Photo from
Violet Markey and Theodore Finch meet at the top of a bell tower. Both have had thoughts of ending their lives, but only one intended to do so on that day. Guided back down the tower by Finch, Violet remains alive after continuously coping with the death of her older sister, Eleanor. Finch feels the need to take care of Violet, make her feel okay again, give her a perfect day. He's not exactly the most popular guy around school, though, being nicknamed Theodore Freak; Violet is in with the popular crowd. While dealing with his own troubles and mental illness, Finch helps Violet live again through a school project on wandering their own state. A tragic tale of mental illness in young adults, it's a must read.

This book deserves awards. 5/5 for a beautifully written words, a killer story line, and the addressing of a serious growing issue in society (mental illness). The characters are funny and sad, but at the same time very true. This book was needed, though I'm not sure Niven knew that when she wrote it. It has helped so many already. I sped through this book in two days, and I really encourage any one else to give it a shot. I would recommend this book for ages 14+ due to language and sex.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. 
Four and a half Stars

Photo from
Audrey is trapped inside herself via an anxiety disorder. Being too afraid to make eye contact with anyone, she wears sunglasses 24/7. Even inside. Even in the dark. Minor disturbances send her into a full on panic attack after an incident that has her pulled out of school and transferring next semester. Linus, her video-game big brother's best friend, begins to tap at Audrey's shell. Sometime develops between them and soon Audrey wants to get better. Fast. Another story of the way mental illness impacts teens' lives, you'll have to read about Audrey's roller coaster of a ride toward recovery.

First of all, this was a hilarious read. I still can't get over it. Kinsella portrays the over-bearing mother figure, the go-with-the-flow the flow father, video game obsessed brother, and quirky little sibling perfectly. Her writing is true to an anxious teen, the feelings they might have and the thoughts running inside their heads. This was a fast read because of the easy language and lightness, even though it dealt with some serious issues. I give it 4.5/5 stars for funny, cool writing and a captivating story. I wasn't a huge fan of the whole, boy-meets-girl-and-saves-her-from-her-troubles thing, but it worked for the story. I recommend this for ages 12+, not a whole lot of swearing and no sex.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. 
Four Stars. 

Photo from
This is an adult book for the upper YA readers. Judy Blume has long written books for kids, and this coming of age story fits in with the group. Growing up, Blume's hometown experienced three plane crashes in one year. This story is based on that true event, told from a variety of character's perspectives. You meet the main character, Miri, who is growing up, falling in love, and losing friendships during this time of tragedy.

This is a timeless read. Set in the 50's, you feel the era while you read it. I gave the story 3.5/5 stars for the story line, which was woven perfectly. I didn't find myself getting confused amongst characters that often. I took points off because I felt that the book didn't leave me wanting more that often when I'd put it down. I did evoke strong feelings, though, and is a great read for all seasons. I recommend this book for ages 14+ due to some language and sex.
Let me know if you've read any of these books and what you think of them. Also let me know if you plan to read any of them.

What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations?

Happy Sunday,

p.s. I really enjoyed the comments left on my last post about love. Thank you for reading and spending the time to craft such beautiful responses :)


I'm in Love with Love | Confessions of a Daydreamer, Idealist, and Hopeful Romantic

1:33 PM

I'm pretty sure that I could go through a breakup the emotional equivalent to a hurricane typhoon and still come out untouched by the bitterness that consumes some people post-breakup. I could be shown a thousand reasons not to love, and still love or at least like seeing people in love. You could say that I'm invincible, or you could just call me a daydreamer, idealist, and an unhopeless romantic. (Why do they call it hopeless anyway?  I'm pretty hopeful. I think it's really cool when people love love. That's not hopeless...hopeless is being bitter and losing all sight of love.)

The fact is: I'm in love with love. At markets my eyes follow the couple holding hands, the old man and woman bickering over tomatoes, or the young mom and dad with a newborn child at their heels. I watch them pick their produce, laugh, fight, tickle their child and chase him around the aisles, everything. Sometimes I creepily write about it, but I think that will work out for me one day if I happen to publish a cutesy romantic book.*

I read books about couples, form limitless OTPs, listen to music and imagine scenarios with characters totally and completely in love, because that's just who I am. Yet, there's a grounded side of me which makes me a hopeFUL romantic and not a hopeLESS romantic.

I'm realistic about it when it concerns my own life. I went through a breakup this year and still came out loving love. It's because I know that now is not my time for it, that now is my time to learn to love myself and those around me without the tie-down of someone showing me how to love. I need to learn how I love in my own way. I think that's what keeps me a hopeFUL romantic: knowing now's not my time, but that my time will come and it will be great because of all that I've seen, done, and reflected on.

So if you see me staring at you and your significant other in the local Meijer, don't be alarmed (be flattered instead, I'm probably thinking up a really cute story about you). It's just the way I live my life in a hopeful way. It's a way that I've learned to appreciate what I have and be happy for other people. It's just me and I love love. I really do.

Let me know how you feel about love in the comments below, I would really love to hear your perceptions.

Side note: this post doubles as Confessions of a Girl Who Can't Make Short, Concise Titles. I might suck at titles, but I sure do win in appreciation of love.

*Other side note: Don't worry about libel because: a) I'll change enough of the person to not make it them...heck, half of this stuff is made up in my head. For example, the couple holding hands has just moved into an apartment together across from the neighborhood Panera Bread and Target. It's a cute little neighborhood that they take late night strolls around with their Pug, Brady. Sometimes they'll stop at Panera for dinner and then make a Target run. He's about to propose next week, diamond ring and everything. See, besides the fact that they were holding hands at the market, I made the rest of it up. And b) There's not going to be anything bad written because it'll end happily and lovely. No chalked up, dirty or damaging false info. I'm libel free. (That was all a joke please skip and continue on with your life).


DIY - Make Your Own Blog Book Organizer

7:53 AM

Hi everyone!

First of all I'm just going to let you know that I've started my job up here at the bookstore and things are going really well. However I'm pretty busy, so I'm going to move my weekly posts to Sunday, which is my day off. :-)

So recently I thought it would be a cool idea to make a Blog Book - a place where I can store planning, inspiration, photos, etc. for my blogging adventures. I've seen blog planners, but not just a Blog Book in general, so I decided to make one and share it with you today.

I think that a binder organizer like this could be useful not only for blogging but also for other things, like keeping pieces or writing together or things for teaching (lesson plans, grading scales, ideas, etc.). It could be used for a lot of things.

Here's what you'll need:

1. A binder (it doesn't have to be fancy like mine. I was originally just going to take a white one and decorate it with photos and magazine clippings. I found a Target gift card, which is why I ended up buying a nice one).
2. Lined paper or graph paper.
3. Scrapbook paper (optional, just if you want an extra pretty touch).
4. Tape/glue.
5. Hole puncher.
6. Pens/pencil.
7. Tabs (or make your own like I did).
8. Optional: printed photos and decor.

Here's what you'll need to do: 

1. Go get your binder. If you already have one, then great! I just got mine at Target, and I'm in love with how cute it is.

2. Go to your computer, open word, and select the calendar template. Here you can customize the way that you want your calendar section to look. Check out mine for an example. I included a goals section at the bottom to help keep myself on track!

3. Fill your binder with lined/graph paper. These will be used for a variety of things. You can also fill it with scrapbooking paper, just to give it more of an artsy feel. I have a mix of both!

4. Design your cover page. I cut a scrapbook page to fit the inside of my binder and then decorated it with a title (Brooke's Blog Book), and some different aspects of the book. This page can be anything you want it to be, though! Make it fun; make it you!

5. Add tabs between the lined/graph paper. If you want more colorful tabs like mine, cut your scrapbooking paper to a desirable width. Clip one section at one length, and then add a quarter of an inch for every tab you make. This will allow the tabs to fan out when you're looking at them. Then label your tabs however you want. I secured mine to lined paper with Washi tape, which I thought was really cute.

6. Decorate your starting pages with photos and decor! I used my printed off Instagram photos that I cut into squares, or left the bottom open to make it look like a polaroid (really fun tip!).

7. Put everything together if you haven't done so yet! Straighten out your pages, and you're good to go.

Bonus: I bought some extra supplies from the Target dollar section to keep myself organized. They're some sticky notes with bullet points and some flag sticky notes to mark off any important pages.

Have fun with your blog books! You can take them anywhere you want and add meaningful sentiments for you blog. I think it's a really good and cheap way to stay inspired. I spent less than $10 on this project because I used stuff that was mostly from home.

Be sure to send me pictures and let me know if you do this project!



Life: side effects may vary.

9:13 PM

Recently I've been prescribed a lot of medications. I feel like I'm getting older, which I am but it really doesn't count yet because I'm only 19.

So I've been prescribed a lot of medications and with these medications comes various spiels..."Don't take this with dairy or carbohydrates, you may experience nausea, headaches, blood clots, strokes, weight gain...etc."

The words run around in my head for days before I realize that they aren't happening to me (except for when they are happening to me). I recently got put on something for my acne problem that basically promised (according to the internet, not my doctor) at least 15 pounds weight gain, and I'm still freaking out about it. I try too hard to be healthy to be set back by one little pill. 

The thing that I've realized and I'm still trying to come to terms with is this: life has side effects, and you can't really worry about them. The life-doctor can look you in the eye and say, "living may cause side effects such as loss, heartbreak, tears, insecurities, unhappiness, etc. To avoid this pain you may want to look into digging yourself a hole (perhaps your future grave?) to live in until the end of the world. Avoid breathing, laughing, falling in love, caring for anyone or anything, smiling, dancing, and most importantly your own thoughts. By steering clear of these things you should avoid the side-effects, but contact your primary physician if they begin happening anyway (which they will)."

The point is that life happens, and the good things aren't going to happen without the bad. It's important to remember to live and forget about all of those silly side-effects that can happen along the way as long as you're happy where you are. Sure, my medicine might make me gain some weight. MIGHT. And sure, falling in love might lead to heartbreak. MIGHT. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go for something for all of the benefits it might give you.

Laugh without thinking that in two hours you might be crying, fall in love without thinking that it could lead to heartbreak, care for people without thinking of the world without them, dance without thinking of breaking your legs (or worse, embarrassing yourself), commit yourself to deep self-reflection because you will grow without worrying about the dark places you might discover. Do things without the fear of their consequences, please. Don't get held back by that thought in your head.  

Here's a little exercise for you. Think about that one thing you've always wanted to do. Now go do it. 

Life isn't what's stopping you. 

Do great things, 

Holy bananas. I just turned a post about my complaints of side-effects for medicine into a motivational post on doing what you want to do. What in the world. Side note, I'm going to take that medicine despite it perhaps causing weight gain; I'd like to figure out what's going on with my body and this might allow me to do so. If I experience too negative of side-effects, I'll ask my doctor if I can try a different medication. I really believe it's worth a try though. 

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