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Current TBR & 100 Book Goal 2014

First things first…

HAPPY NEW YEAR’S EVE!!!

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My Endless, Ever-Increasing To-Be-Read Pile!

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So 2014 is coming up (in a matter of hours where I am-East Coast United States) and watching different book-tubers 2013 review in books that they’ve read, I feel inspired. First–I laugh at my cousin who makes fun of me, constantly asking

“Don’t you own every YA book already?”

I gasp and laugh. Not. Even. Close.

2013 was the year I was thrust out of my major life reading slump and the year I fell in love with YA, choosing to embrace that love publicly–no shame.

Jane Austen and the Classic period dramas have always been loves of my life. In addition to them, it was difficult to find books throughout my growing up–adolescence years–that caught my interest. There was a season, years ago, where Nicholas Spark’s early books were one of the few I could devour in two days. I also grew up (by choice) in a religious community, so many of the books I read (between ages 16-28) were pertaining to self-help, and religious studies. I was teaching religious studies for a couple years, so even more so, those were the books I studied and delve into. In regards to “just for fun” books, I didn’t read much throughout those years. A few sneaked in here and there but not many. Since I wasn’t reading any, I actually wrote screenplays (scripts for movies) a lot. I wrote stories I wanted to read, I guess you could say. That was my outlet.

Certain changes in my life began to steer me a different direction. It was time to move on towards a new chapter in my life. Those years were good to me but my life desires were shifting. I remember YA books caught my attention before knowing what YA even was. I had never heard the term before this year. Soon, when I had heard of it, the stereotype that it was only about vampires, werewolves, love triangles and/or sexy themes flooded mine and many others impression of YA. Still to this day, these are the stereotypes people believe about YA.

I asked a group of high school seniors who came into the bookstore I worked in and asked if they read Young Adult literature. Their response was the stereotype. They didn’t know the MANY sub-genres within YA, and how one of them even, is Contemporary, which offers many beautiful and amazing coming of age stories, in various forms of storytelling. They were the cool kids reading Hemingway. (So of course, I steered them towards John Green)

I had read a couple YA books and didn’t even know they were YA. I liked them, though I didn’t have YA reading friends at the time to share my delight with. One book, my best friend and I did read together after I read it, and couldn’t stop talking about it with her.

It was “I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend” by Cora Harrison. I LOVE THIS BOOK. I am a Jane Austen fan, again, so this was just sweet, endearing, perfection.

Soon, my niece, who I adore, introduced me to Divergent by Veronica Roth. As I have written in previous blogs before, this pulled me out of my reading slump, opening the door into all things Young Adult Literature.

I researched and found communities such as Epic Reads, & YA Book-tubers. Suddenly, life had sunshine again. Something I didn’t know was missing, revived something inside me and life made sense again. Earlier this year, my Avid-Reader seal was stamped on my forehead and I wasn’t looking back. Thus began the book purchasing need and obsession.

TBR challenge 2014

This makes me excited now for 2014. I am giving myself the challenge to read 100 (one hundred) books during the year of 2014! I believe it can be done!

So there’s 54 weeks in a year. That would mean that reading one book a week would only leave me at 54 books at the end of this new year and not 100. Understanding this, I must aim to tackle at least 2 books a week (7 days). Now, I have done this before. I know it is entirely feasible. I read Divergent and Insurgent in 3 days.

It will definitely be a challenge because I foresee 2014 to be a huge shift for my life and my families lives. I know that life will pick up and become busy next year. I also intend to, and know that much of my free time will be spent on finishing my first book. There are SO many books coming out 2014 that I am itching to read, and there are also TONS of books I am catching up on since my YA love for reading was just birthed into fruition this year.

What are your 2014 TBR Reading Goals?

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Here is my current TBR pile: (photoshoot)

TBR 2014

TBR 3

TBR 7

TBR 6

TBR 4

TBR 2

Arent they purrtty? This list is just “coming out of 2013-going into 2014 TBR pile”. This will clearly change very soon. Already, I have a new book on it’s way. I organized my bookshelf (finally) and put away all the books I’ve read thus far. The last six months, they’ve been either at my bedside or in different piles on my desk, with a few exceptions actually in the bookshelf. What a concept, right?

Now they’re all put nicely away (separation anxiety). From this pile, I created an immediate TBR pile by my bedside. Baby steps people, baby steps.

TBR bedside

For those interested, here is the complete list of my current TBR pile:

1. (currently reading) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

2. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows (she’s adorably awesome!)

3. Legend by Marie Lu

4. Deception by C.J. Redwine (love her!)

5. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

6. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

7. (an ARC I won!) Elusion by Claudia Gabel & Cheryl Klam

8. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

9. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

10. Reboot by Amy Tintera

11. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (book 1) by Cassandra Clare

12. The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes (book 2) by Cassandra Clare

13. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

14. The Host by Stephanie Myers

15. Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

16. The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

17. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (don’t kill me EpicReads for not reading this still lol)

18. More Than This by Patrick Ness (got this ARC at bookstore I used to work at)

19. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

20. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

21. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Omygoodness! I just realized, I forgot a few more. There are also these…

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22. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

23. Brave by Louisa Luna

24. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (technically a MG-Middle Grade read)

25. Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (Um, it had “coffeehouse” on it…curiosity sprung)

26. The People of Sparks (book 2) by Jeanne DuPrau (didn’t know this was a series)

27. The Edge of the Sword by Rebecca Tingle (a free book for my purchases-it looked YA & so I was curious)

28. Leaving Paradise (book 1) by Simone Elkeles (I was suggested this from exchange bookstore employee)

29. Return to Paradise (book 2) by Simone Elkeles

And that wraps it up all! Hope everyone has an amazing, safe, epic, life altering New Years!!! *champagne glasses clink*

happy new yeatr

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Winter Break Reading Slump

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Reading Slump? Who’s with me?!?

Omylanta. What. In. The. World. Is. Wrong. With. Me? I blame the Holidays. Holidays 2013, you are to blame for my busyness, my distractions, my exhaustion, etc…Yes…holidays…I’ll blame you.

But for real, I do believe the season is what’s bringing much distraction from our beloved hobby of living, breathing need…reading.

Apparently (and thankfully) I am not the only one. Others are feeling the slump as well. Since Thanksgiving, there has been a significant HALT on all things books…except buying them of course. My TBR grows and grows but making a dent in them? Not so much. *exhales*

It’s crazy too because I am ridiculously excited to read many of those beautiful books at my bedside that are waiting to be read, and yet…nothing. Why? Well, what usually has been happening is, throughout the day, I’m running around, prepping for something, catching up on sleep on the days I can and come night time, where I can cozy up to a book…I’m exhausted. I’m beyond the point of “tired but if I pick this book up, I’ll magically be energized for the next few hours reading”. Nope. My eyes won’t have it. They. Are. Done. for the day.

I’ve had moments here and there where I can bust out thee book (yes, I meant “thee” not “the”) and catch up.

i.e. Carwash

“Really Google!? No reading selfies at all of someone inside their car during a carwash?” *groans* “I knew I should’ve taken the picture…but I was reading”.

In Line at the Store

Again…a google image fail. How are there not more pictures of people reading books randomly in places like these?

Waiting in the Drive-thru…this was the best image I could find on Google…

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You know what this means? People don’t read books!!!! We need more people, reading books…shamelessly! *chuckles to self* but for real. Moving on.

Any-hoo, I’m ready to break whatever it is that is funk-a-fying my reading habit and getting back into gear before 2014 rolls in!

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Yesterday was the first attempt. Now, it may not have been a complete success but I believe it was a step forward in the right direction. So, I found one source to the problem…Hallmark Christmas Movies. Oh, how my weakness from November till the 1st of January every year is Hallmark’s 24/7 Christmas movies. I. LOVE. THEM! I will be so sad to see them go come New Years. My television pretty much lives at that channel and no other during the Holidays, especially since all my favorite shows (on other networks) are on Winter hiatus.

I’ll get home–tired–and turn on Hallmark. My attention becomes very limited for anything else. Last night, I got home and did not turn on the television, at all. That was helpful. I was able to get productive. I had planned on reading at the end of my productive trip but it was not so. As you all know, I FINALLY GOT A NEW LAPTOP! Did I introduce you all to him?

Black Stallion

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Technically, he’s Black Stallion 2.0 –I had this while ordeal with the place I got the computer at. I had to return it, exchange it, issues etc. Let us not relive it.

*sings* “Isn’t he lovely? Isn’t he beautiful?”

Well now that I feel back in action, I’ve been catching up and pre-planning blogs and feeling as though I have a grip on a portion of my life again. Man, what did we do before technology was what it is now? You know, before even beepers? (Any one old enough knows what I’m talking about)

So, alas, I did not read again last night, but made steps toward the goal.

I want to get back to that place where I am feeling that kindred spirit with Belle!

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Have any of you been suffering with “Reading-Funk-Slump-itis”? The symptoms include an emptiness forming in your soul, desire to read but can’t seem to do it, mind failing to grasp anymore than a chapter every so often, lack of OTP feels and more. If you are experiencing some, or all and other symptoms pertaining to RFS-itis, please see a specialist immediately.

I suggest a book-tuber, or an Epic Reads Tea Time episode to inspire the need to escape into a certain world, and invade the lives of Main Characters, living through them vicariously.

No fine print during the making of this PSA.

End of “soundbite”

Happy Holidays and soon to be New Years to everyone!

Happy Reading!

<3, D. Marie

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New Books I Got: Christmas 2013

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Merry Christmas — Happy Holidays to all!

Hello friends! Hope everyone had a great holiday! (I believe I said this already in a previous post, but never hurts to say it twice!)

Did any of you get books this holiday season as gifts? Gifts from others? How about gifts to yourself? I may have done so…okay, Yes. I most definitely gifted myself with a couple books perhaps. *grins*

I wanted to share the books I have gotten this month, thus adding to my very long TBR (To Be Read) pile!

book christmas tree

Man, there were so many good pictures of publishing houses or bookstore making Christmas trees out of books. I wish I had collected them all to share with y’all here, but alas…I did not. I found this one. It was nice, it was lit up, and the shot was clear,–unlike many others I found.

So here is my list of books I got myself during this holiday break:

Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi (Adam’s POV)

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Eep! So the day before my birthday–December 17th–this was released. This is the second “novella” or whatever they call it, in the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. The first being Destroy Me which is told in the perspective of Warner. This new “novella” is told in Adam’s perspective or Point Of View (POV).

I have read both Shatter Me and Unravel Me and am biting my nails in anticipation for the third and last book in this series, Ignite Me, which comes out the beginning of this February.

*jumps up and down squealing like a little girl while hugging a pillow…scratch that…squeezing the pillow to death*

I confess, I did not read Destroy Me before reading Unravel Me (Book 2). All of Tahereh’s “novellas” have been bridge stories leading to the next book. I plan on reading both Destroy Me and Fracture Me before Ignite Me releases in two months.

Two. Months! *jumps up and down again*

Goodreads Synopsis:

In this electrifying sixty-page companion novella to the New York Times bestselling Shatter Me series, discover the fate of the Omega Point rebels as they go up against The Reestablishment. Set during and soon after the final moments of Unravel Me, Fracture Me is told from Adam’s perspective.

As Omega Point prepares to launch an all-out assault on The Reestablishment soldiers stationed in Sector 45, Adam’s focus couldn’t be further from the upcoming battle. He’s reeling from his breakup with Juliette, scared for his best friend’s life, and as concerned as ever for his brother James’s safety. And just as Adam begins to wonder if this life is really for him, the alarms sound. It’s time for war.

On the battlefield, it seems like the odds are in their favor—but taking down Warner, Adam’s newly discovered half brother, won’t be that easy. The Reestablishment can’t tolerate a rebellion, and they’ll do anything to crush the resistance . . . including killing everyone Adam has ever cared about.

Fracture Me sets the stage for Ignite Me, the explosive finale in Tahereh Mafi’s epic dystopian series. It’s a novella not to be missed by fans who crave action-packed stories with tantalizing romance like Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Legend by Marie Lu

Next!

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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I have heard much about this book–all good things. Every time I went to Target, and traveled along towards the Books section where they have YA, of course (it’s always a dangerous venture for my wallet when I go there) I would see this book and want to get it. Every time though, there was either a specific “mission” book I was hunting down, or there would be another book I have wanted that just beat it out momentarily.

Well, my sneaky bestie went over–with me on the phone–either pretending or genuinely asking, then using it to her advantage–and asked about suggestions for her to buy for herself. When she mentioned this book, I “Ooo-ed” and “awe-ed” at it, letting her know I had heard many a good things about it. Long story short, she surprised me by sending it to me with some other amazing writing goodies as my birthday/Christmas present!

This is the first book in a series.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Next!

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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I heard of Neverfade before I had heard of The Darkest Minds book. They’re apart of the same series. Neverfade, in fact is book 2 of The Darkest Minds series. Here’s the thing–it’s terrible when someone at Target (where I mostly purchase my impulse book buys) at the register asks me what the book in my hand is about. I fail. Due to the wonderful book bloggers out there and Epic Reads, is how I know about good and upcoming YA books. There are certain bloggers or book-tubers, if you will, as well as the Epic Read gals, whose opinions I take highly into consideration. This was one of those books. I still don’t know much about it but it’s been talked about by the people who I trust, so I bought it!

Other than the Epic Read gals from HarperCollins teen division (HarperTeen), there is this book blogger–Bookables–on YouTube. She just released a video of her “Top 13 Books of 2013”. This made the cut. You could also search her site for book reviews on both The Darkest Minds and Neverfade.

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

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Now when it came to this series, I was a bit “iffy” about it. At first, I didn’t know the same author of The Mortal Instruments series–Cassandra Clare–was the same author of this series. The covers would always catch my attention. I love anything Period Drama. Before getting out of my reading slump and falling in love with YA, I was and still am forever, a Jane Austen junkie. With that, comes a love for the Bronte sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Dickens, and pretty much, most of the Classics. So when you can find a way to bring my love for these eras AND YA together…I’m usually sold. Then I found out the author was the one who wrote The Mortal Instruments. I had been iffy about reading this series as well. I hadnt heard much about it until the movie began being promoted. I have to remember to stop judging the book by it’s movie. I was suggested to read them, so they’re on my TBR–the first two books thus far. Then I was told by a few avid readers, to read this series–Clockwork, The Infernal Devices series because it’s even better than TMI. Done. My curiosity was already itching, so that was all the confirmation I needed. I gifted myself with this new pretty covered book.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a time when Shadowhunters are barely winning the fight against the forces of darkness, one battle will change the course of history forever. Welcome to the Infernal Devices trilogy, a stunning and dangerous prequel to the New York Times bestselling Mortal Instruments series.

The year is 1878. Tessa Gray descends into London’s dark supernatural underworld in search of her missing brother. She soon discovers that her only allies are the demon-slaying Shadowhunters—including Will and Jem, the mysterious boys she is attracted to. Soon they find themselves up against the Pandemonium Club, a secret organization of vampires, demons, warlocks, and humans. Equipped with a magical army of unstoppable clockwork creatures, the Club is out to rule the British Empire, and only Tessa and her allies can stop them…

And this concludes my list of Christmas Books I received or bought myself…wow…let’s face it–I only received one book, the rest I bought myself *grins*

New Years is coming up! Hope everyone has a great, amazing, epic and safe end of the year, “kick it in the butt”, “kiss 2013 good and bye” hoopla!

*hugs the internet*

<3, D. Marie

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Catching Fire Movie After Book Impression

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The weekend Catching Fire came out, my twitter feed was blazing like twinkling lights on Christmas over the apparent epic awesomeness of this movie. This only made me itch with anticipation to see it. Movies have not been something I could afford to do lately so who knew (not me) when I’d finally be able to go see it. The days went on and more people saw it and spewed on Twitter how great it was *gnawing at nails*

Finally on my birthday, I was taken to see it. The wait was over. I was elated. During the entire movie, Vane and I were absolutely silent. We were focused. I laugh because, I knew the events happening due to the book but looking over at Vane, watching her focus and at times nervous, watching…it was priceless. She’s not a YA fan per say, which made her enjoyment of the movie more fulfilling for me. I love sharing YA goodness with others.

Now, remember my “Hunger Games Reading AFTER Watching the Movie Blog”? (click to venture over and read if you haven’t) I definitely did myself a favor by reading Catching Fire BEFORE watching the film. I learned my lesson after Hunger Games. First, to reiterate on my Catching Fire review, I LOVED Catching Fire. It still remains my favorite book of the series. After reading the book, the trailers and previews began popping up everywhere for the movie. My insides did jumping jacks every time because every moment on the trailers were from the book. I recognized each moment. As a reader, even more so as a YA reader, seeing a Director, Actor, Production company bring to life a world you escaped to and then to see them get it right, that’s a feeling that feels personal and fulfilling–a small accomplishment.

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This truly was the best Book to Movie Adaptation I have seen to date. Of course there were things that did not end up on the film but when I left that theater, looking back, I have no feeling of lack. I didn’t miss any particular thing they may not have incorporated. They incorporated the entire essence of the book. The two and a half hours–I didn’t even feel them. I could have stayed in there longer and not have known it was even three hours long.

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Casting was brilliant. The curve ball for me before watching the film, seeing the commercials I thought, “What is Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s role?” I didn’t know he was Plutarch. Everyone from the Capitol is so Capitol-esque–even the last Gamemaker, that his role being Plutarch NEVER crossed my mind. I was surprised to find out he was the new Gamemaker. Now, hello? He’s Phillip Seymour Hoffman and of course, he fit the role brilliantly. I actually prefer his version of Plutarch than the one in my head while reading.

Remember how I mentioned falling in love with Peeta during the second book? I had felt as though Peeta grew up in book 2, which made him more attractive, and made me root for him. Well, congrats Josh Hutchinson *claps* you brought that to the screen. I LOVED his portrayal of Peeta in this new season in their lives after the games.

Jena Malone as Johanna? Yes!

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And as always…Jennifer Lawrence–flawless. I truly could not picture any other actress pulling off this role of Katniss. I love how you see just in her eyes, her reactions, how and when Katniss is in love with Peeta. Her expressions give it away before she herself even knows it-admits it. I loved the Peeta and Katniss interactions.

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All in all, I give this movie as well as it’s book counterpart a

FIVE ***** OUT OF FIVE STARS!

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Mockingjay Book Review

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(Warning: There will be Spoilers)

Summed Up Impression: Sad, Shocked, Heartbreaking, Serious, Intense–all leaving me in the end = Heavyhearted.

Yes, this has taken me FOREVER to finally review and put out there. First, I must say I needed time to process this book. Then the holidays took over my life. Then I had to return and review the book, take notes, watch other book-tubers reviews (to refresh my memory on things/points I may have missed) and finally–here I am!

Here’s a funny thought I had: My feelings at the end of Mockingjay could have ended up being very different. I believe Allegiant saved my impression of the ending of this series. *chuckles* Those who read Mockingjay years ago when it first came out (2010 – 3 years before Allegiant was released) seem to have been slightly disappointed with it. Then again, it seem to be just like Allegiant‘s reactions–there were half pro-ending, half con-ending. Allegiant, to me beat out all crippling ending books by a landslide. That being so, I wasn’t mad at Suzanne Collins at the end of this series, but I was definitely heavyhearted about it.

So much to say but not sure how to say any of it…so bear with me–here goes:

From the beginning–chapter one–Katniss is visiting what is now the non-existent District 12 which was obliterated by the Capitol once the Quarter Quell Games began. Katniss takes a trip to see the remains, taking it all in alone. The end of Catching Fire, Gale tells a wounded Katniss as soon as she wakes up from unconsciousness that District 12 is gone. She goes to visit her old home, the one before becoming a Victor in the Games, and then to the Victor’s Village home where she finds a white rose, President Snow deliberately left to shake her. This symbol becomes a prominent element that haunts her till the very end. It’s so sad and impacts you reading her inner dialogue, her struggle, her mind tormented, traumatized by all the events that have taken place.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, she finds out Peeta–the boy she finally realizes she loves–has been captured by the Capitol, and Haymitch did not keep his promise. All along, keeping Katniss alive was the true mission because she is to become The Mockingjay for the District 13 Rebellion (dum, Dum, DUMMM!) This for a lack of a better term, PISSES HER OFF!

My heart was mourning Peeta’s lack just as much as Katniss’. More than half of the book and no Peeta–not really, if you count his brief TV appearances as him being around. I fell in love with Peeta in Book 2 and here we are Book 3 and there’s barely any Peeta–whoa! And don’t get me started on when he finally DOES show up…well, sure, get me started but let’s get into that in another paragraph or two from now.

Katniss finally and reluctantly accepts President Coin’s offer to be The Mockingjay–Gale’s encouraging–and her first connection with what it means to be this symbol happens in District 8–at the hospital with all the wounded who reach out for her–they’re broken, dieing–just the sight of her, give them hope. This scene touched me. Collins described the reality of war in this scene, leaving no gory detail behind. I was there with Katniss. I felt the heat, I could smell the stench, the rotting wounds, the metallic blood fogging the lack of air in that tent. It was an emotional scene. Then the freaking planes came to bomb it and I was feeling Katniss’ rage, and anger over this inhumane injustice. Here we meet the leader of District 8, Paylor, who is not afraid to face danger and kick some ass. (she ends up playing a big role in the ending)

President Snow…man, talk about a well written villain. There were parts in this book where he made my hairs stand on my arms. The way he was using Peeta. At first, you don’t fully understand what is going on with Peeta. You assume, logically they are threatening and torturing him to say the things he has said on air during his interviews with Caesar. Then…oh, THEN! Okay, let’s get into it now:

Peeta comes back!

“yay” Peeta has been rescued, Katniss is running to see him. I feel the anticipation, the need to jump into his arms, hug him, kiss him, cry with joy that he’s back…and then…HE FREAKING TRIES TO KILL KATNISS? What the hell just happened?!

I literally put the book down.

“Why? Why would Peeta do that? I don’t understand.” My heart stopped.

I mourned throughout the rest of this book at Peeta’s condition. He was brainwashed to hate Katniss and think she was a Capitol mutt. My heart broke. It broke more when they tried and tried and couldn’t fix him. The interactions between Katniss and Peeta when he was finally able to be calm in her presence–his cold, angry, sarcastic, resentful demeanor–it was so sad. I wanted to slap Katniss a few times here. Her defense mechanism was to become cold and hard in return. I was mad at how she was handling it. I knew she was hurt but it wasn’t helping. Gale was able to swoop right in and take advantage of this time.

In the end, he knew it…her heart was Peeta’s, no matter what he had become or was going through, she loved him. She tried moving on with Gale, but she couldn’t keep lying to her heart. She tried, but Gale called it.

I applaud Collins’ ARC for Gale. It was beautifully done. From the beginning, there were flickers of who he was and who he was growing to become. In Book 2, it was his moment to rise up and act upon years and years of conspiring hopes and plans. In Book 3, he rises to a certain level of authority (Which sways back and forth at times for coming to Katniss’ rescue or just taking her side on things). In the end, where Gale ended up made complete sense. It was well done.

This was a book about WAR, and every aspect of WAR, we most definitely got.

When you’re an adult reading these YA dystopian series, you forget sometimes that these are sixteen, seventeen year olds dealing with more than any teenager, or even adult should ever deal with in a lifetime. Katniss goes through SO MUCH, that for the ending, Katniss’ ARC was slow to come around…like…20 years later slow. (epilogue) Initially, it upset me but then I remembered that this was a poor seventeen year old who went through the pit beneath the deeper pit of hell and she did it for love and in the end, lost that love she sacrificed everything for. She was left in the wake of a brutal, beyond repair reality where nothing felt, or would ever be the same again. Almost as though, her difficult reality prior to volunteering for the Hunger Games was a better way to live than everything that followed that one choice.

There was a time I truly believed we would lose Peeta forever. There was no curing him. He wanted to be sacrificed, left behind, not trusting himself to go through one of his “Kill Katniss episodes”. My heart ached over this Peeta. He was broken apart and not put back together correctly. The boy of the bread, who grew into a man in Catching Fire, now stood before us, changed, altered beyond his will, with aspects of him gone.

By the time they all ventured out to get Snow on Katniss’ “fake” mission, I almost couldnt get through the rest of it. My heart was heavy and aching. So much death. One catastrophic obstacle and failure after another. When those damn mutated white lizard people who permeated of Snow’s white roses came into the scene, I was sick to my stomach for Katniss. Her torment and trauma as these things hissed her name, desiring her blood and killing ruthlessly anything and everyone in the process was disturbing. They had creep me out.

*HEAVY SIGH*

When Finnick died…it all went downhill from there for me. Poor Finnick. Finding out what they did to him all those years in the Capitol–he was a sex slave–threatening him to cooperate for his love, Anne’s sake–heartbreaking. After getting attached now to Finnick–him and Anne finally getting married, her pregnant with his baby–UGH! My heart needed a moment after Finnick died. Not Cool.

Then hell broke loose. Death everywhere. Chaos. Hopelessness.

AND THEN…After EVERYTHING this series based itself upon…PRIM…DIES…

Excuse me…I need a moment…

I mean, seriously! (moving on)

President Snow is captured, Katniss confronts him one last time, and she finds out Coin (who I never trusted) ordered the bombing where all the children and wounded were–that killed Prim.

Katniss kills Coin instead of Snow, gets put away, Snow coughs blood while laughing to death (literally, that’s how he dies) and Katniss is ostracized to the non-existent District 12 with Haymitch, while Paylor of District 8 becomes the new leader of Panem. (told ya, she had a bigger role in the end)

Yeah, that was a mouth-full.

One of the saddest chapters I have read (next to the last chapters of Four in Allegiant-UGH-stabbed in heart) are of Katniss’ PTS (Post-Traumatic-Stress disorder) as the book comes to it’s ending were heart-wrenching. She is withering away, mentally, and physically during this time. At this point of the book, I was freaking out. There wasn’t much of the book left. I was sitting in bed thinking,

“It can’t end like this! Where’s Peeta? It can NOT end like this? How in the world is she going to end this?”

I was yelling in my head,

“Come On! Not another freaking Allegiant!”

In the end, Peeta returns–mostly himself again. He comes with bushes of Primroses to plant. District 12 is being rebuilt and he stays patiently by her side. One day, Katniss describes a kiss with Peeta that felt like the one at the beach in Book 2, where she knew, she loved him. It was a kiss like no other that they had previously shared for the cameras. The last lines redeemed all the trauma for me…hmm, well, redeem is too much of a hopeful, fulfilled word…it helped ease the trauma and ache enough to accept it, is more like it.

I did love this:

What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that.

So after, when he whispers, “You love me. Real or not real?”

I tell him, “Real.”

I welled up a bit just now reading those last lines. That was beautifully done. The elements, the “Talisman” symbols she incorporated in those last few sentences, bringing back things, moments of all three books was well done Collins. (i.e. The dandelion, “real or not real” game, etc.) Then the epilogue made me sad again. Twenty years later, and still, Katniss has episodes of PTS and Peeta still suffers moments of rising episodes from the brainwashing of the Capitol. It’s sweet they have children and are still together and love one another, but in the end, the book leaves you heavyhearted.

I applaud Collins for demonstrating truth and reality of war, and then added the element of teenagers being thrust into the realities of this war to give you a bigger kick in the gut. You felt it, and I assume it’s what she desired to accomplish. I am grateful to her for not pulling off a Veronica Roth (sorry VRoth, I love you and you were my favorite YA author and your first two books were my favorite all time YA books…until Allegiant) and at least, in the midst of all that sad heaviness, giving our MC a glimmer of hope to hold onto…Peeta’s renewing spirit that helps her go on.

I loved this series. I can’t believe it took me so long to get to reading it.

I continue to stand by, that for me, personally, Catching Fire is my favorite of the three. Mockingjay was intense, and difficult to process in the end, but I didn’t dislike it.

For me, Mockingjay gets a:

Four **** out of Five Stars

Well folks, there it is. I had not planned on this being so long–my apologies. Would love to know what you all thought of Mockingjay. I am extremely excited for Part 1 & 2 of the movie. Sucks to wait another year for the official finale of it all but after seeing what they did with Catching Fire (HA-MAZING), I am definitely eager to see this final installment of the series through Film!

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Happy Reading all!

<3, D. Marie

Uncategorized

Birthday, Laptop, Christmas Party, Oh My!

It’s Here!

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“Isn’t it lovely? Isn’t it beautiful?”

Six months…six LONG months of waiting, wishing, and hoping. Months of attempting to save, pick up an extra part time which then failed. Six months of finding other means to continue writing, missing the long nights in bed on a laptop, or going to a coffee shop, sitting down and writing for hours…Six months and it finally happened! As my birthday/Christmas present, I was given a brand new LAPTOP!

Vane named him “Black Stallion”. It’s very sleek and black. It came with the new Windows 8 which is bizarre and at times a pain in the butt to become accustomed to. I’m not entirely fond of it, but like with everything else regarding technology especially, I’ll get the hang of things with time. I had posted the picture above on Instagram. It had been so long and felt even longer since I was able to sit on my bed, all cozy, leaning back on pillows with a laptop on my lap to write. I was just not meant to write at a desk all the time. I believe I’m more of a 80% cozy spot writer-20% desk writer.

Here’s My Update:

I have felt M.I.A lately but I am sure, you all as well have been busy with this holiday season. It’s incredible that Christmas is already 3 days away. I’m still processing 2013, so this whole “Oh, it’s Christmas time and 2014 will be here in a week and a half” kind of freaks me out.

I’m sure I dont need to go into how excited I am about having a laptop again. My own computer where I can keep my private data, and the freedom to write again. I’m excited as well because I feel I will be able to be more efficient and productive now–New Year Goal!

My Birthday:

I was due on Christmas but came a week early. I love this time of year–usually. This year, it has not felt like the holidays at all. This year was the big 3-0. Let’s just say, I was NOT eager for this day to come. Honestly, I wanted to skip it and pretend it did not exist. My family, of course, was not having it and so, on went the celebration.

I’m grateful for one of my bestie’s in town who knew exactly what I needed that day. In the morning I was surprised by a good friend who arrived with my favorite coffee and a ginormous birthday balloon!

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As I was getting ready, the in-town bestie kidnapped me and took me to lunch.

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We went to what I have always called Bahama Mama.

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bday drink 2013I had a yummy Pineapple-Coconut Martini.

After lunch I was surprised and taken to the movies. Now, I know to most this may seem minimal and a normal weekend occurrence for you and your fam & friends, but to me, the movies have been a luxury I have not been able to indulge in. It had been forever since I’d been to a movie at the theater. More importantly, I had yet to see Catching Fire.

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So, to Catching Fire we went! At first, the next showing was too late so we decided on Thor 2 which I also really wanted to see. Then Vane said, “Let’s do both back to back”. Done! Thor was first and then Catching Fire.

My day was already made. I’m a simple old fashion gal. Movies, Books, & Coffee. That pretty much sums it up.

The evening ended with Coffee venture then surprise dinner and cake at home. It was a great day and I only had a brief reality about turning 30 freak out-breathe into a paper bag-moment. Not bad.

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Once in pjs, all cozy sorting through gifts, my day ended with some major fangirling! It was a great birthday.

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Divergent movie clip! Heck to the yes! Four and Tris Tattoo, Kiss scene! Oh, and I saw the Divergent Trailer in the theater for the first time during Catching Fire…HA-mazing! Sometimes, anything new released about Divergent is too much to handle because I instantly become impatient and want it to be March already!

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After fangirling, I caught up with Epic Reads Book Cheer episode that was going on while I was watching Catching Fire. I was trying to still participate by randomly tweeting and hashtagging, wishing I was watching live. It was both hilarious and dramatic as my phone was dieing during my attempt and the previews were almost over, Catching Fire was about to start any second. It didn’t work (haha) but it was fun watching the episode as the finale event of my birthday.

YA Community Moment:

bookstore ya grove

The coolest and cutest thing happened. I was Christmas shopping the next day and went to visit my old bookstore. (sad update: I’ll explain later-I no longer work at the bookstore but continue to stay connected with them) I was looking through the YA section and while there, a young lady (stranger) came and cheerfully said “hello”. Next thing you know, we spent 20 minutes talking about books, series, Allegiant emo feels, recommendations, etc. You would have thought we had known each other for some time.

It reminded me what I love about the YA community. There is this wonderful connection we all have. We can come together–complete strangers–and suddenly; instantly connect, bond and remember, we’re not alone on this crazy fangirling/fanboying lifestyle. All ages, personalities, suddenly connect on a deep, personal level because of stories/books! It was hilarious and awesome.

Christmas Parties:

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I love my extended family. Today was an ugly sweater Christmas party at my niece and nephew’s house. The ugly sweaters didn’t end up making an appearance but the night was epic! We had a feast, dessert, gaming time (Beyond 2 Souls), the men played Dominos, we sang, we danced, kids opened presents and we conquered the night.

I love my family and am grateful to all be together this year to celebrate the season.

Sama and moi Christmas 2013

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kids christmas 2013

Final Thoughts:

I hope everyone is having and will continue to have a wonderful Holiday Season. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of writing. Now that I have my own space and tool again, it’s time to get back on the bandwagon. I’m sure the next 2 weeks will be hectic with the Holidays but once 2014 comes along, I have plans to be more consistent on Book Reviews, and finishing my synopsis to start my new draft.

I’ll be writing my review–finally–on Mockingjay next as well as my impression of Catching Fire film. (stay tuned).

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

<3, D. Marie

Uncategorized

Back in the Game: Writing

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FOLKS!

Tis the Season to by Jolly…or so they say. Let me tell ya, it’s been one bu-humbug beginning of the holiday season for me and my family. First of all, this year–uh Hi, yeah, where the heck did 2013 go? I have NEVER experienced a year fly by as this one has. I’ve been in denial and pure bewilderment of how the months have flown by. Thanksgiving came, and my family didn’t even prep for it till the day before. It didn’t feel like a holiday. We were so confused. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m that annoying girl who is blasting Christmas music November 1st. I’m the girl humming and singing Christmas tunes ALL. FREAKING. DAY. Christmas decor and spirit full swing because it’s my favorite time of year. I live for this time. We have Thanksgiving, then my Birthday, then Christmas, then New Years! It’s the best two months ever…and yet…I felt…NOTHING.

The Christmas Elf had not stuck me in the butt with a Christmas Spirit candy cane and it was beginning to worry me…then upset me. My worst fear was that the season would come and go and come January, BAM! the holiday spirit would hit me…when it would be TOO LATE.

*breathes dramatically into paper bag*

Well folks, no worries cause it finally happened! Christmas Elf poked me in the buttocks and I blame happily CMA Country Christmas Special on ABC. I woke up, fixed myself some breakfast and coffee–of course–and put on the rerun of the Special. I got happy, and sappy, and emotional, and full of cheer! Our home on Sunday had my mother’s friends–the decorating brigade–come over and deck the house. Our tree came, was dressed and other holiday trinkets filled the house in lights and green, white, and gold. I spent the day making homemade Christmas cards and mistletoe ornaments and for the first time all season, the Holiday music finally went on.

So, hey! I’ve missed you all! It’s been crazy since Thanksgiving. I received that weekend my Epic Reads book bundle from their Thanksgiving Giveaway!445f2aa45b7511e39fcf12ec3b121d3d_8

I had never heard of this series or author, but since it was my girls from Epic Reads recommendation, I figured it should be good. It’s the CRASH series by Nicole Williams. Um, so first, let me say…I thought this was just some little YA obviously romantic book…what I wasn’t expecting…a steamy, sessy (on purpose slurred the word sexy) “YA” (I would say New Adult) romance novel. I picked it up curious because I was in the mood for a light, no big world-building read. I wanted something I would just fly through and have fun reading for the weekend. So I put down my dystopian/fantasy lovelies for the weekend and picked this up. Hot Dang, yes it was steamy but let me tell ya, I. LOVE. JUDE. AND. LUCE. I was immediately SUCKED into their journey. They’re relationship–mylanta was a rollercoaster of events and emotions and I just could NOT put it down. I read the first two books in one day…then I found out there was a THIRD!

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Hello Kindle purchase. Read that one and finished it the next day. I loved  following these two through 4 years–from high school, to college, to after college–and the epilogue! It truly was the best, most satisfying Epilogue I have ever read. You closed the book, after the last page, of the last book and smiled cause it was just so darn cute how it ended. (no spoilers here)

This is definitely not for the kiddies (I would say). It was a fun read, I loved them. Talk about a book hangover. I loved Jude, but would and could never date someone like him. Too much drama, temper issues and overprotective but it worked for Luce. They worked dysfunctional and beautifully together. *chuckles*

Oh, can we mention for a second how cute the *book shimmy* tote is? Right now I’m using it to haul around my writing tools.

Speaking of which…let’s get to the subject at hand…

Back in the Game: Writing

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Remember that I went to Lauren Oliver’s Writing Workshop at my town’s book fair? No? Well, I did and it was amazing! Since then, Thanksgiving came and things got crazy. I felt motivated but also overwhelmed by my new draft concept. I had much brainstorming/outlining research to incorporate now that I had access to all this new shiny guidance into writing but I think it felt too big to chew. So what does Des do…what she does best–plugs her ears with her pointer fingers pretending the world could go on pause. But it never does. The world keeps living, moving and next thing you know, you’ve stuck yourself in time, wasting time because life didn’t pause, giving you a time out.

2 weeks guys…Two. Weeks. I let time and little inconveninces hold me back. Some of you know about my laptop betraying me–turning all mal-func-tiono on me. I have needed a new laptop since July. Luckily, my mother’s office has a special but functioning-well-enough desktop I borrow from time to time when she’s not working at it. My iPad has been at least helpful for menial tasks but my writing style and comfort can’t deal with the mini keyboards made for nimble Tinker Bell fingers these iPads sync with. I’ve tried writing on it but I type so fast that on those, I am constantly making mistakes which drive me insane! Anyway–apologies for the complaining–I am grateful to have even what I do have, there are many without more important necessities.

So, as you see–procrastinating excuses that I allowed to come and waste time. I was getting discouraged but took the time to read. On my first draft, I had tackled hours and days at a time writing, that books took a back seat for a few months. I was able to take advantage of this time to catch up on some reading. I have so many books in my TBR (to-be-read) that I am itching to read! I wish I was a faster reader, dang it!

Yesterday I stumbled on Kami Garcia’s website and blog. She had some GREAT posts about her writing days–what they look like, what she does, what tools or resources she uses and that little girl (me) who LOVES school/office supplies beamed with excitement and organizational ideas.

http://www.kamigarcia.com/what-writers-do-all-day-2/

kami garcias writing bin

During my first draft, I attempted being a pantser–writing by the seat of my pants…just diving in with basic outline and letting it come as it would. Now, it’s not that it was a TERRIBLE outcome but the reason I had to completely change my concept was because the ending was not going to work. It never had an ending–not one that effectively worked. Now, of course, I didn’t find out about this till, Oh I dont know, word count 67,000–right as I was finishing the first draft completely. I could have avoided the mourning and pain if I would have figured out the important details from the beginning, way before tackling chapter one. Now, other authors dont need detailed planning, they write like the wind and it all works out. Apparently, I’m not one of them. Good to know.

The last two months, I’ve been on a research binge. I’ve rummaged through Jodi Meadows blog and tips on writing (Which was amazing) then I went to Lauren Oliver‘s workshop (Oh, yeah–also Ha-mazing), and recently Kami Garcia (co-author of Beautiful Creatures series and the recently released Unbreakable) gave me the spark I needed to jump back in.

I was determined. What I loved was seeing an author, who has published multiple books, still using as a part of her writing routine, books on writing & plotting. The learning never stops. Thats awesome. She mentioned two books. I tweeted her and asked which should I get first. She recommended this one:

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I went to Barnes and Nobles but they failed me and didn’t have any of the Writing books I wanted. Their Writing resource section kind of sucked, sadly. So amazon.com it is!

After that, I went to the Dollar Store, because let’s face it, theDollar Store is your friend! I love it. I wanted to get a couple writing notebooks specifically for each book I’m writing and some organizational items. Books, Coffee, and Office Supplies are my weakness! I’m easy to pleased *grin*

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I got myself a couple composition notebooks, pens, a small Notepad to carry around with me when ideas strick, a portable book light, crayons and sharpeners. What I also appreciated about Kami Garcia was how she shared her visual inspiration board method. I am a very visual person. I typically search the internet for hours, looking for images of fashion, people, locations, etc. that seem to inspire my story. I bring some of them up and organize them like a collage on one side of my screen when writing. All that to say, the crayons and sharpener was for that.

Already, I had to personalize the first composition notebook to match the theme of Book one.

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I get all nerdy and excited, doing projects like this. This sucker’s gonna get stuffed and written all over!

My nocturnal nature would not be denied. I got inspired at eight o’clock at night–went, did my errands and returned home by ten o’clock. That’s when the research continued. I stumbled upon a book vlogger on YouTube, who I follow–she posted a video explaining a Writing/Plotting Outline method she learned. The video was clear and very useful.

3 Acts : 9 Blocks : 27 Chapters Outline


Come one in the morning, I collected my goodies and found the coziest, dreamy spot to start my writing journey again…In front of my lit up tree!

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2013-12-05 15.21.58 Had me some English Breakfast tea with a touch of honey. Gathered my writing notebook that I’ve been jotting everything down in the last two months. I had all of my Lauren Oliver notes in there as well as Jodi Meadows research notes.

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2013-12-05 15.23.08Through Kami Garcia, I found out about this thing called a “beat sheet”. Before detailed outlining, a beat sheet helps you simply jot down bullet points of your story. Answer the major question without needing to know the details yet. Gives the skeleton it’s beginning building blocks leading to outlining. The Kami Garcia link I posted above has the links to where I found PDF’s and details on what a beat sheet is and does.

It’s a great feeling to find your stride again. Pumped to begin tackling my new concept and draft. I miss my two MC’s (main characters). I need to live in their world. Crossing my fingers that Santa brings me a laptop this Christmas.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Holiday season. Hope everyone’s Hanukkah was blessed and wonderful and everyone’s Christmas and New Year’s is amazing. May 2014 treat many of us much better than 2013 treated some of us. I got beat up by 2013. 2013 is my nemesis and I’m glad to see it go, though again, still freaking out–it flew by too quickly. I barely got a chance to blink and catch my breath.

Congrats to all the NanoWriMo folks who tackled those novels. Whether you reached your goal or not, it never takes away from the experience which is always beneficial. Practice makes perfect.

What is everyone reading this season?

I still haven’t finished Mockingjay…don’t shoot me! I don’t know why it’s taking me forever to finish that darn book. I want to know how this whole series ends already! As soon as I do, I will post my review.

Anyone watching the LIVE special on NBC of The Sound of Music? I’m such a theatre geek! My family invited me over for dinner and event watching.

Have a great evening everyone! *hugs*

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