Of Art and Wonders, Of Bookish Things

Book Review~ The Daily Life of Hailey Grace (Blog Tour)

Hey, all! Today I’m doing a book review on The Daily Life of Hailey Grace by Beloved as part of the blog tour for her book (details below). Read on for my opinions on this novel!

*Note: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  For Hailey Grace, birthdays suck! She hopes with all her heart that her big day passes without gifts, or even a birthday wish. But with loving parents and two witty best friends who keep her on her toes, there’s no telling what adventure Hailey Grace will be forced to explore this time. Unexpectedly, her best friend Alex challenges her to do something she’s never done before. With that comes a whole new set of rules, and another life Hailey isn’t sure she’s quite ready for. Now questioning all that she has ever believed, she takes Alex up on the dare by asking for something that no one but God can give her. Her request also comes with a twenty-four-hour deadline. As the minutes slowly but surely tick by, Hailey’s life shifts into overdrive and she wonders if she has asked for too much too soon.

MY REVIEW

This was a very unique and interesting read! I’m not sure how to properly convey my opinions on what happened during most of the story, as it may or may not be considered spoilers, so I’ll try to focus on what I can.

The story follows Hailey Grace, a girl who’s just turned thirteen years old and really hates birthdays. When she accepts a dare from a friend, her life flips completely upside-down… and she begins to question everything.

I did quite enjoy reading this book. It was set on a gorgeous beach island, a part which I particularly liked! There were several storylines that fit in together and, in my personal opinion, were done very smoothly. And… this book was written in third-person omniscient. You know what that means. 😉

The characters were all unique and pretty fun to read about. While I sometimes found Hailey’s actions a touch immature for her age, as the story progressed she matured quickly (for reasons which I shall not impart). Summer was a nice character, if a tad undeveloped, but she falls second to Alex so that was fine with me. I have to commend the author for creating such a lively relationship between Hailey and her family– it’s uncommon for a character to show such close-knit relationships with both parents. My favorite character was probably Alex. ;P His friendship with Hailey was just so sweet. ❤

Now for your information, when I reached the point where Hailey found out what her “birthday gift” was, I was all like, “Oh, really? Cool, whatever… WAIT, WHAT?!” And then I had to mentally backtrack through all that I’d read so far, and then I had to sit there and stare into outer space for about a whole minute before I continued reading. It was… man, it was intense. *Shakes head at self* So, yeah. If you’re thinking about checking this book out, just remember Merie’s bewildered reaction to it.

Personally, I felt that the writing style was a tad bit simpler that I’d like. I would say that the writing would be targeted for a younger audience. Pre-teens? (I really don’t know, since both my and my sister’s reading preferences are really, really confused.)

Lastly, the author did incorporate God into the story! Although I definitely would have preferred a little more explanation on how everything in the storyworld worked out and tied in together, I certainly appreciated it. Even if it was definitely something I did not expect. *Shakes head at self again*

It was a rather quick read that I breezed through in one afternoon, a short novel. It is not your average Christian contemporary, that’s for sure! 😉



There’s a giveaway running for an autographed copy of The Daily Life of Hailey Grace. There will be three winners, of which one Grand Prize Winner will also receive a $10 Amazon gift card!

~ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE~


That’s all for today! Hope you enjoyed my book review!

Until next time,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Bookish Things

Book Review~ Dandelion Dust

Hello, folksies! (I’ve just discovered my nickname for you people. I’m calling you little folksies! I love Redwall) Today I am doing a book review on the novella Dandelion Dust by Faith L. Potts!

*Please note: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own.*


Like a speck of dandelion dust riding the tides of a prairie wind, life is fleeting. Though I never realized just how fragile it was until that day…

Charity always had a dream. It was simple, really. Find a guy, fall in love, and get married.
The day she met Ryder, Charity knew he was the man God had chosen for her. But she never expected their relationship to be tested and tried through the fires of a freak accident. Suddenly, her world is thrown into chaos, and the bleak, white walls and sterile smells of a city hospital fill every spare minute. And then there comes the dreaded news. It was likely Ryder would never make it out of the hospital bed.
As her carefully laid plans for the future come crashing down around her and the sun seems to set on her dreams, can Charity still find hope in the dark of night?

Like a dandelion, life is beautiful. But treasure every moment…. for one day, the flower will be gone.

My Review

Wow.

Dandelion Dust is one story I will not forget. It’s a story of learning life’s most difficult and beautiful lessons through the hardships of life. It’s about love, and friendship, and family. It’s about courage and strength and resilience. It’s about hope, and most of all, it’s about faith in God’s plan, faith that His plan is the best for all of us.

This was a novella, something close to a short novel, but it was still full of the message within. I love Faith’s writing style– it’s first person, present tense, which I tend to dislike, but the way she presented it eased me into the writing and I got accustomed to it. She portrayed the setting, the characters, the emotions, very well and very smoothly, so that it felt real and true. It was as though I could feel Charity’s pain, or her worry or frustration or relief or her joy. The book started out beautifully and ended just as beautifully. The relationship between Charity and Ryder was so, so sweet and heartbreaking and gorgeous and I… it was just great, okay?

Though I fully enjoyed reading this sweet novella, I can’t exactly give it a five star rating because for some reason, partway into it, when I stopped reading for just a moment, I couldn’t get back to it as easily. I’m not sure if that was a real issue or my problem with put-down-ability in books (I believe I had a reading slump affecting me at that time), so I’ll just leave it at that. 😉

All in all, Dandelion Dust was amazing! I definitely enjoyed reading it. ❤ The characters were all so precious, and the message was awesome and fantastically done. It’s certainly a read worth your time!!


So that’s my review! And now, my dear folksies, I must exit. I have books to get to. I haven’t written a single word in my novel for this entire WEEK. I can’t believe myself (this may or may not have been caused by the shortage of pens in our household. I cannot write properly without ink). So, see you around! 😉

Until next time,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Art and Wonders, Of Reflections and Observations, Of Words and Writing

Snow White~ Snow, Blood, and Ebony

The Brothers Grimm, “Little Snow-White”

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Who in this land is fairest of all?”

The brothers grimm, “Little Snow-White”

Howdy! Who’s excited for this post?

Today I bring to you one of the long-awaited Real Fairytale posts! And our very first fairytale is the famous and beloved Snow White… 

… Actually, a lot of fairytale geeks hate Snow White. I don’t know why. It’s only as ridiculous as most other fairytales are, so what’s with all the animosity? What did Snow White ever do to you, people? She’s like seven!

Yes, little folksies. The original Grimm gal was seven years old when she fled the wicked queen’s castle. Here’s to hoping she actually aged some in that glass coffin of hers, or that would be… weird…

Now, we all know that Snow White is a story with morals tucked deep inside. Deep inside. So, before we begin, I’d like you all to take a moment, close your eyes, and ruthlessly shove Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs out of your mind. (It’s bad influence, guys, when we’re talking about the Grimm version.)

Got it? Good. Let’s go.

To begin, Grimm’s “Little Snow-White” is not the only version of the fairytale (obviously, since the Grimm brothers wrote down all these stories from the old tales they collected). I find comfort in that thought, mostly because in that one Snow White is literally age seven (Disney’s movie adaptation doubled the number to fourteen, though). Additionally, there exists a Russian rendition of Snow White. In this version, the seven dwarfs are not dwarfs but are Russian knights– “Bogatyr.” And you will find that in the Russian version– called “The Tale of the Dead Tsarina and the Seven Bogatyr”— the princess and the prince are actually engaged before the whole poisoned-apple fiasco. And Prince Yelisei goes searching for his lost fiancée and believe it or not, the princess was a faithful soul and gently turned the seven knights down when they confessed to all be in love with her, explaining that her heart was pledged to another.

“Tell me, pretty looking-glass,

Nothing but the truth, I ask:

Who in all the world is fairest

And has beauty of the rarest?”

Aleksander Pushkin, “The Tale of the Dead tsarina and the seven knights”

In both versions, the wicked queen is the evil antagonist, a sentient mirror gives away her stepdaughter’s whereabouts, and a prince comes riding in to save the day. Well, sort of, since in the Grimm version the prince was a total jerk and asked the seven dwarfs to sell Snow White’s body to him.

Yeah, like what the heck?

In the Russian version, Yelisei finds the princess’s dead body in a crystal coffin in a cave where he was brought by the wind, after he had asked the sun and the moon as well. Notice I said dead body. That means this girl is dead– not napping, not comatose, dead. So Yelisei, having lost all his good sense upon seeing his betrothed lying lifeless, throws himself upon the coffin, which then breaks and wakes the princess. Because guys, that’s how fairytales work, okay?

Now we know that they always live happily ever after. But guess which part Disney left out… (and by the way, you should thank him, because this part is rather disturbing and really weird.)

Basically, the Grimm’s version of the story ends on a grim note: the wicked queen attends Snow White’s wedding– oh, yes, Prince Not-So-Charming did propose to her as soon as she woke– and then is so horrified upon seeing her stepdaughter alive that she stands stock-still. And then they– “they” probably referring to Snow White and her prince– demonstrate their ultimate benevolence and mercy by putting her in a pair of red-hot iron shoes and forcing her to dance until she “fell down dead.”

… So I suppose that I do understand why fairytale geeks hate “Little Snow-White” so.

I honestly think I prefer the Russian version.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the Snow White morals! By now you’re probably thinking, “Ugh, does this story really have any good stuff?” Actually, I’ll be easy on you and focus on the Russian version.

Snow White’s story teaches us a number of things. And no, I’m not talking about manipulative psychology or mental disorder. And yes, I know both of those occur a lot in fairytales, but all I can say is deal with it. Here are some things I have seen while studying the Snow White fairytale– with which you are free to disagree:

  1. True love’s kiss never happened in the original fairytales. *Gasp* *Shock* *Amazement*
  2. Prince Yelisei must be the son of the protagonist of East of the Sun, West of the Moon or something like.
  3. Vanity and jealousy are some really powerful emotions.
  4. The whole “Mirror, Mirror on the wall” quote was kind of switched up and confused.
  5. From Pushkin’s Russian story, Snow White showed both loyalty to her betrothed as well as gentleness to the bogatyr by explaining to them that while she loved them as her brothers, she would not be unfaithful to the prince. And the seven bogatyr responded perfectly well and they were just fine.
  6. Prince Yelisei persevered through all his troubles! I know this sounds cheesy, but how many times must we all be told not to give up on our life quests? How much we could have done before, if not for the dark voice in our heads that insists we back away. (Indeed, how many great writers there could have been to this day if not for their own insecurities… Learn the lesson, folksies. Just do.)
  7. It’s really interesting to see the tale of Snow White in rhyme.

When one thinks of the tale of Snow White, one usually thinks of the consequences of vanity and jealousy. (Truly that idea is magnified when one considers that Grimm’s Snow-White was seven years old. Pish tush, lady, bad form, wot!) I’ve always thought that the most curious character in all the story is the Magic Mirror. When you think about it, it seems as though this looking-glass was the cause of a lot of problems in this story. As if its being sentient wasn’t creepy enough… not that any of us aren’t used to it…

Thomas Wolfe once said: “The surest cure for vanity is loneliness.” What would the fairytale be like if the Wicked Queen didn’t have that mirror? We know that the huntsman turned on her, and I imagine that the people of the kingdom weren’t big fans of her either. The mirror only added to her biggest problem– vanity. Vanity is such a strange thing. In the book of Ecclesiastes, vanity is mentioned a lot, as you have probably noticed. If any of you ever decide to write a Snow White fairytale retelling (like me) you should do an in-depth study of vanity as well. I’m serious.

Anyway, I can already see this post getting long, so I’ll end it on this note: HERE IS A LIST OF SUPER-AWESOME SNOW WHITE RETELLINGS THAT YOU SHOULD READ IF YOU ENJOY FAIRYTALE RETELLINGS. Sorry guys, I just couldn’t resist the temptation. 😉 (And by the way, these aren’t listed in any order of preference… these are just Snow White retellings that I have read or want to read or have heard good things about.) After all, it’s winter. Winter is the perfect time for this fairytale.

  • Mirrors and Pearls by Lea Doue (this one is on my list of books I plan to read during vacation)
  • Winter by Marissa Meyer (it’s the fourth book of the Lunar Chronicles, and by the way you can’t really read it without reading the other three, but even though I’ve read only the first two I know the series is awesome)
  • A Dream of Ebony and White by Melanie Cellier (also part of a series, but it’s a standalone retelling and Ms. Cellier’s writing is splendid)
  • Snow White by KM Shea (also part of a series, but I love Kitty’s spin on the fairytale!)
  • Winter Cursed by Nicki Chapelway (you can see my review of the novella here)
  • Daughter of Lies by Kenley Davidson (okay, so I’ve never read it and have no real intention of doing so, but I’ve heard good things about it and it’s a retelling? So)
  • The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson (uh, it’s a Melanie Dickerson retelling. No more needs to be said)
  • Five Poisoned Apples: a Collection of Snow White Stories (I haven’t read this one yet, but I plan to soon, and anyway everyone else is saying how amazing it is)

Aaaaaannnd that’s all I have for y’all today. I hope you enjoyed this post, even though it’s not quite how I planned for a normal Fairytale post to go (what can I say? Snow White is no ordinary fairytale!). Comment below to tell me what you think of it (or if you think I need to add more on the morals and deep thinking! I don’t know what to do! 😉 ). In the meantime, I’ll be trudging my way through a week of stressful studies ’till vacation and I meet.

Until then,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Bookish Things

Book Review~ Blank Mastermind

Hello, folks! I’m very excited to be finally, FINALLY, putting up this review… for the one and only Blank Mastermind by Rosey Mucklestone!

~Please wait while I fangirl~

Okay, anyway, let’s get this review started, before I get too distracted. 😉

*Note: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required. All opinions expressed are my own. Really, they are.*

Amnesia is annoying. The poor hero has to find out everything about his wonderful life again and re-meet all the lovely people he knew before, then go to stop the villain.But what if the life that starts showing itself isn’t wonderful, the people aren’t lovely and the villain is… yourself?

My Review

I give it one million stars out of five.

Blank Mastermind is seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’m not a huge fan of superhero stories or stories about amnesia, but it didn’t matter because this book was AWESOME. The best thing I can state in this review is GO READ IT NOW. But since that’s unlikely to convince you, I suppose I might as well explain why.

This novel is written in first-person, past-tense, which was just fine with me but you might as well know. It’s generally a widely-known fact that the best way to reveal a character’s sarcastic humor is to get inside his head. Well, Rosey Mucklestone did that– and believe me, his head is not a boring place. She could fill a book with the internal ramblings of Wolfgang Dankworth… (who by the way is the most amazing guy EVER). I spent a good deal of my time reading chuckling.

The characters are all so precious and lovable. Of course there’s Wolfgang, probably my favorite hero of 2018, and his ridiculously villainous name and his epic cluelessness. Dallas was a great character too, as was Amazing Man (I beg your pardon but I crack up every time I hear that pseudonym). Bad News, Liza, Cardboard, and the rest of the gang were cool too. Also Lucius. ❤ ❤ ❤

Now despite what I’ve said about the humor and the characters and such, this book is definitely not a light and fluffy summer read. It deals with a lot of serious topics, but very gently and slowly, and it doesn’t seem out of place at all. After all, this book is about a villain who has amnesia and can’t remember what he was trying to do– nor why he wanted to. Some parts of this story broke my heart… and then other parts knitted it back together. Some parts are hilarious, but others brought tears to my eyes. Don’t be fooled by the humor; this story is one of redemption and realization and it was certainly very touching.

Content-wise, it was fine. Prayers were scattered throughout (mostly not by the protagonist at first, of course), and I loved that the author wove in a Christian theme to the story. Swearing is mentioned but is kept mild and shown in a negative light. There was violence and blood, but not described or gory or beyond tolerance. I commend the author for keeping it clean!

So… if you like a good book, read this. It was so beautiful. Here I am, wanting to tell everyone I know to read it and sulking because most of the people I know can’t read it in English. (Why is it so difficult to translate books??!) Anyway, I loved this book and you people need to have Wolfgang Dankworth in your lives. So there.


And that’s my review! Hope the ramblings were worth it… 😛

And now, I cry (well, not really, but you know what I mean) because next week I go back to school. (Although it’s not really that bad, considering the fact that there are only two and a half weeks between “winter break” and “spring break.” We still have to keep up with Chinese tradition… *adoration for Chinese tradition because vacations*

This Wednesday I hope to get up a Real Fairytale post! 😉

But until then,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Art and Wonders, Of Rainy Days

Guest Post by Kellyn Roth~ On Your Own: Challenges and Rewards of Indie Publishing (Reveries Co. Launch)

Hi, friends (and stalkers alike)! Today I have a guest post written by Kellyn Roth of Reveries, who has just launched Reveries Co., a publishing company (!), co-founded by Angela R. Watts. Keep reading for some interesting facts about the world of independent publishing.


Hi y’all! Kellyn Roth here. I’m an indie published author, and as such, I’ve done a lot of research into the pros and cons of self-publishing.

Now, I don’t want to bash traditional publishing. But I do want to let y’all know that being independently published is a choice and a good one at that!

What is indie publishing?

Indie publishing is when an author publishes through a print-on-demand/ebook supply service like Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, or (until recently) Createspace without a publishing company.

This means the author is in control of every aspect of the publishing process.

Indie vs. Self?

Self-publishing and indie or independent publishing are synonyms. They mean the same thing. I usually use indie, though, as it has less of a negative stigma.

Which brings me to the first challenge of indie publishing … said negative stigma!

People believe indie books are unprofessional.

I’ve heard everything—those who self-publish are making a last ditch effort to get out their terrible books, they’re never edited, they’re inferior in every way to traditionally published books.

This, of course, is untrue, but it nonetheless makes it hard to sale books.

The flipside is this: you get to overcome that stigma!

Indie authors get a fun job; they get to break the low expectations surrounding them. So I do my best to get a beautiful cover, an amazing editor, and study the craft as best I can to get my books out there and show people that indie books can indeed be amazing.

Challenge #2 …

You give up all marketing help and backing from a big name company.

If you’re published by Thomas-Nelson or Baker House, then obviously you’ve got a lot more behind you. In fact, when indie publishing, you start out with practically nothing as far as a platform goes.

In addition, when traditionally publishing, you get paid instead of shelling out cash for book cover design, editing, etc.

However …

With Indie Publishing Comes Independence

No one can tell you how to write your book, what decisions to make during rewrites and edits, who to hire for editing, cover design, and other services, when you publish it, and how you promote it. It gives you a freedom that traditional publishing never will.

In addition, indie publishers get a bigger slice of their royalties. If you can sell enough copies, you stand to make a considerable sum!

But even with these pros, isn’t it possible that indie publishing will always be the little brother of big publishing houses, never truly succeeding and never gaining any credibility?

I don’t think so!

Indie publishing is on the rise.

Most authors don’t publish independently because they’re desperate or because their books aren’t good. No, there are more and more writers moving away from traditional publishing all the time.

Why? The main reasons are the freedom and finances.

The higher royalties are tempting, and with the internet, it’s getting easier and easier to reach readers through social media, blogs, and email lists.

In addition, indie publishing is a great way to get your voice heard and your book out even if you opinion isn’t popular or your book doesn’t necessarily fit into any one genre (though that will make it harder to sale regardless).

But what’s my number one tip for those considering indie publishing?

Take it seriously! Indie publishing is a business, and you have to be professional.

I’m going to sound like I’m selling my services, which is not my intent, but it’s important to get at least a professional book cover designer and editor, and there are many other services that can help you succeed, too!

Though there are many people who write amazing books and publish them as well as any traditional publishing company, there are also people who … don’t.

I’ve read books that I had to put down halfway through due to all the errors. There are book covers out there that have made me flinch. There are so many people who publish their first book (and, trust me, you should never publish your first book) with very little regard to the poor readers’ eyes if someone should actually pick it up.

These types of people give a bad name to indie publishing, I’m sorry to say.

However, it can be done well—but oftentimes a bit of help is needed, which is my primary reason for starting Reveries Co. … to help indie authors succeed (though, of course, we’re more than willing to work with traditional publishers, too!).

Thanks for reading my post!

~Kell~


ARE YOU EXCITED?

I’m certainly excited. And to celebrate, the awesome team at Reveries Co. is holding a huge giveaway! AND I MEAN HUGE.

~ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE~

The blog tour graphic up at the top says it all, pretty much. Here are the links to follow the company:

Website // Instagram // Facebook // Twitter

Then there’s the Reveries Co. Launch Blog Tour– and here’s the entire schedule!

Tuesday, January 1st

Interview with Founder // Kendra E. Ardnek @ Knitted by God’s Plan

Spotlight // Abigail Harder @ Books, Life, and Christ

Announcement from Founder // Lila Diller @ Creating Romance

Wednesday, January 2nd

Announcement // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries

Spotlight // Mukta A @ Born Free

Interview with the Co-Manager // Jo A @ The Lens & the Hard Drive

Announcement from Founder // A. Kaylee @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes

Guest Post from Founder // Emily Yager

Interview with Founder // Dawn Dagger

Announcement from Founder // Eva-Joy @ Coffee, Classics, and Craziness

Thursday, January 3rd

Interview with Co-Manager // Michaela Bush @ Tangled Up In Writing

Spotlight // Jessica Greyson

Interview with Founder // Parker Hankins @ Pencils and Pianos

Guest Post by Founder // Merie Shen @ Imperial Scribis

Announcement from Founder // Jana T. @ Reviews From the Stacks

Announcement from Founder // Hanne T. @ Losing The Busyness

Friday, January 4th

Announcement from Founder // Deborah @ Reading on the Edge

Announcement from Founder // Katherine Brown Books

Guest Post from Founder // Julia Witmer

Announcement from Founder // Jessie Bingham

Spotlight // Loretta @ Just Writing

Interview with Co-Manager // Isabel Olivetti @ Chasing Fantasia

Saturday, January 5th

Spotlight // Abigayle Claire @ The Left-Handed Typist

Spotlight // Gracelyn Buckner @ Literatura

Announcement from Founder // Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections

Guest Post from Founder // R.M. Archer @ Scribes & Archers

Wrapup // Kellyn Roth @ Reveries


Okay, that was a long post.

But it was a fun one. Go check it out! It’s really cool! 😉

Until next time,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Bookish Things

Book Review~ Hide and Seek

Hello, hello, readers! If you haven’t noticed, my blogging schedule (Wednesdays and Saturdays) has been quite distorted from all that December and New Year’s craziness. I published a Happy New Year’s post just yesterday, but I’m going to bother you again today by putting up a book review of Hide and Seek by Mya Gray.

*I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. A positive review was not required; all opinions and views expressed are strictly my own.* 🙂



Amara Clark is haunted. When her childhood friend, Asher, vanished during a seemingly ordinary game of hide and seek, she was left bewildered and alone.
Now, eight years later, memories of Asher are coming back to haunt her and she struggles to decipher the meaning of his disappearance. In a terrifying sequence of events, she comes to the deadly realization that a simple game of hide and seek can be much more dangerous than one might think.
Before they know it, Amara and her best friend, Rowan, are whisked away on a journey to find Asher and take down the sinister group that is holding him captive. But time is running out, and saving one friend could mean losing another.


MY REVIEW

This book was a fun, unique read. I don’t read a ton of contemporary fiction (sigh, I really need to work on that) or suspense/thriller, but reading Hide and Seek reminded me of my long-gone old passion for mysteries… although, of course, this one was a little (okay, a lot) darker than the mysteries I used to read as an elementary-school-age kid.

Amara’s tale was quite the story! She and Rowan embark on a quest to find her old friend, Asher, who disappeared years ago during a game of hide-and-seek. The title (and cover!) alone sends chills down my spine whenever I think of how Mya put such a spin on a children’s game. But then, isn’t that how you turn a so-called normal thing into something much more twisted? 😉 Good job, Mya, you made me shiver. 😀

I loved how Amara and Rowan had such a sweet, true best-friends relationship. I’m glad that the author showed that a boy and a girl can be best friends without falling in love– an element that is extremely important to me. I also loved the way she portrayed Amara and Asher’s friendship! Reading those heartwarming moments made me smile. ❤ ❤ ❤

On the other hand, there were some slightly chilling bits that would have made me shiver if it weren’t for the fact that I was reading this book while my sister and her friend were messing around with video games. I wouldn’t say that it’s too creepy for me to read at night– in fact, that’s exactly what I did– but some parts were definitely on the scary side. Nothing I couldn’t handle, though, right? 😉

All in all, this book was very cool. I’d certainly read it again. Awesome work, Mya Gray.


And that’s that! I also have a post scheduled for tomorrow, though, so don’t kill me. Yet. I have lots of things to do before I die, okay? January is going to be an incredibly busy month– I’m even going on hiatus for around two weeks later on in the month. Before then, I have to write a pretty number of posts (some of which may be scheduled instead of posted immediately) and… yeah.

I’m also happy to add that my writing has been going along quite splendidly for some time now! Any day now I’ll be revealing what my current work-in-progress is… I can’t wait to show you. 🙂 Also, because I’m ridiculously “ambitious” I have dreams to get my books traditionally published. I’ve yet to explain why, of course. *Sigh*

Anyway, keep having a fun January. I’ll see ya tomorrow. 😉 (I don’t wink this much in real life, I swear. But I honestly don’t know if there’s such thing as a mischievous smirk emoji, so if there is, do tell. And then my words will be flooded with mischievous smirks instead of winks. 😉 )

Until then,

~ Merie Shen

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Of Rainy Days, Of Reflections and Observations

Another Sunrise~ Welcome to 2019!

Happy New Year’s!

Today marks the start of a brand-new year– 2019! I hope you’ve been having fun preparing for a new set of twelve months to sail through. This year’s 2019 has begun with a great start, although we had to get up at 6:30 A.M. to deal with it… Oh, well. This morning we attended a lovely wedding, and I actually enjoyed it! (Wow!)

2019 is going to be a year of big change for me.

First of all, 2018 wasn’t that horrific of a year. Now 2017, on the other hand, may have been on the more traumatizing side, but for some reason it decided to fade by the time we reached 2018. And although last year (I remembered to call it last year!) certainly had its ups and downs, somehow I feel a lot more terrified of entering 2019. In fact, just thinking about what is waiting for me makes me want to run and hide. I think it’s pretty clear right now that I am not at all looking forward to my freshman year in high school. (Even if it’s eight months away… augh! Hide me!)

Anyway.

2018 was really fun! Here’s a list of the reasons why…

  1. I visited America after four years of being stranded limited within the boundaries of Asia. Don’t get me wrong– at first I really, really dreaded it, for reasons that are a bit complicated and which can be revealed in the future. But it turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience for me, and I learned a lot of new things. I also made some great new friends.
  2. I found my voice and finally spoke up for myself. This, too, can go into another post if you really want to know about it, but long story short, the first three years of my life in our school (this is our fourth) were extremely difficult for me. This year, I found confidence in the fact that I still have a chance to speak up (literally) and did exactly that. The result? My Chinese grades rose drastically, and I started to feel (just a little) more comfortable among my peers.
  3. I finally discovered the inner motivation to go and sharpen my artistic skills. I’ve loved drawing longer than writing– in fact, I knew I was going to become an artist from a very young age– but recently my writing has taken up most of my time. Now I’m incredibly thankful to say that I picked up a pencil and started drawing again. (I’m even not that horrible, if I do say so myself.)
  4. I read a TON of books. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s kind of hard to get my hands on English books here in China. In 2018 I realized that I really have no other choice than to start using the Kindle, and some really fantastic discoveries have been made.
  5. I joined the Goodreads community. I don’t think I really have to say anything on this one.
  6. My family got ourselves a kitten and we named her Kipling. Yay us? (I was the only one opposed to getting a cat? But they did it anyway? I mean, she makes a habit of scratching up my reading chair every day so, what am I supposed to think? I’m still a dog person, through and through! No offense to you cat-lovers out there, of course….)
  7. I created my blog! Yay me!
  8. I probably did a lot of other cool stuff that I really can’t think of or put in this already-quite-long list…

2019 holds promise for a lot of change in my life (just as every other year has…). I can’t wait for it, but I also can wait for it.

Now, folks. This is a new month, after all.

Not only do we now find ourselves in 2019, but…

It is January.

Okay, yes, January’s birthstone is technically the glossular garnet, but what difference does it make?

The garnet stone is a perfect symbol of what January means. Garnet, “The Energizer,” is all about health and vitality! Isn’t that something we should seriously focus on in the new year? A new year of joy, sadness, hope, peace, storms, memories, relationships, friends, work, fun, and most importantly, Jesus. Garnet represents the energy, the start of the passions that carry us throughout the year. And I think that’s something too many overlook these days: our own health. Not just spiritually speaking, but physically as well.

No matter what, take care of yourself. This is an artist’s rule of thumb: health must come first. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Don’t overwork yourself just because of your word-count goal. Don’t wear yourself out while spending all day sitting at a computer screen. Write, read, do whatever you do to enjoy life– but to enjoy life, we’ve got to enjoy good health as well. Taking walks outdoors, spending some time every day exercising yourself, drinking enough water and eating enough food– all of these are important. Really important. Look at the garnet and understand how important it is.

That’s all for today! I hope you have a wonderful new year!

Until next time,

~ Merie Shen

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