Monday, January 15, 2018

{Book Review} The Stroke of Eleven by Kyle Robert Shultz





The adventures of Beaumont and Beasley are at an end.

The Council of Scions has finally caught up with Nick Beasley and his friends—and the sinister enchantress Madame Levesque has plans for them. Nick and Cordelia must solve an ancient mystery for her. Otherwise, Crispin and Molly will be lost forever.

The investigation leads Nick and Cordelia to the Castle of Basile, a bizarre place detached from space and time. Old friends are trapped there, and Nick and Cordelia are soon imprisoned along with them. Their jailer is the Fairy Godmother from the tale of Cinderella…who turns out to be far less benevolent than the storybook version.

A masked man offers to help—but can the White Rabbit really be trusted? What is Cinderella’s dark secret? And what will happen when the clock strikes twelve?


AMAZON | GOODREADS | AUTHOR'S WEBSITE | AUTHOR'S BLOG


 

I think the best way to describe my feelings about this book is SKDLJFLKJDS:LFJL:DSKJ:LFKJ:DLSKJF:LKJDS:LFJKSLDKJ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Okey doke. Now that we have that established…


The Stroke of Eleven is the 3rd installment in the Beaumont and Beasley series, of which I’ve been screaming to you guys about since I read the 1st book back in June. BECAUSE I LOVE THIS SERIES. (You can read my review for the first book, The Beast of Talesend, HERE. Annnd I realize I didn’t actually do a review for the 2nd one, Tomb of the Sea Witch, because I faaail at book reviews. Well…JUST READ IT. IT WAS EPIC. It involved an Antihero Magic School, mermaids, a DRAGON(!!!!), and a band of “mythfits”. <--- Boom. A review. I’m amazing.)


This 3rd book may be my favorite yet. I DON’T KNOW. They’re all so good! But where the first two (the first especially) was more on the lighthearted side, this one took the feels to a whoooooole ‘nuther level and just… *collapses* THIS BOOK, GUYS.

 

THE RUNDOWN


Where The Beast of Talesend was a Beauty and the Beast retelling and The Tomb of the Sea Witch The Little Mermaid, The Stroke of Eleven is a Cinderella retelling. (Though with these books I use “retelling” loosely. They’re more…fairytale continuations-ish?)


I’m aware there are like 293982 Cinderella retellings out there, but, personally I neverrrr get tired of them. And this one took the events and made them so, so epic. Trust me, you’re gonna love it! And, again, it’s not really a retelling. More like the events after the story of Cinderella happened. In a sense.


ANYWAYS. Nick, Cordelia, Crispin, and Molly have finally gotten captured by Madame Levesque. To keep Crispin and Molly safe, Nick and Cordelia must go to this mysterious, phantom castle for Levesque and do what she asks. Once there, things start getting even more dangerous than they realize. *cue complex, epic plot things and FEELS*

 

CHARACTERS


The whole gang is back. I’d say Nick and Cordelia were even more spectacular in this one. The things they had to do and experience added a whole other level of depth to their already amazing characters and brought them closer and skdljflskjdfs. I CAN’T WITH THESE TWO.


Crispin was of course the BEST. As always. Except there was sort of a sad lack of him in this one. Still, the scenes we did get with him were fabulous. Molly, too, wasn’t present for a lot of it. But there was one scene in the beginning with her that made me crack up and love this sweet girl even more.


The Mythfits are back!!! Which I was so ecstatic about. I was worried they were just going to be in The Tomb of the Sea Witch and that be it. But nope! They were a very big factor in the plot of this one and it made me ridiculously happy.


ALSO MALCOLM. This cranky, shapeshifting dragon becomes even more epic in this installment. Every time we get a taste of him and his backstory, I want to know mooooore. I find him one of the most intriguing characters in the Afterlands. PLUS HE’S A DRAGON SO THERE’S THAT.


We also have new additions. Like the White Rabbit who was soooo mysterious and cool! And Cinderella and the Prince themselves! I. LOVED. THEM. The Prince had me cracking up. Kyle is the best at flipping over cliches and surprising you with the characters. Cinderella was a sweetie, which I was so glad of! The tenderhearted, nice Cinderellas are always my fave. I seriously adored both of them!


Basically, the whole cast is perfection and I am so attached to these people, it’s probably not even healthy.

 

OTHER THINGS I LOVED


Um…everything? Seriously, there was just soooo much epic stuff going on in this book! But there are definitely a few things that literally had me shrieking with excitement.


- IT’S TIMEY WIMEY. We’ve got time travel and time loops and time staying still and just…TIMEY WIMEY THIIINGS. Which is my faaaavorite. I can’t even express how ecstatic I was when I heard this book was full of convoluted time travel-y things. One of my favorite story aspects in one of my favorite series? YES PLEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!


- ALICE IN WONDERLAND THINGS. So the other books have had hints of some Wonderland stuff going on. But this one dove right into it with the addition of the White Rabbit and some other stuff. And and and AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! You all probably know how unhealthily obsessed I am with all things Alice in Wonderland. I was literally whisper screaming over certain parts and at each and every nod this had to Wonderland. IT MADE MY WONDERLAND-LOVING HEART SO HAPPY. I cannot waaaaaaaait to see where all the Wonderland stuff goes in the rest of the series.


- The Castle of Basile. Trying to avoid spoilers here, but the mystery involving the castle and the way it worked was SO. FUN. Everything was just so funnn!


- Nods to Beauty and the Beast. Despite being a Cinderella story, there was actually a lot of continuation to the Beauty and the Beast threads and it was so sweet to see! I LOVED all the nods to that.


- The humor! Kyle’s specialty. And despite this book being more feelsy, there was still pleeeeeeenty of humor to go around. Basically every other line is quotable. I was laughing so much!


- THE FEELS. When I wasn’t laughing, I was wanting to cry. Because ACK. And yes, this is a positive. GIMME ALL THE FEELS. I looooved how this story got way deeper and more feelsy than the previous installments. Humor and feels—precisely what I look for in novels!


- PLOT TWISTS. Plot twists eeeeeverywhere!!! This story had me reeling right and left. I just love how much deeper and complex this story took everything! I’m so anxious to see how everything continues to play out because EEEEP. ALL THE THINGS.


I need to stop or this list will go on forever. But like I said, I LOVED EVERYTHING.

 

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE


*cricket, cricket*


…Nothing?


Seriously, I’m trying really hard to think of something I didn’t enjoy, but I’m coming up with nothing. I guess there were some events I was suuuuper nervous about. But they actually sorta turned out better than I hoped. Though I won’t know the full outcome of Certain Things until later books. So it’s sort of like a…half complaint but not really because I don’t know how things will turn out?


Wow. That made zero sense. It’s hard reviewing a 3rd book of a series because SPOILERS. Anyways! I really just loved everything.


 

CONTENT CAUTIONS


Nothing, really. Though this one was more feelsy and complex, it still kept to the clean style all the others books have run. Lots of magic and fantasy things with a few fights, but descriptions of gore is down to a minimum.


Though, there were a few instances where characters said “Oh my God” or things like that. Which I realize everybody in the universe and their cousin’s talking dog uses that term like 300 times a day. But…I just am not a fan. I hate how we now use God’s sacred name so lightly over eeeeverything. But that just may be a me thing. And it wasn’t used much in the book, only a few times that I can remember.


Other than that teeny tiny thing, it was perfectly clean. I highly recommend for ALL ages!

 

CONCLUSION


Between the feels, deeper plot, timey-wimey things, Alice in Wonderland threads, and twists around every corner, this 3rd book may top as my favorite Beaumont and Beasley novel yet!


If you’ve read The Beast of Talesend and The Tomb of the Sea Witch, YOU NEED THIS NEXT BOOK ASAP. And if you haven’t, what is wrong with you???? Go immerse yourself in the delight that is the Beaumont and Beasley series! Fairytales, humor, endearing characters, 1920s-feel world, epic plots, and all manner of twists—IT’S JUST THE BEST.


 

TALK WITH ME!

HAVE YOU READ THE STROKE OF ELEVEN??? If so, I need you to fangirl/boy with me! If not, goooooo! NOW. (Just read the first two books first because this one will make zero sense if you haven’t…) And do you enjoy fairytale crossover stories?
(I’m obsessed.)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Goals of 2018



HAPPY 2018!!!


I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year's. I have returned from my (very brief) break, refreshed and excited for the new year!


I have many plans in the works for 2018. Plans I’m actually going to make a for reals effort to achieve unlike last year. But after spending 2017 reevaluating my life, learning more how to balance things, and healing after a not-so-great 2016, I am back and more excited than ever to dive into a year of productivity and accomplishments!


Which means today, for my first 2018 post, I’d like to share what my goals are for this year. (Because it’s a fact one is more likely to achieve their goals if they shout them to the whole wide world. Huzzah for peer pressure!)


GOALS OF 2018

 

EDIT BURNING THORNS


My absolute #1 goal for this year is to do another full revision for Burning Thorns. (Which is my YA Beauty and the Beast retelling for any who don’t know.) Yes, that was my main goal for last year and it didn’t happen…at all. But this year I’m ready! SUPER READY. I’ve already started reading back through the manuscript to give me a full scope of the story and what all needs major changes.


I HAVE MISSED MY BBYS. I love these characters and the fairytale world and all the pain I caused and just the STORY. I cannot wait to work on making it the best it can be. (Annnd I may need another round of beta-readers later this year. *wriggles eyebrows*)


After I do a full-on revision (because I’m thinking there may be some drastic changes to the story, though that’s still in the works), I’ll probably do some smaller polishing up.


My goal is to get that done by July. Becaaaaause…

 

ATTEND REALM MAKERS


I’M GONNA TRY TO MAKE IT TO REALM MAKERS THIS YEAR! *SCREAMS IN EXCITEMENT FOR A THOUSAND YEARS*


Now, it may not happen. There is definitely a chance it won’t work out. But if I can get enough time and money and everything together, IT COULD HAPPEN. I’ve already talked to my family about it and we’re trying to make this dream a reality SO WE’LL SEE. And hey, even if I can’t make it this year, maybe all the work I put toward it will make it where I can go next year? Whatever happens, I AM making it to Realm Makers someday! Buuuut I’m reeeally hoping that someday will be this coming July. *SHRIEKS*


SO YES. That’s gonna keep me busy as well as I prep for it. Getting Burning Thorns ready to pitch there is of course the main goal, but there’s other prepping I want to do as well like make business cards, a one-sheet, research all the staff/editors/agents/etc. that’ll be there, and all that fun stuff that conferences require.


The best thing about this, even if I don’t go, is it’s setting up a deadline and something to work toward. Yes, getting published has always been my main goal, but sometimes it’s hard to force myself to edit and look into literary agents and work on query letters, etc., etc. when I don’t have a tangible goal to work toward. Does that make sense? With Realm Makers, I know I’ll have a real, physical thing to keep me pushing on with editing Burning Thorns. And I need that. Boy do I need that! Having this July deadline is just the motivation I’ve been searching for!

 

RESEARCH LITERARY AGENTS


This is something I’ve been meaning to do for, erm, years? And I’ve failed. I want to buy the Guide to Literary Agents 2018 and start combing through it. BECAUSE I’M SERIOUS ABOUT THINGS THIS YEAR, GUYS. I AM!

 

WORK ON A QUERY LETTER


Am I the only one who is terrified of these things? I mean, essentially it’s just a couple of paragraphs about myself and my novel (both of which I have like thousands of words of blog posts of). If I sat down and worked on one, I’d probably find it’s not all that overwhelming. But for some reason just even the term “query letter” makes me want to go hide in a hole at the ends of the earth forever. I DON’T EVEN KNOW.


BUT I NEED TO MAKE ONE. This may happen later in the year, but it’s gotta happen.


Although I would like to also build a “resume” of sorts for a query letter. Such as writing articles for some magazines and things? Soooo that may also be on the goals-list this year, but these thoughts are still in the works. But hey, if you guys have any good ideas and or/links of magazines, contests, what-have-you I can join to help build that writers resume, I’ll give you an infinite supply of (virtual) cookies and love you forever!

 

EXERCISE


I fail at this so, so, so, soooo bad! The year before last I had gotten into a pretty good exercise routine, but this last year I got busy and just…stopped. IT IS NOT GOOD. This year I’m getting back into it! I’ve got to stretch and exercise my body more. Being a writer requires like 29389 hours a week (you can do that math…) on the computer which is not good for our poor bodies. So yes, EXERCISING HAS GOT TO HAPPEN.


I will be doing stretches and exercising nearly EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I WILL!

 

READ MORE


It’s just sad how little time I make for reading. For the past few years, 30 books a year is my average. PATHETIC.


I’m realizing I’m probably not always fueled to write because I’m not filling my brain with story like I should. For some reason I have in my head I’m not allowed to read until I have all my tasks done??? Well GUESS WHAT. It’s basically impossible to have everything done. There are aaaalways things to do. Thus I just…barely ever get around to reading. And yet last year I spent like a gazillion hours playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and watched a ton of movies??? Hmmmm. Priorities, Christine?


This year that’s all gonna change! I’m going to make time for reading, and try to choose books over pointlessly scrolling on social media for hours on end. I also want to read some writing-help books. (Because I’m bad and tend to only ever get around to reading fiction.) But I’d like to give Go Teen Writers a reread (that book is when my writing life completely turned around and I got serious about things, 30000% recommend), and I also received Storyworld First by Jill Williamson for Christmas and definitely want to dive into that one soon.


Basically, I WANT TO READ MORE. And need to read more. I think my writing is suffering because of my lack of reading. READING IS GOOD. READ BOOKS, CHILDREN.


(I also own waaay more books that are unread than read and that makes me weep daily and it must be fixed.)

 

PARTICIPATE IN NANOWRIMO


Ooooobviously this is happening. I’ve done it 8 years in a row and most certainly don’t plan on stoppin’ now!


I have an idea of a book I may write for it. But sheesh, that’s 10 months away. I’ll probably change my mind 87 times before then!

 

UNPLUG MORE


Despite all my big writerly plans, I very much want to unplug more. If the last couple of years taught me anything, it’s that one cannot spend every waking second on the computer and social media. That’s just not good!


I’m thinking I may set a time in the evening (like 7 or 8?) where I have to stop and not touch the computer again until the next day. And use those hours before bed to, ya know, read or something. This isn’t a solid plan. I’m still figuring things out, but it’s certainly something I’d like to try. My natural instinct is to work until I diiiiie. I am not one to take breaks. But one can’t survive without breaks. That’s not healthy! I’ll be able to do more work and produce better quality if I give myself rest and refueling time each day.


And on that note…

 

ORGANIZE MY TIME


Another failure of mine—time organization. I’m either working 24/7, or wiling away my time scrolling on Pinterest for hours, or being productive with useless things, or…yeah. You get the idea.


This year I want to be more organized with each and every day. This means daily goals. At some point last year, I started making Thursdays my blog post writing days. Every Thursday I knew I’d need to write a post for the following Monday. That way, I wasn’t overwhelmed the other days thinking, “Should I write a post today?” but I also wasn’t scrambling around on Sunday or Monday trying to get a post together. This helped ease the stress of blogging a ton. And made it where I could relax during the weekends knowing I had a post all set for Monday. I’d like to do this with other things as well. Such as setting a day or two out of the week for answering emails, and doing social media, and another day for researching things. And so on and so forth.


But, on a smaller scale, I’d like to set hourly goals. Such as from 3 or 4 answer emails. Not sure if this will work, but if I can get it to, it’ll really help me not wile away my time, but, on the flipside, help me not spend so much time working and draining myself. Because once the hour is up I’ll have to stop.


I haven’t actually worked out any of this yet, but it’s something I’d really like to try. I think it’ll help me stay focused and ease the stress of each task if I had a specific day and/or time for everything. I know it works with blog posts, so I suspect it’ll work with all my other projects as well!

 

BE INTENTIONAL


A lot of people choose a word for each year, something to focus on and live by throughout the year. It’s a wonderful thing to do, and I’ve done it myself for a few years now. But this year, I hadn’t planned on choosing a word. I was just going to go with the flow and work on my tasks and do the best I could.


Then, right as the new year rolled around, I found myself using and focusing on a single word.


INTENTIONAL.


It just kept cropping up on its own accord. I couldn’t seem to shake it. And then I realized, that’s exactly what I want to be this year. Intentional. Because I’m not always intentional about the way I live. I don’t pursue my dreams as hard as I should, I can be so selfish and not intent on helping the people around me, and even my walk with God gets pushed to the back burner far, far more than it should. I’m not intentional with my life at all. But this year, I want that to change.


I want to purposefully work toward being publishing, I want to help others more, be there more for my family and friends, and follow God with every fiber of my being.


I want to live intentionally.


Not wandering aimlessly, not wasting time and putting myself before others and throwing my dream to the wayside. I want to be intent in everything I do.


God gave me a word for 2018 after all. And I hope to pursue it with all the energy I possess.


 

So those are my plans for this year. More may come. I’m still working on my list, and I suspect little things will be added to it as I think of them. But these are my big ones—edit Burning Thorns, work on making it to Realm Makers, and living intentionally.


I think 2018 is going to be an amazing ride!

 

TALK WITH ME!

Let’s talk the new year! Who’s shocked we’re already to 2018??? (*raises hand and waves it wildly* Me me me!) What is your main goal for this year? Who’s all attending Realm Makers??? Because I WANT TO MEET YOU ALL SO BAD!!! Any hopes you have for this year? Let’s make it the loveliest one yet! <3


P.S. What do you think of my new leafy text dividers??? I’m trying to make things more fancy schmancy ‘round here. AND I’M EXCITED. But I’d looove to know your opinion! Though bear with me because they are subject to change. I’m still playing around, but I do like these. So watcha think?

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Wrap-Up: The Life, the Geekery, the Bookishness



So apparently 2017 is almost done with us and I’d like to know who gave it permission to be nearly finished??????
WHERE DO I FILE A COMPLAINT? Because wow yeah. This year zoomed by at record breaking speeds and has left me sitting here in a daze wondering what just happened like the Hare in the Tortoise and the Hare story. (I don’t know either. Just go with it.)


Last year wasn’t my favorite. I wasn’t in the best place mentally, there were a lot of lows, and some tragic things happened. But 2017, 2017 was much, much better. I liked this year quite a lot.


THUS. I thought it’d be fun to do a little yearly wrap-up post to look back at the highlights of 2017. (Except “little” is so inaccurate because when do I ever do small posts???) I’m going to categorize this in sections because I love categorizing things almost as much as I love making lists.


SO LET’S DO IT.


. . .

A LOOK  BACK AT 2017

. . .

 

LIFE-Y THINGS


This year was a whirlwind of changes.


A few things that went down includes:

 

  • My little sister graduated high school. BRB SOBBING. She’s the youngest in the family, so for the first time in 24 years none of us are homeschooling AND IT’S WEIRD. But I’m so proud of my sis!

  • One of my best friends graduated from college. SO PROUD OF HER TOO.

  • I got to stay with that same friend for a few days three different times this year and it was fabulous.

  • My other bestie and her family moved…11 hours away. Definitely not a highlight, but at the same time I’m excited for them and all the new and exciting turns their life has taken.

  • Turned 25 years old and just WUT??? When did I become an adult? Because, in my head, 24 is still “young adult”. But 25 is just…adult. Is that just me? I DON’T EVEN KNOW. I know I act like suuuuch and adult though, amiright? (You guys probably thought I was 14, didn’t you? #ForeverPeterPan)

  • Got to go see a live ballet showing of The Nutcracker for the first time in yeeeeears and absolutely loved it!

 

There are many, many, many more things that happened this year. Changes and joys and hardships and growth. But all-in-all it was a fantastic, if not crazy, year.


 

WRITERLY THINGS


This was my quietest year of writing since…2009. Not even kidding. Usually I do at least two major writing projects a year, with maybe some smaller things in between. This year I didn’t really do anything until NaNoWriMo.


If you’ll remember, in January I had BIG WRITING PLANS for this year. So many goals of editing Burning Thorns and researching literary agents and working on query letters and all that fun stuff? Did I do any of that?


Erm. No.


But you know what? I’M OKAY WITH THAT. This wasn’t the year for those things, I know that now. There were too many things going on in life. But not just that, I think I needed to reevaluate myself. I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed and questioning everything, especially my writing, at the beginning of this year. But after taking almost a whole year off from doing any major writing and really focusing on learning to balance my time and taking a breath, I’m at a much better place. And I know, without a doubt, that writing is absolutely what I want to do with my life. So though not much actual writing happened this year, there was a lot of necessary growth and revelations within my own self. And it was good. Very good. I don’t regret one bit taking a writing hiatus.


BUT. I can’t entirely take off from writing. There were still writerly 2017 happenings.

 

  • I wrote a 4,500-word, fairytale-esque short story When Spring Blooms, which was a ton of fun! It’s very rare I write short stories (because apparently “short” things aren’t part of my vocabulary?), but I always enjoy it when I do.

  • I purchased Scrivener and fell. in. love. The levels of organization it allows makes my perfectionist self ridiculously happy. WHY DID I NOT TRY THIS PROGRAM BEFORE??? It is the bessst.

  • Made an entire file of Scrivener for Burning Thorns with all sorts of sections and folders and goodness. So it is ready to be edited on, even if I haven’t done the actual editing yet…

  • Made a map for the Burning Thorns world. Because I literally didn’t even have a name for the continent the world was set in. So that was fun!

  • Fully plotted out The Nether Isle. Which felt great. It was the first time I really got back into writing related things in moooonths. I felt like myself again!

  • WROTE The Nether Isle! (Which you all know about since I haven’t stopped talking about it for like 3 months now… *cough*)

 

So it wasn’t an extremely productive year, but it wasn’t a fully idle one either. And I did some things to set me all up for my 2018 writing plans. Overall, I’m feeling good about everything. I wrote a short story, set up everything for Burning Thorns edits, wrote an 117k-word book, and got past some mental blocks. Even if it was my slowest year of writing in a long time, I’m happy with what I accomplished and look forward to diving into more writing ventures come the new year!


 

BLOGGY THINGS


I think I made strides with blogging this year. Though I did take a few hiatuses, breaking my 4-year streak of posting every single week. But, well, it was probably time to allow myself a few little blogging breaks after consistently posting for 4 years, right???


Other than those hiatuses, I really poured myself into the blog. This year I wrote some deeper posts than I usually do, tried to give you guys the best quality content I could, and got better at having nice graphics at the top of each post. I gained quite a lot of new followers this year (hi, guys! I love you all!), so I think it all paid off.


Some favorite posts of mine I did this year are:


 

 

 

 

 

WATCHED THINGS


You guys should know I’m a total movie and TV show nerd, and this year introduced me to quite a few fabulous ones!


Movies saw in theaters:


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

Which I…wasn’t wild about and it makes me weep. I HAD SUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS. B&B is my favorite fairytale! The Disney classic animated movie is my childhood! All the previous live action remakes (Cinderella, Maleficent, etc.) were beyond perfect! I was just positive this one would be spectacular. But…no. It wasn’t a bad movie. It just didn’t capture that B&B magic for me. Emma Watson just wasn’t working as my dear Belle. *ducks from rotten tomatoes* I DON’T KNOW. I didn’t hate it, but it was just kinda…meh. *sobs forever*


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2

OKAY BUT DIS MOVIE. I loved it nearly just as much as the 1st one, which is saying something because the 1st one is one of my favorite Marvel movies. BUT THIS WAS SO FUNNY AND EPIC AND EMOTIONAL AND SJDFJKHSKDJHFKLDSF. Probably my favorite movie of 2017!


SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

This movie rekindled my love for my Spidey baby! See, when I was young, Spider-Man was my FAVORITE superhero. As the years rolled on Iron Man and Captain America took my heart. But seeing this one reminded me of how much I adore Spider-Man. He’s literally a kid trying to protect a whole city and just HE IS PRECIOUS. And Tom Holland is absolutely my favorite Spider-Man thus far. I do feel like the pacing of this movie was a tinge slow sometimes? Maybe too much setup? I don’t know. But I still loved it!


THOR: RAGNAROK

I think I’ve already flailed about this movie 2 or 3 times now but…I LOVED IT. I wish there could have been more emotion and not just comedy, but it was still fantastic!


I…think that’s all I saw in theaters? And all of those are Disney and 3 out of 4 are Marvel. I seem to have a problem??? But come on, MARVEL!


There were others I wanted to see but didn’t get a chance. And still haven’t! Like The LEGO Batman Movie and Wonder Woman. But hopefully I can get to those sometime soon.


I also discovered some TV shows this year. Of which I now wonder whyyyy I had never watched before.


GRAVITY FALLS


Why why why WHY have I gone this long without watching the magic that is Gravity Falls? WHY??? This show looks like some goofy kiddy cartoon but DON’T BE DECEIVED. I mean, yes, it’s a goofy kiddie cartoon but it’s also DEEP and HILARIOUS and has an epic PLOT and the CHARACTERSSSS. I will now have Gravity Falls feels for the rest of my life. *collapses* JUST WATCH THIS SHOW. Basically every. single. line. in it is quotable and hilarious and the characters are golden and just GO WATCH IT. (Except you probably have because I feel like I’m the only person in the world who has never watched it until now???)

 

Mabel is a gift to this world.


STAR VS. THE FORCES OF EVIL


Another totally hilarious cartoon! This one does start out as a pretty goofy, random cartoon but it gets much deeper as it goes on. And THE CHARACTERS. Star is from another dimension and has a magical wand that she uses to, well, defeat the forces of evil. But she makes spells like a narwhal blast. So yeah. She’s totally bubbly and reckless and fun. (She kind of reminds me of me, TBH.) Then there’s Marco. Sweet, precious, cinnamon roll Marco. The show is worth watching just for those two. And let’s not even talk about how shippable they are.




STRANGER THINGS

 (The first non-Disney thing in this whole section!)


Erm. Yeah. I’m reeeeally late on this bandwagon. My brother (and basically everyone else in the universe) has been badgering me to watch it since it came out in the Fall of LAST YEAR. Annnnd I didn’t start watching it until this August or September. I FAIL AT LIFE. But obviously I loved it. It’s not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach but…it’s pretty epic! (Except I still haven’t found time to watch the 2nd season and IT’S KILLING MEEE.)

 

There were probably many more things I can’t remember (I’m proud I even remembered all of this!), but these were definitely my screen watching highlights of the year.

 

BOOKISH THINGS


Obviously I saved the most important one for last. BOOKS!!!


I read a total of…30 books for 2017. Ummm, yeah. Sad, I know. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that 30 is my average for a year these days. It’s not a bad amount, just not neeeearly as much as I want to read. I’d much rather devour 100 books in a year but I can’t seem to be one of those magical peoples.


ANYWAYS.


It was a bit of a mixed year of reading. The majority of the books I read were a little meh. Buuuut I did find some gems that absolutely made my year.


SAMARA’S PERIL
by Jaye L. Knight

Book #3 of the Ilyon Chronicles and possibly the best one yet! This was my first book to read this year and WAS IT A GOOD ONE. ALL THE FEELS. ALL THE THIIIINGS. Just go read this series! (I deeesperately need to get my hands on Exiles.)


ELLA ENCHANTED
by Gail Carson Levine

Okay but hoooooowwwww have I not read this book until this year??? I should have grown up with this book! I AM ALL THE SHAME. No earthly clue why it took me half an age to read it, but IT WAS SO GOOD.

 

THE SENTINEL TRILOGY
by Jamie Foley

(Except the 3rd book isn’t out yet BUT I NEED IT PRECIOUSSS.) This is suuuch a fun and different style of novels. People with special abilities in a world much like our own and it’s basically the apocalypse with epic characters and the best bromance and YES. Kudos to my bookfairy Deborah for getting me to read these books. I LOVE THEM.


THE RELUCTANT GODFATHER
by Allison Tebo

One of my faaavorite reads of the year! This Cinderella retelling novella was the cutest EVER. I actually reviewed it should you want my full thoughts on it. But basically…GO READ IT! This book was a delight. And it kindled a friendship between my girl Allison and me, which made it doubly awesome! Seriously, go give her a follow and read her story. SHE’S THE BEST.


GRAPHIC NOVELS

So I discovered something super weird this year. I kinda like graphic novels??? I’ve never actually read any before. I had no idea if I’d like them or not. But this past August I was staying with my bestie and she talked me into trying a few and I officially got hooked. Unfortunately, it’s reeeally hard to find clean ones. *pouts* But they’re great for some quick reads. My favorite one I’ve read so far is Nimona by Noelle Stevenson.


THE BEAUMONT AND BEASLEY SERIES
by Kyle Robert Shultz

Okay. This may win for top favorite of my 2017 bookish discoveries. THESE BOOKS GUYS. 1920s detective style story but in a world where fairytales are real? GIMME GIMME GIMME. These books are hilarious. But don’t let that fool you! They get deep and twisty as they go on. In fact, the 3rd book, The Stroke of Eleven, was my last read for the year and I’m still reeling. I MAY NEVER RECOVER. (I reviewed the 1st book if you’re interested.) These books are golden! Kyle is hilarious and you should absolutely go check out his website and READ HIS BOOKS!

 

So even though I read a bunch of meh books this year, these totally made up for them! And if you’re still a nosy bookdragon, you can check out my 2017-reads GoodReads shelf for everything I read this year.

 

LEARNED THINGS


As I said at the beginning, this was quite the year of change and growth. And there was one particular lesson that stood out to me this year.


At this time last year, I was drained. I was tired, stressed, overwhelmed. I had Big Plans, but actually tackling them just made me want to curl under the covers and watch Netflix forever.


And it hit me: I was doing too much. I had no balance. I ignored friends and family and even God in favor of trifle things like staying on top of emails. I didn’t really take any breaks in 2016. I was constantly doing something.


I’m obsessive and a bit OCD. When I have goals in mind or things to do, I can’t not do them. I can’t rest until everything is DONE. Except…everything is never done. There will always be things to do. Always emails to answer. Always blog posts to write. Always books to write and edit and research for. But that doesn’t mean we should always be doing those things. They’re good things, but there has to be balance.


So this year, I took a break. I wasn’t as rigid about publishing a blog post every single week, I didn’t force myself to have a major writing project going, I put off things in favor of hanging out with friends and family.


I learned to soak up the moments.


This life is fleeting. Friends and family aren’t always forever. And growing our relationship with God is the very reason we have breath in our lungs.


Yes, I still want to pursue a career in writing. Yes, I want to do more in 2018. Yes, my writing is important to me. But there are also other important things in life. And I don’t want to miss out on them.



This year, for the first time in a long, long time, I took a breath. I let myself relax and live. And it was like a soothing balm. I no longer feel overwhelmed and tired. I’m excited about things, I’m ready to tackle 2018.


I still fail. I still find myself saying no to spending time with family in favor of getting things done. But I’m working toward doing better.


So as we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018, I want to remember. I want to remember that it’s OKAY to take breaks. It’s necessary.

But most importantly, I want to remember to soak up every single moment I’m given on this earth. To stop wasting away the days. To be grateful for every breath I take and use this little life I have as a blessing to others.


. . .

 

2017 was a pretty crazy year. But it was a good one. Possibly even a great one.


I look forward to seeing what 2018 has in store!

 

This is my last post for 2017, guys! So let’s chat about ALL the things. Did we watch any of the same movies or read any of the same books? What exciting things happened to you this year? And what are you excited about for the new year? Tell me all about it!


NOTE: Since this post came later in the week, I won’t have a post up Monday. It will be New Year’s after all! I’m going to soak up these last few days of the holidays. But I will be back on January 8th for my first 2018 post!


HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!


Monday, December 18, 2017

The NaNo 2017 Diaries {Vlog}



THIIIIINGS ARE GOING DOWN TODAY.
The title of this post in fact does not have a typo. Nope. It’s correct.


I’M SHARING A VLOG.


My first ever vlog. With my actual face. And voice. TERRIFYING, I KNOW.


So why this sudden video? Well. During NaNoWriMo this year I thought it’d be fun to make a video diary every single day of all that was going on. At first I was thinking I’d do it only for myself—just a fun way to have a log of the month without having to journal anything (because goodness knows I was writing enough without having to also keep up with a journal). Buuuut then I had the wild of idea of embarrassing myself and DOING IT FOR YOU GUYS.


And that is why I am here today!


Although this is not even half of the videos I made. Each video was about 2 minutes long and there are 30 of them so…that would have been an hour long vlog. How about no? Instead I just pick and chose some of the highlights to smush together into a vlog. Except…erm…it’s still 27 minutes long. Oops? SOWWY. I did try to make it shorter. But apparently not only are my novels and blog posts monsters, my vlogs are as well??? You guys still love me though, right?


ANYWHOOZLE. We need to actually get to the vlog part!


Sadly, the first part of it is cut off because I’m a moron and began talking before my phone started recording. >.> And it’s not the bestest quality because I was using the front camera of my phone. If I ever do anymore vlogs I’ll try to use my back camera and make it higher quality. But this was just a little something I was doing each day in the midst of the insanity that was NaNo so…yeah. You get to see over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, lost in NaNo Land Christine. FUN STUFF.


(And yes. This is another NaNo post. I know I’ve been doing these in a row for like…the last 3 months. *cough* BUT THIS IS THE LAST ONE. My next post will not be totally NaNo focused, I promise!)


Also, kudos to my awesome big bro for helping me put all this together because I was absolutely clueless with this stuff.


ALL RIGHT. Enough of my babbling so you can watch…me babble. Um. Yes.


Behold me in all my awkwardness!

 



If you survived all of that, you deserve cookies! *passes them around* SO TELL ME. What did you think? Would you guys be interested in me doing more vlogs on occasion? Orrrr should I stick to text posts? XD Share with me your thoughts!


NOTE: Since Christmas lands on next Monday (BUT HOW THO???) I won’t be doing a post then. Instead I’ll do my next and last post of 2017 a few days after Christmas (probably that next Thursday). It’ll be a big ol’ 2017 wrap-up post and should be fun! Until then…


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Nether Isle Snippets



Guess what I’m sharing with you guys todaaay?
 (Because I know the title of the post and big graphic above doesn’t give any thing away. I’m always so mysterious.) You can’t guess, right? Then I’ll tell you…


THE NETHER ISLE SNIPPETS!


*gasp* Such a surprise!


Okay but you sweet, precious beans were actually asking for snippets from my messy monster of a NaNo novel. WHICH THRILLS ME AND MAKES ME FEEL SO HONORED AND LIKE WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH ALL OF YOU AND YOUR NICENESS????


I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything presentable to share, but after scouring through the document I found quite a few that hooopefully won’t burn your beautiful eyeballs out. Just do remember this is all first draft-y things. But all that aside, I do hope you enjoy getting a peek into the thing that took over my brain for all of November.


Quick note, the whole thing was written in Karis’ POV, so all narration is from inside her head. And I feel like all the best parts are major spoilery and I couldn’t share them so…yeah. Hopefully these will still be entertaining!


ALL RIGHT. LET’S GET TO IT.



THE NETHER ISLE SNIPPETS

 

Karis stepped to the back of her cage, pressing herself against the hard bars. When would they arrive on the Isle? It seemed like it had been at least two hours since they had left the High City. The hangar sat empty and dark, no windows in sight. Which was awfully rude. The least they could do was let the prisoners get one glimpse of freedom before dumping them on the Isle. She had always dreamed of flying out across the ocean, the wind in her hair, the rippling water a blue blur below. Her first and—she had to face it—last time to fly and she couldn’t even see anything. The only indication that they were moving at all was the steady whir of the small airship’s steam engine. Its vibrations tingled under her black boots, sending goosebumps across her flesh.

This was really happening. They were getting closer and closer to the Isle and her last days, or maybe even day, lay ahead. She’d never see her family again…

Trying not to think such thoughts, she cut her eyes back over to the brutish prisoner. His meaty fists clung to the bars of his cage. A ring that appeared to be a green and black snake twisted around his right forefinger. What was that? Some sort of gang symbol? Or maybe he was an assassin and had spent his life slaughtering hundreds of people. Really, the horrific possibilities were endless. But the High City wouldn’t have to worry about him now, whatever he did. That was the purpose of the Nether Isle after all, a place to dump the worst of criminals, criminals whose deeds were so heinous they were deemed too dangerous to even be put in prison.

And that’s where Karis was being taken.

She supposed it could be worse. She wasn’t sure how but she’d try to come up with something positive.


~ ~ ~


Karis blinked, and blinked again. But making her eyelids go up and down really didn’t seem to affect her circumstance. It did at least clear her head enough to focus on what stood before her. She pushed to a stand and cocked her head at the thing. It almost looked like a doorway but with no door and no wall. Just a rectangular archway shaped out of some sort of thin bronze tubes twisted around each other. Lattice had overgrown around it. Through the doorway, lay an overgrown forest much like the one she had been in. But it looked different, and she hadn’t fallen that far. She merely tripped on something and fell over. Or…through something.

A crazy idea popped in her head, but it made sense, even though it didn’t make any kind of sense. But if nothing made sense, than the nonsensical thing was the answer, right?

Right.

With this established, she pushed her hand through the archway. Her hand disappeared. She could still feel it, still wriggle her fingers, but she couldn’t see it. It merely cut off past her wrist. She pulled her hand back through and it appeared again, whole and visible.

A giggle bubbled from her lips. The nonsensical was in fact the only thing that made sense. If vines could come alive, why not have empty doorways that took you from one spot to an entirely different spot?


~ ~ ~


“You don’t belong here.”

Karis sucked in a sharp gasp. That was a voice. A whispering, very, very creepy female voice coming from…nowhere. Everywhere? She darted her eyes across the area but not a soul was in sight.

Please, please, please let this all just be my imagination.

She’d honestly rather be losing her mind than that voice be an actual thing. Her imagination didn’t scare her…most of the time.

“You cannot be here. You will die.”

Nope. Not her imagination!


~ ~ ~


She stood atop a wide set of cracking stone steps that descended into a town. Well, what was once a town, but now overgrown and crumbling. And yet, ruinous or not, it was the most wondrous place she had ever laid eyes on. Buildings were built up on tall cliffs that stood to the far sides. Some were tall much like her own townhouse back home, others stood small and round. Lots of the buildings spread out on the surface level were huge, obviously serving as more than just houses. There were two levels, wide bridges connected the two split levels built against the cliffs. Down below, where she stood, a river about ten feet wide snaked its way down the center of town, with bridges placed intermittently across it as well. Vines and moss and even a few trees had overrun the town. Entangled in vines against the cliff sides, hung a few airships of varying sizes. The streets, though cracking, were paved in smooth stone.

This was once a thriving town. And the most peculiar town Karis had ever known to exist. Except she hadn’t know it existed until now.

How was there a town on the Nether Isle?

Wasn’t the Nether Isle simply an island off the coast of Ilderwind that the council sent prisoners to? She had always believed it was some sort of wild rain forest area with savage beasts and large spiders or something. Not a place with living vines and killer butterfly-flower petals and a thriving town and archways that made people appear in different places on the Isle.


~ ~ ~


She studied the camera again, looking at the dials with new eyes. One appeared to be a clock and another had numbers around it, starting at one and counting around to three hundred sixty-five. Another one also had numbers but only to one hundred. The word present sat next to the one on that dial. Realization began to dawn.

Her fingers trembled with excitement as she twisted the tiny arrow on the dial to point at present. Then she held up the camera and snapped. The photograph slid out and on it she saw what she expected, hoped, to see. The room in its current state, it’s present state.

She held up the other photos with the men. What laid before her was past events, it had to be. Which meant… She couldn’t help it, she squealed in excitement.

The camera took pictures of the past.


~ ~ ~


Even in the dimness it was apparent how haggard she appeared. Flyaway hair with leaves caught in it, dried blood on her cheek, dirt smudged across her forehead and arms. Maybe it was the exhaustion, but the sight made her giggle.

“You need sleep and a bath, Missy,” she told her reflection.


~ ~ ~

 

“Thank you for saving my life, Jonah.” She proffered a hand and limped closer to him. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m glad you’re still alive.” Well, that was not a greeting she thought she’d ever do. But she realized it was true. She couldn’t save the other prisoner, but at least this boy was all right. Against all odds, they somehow both made it through the day without dying,

He didn’t take her offered hand. Instead his eyes focused on her bleeding leg and widened. “You’re hurt.” His soft voice rose in volume, and his eyes finally locked onto her and stayed there. “Do you need to sit down?”

In truth, she wasn’t entirely sure how much longer her aching, throbbing legs would hold her up, but before she could answer he was grabbing her arm and helping her lower to the ground. “What can I do to help?” he asked, kneeling next to her.

She blinked, his sudden acts of kindness tying her tongue and stopping her brain like a stuck cog.


~ ~ ~


Wriggling her toes, she basked in their freedom and couldn’t help but take her other boot off as well. The sweaty smell of her socks made her wrinkle her nose, but not enough to put her boots back on. She stretched her aching toes and massaged the sore soles. Remembering the tonic for aching muscles, she scrounged around in her pack, but all the bottles looked the same in the darkness. Better wait for the fire lest she drink the alcohol. That wouldn’t be pleasant for anyone. She did manage to find the water flask though. She didn’t realize how thirsty she was until she took the first sip. It felt like her dry tongue and sore throat sung praises as the water went down. She had jugged over half of it and was still going when Jonah came back with an armful of small branches.

He dropped them in a pile a few feet in front of her, and then cast her a curious gaze, eyeing her sock feet. She pulled them closer to her, unable to stop her sheepish grin.

“I’ve been on my feet all day.” That was an understatement.

He nodded, as if he understood. Actually, he probably did. He was on this Isle same as her. For a moment, he just stared at her, so intently it made her squirm. A horrible thought came to her. What if he was a murderer, and was now plotting the best way to kill her. Maybe he was going to build the fire to burn away her dead body. She slipped her hand in her pocket and grasped the hammer.

After several agonizing seconds, he started, as if he realized what he was doing. He dropped his gaze and rubbed the back of his neck again. “Sorry, sorry,” he mumbled, shaking his head. “I’ve been searching for you all day, but when I couldn’t find you I was terrified something had happened.” He dropped his hand and finally looked back at her, a look of relief flooding his features. “I’m glad you’re alive, too.”

 

The precious, talented Christine Eyre drew this pic inspired by The Nether Isle’s aesthetics and I AM IN LOVE WITH IT.

~ ~ ~


He stood and stepped to the opposite side of the fire and settled down there. “If something dangerous shows up, I’ll be sure to wake you.”

“Oh goodness, I think I’d rather just sleep through it.” She had had enough dangerous things for one day.


~ ~ ~


Jonah stared at her, silent but intense, but he didn’t push her. Just waited patiently.

She ran her fingers through her damp hair. How to start where he wouldn’t find her utterly mad? “I’ve been seeing ghost girls,” she blurted out. Nope, that probably wasn’t the way.


~ ~ ~


Wait. A thought pushed against the morning grogginess, attempting to pull her back awake. How late in the day was it if the sun was that high?

Drat Jonah and his niceness.

She shoved herself up. Sure enough, he was sitting quietly at the other side of the nearly dead fire, looking as if he had no intention of ever waking her up. He merely smiled over at her. Guilt clawed its sharp fingers into her stomach.

“I’m so sorry I slept late. You could have woken me.”

“Why would I do that?” he asked, sounding genuinely confused. “After the past couple of days you had, you needed that sleep.”

“But you’ve just been sitting here waiting this whole time?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t mind. I enjoy just sitting and thinking sometimes.”

“You enjoy sitting and doing nothing for long stretches of time?” She shook her head, chuckling. “That goes beyond me.”

He grinned. “Well, whenever you’re ready, we can move on.”


~ ~ ~


She snapped a few pictures on random years as they progressed, keeping to the far past like the blue-eyed girl said. They found themselves at the destroyed city hall, and she took a picture of it sixty-nine years ago. It stood whole, the town thriving as ever. One person walking down the steps in the photograph made her pause.

“Jonah, look at this.” She tapped the photograph.

He peered down at the middle aged man with long blue robes, dark hair, and a neatly trimmed beard. “If there was ever anyone who looked like a headmaster, I’d say that is it,” he said, voicing her thoughts exactly.

She bounced on her toes, unable to hold in the excitement. “I can’t believe we found him! Oh, oh!” She stilled. “I have the best idea. Let’s continue to take pictures of him and follow him.”

His gaze shot up from the photograph to her, eyes lighting up. “That is brilliant.”

Grinning, she threw the photograph in the camera bag, adjusted the clock from 3:45 in the afternoon to 3:46, then took another picture. As she had hoped, the man was now at the bottom of the city hall steps, turning to the street on the right. “This is so fun! We’re stalking someone from sixty-nine years ago! Let’s go!” She ran down the street the man had headed, adjusting the clock as she went. Jonah followed right behind.

Every few steps, she took a picture to assure they didn’t lose sight of the man, but his blue robes shone clear in the photographs, making him easy to spot amidst the other people on the streets.


~ ~ ~


Karis practically sprang out the door, feeling like a caged animal getting its first taste of freedom. The steady drizzle immediately began seeping through her clothes, but she just jumped into a puddle, helping it soak her. She spun around to survey the town, sloshing water all over her boots. “It feels so good to be out!

Jonah had only just stepped from the doorway of the library into the rain. He held his face up to the sky, blinking as drips splattered across his face. “It does feel nice.”

Biting on her lips to contain her giggles, she slowly crouched down, scooped up some of the water in cupped palms, and thrust it at him. It soaked the front of his shirt.

He jerked his head down to face her, mouth wide open in shock, but his eyes gleamed with mischief.

Now her giggles bubbled out.

Without warning, he sprung forward. She squealed and tried to dart away, but before she got far, a pile of water was poured over her head.

Gasping with laughter, she darted down the street. “No fair, you have bigger hands than I do!” she called over her shoulder. Her boots slipped on the slick streets, making her nearly plunge forward. She staggered, righting herself, and laughing so hard she couldn’t catch a breath of air.

“Are you all right?” Jonah gasped out, his voice shaky and breathless with his own chortles.

She could only nod, trying to regain herself.


~ ~ ~


“I think I might be able to finish translating today,” he said, grabbing one of the cans in front of him. “I’m so close.”

“Really?” The news mad her heart flip. She settled into her chair with one leg underneath her and pulled the can’s lid off. “That’s wonderful! I’ll try my best to be quiet today then and let you work. You’d probably be done by now if it wasn’t for me.” She dipped the can lid into the mushy food.

He looked up from his food, a serious express on his face. “Karis, I’d probably go mad if it weren’t for you.”

Her hand froze midair. His tone was so…intense, as if her knowing this information was vital. For once, she didn’t know how to even respond.

“Sometimes I think I was going mad before you came along,” he continued. “I mean…” He dropped his unblinking gaze. “I don’t wish you, or anyone, to have to be on this Isle, but… If you do have to be here, I…I’m fortunate to have found you.”

This made her laugh.

He flinched, jerking his eyes back up at her. Color drained from his face. She immediately threw her hand over her mouth, realizing what she had done.

“No, wait!” she squeaked between her fingers. Dropping her hand, she shook her head, face warming. “I’m sorry! I’m only laughing because I’ve had that exact same thought, about how I hate you ended up on this Isle, but how I’m also so happy to have you. Not just because you saved my life on multiple occasions now, but because…I’m just…” The right words wouldn’t come. Nothing seemed good enough. Finally, releasing a deep breath, she looked him straight in the eye. “I’m just glad to know you, Jonah.”

His shocked gaze softened into a smile. “Me too.”

 

Another gorgeous aesthetics pic done by Christine Eyre of the rainy library scene. <333

~ ~ ~


With a huff, she focused on the other pictures, on all the people who had walked those now empty streets.

She rubbed her finger over one little girl seeming to be in mid-skip down the street, a book tucked under her arm, probably headed for the library.

“What happened to you?” she murmured to the photograph. “Where do you all go?”

She’d never know. The thought sickened her. She had tried so hard to discover the mysteries of the Isle, and now she’d die with no answers. She continued flipping through the pictures, shaking her head as one crowd of people after the next passed her vision. All these people, these families, lost. Forgotten. Their stories untold.


~ ~ ~

 

She ran down the stairs, but a rush of cold air jerked her to a halt. The great cloud of mist covered nearly the whole foyer and was creeping up the stairs toward her, trapping her. She shot a glance over the stair rail. The room with with the vials was so close.

With rapid clicks, the mist rose toward her, frozen air blasting across her face.

Grabbing the railing with both hands, she vaulted over it. Her boots slammed on the floor below. The force of the hit rattled up her whole body. Gritting her teeth, she sprinted for the door to the alchemy lab. She snatched up the first bottle she saw, squinting at the words in the darkness. Only a single window provided the moonlight to shine in, but the labeling made no sense. Ciphering through the others brought the same results. Nothing in here was familiar.

The clicking drew closer, louder, and the temperature in the room dropped. Mist crept through the doorway. She seized a random bottle with red liquid and threw it at the cloud. It fell right through the mist and cracked, red liquid spilling out beneath the fog.

A burst of flowers erupted from the liquid, their bright red petals raining through the room. Poppies? That wasn’t helpful in the least.


~ ~ ~


Just as Jonah had said, the camera was waiting at the library, right on the table he had used to do his translating. She snatched it up and hugged it against her chest, feeling as if she were reunited with an old friend.

“May we never part again!”


~ ~ ~


After nearly half an hour of it, her back sore from bending and searching the items on the floor, she stood up to stretch and walk the room. Jonah sat perched on the edge of the sofa, seeming to have gotten distracted by one of the books. Smiling, she turned to examine the strange levers on the walls. Unable to resist, she flipped one. Nothing happened. What a disappointment. Age had probably broken whatever it was supposed to do. Another rather long one jutted from the back wall, right next to the one space of wall that didn’t have furniture or papers against it. She shoved the lever down.

A loud grinding, like metal scraping against metal, sounded from behind the wall. She jumped back, just as the wall slid into itself and opened up a doorway. Jonah sprang from the sofa, dropping the book he held.

“Is that what I think it is?”

“Um.” She peered through the new doorway, but it led to absolutely nothing but a small, rectangular room. More like a closet really. Barely large enough to hold three people, and it was completely empty save for another lever on its right wall. “What do you think it is?”

He came up to her and poked his head through. “I think it’s an elevator.”

“Oh!” That made perfect sense. “Let’s try it! Maybe the photo paper is upstairs.”

“Well, Karis, I’m not sure we—”

But she was already pulling him in and pushing the lever up. The door slid close, putting them in perfect darkness. Now her common sense was kicking in.

“Erm. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea?” Her voice bounced off the walls, coming back to her shaky.

Jonah shuffled away from her side. “I don’t think it even works, just the door does. Let’s just open the door back and—”

The whole space rattled and floor jerked. The momentum sent her careening to the side and crashing into him. She clung to him for dear life as they were dragged upward in the deathtrap. Then, just as quickly as it began, the elevator screeched to a halt. After one breathless second, the door ground open. She blinked in the bright light, hoping to goodness it wasn’t the light dying people always claimed they could see.

“Are you all right?”

Jonah’s soft voice snapped her back to reality. Realizing she was wrinkling his vest under her fist and digging her fingers into his arm with her other hand, she jerked away. She pushed a strand of loose hair behind her ears, breathing a trembling giggle. “Oh yes, I’m fine. That was…fun.”

He scratched the side of his head, a hint of amusement in his eyes. “Maybe next time we can try the stairs?”

She couldn’t hold back her grin. “I always like your plans so much better than mine.”


~ ~ ~


I maaay have been a little excessive with the snippet sharing. Whoooops. But I hope you enjoyed it all the same!



What did you think, guys? Which snippet was your favorite? What do you think of my Karis and Jonah bbys? (How many typos did you find? Ahem.) Thank you for reading! Like, seriously. You guys motivate me so much! <3

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