Falling Under – Gwen Hayes

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“Falling Under” chronicles the story of Theia Alderson, a well protected albeit sheltered girl living in Serendipity Falls, California. She lives her life by her father’s rules of practicality and complacency; constantly fighting her wayward spirit. But someone comes along that unleashes her grip on herself; sending her tumbling into things she can’t understand.

Warning: This story has two books. “Falling Under” ends but you know that’s not the end. The second book is called “Dreaming Awake” and is available pretty much anywhere. I have not yet read “Dreaming Awake” as I only just finished “Falling Under” yesterday, but if it’s an indication to how I felt about “Falling Under” I will be keeping an eye out for “Dreaming Awake”.

This book was mostly character. The plot was thin and that’s okay. I love character books. Of course these characters kind of made me mad the whole time; but that good mad where you realise you must care because you keep yelling at everyone.

Also, it pains me to read books that involve anything supernatural because I just get so angry; being a self-proclaimed paranormal aficionado I just want to scream at them “DIDN’T YOU READ THE LORE!?” It’s irrational but there you have it.

Anyway, back to the book itself. I read it straight through over the span of two days (work and what not preventing me from reading it in one go). It was good. I felt compelled to continue reading (although part of me wonders if that was just because I wanted to make sure I was right and solved everything before they did). It made me feel and care which I think are good qualities to have in characters. I look forward to reading the second one. Also I was checking out Gwen’s website and this series sounds interesting, about the start of a new world. I love Post-Apocalyptic books so I’ll be checking that out also.

Anyway, happy reading!

Book Round-Up

I’ve been really busy this month. I spent a weekend with some friends from out of town, my SPN family actually from my previous post. I’ve been working extra hours (not a crazy amount but some which is nice). I’ve also read a bunch of books.

Every year I re-read Harry Potter at Christmas time, but this year Christmas was a cluster of insanity so I didn’t enjoy Harry Potter at the same time as usual. Instead I picked it up just after New Year. I powered through my favourite series by my favourite author and got lost in the magic for a countless time. If you haven’t read Harry Potter by now just go now and do it. You’re missing something critical in your life.

Then I attempted to read “The Nine Lives of Chloe King” by Liz Braswell

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months actually. I thought it sounded right up my alley, shifters and the paranormal. But I read about three chapters and for some reason it just wasn’t clicking for me. I wasn’t really drawn into the story or the characters. I don’t know why. I put it back on the shelf and I’m going to try again later but for now it just wasn’t for me.

So instead I picked up “Blood Magic” by Tessa Graton

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This book I read in a day. Literally. I started at like 8 in the morning and before I knew it the light outside was fading and I had flipped to the last page of the book. I spent a whole day in Yalelyah with Nick, Silla, Reese, magic, secrets, lies, half-truths, and danger. This book grabbed me from the beginning (as you may have guessed).

The story follows Nick Pardee who recently moved from Chicago to Yalelyah – a small Podunk town – after his grandfather dies and leaves him the house. He’s busy trying to not think about the odd girl who lives next door while dealing with the Wicked Step-mom and his dads offhand parenting techniques while being reminded of his mom and the mysterious things she taught him.

Silla is busy coping from the death of her parents that upturned her rather perfect life. She’s trying to defend her parents and still keep some resemblance of normalcy when a mysterious leather-bound book winds up in her possession sent from a person who calls himself The Deacon – the weirdest part is the book is written in her father’s handwriting, and it’s full of magic! Struggling to figure out how to navigate the world now that everything is different Silla begins exploring the magic and secrets of her past.

In all honesty, (slight spoilers?) and with full respect to Miss Graton, at first the characters really pissed me off – and I think that’s a mark of a great story in and of itself. I didn’t like the way Nick acted when he moved, he drove me insane and it makes sense! He was a sixteen year old kid with his life uprooted. And the mask thing was creepy with Silla but it definitely fit her as a person (it was subtle and odd in a kind of perfect way).

I think this book is great. It’s graphic – the rabbit scene, enough said – the characters are perfectly teen aged without being too one dimensional. I loved the magic and the style it was written, changing perspectives and giving you just a small piece of the puzzle with each new page. Nothing was in your face really. It was quite well written and very engaging.

I look forward to reading more from Tessa.

2016 Family and Friends

I wanted to write something about New Years before the new year. I would articulately summarize my year, the pros and cons, the ups and downs the beauty of endings and new beginnings. But I missed the deadline. New Years Day came with its usual fanfare and just like that a year had gone by. A year of new experiences, of new hopes, new dreams. It’s hard for me to really appreciate New Years Day in itself. It’s a day that marks a new year that was decided upon by Romans in 2000 B.C. (I won’t go into the history of Janus) regardless, ages ago people decided to have January be the beginning of the year. That’s fine. I love the conformity of everyone (in my nation, in my knowledge) following the same method of keeping track of time. On the opposite side however I dabble in philosophy, so I like to say “but every day is a new year.” Every day someone is born, every day someone dies, every day marks the beginning of something new and something passed. So celebrating the New Year is great for me, and I love that collective conscience of the world celebrating as one and feeling the same energy in those moments. I love the concept of fresh starts and new hope (not to be confused with Star Wars: A New Hope), I just labour under the delusion that they can happen any day of the year.

That brief 2016 introduction actually ties in to what actually got me onto writing a New Years post today, two days later. I was in my room doing some painting, listening to convention panels from Toronto Con ’15. For those who don’t know (and I don’t care if you don’t care) I am apart of a beautiful Family known as The Supernatural Family. You can call us dorks, you can say we’re lame, I don’t care. But we are this collective group of humans who genuinely are there for each other. We support each other, we uplift each other, we argue with each other, we side with each other, we rally, we inspire, we are everything a family is supposed to be. So, as I’m watching these panels and the actors, these members of our family, are talking about how they wouldn’t be anywhere without us (literally, if there’s no fans there’s no show, if there’s no show they have no job) but also metaphorically, how our passion, our energy inspires them. So I’m just about to text my friend (who I met at JerseyCon last year) and another good friend I’ve had most of my life, I’m about to text them and say something corny about how much these clowns mean to me and my new friend, my new family member, she texts me nearly the same thing before I even hit send on my phone. Out of nowhere we were both driven by the same thought, in the same moment. I’m sure it’s coincidence, throw a couple fangirls in a group chat and you’re bound to overlap in your thoughts. But it was just such a beautiful moment where I was thinking about my SPN Family and my SPN Family was right there thinking about us too.

And I love how connected the internet allows us to be. I love how involved we can be now in our obsessions. I love that I can say “oh that loophole, let me see if anyone else noticed and what their theories are” I can go on any number of social media sites or various forums and find dozens of people talking about the same thing and it’s not always pleasant sometimes it’s childish or rude, but more often it’s articulate and well thought out and analyzed. And it’s great to be able to connect to thousands of people all over the world and we can come together through the smallest of things.

I’ve danced around a bit and veered slightly off topic of New Year but I promise I’m bringing it back around.

But it’s more than the show now. It’s gotten bigger than that, it’s evolved and moved on, it’s become a genuine family, like I was saying. I can call upon any one in my SPN Family and say “I’m having a bad day, I need you.” And they’re there for me. And I’m there for them. We are the literal definition of family. We aren’t blood, and we might not have even met in real life yet, but we are family. We are a family spread over continents and cultures and generations. We are bound by more than blood.

My point with all of this is that when I had that moment of collective thinking about my friend while I thought about her over the same thing, and I thought about how she has become my family, how all my friends are my family, it made me think of New Years and new beginnings. There’s so much hope in the new year, some much promise, for a brief moment the entire world thinks “This is a fresh start. This year can be different. This year can be better than ever.” The entire world for one brief moment is the same in thinking how beautiful hope is.

And my rambling conclusion is that yes, this year begins with hope. Yes this year begins with possibility. And yes, this year begins with family, and support, and love, and everything beautiful and good.

Family Don’t End With Blood.

Always Keep Fighting.

Happy New Year.

“Bliss” – Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney

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Three friends, Demi Michaels, Leandra Hunting, and Sophia Marcus make a pact to always follow their hearts, their passion, their bliss. After graduating high school the three friends go their own ways toward their futures with ups, downs, and everything in between. “Bliss” is a novel that explores young adulthood, set in a glamorous life of Hollywood, the exciting world of intercontinental travel, and the uncertainty of home this book has a rapid pace and a resounding message.

The story of how I came across this book isn’t very much to tell. Having enjoyed Shay’s acting credits I knew she had written a book, and when I was recently at Comic Con her book was for sale and came with the bonus of getting to meet her and a signing! Meeting Shay was extremely exciting and she is a lovely human being.

I came back with many books from Comic Con but decided to read Shay’s first. It’s a good novel. I liked the world it was set in and I liked how flawed the characters were (it was very realistic because no one was perfect and you got pretty frustrated with all of them at some point). In the very beginning I felt that the descriptions were a bit forced as a way to introduce the characters but immediately after the prologue I no longer felt that way at all. I liked that it was realistically modern but it was also insanely over the top (or seemingly over the top to someone who would never have the lives that these girls have). One of the girls travels to foreign countries and bounces all over the globe and it seemed to superfluous but it was completely within her character and it just made sense for that person to be that way but in real life you’re going “no, absolutely not.”

The chapter titles were hysterical. The book overall felt like sitting down with a friend and having them tell a story, it was very readable. Does have some content for 18+ so read at your own discretion. But overall would recommend.

Pumpkins Scream In The Dead Of Night. . .

That’s right folks. Summer is over. Fall is here. And that means. . . HALLOWEEN.

Now, as a person who cherishes this one sacred day above all others in the WHOLE THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE of the year I just have to say that I am getting a little tiny teeny bit TICKED OFF at the lack of Halloween love. Look, in July/August it’s all about back to school. In September BAM it’s Christmas!?! Hello, Christmas is one day in December. There are three whole months before Christmas from School Time Start. Slow your roll guys! Halloween deserves more than the blip on the radar it has become. Let me tell you a story. . .

So there used to be two Halloween stores in my town. Two. They were both large, beautiful, they sold everything from fake blood to fog machines, costumes to mechanical zombies that were motion activated. They. Had. Everything. And it was beautiful. Then last year one of them wasn’t quite as spectacular but they got the job done. Then. THEN. This year THERE ISN’T EVEN ONE IN THE WHOLE TOWN. OR ANY SURROUNDING TOWNS. I had to drive about forty minutes (which okay where I live that’s like unheard of) to find a Halloween store, and that was after the 3 that allegedly existed didn’t exist.

Then. I went to I think it was Target or something and they’re already packing up their Halloween stuff/discounting it TO MAKE ROOM FOR CHRISTMAS. What the hell!? I mean seriously!

I understand statistically that I live in a country with about 78% who are Christians and celebrate Christmas (add into that the other 22% who just like pretty lights and gifts and well, I get that it’s a popular thing). But Halloween exists guys. I feel like I must have been the actual God/Demon Samhain in a previous life or something to love this day as much as I do.

Aside from the lore that everyone knows – that Halloween is the time of year where the veil between the two worlds (life and afterlife) is the weakest (thus enabling spirits to cross into our world and be heard for the night) and the more practical approach (harvest time) – Halloween is also the best time of the year for the adventure. In our culture now you dress up in costumes, you trick or treat, you carve pumpkins, you tell spooky stories, you watch scary movies, and read scary books! I could write essays on the history of Samhain and Hallowe’en (in fact I have before. You can read if you like). In addition to all the history and all the lore, the weather is crisp and refreshing as the earth goes to sleep to prepare for winter. It’s a beautiful time of year full of rich history and excitement AND IT’S BEEN RUINED BY PEOPLE JUMPING THE GUN FOR JINGLE BELLS AND HO-HO-HO-ING.

Don’t get me wrong, Christmas time is fine. It’s fun. I love giving. I love caroling. I love ugly sweaters and the Home Alone series. But please can we just let Halloween have it’s month?

Now to elaborate on some fun Halloween things to do to get the most out of this very overlooked celebration. . .

Corn Mazes – they sound cheesy I know. But they’re actually a lot of fun! And if you have children or young ones in your lives it’s great for them. It gets you outside. Gets you some exercise. And it’s just down-home quality fun.

Haunted Corn Mazes – Now with the added bonus of scaring the bejesus out of you! Walk through a corn maze full of things that go bump in the night! The adrenaline is worth the price of admission!

Hay Rides – Again, it’s fun to just take a gander around a farm, usually on a tractor or a cart pulled by a horse or two. Fun for the whole family!

Haunted Hay Rides – Read above and add chainsaw wielding psychopathic clowns!

Haunted Houses – There are allegedly some in this country that are so scary if you can actually make it through the whole thing without having to call for them to let you out the emergency exit you get a full refund and probably a t-shirt or something. Haunted Houses are a great way to have a few laughs with some friends and get the ol’ ticker pumping!

Camping – There’s usually one or two campgrounds that don’t close up until November. You can take the family (or some friends) camping, roast marshmallows on a fire and tell scary stories about the Hookman or Bloody Mary.

Pumpkin/Apple Picking – Most farms have “pick your own” apples and pumpkins. It’s a great way to enjoy some time in the fresh air and pick your own food! Plus it supports local farms and where would be with without local economy!?

Haunted Amusement Parks – Yes! Six Flags of course has their “Fright Fest” but there are other smaller theme parks throughout the country that are more like carnivals that literally only open for Halloween and they’re entirely Halloween themed! Here’s a link for a general idea but I recommend googling local ones in your area!

Pumpkin Carving – An oldy but a goody. Go pumpkin picking (or buy one at your local farmers market or grocer), bust out the knives and spoons and start carving! It’s fun to be creative or themed and you can express your personality with a piece of hallowed out rotting fruit!

Watch scary movies – this is where I really get into it. I love scary movies. I’m a big horror buff. So I’ve taken it upon myself to create a list of some of my favourite Halloween movies! (in no particular order)

  1. Halloween (the original is the best but any of the 6 or so sequels are good too! Including the reboots!)
  2. Friday the Thirteenth (okay, so slightly off theme but it’s still horror and it’s still epic. And hey if you switch around 31 you get 13 so…) (as an aside the remake is actually really good)
  3. Pet Semetary (this movie is the only thing that freaks me out. I also recommend the book if you’ve got the time. Just don’t read it with an attic full of squirrels. . . long story.)
  4. House of Wax (classic in the sense of it having every cheesey horror movie element imaginable)
  5. My Bloody Valentine (I usually reserve “My Bloody Valentine” for … well Valentines Day but who can resist a little vengeful ax-murdering miner?)
  6. The Houses October Built (A movie about Halloween. In documentary style filming it explores the world of haunted houses and when too far is too far)
  7. Nightmare Before Christmas (Okay. Yes. I ranted about Christmas earlier. BUT this is a Halloween movie with a Christmas subplot)
  8. Hocus Pocus (duh)
  9. Tucker and Dale Versus Evil (honestly one of the best horror/comedy movies ever)
  10. Shaun of the Dead (even better than Tucker and Dale in the horror/comedy genre)
  11. Nightmare On Elm Street (every town has an elm street, and everyone needs some 80’s horror in their lives)
  12. Trick ‘r Treat (multiple stories weaved together centering around a small town on Halloween. . . okay this movie was actually kind of sad more than scary)
  13. Lost Boys (you don’t need an excuse to watch Vampire Movies okay?)
  14. Anything with clowns – honestly like. anything.
  15. The Exorcist (demons, exorcisms, what more could you ask for?)
  16. Amityville Horror (homicidal ghosts and daddy issues. sign me up)
  17. Scream (how can you not include a horror movie about horror movies in your lineup?)
  18. Idle Hands (super underrated movie if you ask me)
  19. Rocky Horror Picture Show (this has the bonus of being able to sing along and cosplay)
  20. Practical Magic (again more sad than Halloween’y but it’s definitely one for getting in the spirit of magic)
  21. In the same vein as above Harry Freaking Potter y’all. What more could you ask for at Halloween time than witches, wizards, magical beasts, goblins, ghosts, and magical feasts! (it’s all that I love and it’s all that I need at Hogwarts! Hogwarts! *credit to Starkid*)
  22. You can always watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” – season 4 episode 7 if you want a quick Halloween theme fix of Supernatural (I also recommend “Monster Movie” 4×5)

There are a ton of other scary movies and probably even more ones geared directly at Halloween. But those are just some of my favourites.

Anyway. I highly recommend reading up on some Halloween lore and taking the time to decorate and celebrate this wonderful harvest holiday!

“The Bible” – A Collective Work

So lack of updates would make it seem I currently am taking a hiatus from reading. That is not the case. I am currently re-reading The Bible. I read it when I was a kid but didn’t absorb much except weekly lessons from Pastor Paul at my church and the teachings of Church Camp. But I decided now that I’m older and a priestess of the Wiccan faith I should brush up on other religious beliefs and mythologies. When I was in college I had an amazing professor who was the most inspiring woman. And she always had us comparing religions, challenging ideas, beliefs, questioning morality tales, looking deep within ourselves for outside truths. She is an amazing woman and one of my favourite professors (and people) ever. I had a brief moment sophomore year where I wanted to switch my major to theology because I was fascinated by what people believe as individual cultures and how these beliefs morph and transform overtime and bring us together (or tear us apart) as a species. So I’m brushing up on my religious studies. Starting with the good old bible because it’s honestly the one I’m most familiar with already (raised Christian and went to bible camp for many many years). Figured it was a safe place to start. I want to explore Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Egyptian Myth, Grecian/Roman, Shinto, pagan (including but not limited to my own Wiccan practice, Druidism, etc…) Rastafarian… There are dozens of religions I’ve never heard of and the ones I have heard of I feel I don’t even know half as much as they could teach. I just want to learn everything about faith, morality, stories of creation, of family, choice, ethics… I’m truly fascinated by all of it. 

“The Summer After You + Me” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Lucy loves living on the Jersey Shore. The real Jersey Shore, not the part that was broadcast on television that gave everyone from Jersey a bad name. She loves the smell of the ocean, how it permeates everything in town. She loves the bungalows and the shops. And every summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day her down gets infiltrated by tourists who take over the town. She mostly finds them amusing and doesn’t bother with them too much (the first rule of being a local is don’t fall for the tourists.) But then there is Connor, her summertime-next-door-neighbor. But after last year, after Hurricane Sandy changed so much about her small coastal town, after it brought people within reach she thought were just a step away… when the following summer comes sweeping in, Lucy has a lot to discover about herself, her town, and her relationships.

Okay, living in a tourist trap myself I can DEFINITELY relate to most of this outline. Memorial Day to Labor Day is my own personal version of hell. But luckily Hurricane Sandy didn’t strike us quite as hard as it did our neighboring boroughs and states. The novel, while being about romance and relationships, also definitely is about rebuilding after the storm, and persevering. I would say that is one of the main themes in the book.

I wish that I liked this book more. I liked the idea, I liked the feeling. The setting. The protagonist just irritated me so much. She was written really realistically, maybe that’s why she annoyed me. The book was easy to get through, despite my being annoyed at it the whole time. And the second half was a bit more redeeming after the first. There were just a few things in it that drove me crazy; but again, that’s what made it realistic.

Overall, not my top ten favourites but not that bad a read. Summer, romance, hard decisions, beach life… if that sounds up your ally then happy reading.