Iron Man: A Discussion

Just as a pre-curser, I hadn’t seen this film in several years. But, I watched a Cinema wins video about the film and got reoriented with it. I was originally going to write this post with just that, but I decided to rewatch the film once more so I could talk about it more in depth. Let’s just say I was not disappointed by my decision.

Having seen the later films I got used to the idea of Stark having anxiety and PTSD. However, I forgot about what triggered that in him. Being tortured and held captive by terrorists is something that is a tragedy. Being mentally affected by it is more then normal. Much like being mentally affected by any sort of hard and painful event would. Him becoming a hero and working to fight for good as he continuously faces his mental struggles is so important for films to depict. You don’t have to ever be perfect or fully healed as a being to do great things and Iron Man is an example of it.

However, this first Iron Man film doesn’t depict so much of his symptoms quite yet, but the story it does tell is one of redemption and transformation in many ways as the man who lived his life like a playboy, doing whatever he pleased, going through some tough crap that in many ways teaches him to see what was ultimately most important in his life all along. Though this doesn’t change his overall personality and I enjoy that. Tony Stark is witty and sarcastic and very honest in the way he answers. He is super unique as an individual and the way Robert Downey Jr. Plays the role is to perfection.

Iron Man is one of the most complex personalities of the marvel heroes. He’s full of good intentions, but he has his vices. He’s fallible yet that doesn’t stop him from being great. Also, his love story with Pepper (which doesn’t go so far in this film) is one of my favorites, because she sees him for him and loves him anyway. But, she doesn’t just let him have his excuses she calls him out and she’s there for him through everything. Something about it makes it feel like the most true to life love stories of the different Marvel couples. I adore it.

I wanna take a bit of a moment to pay tribute to Ho Yinsen’s character. This man saw to the heart of who Tony Stark is and gave him the strength he needed to get through one of his most difficult moments.

Some of the things he said were my favorite quotes from the film:

Stark: “Why should I do anything? Either way, they’re gonna kill you and me, and if not, then I’ll likely be dead by the end of the week”

Yinsen: “Well then, this will be a very important week for you, won’t it?

As well as:

Stark: “Come on. We gotta go. Move with me. We got a plan. We need to stick to it.”

Yinsen: “This was always the plan, Stark.”

Stark: “Come on. You’re gonna go see your family. Get up.”

Yinsen: “My family’s dead. I’m going to see them now, Stark. It’s okay. It’s okay. I want this. I want this.”

Stark: “Thank you for saving me.”

Yinsen: “Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life.”

And finally:

Yinsen: “So you’re a man who has everything and nothing?”

Yinsen is a man of great wisdom. In a place of terror he lead Stark to his ultimate freedom and liberation. I only wish one day I had half of the man’s strength and understanding.

In the Cinema Wins video it is discussed that the amount of building montages that take up the film has been criticized for being excessive. However, I agree with what it said about it being a positive thing. The amount of detail and growing they show are important to the story and understanding Stark. He is a thinker, a designer, and a creative. Seeing everything come together and how deeply he thinks every feature through is super cool. Maybe I’m just a tech nerd, but seeing the inner working parts was fascinating for me.

The Villain: Obadiah Stane:

The words I have for this man are: What a creep. Honestly, this villain did a good job of making me uncomfortable. Even in the photo above I don’t like looking at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t have something to do with Stark’s father’s death (although takes to civil war I know he doesn’t) but man how the hell did he stay under the radar enough to continue being the face of the business part of Stark Industries. I really don’t like this man.

My favorite battle:

I loved both when iron man first escapes from Afghanistan and when he returns and helps out some people who are being oppressed you the terror group there. Maybe it’s just how much fire and grit appear in both instances or the redemption arcs they both give Iron Man. Either way those were my favorite badass moments from the film.

All in all:

Iron Man is the impeccable start to the marvel universe. Featuring possibly the most scarred and human of the marvel universe heroes, Iron Man shows there is strength in the things that make us flawed human beings. Is the movie perfect? Of course not. But, it is the beginning of one of the most beloved and fast growing franchises in the movie industry today. I greatly enjoyed this film and every Iron Man film just gets better. Iron Man sends some really great messages into the community and as his story unfolds you learn just how layered the man who is both Tony Stark and Iron Man is.

Thanks for reading! I did mention in my Marvel announcement post that I did have quite a few thoughts on all these films. I can’t wait to discuss the rest! Let me know your thoughts on Iron Man or any of the marvel films down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Hello March 2019!

Hello everyone! Yes Indeed, I am back from the dead. I am still a bit under the weather, but I am definitely much better then I have been.

It’s a brand new month and I’m finally going to be back on the blog and writing some posts I can be proud of. Because of all the time I missed I’ve been a bit behind, but I’m going to be posting some reviews I should have gotten done a while back as well as start on the behemoth of a project I’ve been wanting to do since I got sick in January. That’s right.. the marvel universe posts are coming! And they are many.

In the coming weeks I hope to create a schedule for myself that I can keep up with. Being sick has made me very stagnant and I’m hoping to become free of that in the month of March.

I feel badly about not being able to post anything pretty much the entirety of February. I miss blogging and being productive in this way a lot. So I’m going to start off March right and start posting like I used to again.

Thanks for reading! Also, thanks for bearing with me. It’s been a whirlwind of a couple of months. I’m hoping that things start getting better very soon.

-Till next time!

Let’s Talk About: 2018

This year has been a lot and it’s not even over yet, but I am so ready to let this year go and see what 2019 has to bring me. However, that’s more for a later post.

Now I want to talk about this crazy, weirdly not as bad as I previously thought, yet also kinda terrible year. To be honest, the beginning of the year was a blur. I don’t remember much. I was probably frustrated due to finical struggles that continue on to today. The one bright spot was getting a car after a stint of not having one due to awful circumstances that live in 2017.

I remember being frustrated with the same job I still have that has been an ongoing thing this year. I remember applying to a lot of different other jobs that didn’t take. I remember being frustrated with being stagnant in my life and feeling like I was never going to really make anything of myself.

I remember making many many pledges to myself this year and the pride I felt when I kept some of those pledges. One being to do something about my weight because it bothered me and I felt ugly in clothing and so I made it a point to do something about it and it worked. I lost over 14 pounds this year and I’m still losing weight. I remember focusing on my mental health and trying to get back into writing and finishing a draft of a novel for the first time.

On the heel of all that, things that meld together because everyday I made it a point to get up early and make that day a new chance to do what I wanted to do (something I need to bring back into my life), I had a very weird and beautiful period that brought some great people into my life and all of a sudden I found myself in love. That love story was crazy and beautiful and full of hope. The relationship lasted for two months. I knew the guy for three. I am still at a loss for words about it all. I still love this person very much. Regardless, of anything that’s been said to me about it. Regardless, of being terribly confused because I feel like for the first time I don’t understand the why of something because I don’t have the full story. Regardless of the fact that this person left my life in such a way that it’s like he poofed himself out of existence. I still deeply care for love and hope happiness for this person. I wish for all his dreams whatever they may be to come true.

However, the loss and the whole crazy beautiful unbelievable story of it has literally changed my life in so many ways. One, I didn’t ever realize how true it is that break-ups are the worst thing mentally ever. The amount of tears and confusion and physical pain I have felt due to his loss is a bit of insanity. I have never felt so out of myself then I have in this experience. Especially because the truth of the matter is this guy felt like the one. Call me crazy stupid whatever, but that’s how I felt. We got along incredibly well. We understood each other. Something about the thought of him just existing and being the amazing guy I believed in made me feel stable. I don’t know, but I was happier then I had been in years and I was discovering new music with him and I was opening myself up to his world and it felt like he was opening himself up to mine.

All I know is for the rest of my life I will always have this guy in my heart. I will always feel a sense of love for him. Because even if I don’t know the whole story or why we couldn’t be together when everything seemed to be so good and changed so rapidly, I will always know that the love was real. That the guy I was getting to know was as authentic with me as he could be. That I will forever be a better person for knowing him. Whatever happens in the future. Should I meet someone that somehow makes me feel something greater then what he made me feel I will always have a piece of his heart with my own. Even though somewhere deep down I get the feeling that his presence in my life isn’t over and I can’t shake it.

But, to clarify something, I don’t think I handled being in a relationship as well as I could have. There are things that I look back on and think that I should have done things differently. One of those things was how much anxiety I was allowing to build up in myself. I worried a lot more then I should have. I miscalculated a lot of things. I thought my family would be cool with it when they weren’t for reasons I didn’t agree with. I tried to figure out ways to somehow get things to work when a lot of it was out of my control. I also didn’t let him introduce himself the way he wanted to and I shouldn’t have done that. I made a lot of mistakes on my part. However, he was the first thing I choose for myself and though I wish things had turned out differently it I learned a lot of life lessons.

One thing I learned is that I convinced myself that I needed him and maybe in some ways that was true, but the truth is more that I wanted him in my life very badly and I could not imagine for the life of me a more beautiful future for myself then the one with him in it. That even if loosing him wasn’t what I wanted I could move forward in my life without him in it. That I would be ok. Right now, I’m more ok then I was. I think I will always miss him. He is a big part of the reason why I’m trying so hard to stay positive. He taught me that no matter how bleak a situation may look there is always something good in life to enjoy. There will always be weird random things in this world that remind me of him like the time I cried at Walmart just cause I saw some Alfredo sauce and remembered him saying once that he would make pasta with his sister. Or when listening to any Michael Buble song ever. Or every-time my sister puts on the Karate kid and my soul dies a little because I swear I’ve never met a guy who loved that movie as much as he did and I live in a house where that movie gets played a billion times over. This guy even instilled in me a love of heavy metal I never thought I would have. I don’t understand it but somehow so many of those songs bring me peace. Damn it if the sound of guitar played a certain way even in a song I had never heard before brings a tear in my eyes. Losing this guy affected me incredibly deeply. Yet, I’m surprised at how short and small any anger I had was. It’s all just been deep sadness and a deep sense of loss. For a while I couldn’t (sometimes still can’t) eat quite right because things weren’t tasting quite right and I felt like throwing up. I never thought I’d feel that way. Not over a guy. Yet here I am.

Maybe it was partially that it was a perfect storm of sucky things. My dad ending up in the hospital again the day after I realized I’d been ghosted. Finding out my dad had four mini strokes. The many not fun discussions I’d have with my mom because of said guy. Other frustration with myself for feeling like I’d overreacted about everything and that maybe that was why things happened the way they did. Also realizing that my mental health was essentially garbage and I needed time to process everything before I even could have a chance of healing.

So here I am now. After another decent break from blogging due to the chaos a day before my 20th birthday and somehow finding that things aren’t so bad. My dad is doing ok. He’s the same as he has been. I have some plans to take on 2019. I’m no longer in my wallowing stage of my grief. I’m willing to take on whatever it is that life is going to throw at me next.

I will not live in my past. I will not let apathy settle in my heart. 2018 was what it was. A lot of it sucked a lot of it was beautiful and a lot of it was positive too. I know that one day everything is going to turn out alright and everything that has happened will make a lot more sense. All that being said, I wish farewell to 2018 it’s not quite reached its end, but believe me I will be breathing a sigh of relief once it’s over.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Advice for Newbie Bloggers

I was thinking a lot these past few weeks about what it was like when I first started blogging. What I wish I knew. What my hopes were. How blogging became a gift that has brought me the greatest joy that I’ve ever had. At almost two years of blogging I am no longer a newbie. Yet, it feels like I only blinked a little before getting to this point.

To every person that wishes to be a part of this community, here is what I want you to know:

Your entering a place of magic. Blogging is amazing because you connect with others simply by writing about the things you love. You build friendships here. You create a corner of the internet for yourself that is full of amazing and beautiful people that will support you through everything.

To never forget to add tags on your posts. On your way to building your own personal community you have to make sure others can find you. Before publishing each new post the tags you add in the settings of your drafted post are the gates that allow others into your world. Use them!

Sometimes things get lost. Blogging isn’t always rainbows.. sometimes there are storms too. WordPress specifically can be frustrating at times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Timing when publishing a saved draft. Most of my posts are published immediately after I write them. I do this because I find that the scheduling mechanic and the save mechanic to often be finicky. One of the issues I ran into a lot was writing a post, saving it, and coming back to it, finishing it, and having it publish, but instead of it publishing immediately.. it sets the time published for a day or two earlier… which means it won’t go into the reader’s feeds the way they should. You can fix this by fixing the publish time in the post’s settings. (In particular this has made me want to pull out my hairs).

Images are important! You don’t have to have a fancy looking blog to have it be successful, but having some simple imagery of some sort in your posts help keep people engaged and it breaks up the text nicely. Especially as a book blogger always try to share images of the book your talking about after the title. It’s pleasing to the eyes and it gives others a reference to remember the book and what you said about it should they see it online or in a store.

Engaging with other bloggers is imperative! Comment, like, and converse with others in the community! It is the best part! This is where the magic truly happens. The people in this community are all really welcoming! You don’t ever have to worry about anyone here thinking your annoying or anything else with you commenting. Bloggers live for the comments on their posts!! So don’t be afraid and engage!

Most importantly, be you! Don’t write what you think is popular or what is going to get you more ‘likes’ or ‘views’. Write what you believe in! Don’t be afraid to mix it up with different posts. People will flock to you just by you speaking your truth. Don’t feel like you have to present a persona on here. People will accept and enjoy your content just as it is.

All in all! If you’re a newbie blogger welcome!! This is the start of one of the most wonderful Journey’s in your life! Enjoy it!! Also, if your reading this and your new introduce yourself in the comments and I will give you a follow. Supporting you guys is so important. I can’t wait to watch as you all grow!

Thanks for reading! Leave me your thoughts down in the comments below.

Check out my Twitter and Instagram!

-Till next time!

Black Chuck: A Review

Black Chuck by Regan McDonell

My Rating: 3/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 6/10! It is a very strong cover! I like how dark it is and the composition of it. It really fits the story. It markets the book for what it is and I really appreciate that!

Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Publish Date: April 3rd, 2018

Number of Pages: 304

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“Psycho. Sick. Dangerous. Réal Dufresne’s reputation precedes him. When the mangled body of his best friend, Shaun, turns up in a field just east of town, tough-as-hell Réal blames himself. But except for the nightmares, all Ré remembers is beating the living crap out of Shaun the night of his death.

Shaun’s girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Evie Hawley, keeps her feelings locked up tight. But now she’s pregnant, and the father of her baby is dead. And when Réal looks to her to atone for his sins, everything goes sideways. Fast.

The tighter Evie and Réal get, the faster things seem to fall apart. And falling in love might just be the card that knocks the whole house down.”

Opening Sentence: “Réal hunched into his old jean jacket, running a cut lip between his teeth and not looking anyone in the eye.”

Musings:

Black Chuck made me feel like I was back watching Until Dawn, but only in a whispering barely there sort of way. Black Chuck is a story all its own and there are times where gross darkness smashes against a bit of hopeful light.

What I Enjoyed:

The dark description. When Real dreams the gross description of him killing and eating his friend. I may not like to watch that stuff happen in movies (I could never bring myself to watch raw or saw (why the names are so similar.. I don’t know) but in a book I don’t mind it at all. I think that the way it was described was in a almost tasteful way it was unsettling, but not overtly Corey. (Why does talking about this make me uncomfortable?)

The idea. The wendigo are creatures that truly fascinate me. Using them in the way this author did was smart. It kept me interested in the story. All I wanted was to see Real transform with that demon taking over him. Seeing a little into what their minds might be like was really creative and cool.

Sunny. I liked this character because she may have been completely flowed and horrible as a person, but it comes from a place that is real and I appreciate that. A lot of her thinking made sense to me even if I didn’t agree with the decisions she made.

Grey morality. The morals in this book were skewed all over the place. In a lot of ways that only added to the atmosphere of the novel. It isn’t really about rooting for the characters more as watching them live and make decisions that they tell themselves is right even when it isn’t. It added to making me feel uncomfortable and I read horror exactly for that dreadful feeling it gives.

What I Wish Was Different:

Evie’s behavior while pregnant. I know that she was thinking of giving up the baby and that it wouldn’t matter what she did, but it made me cringe on the inside with some of the actions she took. I feel like it might have all been part of the horror, but I feel like it took away more then it added.

MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!

The ending. This end was far too positive for my liking. I feel like a lot of what makes a good horror ending was absent. Real didn’t even eat his friend… it would have made a better story if at least someone had. It’s like all the build up and all the amazing horrific description was for naught, because in the end it didn’t matter. It was like giving me a tasty treat and saying sike as it dissolves into salt in my mouth. I just want my horror to give me horror. Let it end in the terrible darkness that began it. Don’t undue the story you have created by giving it an ending like this.

All in All:

Black Chuck is a fun thrill ride. It turns stomachs and creates an atmosphere. It is a diverse horror that I wish lacked the punch I knew it could have given.

About the Author:

Regan studied poetry at the University of Victoria with Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier, and then promptly put the pen down to pursue a career in textile and graphic design. Now the Creative Director at a Toronto-based marketing agency, Regan spends her days designing apparel for kids, and her nights writing fiction for teens. She has no pets or children, but she does have a bass player, and is auntie, oba, and tädi to four surprising, funny little humans.

She also leaves love letters on subways for strangers to find.

Black Chuck is her first published work.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

Check out my Twitter and Instagram

-Till next time!

I Have Returned to Bookstagram!!!

I don’t think I ever talked much about bookstagram on my blog. I have always had a love for it, but never the means to be dedicated to it. Honestly, for a while even thinking about it was exhausting, but something author Gae Polisner said to me when I got a chance to speak with her stuck with me (well a lot of somethings, but those are for other posts).

When Gae first found my review of In Sight of Stars and thanked me for it on Twitter I was incredibly happy. When she went so far as to let me interview her and offer to let me Giveaway a signed copy of In Sight of Stars on here I was blown away, but it was in the conversation I had with her about returning her generosity by one day sending out her books to others when I could afford to, but her reply that what I am doing now and what she appreciated most made my heart feel full.

She told me that by blogging and sharing my love for books was already enough. That just by speaking about the books I love brought more people to discover authors works and that was invaluable. This re-sparked my love for Instagram, because it was the place where I would most repeatedly share the books of my heart. It made me realize that repeatedly sharing my favorite titles wasn’t a bad thing.

Every single time a new person sees your favorite titles it generates some form of interest. It invites a reader to learn more and as everyone knows for the most popular of books that form of ‘advertisement’ really works! It’s why we see books like the ACOTAR series and Illuminae everywhere on bookstagram. Individual interest sparked mass interest that fed upon itself. If I could help be a part of that for some of the lesser known books I have fallen in love with or even the popular ones I feel like I would be a success in what I want my instagram to achieve.

I may never be a huge bookstagramer. I may never have thousands of likes like some bookstagramers seem to generate, but I would be sharing the books I own and love and giving them a little boost from the love in my heart and I think that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

It goes for any book you love. Share it! At the end of the day it shows excitement for that book and it collectively influences the success of that book. So take pictures! Scream out your bookworm love on twitter. Blog your top 10’s again and again. For the sake of supporting the people who have inspired me I know I won’t be giving up on instagram any time soon.

Our voices matter! Even in places you would never expect.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

Enter the giveaway for In Sight of Stars! https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92adb0f42/?

Check me out on Twitter and Instagram!

-Till next time!

Cold Hard Truth: A Review

Cold Hard Truth by Anne Greenwood Brown

My Rating: 3/5 stars!

Cover Rating: 4/10 It’s not my style. A lot of contemporary books have covers that aren’t really my style, but it’s a generic contemporary cover that fits the book for the most part. It is kinda sweet, but still not my thing.

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Publish Date: April 3rd, 2018

Number of Pages: 304

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Emmie O’Brien is a former good girl now on the fringe. She spent a crazy year involved with Nick, her mom’s drug dealer; after her arrest she was lucky to go back to her old life. But she’s haunted by the choices she made—first, to be with Nick, and then later, to testify against him. Max Shepherd is a senior varsity hockey player with serious anger issues. His grief over the death of his girlfriend causes him to see injustice wherever he looks. When they meet in community service, Max is drawn to Emmie’s calm energy, but Emmie knows better than to get too close to anyone. When friends of Nick show up seeking revenge, Emmie is forced to come to terms with her past, while Max has to control his protective instincts. They must trust one another, especially when Emmie’s situation takes a dangerous turn.

Opening Sentence: “Emmie O’Brien knew she was supposed to run.”

Musings:

I may have had a slow start in getting into this story, but that didn’t stop me from not wanting to put it down once stuff really started to get crazy. I did have some minor issues with this book, but I enjoyed it immensely. It was a thrilling read at various parts for sure!

What I Enjoyed:

The action. Towards the end of this novel things get real. The stakes are raised high and I was biting my nails just thinking about what could happen.

The suspense. As far as Emmie’s story goes, her recent past catching up to her and the times where fear is a legitimate feeling made my heart stop more then once. I was always wondering how things were going to get worse for her.

Emmie is tough as nails. So much happens to Emmie and she faces it all with a calm that I don’t know I could ever muster. It helps her handle situations with a greater ease and you can’t help but admire her.

Emmie’s support system. Although she hadn’t been to school for a long time her best friend is still there for her. Once Max comes into her life his protection just by being a strong hockey player with a I always have to act complex was actually cool to see. I liked that his weakness as a person made him the perfect person to be there for Emmie. Also, I love that Emmie’s dad is so protective of her and makes sure that she is always safe.

Emmie’s Truth. I love Emmie’s story and why she did some of the things she did. She was in a situation that sucked and she tried. I didn’t agree with her choices, but she made decisions as she saw was best for her and was forced to live with the consequences.

What I disliked:

Emmie’s and Max’s stories being hidden from each other for so long. I feel like it would have been so much better if they both knew each other’s story a little earlier and by the time the reader knows both of their stories completely you just get frustrated with them for not saying anything. I feel like I understand Emmie taking longer, but Max’s story would at least have been mentioned to her just passing through the hallways in school. It was a little drawn out.

I was simply enjoying the story. I wanted to love this story, but something about it kept me at a distance. I think it could have been much better then it was, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is I really wanted to change.

Final thoughts:

Cold Hard Truth is a not so light contemporary that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With thrilleresque vibes it will keep you reading until all the questions you have are answered.

About the Author:

I am the author of the following Young Adult novels:

COLD HARD TRUTH (contemporary/romance);

GIRL LAST SEEN (contemporary/suspense);

and the paranormal mermaid trilogy: LIES BENEATH, DEEP BETRAYAL, PROMISE BOUND.

I also write adult romance under the name A.S. Green.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

If you haven’t seen it already I am hosting a giveaway for “In Sight of Stars” by Gae Polisner!

Here is the rafflecopter link!

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter!

-Till next time!

Special Interview/Giveaway with In Sight of Stars Author Gae Polisner

Hello everyone!

Today’s post is a special one, because I got to interview the author of one of my all time favorite books of the year and she offered to do an exclusive giveaway right here on my blog so that you all could have a chance to receive a signed copy of her beautiful book “In Sight of Stars”. *disclaimer* **This is a US only giveaway** (I apologize to my international blogging friends).

In Sight of Stars is an absolute gorgeous thing of a novel and if you haven’t already you can read my rave review of it here.

Anyway you’re not here for my words right now (or at least you shouldn’t be, I mean, I have a queen as a guest).

On to the interview!

1. Gae, you have written many books. How was the writing process for In Sight of Stars different from your other books?

Each book brings a totally different process for me, but IN SIGHT OF STARS was most tough for me to trust that I could bring the element of art to life, especially since I was dealing with VanGogh. My mother is an artist so she helped – and pushed me – on that, and so your next question makes me smile because this leads right to that. . .

2. In Sight of Stars has this beautiful mix of an ethereal beginning that bleeds into more and more clarity, how did you decide that that was the best way to write your story?

When the book opens, Klee is in the middle of a psychological break. He is not himself, and doesn’t have control over what is happening with, and to, him. I really wanted the reader to feel the disorientation and delusion (not to mention the desperation) Klee is feeling, and, I imagine from the reading I did, that it is much like Van Gogh felt at times in his life.

I was referencing Klee’s connection with Van Gogh in the opening of the original draft, but it was my mother – who is an incredible artist herself, and one of my best BETA readers – who suggested I might want to make the opening “like a Van Gogh painting come alive.” I had literally just watched my mother-in-law hallucinating from too-strong pain meds, and the minute my mom suggested it, it freed me in a way I was needing to be able to go fully there.

As for being the best way. . . we never know that, whether anything we’ve done is the “best way.” ☺ I’m sure I’ve lost readers with the opening, too. But I presume the readers who need the story, who connect, will find what they are looking for.

3. In the book, art is a tone setter for emotions that fly. What is a painting that you think best captures Klee’s emotional journey?

Oh wow, what an amazing question. I mean, obviously Van Gogh’s work would capture it. . . The most obvious: Starry Night.

I know for many it is simply a gorgeous painting, which it is, but for me, the painting feels tumultuous, and many have spoken to the haloed suns in his work pointing to problems with his vision, whether due to too much absinthe, lead in the yellow paints he used, or toxic but not lethal overdoses of the medication known as digitalis…

But VanGogh’s Wheatfield With Crows (and, of course, Daubigney’s Garden) were the two paintings that inspired the scene I tried to set in the first several days of the story. . .

But, I could also point to a few Paul Klee paintings – as you know, that’s who my protagonist is named after. . .

Paul Klee- Little Tree Amid Shrubbery

Bird Wandering Off

And by the end of the story, I believe his emotional journey forward could be more encapsulated by a VanGogh painting filled with light and hope like this version of Wheatfield with Cypresses.

I find it notable that both the starting and ending point of that emotional journey – a proverbial wheatfield – remain the same, but the light and hope of the setting (Klee’s own mind) can be seen as healthier and changed.

4. Books don’t appear from nothing. What was your inspiration for writing In Sight of Stars?

I’ve talked about it in a few blog posts . . . the first scene I ever wrote in the book was the one where Klee draws on Sarah’s paper:

[Sarah] works across from me. Her hair spills onto her paper like a shiny black waterfall, and her hand moves the charcoal in tight gray lines.

. . .I stare at her hair, then at her hand, then I reach out and trace the

strands with my charcoal.

“Hey! What the fuck, Alden?” Her eyes search mine, then dart back to my marks on her paper. “What the hell is your deal?”

I yank my hand back, burnt, but it’s too late, several kids have jerked

their heads around. And I’m already an alien for showing up here senior year.

Originally the first lines of the book, now, not appearing until pages 9 – 11, this scene was the catalyst for the whole story that came after, because, as the daughter of an artist, and a writer myself, I know the danger in touching someone else’s work. You don’t. Not without their permission. And, the thing is, Klee knows this too. And, so, in that moment I also suddenly knew a ton about Klee and who he was going to be when we meet him: a kid who knows better, but is in such a fragile place he can’t stop himself. He gives in to an impulse, feels utterly compelled. It’s literally the first instant when Klee is out of control. The first inkling we have that he is. And Sarah forgives him. More than that, there is something about his impulsivity, his compulsion, that draws her to him. Yet it will ultimately be the same thing that undoes them. To me, this interaction is one where love, pain, and art all collide.

The story evolved from there, from asking myself the question, “But, why?” Why was Klee in that fragile state? Why was it so intrinsically related to art, and specifically the art of Van Gogh?

5. Of all your books, which is the one you struggled to write the most and why?

Oh, hands down, JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME, the one that comes out next. It’s darker and maybe more commercial than my other books – a good thing – but I’ve struggled to make sure there’s a reason I’m telling the story other than, “Oh, cool, dark story,” that the journey my main character takes actually matters, that the readers’ reading actually matters. Plus, for some reason, I seems to struggle more writing female MC’s than male ones. Funny, huh?

6. Writing is a journey. What was the beginning of your journey to becoming a writer?

I still can’t believe I’m actually a published writer. The journey was long, checkered, and never seems to get too much easier to write a good book and get that book published (and see copies sell). If you want to get a sense, here’s a blogpost I wrote in 2014 called “Chutes and Ladders Redux” (and, yes, apparently I have a thing for Chutes and Ladders and board games from my childhood, as you know all too well from IN SIGHT OF STARS):

http://ghpolisner.blogspot.com/2014/10/falling-failing-and-chutes-ladders.html

7. One day I could only hope to write a book that shares as much truth as In Sight of Stars. What is your advice for an aspiring writer?

Oh, you know, all the usual: Read a lot, Rewrite a TON, expect your first few manuscripts to be practice runs. But maybe most of all, trust your own unique voice. There are no unique stories, only the way YOU tell them.

8. Not all must be serious. What is something you turn to that brings a smile on your face every time?

Oh, even in my darkest moments, I find humor, and hope that translates to my stories (although in JACK KEROUAC, I’m not sure…)

In IN SIGHT OF STARS, Sister Agnes Teresa brings that humor with her wry sarcastic exchanges with Klee over Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders. In THE MEMORY OF THINGS, it’s why I chose Kyle to watch Cow and Chicken with the bird girl, maybe one of the stupidest, most ridiculous TV shows that ever was.

I think one of the biggest things that draws me to others is their sense of humor, so I try to impart that in the relationships in my stories – a repartee (?) in my dialogue, sometimes light, sometimes cutting, but always a sense of humor.

9. Writers must always be readers first. What are some of your favorite books?

Yes, they must. YA: Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork, and books from my childhood like A Wrinkle in Time, or Judy Blume YA’s (vs MG’s). Adult: OMG, anything by Barbara Kingsolver. Her writing astounds me. A book called To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal (he also writes YA). But so many. So many.

10. When at first you don’t succeed… The writing process can be difficult and knowing our weaknesses is invaluable. What is something you struggle with when you write your first draft?

Everything. Everything. Creating a story rather than just strung together moments. Figuring out WHO my characters are and why they ultimately matter. Finding enough stakes, enough drama. Everything. Did I say everything?

Again I want to thank you for writing a story that I have come to love so much! I am so happy that I had the chance to read your words. Especially during a time of struggle personally. It means the world that you reached out to me. Thank you! – Tiana (The Book Raven)

I’m so grateful for you sharing your book love, and so grateful to be connected. Hope this period of struggle passes quickly, and the period of pure joy that will arrive before the next struggle checks in (because they always do, don’t they?), is extended and rejuvenating, and fills your soul with hope to spare.

[END of Interview]

This is the first time on my blog where I ask myself “Did this really just happen?”. I’m a little star struck. I had just fallen in love with Gae’s writing and had been researching her other books so I could add them all to my tbr.. and she contacts me?! Because of my review!?! This has been one of the most surreal and wonderful experiences of my life!

Anyway… time to link what you really came here for the Giveaway!

Click the rafflecopter link HERE.

You all really don’t want to miss on one of my absolute favorite books of the year!

Thanks for reading! *internally screams* (my professionalism is slipping) You all have to check out this book! Anyway enter the giveaway and check out Gae’s books! Her writing is incredible!

Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

The ABC book challenge: It’s absolutely Fabulous!

Another day another chance to keep on moving forward with the ABC book challenge! This time we’re taking a look at books featuring the “f” and oddly enough I’m being taken back to my Sesame Street Days.

Memorable books that start with “F”:

Fire

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. The young King Nash clings to his throne while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. The mountains and forests are filled with spies and thieves and lawless men.

This is where Fire lives. With a wild, irresistible appearance and hair the color of flame, Fire is the last remaining human monster. Equally hated and adored, she had the unique ability to control minds, but she guards her power, unwilling to steal the secrets of innocent people. Especially when she has so many of her own.

Then Prince Brigan comes to bring her to King City, The royal family needs her help to uncover the plot against the king. Far away from home, Fire begins to realize there’s more to her power than she ever dreamed. Her power could save the kingdom.

If only she weren’t afraid of becoming the monster her father was.

Fire is one of the best fantasies I have ever read! I love this book and I will recommend it always!

Fairest

In the kingdom of Ayortha, who is the fairest of them all? Certainly not Aza. She is thoroughly convinced that she is ugly. What she may lack in looks, though, she makes up for with a kind heart, and with something no one else has-a magical voice. Her vocal talents captivate all who hear them, and in Ontio Castle they attract the attention of a handsome prince – and a dangerous new queen. In this masterful novel filled with humour, adventure, romance, and song, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine invites you to join Aza as she discovers how exquisite she truly is.

This was the adorable fantasy I needed in childhood. I read it in my teens and I enjoyed it immensely.

Books I would love to devour that start with “F”:

Fresh Ink

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

I am very excited to see this anthology out in the world! I have an arc that I hope to read very soon! It’s one of the coolest books I’ve seen around in a long time!

Falling Kingdoms

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed… and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It’s the eve of war…. Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword….

I’ve heard so many good things about this series for so long! I would love to finally get my hands on a copy to read.

Thanks for reading! Have you participated in this challenge? Leave your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

July TBR

This Tbr is going to be relatively small. It’s camp Nanowrimo and I honestly don’t know how much reading I’m going to be doing. (Hopefully my usual hour a day, but you never know). These will all be Netgalley reads because I am 20 books behind and I want to finally be caught up.

Currently reading:

The Beauty That Remains

Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

There is so much grief felt in this book. All three have felt the loss of someone dear and I’m curious to see how they all come together in the end.

Tbr:

Big Water

Seventeen-year-old Christina McBurney, grieving the loss of her twin brother, Jonathan, to consumption, has run away from her Parkdale home. She believes her mother wishes she had been the one to die, and she plans to find work far away as a nursemaid or teacher. Christina’s cousin Peter is the first mate on the Asia, a steamship that transports passengers and freight throughout the Great Lakes, so she seeks him out to secure passage to Sault Ste. Marie.

But when a violent storm suddenly rises, the overloaded and top-heavy steamship begins to sink. Christina, heeding the warnings from her cousin, somehow makes her way to the hurricane deck. A large wave tosses her overboard, but just before she loses consciousness, she is pulled to safety.

Hours later, adrift on the wide-open water of Georgian Bay, in a lifeboat full of corpses, Christina is nervous about being alone with Daniel, a brooding young man with a likely criminal past and the only other passenger left alive. But they both know that working together is the only way they will find the strength to make it to safety.

Big Water is a fictional account of the real-life story of the only two survivors of the sinking of the SS Asia in 1882.

I love unique stories that are based off of not well known real life events. It sheds a different light on history and I really enjoy it.

To Kill a Kingdom

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I am finally going to be reading this book this month! If that’s not motivation to read the above two books with lightning speed I don’t know what is?

In Sight of Stars

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Stars is a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.

This book is amazingly rated and I feel honored to read it. Everything about it screams awe inspiring.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed my short tbr. I look forward to reading all of these titles! Let me know what your reading next down in the comments!

-Till next time!