Love that Bleeds

 

Most of you know already that I am a big fan of Christian contemporary music, but you may not know that I do occasionally listen to secular (non-Christian) music periodically, although it’s mostly at my retail job, over loudspeakers.

One thing I’ve noticed about many (but not all, certainly) secular songs is that most are about some form of romance– break-ups, heartbreak, letting go, seduction, singleness, the way a person makes the other feel (in more than one way 😛 ), etc. One of my favorite secular songs, “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis, does cover an unusual topic– suffering and love. At first glance, some might assume it’s an abusive love, and being Ni (seeing things from all the different perspectives), I can see how they’d think that. However, it could also very well be an analogy for suffering in love, sometimes with the person you love.

I think this song speaks unusually strongly to me, in light of the crucifixion, even though that is likely what was not intended.  I think part of the song could be interpreted as us humans singing, and part of it, Jesus. Here’s an example:

Believers:

“Closed off from love/ I didn’t need the pain
Once or twice was enough/But it was all in vain
Time starts to pass/ Before you know it, you’re frozen
But something happened, for the very first time with you
My heart melts into the ground/ found something true
And everyone’s looking round, thinking I’m going crazy”

(…As many non-Christians do when a believer gets passionate and goes all-out for their faith! 😉 )

This next one, with Jesus, reminds me of the disciples, especially Peter, when Peter attempted to rebuke Jesus for predicting His death and necessary sacrifice (the “get behind me, Satan!” passage). This and the chorus also remind me a bit of the Pharisees and many other Jews at the time:

“Trying hard not to hear/ but they talk so loud
Their piercing sounds fill my ears/ try to fill me with doubt
Yet I know that the goal/ is to keep me from falling
But nothing’s greater/ than the rush that comes with Your embrace
And in this world of loneliness/ I see Your face
Yet everyone around me, thinks that I’m going crazy, maybe, maybe
But I don’t care what they say
I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away/ but they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein/ that I keep on closing
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding, I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
You cut me open”
This one in particular is telling:
“And it’s draining all of me
Oh they find it hard to believe
I’ll be wearing these scars/ for everyone to see
I don’t care what they say, I’m in love with you
They try to pull me away, but they don’t know the truth
My heart’s crippled by the vein, that I keep on closing
You cut me open and I
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
I keep bleeding, I keep, keep bleeding love
Keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding love
Oh, you cut me open and I…”
This reminds me very strongly of the passage in Scripture that reads, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5,NIV)
By His stripes, by the literal flogging, cutting, and dying of His earthly form, Jesus bled love, physically and spiritually. He suffered an excruciating death, a death the worst criminals, the worst sinners deserved, even though He was completely innocent of any wrongdoing (confirmed by Pilate in Scripture by the earthly authorities, and by God in the spiritual realm). We may think to ourselves, “I’m a good person. I don’t harm anyone else, mind my own business, donate to this charity/volunteer.” Guess what? Being a “good person,” even if you help others, isn’t going to get you right with God (I will not say, “get you into Heaven,” because Heaven is literally just wherever God is. Hell is the absolute absence of God’s presence– hence, its title. It is not someplace you want to be.). God has been devastated, since the Fall, at the separation between humankind and Him, and has since been looking for ways to resolve this problem. He cannot condone sin, as He is by nature holy and sinless Himself, but He still loves us with a deep and everlasting love. So, He sent His earthly form, His Son, Jesus– God in human flesh. He Himself suffered and bled love for us, Jesus is the bridge, if you will, connecting the two cliff faces of us and God the Father while dangling over a chasm, even if that means He gets trampled on every now and then. All we need to do is confess and abandon our sins, accept Jesus’s sacrifice for us, and cross the bridge to the Father. Our Abba.
This Easter, I’d like to reflect on this love that God has for us, the love He literally bled out for each and every person who has existed. I hope and pray with all my being that you do likewise.
Enjoy Easter. And enjoy the candy. But remember what we’re truly celebrating– the resurrection, and the new Life Jesus gives us by dying and being raised.
(Note: When I listen to this song, I literally get teary every time she sings the scars part, because the whack of the wooden instrument reminds me of –lash-by-lash–the flogging Christ received, before crucifixion… the agony He received on our behalf… 😥 )
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Fearfully and Wonderfully

Lately, I’ve been having a fairly Punchinello kind of year, folks.

Actually, he’s probably almost my “spirit animal” at this point; I relate to him just that much.

Who, you may be asking, is this mysterious Punchinello? Well, if you have not grown up with the blissfully illustrated children’s books by Max Lucado, I’ll tell you a bit about him.

Punchinello is a Wemmick– a kind of wooden person (sorta like a puppet except NO STRINGS ON ME, plus more free will, etc.) living with many other Wemmicks in a village. Everything and everyone there is made by a local craftsman carver, Eli, who lives up in a large cottage on a large hill, overlooking this village and valley ‘o Wemmicks. (I’m pretty sure most of you get the spiritual allegory in this sense by now, but I’ll get to the really important point soon, I promise)

Each and every day, Wemmicks go about their daily business, doing what they do best– giving out stickers to other Wemmicks from a box. The talented, pretty, intelligent, sparkling Wemmicks are often covered in gold star stickers, literally lathered in praise and admiration for their talents and appearance. Others, however, are not so fortunate– ones like Punchinello. They are either viewed as “ugly,” ungifted, stupid, etc, and are constantly slapped with ugly gray dots as a result. This passage breaks my heart:

Punchinello was one of these. He tried to jump high like the others, but he always fell. And when he fell, the others would gather around and give him dots. Sometimes when he fell, his wood got scratched, so the people would give him more dots. Then when he would try to explain why he fell, he would say something silly, and the Wemmicks would give him more dots. After a while he had so many dots he didn’t want to go outside. He was afraid he would do something dumb such as forget his hat or step in the water, and then people would give him another dot. In fact, he had so many gray dots that some people would come up and give him one for no reason at all. “He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.” After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick,” he would say.” (Lucado, 8, 10.)

If it didn’t occur to you by now– the stickers are the equivalent of people’s comments and opinions on you. The stars, of course, are all the nice things they say– compliments, praise, even flattery. The gray dots are the put-downs, the insults, the slander, the gossiping, the cruel, back-stabbing comments.

I may have mentioned my MBTI type, INFJ, but I don’t believe I’ve ever confided my Love Language (the way I feel loved/affirmed by others) with most of you, so here it is: Words of Affirmation. The same as Punchinello’s, by the looks of it.

You see, I am seldom affirmed verbally at home. Most of the time, I would get told off for whatever stupid thing I did, or what I was supposed to do. (My mom’s is Quality Time, and my dad’s is Acts of Service. You see where some of the conflict is?)

It got to the point where my perfectionistic self would mentally scream at me every time I messed up, and those people WEREN’T around to tell me I messed up.

The result? I felt exactly as low as Punchinello, even at college. Even at work. Part of me craved verbal affirmation, longed for it; yet part of me balked at the hope. At the wishful thinking. Sometimes I got pleasantly but genuinely surprised to be affirmed, to be told that I actually did a good job on something; I still do to this day. At one or more of my jobs, I sometimes cower a little, inwardly, if approached by a boss or manager– my first reaction isn’t, “I wonder what they want?” but, “Oh, great. What did I mess up this time?” I feel like I’m stupid, an inconvenience or bother to some. Often, I feel incompetent– like I can’t even do retail right. It’s the terrified, cowering puppy inside me. She wants to be patted on the head, loved on, told she’s a good girl and helpful to at least some, ANY degree, but has been condescended/ yelled at so many times she gets guarded and even defensive. When I realized God was showing me the connection between Punchy and myself, I was actually on the verge of tears. And it takes a lot to get me to break like that.

To continue Punchy’s story, one day he meets a unique Wemmick, one who is apparently resistant to the adhesiveness of either stars or dots. Curious and fascinated, Punchy asks her her secret to being without any marks– not wanting any at all on himself. She states that it’s simple– every day, she goes up the hill to quite literally meet her Maker, Eli, and visits with him. When asked as to why, Lucia simply and mysteriously suggests Punchy should check it out for himself.

Even after many initial doubts, Punchy makes up his mind to go, being sick and tired of people making judgements on each other, holding value in solely each other’s opinions. That evening, he goes to see Eli. He almost loses his nerve, almost turns tail, but is stopped by Eli calling his name; Eli is genuinely pleased to see him, and asks him to come closer so he can have a look at him. Punchinello does so, and Eli thoughtfully notices the dots. Punchy, embarrassed, starts to ramble off excuses about trying so, so hard…

Then, Eli says,

“”…you don’t have to defend yourself to me, child. I don’t care what the other Wemmicks think.”

“You don’t?”

“No, and you shouldn’t either. Who are they to give stars or dots? They’re Wemmicks just like you. What they think doesn’t matter, Punchinello. All that matters is what I think. And I think you are pretty special.” “(Lucado, 20.)

(Will someone stop cutting these dumb onions?!)

Punchy makes more excuses on how he’s a nobody, that no one cares, and asks why he matters to Eli, to which Eli solemnly answers, “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.” Punchy looks at him in awe, realizing no one has ever, ever said or thought that about him before. Eli tells him that each and every day, he’d been waiting for Punchy. Punchy explains about Lucia, and they discuss the mysterious answer of why the stickers don’t work on her:

“”The sticker only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.” ” (Lucado, 24.)

Punchy doesn’t understand how the two can coincide, but Eli reassures him that if he comes to see him every day, and let Eli remind him how much He cares.

So, if you’re like the perfectionistic, and/or people-pleasing me, and this world’s got you hanging by a thread… If people are cutting you down verbally, and you think you just can’t take it anymore… If you’ve spent your existence looking for someone Who will not only affirm you, encourage you, but support and be there for you 100% of the way, no matter how far you travel, where your calling takes you, or what others may say about you and/or said calling…

Remember… you are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.”” (Lucado, 26.)

 

And, as Eli says this, Punchy starts to believe it… And a single dot falls off him.

You are special and loved simply because you were created by Someone Who loves you deeply and passionately. He can show you your true value in His eyes, if you’ll only let Him do so. 🙂

_______________________________

Works Cited:

Lucado, Max. You Are Special. Kindle version. Crossway Books. 1997. Wheaton, IL.

 

The Semi-Return of MBTI: How Intuitives and Sensors Fit Into Christian Contemporary Music

Hi, everyone!

So, no, first off, I was not lying when I said the MBTI posts would be on hiatus for a while; I namely meant the ones in collaboration with the MBTIGuy, because he is much more experienced in typing people and figuring out how they work (as opposed to relatively fledgling me. LOL.). But, this is more of a fun and less professional post, so….

I’ve been paying keen attention lately (which can be tricky for an Intuitive, particularly Ni types, since we’re so often in our heads!) to music that I listen to. I notice the lyrics, and if I notice carefully enough, most lyrics convey a sense of what MBTI type the person is, which I find to be fascinating. Si-users refer back to past experience; Intuitives speak of abstract concepts/theories, changing the world, or looking forward to/longing for something better in the future; Se-users focus on partying and having a blast in the here and now. Naturally, many secular artists seem to be Se-oriented, but there are some Ne’s and even Ni’s there, too. But I noticed there seemed to be a heavy amount of Ne, Si and Ni singer/songwriters in Christian contemporary genres (listen to both the complete albums of The Afters, Hollyn, and Jeremy Camp, and you’ll quickly see what I mean), not that there aren’t any Se-users (#LITO is just one example), it just seems like Introverted Sensors and Intuitives seem to be dominating that area of music a bit more.

And the more I listened to Air1, to my Christian CDs, the more the brain cells got to tinkering– each type kind showed a piece of a minor role that type kind was meant to play in society (by God, of course), although not specifically. For instance, Si types like Micah Tyler (“Even Then,” and “Never Been a Moment”– even the past-tense of his titles are indicative of type) are meant, to some degree, to relate to us how God’s helped us and others in the past; He was faithful then, thus, He’ll be faithful to us now and in the future generations as well.

Here’s a bit of this music. Note the distinct past tense, the looking back and reflecting, etc… All clear indicators of an Si-user type:

 

 

Ni-oriented types like to remind us of what is to come– the new earth and heaven, looking forward to being with Abba, etc. They remind us that our current predicaments do not define life as we know it, and to look at our lives as only only small puzzle piece of a much bigger picture. Artists like Jeremy Camp and The Afters tend to be more a bit more Intuitive, reminding us to press on towards the future, towards heaven and God’s kingdom (and sometimes encouraging us to actively rebel against the world):

 

 

Ne types are also big-picture oriented, but tend to be a little like an Se type met and had a kid with an Ni type– they are a perceiving function, yes, but also actively brainstorm abstract ideas and concepts, such as heaven vs. now, theology, etc. They are still innovative, still future-forward thinkers. One thing I have noticed is that this type of artist is particularly dominant in the Christian music industry– if Se’s dominate the more secular music industry, I’d have to wager their Intuitive counterparts dominate (at least, mostly) the Christian music industry. (The Afters may be Ne or Ni, it is not confirmed for certain, which is why I have the two above artists listed as simply confirmed Intuitives. The same goes for Skillet– very likely Intuitive, but there’s also a possibility they are xSTP!) I know for certain that Hollyn is an ENFP (she confirmed it), Danny Gokey is likely an Ne-user (thinking with a side of Si), as is the lead singer of MercyMe, Bart (I’ve seen the, “I Can Only Imagine,” movie, and if he is anything like the actor portrayed him… He is most likely, I would wager, a xNFP type, BIG dreams, spontaneous, initially full of optimism for them). Here are a few samples:

 

 

 

Se-users tend to be focused more on the here and now, in the moment, so what God wants us to do right here, right now, or living our faith out currently for everyone to see, and noticing God currently in the small, everyday details. Toby McKeehan, or TobyMac, is one wildly popular artist who really seems to emphasize this, as does the Christian band PressPlay:

(Notice the FREQUENT usage of more present tense in the song– he’s present, living in the moment, soaking up all the little details of God around him—he notes how God’s in EVERYTHING, literally the song title!)

 

If you’ve any doubts at all whether or not PressPlay is Se, well, they’ve just been erased: “You only live once,” is literally the motto of these Sensory, Perceiving types. They’re living in the moment, loving in the moment, loving THE moment, and worshiping in the moment. Se types teach us to take a step back, and minister to the ones around us, to enjoy worship and God’s goodness around us.

 

I think those are all the major type world-perceiving categories I’ve covered tonight. And again, for some of these, do not take at face value that they are Ne or Ni or Se– do your own research. 🙂 But regardless of type, these groups all share two major things in common: Make a joyful noise, and point everyone around them (and beyond!) to Christ!

Emerging From Shadows: A “King of Scars” Book Review

Emerging From Shadows: A “King of Scars” Book Review

 

First off, before you budge your eyes an iota further…

SPOILERS GALORE. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS GALORE. IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED KoS OR THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY, THOU. SHALT. NOT. PASS. 

Anyways.

(And before you fellow Grisha nuts go further on this article, check out the minor edits I made at the bottom of my last Grishaverse post! 😉 )

I know, I know, it HAS been a while. But between stuff, and getting a new job, I finally got my Illumicrate KoS box a couple weeks ago, and, let me tell you, that live video unboxing was simply glorious. And, due to nerves, I positively could not wait to delve into King of freaking Scars. Regardless of it being a “special limited edition” (It’s a book. Books are meant to be read. End of discussion.). I holed up myself in my room-cave like the hermit I am, made myself a blanket-fort out of chairs, extra blankets, my bed, dresser, desk, and clothespins. And holed myself inside with pillows, plushies of both Nik and the Darkling, chocolate, and of course MY PRECIOUS.

It should strike you by now that I’m no noob when it comes to this. (I mean, been anticipating this book, let alone the SERIES, for a year or so!)

I finished KoS in a mere two days.

And again, in case the first warning did not sink in, there WILL BE SPOILERS  for it down below. Because REASONS.

Anyways. Ahem. *clears throat*

What Needed Work/Improvement, etc. in KoS:

  1. The whole political thingy. My acquaintance, Dani, thought Nik did not care about politics, unlike in R&R. My reaction? “Uh, EXCUSE ME, have you READ S&S? HALF of that was political, Alina doing politics with Nikolai!” We only get a glimpse of Nik’s political life and thoughts in the originals; KoS was much more in-depth about it (understandably so– he is basically a charismatic politician, a king). It was so much more deeply grounded in politics, I actually lost train of thought, at times— Nik is THAT brilliant when it comes to politics (whereas, Alina– she’s kind of a noob, lol.). I understood why Leigh did that, but it was trickier for me to follow, even though I did take PoliSci recently, my last semester in college. And where’s the backstory on the foul Nik poetry she promised us??? *chants* FOUL. NIK. POETRY. FOUL. NIK. POETRY.

2. The whole Saint thing. OK, so so-called “saints,” are actually real? And still living? AND you just kinda randomly plop some black-but-invisible castle WITH AN ACTUAL DRAGGO in the middle of the barren Fold to house them? I really, really don’t get that at all. Like, there was no real explanation for it, was just kinda sudden, unexpected (not all unexpected things are bad, but given no explanation for this, it kinda was), and random for me.

confused

 

What I LOVED about KoS (least to most):

  1. The deeper insight to some characters’ backstories. We learn Nik is actually secretly insecure (very ENTP, might I add), often hiding behind a show of charisma and bravado, which was only hinted at in the original trilogy. (He also admitted to having a bit of feeling towards Alina, so we know that almost-kiss was NOT fake) We find Zoya has some similar insecurities, but, contrary to what many men think of her, she does not have a hidden, “soft side.” However, she does have a strong sense of loyalty, duty, and justice, which drives her moral compass, and is something to admire. (I mean, at the beginning of the book she stands up to Vol-Nik and protects a lil kid against him, even giving the kid a few extra coins to keep silent about what he saw– VERY ESTJ.) Additionally, I love the development between her and Nik. They are both used to charming (Nik) or physically attracting (Zoya) anyone they want, but with each other, it’s like a constant bantersome tug-of-war. They help each other, they want each other, but circumstances and other factors prevent them from getting what they REALLY want. I can’t help but think of that innocuous phrase by Zoya when discussing Nik back in Ruin and Rising, “I would make a magnificent queen.” I never would have thought of that as foreshadowing, but apparently so…

ZoyaandNik

2. The Cult of the Starless Saint. Admittedly, yes, I am a Christian. Admittedly, yes, it did bother me at Bardugo’s improper usage of the term “saints,” and what it actually means (it actually refers to Christians in general), while she emphasized a kind of martyrdom saint-worship in some of her books. (Guessing in her book, saints are good people who’re blessed miracle-workers and/or Grisha to be idolized…) But, if I was not a Christian (HAHAHAHAHAHA), and if this were an actual thing, I think, quite honestly, this would be one “saint cult,” I’d be TEMPTED to join (note: not ACTUALLY join, xD)– the Cult of the Starless one. Remember when, back in the SaB Trilogy, there was a Sun Summoner cult? Well, a parallel cult’s popped up here; they want to make THE DARKLING into an official, miracle-working saint. Nope. Not kidding. And their base is the former Unsea, where he first tampered with merzost, creating a literal place of darkness because HE TRIED TO GIVE HIMSELF MOROZOVA’S AMPLIFIERS. Hurrah. (LOL.) Truth be told, I’m actually theorizing that such a following was likely inspired by Darkling fangirls, at least in part. Even though I was unable to actually make the KoS tour, I would obsessively watch the FierceReads and Leigh’s Instagram Story snippets for even just a glimpse of what it was like. In the Q&A, it was entirely fan questions for Leigh to answer, which I loved; one of the questions videotaped that she answered was, “Did you ever picture a different ending for the Darkling [at the end of R&R]?” Her reply? “*awkward look* He was always gonna bite it, soooo… Next?” However, this leads into the next “I Loved KoS” point beautifully, becaaaaauuuuusssseee, as we ALL remember from the famous quote from Siege and Storm…

DarknessNeverDies

That’s right, y’all.

3. I. WAS. RIGHT. I cannot express enough how many times I theorized about this. About all the breadcrumbs Leigh left us– Baghra explicitly stating that the Darkling was an expert at faking his death and rising again, Leigh saying that there were a lot of uncertainties at the end of R&R (including certain deaths that were not necessarily forever), the Darkling making a prequel casual appearance as the half-brother of one of Leigh’s MCs from TLoT (HIS SYMBOL OUTRIGHT APPEARS ON SEVERAL PAGES), Leigh stating in another, more private interview, to answer the question of him faking his death at the end of R&R, just like Alina did, she would quote Nikolai and say, “When people say “impossible,” they usually mean, “improbable.”” (Btw, Leigh REFERENCED said interview at the end of the book by HAVING Nikolai say that!) Added to the fact that Leigh specifically directs our attentions TO the point when Alina takes notice of the Darkling’s corpse, wondering who tended it, who neatly combed his hair back, etc, before the pyre is set alight. Like the Zoya quote above, I do not believe she would lead us astray with a meaningless, innocuous gesture in her books. Additionally, I thought there was a connection with the shadow-beast inside Nikolai– because when the Darkling seemingly perished, Nik turned from beast back to man more permanently (for the time being), and the Fold was somewhat restored. But in KoS, he starts to SWITCH BETWEEN being a man and being a beast; I knew that much before I started reading, and thought, “If the Darkling DIED and Nik became a man again, but Nik is now starting to slowly turn back into a shadow beastie, there MUST be some connection with REVIVING the Darkling!” Some of my friends thought I was crazy. Some of them thought he wanted to die, because he was alone in the world, Alina no longer had her powers (and thus, was no longer like him), and because Baghra speculated that most Grisha of great power chose to end their own lives, because they would keep living with no end, while many friends and family members would die of old age. One rubbed this in my face, and another disowned the original trilogy in part because of his death. But still, I held out hope.

And guess what? That hope, towards the end and AT the end of KoS, was rewarded, tenfold.

I’m not going to say how, or why, or what happens. Just that I really, really, really, REALLY can’t wait for book 2. Even though, throughout KoS, Leigh tried to dampen my excitement for his grand return with (albeit truthful) awful remarks and reminders from various characters on all the cruelty and damage the Darkling inflicted on them (Genya, Zoya and Nik were a couple of these); Nik even remembers him as being, “petty.”

But I will say this: At the end of KoS, it almost felt like one big, “happy” reunion of nearly the entire cast of the SaB trilogy (minus Alina and Mal-ware. Naturally.). I was basically rejoicing and fangirling. HARD. CORE.

TeamDarkling

If you’ve read King of Scars and been keeping up with the Grishaverse, what were some of your fave things about this story? What do you think could have been improved or clarified? 

Oh, and here’s a little something extra for y’all that consistently made me think of KoS… In more than one way. 😉

_________________________________

Image Credits:

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1506-romance-week-2019?int=romanceweek_eb

https://tenor.com/search/confused-gifs

 

https://thegrishaverse.fandom.com/wiki/Nikolai_Lantsov

An Underworld Excursion: A “Rothana” review

An Underworld Excursion: A “Rothana” review

Hi, guys!

So, I initially planned on doing this a couple of days ago.

But, as we know, life, even for a Planner-type (J types tend to be more plan-oriented), can toss unexpected things in your direction.

So after getting off my Grisha high from this week (no jurda parem required– and trust me, I was on Cloud 9), I naturally crashed like a plane onto a landing strip with no one to guide it in, and plunged into a mood of gloom and despair (which will continue to remain until this Saturday). We’ve reached January, that’s the first step with King of Scars. Step no. 2 consists of waiting til the 20’s part of the month, then, finally… THE 29th!!!! (For those unaware, that is the KoS release date. Not that I’m getting my copy then– already preordered two copies, in two different KoS boxes, so they’ll take a bit longer to arrive. I know, I know, I need serious help… )

But I’m getting off topic here; this isn’t the only reason I started this post. You see, as an official Author Bugger (read: I pester authors. If I’m blessed enough, they actually do respond. Which has surprisingly been fairly frequent, haha… It’s a matter of asking/saying the right things, and interacting appropriately 😉 ), I don’t JUST bother Leigh Bardugo, I bother multiple authors, indie and NYT bestseller alike– and, as mentioned previously, I both befriended and bug author buddy Sarah Delena White (who I would love to have on here again for a one-on-one interview…) a great deal, especially this past year, about her newest book in the Star-Fae Trilogy, Rothana. I was honored enough to receive an ARC and even a vague mention at her acknowledgements of being one of the “impatient readers” (LOL!), as well as a signed preordered copy from her (with a beautiful message from my favorite Star-Fae 😉 ). That being said, I almost liked Rothana better than Halayda, so I’m going to go into a somewhat detailed (and slightly spoilery– be warned) and unorthodoxish description of what I loved and what could have been improved.

*SPOILERS AHEAD– PERUSE AT YOUR OWN RISK*

What I LOVED:

  1. The backstories are more in-depth. I can’t go into great detail, mind, because MAJOR spoilers, BUT I will say that almost everyone’s backstories are explored in further detail– even those you may not expect. 😉 Not everyone is who they APPEAR to be, for multiple characters. It was a lot of fun, seeing Sylvie, Casimir, and Diza all interact that way. There’s a huge theme of FAMILY in this book, and I love it dearly. I particularly squealed very, very hard at all the Dizamir interactions…. 😉 😉
  2. SECRET CONSPIRACIES!!! We ALL love ’em, and there’s a pretty huge one close to the middle-endish section. Secret rebellions. Secret possible bad guys. A part at the end that will literally have you at the edge of your seat, like, “Oh. No. They’re walking stright into *SPOILERS*. CAN’T THEY SEE THEY’LL–” Everything. Just… EVERYTHING.
  3. MORE AWESOME STAR-FAE— SIDIKA GETS A BF?! (Kinda. LOL.) We learn more about the Star-Fae, and a newer addition to the cast particularly intrigues me… that “mysterious stranger”…. hahahaha…. 😉 Let’s just say I’ve been awaiting an INFJ-INTJ pairing for too long!

samclaflin

Sam Claflin, who Sarah would probably pick to play the “mysterious stranger”

What could’ve been improved:

  1. The beginning set-up could’ve been a bit less predictable. Granted, I don’t think that Sarah INTENDED it that way, but still, it’s a recurring pattern– characters go to a festival, one royal, one “commoner.” Something bad/tragic happens, and Taylan and Sylvie are wrenched away from each other. Taylan broods in his moodiness; Sylvie goes into self-pity mode and both need to kinda be slapped into some sense. Sylvie meets a dark creature/character who most find frightening but she finds to be sweet; she helps them, which helps her get back to/find Taylan. Reunited with their pals, they defeat the bad guy (temporarily). I mean, sometimes it’s told in a different way, but the pattern’s pretty consistent. Here’s to hoping book 3 will break the mold! *clinks glass*

SylvieandTaylan

Sylvie and Taylan, wife and husband, holding each other. 

2. The whole monarch switcheroo thing was confusing, and could have been explained better. First, Sylvie’s the queen. She goes through almost literal h-e-double toothpicks to receive it, unintentionally (not literal h-e-double toothpicks in Halayda, but she and Taylan DO in Rothana). Then, suddenly, at the beginning of Rothana, she’s not. ZAD eventually becomes monarch, because apparently Faerie is fickle and incredibly moody on who the crap sits on that golden– and greatly coveted– throne. I was just pretty confused in general about that, and unless it’s like GoT (which I neither watch nor have read), it probably could’ve been explained better.

3. Lack of aesthetic scenes.  Just a more minor complaint– I feel like Halayda had more aesthetic scenes, including Wellspring, Casimir’s golden garden, Sirugan’s cloud, Taylan’s palace/enchanted wood nearby, Sylvie’s home for abandoned, half-fae orphans, the Blood City place thingy, etc. The only really aesthetic scene I can recall in Rothana is the area where Sylvie’s in the underworld and soon after meets *SPOILERS* in said area. I do think the underworld was described well, and a bit more of the College of Alchemy, but that was probably it. That being said, there was more character building via backstories, so that compensated somewhat for the lack of vibrant, well-detailed places.

 

LivforGod’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Character development was beautiful and more poignant in this second installment, more chuckles, and loved certain bonding moments and/or interactions. This was definitely the highlight of the book, along with the secret conspiracy stuff. 😉 However, there were a few things that could have been clarified a touch more, or seemed too rushed at times.

Nevertheless, it still sits in the leagues of one of my top five fave series, and I eagerly await the third installment!

 

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Pic creds:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-life-in-the-day-sam-claflin-9bsthv26z

Sylvie and Taylan

https://jmhackman.com/2018/11/30/the-theme-of-rothana-sarah-delana-white/

 

Netflix and Nichevo’ya: Ruination or Rejuvenation?

Netflix and Nichevo’ya: Ruination or Rejuvenation?

Today, you’re getting a special on me, guys. A two-for-one blogging day special, in fact.

So, in my last post, I talked a bit about how I’d discuss my feelings and fears about the news that the Grishaverse was getting its own Netflix series.  Granted, I think it is good enough, beyond good enough, to be set on screen. But as it is tied for THE top of the top of my fave series of ALL time, I have seriously high expectations for this thing; in fact, when I first got wind of the news (regrettably, right before my work shift started), the excited adrenaline rush everyone else was currently experiencing (some continue to experience it) faded faster for me, because I started worrying my little perfectionistic head over the moon about stuff, shooting my anxiety up tenfold at work, and probably making me seem a bit… tenser. (I mean, I spent an hour alone worried over who they would pick for the Darkling… xD)

In fairness to Grisha Queen Leigh, via her newsletter, I’ve seen she put a LOT of time, effort, and thought into this decision, has had many (probably worse) offers she could’ve taken. But she was told to go with her gut, and go with her gut she did indeed (convincing me further that she is an Intuitive, but another rabbit trail for another day). Netflix is renown for their (fairly accurate) film adaptations, and are not responsible (I don’t think, anyways) for the Maximum Ride film adaptation, which I initially feared (they ARE responsible for the adaptation of, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before). It helps that they will be producing multiple episodes of the series, encompassing the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows duology, and even bits of The Language of Thorns. (REALLY hoping Ulla and the Darkling will get together!)

So, you might be wondering, why exactly am I worried still? Good producers, Leigh’s on the team as an Executive Producer of the show, multiple episodes, more time to divulge precious details… what’s the problem?

A couple of problems, actually.

Problem number one was I was a bit confused by Leigh’s newsletter email– are they making only 8 eps, 8 eps per season (and one season per book..?), or… what? It was a bit vague, so the confusion worried me a lot. (She did, however, reassure us that they would not smash up the timelines, not badly if at all)

I was also worried which details and snark would be included, and which might be excluded. I’m terrified they’ll leave a little, important detail that was in the book outside of the series. I’m scared of who they’ll cast for the characters (please, no Twilight guys or Sean O’Pry for the Darkling…), and get facial, eye or hair details wrong. This is incredibly easy to do, for both things– the Harry Potter movies were somewhat accurate, character-appearance-wise, but details-wise, left out a SLEW of things. Dobby and Kreacher are briefly touched on, for instance, but no mention of elf rights or poor, sad little Winky. The opposite is a bit true in The Hunger Games movies– they chose a 30-something actress to portray a 16 year-old, but stuck to the majority of details and plotline in the books. The Divergent series, in movie form, violated both of these– Tris is described as blonde-haired AND KINDA PLAIN (then we get the very physically attractive Shailene Woodley. Because Hollywood.). The first movie in and of itself is fine, but so much detail of Insurgent and Allegiant is drastically altered from the books– likely to please the fans. This irks me to no uncertain bounds. There is a certain integrity even in entertainment, certain boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, and drastic alteration from the book or the story’s moral of the story are two of them. Mind, these are also not personal criticisms against actors and actresses who act well, I’m simply pointing out they might not be the best fit for that character. 

Lastly, I am terrified that this is either going to end up like the infamous, The Last Airbender (a movie adaptation of ATLA, one that we do not speak of), and/or newbies who have not read the books and only want to watch the movies/series will delve in with little idea of what they’re watching. Worst of all, I’m terrified of it somehow, some way, going bad and the movie/TV/Netflix ONLY people like it, praise it, and are still clueless about the books. My perfectionist reader brain would be ringing like OFF THE HOOK if that were the case. I can only hope (and pray) that both it and the newer, live action series version of Avatar: The Last Airbender (out Fall 2019) do their originals supreme justice when both hit Netflix officially.

To sum: I want to believe in this, I think it has a LOT of potential to be good, to be REALLY good, but am terrified because of the above reasons. I am scared filmmakers and scriptwriters are going to try to mess with Leigh’s story, majorly, in a bad way. My consolation is that Leigh used to work in the film/movie make-up biz, so she kinda already has a gist of how it should go. I can only pray this all comes out in an awesome bundle of awesome way.

prayergif

 

Later edit: I heard, a couple weeks ago, that both  Leigh and Netflix Director Eric H. (don’t ask me to spell his last name off the top of my head…) actually clarified that it is not a mini-mini series of ONLY eight episodes for the ENTIRE series, but SEVERAL seasons, a season PER BOOK, and EIGHT EPISODES PER SEASON. Do the math, if each ep runs from approximately a half hour to roughly an hour each, then hopefully… ALL THE GLORIOUS DETAIL WILL BE INCLUDED!!! *rejoicing resounds*

In short, I take back SOME of what I said, earlier. 😉

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Pic/GIF creds:

Prayer GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

http://www.grishaverse.com/extras/grishaverse-downloads/

 

Christian Fiction: All the Love?

Hi, everyone! Happy very, very belated New Year’s! I hope you guys are having a good 2019 so far. Mine is mixed– super excited for King of Scars, and mixed feels (some excited, but definitely some anxious– more on this in a second post!) on the news Leigh Bardugo and Netflix has announced, on their collaboration for a Grishaverse series (my take? This is either going to be really good, or an accidental nightmare. Depending on a lot of factors). That being said, I’ve been on social media a lot more lately than I initially planned, but then, things always go that way with me.

Couple of announcements, before getting to the post– Rothana’s review should be up sometime tomorrow, super excited about it. The MBTI posts will be on temporary hiatus, due to MBTIGuy dealing with some unforeseen medical complications (but is on the mend, as of right now. Keep praying, guys!). Lastly, there WILL be some minor spoilers in both my Rothana review and my King of Scars review.

And now, to this post.

As stated, been on social media a lot lately, and been following one highly-respected Christian blogger, homemaker, productivity inspiration, writer who is basically the incarnate, 21st century version of the Proverbs 31 woman. (No, I am not kidding!) For the sake of her privacy, unless she requests otherwise, I am going to refer to her by her initials only, “P.M.”. Ordinarily, I agree with P.M. on many, many things (Theologically, etc.  Well-rounded woman of God, been a part of multiple denominations, including Baptist and Presbyterian, and actually does have some Pres, Calvinist and RP friends! 🙂 She provides an SLIGHTLY egalitarian perspective to that of my college’s complementarian one. Me? I see pros and cons to both sides, and am officially somewhere in between– not as a compromise to both sides, but because I genuinely don’t wholly agree agree with either, and see both having very valid points. ). However, I do disagree with her on one major thing– fiction literature, especially YA, is bad for your mind. She especially rags on anything romance-y, due to it vastly raising expectations of real-life people to expect others to behave in a manner similar to, well, fictitious characters. Since she had a past history of coming through struggling romantically, sexually with literature she rightfully says she shouldn’t have read in her younger years (cough… sensually explicit… stuff…), says it actually initially put a damper on her marriage. Now, some fictional literature she is fine with, like LOTR and The Chronicles of Narnia, but she is highly wary of most fiction, especially “Christian fiction”. Why? It’s namely because “Christian fiction” is almost exclusively romantic fiction. I kid you not– when I walk into my growing Church library, the expanding titles are all romance-based, or Amish-romance based. Same with most books in a Christian bookstore catalog. I can think of only three exceptions to this– Ted Dekker, Frank Perretti, and Lynn Austin. Yes, all three sometimes include some romance, when it’s actually relevant, but is usually portrayed fairly realistically. But she’s not overly fond of Dekker, and tends to blanket the rest– secular and Christian–with unfair statements. But say, not all fiction is damaging. In fact, Tolkien didn’t necessarily consider his stories classic “Christianese,” per say, but used his stories to glorify God,

“Are The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Christian stories? The stories don’t mention God or Jesus; but J.R.R. Tolkien, the author, was a Christian. Asked to describe himself, Tolkien gave a quick summary and then added, “Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories).” If we pay attention when reading his works, we can tell that Tolkien was a person of faith.

“Philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote, “If you want to make a Christian work, then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to “make Christian”.” Too often, Christians think that what they create should have an obvious spiritual meaning. But Tolkien believed that in the act of creating, we participate in the work of God. God is a Creator and has made us to be what Tolkien called “sub-creators,” which is one of the primary callings of the human heart.

“Tolkien did not set out to write Christian stories. He set out to write stories that gave him joy. He wrote to the glory of God; in doing so, his faith shone through.” (Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Once Upon a Time Ed. Devozine. Nov-Dec. 2013.)

Just like Tolkien, we, as Image Bearers, are called to be what my Humanities classes affectionately refer to as, “culture makers.” We literally make culture to the glory of God, guys. That is our intent. We can show God’s love through a song or a painting, inspire others with our words or a movie, make a change for Him, for better, push and challenge ourselves and others to do our best for our Abba, our Creator. The problem only comes when we factor in our downfall, sin, and our own selfish desires, like greed, pride, lustful desire/fantasy, and purely wanting to make a name. Out of the right context, being a culture maker can be extremely damaging to society as a whole, as we’ve seen so many times. This is why P.M. is against much of the whole “Christian fiction literature” culture– even while being meant well, many romance authors tend to project romantic godly and often unrealistic ideals onto their characters, making them behave unrealistically, and upsetting readers when it doesn’t go the same way in real life. Even non-romance writers do this,  LOT, and I’ve seen first-hand some of the unrealistic expectations/ damage it causes for myself, so yes, we do need discernment. Real people are not whole, perfect– it’s why we need a Savior. The authors may not intend to do that, but it is wise to consciously form a habit of checking yourself while writing, and holding yourself accountable. After all, God could use you to influence and help others to help glorify Him– that is a lot of power and responsibility, and we must utilize wisely.

When all is said and done, fiction, Christian or secular, is like the Force from Star Wars; by itself, it is not good or evil. It all depends on the wielder– and the wielder’s intentions with it.

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Works Cited:

Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Devozine. “Once Upon a Time” devotional section, weekend section. Nov-Dec. 2013.