The Temple

The Temple

As I

Awaken

As daylight peeks

Through

My curtains, I

Slowly open my

Eyes,

Gazing intently

At

My hands, the

Lineaments and

Ligaments, so carefully

Crafted, the

Bones, the tendons

Come alive and

Move

Without the

Slightest

Conscious

Command.

 

My lids close.

I wonder how it will

Feel

When this form no

Longer

Radiates heat, when

It is cold–

Colder than

Frostbite–

It will no longer

Contain

My essence,

It will no longer

Contain

Me.

I shall not hover,

Not float,

Among the still-living,

But soar

Through the open skies, until

My eyes again open,

And

See Paradise, on the

Other side.

With the One Who

Formed

This Vessel and I,

Awaiting my presence,

My Being,

ME…

On the other side.

 

________________________________

Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/90846117453405927/?lp=true

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Humble Thyself in the Side of the Lord: He Will Lift You Up

Humble Thyself in the Side of the Lord: He Will Lift You Up

(Disclaimer: Note– this is NOT a trigger warning. People had allll last month to post trigger warnings on PC posts. Anyways. I do love and respect my pro-choice friends and even fam, but since I love them, I cannot bear to look them in the eye and lie to them, sugarcoating the Truth I know to be absolutely REAL, or worse, completely denying it, outright lying and pretending I agree with them, when the opposite couldn’t be more true… Leaving the inner thoughts and Truth to boil inside of me, like scalding lava, ready to explode out of the volcano. Well, fear not, readers– no explosions today. Just a casual river of lava flowing out of a side opening. 😉 )

Hey, everyone!!

I know, I know, it’s been ages. I initially planned on releasing this yesterday evening, but was so exhausted, I only focused on typing up about the first half, before calling it quits for then– leaving the remainder and the edit for today. (I still have to review the Illuminae Files, Caraval, the Selection Series, Warcross, the Sowing and do some MBTI posts and– GREAT SCOTT LOOK AT THE TIME! Need to get started, here!) I feel like I’ve aged so much since graduating back in early May, but it’s only been a couple months of my whole 23 years of living.

Speaking of past experience… Some of you might recall that from last, around this time or so, I did a poem based on God healing America, not blessing “her”. Today, I still do not retract that statement, but continue to firmly verify it; nay, add to it: I’d like to ask God, my Abba (Hebrew for “Father,” or more specifically, “Daddy”– I’ve taken to calling Him that a lot more lately; it’s my special name for Him 🙂 ) to HUMBLE America. From the President to Hollywood actors and actresses, to activists, we ALL NEED THIS. BADLY.

This is actually a thankfulness post in disguise. See, I’ve noticed a recurring pattern here. Two things often happen when God blesses someone: They either A., take it for granted, lounge in the blessings, disregard God/forgot He gave it and can just as easily take it away, or B., humble themselves and are deeply thankful for everything He’s done, and has been doing for them. Likewise, the two have two different reactions when God takes away the blessings, and bad things start to happen: A often either curses/denies/blatantly ignores God, or, just as bad, promises to recant, etc., then, when things go back to smooth sailing, takes back this promise, and returns to the behavior that probably got them stuck in the pit to begin with (aka, the very yo-yo relationship that God had with the Israelites back in the good ol’ days. Nope, nothing new under the sun– just different century, different packaging, same product here). B, on the other side of the fence, is your typical Job: Either is asking God why, but knowing their place, and never directly blames God, retains righteousness, and comes out of that fiery testing GOLD– aka, blessed even more than before.

Guess which America is? (Hint: It’s not B.)

Now, I’m NOT discounting the people who are continuously resisting and yanking ‘Merica back by its coattails to prevent certain disaster. No, in fact, I applaud such people for their effort. But if America becomes any more blessed at this point, I honestly believe it will go straight to our heads even more than it already has. We have become so blessed that we are often led to believe, solely by our OWN designs, no less, that it is our own actions that have caused the blessings to occur– no God, thank you (Oooo… hurt to write that… ). We pull an Eve, straight out of Genesis, wanting to become our own “gods,” masters of our own fates, captains of our own ships. But it is extremely dangerous to let a captain pilot a ship he has no idea to sail. And it is equally dangerous that we have let God’s blessings (a very good thing) lead to us wanting to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, chests “puffed up” in pride, and neglect entirely the thought of thanking Him or even acknowledging Him (a very bad thing).

And let’s not forget last month’s little theme: #PrideMonth.

So, it is with a very sad, and solemn, heart that I look to Abba and ask Him, no beg Him, to not bless my country. It grieves me to beg this. My own country. My physical inheritance, descendants, and progenitors. I beg Him to humble America. To remind us that we could lose EVERYTHING materially– hobbies, health, objects/trinkets we feel we cannot live without, family, friends, the world, power, wealth– and none of that would matter, so as long as we have Him. If we have Him, we have everything. If we have everything BUT Him, we will have nothing. (And trust me, when I say “nothing,” I mean, “NOTHING”. You can’t take that iPad, that BMW, or that book boyfriend, with you up to Abba. One throne in your heart, for ONE King. God doesn’t do sharing. 😉 For reasons specified in the Old Testament… Israelites had their trinkets they couldn’t let go of, either…) But until we get over ourselves, and turn to the One Who truly deserves our praise, I will not in good conscience ask Him to bless us, as a nation. America likes to play the victim at times, but judging from our past, we’re often very similar to Israel. We all need a serious Reality-God-Check; He’s supposed to be in charge here, in charge of our lives, helping us govern ourselves and our nation. Him, not us. We need to stop backseat driving. And we need to accept that.

But for those who probably wrinkle their noses in disgust at my proclamation, I do not only ask for humility for my nation. No, it is also healing, for we are a very, very broken nation of splintered people. Fractured families of all kinds. Broken hearts, lost souls, floating about aimlessly, searching for something, someone, anyone to fill the void left in their heart. Drugs. Abuse. Perversions of many, many variations (I lost track, and am not bothering to keep track any longer). Deaths of many variations. If that breaks my heart, I can hardly begin to imagine how badly it breaks Abba’s. (Probably comes pretty close to utterly obliterating it due to pure pain, I would wager) We are so lost in ourselves, so lost to sin, it as if we are wandering around in a sea of obscure fog, taking whichever direction the first signpost we spot may point out to us. Even if it is straight off the cliff. Into a sea of ravenous sharks. Straight into the enemy’s waiting jaws.

It is too easy for that vermin to get away with such treachery, and the very thought of it not only makes my skin crawl, but it makes my blood SIMMER. It is just like Lucifer to deliberately calculate and manipulate people’s pains to make them sin more, and drive them away from the One True and Only Permanent Relief– Jesus. We need to fight him. We need to have humility, healing, and a genuine movement of repentance to God and His SON, if we are to make it as a nation, and not fall apart at the seams.

So please… pray with me now…

Abba,

We know we have sinned against You, and against Your Beloved Son, when all You ever wanted was to heal us, to help us, to draw us closer to You and for us to reciprocate Your love for us. Please forgive us of our sins, as we know that does nothing but drive a wider wedge between You and us. We know You want desperately to abolish said wedge, and can do so faster than the bat of an eyelid, but want us to willingly disperse of the wedge. And so, we humbly turn that wedge over to You to destroy, closing that gap. All the sin, all the false idols… We lay them all at Your feet, Abba, and ask You to deal with them as only You see fit. Thank You for blessing us with what we already have, but we know what we really, truly need is You, and only You. Please humble us, and help us to see that. Forgive our pride, show us how to let You take the wheel. Heal us, fix the brokenness, show us the way to go. Be our lighthouse on a hill that we can see clearly through the dense fog, for with You, oh Lord, all things are possible.  

 

“Humble thyself in the Side of the Lord…

Humble thyself in the Side of the Lord…

And He… Shall lift.. You up.

Higher and higher, and He

Shall lift

You up.”

 

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10, NIV

“Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33, NIV (Prvbs. 18:12 says something extremely similar)

 

___________________________________

Image Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/american-flag-cross

 

 

EXCLUSIVE: Behind-the-Scenes with Author Janeen Ippolito on “Priceless”!

EXCLUSIVE: Behind-the-Scenes with Author Janeen Ippolito on “Priceless”!

Hi, everyone!

So, again, apologies for the extended hiatus. I’ve been busy wrapping up finals like a madwoman, and job-hunting like crazy. But! I’ve some AWESOME news to share with you today. 😊

So, as most of you probably know, I’ve multiple fandoms. What most of you may not know is that I’ve recently attached myself to a new fandom, the Ironfire Legacy, by Ms. Janeen Ippolito! It has steampunk, adventure, action, alchemy, sexy dragon-shifters, unicorn-shifters, a sassy, talking cat-dragon—you name it. (Book 1 is “Lawless,” in case anyone is interested. 😉 )

Janeen has given me the MASSIVE privilege of tagging along and participating in her blog tour for her newest addition to the series, “Priceless,” featuring the notorious Nula Thredsing as the protagonist, the dragon-shifter Tiers Sunscaler, and of course Freckles the pretentious and verbose cat-dragon. Here’s a bit about the book:

A little ambition can turn into a lot of trouble—even for the city’s wiliest double agent.

After years of rebel spywork in the dragon-human war, Nula Thredsing is ready to claim her legacy.

As the Scepter of Commerce’s new liaison to dragons, she’s one step away from the old family seat on the city council. But during her first meeting with dragon diplomat Tiers Sunscaler, they are attacked by rogue dragons—one of them Sunscaler’s former tactical partner, who is bitterly determined to keep the sham war in action and turn the diplomat to his side.

At the same time, Nula and Tiers discover a startling connection: an embermate bond. While a political marriage suits Nula, the bond’s side effects are obnoxious—and potentially deadly.

Aided by an unexpected cat-dragon and a mysterious unicorn, Nula and Tiers must track down the rogue dragons before their dangerous bond tears them apart.

Fortunately, Nula is used to impossible odds—and this time, she has a dragon on her side.”

So, with that in mind, care to take us behind-the scenes of when your characters take over your plotline, Janeen? It seems like you’ve very independent-minded characters!

A funny thing happened on the way to writing Faithless, book two of my steampunk fantasy series The Ironfire Legacy: several side characters decided they wanted to talk. A lot. And with one thing and another, those conversations turned into a short story, and that short story said “nah, we’re going to be a short novel”, also known as a novella. And thus, Priceless was born.

After some pondering, I thought this whole side journey was a great idea. Here are just a few reasons:

1.) Nula Thredsing, the main protagonist in Priceless, gave me a great opportunity to dive into a misfit, antihero character and show her true motivations. Plus, I was fascinated with the combination of strength and vulnerability she showed in Lawless. She’s a force to be reckoned with and telling her story was a fun ride.

2.) Zilpath Irudha, another breakout character from Lawless, showed up in Priceless, and she’s just awesome. She’s seventy-something, an ex-slave, a devout of the Four Corners religion who almost missed being an acolyte because of her sharp tongue, and just an all-around fun character with a lot of complexity. I have readers who are #TeamZilpath, and I can’t blame them one bit! I’ve loved getting to showcase her more. 3.) Tiers Sunscaler, the secondary protagonist, was a hidden surprise. I literally created him to just say four lines at the end of Lawless. But in that same scene, Nula joked that with her fortune with men, she might as well date a dragon. Of course, dragons don’t really casually date—they find their embermate, and that is that. And when Tiers looks at Nula, he knows at first sight that she’s the one for him.

Now, to be honest, I had planned on writing a spinoff story featuring a dragonshifter guy and a human woman. It’s a classic shifter romance trope, which means I had to turn it on its head with a very non-stereotypical “alpha” female (Nula) and a far quieter but confident male (Tiers) who sees her extroverted ambition as a bonus and isn’t remotely threatened by it. I love writing character banter, and their back and forth is a highlight. Also, if anyone is really going to take over the Scepter of Commerce, it would be Nula and Tiers. They’re a major power couple.

Of course, maybe they do take over the city. After all, they’re trying to protect it from rogue dragons who are intent on massacre and mayhem. Of course, if they do that, they’ll have to get help from the fourth reason this book was an amazing idea:

4.) Freckles the Cat-Dragon! Freckles as a concept had existed in an earlier story world,

and when I realized I needed something to show Nula’s softer side, an author friend suggested “save the cat-dragon” – a reference to the screen writing book Save the Cat, where you have a less likable character show their vulnerable side by helping out someone else. As it turned out, Nula does have a strong spot for underdogs (or undercats, in this case) and adding Freckles in really gave the story some humorous twists and fun.

And now, he’s managed to find his way into The Ironfire Legacy series. *shakes head* I guess the real book takeover expert is the cat-dragon!

Priceless1

Thanks so much for joining us today, folks! Be sure to check out her epic first book in the series as well, Lawless! Here’s a small taste:

“A dragon felon, a forsaken prince, and a jaded airship captain walk into a city—and everything explodes.

Dragonshifter convict Kesia Ironfire has one goal: to redeem herself as a soldier in the dragon-human war.

A rogue mission to spy on a new airship is the perfect way to win the trust of her superiors, as long as she collects useful intel. Then the airship explodes into sickening green smoke, leaving Kesia and her tactical partner Zephryn Nightstalker in cold water and under house arrest. Kesia is sure a little more investigation won’t hurt—and her curiosity earns them the death sentence.

Kesia and Zephryn flee to the human military capital, where Captain Shance Windkeeper is furloughed after the destruction of his airship and avoiding a most unwanted countess threatening an arranged marriage. Eager to discover what—and who—blew up his vessel, he helps Kesia and Zephryn infiltrate High Command. In exchange, Kesia must pretend to be Shance’s betrothed. Kesia has never heard of a betrothal, but it can’t be that complicated.

And human social customs are the least of her worries. Dark secrets emerge as Kesia searches for answers in the heart of High Command. Secrets that undermine her criminal status and the war itself.

A steampunk fantasy adventure with a side of snark and quirky romance.”

 

That’s all for today, folks! Tune in sometime later this week, I’ll be posting some bookish reviews! 😉 In the meantime, here’s more about Janeen, and the link to Uncommon Universes Press’s site! It’s worth your while, trust me!

Link to UUP’s site: https://uncommonuniverses.com/

And check out this deal! You can get both autographed copies of Priceless AND Lawless at a discounted price, AND get bookish swag, if you preorder Priceless! (A real steal, if you ask me 😉 )You can order on the site, or through Amazon. 🙂

thumbnail_Book Bundle Special! (1)

About the Author:

Janeen Ippolito

Janeen Ippolito is two authors for the price of one! She creates writing resources and writes urban fantasy and steampunk. She’s also an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, and the editor in chief of Uncommon Universes Press. In her spare time, she enjoys sword-fighting, reading, food, and making brownie batter. She believes that words transform worlds and that everyone has the ability to tell their story. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica. This extroverted writer loves getting connected, so find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and at her website: janeenippolito.com

Janeen1

 

 

 

 

The Lemon Test

The Lemon Test

As I

Squeeze,

Juice comes

Flowing and

Pouring out

From the

Pulp;

In mass amounts,

Squirting and

Spraying

Me

With

Sticky,

Tart-tainted,

Seed

Ridden

Juices, which

All but

Stings my eyes,

And yet I put

My elbow

Grease

Into it:

For what?

Stinging eyes and

What kind of aftertaste?

A tart heart

And a sticky, oh so

Icky

GPA?

 

The juices drip,

The paper sips

My efforts from my

Rinds

My whole being,

My pulp-mind

Has been sucked dry.

 

________________________________

Image Credit:

https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/10-amazing-lemon-benefits-why-you-should-have-more-its-generous-squeeze-1407154

To My Future Husband

To My Future Husband

To my Future Husband,

I know that we do not know each other yet, but I want you to know that I know you’re out there, somewhere. I don’t know where, but I know somewhere. And I know this because God told me so.

(Woooowww… That was a LOT of “knows”! Forgive me if I seem arrogant in that sense)

I just wanted to let you know what you’re in for, if you decide to try to pursue me and win my heart. My heart is NOT something easy to get to, at all. I give my whole heart to God, to Jesus, and only chunks of it to animals and people I love, including friends and family. Yet I am a passionate, deeply caring person. I am just not won over easily.

By “not won over easily,” I do not mean, “playing hard to get”. In fact, I don’t trust flirting all that much, or even know HOW to flirt, myself (or recognize it, unless it is outright obvious– I mostly think people are being friendly/polite). By “not won over easily,” I mean you are going to have to make some effort to get to know me, and win my trust. I do not trust all that easily. Being a sensitive person (understatement of the century), I have been hurt emotionally and mentally (and almost physically, once or twice) multiple times. I instinctively have built a strong fortress around my heart, my soul. If you want to get in, you need to be willing to scale some walls. Make some effort. Get to know me on a deeper level. I have no tolerance for manipulation, which loses my trust almost instantaneously, setting you back to square one (if you’re the lucky one). Most of all, I need understanding. Not necessarily sympathy, but understanding.

I want you to understand that I can be moody, and why I’m moody. I want you to understand that I have a weird, emotional, fangirly side, a sweet, caring, counseling side, and a serious, academic, smart side. Often, the last wins out a lot in my life, and I am forced to make hard choices (such as “Do I go visit my dying dog during her last days, knowing I probably won’t see her again, or do I get a jump on periodicals, which are due in a couple weeks?”). I am often forced to neglect personal things, like writing, friend time, me time, etc in favor of homework and other obligations; this typically has a negative effect on me. If I do not have a healthy outlet to express my frustrations, it slowly gnaws away at the core of my being; I feel helpless and depressed– like I just want to curl up into a ball, cry myself to sleep, and not do ANY work. Like at ALL. I am one of those people who has to lie and go to the answering machine response when most people ask how I’m doing (but don’t usually care); note: I hate being inauthentic with my feelings, as I feel it is being untrue to myself. But most people don’t care, or have problems of their own, so for their sake more than mine, I tend to push that all inward, driving me even battier than normal. People often, though not always, take advantage of my seeming stability, my warm openness, and come to me with emotional needs or problems. One or two problems I can help them handle. But the more that flock to me, the more overwhelmed I become, and the more my brain feels like exploding, or my emotions/mouth, snapping– like a twig. (You don’t want to be on the receiving end when that happens, trust me. Although the good news is, it seldom shows outwardly, and it is happening less.)

Additionally, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I am not a shallow kind of gal (at least, I try not to be). I value the person inside, not the outside. I recognize that these bodies are only God’s temples, shells to temporarily house our true selves, our souls. While physical beauty does have some value, granted, I grow angry when/if people are only drawn to me only because of how I look. It gets to the point where I almost want to (if I could only be so horribly audacious; again, this is GOD’S temple, not mine, and I have no right to desecrate it, just as others have no right to desecrate it) take a knife and scar up the face I was  given, cut chunks of  hair out, and scar or deform the rest of my body, because people place so much value on it over the soul. It makes me want to openly defy them. When will they see or understand? It is not the physical that TRULY matters, in the long haul!

(I apologize for the rant… I’ve been through a lot, as you can see)

I do not go for flings, one night stands, online dating, etc. I want true commitment. Marriage. I bought myself a purity ring when I was 18, and on my finger it shall remain until that special night (which, by the way, I AM looking forward to just as much as you). In return, I will promise you love, loyalty, devotion and commitment as your helpmate in Christ. We can work together in Him for God’s glory, looking forward to heaven as one. I am open to both giving and receiving advice, as long as it is constructive and not critical for the sake of being critical (I’m toughening up a bit in that area). I have been anxious about seeing anyone, though,  due to my many trust issues, and my persistent fear of manipulation, deceit, or, worst of all, being taken advantage of due to my emotional, mental, spiritual, and even physical inexperience. That is why dating/courting is simultaneously one of my greatest desires, but also one of my greatest fears. I do not want to date an unbeliever, most of all. The thought, along with my experience in that department, utterly terrifies me. I want someone who is truly dedicated to Christ, and has a solid, strong relationship with Him. I want to grow together with you, in Him. And if that means I’ll need to wait longer, because we all know God runs on His own time, so be it. I’ll wait for hundreds of years, if it takes that long. I’m willing.

I’ll be praying for you.

Yours,

Olivia

______________________________

Image Credit: https://gallery.yopriceville.com/Free-Clipart-Pictures/Valentine-s-Day-PNG/Heart_Print_PNG_Clipart

Sparks Fly in “An Ember in the Ashes”

Sparks Fly in “An Ember in the Ashes”

(First off, I’ll say a big “Thank you” and “You’re welcome,” to Ms. Brittany from Instagram– loyal “Emberling” and Elias’s biggest devotee. I would not have read this without your avid persistence and dedication in trying to convince others and myself to do so. The “You’re welcome” is because I think you would greatly appreciate the topic of this post, if nothing else. 🙂 )

Ahem…. With that being said, I actually have some free time on hand tonight. *looks shocked* See, THIS is what happens when I actually get all my priorities straight and put work BEFORE pleasure!!! (LOL) Anyways, I thought I’d kick off the evening with maybe a couple of book reviews, including Marissa Meyer’s Renegades, Janeen Ippolito’s Lawless, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, and, but of course, Ms. Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes (I mean, come on, you’ve seen how much fun this woman is on IG! She literally takes stories of talking veggies, various– but fortunately not inappropriate– articles of clothing, and stuffed animals!!! Yes, I actually started following her BEFORE I read her books, haha).

So, without further ado, I give to you all….

MY REVIEW OF AN EMBER IN THE ASHES!!!!

*WARNING! SPOILER ZONE! PROCEED WITH CAUTION AND AT YOUR OWN RISK IF YOU HAVE NOT READ*

Overall gist: Pretty good. Wouldn’t say it’s my absolute FAVORITE (the Shadow and Bone Trilogy is pretty high up there, though), but still pretty good. Lots of Roman-esque moments, even mentions of how brutal they were back then. So, while I am not at all a fan of the gruesome gore, I can appreciate how realistic she was with portraying this war-ridden, militia-obsessed world. (Then there’s people like Elias and Laia– pronounced Leia??– who want rid of the tyranny. Yah! VIVE LA REVOLUCCION!!!) Anywho….

As always, I’m going to start with the negatives to get them done and outta the way… (Britt, if you are reading this, you *might* wanna skip down to the positives. I’m saying this as your friend. Because when I critique ANY book, even if it’s a FAVE, I will go HARD on it. I’m a “tough grader,” in short, and WILL nit-pick, even pet peeves. That is all. 🙂 )

  1. The high rape culture. I get that it’s big, and that this culture is (very sadly) built at least partly off of it (brothels everywhere… slaves being abused… 😥 ), but no need to show just how graphic it is. It’s sufficient to know that so-and-so was taken advantage of, or almost taken advantage of, and that we need to DO something about it. I’m not saying we should brush it aside/pretend it does not happen/doesn’t exist. I’m saying we do something about without being super-graphic and go into most detail of what said rapist does (to be fair, she does restrain some things, though).
  2. The wrong kind of “romantic vibes.” Granted, to be fair, Elias Veturius is no Marcus. He’s noble and willing to go the extra mile for someone who really needs it, and his first instinct, at the beginning, is to flee all the horror (can’t say I blame him for that, either… especially if MY Momma Dearest was like that…). It is actually because of this that he stays… Or, more specifically, he stays for LAIA. To help LAIA. (Among other reasons, of course, but that seems to be the main one.) But Laia… Honestly, I feel like there was SO much general confusion between love and lust, desire and genuine agape, that it was NOT OK. Lust, see, is only bodily oriented. While Elias at least respected Laia for her fierceness and determination to be free, as well as Helene for being his bestie, he still lusted after them both. Hard. Same goes for Laia; Augur Cain even says that while she longs after Kaanan with her heart, she longs after Elias with her body. Do you see what I’m saying here? It’s starting to become a lust infestation, which are a HUGE turn-off to me. (TBH, I see this with a LOT of secular YA books, and it saddens me deeply *cough* John Green and Twilight*cough*… So no, not just AEITA. But that doesn’t make AEITA a-OK.) However, this is not to say that the RIGHT kind of romantic vibes do not show up, ever; in fact, they are much more apparent towards the end of the book. I will get to that shortly, don’t worry, Britt. In fairness, I do respect the fact that while the characters DO lust, they actually exhibit great self-restraint, which I both admire and respect. It doesn’t make lusting alright, but it does show that boundaries and limits are good to have in place, in case you are tempted. Which leads me to…
  3. The whole love triangle/rectangle/etc. thingy. Yes, I know some people say this is not a thing. IT IS. Yes, the plot was  great, and I liked the whole rebellion conspiracy thing (more later), I just kept getting slammed with wave after wave of, “Oh, you didn’t know Helene liked you, Elias?” Elias: *inwardly* “Oh crap, she likes me?? What do I do, she’s my BESTIE, not my girlfriend, but, on the other hand, she IS hot, but, on the OTHER hand…. LAIA!!!” Laia is in a similar predicament; as mentioned before, she immediately “falls for” Elias, and gradually starts to fall for young and wise rebel Kaanan. And THEN we have the doubly evil creeper and pervert Marcus, who is both a murderer and rapist, who lusts after BOTH women. (See, people, this be WHY I have issues with… Well, never mind. Not about me. Back to the BOOK review.)Do you see my issue yet? It’s really mind jarring how easily jealousy stirs up between all these characters too, naturally, since all of this is going on. It’s almost too much. In all honesty, I would probably be content if Tahir just took Kaanan out of Laia’s “love” equation, because it’s already puh-ritty messy.But maybe that’s just me.
  4. The Augurs. Yes, I like how they are sage-like. Yes, I like how they are prophetic and hold people in line, if need be. No, I do not like how they read animal entrails; I find it obscene and deeply disturbing (for obvious reasons). No, I do not like how they are seemly omniscient, by little mind-read-y powers alone. I think there needs to be more to it than that. I want to know who’s side they’re on, etc. Of course, I am probably going to find that out as I continue to read the series, right, Tahir?

 

Annnndddd, onto the positives!

(If you disregarded my previous warning and read the top part first anyway, Britt, I give you leave to go and punch a punching bag before returning to read this.)

  1. The dialogue and character growth. For what she lacked in describing the setting, Tahir definitely made up for it with both of these. Laia and Elias kinda have parallel growths, side-by-side, actually. Laia is initially deemed cowardly, too afraid to stand up for herself or her brother, but she grows bolder. Bold enough to spy on Elias’s tyrant of a biological Mother for the Resistance. Bold enough to endure excruciating torture for the sake of springing her brother from prison, even if she knows, deep, deep down, they can never go back to living their old life the same way again. Elias, on the other hand, is tempted and tested and taunted. He is constantly warned that he will become a murderous monster if he does not follow through with the Augurs’ wishes. Granted, he still sheds plenty of blood (and, very sadly, some of it HAS to be his friends… #HungerGamesForTheWin), but he still, in a manner of speaking, hangs onto his soul. I think that was one romantic aspect I did like between Laia and Elias, is that they started to appreciate and love each other for their PERSONHOOD, not simply BODILY. Laia gives Elias a beautiful little moment when she talks about his soul being free, and he does likewise with his Mother, before he is led out to be executed. In fact, that was probably one of my favorite parts: The free-soul speech. The fact that he was ready, and even willing, to die. Not a lot of people can say that, and I applaud Tahir for it.
  2. The mythology. It is deep and well played out. For spiritual purposes alone, I love the fact that Tahir had the whole, “You didn’t believe in them, because you logically thought, “Nah, something that powerful/magical/spiritual couldn’t possibly exist because it defies XYZ…”… Well, guess what? YOU WERE WRONG, IN YOUR FAAACCCEEEE!!!” It was a very intriguing play, even if most of the spiritual being they’ve encountered so far are pretty much the evil ones. It makes me wonder if they are GOING to encounter any GOOD ones, too…
  3. The Resistance Conspiracy. One of the main reasons I kept page-turning… And what can I say? ALL THE HUNGER GAMES RELATED STUFF!!!! I mean, granted, it’s probably just me seeing connections. But between the friend-based bloodbath, both getting inspiration from Roman time periods (and the Colosseum, no less), AND the fact that the Resistance also has a leader that looks to be suspiciously like President Coin? Like a person who would make one heck of a dictatorial power-play the instance they were on the head honcho’s throne?

Incredibles1

*cough* Ahem… ANYWAYS….

Overall, again, I thought the story was good (negative lust and rape stuff aside). I liked the character growth, the backstories were interesting, and the whole conspiracy was enough to keep me reading. I also liked the perspective switching; Tahir pulled this off spectacularly. As in, “Oh no! Person A is alone with Person B, and Person C’s coming! He/she is gonna see Persons A and B together and think *********”

My rating, overall: 3.5.

My Rating Scale:

0= Horrible, don’t bother

1=Poor

1.5=So-so

2=Meh, not too bad

2.5=OK

3=Good, but not enough

3.5= Very good, but some stuff bothered me

4= Great, but could use some final tweaking

4.5=GREAT, pretty polished writing

5= AWESOME, I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN FOR DAYS

 

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Image Credits:

The Incredibles GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Ember_in_the_Ashes

 

What We Learn About (God’s) Love

What We Learn About (God’s) Love

Before my last semester of classes here at college, I had two open slots to take whatever I wanted, since I only needed three required classes but needed a total of 15 credits to graduate in a timely manner. I was tempted to take another art class, I’ll admit, but I chose to take Women’s Literature with one of my favorite professors (because it will be my last class with her… Getting sentimental here…) and a class I’ve wanted to take for a while, that’s only offered in Spring semester here: A class entirely on the works of C.S.Lewis.

Sounds like fun, huh? Well, it’s not exactly Chronicles of Narnia.

No, this class challenges you to think more deeply about your faith, and about what it means to truly love and be human. If you’ve seen part of my IG story on V Day, you’ll know how it’s impacted me JUST with The Four Loves. God’s been convicting and challenging me so much in this class, and I love it. He’s challenging me to give up some idolatrous things, or at least not make them idols/obsessions any more (as stated in an earlier post– this is one way I KNOW God’s trying to get my attention about SOMETHING, because He will VERY consistently put things in my life that all somehow have the same, very consistent message). He knows those things aren’t healthy for me, especially emotionally, and spiritually; He’s challenging me to beware of making pleasures gods, because, according to Lewis, they can very easily become demonic. O.O God’s also teaching me the different kinds of loves, not just romantic (eros, which, contrary to popular belief, does NOT have a specialty in the physical; it focuses on the loving the BELOVED, not their BODY– HUGE difference) and Agape, but philia (friendship), storge (affection), and charity, along with the differences between Gift-Love, Need-Love, Appreciative-Love (the last is the most selfless; you love someone or something just because, which is the attitude, along with charity, that we SHOULD have towards God and others), along with Need-Pleasures. Some friendships and even relationships, sadly, can be based off of Need-Pleasure; as soon as you no longer get pleasure from it, you toss that person aside– sad, but it can happen. It does happen. Lewis also talks about the power of love in true friendships; authority can actually be TERRIFIED of this love, because, if you think about it, some of the most powerful and influential groups in the world started off as just that– people who cared for each other, who shared common ideals and interests, whether good or bad, bonded together, and often changed the world. I think that it’s fascinating, in that sense. (And, also, yes– in a dangerous one, too. Depending on the group.)

(All this makes me wonder what Lewis would’ve had to say on Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.)

Lately, I’ve been thinking loving God properly. The book talks about how the Natural Loves can eventually be refined into Divine Gift-Love  and charity by grace; about how God is literally a Heavenly HOST Who creates His OWN parasites (us), because we literally feed off His Love. We need His love, we can’t live without it, but God can’t make us WANT to love Him in return. There’s a reason He didn’t make us robots, with no free will. Even though we can’t use the regular kind of Gift-Love to return His Love, and even the tiniest fraction of the Love He shows us, we CAN give Him the Love of our free will, and freely love Him in return.

This reminds me of… Actually, can I make a confession, first?

Some of you already know this, but I have Asperger’s. Most can’t tell, because I’ve been through therapy after therapy, gone through literally countless sessions and therapists, to try to reprogram my whole danged thought process and seem “normal.” I got fed up with it pretty quickly, namely because A., I didn’t like being treated like an experimental social monkey in a lab while they poked and prodded me to get me to do whatever they wanted (yes, I resisted; I was one of the few brave rebels of my Aspie generation– I have lived to tell the tale), and B., many, though not all, of my therapists simply treated me as part of their job, albeit with sugary sweetness, not as an actual human being who deserves dignity and respect (which I had and still have a major problem with).

Enter my one, and last, TSS, whom for privacy’s sake, I shall call “J.”

“J” was different from most of my therapists. Not having many friends due to public high school, and generally just being an overall social outcast, she and I soon bonded over fandoms, over silliness, over her just, well, treating me as a person. I mean, yeah, we talked about therapy stuff, but we also celebrated her birthday together (with a brownie cake). Invited her just to hang and chill. We could snark together like nobody’s business; she helped bring the sass out in me, the mentor out in me (which would reflect on several friendships with young ladies that I would have in the future). If I was happy about something, she was the first one I would want to tell about it. The FIRST. We did crafts together, went to Harry Potter movies together (after I got her hooked on the series), and I would tease her relentlessly about her stuffed bear that she’d had since her childhood, “Mr. Cuddles.” (The name alone would make me fall into fits of hysterics, given the right time and my mood.) She was more than a bestie or a TSS; she was like my older sister.

Then, tragedy struck.

“J” was faced with a proposition: She could let go, be free, go do whatever job she wanted, aside from being my TSS. In my moody early teens, I was shell-shocked. I thought she’d always want to be friends in, well, our way. But I decided I did not want to tie her down, I did not wish to hinder her. Forcing her to stay, though it was an option, was not friendship, if she did not want the actual job. And so I did the bravest, most selfless thing I could do, even though my inner Aspie was screaming at me to cling tighter than a tree-hugger: I let her go.

What hurt was that it seemed “J” would make no attempt to connect, to contact me, after I did it. It felt all for naught, and I questioned if our friendship had ever been real. Combined with having no friends, losing my beloved dog, Sonny, and transitioning from public school (social outcast) to homeschool (no friends, at the time) caused me to become seriously depressed. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of my story (although it almost was…); I met several wonderful friends through homeschooling and even Taekwondo who loved me for me, and helped support me. I realized I had been far too dependent on “J,” and that I needed to reach out to other friends, to God, for more support. What was wrong, though, was that at the time I blamed “J” for it all, because I was deeply hurt and struggled to let go; I now understand her doing what she did, to a certain degree. I am now the age she was when we first met (she was 22, I was 12 at the time), and with college I am usually far too busy to contact people, although I wouldn’t put off contacting most people for months at a stretch, usually (I mean, I AM only ONE person…). These past two weeks alone have been just INSANELY busy (as in, I literally cannot get on social media AT ALL, or my academics will severely suffer for it), so I just have to hope and pray that most don’t take it personally, if I don’t contact them for a while. But it does hurt, to be on either side of the fence. Because I know; I know what it’s like to feel ignored like that. Believe me when I say that.

I also think God put that situation in my life because He wanted me to taste a pinch of how HE feels; when we first start off growing close together with Him, and doing our best to get to know Him, things are usually going great. But the farther we drift apart, the more we hurt Him, the more He longs for contact with us, but no, He doesn’t want to force it on us. We have to come back to Him, and love Him freely, lovingly. Just as I gave “J” the freedom of choice to stay or go (or even to stay in contact or not), God gives us the choice whether or not to stay. Whether or not to return His Love, and learn to Love Him properly, as well as learning all about Him in general, and everything He’s done for us.

So, allow me to ask you…

Will you stay? Or will you go?

(No, that was not a song reference.)

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Image Cred:

https://goodstock.photos/open-bible-to-psalm-23/