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 unboxing was simply glorious (didn’t see it? It’s on my Instagram– livgirl63). 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 that 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 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 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 has a strong sense of loyalty, duty, and justice, which does drive 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) 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, 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 greatly 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. 😉

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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

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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 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 and 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’s much more Arminian, though. 🙂 She provides an 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. 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.

A Few New Years Ago

A few

New Years ago,

You possess’d

A piece of my heart

Even though

Physically

We were far

Apart.

 

We met online,  you

Could say I was

Smitten;

I guarded my

Heart, but guess

Every word

Written

Fooled me once,

Twice,

Thrice.

 

A few

New Years ago,

You possess’d

A piece of my heart

Even though

Physically

We were far

Apart.

 

Although you’re

Gone, you

Disapparated from

My life,

Your influence haunts

Me still,

Causing me strife;

I know a man from

Work,

Similar to you,

Who’d love to take

Me in his arms,

To call me his “Boo”–

He has a flower between

His fingers already,

But that should not matter,

They’re only going

Steady.

 

A few

New Years ago,

You possess’d

A piece of my heart

Even though

Physically

We were far

Apart.

 

Man alive, I’d assum’d

You were the only

One

Who was in tune

With me;

But me? I guess

I was only there

To be comforting

You; running

My fingers through

Virtual hair.

I s’ppose I should

Count myself

more than

Bless’d

To have you let

Me be.

 

A few

New Years ago,

You possess’d

A piece of my heart

Even though

Physically

We were far

Apart.

 

You painted a handsome,

“Understanding,”

Face

On sinfulness, shock and

Shameful disgrace;

Your cover

Blown, you then

Finger-point–

Fine, I’ll

Leave,

And would soon rather

Anoint

My True Someone Special.

You accuse,

His Grace redeems,

You caged me,

He set me free,

You pinned blame on me with

Words as sharp as tacks,

He freed me from shame

With whip lashes

On His back.

It does not matter

What I’ve done.

It only matters

Who I’ve since become.

 

A few

New Years ago,

You possess’d

A piece of my heart

Even though

Physically

We were far

Apart.

This New Year, I’ve left you since,

I’ve done more than my time,

More than my share

Of penance; 

I’ve hidden my heart, 

Guarded it better,

Saved it for the One

Who freed me from my

Fetters. 

 

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Author’s Note: The song, “Last Christmas,” inspired me strongly this season, particularly Britt Nicole’s cover of the song. I’d work and hear it over the loudspeaker again and again, and could relate very strongly to the lyrics. But, not wanting to swipe the song and just give it a few tweaks (copyright and all), decided to do my own lil completely new but still inspired poetry piece based off of what feelings, thoughts, and personal experiences I could relate to from the song. Needlesstosay, mine’s probably the more, “Gospel-oriented,” version, in a way. 😉 

Conversing with Lord Casimir: An EXCLUSIVE Rothana Tour Interview

Conversing with Lord Casimir: An EXCLUSIVE Rothana Tour Interview

So, I know I’ve teased this for part of November. Tormented you guys on Instagram and even Facebook about this. And God only knows the literally countless amount of times I’ve pestered Ms. Sarah Delena White herself about it, on messenger, for at least a few years, maybe even more. 😉 (Hey, an Author Bugger’s gotta do her job. And we did become good friends through my pestering, so it WAS worth it. Love you, Sarah!)

Casimir3

Casimir is a star-fae and an alchemist. His abilities include, but are not limited to, illusion-making, light-generation, weapons made of starlight, mesmerism, and of course alchemy.

And my efforts have not been in vain. The favorite minion, head of Tribe Minion, has finally come through, bearing great fruit of great joy from great labors.

Today, my Casimirian brothers and sisters of Casimir’s Minion Tribe, I get to interview our beloved Lord Casimir, himself, in celebration of his new role in Sarah’s sequel to Halayda, Rothana. That’s right–this interview is the next pivotal stop on the Rothana Blog Tour, in celebration for its new release!

To that end, I have compiled several imperative questions months and months in advance, to prepare for this highly anticipated moment in history. Welcome, Lord Casimir. Your minions anxiously have awaited your glorious presence. Please, have a seat in one of the most comfortable, most luxurious chairs we possess.

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L4G: First, a bit of an icebreaker (though you may despise trivial talk). As some of us have seen from the #1randomquestion posts that Sarah’s been sharing, one of your hobbies (aside from scheming and alchemy, of course) is insect collecting. Why did you start this hobby? Do you collect specific insects, or just dragonflies?

Lord Casimir: “I collect insects of all sorts, though dragonflies are particularly interesting. I enjoy studying them and organizing them into ornate displays on the walls of my laboratories. It’s one of the few activities I find relaxing, as it doesn’t require strategy or foresight or dealing with anyone’s emotions. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for dealing with Faerie’s Dragonfly.”

L4G: *nods sympathetically* I daresay she likes to make things quite challenging for your plans, but we’ll discuss her more in a bit. Judging from your infamous speeches, you’ve garnered quite a bit of philosophical wisdom over time. Who is your favorite fae or mortal philosopher, and why?

Lord Casimir: “I have little time for philosophers these days. While I once found their discussions interesting, I’ve seen too many of them come and go, and watched the world go on unchanged by their debates. For all their fancy words, they often fail to grasp the true nature of reality. Experience and necessity are the only philosophers I have the leisure to heed.”

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The College of Alchemy–Casimir’s current domain and area of expertise in the mortal city of Sabellyn

L4G: I wonder what the true nature of reality is… I wonder if it has to do with your view of alchemy. How did your interest in alchemy begin, especially since you’re already very clearly skilled in Solasa magic?

Lord Casimir: “I turned to alchemy out of necessity after the rest of the Solasa and I were exiled from Faerie. Fae cannot survive long in the mortal world, with all its iron and smog and little trace of magic. Those of us who could turned to alchemy to bolster our power and help minimize the effects of living in Sabellyn. Soul sense is even rarer among the fae than it is among mortals (yes, contrary to the speculation of mortals, we do have souls). Those of us who have the ability can create powerful potions that are beyond of the capabilities of ordinary alchemists. I eventually used this skill to secure a position in Sabellyn’s upper echelon.”

L4G: Speaking of which, in Sabellyn, there are obviously those with great power and influence. Why choose a college specifically, if you’re aiming for power and overall leadership, rather than a governing position?

Lord Casimir: “What casual observers often fail to realize is that the College of Alchemy is the greatest power in Sabellyn. The Ruling Council is useful, but they’re often mired in debates and formalities. While I could have obtained a seat on the Council, I prefer industry and invention, the true powers that drive the city. As Chancellor of Alchemy, I serve as an advisor to the Ruling Council, which gives me a voice within governing circles without having to be tied to their pettier aspects. It also allows me to keep a lower profile and avoid interacting with members of the fae Court when they visit Sabellyn.”

Sabellyn

Sabellyn– A steampunk mortal city full of innovation, alchemy, slums, and secrets

L4G: …And NOW we circle back to one alchemist in particular, your former prized student, the new Dragonfly. We’ve seen quite a bit of alteration and interaction in your relationship with her, but what is your honest opinion of Sylvie Imanthiya?

Lord Casimir: “She is infuriating. She is a creature of weakness who somehow finds herself at the center of battles. Her idealism is foolish and likely to destroy her. If possible, I would have kept her out of my schemes entirely. She was the last person I wanted involved.”

SylvieandTaylan

Sylvie the Yushara (Dragonfly) with her “Halayda” (husband), Taylan Ashkalabek

L4G: *murmurs to self* (I wonder why the latter is… Guess Rothana will cue us in on the answer… 😉 ) We know that in Halayda, you inspire us by trying to take hold of your own destiny, your own fate, and your own realm. In your ideal, perfect world, what is one other major change you’d make, aside from complete control?

Lord Casimir: “You assume I wish for complete control. What I seek is to right the wrongs that have been done to me, to Kyure, and to fate itself. If that requires taking complete control, so be it, but do not think that that is my chief desire. It would merely be convenient.”

L4G: *grins* I’ll bet it would. Sadly, I think we need to wrap up here, because we do have a time limit… *composes self* Lastly, what advice would you give to someone else who also wishes to forge their own destiny?

Lord Casimir: “Consider the consequences of your choices before you make them. Decide whether you can live with the cost.”

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Casimir’s illusionary golden garden

Thank you so, so much for joining us today, Lord Casimir!! It has been an incredible privilege and honor in having you on my humble little site today, with your Minion Tribe and Yours Truly. You are truly inspiring. We wish you great success with achieving your goals, and will be there to support you every step of the way!

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Interested in reading more of Casimir and Sylvie’s story? Check out book 1 in the Star-Fae Trilogy by Sarah Delena White!

“Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.”

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And let’s not forget book 2, Rothana

“A new queen falls. A death lord rises. An ancient foe looms in the shadows.

Sylvie Imanthiya is desperate to lead Faerie well and deepen the bond with her husband, former king Taylan Ashkalabek. But all hope of that vanishes when the Winter Solstice ceremony ends in disaster, stranding her and Taylan in the Deathrealm, and stripping the kingdom from her.

With Faerie in chaos, Zad and Diza are separated once again: Zad to reconcile with an old mentor to stabilize the kingdom, and Diza to confront the nefarious Casimir in the mortal realm. But Casimir claims that a greater evil seeks to destroy both realms, an evil that Diza’s unique death magic can hold at bay—if she could only remember how.

In the Deathrealm, Taylan is succumbing to the lure of specters from his past, and pushing away Sylvie’s love. Overwhelmed by decay and darkness, Sylvie must summon unexpected magic from the soul of Kyure to fight for her convictions and her husband’s heart.

Shadows divide them. Their friends are in peril. If Sylvie fails, her marriage and her world will fall.”

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Check out Uncommon Universes Press to order signed copies of both snarky, romantic, fae-and-steampunk-filled books, today!

https://uncommonuniverses.com/books/

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About the author of the Star-Fae Trilogy!

Sarah Delena White

Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She’s an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is the administrative manager for Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not writing, she can be found making elegant designer bead jewelry, traveling to festivals as a professional ballad singer, drinking tea, and seeking to create the perfect latte. She can be bribed with dark chocolate.

Sarah-Delena-White-3

 

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Credits:

Halayda, Rothana, and author pictures and descriptions were all taken from the Uncommon Universes official site, credit goes to them; I OWN NOTHING.

Additional picture credits:

Cover collage pic, top center: Gil-Galad by Kaprriss, Pinterest. 

https://www.deviantart.com/jankalateckova/art/Sylvie-and-Taylan-764908178

hw.kappboom.com

Glorfindel by SaMo-art of Deviantart

Pinterest

http://www.flickr.com

 

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

(Quick updates: This weekend, you’ll be getting two blog posts, one is much anticipated tomorrow– something I’ve been badgering a certain someone over for years–and a special surprise I’ll be hinting at over Instagram; the other will be either a MBTI type post or a Shadow Functions post!)

 

This past Sunday morning, my pastor remarked on the obvious: Thanksgiving was all but dead to America. He joked about once writing a eulogy about how it started off strong in the 18th and 19th centuries, got severely ill and on the verge of death by the 20th century, and finally, died in the 21st century due to being smothered in an avalanche of Christmas décor, and Halloween candy and costumes.

We may joke about Thanksgiving not having much of a say anymore– at least, as far as the American public and most commercial sales are concerned– but it goes far deeper than the surface, to an underlying problem we’ve had for a while. And while this rings a familiar tone in the ear of some of my fellow Americans, I think the whole world could use a good, healthy dose of truth, too.

A while back, in July, I posted again about why I think we should pray for America– not to be blessed, as we are so fervently encouraged to do, but to be humbled and healed. See, we have a similar problem to ancient Israel– when the going gets tough, we turn to our chapels and prayer out of desperation. But the instant everything’s peaches and cream in life, our ego starts to swell. We credit ourselves for our successes, our blessings, and in doing so dismiss our loving Benefactor– before the cycle starts all over again. America often lacks humility, and it lacks gratitude for the One Who founded it to begin with, Who crafted the land with such care, raised flora and fauna into being for nourishment, enjoyment and resources, who provided a way for people to reach the land and settle– He certainly didn’t have to. He did it because He loved them, as He loves us, and because He provided what they needed. Note: NOT wanted. Needed, according to His will.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again: We often treat God like a cosmic Santa (oh, sickeningly sweet irony), making a mile-long list of greedy gimmes and things we don’t necessarily need but oh, how we WANTS IT, PRECIOUS.

*Ahem.*

Anyways, I’m inferring by the “we” that I’m certainly not just pointing the finger to America, but to myself, as well. God’s recently been nudging me (pretty consistently, might I add… ) on abandoning “desires of the flesh,” so I can draw closer to Him, and thus help to fulfill what He wants for my life (which I may or may not discuss later on– you guys might think me a bit crazy as it is xD). In that search for a more in-depth revelation on how exactly to “abandon the desires of the flesh,” I stumbled upon this verse, in James 4:2-3, which kind of smacked me upside the noggin:

“…You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)

(This is the passage that comes directly before saying that “friendship with the world is enmity with God,” too… :/ )

Wow.

It struck me right between the eyes, because lately, I’ve been very much the materialist, for an INFJ. I’ve been buying bookish stuff out the kazoo, and I think this was God’s wake-up call for me to slam on the brakes before I overspent or over-prioritized that, or worse, ASAP.

But, look what it says after calling them out on sin, in James 4:6-10:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says,

“God opposes the proud

but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (NIV)

Whoa and whoooooaaaa. Humility. God is calling me to be humble. God is calling US to be humble. God is calling us to repent of our sin, to recognize the depth of the pain that it causes Him and others (and often us), and to be genuinely remorseful about it. I think I’ve only been deeply remorseful about one major sin in my life, sadly, and it wasn’t the materialism that plagues my life now. I believe that America is even more deeply entrenched in materialism than I am, but I don’t think it’s too late. As controversial as I am or seem, I do love my country. Do I hate lies? Yes. Do I loathe propaganda? Also yes. But I care about my country, and I want to help it out of its spiritual mire; I can do so by encouraging it– and others– to turn to God for aid, and humble themselves, seeking Him.

All this makes me think of times when I was actually blessed deeply by God, and did not take such things for granted. I was blessed all through my college years; God kept me safe and He kept me, for the most part, as sane as any student could be. He gave me the most amazing, knowledgeable and compassionate professors. I met so many wonderful students, and made quite a few friends and acquaintances, who I’ve been deeply privileged to know. He told me at the beginning of my Geneva journey that we were going to tackle this together, one day at a time, when I initially panicked, overwhelmed by it all. Later, in one of my first semesters as a sophomore, I broke down in an anxious frenzy, thinking I was a failure– I was no good academically, socially, and even genetically (I cannot give blood to donate, as I am cortisol deficient, but I have the universal donor type– cruel irony). I would have sobbed for hours those days, if it weren’t for classes to keep me busy. Then, one day, I felt God’s Spirit, Ruach, nudge me. Watch the Prince of Egypt. I frowned. I had no reason why I couldn’t, but saw no reason why He wanted me to. Watch the Prince of Egypt movie. It popped up a couple of times, so eventually I caved at the end of the day, popped in some Netflix in my own private little room (oh yes, I had it pretty made, sophomore year!), and, cuddling up with Eikon (my Zorua plushie), I watched to the part where Moses is almost arguing with God, about how he can’t, he can’t do it, he can’t lead God’s people, and God talks some sense into him, saying, with the beautiful Spirit-music in the background, that through him He’d do His wonders. In that moment, I heard Him speak to my soul, “You are not a failure. I made you. I love you. Through you, Olivia, I WILL work My wonders!” I was so struck, so taken aback, I started crying right then and there. That moment’s still remained with me to this day.

Later on, God blessed me in nearly all my academics, and was with me even as I went on my class trip to Israel. In fact, that was one of the consistent messages He constantly gave me, when I did my devos over there– ” I’m with you. I’m protecting you. Don’t be afraid.”
My usual response? “I’m not afraid.” I was ready, and willing, to go where He led us, where He led ME. One clear instance over there, of thanksgiving, was a total surprise. I was simply grateful and felt so privileged to BE there, in THE Holy Land– it felt so surreal. But God continued to surprise and bless me, even as I did not ask for the blessings outright. This continued even directly right after college, in little ways, and not always in material ways, either. However, I’ve come to realize that some of the material blessings are beginning to get to my head, and I need to humble myself like before, to seek God, repent, and focus on Him, not what He can do for/give me.

You see? If we don’t obsess about it, God does give us what we need. The trick is to take our eyes off our wants and our problems, and focus them on Him.

This is why I cringe about “health and wealth,” gospel; we shouldn’t automatically and constantly ask God to bless us, especially with material things. Our hearts and motives need to be in the right place, for starters, as the above Scripture states. And, like the Apostle Paul states,we need to learn to be content with what God has already given to us; additionally, we should not worry about needs/provisions, God always makes a way to provide for His children and Creations, be it us the Image Bearers or the smallest sparrow.