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If you are visiting…

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Visiting my blog for the first time? Great! I’m happy you are here! But, I’m not here much anymore. Visit me at my new site, www.ccriley.com!

Book Review: Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase

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The world that we know and are familiar with no longer exists. The street lights come on well before night fall and continue shining until the day breaks again. Adults stay afraid and the children of the world become the only hope for survival. You see, something has happened in the world, and the dead don’t stay dead for long, at least the bodies stay dead. The spirits, however, can’t seem to stay away.

DownloadedFile-1 The Problem began and now children everywhere are the front line, the ones fighting ghosts, specters, and scary things in general. Even though the kids are doing all the intensive, frightening, labor intensive type things that involve the dispelling of the more sinister apparitions, the adults still try to control them. That’s where Lockwood and Co comes in, the only adult free psychic investigations unit in London.

Lucy Carlyle shows up on the Lockwood and Co. doorstep for her seventh interview in seven days. Her last job, thanks to the adult who chose not to listen and to Lucy’s own mistake of not listening to her own instincts, did not end well, so she’s in London trying to start fresh. Anthony Lockwood, young and determined to prove himself in this adult driven worlds, hires Lucy on the spot because of her special talents.

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Lucy, who can truly hear, Lockwood, who can truly see, and George, a disgusting slob with the inclinations of a scientist, are the three individuals who might just be able to make a name for themselves. Through a series of mis-adventures, Lockwood, George, and Lucy end up on a daring mission in one of the most severely haunted homes in all of England.  Where others have failed, how will three kids be successful against such foes?

This book was a bit of a slow starter for me, mainly because of a few time jumps that I wasn’t quite ready for. In the end, I’m glad I stuck it out. George was smart and sloppy, Lucy clever, and Lockwood was a character, let’s just leave it at that. The story was so original that I loved the storyline almost as much as I loved the characters. There was a lot of time spent on background knowledge, which worked out nicely because there will definitely be a sequel. Too many loose ends were left and I have a feeling that Lucy has a few talents up her sleeve that even she doesn’t understand.

So, go check this book out. I loved it!

The House at the End of Hope Street: A Review

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I love books that have a little bit of that magical flair. More than a little bit and I feel as if I’ve hit the reading jack pot. The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag is full of magic, from a house that seems to pop up just as you need it, ghosts and portraits that give, sometimes unwanted, advice, and a 99 day chance for a young woman to get her life back on track, this novel keeps the reader enchanted. 

When Alba, an extraordinary genius with unbelievable sight, experiences the worst event of her life (she’s not exaggerating either), she wanders the streets with no idea what should happen next. That’s when the house pops up out of nowhere, big and Victorian with vines of wisteria and the smells of calm hovering in the air, and reaches to her like a mother reaches for a hurting child. As you read on, you learn that the house has been rescuing women, especially soon to be famous women like Agatha Christie and Virginia Woolf, for 200 years. 

Alba’s story quickly becomes entwined with the three other women in the house, one hiding from her past, one scared of her future, and the wonderful woman, Peggy, who keeps the house and helps the young women who cross the threshold. One of my favorite parts of this book was the way that the characters stories became so connected. Originally, I was concerned that this was going to be a story of stories, instead of a fluid whole, but Van Praag didn’t disappoint. 

Even though the pages are full of heartbreaking life events, you learn, along with the women experiencing them, that one “must be allowed to feel her grief, must dive headlong into despair, before she can emerge again, her spirit richer and deeper than before” (46). While trying to find herself in all of the madness of her life, Alba is also on the search, rather reluctantly sometimes, for her father, who makes the story even more rich. 

Although I loved the book, the characters, the story, the mysteries that unravel one tiny strand at a time, I didn’t love the number of perspectives that the story was told from. Almost every character gets his or her say, which made me feel like my favorites didn’t get enough time with the spotlight. I also had a hard time, whether because of the different circumstances or perspective, relating with Greer, one of the women living in the house. 

I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I think it was exactly the book that I needed to read! Follow the link and get your own copy! You won’t be disappointed. 

 

 

Day 20: What are your hobbies and why do you like them?

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For people who work only 40 hours per week (and who still gets to do that anyway?), that person will work 30% of his life. Another 30% is spent sleeping. What we do with that other 40% is completely up to us. 

For December Challenge day 20, you get to hear all about mine and Madi’s hobbies, and if you are my student reading this, prepare to see how boring I actually am. 

So my number one hobby is writing. I would like this hobby to eventually become a source of income for myself. Eve if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t matter. One day my children will inherit all of my journals and they can read all about me and whom I was and whom I wanted to be. 

I also count exercise as a hobby, mainly because I really enjoy it. I’m happy that I have met my weight loss goals and how I exercise (running and yoga are my favorites) because it makes me happy. It really isn’t something that I struggle with anymore. 

Remodeling and redecorating the house ranks in the top five because that is something that Nathan and I can do together. We get to spend time together and make our home more beautiful. Right now we’re in the middle of planning a kitchen remodel. 

Reading is another “hobby” but like writing I could never give it up. Ever. I love the feeling of being transported to another place and time, of meeting new people and being inspired. Experience equals wisdom, but reading helps you get ahead of the game. 

So, a few hobbies from me should equal a few hobbies from you! What are your hobbies? 

Day 18: Who is your idol?

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Here we go on Day 18 of December. The challenges are getting a little harder to write because, and I bet Madi can attest to this, I’m getting tired of writing to a prompt. There is a free day coming up soon thankfully! How is your writing going? Are you following along? Let us know in the comments! We would love to check it out. 

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Here I go looking up words in the dictionary again. An idol is “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.” With this topic, I could write about so many different people in my life. My family, both those that are stuck with me and those that have willingly adopted me, are inspiring on so many different levels. Because there are so many, and because that post would be several miles long and full of very sappy, but very sincere, thank yous, I have decided to write about my writing idol. 

I bet you can even guess who that is.

Are you read? Do you have your idea?

If you guessed J.K. Rowling, you guessed correctly. There are so many reasons why I admire this woman, and many of them go well beyond her writing career. But, let’s start with her writing career. She hasn’t stopped. She could have made her millions and given up the writing game, because guess what? It’s HARD! She wrote HP and kept writing, but she writes bravely. She’s not scared to try new projects; The Casual Vacancy 
was fiction, and The Cuckoo’s Callingwhich was amazing, was a brilliantly written mystery. 

She is strong and independent and she wasn’t afraid to keep chasing her dreams. Rejection letters never stopped her, and I am so thankful, as are millions of others. 

She’s also selfless and generous. She helped start Lumos , a charity for disadvantaged children in Europe. When the truth that she has written The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, she gave her winnings to charity. 

As you can see, I want to be just like J.K. when I grow up because she is not only a successful writer, but she is also a caring human being and a fighter for those who cannot fight for themselves. 

Who is your idol? 

Day 18: A List of Likes

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Day 18 is a day of favorites, but the problem is that I have a lot of favorites, especially in these categories. For example, if you were to ask me what my favorite animal was, I would ask you, “domestic or wild?”  See, there are a lot of different components of favorites to consider. I will do my best, as I am sure Madi will also, but know that in no way is this list exhaustive, nor will it be true tomorrow. 

Me-Button.pngBook: This will be the hardest. I am an avid reader I read usually four-five books a month, and that is a slow month, during the school year. During summer I don’t know how many books I read because there are so many. Right now, I’m asking myself if I should start with my favorite of all time or choose a classic. I can tell you that one of my favorite themes in literature is “things aren’t always what they seem.” My favorite YA book would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which is all about the way things appear versus what they actually are. I also loved The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia. I believe in magic because of books like these. Jane Austen inspires me as a woman, and Sarah Addison Allen helps me to keep my belief in magic, even as an adult. John Green and Sarah Dessen help me stay in touch with my inner teenager so that I can more easily relate to my learners. I’m stopping here now, or I won’t have room for the rest of my favorites. 

 

Movies: So, I’m not a huge movie buff. I want to be, but I get al fidgety. It’s weird, but I can sit and read for hours, but try to get me to sit for an extended period of time for anything else and I start to get all antsy in my pantsy. So, I loved The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and I’ve loved both Hobbit movies so far. I loved all the HP movies. My secret, which is about to no longer be a secret, movie guilty pleasure is Legally Blonde. I watch that movie when I need a girl power or motivation. That’s a pretty huge secret, so don’t tell anyone.

Song: Right now, my favorite song is  easily “Begging You Not To Go” by Tired Pony. First of all, the lyrics are beautiful. I can just imagine these two people who are at the cusp of being in love; it’s the time when moments are both shorter and longer, when every word is poetry and love has never felt so close. There is this line, and it took me a while to interpret it. He says, “We’re the last to fall all around us sleeping bodies Drunken satellites in the orbit of our earth,” and I remember this feeling with Nathan. Your surrounded by people but the gravity between you and the person is so strong it seems to disrupt everything else. The satellites look drunk because of the pull between the two of you. This song, in only eight lines, captures so much about love. 

Food: Easy. Chips and Salsa. Love.

Color: Depends on my mood and the weather. In the winter my color is typically black because I’m solar powered and I start feeling a little bit melancholy. In the summer my favorite color is the color of sunflowers.  

Animal: Domestically speaking it would have to be dogs. I mean, look at these two. They are precious. 

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Wild, I don’t know. Wolves are cool. Nathan likes bears, so I think that’s pretty awesome. Owls are cool, too. And Ravens. I like birds for all the things that they can symbolize, but I would never keep one. Otters are cute. Obviously, I don’t know. 

 

There you go. What are your favorites? 

Day 16: What is your biggest fear?

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So, I skipped yesterday. I didn’t like the prompt and I couldn’t find a substitute, so I just skipped. Sorry if you waited for my post and found yourself disappointed. I just wasn’t that into it yesterday. I had a new kitchen on the brain because Nathan and I are finally talking to kitchen planners for the remodel that we’ve been planning since we moved into the house. I don’t want to give too many spoilers, but it is a beautiful design. Today in the December ChallengeMadi and I are letting you in on our fears. 

 

Me-Button.pngAt one point in my life, I would have had a hard time choosing a fear because I had so many, and I’m not referring to being afraid of spiders or being afraid of snakes. I’m talking about fear, “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” Now, those fears are mostly gone, but two remain.

The first fear that I have, and it isn’t one that I lose sleep over or anything, it is just something that when I think about it I get nervous, is that something could happen to Nathan and I would be alone. Just writing that statement caused a twitch in the pit of my stomach and an ache in my heart. I combat that fear by living as much as I can, by spending as much time together as possible. 

The second fear that I struggle with is one that I would assume most over-achievers and type A personalities struggle with. I don’t want to be a failure. The problem is that I can’t seem to settle on a definition of failure. I think it is me giving up on what I want or what I love. If I ever stopped writing just because I wasn’t getting published would be a failure in my eyes. I would feel like a failure if I didn’t do what I loved because I was afraid of failing. 

Failure has morphed as I’ve gotten older into this idea of not trying. I think that this opinion on failure is much healthier. Trying new things is something that helps me to become a better person. Keep trying, I will. 

What are you afraid of?