Little Stories

Tiger’s Curse (Tiger Saga #1) by Colleen Houck

Kelsey Hayes was just looking for a summer job to save up enough money to attend community college in the fall. What she go was a white tiger and a 300 year old Indian curse. When Kelsey started her two week stay at the local circus she wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it for sure wasn’t forming a bond with the resident white tiger only to find out that the tiger is actually a 300 year old cursed Indian prince. Kelsey embarks on the adventure of the lifetime to help save Ren from his curse, but she ends up not only risking her life but her heart in the process.

I am not going to lie this is my second read of this series (except for Tiger’s Destiny which only came out last year) I read the original 4 when I was in high school on the recommendation of a friend and immediately fell in love with the characters and the story. I was a little worried that they weren’t going to hold up and that I was going to fall out of love with them. Thankfully I didn’t and it is still some of my favorites of all time, definitely a guilty favorite, but a favorite nonetheless. Although Kelsey annoyed me just a touch more then I remember her doing when I was in high school, then again when I was reading them the first time Kelsey and I were about the same age and I related to her decisions a lot more. As a 16/17 year old girl I related to Kelsey’s insecurities a lot more then I do now. I am a fully grown adult (ish) women who had full confidence in her body and the way it looks. Kelsey feels that she isn’t pretty enough or worldly enough to be with a guy like Ren, which for the record is never true. People are attracted to the people they are attracted to no matter what either person looks like and you can’t tell someone that they aren’t attracted to cause that’s not your choice to make. So her going from I really like him to I can’t be around him and back and forth for about 150/200 pages is really annoying and the fact that she can be around the tiger him but not the man is also a bit mind boggling because they have the same mannerisms just one can talk. Another thing about Kelsey that kinda bugged me on the reread was that she is supposed to be “Durga’s Chosen One” but like shes not all what I picture a chosen one to be. Shes not really the symbol I would pick for female empowerment; in fact shes kinda meek. While she does have her moments where she stands up for her self they are few and far between. She is mostly just a damsel in distress. Shes really not a strong female lead and she is kinda isolated. She had zero friends and no family (well kinda no family). She had her foster family but they stop being mentioned about 100 pages in. She definitely has no friends. Really the only people she interacts with, talks to or about, are Ren, Kishan and Mr. Kadam. So if I was going to change anything I would give her a girlfriend that she could talk to and tell her that shes being an idiot.

Ren is pretty much the epitome of fictional boyfriend. Hes drop dead gorgeous, brave, charismatic, romantic, and loaded. I mean really what else could a girl want in a fictional guy? Its very obvious that there are some very strong romantic feelings coming from him for Kelsey pretty immediately. They only thing I didn’t like was that was no push back? Banter? Tension? I don’t really know how to describe it, but I love when characters have a bet of something something that makes them argue and bicker a bit before they fall in love and then makes them do it more then they do. Ren and Kelsey don’t have that. Not that their relationship is easy it obviously has some issues but really I guess it comes down to neither of them are sarcastic or sassy and I love me some sassy characters ( I see you Kishan and I love you). Speaking of Kishan I love him a lot more then I did when I originally read the books. High school me hated that he tried to come between Kelsey and Ren cause I shipped them so hard (and I still do honestly) but grown me greatly appreciates his wit and his sass. I also appreciate the fact that hes a bit rough around the edges.

All in all the story and the characters held up for the most part. Admittedly the book as a whole has some issues and its not the best work of literature I have ever read (that in my opinion would be Peter Pan by JM Barrie with anything by Jane Austin a close second) nor is it the worst (I’m looking at you Star Crosses Trilogy). Its still one of my overall favorites and I can see my self reading it again and again.

Midnight Musings #1

This is a series I am going to do that is completely stream of consciousness and unedited in any way. These are just going the thoughts I have in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep for whatever reason.

Its nearly 3 am and I still can’t sleep. The anxiety feels like a rock at the bottom of my stomach and I want to crawl out of skin. everything feels like its going to fall apart at any given moment. No stick that it already feels like its falling apart. I turn 24 in a few months and this is not how I saw my life going. I had big plans and I ruined them all. I haven’t graduated college, I still live with my parents, I work (what feels) like a dead end job. I don’t even like my major anymore and I am to scared to tell my parents cause I feel like they are finally (somewhat) proud of me. I’m not okay. I don’t feel okay. Every cell in my body is screaming for me to pack up my car and run as far away as I can. to just change my name and never look back. I feel the dark coming and I can’t help to think this one might be bad. I don’t find joy in anything and the truly scary part is that I have been taking part in my self care rituals like face masks, bubble baths and keeping my room clean and I still feel anxious and depressed. I dread going to work other then I get to see a particular person that kinda brightens my day a bit. Mostly I am just tired. Tired of always fighting. Always being on guard. I feel stuck. Stuck in my life, stuck in my body, stuck in my mind. Why cant there be a pause button? I need one. I need to get my shit together, but I have to find my shit first and I don’t think I ever will. God I need to sleep. I just can’t. I’m going back to therapy. I should have never stopped. It get better but you never are better. Maybe I’m just this broken thing. Doomed to never be fixed. Do I even deserve happiness at this point? I’d probably just fuck it up someway. I know I have people who love me and whom I love and I know they support me and are here for me, but its 3:30 AM and I am so very lonely it physically hurts. I guess its time to go try and sleep or maybe I’ll try to write. I have too much energy, then again I just have too much of everything.

Sweep Vol. 3: The Calling, Changeling, Strife by Cate Tiernan

Lord have mercy on my soul for this one. I swear I wanted to pull a full Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook where he throws the book out the window only to go get it again. Morgan irked me more then she had in the first 6 books (God has it really been 6 books already?). Even Hunter, my undeniable favorite of the story, got on my nerves a little bit, at least in the first book of the volume, the second and third books weren’t much better (although Hunter redeemed himself to me). This volume was mostly dealing with Morgan finding out more about her heritage and her parents. Overall I feel as if I enjoy the story as a whole and have been reading them fairly quickly (as quickly as a girl who works 40+ hours a week can) and when I am reading them I don’t find myself not wanting to read them. That being said they greatly annoy me and I find myself just wanting to be done with the series as a whole (15 books in one series is just a tad bit excessive and exhausting for the reader).

Morgan, Morgan, Morgan. She doesn’t get any less annoying. If anything she gets more annoying. Shes whiny, selfish, impulsive, and all powerful which makes her very dangerous. It seems at every turn she is being told that she needs to learn the basics and to learn more control, but she gets upset by this and feels like shes being punished. So she ends up just doing things despite the consequences of such things, because she feels like its her birthright. In The Calling Morgan, Sky, Robbie, Bree, and Hunter all spend an extended weekend in New York City at Bree’s father’s apartment. Hunter is there on council business to gather information on a dark coven that he thinks is connected to a vision that Morgan keeps having. Of course Morgan wants to help and of course Hunter deems it too dangerous and basically orders her to stay out of it. Is it too dangerous? Yes. Does she listen? No. Does she almost get both her and Hunter killed? Yes. After the events of The Calling Morgan ends up breaking up with Hunter cause she founds out that her father is the the evilest Wiccan to like ever exist which of course causes her to have an existential crisis about weather or not shes a good witch or a bad witch. So basically she just whined for all of Changeling about how she doesn’t know if shes good or bad and how much loves him but can’t be with him. This volume seems to mostly focus on how Morgan is very powerful yet very untrained and how the people around her are kinda scared of her. Robbie and Morgan end up getting into a really big argument about her powers and how she tends to abuse them to suit her needs, which she totally does. Her excuse is that her power is her birthright, which is not a good excuse. On one hand I can see how Morgan can be dislikable, but on the other hand I was a little defensive about the fact that like everybody in her life is like terrified of her. For example, Killian, Morgan’s half-brother, does magical tricks out the open and her friends find it amusing and cute. Morgan does the same things and her friends fear her. So like I found myself defending her and being like all these characters need to chill.

On of the characters that need to take a chill pill is Alisa. To say that I dislike her would be an understatement. Her character is flat, whiny, and scared for no reason. When she’s first introduced to the plot it is painfully obvious that she is scared and uncomfortable around Morgan despite the fact that both her and Morgan are in the same coven and the fact that Morgan has done nothing to her. We learn from a couple of Alisa’s BOS entries that shes scared of Morgan’s power and believes that she is practicing Dark Magick despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. She’s just judge-y and vindictive for no reason and worse she ropes Mary K., Morgan’s little sister, into it. Mary K. is also a character that needs to chill. I mean ignoring the fantastical element to the book (the fact that Morgan and some of the other characters have powers) Mary K becomes alarmed that her sister starts practicing a new religion and she believes that her sister is out to get her. Its all just ridiculous. The writing, the characters, the plot. It all just falls a bit flat and is juvenile. Tiernan spends an inordinate amount of recapping literally everything. At the beginning of every book each character is reintroduced to the reader and each thing gets rehashed. I mean Cal DIED books ago and we are still talking about it! Maybe its just because we are 7-9 books in and we are hitting a slump but I feel like they are just getting worse.

Sweep Vol. 2: Dark Magick, Awakening, Spellbound by Cate Tiernan

WARNING: Spoilers!

Alrighty kiddos, Morgan is back at it again with the confusing feelings a dumb life choices. So Vol. 2 seems to be more like two distinct novels instead of the one novel like Vol. 1. Although really Dark Magick seems more like the conclusion to Vol. 1 then the beginning of Vol.2, formatting wise I would have put it in Vol. 1. Dark Magick wraps up Cal and Morgan’s relationship, while Awakening starts the beginnings of a friendship with Hunter and Sky and the mending of Bree and Morgan’s relationship. I found myself telling Morgan shes dumb a lot during these three novels, cause she refuses to live in the reality of the story. Like other characters present her with solid evidence and she is just like that’s not true. She makes horrible life choices and I’m frustrated with her immensely.

A good place to start is Dark Magick. It picks up in the aftermath of Hunter and Cal’s battle to the death with Cal the winner. If the first three didn’t make me dislike Cal the fourth one certainly did. So Morgan is absolutely convinced that she has killed Hunter and is racked with guilt about it. Selene and Cal both convince her that it was in self defense (and it technically was). But do you know who didn’t feel guilty Cal. Cal didn’t feel guilty. Something Morgan just pretended not to see. Another thing that really should have been a tip of that maybe Selene and Cal were not the best people was the fact he lied about being Woodbane, something that was really freaking Morgan out when she found out she herself was of reformed Woodbane blood. You know who was telling the truth about Cal being Woodbane? Hunter that’s who (more on that later). When she told Cal about her mother’s coven tools he told his mother and Selene literally drove to Morgan’s school just to talk to her about the tools and then was very upset when she found out the Morgan had bound the tools to herself; I was like “GIRL THEY ARE USING YOU!” Then, you know for good measure, he tries to kill her. I never likes Cal from the beginning. He was just to suave and charming so I kinda saw the whole “using you for more power” thing coming. What gets me is that despite people who know better, Hunter and Sky, and even her (ex) best friend, Bree, were all like Cal isn’t good he’s a liar and hes filling you with nonsense. Does she listen to them? No. No she doesn’t. Then when Morgan finds out that low and behold Hunter is indeed alive she is elated that she didn’t kill him and that he is alive. Cal on the other hand is not elated that Hunter is alive and well. In fact Cal is the exact opposite of elated. He tried to convince her that they would be better off if Hunter were dead. Does she take this as a red flag that maybe just maybe her boyfriend is an absolute ass? You would think that she would but she doesn’t.

Speaking of Hunter, I absolutely adore him. He is awkward and beautiful. He comes across as a bit cold (I’m convinced its the British), but really he cares very deeply about his family and his friends. He takes his job as Seeker very seriously, even though it takes a really heavy toll on his conscious. I like him a lot more for Morgan A) cause he’s an actually good guy and B) because he is a lot more level headed and lives in the reality of the story unlike some people *cough* Morgan *cough*. Morgan immediately rights him off as the bad guy, mostly because Cal tells her so and some because she feels uneasy when hes around. She also rights off Sky, Hunter’s cousin, as evil too. This girl does a Wiccan Mind Meld with him and still shes convinced that hes not a good guy despite the fact that she had unlimited access to his entire mind and not a single dark thought. It literally takes Cal trying to kill her by locking her in a room and setting it on fire for her to not only trust Hunter and Sky, but to also rekindle her friendship with Bree. Hunter for his part tries his best to protect Morgan and teach her how to protect herself. While Cal wants to use Morgan’s power to further his mother’s agenda, Hunter wants her to embrace it and be able to control it. Now despite how much I love Hunter he does have his flaws. He is very touche when it comes to the subject of Cal and honestly he’s a bit jealous of the relationship Morgan had with Cal. So as Morgan and Hunter grow closer Morgan grows more and more confused about her feelings and instead of taking this is stride and giving her the support and space she needs to come to terms that her one and only boyfriend whom she was convinced she was in love TRIED TO KILL HER, he tends to blow up and become pretty angry when Cal is mentioned. Minor flaws; he’s still my favorite.

Much to Morgan’s credit she deals with a lot of shit in this Volume. As previously mentioned she is nearly burned to death by her boyfriend. She was pulled from the rubble by her ex-best friend. Then she starts falling for her now ex-boyfriend’s half-brother who is like a witch cop who wants to bring down her ex-boyfriend and his mother all while facing the very real danger that her ex-boyfriend’s VERY powerful mother wants her dead so she can use Morgan’s dead mothers coven tools unencumbered and she still has to go to math class. So I can kinda of understand her poor life choices, but that doesn’t make them any less dumb. One of the things that Morgan struggles the most with, especially in Awakening and Spellbound, is the fact that she literally is blind to people’s “dark” side, which is just slightly annoying as a ready. Mostly cause after what she has been through you would think that she would be a little less trusting and because she takes it out on Hunter a lot like its his fault that people do bad things and she can’t see it when they do. The kicker is that the whole time Hunter is just like they did this bad thing and the broke the Wiccan laws doing it and shes just like you just have a vendetta against good people. Honestly throughout the whole story she has been selfish and naive. She doesn’t really seem to care how her actions affect the people around her or even herself

So far Morgan is not the most compelling nor my favorite heroine in a story, but the story itself is pretty compelling. Hunter also kind of saves it for me so like I don’t really feel like I am forcing myself through them, but I also don’t think I am enjoying them as much as I once would have.

The Fragile Collegiate Mind

America’s favorite pastime these days seems to be being offended by things that are not all that offensive or being offended on the behalf of somebody who is not even offended. In an article from The Atlantic titled “The Coddling of the American Mind,” authors Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff discuss at length the detrimental effects of microaggressions, trigger warnings, and safe spaces. “Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless;” these perceived transgressions can be as innocent as asking where a person is from or reading a book in public whose subject matter could be deemed offensive. (Hadit) Another buzzword that has been making its way around college campuses is “trigger warning,” which is an alert“ that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response.” (Haidt) Some students expect professors to issues warnings not just for the truly grotesque sights and subjects, but also when covering novels such as The Fault in Our Stars or when the topic of classism and privilege is discussed. These “protections” are sought out by students and some faculty to protect students from ideas, words, subjects, discussions, and values that are deemed harmful or hateful. In reality, they lull students into a false sense of security and create an unrealistic expectation of the postgraduate world.

        Today’s tense political climate coupled with the introduction of social media as well the constant message of life is dangerous but adults will protect you that was ingrained into Millennials and the need for a movement of protection is born. (Haidt) Tensions between the parties that dominate the political arena have been rising over the past few years and have created a us versus them mentality when it comes to not only political crusades but social crusades as well. With the introduction of social media, it is easier than ever for people to not only stay politically informed on all aspects of on issue, but to also be easily caught up in the group think mentality. Joining a social or political campaign was made effortless by Facebook and Twitter thus allowing people to have their voices heard, but in hearing those voices sometimes people hear something they disagree with. When confronted with an idea we as people find discomforting there is only two real options: argue against it or protect against it. Arguing against it could lead to acknowledging that the other side’s viewpoint has merit which is risky because the people who share your viewpoint may view you as a traitor to the cause and shun you from the group. (Haidt) Through the use of barriers, like safe spaces, people never have to be confronted with ideas or opinions they deem discomforting, but this can be harmful to the person.

        Mental illness is on the rise on and off college campuses across the United States, especially anxiety and depression. More people are reporting it and more people are talking about it which could account for the upward shift in numbers “but most exports seem to agree that some portion of the trend is real.” (Haidt) This trend could also contribute to the need for a movement of intellectual protection of college students. Many suffering from mental illness feel a need to avoid the discomforts of their mental illness. Creating safe spaces and instituting trigger warnings would create a false sense of comfort knowing that nothing possibly distressing would be shown or discussed. “The very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided.” (Haidt) The most amount of healing and growth is done when there is discomfort with process. Avoiding normalcy to avoid anxiety or other mental health issues only worsens the issue. A college or university campus is hallowed spot of academia, it is where people go to expand on knowledge and ideas, to take part in intellectual debates and discussions, experience different people, and experience personal growth. Learning should never be a comfortable process there should always be new opinions, issues, and dialogs going on in the classroom. Many things in life are unpleasant and will make you feel unpleasant, whether you like it or not. After graduating from the safety of the cocoon of college or university students will be ill prepared for what the postgraduate world looks like. College should equip students for post-grad life in the workplace not cocoon them in a false security blanket, in doing so they are just doing the students a great disservice.  Everyday people do not come with trigger warnings when talking about potentially emotionally charged topics and workplaces do not come with safe spaces.

Works Cited

Haidt, Jonathan and Greg Lukianoff. “The Coddling of the American Mind.”  The Atlantic, September 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/. Accessed 6 June 2017.

Let’s Talk About… Body Positivity

I have spent most if not all of my life hating my body. I would look in the mirror and examine with such hatred and disgust. My thighs touch and jiggle and are speckled with cellulite. My stomach is soft and round and striped with stretch marks. My breasts sag and are bigger then all of my friends (combined). My face is too round and my nose is a bit crooked and one eye is just a touch bigger then the other. I could list everything I hate about my body in a list that would probably be a mile long. I once had a therapist ask me what I liked about my self physically it took me a good two minuets to find one thing. the color of my eyes. All of the things that I used to hate (and to be honest still do sometimes) we all things that society had deemed ugly and unworthy of love. There weren’t girls who looked like me in magazines or movies and on the off chance there was a girl who did look like me she wasn’t the love interest. She was the funny best friend or the weird girl that got bullied. Even in the books I read the main character was always described as slim, willowy, small, slender. Words that I don’t think anybody would ever use to describe me. Even in my own home my father would make comments on what I was eating and that I should take better care of myself. Now I can confidently say, on most days, that I am hot. Like I am an attractive person with curves for days. I love every cellulite dimple and stretch mark on my body because they are apart of me, plus I have a pretty kick ass personality to boot.

Learning to love my body has been a very long and very difficult journey. It doesn’t just happen over night and it is something I worked really hard for. I was about 18/19 years old when I realized that I was just exhausted from hating myself. I mean lets face it hating yourself and being cruel to yourself for so long is pretty exhausting. At first I would just fake the confidence but slowly little by little I actually became more confident in how I looked and felt in my own skin. Affirmations also really help, although they do feel a bit funny to begin with. Its on odd feeling to look yourself, or more accurately your reflection, in the eye and say things like “You’re beautiful” or “I love you” at first but they really do help. Yes my thighs touch and my stomach looks more like Winnie the Pooh’s then Jennifer Lawrence, but that just means that A) I can cook a mean meal, B) there is more of me to love, and C) I will never not finish your fries. In the wise words of Queen Latifah, “I ani’t no salad eating chick.”

Learning to the love the body you have doesn’t mean that you don’t want to change things or improve on things. I have been going to the gym fairly regularly and have been trying to eat better and for once its not so I can loose weight ans finally be beautiful, but its to feel better mood wise, to boost my energy and to look even hotter then I already do. Loving yourself even when you not completely happy with how you look is the first step to enacting change, because when you love something you treat it with kindness and respect. When I finally started loving my body I stopped the bad habits that kept me hating it, the over eating when I was feeling emotional, the pushing my self way past my limits when I did workout, skipping meals. I still have my days where I eat nothing but fast food or where I force myself to go way to hard at the gym or when I only eat one meal in a day, but overall the way I treat my body has vastly improved over the years and will continue to improve with time. Its okay to stand up and say that you are beautiful inside out and not only worth of love but deserving of it. Having a few extra pound doesn’t make you ugly. Having a crooked nose, arms that jiggle or thighs that touch doesn’t make you ugly. The things that we hate about ourselves doesn’t make us ugly. What makes a person ugly is a person who says that the things we hate make us unworthy or unimportant. A person who is ugly is someone who is mean and cruel to others and that has nothing to do with how someone looks and everything with their personality. I have know some of the prettiest people have the ugliest harts.

Dark Green Door

He stared at the dark green door with its peeling paint and brass numbers it looked like any other door in New York, but this wasn’t any door in New York it was her door. It was the door that could make him or break him. It had been a 10 years since he last saw her, ten years since she ran away. Damn door he thought. He took a deep breath and knocked.

She was staring out the window at the raging storm; she watched intently as the rain hit the glass and traced the trails of the raindrops with her eyes silently contemplating which would win the imaginary race she had created in her head. She was cradling a mug of coffee in her hands lost in thoughts of the past.  The “what ifs” still haunted her even after a decade; what if I had stayed she thought. She remembered how his brown eyes lit up when he was excited and how his laugh was deep and rich like good cup of coffee and how when he looked at her it was as if she was the only other person in the world it made her feel as if she was glowing. The knock on her door jerked her away from her thoughts. “Milo I told you I don’t want any….” She swung the door open her voice trialing off when she realized that it wasn’t Milo. It was Aidan.

He felt as if his breath was knocked out of him. There she was, she was as beautiful as ever. Her hair was longer and no longer black, it was more of a chocolate brown but when the light hit it became redder, as if her hair was made of fire. She looked at him as if he had just risen from the dead in front of her. Her green eyes held joy and pain in them.  “Hi.” He smiled sheepishly. Hi that’s your great opening HI what are you thinking? She is the girl you love have always loved and all you have to say is hi you’re an idiot he thought while mentally slapping himself.

She felt as if she was seeing a ghost, a hallucination, and a mirage all in one. It can’t be him. “You can’t be here. Your not supposed to be here. What are you doing here?” she said. He stomach was doing flips and her head was spinning. This isn’t happening, this cant be happening. She studied him carefully, hoping that she was just going crazy and he wasn’t really there, but he was and he looked…. the same. He was still tall, his hair was slightly longer and he looked a little more muscular but other then that it was still him and it made her heart ache.

“May I come in?” he asked tentatively. She blinked at him. Once. Twice. Then she finally stepped aside and let him enter her apartment. Everything about it was her. There was books every where, an over stuffed leather chair and sofa dominated the living space as well as a large coffee table made from reclaimed wood, a huge window that looked out onto that famous New York skyline governed the far wall behind the sofa, but the thing he noticed the most the thing that made him smile was the fact that there were plants all over the place; her living room and kitchen looked like a jungle. There were fresh cut flowers on the tables and the mantle above the fireplace. There were ferns and fricassees sitting on the floor in pots and hanging from the celling in planters. “Since when do you like plants?” He smiled at her. Her heart started beating faster and her knees grew weak.

“Every since they remind me of someone. Would you like some coffee or tea? Or maybe some water or juice? I think I have orange juice maybe some apple juice around here somewhere. Or I have something harder if you want that. I know its only 10 am but I don’t know about you but I could use a drink.” She was heading to the kitchen as she talked. She turned to look at him the kitchen island separating the two of them.

“Coffee is good,” He stated. She gave a slight nod and began making the coffee. He watched her movements she was stiff and her movements were almost robotic. “Are you okay?” He asked wanting to hold her in his arms but stayed I where he was perched on the other side of the island.

“No I am not okay.” She pressed the button making the coffee machine whir to life. “You weren’t supposed to find me. You weren’t supposed to come after me. Nobody was.” She sighed

“I…I… Uh…” He had an entire speech prepared about why he had found her. Now he couldn’t remember it. He had kinda hoped that she would be so excited to see him that it would be like in the movies where they just get together. She wasn’t excited and this wasn’t a movie. “You changed your name.” was all he could come up with.

“That’s what people do when they don’t want to be found.” She placed the coffee in front of him. Three sugars no cream; She remembered.  “Why are you here, Aidan? Why did you come looking after all this time?”

“We miss you Jaz. I miss you; I need you.”

“It’s a Anastasia now, Anya if you would prefer. Jasmine Mackie is long gone.  All the people I wanted to know where and who I was I have contacted. Do you even know why I left? Why I became Anastasia Diggory?” Her gaze bore into his and made him look down at the marble countertop.

“No.”

“I was slowly dying there. I felt as if I was suffocating; I wasn’t happy. I needed to be somebody different and somewhere different. The person I was back in Windport wasn’t the real me.  Jasmine Mackie was sad and in pain all the time. She allowed people to walk all over her and was afraid to shine.” Her eyes were clouded with pain of the past. “The person I am now is the person I want to be. I don’t think I have ever been happier in my life. I graduated top of my class at Colombia University and now I work as a high school English teacher at The Dalton School and I love my kids. My neighbors Ms. Peterson and Her grandson Milo have become like family to me. My life here is all I ever wanted and more. I am happy.” Her expression had changed from one of pain to one of thoughtful excitement.

“What about your parents? Your friends? Me? We are all back in Windport.” He whispered.

“My parents come see me for the holidays ever year and I talked to them three times a week. Charlotte actually only lives 10 minuets from my apartment so I see her all the time in fact we have a standing brunch reservation in an hour and as for Genevieve and Kaden they come visit whenever they can. I actually just got back from Europe with them. Everybody else was toxic for me.” She let out a sigh. “As for us, well, you know we would never work. You love being in the great outdoors and you love Windport. You wouldn’t like it here and you would grow to resent me for it. I know you are going through a hard time with the divorce and that you want everything to go back to the way it was, but Aidan you don’t really love me not the me I am now anyway. You loved the girl back in Windport and even then it was the happy one you created in your head.”

“How did you know about the divorce?”

“Windport is a small town and my mom knows everybody’s business.”

“Of course she does.” He chuckled. “But I could learn to love it here, I could learn to love the real you if you would just give me the chance. You never know stranger things happen all the time. I know I want to be with you. Please Jaz… I mean Anya.”

She walked around the island and cupped his face in both hands forcing him to look into her dark green eyes. “See you can’t even let go of my old name.” She said softly. “And even if your words were true and you could learn to love me and love the city, I’m engaged.”

“Honey I’m home!” The chipper male voice filled the apartment. “Oh whose this?” Anya quickly crossed the room and gave the man a bear hug.

“Anders, honey, this is Aidan.”

“Nice to meet you.” Anders smiled and held out his hand, but Aiden didn’t shake it.

“Dose he even know you? The you that I knew; the you that you call fake?” his voice is dripping with bitterness and resentment towards the man he doesn’t even know.

              “Of course I do. I know all about Windport and Jasmine. I know all about you too Mr. Zeller.” Anders spoke before Anya could reply.

              “Aiden I think its time for you to go. I’m sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for. I really hope you do.” Anya stated as she ushered him towards the door.

              “Just one more question: Why didn’t you ever contact me?” Aiden asked her his voice filled with pain.

              “Because I loved you and I knew you would never be able to love the me I wanted to become. I knew I wasn’t for you long before I left and it hurt. It hurts just like your hurting right now because you are finally realizing the same.” She gave him a soft smile and a tight hug. “You will find happiness Aiden I know you will.” And with that she shut the dark green door leaving him in the hallway once again.  Damn door he thought as he walked away. Turns out the door broke him.

Sweep Vol. 1: Book of Shadows, The Coven, and Blood Witch by Cate Tiernan

So this marks off my second prompt form the PopSugar Reading Challenge. Yes I know it’s March and yes I know I’m behind. I’m a bit behind on everything really, but that’s okay I will catch up and it will be okay. I can still make it; there is time. So these books are going to be interesting to talk about and review. There are technically 15 books in the series but I have them bound in 5 volumes by sets of 3. This is the first one containing the first three books: Book of Shadows, The Coven, and Blood Witch. I, however, will be talking about them by volume and not by individual book because honestly after reading the volume they make more since as one book and not three individual ones. Every book picks up exactly where the last one left off. So it ends up feeling more like the start of the next chapter and not the start of a new novel. Also may contain spoilers.

Morgan Rowland is just a normal girl living in a small town in upstate New York. She goes to school, hangs out with her best friend Bree, and dreams about one day going to college for science. Then everything changes when Cal Blair moves to town ans Morgan finds herself drawn to him, her and every other female in her class. Cal introduces Morgan and her friends to Wicca and something is awoken in Morgan. All of a sudden Morgan’s life is flipped upside down as she begins to piece together a puzzle that she didn’t know she had.

I find the story to be really enjoyable, but also problematic. Like most early 2000s YA Fantasy novels and even some of today’s YA Fantasy novels we have a bad case of a some what naive main character, a very powerful love interest, insta-love and the beginnings of love triangle. Morgan is very naive especially when it comes to love. There are several times throughout the story where Morgan comments how little time has passed between key events in the novel and then she comment how much she loves Cal a paragraph later. My 23 year old brain is like “GIRL YOU DON’T LOVE HIM! HE JUST GAVE YOU ATTENTION!” She also does this thing where she is like “I should tell this person whats going on, but nah.” Which is really annoying, but her inner turmoil about whats happening in her life is pretty relatable. One thing I DO NOT like is the relationship between her and Bree. First off Bree reminds me of a very toxic friend I used to have. Bree is selfish and uses Morgan quite a bit. Bree is used to having everything handed to her and being the prettiest in the group. Shes super popular and even hangs out with a different clique at school then Morgan. Their relationship was destroyed over a boy. Which is the dumbest reason for an 11 year friendship to end. Bree acted as though Cal would never choose Morgan over her. Although Morgan never told Bree about her feelings for Cal and she did ended up kissing him in front of Bree which is pretty bitchy. There aren’t really any strong female character in this book despite the fact that Wicca is a very women centric religion and seen by many to be pretty feminist in nature. Most of the women, especially Morgan, derive their worth from the men around them. Morgan constantly makes derogatory comments about her body, which is kinda off putting cause shes not as ugly as she would like the reader to think.

I guess now is a good time to talk about Cal, Morgan’s love interest. He’s kinda of a very charismatic ass. Its obvious from the beginning that Morgan is very powerful and very uneducated and its also very obvious that Cal wants to take advantage of that. He basically isolates her from not only her friends but her family as well and makes it so hes literally the only one she tells when things happen and he uses that to blind her to reality. The reality being HE’S AN ASS! He also tires to control her power and use it to his advantage. He also very much uses her own insecurities against her. At one point he even say something along the lines of “your not pretty from a distance and then you get up close and you’re gorgeous.” Like she should be thankful that he finds her attractive which is just stupid.

The writing itself is also pretty juvenile. The author is constantly reminding the reader of things that like just happened. Even though there are technically three books in the volume and they were originally published individually published its still kind of annoying to be constantly reminded of the big events. Tiernan also likes to use last names for the supporting characters like a lot. Its like in each new book the characters get reintroduced to the reader. I feel if I had read it when I was 14 I would find them to be absolutely amazing but 23 year old me is just like they okay. Hopefully it gets better!

This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

I have feelings about this book and I can’t really tell if they are good or bad. There is just a lot to touch on with this one. I gave it three stars cause overall I like it and can recommend it to others, but there are things that I do dislike about it. Adelaide Emerson is a rising scientific star with a heavy interest in Neuroscience at Academy 355. Her and her genius lab partner, Dexter, have concocted a experiment that under the right conditions and stimuli they can trick anybody into falling in love; which they have nicked named B.A.D.A.S.S. The experiment is Addie’s key to winning the coveted Athenian Award and her ticket to a full ride scholarship to her dream school of Harvard. There is only one problem: Her lab partner is a backstabbing jerk and she is falling for one of her “guinea pigs” which is definitely against the scientific method. WARNING: Because of the fact that one of the things I dislike about the book is hard to describe without spoiling things THERE ARE SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT (although if your anything like me you would catch onto what I am going to spoil fairly early on in the story).

Addie is an interesting character to say the least. She is very logical and scientific in how she acts and speaks. Shes all about efficiency and research. She comes across as a bit robotic and to smart for her own good. Addie almost fits into the “Robotic Science Genius” stereotype (think Sheldon Cooper of Dexter form Dexter’s Laboratory), but she’s a bit too “human” she feels more and shes not quite as condescending as the stereotype usually requires. She defiantly has feelings, specifically romantic ones, which makes her kinda relatable to the reader but not quite. Then there is Dexter (who is easily one of the most dislikable characters like ever). He fits the “Evil Genius” stereotype to a T. He’s narcissistic, sociopathic at best and psychopathic at worst, a total Mama’s boy, and has a superiority complex the size of Russia. The relationship he had with Addie is one of the two very toxic and abusive relationships with in the story. He treats her as inferior to him because presumable he has a higher IQ though it is never stated that he actually does. He is constantly criticizing her at every turn for the very things that make her human and therefore more relatable to the reader and he throws her under the bus and betrays her the first chance he gets. Addie soon realizes Dexter’s conniving ways, but even after she realizes what a snake he is she still seems to care for him and she also compares him to Kris (the love interest) fairly often. For instance after he has turned the faculty against her project that they were working on together in favor of his solo project that he had been working on behind her back; his experiment was tampered with and he ended up getting a small (and I mean small) electrical shock and when he told her she immediately looked at it and felt sympathy for him (I however felt he greatly deserved it).

Kris Condor is the love interest for Addie which is interesting, but I also like it. They are kind if an odd couple. While she is genius level smart and full of “nerdy quirks”, Kris is more emotional and compassionate and while he is very intelligent not nearly to Addie’s level. They are little bit of yin and yang, but not quite total opposites. Kris and Addie are seated next to each other on the plane on their way back to the Academy. Kris is going back to atone for past sins and spend the summer working in the Buildings and Grounds department. During one particularly bad bout of turbulence Addie uses her logical thinking to calm Kris down. The sins that Kris is sacrificing his summer to pay for and hopefully redeem himself are that him, his manipulative girlfriend Kara (the second and most toxic of the relationships mentioned), and his friend Mack destroyed the lab and targeted Addie. A fact that Addie only came to know after they met on the plane, but her two closest friends knew immediately. Before I dive into the plot points I disliked I want to talk about Kara ans Kris’s relationship. Like Dexter, Kara is a narcissist and very manipulative. She enjoys manipulating others and especially Kris. Kris constantly comments on the fact that she texts and calls him excessively throughout the day and when he doesn’t reply or answer she threatens his job and to come see him even though he has made it clear that he doesn’t wish to see her. He also mentions that he has tried on several occasions to break up with her which troughs her into a rage. Even though it is never outright said in the story that she threatens to commit suicide it is most defiantly implied. Shes emotionally manipulative and had very little regard to how she treats the people around her.

Unlike Dexter and Kara, I love the two remaining supporting characters that are important to the plot, Tess and Ed. Tess and Ed were the first experiment Addie did to prove that B.A.D.A.S.S. worked. Tess is Addie’s best friend and the true yin to Addie’s yang. She is very sociable, talkative and empathetic. She is constantly reminding Addie how to work around others emotions. Honestly I think it is Tess’s influence on Addie that helps her be more emotional and relatable. I also really like Ed’s relationship with Addie. He treats her as a kid sister and she views him as a close friend. On multiple occasions throughout the story Addie turns to Ed for help and advice. Tess and Ed also seem to have a fairly healthy relationship with the normal communication misunderstandings, which is nice in comparison to the two very toxic portrayal of relationships.

Okay now for the thing I really did not like: the ending. This does not end with a nice clean happy ending like most stand alone contemporary novels. No, this one leaves you asking questions. Did she end up with Kris? What does he think about her basically manipulating him? What happened to Dexter? Does he get his just desserts? Really I want to know. So in a *gasp* shocking turn of event Addie has been using her experiment to get Kris to fall for her. Honestly I guessed that this was the case around the time of the “shark attack” I mean she seems very unconcerned with Dexter’s accusations and when by all appearances her experiment is falling apart she didn’t seem as upset as she should have been. I found this to be pretty manipulative on Addie’s part and it made the whole thing feel pretty forced. Another thing I did not like is that the book touched on bullying, which is a subject that should be talked about, but they did it a way that felt very shallow and didn’t entirely make since to the plot. So the entire reason that Kris is there is because Kara got it into her head that Addie and Dexter were torturing the lad animals, which they weren’t, and Kris, Kara, and Mack decided to go to the lab and set them free. Only Kara and Mack decided to spray paint mean things on the wall and destroy property. Kris confessed to everything and was even caught trying to cover the spray paint hence why he got the second chance. Only problem is that its mentioned that not only was Addie specifically targeted, but also there was ongoing confrontations between Kara, Tess (who was standing up for Addie) and Addie her self. It is not however discussed on why they only targeted Addie or why Kara decided to pick on her. I also find it hard to believe that Kris and Addie would not have know each other before hand. It is obvious that the Academy is not a large school and Kara, who was Kris girlfriend at the time, has such a hatred for Addie it would be logical that they would know each other.

All in all it was a pretty okay book. I don’t think I would read it again, but I’m not upset that I read it. It was a pretty good contemporary read and I did find myself wanting to finish and not forcing myself to finish it.

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Another 2019 favorite! I believe that makes three in a row for the favorite list, which to be honest is really nice because the books I started with this year with were not the best. Love à la Mode was published late last year and is the second book I have read from Stephanie Kate Strohm ( I still need to read the companion to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink). This books is a really nice quick and easy contemporary read. Making perfect for when you are in a reading rut. WARNING: Will make you very hungry and in desperate need of a baguette and pretty much every other French pastry ever made. It follows the classic formula of boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy and girl refuse to talk about the issues and misunderstandings that are keeping them apart; it all blows up in boy and girls face; boy and girl end up together after they talk it out. Classic romantic comedy in a book. I also love that is told from the prospective of both of the two main characters and love interests.

While I completely and absolutely adore the two main characters, Rosie and Henry, I think its the side characters that did it for me. Because the story is told from both Rosie and Henry’s point of view you get the know Rosie’s friends, Yumi and Priya, as well as Henry’s friends, Hampus (I absolutely die for that name its amazing) and Marquis. Yumi is probably my favorite she is from Japan, but has an American mother and is defiantly the sassiest in the group (which is probably why shes my favorite cause we are the same). She knows what she wants and how to get it and she is defiantly a take charge kinda girl. Her Marquis, who is a born and bred New Yorker, have a great rapport throughout the novel. Yumi also always has a connection to somewhere and her no nonsense attitude is great for bolstering up her friends. Besides Yumi, Hampus is my favorite. He found a place in my heart and will forever stay there. He is from a very tiny town in Sweden and is the actual personification of a golden retriever complete with a mop of blonde hair. He is also described as a large person which makes his teddy bear-esque attitude all the more adorable. Priya is Rosie’s roommate and I would venture to say best friend at the Ècole. She is a bit blunt and a bit frantic and a lot dramatic, which makes her all the more entertaining to read. As far as supporting characters and friend groups go these four are written and fleshed out beautifully. They are a diverse group and form a strong bond throughout the novel from beginning to end. They even end up being the “it” clique which I found to be kinda interesting cause from Rosie’s point of view they are not.

Rosie and Henry end up meeting on the plane to Paris (name a better meet cute I dare you) and bonding over Henry’s cooking magazine. Rosie, a small town girl from Ohio with four brothers and a single mom, is shy and reserved and a bit self conscious in the beginning, but she really comes out of her shell. She is funny, caring and a brilliant baker (not so much of a chef though). Henry, a Korean- American Chicago native with a chef dad and an overbearing mother, on the other hand is confident and outgoing in the beginning and gets a little self conscious in the middle (can’t say I blame him though crushes make you crazy). Rosie and Henry’s relationship is fairly adorable and sweet. Its the kind of romance one expects from a teen relationship at a cooking school in Paris. They are just devoted to their friends as they are to crushing on one another. While both Rosie and Henry ask their friends to help them in the grand gesture department, they don’t turn their friendships into something that only for the betterment of their relationship with each other. Which is rather refreshing. I feel like most YA novels turn the friendships of the main characters as a means to an end to get the love interest. It was also nice to see the male love interest freak out and over analyze just as much as the female love interest. Made me feel justified in my freaking out and over analyzing (see my post about crushes).

This is honestly the perfect YA contemporary read, but there were a couple of things that I was a bit eh about. The love triangle that wasn’t really a love triangle. Bodie Tal is a hot celebrity baker’s son who has a model mom and has been all over TV and magazines. He also happens to be they hypotenuse in this little triangle. The only problem is that A) a triangle wasn’t really needed due to the miscommunication issues and B) there was never a moment for Rosie where she was like “OMG who do I pick? I love them both!” (I’m looking at you Bella Swan) so there wasn’t really a triangle, but Bodie defiantly caused strife in Rosie and Henry’s budding relationship. Then there was the antagonists which I feel like weren’t as fleshed out and troublesome as they could have been. The main problems that Henry and Rosie face are Henry’s over bearing mother piling on extra school work making Henry exhausted, Rosie’s fear if being asked to leave the Ècole due to her poor chef skills, and the fact they don’t communicate very well to each other about their feelings. Those three things due their intended purpose of causing this romance to be a slow burn and I loved every twist and turn, but I feel the missed opportunity was Clara. Clara is a Upper East Side New Yorker who is beautiful, glamorous and perfect. The moment we meet her it established that she doesn’t like Rosie and she thinks she is better then everyone, but she very rarely comes up in the plot in the book and other then a some rude comments doesn’t cause problems. I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity and I wish she would have been worse and gotten some sort of comeuppance, but alas that did not happen. There was an incident with a cheesecake that I am sure Clara sabotaged, but it is not cannon.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves YA romances, food, or Paris. Its just so cute and well written that its hard to not fall in love with it.