Books, Books, Books & MORE Books!

img_0706This is another collection post, my classes don’t start restart for another thirteen days so I’m re-cataloging all of my collections. Fun stuff, right? Well, this will be laid out the same way as my records: by genre, then alphabetically. I was going to sort it by “finished,” “being read,” and “TBR,” but I thought it’d be best to sort it as though it’s literally an online catalog. There are a whopping 300 books in my collection as of January 9, 2019, and it only continues to grow.

The unread list is way longer than the finished list because I have a bad book shopping problem.. I just can’t stop. Also, if you want to read about all of the books I read in 2018, you can do that here: Danielle’s 2018 Reads.

Also, every January, I’ll republish this blog.

KEY: Author – Book Title, Book Title, etc; Book Title* = Kindle edition; (Subscription)


(Auto) Biographies: 9 books

Barker, Travis – Can I Say

Cahalan, Susannah – Brain on Fire img_2855

Gilbert, Elizabeth – Eat Pray Love

Graham, Lauren – Talking As Fast As I Can

Pelzer, Dave – A Child Called It

Rhimes, Shonda – Year of Yes

Sheff, David – Beautiful Boy

Strayed, Cheryl – Wild

Taylor, Corey – America 51


Classics: 15 books

Alcott, Louisa May – Little Women

Alighieri, Dante – The Inferno of Dante

Austen, Jane – Pride and Prejudice

Bradbury, Ray – Fahrenheit 451

Carroll, Lewis – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Other Classic Works

Fitzgerald, F. Scott – The Great Gatsby

Grimm, The Brothers – Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales

Hawthorne, Nathaniel – The Scarlet Letter

Hinton, S.E. – The Outsiders

Maugham, William Somerset – Of Human Bondage

Orwell, George – 1984

Salinger, J.D. – The Catcher in the Rye

Steinbeck, John – Of Mice and Men

Tolstoy, Leo – Anna Karenina

Wiesel, Elie – Night


Comics // Manga: 18 books

Archie:

Rosenberg, Matthew – Archie Crossover Collection

Ruiz – Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest

Superstars, Archie – Archie 1000 Page Comics-Palooza, Archie Giant Comics Medley, World of Archie Comics Double Digest #72

Uslan, Michael – Archie #603-605*

Batman: img_2867

Johns, Geoff – Earth One

Miller, Frank – Batman Year One

Beetle Bailey:

Walker, Mort – I’ll Throw This Book at You, Beetle Bailey

Calvin & Hobbes:

Watterson, Bill – Something Under the Bed is Drooling, Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat

Death Note:

Ohba, Tsugumi – Death Note Black Edition (1-6)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Kinny, Jeff – Rodrick Rules (#2) and The Last Straw (#3)

Miscellanous Comics:

Martin, Ted – Pavlov’s Pad

Walker, Brian – The Comics


Crime // Mystery: 11 books

img_2875Blashfield, Jean F. – Why They Killed

Bosch, Pseudonymous – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, The Name of this Book is Secret, This Book is Not Good For You, This Isn’t What It Looks Like, You Have To Stop This

Carr, Caleb – The Alienist

Christie, Agatha – Murder on the Orient Express

Gray, Tyler – The Hit Charade

Murphy, Shirley Rousseau – Cat on the Edge


Fantasy: 28 books

Black, Holly – Zombies vs. Unicorns

Flinn, Alex – Beastly, Bewitching, Cloaked, A Kiss in Time

img_2874Gaiman, Neil – American Gods, Coraline, Unnatural Creatures

Lewis, C.S. – The Chronicles of Narnia (adult)

Maas, Sarah J. – A Court of Thorns and Roses

Maguire, Gregory – Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Mirror Mirror, Wicked, Son of a Witch

Martin, George R.R. – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings

Meyers, Stephenie – Twilight

Riggs, Ransom – Hollow City

Rowling, J.K. – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, Deathly Hallows, The Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Shan, Darren – The Vampire’s Assistant and Other Tales from the Cirque du Freak

Tolkien, J.R.R. – The Lord of the Rings Collection

Wesley, Kathryn – Tenth Kingdom


Fiction: 28 books

Anonymous – Diary of an Oxygen Thief

Backman, Fredrik – A Man Called Ove

Beverly-Whittemore, Miranda – June

Coehlo, Paulo – Adultery, The Alchemist img_2862

Coupland, Douglas – Worst. Person. Ever.

Donoghue, Emma – Room

Egan, Jennifer – A Visit from the Goon Squad

Eugenides, Jeffrey – The Virgin Suicides

Foer, Jonathan Safran – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Haddon, Mark – the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

Holbert, Bruce – Whiskey (PaheHabit)

Hopson, David – All the Lasting Things*

Kerman, Piper – Orange is the New Black

Kultgen, Chad – The Lie

img_2853Lovering, Carola – Tell Me Lies

Moriarty, Liane – Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers (BOTM)

Nunez, Sigrid – The Friend (PageHabit)

Roquelaure, A.N. – The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty

Rowling, J.K. – The Casual Vacancy

Sloan, Robin – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Stockett, Kathryn – The Help

Sundquist, Josh – We Should Hang Out Sometime

Sweeney, Cynthia D’Aprix – The Nest

Weisberger, Lauren – The Devil Wears Prada

Yarbrough, Steve – The Realm of Last Chances


Humor: 10 books

img_2877Bombeck, Erma – All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann’s Dressing Room, When You Look Like Your Passport Photo It’s Time To Go Home

Hanks, Tom – Uncommon Type

Kenemore, Scott – The Zen of Zombie

Mazzetti, Dom – The Swoly Bible

Norman, Matthew – We’re All Damaged

Offerman, Nick – Paddle Your Own Canoe

Ronson, Jon – Lost at Sea

Sedaris, David – Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, Me Talk Pretty One Day


Poetry: 6 books

(Most of these are only here because of the way they’re set up.)img_2851

Hopkins, Ellen – Perfect

Kaur, Rupi – Milk and Honey

Marciuliano, Francesco – I Could Pee On This

Sones, Sonya – The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, Saving Red, What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know


Psychology: 6 books

img_2865Haycock, Dean A. – Murderous Minds

Kaysen, Susanna – Girl, Interrupted

Kenrick, Douglas T. – Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

Pitts, Victoria – In the Flesh

Shroder, Tom – Acid Test*

Thomas, M.E. – Confessions of a Sociopath


Reference: 13 books

Brooks, Max – The Zombie Survival Guide

Chaffey, Daniel – Dirty German

Davis, Ali – How to Love Me

img_2872Ducommun, Debbie – Rats

Frankfurt, Harry G. – On Bullshit

Gray, Henry – Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical

Horne, Charles F. – The Book of Arda Viraf*

Kellett, Jenny – Miley Cyrus*

Osborne, Rick – Luke 2:52 Bible: The Ultimate Manual

Pasterak, Annette – Skin Picking*

Smith, Hutson – The World’s Religions

Zondervan – NIV, Beautiful Word Bible, Hardcover, Multi-Color Floral Cloth

Romance: 31 books

Carpenter, Kim – The Vow

Cross, Maya – The Alpha Group Complete Collection

Day, Sylvia – After Burn*, After Shock*, Bared to You, Captivated by You, Entwined by You, One with You, Reflected in You

Gruen, Sara – Water for Elephants

Guillory, Jasmine – The Wedding Date (PageHabit)

Hannah, James – The A to Z of You and Me

img_2856Haslett, Adam – Imagine Me Gone

Honeyman, Gail – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Hughes, Anita – Rome in Love (Willow Lane)

James, E.L. – Fifty Shades series, Grey

Lauren, Christina – Beautiful Bastard

McGee, C. Sean – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Morris, Heather – The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Moyes, JoJo – Me Before You

Quick, Matthew – The Silver Linings Playbook

Shaffer, Mary Ann – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Sparks, Nicholas – Dear John, The Notebook

Wild, Meredith – Hard Limit*, Hardline*, Hardpressed*, Hardwired*


Schoolbooks (UC Denver): 7 books

(I’ve bought more than just these, these are just the one’s I kept after the class was over.)

img_2878Goodall, Jane – In the Shadow of Man

Lieberman, Daniel – The Story of the Human Body

Machado, Carmen – Her Body and Other Parties

Mill, John Stuart – On Liberty

Pinker, Steven – The Language Instinct

Weiner, Jonathan – The Beak of the Finch

Younge, Gary – Who Are We — And Should It Matter in the 21st Century?


Science Fiction: 9 books

img_2854Abnett, Dan – Doctor Who: Silent Stars Go By & Touched By An Angel

Benson, Reynolds – Metal Gear Solid

Bradbury, Ray – The Martian Chronicles

Crichton, Michael – Jurassic Park

Doescher, Ian – William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Levitin, Sonia – The Cure

Lucas, George – Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Star Wars Trilogy

Varley, John – The Barbie Murders


Self-Help: 8 books

Barron, Dr. James – Please! Don’t Marry A Caterpillar

Bethke, Jefferson – Jesus > Religion

Cain, Susan – Quiet

Cutrone, Kelly – Normal Gets You Nowhere

Fulghum, Robert – Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Uh-Oh

Kleon, Austin – Steal like An Artist

Wiest, Brianna – The Truth About Everything


Thrillers // Horrors: 52 books

img_2869Adams, Taylor – No Exit (BOTM)

Anson, Jay – The Amityville Horror

Bell, Darcey – A Simple Favor

Burns, Catherine – The Visitors

Fiegel, Michael – Blackbird (PageHabit)

Finn, A.J. – the woman in the window

Flynn, Gillian – Gone Girl, Sharp Objects

Frances, Michelle – The Girlfriend

img_2859Hawkins, Paula – The Girl on the Train, Into the Water

Hendricks, Greer – The Wife Between Us

Hill, Joe – Horns

Hunt, Margot – For Better and Worse (BOTM)

Katzenbach, John – The Analyst, The Dead Student, What Comes Next

Kepnes, Caroline – Hidden Bodies, Providence, You

King, Own – Sleeping Beauties

Knoll, Jessica – Luckiest Girl Alive

Larsson, Stieg – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

img_2850Levin, Ira – Rosemary’s Baby, Son of Rosemary

Malerman, Josh – Bird Box*, Unbury Carol (PageHabit)

Miranda, Megan – All the Missing Girls (Willow Lane)

Molloy, Aimee – The Perfect Mother (PageHabit)

Moody, David – One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning (PageHabit)

Patterson, James – The President is Missing

Pinborough, Sarah – Behind Her Eyesimg_2852

Rice, Anne – Interview With The Vampire

Richmond, Michelle – The Marriage Pact

Robins, Jane – White Bodies

Rollins, Danielle – Breaking, Burning

Searcy, Amanda – The Truth Beneath the Lies

Slaughter, Karen – Pieces of Her

Tartt, Donna – The Goldfinch

Tremblay, Paul – The Cabin at the End of the World (PageHabit)

img_2860Vega, Danielle – The Merciless I-IV, Survive the Night

Ware, Ruth – In A Dark, Dark, Wood

Watson, S.J. – Before I Go To Sleep

Windo, Nick Clark – The Feed (PageHabit)

Winslow, Emily – Look for Her (PageHabit)

Wong, David – John Dies at the End


Transgressive Fiction: 25 books

(Consisting mostly of Chuck Palahniuk, I actually dedicated an entire blog to this genre during my time at CUDenver last year. If you’re interested, see it here: Chuckleheads101)

Ellis, Bret Easton – American Psycho

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Palahniuk, Chuck – Adjustment Day, Bait, Beautiful You, Choke, Damned, Diary, Doomed, Fight Club (signed), Fight Club 2, Fugitives and Refugees, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, Invisible Monsters Remix, Lullaby, Make Something Up, Phoenix*, Pygmy, Rant, Snuff, Stranger Than Fiction, Survivor, Tell-All

Welsh, Irvine – Trainspotting


Young Adult: 24 books

(I made this category about any characters/plots that were set in high school. I know some of my romances, thrillers, etc. could be YA, but these are mostly just fiction/fantasy YA… I think.) 

Albertalli, Becky – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Almond, Markus – Marching Band and the Expanding Universe

Benjamin, Chloe – The Immortalists (PageHabit)

Brashares, Ann – My Name is Memory

img_2864Cabot, Meg – The Princess Diaries vol. I-IV (adult)

Chbosky, Stephen – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Cormier, Robert – The Chocolate War

Forman, Gayle – If I Stay, Where She Went

Friesen, Jonathan – Both of Me

Green, John – The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns

Hinton, S.E. – That Was Then, This Is Now

Jonell, Lynne – Emmy and the Incredibly Shrinking Rat

Levithan, David – Every Day

Milne, A.A. – A Tale from Winnie-the-Pooh and a Smackerel of Verse

Sewell, Anna – Black Beauty

Stewart, Trenton Lee – The Mysterious Benedict Society

Strayhorn, Willa – The Way We Bared Our Souls

Vizzini, Ned – It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Teen Angst? Naaah…

Yoon, Nicola – Everything, Everything

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Danielle’s 2018 Reads

img_2482Before I eventually end up starting the new year with resolutions and realistically set goals, I need to wrap up 2018. Last year was one for the books; no pun intended. All along the way, I finished 30 books in total, and 27 of them are in the slideshow at the bottom of my screen (I left out the three for school). While 30 might not seem like a lot to those of you that can finish a book in a day, after looking at my stats, I’ve found out that I can too! Most of these took under 10 hours for me to read, so while it is possible… I just don’t have the time to sit for that amount of time every day. However, I will continue on my reading streak, and I’ll set the bar even higher for this year!

After reviewing the stats, I’ve noticed that surprisingly, most of these books received five stars from me! Unfortunately, that’s not as realistic as I’d like it to be. So, in this recap of my 2018 reads, I’m going to… in a way… re-rate all of my books (besides the three for school). So, let’s dig in!

(I’m also going to tie in Goodreads reviews to each of the book titles in the mini reviews I provide.)

51rbpshz-ll._sx326_bo1,204,203,200_1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A Game of Thrones exceeded my expectations. The show is eerily similar to the book… almost word-for-word, and I really enjoyed it. The relationship between Khal Drogo and Daenarys was revealed more in the book than it was in the movie, and it took me a bit to get through, but it was definitely good enough for me to snag the second book.

61wfumgrzzl._sx329_bo1,204,203,200_2. Fight Club and 3. Fight Club 2 by Chuck Palahniuk

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fight Club was one of those books that made me squirm a little, but I can’t talk about it (see: Chucklehead101). So you’ll just have to read this yourself!

51fsjqc2c-l._sx329_bo1,204,203,200_Fight Club 2 was unexpected honestly. It’s a graphic novel, and the narrator’s name was finally revealed as Sebastian. Also, Chuck made quite a few cameos! They gave the book more depth and “broke the fourth wall” in literature. I loved the overall feel of this book and finished it a little less than two hours. I can’t wait for Fight Club 3‘s release this January!

4. Invisible Monsters Remix by Chuck Palahniuk

Invisible Monsters Remix is going to have it’s own review here shortly!

173807115. Phoenix by Chuck Palahniuk

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I distinctly remember reading Phoenix in a hotel room in Golden, Colorado. Phoenix was only around 50-pages long, but it stood out enough for me to give it five stars. Even though Palahniuk is one of my favorite authors, I still choose to review his novels without being biased. Phoenix was a quick read, but it was resolved really quickly. The book discussed showed a broken marriage pretty accurately, and even though I’m a cat person… I couldn’t put it down.

51tm0lae0ml._sx322_bo1,204,203,200_6. Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

⭐️⭐️⭐️

Whenever I go to pick up any Palahniuk book, I always have semi-high expectations. So, giving this book 3-stars isn’t unusual. Choke was one of those books that seemed to try too hard. I love Palahniuk, but this just wasn’t… it. The narrator was prude and he just seemed like a fuckboy. As someone who doesn’t mind reading things “out of the norm,” Victor Mancini was just too much. He was just frustrating to read about, and while I appreciated his storyline, I just didn’t care for him. However, if you don’t mind reading things about a mans’ “dog” every other page/paragraph, then take a shot at it!

wp-14906283883827. every day by David Levithan

⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m not one to read Young Adult books as much anymore, but every day really stood out. While it’s only receiving around 3-stars from me, it was still a unique plot line. However, I just didn’t like the ending as much as I hoped I would’ve. I love the concept behind a non-binary character such as the narrator, but the ending is honestly what ruined it for me. I’m still going to buy the next book to see if it’ll redeem itself, but as for just this one? I don’t think it should standalone as much as it does.

8. the woman in the window by AJ Finn

the woman in the window was my all-time favorite book of 2018. I can’t really put more of what I want to say into words, so check out Review: “the woman in the window” by AJ Finn (2018) for my review!

9. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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I’m not one to read romances like this, but it was a book I received from a book subscription I used to have called PageHabit. They’re no longer in commission, but I still have quite a few books that I have to read from them.

The Wedding Date, in particular, wasn’t one that I’d find myself reading again. It was a cute story, but it was definitely a cliche right from the beginning… which is why I don’t tend to read romances anyway. The characters in the book were cute and charming, but Alexa Monroe (the main character), was a little short-tempered. However, after reading more and more about Drew Nichols, I realize why she is. He is more than just a quirky guy in an elevator, but the more she finds out, the more shady he seems to become.

61u0wm7ahdl10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Before I start in on this one, I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of JK Rowling anymore. After following her on Twitter, and after I’ve seen her decide to bring to light new things about old characters just to stay relevant… I’ve decided to no longer support her. I’ll always ALWAYS love Harry Potter (proud Ravenclaw here), but she’s become another author that only discusses her characters if they can create a shock factor. So, even though I’ve come to dislike JK Rowling, I’ve decided to separate her from her work. Just because I’m in love with the world she created, doesn’t mean I have to like her as a person. Similarly to how I’ve decided to buy Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King, just because his son wrote it with him (and we all know how much I love him).

Anyway, I devoured Fantastic Beasts in one day. I found myself falling in love with Newt and his creatures fairly quickly, but there’s just one thing I would’ve changed. The dark side of this novel, should’ve been darker. After watching the movie, the book just seemed light compared to how devious the creature came to be. I loved the entire concept of creating a world before our beloved Hogwarts, I loved the snippet of Grindewald, but since this isn’t technically a YA novel like the Harry Potter series… it just should’ve been darker, which is why it got 4-stars from me.

11. Simon vs. the Homo sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

51eib+0fskl._sx330_bo1,204,203,200_⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have to be one of the only people on the internet so far (from what I’ve seen) that didn’t 100% love this book in its entirety. I’m glad that it brought a few LGBT issues to light, but I just can’t do the cutesy romance books at all apparently. This was another Young Adult novel that flopped in my reading conquests, but I will say one thing… the movie adaptation was really cute. Even though Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda wasn’t my favorite, I still appreciate how everyone came together and read it upon its release.

12. the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon

41fxsxxlq9l._sx322_bo1,204,203,200_⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time was so unique. So, so unique. It’s from the perspective of Christopher Boone, a fifteen-year-old boy on the autistic spectrum, which only made it more significant. In the book, it shows how Christopher lives by patterns, rules, and the diagram that he keeps in his pocket. The way he moves throughout the world, and how he acts whenever he finds a dead dog across the street. While the entire book is filled with Christopher’s quirks and the way he solves and unseen mystery, I still found myself struggling to get through it on its own. So, I downloaded the audiobook, which led me to a reading by someone who gave Christopher his own unique voice; Jeff Woodman. He managed to create a character with even more depth than Haddon intended. Now, I’m not one to listen to audiobooks all the time, but I’m glad I did with this one. So, if you have Audible, I highly suggest it.

13. Adjustment Day by Chuck Palahniuk

51ibkefgrzl._sx331_bo1,204,203,200_⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’ll admit, Adjustment Day was not my favorite Palahniuk book at all. While it was still better than Choke, it just didn’t feel right. I love that Palahniuk is back in the world of fiction after four years, but this book just gave me a 1984 vibe with a transgressive fiction twist. Honestly, that’s all I can say about it, other than the fact that the idea behind this was pretty ingenious and it could very well happen with the way society is going. I also find it hilarious that in my logo for my blog, I’m reading Adjustment Day. The cover was too great to ignore, and I found myself reading it for hours on end… unfortunately, it just wasn’t… enough.

14. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ images

Gone Girl was an enigma in itself. Not that it was too puzzling to figure out, but the whole plot line is really what hooked me. From the beginning, the first paragraph stood out for me; when Nick describes the back of Amy’s head. So, even before all of the crazy twists and turns, this book already starts out on a rather, unusual note.

I oddly found myself rationalizing with Amy Dunne, and realizing that what she did really did have a reasoning behind it. Plus, her whole plan was just ingenious. The plot twist in this book was seriously unexpected, and the fact that it has the potential to be so realistic is really what brought this book to life.

15. The Merciless IV by Danielle Vega

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Ahhh, The Merciless IVThe fourth novel in The Merciless series by Danielle Vega… aka a candy-coated horror novel. Honestly, this series has been hit-or-miss with me. I loved the first two, but I needed more insight on a few of the characters. I really liked how this was set in Italy, and it was just as stomach-churning as the rest of them.

Now, I’m not sure if there’s going to be another installment in this series because it’s called Last Rites, but I’m going to stay hopeful that there is going to be at least one more so Vega can round it off more with Sofia.

16. Providence by Caroline Kepnes

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 81pirfyt-ol

Providence was a very unusual take on a monster story similar to Frankenstein. This book was equally terrifying as it was mind-bending. It left me wanting more throughout the whole thing, and I was filled with hope that Jon would find justice in the end. Kepnes seriously created a masterpiece filled with illusion, self-destruction, love and obsession. I found myself reading it outdoors in my hammock, falling more and more in love with the relationship between Chloe and Jon, but I just wish it could’ve ended in a better place. To prevent spoiling this piece of art, I won’t go any further, just know that if you haven’t read ANY Caroline Kepnes books. You should pick up this one, and then continue onto YOU and Hidden Bodies (there’ll also be a review on these soon!).

17. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Sharp Objects was definitely not a favorite. Going into a Gillian Flynn novel after Gone Girl, I was hoping for it to just have more depth to it. instead, I stumbled in upon characters who were tricky and a little cringy. Honestly, the whole idea behind Camille visiting her hometown, definitely reminded me of whenever I’d visit mine. The quaint little town, the drama, the family, it was all surreal how Flynn captured it in this. Yet, I still wasn’t drawn to it. I ended up taking a while to finish it, and I couldn’t focus on it for too long before I got annoyed. However, I did love the show adaptation of it, even though I’m a little biased towards Amy Adams. I just couldn’t grasp onto reading about the characters that were brought to life. The plot twist at the end wasn’t enough for me to grab her books The Grownup and Dark Places, but I know I’ll inevitably end up buying it on one of my bookstore conquests.

18. I Could Pee On This by Francesco Marciuliano

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I Could Pee On This was one of those books that only a true cat lover would love. It felt as though my cats actually wrote each one of these poems, and I found myself actually laughing at the thought. Throughout the whole book, it shows pictures of the “authors,” so not only do you get cute, quirky poems, but you also get cute, quirky photos of the cats themselves. Even though this was an extremely quick read, it still made quite the impact, and instead of having it reside on my “finished” shelf, it now has a place on my desk among a few others.

19. Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham

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Talking As Fast As I Can was such a hilarious autobiography. While I read it, I heard Lauren Graham’s voice, and shortly after I ended up watching Parenthood and Gilmore Girls. This book really brought to life how difficult it can be to get to where Lauren Graham has gotten. She created a quirky novel that came off as though Lauren Graham was Lorelai Gilmore while she was writing. I got through this autobiography as quickly as she talks, and I’d recommend this to anyone who loves her. Even though there are spoilers to the Gilmore Girls reboot, she does warn about them. So, if you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it! Then check out this book! As someone who doesn’t read very many autobiographies, I found myself so attached to this one that I finished it fairly quickly.

20. Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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Even though Coraline is a children’s book, it was still written very well. I only gave it 4-stars because I didn’t finish it. Before you jump on me for this though, I only didn’t finish it because it was TOO close to the movie. Even though it would’ve been a quick read, I couldn’t imagine my own characters. I love the movie adaptation, but once I already know what the characters look like… the books are almost ruined for me. However, if you like creepy stories, or if your kids like creepy stories, I highly recommend this. Neil Gaiman is an amazing writer, so only you can use your better judgment on this one.

21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is going to have it’s own review here shortly!

22. Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

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Tell Me Lies was extraordinary and filled with a ton of relationship issues that many authors don’t tend to discuss. Written from both the perspectives of the relationship; the gas-lighter and the “gas-lightee,” this book is unique on its own. I actually found myself uncovering more about Stephen in the beginning chapters than I realized. As someone who’s been a victim of gas-lighting, I was surprised I was able to catch the signs so soon. Stephen was an expert in his craft, and it was frustrating to read about Lucy falling for it over and over again, but I couldn’t put it down. Overall, it was a great read, and definitely one of my top five of 2018.

23. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

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First thing first, if you’re going to read Rosemary’s Baby – don’t; LISTEN TO IT. Like I said before, I don’t really love copping out of “manually” reading a book, but this one was worth it. Mia Farrow herself reads this and incorporates all of the screams and different voices. It really created a world that was just as intense as this was 50-years-ago. Dare I say, it was scarier in the audiobook version than it was in the film adaption or the book itself? Next is Son of Rosemary, and one can only hope she recorded that one as well (update: I just looked it up and it turns out she doesn’t… which is unfortunate).

24. Saving Red by Sonya Sones

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Even though Sonya Sones is a YA writer, Saving Red was a great story. It was unique on its own, and I can say I’ve never read a story like this before. In this story, a 14-year-old named Molly decides to help a homeless woman named Red. She had to have been only a few years older than Molly, but she ended up on the streets. I read this around Christmastime, and surprisingly it was set around the same time. This book was really cute and heartwarming and, even though I don’t read YA novels, I’ve always found that Sonya Sones’ books will always have a special place on my shelves.

9780062878649_p0_v2_s550x40625. A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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Eerily similar to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, A Simple Favor just wasn’t as appealing to me as I hoped it to be. While I think it was a good standalone book on its own, without comparing it to another book, I think the rating I gave this book was pretty accurate. A Simple Favor, was filled with just the right amount of plot twists, but it was still predictable. Although, as someone who reads thrillers frequently, I’ve found that this is the case for most thrillers at this point anyway. I loved the unique point-of-views, but I still wish it was a little more intense. However, I think this would be a great book for people who are new to the thriller genre. I’ve talked to several people who have loved it, and several who didn’t think it was the best, but if you’re just starting out with thrillers, try this!

26. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado

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Her Body and Other Parties received the lowest review of the year, not only because it was a schoolbook… but because it seemed as though it was written purely for shock factor. I couldn’t even make it through some of the chapters, but I had to for school. This book was another that I needed to download the audiobook, and while a few of the chapters were clever, they weren’t good enough for me to rate this any higher.

27. Bait by Chuck Palahniuk

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It’s not unusual that Palahniuk has presented us with a collection of short stories. It certainly isn’t his first collection, and it won’t be his last. However, what makes Bait unique is that there are photos you can color along with.

While I was reading it, I couldn’t put this book down at all. A few of my favorite stories were: Conspiracy, Let’s See What Happens, and Bait. Even though they were all unique, those three really stood out among the eight in the whole book. Plus, the illustrations really rounded it off.

 

 

 


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Catharsis

Why do we do it?

Why do we put ourselves through things like catharsis just so we can feel? We deliberately listen to songs that hurt us. Songs that remind us of pain from our past, songs that we listened to when we were with someone we no longer talk to. It isn’t just music either, we watch TV shows that make us cry even though we know it’s coming. But, why? (Looking at you Grey’s Anatomy!) woman-sad-near-water

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you why I do it. Currently,  I’m listening to a
playlist I made. It’s not even supposed to be as deep as I made it, but somehow it came out that way. There are 30 songs, and eleven of them are indeed that deep. In fact, all day, I’ve felt myself on the verge of a breakdown and here I am. Listening to those ten songs, that now have more meaning to them than I originally planned.

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing that  I made the playlist that deep, or maybe my brain is just in overdrive from recent events, but either way. While I’m writing this blog on catharsis, I’m putting myself through it and honestly it feels a little fucked up. My eyes hurt, my fingers are shaking, and my heart feels shattered. Plus, blowing your nose with a septum ring in is just a pain in the ass.

Also, I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but for those of you who don’t know by know, (or haven’t gotten from the context clues I’ve loosely provided), catharsis is the process of releasing emotion… on purpose. The fact that we even need to push ourselves to release emotions like that is just insane and this is coming from someone who builds up emotion like a pro. Wow, while I wrote that, even I knew it didn’t sound healthy yet here I am with almost twenty-two years of pent-up emotion.

Let me say this though… I’ve been working on it. While some of my nights still consist of crying on the bathroom floor after a day of difficult emotions and stressful moments, I have managed to fight the urge to do it alone. Even though it’s been a long journey to get to where I am now, I’ll forever be proud of the fact that I’ve shown at least a little progress… even if it did take quite a few years to get here.

Tense

The midsummer sun was pounding down on me while I dug my hands into the dirt. I could feel the wetness in the layers of mud as I kept sifting through the moist soil. My daughter’s voice ran through my head after every rinse in the water hose, just wear gloves, Gideon, but I never listened—why would I? I liked the feel of it. The grunginess of my hands after a long day outside, they made me feel like a mechanic. At first, I thought it was unusual that planting flowers and various herbs was my way of escape, but it felt right. So, I quickly got over the judgmental stares of passersby watching a six-foot-tall man with his knees in the dirt because I kind of had to.

Today though, it wasn’t about the flowers or the herbs. Today, I was tasked with tearing apart the dirt in front of my daughters’ home. Tasked to destroy what was once beautiful, but it had to be done. There were unwanted dandelions, chickweeds, purslane, and bluegrass interrupting the growth of the sunflowers and morning glories I planted a few months ago. These pesky weeds were relentless; they kept coming back, even over the summer. Although, I could never understand why she couldn’t do this herself. All it took was a good pair of gloves, and a little patience. The task was easy, but ever since we buried her husband a couple months ago, she wasn’t motivated to do any of the outdoor chores. Although, I was amazed that she even invited me over—my wife must’ve had something to do with it. We never got along, even before my grandson’s father died. Our relationship was fine, but it was always uncomfortable. The tension was inevitable though; she’d never forgive me for what happened.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by a checkered ball hitting the window and landing in the array of weeds in front of me. Soccer. They were playing soccer. My grandson quickly rushed over, apologized, retrieved the ball, and ran back to continue playing with my daughter before I could respond. I looked over and she didn’t acknowledge me; she was still mad. She’s lucky my wife was persuasive enough to get me here.

Last time I saw my daughter was a week after the funeral when I let slip that I thought his son should return to his biological mother. I’ll never understand why she couldn’t let him move back. She always had this way about her where she just had to control everything; including him.

His son’s life was never just his, just like my daughter’s was never really hers. After my son-in-law was six-feet-under she had to start anew. Discover who she was, where she belonged, and what she needed to survive. She barely scraped by after his passing, it’s no wonder she never let his son leave her side. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kid; he just doesn’t love us. The word grandpanever came out of his mouth, but collectively we were a familyfor over a decade. It wasn’t his fault though, it was his fathers. He alienated them from us, and if I hadn’t have done what I did, I’m not sure how much longer it would’ve been before I lost my daughter completely.

It’s Okay.

It’s okay to be sad.

It’s okay to let your guard down once in a while and to just wallow in your emotions.

It’s okay to express how you feel.

It’s all okay.

Because you’re human.

Hi, I’m not sure if you’ve read my resolution post for 2018 yet aptly named The Year(s) of Growth, but if you haven’t, then these were my top ten resolutions:

  1.  Stop comparing
  2.  Break my bad habits
  3.  Leave the house more
  4.  Eat healthier
  5.  Listen to more music
  6.  Read more
  7.  Produce more art, whether it’s paint on a canvas or a new blog post — writing is an art too
  8.  Make it on to the deans’ list
  9.  Stop letting people take advantage
  10.  Ignore the insults

It’s a long and hopeful list, right? I’ll dig into them in December, so for now, we’re only going to focus on number two; “break my bad habits.” I didn’t discuss this in that blog, and I’m not sure I’ve talked about it yet (maybe I should “clean house” and check all of my blogs), but my all-time worst habit is not letting people in. For some reason, there has just been a mental blockade around that portion of my brain, and I’ve just discovered how to cope with it.

Today, I had what I like to call a Twitter Episode, which is where I air my “dirty laundry” out publicly, with hopes that my tweets get lost in the abyss of memes and self-deprecating humor. Yet, today they didn’t. I was seen, heard, asked about, and apologized to. No one knew exactly how to fix my problem, but I was still seen. A few people reached out and they helped me realize that it’s not going to be the end of the world–at least, not yet anyway.

But see, that’s the thing. As I write this blog about opening up, I’m still extraordinarily closed off. I’ve closed myself off from those that care about me, and today I realized just how self destructive that can be. Not only for myself, but to everyone else around me.

It isn’t fun seeing those you care about be sad or upset, but you have to remember that if they’re hurting, don’t ignore their cries for help. Don’t let them do it alone because if you truly care about them, you’ll help them in any way you can.

Honestly, the hardest thing to do, is to ignore those posts that tell you how toxic you are when you are upset, because those are complete bullshit. It’s not okay to build a fortress around how you feel. If something’s bothering you, don’t just let it pass; TALK about it. TEXT about it. WRITE about it. Do anything you can to get those thoughts out of your head and into the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be written in a note on your phone, in a Word.doc that you never open again, or even if it’s in a diary that’s closed off to the world… as long as it’s written down, it’ll help.

Also, I realize how this must sound coming from me of all people. Like I said before, (or did I?), I’m an expert at bottling things up. I have almost twenty-two years of it under my belt, so you might be wondering; “Who are you to give me advice on letting people in?” Well, my dear reader, I can only write how I personally feel, and you can take from it as you please. It’s entirely up to you and you alone. However, with as much experience as I have, I can say for sure that one thing helps when it comes to opening up, and it only takes a few steps:

  1. Get. Out. Of. Your. Bed.
  2. Move.
  3. Don’t slow down.
  4. Find a friend(s).

After you’ve established some sort of trust with said friend(s); open up. Let people in. Don’t let your anxiety, inability to trust because of your past, or your overthinking affect the fact that there is someone out there that will listen. They may be hard to find, but they are out there. Somewhere. You just have to go out and look. You honestly just have to trust me.

Once you find your person, or what us Grey’s Anatomy fans like to call “your Cristina,” never let them go. Your Cristina might not always be the same person as your Derek, but if they are then that’s great! It’s much harder to find two people who care about you as much as Cristina and Derek did for Meredith, but if you’re as lucky as I am; you’ll find them both.

Never. Stop. Creating.

07/20/2018

I’ve published 49 things over the span of four years. That’s it. 49. Well, now there will be 50. What started out as a basic journal, has turned into a plethora of things. Projects from school, NoWriSum (which I inevitably quit), and various other writings.

So, what about this deems me as a writer? On average, I’ve written 12-13 blogs each year… which sounds ridiculous. However, “writer” is still plastered on all of my social media platforms. I’m constantly talking about how I want to be a published author, yet I can’t sit down and write for the life of me. Does that mean I’m any less of what I claim to be? Well, I don’t think so…

The majority of my writing has been about things that have occurred in my life, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As Jake Gyllenhaal says in Nocturnal Animals,

“Writers don’t write about anything other than themselves.”

That isn’t direct, but it was something along those lines and it’s 100% true. I’m going to let you all in on a little secret… Madeline is a more extreme version of myself (read about her here in chapter one). She’s introverted, she has a long-haired cat, and she daydreams a lot. There’s more to her than just that, but ultimately the whole idea of Madeline has come from my main personality traits.

After I watched Gyllenhaal, (who, let’s face it, I’m madly obsessed with… especially in Nocturnal Animals), play a writer and use such relatable quotes, I’ve come across a few realizations:

(for anyone who creates, just replace your hobby with “write”)

  1. You don’t have to write every single day in order to be a writer. As long as you put your all into things you do write, you can deem yourself a writer all you want.
  2. Blogs are not just for the followers. Just because you think people aren’t reading it, doesn’t mean no one is.
  3. If you ask your friends to read your blogs or even drafts you’re unsure of, they most likely will if they really want to support you and your craft. I’m not sure why it took me so long to figure this out… but it turns out that it’s true.
  4. Writing isn’t meant to just give and give and give. Ultimately, you’re writing for yourself. So, if you love writing and just want to put all of your thoughts into a notebook/Word .doc, then do it! You don’t need to share your thoughts with the world if you don’t want to.
  5. Support goes two ways when you first start out, it’s all about spreading your work as far as you can. If you have friends/family who want support from you, ask them to read something you wrote in return.
  6. Don’t second guess! Writing is hard. Carving through mental blocks, rereading things in your own voice, or just opening up the laptop is hard. If anyone tells you otherwise, then they haven’t struggled to run a blog. It might come easy to some, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.
  7. Writing comes in many forms. IT’S A FORM OF ART! Writing can be random poems, songs, cute paragraphs you write to your significant other or friends, vents you write in the notes section of your phone, or just random typography that you doodle in your notebook. Writing itself is subjective.
  8. Learning how to market is a must if you’re going to continue to pursue a lifestyle as a blogger/author. While it’s just as important to write for you if you’re going to take on writing as a career… it’s also important to share your blog wherever you can.

Unofficial ninth tip: Try to pull inspiration from anywhere you can! Producing quality photos for a bookstagram is just as important as the actual content. Create eye-catching photos, use editing software (Lightroom and VSCO are my go-to), and just have fun!

 

Ironically, while I write this… my bookstagram has remained on standstill for a little over a week, and the last blog I wrote was published a few days ago. However! This blog is also going to work as an advice/motivational piece for a later Danielle–which is always nice. So, I hope that whoever reads this uses it in the same way. Keep these tips in mind. They’re valuable tidbits I’ve received from friends, fellow bookstagrammers, bloggers, and classmates. Some of them are things I’ve told myself since I started my English Writing degree last May (’17). However, no matter where they’ve come from, they’re always going to be useful and to all my fellow artists, writers, poets, liberal arts majors, songwriters, or whatever else you deem yourself…

Never.

Stop.

Creating. 

Podcast: Fiction

From the time I learned how to read, I’ve always read fiction. I could get lost in Wonderland or Hogwarts, just by opening up a book. The simple stumble into a couple hundred pages could result in many hours, or even days, spent entwined in the content between the cover pages. Yet, one of the best parts is the smell. Oh, the smell of a book. If you’re an avid book reader who’s in love with printed literature, describing the smell is almost impossible. It’s easy to get lost in it. Just picking up a book and sniffing the pages, old or new, it’s enticing. A digitally printed book doesn’t even compare to a hard copy, especially since a hard copy could be placed on a shelf. Personally, I love having my books on display.

Ah, the display. IKEA really has some fantastic bookcases even though they’re cheap. Alphabetically organized and divided between read and unread, the books give off a floor-to-ceiling library effect. Now, let’s not forget about the people responsible for my aesthetically pleasing case.

There are currently 266 books, or rather 178 authors that are alphabetically aligned on my shelves, but let’s get down to the authors I have the most books from. Off the top of my head, there’s JK Rowling (who we all know and love), Danielle Rollins (a, as she puts it, candy-coated horror novelist), and Chuck Palahniuk (who you might know as the man behind Fight Club).

These three authors have the most books on my shelves, and here’s why:

For one, all three authors write in some form of fiction. Whether it’s considered fantasy, horror, or transgressional, fiction is always my go-to.

Joanne Rowling, or JK Rowling, is the writer behind the entire Harry Potter franchise. Naturally, I have more books of hers than I do anyone else’s (besides Chuck’s) and I’ve been reading and rereading her books since 2006.

The Harry Potter series has had such a big impact in my life. Right from the start, my mom read me 60 pages a night so I could get through them before the big AR tests we had. Now, for those of you who don’t know what AR tests are, they’re Advanced Reading tests we used to have to take in elementary school. We got points for each one depending on our grade and I was number 2 in all of the fourth-grade class of Martin Walker Elementary, all thanks to JK Rowling and her magical books. Immediately, I got hooked on Severus Snape (RIP Alan Rickman), Mad-Eye Moody (may he rest in peace, as well), and all of the mythical creatures throughout the books. While the series may be finished, Rowling still continues to produce widely-loved novels even to this day. I’ll always appreciate the boy who lived under the stairs, and I’ll always appreciate the woman behind it.

Danielle Rollins is a different story. She’s a fireball with her words. One minute I’d connect with a character and the next I’ll start feeling queasy due to some gory scene she slipped in. Her books are like roller coasters and if you go under her pseudonym, “Vega,” they just get gorier. Now, I’m not talking Saw-gory, because she is technically candy-coating some of the scenes and the books are for young adults. Yet, somehow, someway, I can’t read them all the way through without taking a few breaks. Rollins, or Vega, has published a total of six books, and I barreled through them in a matter of weeks. Now, let’s get into my all-time favorite author, Chuck Palahniuk.

From this point forward, for the sake of not mispronouncing his last name, I’m going to refer to him as Chuck. Chuck is a trangressional fiction novelist who refers to his fans as Chuckleheads. All of his books plotlines were written so that the main character broke out of societal norms. For instance, in Fight Club, the main character got tired of working a nine-to-five job, so he started doing illegal activities after hours. Which, coincidentally, I can’t talk about due to the number one rule: “Don’t talk about fight club.”

Chuck has published a total of 21 books and I have 17. Alphabetically, by book title, there’s Beautiful You, Choke, Damned, Diary, Doomed, two copies of Fight Club, Fight Club 2, Haunted, Invisible Monsters, Invisible Monsters Remix, Lullaby, Make Something Up, Phoenix, Pygmy, Rant, Snuff, Survivor, and Tell-All.

Surprisingly, there’s actually a story behind one of the copies of Fight Club. On Black Friday, my fiancé and I woke up at 7am to go and get a signed copy of it. Now, we didn’t meet Chuck because he wasn’t there, but we now own a signed first-edition copy of Fight Club and we’re planning on putting it in a shadow box. It’s become one of our prized possessions and we don’t let anyone touch it, which sounds obsessive, I know, but the Chucklehead in me can’t resist.

Anyway, I think that’ll be enough for this podcast. I hope each and every one of you go out there and find a good book, get lost in the pages, and have the same experience I do when I find a new favorite. Make sure to keep up with me to find out more about the vast world of literature, multimedia topics and the study of writing.

Reflection

My composition process changed by switching to a more audio approach because I had to think about how I’d say it while I typed it. I included commas where I’d usually take a breath.  On Microsoft Word, I typed up the blog so I could read it easier. That way, I could double-space the text and increase the readability. Overall, this was an interesting and fun experience and I’m glad I finally did a podcast.

November 12, 2014

It was a humid, yet chilly Wednesday night; which oddly isn’t unusual for Texas. The sun had just left to awaken a new part of the world and I was just getting off work. As soon as the clock hit 10:23, I would leave the confinements of C.R. Clements and set off to my destination: home.

Copperas Cove, Texas was a small town that I knew like the back of my hand. It used to only take 20 minutes to get through the entire thing, no matter which direction you went through. Surrounded by five hills, with a school district that worships the Bulldawg football team and faculty scandals, Copperas Cove isn’t a place that is well-known. Yet, it’s very close to the third biggest military post in America: Fort Hood (1). Primarily made up of military brats (me included), the town only holds 32,000 people as of 2016 (2). So, it’s a melting pot.

Now, the school that I worked at was my old intermediate, my fifth-grade alma mater, and where I walked the halls as a part of Ms. D Smith’s Snakes; my homeroom class. As a freshly graduated eighteen-year-old, it was a bit uncomfortable to walk the halls as a custodian, but I did it anyway. I started the full-time custodial position in August of 2014, so by November, I was already three months into my job. At the time, I was living with my mom and I was about to hit my one-year mark with my boyfriend Cody Lee. We started dating my senior year of high school, but we went through a long and winding path until we finally were the complete high school definition of official; it was on Facebook. However, we won’t go too far into those details because they’re pretty personal. Let’s just say, that we were both involved with other people when we first started hanging out, I met his parents, he met mine, and we were basically dismissing the inevitable.

“You know you like him, I don’t know why you’re staying with that guy who hasn’t talked to you in two weeks,” my mom would say while I’m on my way out the door to see Cody.

“I know. I know. I know. I have to break it off because we’re going through the same cycle of nonsense that we go through. Every. Single. Time,” I’d tell her.

This wasn’t the exact conversation, but at the time I still dismissed it. Eventually, I realized I wanted to be with the beautiful brown-eyed boy I met in the aisles of Wal-Mart a few months prior. So, I had to break it off with the guy in Indiana who had been ignoring me for weeks. Since he blocked me on Facebook (wow, I was clueless when I was seventeen), I decided to text him and break off the relationship officially before we finally crashed.

Cody on the other hand, well, his story is for him to tell. All you need to know is that, after months of self-doubt, we officially got together on November 12, 2013.

After he got off a shift at Wal-Mart at 10pm, he walked up my parents’ driveway with a bouquet of roses and asked, “Will you go out with me?”

To which I promptly replied, “No,” and walked away.

“Okay then,” Cody said as he walked back to his Suzuki Forenza.

“No, no, no stop, wait! I was kidding! Yes,” and I ran up to him, put my hands on his face, and kissed him.

Now, there we were almost an exact year later. November 11th. While I was walking to my car after a long shift, my “David Tennant as the Doctor” text tone went off and I checked it.

Are you still coming over, Cody asked. (We had an agreement that I’d sleep at his parents’ house tonight because we stayed at mine quite a few in a row.)

So, I texted him back: Yes? Let me go get my things and I’ll be right over.

Drive safe. Text me when you get there.

I arrived at my moms’ house at around 10:40pm, sent a quick text to Cody, and went inside to get my stuff and tell my mom about my day. It was my usual routine, so I grabbed my makeup, hair products, pajamas, and a few outfits. I always tended to overpack, so it all went into a suitcase. After a year of dating and sleepovers, Cody’s parents were definitely used to me hauling in my things. So, I updated my mom, said a quick goodbye, and as I headed out the door she said, “If he proposes, you better come back here and tell me.”

“We’ll see,” I yelled back at her as I shut the door.

When I pulled up to Cody’s house, I texted him that I finally arrived at around 11:45pm.  The moon was glaring through my ’77 Chevy C10’s windows and the air was cooling down. As I got out of my truck and went to grab my array of bags, David Tennant went off again.

Just come in the front door… don’t knock.

The text wasn’t usual. The whole thing wasn’t usual. So, I decided to leave my bags. Cody would’ve normally helped me with them, or he would’ve at least came out and opened the front door for me. Walking straight into the house though? That never happens. The door was always locked after 10pm. However, I continued my journey down the driveway and up to the front door where there was a note. Since this was a few years ago, I don’t remember the exact words, but I believe the note said to walk inside and follow the clues.

Inside the house, the lights were dimmed and there were red rose petals scattered on the floor. On the side table, next to their brown pleather couches, were more rose petals and another note. It read:

Danielle, if you’re a piranha. Then I’m a piranha.

The next note is where we baked our first batch of cookies together.

The saying was from Finding Nemo. Originally it was from the little girl in the dentists’ office, named Darla, who tried to shake Nemo awake (3). She was kind of a terror. Sitting in the dentists’ chair, she revealed her braces and said, “I’m a piranha.” Somehow, it evolved from there.

On the way to the next note, I avoided stepping on the rose petals on the destined path while I walked through the house. The next note was found on the kitchen table, also scattered with rose petals. This makes note number three over a span of maybe thirty feet from the front door to the back door. The clues were unneeded, but they were such a nice touch and the moment felt so surreal. My mom’s voice was running through my head, “If he proposes, come back and tell me.” Nevertheless, I continued to read the note:

I love you to the moon and back, now check the back door.

Quickly, I looked behind me. The back door was unlocked, but there was a note covering the peephole. This made note number four. Which simply said to open it and when I did, Cody quickly told me to shut it which caused my anxiety to act up. I started to get a little shaky, but I only waited a few minutes before I cracked the door a little and asked if he was alright.

“I’m fine, I’m ready, come on out babe,” he said.

I walked onto the back porch and there was a fire going with stuff for smores on a chair next to it. The air was only getting colder, so I was glad that I was wearing my letterman that night. Along with the fire, the smores, and the cool winter night, there was Cody. Kneeling on one knee in a suit holding open a silver box.

My hands flew quickly to my mouth. I was in complete shock. After all of the clues, I kind of knew what was coming. I had my mom’s voice in my head yet, I still couldn’t believe what was going on. My boyfriend, of a year almost on-the-dot, was kneeling in front of our favorite pastime; roasting marshmallows.

“Danielle Mahriahna-Skillings Johnson, will you marry me?”

Tears streamed down my face before I could even get the words out; this moment was so surreal. “Yes, oh my gosh, yes!” He stood up, put the ring on my finger, and it fit perfectly. I was seriously in-awe that he remembered my ring size; I couldn’t believe it. He wrapped me in his arms and I just continued to cry. After all the failed past relationships I went through in the past to get to this point; I was engaged, I was happy, and I was utterly in-shock.

It immediately hit me that I had to tell my mom. It couldn’t wait, and she wouldn’t have liked it if I waited until tomorrow. I had to tell her. So, I told Cody and he said that he already knew we would have to go over there. In fact, he planned to take me back home afterwards to tell her regardless.

So, we walked back in to the house and both of his parents were standing there in their pajamas with their chihuahua. They were in on the whole proposal the entire time.

“Welcome to the family! Even though you’re already like a daughter-in-law to us,” they said while hugging the both of us. I still couldn’t believe it. I was going to be an AllBee.

Creative Non-Fiction Inspiration

In this blog,  I’m going to discuss a Creative Non-Fiction piece and answer a few questions. This piece, in particular, caught my eye because of the name and the hook the author wrote in the beginning. The following is a link to the piece itself by Jane Bernstein:

CNF Inspiration Piece: The Marrying Kind 

Summary: The Marrying Kind is a short essay about the narrator getting ready to officiate the wedding of someone they’re very close with (the bride). She then proceeds to discuss more in-depth on the lengths her officiating goes through, bringing up her past marriage, the several weddings she’s officiated, and her relationship to the first bride she writes about.

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At first, she doesn’t think she would or should do it. She thought that an online officiating site was just a scam until she joined her first couple in matrimony. After that, she continued to keep on going. Marrying people left and right. Same-sex couples, different religions, different families, she just kept going further on her quest to be an officiator but she still only married couples who she felt were in love.

Now, for the questions:

1. How does the form contribute to the meaning of the piece?

The form of this essay is traditional and it carries several descriptive characteristics. It’s estimated at around five pages of text and it kept me hooked throughout the entire thing. While this essay could’ve fit into the “shell” of a hermit crab essay, I feel as though the traditional route was better in this instance. Throughout the piece, the author incorporates several different factual statements, along with analogies, irony, and a few flashbacks.

2. What literary devices make this piece aesthetic?

The author uses quite an analogy when writing about the process of officiating a wedding ceremony. They compared a wedding ceremony to a simile; the form is precise.

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There’s also underlying irony in the text as well. The narrator often points out that it’s great being single, while also on her way to officiate a wedding that’s very dear to her. I found it ironic that she was relieved that she was divorced from her husband, yet she still found the sanctity of marriage to have an emotional aspect. However, this irony also gave her a reason to keep officiating. She knew all the trouble it took to be in a relationship. All the fights and the turmoil were inevitable, but if these couples were truly happy she wanted to be there for them because she went through them herself.

The author also uses flashbacks to make the story more in-depth. The narrator points out in the beginning that she knew the bride because she knew the bride’s mother. She brings up moments from the past in order to build onto the relationship she has to the bride and I feel as though it was very successful. A few would be:

  • the time when she felt the bride’s mother’s stomach before the bride was born
  • when she planned her wedding to her ex-husband
  • when she left her husband
  • her past relationships where she didn’t marry, but “played house”

In one of my personal writings that I’m working on, I’m including flashbacks as well.  I feel as though this tactic is very effective in increasing relatability, depth, and potential tension.

3. What sort of ethics does the writer seem to be following?

Along with the irony that the piece has, she often points out the different characteristics of marriage. Due to her recent marriages, she predicts which couples are going to be happy and which ones aren’t by the way they interact with one another. She went through a lot of what everyday couples go through; arguments/disagreements/etc.  So, she followed through with the ones she felt would last. The ethics she follows might not be solid in logic, but they’re her own beliefs and she wouldn’t go through with something she felt was wrong.

Childhood Imagination

When we were young, we were so innocent. We had the ability to imagine anything. Sure, I grew up with body books, knowing where babies actually came from, but that didn’t make me any less of a kid; it just made me more educated.

“They come from the uterus, not your stomach,” said Kindergarten me at school. 

From a young age, we were pushed into Young Adult novels that sparked your imagination. We created characters in our minds while we read about the green-eyed boy with the lightning bolt on his forehead (you know the one). For some of us, reading books was like watching movies in our brains and for the lucky ones, reading still gives us that feeling.

Then there were the beings that were made up for us.

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photo from the Santa Clause movie ft. Tim Allen

During our childhoods, most of us had Santa, the strange magical man that came into your house with presents. If you were raised in Germany, there was St. Nicholas, the guy who left candy in your shoe and Krampus, the half-man/goat who punished you when you were bad. We also had the tiny fairy who came in and collected your teeth. Oh, and let’s not forget the rabbit who hid the eggs that he laid or the Sandman who “helped” kids sleep.

Yet, when we got older, our dreams were smashed. Our parents lied to us, and for what? To help keep our innocence? To keep the magic of childhood alive? I’d assume so. All of the stories were passed down through generations of families, and luckily kids were gullible enough to believe them (me included).

The only things our parents (or sometimes friends) couldn’t take away from us were our imaginary friends if we had them. Ah, our friends. If you had them, they stuck with you through it all. They were your therapists, your secret friends, they went on adventures with you and hopefully kept you out of trouble.

These all sound great right? Why can’t the friends you make in the real world match up to the imaginary? Well, to be honest, while your imagination is what came up with your seemingly life-long friend, there are always downsides. For instance, my imaginary friends weren’t all that friendly. In fact, they weren’t necessarily my friends at all.

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Ever since I could remember, there were creepy things in the dark. I would imagine faces between the figurines in my room. There would be figures standing over me, I would see shadows lurking. And none of it was actually there. I told my parents about it, which resulted in two kinds of therapy. The one where you play board games with a psychologist once a week, and the other that draws your blood, talks to you and tells you what meds you could try; a psychiatrist. Some think they’re the same thing, but in my case, they weren’t.

They weren’t just for the spooky things though, they were also for my inability to concentrate, but we might get to that later.

Anyway, the spooky monsters didn’t exactly leave. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s closet-monster-boyseen them or imagined them, but they’re the reason I can’t watch paranormal or scary movies that are set in houses. The overactive imagination grew with me, hence why being an artist/writer came so easily to me.

I wish I could say I was making all of this up for some kind of metaphor. I could say that the creepy monsters were the inevitable adulthood that I was growing into. I could make them into a meme that has their creepy faces plastered with the words “anxiety,” “bills,” or “heartbreak,” but I won’t.

Instead, I’m going to leave it at this:

Despite the childhood figures getting crushed in my brain by stories told to me by friends or classmates, the monsters still stayed. No one could take them away from me, talk them out of my brain, or prescribe anything for them. The only things that seemed to help were the stuffed animals that are still on my bed. The monsters still didn’t leave though, they were just not as noticeable.

teddy-bears-protecting-innocent-children-from-monsters-under-the-bed-3081133They still show up when I’m in the shower and close my eyes.

They’re still standing outside in the distance of dark windows.

They’re still in my room when my lights or TV aren’t on when I’m asleep.

And yes, they are also under my bed when my leg or arm is hanging off.

While I write this, I realize it’s coming off a bit cliche. Who doesn’t see things in the night or hear things bump around in the dark? I’m sure everyone has at some point. Yet, that’s not the principle of this. I’m writing about it because I’ve yet to talk about it… and because I just met Sully in Supernatural.