Support the Irish Arts

As I was writing this blog post, the Gilmore Girls episode currently playing on my iPad, season 3 episode 7, referenced Riverdance. That is the best possible sign that today is a great day to support the Irish arts! Former Riverdance dancer Kincaid Stringer & his mother Shannon Kincaid, a painter, have teamed up for a great cause. They’re selling seven of Shannon’s paintings through Indiegogo for a COVID-19 relief fund; all proceeds will support Irish actors, artists, backstage workers & crews, clubs, concerts, cultural & event spaces, dancers, dance schools, festivals, musicians, performers, singers, theaters, & writers. I grew up dancing & singing so the arts are very important to me. Riverdance is the reason I asked my mom to sign me up for dance classes at the age of four so the Irish arts are also very important to me. Let’s not forget my Irish ancestors! 🇮🇪 The arts have done a lot for us in quarantine so it’s only right that we give back. You can choose to only donate money or receive a painting or two or seven in exchange for your donation. If it’s not already obvious, I’m buying “The Dancer.” Can’t wait to have a gorgeous Irish dancing queen above my bed! 👑 Please consider setting aside $25, or more, to support a great cause & get a piece of Ireland for your home. 💚🤍🧡

*NOTE: The Indiegogo campaign ends on September 17th, & the paintings will ship in November. Because of COVID-19, please consider that shipping could be delayed.

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Irish people’s love of dancing has been well documented throughout their written history. In fact, one of the earliest references to dancing details a visit between the Mayor of Waterford and Mayor of Baltimore in 1413. The modern Irish dancing of today is no longer merely a processional combination of singing and dancing as an act of celebrating, but a sport that produces athletes that are physically strong, as well as creative and artistic. What was once a tradition specific to Ireland (as well as England, Scotland, and some parts of America) caught like wildfire in 1994 with the debut of Riverdance. The theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance took the world by storm and has been a global phenomenon ever since. Now, twenty-five years later, the Irish dancing community consists of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world today. Teachers from around the world have committed themselves to spreading their love and passion for Ireland’s traditional form of expression. Regardless of how far a dancer progresses competitively or professionally, being an Irish dancer is something that is inextricably bound to their identity forevermore. In this piece entitled “The Dancer,” you feel the excitement, the confidence, and the artistry that comes from expressing a centuries-old tradition that has touched the hearts of many.  – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland and Scotland combined have a rich culture within the performing arts, which has resulted in a thriving gig scene. Musicians are constantly pushing the boundaries in order to create new and fresh work that is often steeped in tradition. Many are staunch believers that musical traditions must be preserved as they always have been – the “play it like my father used to” kind of sentimentality. Yet, every generation brings a new wave of talent that feels that this attitude discourages progress and evolution. This debate between tradition and innovation is a tale as old as time. Still, many feel it is possible to honour your origins while also exploring and adapting to the future; they are not mutually exclusive. Irish music legend, Míchéal Ó Súilleabháinn, believed that traditions are never frozen, but rather are fluid. He believed that the idea of authenticity originating from a pure source located in antiquity was bogus! This painting is for the new wave of artists and musicians who are creating some of the most incredible new-age folk / Trad music in the world. Project Smok, Beoga, Talisk, Ímar and the like are leading the way for the future of Irish music. – Kincaid & Shannon

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  – George Bernard Shaw

Ériu is the goddess of sovereignty and the mythological mother of Ireland. She is often interpreted as the modern-day personification of Ireland. Along with her two sisters, Banba and Fódhla, Ériu was a part of a triumvirate of goddesses. Before their final defeat, each goddess requested that the island be named for her. This was granted to all of them, but Ériu became the chief name in use. The old Irish name Ériu evolved into Éire in modern Irish and depending on the case is spelled Éireann or Éirinn. This is how we finally arrived with the English name for the country, Erin. The painting has been imbued with symbols to depict all that Ériu embodied within pre-Christian Irish culture. Ériu represents the sacred feminine, as illustrated in the column capitals, or the decorative element at the top of a column, that represent the three phases of a woman’s life cycle – the maid, mother and crone. The stars behind her and the lunala around her neck evoke her role as a lunar goddess. Her hair bleeds into the trees, depicting her connection to the earth and its bounty. She holds this bounty in her hand as a glass of mead, which was served at the feast of Goibhniu, and offered immortality to those that drank it. Around her head is a ring of knot work encasing the land, which is topped by the stone of divisions from the hill of Uisneach, the symbolic and sacred centre of the island in Irish mythology. Ériu’s bones are said to have been laid to rest on this hill and serves as a gateway between the Underworld and the world above. – Kincaid & Shannon

There is much more to an Irish pub than just having a drink. In Ireland, pubs are central to the way of life. Similar to a church, they represent a pillar of Irish social life and community. A place where pints, comfort food, live music, and sport can be always be found; somewhere you can meet friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers, in an inviting atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that recreations of Irish pubs can be found in any city around the world. O’Connor’s was opened as a pub in Galway in 1942 by Thomas O’Connor, and is currently operated by third generation O’Connors. Every inch of it decorated in eclectic memorabilia, the pub has become famous for its hospitality and world-class live music. So much so that Ed Sheeran used it as the location of his music video “Galway Girl” in 2017 featuring actress Saoirse Ronan, furthering the pub’s world-wide recognition. – Kincaid & Shannon

Ireland has a rich tradition of various festivals taking place throughout each year. The Rose of Tralee was first held in 1959 and has since been held every August in Tralee, County Kerry, to select a young woman to be crowned the Rose. Cities all over the world host their own selection balls to determine who will represent them in Ireland. The festival bills itself as a celebration of the “aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility, and Irish heritage” of modern young women. Bursting with music and dancing, this festival celebrates the very best of Irish culture and the future of Irish relations worldwide. The winner and their family become a part of a global network, showcasing how Irish culture is thriving amongst the Irish Diaspora. They say, “Once a Rose, always a Rose.” – Kincaid & Shannon

A session is a casual gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, usually taking place in a pub, but has also been known to take place on street corners or even in someone’s kitchen. Irish “trad” music has garnered a deep appreciation, not just in Ireland, but also around the world. It’s important to note that a session is more than just a casual jam between musicians – the focus is on the instrumental tunes found within the Irish tradition – reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slip jigs, and the like. Whether it be in a pub or someone’s home, sessions are times of brilliant music and ever-flowing drink that have a certain habit of continuing late into the night, if not into the wee hours of the morning! – Kincaid & Shannon

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.

To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

These are just two quotes from one of the biggest literary personalities in Ireland’s history, Oscar Wilde. A literary treasure, Wilde was a hugely popular playwright and poet in the late 1800s. Besides well-known works such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lady Windermere’s Fan, his biting wit and flamboyant style gained him notoriety as well. As a people, the Irish are known for their good sense of humour, which has bolstered them during periods of great hardship throughout history. Wilde embodied this intrinsically Irish trait to the very end. Even as he faced death, he was cracking jokes and reportedly said, “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do.” A collection of art in support of Irish culture would be incomplete without paying homage to Oscar Wilde. – Kincaid & Shannon

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAx8IE3PTk&feature=youtu.be

➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️ ➡️   S U P P O R T   T H E   C A M P A I G N   H E R E   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

The Bookie Trials Royal Weekender | March 2020

Last weekend I participated in The Bookie Trials Royal Weekender, 48 hours of reading to take everyone’s mind off the Coronavirus pandemic currently affecting most of the world. It was also a contest to find out which team gets a 2-day lead during The Bookie Trials in July. I’m on Team Mage; the other 3 teams are the Bards, Outlaws, & Scribes. Start scrolling to see how I did. 🧙🏻‍♀️

🗓   Wednesday, March 25, 2020   🗓

1:50pm – I declared my TBR on Twitter & earned my Oath Maker badge.

Source: https://twitter.com/LaurenMichele93/status/1242916815132483584

🗓   Friday, March 27, 2020   🗓

4pm – I earned my Power Surge badge by watching the Starting Ceremony Live Show & participating in the reading sprints. I started “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacquie Winspear & “The ABC Murders” by Agatha Christie.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CE5oyp45vfk&t=5s

6pm – I posted my TBR & played This or That on my Instagram story.

6:30pm – I earned my Tournament Ready badge by participating in the Scavenger Hunt.

Source: https://twitter.com/TheBookieTrials/status/1243705603060641797

🎭   –   M A S K   –   🎭

🥇   –   G O L D   –   🥇

*Note: My photo came out a little blurry so I’m using one from the internet.

💦   –   W A T E R   –    🌊 

🔑    –   K E Y   –   🔑 

📖   –   B O O K   –   📚 

➡️   –   A R R O W   –   ⬅️

⛵️   –   B O A T   –   ⛵️ 

🐉   –   M Y T H I C A L   A N I M A L   –   🐉 

🕊   –   F E A T H E R   –   🕊

🍋   –   F R U I T   –   🍋

👠    –   S H O E   –   👠 

👑   –   C R O W N   –   👑 

🚪   –   D O O R   –   🚪 

🪑   –   T H R O N E   –   🪑 

🗡   –   S W O R D   –   🗡 

🌟 Wrap-Up: I finished the day with 24 pages read in “Maisie Dobbs” & 38 pages in “The ABC Murders,  a total of 62 pages.

🗓   Saturday, March 28, 2020   🗓

Noon: Things did not go as planned. Despite trying to get my mind off current events, I received news that the store I work at is closed until further notice & was encouraged to apply for Unemployment Insurance. My reading time turned into a long afternoon & evening spent crunching numbers for an application. I didn’t open a book until 11pm. 😴 💤

🌟 Wrap-Up: I stayed up until 3am & read 116 pages in “The ABC Murders.

🗓   Sunday, March 29, 2020   🗓

9am – Running on 6 hours of sleep, I was determined to finish 1 book. A few hours later, I reached my goal & earned 3 badges: Clairvoyance, Magi Might, & Tome Champion.

Noon – 4pm: I wanted to attempt to finish a 2nd book, but the application process I started on Saturday got in the way. I turned into the Hulk & had a meltdown so it was for the best that I stepped away from reading. I did, however, earn my Master Your Craft badge by watching one of my favorite YouTubers: BooksAndLala.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFdJ0tSlDdA

4pm48 hours later, the readathon was over. 🎉

🌟 Wrap-Up: I read 24 pages in “Maisie Dobbs” & finished “The ABC Murders. I read 247 pages total & finished 1 book, earning 7 out of 8 badges.

✔️ Oathmaker – Share Your TBR – I declared my TBR on Twitter.

✔️ Tournament Ready – Join a Competition – Scavenger Hunt

✔️ Power Surge – Complete a 2-Hour Sprint – Starting Ceremony

✔️ Tome Champion – Finish One Book – “The ABC Murders” by Agatha Christie

❌ Expansive Lore – Discover a New World – “Maisie Dobbs” by Jacqueline Winspear

✔️ Master Your Craft – Watch a Favorite YouTuber – BooksAndLala

✔️ Clairvoyance – Read a 5-Star Prediction – “The ABC Murders” by Agatha Christie

✔️ Magi Might – Read a Book With Purple on the Cover – “The ABC Murders” by Agatha Christie

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The Results:

4th PlaceTeam ScribeAverage score of 6.99 & an average page count of 537

3rd Place: Team Bard | Average score of 7.14 & an average page count of 537

2nd Place: Team Mage | Average score of 7.16 & an average page count of 543

1st Place: Team Outlaw | Average score of 7.20 & an average page count of 632

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

This weekend didn’t go as planned, & my team didn’t win, but after a horrible reading slump dating back to 2019, I was happy to finish at least one book. I can’t wait for the big event this summer.  I vlogged last year so I think I’m going to blog this year. See you in July! ☀️

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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• Previous Post: Activities For Social Distancing

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2018 Reading Wrap-Up

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

For once, I completed my reading goal with time to spare & exceeded it by two. I set my goal at 55 and completed 57 books. Yay! 🎉 Now for the semi-disappointing news: I didn’t complete the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. I could beat myself up, but reading is supposed to be fun, not a competition. Not all of the 2018 challenges matched up with what I wanted to read last year, and that is okay.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read

📖 A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste

📖 As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

📖 The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

📖 The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

📚 A Book in Translation

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

📖 N/A 

📚 A Book You Can Read in a Day

📖 Death at Wentwater Court by Carola Dunn

📖 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

📖 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Scream All Night by Derek Milman

📖 Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

📖 Sugar Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📖 The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Athur Conan Doyle

📖 The Little Android by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Secret of Shadow Ranch by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

📖 The Queen’s Army by Marissa Meyer

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 Pages

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

📚 A Book by a Favorite Author

📖 The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie Bookseller

📖 Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

*Note: This category doesn’t (necessarily) count. Even though Hiddensee is on an IndieBound list, I didn’t read it because of their recommendation.

📚 A Banned Book

📖 N/A 

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative Nonfiction

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your Own

📖 Gemina by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 Harvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar (Persian)

📖 Obsidio by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (Australian)

📖 The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Dutch)

📖 The Strings of Murder by Oscar de Muriel (Mexican)

*Note: The definition of “ethnicity” is different depending on who you ask so I relied solely on where an author was born. I didn’t include British authors because of my own family’s roots, but perhaps that was just overthinking on my part.

I also read:

📖 A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet

📖 Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts

📖 Cress by Marissa Meyer

📖 Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

📖 Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke

📖 Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

📖 In The Woods by Tana French

📖 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

📖 Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

📖 Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel by Ginger Garrett

📖 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

📖 The Beautiful Pretender by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Centurion’s Wife by Davis Bunn & Janette Oke

📖 The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd

📖 The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest by Melanie Dickerson

📖 The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill by Julie Klassen

📖 The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

📖 The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene

📖 The Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

📖 The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

📖 Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

📖 We Wish You a Murderous Christmas by Vicki Delany

📖 Winter by Marissa Meyer

📖 Written on the Wind by Judith Pella

Total: 9(ish) Challenges & 57 Books

⬇️  Here are all of my 2018 reading-related links  ⬇️

2017 Wrap-Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vKpIwxNQxM&t=2s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HGW-XvQ6N0&t=9s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo45XqUaUFo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyEZ9gzZb8c&t=288s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHZs4Lxxr30&t=714s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUz0HJjwdUg&t=1s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMmn3r4M4_Y&t=5s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BthNgFtCHOM&t=3s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyvAdtvthT8&t=14s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORnYN7RZZDo&t=4s

📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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• Previous Post: Aquaman Review

• Previous Video: The Joy of Christmas Book Tag | Vlogmas 2018

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2017 Wrap Up | 2018 Reading Challenge

With twelve minutes to spare in 2017, I completed my Goodreads goal of reading 50 books. Thanks to the diversity of those books, I also completed the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. Let’s recap the categories accompanied by detailed & extensive lists:

📚 A Book you Chose for the Cover – Before we dive into the list, I want to clarify that I define a cover buy as a book I picked up because the cover caught my eye, which doesn’t  mean I didn’t look at the synopsis:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins | I almost didn’t buy this book, but I couldn’t get the cover out of my head.

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-Able

And Then There Were None & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie | Some people might also include Death on the Nile, myself included.

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( bestselling author & series )

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been but Would Like to Visit

🇪🇬 Egypt – Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie, Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 England – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,  And Then There Were NoneCrooked House, & The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie, Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis, Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon,  & Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

📚 A Book You’ve Already Read – I did a lot of rereading last year:

📖 Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

📖 Kristy’s Great Idea, Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls, & The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📖 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts

📖 The Rook, The Knight, & The Bishop by Steven James

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter

📚 A Juicy Memoir In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett. The ending made me cry. No lie!

📚 A Book About Books or ReadingThe Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan & The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – These aren’t all genres I avoid on purpose; I just don’t reach for them often:

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( contemporary )

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ( science fiction )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( memoir)

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ( fantasy )

📖 Mind Over Monsters, To Catch a Vampire, & Death Takes a Holiday by Jennifer Harlow ( supernatural )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( contemporary )

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling ( fantasy )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( science fiction )

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. I’m not embarrassed by this series but rather ashamed that I didn’t pick it up sooner. I also read …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite AuthorPearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – These are recommendations by bookstagrammers, booktubers & friends:

📖 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Night by Elie Wiesel

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon

📖 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, …Chamber of Secrets, …Prisoner of Azkaban, & …Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

📖 Cinder & Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy but Haven’t Read Yet – Though I’m excited about every book I purchase, this list includes the titles I’d been dying to read but had yet to do so:

📖 And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

📖 The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

📖 The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

📖 The Queen by Steven James

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already Love – Another thorough list:

📖 And Then There Were None, Crooked House, Death on the Nile, Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories, & Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie ( mystery )

📖 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding by Agatha Christie ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 The Unexpected Guest by Agatha Christie & Charles Osborne ( mystery )

📖 My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by Ally Carter, David Levithan, Gayle Forman, Holly Black, Jenny Han, Kelly Link, Kiersten White, Laini Taylor, Matt De La Peña, Myra McEntire, Rainbow Rowell, & Stephanie Perkins ( the holidays )

📖 The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudis ( crime )

📖 In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett ( The Carol Burnett Show )

📖 The Mystery of the Stone Tiger by Carolyn Keene ( mystery )

📖 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens ( Christmas )

📖 Crocodile on the Sandbank & The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters ( Egyptology & mystery )

📖 Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet ( mystery )

📖 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire ( I already love the musical! )

📖 The Postcard Killers by James Patterson ( crime )

📖 Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen ( Amish life & crime )

📖 The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan ( books & reading )

📖 Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon ( mystery )

📖 Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis ( mystery )

📖 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ( pioneer life )

📖 Cinder & Glitches by Marissa Meyer ( fairytales )

📖 Heartless by Marissa Meyer ( Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland )

📖 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ( books & reading )

📖 Tutu Deadly & Tapped Out by Natalie M. Roberts ( dance & mystery )

📖 The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop, & The Queen by Steven James ( crime )

📖 Land of Silence & Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar ( Bible times )

📖 Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delaney ( Christmas & mystery )

📖 White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter ( Amish life & Christmas )

Total: 12 Categories & 50 Books

Here are links to my reading updates & 2017 Goodreads Challenge:

2016 Wrap Up & 2017 Reading Challenges ( V I D E O )

January Reading Wrap Up | 2017 Reading Challenge Update

BookTube-A-Thon

October 2017 Wrap Up | November 2017 TBR

Murder on the Orient Express Vlog

November Wrap + December TBR

📚 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge 📚 

Due to reading fatigue, I am not officially committing to the 2018 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge. However, I’m not giving up completely. I may join at any point during the year so I’m leaving the categories here for reference.

📚 A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to ReadA Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great Taste – TBD

📚 A Book in TranslationThe Time in Between by Maria Duenas

📚 A Book Nominated for an Award in 2018 – TBD

📚 A Book Of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay CollectionRomeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

📚 A Book You Can Read in a DayLittle House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

📚 A Book That’s More Than 500 PagesHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

📚 A Book by a Favorite AuthorMurder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

📚 A Book Recommended by a Librarian or Indie BooksellerThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

📚 A Banned BookTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

📚 A Memoir, Biography, or Book of Creative NonfictionTalking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham

📚 A Book by an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion Than Your OwnHarvest of Gold by Tessa Afshar

Last but not least, I pledged to read 55 books on Goodreads. I’m not going to push myself because reading should be fun, not a competition. Regardless of whether or not I read a certain number of books, I’m doing something I love. Happy reading!

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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The Last Jedi | Blogmas 2017

⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ DISCLAIMER: My intention is not to spoil the movie for you, but spoilers are hard to avoid once you’ve seen and want to talk about it. You have been warned! ⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ 

I recently saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi and loved it, but I’m still dealing with a lot of feelings. The severity of my emotions caught me off guard, and it wasn’t just because of Carrie Fisher’s death, although that sadness is still very fresh. This is the end of an era, a transition from the old to the new. I’m excited about the next generation of characters, but that doesn’t make the change any easier. When the twins reunited, Luke said the words “No one’s ever really gone” as he placed Han’s dice in Leia’s hand. From that point on, I couldn’t stop crying. That one poignant moment sums up my experience with this film. I know that’s a really short statement about a really big movie, but I honestly can’t bring myself to say anything more.

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

➡️   ➡️   ➡️   A R T M A S   ⬅️   ⬅️   ⬅️

F o u r   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄   🕯️   🎄   🎁   ❄️   ⛄

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

I have waited all year for this movie! Part of my birthday celebration was seeing the first showing at my local theater. As a passionate Agatha Christie fan, I have thoughts both good and bad so settle in for a semi-bumpy Orient Express ride.

Many people had doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of beloved detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a doubter, I want to put your mind at ease. Mr. Branagh is hands down the best part of the movie. He kept the spirit of the Poirot we all know and love while adding humor and his own unique touch to the character. He is a constant source of smiles and laughs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the ensemble cast did not disappoint. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always (SPOILER) even though his part is short-lived. Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have some shining moments, and Dame Judi Dench’s monologue about little Daisy Armstrong made me tear up. Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin’s respective portrayals of Count & Countess Andrenyi are dark, a hidden gem that is impressive considering their inexperience. Josh Gad was good for the most part, but the chase scene involving Poirot felt awkward. The conflict between Hercule and Dr. Arbuthnot also felt clumsy. Daisy Ridley acted well, but I did not like Mary Debenham’s demeanor. In the book, she is polite and reserved which leads Poirot to suspect she might be the mastermind behind the murder; his suspicion makes little sense in the movie because Mary is much too bright and happy.

The book’s methodical layout is not perfectly suited for a movie. Some may find the added action irritating, but I understand the necessity to shake up the format onscreen. That being said, some of the clues got lost in the shuffle due to a speedier pace. As far as I remember, all the clues from the book were included, but they weren’t given the time they needed to simmer and encourage the audience to consider possible outcomes. Perhaps the extra, non-book stuff could’ve been trimmed to accommodate character interviews and clue discoveries, making the final reveal much more grand than it actually was. I also want to mention that I don’t remember Biniamino Marquez being named at the end. (SPOILER) The twist relies on the shock of twelve people being involved, each with a specific connection to the Armstrong family. The cast may seem large, but those who know the story well won’t miss anything, even if only one name is passed over. This goes back to details being muddled at the end. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the greatest stories ever written in the mystery genre. If you don’t lay it out correctly, you spoil the thrill and fun of the twists and turns.

I love two-thirds of the movie, but the ending is a disappointment. Things can surely get better from here so I hope Kenneth Branagh is giving the chance to continue the series, perhaps with a book that has less adaptations. I truly believe he can do great things with Poirot. The final scene hints at a sequel based on Death on the Nile. How great would that be?! 😄

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSSSZpAkyw&t=25s

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Rogue One | Blogmas 2016 🎄

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

Merry Christmas & Happy 2nd Day of Hanukkah!!  I hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday.  My day started at church this morning.  Afterwards, my family ate at Sizzler and saw Rogue One.  I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to see this movie.  I felt like the only person in the world who hadn’t seen it, and the rave reviews were driving me insane.  We didn’t choose the best of theaters so the screen was dirty, but that didn’t dampen the experience.  I absolutely loved the film!  There were numerous amazing Rebel vs Empire fights, familiar faces like Bail Organa and Darth Vader, & awesome new characters like Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso.  Can we just talk about freaking Donnie Yen?!  His fighting scenes as Chirrut Imwe were off the charts.  WOW!  If you know me, you know that my favorite part of Star Wars will forever be the droids, and K-2SO is no exception.  LOVE. HIM.  The sass was abundant, and I could not stop laughing. (SPOILER) It was sad that everybody on the Rogue One team died, but it felt like the only appropriate ending considering the circumstances of the mission.  They died because of the Death Star, the very weapon they were fighting to stop.  A noble sacrifice for the good of the galaxy!

❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄ 🎅🏻 🎄 🎁 ❄️ ⛄

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Jonathan Crombie Memorial

On April 15, 2015, tragedy struck the Anne of Green Gables family.  Actor Jonathan Crombie, known for his role as the beloved Gilbert Blythe, passed away.  If you are interested, here is the blog post I wrote following the news of his death: Don’t Forget Me

A member of the AOGG fandom, Sandra McKinney, has started a GoFundMe page to help cover the cost of putting some kind of memorial in David Crombie Park.  The Toronto park is named after Jonathan’s father, and Sandra felt it was the perfect place for a memorial.  She has talked to the proper authorities, and the idea has been accepted.  If there is any money left over from the donations, it will be given to a charity of the Crombie family’s choosing.  Donate if you are able to do so, but don’t feel like you have to.  At the very least, share the page on social media and help spread the word.  Sandra’s efforts speak volumes on behalf of the AOGG community, and I want to do my part to help.

• GoFundMe Page – https://www.gofundme.com/2mbc344k

• Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/970383573006872/

In the words of Sandra, “If you like this idea and would be willing to help so that this can happen please donate whatever you can. Let’s make this fundraising campaign a success and let’s keep Jonathan’s memory alive for our generation and generations to come.”

– Lauren Michele <3

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Springtime Daze

Sarnoff, Arthur. (n.d.). [Painting]. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.artsfon.com/download/27930/2560x1600/

Sarnoff, Arthur. (n.d.). [Painting]. Retrieved May 3, 2016, from http://www.artsfon.com/download/27930/2560×1600/

Good evening readers!  I felt like it was time for a chatty blog post with lots of information about what I’ve been up to.  I’m making significant progress on the 2016 Reading Challenge.  I am currently making my way through the A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket and The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien.  After the first of the year, I had to take a break from reading, but I am back in tip top shape and determined to keep moving forward.  Books make me extremely happy, and life is never enjoyable when I don’t feel like reading. 📚

In an odd turn of events, I started having nightmares about death a few weeks ago.  I thought perhaps it was because I was reading before bedtime.  The Series of Unfortunate Events series is very grim and depressing, but the content isn’t presented in a manner that is terrifying.  I suppose I could test out that theory, but I am doubtful that those books are the cause of the problem.  I already struggle with insomnia so nightmares are something I don’t need to deal with.  It takes me hours to fall asleep, and once I do nightmares wake me up.  Needless to say I am exhausted.  The other night I got so freaked out by a nightmare that I got up and asked my mom to pray for me; I only had one other nightmare and fell asleep within an hour or two.  I slept soundly last night so I am hoping that the nightmares are finally making their way out of my mind. 💀

Moving on to a happier subject.  I got a job!  If you followed me over the holidays, you know that I had a seasonal retail job.  Unfortunately I was not able to stay on permanently so the search for a new job began.  I did not have to search long because I immediately found an open position through networking.  I was blessed to secure the job after just one interview, and I should be starting within the next two weeks. 👠

I’ve just seen that my Youtube channel has reached over 10,000 views.  That is amazing!!  I feel so encouraged and motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.  To those of you who are subscribed, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  To those of you who aren’t subscribed, what are you waiting for?!  Speaking of which, you should check out my most recent video.  I went hiking in Malibu this past weekend and filmed most of the hike plus the last minute trip to the beach.  What an adventure!  I’ve been hiking in recent months, but this hike unexpectedly required some rock climbing.  I still have cuts and bruises, but it was so much fun.  Because I’m at home most of the time, I forget how much I love being outdoors and exploring.  It was good for me to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. 🌳

I hope all of you are having a lovely evening.  I am currently sitting in a recliner blogging with a book (The Hostile Hospital) on my right side and Call the Midwife on the television.  I’m not in the best of moods, but that’s nothing some frozen fruit couldn’t cure.  Does anybody else eat frozen fruit as a snack or am I just weird??  Think of it like a deconstructed popsicle. 😜 I shall stop rambling now.  Good night!  Sweet dreams! 😴

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– Lauren Michele <3

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United

On a day that is dedicated to giving thanks, I want to draw attention to a video I just watched.  For those who don’t know, the band “Eagles of Death Metal” recently spoke about what happened at their concert in Paris.

* * * I don’t want to take away from the emotion of the interview, but if you are around small children, there is some language in the video.

Eagles of Death Metal Discuss Paris Terror Attacks

My heart breaks for the band and crew members that survived because what they saw and who they lost will forever affect them.  I want Dave, Eden, Jesse, Josh, Julian, Matt, and anyone else involved to know that they are in my prayers.  I am only one person, but it is important to show that no matter what people around the world are going through, there are others who are aware of and care about what is taking place.

If you would like to send messages of encouragement to Eagles of Death Metal, here are their social media links:

Eagles Of Death Metal – Facebook

EaglesOfDeathMetal (@EODMofficial) | Twitter

I want to share an expression that is used by Jewish people when someone passes away.  In honor of the lives that have been lost in 2015, may their memory be a blessing!

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.  For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods.”  Psalm 95:1-3

Happy Thanksgiving readers!  I hope you have a safe, blessed day.

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– Lauren Michele <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

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