“Gilded” by Marissa Meyer | Book Review

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“Though 18-year-old Serilda Moller has lived in the town of Märchenfeld her whole life, most of the townsfolk choose to ostracize her. Cursed by the god Wyrdith before her birth, Serilda’s eyes are covered by the golden wheel of fate and fortune, and she possesses the ability to spin fantatsical tales, earning a reputation as an impulsive liar. One night under the Snow Moon, she lies to the wrong person, the Erlking, and changes the trajectory of her small town life. Now she is at his mercy, forced to answer his call every full moon to enter his haunted castle and spin straw into gold. A mysterious boy comes to her aid the first time, but even though he’s slowly falling in love with her, his magic cannot be given away for free. It’s apparent that the Erlking will never be satisfied, and Serilda is quickly running out of currency to continue paying the price of magic. Will she find a way out of her predicament, or will she be forever bound to Erlkönig and Adalheid Castle?”

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The beginning of “Gilded” was promising, so much so that I was prepared to hand out a five-star rating. I would highly recommend the audiobook, which I listened to all the way through; Rebecca Soler did a fantastic job as the narrator, making me feel like I was being read a fairytale before bed each night. The winter setting is cozy, and the darkness of the story kept me on the edge of my seat. I also appreciate the way foreshadowing was used. In chapter two, Serilda’s students comparing her storytelling to spinning straw into gold, transforming their dull lives in the town of Märchenfeld into something special. A second example is the moss maidens Meadowsweet and Parsely gifting jewelry to Serilda in chapter five; the crest on the ring and picture in the locket end up being significant clues that tie everything together. 

I was enchanted and ready to be taken on a immerisve journey for 500 pages . . . until chapter ten. Despite dark subject matter that toed the line, it’s the romance that lost me. It fell into the insta-love category and took me out of a world that had previously enraptured me. Never once did I feel a spark between Gild and Serilda. I wasn’t invested and found myself reading at a slower pace whenever they shared a chapter. I understand that his century-long loneliness as a poltergeist and her past with bullying gave them a connection as outcasts, but their intimacy progressed too quickly. The ending was wrapped up in their relationship, and I’m not sure there’s any part of it I liked. I sincerely believe a slow-burn romance would’ve suited this dark fairytale; instead an insta-love story weighed down an otherwise promising book.

Despite my disappointment, I’m giving this book 3 stars, and the completionist in me plans on reading the sequel. If you’re looking for a wintery read and like the idea of a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, give “Gilded” a try. Maybe the insta-love won’t bother you as much as it bothered me. Beware, this book is heavily inspired by German folklore and extremely dark. I’m shocked that there are no trigger warnings and did my best to cover everything down below so you’re fully prepared for the amount of blood & violence. 

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Trigger Warnings:

Abandonment – Serilda’s mother left when she was a young child. It’s mentioned throughout the book but addressed directly in chapter 17, starting on page 154.

Abortion – Though an abortion is not performed, it is used as a threat.

Bullying – Serilda’s experience with bullying due to her appearance is mentioned throughout the book.

Blood & Violence – If you can’t stand even a hint of blood, don’t read this book. There is blood and violence in most of the chapters.

Death & Suicide – Death is a major theme throughout the book, including the death of children. Chapter 49 is the most disturbing in my opinion because it deals directly with children’s dead bodies. There is a brief mention of suicide on page 178 and miscarriage and stillbirths on page 325.

Discipline – I know this isn’t always a bad or triggering subject, but on page 10, Madame Sauer grabs a willow branch and threatens to strike Serilda’s hands, bringing back painful memories from her school days. It’s briefly mentioned again on page 170. I wanted to note this because in my opinion, it’s a controversial and borderline abusive method of discipline.

Hunting & Trophies – There are frequent mentions of the Erlking hunting for magical creatures as sport; he mounts some of them on the walls of his castle and keeps others chained in cages.

Kidnapping & Missing Children – The Erlking is known for luring children from their homes & leaving their lifeless bodies at the edge of the Aschen Wood, sometimes keeping their spirits as prisoners in his castle.

Supernatural – If you’re easily creeped out, be aware that there are mentions of demons, appearances by ghosts who bear the wounds that caused their death, & eery creatures such as the Nachtkrapp, a raven with no eyes.

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Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: In order to be thorough, there will be spoilers in this section.

Alcohol – There are approximately 10 pages that mention alcohol and drinking, possibly a few more, but nothing too extreme – Pages 3, 103, 112, 134, 269, 280, & 326 

Blood, Violence, & Death – There are approximately 132 pages that mention blood, violence, and/or death, ranging from brief to descriptive & disturbing.

Page 2 – The Erlking shoots an arrow that pierces the wing of the god Wyrdith in beast form; there’s mention of bloodied feathers.

Page 12 – Serilda is daydreaming about the Erlking’s Snow Moon hunt, imagining that “after their demonic ride, there will be feasting on what beasts they’ve captured, and drinking of mulled wine spiced with the blood . . .”

Page 14 – Serilda tells the children “”the only way to kill off a Nachzehrer is by putting a stone into its mouth. That will keep it from gnawing on its own flesh while you cut off the head.”

Pages 17 to 20 – Serilda tells a story about the Erlking bringing lost children to his queen Perchta who longs to be a mother. Once they grow out of babyhood, she tires of them, & he takes them to the forest & kills them. The child in this particular story has his throat cut by a hunting knife.

Page 37 – A female ghost riding with the Snow Moon hunt has blood stains down the front of her tunic, seemingly from the gash in her throat which was the cause of her death.

Page 41 – Brief mention of a hypothetical bargain signed in blood

Page 43 – Serilda is thinking about the rumors that the Erlking murders children, how in the past children’s corpses were found at the edge of the forest, often picked clean by crows.

Page 47 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story about a water nix who bites off fingers

Page 48 – Brief mention of Serilda’s story in which she brandishes a lethal fire iron & stabs her enemies, including one of the Erlking’s hellhounds

Page 55 – The first appearance of the Erlking’s servant Manfred, a ghost with an iron chisel sticking out of his left eye socket & a beard soaked in blood. He appears frequently so his appearance is described more than once.

Page 59 – The carriage Serilda rides in is made of a beast’s ribcage, the lantern out of his jaws & skull.

Page 65 – A young ghost servant of the Erlking is noticed by Serilda. She speculates that the bruises on his neck might be evidence of abuse from when he was alive or his cause of death.

Pages 65 & 66 – One of the Erlking’s hellhounds breaks loose and attempts to attack Serilda so he puts it down with an arrow which strikes through one of its eyes and jaw.

Page 71 – The Erlking’s castle is full of taxidermied creatures; the different heads & bodies are discussed throughout Chapter 9. 

Pages 73 to 74 – There is mention of tapestries depicting the brutality of the Erlking’s hunts.

Pages 76 to 77 – If Serilda cannot spin straw into gold, the Erlking threatens to mount her head and that of her father on his castle walls.

Page 80 – Brief mention of bloodstained walls which is what Serilda thought the Erlking’s dungeons would have

Page 83 – A panicked Serilda wonders how the Erlking will cut off her head, with an axe or a sword?

Pages 103 to 105 – Serilda tells another story in which the Erlking kills a child, this time by stabbing with an arrow.

Pages 118 to 119 – Mention of a tapestry depicting a stag bleeding from multiple arrow wounds

Pages 122 to 123 – Serilda is attacked by a creature with a demon face, something known as a Drude; his claws draw blood.

Page 125 – Mention of bloody footprints & a pool of blood in the throne room where Serilda is walking

Page 134 – Mention of the dried blood on Serilda’s cheek

Pages 140 to 141 – Serilda & Leyna talk about Nachzehrer, creatures that eat people & their own body

Page 161 – Serilda has a beautiful dream about some kind of celebration at a castle which suddenly turns into blood spilling from under the gates and into the lake

Page 165 – Brief mention of a wolf pack taking chickens & goats from a local farm

Pages 177 to 178 – Serilda starts to tell the school children a story about seeing a Nachzehrer, freshly risen from the grave, who had already chewed off his burial shroud and right arm

Page 178 – Brief mention of suicide, Fricz explains that someone who commits suicide could potentially become a Nachzehrer

Page 178 – Brief mention of Serilda remembering the screams & bloody footprints from Adalheid Castle in Chapter 14

Page 194 – The Crow Moon hunt catches up to a red fox who is swiftly killed with a cudgel. Serilda mentions that the hunt will end with a feast of their kills served on silver dishes in a pool of blood.

Page 194 – Back at the castle after the Crow Moon hunt, the hellhounds are lured back to their cages by bloody meat.

Page 195 – The Erlking grabs Serilda by the hair & threatens her with a blade against her throat.

Page 198 – The Erlking strikes his blacksmith, throwing him into a wall.

Page 198 – After his latest prank, the Erlking gives orders for the castle poltergeist to be strung up with rope in the dining hall.

Page 199 – The Erlking theartens Serilda, saying “Either this straw will be gold come morning or it will be red with your blood.”

Page 209 – Serilda continues her story from chapter 12, mentioning once again the prince who is badly wounded and bleeding while watching the Erlking continously stab his little sister with an arrow.

Page 210 – In that same story, the great huntress Perchta is bleeding from an arrow wound inflicted by the prince.

Page 228 – The Erlking remarks that he won’t be gutting Serilda since all the straw in the dungeon has been spun into gold.

Page 231 – Two brief mentions of blood

Page 232 – Serilda mentions that if the Erlking finds out about her lies, he will kill her and mount her head on one of the castle walls.

Page 237 – A man appears in front of Adalheid Castle, seemingly wounded with blood spilling out of his mouth

Page 238 – Serilda runs into a goblin in the castle who begins to bleed from his neck; on that same page, Serilda mentions the stench of blood in the air.

Page 240 – Another mention of the smell of blood in Adalheid Castle

Pages 241 to 242 – Serilda runs into a woman who isn’t wounded at first, but suddenly a red line appears across her throat.

Page 261 – Serilda wants to know more about Adalheid Castle & “what had happened to leave its walls haunted by so many brutally murdered spirits.”

Page 261 – Brief mention of the Erlking killing mortals & stealing children

Page 266 – Serilda considers how she might kill the Erlking; she certainly can’t walk right up to him & stab him with his own hunting knife.

Page 268 – For the Spring Equinox celebration, the citizens of Adalheid decorate their doors with garlands made of animal bones.

Page 269 – A man with a cart full of live animals passes Serilda; the animals are left caged or tied to posts to await their fate during the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt. A cart of rabbits is added on page 272.

Pages 272 to 273 – Lorraine tells Serilda that trying to have a conversation with the Erlking during the Feast of Death will be “ . . . asking for him to skin you alive! To pluck out your eyeballs and feed them to the hounds. To tear your fingers off one by one and . . .”

Page 273 – Brief mention of the innocent children who disappeared because of the Erlking

Page 275 – Leyna tells Serilda that the live animals will be let loose for the hunt to chase down & kill; the meat is then thrown upon the likeness of the god Velos where the hellhounds feast upon it.

Page 279 – Serilda recognizes two ghosts riding with the hunt, describing them as “covered in their own blood”

Page 280 – Music is being played at the feast by “gore-splattered musicians”

Pages 280 to 281 – The live animals are let loose, running as fast they can from the pursuing hellhounds & hunters who are cheered on by a crowd of ghosts

Page 286 – Serilda sees a tapestry in Adalheid Castle that depicss a skeleton dressed as royalty and a small body ripped in two, identified as a female child from the pink dress & ringlet curls

Pages 287 to 288 – When a drude attacks Serilda, it gives her horrible visions: the Märchenfeld school on fire with children trapped inside, her father’s body being scavenged by birds, three of her young students being poked & prodded by goblins while locked in a cage, two other students being ripped to shreds by hellhounds, Leyna and her mother being attacked by Nachtkrapp, & Gild pinned like a moth to a spinning wheel.

Pages 288 to 289 – Gild fights with two Drudes, & there’s mention of blood & entrails.

Page 289 – Gild is bleeding from a wound on his scalp.

Page 290 – Gild explains to Serilda that Drudes can torture you for hours until your heart stops, when you can’t handle any more terror & give up.

Pages 292 to 293 – Gild drags his hand through his hair which smears his fingers with blood from his head wound. Serilda cleans the wound as best she can.

Page 304 – Another mention of the Erlking’s Spring Equinox hunt throwing the captured animals’ carcasses onto the effigy of Velos for the hellhounds to feast upon

Page 306 – Serilda catches a glimpse of the hellhounds fighting over the meat hanging from the likeness of Velos.

Pages 314 to 315 – Serilda cleans her shoulder wound caused by Drude talons, gouges caked in dried blood.

Page 325 – Mention of children dying from disease as well as mothers suffering a miscarriage or giving birth to a stillborn baby

Page 334 – Brief mention of blood

Page 364 – Serilda passes by two ghost gardeners, the man with shears sticking out of his neck & the woman with a crooked head, possibly from a broken neck.

Pages 365 to 366 – The Erlking shows Serilda his collection of caged beasts, looking miserable in their confinement; some even have untended wounds.

Pages 367 to 370 – The Erlking’s fellow hunters drag their latest catch into the gardens, a chained Tatzelwurm who is promptly put into a cage.

Page 405 – Brief mention of blood

Page 409 – Mention of the great huntress Perchta liking to toy with her prey, both animal or human, no torment enough to satisfy her bloodlust

Pages 414 to 417 – Serilda’s father returns as a Nachzehrer, a zombie covered in blood with visible bones. When he can’t get ahold of Serilda, he starts to eat his own finger. Madame Sauer suddenly appears and decapitates him with a shovel.

Page 417 – It is explained that Nachzehrer come back to life to eat their family members.

Page 420 – Brief mention of blood

Page 423 – Serilda asks a Nachtkrapp if he’s found any plump mice this morning, & then tells him to stay away from the hearts of the local children. 

Page 425 – A Nachtkrapp scratches Serilda’s hand & draws blood.

Chapter 49, Pages 433 to 442 – This might be the most disturbing chapter in the whole book. Five of Serilda’s favorite young students go missing after the Awakening Moon hunt. After a town-wide search, their bodies are found at the edge of the Aschen Wood. Sadly they are not peaceful & untouched; they all have holes where their heart should be, bones sticking out & covered in drying blood. 

Chapter 50, Pages 443 to 454 – Serilda continues her search because the fifth child’s body was not found. She ends up in Adalheid Castle, telling a gruesome story about a massacre from the past that killed all its inhabitants. That story triggers a pool of blood that opens a door into The Veil where the Erlking resides after dawn. Right before entering, Serilda sees a horrifying sight, a little girl’s body hanging from the throne room chandelier. 

Chapter 51, Pages 455 to 461 – There is mention of blood at the very beginning of the chapter, & the four children’s ghosts are by the Erlking’s side when Serilda finds him. 

Page 463 – Mention of ghosts with “battered bodies & bleeding wounds”

Pages 466 to 467 – The Erlking hung Gild outside the castle with chains, non-fatal but meant as a punishment.

Chapter 53, Pages 472 to 477 – The whole chapter revolves around the Erlking wanting to abort Serilda’s unborn child.

Page 475 – At the prospect of Serilda’s magic not returning, even if the fetus in her belly is removed, the Erlking says it would be better to slit her throat and be done with both of them.

Pages 477 to 478 – The Erlking shoots his barber in the heart, black blood spilling down his convulsing body.

Pages 482 to 483 – The Erlking stabs Serilda in the wrist with a gold arrow to curse her, putting her under his control; there is mention of blood from the wound.

Page 487 – Serilda once again notes the appearances of the ghosts around her at Adalheid Castle, each of them bearing the wound or wounds that killed them.

Page 490 – Gerdrut is revealed to also be a ghost with a hole where her heart used to be.

Gods & Magic

There are heavy magical themes, mentions of curses, potions, & witches. There are seven (mostly) fictional gods who are mentioned frequently: Eostrig-god of spring & fertility, Freydon, Hulda-god of labor, Solvilde-god of sky & sea, Tyrr-god of war & hunting, Velos-god of death & wisdom, and Wyrdith-god of fate, fortune, lies, & stories.

Grammar & Spelling

Page 140 – “It was a far cry tastier that the buttered rye bread . . .” instead of “It was a far cry tastier than the buttered rye bread . . .”

Language

By the old gods (as an exclamation) – Page 41

Damned – Page 312

Gods alive (as an exclamation) – Page 140

Sensual/Sexual Moments

Page 227 – A brief kiss

Page 312 – Extended kiss

Pages 358 to 361 – A kiss that turns into touching which leads to something more but fades to black. The only additional information is that he helped her get dressed before they fell asleep side by side.

Page 363 – She briefly daydreams about her night with him, imagining his body, his hands, & his mouth.

Pages 376 to 377 – She considers the opinion of society concerning unwed couples sleeping together & ponders whether or not she feels shame for sleeping with him; she concludes that she does not.

Page 469 – She realizes she’s with child after missing her period.

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🌟 Find author Marissa Meyer here:

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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   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Reflecting on 25 Years of Life

This isn’t going to be easy for me to write so while I take a few deep breaths, please listen to this song (or at least part of it):

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFeJkfB4xKo

“This is a story that I have never told. I gotta get this off my chest to let it go. I need to take back the light inside you stole.”

A few years ago I choreographed a dance routine to “Warrior” for a talent show. I hadn’t danced in awhile so it wasn’t my best performance ever, but something inside me needed an outlet. After I finished, I had to run to the bathroom because I was shaking so bad & sobbing. I’m not open about things in my past because I don’t think it’s something the public needs to know. However, if you are someone who is still healing, you are not alone. Middle school and high school were hell for me, but college was even worse. I suffered for so long and then turned around and made my precious family suffer because of my anger. I was angry at myself for being weak & at God for abandoning me. I hope my mom doesn’t mind me sharing this, but she has told me that she thought she would lose me in college because I was so close to the edge without caring. There is no sugar coating this: I wanted to die.

Tomorrow I turn 25 years old. The broken little girl in middle school didn’t think she would make it this far. The angry college student didn’t want to make it this far. God brought me this far, and He isn’t done yet.

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”  – Psalm 40:1-3

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Reunited, & It Feels So Good

Last night I stayed up late reading. In my mind I knew I should be a responsible adult & go to bed, but my heart told me to take advantage. It’s been awhile since I devoured a book so I resisted sleep for as long as I could, specifically until 1:30am. Goodbye reading slump! For those that are curious, I’m currently reading Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco. It is the sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper, and I am loving it so far. Speaking of books, my family visited Barnes & Noble Sunday night. I always know how depressed I will be looking at all the books I can’t afford, but I go anyway. My parents were kind enough to buy me a new book. THANK YOU!!!!! I chose Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero, a novel I’ve been dying to read for months. I am a HUGE Scooby-Doo fan so I hope this mystery gang-inspired story lives up to my expectations. In regard to my Tuesday agenda, I am currently blogging on my typewriter while watching my favorite Almanzo & Laura episodes of Little House on the Prairie. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Happy Tuesday! :)

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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You Just Made The Naughty List | Blogmas 2017

I’ve been a busy bee working on Artmas, Blogmas, & Vlogmas these past few days. I’m working at my retail job almost every day for the next two weeks so the time to get ahead is running out. I’m trying to think happy thoughts to keep my mind off of the impending insanity. First of all, I’m seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight with my family. FINALLY!! Second of all, I have a funny story to tell about my neighbor:

A few days ago, I was standing at the kitchen sink looking through the window at the backyard (let’s pretend I wasn’t simultaneously looking and wishing for snow that will never fall). Out of nowhere, a medieval-looking tool moved into view above the fence and slowly made its way to a frond on the nearest palm tree. Against such precise motions, the poor frond never stood a chance. The tool disappeared from view only to reappear and cut down another frond. This seems like a good time to mention that the palm tree is in my family’s backyard. It would’ve made more sense if any of the frond victims had been hanging over the other side of the fence, but they weren’t. I know there is a certain amount of give and take between neighbors, but that sort of action seems so childish. Oh well! It gave me a good laugh. 😂

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

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

S e v e n   D a y s   U n t i l   C h r i s t m a s . . .

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

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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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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Fall Is Actually In The Air

The Autumnal Equinox is here, and I have already felt and seen the change of seasons: cooler temperatures, storm clouds, & wind. The past few years have been extremely disappointing due to uncommon humidity and a drought so I am more than ready for a genuine fall. I’m a November baby so this season runs through my veins; I need all things Autumn like I need oxygen to breathe. I have a cozy pile of books ready to go for October; there are some exciting movies premiering soon; and my family is finally taking a vacation. Things are looking golden for my favorite time of year!

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Night of the Living Moths

Be honest. You love my bug stories. Need I remind you of the june bug saga?! You can’t make this stuff up!!

• Big Bad June Bug Attack of 2015

• Those Summer Nights

This story begins at midnight on August 28th. I was the last person awake in my household and decided that reading a crime novel would be a great stimulant for sweet dreams. I happened to glance up and see something on the wall. I immediately knew it was a bug and what looked like a moth. Even though I know that they’re harmless, they still make me anxious. While deciding how the heck I was going to dispose of him without disturbing my sleeping family, I didn’t dare move or breathe. In a heart-stopping moment, the moth flew to a new spot on the same wall. Simultaneously I dove off the couch and ran down the stairs, making a beeline (get it?!) for the bug spray & fly swatter. Armed with weaponry, I slowly made my way upstairs. The moth had now moved even lower down the wall, low enough for me to see him up close. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I inched closer until I was halfway behind a wall but still about a foot away from my foe. I thought my fear couldn’t possibly get worse, but then I saw it. This was no ordinary moth. It was the Moth From Hell a.k.a. Mothra. I had never seen a moth with a head like this, if it was actually a moth. It had wings like a moth but a big head that appeared to be red, although I cannot defend the accuracy of what I saw since I had been reading a crime novel. The only thing I can compare it to is the round, red nose of a fighter plane; I’m not even joking.  I couldn’t swat him because my brother was sleeping right behind the wall and had to be up early for work. I knew I had to risk it and use the spray even though Mothra could potentially fly into my face. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to believe that it took me several moments to summon up the courage. Thank God he didn’t move!! I finally pulled up my big girl pants and inwardly commanded myself to JUST DO IT. I assumed the proper stance for quick reaction, said a quick but heartfelt prayer, and sprayed Mothra with the vengeance of Godzilla. Of course he moved so I naturally ran and hid. Big mistake!! When I inched back around the wall, he was G-O-N-E. I thought his movement had been downward due to the lethal spray, but I wasn’t quite ready to search just in case he still had enough life left to fly at me. It was now 1am, and I was panicking. Unfortunately my mom saw the lamplight and decided to see who was still up. She was now part of my late night soap opera episode. We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes searching the entire house for Mothra. We never found his body. Also, my fear became too much for me, and I cried. I don’t mean pitiful tears; I mean my body was shaking and water was leaking out of my eyes like the California drought was at stake. I calmed down a little bit, but nerves still ruined my night. I shut my bedroom door, which I never do, and after a few more hours of reading because I didn’t want to shut my eyes, I tentatively turned off my light. I had a difficult time falling asleep and woke up several times but did eventually get some rest. It still upsets me that Mothra disappeared. I know what I saw was real, but that’s hard to explain when you’re the only one awake and you’ve been reading a crime novel which amps up imagination. If Mothra reveals himself again, dead or alive, I will add an update. Hopefully tonight is uneventful because I am exhausted. 😭

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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– Lauren Michele <3

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