“The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh | Book Review

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“This is a tale of bravery and sacrifice, a retelling of the Korean folktale “The Tale of Shim Cheong.” Believing they’re cursed by the Sea God who once protected them, Mina’s village annually chooses a bride and throws her into the sea as a sacrifice for peace. Still, floods and wars continue to ravage the land with no end in sight. Shim Cheong is the latest choice, her unmatched beauty thought to be a sign of the “true bride” and impending peace. Her sweetheart Joon risks punishment by death to ride in the boat, joined at the last minute by his younger sister Mina who wants to protect him. Knowing how much the young couple loves one another, Mina bravely throws herself into the sea where she’s carried to the Spirit Realm. She finds the Sea God, but he isn’t the merciless ruler she was expecting; he’s trapped under a sleeping spell. With the help of her new acquaintances led by the enigmatic Shin, Mina navigates a world of demons and spirits to wake her groom and save her home before time runs out, and she can no longer leave as a human.”

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If you added “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” to your TBR because of Kuri Huang’s stunning art, fear not because the setting and atmosphere are just as magical as advertised on the cover. I wanted to dive in and never come back, minus the sacrifice part of course. My favorite part was the friendships Mina found on her journey through the Spirit Realm which led to an emotional twist that hit me like a ton of bricks. Wow! I may or may not have sobbed in a bubble bath late at night for a lengthy period of time.

Just like Axie Oh’s other book “XOXO, I thoroughly enjoyed the fictional world and platonic relationships but didn’t quite fall for the romance, although I did feel it a little more in this story. Some of the banter was cute, but overall, the love story felt too young and rushed. My head wanted to root for a happy ending because the couple is swoonworthy in theory, but there were no heart palpitations or stomach butterflies for me, I’m afraid.

Due to an uptick in my enjoyment, I’m giving my second experience with Axie Oh’s work four stars. I recommend this beautiful Korean fantasy to readers who are familiar with the young adult genre and don’t mind a young love romance that doesn’t dive too deep. The world and characters will enchant you!

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Content Breakdown:

*Disclaimer: This section of my review is thorough and might contain SPOILERS.

Alcohol: Mentions of Drunkenness, Liquor, & Wine

Blood & Violence: A character slashes her palm with a knife as a pledge.

A character says the humans are responsible for polluting rivers & streams with bloodshed.

During a fight, a spray of blood splatters a paper screen in the room; in the same scene, there’s an inflicted wound & mention of dripping blood.

There are numerous mentions of a murdered body that was tossed into the sea.

As an “Imugi,” Kirin can cut himself open (i.e. his palm) & use his silver blood to heal, an ability he uses a few times. He’s thanked by a recipient of his healing powers who remembers how it felt when his warm blood oozed into the wound.

Mina tells a tale in which a man finds an injured swallow & nurses it back to health, receiving wealth in return for his good deed. His older brother mirrors those actions to receive the same wealth, but after he pushes a baby bird out of the nest to expedite the process, he recieves bad luck instead, including a beating from a group of demons.

During a conversation on page 175, the words “left bleeding on the floor” are said as a hypothetical situation. In that same scene, a knife is used to cut an attacker, leaving a bleeding wound on his cheek, and one of the rescuers stands above the unconscious bodies he’s responsible for.

On page 180, Mina sees the River of Souls in person, witnessing the steady flow of pale, bloodless bodies & a child desperately trying to get out.

When two “Imugi” clash on page 192, the bigger creature bites through the skin of the other & draws blood.

A character is shot in the shoulder by a crossbow and left in a coma due to blood loss.

An “Imugi” is stabbed in the neck by a sword, writhing in pain & spewing blood & venom.

At the end of chapter 33, a character is pierced through the heart by an arrow, blood flowing out of his mouth as he slowly dies.

There are at least seven other brief mentions of blood throughout the book.

Creatures, Gods, & the Afterlife: A main element of this story is the web of gods, goddesses, & the afterlife. Among those named are a death god named Shiki, the goddess of creation, the goddess of moon & memory, & a white fox demon who eats human men (and women within the Spirit Realm) & is served by a group of priestesses. Additionally, there are mentions of shrines & temples.

There’s one deity known as the god of gods & ruler of them all: the “Sea God.” Every year a girl is thrown into the sea, given to him as a bride in hopes of peace.

There’s a dragon-like creature called an “Imugi” who worships no gods, instead believing it can become a god itself by living long enough or fighting a certain number of wars.

The Spirit Realm is a place between heaven & earth where gods, spirits, & mythical creatures reside. They pulled themselves from the River of Souls, not wanting to move on to another life. Once they die in the Spirit Realm, they return to the river for the final time.

Humans craft paper boats to carry their wishes to dead ancestors in the Spirit Realm who will bargain on their behalf with lesser gods to fulfill dreams & desires.

Disability + Insensitive Language: There’s a blind character who’s known by villagers as “Shim the Blind,” a nickname that could be interpreted as insensitive & reductive.

Death: Mina’s father died at sea & her mother in childbirth.

On page 18, there’s a discussion about a baby who was born early & died because any child born during the storms doesn’t survive; this death is mentioned again later in the book.

Mina touches a paper boat & has a vision of a young, pregannt woman crying; she tries to help, but the wish is old, the woman & her child long since passed away.

Language: B*st*rd

Orphaned: Mina was raised by her grandparents after losing both parents.

Sensual/Sexual: From the end of chapter 22 to the beginning of chapter 23, two characters sleep wrapped in each other’s embrace as one of them battles a fever.

There is kissing on pages 287 & 320.

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 🌟 Find author Axie Oh here: 

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– Lauren Michele 

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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   ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️ ⬅️

Disney+ Marathon Day 4 | November 15

8am – Rise & shine! 🌞

8:20am – Getting ready for work + Lizzie McGuire 💄 

S1E1 – Rumors

Still remember the entire theme song. Nailed it! 🎶

S1E2 – Picture Day

9:20am – Driving to work + Lizzie McGuire 🚗 

S1E3 – When Moms Attack

10am – Work 🛍 

3:30pm – Driving home from work + Lizzie McGuire 🚗 

S1E4 – Pool Party

I am Lizzie, Lizzie is me. Drama! 😂

4pm – Dinner + Lizzie McGuire 🍗 

S1E5 – I’ve Got Rhythmic

4:30pm – Blogging + Lizzie McGuire 💻 

S1E6 – Jack of All Trades

S1E7 – Here Comes Aaron Carter

S1E8 – Misadventures of Babysitting

S1E9 – Election

I always forget that Sara Paxton cameoed as Holly, the former class president. 😯

S1E10 – I Do, I Don’t

S1E11 – Bad Girl McGuire

I accidentally watched an extra episode. Oops! ☺️

8:30pm – Blogging + The Lizzie McGuire Movie 💻 

Um . . . Can we talk about Paolo’s lame attempt to convince Lizzie that music just flows out of him?? A lame “La la la la” That’s it. That’s literally it. I can’t with him. 😂

Final thoughts for the day: Because of work, today wasn’t jam-packed with Disney+ activity. However, I still managed to have a wonderful LIZZIE MCGUIRE DAY. I watched 11 episodes & the movie. Basically I lived my best life. See you tomorrow for day 5! 💋

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   F O U R   A R T 

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

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 3 | November 14

8:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

10am – Breakfast + Even Stevens 🍳

I won’t say I cried, because I didn’t, but I will say that Louis giving up a collectible card to buy his sister Ren a birthday present as an apology is so FREAKING sweet. 💕

S1E1 – Swap.com

10:30am – Blogging + Even Stevens 💻

S1E2 – Stevens Genes

S1E3 – Take My Sister . . . Please

11am – Blogging + Hannah Montana 💻 

S1E1 – Lily, Do You Want To Know A Secret?

I still know most of the lyrics to Hannah’s songs. 😂 Also, I know for a fact that everyone wanted Miley/Hannah’s closet after she revealed it to Lily. 👜 👠👗 😍

S1E2 – Miley Get Your Gum

S1E3 – She’s A Super Sneak

I may or may not have teared up when Miley sang the song she wrote for her mom who passed away (in storyline on the show). 😭

What are the odds that Christy Carlson Romano would post a Kitchen Throwback video today making cheese jerky with Jason Earles from Hannah Monatana?!? 😱

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaOYLzduxZ8

12:20pm – Blogging + The Hunchback of Notre Dame 💻 

1:30pm – Lunch + The Hunchback of Notre Dame 🍲 

The animation. The soundtrack. The story. I swear God Help The Outcasts is one of the most beautiful scenes in any Disney movie. There’s a reason this is in my top 10. If you’ve never seen it, GO GO GO!!!

2:40pm – Blogging + JONAS 💻 

S1E1 – Wrong Song

In the 1st episode, Nick experiences a hardcore crush. After he discovers she has a boyfriend, he has a hard time letting go. I don’t care who you are. That’s relatable content! Who says Disney Channel can’t be deep??

S1E2 – Groovy Movies

Um . . . the end of this episode when the brothers remake their old home movies for their mom’s birthday made me tear up. I swear I’m doing fine! 😂

S1E3 – Pizza Girl

4pm – Blogging + Kim Possible 💻 

S1E1 – Crush

Yup. Still know every single word to the theme song. CALL ME BEEP ME IF YOU WANNA REACH ME!! 📱

S1E2 – The New Ron

S1E3 – Sink Or Swim

Round of applause for Disney QUEEN Christy Carlson Romano! 👏 👏 👏 She was not only Ren Stevens on Even Stevens but also the voice of Kim Possible. Now she’s cooking with fellow child actors on her YouTube channel. We truly don’t deserve her! 👑

6:15pm – Dinner + Brother Bear

When I say I sobbed during the entire movie, I mean I was literally shaking with tears streaming down my face. 😭 The story about brotherhood always tugs at my heartstrings. This is another film in my Disney top 10. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out BIG time. Two words: Phil Collins. If that doesn’t convince you, you don’t deserve this movie in your life. 🤷‍♀️

Final thoughts for the day: I was surprisingly emotional during almost everything I watched today. Louis Stevens giving up his collectible card to give Ren a nice necklace for her birthday as an apology. Miley Stewart missing her mom. The Lucas brothers remaking their ruined home movies for their mom’s birthday. Basically everything in Brother Bear. Holey moley! I need some time to recover. We are 3 days into this marathon, & I hope you’re enjoying hanging out with me. See you tomorrow! 👋

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T H R E E   A R T 

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

– Lauren Michele ❤

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2018 Reading Wrap-Up

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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.

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📚 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

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📚 Stay tuned for my 2019 reading plans! 📚  

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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

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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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• Previous Post: I’m A Terrible Blogger

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Injured Reserve

My clumsiness is no secret, but I have outdone myself. If you’re even the least bit squeamish, LEAVE NOW JUST IN CASE!!

1. On Friday September 15th while folding clothes at work, I looked down and realized my arm was scratched and bleeding; I still have no idea when or where it happened.

2. On Saturday September 16th while carrying a heavy sign at work, I stubbed my toe. It hurt momentarily, but I didn’t think anything of it. When I put the sign down, I realized my toe was bleeding… A LOT. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it seemed; my toenail was only partially split, and the bruise caused very little discomfort.

3. Fast forward to Thursday September 21st. I was preparing my usual breakfast: coffee & a blueberry bagel with lactose free cream cheese. The cream cheese was brand new so I slid my finger around the container to loosen the lid. What you think happened did happen and required immediate medical attention. Nothing a quick patch up couldn’t fix! I went back to preparing my bagel and found myself uttering these words: “Dang it! I got cream cheese on my band-aid.”

4. I can’t remember the exact date, but I know that sometime that same week I tripped going up the stairs and scraped my leg in two places. I can’t even remember the last time this happened to me so it was bound to happen sooner or later. The bruises are still visible.

One, two, three, FOUR accidents in one week. That is quite possibly a record! The embarrassment is long gone so feel free to laugh at my expense. If you don’t want to laugh at me (I appreciate your loyalty), laugh at this girl. ⬇️

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

Previous Post: Fall is Actually in the Air

Previous Video: Autumn Weather, Clumsiness, & Crime Thrillers

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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

⬇️ Important Links ⬇️

• Previous Post: Life Update | August 2017

• Previous Video: Organizing My Room | Aug. 17 – 19, 2017

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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. 😘 • |

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

– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

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

I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

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

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien


📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

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

I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

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

📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 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 about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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

– Lauren Michele <3

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