Birds of Prey

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Birds of Prey came out this past February, but I unfortunately didn’t make it to a theater, the reason having nothing to do with the movie or reviews. I was very excited to see it, but honestly the harsh criticism leading up to the release was a major bummer. I understand that DC fans are disappointed with a large portion of our cinematic universe, but that doesn’t excuse negative reviews of something that hasn’t even come out yet. Sadly, people did not show up like they did for previous DC films. I don’t want to feed the idea that it struggled because it’s a female-centric film but can’t help doubting the motives now that I’ve seen it for myself. The filming and music and costumes and cast were all fantastic. Color me confused because I have no idea why it came and went without the support I expect from the DC Comics community. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a total flop. It doubled its budget & received mostly positive reviews. However, its box office gross ranks last in three different categories compared to the seven other DCEU movies that have come out since 2013. I think the lack of success can be interpreted in a couple different ways, but I’d like to confront the elephant in the room. One of the biggest complaints had to do with the feminism and politics people picked up on in the trailers. I want to make one thing clear: YOU NEED TO GIVE THINGS A CHANCE BEFORE YOU PASS JUDGEMENT! I had concerns about the movie too but still gave it a fair chance. Turns out I love it, & there was never anything to be worried about. Now’s your chance to make amends & show it some love. Watch it on HBO Max, buy the DVD/Blu-Ray, stream the music, purchase the soundtrack, follow the cast, & spread the word. All I ask is that you give Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn a chance. 💋

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–   A W E S O M E   B I R D S   O F   P R E Y – I N S P I R E D   A R T   –

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Dawsey + Juliet

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Good morning! Rise and shine and drink some coffee because I’m about to drop many, many words for your reading pleasure. 🌞 I recently picked up “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer. Say that title ten times fast! This is the official synopsis:

“It’s 1946 and author Juliet Ashton can’t think what to write next. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a book that once belonged to her – and, spurred on by their mutual love of reading, they begin a correspondence. When Dawsey reveals that he is a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, her curiosity is piqued and it’s not long before she begins to hear from other members. As letters fly back and forth with stories of life in Guernsey under the German Occupation, Juliet soon realizes that the society is every bit as extraordinary as its name.”  – Goodreads

I didn’t know exactly when I bought this book until recently when I remembered showing it in a thrift store book haul on my YouTube channel in July 2018. I talk about it starting at 3:20.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxQoU0GFdWU

My local library is small, and the volunteer-run used bookstore is even smaller, literally the size of a walk-in closet. In 2018 the library underwent renovations, and the bookstore temporarily moved to an empty store in that same shopping center, which actually provided room to display more books . I was dying to visit so my mom and I checked it out during one of our used bookstore adventures. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” was one of six books I picked up that day. It caught my eye because I knew about the upcoming Netflix movie. I paid one dollar for a hardcover edition in brand new condition. Funny story: The cashier told me she didn’t enjoy the book. Why would you tell a customer that?? She did deter me a little bit, but I’m glad I didn’t give up. It sat on my shelf for two years. The premise interested me, but every time I looked at it, I was never in the right mood to open it and begin. It’s worth noting that the realistic style of the book cover is not my usual taste, which may have contributed to my hesitation; this colorful version of the cover is more up my alley. Fast forward to The Reading Rush in July 2020. One of the reading challenges was “Read a book set on a continent other than the one you live on.” I wasn’t feeling any of my choices until I opened my bureau and saw “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” sitting on my small, brown bookshelf. I decided that was the time to dive in and give it a fair shot. To start, I was very distracted and couldn’t concentrate for more than a few pages at a time. But once I focused and really immersed myself in the story, I was hooked. I almost stayed up overnight to finish it but ultimately took the smart route and finished it in two days. It received 5 stars and became one of my favorite books. SUCCESS! 😍

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Now that we’ve discussed the book, let’s talk about the Netflix adaptation. Unlike many other bookworms, I’m always up for a film version. I’d seen the two lead actors Lily James & Michiel Huisman in clips and pictures so I knew they had chemistry. Even if the movie ended up being terrible, I already shipped them as Dawsey and Juliet. If you haven’t seen the movie, feel free to watch the trailer below before moving on to my review.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vP9eDmX0ow0

*Note: First you’re going to read my notes that ignore the bigger plot points involving Juliet’s relationship with Mark. Don’t worry! I’m going to end with all the juicy details and tell you how the story ends.  😉  I’m going to indicate all the MAJOR SPOILERS, but please be aware that anything I write could potentially be a SPOILER. Read at your own risk!  ⚠️

•  The book is all about pen pals, and the story is told through letters. That format works when the consumer is reading it, but as a visual medium, the film had to be different. There are still a few letters mentioned and read aloud but only that of Dawsey and Juliet in the very beginning of the movie. There are no written words exchanged between Juliet and her friends or the other members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; all their interactions take place in-person. Actually, Juliet’s only friend that made the transition from book to movie is Sidney. For time purposes, I can understand why the film focuses more on the society members.

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•  I like the addition of Juliet’s landlord Mrs. Burns as a character. She adds a bit of humor as well as motherly attention. She seems to be uptight at first, complaining about the loud sound of Juliet on her typewriter. However, she’s the first person to express concern over Juliet’s mood after her return from Guernsey. Her face when she hears Juliet typing again is so sweet.

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•  For the most part, all the society members are as they should be. Dawsey is my new book boyfriend so my feelings about him are fairly obvious.  🥰  Eben is a sweetheart, and his grandson Ei is his mini me. Elizabeth McKenna is the go-getter in the group, the one with courage to stand up to the nazis. Isola Pribby is an adult version of Luna Lovegood, and I dare you to not love her. It’s impossible! Amelia is the character whose portrayal shocked me because she’s so cold at first. I’m not sure if this is the reason why, but Jane is her daughter in the movie, not Eben’s daughter. Elizabeth was Jane’s best friend and a second daughter to Amelia so Amelia’s protective of anything belonging to Elizabeth including the society. It’s worth noting that Eben could’ve been cold in the book for that same reason, but he wasn’t. I understand that she lost her husband, daughter, and Elizabeth during the war; that is a horrible burden for anyone to bear. I’m still not a fan of that creative choice, but Amelia is much more like her book self once she warms up to Juliet so that smooths out some of the edges for me.

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•  After the society is formed, there are clips of each member reading books in different spots on the island. In the midst of World War II & nazi occupation, those stories were their escape. That scene gave me chills and reminded me just how valuable books are.

•  Charlotte Stimple, the woman who gives Juliet a room for rent, is an awful person, similar to Patricia Hamilton’s portrayal of Rachel Lynde but without the redeeming qualities. Her name is different in the movie, the original being Adelaide Addison, but her personality is exactly as it should be. Horrible and wicked!

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•  I will discuss this in detail later. For now all you need to know is that Mark proposed to Juliet before she left for Guernsey, and she said yes. After she is on the island, Juliet has an interesting phone conversation with her friend and publisher Sidney about the proposal. His hesitation to congratulate her implies that he isn’t convinced Mark is the man for her. It feels like a nod to Sidney’s letters in the book disapproving of Mark and teasing Juliet about her constant mention of Dawsey. I appreciate that the film included this detail, even if the letters were combined into one phone conversation.

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•  Juliet’s reaction to Kit being half German is a great talking point. Most non-German Europeans during WWII had a fear of nazi hatred, in this case a fear of it being genetic. Despite that fear, the society raised Kit, and Juliet grew to love her like a daughter. The nazis were a manmade group of extremists who did not and do not represent the ethnically German people. Their army was filled with soldiers groomed from a young age to view certain groups of people with hatred and wipe them out. There’s a saying that kids aren’t born with hate in their heart, it’s taught to them. This is a prime example, sick and twisted and something to ponder.

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•  The conversation about Christian’s death between Amelia and Juliet is though-provoking. Amelia comments that his death is just like that of her husband; they both drowned at sea. There are two sides to every war, but in death all men are the same.

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•  I love the scene when Juliet puts Charlotte in her place after catching her snooping around her rented room. I also love that she leaves and becomes Isola’s housemate because it gives us a closer look at their budding friendship. During their first night as roomies, Isola inquires about Mark’s reading habits. Juliet never answers because Mr. Playboy doesn’t share her passion for books. Another ❌for Mark and another ✔️for Dawsey!

•  The scene in Dawsey’s bedroom is HOT, and that sounds incredibly inappropriate unless you watch the scene. The intimacy and chemistry is scalding without them even touching one another. I already need a drink of cold water! 🥵

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O18EdP3ziQw

*Note: Those blue pieces of paper inside the book are Juliet’s letters to Dawsey. HE SAVED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HER LETTERS! I’M YELLING BECAUSE THAT’S INCREDIBLY ROMANTIC!!  💌

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•  When Eli was evacuated off the island, Elizabeth gave him her father’s Great War medal, saying it would give him courage. When Dawsey has to tell Kit that her mom is dead, Eli gives him the medal. It can read as a gift of courage for Dawsey or Kit; either way that gesture is too precious! 😭

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•  Let’s add this to the list of reasons why I hate Mark Reynolds: He stops Juliet from comforting Amelia when the society finds out about Elizabeth’s death. I know he doesn’t have a relationship with the society, but he lacks empathy, as though he is above and they are beneath.  😡

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•  You know what’s incredibly beautiful? Dawsey immediately understanding Juliet’s hidden message to him in her letter to the society with her manuscript about their book club. The message references their conversation in the bar when she tells him that his letters made her sense she’d met someone who already understood her. GET MARRIED ALREADY!

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The biggest issues I had with the film adaptation were the changes made to Juliet & Mark’s relationship. The book timeline is as follows: Juliet is charmed by Mark, and he eventually proposes. She doesn’t accept right away, leaving for Guernsey to meet the literary society. She connects with the island and people and never seems like she’s planning to leave. Mark grows impatient waiting for her and travels to Guernsey. His arrogance is the final straw, and she ends their relationship. Through the misadventures of amateur detective Isola, Juliet finds out that Dawsey reciprocates her love and proposes to him. “Would you like to marry me? . . . I’m in love with you, so I thought I’d ask.” Sweet, precious, adorable Dawsey answers “My God, yes!” and proceeds to sprain his ankle climbing down the ladder he was on. Juliet writes of her upcoming wedding to Sidney, ending with a hilarious postscript about good old Ms. Adelaide Addison: “P.S. I ran into Adelaide Addison in St. Peter Port today. By way of congratulations, she said ‘I hear you and that pig-farmer are going to regularize your connection. Praise the Lord!'”  😂 😂 😂

This is the movie timeline: Everything is the same until Mark proposes in front of the boat headed to Guernsey, and Juliet says yes. Just like the book, she’s enchanted by the island and people. However, she rents a room, and her stay feels temporary. Mark is annoyed by her absence and makes the trip to Guernsey. They have a fight, but she sticks by her answer to his marriage proposal. She accompanies him back to London with no implication that she’s coming back. The goodbye is very emotional, and it weighs her down. Not long after they arrive back home, she gives back the ring and ends their relationship. She plans to return to Guernsey but runs into Dawsey at the dock. He made the trip to tell her how he feels. Before he can get very far, she proposes, and he accepts, both using the same beautiful dialogue from the book. They return to Guernsey, get married, and live happily ever after.

The movie timeline isn’t terrible, but it removes aspects of the book that I love. Obviously Juliet knew very little about Dawsey’s age and appearance with only letters as reference, but I think their correspondence fed her doubts about Mark being her soulmate. She never says yes to his marriage proposal because she never wants to say yes. Mark’s attitude on Guernsey is the last straw. He doesn’t care about why she’s there or what she’s writing about. He’s annoyed by little Kit’s presence and arrogantly assumes Juliet wants to be his wife. She rejects him once and for all, telling him she never wants to se him again. She describes herself as free!

I don’t like that “movie Juliet” goes along with the Mark charade for so long, even leaving Guernsey for him. Definitely not a positive for me, but not a dealbreaker either. The proposal in the book would’ve been adorable onscreen, but the dock proposal isn’t a horrible replacement. Mark proposed to Juliet on the dock before she left for Guernsey, and then Juliet proposed to Dawsey on that same dock where she was boarding a boat to go back to Guernsey. I love that parallel! Almost all is forgiven by me thanks to the final scene. Juliet is seen walking out of the cottage once owned by Elizabeth McKenna, her wedding ring just visible. She walks over and lies down beside Dawsey who’s reading a Charles Lamb book to Kit, Lamb being the author of the book that put Juliet’s address in his hands. The ensuing hand choreography and looks of true love are MAGIC. One of the best endings to a period romance film! 😍

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•  I read a review that pointed out the differences between Mark and Dawsey, and I love the contrast (I really wish I had saved the blog name). This is a mix of the previously mentioned blog post and my own thoughts: Mark filled Juliet’s apartment building with flowers. When he visited Guernsey, he brought a bouquet from London and mentioned that Guernsey needed a proper florist. RUDE! Dawsey gave her a small, purple bouquet picked from the side of an island road the first time they met. Life with Mark is a constant string of evening parties, lots of drinking and dancing. Life with Dawsey is days of laughter while playing with Kit and tending pigs; don’t forget about the books! Mark proposes with an engagement ring the size of a boulder which Juliet is hesitant to wear while walking around Guernsey. Dawsey proposes with a simple wedding band which is absolutely stunning in the final scene because the newlyweds look so in love, and that is more than enough for Juliet. I’m sure there’s more to be compared between the two, but you get the picture. *sigh* Perfection!

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•  At the end of the movie, the credits roll while audio clips from a society meeting play. I love hearing those now familiar voices read aloud from books and debate characters and plot points. Dawsey and Juliet are a beautiful part of the book and film, but the literary society is the true heart of the story. If they hadn’t formed, Dawsey would’ve never found the Charles Lamb book. If he’d never found the Charles Lamb book, he would’ve never acquired Juliet’s address and written that first letter. Without that first letter, Juliet would’ve never known about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Without knowing about the society, she would’ve never traveled to Guernsey to meet all of them, Dawsey included, in person. That was the best way to end the movie, listening to the society members do what they do best: Talk about books!

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📖  Let’s go back to what I said earlier: I paid one dollar for a hardcover edition of “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” in brand new condition. I opened the book two years later, & it became a new favorite. What books give readers is priceless! 📚 

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

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: The Reading Rush 2020

• Previous Video: Disney Plus Marathon Part 6 | December 7 – 11, 2019

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The Reading Rush 2020

It’s the end of July which means it’s time to do some reading & rushing for seven straight days. The Reading Rush, formerly known as BookTubeAThon, is an annual weeklong readathon that I’ve been participating in since 2017. There are reading challenges, virtual badges, social media reading sprints, giveaways, merch, and so much more. This is my 4th year, & I’m ready to make it the best one yet. Start scrolling to follow my reading journey for 7 days. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! 😉👍

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–   J  U L Y   2 0 T H   –

🏅 Earned the 2020 Reading Rush badge for participating in the readathon

✔️ Started & finished “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 328 pages | Earned the Read a Book in a Genre You Want to Read More of badge

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✔️ Earned the Participated in a Twitter Sprint badge with Maureen Keavy

✔️ Started & finished “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 312 pages | Earned the Read the First Book You Touch badge | I really wanted to continue this trilogy so I cheated a teeny tiny bit. I laid out four books on my bedroom floor & touched the one I wanted to read. Ariel & Raeleen said this prompt could be interpreted multiple ways so I used creative license. 😉

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–   J  U L Y   2 2 N D   –

✔️ Earned the Participated in a Read In Live Show badge with hosts Ariel & Raeleen 📱

✔️ Started & finished “Always & Forever, Lara Jean” by Jenny Han | eBook on Scribd | 316 pages | Earned the Read a Book With a Cover That Matches the Color of Your Birthstone badge | This book cover has a pale yellow tint that matches honey topaz. If that’s not enough, topaz comes in multiple colors so take your pick. Another slight cheat! 🙈

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✔️ Started & finished “Stuart Little” by E.B. White | Leatherbound edition from Barnes & Noble | 145 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Inspired a Movie You’ve Already Seen badge

✔️ Earned the Read Over 1,000 Pages badge

✔️ Started & finished “Aquaman, Volume 1: The Trench” by Geoff Johns | Softcover Comic Book | 144 Pages | Earned the Read a Book Completely Outside Your House badge – I read in the shade on my patio. It was really nice until I got “attacked” by a fig beetle. I know they’re harmless, but I don’t care. Beetles freak me out! 😭

✔️ I gave “Aquaman, Volume 1: The Trench” 5 stars & earned the Read a Five Star Book badge

📖 Started “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | Hardcover | 52 pages

📖   3 4 1   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

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📖 Continued “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | 57 pages

📖 Started “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer | Hardcover | 120 pages

📖   1 7 7   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

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✔️ Finished “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Annie Barrows & Mary Ann Shaffer | 158 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Takes Place on a Different Continent Than Where You Live badge

✔️ Finished “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie | 104 pages | Earned the Read a Book That Starts With The Word “The” badge

✔️ Earned the Read Seven Books badge

📖   2 6 2   T O T A L   P A G E S   📖

🎉  I FINISHED ONE DAY EARLY ! !  🎉

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I wanted to participate in the final Instagram & Twitter reading sprints so I picked up “Capturing the Devil” by Kerri Maniscalco, which I started back in October 2019. I finished the last 175 pages & completed the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. 🎉

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R E A D I N G   S T A T S

1 Reading Rush

7 Days

1 Comic Book, Softcover

3 E-books

3 Physical Books, Hardcover

7 Books

1,911 Pages

13 Badges

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

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: O.W.L.S Readathon 2020 + Stay at Home Reading Rush

• Previous Video: Disney Plus Marathon Part 6 | December 7 – 11, 2019

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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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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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Once Upon a Time Season 6 Finale

📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️ ✨ 📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️

I know this is a sad and confusing time for Oncers. I want to try and shed some positive light on the situation. When I first heard that Jennifer Morrison was leaving the show, I didn’t want to believe the news was true. Once it was confirmed, my heart shattered into a million pieces. To make life even better, it was not long after confirmed that five other cast members were departing (for a variety of reasons). My mind was blown, but not for the right reasons. What would the show be without the faith of Henry, the love of Charming and Snow, the strength of Belle, and the wit of Zelena?? All those characters bring something unique and special to the main cast. I went into watching the final episode of season 6 upset and a bit bitter towards the turn of events. However, I couldn’t be happier with the finale. The departing cast members were sent off with an ending worthy of a neatly tied bow. Before the actual ending played out, I was ready to hop on the bandwagon and protest that the show end there. [ S P O I L E R S   A H E A D  ! ! ! ] During the first scene, I had a strange feeling the dad was Henry. My suspicion was proved to be correct during the final scene. The show started with a little boy in possession of a book finding his mom and taking her on a mission to fulfill her destiny. After six seasons, the focus shifts into the future, a future where a little girl finds her dad and gives back his book entitled Once Upon a Time. I wasn’t expecting this twist, and I’m intrigued to see where season 7 leads. I know it feels lousy right now, but when have Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis ever let us down? Oncers, let’s put on a brave face and trust that OUAT will remain the same show we’ve all loved for the past six years. We still have Hook, Regina, & Rumple, and there are sure to be many new fairytale characters ahead.

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

Farewell to Emilie de Ravin, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jared Gilmore, Jennifer Morrison, Josh Dallas, and Rebecca Mader. Each of you will be dearly missed by the OUAT community. Should the door open for one or all of you to return, Oncers will welcome you back with open arms. 💕

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

📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️ ✨ 📖 ✨ 🤴🏻 💘 👸🏻 🍎 🏹 💚 👶🏼 🐊 🌹 ⚓ ❤️ ⚔️

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Back to the Days of Yesteryear

If you know me well, you know that my life is fueled by nostalgia.  Not a day goes by without me thinking about something childhood-related.  For awhile I felt like a freak who just couldn’t handle the stress of “adulting.”  Turns out I’m not alone.  More and more people born in the 90s are speaking up and reminiscing about the “good old days.”  In college, blankets and backpacks adorned by beloved characters such as Strawberry Shortcake and Spongebob Squarepants were a normal sight.  I’ve recently noticed several Youtube videos revolving around childhood.  Remakes of classic TV shows and movies are being produced by the dozens.  There is unrest in the 2010s!!  I can think of two major reasons why this is happening.

1.  It’s normal to reach an age where childhood is a distant memory, and adulthood is a scary place.  The feeling is similar to that of a skydiver’s parachute unexpectedly disappearing.  Suddenly the innocence and freedom of the grade school years sounds like an upgrade.

2.  People are truly unhappy with the quality of entertainment (toys, music, movies, shows, etc) being produced this decade.  The 90s and 2000s are a golden age of sorts.  Think about it.  “Full House” has a successful spinoff, and “Hey Arnold” reruns air every weeknight on The Splat.  If demand is any indication, the surge of nostalgia isn’t stopping anytime soon.

No matter the reason, we are winning the battle.  Millennials unite!!  Here’s a look at my childhood:

• Baby Years (1993 – 1998)

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• Middle Years (1999 – 2003)

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*Note: I also watched a lot of old shows such as “Looney Tunes”, “The Flintstones”, I Love Lucy”, The Andy Griffith Show”, and “The Brady Bunch.”  My dad and I watched western movies on the weekends.  Lots of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. :)

Teen Years (2004 – 2011)

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*Note: My later teen years were spent obsessing over crime shows such as “CSI”, “CSI: NY” and “The Mentalist.”  I also watched reruns of old shows such as “The Nanny”, “Friends”, “Saved by the Bell”, and “Full House.”

• This is only a small part of my childhood.  For more nostalgia, click the following link & visit my “Childhood” board on Pinterest:

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/lagirl93/childhood/

• I also have a “Throwback” playlist on Spotify:

Source: https://open.spotify.com/user/lagirl93/playlist/4iPObw0WtuVbw3v4zIvI4S

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– Lauren Michele <3

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– Image Sources in Order of Appearance –

http://www.eonline.com/photos/10678/the-most-awesome-things-from-the-90s/339845

• http://www.amazon.com/Berenstain-Bears-Forget-Their-Manners-ebook/dp/B00472OBSE/ref=pd_sim_351_4?ie=UTF8&dpID=615x3gtjaNL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL320_SR320%2C320_&refRID=1R8T38FD5SMD9WG6MKE7

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Ratigan6688/Top_10_Best_Little_Kids’_Shows

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/TaleSpin

• http://dreamworks.wikia.com/wiki/VeggieTales

• http://www.americangirlmuseum.org/beforever/

• http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140618006549/en/Can’t-Can’t-Meet-Entrepreneur-Barbie®

• http://theodysseyonline.com/uvm/90s-fashion-that-should-make-comeback/376214

• https://play.wimpmusic.com/album/1412843

• http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kim_Possible

• http://fortyfoursunsets44.blogspot.com/2012/08/back-to-school-with-lisa-frank.html

• http://www.playbuzz.com/emilyg11/do-you-actually-remember-lizzie-mcguire

• http://www.hulu.com/the-saddle-club

• http://www.m-magazine.com/posts/10-crazy-facts-you-never-knew-about-the-cheetah-girls-40916/photos/flashback-friday-tk-crazy-facts-about-the-cheetah-girls-48579#photo-anchor

• http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/hannah-montana/images/15486507/title/hannah-montana-season-1-wallpaper-21-wallpaper

• http://www.amazon.com/High-School-Musical-1-3-Efron/dp/B001Q3KQ68

• http://tigerbeat.com/2009/08/check-out-this-hot-jonas-poster-only-in-october-tiger-beat/

• http://kellyclarkson.wikia.com/wiki/Breakaway_(Album)

http://olsensanonymous.blogspot.com/2013/04/mka-2004.html

• http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Clock-Nancy-Drew-Book/dp/0448095017/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1RMEE3QJGKS50VGPE8SR

• http://www.maximumpop.co.uk/suite-life-of-zack-and-cody-throwback/

• http://winxclubworld.wikia.com/wiki/File:Season.jpg

• http://nickelodeon.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Zoey_101_characters

2016 Reading Challenge

I am SUPER DUPER excited about what we are discussing today.  Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I was introduced to the “2016 Reading Challenge.”  Don’t know what that is?  Stand by for a photo…

I am starting to feel like my old self in regard to reading so this challenge came at the perfect time.  I’m going to share my tentative list in hopes that you will get some inspiration.

• Published This Year – “Land of Silence” by Tessa Afshar | “A Spy’s Devotion” by Melanie Dickerson

• Finish in a Day – “Bookplate Special” by Lorna Barrett | “A Caribbean Mystery” by Agatha Christie

• Meaning to Read – “Zoo” by Michael Ledwidge & James Patterson

• Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian – “The Girl on The Train” by Paula Hawkins

• Should Have Read in School – “Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ” by Lew Wallace

• Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF – “As Sure As The Dawn” by Francine Rivers

• Published Before You Were Born – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote

• Banned at Some Point – “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

• Previously Abandoned – “Elixir” series by Hilary Duff

• Own But Never Read – “First Light” by Bodie & Brocke Thoene

• Intimidates You – “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen

• Already Read at Least Once – “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall

A few of those titles refer to a series so I am challenging myself beyond what is necessary.  However, I am only expecting one book in each category.  I don’t want to set myself up to fail and be disappointed before I have even started.  Can I do it?  Can you do it?  Yes we can!  We shall reconvene and discuss our triumph next January.  On your mark.  Get set.  READ!!!!! :D

“The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”  – Mary McLeod Bethune

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Mary & Joseph

Nativity+Story

If you are not a hopeless romantic, this blog post may not be for you.  If you are a hopeless romantic or just plain curious, read on.  Here is my December 18th favorite:

What is your favorite part of the Christmas story?  I will stop here and inform you that it is your choice what Christmas story you pick.  In my mind, the Christmas story is the story of Jesus’ birth.  My favorite part of the Christmas story is the relationship between Mary and Joseph.  Many christian authors write about love stories from the Bible, but Mary and Joseph are left alone, most likely out of respect for Jesus.  Not a lot is said about either of them, but I can clearly see a love story in what is unsaid.  Back in those times, Jewish marriages were arranged by the parents.  The marriages were not based on what we would call “true love” or “love at first sight”, but that does not mean love did not exist.  I see love in Joseph’s faith to obey God and marry a girl who was seemingly pregnant out of wedlock.  I see love in Mary’s willingness to accompany her husband to Bethlehem despite her circumstance.  The story of Mary and Joseph is not a romance novel full of public affection but rather a story of love quietly developed over time through unity and virtue.  Intimate details are not required to create an attractive love story.  Love is a powerful thing; in pure, genuine form, it’s beauty should speak for itself, no words required.

I am sorry to those of you who aren’t really into romance.  Please stay tuned for the next blog post tomorrow.

Also, the most important part of the Christmas story is Jesus.  My choice was made based on all options apart from Jesus’ birth because that is an obvious choice for any believer.

Stay merry readers!  Only 7 days left until Christmas…

– Lauren Michele  :)

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yetdid not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”               – Matthew 1:19-20

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.  Luke 1:28-38

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world(This was the first census that took place whileQuirinius was governor of Syria.).  And everyone went to their own town to register.  So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  Luke 2:1-7