Book of the Month – Locke & Key

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Locke & Key is another incredible graphic novel series that is rivalling my deep, passionate love for the Saga series.

Locke & Key is dark with a capital D. The whole inciting incident for the story is the brutal murder of Rendell Locke, and the lucky, determined survival of his three children, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, and his wife, Nina. After his death, the remaining family members move across the country to Keyhouse, where Rendell grew up, and that is where the adventure really begins. As Bode, the youngest, begins to discover, Keyhouse is not really a normal house. It derives its name from the fact that there are an unknown number of keys floating around that do random, magical things; for example, opening a door that turns you into a ghost when you walk through it.

As the Lockes begin to adjust to their new life, it becomes increasingly clear that things are never going to be the same again, and that “normal” is a word that no longer applies to them. A dangerous person from Rendell’s past is headed straight for them, on a deadly mission, and there will be hell to pay.

What I love the most about these books is that they throw you right into the middle of the story. Though Rendell’s murder is the inciting incident, it is certainly not where the story starts, and Joe Hill does an incredible job of revealing juuuuust enough information to keep you hooked without blowing the whole thing wide open. It is a complex, convoluted, intense plot that never stops. It is one of the most breakneck stories I have ever read, and I am almost literally breathless at the end of each instalment.

Volume 3 cannot come fast enough from the library for me!

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Have you read Locke and Key? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what is your favorite graphic novel?

Book of the Month – Locke & Key

2015 Photo Project: 17-31

This past weekend, Bryan and I went for a walk around the university campus, which is one of my favorite places ever. I have so many great memories from my time there, and walking around makes me feel so many feeeeelings. I brought my camera along, too, and grabbed a few snaps for the photo project.

Hub Mall is one place in particular that sends me boomerang-ing right back to being in my first year. I spent countless hours there, having lunch with friends, killing time between classes, and just passing through on my way from Anthropology to French. The colorful windows of the residences and the co-mingled smells of all the restaurants hits me where I live, you know?

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As Bryan and I were walking along the pedway that connects Hub to TBA (Tory Business Atrium), we were talking about me returning to the school in some capacity, maybe to take just one class, for fun, or maybe for a full degree. I was saying something about not being sure if we could make that work, and then I turned around saw this:

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I believe that is what is called a sign from the universe.

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I had to stop and take a few shots of the old Arts building. It is my favorite building on campus. It gives me a special sense of grandeur and authority whenever I see it. It just screams, “This is an old and dignified place!” The vines crawling all over it are straight out of a fairytale.

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This is a window into the Rutherford library, where I spent many, many hours studying. I preferred the music library, which is on the second floor (the windows are just above these ones), but I really enjoyed the balance of this shot.

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And lastly, the entrance to FAB (Fine Arts Building). I was terrified for a whole month leading up to starting university. On my first day, I made my dad drive me the 45 minutes from St Albert to the university. This is where he dropped me. I waved goodbye to him, heaved a deep breath, and went into the university. When he picked me up again from my night class some ten hours later (in this same spot, I might add), I was grinning ear-to-ear and couldn’t wait to come back the next day and do it all again.

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What is your favorite place in the world?

(PS. You can find the rest of the photo project here.)

2015 Photo Project: 17-31

2015 Photo Project: 10-16

There have been more cellphone photos than I anticipated! But that’s okay, I’m rolling with it.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 – Edited with Snapseed

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Samsung Galaxy S4 – Edited with Snapseed and VSCOcam

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Samsung Galaxy S4 – Edited with VSCOcam

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ISO 800  ||  28 mm at f/6.3  ||  1/800

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ISO 800  ||  35 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/4000

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ISO 800  ||  65 mm at f/6.3  ||  1/320

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ISO 200  ||  28 mm at f/6.3  ||  1/250

Find the rest of the project here.

2015 Photo Project: 10-16

2015 Photo Project: 8 + 9

Look at that, halfway through January and I am already behind. 🙂 I love this elevator image, even though it is grainy and low-quality and off-kilter. There is something about it that really speaks to me. And more school pictures. Beacons in the darkness.

Both of these images were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and edited using VSCOcam.

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And! Here is the January photo for my monthly river valley subcategory. This bridge is one of my favorite places in the whole city, and I love taking photos of it. I am really excited to come back to this same spot every month and see how it changes over the year.

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ISO 200  ||  50 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/160

Find the rest of the project here.

PS. Did I just post twice in one day?! What the what!

2015 Photo Project: 8 + 9

The Failure Challenge

I recently read the book The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, which was a scientific and sociological look into the gender gap in confidence and how women can address this in their own lives. The biggest piece of advice that I gleaned from the book – which is well-written, accessible, and applicable, and you should read it, man or woman – was to stop fearing failure. Fail fast. Fail often. And in looking at my life, I realized that there were not too many instances that I could look at and say, “That. That was a time that you failed.” Some people might hear that and think, “Yeah, yeah, go ahead and brag about how great you are, without any failures in your past,” but in reality, it means that I have been playing it too safe.

I don’t want to play my life safe. I want to play my life big and grand, I want to take risks and experience things, and that means that I need to stop shying away from failure.

For a while now, I have had the idea for a failure challenge bouncing around in my brain. There was a draft of a blog post on my previous blog entitled The Failure Challenge, and there has been one on this blog for the past six or so months now, too. I started to write it, and then I thought, “Nah, this is pointless.” So I scrapped it. Deleted it completely. But then, as I read The Confidence Code, I realized that I was on to something, something that could enhance my life and set me up for further success, as well as showing other people that failure is not something to be reviled and avoided at all costs.

So was re-born The Failure Challenge.

There is an app that I am going to check out that gives you daily rejection challenges, to help inure you against the pain of hearing the word “no.” I guess there are challenges such as, “Walk up to a stranger on the street and ask to borrow $50.” I am uncertain of how much I will use the app, if at all, but if I do, I will definitely be chronicling my adventures here. (In doing some Googling, I discovered that there is also a game that you can buy! Cool.)

A few other ways that I plan on confronting my fear of failure:

  • I have always loved the idea of performing, and the few times I did it were incredible and exhilarating, but the anticipation of performing is enough to make me sick to my stomach. So I am going to seek out some performance opportunities. I’ve been debating taking singing lessons because I really enjoy singing, and I am also thinking about finding a play that I can audition for.
  • In the same vein, I fear improv. With a deep, deep terror. I loved my high school drama class and my high school drama teacher, and even so, one of the only disagreements we ever had was when she forced me to do improv and I threw a hissy fit because I was terrified. We have a great improv group here in Edmonton, and they offer workshops. So I am going to do one of those workshops. Improv is all about saying yes, and getting over your fear of looking stupid. Sounds perfect, right?
  • Start making the stationery I have been talking about making for more than a year. There is literally not a single reason why I haven’t started yet except that I am afraid of sucking at it.
  • Submit writing work to publications.

And anything else that makes me want to curl into a ball of armadillo-like terror.

I am really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone (hahah, right, I actually feel like I am going to puke, but that’s okay). I hope that you guys will join me for the journey and we can all learn something new together!

Does anyone have any experience with purposefully seeking out rejection and failure? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

 

The Failure Challenge

An Open Letter

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I found this letter in my journal. It was originally addressed to my younger sisters, and I hope that they read it, but I think that it could help other people too. I hope that it does.

It is hard to be a girl, it’s true. It is hard to be a person, I think. I remember being 14, 15, 19. I remember the pain of my first breakup at 14, my second at 15, my more-than-third-but-arguably-much-more-important-because-it-taught-me-self-worth at 19.

You are strong, intelligent, funny, charming, resourceful, talented, capable people. There is not a lot that you can’t do, and I want you to remember that when shit gets hard.

Because it will. That is the nature of life; it is good, but it is hard, and knowing that you are a valuable, worthy person goes a long way to help you push through those times.

Know that you are worthy of love and respect, and that no one has the right to treat you poorly. NO ONE. Know that you have the power to walk away from those who you treat you with anything less than dignity. They aren’t worthy of your time. This includes friends, lovers, family, co-workers, etc. Know that you do not have to accept harassment of any kind, that you do not have to give in just because a boy (or girl or adult) says so. Know that you have the right to control your own body and do what you please with it. Don’t let people call you a slut or a tease or a prude or any number of things that are none of their business. Your worth as a person has nothing to do with how many people you have or have not slept with.

Know that you have a voice, and you have the right to use it. That you have the right to be heard. When you have something to say, say it. Don’t fall back and let other people talk over you. Don’t let someone else take the credit for what you just said. Let your words be heard. Stand up and say, “I am here. I said that. I have an opinion.”

Know, too, that your opinion is not necessarily fact, and that free speech does not exempt you from the consequences of speaking. Be prepared to defend what you believe, and to eat it when you are wrong. Be open to other people’s perspectives. This is a delicate balancing act that few people, myself included, seem capable of achieving, but it’s important that you keep trying.

Understand that following your dreams is not a selfish act, that feeding the fire in your soul benefits the world with its light. Don’t let anyone else tell you that your dreams aren’t worth pursuing, or that you should be more reasonable. Forget caution and overthinking things and stepping carefully in the footsteps that society has laid out for you. Follow your own path; if it happens to coincide with societal expectations, okay, but if not, fuck it, and go out there with a machete to bushwhack a new path.

Don’t stress about being the best or getting the highest grades. Worry about being true to yourself, putting in your best effort, and treating people right. Remember that you are both deeply fortunate and not the center of the universe; help people when you can.

Life is excruciatingly long and heartbreakingly short. I want you to soak up every beautiful, garbage moment of it. I want you to live the best life possible. I could not have been blessed with better sisters.

Cry when you need to cry, stick up for yourself when necessary, pursue your dreams, and be kind. You are worthy and you are loved.

All my love.

An Open Letter

A Year in Books

Candice over at Candice Does the World did a great book wrap-up the other day (which she, in turn, apparently stole from Jamie at Perpetual Page-Turner), and so, because I love books, and round-ups, and this one reminded me of those questionnaires that everyone used to do when Facebook and Tumblr were just becoming a thing, I decided to do one myself!

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Number of Books You Read: 134

Number of Re-Reads: 7

Genre You Read the Most From: Fiction

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

I had a list of seven different books here, and then I deleted them all because, for me, this year in books really all comes back to this one:

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

#girlboss – I hated it, so insufferable and tone deaf, ugh.

The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

Neil Patrick Harris’s Choose Your Own Autobiography – The format was so interesting! I thought I would hate it, but it was actually really fun to flip through and skip over parts and then come back, and then go back to see what would have happened if you went the other way. NPH is a consummate entertainer, and his autobiography is no exception.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

The Saga graphic novel series, and I’ll Give You the Sun

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Laini Taylor, Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell (all female, all YA authors, interesting)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Saga graphic novel series – getting into graphic novels in a BIG way, because WOW, the stories they tell

Dear Life by Alice Munro and Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood – I have never really been into short stories, but these collections blew me away.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

I have no idea how to even answer this question. There were so many that I couldn’t put down.

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

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11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a Half – Not so much a character, but the way Brosch depicts herself in her comics. Bryan and I still refer to that book and the character’s physical quirks on the regular.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (at some point it will become obvious that this was my favorite book of 2014)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – I mean, it literally changed my life. Reading Cheryl’s raw, unfiltered, painfully honest advice motivated me to change my circumstances, and changed my approach to changing my life. Her words invigorated me and forced me to confront the things that I had been fearing, and to stop coming at life from a place of fear.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. I never read ANYTHING by Alice Munro until this year, and that is a travesty, because I love her. Her stories are such perfect slices of normal life writ large, and I can’t get enough.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“Whose idea was it that we should all get jobs, work faster, work better, race from place to place with our brains stewing on tweets, blogs, and sound bites, on must-see movies, must-do experiences, must-have gadgets, when in the end, all any of us will have is our simple beating heart, reaching up for the connection to whoever might be in the room or leaning into our mattress as we draw our last breath. I hate to put it in such dramatic terms, but it’s kinda true.” – Dee Williams, The Big Tiny

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (725 pages)

Shortest: A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen (50 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Karou and Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and Eleanor & Park

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Ken and his van in Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas – I have been getting more and more into simplicity and alternative ways of living within your means, so Ken’s story of getting rid of his huge debt and living in a van for two years was a great reading experience.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton – I pretty much always love Kate Morton’s books, and this one was no exception.

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

There was really only one book I read based solely on someone else’s recommendation, and I didn’t particularly enjoy it. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I know a lot of people really enjoy this series, but I felt it was really bogged down and the protagonist is the most insufferable character I have had the displeasure of reading about.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Akiva from The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Dustlands trilogy by Moira Young

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy McNoughton – Even if you aren’t so much into tattoos, this book is basically just full of people’s stories. It is like in-depth people watching, where you get to touch a piece of their soul for a minute. As soon as I was done, I immediately opened it and started reading it again, which I believe is the first time I have ever done that.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Light Between Oceans by

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Eleanor & Park

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – Though the different lifelines got frustrating sometimes – there were stretches where it felt like I was stuck in a Groundhog Day-style time loop because I kept having to re-read nearly the exact same thing over and over again – I really enjoyed the premise.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

#girlboss

Big Brother by Lionel Shriver – The end of this book was such a cop-out, I nearly threw it across the room in anger. All of that emotional investment and journey, for nothing. And from an author that is capable of so much more.

 

When it comes down to it, there were SO MANY GOOD BOOKS that I read in 2014, there is no way that a round-up like this could take them all into account. I didn’t even talk about The Big Tiny by Dee Williams and how much it touched me to read about her experience, or The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau and how it helped me jumpstart 2015, or The Creative License by Danny Gregory which opened me up to the world of drawing. Plus so many more. If you are interested in more of the books that I read last year, you can find them over at my Goodreads.

What did your 2014 in books look like? I would love to see it if you also complete a round-up like this!

A Year in Books

2015 Photo Project: 4 + 5

Bryan and I love walking in the river valley. When we want last week, we wandered down a path that I had never been down before, dodging low-hanging branches and marvelling at the iced over river just a few feet to the right. Near the end of the path, we came to these two tall trees leaning against one another, forming an arch. I almost felt a kind of trepidation as I approached it, wondering if I would walk through it and be transported to fairy land or something (I wasn’t, in case you were wondering). But I took a few photos.

on the approach
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ISO 200  ||  35 mm at f/4.0  ||  1/500

on the sadly fairy-less other side
on the sadly fairy-less other side

ISO 200  ||  35 mm at f/4.0  || 1/500

See the rest of the photos in the project here.

2015 Photo Project: 4 + 5