Tea is at Four (The Hobbit – A Book Review)

The Hobbit
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Published: 1937

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Scarlet Reader - The Hobbit

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

20/25

 

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Bilbo Baggins of Bag End, in The Shire, is visited by a group of dwarves and Gandalf the grey. They seek a burglar for their travels to take back the Lonely Mountain from the dangerous dragon, Smaug. Gandalf assures the dwarves that Bilbo is the one.

Bilbo wants no part of this adventure. He likes his way of life just fine with his books, garden, and tea. However, convinced, he joins the dwarves on an unexpected journey he’ll never forget.

 

This book marks 20 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. I’ve always meant to read this book as well as Lord of the Rings. I’m glad to finally get the chance.

 

Where to begin!

I really enjoyed this. This is a classic for a reason. Light and humorous. Adventurous and filled with friendship. Non-stop action too. This truly was a journey I was not ready to get to the end of. From dumb trolls to escaping cunning elves and defeating the terrifying dragon, Smaug. The action was non-stop. This wasn’t the kind of story that had me holding my breath, but reading faster, eagerly.

Scarlet Reader

I have seen the movies and they were good. They even left me with that longing at the end with the beautiful score of music, but they don’t compare to the book. I am still surprised they made one book into three movies though. The book was beautiful in the way that it was simple rather than complex. It swept me away so easily.

The setting was brought to life with incredible imagery. Vivid in color and action. This is only a piece of Middle Earth, but it’s still stunning. And music. The songs in the book were so colorful and added to the story, making it lively and even joyous. Plus, it’s not a road trip without some tunes.

Scarlet Reader

I was thrown a little bit by the dwarves’ strong dislike for Bilbo. It’s worse than in the movies. They really thought of him as useless and a burden and it was heartbreaking. Although, it did make for great satisfaction when Bilbo proved them wrong even though he’s very honest about how afraid he is. As I’ve said before, it’s okay for the hero to be afraid. That’s when courage comes into play. Courage is when you push through those fears to the other side.

The dwarves were an interesting bunch. Quite lazy too. LOL. While a joyous bunch most of the time, they relied on Bilbo for nearly everything. Who knows what they would’ve done without him.

And Gollum! A lot creepier in the book. For sure. And I felt an even deeper pang of pity for him.

 

Overall

I really enjoyed this and can’t wait to get started on Lord of the Rings. Such a fantastic read that tickled my inner adventurer. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.

 

Quotables:

“Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.” (p. 51)

“Why, O why did I ever leave my hobbit-hole!” (Bilbo, p. 66)

“Third time pays for all.” (p. 233)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Long Time Traveller by The Wailin’ Jennys.

 

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Mind Over Phobias…and Curses (A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares – A Book Review)

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares
Author: Krystal Sutherland
Published: 2017

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Semi Definitive List of worst Nightmares - The Scarlet Reader

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

A family.

A curse.

A greatest fear.

Esther’s family has been haunted by a curse. See, each family member dies from their fear. Dad is agoraphobic. Mom is terrified of bad luck. And her twin cannot be in the dark. All of this leads to Esther living an interesting life.Esther is searching for hers and has an ever-growing list of phobias that might be what she’s cursed with.

When Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, a boy she used to know, she is left stranded at a bus stop. He took everything down to the fruit roll-up and that list of possible fears. They make a strange pair, but Jonah is determined to help Esther through her list. Turns out, she may be afraid of the one thing she didn’t even think about. Love.

This book started out curious and intriguing and snowballed into me loving it a LOT. This was upbeat, yet personally heavy. An incredibly unique story not only about fears and approaching fear, but also dealing with anxiety and other mental illnesses. This book made them so vivid real. For people who don’t fully understand what it’s like, they’ll get a close up

Scarlet Reader - Perfect

There are so many more phobias than I have ever thought about. (Here’s a site where you can have a look for yourself-here.)My best friend has countless. I love her to pieces and always ALWAYS support her and encourage her that it’s okay. It’s no joke to make fun of a person who has them whether they are rational or not. They give people some serious anxiety. I always try to help her work on them, but it’s easier said than done. Mostly, I try be the comic relief. It’s not dumb or ridiculous. I worry about her, but I know she’s a toughie. There are just some things that affect us. I have a fear of spiders sometimes, but that’s because they think I’m a jungle gym. My fight with the dark is worse than an on again off again relationship. More than anything, failure and the thought that I am greatly unneeded, are what often haunts me. By unneeded I don’t mean being a needy human. No, I mean that I have no purpose on this planet and am useless. These fears and matched anxieties are ones I am working on overcoming every day. We should all work on overcoming our fears. Oh, and heights. Heights are tricky because I’m not afraid of climbing them. It’s the idea of falling from them. And I certainly WON’T divulge on my clown fear. They eat people, people! *shivers*

The characters were phenomenal. Seriously. BRAVA. complex, diverse, and opposite of each other. Esther was extremely awesome. From being determined to face her fears even though some of them are pretty scary to dressing up as inspiring characters, both real and fiction, she was brave, strong, and human. Whether she realized it or not, people were drawn to her. Jonah Smallwood, for example. Funny and kind, he was the hot sauce on her ice cream. Sounds gross, but trust me, it’s so GOOD! So spicy and sweet. A fantastic combination if there ever was one. He supports her with no cruelty or frustration or impatience that could be normally received from somebody who doesn’t have any understanding of what it’s like to feel an uncontrollable amount of fear that just squeezes tightly around you like a boa constrictor, taking the air right out of you. He’s even kind to her whole family, not judging or distancing himself just because they have their beliefs with their phobias. I completely melted.

Dead of Winter

The style of story was buoyant, like floating in an air balloon, or so I imagine-the balloon part. All floaty, though there’s that bit of nervousness because all you’re in is a human-sized picnic basket with a massive balloon and a blazing torch keeping it up. So, a little nerve-shaking. But, the view is impeccable. Completely breathtaking and totally worth it. This book is definitely breathtaking. Invigorating even, but I can relate to it so much. The rule-breaking, risk-taking, and life-changing moments were unbelievable. Lighthearted, yet intense and heartbreaking. Just magical with so many emotions so perfectly placed and written.

The ending left me with my jaw on the floor. While the exploration of mental illness was quite serious, I was still left shocked because there was a twist! I was guessing on and off throughout the book about Esther’s serious need to face-off with Death and by the end I was breathless. I had to read it twice. I can’t give too much away, but I was stunned.

mindblown

Overall

Tackling a real world issue in a light of bravery and determination. This wasn’t about love conquering all. It was about overcoming an all-consuming struggle. It encourages understanding for those who face not only fears, but actual illnesses that most people don’t believe

Quotables:

“God, so basic. I can’t decide what would be more tragic, dying at seventeen, or having the most cliché funeral ever.” (Esther, p. 9)

“Fears can’t become full-blown phobias if you avoid them, and phobias can’t kill you if you don’t have them.” (Esther, p. 60)

“Tolkien knew a lot of stuff, but he knew nothing about the dark souls of moths. No way a moth would’ve helped Gandalf. Least believable part of Middle-earth.” (Esther, p. 94)

“Murals were a well-known-gateway drug to feelings, and she couldn’t have any of that.” (Esther, p. 101)

“Depression was a real sneaky asshole.” (Esther, p. 147)

“Love was a trap, a sticky trap of molasses meant to bind two people together. It was a thing that couldn’t be escaped, a weight that people strapped to their own legs before they waded into the water and wondered why they drowned.” (Esther, p. 268)

“Everyone we let into our lives has the power to hurt us. Sometimes they will and sometimes they won’t, but that’s not a reflection of us, or our strength. Loving someone who hurts you doesn’t make you weak.” (Eugene, p.315)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Lucky Day in Hell by Eel.

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That’s What Friends Are For – A Book List

Hello, loves.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I decided on a booklist to represent friendship. I know personally, I’m thankful for my family and friends. Sometimes I’m a lot to put up with LOL.

Whether we’re up or down. In great times of need. Blood or not. Friends are always there for us. This book list is dedicated to them. With love, tragedy, heartache, and hardships, life would be a different beast if we had to tame it by ourselves.

And sometimes it isn’t easy to have friends. You’ll fight and cry and may not speak for days or weeks or months, but you know they’re not far away and that you’ll make up. Sometimes you drift apart and that’s okay, too. Make room for as many as possible is my advice.

Like an onion or a flower, sweet or sour, there will be many. Only a few will crack open your heart and be in your special circle. The circle you pair your family in, and it won’t matter how far away you are from each other. It’s the heart that keeps you connected (and of course social media these days LOL).


The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

“Don’t live a little. Live a lot.”

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A Wrinkle in Time
Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Scarlet Reader - A Wrinkle in Time

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”

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The Thing About Jellyfish
Author: Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish

“But a person doesn’t always know the difference between a new beginning and a forever sort of ending.”

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Author: Rick Riordan

PJ - hypable

“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy. Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”

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Daughters of the Moon
Author: Lynne Ewing

Scarlet Reader - Daughters of the Moon

“Life is like riding a bicycle. You get nowhere standing up, so get up on that seat and go!”

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Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Author: Ann Brashares

Scarlet Reader - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

“Maybe, sometimes, it’s easier to be mad at the people you trust because you know they’ll always love you, no matter what.”

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The DUFF
Author: Kody Keplinger

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“You can lie to yourself if you want, but reality is going to catch up with you. I’ll be waiting when it does… whether you like it or not.”

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Pay It Forward
Author: Catherine Ryan Hyde

Scarlet Reader - Pay It Forward

“What’s weird is when you mean a lot more to somebody else than they ever meant to you. I mean, a whole lot more. Like life on two whole different planets.”

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The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold

Scarlet Reader - Strange Fascination of David Hypnotik

“But I also know that sometimes—not always, but in the best of cases—innocence lost can be knowledge gained, and I think this is one of those times.”

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Sisters in Sanity
Author: Gayle Forman

Scarlet Reader - Sisters in Sanity

“It’s just that we’d like to think that craziness and sanity are on opposite ends of an ocean, but really they’re more like neighboring islands.”

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More to come soon…

-K.

 

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Thin Line Between Love and Alchemy (Bloodlines – A Book Review)

Bloodlines (Bloodlines #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Published: 2011

On Goodreads

Bloodlines - The Scarlet Reader

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

18/25

Love and loyalty run deeper than blood.

Sydney Sage is still suffering repercussions for aiding dhampir Rose Hathaway in a shaky alliance that has deemed her a vampire sympathizer by everyone. Alchemists believe that vampires—Dhampir, Moroi, and Strigoi are unnatural creatures, but they’re not there to stop them. They’re there to protect humans.

Awoke in the middle of the night, Sydney is given a second chance when charged with guarding the young Moroi, Jill Dragomir—younger sister of Queen Lissa Dragomir—at a California boarding school after an assassination attempt. As they try to adjust to being roommates at Amberwood Prep, threats, distractions, and forbidden romance test Sydney’s patience. She can’t risk getting to close to Jill or else she’ll lose whatever chance she has at regaining her family’s trust, but she’s beginning to care about Jill as she gets to know her and discovers her secrets.

This book marks 18 out of 25 authors, from my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve never read from before. I’ve heard many good and interesting things about Vampire Academy. I also find alchemy to be intriguing.

I never read Vampire Academy. *GASP* I know. I know. How incredulous. There was and still quite a hubbub about it just like with Twilight and Shadowhunters and I just can’t get myself to. Not right this second anyway. Something about it having so much attention makes it feel overhyped and I don’t want to be overhyped in case my expectations take a shit. So there are a few titles on hold, but I’m going to say this spin-off is a delightful gateway.

Scarlet Reader - Giphy

I must say, while I expected more than just an investigation into students getting freaky abilities from metallic tattoos and Jill being stalked, I was intrigued. I find alchemy to be an interesting subject. Science + Magic = Alchemy. And Richelle brought a mysterious, heroic elegance to it. Alchemists are granted abilities, but like with the vampires of this universe, they aren’t invincible. I found that to be creative. The structure and building of this world was really interesting. I just wish there had been more to the supernatural feel.

Sydney (an alchemist) and Adrian (a vampire) were quite the opposites while Jill was softhearted with her other guardian, Eddie, secretly pining after her. Richelle created a delicate balance with these characters. I really enjoyed how she wrote them. They each had their own personal struggles that you wouldn’t see on the outside because they’re so well guarded. These characters didn’t give me any kind of over-dramatic feels even though there were times I wish they did. Sydney was serious while Adrian was comical. That can always be a fun dynamic. They were sweet, each like a flower. Maybe that’s tacky, but that’s how it was to me. There was an elegance.

I wasn’t thrown for any loops. Some parts were actually pretty predictable, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining when the villainy targeting both Sydney and Jill was revealed. It was the emotional pull that kept me attached. Sydney, though she tried not to, she became attached to Jill and even to Eddie. She didn’t wish any harm to them, though to others they, along with Adrian, are considered unnatural beasts. I could really feel that connectivity and that really kept me engrossed.

Scarlet Reader - Quirk Books

Overall

This was a book that had me a little curious, but it didn’t strike me as super interesting. I hope to read the next book though. I’m hoping to see what happens between Sydney and Adrian, because there’s DEFINITELY something bubbling between them. I also want to see more supernatural bits and rebellion. Sydney seems like the type that just might rebel. While this book didn’t feel intoxicated with the usual dose of magic and supernatural, it did strike closer to realism.

Quotables:

“It didn’t matter that people expected everything of me and nothing of him. We were still the same, both of us constantly trying to break out of the lines that others had defined for us and be our own person.” (Sydney, p. 282)

“Something in the way he was looking at me froze me up and made my stomach do flip-flops though I couldn’t quite articulate why. I only knew that he looked as though he was seeing me for the first time.” (Sydney, p. 413)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Secrets by OneRupublic.

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Even In Your Sleep (Down a Dark Hall – Book Review)

Down a Dark Hall
Author: Lois Duncan
Published: 1974

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Down a Dark Hall

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt

The terror is real only in her dreams.

Kit is dropped off at Blackwood School for Girls along with others. Each of them possess unique traits. Strange things begin happening around the grounds. Kit is having weird dreams and sleep walking. With each passing day, it gets stranger. She knows evil lurks down the dark halls, but she only sees it when she’s asleep. How can she escape? How can she get free if no one will believe her when her fears are only in her dreams? Or are they?

Like Duncan’s other books that I’v read, this was pretty good. She brought the supernatural element again to one of her novels. The dark halls of Blackwood are chilling and creepy. There are many unexplainable instances. Sleepwalking. Dreams of dead people. And becoming oddly talented and skilled at something you typically aren’t.

Kit experiences all of this and she’d love to run away. Her parents dumped her on the doorstep of this private school and didn’t look back as they to go on their honeymoon. Jerkfaces. Lucky for Kit, she made some friends. I really like the story. As you progress, the story intensifies until BAM! Everything breaks loose and Kit is feeling helpless.

With supernatural forces at work, I’m a little unnerved. Losing control is scary. It’s a feeling that can make anybody go over the edge, which is exactly what happens with Kit and her friends.

I found the characters to be quite like-able…except for Headmistress Madame Duret. She can go jump in a ditch because there is a special place for a person that lets ghosts possess teenagers. Kit was a strong-headed girl and has no time for bullshit. She also doesn’t leave her friends behind, which puts her in a high place on my list.

Each of the girls were having different things happening to them that were unexplainable. Kit was hearing music everywhere. Her closest friend, Sandy, was creating poetry, which doesn’t seem all that bad, but it was in foreign languages. The other girls, too. It was alarming and I wanted to figure this book out more. When I did, I was surprised. They weren’t just experiencing supernatural events but were pulled into them, getting possessed by ghosts. And being in the front seat of that was crazy!

This also just came out as a movie. I’m kind of intrigued. Ghosty movies are always chilling to me and I would love to see the differences between it and the book.

Down a Dark Hall

The style Duncan has with her books is one that I love. Incredibly simple and attention grabbing. She knows all the tricks to make a person go investigate the dark and creepy places, though they probably shouldn’t. There’s bread crumbs of curiosity behind with a twist of scary. And the TWIST! There always a twist, and Duncan did NOT disappoint. It gets me going and like it. This was also a quick read. Her novels aren’t usually long.

Overall

While I can’t say this is some epic literary piece, it was pretty epic. Period. She really approached the teen slasher/supernatural genre with great skill. These are instant classics in my opinion. A fun read to indulge in when you want goosebumps, like a story you tell around the campfire.

Quotables:

“Somewhere in the quiet dormitory someone had shrieked, In pain? In terror? Perhaps only from a nightmare, and yet, perhaps for some other reason. For—help?” (p. 42)

More to come soon…

-K.

P.S. Song today? Help I’m Alive by Metric

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From Another Time, Another Dimension (Watcher in the Woods – A Book Review)

Watcher in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings #2)
Author: Robert Liparulo
Published: 2008

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Watcher in the Woods - Scholastic

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull bolt Half bolt

 

It’s not just the house that’s keeping secrets.

After Xander’s mom is kidnapped and dragged through one of the dimensional doorways of the house, the rest of King family rallies together to get her back. Secrets about they really moved into this mysterious house is divulged and the Kings will never be the same.

A new school year begins and the townspeople of Pinedale are starting to suspect the King family of strange things, like abuse. With the mystery of the house, and a strange man stalking them, they have to stand together if they hope to get their mom back.

 

This book was better than the first one by a hair. There were many new elements and characters. Turns out, Dad has been in this house before. There’s an assassin that came through one of the dimensional doors that wants the house for himself. A bully harasses David.

I liked that the novel spread out some, going to school and that clearing where you can nearly fly. New settings really open up a book. However, the clearing (the anti-gravity clearing as I call it) was very strange and out of place feeling. There was so much I Don’t Know that it was just pointless. It didn’t bring very much to my imagination nor did it do anything for me but feel weird. The school was really cool because there was a glimpse of it in the first book. Now, school is in session and obviously, nobody wants to go.

The storytelling didn’t improve by much. I’m still a little confused because the characters aren’t making much sense of everything so neither am I, but I did like that the emotions were higher. Dude, mom is gone. Time to crank this up to eleven! And there’s an assassin! (The flashback of the assassin’s time before getting teleported into the Dreamhouse was out of place feeling, too.) I liked that the intensity was kicked up a notch. Everybody is freaking out.

What is happening

 

Overall

Still not a book that did much for me. My heart got pulled a little. I love my mom beyond words and I’d be going all terminator if somebody kidnapped her so, I can relate to Xander on that level. The storytelling felt like a jumbled mess and therefore didn’t really pull me in even though the imagery was great. A strong feeling of meh.

 

Quotables:

“He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or…something that amounted to the same thing: dead.” (David, p. 4)

“It’s not kidnapping if I asked you to take me.” (Keal to Jesse, p. 280)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

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Coming Home to the Circus (Water For Elephants – A Book Review)

Water for Elephants
Author: Sara Gruen
Published: 2006

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Water For Elephants

My Rating: Full boltFull boltFull boltFull bolt Half bolt

 

So long ago. So long. But still it haunts me.

After losing his parents in a car accident, Jacob Jankowski discovers that his parents weren’t as well off as they said. A student at Cornell, studying veterinarian sciences, Jacob is on the verge of graduating when he takes to the railroad tracks, lost and alone.

One night, a whistle sounds in the distance and a train, home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and Jacob jumps aboard, joining the circus as the vet. It’s the early part of the Great Depression and this circus quickly becomes his salvation and hell. When he met Marlena, the performer in the pink sequin number with the horses and married to August, animal tamer, it all becomes worth it. And then there’s Rosie, the beautiful, gray elephant that changed the show. The bond between this trio becomes one of hope, love, and survival.

 

Jacob Jankowski was bold and honest and filled with such wonder and love. Caring not only for animals, but people as well. Now, ninety, or maybe ninety-three, he recalls his times under the big top for the first time in a very long time.

 

I can’t believe it took me so long to finally read this book. So many people recommended it to me, and I am really glad I got to read this. It was a really good book. The circus isn’t usually my thing—clowns ya’ll—but this, tied alongside the Great Depression, was moving. There was a sparkle of joy mixed into such sadness and desperation. Gruen truly encompassed the era and showed what it was to not watch the circus as part of the audience, but be a part of it.

The storytelling was magical. Running away with the circus is what we only talk about or dream about, and here, it happened for Jacob. Filled with hard work and danger, it was filled with adventure and vibrant life. As much as it opened my eyes, leaving in me enchanted, this book was also romantic and emotional.

I really couldn’t get enough of this book. The characters thrived vibrantly. If I had to pick a favorite It would be Rosie. The elephant was one so funny and delightful and my heart went out to her. She was funny and sweet, and really loved lemonade.

In comparison to the 2011 film based on the novel, there many bits that I wish would’ve been featured in the movie. Half of this novel takes place in a nursing home. Hell, the whole thing does because Jacob is telling the story. His nurse, Rosemary wasn’t even involved which was a darn shame since she treated him mighty well. However, Uncle Al being omitted was totally okay with me. He was creeeeepy. These were only the major things that topped my list. Loved Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson for the leading characters. Phenomenal.

water for elephants

 

A wonderful book and a great summer read.

 

Quotables:

“I don’t talk much about those days. Never did. I don’t know why—I worked on circuses for nearly seven years, and if that isn’t fodder for conversation, I don’t know what is.” (Jacob, p. 6)

“Sometimes when you get older—and I’m not talking about you, I’m talking generally, because everyone ages differently—things you think on and wish on start to seem real.” (Rosemary to Jacob, p. 227)

 

More to come soon…

-K.

 

P.S. Song today? Good to You by Marianas Trench.

 

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