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Thursday, March 31, 2016

It's a...

Last post of the month of March...! 

I'm always saying things like this, but I can't believe it's already April. April 2016. How crazy is that?!

This post is really my way of reaching out to people about the newest addition to my family, coming (Lord willing) in June. I'm so excited *_*! 

I announced to work and family very early on because of symptoms—nausea, difficulty breathing (prenatals helped), and a hyper-sense of smell. Ok, *a* sense of smell, because before I became pregnant, I didn't have one. But it was still intense. I actually had to bring dryer sheets to the grocery store because I couldn't take the smell of particular sections (I'm looking at you, deli, seafood, and meat -_-)...

Anyway, I'm currently 28 weeks along—aka 7 months—and wanted to share some pictures of our gender reveal. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it's basically a fun party where people come together to eat a few snacks and discover the gender of the baby. We decided to do a chocolate theme because it was in February, and used the famous Gump line on our invites (Life is like a box of chocolates...). Then we (translation: the fam, at their insistence) wrapped up a bunch of hershey bars. Only one was colored in and would reveal the gender.

I wish I'd caught the reveal on video T_T. It was so funny and sweet (pun not intended...but well played lol)! The person who got the winning candy bar was so excited she screamed and then, out of breath, was unable to share the information with everyone else until she took a moment to regain herself. It was a wonderful feeling, having someone as excited as us about the baby. I will treasure that moment for many years to come!

Here are some pics:

The food was delicious ^_^. Also, plentiful
The cupcakes I slaved over. If you ever decide to make your own frosting, reconsider. Trust me.
(Did you notice someone made off with a blueberry?)
Each table had a super cute centerpiece and a different candy.
I quickly banned myself from Skittles b/c necessary.
So many hershey bars...
It's a GIRL!
Wait, what?
 (Just kidding. It looks like that was what was going through our minds, though)
I imagine I was getting onto Chris for not smiling. It worked! :)
I look hesitant about something...
My favorite blooper pic: super confused!
I think our niece was doing something crazy LOL

 Welp, that's it! Hope you enjoyed the virtual reveal (even if you already knew the gender). I'll be posting again Wednesday (or...whatever day is the 7th) for PAD!

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Forbidden Wish Jessica Khoury *Review*

As a huge Khoury fan, I was so excited about this novel I obviously pre-ordered and dove in the moment it was released. (And yes, I did attempt—more times than I'd like to mention—to get an arc, but was tragically unsuccessful.) 

I love Khoury's style. I love the thrill ride she invites me on with her exquisite pacing, the immersion I experience by absorbing the world she's built via lush, lyrical prose, and the unique angle(s) she presents. All of these and more are reasons why I'm so conflicted (and sad) about this review. 

I would like to say that I absolutely, with-all-my-heart-and-soul loved The Forbidden Wish...but I'd be lying. 

The Forbidden Wish is easily Khoury's best work: the characters are flesh and blood, living and breathing in the pages; the pacing, as always, is phenomenal, and the plot riveting—some truly wonderul twists!—not to mention the brilliance of the subject matter (retelling of ALADDIN? Can you say radiance??!); her trademark prose (aka gorgeous) continues to impress; and there isn't a plot hole in sight. 

It's extremely well written and well-thought-through. I loved the characters and their complexity (and quirks). I loved the spin on Aladdin. I loved the immensity of scope involved in making the world and its rules believable. 

What went wrong?

Well...that's just it. In the world of YA, Khoury has hit a triple homerun. The novel fits the genre perfectly and I can see her topping charts and receiving well-deserved praise for her work alongside uber-popular authors. And again, the work truly is fabulous. So it's less what went wrong and more what went right

One of the biggest reasons I fell in love with Khoury's work—aside from her impressive storytelling ability—is that I could always count on it being original and easily distinguishable from its YA counterparts. Were her other novels as advanced in terms of style and execution as The Forbidden Wish? No. Origin had a few questionable aspects, Vitro's romance was a bit lacking at points, and Kalahari's characters, while endearing, needed a nudge to cast off. The Forbidden Wish has none of these issues. 

Instead, Zahra's voice, while acceptable and fitting and well done, disappoints solely because it sounds so similar to others in the YA world. Same goes for the romance...even for the themes. I feel like a loser and a betrayer for writing this review T_T, but these are my honest sentiments. I'm happy Khoury penned a great novel. I'm sad that, to me, it can be lumped in with so many other greats instead of beaming from a pinnacle. In my eyes, Origin will always, always  be set apart—same goes for Vitro and Kalahari. But The Forbidden Wish, for all its wonder, lacks that trademark spark. 

In case I haven't made this clear: there is literally no fault to be found in TFW; the novel is exciting and well worth the read, especially if retellings are your thing. My issue is completely personal (and subjective). I don't want to deter anyone from picking up this book because IT IS PHENOMENAL and deserves every morsel of praise it receives. And cover. love <3 <3 <3...! It just wasn't what I was hoping for. 

Final Verdict: 

| Website |

About the Author 
Jessica Khoury is of Syrian and Scottish descent, and was born and raised in Toccoa, Georgia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Toccoa Falls College. She currently lives and writes in Greenville, SC. Jessica is the author of ORIGIN, VITRO, KALAHARI, and THE FORBIDDEN WISH.  

Friday, March 25, 2016

Charging (somewhat weakly) into April

I haven't given up on posting consistently, but putting it bluntly: I've been put out lately. Whenever I think about the blog, I'm just, maybe later...

And I know that's kind of lame. ...Ok, very lame? 

Still, with all the things that have changed—mainly having a baby due in June (*nesting* and house preparation, exhaustion, financial stress, worrying and praying and more worrying because worrying is what mothers do, eating all the things and having the weight—but not the appearance, apparently; “all belly”—to show for it) and Chris' workplace deciding they'll still have him work full time, but only 30 hours (translation: he now works 3 days a week and they think this is remotely acceptable for the breadwinner of the family...uhhh NO, try again ::hulk smash::)—life has been messy, and blogging has been one of the smaller concerns on a growing list. 

That said, I'm still just as ambitious—or, if you prefer and are a realist, CRAZY—and have decided to take on my first Camp NaNo adventure and embrace the PAD Challenge for the second time. I'm planning to revise ~50% of Whispers and Murmurs during Camp; already have my fabulous cabinmates picked out, and am loving it. And of course I'm planning on being a boss at writing poems :D haha.

I'm also flying to Vermont in 5 days to see family for the first time in almost 4 years. April is a busy, busy month...

So...what now? 

  • I'll post my review of The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury before the month is up.
  • Also our gender reveal...because the pictures amuse me and why not? (:
  • In April, I'm going to post my PAD accomplishments here once a week, just as I did last year, and will be sharing information about it tomorrow because GUYS, PAD is so, so fun. Even if you don't fancy yourself a poet, you should try it out. 
In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys spring break!!


About Camp NaNo and PAD:

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and creativity. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories.

Young writer? Check out Camp deets here
PAD...with Robert Lee Brewer:

PAD stands for Poem-A-Day, so this is a challenge in which poets write a poem each day of April. Usually, I’ll post a prompt in the morning (Atlanta, Georgia, time), and poets will write a poem in response.

Some poets share those poems on the (Writer's Digest) blog in the comments; others keep their words to themselves. I don’t require comments on the blog to participate, but it does make it more fun when poets are firing away on the blog.