Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Doings!

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone! It's hard to believe that another year is at an end- but, hey, I managed to keep up with my Doings posts the whole time, so at least I know all the months existed. December was a busy month, which means a long post- so let's get started, shall we?


  • Still working on Fight Song.
  • It's almost done, though! Like, I have maybe one or two scenes left before the climax! So if all goes to plan, I'll have it done before I go back to Cedarville!
  • Um. Yeah. That's about it.


  • So I don't know if you can tell or not, but December has been the best reading month I've had since August. AUGUST. There's seventeen books up there, plus at least four rereads that aren't pictured.
  • The first half of the month- by which I mean the part when I was at college- was taken up by the Percy Jackson series, plus the first two Heroes of Olympus. I've enjoyed both series on the whole; they're surprisingly good. I'm looking forward to reading The Mark of Athena, but I won't do that until I go back to college.
  • I read three books on the way home: a reread of Reapers, then Beyond the Gateway, and finally The Prisoner of Zenda. All were quite good; the two new ones were both better than I expected.
  • And then, upon my arrival home, I found both White Sand and Ghostly Echoes waiting for me! White Sand was, as I mentioned yesterday, disappointing. Ghostly Echoes was decidedly not, and was one of the highlights of the month, after . . .
  • Arcanum Unbounded! Which I already talked about yesterday, so I won't repeat myself, but it's basically awesome.
  • The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, the next book on my list, was . . . interesting. Sort of historical fantasy, but it left me wondering a lot of things, and I'm not sure how much of it was even real, so . . . mixed feelings there.
  • Then comes Christmas! I only read three Christmas-related books all month, and two weren't technically books, I suppose- they were holiday drabbles from the Raven Cycle world. But Behold the Lamb of God is an Advent storybook/devotional thing, which I enjoyed.
  • Also, the night before Christmas, I started thinking about the Mistborn Wax and Wayne series, and how good those were, and how I wanted to reread them after having read some theories elsewhere that explained a link between them and Secret History that I hadn't noticed . . . and then I found Shadows of Self under the Christmas tree. Obviously that was a sign that I was supposed to follow through on my impulse, so I reread those three books and enjoyed them even more than I did the first time.
  • And we come to the final book pictured: Paper Crowns, which was, as I mentioned yesterday, quite a fun little read- perhaps not quite as good as I hoped, but still very enjoyable.
  • One other not-pictured book: my family is currently listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel as an audiobook. I'm enjoying it- I guessed the identity of the titular character correctly, which makes me happy- but I wonder a bit if the author was being paid by the word, because there seems to be a lot of repeated description.


  • This month was pretty low in the watching category. My roommate and I, despite our plans, only managed one or two more episodes of Merlin, which means we still have two left before we finish Season One. I hoped to have the first season finished with the semester, but oh well . . .
  • However, part of the reason we didn't get at least one more episode in is probably that we also watched How to Train Your Dragon with another girl from our hall. I've watched HtTYD before, of course, but, hey, I'm always down for dragons.
  • That ends the semester . . . but not the movie-watching. During a stop at my grandpa's house on my way home from college, my family watched Home Alone, which I'd never seen before. It was amusing- not my favorite Christmas movie, but amusing.
  • And on Christmas Day, we rewatched A Charlie Brown Christmas, as you can probably guess from the picture above. So that was fun.


  • Yes, that is a dragon on top of a stack of Christmas presents. Yes, it is adorable. Yes, I will explain it . . . soon.
  • Christmas, of course, took up most of the month- even if it didn't quite feel like Christmas for much of the month. True, my roommate and I had decorated our dorm room with candy canes and stockings and lights and a miniature Christmas tree. True, the SSC was full of Christmas trees and fake snow and holiday music. True, there was at least one Christmas party or event every week. Even so, it didn't really feel like the holidays until I got home.
  • Of course, I didn't let that stop me from enjoying the season with Christmas music and the aforementioned Christmas parties and events. I made it to five different events, all of which were really fun: a Christmas brunch and white elephant gift exchange held by the heads of my major, my Comp professor's Christmas open house (at which I got to meet her kids, who are adorable), the Community Christmas Concert (which was pretty awesome, though Christmas Chapel the day before was better), Campus Christmas night (featuring midnight breakfast and various musicians in the dining hall), and the Honors Christmas Party (which introduced me to a new version of a white elephant gift exchange). 
  • And after the Honors party, Christmas was temporarily semi-forgotten to make way for final exams, which went well on the whole. I only had three exams, plus I had to turn in my final portfolio for Composition (a process which involved about twice as many walks to and from my professor's office than it should've). My hardest exam was on Friday, which was good- that was the only one I had a study group for, and we had the study guide finished a week in advance, so I was able to spend the next week studying. 
  • And then- then my family was waiting for me in the SSC to take me home!
  • Well, with one stop- we spent Saturday at my grandpa's house, which I enjoyed. Normally I would've seen Grandpa a few times this fall, so getting to see him now helped make up for that.
  • And then we came home and I had absolutely nothing to do except read and write and make last-minute Christmas preparations and it was glorious.
  • As for Christmas itself- well, our church had a candlelight Christmas Eve service, which was lovely. Then Christmas Day was fairly quiet: just the four of us, eggs and biscuits for breakfast, present-opening, Christmas dinner, and the aforementioned movie. I won't go over all the presents I got, but- the dragon I showed you earlier? My little sister made that for me, and instead of putting it under the tree, she hid it and sent me on a treasure-hunt to find it, so that was lovely. (The dragon's name, by the way, is now Eirwen, meaning "white snow," which seemed a properly Christmas-y name to me, and also fits with my Berstru Tales lore, in which purple dragons are ice dragons.)
  • Oh, and sort of for Christmas I got a new phone- my parents paid for part of it as a Christmas gift, and I paid for the rest. It's exciting, but also slightly terrifying, as I don't know the new phone yet like I knew my old phone (which was aggravating enough even as it actually did work that I unofficially named it Rand al'Thor- no offense, fellow WoT fans, but he spent most of the first three books getting on my nerves). But I'm figuring it out, and I have all my information transferred, so that's good. (I also downloaded EverNote on both my phone and computer, so I get to learn how to use that now. It seems fairly easy so far . . .) I still need to get both a case and possibly a name for the phone- I generally don't name electronics, but phones sometimes seem to develop a bit of personality.
  • And now it's New Year's Eve and I'm preparing to ring in the new year with friends from Bible Study (hopefully there will be board games involved; I know there'll be food), and I am quite happy right now.

January Plans!

  • There should be a Looking Forward-Looking Back post going up tomorrow, so a lot of my long-term goals and plans will be featured there. However, highlight on the plans for the coming month:
  • I have another week of break left (roughly) before I tackle my second semester of college. Hopefully this one will go as well as my first one did.
  • As I mentioned earlier, I hope to finish Fight Song before I go back to college. Once I do that, I'll have to figure out another writing project . . . I'll probably work on editing Dreams and Dragons and Between Two Worlds for a while, then pull Fight Song into edits once there's been time enough to create distance. Once edits start, though, I'll hopefully be posting chapters on here. As for new stories, well, I have a few potential projects, and we'll see what happens.
  • And, honestly, if I've not started season two of Merlin by the end of the month, I will be quite put out. Even if my roommate and I just watch one episode every weekend, we should be able to get that far.
  • Aaaaand I need to start looking into scholarships for my second year of college now, probably. Won't that be fun . . . I'm not complaining; I like it when people give me money to learn, and I'm quite willing to put in the work to get them to give me money. It's just time-consuming, is all. 
How was your December? What are your plans for January? How are you celebrating New Year's Eve? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, December 30, 2016

End-of-Year Book Freak Out "Tag"

Allo, everyone! As you might recall, back in July, I did the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag as a way to sum up the first half of my reading year. And now that the reading year is (more or less) at a close, I decided to do the tag again- but with slightly modified questions.

1. Best book you've read in the second half of 2016:
Normally this would be a hard question to answer, but most of my top choices were actually sequels, and therefore fit better in the next question. So, I'm going to go with a classic- no, I mean really a classic- and say The Odyssey, which I read for Western Literature this year and absolutely loved.
Yes, it's long. Yes, it's in poetry (at least, it is if you get the best version). Yes, it can be difficult to understand at times (though it's really not that hard- I found it easier than Beowulf and even some Tolkien). Read it anyway. It's a classic and a foundation of the epic genre for a reason.

Another pretty awesome book, though perhaps not the absolute best I've read: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. (Because time-traveling pirates, that's why.)

2. Best sequel you've read in the second half of 2016:
And here we have the rest of my best-of list, pretty much! In reading order, we have:
Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E. Ardnek- I reviewed this on my blog a while back, but in summary: though this is the second book in the series, it's about five times better than Water Princess, Fire Prince, I love the characters (except Karyn, who I have complicated feelings about), and there are some pretty awesome plot twists in there.
Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson and company- This collection of short stories by various Rabbit Room authors is a wonderful companion to the Wingfeather Saga. It's focused mainly on the past of Aerwiar and the colorful characters who inhabit it, but a few stories run parallel to or after the main series.
Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter- while this really wasn't what I was expecting in certain respects, it was pretty awesome, and I always enjoy more of Jackaby and Abigail and Jenny. With this story, the stakes rise, mysteries are made clear (though not too many, or else we wouldn't have another book after this), and characters (notably Jenny) grow. Is it as good as the first book? I can't say; it depends how you compare the two. But I still enjoyed it.
Beyond the Gateway by Bryan Davis- I wasn't awestruck by Reapers, the first in the series, but Beyond the Gateway was pretty great. The murky world finally gets some light, the stakes rise as questions are answered and new questions become evident, and Shanghai gets to shine now that she and Singapore aren't competing for the spotlight. Also, some of the twists are pretty impressive. Just sayin'.
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson- It's not a book roundup without some Sanderson! This is another collection of novellas, short stories, and other miscellaneous materials from the Cosmere, most of which have been previously published elsewhere but not all of which I actually got to read before now. The highlight of the anthology was Edgedancer, which is about Lift from The Stormlight Archive, but Shadows for Silence in the Forest of Hell was a close second. Very frontier-fantasy, very exciting, very awesome. 

3. New release you haven't read yet but want to: 
All the books on my Fall 2016 Reads post except for The Secret Horses of Briar Hill would qualify- I haven't managed to get to any of them yet besides the one. I also haven't quite gotten to Fallen Star, Anne Elisabeth Stengl's latest release, yet, but as it's on Kindle, I may end up saving that one for a bit. I haven't decided yet.

4. Most anticipated release for next year: 
Is this even a question? Oathbringer, book three in the Stormlight Archive, releases next year and I can hardly wait! Based on the State of the Sanderson report, I'm thinking it'll come in the fall, though a release date proper isn't available yet. Neither is a cover. (I would like both now, please.)

Almost as exciting as new Stormlight: Megan Whalen Turner has a new Queen's Thief book coming out! In May! And it's going to be awesome! And this one has a cover and a title and everything and I'm so excited!
I'm also mildly terrified of this book, though, because it seems to be about the Medes more than Eugenides and his countries, and I'm not sure what I think about that. And I want to like it and I'm sure I will like it, but I'm not sure if it's going to be a The Thief or The King of Attolia-type liking, where I read it the first time and I love it, or if it's going to be a Queen of Attolia-type liking, where I read it the first time and don't know what to do with it and then I reread it, know what's going on well enough that I can pick up on it when it happens, and like it better. I don't know. Maybe I'm just panicking over nothing. That happens sometimes.   

5. Biggest disappointment:
This might come as a shock to y'all- it certainly surprised me- but White Sand, the new graphic novel by Brandon Sanderson, just was not what I was expecting or what I wanted. Part of the problem is the format; the graphic novel doesn't let you get inside a character's head half as well as print does, and so the story loses a lot of its magic that way. The other part of the problem . . . well, I'm not sure what it is, but the fact that I have very high expectations for anything Sanderson at this point probably doesn't help.

6. Biggest surprise:
I can't think of a single book that qualifies better for this than any others, but a few of my top picks for the category:
The Beyonders trilogy by Brandon Mull- I'd seen this series around Goodreads for about a year before I finally picked it up- dubiously- on the recommendation of a friend of mine. Though the initial synopsis made me think that the book was probably trying so hard to be original that it went straight to cheesy, the story turned out to be pretty good, and the worldbuilding in particular is better than in a lot of other books I've read.

The Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce W. Longenecker- this was another read for a class, a historical fiction set during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian. Though it did occasionally fall into the occasional info-dump, it was a surprisingly interesting read, and I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope- this was recommended to me by the same person who suggested the Beyonders books, and I honestly need to trust him a little more by prioritizing his recommendations when he gives them. I'm not sure what I expected from The Prisoner of Zenda, but it wasn't what I got: an engaging, exciting, dramatic, and romantic old-fashioned adventure full of intrigue and drama. On the whole, it was an excellent story, exactly what I didn't realize I wanted at the time.

7. Favorite new-to-you author:
Maybe a surprise, since he hasn't come up on this tag yet, but Rick Riordan. My roommate convinced me to read the Percy Jackson series, and I, on a temporary Greek kick, said that I would- finally. I finished the first series and I'm about halfway through Heroes of Olympus. First series was better, so far- though certain characters in the second series are pretty awesome. And there was a giant mechanical dragon in The Lost Hero, so I'm all for that.

8. Newest fictional crush/ship:
Favorite ship is a tie between Reutra and Amberite, both from Lady Dragon, Tela Du. Reutra- Rueben and Petra- is just adorable; there aren't nearly enough childhood-friendship-turned-to-romance stories in fantasy. And Amberite- Amber and Granite- is sweet as well, but it also makes me sad; Granite and Amber truly do love each other, but Amber has found something she loves more, and in doing so, she's doomed them both. Newest fictional crush . . . don't really have one? As per the usual, everyone who I might crush on ends up with a very definite love interest by the end of the book, if it isn't obvious from the start, so I don't even bother.

9. Newest favorite character:
. . . I'm going to pretend there's an s on the end of character, because storms, no, I can't pick just one.  A few favorites who I've met over the last six months include:
  • Ferrin, Jasher, and Drake from the Beyonders trilogy
  • Caprion and Burn from the Cat's Eye Chronicles
  • Percy Jackson from the series bearing his name, as well as possibly Piper and Leo from the Heroes of Olympus series- haven't decided about them yet, but I'm pretty sure at least one of them will end up making the favorites list. Also, from the same series . . . I really like Hermes. Maybe he's not always the greatest parent, but I don't know; I like him anyway.
  • Silence from Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, because she's storming awesome. (Not Lift-style awesome; the other kind of awesome.)    

10. A book that made you cry:
Um . . . I'm coming up empty on this one. As I've stated before, I don't generally cry over books.

11. A book that made you happy:
Absolutely the Enchanted Forest Chronicles- the first two in particular. They're wonderfully quick, fun reads with a nice mix of humor, magic, and whimsy. (Also, they have dragons. You can't argue with that.)

Another book that I just read a couple days ago which would also qualify:
Paper Crowns by Mirriam Neal, which I got for Christmas, wasn't quite what I expected, but it was still a delightful little story with a fairy-tale feel to it. Also, Halcyon is absolutely awesome and reminded me a bit of Bard Eanrin at times, so- yeah. It made me smile- and, in more than a few cases, giggle.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you've seen this half of the year:
Um. Let's see . . . OH! Merlin probably counts as book-to-film, right? Even it's technically a medieval-legends-to-TV-show adaptation? And even if it kind of doesn't pay a great deal of attention to the original legends anyway? It's a great show, at least so far as I've watched. (I mean, yes, I still have to finish the first season, but I figure it probably just gets better from here? Particularly as Merlin can't possibly become less of an idiot than he is at the beginning of the show, and if I like it even when he's being stupid, I'll probably enjoy it more when he knows what he's doing.)

13. Favorite post(s) you've done this half of the year:
I still really like the Fairy Tale Retellings That Need to Be a Thing post that I did back in September, and the Character Christmas Tag makes me a bit happier than it possibly should. I'm also very pleased with I Wonder . . . and Why I Love My WIP.

14. Most beautiful book you've bought/received this half of the year:
Cover-wise, I think it's a tie between these two:

Anyone want to help break the tie? Which do you think is a prettier cover?

Content-wise, there's no question: The Wingfeather Tales takes the prize.

15. Any other books you want to babble about for any other reason?
Just a few books that are on my TBR-soon list, even though they've been out for a while:

Samara's Peril by Jaye L. Knight (yes, I know, it was featured on my mid-year roundup too; shame on me; I'm just mildly scared of having my heart shattered into a hundred small pieces, because The King's Scrolls hurt very much)

Twinepathy by C.B. Cook (which I beta-read the first half of, actually, but had to stop on because of time commitments)
Plenilune by Jennifer Freitag (which I just got for Christmas)
What are some of your favorite books, characters, and other bookish things from this past year? Any other recent releases that I need to make sure I have on my TBR list? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
-John 1:9-12

Merry Christmas, everyone!
And may we always remember the Light that we celebrate on this day!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Random Fridays: Christmas Traditions

Hosted by Awkwordly Emma
Christmas traditions. They can be big or small, something your family's done for generations or something your parents decided to start up when you were small. They can make perfect sense, or they can be totally out there. They can make or break a holiday, depending how closely you keep them. Sometimes they drive you crazy, but you know the holiday wouldn't be the same without them.

And today, with Christmas only a day away, I'm joining up with Random Fridays (for the first time in forever!) to share some of mine.

Christmas Traditions

  1. Advent. Maybe you remember that last year I posted a series of poems as part of the Advent celebration- four weeks of daily devotions and candle-lighting. This isn't a "just us" tradition (though it's not a common one either), but it's still one of my favorites. In the midst of all the bustle and celebration, it provides a much-needed reminder of why we celebrate. Without it, Christmas doesn't feel complete.
  2. Ladylocks with Grandpa. For those who don't know: ladylocks are similar in concept to eclairs or cannoli: a pastry tube filled with sweetness. Ladylocks have a lighter, airier pastry than either eclairs or cannoli, though, and they're filled with frosting rather than cream or cheese, and topped in powdered sugar. They aren't an every-year tradition, though; they're time-consuming to make, and the recipe makes several dozen. So, we only get these when Grandpa comes for Christmas. It's still a fun tradition (and one of my favorite treats).
  3. Pizza and Christmas Lights on Christmas Eve. Before you ask: I have no idea why we have pizza on Christmas Eve. It's just what we've always done: before whatever Christmas Eve service we're attending to, we go out for pizza. Then, after the service, we drive around town and look at all the Christmas decorations lighting up people's yards. Occasionally this turns into seeing how many reindeer we can count (less so now than when we were younger). Here in New York, this tradition is a little harder to keep, since not as many people decorate outside. We still do our best, though.
  4. No Rush for Presents! I imagine this isn't so unusual among my readership, but it's still worth mentioning. After breakfast and the final Advent, we open presents- but one at a time, taking turns. Having done this all my life, I was slightly bewildered that others didn't do the same. Not only does this method make the gifts last longer, but it means we can take more pictures to capture the memories. It also makes giving more fun, since you can see the receiver's reaction better.
  5. Dressing up for Christmas Morning. Another thing that I never realized most people did: open presents in pajamas. We've always dressed up in Christmas colors as if we're going to church, and I love that; it makes the day feel more special. When my sister and I were younger, we had matching dresses, but now . . . it's a bit harder, seeing as we've grown up a bit and can't even find dresses that look nice and fit well anymore. Occasionally we still manage- I think we might this year- but for the most part we all just wear something that's red and white (or maybe green) and looks nice and call it good.
What are some of your Christmas traditions? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Christmas Character Tag!

Hello, everyone! Less than a week remains before Christmas, there's carols playing all around and presents beneath the tree, and the Advent devotionals and storybooks are drawing their ways towards the climax. Yes, the holiday spirit is definitely in full swing- something that always puts me in the mood to write Christmas-themed fluff-fic. Unfortunately, I can't sort out Christmas songs and characters into a writeable plot, and Fight Song is taking top priority at the moment for actual writing. So instead I'm creating the Christmas Character Tag in order to indulge my desires for fluff without having to come up with an actual story. Others equally taken by the season are more than welcome to join in.

Of course, since it's my tag, it's my rules, and here's how this is going to work:
1. Acknowledge the person who tagged you. Thanking them is nice, but not necessary. You can be annoyed at them if you like. (Though, if you're annoyed, why are you doing the tag anyway?)
2. Pick your characters. I advise having several, though not too many. They can all be from the same story, or they can be from different stories. If they're from different stories, make sure to specify who's from the same story.
3. Answer the questions. This should be self-explanatory.
4. Tag people. If you want. Don't tag more people than you have characters in the tag. If you don't want to tag anyone, you can do that too.
5. Listen to your favorite Christmas song. Because putting the effort in to write a post deserves a reward, my friend!

I'm going to be answering with the main characters from my Fairy Tale Retellings series, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that I haven't written much of anything about them since February or March-ish. So, our cast for the tag consists of adopted sisters Ivy Jade, Poppy, and Pansy, as well as Prince Hayden of Aldurna, Aethan Falleth, and Jason Silver.

And now for the questions:

1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren't from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?
 None of my characters are from Earth (though, for the rest of the questions, we're pretending that they are, or that they at least know about and celebrate Christmas). However, equivalents to Christmas do exist in the various countries of that world, and celebrations vary from one place to another. Specifically:
  • Ivy, Poppy, and Pansy are all from Keltia, which has a twelve-day midwinter festival culminating on the shortest day of the year. The festival celebrates the triumph of life and light over death and darkness, and like Christmas in our world, evergreen decorations and abundant sweet treats are common. However, like most Keltian holidays, there's a much greater focus on dances- whether that's traditional jigs and reels at various parties and socials during those twelve days or the symbolic dance of the final day in which whole towns participate.
  • Jason is from Morovia, which shares Keltia's midwinter festival and many of the same traditions, but in Morovia, there's much less focus on dancing, and much more on gift-giving. Each of the festival's twelve days is dedicated to giving to a certain person or group. However, as often as not Jason finds himself outside his home country during the festival because of his duties- and if he happens to be in the right part of Keltia, he'll just slip in to join Poppy's celebrations.
  • Hayden and Aethan are both from Aldurna, the only one of the five nations to not join in the midwinter festival. Their winter holiday, which is held later in the year, is focused much more on thankfulness to and worship of Adonai (God). Though the holiday itself only lasts one day, it's preceded by three weeks of preparation, much like the tradition of Advent in our world. The climatic day begins with a special church service, followed by a feast in the midafternoon and social gatherings in the evening. Despite the comparative solemnity of the Alduran celebration, it's still much more festive and relaxed than their culture the rest of the year, which might be why Aethan says it's the only time of year when he actually enjoys life in his home country.   

2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn't care because it's CHRISTMAS?
Poppy is by far the most excited about Christmas, and she'll sweep everyone around her up in her exuberance. Hayden is the least excited- not that he dislikes the holiday, but he generally doesn't get worked up about holidays. He and Pansy are also the most bothered by commercialization.
3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?
Poppy and Ivy do most everything; they have the process down so well by now that it seems like a dance. Aethan cut down the tree, though, and he does the top branches that Poppy and Ivy can't reach. Pansy strings popcorn and cranberries and hangs up the stockings and sets up the nativity on the mantel. Jason mostly watches and makes sarcastic comments and teases Poppy and Ivy about their lack of height, but allows Poppy to bother him into doing the lights. Hayden, a firm believer in not having too many cooks in the kitchen, generally doesn't join in.
4. What's each character's favorite Christmas song?
Poppy and Ivy both sing "Feliz Navidad" and "Deck the Halls" about two dozen times each during the Christmas season, but Poppy also loves "Christmas in Killarney" (mostly because it's so fun to dance to), while Ivy prefers songs like "Sleigh Ride." Pansy's favorite by far is "Mary, Did You Know?" Hayden enjoys "O Come O Come Emmanuel." Aethan likes "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" (though lately he's been playing "All I Want for Christmas Is You" a lot . . . particularly when he knows Pansy can hear it). Jason, for his part, isn't one for Christmas music, but he'll tolerate whatever's playing.

5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try? Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies? Anyone?  
Hahaha, no. Not all six. Not completely. What begins with six people wanting to watch six different movies ends with one of two situations:
  • Poppy, Ivy, and Jason are watching a Christmas comedy (which one depends whether Poppy or Ivy gave in first on their pick); they throw Jason out halfway through because he won't stop making sarcastic comments about the characters and plot. Aethan would've been fine with joining in the comedy, but Pansy wants to watch Miracle on 34th Street, so they're watching that. Hayden has to go find other friends with whom to watch It's a Wonderful Life or else wait for Pansy to be done with Miracle.
  • Poppy, Ivy, and Aethan all somehow agree on White Christmas. Depending how late it is, they all end up singing along with some of the catchier and more upbeat songs (never the titular one, though, unless it's really, really late). Hayden, Jason, and Pansy either watch A Christmas Carol or else watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and save A Christmas Carol for when Aethan can join them.  
Of course if they all started watching movies earlier, they could all watch together and just take turns picking the movie every night- though Pansy and Hayden would still sit out some of the comedies (because of strong second-hand embarrassment and a different sense of humor than the movie is meant for, respectively). But because they don't start soon enough, they have to split up so everyone can see the movies they like best.
6. Your characters are going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange; what kind of gift does each one bring? 
Poppy comes up with something clever, but still nice, probably involving food. Ivy just goes the easy route and brings a mug and hot chocolate. Pansy either asks Poppy to come up with something for her or sits the game out. Hayden goes the even-easier route and picks up a gift card for either Chick-fil-a or ice cream, but he does the box-within-a-box-within-a-box trick (with a few more layers) to show that he tried. Aethan finds something silly, but not mean- if anyone brings a literal white elephant of any kind, it'll be him. And Jason looks for something as ridiculous as possible; forget the consequences.

7. What's each character's favorite Christmas treat?
Ivy loves peppermint bark and always makes it herself. Poppy doesn't have a favorite, per se, but she is very fond of molasses cookies. Pansy's preference is Russian teacakes and biscotti with hot chocolate. Aethan's treat of choice is ladylocks, but he can compromise on chocolate-dipped macaroons. Hayden isn't one for sweets, but he, like Pansy, enjoys biscotti as well (though he eats it with coffee, not hot chocolate). And Jason, for his part, has to be restrained from sneakily eating all the toffee.

8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it's disgusting?
Poppy heartily dislikes eggnog. Hayden doesn't hate it, but doesn't much care for it either. Ivy and Pansy will drink a little bit if it's there, but don't like large quantities. Aethan and Jason both enjoy it very much, and both will drink the alcoholic version as well as the nonalcoholic.
9. Who's meeting who under the mistletoe? Who's catching those people and teasing them about it forever?
Aethan would like to meet Pansy under the mistletoe, but knows she won't let him kiss her until after they're married. Poppy doesn't seek out the mistletoe, but if she happens to run into a certain Keltian prince (not a main character yet) underneath it . . . well, she doesn't mind a kiss or two. Hayden studiously avoids the mistletoe; he currently has no time for or inclination towards that sort of thing, and Jason teases him enough about his love life (or lack thereof) as it is.

10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats?
Poppy generally bakes for at least three days straight during the Christmas season, making not just cookies but also other treats both sweet and savory. Ivy and Pansy help as needed, but Poppy does the most- which is fine, since she loves baking.
11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa? 
Of the characters included in this tag, Ivy kept staying up late for that purpose the longest. Pansy figured out first that Santa wasn't real, but would stay up with the sisters who did believe in order to keep them company, and because she thought that staying up late was exciting and romantic- she still does.

12. What would each character say Christmas isn't Christmas without?
For this one, I'm going to ask the characters directly, so we can get it in their own words:
Poppy: Family- and food. You can't have Christmas without plenty of food.
Ivy: I agree with Poppy about family, but I love the holiday dances as well.
Pansy: I think you can guess what I'd say . . . Poppy's right; family is the most important part.
Hayden: No Christmas is complete without a Christmas Eve candlelight service and a Christmas morning service as well.
Aethan: Holiday parties- I'm not particular what kind, but 'tis the season to celebrate as much as possible!
Jason: Eh . . . snow, I guess? It's the one day of the year when it isn't a pain. 

Finally, we tag people! As usual, picking up this tag isn't mandatory . . . but I would love to see your answers. I tag:
And here's a clean copy of the questions:
1. If any of your characters are from Earth: what are some of their Christmas traditions? If your characters aren't from Earth: does their world have an equivalent to Christmas, and if so, how do they celebrate it?
2. Which of your characters gets the most into Christmas? The least? Who gets annoyed at the commercialization, and who doesn't care because it's CHRISTMAS?
3. All the characters try to decorate a Christmas tree together. What happens?
4. What's each character's favorite Christmas song?
5. Can your characters agree on a Christmas movie to watch together? What happens if they try?
6. Your characters are going to a White Elephant Gift Exchange; what kind of gift does each one bring? (Or, because I had a different question here originally and forgot to change it before it started circulating, if you prefer you can answer: "Speaking of which, who cries at Christmas movies?")
7. What's each character's favorite Christmas treat?
8. Who among your characters likes eggnog? Who thinks it's disgusting?
9. Who's meeting who under the mistletoe? Who's catching those people and teasing them about it forever?
10. Who makes all the Christmas cookies and other treats? Who eats all the Christmas cookies?
11. Who stays (or used to stay) up late waiting for Santa? 
12. What would each character say Christmas isn't Christmas without?

Thanks, everyone, for reading! I hope you enjoyed this!
Merry Christmas!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Winter 2016-2017 Reads

Hello, everyone! It's the last day of my semester . . . and also the day of my last and hardest exam in any class. (If you're reading this before noon: prayers would be very appreciated, thanks.) But we're not here to talk about that- we're here to talk about the new season of books that is coming upon us! True, winter won't come 'round for another five days- but on campus, there's snow enough for January. So, let's get to it!

Winter 2016-2017 Reads

1. Fallen Star by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (December 16).
A new release from Anne Elisabeth Stengl is always exciting, whether it's a full novel or, as in the case of Fallen Star, a novella/short story. And apparently this story focuses on Beana- though she'll likely be going by another name here, which should be fun. I'm curious whether this will be before or after Veiled Rose and Moonblood. I'm hoping before, so we'll get to learn about her past . . . but after will be interesting as well. Certain sources have also suggested that it's going to be free on Amazon today, though as of the writing of this post, I'm not 100% certain of that.

2. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (January 17).
Ok, so I'm not sure what my thoughts are on Veronica Roth at this point. I wasn't a fan of Allegiant, but I liked the rest of the Divergent series (well, mostly the first book, but the second wasn't terrible), and I enjoy her writing style. And the concept sounds like it has potential, so I'll give this a try if I can. 

3. Heartstone by Elle Katharine White (January 17). 
I heard about this one from Cait Grace's 2017 Reads List, and I'm not sure what to think. On one hand- Pride and Prejudice and dragons are both awesome on their own, so putting them together should be magnificently spectacular, right? On the other hand, with great potential for awesome comes equally great potential for failure, and I can think of several ways this could fall flat. We'll just have to wait and see what happens . . . 

4. King's Blood by Jill Williamson (January 31).
I finally read King's Folly last spring, and enjoyed it enough that I'm looking forward to King's Blood. If Blood follows the same tendencies as Folly, this won't be a book for under-sixteen-year-olds, but it should still be pretty epic, and will hopefully feature just as much or more of the mystery and political intrigue of the first.

5. Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (January 31).
Wires and Nerve marks the second time that an author whose books I love has released a new story in graphic novel, rather than standard novel, format- good thing I'm already interested in the style, or else I might be worried. I think Wires and Nerve should be fun, even if Iko isn't my favorite of the TLC crew. (Anyone else really want more stories about Thorne and Cress and their adventures? Anyone? Just me? Ok.) I'm definitely looking forward to reading it, graphic novel or no. 

6. Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas (February 21). 
Ok, can we all take a minute to appreciate the astounding amount of awesomeness that this book promises? To start off, we have a scientist protagonist (yay!). Second, it's fantasy- always awesome, and when you mix science and fantasy you quite often end up with steampunk. Third, political intrigue. Have I mentioned how much I love political intrigue? It's so exciting! Fourth and finally- it's a murder mystery, and if there's one thing that I love more than fantasy-with-political-intrigue, it's a good, solid fantasy-mystery. And if Long May She Reign can deliver all that, well- it's going to be one amazing book.

7. Saturdays at Sea by Jessica Day George (February 21). 
Confession time: I still haven't read Fridays With the Wizard, and my memory's a bit foggy on the contents of the first three books, which means I'll either need to reread those before I read Fridays and Saturdays, or else I'll have to get my sister to remind me of the important bits, depending how much time I have. But Saturdays sounds like it'll be fun, and it's not often that you get a high-seas fantasy adventure. And, of course, there's griffons. Griffons make everything better.

What books are you looking forward to this winter? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Q&A Tag

Hello, everyone! Now that life's calmed down a bit and I don't have a ton of assignments on my plate, I decided I should catch up on some of the posting I meant to do earlier. Today, that means finally responding to the Q&A Tag that Savannah Perran tagged me with back in October. (Better late than never, right?) The nice thing about this, though, is that Emmarayne Redding also (sort of) tagged me with this, so I can just do both tags at once and answer twice the questions.

We'll start with Savannah's questions . . . but first, the rules:
  • Tag the blogger who nominated you. I'm assuming this means acknowledge them, in which case, done.
  •  Answer the questions you were given. I'll do that in a minute. 
  • Write out your ten questions. Almost as fun as answering other peoples' questions.
  • Nominate ten bloggers. Who wants to bet I won't manage ten? 
  • Let them know they've been tagged. That I can do.

1. What is a hyped book that you want to read?
Um. Define "hyped." Anymore, I feel like half of what I've read has either been out so long that all the hype's died down or else is so obscure that there's hardly any hype at all. But I guess Nadine Brandes' Out of Time series qualifies? There is a fair amount of hype for it among the Christian speculative fiction circles.

2. When/why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in January of 2011- well, more accurately, my dad started it for me in response to me mentioning on more than one occasion that I thought blogging would be fun. Then I opened my blog to the public in April of 2013, rather than having it only available by invitation. I started blogging, as I mentioned, because I thought it would be fun and also because it seemed like a good way to get started in the online community.
3. Penguins or puffins? (important questions, people)
Penguins. Absolutely penguins

4. Show us a picture of your bookshelf! 
Um. My main bookshelf is at home, but you can see a bad cell phone picture of my bookshelf here at college if you like:

5. What three songs have you had on repeat lately?
Hmm. Good question. I haven't had any songs on literal repeat, and I've actually had more variety than usual in my listening lately, but frequently-listened-to-songs . . . I've listened to Pentatonix's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" a lot since Thanksgiving. I've also listened to Celtic Thunder's version of "All I Want for Christmas is You" more than a few times. And yesterday during Campus Christmas I had to listen (and dance) to "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" for about an hour and a half straight and now I never want to hear that version again for the next five years.

6. If you could live in one fictional world, which world would it be?
I don't like this question. Um. I guess maybe Middle Earth? It's sort of a tie between that, Narnia, the world of Goldstone Wood, and Aralan, one of my own fictional worlds.

7. What are three things on your bucket list?
I don't have a bucket list, per se, but three things that probably would be on it if I did:
  • Get published, even if it's just in an anthology
  • Learn how to swordfight
  • Travel to Europe, New Zealand, or both.
8. Share the last sentence you wrote in your WIP.
Huzzah, another question I can definitively answer! I'm actually giving you the last two sentences, because the literal last sentence is actually a fragment and only makes sense in context of the previous one:
"I can only pray that, somehow, it'll work. That my quest, at last, can end.
Also, that sounds ridiculously dramatic out of context, and in context, it really isn't.

9. What is the best book you've read this month? What was the worst?
So far this month, my reading time has been devoted to finally reading the Percy Jackson series- I'm currently on the second book in the second series. So, the best of those is probably . . . not actually sure. They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. I guess my least favorite is The Lost Hero, though I'm not finished with it yet; the amnesia bit annoys me and I miss Percy very much. My favorite so far is probably either Battle of the Labyrinth or The Last Olympian.

10. What's a fact about you that other people might be surprised to know?  
Despite the fact that I'm an introvert, I hate eating alone. Meals are meant to be shared; they're a time for talking over your day with others, making plans for tomorrow, and enjoying one another's company in addition to the food. The one exception is breakfast- I don't mind eating breakfast alone if I have to.

And now for Emmarayne's questions!

1.  What do you like best about the place where you grew up?

Hmm . . . there's a lot of things I could say. Probably the biggest reason I love Northern VA is the people- but if you're talking about aspects of the place itself, probably the fact that it's so close to everything- and everything includes quite a bit of variety.

2.  What elements do you think were most influential in making you the person you are today?
This needs a whole post to answer, not just a paragraph in response to a tag question. Storms, I could do a series of posts and have more than enough material. But for the sake of time and the question, I guess the top three elements were my family, my church, and books.

3.  What fictional character do you identify with most?
It's a three-way tie between Cress, Princess Una of Parumvir, and Jo March. Una and I are both dreamers, we both make (often very foolish) mistakes, and we're neither of us the best speakers. Cress is, like me, a fangirl, and we were both basically homeschooled. And Jo is very like me in her bookish and writerly tendencies, as well as her impulsiveness (yes, I can be impulsive; I just now how to control my impulses) and her unwillingness to fit into social norms just because they're the norms. 

4.  Would you call yourself an introvert or an extrovert?  Or possibly an ambivert?

Introvert. Absolutely an introvert.

5.  If you could be masterful in one skill, what would you want it to be?

Is that actually a question? Writing. Absolutely writing.

6.  IF you were to be born in  a different time period, which period would you prefer?

I would like to be born in the future, when teleportation devices and time machines have been invented and made commercially available, thank you. I'd like to visit other eras, but I wouldn't want to live there.

7.  Where do you feel most free and happy?

I'm not sure there's one place feel most free and happy- it's more a combination of stress, mood, weather, activity, and a little bit location. But if I had to pick . . . either in the library or on the steps of the BTS when there's a bit of a breeze and a hint of a brewing storm and I can just sit and write or read for a few hours.

8.  Do you dream of romance, whether present or future?

Sometimes. This actually relates back to question #3: like Una and Cress, I do often dream of finding a handsome guy to sweep me off my feet or take me on an adventure or what have you. However, I've learned from their mistakes- and even if I hadn't, I'm more than a little like Jo March as well: uncertain about the idea of romance and too fond of my relative independence to consider such relationships lightly. Either way, though, I'm not getting into any romantic relationships this year. I don't think I have the maturity for it, I probably don't have the time for it, and anyway, I'd like to focus on becoming friends with guys before I think about getting a boyfriend.   

9.  And speaking of dreaming, what about your literal dreams?  Do you remember you dreams at night?  And if so, what do you usually dream about?  ( If this makes you uncomfortable, don't worry about it.  ;)

I don't often remember my dreams at night, unfortunately. When I do remember them, it's usually because they were either especially unpleasant or- rarely- especially epic. For example: I had a whole series of dreams a few weeks ago about having forgotten to turn in a group paper for one of my classes (a group paper which, I may add, I wasn't even responsible to turn in personally), and those I remembered quite clearly the next morning. The one thing I don't often dream about, at least that I remember, is fandoms, which is very sad indeed.

10.  If you were going to go down in history, what would it be for?

Realistically? Probably either for something writing-related or because of something incredibly stupid I did. I hope it would be for the former, not the latter, but I don't know.

Now for my questions:
1. What's your favorite type of dragon?
2. If that type of dragon unexpectedly showed up in your backyard (or whatever outdoor area is closest to where you live), what would you do?
3. How many bookshelves do you have?
4. What's your favorite piece of instrumental music? (You can pick a top three if you prefer.)
5. If you could pick three characters from animated movies with whom to spend a day, who would you choose and what would you do?
6. Would you rather have a teleporation device or a time machine? Why?
7. What do you do when you're sick? How do you cope?
8. How stressed are you right now?
9. How do you feel about steampunk?
10. If you could do anything right now, what would you choose?

And my tag-ees . . . I think that I'm going to take a page out of a friend's book and use a more unconventional method of tagging. So, if any of the following apply to you, consider yourself tagged!
  • You've drunk hot chocolate in the last five days
  • You're currently listening to a Christmas song
  • You like dragons
    • Doubly so if you wish you could have a dragon
  • You plan to watch a movie in the next week
  • You need topics for a blog post.
So, how many of those apply to you? Also, what book characters do you relate most to?
Thanks for stopping by!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Friday, December 9, 2016

End of Semester Review: Fall 2016

Well, my first semester at college is nearly over, and I seem to have survived. We'll see if Finals Week kills me- though I'm honestly not that stressed. I know what to expect, I'm preparing well, and I only have three finals anyway. In a sort of tribute to how I'll be spending next week, though, I thought I'd review the top five things I've learned this semester- both in and out of class.

First Semester Review: What I've Learned

  1. Don't judge a class or professor by the first week. If you'd asked me the in the first two weeks, I would've said that Composition was one of my least favorite classes and New Testament Lit, my favorite; their professors on level footing only because my Comp professor also teaches Western Lit. Now, on the other hand, Comp is one of the only two classes I'm genuinely sad is ending; that professor the one I'm going to miss the most. (It helps that my other favorite class and favorite professor has a second part next semester, so I don't have to say goodbye to that one just yet.)
  2. Media- especially television- has an incredible impact on how we think, process information, and do discourse. I wrote a whole paper on this (if you want to read it, let me know), but essentially, the format of television news makes news seem unimportant, and the lack of context makes it impossible to tell if it actually is significant or not. In addition, the fact that television focuses on the image and the drama, rather than words of the person onscreen, makes serious discussion of world events, whatever those might be, a lot more difficult.
  3. Time management needs to include time to relax, not just time to work. You all may or may not know: while I'm still guilty of procrastination on occasion, I also enjoy getting ahead of schedule and tend to push myself pretty hard, especially when I have a lot of major assignments due in the next few weeks. That's a good thing . . . but it also means that I don't really allow myself much free time, which means I'm still stressed even though I'm ahead of schedule. The idea of actually scheduling free time came up during Physical Activity and the Christian (essentially a health class) during the unit on stress- which, coincidentally, happened right after two of the most stressful weeks of the semester. I initially laughed- schedule free time? No way I had time for that. But then I tried it, and I found that it actually did help. Of course, I shouldn't be surprised- I've listened to Hamilton enough times that I should know what can happen if you don't take a break.
  4. It's easier to prove the existence of God than to disprove the nonexistance of your hands. Not actually; that's sort of a running joke from Honors class. (We did learn how to sort of prove that you don't have hands, or that you at least don't know for sure that you have hands. It just wasn't serious.) But we did cover two super compelling proofs (and one somewhat less compelling proof) for the existence of (a given definition of) God, so that's cool.
  5. God often works in strange ways. No, I didn't actually learn this in chapel. I learned this because all through this semester, I've found too many connections from one thing to another to pass as coincidence. For instance- who would've thought that the twins I met while standing in line for registration would end up being childhood friends of someone in one of my classes, someone to whom I'd end up going to church with? Or that so many different, difficult texts and ideas- Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Four Causes, Augustine's Confessions- would end up crossing over between classes? Or that I'd get the same professor for two classes, one after the other- one which I loved from the start, one which I originally hated, but came to love in part because the one I loved made me give the professor a chance? I could go on, but I think you get my point.
  6. Our society is heading towards a dystopian future at a frightening pace. Yeah. Read Brave New World. You'll see what I mean.
  7. How to make a much-too-large-plate of fried rice on the grill. I'm still working on making a properly sized portion of fried rice (or anything else that isn't a sandwich, for that matter) that has the right ingredient-seasoning ratios, but, oh well. If I ever need to make food for two people, I'm totally set, and I'm definitely not going hungry anytime soon, even if I get tired of the pre-made dining hall food.
I'm curious: what are some of the most meaningful things you all have learned from your lives- whether in school or in everyday activities- these past few months? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November Doings!

Hello, everyone! December's come and November's gone, and that means it's time for another Doings post. I could wax poetic once again about the passing of time and how it seems like an eternity and a blur all at once, but I won't- instead, let's get on with what's happened this past month.


  • Um. So. You remember how last month I made the goal of writing a hundred words a day every day in November? Yeah. That kind of didn't happen. I did manage a decent streak the first third of the month, and then it all kind of fell apart, and . . . yeah. 
  • On the upside, I finally got unstuck, thanks to my roommate helping me brainstorm! I'm still not 100% certain how my hero actually confronts my villain, but I did figure out how she can test and solidify her plan. So, that's good.
  • I also wrote a research paper about online friendships, which I'm very proud of indeed. I haven't gotten it back yet, and I won't until tomorrow, but my professor did tell me today that she'd read it and liked it, so that's a good sign! I am mildly frustrated that apparently I made the same mistake (relating to quoting sources) about a half-dozen times in the essay, if not more- but, in my defense, I didn't know it was a mistake. I'm still annoyed that I'm going to have to fix it so many times, but  . . . at least the rest of my paper was apparently good?


  • Most of the month was taken up by reading the Cat's Eye Chronicles, one of my roommate's favorite series. The first book was kind of  . . . eh. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't thrilled. I liked the second one slightly more, though, and they kept getting better from there. (My favorite is Caprion's Wings, which is actually a novella set before the rest of the series, but yeah.) And now I, like my roommate, am eagerly waiting for the next book- which makes her happy, that she has company in her waiting.
  • For my literature class, I read Much Ado About Nothing (not pictured) and Brave New World. I loved Much Ado- Beatrice and Benedick seem to be the prototype for one of my favorite types of story-couples. Brave New World I didn't love, but it's not the type of book you can love- it's terrifying and fascinating and thought-provoking, but not lovable. That said, I would definitely recommend it to mature readers.
  • Also not pictured are my two rereads: Jackaby and Beastly Bones. I reread them in hopes that I'd be able to read Ghostly Echoes while I was home on break . . . but, alas, it wasn't in at the library, and so I must wait until Christmas. (Ah, the agony!) Oh well. At least I enjoyed the rereads . . .
  • Finally, I read the Wingfeather Tales, a companion anthology of short stories set in the world of the Wingfeather Saga. Not all were by Andrew Peterson (and, actually, the one he wrote was my least favorite- which isn't to say it wasn't good, but that I liked the others better), but they were all still wonderful. 
  • I also acquired some new books this month. Two were gifts: my parents bought me Samara's Peril, and my roommate bought me Jackaby (another reason why I reread the latter this month). Sadly, I didn't have room in my bags for Samara's Peril, so it stayed at my house and, like Ghostly Echoes, will have to wait for Christmas break to be read. But at least I have it now! And I bought Calamity, because Barnes and Noble had signed editions on sale on Black Friday, and Arcanum Unbounded, because I'd literally been saving my spending money all month so I could buy it more or less as soon as it was out. Calamity, like Samara's Peril, remains at my house- but Arcanum Unbounded I bought online, and I'm pretty sure the package will arrive in the next couple days.


  •  Still watching Merlin! We just finished episode 10 before Thanksgiving break. Merlin's still an idiot, but he is getting better . . . even if he did use magic in the most conspicuous way ever in the last episode. He did have a good reason this time. And Arthur and Merlin's developing friendship amuses me muchly. 
  • My roommate and I also watched the movie of Much Ado About Nothing after I finished reading the book. I enjoyed it, though I was mildly disappointed that a few of my favorite lines got cut. Also, I find Dogsberry annoying on the page, and he's far worse on-screen. Every time he appears, I cringe and hope he goes away soon. But I thought the other characters were well-portrayed, and the Benedict-Beatrice interactions were excellent.


  • I feel like November was a super quiet month. It's not that I wasn't busy, but nothing particularly exciting happened- it was just business as usual. 
  • I did manage to survive a group project, though- and, in fact, I actually enjoyed this one. It helped that I knew and liked the people involved, as opposed to last time when I was randomly assigned to a group with four people I'd never met in my life and haven't interacted with since. (I also survived reading most of Luther and Erasmus's debate on free will . . . that was interesting.)
  • On a happy note: I think I finally found a church! It's super small, and still pretty different from my churches in NY and VA, but I like it. It's within walking distance of my college, and several students and professors from the college go there. In fact, the pastor is also a professor here, which is one of the things that initially attracted me to the church. The pastor's style is closer to the teaching style that I'm looking for, and their Sunday school is more discussion than extra sermon, which is nice. Also, they have a fairly heavy emphasis on Bible memorization as part of the Sunday school, which will hopefully get me back in that habit.
  • And on an even happier note: Thanksgiving break was last week, and I got to go home! Getting to spend time with my family, sleep in my own bed, and eat home-cooked food was generally awesome. I didn't realize just how much I missed home until I was there, honestly. (And now it's just three weeks 'til Christmas break . . . more like two and a half at this point, really.) 
  • Thanksgiving was different than usual, since we weren't able to go down to VA to spend it with our Bible Study there. But it was still great and contained much delicious food. (Funny thing- I've spent the last several years thinking that pumpkin pie was ok, but not that great. Turns out, that's because I haven't had homemade pumpkin pie all that time and I'd forgotten how yummy it is.)
  • And, of course, after Thanksgiving comes the Christmas season! We put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, like we always do, and I've been listening to Christmas music the last few days. I'm not sure yet what this year's favorite songs will be- there's a few that stay constant, but I tend to have a few new obsessions every year- but Pentatonix's "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is looking like a pretty strong contender so far. It's also the first properly eerie rendition I've heard since the one that made me like the song in the first place.

December Plans! 

  • Finals would seem to be the most pressing thing on my plate at the moment- final exams in three classes, a final essay and a portfolio in a fourth, and nothing whatsoever in the last. I'm honestly not stressed- but maybe it just hasn't kicked in yet. I don't know.
  • Other major thing that's happening, obviously: Christmas! I'm still working on gifts for most of the people to whom I'm giving things, but there's two people who I know for sure and one more who I'm pretty certain of. Plus there's lots of on-campus events that I have to decide whether or not to attend. (I know three that I'm going to for sure; it should be good.)
  • One of those events, incidentally, is that one of my favorite professors has invited all her students to stop by her house at some point on a particular evening to have cookies and say hello and meet her family and generally have a good time. So that's technically not an on-campus event, but whatever. I'm going and I'm quite excited.
  • Obviously, reading will continue. Hopefully there will be some long-awaited books in there, like the ones I mentioned above. We'll see what happens.
  • And I'd really like to finish Fight Song before the year ends, but I don't know what'll happen with that either, especially given finals. (Though, on the other hand, since the portfolio's due the week before and I don't know how much time studying will take . . . maybe writing will be a good way to relax? We'll see.)
  • And, obviously, there's Christmas break, which I'm very much looking forward to. Home! For three whole weeks! That's almost a month! And it's going to be lovely, let me tell you; absolutely lovely
  • And I should also probably finalize my schedule for next semester. Which I may be changing for the third or fourth time. Ah well . . .
How has your November been? What plans do you have for December? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)